The Barefoot Farmer
Part 1. Summer.
The sun burned through the slatted blinds and warmed the eyelids of Wesley Dell. A new day had arrived. Sitting up slowly, he took in three deep breaths and grabbed a pair of dirty trousers that hung messily over the chair by his bed. He snapped on the old crimson suspenders his father had given him as a child and walked out into the kitchen. Cletus, his 12 year old Irish Wolfhound, yawned and looked up at him with that same pleasing look he did every morning, he’d made it through another night.
“Mornin’ ol’ boy,” Wesley mumbled.
Cletus stretched, slowly rolled onto his feet and walk out the back door that was always open. The only time it ever shut was when a strong wind blew through the valley, and that was rare. Wesley popped on his tattered straw hat and followed behind with a steaming cup of coffee. The early morning sun warmed his bare chest and bare feet.
Wesley never wore shoes. He didn’t believe in them. They were a barrier between his feet and the earth. He liked the way each part of his land felt different beneath his toes. The goat pen was soft with old hay and decomposing manure, he didn’t mind. The hay field was prickly and dry but he had calluses so thick that he no longer felt the pricks and prods of the straw. The creek was rocky in parts and sandy in others. His vegetable beds were soft as pincushions, rich with soil he had been perfecting for years. It was almost the perfect mixture, a soft, crumbly loam that grew the most delicious vegetables in the valley. The cement in the barn was always cold on the feet and felt good on hot days.
Cletus led the way into the goat pen where Wesley’s four prized goats waited for their morning hay. There were two dams and two kids.
Grabbing his pitchfork he pierced four flakes of hay and set them in opposite corners of the pen. Gurty, Wesley’s oldest goat, liked her hay fluffed up in her old beat up stainless steel trough. Tess, the second oldest and tamest of the crew, liked her hay moist. Wesley always sprinkled it with a little water from the water hole in the middle of the pen. The kids, Bessie, a jet-black goat, and Starla, a blind little white goat, didn’t mind much how they got their hay, as long as they got it.
Next he grabbed a bucket full of chicken feed and whistled the four-note medley that let the chickens know that it was feeding time. One by one they came running toward Wesley and Cletus from every direction. There was no pen for the chickens so they could go wherever they wanted as they pleased, but they never strayed to far. Life at Sunset Meadows was too good to leave, and they knew that.
It was the first day of summer and Wesley could smell in the air that it was going to be a hot one. Cletus could smell it too.