BARBWIRE by Barb Lumley

Barb Lumley’s weekly column!


It is always nice when someone stops in and brings a meal for you. And so when my youngest son brought supper for me the other evening, I appreciated his thoughtfulness. Both of my sons are good cooks, having learned at an early age, and so are my grandsons. Like all kids, when they came home from school they were always starved and I was often working out in the fields somewhere or at the barn, so they learned how to solve their hunger problem themselves. I made sure that there was things available that were easy for them to fix.

My handout for supper was chili and deviled eggs and beets. My son makes a really good chili, although his has a few more spices in it than in the chili I make. It is especially good for you if you have a cold and will definitely help to clear your sinuses! I ate a lot of chili when I had my rounds of Covid-19. It definitely helped and was the one thing that I could taste!

While it is still warm out, cold weather is definitely on the way. With the freezing weather, the cold winds, and the snow comes the desire and the need for lots of hot soup. Soup warms the body and soothes the soul. There are so many kinds to make and enjoy. With the price of groceries these days a big pot of homemade soup can go a long way to feed a family. My grandma was well-known for her ability to feed many people with one chicken and the flour, eggs, and salt that she made into noodles!

It is assumed that early people began cooking broth as soon as they discovered how to make mud vessels or clay pots. Before that they consumed raw meat or cooked it over an open fire. The first added ingredients were probably vegetables that grew wild, nuts, berries, leaves or whatever they could find. Just as is done today, they had to try the various ingredients until they found the combination that they liked. Eventually people learned how to grow corn, pumpkins, squash and all kinds of vegetables to add to their soup.

Every country has one or more favorite soups and there is no limit to the many different ingredients and spices used in every country! Yala Corbus is the traditional soup of Turkey. Yogurt is the basis for this soup and is one of the most used ingredients in Turkish cuisine. Rice and chickpeas are cooked in a broth flavoured with spices and herbs. Yogurt brings the creaminess to the soup and can be complemented with feta cheese. Tom Yum is a famous soup in Thailand with an extremely aromatic broth, the result of a combination of spices, herbs, lemongrass, galangal, and koffir lime leaves. Shrimp, pork, or chicken can be added. Egusi is the name given by the inhabitants of West Africa for pumpkin and melon seeds which are the main ingredient of Egusi soup. The seeds are fried in palm oil and added to a broth that carries fish, dried shrimp, beef tripe, vegetables and spices. The rarest soup and one of the most expensive in the entire world is China’s Bird Nest Soup. It is made from the swiftlet nests that are actually made out of the bird’s saliva. They are prized in Chinese culture due to their rarity, high protein content and rich flavor.

Canned soups became popular in the 19 th century when the technique of canning was discovered. The Mason jar became very important in every household and meant that vegetables and the meats for making soups were available throughout the winter. Later on came the freezing of meats and vegetables. Just about every item grown in the garden can be used in some type of soup. If you don’t have a garden or don’t want to make your own soup, there are numerous varieties available at the grocery stores. There are many of them that you just add milk or water, heat and enjoy, or simply heat in the microwave.

One of my favorite soups is the vegetable soup that my Mom taught me to make, using hamburger, beef broth, tomato juice, potatoes, celery, onions, carrots, corn, and cabbage. For my Mom and Dad years ago, a special treat was Oyster Stew, however the oysters were only available during certain months of the year and the price was high, so it wasn’t made very often. My Uncle Frank made an excellent Turtle Soup and was often asked to make it for special suppers put on by organizations. Everyone has a favorite that they will be enjoying throughout the winter. We have a new restaurant located just a few miles from town that has not been open very long. My oldest son and I stopped there a few days ago and enjoyed the food. Their menu is a little different from other restaurants in the area. After I had ordered, I was reading the menu more thoroughly and discovered that one of the items on the menu is Dill Pickle Soup. I love dill pickles and so do my great-grandchildren. I always have to include a couple jars in my cart when shopping for groceries. I have no idea what Dill Pickle Soup tastes like or what the ingredients in it are, but I plan on trying it the next time we visit the restaurant!

“Soup is a lot like life. It is all about what you put into it.” (Unknown)


It was late on Friday night and the long Labor Day weekend was ahead. I was relaxing in my easy chair in my comfy night clothes. My water and my snack were beside my chair and I was enjoying a good movie on television. Suddenly I was plunged into darkness! The electric went out! Slowly but very carefully I climbed out of my electric chair—you know—one of those lift chairs that they recommend for old people. Now all I had to do was get my special light that my son gave me and I knew exactly where it was. I have lived in this old house for many years, so I know my way around in the dark. However, the kids were here this evening and I don’t want to trip on anything they might have left on the floor. I must take my time and be careful—don’t want any falls! I don’t bounce like I used to!

I keep my light sitting on the third shelf of a bookcase. I know right where it is! I’m feeling for it –feeling for it—can’t find it! Okay, I will make my way to the computer room, as I know where there is one there. Made it to the computer desk—feeling for it, feeling for it—oops there goes a picture to the floor! Finally—found it—it works, but it is just a small one. Back to the living room for the bigger one. Yep—there it is, right where I thought it was—only one shelf lower! Let there be light!

Of course, it is dark and cloudy, no moon to help light things up. What can I do? Now usually at this time in the evening, while watching television, I would drift off to sleep and the TV would eventually shut itself off. Or at least I would take a quick nap and miss the most important part of the movie. Not tonight! This would be the perfect time for sleep and instead my eyeballs are wide awake! The first thing I must do is decide if I am going to go to bed or just choose another chair and wait to see what happens. Could there be a storm coming? I feel like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I have three chairs, all recliners. I tried one and it is too big. It is the one that Don always sat in and it is uncomfortable for me. Chair number two is
too small! It doesn’t give you room to wiggle around in! It is a well-known name brand but has never been comfortable and is hard to work when you try to put the foot rest up. So which one is the most comfortable? The electric one, of course, and it is not working!

Good thing I am not depending on my electric car to be charged and ready to take me to work in the morning! In the “good ole days” all I had to be sure of was that I had a can of gas! The people who want everything to go green never acknowledge the problems that can occur if the electric isn’t working! They pretend they don’t exist! The people who do understand all the problems need to talk about them more and do everything they can to get the information out and make the people understand what can happen!

Sitting here in the pitch black darkness the only thing I can do is think! About numerous things! In the “good ole days” embers would still be smoldering in the kitchen stove and the teakettle would still have hot water. I could make a cup of tea or warm up the coffee left in the pot. I could light the oil lamp or some candles. That would make enough light for me to move around the room, play solitaire, maybe even read something, or do other things. People survived for years without electricity and got a lot of things done!

