Nigh on 50 years

Laugh Tracks in the Dust

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Well, it’s the new year of 2024 and I’m closing in on writing this column every week for 50 years. I’ve just got four more columns to write to reach the golden anniversary level.

I wrote the very first Milo Yield column for the inaugural issue of FARM TALk, the first week of February, 1974. By my reckoning that will be around 2,600 columns.

No other way to put it — that’s a lot of alphabet, words, sentences, phrases and paragraphs. I figger that the average number of words per column is 1,000.

If that’s the case, then my old hands and fingers have pounded out more than 2,600,000 words for you faithful readers to look over and, hopefully, brighten your lives a smidgen.

It also explains why my old fingers feel a bit ragged and arthritic these days. They’ve weathered a lot of wear and tear — just for this column. If I add on writing thousands of news articles, feature stories, editorials, essays, poems, speeches, class assignments, letters and e-mails, I can easily add on a few more millions of words of hand/finger wear and tear. Why, it’s a wonder these ol’ fingers even work at all!

But, work they do, so I have no immediate notions to quit writing as long as as I’m capable and the writing doesn’t become a drudgery. It keeps me engaged in agriculture and in life.

***

It’s always easier when column material falls into my lap through daily living. I heard one such item just a few days ago at the daily morning coffee/confab/gossip meeting of the Old Geezer Gang at the local Short Stop convenience store.

One regular member of the geezer gang is a humorous, self-deprecating guy, ol’ Bob Doff. He’s a short fellow — a self-described 5’6″ — and regularly tells stories about himself and his lack of height.

I particularly enjoyed the story he told recently about himself and his two much-taller older brothers. He said his dad once introduced his three sons to someone. When he got around to introducing Bob, his father said, “Bob was born in 1955. That was a bad drought year and he got a stunted start.”

***

That story brought back 1955 memories for me. I wuz 12-year-old and the family wuz living on a poor farm on the Osage River north of Bronson, Kan. It wuz so hot and dry that summer that everything wuz stunted, if it grew at all.

We hauled house water all year from a neighborhood well. And, when the Osage River quit running, several families in the community got fish seines and seined out every fish possible from all the shrinking holes of water in the Osage. We ate a lot of pickled fish that winter becuz rations were “short,” too.

***

Did you hear the winter story about the young farm couple who decided to take a romantic evening sleigh ride after a deep snow fell. So, hubby hitched up their team of horses to the sleigh. Soon after they got started, the wife said she wanted to stop by the Jones home. Her hubby expressed his opinion that they should stop by the Smith home first. So, they went to the Jones home first.

After they left, the hubby suggested they now stop to visit the Smiths, but his wife wanted to visit the Johnsons next. So, they went to visit the Johnsons.

Then they couldn’t decide who to visit after they left the Johnsons — and the rift between them raised in intensity into a full-fledged, noisy, chilly family argument.

That’s when the wife pointed to the team of horses and said tartly to her hubby, “Just look at our harmonious team of horses. They don’t kick and bite. They always pull together as a team. So, why can’t two intelligent people, like you and me, get along as harmoniously as our horse team.”

Her hubby gave her a scowl and growled, “Well, it’s because they only got one tongue between them and we’ve got two.”

***

A hired farm hand started working on a big dairy farm as the employee in charge of manure management. For decades he worked for the same dairy doing the same nasty job year after year.

One evening after his work wuz done, the farm hand stopped at the local Dew Drop Inn for a cold brewski and he and the barkeep got into a conversation about their careers.

After a lengthy discussion, they barkeep suggested that they were both career failures. Neither had moved up from their original job.

But, then the farm hand brightened and told the barkeep, “We’re not failures. We just started at the top job of our professional abilities — and stayed there.”

***

Did you hear about the egotistical rural minister who thought that the Holy Trinity should really be a quartet — and he gladly volunteered himself for the fourth position.

***

I read that the president of Harvard University is being accused of plagiarism in her research citings. Same accusation has been thrown at politicians at the highest level.

Here’s how I think that situation can be resolved. Plagiarism is when you steal from one source. If you steal from a bunch of sources — well, that’s research.

After more than 50 years of of writing, I’m sure I’m guilty of both.

***

Personal words of wisdom for the week: “I only made one new year’s resolution for 2024. That resolution was to not make a resolution I knew I wouldn’t keep. So, I’m pretty sure that’s one I can keep.” Have a good ‘un.

 

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