The cost of farming 

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Having lost his wife a few years earlier, my paternal grandfather came to live with my parents, sisters, and me for the last few months of his life as his health began to fail. In addition to having been a farmer for his entire life, he had also operated The Crownover General Store in the little community of Whiteville, in northern Arkansas. Vendors, who had sold him merchandise for a generation, many of whom became his friends, remembered his favorite purchases and would often stop by our house to visit with him and leave some products.

One of my most vivid memories of Grandpa Crownover involved a former associate of his stopping by and leaving a 50-pound sack of roasted peanuts. As Grandpa began shelling the nuts for his favorite grandson, I began to eat them…and eat them…and eat some more before hearing my mother scolding the old man, “You’re going to make the boy sick!”

“Ah, he’ll be OK,” Grandpa replied. “He’s a smart boy; he’ll quit before he eats too much.” 

I didn’t.

A few weeks after that, another old salesman stopped by the house to leave Grandpa a couple of watermelons grown in the good, black dirt of the Arkansas Delta. Below our house, we had a spring that came out of the side of a hill and provided the coldest water around for miles. After leaving the melons in that cold water for a couple of days, Grandpa retrieved one and cut it open for us while my parents were down in the river bottoms hoeing corn. Grandpa taught me how to thump the melon to get that melodious sound, which affirmed that it was ripe enough to eat. When Mom and Dad returned from a day of hard work, they discovered their only son, surrounded by clean, melon rinds in every direction, with a belly so swollen, it thumped like a perfect Sugar Baby melon.

“Did you let him eat all that?” my mother huffed.

“He’ll be all right,” Grandpa reiterated.

I wasn’t.

For some reason, these recollections came to me last week after observing our newest farm dog. Louie is a Corgi we got as a puppy just about a year ago. He is a good dog that I’m hoping will become a great dog if he will just learn to chill. 

The cowboys were here for the annual spring cattle working, and after they left, Louie discovered the pile of discarded mountain oysters by the corral, only a couple of hundred yards from the house. He must have spent three hours or more partaking of the delicacies before waddling back to the house. The normally keyed-up young canine was lying on the front porch, as sedate as a patient going into surgery. I would have thought a smart, young dog would quit eating before making himself sick.

He didn’t.

Jerry Crownover is a farmer and former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. Jerry’s daily exploits on the farm are now viewable on YouTube at “lifeissimple678”.To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

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