Strangers began to appear on the doorsteps of friends and neighbors offering unusually large sums of money for their farms.
In the beginning of this, with mostly familiar country folk in the parts, these strangers were not welcomed upon their unannounced arrivals and intent to have what had always been these people's homes for most of them. They were raised on the land, so were their parents and so on. Those ties run deep and are not quick to unbind themselves. Folks were leery of these outsiders and their "ideas."
"What are you going to do with it if I sell it to you?" was the question in their minds and on their lips. The answers were vague and short; "Agricultural purposes, I will give you twice or more what it is worth."
Money is in short supply around these parts and what these strangers were offering was too tempting to close the gate on, even if it did seem "not quite right" and out of keeping with everyday life in this small rural town.
Many of these land owners thought if it stayed agricultural, it wouldn't be so bad to sell their land, after all that was what they said wasn't it? "Agricultural purposes." Which to them meant, soybeans, corn, cotton and possibly timber.
That made the guilt of selling "home" a bit easier. So did the big money and snake oil sales talk by the outsiders.
When they made their way around to the Greene place it was a different story.
Robbie Green enjoyed a position on the local Zoning Board and was likely privy to inside information on who these strangers were. They were not strangers at all, but anticipated arrivals and appearing to act shrewd, she held out on them hoping they would "sweeten" their offer for her place and her Father who lived close by.
It worked better than a ten dollar bill in a dollar game and paid off with the highest price for any of the land sold.
No sooner had the ink dried on the checks, she resigned her position on the Zoning Board, gathered up Papa, who had a nice fat check himself in the deal, waved goodbye to her brother in law, who was soon to be the next Mayor and lit out for another county.
Questions and suspicion followed her like her own shadow. She proclaimed her innocence to everyone and defended herself with a predictable stance; "I didn't know what they were going to do with my land, and we weren't the first to sell you know. I made them a high price and I didn't really think they were going to take me up on it."
Nobody ever bought that load of fertilizer, not for a minute they didn't. Most folks here who have been around fertilizer all their life and seen it scattered on fields far and wide, here, there and over yonder said that was the biggest load of it they will ever see.
It's the beginning of another long hot summer, again, now in 2010 and getting hotter every day that rolls by here in small town Alabama.