For Whom The Taco Bell Tolls

A long time ago, John Donne, a hoity-toity English chap, wrote the famous line “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Then Hemingway stole “for whom the bell tolls” for the title of a novel about a man who falls madly in love with a communist guerilla, blows up a bridge, and dies (all in three days). Then Metallica stole that phrase for a song title, which aptly describes the song’s melodic virtues–imagine inserting your head in a bell and letting someone toll away. Then a misfit farmer, piddling around in quarantine, used it for the title of a blog post. 

That is the provenance of “for whom the bell tolls” as I know it. I’m sure others have used it, and I’m not sure why Taco Bell hasn’t–can’t you imagine the little chihuahua in a Hemingway-esque beret saying, “Yo quiero Taco Bell. The bell tolls for thee.”?  

But the point here is it all started with Donne. He wrote it because he was gravely sick and thought the local Quasimodo was hankering to ring his funeral bells. Turns out, Donne lived. And then the next year, the plague happened, and he lived again. Before his near-death experiences, Donne was mostly known for writing rather raunchy poetry by Elizabethan standards. Then afterwards, he got down to brass tasks and started writing serious heady stuff at a prodigious rate.  

Usually, I wholeheartedly embrace Donne’s advice, which is often modernized as “ask not for whom the bell tolls.” I pride myself on the don’t ask, don’t tell relationship I’ve cultivated with the Grim Reaper. But when I first got diagnosed with Covid, I had a moment of weakness and wondered if the Reaper was sharpening his scythe for me.    

In hindsight, my Covid case was nothing close to a near-death experience, but I didn’t know that going in. At the onset was likely the nearest to death my mind has wandered since the time I clung to a twenty foot extension ladder, a swarm overhead. But the fact is Donne was right: asking is pointless. Our bell is tolling no matter what.   

So hopefully something good will come from my days spent in quarantine introspection. Maybe I’ll get down to brass tacks and start writing serious heady stuff at a prodigious rate. Or maybe I’ll be a better dad and husband, call my parents and brother more, and quit being so cynical about the motivations of farm animals. 

But my first goal is to be more grateful. Thus, I’d like to thank everybody who reads this blog and comments from time to time. I started The Misfit Farmer a little over a year ago and committed to post once a week as a way to get more disciplined with writing. I had always enjoyed Gene Logsdon’s blog, The Contrary Farmer, and admired how he posted once a week without fail for years. He died in 2018, but his blog is still archived for anyone who wants to go back and read his posts, which are full of a lot of farming and life wisdom.  

I can’t say this blog is full of wisdom, but I am grateful for the merry little band of misfit bloggers that I’ve met through it (let’s face it, if you blog in 2021, you’re a bonafide misfit, too).

So thanks again everybody! Next week, I’ll be back to regularly-scheduled nonsense.

33 thoughts on “For Whom The Taco Bell Tolls

  1. Having been the creator of three different blogs (all with very different purposes), I have the greatest respect for those who post on a regular basis. So, I’m wishing you the best in pursuing that goal. That said, I look forward your to future posts regardless of often they appear. Glad you’re on the mend.

    1. Thanks! I started two other blogs before too, and had the best intentions starting out and then just let them fade (a common theme in my life) and hardly ever posted, so I guess more than anything I was trying to prove to myself that I could stick with something longer than two weeks, lol.

      1. I know what you mean. With this blog, however, I’ve given my permission to only write when I have something to say (or rant about!).

  2. It’s interesting why different bloggers start up. I guess you’re right, most people prefer to “vlog” these days. Which is fine, unless you’re like myself and have a face for radio. I’ll stick with the misfit blogging community! I need to be more dedicated to my writing though. As always, I enjoy your posts. Glad you’re recovered.

    1. Thanks, same here with face for radio. Speaking of vlogs, have you ever watched the Canadian Beekeeper’s Blog on Youtube? He’s got one of the most successful beekeeping vlogs I’ve seen.

      1. I have watched a few of his. I also enjoy 628DirtRooster and Jeff Horchoff, but that’s more for the thrill of swarm catches, feral hive removals, and humor, not always education. 🤣

    1. Thanks, in my book “bonafide misfit” is indeed one of the warmest terms of endearment, along with being a little “cuckoo,” “crazy, or eccentric.

  3. Keep well. Don’t push too hard, too fast. That’s the whole of my wisdom. Oh, and, build on high land. What did you want from a misfit?

  4. Echo all of that……this past year most of us have heard the taco bell tolling, near or distant. Let’s all carry on misfitting – and blogging – regardless!

  5. By the way, just finished “Junkyard Planet.” What a thought provoking book! Make me think about my perspective about not only the amount of “future scrap” I buy, but also why it frequently ends up in China. Going to get on audio for my husband (The Engineer). I think he will be fascinated.

    1. That book was on the endcap in library, and I just happened to see it and thought it was calling my name. To be honest, I couldn’t believe a major publisher would take a chance on a book about junk, so I figured it had to be interesting. Author did a great job of mixing his personal story with a broader narrative about scrap.

  6. I so enjoy reading your posts. When I started my blog almost a year ago now, you were one of the first to visit I believe. Thank you! I love reading your posts, and this one in particular has given me new inspiration to get back to it (I haven’t posted in several weeks). I’m not sure why, different reasons I suppose. But, I really want to make it a successful endeavor, as I really do enjoy writing and sharing with people. Thank you, for continuing to write and inspire people like me, and brighten others days!

  7. I live to far from Taco Bell to make a run, but your post made me hungry so I broke out the Fire Sauce packets I had saved from my last trip and put it on some tortilla chips. Anyway, your stuff is always fun to read. Cheers, my friend. Glad you are feeling better.

  8. I have to say I admire your consistency. When I started blogging, my husband, a real state business coach, suggested I post consistently on a schedule, ideally daily. I told him that was unlikely to occur because I have a day job. I’ve found your consistent postings, for you each Thursday, to be something to which I aspire, particularly because you also have a day job, a wee one, and a farm to manage, which is far more balls in the air than I have. Thank you for the amusing topics and the inspiration, Kind Sir.

  9. Fun fact: I heard a neighbor blasting that Metallica song while building something in his new 2 car garage…or shed…or workshop or what have you. Either way, he was working with a table saw sans table on the floor and I prayed the song wouldn’t become full of black irony for my neighbor.

    1. Best case scenario, between a table saw and Metallica, if he doesn’t lose a limb, he’ll likely lose his ability to hear anything under 100 decibels.

  10. So glad you made it through it all!!! Love reading your posts. No, yes, we are not guaranteed a tomorrow for the bell tolls for us all in time…..we must learn that each day is a gift from God!

  11. Steven and I met in a SS class I dubbed “The Misfits”. So, I feel very drawn to your blog. I look forward to your posts each week. . .and wish I had your same discipline.

    1. What a great name for a Sunday School class. Most in our church just have boring names, like Middle Age Couples. It should be “Sleep Deprived Diaper Changers.” Thanks, that may be first the first time someone has every complimented me on having discipline, lol, but I’ll take it. Usually, I’m on the other end of the discipline spectrum, so maybe I’ve made some progress.

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