When Joel and I became engaged, the very first wedding present we received was a cow. An actual live brown cow. I grew up in a decent sized city and my idea of enjoying the countryside was an afternoon drive through it. My knowledge of and interest in cows was limited to oh, there’s a black one or there’s a brown one.
And then I met Joel, which is best described by the Green Acres theme song:
“Green acres is the place for me / Farm livin’ is the life for me.
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide / Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.
New York is where I’d rather stay / I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view / Dah-ling I love you, but give me Park Avenue.
The chores / The stores / Fresh air / Times Square.”
While I grew up in the city dreaming of even bigger city pursuits, Joel grew up with land, livestock, and a barn, all while dreaming of owning a huge farm to tend to in his off hours. An educated gentleman land baron with a herd of cattle.
When we began dating, Joel owned several head of cattle. And, just before meeting me, he had bought a 1960’s era basement rancher house situated on about five acres of land. It was a lovely pastoral scene as the front yard had an acre or more of gorgeous, lush, gently sloping grass and the side yard and back yard were divided into pastures by a series of fences—including the electric fence which Joel continually warned me not to touch. (As if I would actually go out in the fields! Ha.) The old red barn was within sight a couple of fields away on his family’s property.
During our engagement, Joel offhandedly mentioned to me one day that he intended to fence in the front yard for more room for the cattle. Our worlds quickly collided as I opined that cattle most certainly did not belong in the front yard. I might end up living in the country, but the herd belonged in the back yard! Joel was stunned that I opposed this idea. As natural as the idea seemed to him, I was equally if not more horrified by it. But, I was resolute. And with that settled, I thought my dealings with cows were over.
Until our first wedding gift was a cow. Joel called me excitedly to tell of our gift. I was flabbergasted. A real cow? And it was being delivered to our house? What on earth had I gotten myself into? I pictured china and silver and assorted household goods as wedding gifts, like the scene from Father of the Bride where the gifts are displayed in the dining room. No one ever says, well, look in the field at our cow! Never, absolutely never in a million years had livestock crossed my mind and it certainly wasn’t on the gift registry.
The enormous, light brown Charolais was offloaded into our back yard. My education had just begun. I really had never stood next to a cow and it was significantly taller than I. It weighed about six hundred pounds to my….well, never mind what I weighed. My questions were, what do we do with it? Should we name it? Then, Joel explained to me the real value and how this was a very generous gift from a dear man in the congregation. I honestly had no idea. It was beyond generous, and truly thoughtful.
I came to truly appreciate it as the gift that kept on giving over the next few months as we ate tasty filets, rib eyes, T-bones, and hamburgers that were fit for the finest restaurants. And, we ate them off some of the twenty-two full sets of china and crystal that we also received as wedding presents while we gazed out our back picture window at our other quaint cows dotting the back hillside.
Turns out, Green Acres was the place for me after all.