by Peter Anderson
Walt looked up, grimly recognizing the thick power lines and insulated housings for what they were -- mockery. The electricity was out, for the third time this year; no power in the lines, no shock protection needed.
The power being out meant the milking machine was out, and the cows, already groaning with a night's worth of milk in their bellies, had to be milked by hand. Like the old days, with his father. But though there were plenty of things he missed about his boyhood -- the long idle stretch between spring planting and summer detasseling, fishing and swimming in the creek, tinkering with the old tractor -- milking by hand wasn't one of them.
None of this would be any problem, of course, if Lewis had remembered to keep the generator filled with fuel. But the kid forgot again, as if six years as a hired hand had taught him nothing.
Well, Walt muttered, Lewis would pay for his oversight. The kid would have to milk the cows, too, right alongside him, but without gaining the warm memories Walt enjoyed from working next to his own father, long ago.
He could already feel the cold stiffness in the joints of his hands from grasping the endless series of udders, and the soreness of his lower back from hunching over on a wooden stool, the inevitable consequences of milking his half of two hundred Guernseys. He hoped Lewis would feel the same thing.
This time, Walt vowed, the kid would learn.