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Tales of a Hay Hauler: Of chickens, cows and cussin'

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Columns - Brad Nelson
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 08:15

Generally speaking, my kids don’t cuss. I’m not complaining, but when you take into account both some of my favorite vocabulary and some of my favorite people, well, you would think they would share this fault of mine.

I’ve been able for some time now to control it most of the time in polite society and even to control it the better part of the time in trying circumstances.

Funerals never happen at convenient times. Such was the case when Dr. Morris passed away. I was a student at BYU when he passed away, so I went to the viewing the evening prior to the funeral, instead of the funeral.

Family members asked who I might be; and when I replied, “Just a student,” someone suggested that the late professor must have been important to me.

I replied that Dr. Morris had been important to everyone who would pay attention to the lessons he’d learned in his eighty-some-odd years. I met the man three or four years before I had the opportunity to take a class from him.

This was in the mid 1960s and he always had with him or was wearing a hat. It was pointed out to me that inside the hat he wore was embroidered “LIKE HELL IT’S YOURS.” My first Stetson bore the same warning.

Dr. Morris hit the streets himself in the midst of the great depression, and once found himself somewhere in Oklahoma working for the government helping a community set up some poultry industry for themselves.

The plan was to use better breeding stock and have the families each raise as many chickens as they were able; and market them as a co-op. His role was to teach them how to care for the birds so the feathered money-makers would thrive.

One of the members of the community was a large rough-looking man who also happen to be an ex-con. This man seemed to have more than a bit of influence with the group. As Dr. Morris presented the plan, the ex-con, who was grateful that someone had showed up with something that had the potential of helping the people, stood to speak.

“Doc” he said, “You just show us what to do and how to do it, and I’ll see that these people make it happen!”

It seems that little community did very well with the chickens.

Another depression-era project Dr. Morris was involved in never got off the ground. Southern Arizona was the site, and the plan was to bring in some registered dairy bulls to cross-breed with the local cattle.

The plan was that by the second generation the cows would be more than profitable as dairy animals, giving this particular “Poverty Gulch” a good cash flow. As the group presenting the plan to the people started to wind down and allow some questions, the good feelings up and went away.

What caused it was an old, weathered cowboy sitting in the back who asked one question. “And just who in the hell is going to milk all these damned cows?”

Seems that answer sealed the fate of the project.

Now to go back to where we started. I’ve told my sons that I appreciate them doing better in the area of vocabulary than I have done. And I hope my influence on the grand-kids is such that they don’t cuss either.

As we consider some of the troubling news of the day, I can almost hear Dr. Morris making students think by asking them questions.

Such as, “Do you think the world would be different if fathers had guts enough to admit their own imperfections and challenge their offspring to do better?” And I’ll make you a small unspecified wager that the sons of Dr. Morris don’t cuss.  PD


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