Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Look into the Life of Sam and Sharon

My parents are not normal.  Now, I’m sure all three of you reading this are thinking, “Everyone’s parents are weird.  It’s like, a thing” but I can assure you – mine can take the cake.  They will probably take the cake, anyway, because they hate to waste food and my father really likes to eat.  So, I present to you, reasons my parents are delightfully…odd.
1.  Each and every time I talk to my mother on the phone, the answer to the “So, what are you doing?” question results in an answer that no one in his right mind would expect.  I’ve gotten the following responses:
“We just dressed a deer in the front yard.”
“I’m waiting on a shipment of nematodes* for your dad.”
“I just found some apple trees in the hallway!”
“I’m grinding flour and your father is attending a conference about goats in Springfield.” 
“Trying to get a permit to move a chicken hutch from Mt. Juliet.”
Now, you may have guessed by now that my parents are farmers.  You may not have, but they are.  This fact accounts for *some* of their odd activities, but the point is, these are not normal responses.  And they never will be when I call them.  I will continually be flabbergasted at the shenanigans my Robertson County parents have gotten themselves into, and subsequently be flabbergasted that I’m still flabbergasted by their answers. 
2.  My father rarely goes anywhere without a hard hat.  Exceptions include church and church functions, going to “town” (the “town” being Nashville.  A trip to Springfield rarely merits the removal of the infamous blue hard hat) and my wedding.  Picking me up in elementary school?  Hard hat.  Taking me to piano lessons?  Hard hat in C minor.  Softball practice?  Hard hat, albeit a bit merited given my batting abilities.  The point is, when I described my dad to someone, it usually ended with, “Oh yeah!  He’s the guy in the blue hard hat, isn’t he?” and an affirmative sigh from yours truly.  When an occasion calls for a bit more of class, he dons his Vigortone (livestock mineral) hat and goes gallivanting all over Nashville attempting to get a ¾ monkey screw wrench (galvanized, preferably.)
3.  My mother was once part of a group called “The Moo Shine Runners.”  You might know that unpasteurized, or raw, milk is totally illegal in this country, as the FDA desperately wants its e Coli carrying fingers all over everything we eat, ever.  Not one to take this lightly, my parents starting going to Kentucky ever so often to buy a share of a cow.  This little loophole, allowing them to not actually purchase the milk, but a percentage of a cow, allowed Sam and Sharon raw milk.  After getting a group of people together, they would often carpool to get the black market white milk and my little church-going mother officially began running shine.  Of the Moo variety. 
4.  I once went out to my parents’ house to help my mother can green beans.  I wound up chasing cows from one field into another after my father got us with the sob story of the bull, Hank, in a danger of overheating if we didn’t help him get to the field with the actual water.  I’ve seen Hank.  I do not want to have to move an immobilized-due-to-dehydration Hank.  Chasing him around a soybean field was plenty excitement. 
5.  My father steals people’s yard waste.  Not one to go the conventional route for anything, Sam makes his own compost.  Compost is made up of biodegradable materials that are thrown together in a huge pile until they start to get hot (some kind of chemical reaction makes this possible.  I do not know what this chemical reaction actually is.  But it produces heat!)  Finding himself with a lack of biodegradable materials, Sam decided to go another route.  A route that included going around to every neighborhood in Eastern Robertson County the night before trash pick-up to steal people’s yard trash.  Leaves in the fall, grass clippings in the summer, the fun never stopped.  This wouldn’t have been completely humiliating if my father (playfully tagged “The Leaf Thief”) didn’t drive a truck that looked like it had been through the worst part of the third world war.  Homemade metal racks in the back provided “walls”, which provided more leaf storage.  We would troll around until we saw a pile of promising black bags on the street, stop as inconspicuously as is possible in a rather rusted out truck with metal racks on the back, and relieve folks of what they didn’t want anyway.  It was horrifying to a 14-year-old, but I do admit to sliding down the mountains of plastic bags on the back part of the farm after a snow storm.  I figured I might as well rid myself of shame while happily bouncing down a mountain of snow-laden grass clippings and the occasional, rather painful pine cone.
6.  Finally (not that I’ve completely listed all the things that are a bit off about them…I just have to stop typing or my fingers will, in fact, fall off.  And then my dad would probably compost them) their “vacations” consist of seminars about organic farming, livestock, or large machinery.  An annual trip to Louisville is mandatory in their house, as each year brings a bigger and better Farm Machinery Show.  The Southern SAWG (Sustainable Agriculture Working Group) Convention is a bit more of a luxury, as it requires a bit more travel, and often, an accompanying ham in a cooler so they can munch on it during their trip (true story.) But when the Small Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association is in town?  Hoo hoo dilly, get out the Vigortone hat boys!  It’s time to par-tay. 
Don’t get me wrong – I love my parents and their (decidedly numerous) quirks.  But when my father drops off two bags of green beans and okra, a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner, and two deep fryers in exchange for the empty egg cartons I’ve collected for them, I just smile and tell him to get out to Mom, who is sitting in the car baby-sitting the chickens they’ve just picked up from a show-and-tell at an elementary school.
*I have no idea what a nematode is, but I DO know that it’s used as an organic alternative to pest control.  And that they arrive on dry ice, since they have to be refrigerated.
Their one vacation that didn't involve farm machinery - my wedding.  Note Sam's hat. 


  1. I should tell you some stories sometime about my mother. My dad is pretty normal, but my mother...oh boy, the stories I have. The Morning Show told one a few months back. Her stories are so ridiculous, they entertain the masses.

  2. It's the Justice family traveling crap show!!

  3. You know, as I am sitting at work laughing my ass off, I realize that all of this is true, and that I was also there for a lot of these events. I too remember the snow-covered mounds, picking up the parts of said mounds, and the trips to Louisville, which we thought was absolutely glamorous at the time due to all of the "goodies" we collected while trying to change our look just a little as we passed a booth giving away the "good stuff" several times. But, what can you do but love these two and the quirks that come along with them?

  4. Jamie, you nut. Do you not realize this is what parents of older children are supposed to do?? Driving our adult kids crazy is our only joy in life. From farting contest, burping contest (the likes of which I have not seen since) endless nights of giggles and tears. From chasing down missing girls to crying at graduations. From endless cooking favorite foods needing to be appreciated to endless driving to and fro. PAYBACK IS HELL!! and we enjoy every single minute of it. LOL