A Few Good Men – And a Young Woman: A Reflection

by Annette Jenkins

Baling twine has many uses other than holding hay bales together. Trust me, I know. Young Kenadee Barnitz uses it as a belt to hold up her jeans and tie temporary gates closed, something this farm girl is all too familiar with. She’s the same age as my little sister. I am overwhelmed with the feeling of belonging.

A massive red barn similar to my family’s stands in the middle of the lot. Black grease spots the floor, signs of farm machinery being repaired throughout the years. No doubt the five generations of hardworking men who have walked through this barn since 1868 have gotten their hands dirty with who-knows-what.

Walking across the lot, I feel at home. The dust and stench of manure and pigs waft to my face and my father’s warm smile and baritone voice comes to mind. “Ahh. Smells like money.”

I see the same equipment, animals, collected deer antlers, feed sacks, and dirty pallets. A Kawasaki Mule like the one we drive at home is crammed with nine five-gallon buckets overflowing with grain and corn. 14-year-old Kenadee will have to help her father and grandpa unload them to feed her baby hogs, then bottle-feed the newborn calf in the barn whose mother had died at birth.

She’ll use her baling twine to tie the empty buckets to the fence when she is finished with the chores, then head inside to work on biology homework for school the next day. After school, she’ll go to basketball practice and come home to repeat her same chores. The life of a “farm kid” is about the same every day. You grow to miss it as you get older. What I wouldn’t give to go home this second and help my father with the duties I abandoned when I left for college.

Kenadee will look after this farm when her father Frank leaves it to her, just as his father George left it to him. The three of them work together on the daily grind to run the farm to the best of their ability. My mind flashes to my own sister, also going to school and doing my chores. I respect and envy this young girl so much. I am humbled, and I call my sister-in the middle of her homework-to thank her for her hard work.

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