BARBWIRE by Barb Lumley

Barb Lumley’s weekly column!


As I sit here in my easy chair handwriting my column, I am in recovery from a difficult bout with a “virus”, “flu bug”, or “bug of some kind” that “laid me low” for a few days. It all began with a sore throat. Right away my thoughts went to the remedy prescribed by the late Dr. Jack Maffett, “Gargle with a mixture of a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of soda mixed in a cup of warm water”. Gargle is a word we never seem to hear anymore. To gargle is to “wash one’s mouth and throat with a liquid by tipping your head back and using your throat to force air throughout the liquid and then spitting it out”. How many of our younger generations have heard of “gargling” or had a doctor suggest it?

As a young child I remember Dr. John Murray. He “painted” a sore throat. He took a long “swab”, like a Q-tip only longer, with the cotton only on one end, dipped it in a medication that he made and then swabbed that all over the back of your throat and your mouth. I have no idea what the medication would have been, it tasted terrible, but in just a short period of time your throat felt better. I hope my recollection of Dr. Murray is accurate. I remember him as a tall man over six feet, heavy build of probably 250 pounds, glasses, a little scary for a small child, and a busy doctor who didn’t waste time. My Mom used to tell the story about going to his office one day. In those days they didn’t have appointments, you went to the office and awaited your turn. How soon you got in to see the doctor depended on how many people were sitting and waiting ahead of you. When Mom entered the office, there was already a patient in with Dr. Murray and two women sitting talking. So she assumed she was number three. In just a few minutes the doctor’s door opened and a patient left. Dr. Murray looked around the waiting room and then motioned for my Mom to enter his office. My Mom attempted to protest, telling him she was number three and the other women were ahead of her but he motioned her to come on in. As he closed the door behind her, he told her, “Never mind about them, they aren’t really sick. They just come to the office to find out the latest gossip!” Dr. Murray knew his patients well!

Another problem is the cough that accompanies this “bug”. With all the pills and medications created and made available in this day and age, I fail to understand why you can’t find a cough drop that stops the cough. helps the sore throat and also tastes good! The ones that do their job taste terrible! If they taste good they don’t help! I do keep both kinds on hand. It is surprising how my great-grandchildren can be playing and suddenly develop a bad cough and need a cough drop! They especially like the cherry ones!

There were other problems, fever, chills—I couldn’t get them stopped in spite of turning up the heat and piling on blankets. I shivered and shook until my teeth chattered! I couldn’t stop them as they are my own! Aches and pains—more than just old-age ones! Upset stomach and no appetite. I was supposed to drink lots of water to avoid becoming dehydrated, however every time I took a couple swallows of water my stomach rejected it! Thank goodness for good whole cow’s milk! My refrigerator was full of good things to eat, as I had visited the grocery store the day before I became sick. I would open the refrigerator door, look in and just shut the door. Not even the things in my cupboard and refrigerator that I wasn’t supposed to eat appealed to me!

And so it went for a few days, and then “the light began to appear at the end of the tunnel” and the light came back on in my brain! I feel like writing again. For a few days the thoughts and ideas were definitely interrupted! The grass definitely needs mowed again. Thank goodness I got the lawns all done the day before the “bug” got me! I missed having Emily and Daxton with me. Daxton is done with pre-school and had his graduation, Emily finishes up this week, so we will soon be spending some special days together.

To each and every one of you who may be dealing with health issues or special problems of any kind, my thoughts and prayers are with you. As you read my column, I hope it can in some way help to make your day a better one. I hope it can “shine a little light on the end of your tunnel”!


As I sit here this morning I am drinking a cup of coffee that smells and tastes really good and eating a banana that doesn’t taste good because it is a little too green. I am eating it anyway because it is a healthy food and good for me. My treat is a coconut cookie that doesn’t taste half-bad but isn’t as good
as one of my Mom’s homemade cookies. As I do this, I am reading some information I took off the computer about a book, “The Dorito Effect”. It examines the essential role that flavor plays in the way
we eat today. While I have not read the book, I am sure I would find it very interesting.

People want to eat delicious food. The foods we eat are usually chosen according to what we like and
don’t like and that is determined by taste and smell. There are some things we choose to eat because
we know they are good for our health or we are on a special diet but we don’t really enjoy eating them.
We are so fortunate to have such a variety of foods available to choose from and enjoy. Our supermarkets offer just about every food we can think of but of course, not everyone likes the same things.

I never buy those perfect red tomatoes in the grocery store as they never have a good tomato taste. I will anxiously be awaiting that first ripe tomato from the garden. Only a month or so until home grown strawberries will be available. They will smell, taste, and feel like real strawberries! So much of the produce in the supermarkets doesn’t have the taste of home grown. Much of our meat lacks the flavor that used to be in it due to the way animals are fed these days. Chickens used to run free, peck in the dirt and grass, eat bugs etc. When you cooked a chicken you had tasty yellow broth. Nowadays the broth has no color or flavor and if you close your eyes while eating the meat you can hardly tell it is chicken. The smell and taste of food is important and helps determine what we buy at the supermarket.

If the food doesn’t have natural flavor it is usually added by means of manufactured substances, spices and flavorings. Everything we grow is bigger and cheaper but blander than ever. Modern food production has made much of what we eat flavorless, and a multibillion dollar flavor industry has stepped in to fool our senses.

There are five basic tastes — sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory. The ability to taste and smell our food is vitally important for our health and well-being. Those sensations prepare our bodies for digesting food. A friend of mine lost the ability to taste or smell food due to an accident. She has no desire for food and has lost weight. Eating is a chore for her as she cannot enjoy it. Cooking for her family is made difficult because she can’t smell or taste the food she is preparing. We don’t stop to think how important these two sensations are to us. Being able to smell and taste the food we are eating should be a pleasurable experience.

Having delicious food to eat enhances the joy and can make the difference between what is healthy for us and what isn’t. Spring is here and gardens are being planted. Produce farms are putting thousands of plants into the ground. The farmer’s markets and road side stands will soon be opening.

One can certainly understand the popularity of those markets. The homegrown produce sold there is so fresh and has such flavor! Home grown or homemade usually means good food! Eating healthy can be a pleasure when the food tastes good!


I would like to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers everywhere. Being a mother and having a child is a gift from God regardless of the circumstances that allow it to happen. Giving birth is only one of the ways. Being a loving and caring mother is the most important job in life.

My mother was one of five children and grew up poor. Jobs were hard for my Grandpa to find, so the family had to move around a lot. At times Grandma found jobs, but health problems made it very difficult for her and she was not always able to work.

Mom was smart in school, got good grades, and was always protective of her brother and sisters as they walked to and from school. The story was often told of how she took it upon herself to stop some boys from tormenting her older sister, and beat them over the head with her metal dinner bucket until they ran. My mom didn’t back down from problems and was never afraid to express an opinion!

She had to quit school at the start of her senior year to take care of the family and my Grandma, who was seriously ill. She later returned to school, completed her senior year, and graduated. She met my Dad during that period in time. On January 9, 1932, during her senior year in school, she and my Dad accompanied his brother and his fiancée when they eloped to West Virginia to get married. After they arrived at the minister’s house, they decided to have a double wedding. At the time all my Dad had was ten dollars in his pocket that he had borrowed from someone else for the trip! When they returned home, they had to keep the marriage a secret so Mom could finish school and graduate! And they didn’t want Grandpa to find out, as they knew what his reaction would be! When graduation was over, Mom moved to the farm to be with Dad.

