In a Sow’s Ear 30th Edition
Thirty years of the Fence Post? My calculator tells me that means the magazine started publication in 1980. Full of news, views and inspiration, the Fence Post has been a solid anchor in the up-and-down world of agriculture.
I can’t remember when or even how I had the good fortune to be included as one of the Fence Post’s columnists. But it’s been over 20 years – at least. I’m a whole lot older but my fingers still work. My brain still functions (as far as I know – no one has told me differently, so I’ll go with that). Although I’m now a widow, I remain on call to the needs of livestock – horses, dogs, cats, and the occasional uninvited varmint.
Except for the occasion when I was a mess after knee-replacement surgery, I haven’t missed an issue. Came close a time or two – such as the year I participated in the Rogue River, Oregon Cowboy Poetry Gathering one weekend.
I knew I needed to produce a column and get it in the mail on Monday. (This was way back before computer magic). My flight home included a layover in Seattle. In those days you could rent a cubicle and use a typewriter. Which I did. I’d been feeling a bit poorly for a couple of hours but I chalked that up to having more fun than I should’ve in Rogue River. I have no recollection of what I wrote. It must have been passable as the Fence Post didn’t reject it.
My feeling poorly condition went from poorly to quivering chills. I wore only a light summer-time shirt. Shuffling into a gift store, I bought a tee shirt, tottered into a powder-room and put the tee on under my shirt. Then I collapsed on a bench retaining only enough awareness to stagger onto the plane and crumple into a seat.
Upon reaching Billings, Mont., in the middle of the night, I debarked – slowly. The flight attendant gave me one of those cheery goodbyes and added, “Watch your step” as I totter forth. I managed to retrieve my bag which, fortunately, had wheels as I was too shaky to have to carry it. I found my truck in the parking lot, loaded my suitcase, and gratefully slid behind the steering wheel. Now I faced the challenge of an 80 mile drive back to Big Timber. Not a problem – my truck knew the way home. I just pointed its nose and let it roll. Next day, the doctor informed me I had acquired a case of “walking pneumonia.”
Though the Fence Post publishes a stable of regular columnists, they also welcome the occasional opinions or life stories from readers. So, it was that I gasped with surprise when I read a piece by Mildred Norton of Illinois. Huh? Mildred Norton? But … but … that’s my Mother! It seems Mom (then in her 90s) had sent them a clever account of “The Good Old Days” – the era when a girl could wear “bloomers” for gym class or recess activities. These fashion statements were black-satin two-legged knee-length baggy garments. In those times, nothing even vaguely tight or clinging was acceptable – heaven forbid! Bloomers were fastened at the waistband with a sturdy button the size of a bottle cap.
At a recess, it seems Mildred’s bloomers had popped its button allowing her satin drawers to slide to her ankles. She was so embarrassed she hid in the two-holer out back of the schoolhouse. Mildred concluded her article by declaring that no, she wouldn’t want to go back to “The Good Old Days!”
Week after week, year after year, the Fence Post continues to tell the stories of country, report the business of the world of agriculture, entertain us with opinions from a whole herd of columnists. I read them all. (I’d list them here, but you know who you are).
I wish to say “thanks” to the Fence Post. Thanks for showing us a county fair, or a 4-H or FFA project, or an account of a wagon train experience, or a potload of intriguing photos or a collection of humorous cartoons about country life … the list goes on. Thanks for giving us market reports, auction-sale information, and tons of ag-related topics. Thanks for focusing on life on this planet – country style. Thanks for the warmth and tradition that emanates from the pages. Thanks for the keepin’ it country while still keeping us informed of relevant news.
Bottomless “thanks” to the Fence Post for “singing about what is good and decent and enjoyable.”
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.