Papa Gets Help

The fire at L & L pub still burns in the middle of the wall. It yields a bit to the shadows around the seating area. Alfred and I continue to sit in our little pool of light at the back corner of the place. Ralph and Rebecca haven’t yet finished their wine. They remain chatting quietly at the bar.

Alfred pours himself a bit of whiskey into the bottom of his beer glass. “Yeah, once the farm was a bit more settled, Papa started to think that maybe he could use some help keeping things in order. He ran into some lady at market one day. They struck up a conversation. She waited on him every time he went to market, and he wrote her constantly. They decided to get married. She moved into the house and learned to weave wool. So, she was making clothes. That ended one trade deal at market, but it opened others because now they had a finished product to sell. That transition was the easiest one that the farm has seen. She really brought new life to the place. Literally, in the case of Joseph Peter and Catherine Hana.”

I clink my glass against Alfred’s. “Here’s to finding a partner for life.”

Alfred nods. “Agreed. It is a beautiful thing to witness. With a new bride, Papa decides to get some help for the flocks too. He would like a little more time at home at night.”

“Right, so he calls his unattached, younger brother. I was glad when he did that. You really grew in that position. I’m not sure that I remember what you were doing before the farm. I do know that you really found a purpose helping with those herds.”

Alfred shrugs. “I was really happy that my brother asked me to help out with the herds. I was excited to join such a passionate project especially with family.”

I smile while leaning onto the table. “But you didn’t like where Papa put you initially?”

Alfred shakes his head. “He had me on late night barn duty. He would take the herds out at daylight, bring them back at sunset, and then they would be my responsibility. I had to milk the cows and make sure the groups didn’t kill each other. I thought the work very tedious. I realized though that I could help Papa get some control of the herds by making them comfortable in the barn. I noticed that certain levels of grain and bedding made them easier to handle in the fields. So, I learned what role I played in everything. That’s when I started to appreciate where I was.”

I point a finger at Alfred’s chest. “Isn’t it amazing what happens when we find that spot? I recall the story of a missionary that was at first captured by a group of people. He sought every way possible to escape from that place. But, he ends up choosing to go back to those people because he saw serving them as the only thing to do.”

Alfred snorts. “And you want to tell me that your memory isn’t that good? How do you remember all these stories? I guess you have just told some of them so many times.”

I smirk. “Once again, sometimes the conversation just reminds me of different things. Something just connects and out comes the story.”

Alfred stares out at the shadows in front of the the bar. “Anyway, so that’s how the farm went. Everything grew as Papa worked on it. He managed the pieces to stay the size he wanted. We worked together. The children joined us doing only small tasks when their age allowed. Papa was more patient with the children than the livestock. He had no problem repeating directions as many times as it took. Though he wasn’t afraid of a firm hand when mistakes got too out of hand.”

I laugh. “Yes, you mean the incident of using milking time to work on target practice?”

Alfred leans his head back and closes his eyes. “I had forgotten that incident, but yes Papa was unhappy about that one. What possessed them to try to squirt one another while milking a cow is beyond me.”

I shrug. “Well, that’s what children do, right? They just push as far as you will let them.”

Alfred purses his lips. “Those two certainly pushed whatever boundary was given to them. They did better than the sheep though at keeping their balance and not truly falling into anything.”

“Well, that’s good. I would imagine pulling children out of holes would be much noisier than pulling sheep out of holes.”

Alfred laughs. “I don’t know about that, Edward. Sheep can make an awful lot of noise.”

“All right, so, the farm is growing along, as are the children. But where are we now? I’m curious if the children have divided the farm on their own terms or was that Papa’s idea?”

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