Farmers have proven to be one of the most philanthropic members of society, volunteering to sit on numerous boards, committees and organizations. For a group of people whose jobs don't really have set hours or regular schedules, this can be challenging, and inevitably means a shuffling of the usual routine from time to time. Certain times of the year, there are more meetings than usual because it may considered a 'slow time' in the farming world (ie. right now) and easier to get a bunch of farmers together at once. This play is one example of what can happen on the occasional meeting night for one farmer. It would be well-performed by daydreamers who are saving up all of their pennies to someday live on the farm of their dreams and want to experience what 'it's really like'.(That said, in retrospect, I wouldn't trade it for the world)
Chores, When Dad's Away.
Act 1, Scene 1
The father of the house is rushing to get out for his evening meeting and is already running late. Three individuals, the mother and two children, sit on the stairs, trying to get themselves bundled up for chores.
Father: Ok, I'm outta here.
Daughter: I can't find my boot!!!!!!
Mother: Just look around Lucy, it's here somewhere. Mark, you'd better go, you're going to be late.
Father:Yeah, I know, ok, I'm gone.
Daughter (having a fit):MY BOOT IS GONE!!!!! wannnnhghhhhhh!!!!
Son (having a fit-seemingly wanting to go with Father): wannnnhhhh!
Mother: Lucy, enough! We'll wear your rubber boots, we'll find your boot tomorrow. Oh MARK! Don't forget to take eggs! Maybe someone at the meeting will want some! WILSON, SIT STILL!!!! Lucy, get a kleenex,wipe your face and stop whining.
It is a snowy, blowy night with not a star to be seen in the sky. Dark, cold and miserable, even the farm dog is hiding out in the barn, rather than waiting for his usual after-supper bone on the doorstep.
Mother: Ok, let's go. Lucy you lead the way, Wilson you hold my hand.
Daughter: Wahhnnnn...the snow is DEEP! The wind is COLD! It's DARK!
Mother: Ok, I know it's cold, but the faster we go, the sooner we'll be done. Let's go.
Son (a screaming dead-weight lump on a log): wannhhhhhhh
Mother gears up a sled which the dead-weight son immediately rolls off of and refuses to move, with the exception of the odd foot kick or arm throw in tantrum mode. Daughter continues to fuss and whine in the foreground.
Mother tries to open the door on the old half ton in the yard in desperation, but the doors are both frozen solidly shut. Van is gone to meeting with Father. Legs are the only mode of transportation to the farm-not usually a problem, until tonight.
In a fit herself, Mother throws son over her shoulder and grabs daughter by wrist, hauling both of them through growing snow drifts with a strength that can only be found deep within an impatient, tired, 8 and a half month pregnant woman.
Daughter: You're hurting me! My toes are COLD! Wannhhhhh
Mother-silent but deadly.
The scene is the chicken coop; first stop on the chore menu. On this night of nights, all three waterers are completely empty and have apparently been this way for at least an hour or two as the hens all scramble to get outside for a feed of snow as soon as the door is open. Mother is clearly impressed. Son is continuing his tantrum outside the coop while the daughter has smartly taken cover in the main barn, 'sorting' sockets, wrenches and other tools, all while still whining. Mother enacts the icy walk from the hen house to the main barn and back again, referenced in the previous blog entry, twice. She also gathers 42 eggs, all the while thinking of the 15 dozen that are currently taking up space back at her house. No dialogue in this scene with the exception of Son's screams, Daughter's whines and Mother's muttering curses. At the end of the scene there is a scurry of chickens and fluttering of feathers as they are not-so-gently herded back into the hen house for the night.
The scene is the sheep barn. Son is continuing his fit like a real trooper, this time inside the main barn, throwing himself around in a slushy puddle near the door. Daughter decides to break the whining for a brief moment to 'help mommy' with the sheep.
Mother (perusing her flock as she feeds the grain, mutters to herself): Yep, the tiny one is still tiny and the fat old ewe is still just fat, not pregnant at all. (Insert expletive)
Daughter: Black sheep? Where is the black sheep Mommy? Do we have a black sheep?
Mother: No Lucy, FAT sheep. I thought she was going to be a mommy, but she's just fat.
Daughter: Like you Mommy, with your fat belly with your baby?
Mother sighs: Yes. Yes, just like me.
During this dialogue the mother is trying to squeeze around the large round bale in the alleyway that was designed without a pregnant girth in mind. It is also a new bale, so is really much too heavy for her to unroll to feed. Again, in a fit of strength that only a tired mother of 2.5 children can summon, she rolls the new bale onward and feeds the bleating crew. Son in the background continues to cry. Daughter is reluctant to leave the sheep barn and resumes whining when she realizes that the trio must now trudge out to the cow barn.
Daughter: My toes are cold MOMMY!! I have to PEE MOMMY!
Mother: You'll have to wait.
Daughter: I CAN'T! I have to PEE!
Mother looks out the window and sees that grandparents who live on the farm, are not home.
Mother: Well, if you can't wait, you'll have to just pee in your snowpants, we can wash them.
Daughter, realizing her quest for a grandparent visit has been foiled, ups the ante on the whining.
Son assists by raising his own volume, and pitch.
After a desperate struggle to get out to the cow barn, amidst newly forming drifts, blowing ice pellets, two crying children and a armload of grain, mother and two children make it to the side door to discover that it will open just wide enough for them to get in, but not really wide enough for numerous forkloads of manure to successfully exit the building, as per usual practice.
Mother:(insert muttering expletives here)
Daughter: ROSIE'S POOPING AGAIN! DON'T FORGET THAT POOP! LOTS OF POOP TONIGHT!
Daughter: wannhhh!!! I wanted to do the water!!!!
Mother: Rosie's not on her chain Lucy, she's too cranky for you to be in here on your own. Tonight I'm going to do the water.
Mother continues to fork manure, unsuccessfully away from the doorway outside the barn while Rosie patiently waits for her grain. Poppy has decided that tonight is not chore time at all, but rather play time/rodeo and is chasing the Mother around and around, kicking and jumping. For the first time, both kids stop whining and begin to giggle.
Mother attempts to herd Poppy into her nighttime pen, but the rodeo continues for several minutes. While frustrated, the mother takes a moment to enjoy the fact that both kids are not screaming for once this evening. That wears off quickly and anger sets in. The fork ceases to be simply a vehicle for manure and becomes a weapon. Poppy gets into her pen, Rosie gets her grain and the trio head homeward.
The trek home is as 'fun' as the trek over and can either be re-enacted or simply remembered fondly. The scene ends with all three slumped in the front hall in a pile of wet, cold clothes, tears and snot.
There is something to be said for solidarity.