The Menace of Modernity

If there’s one universal truth to life, it’s that whenever you’re trying to carry something into your locked domicile, like a squirming baby or the ten bags of groceries cutting off circulation to one hand, then your keys will be in the opposite pocket of your free hand. Then you’ll have to attempt the awkward cross-body pocket plunge where your right hand enters your left pocket or vice versa. 

Despite all the advances in technology, no one has yet figured out a way to eliminate this uniquely modern problem. Fifty-years ago, did Andy or Aunt Bee have to worry about spraining a wrist while digging around in an opposite pocket? No, residents of Mayberry didn’t need to dig for keys cause no one locked their doors. Five-thousand years ago, did cave people worry about dropping a child on the ground while excavating the contents of an opposite pocket? No, their loin cloths didn’t have pockets, plus their caves didn’t have doors. 

It just goes to show you the unintended consequences of our technological advances. Sure, locks may help protect personal property and prevent incursions from robbers or in-laws who live next door, but just think about all the time you waste in a lifetime fumbling for keys in your pocket. Cavemen may have had a life expectancy of 23 years, give or take, but at least they didn’t waste half their lives performing mundane modern activities: like looking for keys, cutting grass each week, staring at a computer, and standing in line at the DMV or post office or gas station while people buy scratch-offs. 

Instead, your average cave person could probably just sit back and smell the bat guano after a pleasant day foraging for berries, all in the comfort of a spacious cavern, no house payments to worry about or cave doors to lock. 

Summer of the Cow

I hate this time of year. You can hardly get around because all the backroads get clogged up with news vans parked on the roadside. Yep, every summer the media around here goes bonkers. You can more or less set your calendar by it: Around July 4th, you’ll see the first helicopters circling over pastures, getting fresh footage of cows loafing for the nightly news. Sometimes they’ll film a whole herd grazing a hillside, which is sure to spike ratings for the lead story, “Farmer Gored by Killer Bull: Second Attack in Two Weeks.” Sometimes they’ll even get shots of cows stampeding toward the feed bunk, in a so-called “feeding frenzy.” And when they’re really desperate, they’ll get a closeup of a steaming cow patty, as evidence that cows have been recently grazing the area. 

Of course, the only thing this media-hype does is put a damper on our tourist season. In fact, last year I didn’t see a single tourist swimming in any local farm ponds, likely for fear of cows grazing the shores nearby. To try to re-attract visitors, Ed Johnson built a hydraulic Loch Ness Monster for his farm pond that surfaces every three hours and snorts steam, but even that gimmick hasn’t been able to drive tourists back into his pond water.

And that’s a real shame. It’s as if people don’t realize that cows are mostly harmless bovines. On average, they only kill twenty people in the United States per year, which is merely eight times higher than the number of people who die each year from shark attacks worldwide–and when was the last time you saw a news story on shark attacks? It’s a double standard if you ask me.

How to Start Your Day Off Right

Every man has oddities I suppose, and one of mine has always been the curious desire to avoid death by heart attack. Yes, after long and careful thought, I decided long ago I would rather not experience a cardiovascular quake on the scale of the “biggun” or “widow-maker.” Truth be told, the thought of my heart stopping just rubbed me the wrong way. 

Which is why on Saturday mornings, when all sane people are still asleep, I sometimes get up before the break of dawn and apply an anti-chafing salve to my inner thighs. Called Thigh Glide, it’s quite effective at ameliorating that slightly irritating feeling that you’re running with sandpaper between your legs. It’s only downside is it smells like lard, which is apparently very appealing to creatures with a strong sense of smell. 

Admittedly, running mile upon mile when nothing is chasing me is a strange activity to prefer to sleeping in on Saturdays. But sometimes things do chase me, which I’ll soon expound upon, and the point is I prefer running to a heart attack, not sleeping–which is a point I also tried to explain to the animal control agent.

The agent looked young, like he just finished basic law enforcement school. He wore beige cargo pants, with an above average number of cargo pockets, some of them clearly filled and weighed down with tools of the animal control trade. He had pepper spray holstered on his hip. He wore one of those little flimsy, plasticky blue FBI-like jackets, but instead the back read Animal Control Department. Needless to say, the agent had the appearance of an animal control authority, and thus I hoped he would soon go hunt down and apprehend the German Shepherd so I could go about my day and get a tetanus shot at an urgent care facility. Apparently, anytime a person goes to the urgent care with a dog bite, the doctors have to call the authorities.  Thus, enter the animal control agent.

ANIMAL CONTROL AGENT: “Did you do anything to provoke the dog?”

ME: “No, I was just running. It came charging at me from the front porch of a house. I tried to keep my head down and just keep moving, but it bit me.”

ACA: “Were you on the shoulder of the road or the road itself?”

ME: “I was in the middle of the road,  trying to flee the dog.”

ACA: “Can you describe the dog?”

ME: “German Shepherd. Brown and black, pointy ears, vicious temperament.”

ACA: “What did you do when it bit you?” 

ME: “I turned around and kicked it in the head. And then a person in a car stopped. He got out and started yelling at the dog and it ran back toward the porch. ”

ACA: “Do you know who owns the dog?”

ME: “Well, I assume, the old lady hollering from the front porch.” 

ACA: “Did she say if it had its rabies shots?” 

ME: “Yes, she said it had its shots.”