Times on the farm were very hard and so Mom worked away from home at times, in a restaurant and a pottery. In 1934 she and Dad had to deal with heartache, as they lost a son in childbirth and my mother was also almost lost. My Dad always gave credit to a very caring Catholic Sister who worked at Mercy Hospital in Canton for bringing attention to my Mom’s condition, alerting the doctors and getting the needed treatment for her. A few years later I came along and all went well.

Mom worked hard and helped with all the chores on the farm. She hand milked cows every morning and evening for many years. When her help milking was no longer needed, she took care of cleaning the equipment, keeping the milk house in good condition and helping to keep the milk inspector happy. She had a flock of chickens, raised baby peeps, and loved working with them. She worked in the garden and canned vegetables, fruits, meats and more.

She didn’t have a fancy home or fancy furniture, but she took great pride in keeping everything in her house neat and clean. She was an excellent cook and always made sure that when dad came in, tired and hungry, his meal was ready. Clothes were always clean, starched and ironed. Missing buttons were sewed on and holes in overalls or shirts were always patched. I was always well taken care of, helped and encouraged with school work and fiercely protected!

During her retirement years Mom became very interested and involved in genealogy. And she enjoyed it very much. She became friends with, corresponded with, and researched for people all over the country. She received letters from someone almost every day and looked forward to them. The minute the mailman came she headed for the mailbox. She had beautiful handwriting and all her research and answers to every letter were hand written. I stopped in every evening after chores and we talked about our day and visited. I still miss those visits!

My mother wasn’t perfect. None of us mothers are! She was grouchy at times when I was a child, especially if I was doing anything to mess up the house or if I did something I shouldn’t have done. At an early age I learned to go outside and play or to follow after my Dad, as he was more patient with me. She was strong willed and always stood her ground when met with a problem. She was out-spoken and not afraid to express her opinion, so not everyone agreed with her! She could be very contrary at times, especially in later years when I tried to get her to do some things that would have made life easier for her. There were times when I went home from visiting her feeling like I needed to bang my head against the wall! These days I understand her much better. Over the years there was never any doubt that she loved and cared for me and always wanted what was best for me.

My heart goes out to all the mothers and children of today. It is a different time and a different world and mothers have to deal with the circumstances they are dealt. They just have to do the best job they can in raising children. There is one thing that has never changed.

Being a mother is the most important job a female can have. Every child needs a mother who loves them, cares about them and shows them that love. Give that gift to your child every day and that will be the gift given to you every Mother’s Day!


Once again we had a cold and rainy weekend! In my area we have had nine weekends in a row with rain! Farmers are still fussing because they haven’t been able to get their crops all in the ground, gardeners are stewing because they haven’t been able to get their plants planted, ball players can’t play ball because ball games have had to be cancelled, and the grass just keeps growing and growing! Keeping the lawns mowed is an every day chore! If you get one done in between showers and other commitments, by the time you get to the next one, the first one needs mowed all over again, and if you have a third one to take care of , you can’t catch up! I should be able to enjoy getting out in the fresh air and going around in circles on the “mean green machine”, inhaling the special fragrance that only comes with freshly mowed green grass, and feeling the warm sunshine on my back. Instead I have to wear sweatpants, my winter coat, a scarf, and gloves. It’s May! Where is our warm spring weather?

These cold, rainy, windy days do not entice you to start spring cleaning the house or undertake a major project. At my age I just want to curl up in my easy chair under a warm blanket and read a book or watch television. As I flipped through the television channels the other day, I came upon an interview with one of the newsmen and well-known author, James Patterson. He writes thrillers and suspense novels and has been writing for several years. He has been on the New York best seller list, has written over 200 novels and has sold over one hundred million copies of his books. His latest book is “Walk the Blue Line” and is a much needed book about law enforcement.

I found it very interesting that during the interview he mentioned the word “imagination”. He said that as a very young man he liked to walk through the woods and use his imagination to make up all kinds of stories. Exercising his imagination as a child certainly had to contribute to his success as an author! He also mentioned that he has well over a hundred ideas for his next books written down in a notebook!

My great-grandchildren, Emily and Daxton, both have very active imaginations and I enjoy listening to them as they make up stories and act them out. On one of those few, very nice and very warm afternoons, we were together after school on my deck enjoying the sunshine. Their imaginations were keeping them busy and keeping me entertained. There were cowboys, Indians, a camp, the need for a campfire and food. The objects they used in acting all this out included rocks that had been holding some artificial flowers in place in a flower pot, before a storm blew the flowers away, a large old fashioned iron tea kettle, a tea kettle with Holstein markings used as a decoration, a small candle in a tin holder, flowers, a big metal spoon, bowls, plastic spoons, empty coffee cans, rigatoni, noodles, coffee grounds, pepper, some papers and a lot of imagination! Not a toy was in sight! I even got to be part of the action, as I had to taste the soup and enjoy a nice cup of tea. It was a very entertaining and enjoyable afternoon!

It is my opinion that imagination is a necessary part of growing up and developing the brain for every child. They need to think, to wonder, to create, to question, to make believe, to exercise their brain in every way. Call me “old fashioned” if you choose, but it worries me that so many of our children sit glued to the couch, watching the cartoons on television, playing on I-pads, cell phones, playing games on the TV set, computers and other technology. There are children who seldom go outside to breathe the air, to toss a ball around, or to play games with other children. Children need to be encouraged to use their imagination to fill their brains with
thoughts, ideas, and dreams. So many of the things we enjoy in our lives today began with someone’s imagination! A child’s imagination can help to create the path that they will choose to follow in their future and their lifetime!


For those who do not know me, I live in southern Ohio among the hills of Carroll County. I am retired from dairy farming and breeding and showing registered Holsteins. I am still a member of and active in the Ohio Holstein Association. Since I am retired, I sometimes find more time for reading, which is something I have always enjoyed. I feel very lucky to still have two local newspapers to read and enjoy. So many small towns have lost their county newspapers due to expenses and a lack of interest. There is so much communication done by computers and cell phones. Being older and “old fashioned” I still like to sit down at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy reading the news from my community. When the Carroll County Messenger came last week, I did just that!

One of the headlines that took my eye was “Commissioners Approve New Law Enforcement Contract”. Knowing how important our sheriff’s department is here in our rural county, it was the first story I read. As I read the story, I came upon a few lines that definitely impressed me. The words read, “Wirkner (he is a commissioner) also said typically during the negotiations process that attorneys are involved for each party but each party agreed to negotiate without attorneys”. “That money saved from not using attorneys went to the sheriff’s employees in the form of a bonus”, said Wirkner. Reading those words gave me a good feeling and some hope for our country during these troubled times! They not only used common sense and came to an agreement, they also saved us taxpayers some money and put it to good use! And I didn’t hear any gossip that they yelled, screamed or cursed at each other or pounded the table with their fists during negotiations!! Congratulations Carroll County Commissioners and Carroll County Sheriff’s Office! Well done!

