On Cows and Things

(Photo by Perry Eury)









Editor’s Note: The following came to me as a letter from an old friend in Vermont — a former dairy farmer (and also former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture) who gave up cows for turkeys almost three decades ago, and who lately has added popcorn to his repertoire. I had written to ask him about the veracity of the many articles on dairy cows I was seeing, alluding to forced births in herds to enhance the milking schedule. Here is his august and deeply philosophical answer (it’s called satire with a Vermont twist). I am presenting it in the full letter form in which it arrived. 


On Walmart sucking up dairy cows. Everybody wants everything cheaper. That’s why they go to Walmart. Even I go there.

It’s all the fault of the first invaders of the Americas 15,000 years ago. They came over from Russia … just walked across. Needing something to eat, they started killing the native wildlife. After eating up all the mastodons and other critters, they got hungry so started growing food. This was better anyway since it was the men who had to go hunting and drag home heavy loads, because the women could do all the work of planting and reaping and gathering firewood and the men had the repetitive and industrial and laborious job of thinking up religion and more demands and limitations on women.

So Andrew Carnegie sicced the law on striking workers and killed many and in every way treated them like dirt, so he could produce steel cheaper and make more money. Meanwhile the masters bred their slaves to the strongest men so to have a good product to sell. And then Trump refused to pay workers and contractors for goods and services delivered.

Then to top it all off, farmers couldn’t get workers to milk cows by hand because it was a miserable job so they invented milking machines and put the hand milkers out of business. Which was health for the men and women doing the milking. Hand milking caused one’s hands to stiffen up so they could hardly move. To get started, milkers milked out a little milk and then dipped their hands in to warm them up so they could move their fingers to milk.

Then Wood Guthrie sang “This Land” and tons of farmers went west and grew wheat on dry prairie that was too dry and wheat should have never been grown there, but they did and created the dust bowl. Wheat was high in the market before the dust and worth nothing after.

Then FDR created the farm programs and encouraged more food production. The preamble of the 1935 farm bill, to paraphrase, said it was to help farmers and to keep the price of food low so that all the voters would feel good and vote for Dems. (The last part of that wasn’t in the preamble, but the part about keeping food plentiful and cheap was.)

So then WWII came along and there was a great need for food. Farmers expanded and made money. In Virginia, farmers grew orchard grass. It doesn’t grow in an orchard so don’t know why the name, but this grass has a very fluffy seed, called orchard grass seed. Farmers grew and sold to the Army tons of orchard grass seed for use in packing and cushioning ammunition. After the war, farmers couldn’t give orchard grass seed away.

So now Smithfield Hams or Pork or whatever they call themselves, located in the U.S. but owned by the Chinese, are growing pigs in shameful and immoral ways and shipping a good deal of it to China. NC gets the pollution and the misery and China gets the bacon.

Then we buy other stuff from China, they get the pollution and the misery, and we get the cheap stuff that makes us happy. It doesn’t take much for us to be happy. Lots of TV, games, frozen food nuked in the microwave and what else do we need? Look at our prime example today in DC.

So this China thing started in 1535, per the book 1493 by Charles Mann, when Europe started sending patterns of clothes across the Atlantic, by mule or camel or something across the isthmus of Panama and then across the Pacific to China to be made into fine silk clothes and shipped back the other way to land in Europe for Charles the 5th or whoever to seduce any female getting too close.

So today we are being homogenized. That is, the world is becoming one. Culture is pasay (it’s up to you to figure out how to spell that) (editor’s note: passé), gone by the way of being not profitable. In 1972, we ran across a Burger King in Manila. Now there are Walmarts everywhere all selling the same thing cheap; originality is in the way of profit.

So damn those goat cheese farmers in Leicester, VT and that dim popcorn farmer in Orwell. Too small. Too dull. Too narrow a view of the world. Homogenize, put pressure on to make all the people the same. We need customers, customers and more of them. To buy buy buy. Do it online. Fight to buy on Black Friday. Turn every holiday into a buying spree. Christmas is the biggest-dollar consumer spending holiday and Halloween is the second.

But, keep your fingers crossed, Thanksgiving is not there yet. Just eat more turkey and the world will be very all right.

Since the China trade was so slow in 1535 we had to speed things up with computers and GPS and data collecting and we are, at this very minute, madly giving all our data and personal tastes, like what kind of ice cream we like, to the big boys — few girls involved — in Silicon Valley, and the next time you google something, any old thing, then in seconds some damn ad comes up trying to sell you the very same thing or “Here is what other customers bought when they bought the thing” something that you had no damn intention of getting.

So you have to blame it on the women, ‘cause they are the cause of everything terrible. You know the men eat up all the critters and the women had to grow wheat to keep the men busy eating, and from wasting most of the day forcing sex on the women. That’s a new theory that just popped into my horny cranium, so since it was so easy it must be true. I’m telling you, if Eve had been smart she would have sicced the snake on Adam and gone on and had kids by parthenogenesis and that sure would have pacified the world. You see, as always it’s the women’s fault for bringing on misogyny, misogamy, and falling off the roof and post-menstrual stress. But no matter, Walmart has a cure in the pharmacy department.


Had rhubarb been the forbidden fruit,

A very full Adam could really toot,

Eve can cook,

God’s finger shook,

Rhubarb stuffed snaky smiled as they got the boot.     (PAS, 2015)


So there you have it in a nutshell. The nut being on top of our neck. We just go along. Romans called it: bread and circus. Just keep the people fed and entertained and all is well, no need to think, or dream, or ponder, just relax and let the Fullment Center stuff US.

Today I had OJ from Florida and Brazil. Blueberries from Salinas, CA. Bread, the wheat from I don’t know where. Ice cream from Friendly’s in Wilbraham, MA. Salmon from some ocean. Bananas from Guatemala. Apple from neighbor in Shoreham, milk from Monument Farm in Weybridge, egg from Maple Meadows in Salisbury, turkey from … well, guess … and squash from my garden.

And this is all true, that’s the sense of it. I attest to it. Even though it’s forbidden to end a sentence with it.




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    PoliticallyPurpleNC examines -- from a nonpartisan angle -- the legislative decisions of the North Carolina General Assembly and their potential effects on the citizens of the state. It does so in a setting that includes context -- historical background and social implications. PPNC encourages rational, nonpartisan evaluation and advocacy for the good of the whole.
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