Saturday, July 26, 2014

"For the Love of Work"

For the love of WHAT, you say? Well actually, I said work. And honestly, that's how I feel. And I guess that's my privilege, right?

It seems like in today's world, work is a four letter word. It's what you do because you have to get your hands on a few dollars to pay the bills and buy the groceries.

Now I realize, I love my job. (most of the time; more on that later) Some people's jobs aren't as pleasant as mine so that colors their thinking. I have a friend that works in the grant department at a prominent VA university and he says he dreads going to work because he has to work with a bunch of grouchy old women who want to rule the world. That would sorta take icing off the cake now wouldn't it?

Of course every job, no matter how great, has it's downsides and bad days. Before I took up logging and then later joined forces with son Myron, I managed a dairy. It was a wonderful job. There were a few downsides like cows getting mastitis, not getting enough rain, getting too much rain, the milk check not being big enough to cover the bills, the well pump quitting in the middle of a snowstorm, the mix wagon breaking down late Sat. night,etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

I remember well one of the worser starts to a day on the farm. It was in the winter sometime and when I got up to milk it was just above freezing and raining that absolutely miserable VA winter rain. Oh yeah, that reminds me; getting up to milk. That was the daily downside to life on the farm. I hated getting up that early. I would set my clock a half hour fast so that when the alarm went off I knew I still had some time to sleep. Besides that I would set the alarm maybe 45 minutes early and hit the snooze every ten minutes until time to get up. Drove Mary crazy.

Back to the miserable, cold, rainy morning. I headed to the barn, started the sanitizer cycle for the milk line and stumbled out into the cold to get the cows in from the pasture. I hadn't gone too far until I came on a cow that had freshened during the night. In other words, she had calved.

Which was all normal, well and good. But she had milk fever. Cows with milk fever can't get up; it's like they loose muscle control or something. The cure for milk fever is to give them IV dextrose with calcium and often a few minutes after you've given them one bottle they are ready to get on their feet.

But there was more. She had also pushed her uterus out. Sometimes after cows calve they continue to push until they turn their uterus inside out and push it out of themselves. If you've never seen the uterus of a cow, you have missed quite a ponderous sight. You've gotta remember, a 80 to 100 lb. calf has just come out of this thing. Suffice it to say, the uterus of a cow looks considerably better on the inside of her rather than out. And if you've seen one on the outs, you have wondered along with me, "How in the world will all of that fit back in??"

So I trudge back to the milk house, get my IV kit and a bottle of treatment. I don't remember which procedure I did first. Probably the IV. You need at least three hands for this. One to hold the light so you can see to find the cow's vein in her neck. Another to press down on the vein to make it bug out; and the other to insert the needle. Then hook it to the bottle of dextrose and watch the bubbles as the fluid flows slowly into her vein.

Then start on the other job at hand. A nasty one it is, too. You have to lay down on the ground because that's where the back end of the cow happens to be. You gently start to shove some of the uterus back where it came from. The cow doesn't usually take kindly to this and pushes mightily back so five minutes of progress can be undone in one big push. So you start over and finally after you are exhausted and wishing your arms were a foot longer, the thing slips back into it's place.

Then it's time for a few stitches at the back end to keep the cow from pushing it out once again. And then it was time to go get the rest of the cows in and finally start milking, probably at least an hour late by now.

As I said, all types of work have their downside.

But the other evening, after putting in a full day of work already, I came home and got a bite to eat and then went back over to haul a couple loads of mats to another yard. These mats were in the way where I was stacking logs and I was too busy during regular working hours to get them moved.

Now I've always enjoyed working outside the regular hours. It's peaceful. You don't feel the same pressure as during the regular hours. I will have to say, though, that there is a little downside to this as well. Mary has the idea that I'd don't like to be with her at home. She says it's good practice if she ever has to be a widow; she'll be used to it.

Anyway, I was driving the truck, pulling a trailer load of mats. After a very hot and humid day, the temperature had dropped and the breeze felt quite pleasant. The sky was lovely in the west with the scattered clouds and the setting sun. The truck sounded mellow and sweet in the evening air. I let out a long satisfied sigh and wondered what else in the world there could possibly be to do that would be better than this??