Now while I know our commissioners names, I do not know any of them personally. I did serve with one of them on a grand jury many years ago, when he was still studying law enforcement. I doubt he remembers me, however he helped make that experience an interesting one for me and I never forgot it. I have never met the sheriff, however the sheriff’s office has been very helpful over the years during some difficult experiences. I am a strong supporter of our sheriff and the deputies and all the people who work for him. And there is no doubt in my mind that the commissioners try to make the best decisions that they can for Carroll County. In this day and age it is a difficult job for both offices!

If only those elected to our government would follow their example! Years ago our government officials had respect for each other and even though they might have very different opinions and hate each other, they understood that they were elected to office or
appointed to serve the people and to do what was best for the country, so they could sit down together and work to find the solutions to the problems our country and the people were faced with. So many of them just can’t seem to be able to do that now! Unfortunately these days, children are not learning respect for themselves and for others as they grow up. Respect has been lost. We don’t need to share the same opinion as others, but we need to be respectful. Deals used to be made with a handshake and were kept. Not anymore! Trust in people and government has been lost. People have been made to feel that they need to contact a lawyer before agreeing to or signing anything! The sad thing is, even many of the lawyers can’t be trusted.

Once again I say, “Congratulations Commissioners and Carroll County Sheriff’s Office for acting like gentlemen and for saving tax dollars and using them wisely. It gave me hope for the future! Reading about it made my day a better one! Hopefully come election time your dedication and the work you do for Carroll County will be appreciated. “Respect is a two way street, if you want to get it you’ve got to give it.” (R. G. Risch)


My life has been spent working on my dairy farm and breeding registered Holsteins. Along the way I have dealt with numerous experiences and problems and have gained a bit of knowledge about cows. It is not unusual, nor has it been over the years, for a fellow dairy person or Holstein breeder to contact me and ask for my opinion or help with a problem. And it happened once again recently. An old friend, who is still milking cows, called me and asked for my help in a problem he couldn’t figure out.

Daisy is one of his best registered Holstein cows. She is young and still a little inexperienced, but she is milking well and likely to receive a high score on her first classification. Her pedigree is filled with high classified dams with outstanding milk records and her genetics are very important in the offspring she will add to the herd. She has always been easy to work with, broke to being milked in the parlor without making a fuss, and had always had a pleasant disposition. No problems until now. He just doesn’t understand her recent behavior Daisy doesn’t want to enter the milking parlor. My friend has to put a halter and rope on her
and they have to drag and push her into the milking parlor! She jumps and kicks when the milkers are attached and tries to knock them off. She refuses to let her milk down in the normal way and her production is dropping. She no longer wants to be friends with the other members of the herd. She is mean to them and causes disagreements. She acted up when we were clipping her and trying to make her look her best at the district show and then misbehaved in the show ring. She has never done that before! As soon as she leaves the milking parlor she goes down to the area where Henry, the bull, is housed. She just stays there and watches what his day is like. The only time she leaves the area is to go and eat! “I just can’t figure out what is wrong with her,” said my friend, as he drank some chocolate milk and rung his hands in desperation!

As I listened to my friend, we both eye-balled her actions, and drank some more chocolate milk. And then I gave him my opinion as to the cause of his problem with Daisy. She was wanting to “trans-gender”! She no longer wanted to be a milk cow and part of the herd. She wanted to be a bull, like Henry! Why not! The bull on the farm has such an easy, comfortable life! He has his own spacious, comfortable pen and is protected from the weather, both hot and cold. His feed is delivered every day and he doesn’t have to fight with anyone to get to it. He can just lay around all day chewing his cud or play with his tire or other toys. He is treated to occasional romantic interludes with the lady bovines. Henry has a great life!

As I explained my thoughts about his problems with Daisy, my friend just stood and shook his head. “Hard to believe that anyone or anything would want to be different from the way they were born into this life”, he said. “Is there any way to solve my problems with Daisy,” he asked? I told him I thought there was. I had an idea.

The next morning as Daisy exited the parlor and looked towards Henry’s pen, she saw him nervously pacing in his pen and snorting loudly. There parked beside his pen was a truck and a cattle trailer. A big sign on the cattle trailer read “McDonalds”. From that day on, Daisy was almost always the first cow to enter the milking parlor.

The moral of this story? If you are considering making changes in your life you should remember to “Think twice before you act”! You need to study the situation thoroughly and talk to those with experience. Making changes in your life can often lead to a happier, more rewarding life, and a life that can be more profitable and easier. However, things in life can happen differently and there can be problems, failure, and grief to deal with and the goal being sought is not always achieved. Before making changes in your life, all possible outcomes should be considered and common sense should prevail as a choice made. The grass always seems to look greener on the other side of the fence, but once you get there it might just be a lot of green weeds! Or Astroturf!


People of every age in this country are angry and frustrated. The problems they are dealing with fester in their minds day after day after day. The problems seem to grow and there seems to be no relief. The anger builds, the pressure grows, and then the boiling point is reached. And then something happens—a terrible action takes place. Age doesn’t matter. The small child throws a tantrum. The teenager or adult injures or kills! It keeps happening again and again!

We no longer have discipline in this country. People no longer have respect for one another and it isn’t being taught. Foul language is heard everywhere, coming from the mouths of both young and old! We have five year olds using words like f— y–, s—, s— o- a- b—-, g- t- h—, and many more! The sad thing is, they know when to use them—in anger! Little ears are constantly listening!
If parents paddle their children they are accused of child abuse and someone will report them. I have heard mothers talk about their children misbehaving in a store and how they would have liked to give them a smack on their butt, but they didn’t dare! People seeing that might report them!

Teachers are not allowed to touch an unruly child in their class. They have to just try to talk to them or promise a treat if they will just be good! They have no fear of being sent to the principles’ office, they know nothing is going to happen. Years ago kids greatly feared being sent to that office—they had seen the paddle!

Bus drivers have to deal with children getting in fights, not staying in their seats and with many more problems with the teenagers. Trying to talk to them and get them to understand the danger of distracting the bus driver just doesn’t work. An Ohio bus driver who had driven for years had all she could take, so she stopped her bus and gave the teenagers on her bus a thorough tongue lashing. Her outburst of anger was recorded and appeared on Fox News. Because she “lost it” with them, and even though she had a very good reason for doing so, she had to retire!

There must be tough consequences for bad behavior. Regardless of the age of the offender, they must understand that bad behavior is going to result in tough punishment. Just talking to them or giving time out doesn’t solve the problems. As parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents—we all tend to think our kids in our family are perfect, but we know they are not! So before you automatically jump to the defense of the child, find out all the facts! Talk with the school officials or whomever is involved in the child’s misbehavior. And let children know that if they are guilty of wrongdoing, there will be tough consequences and you support that.

We have leaders in our country who lie, cheat, and steal and laugh about getting away with it! They totally ignore the major problems because they are gaining power and wealth from them. They aren’t worried about those problems because they have no negative effect on them. Only the hard-working and poor people are hurt by them. They have their fences and guards and the Secret Service to keep the criminals, who are released and not made to pay for their crimes, away from them. Instead of supporting the police, sheriffs, highway patrolmen, and all who work in any type of law enforcement, they make it more difficult for them to do their duty and they cut their numbers. We need more law enforcement and we need to support it everywhere.

