The Farmer's Wife

Reprinted from the Shelby Star, Shelby, NC

NOTE: In 2004, I ran as a Democratic candidate for election to the NC House from District 111. The local newspaper, the Shelby Star, requested that I discontinue writing my weekly humorous column. I lost to the incumbent, receiving 45% of the vote as a first-time candidate. To date, I have not resumed writing this column, a humor column that had a 30-year run. This is the last column I wrote. In 2011, I began compiling all my columns for the future.... Kathryn

Waiting for a Foal -- April 18, 2004

As I write this column, Lib, our mare and soon-to-be- mother, has not yet had her foal. However, there will be a new moon on her due date, April 19, and the farmer says this phase of the moon is bound to be a factor. He says she could go any time.

In addition to watching the moon, the farmer has been watching his horse. Now that she is showing signs of preparation for labor, the farmer is feverishly reading his horse reference works. The other night he was so much into the foaling chapter in Horse Care that he didn't even perk up when the weather came on.

He did pause long enough to instruct me to get the tincture of iodine ready. I raised 4 rambunctious boys without having to stockpile tincture of iodine. Maybe they have this at CVS or Big Lots?

To his credit, the farmer has cleaned out Lib's stall, hauling in about 8 inches of wood shavings to make her comfortable. I could have hugged his neck for this.

Sentimentality aside, our main concern is that the baby will come during the middle of the night and we won't be there. The farmer wants to be on hand, but this is a sure 'nough Biblical case of the spirit's being willing but the flesh being weak. Were I to wake him at 10 PM, midnight, or 2 AM with news of the mare's impending delivery, I'm not sure I could "roust" the farmer out of bed.

That's why another neck I could hug is that of Mother Nature herself. She so arranged it that none of my babies came at an inconvenient time for the farmer. Two were born after supper, one at 2 AM, and the other right after breakfast. The only birth that conflicted with the dairy operation was the third son, born after breakfast, and the one at 2 AM, well, the farmer woke up for the key parts.

Although our lives no longer revolve around milking schedules (or my OB appointments), the farmer still hits the sack with the crickets and gets up with the roosters, as if he had 88 Holsteins to milk twice a day. Despite the vows I made on our wedding day, I never got acclimated to his schedule. My belief is that if God means for us to go to bed at 8 PM, why does the news come on at 11 PM?

Constitutionally speaking, I used to be able to stay up half the night. When we lived in the old farm house, this meant the fire in the woodstove burned 24/7. The last log I threw on lasted till the farmer got up between 4 and 5 AM.

But this old gray mare ain't what she used to be. Last night, I checked on Lib off and on all night, and am worn to a frazzle.

At least I didn't have to hike back and forth through the pasture to the barn. The farmer has rigged me up a high-powered halogen spotlight. My job is to go out in the yard, beam the light down at the barn and see what Lib is up to.

What do our sons think? Just another case of their parents going high-tech red-neck. At least this time, it's for a good cause.