Laugh Tracks in the Dust

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        As I write this column, I’m scratching three oozing, itchy chigger bites. Yep, it’s that time of the summer again when — try as I might to thwart chiggers with bug spray and powdered sulphur — those pesky red mites break through all my defenses and inflict me with their irritating bites in all the wrong places.

We’ve had a week of hot, dry, windy true Kansas summer weather, so I have high hopes that the weather will dry up most of the chigger habitat. That’s the one good thing that happens when the ground begins to crack open and the vegetation begins to shrivel.

It’s said that God put everything on Earth for a purpose, but I can’t think of any good purpose for a chigger — except maybe to keep me from complaining about all my other aches and pains and giving me an excuse to fill column space writing about them.

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                Wheat harvest is underway in the Flint Hills and I’ve heard yields are average at best. The good news is the ground has dried up sufficiently that the combines are having no trouble getting through. The bad news is all the May/early June rains and floods have diminished both yields and test weights.

My heart goes out to those wheat farmers whose wheat fields are infested with vomitoxin in the wheat kernels. I’ve heard, but not confirmed, that some truckloads have been condemned and turned away at grain elevators. Now THAT’S a big loss and I don’t know what can be done with the wheat. Is ethanol production from vomitoxin wheat a possibility? I don’t know.

I think a lot of farmers are going to try double-cropping their harvested wheat fields with soybeans. 

Most single-crop soybeans are planted now and producers have turned to haying brome and fescue. It’s been a great year for grass growth, so the prairie meadows are promising good hay yields, but that’s still to be determined.

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                Handling cattle is a never-ending source for good stories. This latest is self-reported by my ol’ Missouri friend, Canby Handy — also known lately as “Limpy.”

Canby recently bought five Angus steers to fatten up on his acreage for he and his extended family’s fine eating. Since his son-in-law also has a nearby acreage with excess grass and clover, Canby decided to move his steers to the son-in-law’s new grass.

With a fancy pickup and a ratty trailer, Canby and his wife May Bea transported the steers and Canby decided to unload them in a little pen near the barn to let them settle down before releasing them into the pasture.

Well, that worked just fine until the fifth steer hit the ground and, Mandy, one of the son-in-law’s Great Pyrenees guard dogs decided the steers were intruding into the resident Suffolk flock’s home turf and decided to demonstrate  by vigorously barking that the steers weren’t welcome.

You’ve probably guessed the result. Yep, the steers hit an electric fence on the run and stampeded down the alleyway, through the front yard, down the driveway, across the blacktop and through the fence on the other side. Since it wuz a hot day, they ended up crowding under a convenient shade tree.

I must mention that Canby, in his attempt to head off the steers on foot, managed to pull a hamstring. That’s how he acquired his new nickname “Limpy.”

Since there weren’t cattle in the pasture the steers ended up on, Canby decided discretion was the better part of valor and decided to wait until it cooled down in the evening before he tried to herd the steers into their new pasture.

That’s when something good happened. When he arrived in the evening to recapture his steers, he found them contentedly grazing in the son-in-law’s pasture. Yep, the good neighbor who owned the land had conveniently coaxed the steers back to their home pasture. Now all “Limpy” has to do is get his ham string healed up.

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                My recent story about dumbly wrapping wire into my tractor tiller, prompted this rebuttal story. A guy wuz driving through a pasture with the company pickup trying to find something he’d lost. 

What he didn’t know wuz that the pasture had long loose strands of barbed wire laying in the grass — the aftermath of a fence-building job.

While driving along, he noticed in his rearview mirror the grass moving in an unusual way was across the pasture. Lucky for him, he slowed down to investigate. Yep, what he discovered wuz one of his front pickup tires has somehow picked up one of the barbed wires and wuz well into the process of wrapping a quarter-mile of wire around the pickup axle.

The storyteller said the job of cutting and unwrapping the barbed wire wuz not easy, but would have been a lot harder if he’d kept driving and wrapping.

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                Okay, I’ll end this treatise with some wise words about barbed wire fences from none other than movie star Sophia Loren. She said, “A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence — serving its purpose without obstructing the view.” Have a good ‘un.

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