“A consistently dour columnist…”


Come on, you don’t want to end this year reading what an aging aggie like me thinks the “Best Stories of 2009” are. Easy as it might be — health care, global warming, cap-and-trade, Uncle Honey…

What, I already wrote about all those things?

OK, how about what you wrote on what I wrote to tell me how wonderful and wise the weekly adventures in editing were?

Take the e-mail from Stephan L. in Indiana. “In all my years of following the news and reading opinion columns,” his Oct. 30 note begins, “I have never read a more consistently dour columnist than you. Congratulations, I guess.”

Gee, thanks, I guess.

He then takes red-hot exception to my quoting a Pentagon study on how global warming threatens America’s national security.

“Rare is the day when leftists such as you say anything positive about those who are defending our country.”

Rare day

Well, friend, today is that rare day: Happy New Year to the officers and crew of the Navy’s newest, most elegant ship, the USS New York, and especially to its weapons officer, one Ensign Paul T. Guebert.

Yep, that’s the lovely Catherine’s son, formerly known around here as the Prince and Heir and now known around the world as just “sir.”

By the way, for the record, I’m right-handed with a pen, ambidextrous with cow udders and left-handed with compliments.

That same column fired up Richard M. to write, “Hello, what a ridiculous article comparing the farm bureau with military assessments.”

Oh, stop the sweet talk, Rich; you had me at hello.

A late August column that challenged the idea that American farmers feed the world delivered a short shot from Steve, “a concerned South Dakota rancher,” who thought me barking mad.

“Are you nuts?” he asks without even saying hello.

No — woof, woof, woof — I don’t — ruff! ruff! ruff! — think so. Why?


For those keeping score at home that’s one apiece for “dour,” “leftist,” “ridiculous” and “nuts” and I haven’t even gotten to November and December’s letters.

Those months’ highlight came by snail mail from a some fan in Montana who signed — in ink, not crayons — his love note, “And curses on your beloved Uncle Honey, too.”

That was it. No name. No address. No class.

Most correspondence from the last half of 2009 didn’t contain any poison.

An October column about a visit to my much-changed home farm brought a short note from Jim in (I’m guessing) Wisconsin, who had similar thoughts of love-lost after driving by a now-sold family farm.

“Why can’t [we] just grow up and get over the land, memories, and farms we grew up on?” he asks rhetorically, lyrically.

A Thanksgiving column on Orlie, the simple brother of two of my father’s hired men, caused Terri, “a city-born-and-bred girl,” to pick up keyboard and type, “This is the first time I have ever written to a newspaper columnist … however the headline, ‘Thanksgiving brings back memories of big Orlie,’ caught my eye…

“Thanks for the reminder that as people sometimes fleetingly come and go into and out of our lives they can still leave lasting impressions.”


Evidently I made an impression on a big shot named Joe with a reference to eating filet of crow at Milwaukee’s elegant Pfister Hotel during a 1983 apology supper with Allis Chalmers execs for something (very clever) I wrote about the company.

“I can assure you the filet you will experience should your travels bring you back our way,” suggests Joe, “will be one to compete with the best meals of your memory.”

He should know; his e-mail was signed “Joe Kurth, General Manager, The Pfister Hotel.”

Finally, mister, some real love.


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Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children. farmandfoodfile.com



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