If the electric isn’t back on by morning breakfast will have to be cold cereal and milk. No “quick fix” in the microwave! In the “good ole days” with the coming of daylight, the kitchen stove would be fired up and there would be the smell of the bacon or sausage frying in the big iron skillet, eggs waiting to be fried in the drippings or gravy made for over biscuits, the coffee perking in the percolator. The oatmeal would be hot and toast would be made on a wire toaster held over the stove. Once everyone had their fill it was off to work, even on Labor Day!

I have no idea how long the electric will be off. The emergency crew has to get to their headquarters to get their trucks and equipment and then make their way to where the outage has occurred. I do not complain regardless of how long it takes during an outage to get the electric back on. Finding the problem and then getting to it can sometimes be very difficult and especially if it has happened because of storms. Working with electric is a very dangerous job! Those workers do their best to get the electric back on and working for all of us. We need to pray that they stay safe!

The phone went out at the same time as the electric. It is now Monday, Labor Day, and this is the fourth day it has been out. I have to depend on the old fashioned land line, as cell phones don’t work here in my hills. No doubt I won’t have a working phone until sometime Tuesday. Repairing land line phones is not a priority for the phone companies these days!

The Labor Day holiday and celebrations will be over tomorrow and life will get back to normal—however you define normal these days! We must be thankful that things here are back working. There are areas where the storms have caused so much destruction and created such huge problems. Say a prayer for all those people who are dealing with those problems and trying to rebuild their homes and their lives! “Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content”. (Helen Keller)


Each week I put my brain to work trying to come up with an idea for my column. I have said that sometimes the ideas just “fall out of the air” into my head. Other times I really have to work to come up with something that I think people will enjoy reading. Occasionally someone will suggest something for me to write about, which I really appreciate, and often their ideas are good ones. This past week has been a busy one, with my mind on many other things, so no great column ideas have hit me!

We had numerous storms in many areas last week, including here. Just about everything was involved except snow—wind, rain, hail, thunder, lightning, flooding, trees down, electric lines down, and lots of damages. Much of that happened during the late night and early morning hours. Sleep was lost, alarms didn’t go off and many people were late for work and school. All of that contributed to a stressful week! During all of that many people were without electricity for hours and even days. There is something I just don’t understand about this “going green deal” that is being forced upon us. During this past week of storms there were several days that were dark and dreary and without sunshine. Prior to the storms putting the electricity off, there were areas where it was already in short supply, due not only to normal use, but also because of the heat and so much air conditioning being run. If we are to become dependent on the “solar panels” for our electricity, how are we going to get enough from them when there are days without sunshine as well as the nights! I wish some of those “experts on going green”, who fly around the country making speeches, would explain to me just how it is going to work! It seems to me that it is sort of like making hay—you can’t get it dry enough and ready to bale if there is no sunshine! Sometimes I think I should be storing up a lot of candles and wood!

School has started in most areas. Children of all ages have had to adjust to new buildings, new rooms, new teachers, sitting still for several hours, and getting up early in the morning. For some of the little ones those first days are a scary experience. The bus drivers are adjusting to alarm clocks going off earlier in the morning, learning routes that may have changed, learning where there are new children to pick up, and working to find the best directions for their routes so they can be where they need to be at the correct times. Our school bus drivers carry a lot of responsibility on their shoulders as they strive to get school children where they need to go safely. Our schools need the involvement and cooperation of parents. Hopefully, as everyone begins this week, things will be a little easier and go more smoothly.

When I asked Daxton how his first day of kindergarten went I got a “thumbs up” and a big smile. He likes his teacher, Mrs. May. And then he wanted to know what was for supper! Daxton is “cool with school”! Emily is in third grade, likes her teacher, Mr. Ledford, and is excited about getting to be a cheerleader. Let’s hope their enthusiasm for school will last throughout this year as well as throughout the other years that lie ahead.

Goodbye August and a big hello to September! As I talk to friends, we all ask the same thing—where did the summer go? It seems as though it just started a few days ago and now it is gone! The weather is still warm and we will continue to have nice days, however in reading some information from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, frost is already being mentioned. And what about the signs from the wildlife. A few days ago more “whistle pigs”, as they are sometimes called, started moving to the buildings, making their holes either under them or very close. I had to order more Double Bubble and have been putting treats out every few days. The groundhogs seem to have learned that if they hear the “mean green machine” coming, that means treats. They are out of their holes getting them before I get back to my house! My
hummingbirds were going through a quart sized feeder every day, as well as taking some from a second feeder. Suddenly this week the feeder has lasted three days and most of them seem to be gone. Is this a sign of an early winter? For many years the farmers relied on Mother Nature and the wildlife to indicate what weather might be going to happen. And many times the signs we saw proved to be a correct prediction.

There will be a lot of activities in September. There are still several county fairs to take place. There will be fall festivals happening everywhere. Football games featuring players of all ages have begun at the schools. College games are taking place. The first games in the NFL will soon be happening. The biggest dairy shows will be taking place—The All-American at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; The World Dairy Expo at Madison, Wisconsin; and The North American International Livestock Exposition at Louisville, Kentucky. Those dairy shows feature the “best of the best” from all over the country. And one of the favorite things to do on a day in autumn is to take a drive down the country roads and enjoy the beauty that the fall season brings to us! “September tries its best to have us forget summer”. (Bernard Williams)


Walk into many of the dairy barns in this country and one of the first things you will hear is country music. One of today’s popular country stars will be singing his or her song that is currently on the charts.  Occasionally you may find a dairy barn where contemporary, rock, rap, or classical is heard, but not very often. Country music has been the main choice for years.  Dairy farmers enjoy it as they go about their chores. There are some that believe it relaxes the cows and makes them easier to work with. 

I grew up with country-western music, as did many people my age. Many of the western movies we watched years ago featured music as a part of the story. Many family members played an instrument and gathered together to visit and play music on weekends or for family events. Often they played for square dances or community events. Most learned at an early age and often could play more than one instrument. Most listened to a song and then learned to play it “by ear” and never had music lessons.

I grew up loving country music. My family on my Dad’s side was blessed with musical talent. My grandfather played the violin, one uncle played guitar, another uncle played the mandolin, and my Dad played the guitar—left-handed without restringing it. Any guitarist reading this will understand that it wasn’t easy. As I was growing up, there were several friends and neighbors who also played music. Many Saturday nights were spent at someone’s house visiting and playing music until the wee hours of the morning. Or their might be a square dance somewhere with different “family bands” providing the music.

Years later when at age eleven major surgery kept our oldest son from walking for six months, he asked for a guitar and received it. He taught himself how to play it. A few years later, he and I helped to organize a country-western band with some friends. Practice was often at our house. While I could play the guitar, my favorite thing was singing. So I and one of the other gals involved became the vocalists. We played for some local events, festivals, and weddings. We were contacted by some clubs from other areas and asked to play on Saturday nights. Thus began my career as a country singer and I loved it!