I don’t condone abuse of any kind to humans or animals, but I do believe in discipline. And I believe in tough consequences for bad behavior. It is a terrible thing for someone to beat up or kill another person in any way. Do I believe that some people are born evil? I do. And I have my reasons. However, I believe that the majority of those who exhibit bad behavior and commit terrible crimes have lacked the proper discipline in their lives. There are two very important things needed for a happy and successful life. They are discipline and love. Without them there will be problems and we are seeing them on the news every day.

In Biblical times, the rod was often used by the shepherds to herd the sheep. Biblical rod meant to guide, not punish. “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him”. (The Bible, Proverbs 13:24) “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod he will not die.” (Proverbs 23:13) “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)


Usually we ask, “Will March come in like a lion or like a lamb?” This time it was April that chose to come roaring in like a lion! Thunder, lightning, rain, high winds, and tornados in many areas. Damages, destruction, injuries and lives lost. Not the way everyone was hoping to start spring and the new month. In my many years I remember a lot of storms and severe weather that happened.

Just down the road from my house are two bridges over the creeks and just a few feet apart. I remember several years of heavy spring rains that caused the water to run several feet deep over those bridges and the road, occasionally destroying them. We had a bottom pasture where we pastured the cows and it would be completely covered for several days. I remember the creek being so deep that, after one storm when a cow and her calf tried to cross, the calf was swept downstream. These days if you walked across it on a normal day you probably wouldn’t get your ankles wet!

A terrible storm came up one summer day when Dad had been working in the fields with our team of draft horses, Dan and Prince. They were being driven through the barnyard on the way to the barn and had just passed a sweet cherry tree, when it was struck by the lightning. There were many times when trees were struck or blown down, and often on fences. In those days it was easier to move the fence a little bit and nail it to a tree than to have to dig a posthole by hand! So fences had to be checked after every storm! And we had to check for wild cherry trees or branches in the pastures, as the leaves were poisonous to the livestock.

Early one morning just before daylight in 1965, I was awakened by the sound of thunder and by lightning flashes and it sounded really bad. I was home alone with our eight year old daughter and one year old son ,as Lum was working the midnight shift. At the time it was a habit of ours to shut the electric off during a really bad storm. I went to the basement to pull the switch and then went upstairs to get the kids to the basement. Before I could get them down the stair steps it hit. As the storm came over the hill, I could hear the terrible roar and I stood with my baby in my arms and I couldn’t move! People have said that it sounds like the roar of a freight train, and it does to a certain extent, however it has its own distinct sound that you never forget. When it was over there was an eerie silence for just a few minutes! And then I heard my Dad yelling, and telling me to stay in the house, that all the electric lines were down. A tornado had gone through between our house and my parent’s house that was just across the driveway. It destroyed our four car garage located in between the houses, however the houses were not damaged.

Debris lay on top of our fairly new pick-up truck. Our garage was full of all kinds of things and some of them were blown all the way to our neighbor’s farm. We were still finding things months later. There was a huge oak post in the garage that stood from floor to ceiling and was about a foot wide and a foot deep. Fastened to it was a large, heavy press. I don’t remember what its purpose was, but I do remember it had a handle that you turned. The post and press were laying several feet beyond the garage in my back yard. Imbedded in that post was a piece of straw from the bed of the truck! I know some of you have heard tales about things like that and find it very hard to believe, but I saw it with my own eyes! Yet the open umbrella that could be fitted into a holder on the seat of the Oliver tractor still sat in the spot where it had been left in the garage! Some very strange things happen when there are tornados!

Throughout the years there have been many storms of all kinds and in all seasons. They are something that no one has ever found a way to stop. All anyone can do is try to be prepared, look for the best way to try to survive and pray that you will. Global Warming? Somehow I don’t think that my Ford LTD, my Oliver tractors, and my Holstein cows contributed to the reason for any of them happening in my lifetime!

April is here and we need dry weather and sunshine to dry off the fields so preparations can be made and planting can be done. Farmers are anxious to get seeds in the ground and so are gardeners. Lawns are ready to mow, landscapers are already at work, spring is here and there  is much to get done. Let’s hope Mother Nature is ready to cooperate and let the work begin! “No Winter lasts forever, no Spring skips its turn, April is a promise that May is bound to keep, and we know it.” (Hal Borland)


As a writer words are very important to me and I use a lot of them. I enjoy discovering words that I am unfamiliar with and learning their meaning and how to use them in my writing. I have found it interesting that sometimes a very small word can have many different meanings and be used in many ways. A good example of that is the word “pot”. Not only can a pot be used in many different ways, the word can have many different meanings. A pot can be defined as, “a container, typically round or cylindrical and of ceramic ware or metal used for storage or cooking, or any of various containers used for storage or cooking. It can be a stew
pot, a coffee pot, a bean pot, a pot for holding beer, a pot for planting a flower in, the list goes on and on. There are many other ways the word pot is used—a pot can be the total sum of the bets in a poker game, the money in a lottery is called a jackpot, it can be the term used for a large stomach on a person. In recent years the word pot brings to mind cannabis or marijuana. In talking with my best friend the other day, I was reminded of another meaning for the word pot.

As the owner of a rental property, a new dishwasher had to be installed in one of their rental houses. Upon the completion of the installation, the lady of the rental house asked my friend what products she should use in it. My friend told her what she used in hers. The rental lady then asked, “What do you use to clean your pot?” My friend began to explain that there was lime in her water, so after cooking macaroni or other certain foods in her pots, she used Lime Away or a similar product. “No,no no”, said the rental lady, “your pot—the toilet”! My friend was totally confused! She grew up in a house with a bathroom—she had no idea that a toilet was referred to as “the pot” by some people! I grew up in a house with NO bathroom—I know all about “the pot”! I knew exactly what her renter was talking about, so I had to educate my friend about “the pot”!

They were called “chamber pots” and they were kept under the bed, in a closet or in a section of a “washstand”, which was a piece of furniture usually matching the bed and dresser. Most of them were a little taller than an old fashioned water bucket. There was always a matching lid. Many years ago they were made of ceramic, with a handle, and were beautifully painted and decorated. In later years they were made of metal, usually white inside and out, and the rims at the top and on the lid were often black. The wooden handle on the bail was also painted black. There were nicknames for them, potty, slop jar, the crapper, thunder mug,
guzunder, and some I can’t mention. Ancient Roman ceramic pots were the early “portable toilets”!

In explaining all this to my friend, memories from the past came flooding back! My Dad’s oldest brother, Gail, married a school teacher name Mildred in 1919 and they moved to Holmes County where he worked as a milk truck driver picking up milk in cans at local dairy farms. In those days milk was usually cooled in water troughs in spring houses. The cans would be set in the water and the lids removed to let the heat escape. One of the stories he would tell was about how he often had to remove a dead mouse from a can of milk, as they would try to jump across the water onto the rim of the can and fall in! Eventually Uncle Gail and Aunt Mildred had a “kerfuffle” and separated. She and their daughter moved to Wooster where she bought a house and continued to teach school. Uncle Gail returned home to live with relatives and work at the Scio Pottery. They were separated for over thirty years but never divorced. After they both retired they got together again and lived in the home in Wooster. In the summer months they would come to visit my Dad and Mom and stay over the weekend. Aunt Mildred had lost her mother at a young age and had been raised very “prim and proper” by two old maid aunts. My Mom and Dad still had no bathroom and Aunt Mildred would not use the toilet or “privy” as some called it. She always brought her pot! I would see them drive in and tell Lum, “Aunt Mildred is here” and his first question would be, “Did she bring the pot”? And she always did!

