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The Storyteller Gene

March 15, 2010
By: John Phipps, Farm Journal Columnist

The first generation on our farm was an ancestor nicknamed "Lying Abe” to differentiate him from his contemporary, "Honest Abe.” He came by this title, umm, honestly, as his stories were famous throughout the country.

For example, he was a man of robust strength, and when he told listeners he once carried two 200-lb. flour sacks on his shoulders up the mill stairs, breaking every step in the process, many nodded with open mouths.

On my other side, I had a favorite uncle who told us how the government gave him a special driver's license that allowed him to drive 90 mph. Unfortunately, I never knew him to own anything that could top 50.

With those genes at work, the following account of a talk with my grandson, John, should not surprise you.

We sat on the steps one early spring evening, looking out over our back lawn.

"Grandpa, what are those tall green spots in the yard—like there?” My grandson pointed to the scattered tufts of "overfertilized” sod speckling the greening grass. I glared at our dog, who suddenly seemed to have noticed an imaginary squirrel and bounded briskly away.

"Well, John, that's where your grandpa had a very close call this past winter,” I replied.

"What happened?”

"You know Grandma's compost pail—the one she keeps in the garage for food scraps and stuff like that? One night last winter it was cold and dark, so she asked me to empty the pail on the compost way over there.”

"I thought Grandma always did that herself because you're all of the time dumping it in the wrong place?”

"Gimme a break, kid—she's got 57 different bins out there!”

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - March 2010

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