Although my siblings and I dreaded chores in the winter -- trudging through snow drifts, hauling water, bedding pens -- chores in the spring brought about a new set of challenges. Namely, keeping our boots out of mud's strong grip.
Our 4-H horses and cattle shared a lot at the back of the farm. Feedbunks sat along the east fence, easily accessible for tossing in a bucket of grain without leaving the safety of the yard. The hay feeder, however, sat in the middle of the lot.
My sister and I tried everything to get hay to that feeder without stepping in mud. We straddled the fence, balancing a bale between us, thinking we could throw it. Oy vey! We used a pitchfork like the arm of a catapult and tried launching hay into the feeder.
Inevitably, we had no choice but to venture into that black mire. The further into the lot we went, the deeper our boots sank. We tried slow and steady, frog-jumping from one semisolid piece of ground to the next, running -- that never worked.
Regardless of our tactics, we often reached the hay feeder minus one boot. Usually, mid-lot with nothing near for support, a boot would succumb to the grip of that sticky mud. Out popped a foot, typically bare because the sock had already fallen off inside the boot. Squish! Cold slime wrapped around each toe and oozed up to the ankle. Cries for help were met with laughter from the sibling still safe in the barn.
While a cold, mud-caked foot might seem to be the real problem, wrestling the lost boot from the mud's strong grasp was the greater source of frustration. I know every farm kid can relate to being stuck in mud season this time of year.
Katie Pratt writes, tweets, farms and manages mud season from north-central Illinois. Find her blog at theillinoisfarmgirl.com, and follow her on Twitter @KatiePratt4
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