How Bossy Saved the Farm

Rain fell hard the day Ole Jerse brought
her new calf to the barn.  Another little bull.
Disappointed, Daddy shook his head and
scolded Jerse. We needed a heifer, you know.
He tried to smile.  Bull calves brought less per
pound than heifers.  And the farm mortgage
was past due.  I found that out when Daddy
and Mama talked late in the kitchen.

Mama had made cornbread for supper using the
last of the meal.  Moisture filled her eyes.  She
tried hard to make it look like her glasses had
fogged up with steam from the teakettle.  I was
going on ten and knew more than they thought
I did and I wished I didn’t.  I prayed that night.
Didn’t ask for Bossy to have a heifer but I
hoped she would.

My sister, Sadie, came home from school–
she was in the eighth grade.  She asked to go to
the pie supper the next night.  And she asked for
a new dress.  Daddy got up and went out of the
room.  I reckon he couldn’t stand to hear Mama
tell Sadie, “No.”  I listened. Sometimes I wished I
wouldn’t, but I couldn’t help it.  Mama didn’t tell
Sadie, “No.”  She told her, “We’ll see.”

Mama’s feet pressed the sewing machine treadle
like a seesaw, into the night.  Next morning, the sun
glared through the bare windows.  Feed sack
curtains with green background and tiny white
flowers had turned into a beautiful sundress.
Sadie hugged Mama as if she hadn’t seen her
in years.  The dress fit.  Mama’s glasses fogged
up again, and the teakettle hadn’t steamed yet.
Daddy came in.  He grinned as if he’d found
gold.  In  a way, he had.  Bossy had given birth
to triplet heifers.

c Copyright, 2006, Freeda Baker Nichols
Poet’s Roundtable of Arkansas
Lily Peter Luncheon Award

9 comments on “How Bossy Saved the Farm

  1. I love the image of the mother sewing into the night and the delighted daughter. Sometimes we can make more things possible than we know…


  2. Hey, Rita. I’m glad my story “nudged awake” one of your memories from childhood. It seems our childhood experiences on the farm are similiar.


  3. Rita Dortch says:

    I remember the birthing days on the farm. Once, my cousin and I hid in the corn field and slipped up to peep in a hole in the barn. We thought we were pretty sly, until we heard Daddy’s voice,loud and clear, “Girls get on up to the house. Now!” It’s funny how those little memories come creeping out of the crevices of our mind when we hear something that nudges them awake.


  4. Dorothy Johnson says:

    Sure made the smile when I read it!


  5. Martha Heckman says:

    Vignettes, thumbnail sketches, of a time gone by, by a child grown wiser than her years….


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