My son owned the amplifiers, microphones, an electric guitar, and drums, so all that had to be loaded and ready to go when we had a “gig”. And we had to milk the cows early. When we played the clubs it was usually one o’clock in the morning when we finished. We then had to repack the equipment and head home, sometimes an hour or more drive. Often by the time we got home it was time to milk the cows, so we just changed clothes and headed for the barn! It was Sunday, we could sleep later!

One day “Lum” came home from work on the Norfolk & Western Railroad and told me about one of his fellow workers. His name was Vern Terry and he had been the lead guitarist for Dottie West, a well- known country star in Nashville for several years. Unfortunately, he was in an accident and suffered a severe injury to his hand and had to stop playing the guitar. He left Nashville, came to Ohio, and took a job on the Norfolk & Southern Railroad. Eventually he was able to start playing again and was playing with some local country bands. We invited him to play with our band as lead guitarist and what a thrill for me when he agreed! He was an outstanding guitar player. While the rest of the band and I practiced before playing at a club, he seldom did. He was so good, he didn’t need to! All I had to do was tell him what song I was
going to sing and what key I needed and he would play the perfect lead in! I knew hundreds of songs and so did he!

Eventually the band broke up due to other commitments. Our son was in college and he took a job with a “sound crew” in West Virginia for two years during the summer break. They provided the amplifiers and needed sound equipment for country stars who were performing at various fairs and concerts. He met several of them and got to know what many of them were really like. Some were very nice and others made unbelievable demands when they performed! He got to sit down and play with some of them when they were tuning up and getting ready for their show. On one occasion when Ronny Milsap was performing, he put on a cap and dark glasses, and with a “bodyguard” on each side, walked all over the fairgrounds where he was appearing, and being the same size and looking a bit like Ronny, the people
mistook him for the entertainer! He had a lot of interesting experiences during those two years.

My career as a country singer didn’t last too long, but I enjoyed every minute of it! For just a few hours I could forget the problems that occur on a dairy farm and enjoy singing, the music and the people we met. Music of every kind, whether you perform it or just listen to it, is a relief from the stress, problems, and challenges brought about by life. Music soothes the soul. “Only in country music can you compare an old pickup truck and an old guitar to your wife and turn it into a love song. Thank God for country music.” (Dierks Bentley) “Country music is three chords and the truth.” (Harlan Howard) “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday”. (Berthold Auerbach)


As I sit here on my deck on this August evening, the sun is shining warmly on my tired legs and my artificial knees and it feels so good. It is a warm day but there is a lovely breeze blowing at just the right temperature to keep me very comfortable. The mockingbirds are flocking to the feeders. The groundhog that has taken up residence across the driveway at my Mom’s house is busy enjoying the bubblegum treat I left for him. There is a doe and her baby fawn in the pasture field. The hills are green and beautiful. Occasionally a car goes up or down the road. If God was to tap me on the shoulder and tell me I could give every person in his world one gift that would last throughout their life, it would be the peace and contentment that I am feeling at this moment. What a wonderful gift that would be!

Contentment is a state of happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment and pleasure that comes from within. There are so very many ways to find peace and contentment. Everyone is different and must find their own way. For some it is relaxing quietly and listening to music. For others it is playing music and there are so many instruments, such as the harp, piano, violin, and more, that when played create a feeling of peace and contentment. Sitting quietly and reading a book by your favorite author. Plodding back and forth with a team of horses as you work down the ground in a plowed field. Sitting quietly under a shade tree on a hot day. Rocking a baby to sleep. Watching animal babies play. Animals, especially dogs, have become so important in helping to bring peace and contentment not only to distressed children and adults, but also to our servicemen. A walk in the woods. Fresh baked cookies and a glass of cold milk. Just being with your family. The list is absolutely endless!

I remember well an elderly gentleman who years ago showed sheep at our county fair, as well as many other fairs. He was an early riser and always had his sheep fed and cared for early in the morning. He would then relax in his chair, a piece of wood and his penknife in hand, and “whittle” as he awaited sunrise and the first fairgoers. Whittling was a source of peace and contentment for him. He was always very friendly and kind to us 4-Hers and I have never forgotten him.

I feel so blessed and grateful to have been allowed to grow up and spend my life on this farm in the hills of Ohio. I grew up learning about hard work and responsibility. On a farm there is so much to learn about so many different things! You grow up learning to love the animals you work with every day. Some are more special than others, especially if you grow up as a 4-Her or FFA member and continue to show throughout your lifetime. Your neighbors and your community are a part of your life. They will be there to help you if and when you need them! Your life is filled with friends and friendships that last your entire lifetime.

We are living in a country and a world that is filled with strife, conflict, uncertainty and many problems. There are many people, all over this world, who are never able to enjoy a moment of peace and contentment. They can only try to survive the circumstances they must live in twenty four hours a day every day and hope and pray that their lives will get better. Everyone has to live their life as it happens. There is no such thing as a perfect life. Everyone has problems of some kind that they must deal with in the best way they can. Finding ways for some peace and contentment helps to give a person the strength and determination to meet the challenges of their life.

The following are some interesting sayings that I ran across. “True contentment is not having everything, but in being satisfied with everything you have”. (Oscar Wilde) “Movement is good for the body. Stillness is good for the mind”. “I spend a lot of time doing carpentry. Sometimes there is nothing that gives me the contentment that sawing a piece of wood does”. (Abbas Kiarostami) “It is not how much we have but how much we enjoy, that makes us happy”. (Charles Spurgeon} “Until you make peace with who you are, you will never be content with what you have”. (Doris Mortman) “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace”. (Dalai Lama) “The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness
from common things”. (Henry Ward Beecher)


It has been extremely hot and humid for several days and we have been experiencing what is known as the “dog days of summer”. When Sirius, known as the “dog star” would appear in the sky, just before the sun, near the end of July, that marked the very hottest days of the year. The Romans referred to that period as “dies caniculares” or “days of the dog star”. This was eventually translated to just “dog days” or as we have often heard, “dog days of summer”. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky. When Sirius rose alongside the sun the Romans and Greeks believed that the heat from these two stars combined is what causes the hottest days of the year. This seems like a reasonable explanation to me! 

They couldn’t call it “climate change” and blame it on the things that people involved in the “green new deal” do today. Most of the Romans lived in crowded buildings. They didn’t have gas and diesel powered vehicles, gas powered appliances, gas powered tools and equipment, or large herds of dairy or beef cattle! They had some cows, oxen, sheep, goats and horses, although the horses were mainly for rich people and racing. When they traveled they went by chariot, walked, rode horses or on a litter that slaves carried on their shoulders.

