The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

The Wisdom Of Barnyard Bruke: "Don't Get In A Waterfight With A Skunk!"

Greetings to readers of The Quill,

May this letter find its way into the homes and businesses well satisfied and pleased with their own state of affairs.

A "Battle Royal" is waging for the hearts and souls of the American public.

On the one side is folks who would have you "dance with other than who brung you." (not stick with prior decisions).

They are made up of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and their P.R. firm, the Glover Park Group.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association is paying the Glover Park Group $300,000 for a 6 month campaign to defame ethanol and roll back farm prices.

Altogether, over $5 million is devoted to efforts to roll back agriculture's economic gains.

Allied with this group is "Big Oil" trade associations committing over $10 million to the same purpose.

In addition, they have engaged, as part of their strategy, a coalition of environmental tree-huggers, food aid give-away-artists, and radical hunger and nutrition groups, all extracting their pint of blood (profits) from the farmers' toil.

Cornelius tells me he would trust these fellers "about as far as he cud' sling a bull by th' tail (don't trust them at all).

On the other side is those who has benefited from recent farm prosperity.

The producer himself, rural communities, manufacturers of farm machinery including those holding jobs at those factories, chemical and seed manufacturers and on and on the list goes.

Our own Spud Riley, of Monmouth, Stronghurst Implement, of John Deere fame, has helped disseminate information tryin' to set the record straight on the farmers behalf.

If'n you get the chance, during one of these rainy spells, stop in an show him your appreciation.

He is one of many stepin' out to defend our rural way of life by defendin' our producers.

Ole Spud has "gotta' lotta' gumption" (has a lot of courage) to speak out on the producers side, but "that feller plows a straight furrow" (he is an honest man).

Myself, I sees a great similarity of this situation, of for and against the farmer, to one I experienced over 40 years ago whilst shelling ear corn from the crib.

In those days, farmers sealed their corn under government loan and waited for midsummer to sell the corn and pay off the loan or shell the corn and deliver it for government storage.

Ultimately, the corn was held by the government to stabilize prices.

Little did the farmer realize, that meant holding prices low for cheap food policy and releasing government held corn stock if prices began to rise.

Both Democrat and Republican played the game well.

The man I was workin' for had hired two brothers, Jack and Ralph, who owned a shelling rig, grain truck and cob wagon.

Jack was "orn'rier than cat manure" (He was very mean) and Ralph was on'ry as an egg'suckin hound (really mean).

They both was "rough as a corn cob," but they stood out "like a big diamond inna' goat's rump." They really was good at shellin corn.

Us hirelings were used for scoopin' corn, at 75 cents per hours, on either side of the "drag," which was elevated above floor level, pulling corn into the sheller.

The drags in that community were made of wood and ran down the center of the crib. The boss usually "ran the pick."

He used a pick to keep the corn flowing and lift boards off the drag as necessary. It was by far the easier job.

The scoopers on either side of the drag kept the floor scooped relatively clean and hammered feverishly on rats and mice as they escaped the rolling ears of corn.

When the pick operator got in on the act, with scoops and pick flyin' in all directions at an errant rat, it really wasn't safe to be anywheres around.

Many scoopers and pick operators would tie twine around their pant legs to prevent scared rats from seeking refuge up the pant leg.

It presented quite an interesting show, watching the whole affair of slamin' and swingin' of tools and an occasional "china man's dance" to the one whose pant leg was loose, to allow entry of a mouse.

Good farm dogs waited eagerly outside the crib for escaping rodents which would exit in great numbers until seeing cat or dog, and then back into the crib seeking refuge in a pant leg.

As we shelled this one particular crib, we noticed the odor of a pole cat. Thinking nothin' of it, but that it was only somethin' left over from the night before as he was a huntin' mice from the crib.

Whilst busy about my job of scoopin' corn, I noticed the other scooper and the boss climbing one-half way up the crib wall, in a frantic manner. The farm dog had high tailed it fer the house.

I sez to the two, "What's wrong, has you gone crazy?" They pointed to my immediate right, and there was a skunk, gathering his balance, cocked, primed, and ready to fire.

I had no choice but to pick him up with a grab of the up-lifted tail. He could not spray with his feet unattached from any footing.

I dangled and teased the other two by asking why they was afraid of this little pole cat!

My boss let me know if'n I didn't dispose of that varmit, I was fired-a threat not to be takin' lightly in those days.

I took the critter to the end of the drag at the south end of the crib, and pitched it out the small entry door.

As I looked out through the slats of the crib, he was cocked, primed, and ready for revenge, just as he went over into the sheller.

Jack was in the corn truck and Ralph in the cob wagon. It took them both to the ground a coughin' and a vomitin' and swearin' all the time betwixt gasps for breath.

The rig was shut down and time givin' to gather their air. All the corn that went to the elevator had to be fumigated.

The entire rig smelled to high heaven. Neighbors and stand-by watchers was a laughin' and hee-hawin', which made matters only worse.

After a bit, Jack stuck his "beat red" face in the crib and with a growl, shouted with a weakened, but determined voice- "Whose hand was it that followed that skunk out the door.

He's a dead man!" And Ralph was right there to help his brother back up his threat.

Actually, I felt I was too young for that eventuality, but the boss spoke up, "That pole cat went up to meet his maker on his own, and the hand was only tryin' to prevent it!"

The boss died about 10 years later, and whilst Jack and I was a visitin' at the wake, the pole cat story came up.

I ask ifn' he ever found the truth, and Jack said he well had it figured out at the time, but had lost most of his steam. We both had a good laugh.

The truth is, there was more fear of that skunk than need be. Once his feet was lifted off the ground by his tail, he was harmless.

We need to lift the tail and feet off the ground for those who would set our rural economics backwards.

They (grocery manufacturers, association, and big oil) represent the worst mankind has to offer in the form of excessive Greed.

That pole cat was incapable of feelin' or demonstratin' those kinds of desires. The skunk's motive is self-preservation.

Our American agriculture industry represents the very best that this country has to offer through its innovation and hard work.

Let us not allow a small number of greedy corporations to destroy what has been gained thus far. Self-preservation is a noble goal.

But one thing is sure- "Don't get in a water fight with a skunk!"

Catch ya later
Barnyard Bruke