Horse Farming Days

Johnny Shaw’s two draft horses clip-clopped down the tree-lined driveway, past the white farmhouse, down the county road to the field; the old wagon laden with several years of accumulated chicken manure.  My brother and myself, knew what came next.

The wagon had to be unloaded the way it was loaded.  In other words, Johnny didn’t have a new-fangled spreader, like everyone else.  It was labor intensive, the chicken manure handled twice.

Farming went mechanized, during and after the war.  Johnny Shaw didn’t get the memo–or more likely, was just stubborn, set in his ways.

Our formerly white tee shirts, were now shades of gray.  The smell of ammonia was hard to ignore on that hot, humid, summer day.  Riding to and from the field refreshed with cooling breezes.

I don’t remember how many trips were made back-and-forth.  There was no goofing off this time.  Johnny stood watch nearby, he wanted his money’s worth.  Locusts and crickets chirped their afternoon tunes, when around six in the afternoon, Johnny announced, “that’s the last scoopful, the one we’ve waited for all day.”

It was hard, dirty, smelly work for ninety cents an hour–much less than the prevailing wage.  The big lunch had to be worth something–however.  Cleaning chicken houses, was immediately scratched off our career choice lists.



One too many skinned knuckles.  Too many stinging words from a boss that didn’t care about difficulties–they were just excuses.  Excuses crudely compared to anatomical excretory features, that every human possessed.

The tossed sledgehammer traveled in a steady arc, landed in a vacant lot with a dull thud.  Anger boiled over, settled to a steady drip.  It was February for cripe sakes, and he’d been sweating like a pig.  Larry looked around, embarrassed that anger engaged his persona for a few seconds.

“I’m going to get after it, today, Boss.”  Larry said that morning–before he left the garage.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Larry’s boss replied.  “Three rods in eight hours?  What was he paying him for?”

Empowerment was management’s favorite word.  What it really meant was-whatever happened, you were on your own to get it done.

All new subdivision homes required ten-foot ground rods for utility connections.  An easy task in soft soil.  These lots were back filled with a mixture of hard packed clay and slag from a nearby steel mill.  How could he have been so unlucky?  Things had to change in a hurry.

The answer came in the form of a mobile home anchor–a strong, thick steel rod, with an auger screw at the bottom, and a closed loop at the top.  By inserting a wrench handle through the top loop; adding a piece of pipe over the handle for leverage–the crude contraption worked slow, but steady, after breaking surface hard-pan.

It wasn’t standard issue tooling, but it was too short a walk from empowerment to unemployment.

Ghoulish specters of industrial waste lay hidden underground, ready to spring, without so much as a warning given to future generations.  Sacrifices made in the name of balance sheets and low-cost housing.

Your CWI Is Too Long

Long ago in the time of paper records there was a young man naïve in the ways of the world; and certainly naïve to office practices.

He had to get his priorities in order to function at acceptable levels.

“Watch your CWI.”

“Your CWI is too long.”

This admonition rang out the entire working day.  There was a time limit from when a call was answered, to hold time required to secure paper records, and return to the line with an answer.  Hence, CWI–customer waiting interval.

Some days, I swore acronyms were more important, than the customer service job itself.  Every operation had an acronym.  I’ve forgotten most of them except for BISCOMDACS.

Love the life your in–good advice to follow.  However, filing wasn’t as fulfilling to me–as perhaps it should have been.





“Wake up Grimsley!”

“You’ve got some nerve–sleeping on the job.”

“Get some coffee, splash cold water on your face.  When you go home tonight, get some shuteye!  Get back to work.  Do I need to remind you that my son-in-law needs a job?”

Thank goodness I never worked for the stern Mr. Cavanaugh.  The person in the background found the scene amusing.  Perhaps, because Mr. Cavanaugh was preoccupied with someone else.


This is leading up to me taking a break for a few days.  Feel free to search through the archives.  Vacations lead to good story material.  I’m not as tired as Grimsley, but could use some time off.