Years ago this time of year was also referred to as “threshing time”. Threshing machines traveled from farm to farm to thrash out the different types of grains that had been grown and blow the straw into huge stacks. Usually there was a farm in the area that owned a threshing machine and the big tractor needed to run it. They did “custom threshing” for the other farmers in the area. They set up a schedule for the day or days that they would be at each farm. The farmer would have time to get ready and the farmer’s wife would have time to shop for groceries and plan the noon meal.

The “dog days of summer” were important to the success of the threshing and harvest. The sheaves of grain needed to be dry so that all the grain could be properly extracted. Every farmer hoped and prayed that it didn’t come up a rain or storm just before or on his threshing day!

The heat and dryness was hard on the workers. There were several jobs to be done. Some worked out in the fields loading the sheaves of grain into wagons to be hauled to the threshing machine. Others unloaded the wagons and threw the sheaves onto the big belt that fed them into the threshing machine. Large bags were filled with the grain and then had to be carried into a granary where it was dumped into bins. The workers made a lot of trips carrying those heavy sacks! There was one farm where the grain had to be carried up a set of stairs and dumped on the second floor, as their grinder was on the first floor and they let the grain flow down into the grinder when they ground their feed. That was a hard day for those men who carried the grain! Someone had to handle the pipe that blew the straw and properly create the
straw stack. Some farms blew the straw into a “hay mow” and it had to be forked back so it would fill properly. All extremely hard, hot and dirty jobs on threshing day! The worker’s clothes would be soaked in sweat and a lot of cold drinking water was needed!

We had a large maple tree in the yard beside our house. On threshing day huge washtubs were filled with water and set under the tree so the men could wash up before going in to eat at noon. There was only room for one group at a time at the table, so while the first group of men were eating, the second group would stretch out under the cool shade of the maple tree. When the second group came out they too would relax and wait under the tree. How good that time under the tree must have felt to those hot and hard- working farmers!

July 24 to August 24 was originally considered to be the period for the “dog days of summer”, however over the years the constellations have drifted, so the Farmer’s Almanac lists the dates as July 3 to August 11. During the summer Canus Major, the constellation that includes Sirius, hits the Northern hemisphere due to the tilt of the Earth. The “dog days of summer” are in late January to early March in the Southern hemisphere.

In my opinion it isn’t the weather or the climate that has changed so much in this country over the years, it is the country that has changed! Years ago there were lots of fields and open ground for rains to soak into. Now we have buildings, roads, concrete, cement, tar, etc. When it rains the water has to go somewhere, hence we have floods. When there are tornados, hurricanes, high winds and storms there are so many more things in their path to be destroyed. It isn’t the climate we should be trying to change, it is the ways that we prepare for and handle the weather that need to be studied and changed.


In our years of retirement we are all constantly being given advice from many people, and especially from all those different doctors that we find ourselves constantly visiting for one reason or another, as we go about enjoying these “golden years”. Their goal seems to be to keep us healthy, living longer, and enjoying life. However, they have no experience in retirement as they haven’t retired yet! As an experienced retiree, I have some advice for those who are retired or those who are planning retirement in the future. Don’t keep anything available that is easy to use or comfortable. Your health and your life will be better!

For instance—you will be getting a lot of advice about eating healthy. My advice is do not have a microwave oven! Without one, you will have to prepare the food for your meals and cook it. Therefore you will have to make trips to your refrigerator, your cupboard, your stove, and your sink. One trip to pick up a pre-packaged microwave meal or an item that you just pop into the microwave doesn’t give you nearly as much exercise! And of course, the fresh food is better for you. Also you will be dirtying up pans, pots and dishes that will need to be washed and dried afterwards. That is much better exercise than just putting them in a dishwasher. Once clean they will all have to be returned to their places in your cupboards. Think about all the exercise you are are getting for your hands, arms, legs and body all at the same time. You will be exercising your brain, as you have to remember how to cook the things you want to eat and read recipes.

Do not have a recliner, lift chair or any kind of comfortable chair. If the chair you must sit in is not comfortable you won’t just sit there and watch television programs for hours, sometimes even ones you don’t like, because you are so cozy and comfortable! You won’t be so inclined to just sit there thinking about chores that you need to do and could be doing but are not. You will have to get up and moving and while you are up maybe you will remember a chore that needs doing and go ahead and do it! If you are not so comfortable you won’t be as apt to nod off and take naps, which along with more exercise, will enable you to go to sleep at night, when you should, and enjoy a more restful, sound and refreshing sleep. Even if you are forced to seek the bathroom in the middle of the night you will be more inclined to go right back to sleep when you return to your bed.

Now, about the bed—with all the aches, pains, and artificial parts that have been acquired in later years, you need a bed that will help to relieve your problems. However, do not get one that is so comfortable that you never want to leave it! And, by all means, do not place a television set in your bedroom! You will, if cozy and warm and even if not quite so comfortable, be inclined to just lay there and watch anything that comes on, even a black screen. And don’t keep snacks and food at your bedside, as that just makes things worse. When it is time, get up and get moving!

Don’t keep your phone in your pocket or beside your chair. Keep it where you will have to get up and walk to find it when it rings. However, you should keep a second phone stored in a special place, so that when you can’t find the ringing phone before it quits, you can go get the second phone to keep calling yourself until you find the first phone! When you get a call from a relative or friend that you know will last quite a while, keep a notebook and pen handy so that you can take notes as you talk. The notes will help you remember the latest gossip or news you want to tell to the next friend or relative who calls you. Just be sure to write the name down with each set of notes so you know who told you what! You may have been told something that you are not supposed to tell someone else!

Volunteer to babysit your grandchildren, great-grandchildren or the neighbor’s children. You won’t be sitting around doing nothing when you have children in the house. They will need meals or snacks every couple of hours. You will learn many things as you sit around the kitchen table talking with them. You will hear about the sports they are in, summer vacation, fishing, their animals, and some things that you aren’t supposed to know! You will get exercise for your brain playing Dominos, Scrabble, Boggle, Jr., Go Fish and other games with them. And you will enjoy their excitement when you give them permission to visit your upstairs, which is normally off-limits and is filled with items and fun things that they have not seen before! It is guaranteed that children can help you keep a healthy, happy heart!

We have earned our right to retirement, and while I don’t recommend working as we did in our younger days, I do believe that it is better for people who are retired, if able, to keep moving and find things that they can enjoy doing. Many people have talents that they didn’t have time to use and enjoy as they worked and took care of their family over the years. Using those talents after retiring can create a lot of happiness and satisfaction. Find the things that you enjoy doing, be involved in activities, stay in contact with friends and relatives, don’t allow yourself to just sit around napping! Stay as active as you can both physically and mentally. While retirement is not always exactly the way we would like it, there are ways that can help to keep a little of the “gold” in our “golden years”. 