ACA: “Well, we still recommend you get a Tetanus shot in case of infection. And even though she said it had its shots, we’ll quarantine the dog for 14 days to verify it isn’t acting suspicious. If we notice any suspicious behavior, we’ll notify you, at which point you’ll need to get rabies shots.”

ME: “Great.”

ACA: “Last thing, I’ll need to take a picture of the bite.” 

It was at this point that the young animal control agent and I took our relationship to a whole new a level. I pulled down my shorts, and showed him the bloody bite marks of canine teeth on my inner upper (and I mean inner and upper) left hamstring, a region underneath bits of my anatomy that no man save a proctologist or undertaker ought to see.

I’ll spare you the picture of the bite. On a positive note, though, this happened several months ago, and the dog did not exhibit suspicious behavior, so I didn’t have to get rabies shots. Plus, I’ve nearly got all my anti-freeze saved up for a nice gourmet marinade on a expertly-selected, finely crafted dog food that smells a lot like lard.

Farewell, Biscuit Pan

My mom loves me unconditionally. I know this because I accidentally threw away her biscuit pan and she didn’t commit filicide (the formal word for offing one’s offspring, which I felt really uncomfortable searching Google for).

As keeper of our family buttermilk biscuit recipe, my mom is the only one capable of wielding the biscuit pan and harnessing its full power, the power to create biscuits that no mortal mouth can resist. 

My mom takes her biscuit-making responsibilities seriously and even travels with her biscuit pan. Her biggest fear, beside snakes, is being caught off-guard with an unfamiliar pan of unknown cooking properties. “Cooking in a strange oven is hard enough,” she says.  

Her biscuit pan is tried and true, or at least it was before I threw it in a trash compactor. It had been passed down from my grandmother to my mom and had a waxy patina from decades of Crisco applications.

Usually, I’m not one to destroy a priceless family heirloom, but my mom and dad came to visit us one weekend and my mom packed the pan in a cardboard box which she set right beside the kitchen door, which also happened to be right beside our kitchen trash can, in the same spot I normally stack overflow trash that needs to be taken to the dump. I just assumed that box was full of overflow trash and put it on the back of the truck, and now our priceless family heirloom resides somewhere in the Cleveland County landfill, with seagulls flying gracefully overhead. 

My mom thought I was kidding when I told her I had thrown that box away. When she realized I wasn’t, a look of panic momentarily washed over her face before she quickly regained control of her facial expression and tried to laugh it off. “Oh, well, it’s only a pan,” she said. 

But I felt terrible. That biscuit pan was a symbol of all that was right and true and honorable in the world. Sure, some of the biscuits produced on it probably contributed to the family’s cholesterol problems, but that’s a small price to pay for having a superhuman mom, one who laughs in the face of adversity and fights the world’s evils with one pan of buttermilk biscuits at a time–even if it’s a new pan without the Crisco patina. 

How to Make Money Farming

Life is full of little ironies. A few months ago I was on a podcast–and get this, the name of the podcast was Farm4Profit. They needed someone to do a segment on beekeeping, and somehow they found me. Apparently, they didn’t know I have a blog called The Misfit Farmer, where I dispense questionable farming advice and mostly enumerate the many ways I’ve lost money farming, beekeeping being one of them. Instead, because I write for a beekeeping magazine, they thought I was a beekeeping expert, obviously having never read any of my articles, which would have quickly dispelled them of that belief.  The point here, though, is I feel like I short-changed the nice guys at Farm4Profit. Admittedly, I was very nervous, having never been on a podcast before, so I’d like to make it up to them by providing some surefire ways to make money farming and beekeeping. 

The great news is I’m often too busy chasing swarms over the horizon to fool with paperwork, so I haven’t filed for patents on any of these lucrative ideas yet. That means you’re free to make millions off them without worrying about patent infringement. In fact, just a nice hand-written note and 10% royalty on sales for perpetuity is all I ask. So without further ado, I present your path to future fame and fortune (don’t everyone rush to apply for Shark Tank all at once). 

Biodegradable diapers with a built-in wildflower mix. Just let your baby add fertilizer, then plant, water, and wala! In a few months you’ll have a little tuft of wildflowers for your favorite vase.

Organic Clay-Doh. Put red clay in a little plastic cup-like container, market it as Organic Clay-Doh, an all-natural alternative to Play-Doh.

Stingers Home Security Company. Place mean bee hives at strategically-placed positions around houses to deter home invaders.  

Whirlpool Washer/Extractor Combo. For a piece of equipment that only gets used a couple of times a year, honey extractors are big and take up a lot of space. A honey extractor that doubles as a washing machine the rest of the year would sell like hotcakes to hobby beekeepers. 

Beemorang. A hive tool shaped like a boomerang. When you accidentally sling your hive tool into the atmosphere because a bee just performed a torture technique by inserting its stinger under your fingernail, the hive tool will come back to you.  

The Lil’ Loader Seat. If you’re tired of toting your offspring around the farm or pushing them in the stroller, the Lil’ Loader Seat,  a baby car seat for your tractor’s front-end-loader, is for you. 

Kudzu Cologne. Ever traipsed through a Kudzu patch beside a pond while searching for a jon boat now hidden by vegetation? Well, I have. And I can tell you that Kudzu has a quite pleasant aroma. Kudzu would be a very easy crop to grow. 

Cow Obedience College. Tired of having to reimburse your neighbors for the shrubbery your fugitive cows ate? That’s not a problem when your cows have graduated from Cow Obedience College. 

If anybody else has some ideas they’d like to add to the list, let me know. I’m all about sharing the wealth.