by Pettus Read
It was a beautiful Tennessee early spring afternoon when I pulled in the long gravel driveway of Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie's farm. The hills behind their house this time of year are starting to show signs that full-blown spring is on its way. In fact, the new growth has even arrived earlier this year. Maples are turning maroon in color with red buds on their limbs getting ready to bloom and other trees are starting to show signs of pastel greens, as they too are ready to come back to life once again. I love this time of the year when new life is arriving after a cold winter, however this year we had eased by with one of the fourth warmest in the history of keeping weather records.
Aunt Sadie met me at the front door wiping her hands on her apron as usual, and led me to the back portion of their house where the old couple spends most of their time. There, sitting in the family room in his cane back rocker, was Uncle Sid watching RFD-TV on the couple's flat screen TV. It is still hard for me to get use to seeing that large screen unit in their home after all of the years of witnessing them watching a simple 21-inch Philco in the corner near the antique butter churn. But times change when it comes to electronics. I'm just glad Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie are always what you see is what you get.
After exchanging pleasantries, Uncle Sid once again directed his attention to the program, which happened to be recounting a recent National Ag Day event held in Washington, D. C. the first week in March. I knew not to interrupt an Uncle Sid program and took my place beside him in one of their country carved cane back chairs. Aunt Sadie pulled up her rocker and joined us.
When the program went to a commercial, Aunt Sadie said, "We had an Ag Day visit here at the farm last week. Cousin Pity, you know Patty's sister who lives in town, brought her ladies club out for a day on the farm. I served them teacakes and spiced tea here in the farmhouse. We had a wonderful time. None of those ladies had ever been on a real Tennessee farm before. Sid hid out in the barn and said he really wasn't much into socializing."
Uncle Sid just watched the commercial and I knew what Aunt Sadie meant about his socializing with a group of city ladies. "After we had our refreshments and talked a while, the ladies wanted to see the farm animals and I took them to the barn where Sid was," Aunt Sadie said while winking at me.
With that bit of information, Uncle Sid turned and looked at both of us as Aunt Sadie went on explaining the tour of the farm. "I showed them the chickens, the goats, the pigs, the sheep and the cows, which most of them were just carried away with," Aunt Sadie said. "I even showed them your Uncle Sid as the farmer when we walked in the barn and all the ladies really laughed at that."
That was the last straw that got Uncle Sid's goat. "Yeah and that Myrtle lady who was with them was a laugh a minute herself," Uncle Sid answered with a frown on his face.
Seeing my chance, I asked, "What was Myrtle's problem, Uncle Sid?"
"Well Boy," he said (still calling me Boy), "She didn't like the way we took care of any of our animals. She wanted the chickens to run free, the pigs to wallow in the mud and the cows she thought looked unhappy. She had never been on a farm, but had all the answers."
However a smile came over his face and he said, "But while they were walking back to their cars Myrtle stopped at one of my sheds and called for me to come immediately. I didn't know what was wrong, so I almost ran up there and when I got there she asked me while pointing in the shed, 'Mr. Sid, why doesn't this cow have any horns?'"
"Trying to be patient with her, I answered by saying that cattle can do a lot of damage with horns. Sometimes we keep them trimmed down. Other times we can fix up the calves by putting a couple drops of special medicine where their horns would grow in, and that stops them from growing. Still, there are some breeds of cows that just don't grow horns. But Ms. Myrtle, the reason this cow here doesn't have any horns is the fact that it's a horse."
I just hope Cousin Pity is still a member of her city ladies club, because Aunt Sadie said all the ladies were really carrying Myrtle pretty high about not recognizing a horse when they left the farm, and I understand Myrtle is chairman of the membership committee. No problem, Uncle Sid will recommend her to the Farm Bureau.