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.