Saturday, May 30, 2009


I haven't weighed in on this whole torture thing yet. I want to go on record as opposing it. I don't think there is any place for it in what we like to think is a civilized country.
Put your self in the place of the victim. Did you ever dive to the bottom of a big pool, near the drain, and then you realized that you've stayed too long and you're not sure if you can make it back to the top to get that next valuable breath?
I can imagine fighting the urge to breathe is almost intolerable. And then when you think you're about there, they drive that trocar into that little soft spot in the top of your head and suck your brains into a sink. Man, if you could have made it another 4 inches down the birth canal you could have been alive.
In history, a citizenry that keeps quiet about evils, is how certain evil men have gained power.
Oh, on the other torture thing, so long as we allow the above, it doesn't really matter what else we do.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Burt County Courthouse-- Tekamah, NE

Midwest Producer
May 22nd Edition

For most of the state, the end of planting is upon us. It draws to a close the next chapter in our agricultural history. In these parts it will be recorded as a spring with excellent soil tilth, but low soil temperatures. The failure of the daytime temperatures to rise to near eighty degrees have made it possible for low temps to fall well below what was expected. The soil temperature had trouble getting into the mid fifties through this the middle part of May.
But none the less we can go to town and answer the question everyone asks of farmers. “Did you get planted?” “Yes we did” will be the reply followed by “for the first time at least.” Letting the questioner know that this wasn’t the first crop you’ve put in the ground and you’re well aware that things can go wrong.
One of the rewards of farming is having jobs you can finish and then go on to something new and different. It may not be new because you’ve not done it before but at least it’s different than what you’ve been doing for the past two or three weeks. You get to pause, reflect, rearrange the priority list and then proceed.
It’s also the time of year that farm families start to think about diversions. The graduations with all of those parties and then there is golf, boating, baseball, softball, vacations, and trying to get in a trip or two to visit family.
Our family, in the past has usually gathered for a picnic to refresh the stories of our family history on Memorial Day and to remember family members who have left this world. Sometimes the gathering gets cut short when we must pause just long enough to have a grilled hot dog and go back to the fields to plant. I think it is good to remember all family members on Memorial Day as we go to the cemeteries to decorate graves. These loved ones are, after all, what made us what we are.
All good memories indeed but still the real reason for Memorial Day is to honor our fallen soldiers and to thank those who are still living, for saying “Yes I will serve.”
I hope you will take a few minutes and search the internet for information and the history of Memorial Day. It has uncertain beginnings and may have started as a collection of efforts from different parts of our country. You might find it very interesting reading as I did.
All of our communities are blessed with very brave men and women living among us who have served our country. Many of them came under live fire while serving and some, most certainly are fighting some demons because of that service. There are those who gave their all who are commemorated by plaques at courthouses across this great land of ours. Without all of these individuals living and dead, America doesn’t survive. It’s hard for me not to get pretty emotional when watching a military honor guard pay tribute to a comrade during a funeral or at the countless Memorial Day services to be held.
Without much trouble you’ll be able to find a Veterans Memorial Service where you can go to honor those who have made this country what it is.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Some Photos

This is Luke the cat. He and I were both pretty good looking when we were young. Then we discovered women. I haven't had to fight every male that came around but he has. He obviously didn't have Angelo Dundee (of Muhammed Ali fame)as a 'corner' man to preserve his pretty face and ears. Marilyn had him neutered so he would stay near home. I told her I would stay voluntarily.

Grandaughter Georgia wondering, "How old do you have to be before your parents quit sucking on your face?"

Two of my kids. I thought this was an excellent pic.

And finally, I've figured out why son Dan spends so darn much time in the shower. Thanks to him for these photos.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Farm Cats

We have a problem. We were down to just a few farm cats. We like them hanging around. We subsidize them with cat food and in return they keep rodents from taking over the farm. Recently we thought they were looking a bit scruffy so we increased their food. The number of stray cats increased with the increased handouts. We now have four litters of kittens on the farm. So reports my Grandchildren.
We will have to increase the food for the new cats and that will in turn draw more cats to the free food. Seems the more we give away, the more cats there are standing in line for the food. And then they'll quit hunting mice because none of the other cats have to do that kind of work any more.
Extending this line of reason into the future we will eventually need to start buying cat food by the semi load and have a 'staff' veterinarian for cat health care. I'm not going to pay the veterinarian very much so I hope the cats aren't expecting much from my Vet. When they get old they'll just have to plan on kickin' the bucket because, well, I'll be calling the shots on the health care and we'll be limited on Drs and such.
I'm not worried because I know I can borrow money for cat food and if I die before I get it paid off, my Grandchildren can pay for the free cat food and veterinary health care debt that I've accumulated.
The good news is that Marilyn and I are now VERY popular with the cats. They hope we can survive forever. They just love us. Life is good. They've indicated that they would vote for me, no matter what, if I run for farmer again next year.
I hope they don't find out the truth about this not being sustainable.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A View From The Porch