While we no longer have a Holstein cow or heifer on the farm, we do have what I call our “Holstein chicken”. Her name is Dottie and she is a very pretty black and white spotted chicken! She is actually an Appenzellar Spitzhauben. It is a European breed that is rare in America. She is one of approximately fifty (50) different breeds of chickens that Kim breeds and has here on the farm and she loves working with them. Her chickens are “free range”. It is interesting to see them scratching in the driveway, plucking insects from the grass and dusting themselves in the dirt. When Kim walks out of the house or drives in the driveway, they run to greet her!

Dottie prefers cat food to chicken feed. She will watch for Kim to put cat food out for the cats and will then run to get her share. She is very independent and wants nothing to do with Benny, the Polish rooster. I do have to admit that currently Benny is very homely —he has no tail feathers! It seems that when Benny and his flock were moved into their new chicken house here on the farm, he became so stressed that he pulled out his tail feathers. I am told that when he “molts” they will grow back. Perhaps then Dottie will be more interested!

When Dottie goes to the porch to eat cat food, she likes to look into the house through the sliding glass door and she will peck on it. That so infuriates Max, the house cat, that he then tries to attack her through the door and a real kerfluffle occurs and there is all kinds of excitement!

As long as Benny is assured that he is the “cock of the walk” he does not attack or try to “flop” anyone. Kim calls his name and he comes running to her. She drops a piece of food in front of him, which he picks up and takes to his flock of hens, who are awaiting him, and drops it in front of them for them to eat. That puffs up his ego, he is a happy rooster and he no longer has the desire to attack anyone! Hmmm! Perhaps this method would work on our leaders in politics and government or on the leaders in other countries!

There are several different exotic breeds in the flock and there are many breeds to choose from. According to information I just read, Australia has sixty (60) different breeds and the British have ninety three (93), as well as numerous breeds in other countries. Copper Moran, French Black, Sumatra, Houdan, Silkies, Frizzle, Yokohama, Serama, and many, many others.

They are many different colors and many lay different colored eggs. Kim would like to have a Cochin, which originated in China in the 1800’s. They are covered all the way to their toes with feathers. Along with Dottie and Benny, most of the chickens have names—Jennie, Frizzle, Frazzle, Splash, Curly, Jim, and more! With the chickens running everywhere, there is always the danger of being taken by a fox, coyotes, raccoons, hawks, and recently an Eagle that nests in the area swooped down and took one. There is a picture of it flying away with the chicken.

My Mom raised chickens and really enjoyed having them. She liked the Leghorn breed for eggs and the Rhode Island Reds for the roosters she raised for meat. In the spring Dad would set up the brooder and prepare for them in the old “summer Kitchen”. It would be early spring and the nights were still cold. There was a small stove in there and an old metal daybed, so Dad would stay all night with the peeps and keep the fire going and the building warm until they got going. Sometimes I would stay all night with Dad and it was fun to watch the baby chickens as a light would turn on every so often on the brooder and they would all run out, loudly cheeping, to get feed and water and then run back under the brooder! As soon as they were old enough they were transferred to the chicken house.

My Mom usually had extra eggs to sell and at times Dad took them to the Scio Community Sale where they would be auctioned off. Mom referred to the money she got for them as her “pin money” and saved it to buy something she wanted but didn’t have extra money for. When she was small our daughter, Cindy, loved to help gather the eggs from the wooden nests.

However she learned one of life’s lessons one evening when she reached into the nest and found a blacksnake curled up instead of eggs! It is best to not only look before you leap but also best to check the nest before you reach in for the eggs!

Mom’s chicken house was torn down years ago, but I have a special piece of artwork that was made for me from the old fashioned wooden siding that brings back memories. I was never interested in chickens, so have not known much about them. As I sat on my mean green machine the other day, I enjoyed watching them and listening to Kim tell me all about them as she picked them up and brought them to show me. Kim also told me an interesting fact that I had never heard. If you look at the yolk of an egg and there is a dot in it, and the dot is surrounded by a bulls-eye, the egg is fertilized! The time spent watching the chickens and talking with Kim about them sent me to the computer to see pictures and learn more about them and gave me a subject to write about! If there is a moral to this story, it could be, “You are never too old to learn something new and to learn about things that you only had minor knowledge about before! And sometimes the subject can be very interesting”! I have learned a lot about chickens in the last few days!


As I went around and around on my mean green machine, I could feel it in the air. It was a hot summer day with just a slight breeze blowing and that special feeling was there—it is Carroll County Fair time! It is that feeling in the July air that those of us who have participated in and been involved in our county fair for years can recognize. It is special!

For many years our county fair was in late September and the weather was much different. It could be fairly warm and pleasant and before the fair ended it could be cold and it even snowed at times. The decision was made to change the date of the fair to July. The majority of the exhibitors who showed animals at the fair were happy with the change. Even though the weather can be hot in July, there are many ways to handle it.

My family showed registered Holstein dairy cattle for many years in both the open dairy show and in the 4-H show. That includes myself, my children and my grandchildren. We all looked forward to that special week. The cattle had been worked with and were handling well. The “show boxes” were filled with all kinds of equipment especially needed for showing, and there were many other important equipment items, including the wheelbarrow and manure forks, to be transported to the fairgrounds, as well as feed, hay, straw and the cattle! We chose to move in a day early to avoid the hustle and bustle and traffic jams that occurred the day before the fair started. On the day that all entries had to be in place, there would be
trucks, trailers and cars lined up from the barns, out the gates and back down the highway, as everyone waited to get in to get unloaded. Occasionally an animal got loose and then the chase was on! They always managed to catch them!

The day before the show all the cattle had to have a bath and be washed clean. Many of the exhibitors hit the wash rack right away in the morning, and since there was only a certain amount of room and water faucets to hook hoses to, someone had to wait for a while. By the time space opened up, the day would be getting hot. While the Holsteins were being washed, stalls had to be cleaned out, the manure wheeled out, clean straw and shavings put down and fresh hay put in. And every animal had to be led to the wash rack and then back to the barn.

Everyone involved had a chore to do. As the day got hotter, it was my choice to gather up the hose, a bucket, sponge, rag, curry comb, and the Orvus shampoo and head for the wash rack! It was the coolest place on the fairgrounds! I knew I was going to get wet, but that cool water splashing on me was going to feel so good on that hot day! The Holsteins enjoyed it too!

For a week we would be living at the fairgrounds, as would numerous exhibitors from other areas. At times your neighbor across the aisle with their show string was someone from another county, who traveled to the different fairs, and that you hadn’t seen since last year’s fair. Once the chores were done for the day, we could relax in our lounge chairs, while keeping an eye on the cattle, and enjoy visiting. The fairgoers would come strolling through the barns in the evenings. There would be friends, neighbors, and people you knew and there would be people you didn’t know to get acquainted with and talk to. People who lived in the city could ask some very interesting questions!

