Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 4-23-12
April 23, 2012
The Yield family had a raucous Easter weekend. The entire Yield clan, minus one granddaughter, gathered at Damphewmore Acres. From Pigeon Forge, Tenn., came daughter Tiny, her hubby Bumper, and grandkids Chance, Skimpy, Paltry and little May Bea. They all stayed through Tuesday.
From Manhattan, Kan., came daughter Mite, hubby Poe, and grandson Noah and his dog Sami. Only granddaughter, Nubbin, from Tulsa, missed the festivities.
We stayed busy. Among the activities we enjoyed were coloring Easter eggs, an Easter egg hunt, sewing with grandma, fishing, cleaning the brooder house to get ready for chicks, doing the chicken and dog chores, gathering eggs, playing with the new chicks, planting and fencing the garden, riding/driving the utility vehicle, driving/riding the tractor, giving driving lessons in the pickup, playing board games, and playing cards (7-point cutthroat pitch, casino, war, cribbage, 9-hole golf, and Oh, Hell) and ending up with an all-you-can-eat outing to eat pizza.
Let me proudly say all our grandkids are brutal card players, even the little one. They whupped up on grandpa a’plenty.
When everyone left, the house felt like we were living in a vacuum, but our hearts and minds were filled with loving memories.
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My county agent friend, ol’ Avery Ware, hosted a young Russian exchange professor recently. The Russian wuz visiting my alma mater, Bea Wilder U., and he came to learn all he could in a short time about rangeland beef production.
All educational exchanges are two-way educational events and Avery said he learned that his Russian visitor was in charge of trying to figger out how to stock and raise beef cattle a grassland area of Russia that is twice as big as Texas. Now, folks, that’s a lot of grass. Plus, it’s in a region with a short growing season and brutal winters.
At present, the area has very few cattle at all and the cattle are poor quality.
On his visit with Avery, the main purpose was to learn how to safely burn the grass annually to improve the rangeland.
The Russian said the whole area is sparsely populated with peasants who live in small, scattered villages, some of which have been incinerated by out-of-control wildfires.
Avery learned that the villages have few, if any, fire trucks and the concept of a volunteer fire department wuz alien to the Russian countryside.
So, Avery gave his visitor a quick course on acquiring fire equipment, staffing a rural volunteer fire department, and ways to safely conduct a controlled rangeland burn.
Avery said his visitor was eager to learn and inquisitive about all things beef-related.
After the Russian left, a few days later Avery asked me, “Milo, can you imagine being in charge of an area of grass twice as large as Texas and trying to find a way to stock it with quality beef and manage the herd year-around on grass?”
All I could answer is “Nope!” But, it did make me appreciate the American beef industry more than ever.
Now, here’s a true beef industry story that happened decades ago and the main character is deceased.
He wuz an old cowboy who had a job at one of the first commercial feedlots in Kansas. He knew working cattle from here to there, but he’d fallen on hard times and, to live frugally within his means, he drove a rickety old pickup truck with a driver’s side door that needed a hard shoulder-bump from the inside to get it open.
Well, the rest of the hands at the feedlot were a randy bunch of young cowboys who never missed a chance to play a practical joke on their senior worker.
That leads to the story.
It wuz during the summer and the locusts (cicadas) were in full throat. So, the young hands caught a bunch of the noisy insects and put them into a paper bag and secured the top.
Then, they secretly placed the paper bag behind the seat of the old pickup. When closing time came, the old-timer climbed into his truck, started it, and started down the long driveway – which happened to be on a dike between two manure-filled lagoons.
He’d just gotten started when the vehicle noise woke up the locusts and they started whirring loudly and our “star” thought a rattlesnake had slithered into his pickup. So, he excitedly tried to exit his vehicle, but it took several shoulder-bumps to open it. When it did, he dove for safety, but, alas, his driverless pickup, still in gear, clattered a few more feet before it nose-dived into a lagoon.
Of course, the young bucks thought the whole episode wuz hilarious until the boss man told them they could find out how funny it would be to retrieve the oldster’s pickup from the lagoon and clean it up “as good as new.” That’s when the fun went out of the practical joke.
See as I’ve gone on too long with this column, so I’ll close with this quote from author Herman Melville: “There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange affair we call life when a man takes his whole universe for a vast practical joke.”
Have a good ‘un.