My Mom and Dad never had a bathroom. After Dad passed away, we tried to convince Mom to put one in, but she didn’t want it. She made her trips to the outside toilet every day, regardless of the weather. She would always tell us that those trips to the “privy” every day were good for her and kept her healthy! She did finally get a “potty chair” for the really nasty weather or an emergency. She was healthy and took no medication in her latest years, so perhaps she was right, those trips were good for her health!


As I sit here in my easy chair, trying to come up with an idea for my weekly column, I am enjoying the peace and quiet. There are no sounds! The television is turned off, the furnace isn’t running, the humidifier isn’t running, the refrigerator isn’t running, there are no clocks ticking, the phone isn’t ringing, and I haven’t turned on the coffee maker yet. Nothing is broken—they just all happen to be turned off at the same time! And the house is so quiet and so peaceful at this early morning hour. I am enjoying it!

When I was a “youngster”, during the spring and summer times, I and my faithful dog, Stubby, would take off through the pasture fields and be gone for hours. At times Mom had no idea where I was, she just knew I was somewhere on the farm. I would follow the cow paths through the pasture fields and the woods and along the creeks. I knew every place the cows went and where to find them if they didn’t come home. In those days they didn’t have all the rich and tasty food waiting for them at the barn, so they would forget the time and just keep chomping on the green grass or lying in the shade chewing their cuds. There were times when
my knowledge of where they liked to stay was very important, as occasionally a cow would go hide and give birth to a baby calf. Or a couple cows didn’t come home to be milked and you knew they had found a hole in the fence. The grass was always greener on the other side! Most cows were free to roam in those days, not confined on cement as they are today. People had a lot more freedom also!

While Stubby hunted for groundhogs or chased a rabbit, I often played in the creek, wading in the cool water, watching the minnows and tadpoles, and sometimes catching them if I had a bucket with me. I always released them back into the creek so they could be free. There were odd shaped stones to discover and to sometimes keep. The cow paths would wander along the creeks and through the alders, where it was always so nice and cool on hot summer days.

We have some very big stones on our farm. Who knows how many years ago they were deposited there or in what “age”. In the far corner of the pasture is a very large one and I liked to sit on it and dangle my legs over the edge. Even though I wasn’t very old, sometimes I had problems and I needed that special place to just sit and think about them. It was also a special place for dreaming about what the future might hold for me. It was so peaceful and so quiet just sitting there enjoying nature and feeling the joy of it.
Our world today is filled with constant noise, troubles, and turmoil. It seems as though everyone is in constant motion, running here, there and everywhere for one reason or another.

There is constant noise, no matter where you are or where you go! Everyone has a phone these days that is either ringing in a hip pocket or purse or it is in a hand while someone is texting, while someone is talking, or reading unimportant things on facebook, or games are being played!

It is my opinion that in today’s world both children and adults of every age are in need of calmness and tranquility and the pleasure and joy that they can gain from it. Everyone needs that special place where they can just sit quietly and forget the problems in their lives and in our country. They need to just turn off the noise that bombards them every day and enjoy a place of joy and serenity. Young children need a quiet place and time to explore their thoughts and their abilities. Give them one or two simple things to play with, without other distractions, and their imaginations will soar! In a place of peace and quiet you will relax and the stress and anxiety you are feeling will be relieved. Find that special “rock” or place where it is calm and serene and where you can think, remember, hope, dream, and “let your troubles melt like lemon drops”. “When the turbulence of distracting thoughts subside and our mind becomes still, a deep happiness and contentment naturally arises from within”. (Gasha Kelsang Gyatso)


From the very beginning of our lives, we have choices to make. At the beginning they are very minimal, do we sleep or do we cry? From that day on, choices will be made every day of our lives. As we grow and our lives progress, the choices change from being very simple ones to very important ones. Sometimes the choices are easy, other times they are very complicated and difficult to make. We don’t always make the right choices and then we must suffer the consequences. We try to learn from our mistakes. As we contemplate the possibilities and then make our decisions, those choices help to form the path that our life takes. “Sometimes it
is the smallest decisions that can change your life forever”. (Keri Russell)

 As the problems with inflation continue and the prices in the grocery store continue to rise, people are forced to make choices. Dairy products are an important part of everyone’s diet regardless of age. The shelves at the grocery stores are filled with all types of dairy products, as well as numerous products that are involved with dairy in one way or another. As the consumer walks the aisles and considers the items available, choices must be made.

Spring will soon be here, followed by summer, and one of the favorite things for everyone regardless of age is ice cream. As you check out the price for “real” ice cream, you also see that for about the same price you can buy at least two cans of Campbell’s soup or even three cans of the “off brand”. The “cream of soups” can be diluted with water (although using milk makes them better) and that will leave more milk for the kids to drink. Add some crackers or bread to soup and you have a meal. Buying whole milk is a good idea, as adding a couple ice cubes to each glass reduces the butterfat content and makes a jug of milk go farther.

While you prefer butter for bread, toast and some of your recipes, margarine is cheaper. The deli counter is filled with all types of cheese and the kids love cheese and crackers as a snack, however American slices will be the best buy, as it is usually used for toasted cheese sandwiches and that can make a meal. The kids love macaroni and cheese, and you like to make your own cheese sauce, however that cheapest box kind will make a meal and cost less.

The kids like the beef hot dogs, they say they taste better. The other kinds are cheaper, so they will just have to add a little more ketchup or mustard! They love yogurt, however you won’t be able to buy so many of those special little packages of both yogurt and cheese that they like so well. They will only be allowed to have those in their school lunches! Chips and special snacks? Only for lunches! Fast food from their favorite places? Only as special treats! More meals will be cooked at home! You must stretch your food dollars as far possible!

As the consumer walks the aisles making choices and hoping they will have enough money to pay the grocery bill, every choice that is being made will affect a farmer. If the consumer has to cut back on the purchase of dairy products, then not all the milk the dairy farmers’ cows are producing will be needed and the price he receives for it will go down. If the consumer cannot afford the prices for the meat products they normally choose, the farmer who grows livestock for meat will receive lower prices, as there will be less selling. And so it goes with all types of farm products!

Those farmers are also having to make different choices as they work to keep their farm going. Dairy farmers work hard to get top production from their cows. That requires feed consultants to work with them in preparing a menu for their cows that will not only make them top producers but also keep them healthy while doing so. That means choices for the recipe that maintains their production can be expensive. If changes have to be made in order to pay the feed bill, then production will drop, there will be less milk selling and less income coming in!

