Everyone’s a critic, but be original


Just after I completed the previous reader-mail column in late December, a Christmas card, carrying a festive stamp, arrived.
The card’s message, however, was anything but festive. Big block letters wished evil upon me, my family and my work in language more vile than any I heard from the many hired men that passed through my father’s farm. It was, of course, unsigned.
Awful. “This is awful,” daughter Gracie said when she found it on my desk later that day.
“What are you going to do?”
“This,” I replied, as I flipped it into the recycling bin. It was the only piece of fan – short for “fanatic,” right? – mail I pitched in six months. The rest, a thick stack and mostly electronic, rest at my elbow.
Working backward through the pile shows I irritated more than just my colorful Christmas buddy. Like an e-mailer who was so animated over my taking to task the Farm Credit System for asking Congress to expand its lending authority that he composed, signed and sent his note of disapproval on “Saturday, June 16, 5:43 AM.”
The FCS,” he wrote, “has been excellent to work with and deserves nothing but praise. They should be allowed to expand


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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