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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)

TITLE: Animal Husbandry


On my bed, by night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not.

Song of Solomon 3:1 (ESV)

Underneath the floodlights, Beth watched Avery attach the pressure cups to the four teats of the first four cows. Ten minutes and twelve gallons of milk later, he would prod this group down and lead the next four up to the platforms. Not far from him, her father tested the milk and set the lines and temperature to the holding tank. In two and a half hours they’d have the entire herd of seventy-five Swiss Browns milked and grazing in the east pasture under the rising April sun.

It was amazing what two people could accomplish.

Avery had joined her father in the milking enterprise with a fervor that kept the farm from the auction block when her brothers had said, enough. She’d been glad to return home. They wanted children, and the city was no place to have them.

Apparently the farm was no place to have them, either. A year of Avery laboring sun up to sun down, and Beth began to wonder if she’d always be the heifer and never the milking cow. She kept herself busy with the house and the barn and the fields. In theory, she should have been as exhausted as he was. But she wasn’t.

Maybe it was the way he talked when they were alone.

Like when he described digging the post holes for the new fence using a hydraulic piece of equipment he said worked via two strokes—one up, one down. The stages repeated until the post was buried in the earth.

Beth—it’s so cool, he had said.

If it was so cool, then why had she needed a fan? His constant talk of bulls and breeding, zerk fittings, and hydraulic bottle jacks kept the blush high in her cheeks. His farm vernacular was much more interesting than his computer talk had ever been. And the way his overalls draped up over his trapezius and came back down his expanded chest—how his biceps flexed when he lifted the hay up into the loft—all left her pulse wildly syncopated.

But the reality was that her father saw more of her husband than she did.

Beth sighed.

The tangerine sun was working its way up through the treetops, tinting the sky as it traveled. Everything on the farm seemed to be in the process of ascending or descending—not stationary and waiting.

That’s when it occurred to her that she’d been going about it all wrong.

She ran to the house, kicked off her boots in the mudroom, and began making her father a grocery list. He did enjoy running to town on errands. She scribbled items like capers and Pickapeppa Sauce and porcini mushrooms. She made a note in the margin suggesting he try Martin’s or Kroger’s—if he had trouble finding something at Food Lion.

Her father raised his eyebrows when she handed him the list. “What’s wasabi?”

She patted his shoulder. “Check the international aisle.”

He left after lunch which gave her three hours before the afternoon milking.

Avery was working on the tractor when she toddled up to him, keeping her weight on the balls of her high-heeled sling-backs. She kissed his ear. “Hey Beth,” he said without looking at her. “I was using this slide hammer to—”

“Shhh,” she said. “It’s my turn to tell you what I was doing. I was fixing my hair. I couldn’t decide whether I should wear it up or down.” She gathered the wavy length into a high twist. “What do you think?” As Avery turned from the tractor, she released her hair and it rippled down, reaching the top of her strapless dress.

“Then I couldn’t decide if I should wear something with a neckline up here, or down here.” Her finger trailed to a hint of cleavage.

“Well, yeah—that looks nice.” Avery dropped the slide hammer. “You smell good, too.”

“Does it smell better up here, behind my ear, or down here at my wrist?”

“Uhhh—where’s your dad?”

“Out looking for fenugreek—one point six ounces.”

Some of her smugness dissipated later during dinner when her father reached over and plucked pieces of hay from her hair. He said nothing, but from that day on, he offered to do the grocery shopping.

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This article has been read 1294 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/09/09
Oh chuckle! Believe it or not, this reminded me of something I read years ago by a lady I think was called Maribel Morgan—something to do with how to keep your husband interested!!!!! Very good.
Loren T. Lowery04/09/09
Perfect Bible verse for the theme of this story. It reminds me so much of one of my favorite movies, "Friendly Persuasion" with Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire - the story of a civil war Quaker farm family in S. Indiana. It is easy to lose focus on the things that truly matter in our lives (relationships with one another rather than with work and things)and, as usual, it normally takes a woman's heart to wake us up to this. I liked the "conspiratorial" tone of the last paragraph, too. Hinting, possibly that the father understood this as well -
maybe from having once lived it as well.
Charla Diehl 04/09/09
I liked this sweet romantic story. Glad for Beth that her father must have been a romantic at heart too, thereby doing the future shopping for her.
Sheri Gordon04/09/09
I want to read more of the story--did it work for Beth? You engage the reader from the beginning, and the descriptive phrases you use are very seductive--perfect for this story. Excellent writing.
Jan Ackerson 04/10/09
Perfect title, perfect use of the topic words, perfect use of lovely innuendo. I. Love. This. Story. Your writing astounds me!
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/10/09
Awesome story--One of the best I've read in my two years at FW following the challenge.
Shirley McClay 04/10/09
Excellent! I love romances and this one was TOP of the line!
Joy Faire Stewart04/11/09
What a delightful, sassy entry. You nailed the topic perfectly. Loved it!
Sonya Leigh04/11/09
Great writing that captures a sweet marriage moment and brings to mind a scripture...

