Story with a moral |

Story with a moral

Recently, while down-sizing my life, sorting through a stack of folders I ran across a bunch of “Ruff Times,” an economic newsletter published back in the 1980s by Howard Ruff. I can’t even remember why I kept them.

Mr. Ruff has long passed from the scene, and his newsletter ceased publication decades ago, so I decided to shred the newsletters to add to my growing compost pile.

I’d forgotten that some of the newsletters contained nuggets of wisdom, subtle laughs, or insightful stories with a moral to them. That’s when I spied one of his newsletters with just such a nugget. 

I decided to republish it, with due credit, because our nation’s current fiscal malaise is quite similar to the one it was suffering through back in the days of the 1980s farm and financial crisis. So, here’s the story:

“It came to pass that two young cattle mites fell in love, and after a short courtship married and settled down. They found a large, old, fat, docile bull for a home. 

“Theirs was truly an ideal life. Food, shelter, and warmth were provided at no cost. There was a free and comfortable housing unit in every wrinkle and hair follicle. Life was sweet and easy. All they did was eat, sleep, play and multiply. Freedom from want and fear had been attained. They and their offspring enjoyed the abundant life — never giving the old bull, their benefactor, a second thought. 

“However, eventually, the old bull, became sore-footed, short-toothed, and unable to forage well. Gradually he grew weak and weary. Unable any longer to support the hungry and rapidly multiplying free-loading population of mites, he finally staggered off into a pasture gully and went hooves-up. 

“Within hours, consternation was aroused among the mites. They held meetings protesting that the economic system had let them down. Some even threatened to change their vote in the next mite election. There was some talk of filing a class-action lawsuit suing the dead bull for lack of cooperation. 

“Alas, many of those panicky parasites perished on the old bull’s decaying carcass. Others, bitter in spirit, and growing physically weak, trudged off into the cruel world and died freezing or starving. Others trying to thumb a ride on another bull to no avail.

“None of them thought of creating a productive society of mites capable of providing all of life’s needs for generations.

“Moral of the story: There is no substitute for self-reliance, individual striving, and thrift to provide for your needs. 


An elderly rancher, ol’ A.S. Toote, was approaching his 90th birthday. His family put on a great birthday party for the wise old gent.

One of the post-cake-and-candle activities was for each of his grandkids to ask him one question about his life — and then video his answer for posterity. 

He easily answered questions about his family and personal history. But, then one grandkid asked a question that caused ol’ Grandpa to pause and think.

The question wuz: “What would you say is the greatest progress that’s been made during your lifetime?”

He wrinkled his brow, scratched his head, pursed his lips and answered, “From the things folks now call good clean fun, I’d say it’s when the straight and narrow path was widened to a 12-lane highway.”


Here’s a story about an elderly rural driver. A farm lady, in her advancing years, drove her a big, new expensive pickup into a big city to do some early Christmas shopping. She was trying to back into a parallel parking space, and having some difficulty doing so, when suddenly a young man in a fancy, expensive small sports car zoomed into the parking space ahead of her. 

The lady angrily asked why he had intruded so rudely when he could tell she was trying to park there. 

His response was simply a smug, “Because I’m young. I’m quick. I’m in a hurry. And, I have important business to attend to .” 

The young man then entered the store. When he came back out a few minutes later, he found the farm lady using her big new pickup as a battering ram, backing up and then ramming it into his car.  He angrily asked her, “Why are you wrecking my car? 

Her tart response was simply, “Because I’m old. I’m rich. I’m not in a hurry. And you need a lesson in manners and I’ve got the time and inclination to teach you!” 


I’m writing this column with a heavy heart. I just finished writing a eulogy for one of my very best friends, ol’ P.C. Cilpusher from northwest Arkansas. That is the pseudonym I gave long ago to Jerry Stafford — my accountant, financial guru, and best-ever hunting companion. Complications from Parkinson sent Jerry over his final horizon last week. He’s pushed his last pencil. 

Living long is a blessing, but one of its curses is watching my friends pass from the scene one by one. That curse is somewhat offset by all the wonderful memories my friends leave with me. 

“So long, Jerry, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal. The ethereal bird-fields beckon.”


Words of wisdom for the week, also from the old Ruff Times newsletter: “It doesn’t do the sheep much good to pass resolutions on vegetarianism when the wolves are of a different opinion.” Have a good ‘un.

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Milo Yield

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