A Socratic Rancher 11-15-10 | TheFencePost.com
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A Socratic Rancher 11-15-10

J.C. Mattingly
Moffat, Colo.

Good readers may wonder why I have already dedicated several columns to the Hereford Inn, in Hereford, Colo. The reason is, I was cleaning out a closet this summer and found a box of notes I’d made while visiting the Inn back in the 1970s. The notes contained many stories told to me by older folks living out their final years at the Inn.

Today, the Hereford Inn might qualify as a Community Center, and the Center would be in search of federal and state funding. But as far as I know, or could detect, the Hereford Inn was a privately run, humble community home for the old folks in the area who wanted to live with some semblance of self reliance rather than be moved to a rest home or long-term care facility. By operating as an Inn, it meant that other people, possibly even young people, would stop and stay a night or two and engage the resident population to mutual benefit.

I remember a short time about 10 years ago when I put my mother in a home. I almost said, “a time when I had to put my mother in a home,” but I realized that I really didn’t have to do it. It was a matter of convenience for me at a time when I was trying to be two places at once. My mother did not like the facility, and never quite forgave me for putting her in it. When I finally came to take her home due to her misery, she said being in the care facility was like being in Alcatraz.

Of course, my excuse was that I took farming very seriously, and the farm had a way of becoming my profession, my hobby, and even my family. The farm made demands that could never be met without constant care. I wonder now if there had been a place like the Hereford Inn in our farming community. My mother could have stayed at the Inn until she recovered, or didn’t, and have a life with others in her similar situation, and receive occasional visits from farmers like myself.

If any readers know anything about the Hereford Inn, or spent time there, I would enjoy hearing from you. Meanwhile, I have room for a short story told to me by an old farmer at the Inn.

“The most important thing in farming is timing,” he told me. “I’ve done the same things at two different times. One time it was good, the other, wrong. Which is to say, the right thing at the wrong time is still wrong.”

“So,” I asked, “does that mean the wrong thing at the right time is still right?”

“To help you sort that out, listen up: One morning I buttered my bread, and dropped it, but it landed on the floor butter side up. Being somewhat superstitious, I took it as a sign. I picked up the bread, tossed it over my shoulder, and sure enough, it landed butter side up again. So I took to tossing that piece of bread six ways from Sunday and every time it landed butter side up. I called in the wife and showed her. After about 20 times of that little ol’ piece a bread landing butter side up, I asked the wife if it was a sign that a good season was ahead of us.

“She put her chin to her right palm and shook her head to the negative. I had to ask her: How could this not be a good sign? She said, ‘Dear, you’re a farmer. You obviously buttered the bread on the wrong side.'”

“Still love that woman.”


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