Welcome to God’s Country

By Beth Watkins

My husband has some unique and profound sayings, the latest one being said as we traveled north on State Highway 75. In his words and accented by his rich southern twang and in-light of the situation and due to the fact of the matter, being the overabundance of theno-drivin’ sons-a-peaches, he boldly stated; “No one in their right mind should live north of the South Canadian River!”

We proudly live south of The South Canadian River. If my husband had his way, there would be banner sign over the southbound lane at midpoint of the bridge proudly proclaiming, “Welcome to God’s Country!” As it is, there is just a sign stating, “Choctaw Nation Boundary.”

I am not quite sure of the reasoning for this being called “God’s Country” but it is a general consensus amongst our close family and friends who live here. I have my reasons for agreeing with the term: the peace I find here at the end of the dirt road, the night sky is bright with stars, and the cow population outweighs the people population. I appreciate the general respect among ranchers for each other’s cows and property.  A prime example of “loving your neighbor,” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is if a cow is spotted outside its pasture, it’s common courtesy to let the owner know, and if possible, help put it back in. Everyone who owns cattle knows they are going to need a helping hand at some point. I guess being a part of a community with like-minded people with the same livelihood and goals is what makes our journey so joyful.

We do, however, have people here in “God’s Country” who don’t really belong, and even though they may never have the ability or the mindset of a farmer, we are to love them anyway, bless their hearts. “That dog won’t hunt, because it don’t know come here from sic em.”  A perfect example for that statement is in a story that my friend shared with me.

Lydia has chickens and she sells eggs; she gets $4 for an 18 count carton of her farm fresh eggs. Lydia’s husband, Jack, sold some eggs to a lady he works with, who has become a regular customer. The lady, we will call “Helen,” called to inform Lydia that she and her husband had decided it would work out better if they had their own chickens, and did they have any for sale? Lydia explained that she didn’t have any at this time. Helen said, “Oh, come on! You have like 35 chickens, you can surely spare three or four!”

Lydia politely declined, but offered to put her on the waiting list and said she would sell her some pullet chicks next spring. Helen said, “No thanks. I want laying hens not pullets.” Lydia calmly explained that her hens are older and that starter pullets would be what she needed; that would give her time to get ready for them. “Ready for them? I was just planning on putting them in my backyard. My husky is back there, and he is doing just fine,” Helen stated. And, without going into too much detail, Lydia tried to explain a few, very basic, chicken-care needs, like not feeding them to huskies, for starters. Helen butted-in with enthusiasm, “We will come look at your setup; we are loading the family up in the car now. See you soon!”

The show that unfolds is painful. The car pulls into the driveway and Mom and Dad along with three curtain climbers and a husky jump out. Instantly the kids are terrorizing Lydia’s ponies, throwing dirt clods and screaming at them. Dad then demands that his little angels get a pony ride. Lydia explains they are not riding ponies; they are driving ponies. So he insists they be hitched up. Taking that as a warning, the ponies duck into their shed.

They turn to notice the visiting dog is nowhere in sight. Meanwhile, the husky was on the other side of the house furiously, silently and quite effectively digging up three freshly planted fruit trees. Lydia asked Helen to please put her dog on a leash. Helen had not bothered to bring one. Lydia quickly fetched a lead rope, and, thank goodness, Helen took it from her and attached it to her hyper husky before Lydia wrapped it around someone else’s neck. Lydia’s husband had already began replanting the trees when one rugrat asked to help, Jack had just turned his back to set down his shovel, which was plenty of time for the brat to seize some loppers and cut the tree off six inches from the ground. Dad then asks to see a receipt because he knows where he can get one much cheaper than what they probably had paid.

Learn how the rest of the visit went in the June 2019 issue of Oklahoma Farm & Ranch.