Friday, January 3, 2014

Resolutions for Deranged Farm Managers...

Emphasis on...Resolve:

     Around a farm there are always a lot of things that need to be resolved.  In fact, there are so many of them that they could easily be spread out over six or seven years.  Sort of like depreciating a truck.  Thirty-percent the first year, ten-percent each year afterward and in five years the problem is completely gone.  Not only is it gone, but it generated a refund from the IRS in the process.  Naturally, that was before tax reform.  Nowadays, they would disallow the problem, penalize you an additional bad habit and insist that you only declare resolutions under five-acres in size.  I suppose that they could also conclude that any person with that many problems has little time to run a business.

     I don’t think it is totally hopeless.  Tragic maybe.  But after a long year or so of trying to raise horses in the rainforest, managing an urban renewal project financed by subterfuge and counterfeit paperwork while dealing with the vagaries of humanity and the heart in general, I still believe that some resolutions can be met.  I am going to start with these:


1)      I am not going to let Doc breed a mare that is worth less than his lawnmower.  She is going to have to find her own date.


2)      The next time a horse knocks down a fence, I’m going to declare it ‘environmental revisionist thinking ’ and leave it that way.  I have no idea what that means and nobody else will either.


3)      I am never going to lose my temper with a yearling again.  (Well, maybe.)


4)      The stallion will learn some manners.  I’m sure I can hire somebody mean (or terminally ill) to deal with that one.


5)      Maybe consider moving my bed a little further from the window.  Just a foot or so.


6)      I will live to see a vet bill under $500.


7)      I’m going to find a cat with some degree of loyalty and table manners.


8)      I will deal with the manure pile before it decides to deal with me.


9)      All halter breaking will take place in-utero.


10)   I’ll hear a trainer say, “You know, you could be right.”


11)   I am going to check my rubber boots for slugs before I put them on.


12)   I am not going to get my thumb caught in the manure spreader¼again.


13)   I will confess the whole sordid story of farm finances to Elaine.  (The boss's wife.), Actually, I’ll send her an anonymous telegram from Mexico.


14)   I’m never going to try to look smart in front of Jesse again.  Boy, that’s an easy one.  Wonder why it’s so far down the list?


15)   And, if it happens to work and she’s willing, I am going to ask that woman to marry me.  Or go steady, or¼still, I’ll have to quit smoking.  And maybe reconsider the advantages of a college education.  Who knows?  Might write a book or something.
From:  Well, you probably guessed that already!

Next time:  New Year's Resolutions for Cowboys on the Bozeman Trail

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Nothing Left to Save...Oh. I'm Not Good with...

Children: A Knight's Last Salvation --
Damn, I was Hoping for One Last Desperate Maiden!

A New Year grinds its relentless path around this crowded planet; reluctant, yet driven by the infinite momentum of the unseen vastness of time itself.  All human crossroads pause here; on this reunion of the millenia…look to the left; the right –engage this moment in the manner of all moments, and by the mad laughter of the self-anointed lunatic, claim that this year will be the year to…


I have dwelled upon the task, knowing full well the weakness of my aging resolve.  Perhaps it is time to embrace my redundancy, grant my guilt before the Courts of Fools and Romantics; allow this worldly Inquisition of Kings and Bishops to have that moment they have coveted for so long.  Cast the roaming wolf from my veins, denounce the Quest as a mortal heresy – pull Rocinante’s heavily worn iron shoes for the very last time.  Sheath the sword of mercy and justice…stand naked in my fading manhood before the early morning throng at some random Starbuck’s…defying the slut of their hearts’ desires to murder me one last time.  And make this death stick for a change.  No half-measures, no last minute pause of the blade.  No reaching for the Half and Half.  May you suffer your coffee black this time!
An old Kikuyu chief once said, “When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”  And I have often lamented that each living blade is the child of some future meadow.  This endless Serengeti that nourishes an enduring innocence that is the legitimate core of humanity…the soul that holds no allegiance to the mightier or lesser gods of our creation; for you see, children have no need for gods and temples of gold and stone.  They live by the sustenance of an unknown warmth, nurtured by the milk of gentleness and love, seemingly protected in a world full of fierce and sometimes angry giants.  And like dry sponges they begin to absorb the emotions of the water that churns around their feet – a cognition that all things are not as they once seemed to be.  And with recognition, comes uncertainty and for the first time, the child feels the suffocating hand of doubt.  

But of course, nothing is allowed to stay the same anyway.  A planet guided by evolutionary habits demands that organisms remain in flux -- the nature of thought itself under the constant shadow of extinction.  Miss one lesson and you are kept after class for a very long time.  So perhaps Knights too must change with the times.  After all, distressed maidens now have psychologists, dragons are in short supply or driven to extinction, tyrannical landlords are disguised as simple church-going merchants, while the warlords in their gilded castles own all the best horses and armor in the realm.  And the toiling peasants, long since duped into a catatonic stupor, trading away what little dignity they once owned for cheap toilet paper and diet-sodas.        

So who is left to defend?  Who is really worth defending?  What life is worth the life of a single Knight?  Ah!  But there is still the ancient art of chivalry – a codicil of men, that asks few questions, sees no good or evil other than in the thoughts and hearts of individual men, and grants all who pass mercy in the name of countenance and fair play.  A defender of innocence, the aging warrior that stands between the child and the unrelenting storms of all past miseries and deception…


And I don’t even like children.  And Rocinante…he bites them whenever he finds the opportunity.  And they smell funny.  Make noise.  Ask stupid questions.  Fart in public.  Call me ‘old’ to my face.

I suppose it has finally come to this it would seem.  Defending a mere hope.  A 50-1 longshot that a juvenile delinquent may one day become that ‘good king’ of the realm – the person who stands before all tyranny; of all stripes and says loudly, “Enough!”  And perhaps then, at that pristine moment, I can raise my sword for the final time and finally send Rocinante out to pasture.  Perhaps somewhere in France, near the ocean, without a single Starbucks in sight. 

Well shoot.  Better clean the tack anyway.  That day might be a few decades and many leagues down the path.  But as often happens, I first feel the winds of change arriving from some distance place beyond the horizon.  And the wonder of that, the maddening curiosity of those moments is what has always driven my horse  forward -- rightly or wrongly, but forward all the same.  Violence is not a disease -- it is a habit.  A bad one.  The giants of the world have the power to destroy.  They also have the power to teach.  It is then merely a matter of choice.     
2014 -- Ending Violence is a Matter of Showing, Not Telling.