Gen 2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Really good job with the topic.
Glynis Becker04/12/09
Very enjoyable. It's sweet and romantic and all the better because it leaves it all up to one's imagination! Great job!
Allison Egley 04/12/09
Hehehe Love that last line.

I got a bit confused about whether she was talking about her husband or father at first, but that's probably just me.

Great story. I like it.
Beth LaBuff 04/12/09
Love this!!! You've either extensively researched this or you grew up on a farm… you've got everything even down to the "prod this group down". When I got to the "fenugreek--one point six ounces" I had to smile. Love your ending, with the "pieces of hay." Awesome writing! Your MC has a great name, and by the way… if you choose to write more about her. My husband raised hogs with my father for over ten years…. Oh, and in the fall, I liked riding in the combine.
Chely Roach04/12/09
This was fantastic. Perfect balance of reality, humor and sensuality. So, so very good. Loved it!
Carol Slider 04/13/09
What a wonderful story--so fun and detailed and realistic! And what a creatively sneaky way of getting some time alone! Very well done.
Connie Dixon04/13/09
Your writing is amazing. Every time I read one of your stories, I learn something new. So descriptive, so entertaining, so genuine...loved it.
Mona Purvis04/13/09
Yes, I agree this is very special. I am a sucker for romance done well which this is. Just loved the MC. The farm descriptions are flawless.
Diana Dart 04/15/09
Well, I wasn't sure from the title, but with your usual talent you BLEW ME AWAY! Fantastic. The descriptions, the frustration of the MC, the feel, smell and taste of the farm - it was all here. And even a bit of smoking romance. The way you weaved the Up and Down theme all the way through was inspiring. Nice, all very, very nice.
Beckie Stewart04/15/09
Love this! Made me smile and very well written indeed.
Carole Robishaw 04/15/09
Loved this, what more could add to what has already been said?
Betty Castleberry04/15/09
I love this. Beth is one clever wife. Grinning....
Kimberly Russell04/15/09
I really enjoyed this. Found myself stretching toward the end to see what came next. I love it when something captivates me- Terrific!
Bryan Ridenour04/16/09
Great writing...very entertaining read...Well Done!!!
Peter Stone04/16/09
Masterful writing to be sure. The romance, the obstacle to fulfilment, and then how the MC found a way around the obstacles. Great humor in the ending, too.
Sheri Gordon04/16/09
Congratulations on your EC, Lisa. So glad to see this piece place. :)
Benjamin Graber04/16/09
I really enjoyed this one, Lisa - it is romantic and crative and everything I like in a story... :-) Congratulations on 3rd!
Sonya Leigh04/16/09
That's what I'm talkin' about! Congratulations to our friend who encourages everyone, whether she has placed or not placed. EC, Yahoo!
Laury Hubrich 04/16/09
Oh wow! Wow! I had no clue where you were going with this. What a pleasant surprise! Wooboy;) Blushing;)
Myrna Noyes04/16/09
CONGRATULATIONS, Lisa, on your very well-deserved EC win!! :) What a cute, sweet story with such an authentic atmosphere!
Joshua Janoski04/16/09
Loved this story! Your writing style is one of my favorites here on FW. I don't know how you manage to capture my attention so well. I guess if I knew your master secrets then I'd be getting ECs like crazy too. Writing definitely comes natural to you, and I appreciate you sharing your talent with all of us.
Norma-Anne Hough04/16/09
Wow really an awesome entry.
Well done on your third place. I loved the shopping idea, especially the list of "international ingredients".
Beth LaBuff 04/16/09
Lisa, Congrats on your EC!!
Karlene Jacobsen04/16/09
This is hilarious!! I love that last part about Dad...he wasn't born yesterday, huh? HEHE
Rachel Rudd 04/17/09
Wow! I just got around to reading this today....wow wow wow! I love it! I have to get my husband to read this (just for the fun of it). THank you for showing how married life can be so much fun! :) And congratulations on your win...it's well deserved!
Sharon Laughter04/20/09
Okay, could you please write a romance novel? There wasn't enough here! I love your style! It just keeps flowing like the milk making you thirsty for more!!!
joanna reed04/25/09
Again, I have missed the faith writing but as I have been told before the skill in writing is what counts not the subject. The name of the site should be changed for clarification. We dont care about your faith and who you have faith in but we want you to write well. If this is true, you have done a great job.
Chely Roach05/01/09
Still love this marvelous piece! Congrats on your well deserved EC, and may God bless you richly for blessing so many of us with your God given gift. You rock!