Laugh Tracks in the Dust 6-7
June 7, 2010
I heard a true story about a bunch of good ol’ farmers and small town businessmen who meet virtually every morning at the local coffee shop to swap tales and espouse their individual and collective wisdoms on the local and world situation before they leave for their day’s work.
Word is it’s quite the forum – and I wish I could be a part of it. It’s an eclectic collection of characters who gather around the pushed-together tables every morning – including one retired farmer known for his wit.
Well, one morning just as the conversation began to wane, the “wit” looked up and saw the local funeral home director push the door open and head for his spot at the table.
The “wit” piped up with a comment that had everyone laughing. He said, “Here comes Roger, if you know what’s good for you, look alive!”
And, from a kindly reader out west comes this supposedly true story from the days of horse and mule-drawn farm implements.
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As it wuz told to me, this farmer acquired two matched mules who proved to be more than a handful when harnessed and hitched to anything. The problem is they were bolters. And, they usually didn’t take much time to make their decision to run away.
Well, the farmer had a savvy neighbor who said he could break those mules of bolting if he could borrow them for a few days. The owner readily agree.
The borrowing farmer hooked the wayward mules to a 2-bottom plow. When he took his seat on the plow, he got ready for the inevitable. Sure enuf, he’d barely got situated when the mules took off like scalded rabbits.
When they hit full speed, the farmer dropped the plow into the soft ground. For a few rods, he says the soil flew about 20 feet, but then the pull got too much for the wild pair and they settled down. The farmer worked the daylights out of those mules that day – then returned them to their original owner a few days later.
The owner reports that team never bolted again – ever!
Along a similar vein of conversation, I also heard from a Wallace, Neb., reader about a farmer who bought a mare draft horse who had the opposite nature of the above-mentioned mules. This mare learned the benefits of being lazy. In fact, she wuz so lazy that she sat down on her haunches whenever she wuz harnessed and hitched to anything she didn’t want to pull – which wuz pretty much anything.
Her owner got so disgusted with the mare he traded her to another farmer and got $50 to boot over what he paid.
The new owner wuz fully cognizant of the mare’s lazy streak, but thought he knew a way to break her.
And he did! The first time that mare sat down in the traces, her owner fetched the blow torch from the barn and applied a little heat to the mare’s tail-head. After a few hair-scorching moments, the mare decided it might be wise to work rather than sit on her behind.
I heard the mare worked well from that day on.
My tom cat story from last week, brought a similar story from Ault, Colo. Here’s the story:
Dad grew up in the mountains of northwest New Mexico, and though he has been gone for years now, I am often reminded of his tales of growing up in a different time and place. One of his stories involved neutering the ranch tom cat when he wuz a boy.
My grandpa solved the cat-restraining problem with cowboy ingenuity. Using long sleeved leather gloves, he captured the cat and stuffed into the top of a tall cowboy boot. This left the sharp parts of the cat harmless and the tender parts of ol’ Tom exposed to the ‘surgeon.’
With the skill and expertise of a man familiar with spring calf brandings, Grandpa quickly finished the job.
However, as they say in the Army, the exit strategy is as important as the battle plan. It seems that the ranch had just enjoyed its second good year in a row, and Grandma finally purchased that fine store-bought sofa, chair and foot stool – the ones with the bright floral pattern and the lace arm covers. This would have been in the mid-1920s, and ranch families in that remote part of our country often had to get by what could be made on the place. Town-bought furniture would have been a very special luxury indeed.
Well, just as Grandpa dumped ol’ Tom out of the boot, Grandma opened the door to see what all of the ruckus was about. In his mad dash to get away from the ‘surgeons,’ Tom ran through the door and made several screaming, bleeding, scratching laps around and over Grandma’s new furniture.
By the time Tom ran out of steam and got out of the house, Grandma was ready to stuff Grandpa into the boot take the knife to him.
I’ll close with these few short words of wisdom about Kansas from Emporia’s own famous journalist William Allen White: “Kansas is a state of the union, but it is also a state of mind, a neurotic condition, a psychological phase … an inferiority complex against the tricks and manners of plutocracy – social, political, and economic.”
Have a good ‘un.