“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” — Charles Dickens.
You could say this now, then and when I was a boy … “Down on the farm” the poem was one of those times … I’ve been there, done that, running through the corn, getting those cows out, wet pants, wet shoes, we’ve all done that. That is why looking back on it, the poem is so precious to me. I want to share this piece of work with my friends. This is too good to be hid away in some file cabinet … How it came to be on getting this work of art.
It was as I remembered, a cold, gray, misty, rainy, long day, unfit to work outside the farm. A friend of long ago, calling the folks, wanting to see them. Arrangements were made to come to town to pick him up in Hopkins with the small tractor, trailer, dad and self. Through axle-deep mud roads, we went down caramel roads that were unheard of at the time.
After spending the day, just before taking him back to town, he recited this poem from memory. I, as a kid, was so impressed. I asked if he would send me a copy, which he did. The man from Jefferson City, his name long forgotten, has escaped me. Hope you enjoy. Let’s keep this alive.
“Bob” R.L. Fine
Down on the farm, bout half past four.
I slip in my pants and sneak out of the door.
Out to the yard I run like the dickens.
To milk ten cows, and feed the chickens.
Clean out the barn, curry Nance and Jiggs,
Separate the cream and slop all the pigs.
Work two hours, then eat like a Turk,
And, by heck, I’m ready for a full day’s work.
Then grease the wagon and put up the rack,
Throw a jug of water in an old grain sack.
Hitch up the horses hustle down the lane,
Must get the hay in, for it looks like rain.
Look over yonder, sure as I’m born,
Cattle’s on the rampage, and cows in the corn.
Start across the medder, run a mile or two,
Heaving like I’m wind broke, get wet clean through.
Get back to the horses, then for recompense,
Nance got straddle the barbed wire fence.
Joints all a-aching, and muscles in a jerk,
I’m, as fit as a fiddle for a full day’s work.
Work all summer till winter is nigh,
Then figure up the book, and heave a big sigh.
Work all year, didn’t make a thing,
Got less cash now than I had last spring.
Now, some people say that there ain’t no hell,
But they never farmed, so they can’t tell.
When spring rolls around I take another chance,
While the fringe grows longer on my old pants.
Give my s’penders a hitch, my belt another jerk,
And by heck, I’m ready for a full year’s work.
The author is unknown.
“Heck I'm Ready for a Full Day’s Work” — rewritten by Robin Fine.