Yield: Birthday pennies
Birthdays are something you can’t live without. When you quit having birthdays, you’re kaput. That said, however, some folks enjoy having birthdays with parties and presents. Other folks would be happy if their birthdays came and went without fanfare.
All this discussion about birthdays was brought on by the 60th birthday of ol’ Sol E. Mender, my old friend and the semi-famous boot repairman, leather worker, and painter of realistic scenes of our fabulous Flint Hills. Sol sets up shop in the Salty Cow store in downtown Cottonwood Falls, Kan.
Now, Sol grew up in rural Chanute, Kan., and his dear mom still resides there. So, on Sol’s recent 60th birthday, the pair agreed to meet in the middle at Eureka, Kan., for a two-person birthday party.
Sol tells me that after they ate, his mom said, “I have a birthday present for you in the car. I couldn’t bring it in.” So, they traipse to her car and in the back seat sits a metal can like the ones that hold three types of popcorn. “That’s your birthday present,” Sol’s Mom said.
But, when he reached in to get his “popcorn” present, Sol could scarcely budge the metal can. It wuz HEAVY. So, he pulled off the lid and his mouth fell open. The metal can wuz chock full of rolls of pennies — one for every day of Sol’s 60-year life. Plus, there wuz a second little container that held the overflow.
Seeing Sol’s astonished expression, his Mom quickly added, “That’s exactly the kind of expression the teller at the bank had when I told her how many pennies I needed.”
I did some quick calculation and, figuring in 15 leap years, Sol’s 60th birthday present contained right close to 21,915 pennies.
Now, that birthday present represents a lot of livin’ and a lot of a mother’s lovin’.
Sol says he’s using the rolls of pennies to leave a tip to the waitress every morning when he eats breakfast at the Chuckwagon Cafe in Strong City.
One of the fine side benefits of living the rural life is the chance to experience or hear about all of the intricacies thrown your way by Mother Nature. For instance, Ma Nature abhors a vacuum of any kind and fills that vacant space in many ways. For instance, my pond is nearly dry. In previous years when the pond was low, the exposed bank was bare. Not this year. Every square foot of drought-exposed bank is now covered with waist-high smart weed. I don’t know where all the seed came from or why it chose to grow this year, but that’s what happened.
Another Ma Nature happening at Damphewmore Acres. I haven’t lost a free-range chicken to a predator for months. I’ve even taken down the temporary fencing that deters four-footed predators. I knew eventually a predator would take advantage of the opportunity I’d provided, and sure enuf, two days ago I went out to gather the eggs and shut the chickens up and discovered two big piles of yellow feathers — all that was apparently left of one of my big Buff Orpington roosters. I never saw or heard a predator. I never found a carcass. The rooster’s just gone.
Another oddity of Ma Nature. A salvage company was hired to dismantle a long-abandoned high power electric transmission line. It wuz one of those two poles per station lines.
As per usual, the salvage company trampled crops and everything in it’s path and let the damage adjusters eventually handle the damage claims by the landowners.
On one farm, the company stashed all the salvaged electric poles in a pile close to an abandoned farmstead. The landowner that evening drove to assess the size of the abandoned pole pile. Upon approaching the pile, he heard the unmistakable sound of hungry baby birds begging for a meal.
Upon closer examination, the farmer discovered one of the poles had a big hole pecked in its side and inside the hole wuz three very hungry, and very vocal, baby woodpeckers. But, here’s Ma Nature’s surprise. They weren’t baby downy, red headed, or flicker woodpeckers. Nope, they were the very large, and rare to Kansas, pileated woodpeckers. The babies were at least half-grown and were certain goners without an adoptive home.
Thankfully, such a adoptive home wuz found and, if Ma Nature appreciates the boost, perhaps in a few weeks the young pileated woodpeckers will be out on their own in the wild.
What wuz unusual about finding the pileated chicks is that the adults like woody old-forest habitats and make their nests in trees, not bare old high-line poles in the middle of a soybean field. They are seldom seen in Kansas.
Had our first new potatoes and fresh-picked peas for supper last night. That wuz delicious. Can’t wait for the tomatoes and sweet corn.
The old adage about giving a man a fish versus teaching him to fish has been updated by a faithful reader. The new version: “Give a man a fish and he will ask for tartar sauce and French fries! Moreover, some politician who wants his vote will declare all these things to be among his ‘basic rights.’”
Here’re my words of wisdom for the week. The Washington “Swamp” is so polluted it needs to be mucked out, not just drained. Have a good ‘un.❖