Once the shows were over and the competition done, the youth of all ages would get together with their friends and enjoy the many other activities that were happening, the rides, the games, the fair food and the cotton candy. At times they would get together in the 4-H barns and play card games. Many a youth learned how to play euchre while sitting on a bale of straw at the fair! Old friends enjoyed the time to be together, new friends would be made and some friendships turned into marriages that lasted a lifetime!

For years there was a parade in front of the grandstand on Saturday after the shows were all over. Open class exhibitors and the youth paraded their animals and showed off their ribbons and banners. The 4-H clubs each marched as a group, displaying signs or banners telling the name of the club. The bands from the schools marched and played. Machinery dealers and car dealers showed off what they were selling. Kermit Long drove his team of oxen pulling a wagon. The mounted patrol from the sheriff’s office paraded, dress in their uniforms and riding their favorite horses. Numerous organizations were represented with floats. Bill Shepherd’s booming voice could be heard all over the fairgrounds, as he identified each unit that passed the judge’s stand. The grandstand was filled with people watching the parade.

County fairs are currently happening not only all over the state of Ohio, but also all over this country. They are a special event, not only enjoyable, but also important to the people, to the communities, and especially to the boys and girls who are actively involved. Special county fair memories that will last a lifetime are being tucked away in the minds of our youth. Years from now when it is time for their county fair to be held, regardless of the time of year or where they are located, there will be that special feeling in the air and the memories of those special times spent at the county fair will come flooding back! The county fair is a tradition, not only for Carroll County, Ohio, but for towns all across this country!


George Washington was the First President of the United States of America. He was called the “Father of Our Nation”. He has been the subject of many history books, as well as many other books and stories. One of the stories that has been repeated over and over throughout the years has to do with a “hatchet”.

In case some of you reading this are not familiar with a hatchet, it is a small axe with a short wooden handle for use in one hand. It is a tool usually found on farms and used for many purposes. My Dad always kept one in the tool box that he took with him when building or repairing fences. One side is a hammer and the other a blade. Often fences went through the woods and were fastened to trees. In order to drive the fence steeples that held the wire fence solidly to the tree, some of the bark would need to be chipped off with the blade and then the hammer part was used to drive the fence steeple into the tree. A hatchet had many uses on our farm, including sometimes assuring that there would be a chicken dinner on Sunday. I kept one hanging in the stable where I kept my heifers and used it to cut the strings on bales of hay and straw. They were handy for chopping small branches off of trees.

When George Washington was six years old, he received a hatchet as a birthday gift. There is no doubt in my mind that at that age he found several things to do with it. One of those things was to chop down his father Augustine’s special English cherry tree. When he was called to stand before his father and asked, “George, did you chop down my cherry tree?” he bravely replied, ”I cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the cherry tree”. His father was so overwhelmed by his honesty that he gave him a hug, and said, “Your honesty is worth more than a thousand cherry trees”, and he was not punished. This story has been repeated for generations to school children and has been used to encourage honesty.

Once again we, the people, have a mystery in the White House that everyone is talking about and that has left us with a multitude of unanswered questions. According to the brief information we have been told, a small package containing a white powder was recently discovered in the White House! How do we know that something was discovered and how do we know what size and type of package it is, as we haven’t been allowed to see it. They tell us it contained “cocaine” but how do we know that is true? We haven’t heard from the “official” who tested it. It could be talcum powder, baking powder, baking soda, flour, powdered Coffee Mate or many other things! How long does it take to test the powder and to check fingerprints? Where was it found? We have been told several different places! Was it Colonel
Mustard and did he leave it in the library? Or was it Professor Plum who left it in the cubby hole? Which place is it? Who found it? Was it really the Secret Service or was it someone else? Surely they have some “clues”! So many questions and no answers! When we are given answers, if we are, can we believe any of them?

Years ago we did not have the many types of communication and the ways to obtain information as we do now. During those years people were inclined to believe what the government and those in power told them. Every day more documents, reports and information is being released and we learn more and more about how we have been misled, the many lies we have been told over the years and the misinformation we were given. Only recently has the truth been revealed about many things that have happened and the decisions that were made by the leaders in our country.

The majority of the people in this country no longer believe anything that the people running our government tells us! We no longer have faith in those people involved in politics! Even the most honest person elected or appointed to a position in our government becomes caught up in situations where they cannot tell the people the truth! Those seeking power never stop telling lies to protect their positions and to achieve their goals. Obviously none of them remember George Washington’s bravery and honesty when he declared, “I cannot tell a lie”. They just continue to feed us a web of lies while they use their hatchets to chip away at our freedoms!

We can only hope that, as the elections come up in 2024, there will be candidates to vote for who do remember the importance of telling the truth and being honest and that they will be elected to office. Did George Washington really chop down the cherry tree? Or was it someone else! Who is responsible for the current White House mystery? Will we ever get all the facts and know the absolute truth? Probably not!


Since school has been out and Daxton and Emily do not get off the school bus here, I have not been seeing them so often. So last week when they came to spend the day with me I was very glad to see them and knew that we would have a good day. They have been busy with numerous summer activities.

Emily played softball and she had a lot of practices and games. Her team was called the Carrollton Lady Warriors and they won the championship. Emily was a catcher and also played in the outfield. She explained playing the outfield to me. “Outfield is really important, as you have to get the ball in or they can score runs.” She had fun going to the Harrison County Fair where she enjoyed seeing the animals, the piggies, and said Emily, “I saw the fuzziest bunny on earth! It looked like a poodle!” She also enjoyed the cotton candy.

Daxton played T-Ball and had lots of fun. He wants to play baseball nest year but not softball, softball is just for girls! He has been going fishing with his Grandpa, Nano, but he didn’t catch any fish last time. He told me, “Nano fishes for bass in tournaments for prizes and the fish need to be big. Last time he just kept pulling them in over the bow of the boat and saying, not a “keeper” and throwing them back! A friend of Nano’s went along, but he only caught rock bass, one little one and one big one. They are called “rock bass” because they run through the rocks”! Their summer has been filled with many activities, swimming in their pool, sleep-overs with friends, and more. They both enjoyed attending Bible School.

As the day went along, they watched cartoons, played with some of their toys, and colored and drew pictures. And then Daxton asked me a question, “Great-Grandma, can I do some work for you?” Daxton is only five years old, but he likes to be busy and to do things to help. He is very good about helping to clear the table after lunch, carefully placing the dishes in the sink. He gets the broom and dust pan and sweeps up the crumbs on the kitchen floor. He likes to run the sweeper in the other rooms, he gets my mail, and helps in many other small ways. Emily, who is eight, helps me prepare their meals, takes my many letters to the mailbox, likes to “Swiffer” the kitchen floor and also helps in many ways. They both ask me, “What can we do?”, when they spend the day.