The same is true for the farmer who is raising different types of livestock for meat. While the farmers are worrying about the prices they are going to be receiving for what they produce, they are also having to make choices about farming. Spring planting time is here! Many farmers have already made the choice to order their seed and fertilizer before the end of 2022, concerned that the prices could be even higher this spring. Others have chosen to take a chance that possibly the prices might be down. Now all of them must make the choice of which crops they are going to plant, how many acres they will plant, how many acres will they be able to afford to spray for weeds, and how much diesel or gas they will be able to afford to do all the field work. And many will be making a choice to either try to get it done themselves or hire someone else to do it! Many are using old machinery that is costly to repair. The cost of new machinery is out of sight!

While I have written about how choices have to be made in the grocery store and on the farm, every choice that is made by every person every day affects someone in some way. It can be the person making the choice, it can be someone else or both! It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are! So think things through before making a decision and use common sense! “Life is a matter of choices and every choice you make makes you”. (John C. Maxwell)


     It is well known by friends and readers that I am a fan of old western movies.  As I was growing up, my heroes were Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy and a few others.  There is a picture of me wearing my Hopalong Cassidy cowboy hat and leading a Guernsey calf.  (That was before my registered Holsteins.)  Dad and Mom would scrimp and save so we had money to go to the movie theater on Saturday night.  We all loved the movies and especially the westerns!
    The plots of old western movies are often the same.  A town that is full of good people has been taken over by a gang of outlaws and bad men.  The people are unaware that the leader of the gang is a well-known and trusted member of the community, who pretends to care about the people.  He has the sheriff and the judge under his control and is involved with the daughter of an important member of the town.   She is always sweet and very pretty and has no idea of what is going on!  The town’s people are afraid of the gang and know, if they try to stop the gang, something terrible will happen, so they just give in to whatever is asked of them, including giving them money and looking the other way when bad things happen.  Does any of this sound familiar?
    And then one day a stranger comes riding into town on a beautiful horse and wearing a white hat.  He usually has a trusted but funny companion with him.  Someone in the town is a good friend and has asked for his help in getting rid of the gang of bad men and making the town a prosperous and safe place for the people to live in again.  The person in the white hat is strong, brave, caring, honest, smart, and has common sense.  He straps on his six-guns and sets about to outwit the gang, expose and lock up the crooked leader, and encourages the town’s people to organize and fight back.  It is a long hard battle but the people win and after leading the people in making their town a better place, the person in the white hat rides off into the sunset.  Sometimes the girl goes with him!
    Our country will elect a new President in 2024.  Already there are people who have “thrown their hat into the ring” and want to be President of the United States.   There are more that are considering a run for the office and some who are just waiting for the right time to announce that they are going to run for the highest office in the land.  There are political ads running on television and being published in newspapers already.  It has become a subject on the daily news broadcasts.  Panelists on talk shows are giving their opinions about the people who are already running, as well as their opinions about those who might run.  The elections having to do with selecting who will be presidential candidates are a year and a couple months away!  Right now there are many important problems in our country that need attention!
    What our country needs is that person in the white hat!  In the old movies the people in the white hats were always cowboys, however in this day and age we have a lot of “cowgirls” who are well qualified to wear the white hat.  Cowgirls know how to “ride herd” on a group of contrary critters and drive them to the right destination.  Our country has numerous women in leadership roles, political offices, and other important roles in this country.  Some are outstanding in their positions, some are not.  The same is certainly true of the men.  It is well known that women are good at “multi-tasking”, going all the way back to pioneer days, so running the government should be a “breeze” for a qualified woman!  There are some people who just seem to be born leaders.  There are others who can have the very best qualifications, yet just don’t know how to successfully lead.
    The political parties will meet and hold their conventions.  They will select the candidates that they want to run for the offices of President and Vice-President.  We will be asked to listen to debates, to speeches by each candidate and to watch and hear their ads.  We will be given opinions of the candidates all the way from just friends and neighbors to some of the best educated people in our land.  It is best not to discuss politics with relatives!  It is going to be up to the people in our country to educate themselves about each candidate running for our highest office.  People will need to read, to listen and to learn about each person in each political party and then to vote for the person of their choice.  When it comes time in 2024 to vote for the candidates for President and Vice-President of this United States of America we all better hope and pray that it is the person in the white hat who rides into the White House!       


     The news in our country is still filled with gloom and doom.  On February 3, 2023, In the dark of the night in East Palestine, Ohio an Iron Horse loaded with hazardous materials kicked up its heels and went cattywampus, jumping the track and creating a huge fire and smoke filled atmosphere, leaving the people in that burg bumfuzzled and dealing with a fine kettle of fish.  As the days progressed they would find the fish in their creeks dying.  Jumpin jehashaphat, there was no warning!  The fire fighters, the emergency medical technicians and all those who came to help showed their moxie, as they fought the fire and embraced the danger. 
    The bodacious mayor of this little town took charge and fought to get the help that was needed and to bring attention to their problems.  Gee whillikers, the people of his town had their lives turned upside down!  The government’s sockdolager in charge of all types of transportation totally ignored the situation.  He wouldn’t even answer questions about it from the reporters because he was having a personal day.  When a knight in a red hat came riding in with supplies and help for the people, he was warmly welcomed by a huge crowd.  He walked among them, talked with them and heard their fears and needs.  It was obvious, he knew his onions and that they were in a pickle!  Only then did the government knucklehead make a decision to visit the town, scheduling it for seven o’clock in the morning when few people were around, and staying for only a very short period of time!  He was probably quaking in his shoes, as he didn’t know what the reception would be!  He might have been worried that someone would try to give him a shellacking!  The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.  (Ronald Reagan)
    As for the old codger at the head of our country, he was bumfuzzled, discombobulated and full of applesauce, and preferred to ignore the tragedy in East Palestine.  Instead he would flounce around in another country, telling the leader, “It’s the taxpayer’s nickel, so whatever floats your boat”!  He taradiddled that he had zoomed to lots of important people.  While he is being a wisenheimer, his biddy is currently bragging to the country about the wonderful job the old coot is doing and that he plans to run for election again.  Fiddlesticks!
    In the meantime, the people living in and near East Palestine are still waiting for help and answers and trying to move on with their lives, with no knowledge of what the future might hold for them or their children.  Gee whillikers, they have no idea what to expect!  Are they being told claptrap, flapdoodle, or tommyrot?  Or are they being told the truth?  They are being warned to watch out for dipsy doodles, don’t take any wooden nickels, and don’t let anyone hornswoggle you.  In the meantime, they are dealing with numerous problems, skin rashes,   headaches, breathing problems, gollywobbles and more.  It has affected business, school,   sports and everyday life.  Will they lose their homes, livelihood and finances?  They are living in fear!  Their lives literally went up in the air with the fire, the smoke and the toxins.   Keep East Palestine and the people affected by this tragedy in your prayers!  


