Watch out for rattlesnakes when you visit the farm

Eric Steinkopff - Managing Editor

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said his hit TV sitcom series was simply “a show about nothing.” Maybe that’s what my weekly column will be. I can only hope to have a few readers who enjoy my observations as much.

I’ve been here two weeks. Although I’ve been quite busy, I’ve met some really great people. I don’t want to insult any by leaving them out of a long list. But a couple of them really stand out.

I had a brief conversation with the mayor this week, who was in the middle of moving households. I can fully understand his fatigue. I recently moved single-handedly from North Carolina to Oklahoma. Packing up an entire household into a truck, driving halfway across the country and then unloading and returning the truck. I mentioned to my publisher that I hadn’t been that tired in a very long time. It can be draining physically, emotionally and spiritually. I believe it’s important to refuel with positive stuff, whatever that may be in one’s own value system.

On the bright side, I had the opportunity to visit a local farm and ranch in the Duke area. They grow wheat in addition to raising beef cattle. They use quarter horses for work and as I was stomping about the countryside, I was warned to be careful about the rattlesnakes. Needless to say, that got my attention.

It brought me back to some childhood memories of visiting family in northern Wisconsin. We were living in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., but both my parents were originally from the Northern Midwest. They called it the Million Lakes Region and there is plenty to do during the summer, like fishing and swimming at the lakes that dot the countryside. There was a legend that those were the footprints of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, as the wrestled in the mud in that part of the country. Like a hog wallow, those filled with water and are teaming with life.

Obviously, I don’t actually believe that, but it was nice to have a tall tale to share before the Internet and smartphones.

It wasn’t all play. I helped out on my cousin’s dairy farm one summer and I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who are involved in such back-breaking, tedious and hard, honest work. As my dad used to say, “You shovel it in one end and shovel it out the other.”

You’ll never get rich as a farmer or rancher, but if you can get through the tough times, then maybe you can keep afloat and make a living for your family.

That’s really what it’s all about. They aren’t in a hurry, but they do see their family every day and have pride in what they produce as they work together for a common goal. I’m told that type of life is in their blood.

Maybe that’s how the newspaper business is for me. My mentor, Shirley, a retired publisher who is like a second mom to me, lives in Kentucky. She says people like us have ink in our veins. It’s not only what we do, it’s who we are.

I like to shop locally when I can, so I’ve been exploring the smaller stores in the area. The folks at a local grocery store even offered to help carry my groceries out to my car. I secretly was wondering if I truly looked that feeble that I needed the help, but I’m sure they were just being nice.

I found several places to go to church, a local barber to help me keep my hair trimmed and even a place to practice dancing. Now I still need to find a good, reasonable auto mechanic, a dentist and maybe a family doctor.

We’ll see who God puts in my life next.

Eric Steinkopff

Managing Editor

Reach Eric Steinkopff at 580-482-1221, ext. 2072.

Reach Eric Steinkopff at 580-482-1221, ext. 2072.

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