2013-06-13 / Columns

From the Heartland

By Allan Burke

This week’s forecast calls for highs between 75 and 80 degrees, lows between 50 and 56 degrees and scattered thunderstorms. The heartland is as green and lush as it gets, and the stock ponds are brimful. The grass is getting tall enough that the calves barely show up when they are resting. There is still some seeding to do because of delayed planting caused by the back-to-back rains.And to think it looked like we were heading into a drought cycle a few short weeks ago.

Happy Father’s Day

“What do you want for Father’s Day?” my bride asked. That brought forth a confession from me that I was bidding on eBay for a stock certificate from 1918 from the Babcock Printing Press Company.

Trying to put my online auction habit in a favorable light, I explained, “I’m investing in some stock.”

The Braddock News letterpress museum has a Babcock cylinder press from 1895, so the stock certificate will be framed and displayed near the ancient press.

A couple years ago, I bought a stock certificate issued decades ago by the Merganthaler Linotype Company, and that is posted near the two Linotypes in the museum. Linotypes are the machines that cast lines of type in lead.

If I am coy about it, I might parlay Father’s Day into another printing relic or two, if the bidding doesn’t go too high on a couple other things I’d like to add to my “investment portfolio,” aka as the junk heap.

Ready for some growing

Leah planted the garden Friday evening, one of our few recent sunny days. Luck was with her because we had a half-inch rain on Saturday, so her seeds ought to be leaping out of the ground soon.

The planting took place a week earlier than usual and long after most gardeners do their thing.

Bertram G. “Bert” Retriever, who has his footprints all over the garden patch, reposed in the sun while Leah worked in the garden. He raised his head occasionally to watch a cat walk by in the alley. He is at the age when he can talk himself out of chasing a cat. A few years ago, he would have treed the alley cats.

Well-groomed cat

My new hobby is brushing Daisy T. Cat with a steel grooming brush we got a couple years ago at a pet store. When she jumps up into my lap when I’m in the easy chair, I grab the brush and go to work.

Miss Kitty likes being brushed and purrs through the ordeal. When I finish the daily chore, the wastebasket is full of her surplus hair. We should have it woven into a rug.

With Margaret gone from the nest for two years, the cat has claimed me. For years, she had nothing to do with me, but now I am her buddy.

We get along fine unless she jumps up onto my lap while I’m dozing, feet pointed toward the TV. That startles me, and I usually share some of my vocabulary of swear words with her, an exercise that seems to do no good at all.

There is more peace in the house when Daisy sleeps in my lap while I’m sleeping through a favorite TV program.

Rice farming comes to the heartland

With many acres of low spots under water in fields throughout the heartland, it may be time to introduce rice farming. Tractors could be outfitted with big balloon tires, and the rice could be combined in the fall with airboats like those used in the Everglades in Florida.

Rice is good for you and could be sold at the farmers’ market.

A friend of mine said he was considering growing rice until he discovered his water buffalo was lame. I’m not sure if a good team of horses could replace a yoke of water buffalo, but it would be worth a try. Maybe the heartland will become the Rice-a-Roni capital of the world. Or not.

In tribute

Our prayers are with the family of Robert Fischer of Hague who died Saturday. Bobby’s wife, Phyllis, was this newspaper’s Hague correspondent for many years and continues to help out. Bobby was the Hague Postmaster until his retirement.

Bobby was a friendly, out-going ambassador for his hometown and did many hours of volunteer work for the community and also did a lot for his church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He played a key role in the development of a downtown park that was established after some decaying buildings were razed. The park is a tribute to veterans and now stands in memory of the man many called “Mr. Hague.”

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