Farmers flock to Kenton Country, ignore Olympics

# 398, February 24, 2006

ADA, Ohio:  Once again the farmers descended on this little college town to learn about conservation farming and newfangled technology. They return every year at this time, kinda like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinkley, except there’s more of ’em with each succeeding year.

These farmers came here from Indiana and Michigan and other states and the total flock added up to around 700. Nitrogen and diesel fuel have got so expensive they are figuring out how to get by with less of it. Use no-till, plant cover crops, spread manure, grow corn and soybeans then make ethanol and biodiesel out of it. If that don’t work, they’ll come back next year for new and better ideas.

This town Ada is in the same county as Kenton, and this whole region is known as Kenton Country. It’s quiet, no big airports or interstate highways to keep you awake at night. It’s quiet, but connected. Johnny Appleseed passed through here, planting trees. Gene Autry dropped in for a spell. The county is flat, good for farming. No mountains, but there’s been so little snow this winter, a mountain would be pretty much worthless.

The Winter Olympics are almost over. Nobody knows for sure just when they end, but NBC will keep ’em going till Sunday night. There’s been some wonderful surprises, like Julia Mancuso, Joey Cheek and Shani Davis. But some disappointments: our hockey team won one game out of six, which was hardly worth the trip to Italy. Bode Miller forgot how to ski, and you may find him waiting tables at Snowshoe or driving a Zamboni.

Is it just me, or do the Torino gold medals look like a CD?

This argument over who gets to run our big ports knocked any other news in the creek. A lot of folks don’t want any foreigners butting in. They say, “We don’t need any Arabs telling us how and when to dock our ships.” Of course they aren’t our ships any more either. No matter how it turns out, the ports will be run by the same ones that’s been running them: the Longshoremen.

Historic quote from Will Rogers: (more on Presidents Day)

“George Washington was quite a farmer. Instead of putting a golf course on his land, he put in Indian corn that he had captured from the Indians. His nineteenth hole was in his own house. Washington was the most versatile President we ever had. He was a farmer, Civil Engineer and gentlemen. He made enough at Civil engineering to indulge in both the other luxuries. And Jefferson sitting up there on his hill believed in equality for all. But he dident divide up the hill with any poor deserving Democrats.” WA #313, December 23, 1928

V-P Cheney gets the spotlight, naturally

# 397, February 14, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky: I just heard that the lawyer Vice-President Cheney shot down in Texas had a heart attack. For Lord’s sake, let’s hope the old fellow don’t die. Really it’s for Republican’s sake. If he dies, and the same folks get invited to the funeral that spoke at the one for Mrs. King, can you imagine the barbs that’ll get flung at ’em.

The local newspaper got the story first, and the Washington reporters appear to be more upset about the whole thing than Mr. Whittington. Kinda makes you wonder if they would have been happier if the shooting had been the other way around.

Texas sent Mr. Cheney a bill for $7. Seems he had a hunting license, but they charge another $7 to shoot quail. No charge to shoot lawyers, even out of season.

Here in Louisville, The Courier-Journal says Governor Fletcher had a gallstone removed Monday. You won’t hear any jokes from me on that. “I” remember 1927 all too clear: “I am in California Hospital, where they are going to relieve me of surplus gall, much to the politicians’ delight. I am thrilled to death. Never had an operation, so let the stones fall where they may.” (DT #282, June 16, 1927)

Afterwards I wrote a little book about it called “Ether and Me”, and I’m going to mail a copy to Gov. Fletcher. In this book I pondered over what causes gall stones. “Well, there are various reasons. Republicans staying in power too long will increase the epidemic; seeing the same ending to Moving Pictures is a prime cause; a wife driving from the rear seat will cause Gastric juices to form an acid, and that slowly jells into a stone as she keeps hollering. Of course I will always believe that mine was caused by no sanitary drinking cups in the old Indian Territory where I was born. We used a gourd raised from a gourd vine. Not only did we all drink out of the same gourd but the one gourd lasted for years, till Prohibition weaned some of them away from water.” (Ether and Me, 1927)

With all this commotion on shooting and surgery, we practically forgot about Lincoln’s Birthday and Valentine’s Day. Our retailers will notify us about Presidents Day coming up Monday even if our news folks are preoccupied searching for clues on that Texas ranch.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Today the Governor of Kentucky made me aide on his staff with the rank of colonel. I thought I would get out of Kentucky without being made a colonel. But luck was against me. So it’s Colonel Rogers, suh. Put a sprig more mint in that julep.” DT #524, April 1, 1928.

“The last few days I have read various addresses made on Lincoln’s Birthday. Every politician always talks about him, but none of them ever imitate him.” WA #115, Feb. 22, 1925

State of the Union speeches send Will back to horses

# 396, February 4, 2006

COLUMBUS: President Bush gave his State of the Union address Tuesday. It was more of a “this is the State I wish the Union was in” speech. He said we are addicted to gasoline, and that we should make ethanol from wood chips, switchgrass and various waste products. Well, it’s not gasoline we’re hooked on, it’s cheap gasoline. Replacing gas with ethanol at $5 a gallon is easy. But we want ethanol at $1 a gallon, and that’s tough to do even if you make it out of weeds and sawdust.

It’s been a big week for these “State” addresses. Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri both gave a “State of Al-Qaeda” televised address. Once you cut through the politics, about all they said was, “Hey, we’re still alive.” The terrorist running Iran gave his response to President Bush, “You say you want more nuclear power plants… well, so do we.” We haven’t heard anything from North Korea yet. It takes quite a while for news to get in and out of there by donkey.

The Virginia governor followed President Bush with the Democratic angle on the country. Since he was in Virginia, and he was recently elected, he figured the state of the Democratic Party was looking mighty good, at least in his home state.

Republican Congressmen elected a new leader, John Boehner. He told his fellow Republicans, “Elect me, and you won’t need to rely on Lobbyists for campaign funds. I’ll just carry you myself.” See, John comes from a huge family in Ohio, and they all live in his district so he’s got enough votes right there without spending a dime. So he figures he can share the wealth with enough of his fellow Congressmen to get them all re-elected.

A few days ago I was called on the address the farm machinery dealers of Ohio and Michigan. They had Elvis Presley perform for ’em the night before and he was so terrific they were still all shook up when I got there. I told ’em that in “my” days in Vaudeville I had followed a fair number of acts that kinda died right there on stage. But this was the first time I followed one that had been dead for years.

I kidded those folks about their modern equipment. “Haven’t seen a tractor working all day. The country has gone sane and got back to horses. Farmers all look worse, but they feel better.” (DT # 2112, May 11, 1933) Then I reminded them, “Horses raise what the farmer eats and eats what the farmer raises. You can’t plow the ground and get gasoline.” (DT #1967, Nov. 23, 1932) Well, they got me on that one; said today you can plant corn and get ethanol. And you don’t even have to plow to do it.

Today I read where a bunch of scientists in London predict that in fifty years England will get rid of all the cars and buses and airplanes, and give everyone a horse. They say this is the only way for ’em to satisfy that international Kyoto agreement on air quality. Well, I’m all for clean air and I sure like horses. But you put a million of ’em in downtown London and the aroma of their air will be a big shock, even if every horse comes with its own shovel. The plan would, however, solve any potential shortage of fertilizer.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“California had a bill to investigate lobbying, and the lobbyists bought off all the votes and they can’t even find the bill now. Putting a lobbyist out of business is like a hired man trying to fire his boss.” DT #2704, April 5, 1935