Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 1-14-13
At the end of December — in a year of extensive drought that has a big share of the livestock ponds in the Flint Hills either bone dry or shallow, frozen puddles — it’s unusual when the conversation at a family holiday get-together turns to fishing.
But, that’s what happened to a buddy of mine when he and some shirt-tail kin started talking at an extended-family Christmas party. Since both of the guys love to fish, it didn’t take long until their talking turned to the drought, the condition of the ponds in the region, and how it would affect fishing when spring rolls around.
That’s when my buddy’s kinsman offered that he’d only recently caught a goodly number of huge channel catfish in a Flint Hills pond.
Interested in how anyone caught catfish in the middle of December, my buddy asked, “What did you catch them on?”
His kinsman replied, “On a Caterpillar.”
“How in the world did you do that?” my buddy came back.
His kinsman chuckled and answered, “I was sitting in the seat of my Caterpillar backhoe, cleaning out a nearly-dry pond, when I saw some big catfish wriggling in the shallow water and mud. So, I reached out with my backhoe bucket and dipped them out and dumped them on high ground. They’re in my freezer now.”
Now that’s a good winter fishing story — much easier and warmer than ice fishing.
I’ve been raising laying hens for a couple of decades now and I’ve seen a lot of off-colored, misshapen eggs, but recently I’ve got a hen who is outdoing herself on both counts.
I don’t know which hen it is, but she’s laid two pale blue eggs that are kidney shaped. She must be one of the Americana hens who’s emerging from her winter molt.
It will be interesting to see if she keeps laying her kidney-shaped eggs.
On the wildlife scene, I served as an informal guide for a neighborhood teen who wanted to go goose hunting for the first time. It was a beautiful day when we scouted some area ponds that I had permission to hunt and we happily discovered two ponds absolutely covered with hundreds of Canada geese on one pond and thousands on a larger body of water.
Making a long story short, the kid killed three geese from a blacken-the-sky, flock fly-over at no more than 30 feet high. After we’d retrieved his geese, the kid breathlessly said, “That was the most exciting 20 seconds of my life.”
It was a gratifying few moments for me, too, to see another sportsman born.
Also, a couple of hungry coyotes have been nosing around my henhouse at night, judging from the tracks in the snow. So, I’ve been keeping an eye-out for them in the mornings. A couple of days ago, I spied the pair loping along on the far side of my pond. I took a hurried shot at them, but missed. At least, I hope they got a message that they are unwelcome at Damphewmore Acres.
I got a thick book for Christmas entitled “Thomas Jefferson — The Art of Power,” written by historian Jon Meacham. I’ve been a lifelong fan of Thomas Jefferson and he’s my personal favorite among the Founding Fathers. I’m amazed at his insight into what it would take to found, and sustain into posterity, a democratic Republic.
As I read through the book, I can’t help but think that wise Mr. Jefferson would literally puke at what’s happening to the Republic he did so much to create. He’d quake at our cradle-to-the-grave welfare system, our assault on the Constitution, our concentration of land, wealth and power into the hands of so few, our unending list of taxes, our profligate personal and public debt, our ineffectual Congress, the economics of speculation, the inattentiveness to politics by the general electorate, our moral deterioration, and our abandoning of all references to God in public life.
Mr. Jefferson would be mortified as to how the federal government could possibly get involved in such trivial stuff as eliminating the manufacture of incandescent light bulbs, dictating the formulation of fuels, mandating what our children eat at school, that the future of snail darters and meadow voles could take precedence over economic development, etc.
I don’t know where the next man as wise as Thomas Jefferson will emerge on the American political scene, but we need one badly — and soon!
OK, I’m off my soapbox for the time being. Until next week, take to heart this quote from Mr. Jefferson: “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
Have a good ’un. ❖