Outstanding In Their Field

Kiefner and his guest from Mexico, Jesus.
Kiefner and his guest from Mexico, Jesus.

I currently have a guest from Mexico at my house. Jesus owns two farms in Mexico. Since I have lived my entire life as a farmer, and most of it on the farm, I have a different perspective on life in the country than my wife.

Cora grew up in the city and graduated from high school with over 1,200 in her class. How is my life on the farm different from Jesus’ and Cora’s?

Once again on the Labor Day weekend, I made sure that I attended the Sunday night fireworks in Manhattan with my wife and friends. Jesus, our guest from Mexico, came with us. When we came home, I made the fateful mistake of letting our dogs out through the garage into the front yard to do “their business.”

Bratwurst had spied a skunk and gave chase. My wife, Cora, started to issue verbal reprimands as he bolted across the driveway into the darkness of our side yard. It was no use; Bratwurst is mostly deaf. He is compliant when close enough to hear, but his prey drive had also kicked in. Bratwurst caught the skunk despite the skunk’s best efforts to thwart the attack with its potent spray.

Cora was screaming and yelling very loudly as the skunk spray permeated the night air, and I corralled Bratwurst back to the house. Jesus fled to his bedroom, fearing I had somehow riled Cora, and wanted nothing to do with the verbal assault he thought was directed at me. I will leave out the details of the next hour of washing and cleaning.

Later that night as bedtime finally came, I tried to calm her more when she told me Bratwurst had to sleep in the garage. I told her, “It is not a big deal; the smell will pass.” She replied, “This is the worst night of my life.”

I then asked her if she had ever been sprayed by a skunk. Her answer was no. I laughed as I told her it was probably my 37th encounter with a skunk, and my mother never made me sleep in the garage. Somehow, I was able to finally calm her. However, our washing machine has not stopped for days, and the house and Bratwurst have been scrubbed repeatedly.

For the first 56 years of my life, I lived on the farm where most of the work happened. For the last 3 years, I have had to commute a treacherous 3.25 miles that takes me 4 minutes and 37 seconds, longer if I must brake for wildlife.

Jesus, on the other hand, must drive rough backroads, what we would probably not even consider a road, for over 90 minutes to reach his one farm. He told me the other farm is not even accessible by car. It is at least a 2-hour horseback ride to reach that farm.

Both of Jesus’ farms are primarily cattle farms in the high country. When he goes to work at them, he stays overnight in a shack for several days before he returns. Neither farm has electricity or cellular service. Before the fireworks on Labor Day, Jesus showed me a video of a panther stalking prey on his farm in Mexico from a trail camera.

Perhaps I should never complain about a 4-minute commute to the farm again, and perhaps Cora should appreciate a skunk’s presence over a panther.

However, if her voice was enough to scare Jesus, would it be enough to scare a panther? I certainly do not think Bratwurst would survive that encounter.

The hut where Jesus stays while he’s working on his farm away from home. And his transportation to and from.


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