When a Horse is your Obsession
I had to have her. She became an obsession with me. She was all I thought about. Her long red hair. Her gentle ways. From the moment I awakened until I laid down at night, she was in my thoughts. An unexpected smell on the wind, a picture in a book, a casual conversation with someone–a thousand things made me think of her.
But I could not have her. Who was I? I . . . read more
This Farmer’s Midlife Crisis Solution: Trout and a Boy
It was my “red sports car,” my “affair with my secretary,” my “Harley-Davidson motorcycle.” I call it a “trout pond,” and it was how I got through my mid-life crises.
Turning 50 was not easy. I was divorcing, had watched as the last of our four children grew up and moved away, and meanwhile was selling the generational family business–all at about the same time. I put a good face on it and . . read more
House Changes Size in Time
I moved out of my childhood home and into a 2-bedroom, 1-bath, rat and cockroach-infested trailer, but for a boy working his way into manhood, the 2-bedroom, 1-bath, rat and cockroach-infested trailer seemed better than a 3,000-square-foot ranch with parents. The space was tight, but I settled in and prepared for life.
I soon met a 19-year-old with a beautiful smile and form-fitting Daisy Dukes and fell in love. I needed more . . . read more
My 4-H Lesson in How to Win
It seemed as if my entire life had come down to this one moment. I was 16 and had been showing dairy cows in competition since I was old enough to walk and hold a lead rope at the same time.
It was the state showmanship, and the competition would be fierce. There were seven districts in Alabama and the month before. I had won my district. Seven kids, seven cows, one judge—on a crisp October afternoon . . . read more
How my Farm Became my Mistress
I moved to this farm at age eighteen, and except for two years in the south Georgia, professing to be a “college man,” I’ve spent most of my days here. We have cleared her land and drained her swamps. We have protected her from erosion and fenced her perimeter, cross-fenced her and then decades later, torn out old fenced and replaced them with new ones. We have grown corn in her soil and grazed cattle on her fields. We have toiled and dropped sweat on every inch of her. I have stood in her center and . . . read more
When a Balloon Chased a Cow
I watched with amusement as a party balloon settled among the cows. It was one of those helium-filled balloons that probably escaped some far distant birthday party, leaving a 5-year-old girl in tears and arriving here some days later for my entertainment.
The cows treated it like some kids in a pool with a beach ball would do. But they soon lost interest and went on about the business of being cows—except, . . . read more
I am equally amazed at how quickly a man of my age can get out of bed when he thinks he’s about to be murdered in his sleep by an inanimate object—standing there, mostly naked and vulnerable—I ease back the covers to reveal . . . read more
It happened again this week. Two strangers on the farm, just driving through as if they owned the place. I did the “southern gentleman” thing and asked if I could help them. The driver introduced herself and then introduced her passenger: her 90-year-old mother who used to own this land.
It’s happened a dozen times in the last 30 . . . . read more
Putting a House amid the Mystery Pines
We searched for the perfect acre among a thousand. It was time to build our house, and–this being a large farm–we had many options. There were three requirements: It needed to be in the woods; it needed to be on a hill; and it needed to come with a view. We walked and talked and searched for weeks. And then it happened–there it was.
It was a pine . . . . read more
My Lesson in Giving
This holiday season, we all think of giving. When I was six years old, I learned a valuable lesson in giving when I was faced with the decision of how much to give in the collection plate.
I hope you enjoy reading what I decided and what happened next. It taught this little boy a lesson that stayed with me for life. I bet you can learn from it, too. Read it, comment, share it. See if you learn anything from this tale. . . . read more
Thankful this Week has Come
And so begins my favorite week. Hay is in the barn, calving season is over, humidity is gone, and the family is coming home. There are no gifts to swap; no parade to attend. No one is dressing up like some ghoul and begging me for candy. No one is having a birthday and whining about being a year older. Just the people that mean the most to me, hanging out and overeating, enjoying each other’s company–and banana pudding.
The Beardens will gather in the farm house basement again–all one hundred of us. A feast will be spread, and Uncle Don will “give Thanks.” Someone is sure to mention Uncle Joel and talk of how much he is missed. I’ll think for a moment of those who have gone on before us: my mom and Olivia, cousins and . . . . read more
He takes a sip of his first cup of coffee, steps outside and says “hello” to Belue, his ranch dog and constant companion. They make their way to the barn, where his horse Catalina awaits breakfast and the beginning of a new day. There’s work to be done. They ride off together, this rancher and his two best . . . read more