By Christine Tailer
Before my eyes even open, my ears are wide awake as the gentle ticking of our many mechanical clocks eases me into the day. I lie still, listening to their familiar voices, each one unique. The alarm clock that used to sit beside my father’s bed, now happily ticks on my night stand.
I smile to hear the metal ball rolling along its track inside the rolling ball clock. I love this unique clock. It represents the marriage of two of our passions, clocks and marbles. Then there is the gentle tick-tock of our many cuckoo clocks that join in chorus to back up the strong beat of our grandmother clock, and the wooden mantle clock, a gift from a friend. I hear them, each and every one, each and every morning, and then not again until they lull me to sleep at the end of the day.
When I step outside, I can hear the chickens as they excitedly cluck their morning egg-laying success. When I pass by the pigeon gazebo, the homers gently coo to welcome the new day. The sheep, however, are not so moderate. They plaintively baa, loud and course, as though they’re starving, but their fat bellies tell otherwise. Our goats simply nibble the sweet feed treat from my hand, with a silent tickle against my palm. The rabbits are also quiet, as they let me scratch between their ears.
Way down in the pasture, I can hear the cattle bellow. To my ears, their call sounds like the mournful blast from a foghorn. Their call echoes up and down the valley. They are beggars, like the sheep, and claim to be starving, though this is hardly so. The silly horses join them with a whinny, but it is not to beg. Their horse song is more like a jolly greeting as they run and dance around the pasture.
Overhead, I hear the screeching call of the hawk. Small birds chirp and sing in the trees. Crickets and treefrogs trill while the creek babbles across its shimmering fossil rocks, and then, just for the fun of it, chores done, I decide to take one of my red tractors for a ride up the road.
The barn door rattles as I raise it overhead. I climb up into the seat of my dear Super W6. I comfortably bounce in the seat as I settle down. I pull out the “on” switch with a click. I push in the clutch with my left foot and rattle the gear shift knob with my left hand to make sure that we’re in neutral, and then, without any choke, and not even the hint of throttle, I push in on the starter and my dear red tractor purrs to life.
I certainly love all four of my red tractors, not to mention our five farm tractors, but this one has a special place in my heart. It has the most gentle idle in the world and always starts with a whisper. With a rattling snap of the shifter, we are in first gear, and with just a bit of throttle we head out of the barn. We pause, and while pushing in on the clutch, I slide the gear shift to third and we are off, heading up the road as I increase the gas. The horses follow us to the end of the pasture, and then it is just me on my ever so beautiful red machine driving up the creek valley road.
I know that the other sounds of our creek valley world still surround me, but I cannot hear them. At this moment, all I hear is the soothing song of my dear tractor. My heart is full.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.