As we look around our community and our country, we see sign after sign saying, “Help Wanted”, “Hiring Now”, “Help Needed”, “Position Available” as well as ads for help in all the newspapers. Workers of all types are needed everywhere! When my son and I made plans to stop at our local Airport Restaurant for an evening meal, we were very disappointed to find it closed at 5:45 on a Saturday evening. It is a popular restaurant where many local people like to go to have a meal. It is also a fuel stop for small airplanes and many pilots stop there not only to get fuel, but also to enjoy the delicious homemade pie served there. Their current problem is needing employees that will work on the weekends! This has a terrible effect on the owners, the employees who are willing to work, and the customers! Workers are hired at jobs all over
the country and many will work a day or two and say the work is too hard and quit! Many show up to work late and think nothing of it! Many come in two or three days and don’t show up for the rest of the week! So many people who must hire employees would love to hear the people who apply for a job ask, “Can I do some work for you?” and really want to do the work, to be willing to work hard and to do a good job!!

We used to be taught that no matter what our job was, if we completed it and did it well, we were deserving of respect. People took pride in the job they did, regardless of what that job was and they worked hard to show their abilities, to earn people’s respect and to make a good living for their family. It was very important to them! So sad that so many of the people in today’s world do not have Emily’s and Daxton’s desire to work and to do their best at the job. Things would be so much better for everyone, not only in our lives but also in our country.


 I recently attended the Harrison County Fair at Cadiz, Ohio, to announce the open class dairy show. There are no longer any dairy farmers milking dairy herds and shipping milk in that county. Yet there were fourteen 4-H members who took dairy projects and showed dairy cattle at the fair. They entered the show ring in their sparkling whites and all participated in showmanship as well as the individual classes. Most of the calves and heifers were borrowed from a dairy farmer in a neighboring county. Families, friends, and neighbors were there to support and encourage them. While the open dairy show did not have a lot of numbers, the quality of the animals shown was outstanding. Exhibitors came from neighboring counties to support the show and compete for the Supreme Champion awards. The Harrison County dairy show has always been one of my favorites to announce and the people I work with and visit with are the best! It was a special day for me!

County fairs are in full swing all over Ohio and there are county fairs happening somewhere every week. The youth that participate in 4-H and F.F.A. have been working with and preparing their animals and projects for months. Those who will be entering the show ring with their animals are paying attention to every hair and every feather to make sure their project will be presented looking their very best. They have practiced showing and are hoping they won’t get too nervous and make a mistake. And if they do, they are hoping the judge will be looking the other way! Parents, grand-parents, other family members and friends will be there to help them and encourage them! Many of them will be selling market projects and they need everyone’s support! Kids of all ages will be riding the rides, enjoying cotton candy and corn dogs, and having a fun time. Years later they will enjoy special memories from the county fair!

This time of year the favorite sport of farmers and rural people is under way — tractor pulls! For just a few hours, farmers can get away from the many problems that occur and are a part of their chosen occupation. The noise, the roar of the tractors, the smoke, the dust and the cheers of the crowd eases their stress and lets them forget their troubles for just a little while.

There are so many different activities for people of all ages to attend and participate in during the spring and summer months. After a very difficult period of time when we couldn’t get together and we couldn’t participate in activities and we had a taste of what it is like to lose your freedom, we are finally free!! And we don’t have to wear masks!! People can once again choose where they want to go and what they want to do. Each one of us needs to live freely, comfortably, without being bothered and live life to its fullest!

While I have only mentioned a couple of activities that rural people enjoy, life everywhere is filled with numerous events and happenings of every kind that families and people of all ages can participate in or just enjoy. We must protect the freedom that allows us to do that! “Live life like someone left the gate open. Seize the opportunities that God has placed before you. Trust his voice and run through the gate!” (Grant Gomez)


I doubt there are very many people reading this column who will know or remember Gabriel Heatter. He was born September 17, 1890 and died March 30, 1972. His parents were immigrants living in Brooklyn, New York. He began as a reporter for Hearst Newspapers. In 1932 he entered broadcasting and became a radio commentator until 1961. He had an uncommon speaking ability and gave reports that were accurate and concise without sensationalism. He was well known for his broadcasts throughout World War II. He found a bright side to every story, debunking propaganda and rumor, and including human interest narratives. He always began his broadcasts with the catch phrase “There’s good news tonight”.

During my early years my Grandpa lived with us. Every evening at exactly seven o’clock the radio was turned on to the news with Gabriel Heatter and my Grandpa settled into his chair to listen to the happenings in our country and the world. That was the way it was!

At that time in my young life I was into make believe and western stuff. I had my Hopalong Cassidy cowboy hat (there are pictures), my Roy Rogers gun belt and my Gene Autry cap gun. Anyone remember cap guns? You had a strip of paper with “bumps” on it that you inserted into the gun and when you pulled the trigger and the hammer went down there was a loud noise. When my cousins came to visit we were cowboys riding stick horses, herding make believe cattle, chasing rustlers and always on the look-out for Indians. The Lone Ranger was a favorite of mine and there was a half hour program of the Lone Ranger’s adventures on every evening. And what time were they on? Of course, at seven o’clock every evening! I never got to listen to them unless Grandpa wasn’t home! Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of Gabriel Heatter but I never forgot him! 

Throughout the years there has never been another news commentator quite like Gabriel Heatter. The only ones I can think of that ever came close to him are Edward R. Murrow and Walter Wintchell. They, too, gave accurate and concise reports. 

There are numerous news reports and news commentators, both men and women, to listen to today. However, neither the news shows nor the commentators are like they used to be. Some news shows are on for a half hour, others broadcast all day long. Most of them have people behind the scenes who choose the information and the pictures they will use to reflect the opinions of those who have the power over the news shows. Because of the twisting of information and the straight out lies we have been told, there are many of us who don’t believe anything they tell us on the news shows. And why, when their purpose is to tell us the news, do they have to have people on the shows giving us their opinions? Our country has numerous problems that need attention. We need the news to tell us what they are and what is being done to solve them. There are numerous “talk shows” that people can appear on to give their
opinions! The news commentators should be reading the news just the way it happened! 

Why do they tell us only the bad news and then keep repeating it over and over and over every time a different news program comes on? Let us know the bad news happened but follow that with finding out what is being done about it! There are fifty two states in our country and there is no doubt in my mind that there is news in every one of those states. So why do we keep hearing about only a few states, such as New York, Texas, Florida, California, occasionally Pennsylvania. There is news, both good and bad in every state every minute, every hour, every day! 

