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Bleak Existence on The Land
Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Dick Chenault
TWO EXCERPTS FROM 80-YEAR-OLD SPANISH WOMAN, DESCRIBING HER BLEAK EXISTENCE ON THE LAND.
In the summer we always get up about three in the morning and start to hoe. We water from the well. This summer we have a cow, so me and my grandpa go looking for the cow. The cow always goes so far, because there are no fences. My grandpa and I walk where there are many snakes, and I'm very afraid of snakes. My grandpa says to me, “Pray, hita, so the snakes won't bit you.” We go along praying the rosary, looking for the cow and the calf, so we can bring her back and milk her. I kill many snakes, but I don't kill rats, because I'm afraid of them. I have a greater fear of rats. My grandpa hauls wood and chops wood, that's his work. And the shoes, when I wear them out, he softens and peels the hides. I don't know how he does it. He peels the hide and makes us moccasins, because we don't have any money. There are so many of us.
I married when I was twenty years old. For my wedding, we didn't make anything of a celebration or nothing of anything. We went to the church on a cart with horses. To live our lives, to make a good house, we have to make adobes. My husband and I are building a house. It'll take two years. Between the adobes and the house we have to go to work. We have to go to the San Luis Valley in the summer. He goes to make contracts for hay. There isn't much to make a living. They get orders from the mines, but not steady. That's the way we go on, to make a little more, to continue a living. I've never gone to school. I've never had anything like that, because I've always worked. I've never gone to school, never had a day of school. It's been pure work. When I have the children, always I have them alone. I assist myself, alone. I always have them on the floor, so I can care for them right. Then I go to bed with them.
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