The Farm Chronicles: Horse trading, Coke and cat hair

For some reason, I really liked Coca Cola as I entered my teens and even through my 30s. Back then, I would rather have Coke than tea or coffee in the morning. In college, I signed on over fifty radio stations at 5:30 each morning at the broadcast network for which I worked. By 9:00, when everyone else came into work, I ran down to McDonald’s and got a quarter pounder, fries and a Coke for breakfast. One time, a candidate didn’t have enough money to pay for my media services, but he did have a pallet of Coke in his garage leftover from a get-together. You get the picture. I have long since stopped drinking Coke, but there is one story that sticks out in my mind where my love for Coke wasn’t at all pleasant.

Dad was always trading, buying, selling horses. He was likeable and honest. People trusted him. In fact, of the hundreds of horses that passed through our operation, all of them had a lifetime money-back guarantee. We never had anyone exercise that right. He allowed me to go along with him and learn the trade. I was to keep my mouth shut and only comment if he signaled I should. He said I had one mouth and two ears, meaning I should listen twice as much as I spoke. I guess he didn’t want me ruining any deal he had cooking. One Saturday morning, he asked if I wanted to go with him over to a certain family’s place (name withheld for reasons you are soon to see) as the father was interested in trading a horse for one of ours. Dad wanted to look over the horse, maybe have me ride it.

We pulled up the driveway to this run-down farm, fences in need of mending, old stuff laying around everywhere. The father and his son, a few years younger than me—I was about 14, showed us the horse. They let me ride the horse and everything seemed to check out OK. Dad is interested in what the man had to offer. We went inside the house to talk business. Sat down at the kitchen table. I looked around and, to be kind, it wasn’t my mother’s kitchen. There were dirty dishes piled high in the sink. Several cats were walking around on the counters. The father had to shew one off the table as we sat down. They asked if we wanted anything to drink. To be courteous, I asked if they had a Coke. You bet. The mother snatched a coffee mug off the counter, opened the fridge, an poured me a Coke.

I looked down at the mug and it probably had more cat hair in it than Coke. So I let it sit. When it was time to go, Dad said, “Son, you haven’t touched that Coke.” I replied that I wasn’t that thirsty. But he persisted, “I know you love Coke. Drink up. It’s time to go.” After a couple more urgings and me stalling, Dad firmly told me not to waste the Coke. So I hoisted the coffee cup and strained the cat hair with my teeth while downing the Coke. On the way home, Dad asked why I didn’t want to drink the Coke. I told him about the cat hair, and trying not to puke while straining the coke with my teeth. He, probably to this day in heaven, is still laughing. Ephesians 6:3-4 says, “Honor your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” Even with cat hair, I guess

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Bill Wilson