and now the “rest” of the story...

As the regular readers of this column know, I frequently share in this space personal stories which may embarrasses me, but will help me make a farm or food related point. Many times, sharing these stories exposes my family as players in the stories as well…thankfully; I have a wonderful wife, kids, parents, siblings and family that allow me to still live and interact with them.

I have a few updates regarding some of the stories I have told previously in this column. Please go to the CCFB website www.cookcfb.org to read the original from the archives in case you missed them.

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From the July 2015 Downwind “Making of a Super Hero”…When my wife and I decided that we did not have the energy nor time to use a beehive that we had purchased at the CCFB Foundation’s silent auction, we thought it would be a splendid idea to re-gift the beehive to someone with great skills and ability…my mother.  So, Easter 2015, we gifted the beehive to my mother, complete with an extensive and mostly accurate sales pitch about how outstanding she would be as a bee shepherd. (Several of our children and others privately confided in us that it was the worst gift ever. I did note that I did not receive Son of the Year honors in 2015). My loving Mother accepted the bee hive gift with great trepidation which I tried to read as enthusiasm. For the rest of the year, I received regular and varying reports from Mom about her successes and challenges of beekeeping, making me feel a bit guilty at times. Little did I know there was much more to my Mom’s beekeeping story…

Update: I was surprised to learn that my mother kept a journal over the past year of all her beekeeping experiences. She recently asked me if I could “type” the journal of nearly 100 pages of notes and observations. However, she was clear that she wanted me to fix spelling and some of the sentence structure.  However, I was NOT to embellish and/or add my own commentary as I am prone to do. I could not very well “decline” her request, could I?… I got her into this “bee” life. 

So, for the past few weeks, I have been dictating the words of my Mother from her journal into the computer, using my voice recognition software. I have read and re-read her words. Her notes. Her thoughts. This has provided to me unique and wonderful insight.  I have been able to see first-hand her experiences and the vast weight of responsibility that we transferred to her through giving Mom a bee hive. Thankfully, my mother is not inclined to profanity or I think that certain choice words would have been used in combination with my name in the journal. What I have gained a sense of is the ups and downs, joys and frustrations, pleasures and disappointments that this “gift” brought to my mother. Here are a few choice quotes that I have read in my mother’s journal…

“The bees may live in spite of the keeper!!!”

“Need to continue lifting weights to remain strong - honeybees and their homes are heavy”

“Now I know that I should have paid more attention to details”

“Tomorrow, I had better warn the post office to expect a queen!”

“Last night for supper, I made biscuits and then we had honey to top them. I love hot biscuits with honey. Actually, I just like the honey.”

I am having so much fun reading her words, experiencing what she experienced, learning more about beehive complexities, and enjoying life lessons from her journal.  I feel the need to for publicly say “I am sorry Mom (and you’re welcome)!”

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From the March 2015 Downwind “Discrimination?”…When I was told by a Blood Donor Company that I could not donate blood because I only have one arm.

Update: In late March, our church was having another blood drive. I decided that I would “test” the blood donor company to see if their policy banning one arm donors was still in force. I checked in, completed the paperwork, and I sat down with the service tech for the finger “stick” to verify that I had blood and that it contained quality ingredients for donation. That was the moment the service tech noticed the issue… “One arm guy” alert! No lights or siren sounded but there was an immediate huddling of the staff. Yes, they still had the same policy. This time, however, I was prepared with various arguments and information to attempt to reason with the policy guideline.

I learned there is no arguing with a service tech… Policy is policy. He did give me the telephone number for the supervising doctor of the blood donor program and indicated that I could call her to plead my case. I called the doctor, leaving a lengthy and detailed voicemail message explaining how the “no one arm donors” policy made no sense to me. Then, rather than going to the donor snack table and gorging on cookies and crackers, I headed home. About 20 minutes later, while sitting at my kitchen table, I was surprised to have my phone ring…it was the doctor.

The doctor and I had a very nice conversation about the concept of one arm people donating blood. She empathized with my position. In fact, she indicated that “revising the policy” was on the next meeting agenda for the company and that the policy would be changed. Further, she indicated that I could still donate blood that day… she would call the blood donor personnel to clear the way (which she did).  I headed back to the church with a bit vindication in my heart… Sometimes, a little persistence, patience, and even-keel conversation can move the needle.  This time, I accepted the blood donor T-shirt that was offered. If you are able, blood is in short supply and big demand. Consider donating life today (even if you are missing some body parts).

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From Downwind 2001 (?) …When I received a phone call at work from the school health nurse asking me to come get my daughter from school because she smelled like a skunk which was (allegedly) disruptive to the class. A family of five skunks had taken up residence under our house and skunk odors invaded all aspects of daily life.

Update: There seems to be regular life intersections between Rohrers and skunks. The latest edition was following the May Board of Directors meeting a few short weeks ago. I arrived home near the midnight hour, very much ready to hit the hay. When I neared the door, I was greeted by our two 60 pound mutts. I was dismayed to also receive a very strong olfactory irritation of a skunky variety. Those dogs had not been blasted directly by a skunk but they had certainly experienced a skunk’s drive-by squirt.

While I debated the future outcome of these dogs, my lovely wife was busy on the Internet coming up with the latest “make skunk smell disappear quickly” recipe (past experience has shown the tomato juice does not really work). As I made productive use of the midnight hour by ranting and raving about the “delightful” canines, my wife was grabbing various ingredients from the kitchen, mixing up concoctions, and luring the dogs into our basement bathroom for a “treatment”.  Thankfully, her concoction worked. Shockingly, my ranting and raving accomplished nothing. The next morning, there was no skunky evidence discovered by my keen sniffer…

Another great lesson…action is better than handwringing any day.  PS. I wish that skunk de-smeller concoction had been discovered 15 years ago!