But did I mention downsides? The very next day towards evening Myron called me. He said a truck is here to pick up those mats you just moved the night before. I told him I'd lead the driver down to the other yard   ( 7 miles away) and get him loaded up.

I was positively sure I knew which mats Myron meant. I mean if I were a swearing man, I would have swore to it. Plus, a bad thunderstorm was threatening and I was in a hurry so I didn't ask to see the driver's paperwork. He was Hispanic and didn't speak English very well and who knows if he had looked at his paperwork either.

I got him loaded and headed home. Along about the middle of the next day Myron calls me again. The driver is sitting at the job site (somewhere in upstate New York) and he has the wrong mats on his load.  Oh brother did I ever feel sick and helpless.

I guess you've got to give it to the cow, at least with her you had something to push back against.

Oh well. As they say, it's all in a day's work. Speaking of which, the truck driver got about two more day's work out of this job than he had counted on.

Needless to say, at our expense.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

"Summer Bible School 2014"

At our church, we've had the habit of Summer Bible School since about the middle of the last century. Somewhere about 1955 was the first time according to someone who was alive back then. I wasn't on the scene just yet; I wouldn't arrive until 1956.

We would have a fit if we had to do Bible school like we used to back in the old days. These days we have air conditioned rooms with actual walls on the sides. Back then it was hot as all get-out and there were half a dozen different classes crowded down in the small church basement divided up by curtains stretched around on wires. Looking back, it seems more like a recipe for a zoo instead of a Bible school. But we always had a great time.

Back then we had class in the forenoon. That was so the farmers could do their chores in the morning, come for Bible school, and then have the afternoon and evening to work. We've had evening classes for many years now. And we're one of the very few that still go for two weeks.

Some things have changed, but many things are still the same. One sad thing is hearing younger and younger boys and girls talking about "relationships". As in, "I was 'going with' so and so back in the 3rd grade but then we broke up, etc. etc."

Another thing might be shorter attention spans due (in my opinion) to overstimulation from way too much TV and video-computer games. In one class the teacher decided instead of giving each student a "goodie bag" at the end of the two weeks, (which might be mostly candy, etc) she would give them a nice book. Something that would have value for the long term. So she spent about 15 dollars per student. But most of the students didn't seem to have any appreciation for the book and some of them expressed disappointment over not receiving the standard"goodie bag".

And then you have all the disorders out there that have reached epidemic proportions these days. This didn't happen at our Bible school, but one of the church ladies was telling of a girl she taught in a Bible school several years ago in another place.

The girl warned her right up front at the beginning of Bible school that she had three personalities. Nan was quick to inform her that she wanted all three of them to behave in her class.

But some things stay the same. You still have some children that sit spellbound on the edge of the bench listening to what you have to say.

And there are always little things that warm your heart in some way. This year I had some interaction with five year old Margie. Her real name is Margaret, but they call her Margie, with the "g" sound, not the "j".

Margie couldn't actually come to Bible school this year because we've dropped the 1st Kindergarten class and only have the kindergartners that will be starting 1st grade this fall. Now to look at Margie, you would think she was a very shy little girl and I had never had any conversations with her before. But was I ever wrong!

She came up to me one evening and expressed her desire to come to Bible school. I asked about her age and so forth and we figured out she would be going to 1st grade next fall and so she could come to Bible school next year.

Every evening at the end of Bible school this year I told about different birds and the things that make them unique. And Margie must have been there one of those times. (probably with her mom when her mom was one of the "snack ladies")

Anyway, towards the end of Bible school she came smiling up to me again. "I came to Bible school one night", she said, just a little triumphantly. "I came the night you preached on owls!" And she made big circles around her eyes with her hands to illustrate what I had shown them; that if owls were as big as humans their eyes would be as big as oranges.

And there's always a little humor along the way. My wife Mary's 5th grade class was a lively bunch. Not really bad, just lively. Mary would tell them every evening that they weren't babies and that they could listen and behave. Well one evening they were being extra ornery and weren't listening. Here's how the conversation went:
                          Mary: "Ok! I've changed my mind! Yall ARE babies!"
                          Reshaun: "Not me! I just grew a chest hair!"
                           Craig: "Was it blond?"
The class dissolves in gales of laughter. (teacher included)