     Each week as the deadline for my weekly column nears, I have to come up with a subject to write about.  Sometimes it is easy, I read about something, hear about something or something unusual happens in my daily life.  I have often said that sometimes ideas just seem to fall out of the air!  Other times I may not come up with a subject until the last minute!  This week it occurred to me that it would be a good time to write about good news.
    For a long period of time, all we have been hearing about is the bad news.  Open borders, fentanyl and other drugs killing our people, drug cartels invading our country, inflation driving prices up, homeless people living on our streets, shootings every day, criminals allowed to go free, China’s spying balloons, problems in our schools, lies, crooked deals, the list goes on and on.  The media keeps repeating all the problems over and over and over!  Can’t they find some good news to tell us about?
    We are constantly reading about and hearing about depression.  There is constant talk and printing of articles about depression being a major problem for retirees and older people like me.  Well, why wouldn’t it be?  Bad news is all we hear about!  We are the ones who have the most time to read and to listen to the daily news programs on television!  There is no doubt in my mind that younger people of all ages have worries and can be depressed.  However, if they are going to school, working, taking care of their families, and involved in various family and local activities, they don’t have the time to listen to all the bad news and sit around and think about it as older people do!   We can’t help but worry about what life in this country is going to be like for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren!  We need to “tune out” the news, find things that interest us to keep us busy, call up someone and share the latest gossip, get together with friends for lunch or coffee, keep active and not dwell on the bad stuff!!  There are times when no news is really good news.  I often think back to the days when there was no  television sets, no computers,  no cell phones, very few radios, and just the local newspaper.  Perhaps we didn’t know much about what was going on in our government and our country, but it was a much happier time!
    So, I set about to find some good things to write about in my column.  I discovered it was not an easy task!  I looked through the numerous magazines and newspapers that I subscribe to.  I watched news programs on television.  I looked on some of the Facebook pages that I can get on and read, and I talked to some friends to find out the latest gossip.  Finally I found a couple things that I hope will be good news for somebody!
    Good news for farmers who raise livestock to sell for meat.  Fake meat is not selling!  According to a recent article that I just read, fake meat seems to have been more of a fad than a hamburger stopper.  Companies who make faux meat are laying off a portion of their work force and their stock is down.  The executives of the companies blame inflation (Joe actually did something that helped farmers?)  Fake meat is more expensive than real meat.  Those who were influenced by the commercials evidently tried it but have now gone back to the comfort of a real burger and are saving money.  Fake meats would not be so bad if they were actually made from real plants.  They are not!  They are manufactured in laboratories! If real plants were used, farmers could grow them and sell them!  Maybe the fast food places could feature “alfalfaburgers”.  The alfalfa leaves could be combined with bread crumbs or quick oats, an egg, a little milk, seasonings, then made into a burger that is baked or fried, topped with a special dressing, cheese  and placed on a bun!  Alfalfa sprouts are packed full of powerful antioxidants and loaded with vitamin C.  Alfalfa has shown promise as a potential cholesterol lowering agent.    Now, if only a similar fate could happen to the fake drinks that claim to be milk!
    It was so enjoyable to read the following in Poor Will’s Almanack and learn that it is one week to crocus season and owl hatching time and woodcock mating time.  Two weeks to the beginning of the morning robin chorus before sunrise (robins have been seen already).   Three weeks to daffodil season (mine are up) and silver maple blooming season and the first golden goldfinches.  Four weeks to tulip season and the first wave of blooming woodland wildflowers and the first butterflies.  Five weeks until golden forsythia blooms and skunk cabbage sends out its first leaves and the lawn is long enough to cut.  Six weeks until American toads sing their mating songs in the dark and corn planting time begins.  Seven weeks until the peak of Middle Spring wildflowers in the wood.  Eight weeks until the Great Dandelion and Violet bloom begins.   Spring is on the way!!  


     All this news in the last few days about the shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon and then shooting down more “unidentified flying objects” has certainly stirred up a “hornets’ nest” in our government and our country.  The government has become much “quicker on the trigger” since that Chinese spy balloon was actually spotted by someone!  It has created so many questions and concerns for everyone in our country, but as of yet, no answers!  As I have listened to the reports on all of this over the last few days, my thoughts turned to something strange that happened right here on this farm last summer.
     On a warm, pleasant, early summer morning, I took my cup of coffee and went out on my deck to enjoy the sunrise and the beauty of the hills.  As I looked down across my yard to the county road, I saw it.  There, across from my house, settled into the un-mowed grass along the road, was a big balloon.  It was almost the size of one of the smaller made round bales of hay.  It appeared to be a sort of smoky gray on the outside with some splotches of color on it.  I couldn’t tell if there was anything in it.  It was just sitting there!  The question was why!  How did it get there?  I had no choice but to go about my chores, however every once in a while I would check on it and it would still be there!  Now, in view of what has recently happened, I am wondering why and where did it come from?!  Was there equipment inside it that was recording something or looking for something? 
     Could it have been a spy balloon?  Was it seeking information about registered Holsteins   and the Ohio Holstein Association?  It was sitting right across from the location of my computer room, where I have stacks of Holstein magazines, Holstein books, a wall covered with show awards, pictures, as well as some other important information.  Could they have been checking out my Christmas cactus that is over 100 years old and sits by the sliding glass door?  There is no doubt in my mind that the Chinese want to know about everything we grow and raise!
     Could there be some type of “bug” that was collecting information from my computer and phone?  I am known to be someone who tends to speak out and express my opinions.  At the time I was corresponding with a friend, who was spending some time in jail because he expressed his opinion.  Maybe someone was concerned that we were going to start a protest march about free speech when he got out!  Could they have been checking my columns to see what I write about?  If so, that would certainly confuse them!  You never know what I am going to write about!!  Sometimes I don’t know until shortly before the column needs to be sent out!  Could it have been a spy balloon?  We will never know.  It was gone the next morning.
     A few weeks later I climbed on my “mean green machine” and began mowing the yard.  As I made my first pass in the backyard next to the pasture I suddenly saw something unusual ahead of me.  It was three large balls, each a little bigger than a grapefruit but smaller than a seedless watermelon, sitting there in the yard.  They were dark grey in color.  I had no idea what they were!  I didn’t know whether to just run my mower over them or drive around them!  Was it something that might explode?  I decided to just leave them alone for a few days.  They just laid there and nothing changed!  Finally, after a few days the grass had to be mowed again.  When I came to them, I got brave.  I aimed the “mean green machine” right at them!  When the mower hit them there was this cloud of gray dust that flew everywhere!  What were they?  I have no idea!  Neither the “mean green machine” nor I seemed to suffer any after affects!
     All this news about balloons and flying objects has made us question everything!  We have all seen the Goodyear Blimp fly over at some time.  Was it really the Goodyear Blimp or a “fake” Goodyear Blimp sent over by a foreign country?  When all those beautiful hot air balloons fly into Stark County for the Football Hall of Fame celebration each year, are they just enjoying the festival and the celebration or are they taking pictures and gathering information about the area, the industries, and seeking information about numerous other things there?  And what about that ordinary red balloon that you find in your field that asks you to send information back to the children in a school at a certain address?  Sounds so simple and innocent doesn’t it?  Even that could be a way of a foreign country seeking information about how far something might travel in the sky over our country!
     When the singing group, Fifth Dimension, won a Grammy in 1967, the Record of the Year Award and several other awards in 1968 for singing, “Up, up and away my beautiful, my beautiful balloon”, a song that symbolized happiness and lightness of sorrow, no one ever dreamed that the day might come when it could become the theme song for a foreign country and their spying balloons!                  


