I awoke before dawn this morning. As I was crawling out of bed my wife asked me to check on the cows, due to give birth any second now. “Okay,” I told her and I slid my clothes on and went into the kitchen to put on a cup of tea so that it’d be ready for me when I got back. I noticed the lightning flashing out the windows. I picked up the kids’ broken umbrella and stepped into my imitation muck boots.
It wasn’t raining too hard but the thunder of another spring storm was rumbling. The ground was saturated under the oaks at the top of the drive. We’d had a good soaking over the last two days. I remember telling Poppy and Belle that they should have their babies before the rain came. Maybe they’ll wait till after it dries out again to calve.
I noticed some chickens sleeping on the hay bales under the oak. Silly birds. Our coop was designed for less chickens than we have but still, there’s no reason to sit out in the rain all night. There’s room in the coop enough even if it is cramped. And the open barn is right there. The dogs have sense enough to be in the barn. Maybe the chickens don’t want to bed down with the dogs, who knows?
The cows weren’t in the barn and I went out through the barn lot, trying not to slip in the mud. I noticed the geese with their goslings in their little area off the barn lot with their shelter. They hadn’t gone out yet. They go out at first light. You know its early if you start your day before the geese.
From the edge of the pasture and in the half-light I didn’t see the cows so I walked to the patch of woods in the north, jumping the creek, then headed toward the cedar tree where they usually shelter in storms if they’re in that paddock. They were there. All of them were up and moving around. I stayed long enough to see if anything looked or sounded different, if there was a calf on the ground or if they were trying to tell me something. But they just seemed to be thinking about the storm. “Okay, just stay there if you want,” I told them. “Don’t come out here on the hill to be struck by lighting.” I walked away from them out onto the hill, the tallest point in the area, thinking about this farmer that I know who got struck by lighting.
I understand how that might happen. You got situations like this where you have to check on cows maybe giving birth. And yesterday, I was trying to finish the last of my apple grafts and listening to the initial wave of this storm roll in. It’s slow, loud rumble getting closer and closer, looking up and watching the clouds, wondering if I could get a few more bark inlay grafts done.
Then the rain started in ernest and I scurried back, dragging my metal cart with grafting supplies and stakes as the rain came down hard on me, half running across the patches of open ground, thinking of farmers getting struck by lighting, just trying to get something done before the storm.