A reader recently asked me what the most onerous chore was growing up on a farm. Well, here’s the thing about that… the circle of life is a cyclical bitch, and that means that everything you do doesn’t really matter. You feed animals, they get hungry again. You clean out manure, animals poop in the clean straw. You haul firewood, then you burn it, it’s gone and you need more. You plant seeds, you have to harvest them… and then you plant them again.
But by far, the task that everyone hated was… picking up rocks.
Yep. Picking up rocks. My father swears that a glacier melted in our region of Ohio, dropping all its rock ballast right on what would eventually become our fields. You’d be amazed the juggernauts we dig up. And it doesn’t matter how often or how thoroughly we pick up those rocks, next year the tiller turns up more.
The big ones are the ones we look at and admire, wrestle into the truck for a few toe-curling moments and then move on. But the little ones are the buggers that get you. The endless repetition of bending over to get them, the sliding scale of which ones are big enough to pick up and which ones you can ignore. The arcing toss that lands them in the slowly moving truck bed is fun at first, but three hours later your arc is getting lower and it feels like your arm is going to fall off.
And what do we do with our rock haul once we’re done? Hop into the truck bed and scuttle down to the creek, where we’re rewarded with sinking those bastards into the water where we’ll never have to see them again. Except… not that long ago the county contacted us and said, “Um… you’re dumping so many rocks in the stream that you’re actually diverting the flow. So could you stop? That’d be great, thanks.”
Oh, and that thing about the glacier? As usual, my dad was right.