How’re ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen …..the farm.

I love reading the small essays about his farm that Verlyn Klinkenborg writes in the NY Times. He captures a tranquility and a solitude that is almost transporting.  Even the way he writes about the endless  chores that come his way…..repairing fences, cleaning out the barn,  dealing with overgrown vegetation, etc…..has a certain serenity about it.

I also have a house in the country.  It used to be part of a working farm.  And like  Verlyn, I also have a barn. (although the only livestock in mine are an old Mazda Miata and some pigeons)  His essays motivate me to embrace that simple life.  The problem is, I’m only a ‘weekender’.  So, more often than not, I hire someone to repair the fence and I hire someone to clean out the barn.  And I hire…(you get the point) This leaves me with neither a sense of accomplishment or something to write about.  But, I’ll try.

The other day, I walked into the barn and came upon a garter snake….maybe a foot long.  This freaked me out.  Goose bumps, the heebie jeebies….the works.  I was with my girlfriend so I tried to play down my discomfort.  With little success.  I’m sure Verlyn doesn’t have that kind of reaction.  He probably leans over and picks it up and returns it to its rightful place.  Where that is, is anyone’s guess.  I just know it’s not in my barn.

My response to the snake was surprising…even to me.   I was born on a farm located  probably not more than 20 miles from my house.   My father was a dairy farmer.   Although I  lived there year ’round for only the first few years of my life, you would think that being around snakes would have been almost a daily experience.  That my parents may have even put one in my crib instead of a stuffed animal. (We were poor….very poor.)  Or maybe my snake fear is a result of a very bad early childhood experience, e.g., maybe my parents put a snake in my crib.  With my parents gone, these are questions I have that will remain unanswered.   I suppose I could ask my brother and sister what information they have.  It might also be interesting to learn  how they fare around snakes.  But, to what end.   Is this something I need to ‘work’ on….to overcome?   I’m not sure. After all, how often am I going to be startled by a snake when I go in to feed the Miata.   And of course, I could always hire someone to check out the barn before I make my entrance.

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6 Responses to “How’re ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen …..the farm.”

  1. Ray Habib Says:

    Neil,
    You do many things well, hit tennis balls (well, maybe not so well), run a business, order a good martini but please accept the fact that you will never be a county boy. In spite of the fact that you were born in the country (I didn’t know that!) that makes you no more like Huck Finn then Mickey Finn.

    There is nothing wrong with hiring people. Consider that your own Neil Stein’s stimulus program.

    Keep on writing.

    • ironicman Says:

      i try and play down the country bumkin thing….don’t want to be taken advantage of by ‘city slickers’ …i hear they’re everywhere….even in the outer boros.

  2. Marguerite Says:

    It just goes to show that while you can take the city boy (formerly cou try boy)out to the country–this does not a country boy make! Once a city boy–always a city boy! Perhaps you could borrow a neighbors country dog to check out the barn first.

  3. ironicman Says:

    Neil: you sure hid your freak-out pretty well. what other emotions do you hide behind that smooth facade? hmmm….you know I like vulnerability, but as you always say: not TOO much vulnerability…hard for you GUYS to know where to draw the line. then again: here you are telling the world. love, claire

    • ironicman Says:

      obviously, i didn’t write the comment to which i’m replying. since, no one reads these anyway…it’s not too important. but it is disturbing that someone other than I (or is it me?) can leave comments as if they were written by me. fortunately, i’m dealing with a very literate group…so whatever they write under my name will be wiser and smarter than what i would have written….(signed, neil)

  4. noactive Says:

    How're ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen …..the farm. .Thanks for nice post.I added to my twitter.

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