A couple years ago, it occurred to me that the Def Leppard song, “When Love and Hate Collide,” could have been written about farming, simply for the title. Farming is a labor of love, and not every aspect is as romantic as Robert Duval makes it out to be in that slick cowboy hat.
At 2am, Steve and I get a call from the neighbor down the road. The voice mail message says, “Your cows are out.” I groan. In my head I’m picturing a whole stretch of the fence down and the entire herd of cows throwing a party at the intersection of Swamp Road. I’d known this night would come the day we adopted the farm and its dilapidated fences. We stumble out of bed, grab the flashlights, and head down the street.
We see no sign of anything. I call the neighbors again. He tells me that “the cows are out” actually meant two calves had slipped through the barbed wire and had already gotten back in. Big difference from what I pictured. Still, I knew it was something to be taken care of, not at 2am, but eventually. Either way, I couldn’t get back to bed.
At seven the next morning, after four hours of sleep and a caffeine buzz, I’m crouched over a fence post, humming “When Love and Hate Collide.” I fumble through the pickers to hammer the barbed wire into a rotted wooden post. My phone is beeping the dying sound and I only have a short time before I have to leave for my other job. Another staple slips out my hands into the unforgiving abyss that is the grass.
Suddenly, I’m thinking, “Yes, this is love and hate colliding. Before I know it, I’m working out a full blown parody in my head as I’m pinning wires. It went a little something like this:
I wouldn’t have to change this fence,
If the calves would only stay inside,
Instead of slipping through the wire,
For the hundredth time.
I listened to the night time call,
Enough to make my sweet dreams stall,
Because divided the fence stands,
And I’m about to hit a wall.
Got the wire, got the staples, gonna’ fix it,
Ain’t got the time on my hands but I’ll make it.
All I know is this fence better work.
One night alone,
I get a whole lot more sleep,
But I like it too much to go.
I can’t stop the hurt inside
When calves and fences collide
(Thank you Def Leppard for making my job just a little more interesting.)
On a more serious note, part of what Steve and I are doing here on this farm is fixing many of the fences that have, over the years, been neglected. This cattle fencing system was originally built to utilize a perimeter fence, abutting the road, as a backup if the cows escaped from the interior fence. Unfortunately, the whole interior fence has remained completely down for many years now, and the perimeter fence is in rough shape. Steve and I have a big job ahead of us. Bring it on!