This first picture was taken this morning looking northeast from our door. It shows our lawn. It is freshly mowed. I've started doing it myself. Everyone thinks I'm too critical of their mowing. I insist that every blade gets cut. I think that big, dark green patch that looks like a giant patch of native grass is actually a shadow...from a Stealth Bomber,,, that happened to be flying over. Yeah, that's what it is.

The above picture is taken looking straight east out of our front door. If you'll look at the field just past that old gas tank (that Marilyn should haul away)... you'll see an interesting quirk of nature. The rays of the morning sun have bent at just the right angle off of my rounded camera lens to make it look like those rows are crooked. Amusing isn't it. Everyone knows I plant straight rows. Right?

Monday, May 04, 2009

I'm a Hero...for now.

For the Midwest Producer
April 24th Edition
It’s hard to become a hero when most of your time is spent on a farm. But it has happened to me. I have a 10 year old grandson, here on the farm, who thinks I’m a hero now. He watches or is aware of nearly all that is said, or written or acted out. I’m also certain that he remembers everything that he’s ever read, and he reads a lot. His favorite topics are sports, especially pro football. He’s a constant reminder that the adults on this farm need to be very careful about the example we set. Being his hero for this one incident is okay but I’d have to say “no” if asked to take a lie detector test. Let me explain
He began by checking out and bringing home Sports Illustrated for Kids from the library. After they were well out of date the librarian even began letting him keep a few of them. He knew every name and number and running and catching and receiving stat in all of the magazines. So for his birthday I found the website for S.I. for Kids. I ordered a subscription and was told it would take 6 to 8 weeks to begin arriving in the mail. They had this nifty card I could download announcing the subscription as a gift. I printed it, and with a slight amount of fanfare, presented it to him in the dim glow of a birthday cake. We heard words like “awesome” and “sweet” and “cool!” And then, that was that, because we had five to seven weeks to wait until his subscription arrived.
At the four week point I began to receive questions from Grandma reporting to me that our grandson was wondering if we should call about the subscription. “Grandpa, do you think something is wrong?” he would ask. I postponed the great SI Inquisition until the beginning of the 6th week. My wife called from her business phone and asked if I shouldn’t call about the magazine because he keeps asking if Grandpa has called yet.
I found the phone number for Sports Illustrated on my Visa bill. I was fully aware that this call might take longer than driving to Denver and back. The lady on the line said “are you Cliff?” I said yes. I wanted to say “how’d you know that.” But I knew there was magic involved so I didn’t ask. I said, “I want to check on a gift subscription.” She cut me off and asked if it was for my grandson and used his name? I said “well yes it is, I’ve been under heavy pressure to call you and see if there was a problem?” With a great deal of interest in her voice she asked, “Pressure, from whom?” I said “Well from my wife …” then she interrupted with my grandson’s name. I said “yes” and continued with, “and from” she cut me off again and finished with “His Mom, right?” I was beginning to look over my shoulder. This lady appeared to know more about me than our UPS delivery man whom I’ve always thought might be a CIA operative.
She said he should receive his first issue no later than next Tuesday. I said “good and thank you.” I hung up the phone, and called and reported the good news to my wife who in turn passed it on to our grandson as he got to her office after school. And then one of those miracles happened, after finding out that I had just got through calling about his magazine, He went into the house to find the first issue of his Sports Illustrated for Kids. It had arrived with that days mail. It probably came a few minutes before I had made the call.
A half hour later he rode his bike to our house. He fairly burst through the door and with a gleeful smile he yelled “Thanks for calling Sports Illustrated Grandpa, my first copy came today.” And with a high five and a hug, he was back out the door.
I know what you’re thinking, but who am I to burst a little boy’s bubble. Besides, he left so quickly that I didn’t have time to tell him the truth. Really!
So, as it stands at this telling, I’m a hero. Unless of course, he starts reading my columns.