Laugh Tracks in the Dust 30th Edition
When I changed college majors at Bea Wilder U. in 1962 from feed technology to agricultural journalism, one of my first semester courses was in metal typesetting by hand from a California Job Case. This involved grabbing pieces of metal with an alphabetical letter or number on it (upside down and backwards) and placing them in order in a metal galley.
When all the letters had been so collected into a news story, I had to tie it together with a piece of string [called pied type] so tightly that my professor – Byron by name – could shake the story by the string and the type not fall out. If it fell out, the type pieces fell all over the floor and I had to gather them up, sort them back into the job case and start all over again.
I recalled that story when the Fence Post announced it wuz soon celebrating its 30th anniversary in bizness. It made me remember how much has changed in the publishing industry in such a relatively short time.
It’s gone from the California Job Case and the old, slow expensive Linotype machines that set metal type, though the a-bit-cheaper and a-lot-faster Compugraphic machines [with waxers, X-Acto knives, and light tables], to the relatively inexpensive desk top computers and the lightning fast electronic digital type and publication layout procedures and processes of today – which capitalize on the Internet and e-mail.
When my career evolved from pure ag writing to encompass ag newspaper ownership and management and eventually to humorous and serious syndicated column writing and public speaking, the scope of my narrow little professional world broadened considerably and eventually it came to pass that the Fence Post’s former editor Warren Bridges asked me to start sending my weekly humorous column for inclusion in the paper – and I accepted.
That mutually beneficial relationship is now into its umpteenth year and even stronger today than it was in the beginning.
I write my columns not for the money – although that part of it is mighty handy – but for the chance to keep my tired old hands and brain engaged in the periphery of farming and ranching – the grandest and fundamentally most important industry and way of life of all.
I welcome the weekly opportunity to perhaps add a few moments of levity – with an occasional nugget of wisdom or philosophy woven in – to the lives of the farmers and ranchers in the nation’s breadbasket, basically in the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. My apologies and appreciation to those readers outside those states.
Having grown up on a farm, and still owning one farm and one aggie-acreage, I know how difficult it is to extract a living from the land – given the vagaries of weather, markets, trade policy, technology, regulations and politics.
I know your efforts are under-appreciated and under-valued. But, still I eat like a hog from the affordable cornucopia of edible goods you produce and that I personally grow. For that I’m thankful and grateful, and glad to have a bit of a hand in the entire process.
During all the intervening years since I started writing Laugh Tracks in the Dust, two things haven’t changed fundamentally. One, farm and ranch folks are still friendly, fun-loving, hard-working, moral, optimistic and patriotic. And, two, growing food is still a biological process.
Yes, I admit, our rural communities have changed. Lots of businesses are gone and our schools have shrunk. The code of neighborliness is not as strong as it once was. Ag production has more business, technology, and science [and related stress] involved today, compared to the days of my youth. But, I ask, where else in America are the positive attributes I listed above stronger than in rural America? I venture to answer my own question: NO WHERE!
Fence Post readers can pride themselves in the fact that they send me more column material – by letter, e-mail and phone call – than readers from other farm newspapers. I don’t know why, and I don’t care. I just appreciate that they do.
I know there exists a special bond between the Fence Post and its readers. It didn’t “just happen.” It was “cultivated” by the caring folks who publish the paper.
That relationship is something special – and I’m sure it will carry forward as the paper moves toward its 40th anniversary.
The Good Lord willing, I plan to be a part of it all, too.
For those wanting to contact me, the information is: Milo Yield, TALES Inc., 2532 YY Road, Emporia, Kan. 66801; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: http://www.MiloYield.com; phones: (620) 279-4543 or cell (62) -344-1350.
I always appreciate reader suggestions for Laugh Tracks in the Dust. I’m lazy and it makes my job easier.
Now, get busy and help celebrate the Fence Post’s milestone anniversary.