Friday, December 30, 2011

Appalachia, Dairy Farming, and Getting Stuck In Cow Manure.

One of the things that I love about being from the foothills of Appalachia is that I have had the pleasure of knowing and being related to a great deal of interesting people- all of whom possess a host of differing perspectives on things. I can tell you from personal experience: people from Appalachia are different from people in a whole lot of other places in the country. Certainly, while the area does have it's problems (really, is there any place that doesn't?), I still love it, it is home, after all. I find the area to not be maddening- which is generally how I view places such as New York City or even Los Angeles to be.

Coming from a family that farmed a few generations back, there are still family members that remember what it was like to farm, as well as what it was like to not have some of the modern amenities that we take for granted- such as indoor plumbing. Take my great aunt for example, she remembers how her wedding day, she took a bath in a galvanized wash tub... If that isn't enough, the bath water was heated on the stove to provide her with a less frigid experience!

Given that there is a lot of oral history to be told, I have taken to recording it. The following story was told by my great uncle, who has been married to my previously mentioned great aunt for more than 50 years. It dates back to when he was a self described "know-it-all teenager" who more or less ran the family dairy operation. The story revolves around something that I think is really important: trying to realize what you don't know and being willing to listen for ideas, regardless of who they may come from. You never know, you might learn something that will make your life easier! This lesson is something that has served my uncle well in a lot of areas of his life, not just in his various business dealings. After all, if you can get ideas from other people, why try to re-invent the wheel? I took this to heart by more or less copying his real estate rental business, that my brother copied before me.

In this instance, listening to a near illiterate farm hand kept him from getting a tractor continuously stuck in piles of cow manure... a predicament that I would think one would wish to avoid.

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