I’ve wanted to be a tractor driving man
since I was six – wear an engineer’s gray
and white, striped cap and be someone
who could get the job done. I helped
put this pasture in right after the Feds
condemned the top fifteen feet of clay
for the earthen core of Terminus Dam –
right after a summer of lifting rocks
into the ’42 dump truck, flathead Ford.
Took thirty years of water and cattle
to make topsoil again –I cut deep swaths
across it, riding high atop the diesel’s
steady monotone. Each new round leaps
into the headed rye to fix upon a fencepost
or notch between oaks, holding my thoughts
in a straight line. I feel my father grinning
in the middle of this green mowed field –
keeping me busy at sixty still on the ranch.
Very near to weaning, it’s been over a 100 degrees these past few days as we finish-up cross-fencing the irrigated pasture where we’ll background our calves with a regime of vaccinations before we sell them. As an experiment, I’ve decided to mow the pasture, hoping to keep the tall grass and seeds out of their eyes and thereby reduce doctoring for pinkeye. The flies are horrible – worst I’ve seen in decades. I think the mowing will also help the pasture.
I borrowed a wheel tractor and rented a mower and found a few rocks that we missed in 1961, (or that have worked their way up to the surface since). From the summer 1991 issue of Dry Crik Review, Jim ‘Tex’ Raths’ poem, “John Deere Dreaming” also came to mind more than once. But our country is not the smooth sandy loam of the Valley, and as with most tractor-driving endeavors here, used farm machinery succumbs to our harsher elements. Half-way done, I’ve got a rental tractor coming while we try to fix what’s wrong with my neighbor’s machine.
5.21 We start weaning the first bunch this a.m. - Still editing the poem online, adding a stanza and changing the last line slightly. High temperatures forecast down into the 70s through the weekend with a chance of T-showers. Crazy weather!