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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 30 page 17


Lately your dad’s been lining up the women that he knows like the daughter of one of his old customers that just got divorced and suggesting that you should give her a call, who knows son she might be interested in coming back to the farm, and all the while you just know it goes back to that damn sign, he wants it to say Hyde & Sons Simmentals for another generation.

The stranger has climbed down from the corral and he’s walking around inside the bullpen. You can see that bull that your dad’s got too damn friendly is gonna be a problem any minute now if you don’t get in there. That’s one bull that expects to be petted and scratched and will bunt the stranger if he don’t get what he wants and who needs that when they’re trying to look at bulls? Plus the whole issue of liability that you just don’t know whether you might end up in court.

The thing that usually crosses your mind when you see your dad headed down to the barnyard is how his pet bull is a hazard and one day you might find your dad face down with half a dozen hoofprints on his back and if that were to happen you’d be both relieved and ashamed, not to mention held to blame. So if you don’t get in there you know your dad probably will so you hop the fence while your dad is just getting himself halfway across the yard.

All of it makes you think about how your day was gonna go until this guy shows up and how your dad thinks that it shouldn’t be a problem but he’s not the one who’s got to deal with all the paperwork and this rotting corral that needs to be tore down completely and started over and he thinks what’s the problem you’re not the man he was, damn it when your mother left he raised you two boys and built the farm up and got into Simmentals when they was the coming thing and all you have to do is build on what he has turned over to you. And you think he might be right but what he doesn’t get is how you — and this will sound ungrateful — how you don’t care somehow, how you never chose any of this and that’s tasting bitter in your mouth but what are you supposed to do as you come this far and the time to question your dad’s plan was right at the beginning of it not now.

Now you see this stranger has noticed your dad and you pretty well have to make the introductions but then you realize you’ve forgotten the stranger’s name and you can just hear your father saying the first thing is that you remember the man’s name, everybody loves to hear their own name son, and you think yes just once you’d like to hear your dad call you Eddie instead of son ’cause that’s what he calls your brother Ben son as well, it’s like he can’t remember that you’re a grown man in your thirties and you have a name. And that you and Ben are no longer just his two boys. So suddenly and it happens too often when your dad is around you are all tongue-tied like you was ten all over again and like it ain’t you that did the entire show circuit by yourself last year, like you ain’t been the one in charge for over ten years.

But then your dad takes over asking the stranger what he’s looking for in a bull and pointing him to a bull that you know the stranger never gave a second glance to and then you know you’re absolutely sunk when your dad tells the man that he doesn’t want that big-birth-weight bull ’cuz that’s asking for trouble. The thing you have to remember and you just can’t get that through to your dad is that anyone looking at a bull has their own idea of how to select it and your job is to agree with him and maybe smooth over any little doubts that come up in his head. You jump in and tell him that bit about the long-carrying dam and how that’s the reason for the birth-weight and how your herd sire is very consistent in throwing calves that are at the 90-pound mark and that’s what you expect even from this bull that only incidentally weighed heavier.

But now the stranger is asking some more questions and he’s looking straight at your dad, like you’re too stupid to give him advice. That happens all the time, old dudes stick together.