I know that pictures usually tell the story on this blog, but this time I will let the words do it. And there's not a word of truth in them, or at least I hope there's not...
Land of Milk and Honey Again
To say or to sing “this land is your land, this land is my land” would now land you in trouble with the law—or rather, with the ones who make and manipulate the law. Do you think I’m kidding? They outnumber ordinary citizens 3 to 1. This land is their land. They control everything and everyone under the guise of justice, but there is no justice, no true government, nothing but perpetual court and lawsuits. Folks don’t work anymore because there is no place to work. Every productive industry has been shut down and shuttered. People have to grow their own food or steal it from someone else; it’s that bad now. How did this great country of ours, LOMAHA, end up in this predicament? Sadly, I have to lay the blame at the feet of my grandfather, God rest his soul, because he was the farmer who kicked the bucket, which started the un-tar-ball rolling, so to speak. He was fifth-generation owner of Golden Calf and Honeybee Farms. I would be seventh-generation owner if not for the day that Dazey the cow sprung a leak.
The day it happened started like any other day. It was springtime. There were devastating tornadoes in the news, gun control legislation was being hotly debated in Congress, and life on the farm was increasing exponentially. Twin calves had been born the night before, and the night before that, my mom had given birth to me and my twin sister. Grandmother was not at home with Grandfather. She was with us, watching over the nurses in the county hospital to make sure they did not screw up anything. One of her grandchildren had already died two years earlier in that hospital from “complications at birth,” and she was making damn sure that did not happen again. The nurses were not happy about her constant surveillance of the nursery through the viewing window, but there was nothing they could do about it. Nothing in the new healthcare law prevented constant family observation, at least not yet.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, Grandfather had stayed up all night with Dazey, his oldest heifer, to help her through a difficult birth. He had cleaned up as best he could with a garden hose and was driving his ATV back to the house for breakfast he would have to whip up for himself when he heard Dazey bellowing. It sounded like all hell was breaking loose in the barn. Before he could open the latch on the barn door, a mother-lode of milk burst through and knocked the door down on top of poor Grandfather. He was crushed by the weight of the door and all that milk, flattened like one of Grandmother’s Pfannkuchen. He laid there for at least 24 hours while Dazey’s milk continued to flow over and beyond him.
Old man Hodges who had a farm about two miles away was the first one to notice a stream of white stuff filling the ruts in the dirt road that fronted his property. As the stream became a river, he decided to call the police. By then, the river had picked up its pace and began spilling over its rut-banks to cover greening fields of winter rye and wheat, its powerful current uprooting everything in its path, including a two-acre patch of strawberries. Most of the milk eventually found its way to Lake Sosuemee, a good five miles downstream of Grandfather’s farm. Weeks later, folks were saying that the lake was nothing more than a soggy cereal bowl, what with all that wheat, rye, and fruit bobbing about on its sour-rotten-smelling-by-then surface. When the smell got really bad, they started chanting, jokingly at first and then seriously, “Let’s Get Mikey!” in front of television news cameras. Only they were not interested in trying Life™ cereal. They were interested in trying to pry open Grandfather's (whose name happened to sound like Mikey) estate in court. Suddenly, everyone wanted to know how much he was worth. He had owned a “Golden Calf,” after all. It was the one that continued to flow milk day after day after day, while webcams captured the whole thing in real-time, and people around the world could watch it via the Internet.
Experts were brought in to discuss how to cap it, and soon afterwards, activists arrived by the busload to protest the cruel treatment of animals on farms everywhere. The activists tried to enlist the help of some famous talking swine named Snowball, but he was tied up in litigation over movie rights to some book he had written, a sequel to the first one written nearly 68 years earlier without his permission. Not that he really minded the original text, of course. He was perhaps more famous and wealthier than any other pig in history. He certainly could not spare the time to help a cow. With all of the now-unwanted attention focused on them, the experts realized that things would have to be handled delicately. No nipple clamping, as they first proposed, would be allowed. And Dazey could not be put down (gassed) as some of them had suggested.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, Grandmother was fuming over the whole thing. She could not give her husband a decent burial because his body was being held by the government for investigation. Besides, no funeral home would touch it with a ten-foot pole, sour milk smell notwithstanding. There were rumors floating about in cyberspace that he had planned the whole thing as a home-grown terrorist plot. “#SpilledMilkforMoney,” they, the blogging, tweeting rumor-mongers called it. He must have been planning to control the dairy market by flooding it with easy milk, making the alternative-dairy market (soy, almond, coconut…) unprofitable and unsustainable. If successful, he might have been able to bring the whole thing crashing down, but he got his just desserts. CREAMED BY A BARN DOOR!—was splashed all over the news in print, the networks and the cable news. Now, in the wake of all that milk and these rumors, the door itself was being held as evidence.
Grandmother had to leave the farm because of the media circus. She went to stay with my parents in town and tried to help mom take care of sis and me. One day as she was taking us, the babies, for a walk in our stroller, the media people surrounded her and bombarded her with questions. She was so startled that she blurted out something about needing a vacation from it all. The news people pounced on that and suggested that she would soon be taking a luxury cruise with her newfound milk wealth. The next thing she knew, newspaper and Internet-newsfeed headlines were screaming: OWNER OF GOLDEN CALF AND HONEYBEE FARMS NOW LA LECHE-ROUS GRANDMA.
Of course, the child protection people would not let mom and dad leave us kids alone with her anymore. She disappeared one night while everyone else was asleep, taking only a clean pair of underwear, her toothbrush, and a picture of her holding sis and me the day we were born, the day before Grandfather died, the day before the beginning of the end of LOMAHA—Land of Milk and Honey Again. Oh, I bet you’re probably wondering about the honey. The bees were already disappearing at an alarming rate due to Colony Collapse Disorder. Most of the hives on Grandfather’s farm were empty by the time Dazey’s infamous spill happened. The investigative reporters who thought they should follow the honey-money did find that at least a dozen of the hives that had been active with bees were missing about the time Grandmother disappeared. After all, she was the family beekeeper.
Grandmother, if you’re out there somewhere, I hope you and your bees are okay. We need you and them more than ever. As mom said you were ever fond of saying, “this LOMAHA really has gone to hell in a hand-basket!”