Marcy looked out across the field that joined her husband’s share to his family’s ranch. Her husband Joe was just in view, making his way back to the barn through his father’s grazing pasture.
His family had raised cattle on this land since the area was settled in the mid-1800s. Her own family hailed from Hydesville and made their way down to nearby Fortuna when they couldn’t farm any longer.
“Did you get the calves in?” Joe yelled before he had to.
“Yup, all in,” Marcy said looking up at the sky. “Looks weird today.”
The ranching was just about done for the day, but they had five more hours of work ahead of them in the greenhouse just beyond the barn.
“Did you get that bottle of Neem?” Joe asked as he removed the padlock.
He was just about to open the door when the rumbling began.
“Earthquake,” Marcy whispered.
Joe’s truck began to bounce, the dog took off, and the horses in the back corral were circling and wild.
Then, everything was still.
“The lights!” Marcy shouted, as they both ran into the greenhouse.
Joe readied the generator while Marcy began righting the plants. There was a lot of damage everywhere and broken branches meant less profit at a time when the market wasn’t what it used to be.
“This fan’s broken,” Marcy said moving it out of the way.
A large, high-voltage light was suspended from the ceiling over each raised grow bed. With enough distance between them, thankfully, they didn’t crash into each other.
Marcy wondered about their friends’ indoor grows in those tight spaces as sirens screamed across the valley.
She had heard about fires caused from lights falling down and exploding. It was her girlfriend’s biggest fear since they lived in the house. Marcy figured they were lucky to have the greenhouse.
Joe put his cell phone back in his pocket and turned to Marcy. “Dad’s on his way over to see how we are.”
“Shit!” Marcy said picking up another branch of nearly-ready bud.
“I’ll do a run-through of the barn and keep him at bay in there,” Joe instructed. “Just make sure the drip lines are all back in the pots.”
Once in the barn, Joe began picking up tools and checking on animals when his father pulled up.
“How you two doing?” Joe, Sr. asked.
“Oh, we’re alright. What a slammer, huh?” Joe replied.
“Yeah, that was a big one alright,” as he leaned in lowering his voice. “I mean, how’s everything?” he said with a wink motioning to the greenhouse behind the barn. “You think I don’t know how hard it is to make ends meet ranching? You don’t think Sam up the road doesn’t have a room like that in his own barn? Yes, conservative, Republican, John Birch Society card-carrying, cattle-rancher, Sam.”
Joe was stunned. This was the unsaid, undiscussed topic in their family. Had been for years. It took an earthquake to bring the subject to the surface.
“I don’t want to see it, and you don’t have to bring it up again, I just wanted to know if everything was all right,” his father offered.
“Thanks, dad. We’re fine.” Joe said, as they both lifted a large bale of hay from the path.
Next week: Birch and Squirrel