Home of Michael Perry – New York Times Bestselling Author, Humorist, Singer/Songwriter, Intermittent Pig Farmer

Posts Tagged ‘dumb farmer’

I’m Not Thirsty. You?


After an evening speaking engagement, I stopped at a gas station and bought the drink pictured above. During the short drive home, I drank about half of it. Parked the van in the garage and left the beverage in the cupholder. The next day I was up early to speak at a local school. When I finished doing two presentations I was a tad dry, so just as I was about to drive off I reached down for the drink and took an absentminded swig. The weight of the bottle shifted oddly as I lowered it. I looked, and was surprised to see a used tea bag suspended in the liquid. My wife and daughters sometimes take tea for the drive to school, but it still seemed an odd thing to do.

Then I looked closer. Yah. That’s a drowned mouse.

I bailed out of the van. Aware that I was in full view of a school full of impressionable children, I ducked down beside the back bumper and blew that mouthful of bad pop all over the blacktop. Even as I was spitting like a mad cat with a mouthful of stinkbugs, I was offering prayers of gratitude that I had discovered the mouse before I swallowed. As discreetly as I could, I got back in the van, found a mouseless bottle of water and commenced to swish and spit like I was in some sort of dental appointment Olympics.

I also looked more closely at the contaminated bottle. Yah. Not one, but two mice.

If you wanna, I got closeups after the break. (more…)

Intermittent Pig Farmer On TV


A while back I filmed a piece with my friends from Wisconsin Public Television (I say a while back because those pigs are no longer extant and you will also note that my report on the spring weather doesn’t quite match up) and it aired Monday. I had some internet issues that prevented me from posting, but you can watch above, or here’s the link now.

Won One Round

As a guy who wrote an entire book based on his mechanical ineptitude, I take inordinate joy in even the smallest garage-based victory.

My plow truck has refused to move for about a week now. This morning I fixed the problem.

I used only one tool:



Postcript: In the interest of full disclosure, my exultant previous post regarding the hammer repair is somewhat muted by the fact that it locked up again in the city and although I hammered like Thor, this time it wouldn’t break loose and now it’s in the shop. Because it was in the way of traffic I had to have it towed. The wheel skidded all the way up the flatbed. Then when we got to the shop and went to skid it off, the wheel rolled as sweet as you please. Diagnosis pending.


Boy, if writing is plowing, I’m dragging a one-bottom with dull coulters.*

*Technically a one-bottom would only have one coulter, but plural rolls more nicely off the tongue, rather proving my point.

Chain, Chain, Chain…

After my last snowplowing episode I bought chains. The good news? They work great (as the photo below indicates) (and thanks, patient local parts store guys who helped me order them). The bad news? They come in a rinky-dink plastic case with little plastic tabs that refuse to open in, umm, cold weather, effectively locking them away no matter how you pray or pry. Until finally, with the kids already late for school and the driveway still impassable, you raise the whole works high above your head, and with all the rage you can muster, you go into gorilla slam-dunk mode and…well, see the second photo, which was actually taken prior to the first.



The Snow Won

I am compelled to admit that over time I have taken to making sport of those who get all ginned up over snowstorms. It’s just a little snow, I say, with a mix of chuckle and disdain. Well, last night I was sacked by the snow, I was pinned deep in my own territory by the snow, I was taunted in the end zone by the snow, and, after establishing in insurmountable lead, the snow continued to run up the score.

Let’s check the stats:

3:52 p.m. – Time I jumped in the plow truck and ran down the hill to help someone get up our hill in a minivan.

1 – Number of times I slid into the ditch with my four-wheel-drive plow truck while “helping” someone in a minivan.

15 – Factor by which I was stuck worse after “gunning” it to get out of the previous predicament. (“Gunning” it known in some circles as “Rammin’ on it.”)

.2 – Number of inches by which my plow blade missed hooking the telephone company’s junction box when everything came to rest. (Time was called in order to count blessings, yea, even in this moment.)

1 – Number of caps borrowed from minivan driver in order to make long walk back up hill to fetch the tractor in driving snow because I was “just gonna run down there and back” and thus dressed myself in the manner of a distracted seventh grader, including no jacket, no cap, and just one glove–which somehow was worse than no gloves at all.

500 – BTUs of necessary warmth generated during hike back up hill during which the coals of self-loathing were fanned by gusts of futile rage.

17 – Degrees required to measure the new angle of the bumper after the neighbor and I got done yanking the truck back on to the road.

5 – Minutes passed before I had the truck stuck again, this time down by the barnyard.

8 – Inches required to measure the length of the crease put in the quarter panel by the railroad tie fencepost down by the barnyard, which isn’t going anywhere.

3 – Total number of times I had to go ask my wife to put all her stuff on again and come help pull me out.

1 – Total number of times right at the end there where I got the plow truck stuck after she had suggested I just park it and wait for daylight.

0 – Exact number of times I asked her for help that time, instead just putting the truck in neutral and yanking it out with the tractor myself.

1 – Number of knots yanked into the brand new tow rope during that last little adventure.

7:52 p.m. – Exact time I just gave up and went in to watch the Packer game.

The Eskimos have a word for snow like this. It is not printable.

No Golf Ball, Let It Snow

Let it be known that on this day I mounted the snowplow in under seven minutes.

Before the snow flew.

Without the golf ball.

It is not always thus:

EVEN THE GOLF BALL WON’T help me now. “This one’s gonna be a golf-ball job,” my father would say while securing the hay baler power takeoff shaft in the shop vise prior to replacing the universal joint bearings— a real knuckle-busting spirit-warper of a job. We kids would grin because we knew Dad— a studiously nonprofane man— was referring to a long-standing joke he picked up from his last factory job: Before undertaking a difficult task you place a golf ball in your mouth to block the bad language. It’s a perfect kid joke because it combines a goofy image with the illicit implications of naughty words.

Mounting the snowplow should not be a golf-ball job, but it is. As with many once-a-year tasks, I complete it with roughly 75 percent efficiency, and, boy, that other 25 percent is a real steam generator. Today I had already scuffed a knuckle and was only just managing to keep a lid on the fizz when I crossed behind the truck in frustrated haste and rang the trailer hitch with my shinbone, resulting in an impromptu performance piece I like to call the Howling Hopscotch of Rage. Only an asbestos-coated golf ball would have survived.

I am in haste because drifts are sifting through the gap beneath the pole barn door, and the steel roof is rattling with wind. It is the second week of December, and we are about to get a whomper. “Blizzard of the decade,” said ol’ Jay Moore in the Morning on Moose Country 106.7, and I have procrastinated mounting the plow until I saw the whites of the flakes. Tut-tut, say the strict calendarists among you, and fair enough, but then as the cut-rate Scandinavian Zen master Yogi Yorgesson famously never declared, “Who sniffs the rose before it blooms?”

– Michael Perry, in Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace


Absently drinking from an empty coffee cup while writing with eyes on the screen is the equilibrial equivalent to missing the nonexistent top stair-step while carrying laundry.