Fallow: Part One

The Farmer dr20160227-1779-efallow-field-late-afternoon-1eaded the day. The troubles beganĀ at the end of winter. The snows, the source of the spring surge that filled the rivers and overflowed its banks, had been light that year, barely covering the peaks of the distant mountains. The Farmer and his family stayed snug in their modest home, feeding off the smoked meats and preservesĀ from the prior year. If there were no floods His land along the riverbank would not be fertile enough for planting.

The situation worsened with the arrival of spring. The western rains did not arrive in their normal abundance, leaving the high fields too dry. But still he planted and prayed, hoping that they would arrive in time for the growing season. His prayers were not answered. For a while there was hope. Healthy sprouts emerged, promising a good season and although the anticipated harvest would not be what he hoped, it would be enough.

That hope was crushed when the summer drought began. The crops withered in the fields under the brutal heat. He was forced to harvest early and plow what was ruined back into the dry soil. It was then that the Farmer knew. It was not enough.

So he sat on his porch, his shotgun resting in his lap patting his old hound dog Rufus on the head, waiting. His family hid in the woods beyond the dead cornfield, ready to flee if things did not work out. They would not work out. He sat up when the felt the rumble from the engines of the heavy trucks that always arrived this time of year. They were coming for his due and he would not have it. He lifted his shotgun, checking it one more time. There were three shells in the magazine, another ten in his vest pocket. Like the harvest, it wasn’t enough. As the trucks came into view on the dusty road leading to his house, he stood.

“You ready, Rufus?” he said.

The old dog licked his hand then looked at him with rueful eyes.

The Farmer grinned.

“I hear you,” he said.

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