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August 19, 2013
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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 8-19-13

After the past two weeks, I can assure folks that I believe in the old saying “when it rains, it pours!” That’s becuz after two years of hard drought here in the Flint Hills of Kansas with only intermittent respites of showers and rains, we’ve had two weeks of rain at some point every 24 hours — totaling around more than 13-inches here at Damphewmore Acres.

The Cottonwood River got out of its banks and flooded parts of Emporia. The lower-laying bottomlands of my good friends’ soybean and corn fields also got a “too-much” drenching. So to, the prairie hay harvest is delayed until the native grass meadows dry out. It’s mud everywhere. Ranchers are busy repairing washed out watergaps.

And, sadly, my formerly-beautiful tomato garden is pretty much in the tank. I had my tomatoes (some 80 plants) all set up for another dry summer with a mulch of cardboard on the ground and the cardboard covered up with bromegrass hay. With only a once-a-week watering from the hose, it wuz set to be one of my most promising tomato harvests of recent years.

Alas, the excessive rain threw me a loop and more than half of my tomato plants are suffering from what I call “the soppy-root wilt syndrome.” The morning I saw the plants wilting, ol’ Nevah and I scurried to get a pitchfork and rake and pull the mulch back from the roots. When we pulled the mulch back, the ground just steamed from the heat of the mulch composting where it lay. Who knows how hot the roots were? For sure, it wuzn’t a temperature agreeable to thriving tomato plants. I think our efforts may have saved some of the plants. We’ll have to wait and see.

On the bright side, almost everyone agrees that too much rain is better than too little rain. My ol’ pappy, Czar E. Yield, used to say more folks went broke in a drought than in a flood. And, it’s a fact that the native grasses are thriving with the new moisture. The trees are getting a good subsoil root soaking. All the ponds that were cleaned out or were nearly empty are now overflowing, so the stockwater situation is set for at least a couple of summers. My new alfalfa plots for our chicken flock, that I’d given up for dead, have revived with gusto.

At the very least it’s good to have something different to complain about. The past week proved the point about the variability of Kansas weather.

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Here’s a true story I heard recently about two good ol‘ local boys — “Red” Kattel and “Deadeye” Aimer — who decided last winter around the new year to go afield to call in a bobcat. Neither of the intrepid hunters had every harvested a bobcat before.

Red and Deadeye were equipped for the task with a new fangled electronic “action rodent lure” that the manufacturer guaranteed no bobcat could resist stalking. All the boys had to do was find an appropriate spot to set up the lure in promising bobcat territory, go conceal themselves, and shoot the bobcat when it wuz tricked by the lure.

Well, what the manufacturer didn’t guarantee wuz that the lure worked exclusively for bobcats. The boys found that out promptly. No sooner had they placed the lure provocatively amidst the dead prairie grass than a red-tailed hawk swooped down and carried the expensive lure to the top of a far-away tree. The boys thought they could scare the hawk into dropping the lure, but their efforts only succeeded to persuading the marauding hawk to carry the lure over the nearest hill and into oblivion. They never saw the lure again.

Now, that part of the story is funny enuf, but it’s not the best part. Stubborn in their quest for a trophy bobcat, the boys moved to another spot and resorted to using a simple call that imitated a crippled rabbit.

They weren’t long into that endeavor when lo and behold a trophy bobcat slunk into plain view and one rifle shot put the critter down — but not down for the count, as they soon discovered. It turned out, the “trophy” had only been grazed by the bullet and stunned. They decided not to shoot it again and ruin the hide and make the taxidermist’s job harder.

As they tried to decide the best way to transport their “trophy” back to the pickup truck, it suddenly revived and somehow latched a sharp-clawed paw into Deadeye’s shoulder — causing him to emit a female-banshee-like shriek that echoed across the winter landscape. After rapidly detaching the claws from Deadeye’s shoulder, the boys recalculated and reversed their “don’t shoot it again” decision.

There is a happy ending to this story, except from the bobcat’s viewpoint. Today, “Red” has a very nice mounted bobcat trophy in his home.

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Gotta go now and slog through the mud to do chores. Until next week, remember these wise words about flooding from Derek Jacobi: “We were working in the rain till all hours, and it was muddy and it was cold and was damp ... That was not pleasant.” Enuf said.

Have a good ’un. ❖


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The Fence Post Updated Oct 17, 2013 09:30AM Published Sep 10, 2013 11:30AM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.