Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Gate Girl

This was published in my local paper, but never made it to the blog.  Thought those of you who hadn't seen it might relate.

     Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  With love is in the air, it’s no wonder that, when Joe asks me to go along with him to feed, I am lulled into believing he wants to spend a few romantic moments holding hands in the truck.  That notion only lasts until we reach the end of the driveway.  That’s when I realize that he wants me to go along because he needs the services of Gate Girl. 
     Being Gate Girl is one of my biggest responsibilities.  Tonight is a nine-gate evening.  Each gate is different and demands a different skill set.  
     Gate number one is brand new, but fell off of its hinges a week after we hung it. First I pry it open.  Then I move to the back side and drag it over the bumpy ground.  This is complicated by the sheep who are anxious for their evening grain.  I have to abandon my dragging to shoo them back into the field.  
     Gate number two has both hinges, but the latch has been replaced by a strand of barbed wire.  I prick my fingers as I untwist it. 
     Gate number three is made of wood.  Some nails are loose and the boards shift and creak as I push it around.  
      Gate number four is new.  I like gate number four.  
     Gate number five is lightweight, but must be lifted over a mound of dirt as I open it.  
     Gate number six has a sliding wooden latch that pinches my fingers.  
     Gate number seven must be propped open with an old fence post or it will swing shut on the truck as we pull through.  
     Gate number eight has one baler twine hinge and no latch.  It leans drunkenly against the posts and has to be bullied around.  I hate gate eight. 
     Gate number nine opens on the left instead of the right.  I always forget and try to open the wrong side.  Tonight is no exception.
     When we were first married I loved any excuse to ride along with Joe and help out on the farm. Being Gate Girl was something a city girl could do with no training. Now that I am older and more experienced, I can drive tractors, feed hay from the back of a moving pick-up truck, bottle feed calves and lambs, give shots and rake a pretty tidy windrow.  But, being Gate Girl is still my favorite farm chore.       
     Gate Girl will never make it to the super hero hall of fame.  I can’t leap buildings in a single bound or put out fires with my bare hands.  What I can do is open any gate on the farm and make my husband’s life just a little easier.  And when all the gates have been opened and closed, perhaps we’ll pull up to the top of a hill and watch the lambs play in the fields below.  

     Then, Joe will turn to me and whisper softly in my ear, “Can you help me again tomorrow?”

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