DOWN, ON THE FARM • by Lyn Brown


Baby ducks following their mother across the road and into a pond.


Pigs rooting for potatoes in a fallow field.


A cow chewing cud while nursing her calf. Another shot of a typical scene on Gramps’ farm.

I got a new camera for my birthday and I’d been shooting real cool farm scenes for my school paper until Gramps came out and insisted I go along with him to pick apples. I didn’t want to go, but he is so proud of this one and only apple tree he calls the Lazarus tree.

A few years back, Gramps accidentally backed a tractor over the tree uprooting it and snapping off three main branches. It was a goner. But Gramps, feeling bad about the old tree that bore fruit before he was born, miraculously nursed it back to health.

Propping it up, he tamped it with dirt and patched all its wounds. Each day he’d go out and water it a little and trim away any dead branches until one day it sprouted a few green leaves. Taking on the shape of a drunken scarecrow, it survived and the following year it produced several healthy branches. And this year it shot up and bore fruit for the first time since Gramps ran over it. Bright red and green apples, the biggest ever.

Gramps propped the 12-foot ladder up against the rejuvenated tree while I stood watching. Steadily, and trembling with excitement he began to climb.


“Be careful, Gramps,” I yelled. Clutching at a spindly limb for support, he hoisted himself up gingerly to the forbidden top step. Now deep into the foliage, all I could see were his legs as he began picking apples and stuffing them into the pockets of his pants. Into his 80s now, Gramps used to be a robust, hard working farmer but lately he’s gotten kind of frail-looking.

“Look at this one, Marcie.” Clasping a small branch, he wobbled his head toward me and thrust out a huge red apple.


Steadying himself without looking down, he pressed the big apple into his already stuffed pocket. That’s when his pants slipped.

“Um, Gramps, I think you’re losing…”

“Eh? Speak up, girl.”

Like molasses oozing from a jar, his trousers began to slide down in slow motion. Oh, how I did not want to see this.


He suddenly realized what was happening. Balanced shakily on the top step and holding his back straight, he reached behind blindly fishing for his pants, but they were out of reach. As he stood facing into the tree, his fully exposed shirt tail drooped down over skinny long johns. His pants lay crumpled in a heap on the top step.

“Oh, Gramps, be careful.” I warned. But it was too late. The weight of the apples dragged his pants down to the next step. He crouched, groping behind at empty air and lost his grip. The ladder went north while Gramps went south. He landed on his back in deep grass with his pants tangled around his ankles, a small branch still clutched in his hand. Hearing him moan my name, I quickly ran to him. “Are you alright, Gramps?”

“Uh,” he groaned. “I hope ya got a picture of that.  I’d sure hate to do it all over again.”

Lyn Brown says: “My objective as a writer is to entertain; to liven up a scene or a character to the extent that a reader can visualize on his own terms. And if I’ve stimulated someone’s imagination, even for a moment, I have successfully achieved that goal.”

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