The Writer's Cramp 9/17/21
The year had been so dry. The hay hadn’t grown. The garden hadn’t produced. The cattle needed to be fed, but now they had to be sold. Same with the sheep. Soon all the livestock would be gone.
“Mary, what are we going to do? Some of those animals are descendants of Daddy’s prize cattle. And those sheep, I remember some of those ewes as bum lambs.”
George sat nursing a cup of coffee at the worn kitchen table. Mary paused in her chores to sit beside him.
“I guess we don’t have much of a choice. No feed, no choice. Can’t let the dumb animals starve. We can save the money and buy new when the weather breaks.” Mary rubbed George’s worn, callused hands.
They glanced out the window. Heat shimmered in the fields, long dried from the fresh green of spring. Grass that was once green and lush now sat brown and lifeless. Fire was another constant threat this year.
“I just hate the thought of doing this. We’ll have to sell low, everyone is selling off. And then buy high. It just ain’t fair. Not a’tall.”
“But I still have the chickens. We can keep them at least. Fresh eggs, an old hen at supper now and again. Perhaps we’ll be able to get some chicks in the spring.” Mary already was planning some different meals, tightening-the-belt meals.
“Well, might as well get to it. Let me go round up Billy and start the process.”
George backed up the truck to the horse trailer, called his brother to help. They rounded up a few cattle, loaded them, and headed down the road to the auction house.
It took a month or so, but finally all the livestock were gone. Decades of work, building the herd, poring over bloodlines to get just the right match of bull to heifer, helping with the midnight births in March, keeping the coyotes away; all gone.
The last day George walked back to the house, a long day of listening to the auctioneer selling off his life finally over. He didn't notice the rain.