     I recently ran across an article proclaiming that a group of consultants, who were experts in certain fields, had been assembled to give advice to dairy farmers, who are dealing with a certain type of problem these days. There would be forms to fill out (there always is), information would be made available and meetings would probably be held. In my many years of living, it never ceases to amaze me at the many “so called experts” who pass out their advice every day on something! There is no doubt in my mind that the first words of expert advice were written with a quill pen. I wonder how that went!

     In my years as a dairy farmer and a breeder of registered Holsteins I have read the opinions of many experts and attended numerous meetings where the experts passed out their material, gave a speech and suggested that the only way to be successful was to follow their advice! Some of them did not like to be questioned about their ideas. Carroll County had some dairymen, who being both smart and successful, would ask tough questions and challenge the advice the speaker was giving. Several years ago at a meeting at Atwood Lodge, the group of farmers met with an expert from a state university. When they strongly challenged the
expert’s advice, he left during the lunch break and never came back!

     Financial institutions guided by their experts have always been very important to farmers. There are many expenses involved on a dairy farm and often a problem arises quickly and taking care of it requires a loan. How many of the people making the decisions about loans ever worked on a dairy farm? Yet over the years dairy farmers have had to yield to their rules, regulations and decisions. There have been many times when their decisions were not made using common sense. One example I have always remembered over the years had to do with a friend of mine. He milked a small herd of mixed breed cows, however he wanted to own registered Holsteins. He had an opportunity to buy ten (10) bred heifers, all bred to a registered bull and due to calve, at $1500 each. He went to the local well known lending institution that farmers used and asked to borrow the money. The odds were 50/50 that he would get at least five heifer calves. Registered Holstein heifer calves were in demand and selling for $500 and up. Do the math! Five heifer calves sold, $2500, divided by the ten heifers equals $250 subtracted from the $1500 equals a cost of $1250 for each heifer. Five bull calves would probably bring $50 each, so another $250 divided by 10 would be another $25 off the price, making the price of ten good pedigreed Holstein bred heifers $1225! Sounded like a pretty good deal! The lender refused to give him the money for the registered heifers! However, he agreed to lend him $1300 per bred heifer if he bought grade Holsteins! There was very little interest in grade heifer calves and they sold cheap! This “so called expert” had a long career of lending money and giving advice to farmers on how to spend it!

     Most dairy farmers over the years have welcomed information and data that could help them to be more successful with breeding their dairy cattle and raising their crops. However many looked to other respected breeders and farmers who were already successful for help and advice. So much of the guidance and the rules and regulations that dairy farmers must follow today are created by “so called experts” who have never lived on or managed a farm. There is a saying, “If you can’t do it, teach it”. So many of those experts giving advice today in every field imaginable base their advice on their college education rather than on personal experience with the subject or issue they work with.

     The same is so true for those currently making the rules, laws, and decisions for our government. How many have done anything except college, politics and government? Until you “walk the walk” how can you “talk the talk”? Some experience is needed so they know how the decision made really affects the people!

     As these government committee meetings are being held to discuss the many problems in our country, I find the attitude of some of the committee members most interesting. Some are asking questions and seeking the true answers to the problem they are focused on. Their decisions will be based on listening, learning and knowing the facts. Others who are involved can only project that they have no interest in listening or knowing the facts and the truth. They have no experience or proven information for the subject they are to make a decision on! Their decisions will be based on their attitude that they are the “experts” in government and smarter than anyone else! So sad! Every decision that is ever made by someone in charge of making decisions affects someone’s life! From cows to country! “Experience is the best teacher, and the worst experiences teach the best lessons”. (Jordan Peterson)



     This week on February 2nd there will be a celebration of Groundhog Day in several areas.  The purpose is to gain a prediction for the coming weather.  If it is a clear day and the groundhog sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter weather.  If he doesn’t see his shadow spring will come early.  One of those celebrations will be held in Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania where Punxsutawny Phil will come out of hibernation and predict what is going to happen with our weather in the next few weeks.  It all depends on whether or not he sees his shadow!
    It has come to my attention that PETA, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, does not want this holiday celebration to take place.  PETA says that the groundhogs are forced to “perform” in front of large crowds and are exposed to flash photography and to loud noises.  Now, I am not sure what they mean by “perform”.  I have never seen Punxsutawny Phil singing or dancing.  He always just seems to lay there in someone’s arms and look bored by the whole celebration!  As for the flashes and noises, he is a “star” and stars have to expect crowds to gather, cameras to take pictures, and people to cheer!  Phil is a star and he has had to get used to the excitement and adjust to it.  PETA says they are “shy, sensitive animals”, however there is a record of one retaliating and biting the ear of a mayor in Wisconsin during a celebration.
    They also say Phil is denied hibernation and is forced to be on display at the local public library all year long.  But is that so bad?  He only has to work one day a year.  The rest of the year he is well taken care of!  A special burrow is dug for him, he doesn’t have to dig his own.  It has a special “window” so children can view and admire him.  He lives in a warm and clean environment all year long.  He can sleep as much as he wants to anytime he wants to.
    He is fed the foods he likes— celery, lettuce, kale, and carrots.  Those types of foods are why groundhogs choose to make their burrows near your garden!  Bananas and apples are a special treat for him.  Groundhogs have two teeth that never stop growing, so Phil is fed Granola Bars to help wear down those teeth.   He gets his longevity of life from drinking the “elixir of life”, a secret recipe (one of the secret ingredients is milk).  He takes a sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life.  His wife, Phyllis, lives with him so he is not lonely.
    Why do they think Phil would be better off free?  How could releasing Phil in the “wilds” possibly make his life better?  He would have to dig his own holes, search for food every day, and hibernate in winter and become skinny.  He would be at the mercy of predators such as coyotes, dogs, hunters with guns who enjoy the sport of shooting groundhogs, irate farmers wanting them shot because of the holes made in their fields that cause wagons to upset or machinery to break, and cars that run over them when they go on the roads!  I am sure there are other groundhogs who would like to trade places with Phil!  The Punxsutawny Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle takes good care of Punxsutawny Phil.  It seems to me that Phil lives a comfortable and happy life.  There are a lot of people in our world who do not live as well! 
    Last summer thirty five (35) groundhogs or more (there were probably some I didn’t see to   count) came to visit me and took up residence under various buildings here on the farm.  There is no doubt in my mind that, as soon as warm weather comes this spring, more will be heading my way.  They will be looking for suitable places to settle, establish their residence and raise a family.  Should PETA or some caring person establish a “rescue shelter” for groundhogs I would be quite willing to allow them to be rescued!  The hard part will be catching them!  The last time I caught one in a trap, it enjoyed the bait and then proceeded to tear my Chinese manufactured animal trap apart and escaped!   It had taken me days to just get it to go into the trap!  We might have to hire a “groundhog wrangler”!
    While I do not condone the mistreatment of animals, I do feel that there are more urgent and important issues in our country in need of attention and solutions than the treatment of a groundhog, who will or will not see his shadow and predict our weather.  By the time you read this Punxsutawny Phil will have given his prediction and his caretakers and friends will have celebrated the holiday.  You will know whether to keep the Carhartt’s handy or check the spring catalog for some new shorts!