Regardless of how long a person farms, they will encounter experiences they have never seen before — sometimes with a shocking or scary presentation. Case in point: my neighbor, Pat.
Pat owns the local feed store and runs quite a number of cows and calves on several different farms. He is a few years older than me and is about as laidback and even-keeled as anyone I’ve ever met, but what happened to him last week dispensed his calm demeanor momentarily.
My friend pulled his truck up beside an upright, bulk feed bin to fill a few sacks of grain that he needed to take to another farm to feed some weaned calves. After filling one sack, the grain began to flow really, really slow. Given the amount of wet weather we’ve been encountering, Pat was certain the feed inside the metal bin had drawn enough moisture and had either “caked up” or was stuck to the sides of the bins.
This was nothing new, and he retreated to the truck to get a large, rubber mallet that he carried for just such occasions. Slowly, while wading through deep mud, Pat circled the feed bin while beating on the sides with his trusty rubber hammer.
Convinced he had broken the problem loose, he placed another sack under the spout and opened the sliding gate, ever so gently. About a half-gallon of grain slowly trickled out before stopping completely. Frustrated, he bent over, to see if he could discover the problem and, there, at the mouth of the bin, dangled the foot of some yet-to-be-determined animal.
As he began to reach for the exposed extremity, in an attempt to unclog his feed source, the foot moved. So did Pat! Even though he’s a big man and a military veteran, he decided he at least needed to retrieve a pair of leather gloves from his truck before beginning the extraction.
Gloved up and ready for battle, he grabbed the unknown limb and quickly pulled. The “clog” popped free like a champagne cork on New Year’s Eve, and Pat immediately slung the object about 10 feet from the scene of the crime. Turning to see what kind of animal he had grabbed, Pat stared into the eyes of one very dazed and confused raccoon.
“I don’t know which one of us was more surprised,” Pat recalled, but as he looked back around to the bottom of the feed bin, the unobstructed grain was now flowing like Niagara Falls after a big rain, and he rushed to put a sack under it.
According to my neighbor, the raccoon looked like it had spent a week at an all-you-can-eat buffet where no drinks were allowed. Luckily, Pat’s slinging had landed the varmint just a few feet away from a mud puddle, where the little guy sucked up water like the suction hose on a wet vac.
By the time Pat had finished sacking and loading his feed, the coon was still drinking.
As Mark Twin once said, “Sometimes too much drink is barely enough.”
Crownover lives in Missouri.