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The Jacksons – for Sep. 1, 2011

Andrew Jackson leaned back in his lawn chair and looked out across the yard towards the pasture. To his left sat Randy and Jackie, with little Andrew Jr. on her lap, and to his right sat Rose and Jennifer. All of them faced out toward the pasture, their chairs arranged in a semicircle. On the grass in front of them two-year- old Allison pushed a toy tractor with a gown-clad Barbie doll in the driver’s seat across the grass, making occasional tractor noises through pursed lips.

“Who would have thought it?” said Andrew.

There was no immediate response from the others, who simply stared out in the direction of Andrew’s gaze. In the drought-browned grass of the pasture a flock of sheep grazed lazily in the hot summer sun, lambs staying close to their mothers, except for a few that had settled down for naps in the windswept grass. It was, all in all, a pleasing sight.

“Who would have thought what?” said Randy finally, breaking the silence.

Andrew leaned forward in his chair and pulled the front of his cap down to shield his eyes from the sun.

“Who would have thought,” he said, “that we’d be looking at a flock of sheep as our best bet to make a profit on the farm this year?”

“We’re going to make a profit this year?” said Jennifer.

“I didn’t say that.” Andrew leaned back again and pointed toward the pasture. “I just said that right there is our best hope.”

Rose brushed a strand of stray hair from her forehead. “Well honey,” she said, “to tell the truth, I thought you might be going crazy when you told me we were going to buy a flock of sheep. But I decided to wait and see before I called the men in the white coats.”

“Oh I’m crazy all right,” said Andrew. “Crazy like a fox!”

“Speaking of which,” said Jennifer, “I saw a fox down by the creek yesterday that didn’t look crazy at all.”

“Oh it was crazy all right,” said Randy with a laugh. “Crazy like Dad!”

Jennifer laughed. “Crazy like Dad maybe, but better looking!”

“Hey hey hey, be nice now,” said Rose. “Also if you’re going to make fun of how your parents look, you shouldn’t make fun of the one you look like.”

Jackie laughed. “Zing,” she said. “You just got burned by your mom, Jennifer.”

There was another silence. “Vroom,” said Allison, driving her tractor up and over her grandpa’s shoes. “Oh oh,” she added as the Barbie doll lost its balance and tumbled from its seat into the grass between Andrew’s feet. She picked up the doll, got to her feet, and looked up at Andrew. “Up?” she said. Andrew scooped her up onto his lap.

“You are my little lamb,” he said. “Grandpa loves his little lamb!” Allison giggled, and pointed toward the pasture.

“Lambs,” she said.

“Yes indeed,” said Andrew. “Those are lambs.”

“And what’s more, Allison,” said Randy, “those little lambs are fetching a pretty good price at the auction mart these days.”

“Goodness dear,” said Jackie, “you do know how to ruin the moment, don’t you?”

“I’m just saying,” said Randy. “The price is good. That’s why we went into it, right Pops?” He looked at Andrew, who nodded in agreement.

“That, and the fact that I finally decided to take to heart what my father always said about farming.”

“That a fool and his money are soon parted, but not as soon as a farmer and HIS money?” said Rose. “Isn’t that what he used to say?”

Andrew shook his head. “He did use to say that,” he said, “but I mean the other thing he used to say.”

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket?” said Randy.

“That’s it,” said Andrew.

“Unless of course you’re an egg producer,” said Jennifer, “in which case you have it made anyway.”

“Oh really?” said Andrew. “What makes you say that?”

“That’s just what Kendra says,” said Jennifer. “Her Uncle Peter is an egg producer.”

“Kendra’s been listening to her old man too much,” said Andrew. “Grant’s just a little jealous because Peter’s a little more successful than he is.”

“You got to admit though,” said Randy, “egg producers do pretty well.”

“You want to go into eggs?” said Andrew. “Is that what you’re saying?”

“Heck no,” said Randy. “I didn’t even want to go into sheep!”

“Hah!” said Jennifer. “Tell you what. You take the cows and I’ll take the sheep and let’s see who’s jealous of who in 10 years.”

“I can tell you that already,” said Rose. “You can?” said Randy.

“Sure,” said Rose. “In 10 years you’ll both be jealous of Brady, who just fixes cars.”

There was another brief moment of silence.

“I’m jealous of him already,” said Randy. “Me too,” said Jennifer.

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