We have come through a very difficult period of time and we still have numerous problems in this country. People are worried, frustrated and weary. We are in need of news that will relieve some of the tension and anger that people are feeling. We need to have news every day that tells us that work is being done to solve the problems. Good news and good thoughts can help to bring peace and hope. When families had members fighting in World War II we can only imagine the relief they felt when they turned on the news and Gabriel Heatter said, “There’s good news tonight”, and then gave them news that eased their fears and gave them hope. There is no way to describe the way they must have felt when he said to them, “There’s good news tonight—the war is over”! At this time our country and the people in it also need to hear, “There’s good news tonight”!


The first house that was built on this farm in the 1840’S was a log cabin that had neither floors, doors, nor windows. My ancestors had traveled from Pennsylvania with their belongings packed in an ox cart and their cow tied on behind. I have often wondered what they sheltered in until they got the cabin built. Why did they choose the spot where it stood? Did it have anything to do with there being a creek and a spring just down the hill? No doubt there was plenty of trees for building and wild game for food. Until just a few years ago you could still see the imprint in the yard where the cabin had stood. How I wish I knew more about life in that log cabin! 

The second house built on this farm was built by a construction crew that was traveling through the area building houses. There are three houses in the immediate area that were all identically built at the same time. They all had a basement, four rooms downstairs, two rooms upstairs, and a porch and were built on hand-cut stone walls.. This house stands on a hand-cut stone wall that cost $12.00 to build. All the houses have undergone changes over the years.

A third house was eventually built using used lumber from a wagon shed. I have no idea why they tore down the wagon shed to build it! Perhaps it was because it was lumber that was already dried? My grandfather and grandmother lived in it with their children. My grandmother died in childbirth when my Dad was two years old. My aunt quit school to take care of the home and the other children. Years later my great-grandmother moved in with them after suffering a stroke. 

The second house became home to my Dad and Mom after they married in 1932. I remember them talking about having to close all the other rooms off and stay in the kitchen during the severely cold winter weather. There was only a fireplace and the cook stove to keep them warm. At times ice would freeze on top of the water bucket that sat on the dry-sink. They also told about bringing in an orphaned baby lamb to save it and in the middle of the night it would jump out of its basket and run “stiff-legged” across the kitchen floor in the glow from the fireplace. Square dances and card parties were often held in the living room.

I was too small and have no memories of living in the second house as a child. We eventually moved across the driveway to live in the third house with my grandfather after my aunt and uncle, who had been living with him, moved to town. My first memories are of living in it are of sitting on my grandpa’s lap while he taught me to read around age four. And of my first Christmas there. The second house stood empty of people for several years, but was used for some storage and the basement was used every fall for butchering. All the tables, sausage grinder, pans, kettles and other tools were stored there. After Don and I married, we decided to repair and remodel the second house and make it our home. I still live in it today. My children are the sixth generation to have lived in the house. A lot of people have lived in and
passed through the three houses on this farm.

As I live alone in my house in my retirement years, there seems to be a lot of “things that go bump in the night”! I wonder, are they just noises? Sometimes I am not so sure! Do I believe in ghosts? Hmmm! Why don’t I hear strange noises in the daytime? The TV isn’t always turned on! There are times during the day when the house is very quiet and I don’t hear any strange noises. Yet in the dark of the night they are always occurring! There has been times when I have been sound asleep and I swear someone speaks my name and awakens me, yet no one is there. When I am sitting quietly in my easy chair watching TV or reading I am sure I catch a glimpse of quick movement out of the corner of my eye. There has been times when I heard a loud sound from the upstairs that sounded like something fell to the floor, yet when I go check everything is in its place. Things have been moved that I don’t remember moving! Perhaps I
can chalk that up to old age and my memory not being so good!

Are the spirits of my ancestors, family members and friends visiting me occasionally in the dark of the night? I am beginning to wonder! If they are, I just wish they would talk to me once in a while. I have so many questions I would like to ask them! And they would have so many interesting stories to tell! In the meantime those bumps in the night won’t bother me. I will just think of them as someone who has dropped by for a visit. It’s always nice to have some company!


It was a beautiful Memorial Day weekend in my area and a multitude of activities took place. Graveyards everywhere were filled with beautiful flowers placed there in memory of loved ones and family members. Flags fluttered in the breeze on the graves of our veterans honoring them for their service. There were special activities in many communities, parades, services and speakers. The placing of the wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery is always very special. Activities took place all over our country and people were free to participate in them and enjoy them.

Farmers took advantage of the beautiful weather to finish planting crops, fill silos and silage bags and to bale hay. As they listened to the hum of the tractors and machinery, they were thankful for the opportunity to work at the type of agriculture they chose and for the freedom to make their own choices and decisions on how they wanted to do it.

Our lives are filled with new babies of all kinds in the spring, from the tiniest bug to the many different types of animals everywhere. Every one of them is on our earth for a purpose. Many of them become a part of our lives and participate in our daily life, giving us many of our daily needs and enriching our lives. We have the freedom to choose how we are involved with them.

Sports of all kinds become very active this time of year. The list of the different types of sports available to everyone is a long one! There is a sport of some kind for everyone from the youngest to the oldest. You can choose to participate, simply watch them and become a fan or you can completely ignore them. It is up to you! You have the freedom to choose.

June is upon us and with it comes a flurry of activities and many of them will carry through until the fall. There will be graduation parties for students ending their time in high school or college. They have been listening to speeches encouraging them about the future and what it can hold for them. They must make the decisions about what they want to do with their life.

Some already know, others have no idea. Some will go to college, some will not. Some think they know what they want to do in life, but many times as they face the “real world” their plans and ideas change. The one thing they do have is the freedom to choose the path they want to follow.

June is the month for weddings. People in this country are free to choose the person they want to marry and spend their life with. They can choose to have a big wedding with lots of people that costs lots of money or a small one with just family and less expenses. Or they can elope! The choice is up to them. The choice of how happy they can be and how long they will be together will also be up to them.

The list of choices that will be made in a person’s life is endless. The freedom to make those choices has been given by our veterans and those who still serve our country. I found it very sad that a group of young people enjoying themselves on the beaches in a big city on Memorial Day, when interviewed by a news program, could not answer questions about Memorial Day and the wars that our veterans fought in and died for! There is no doubt that there are small school children in my area that could explain it to them! These people should be sent to visit the countries where there is no freedom for the people. There is no doubt in my mind that they would be quickly educated! Obviously they either weren’t taught or didn’t learn history wherever they attended school!

We recently experienced a period of time when many of our freedoms were taken away by an illness and by order of our government. We must protect our freedoms in every way possible and support those who defend them!

If you meet a veteran or someone still in uniform, shake their hand and thank them for their service to our country. Honor the patriotism and sacrifices our veterans have given us not just on Memorial Day, but every day of the year!


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!