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By Staff | Jan 24, 2014

Back in the 1960s, my dad said there were two things that had no purpose on earth.

One of them was flies.

We always had cattle, pigs and chickens, so flies were a way of life when I was in grade and high school. They were everywhere.

Everything we had outside was peppered with those little black dots flies leave behind. I believe my mother was most embarrassed about how our cars looked when we would leave home.

My dad did his best to reduce the numbers of flies such as buying a fogger, a device that sprayed bug killer on a hot piece of steel with a large fan that blew a fog of insecticide mist into the air.

He used it to blow the fog into a window of the farrowing house which left the sows coughing for the next half hour.

It seemed to have a bigger effect on the sows than the flies.

A week later, the flies were back in numbers.

The second thing my dad thought was worthless was snow.

He knew that controlling snow was a much larger job than trying to control the flies so he did what everyone else did – by using a tractor and loader to clear the snow away and then later on, a snow blower.

Fifty years later, not much has changed except the fly numbers are down because the livestock numbers are down.

But as far as snow, this winter seems to resemble those severe winters I remember from the ’60s when winters were really winters.

I had never heard of a polar vortex until a couple weeks ago. They probably were around in the ’60s. We just didn’t know them.

I suspect the polar vortex hired a public relations firm and got a publicist, probably the same one used by the Alberta Clipper and look how well known the Clipper is.

One of the problems with a long harsh winter is that we get accustomed to this weather.

We adjust our routines and habits to allow for the cold and snow.

Photos from past summers are a reminder that this is not a way of life even though we are living like it is.

Those photos tell us that there should be a day in the future when we can open the windows, leave our coats in the closet, and simply walk outside in our short sleeves.

Of course, later on in the summer we close the windows and the sound of furnace is replaced by the sound of the air conditioner as we, plus our vehicles, homes and offices, once again return to a hermetically sealed way of life.

So, after 50 years my dad remains right in his assessment that flies and snow have no value around here.

I have added a third item to his list of worthless things – raccoons.

If raccoons have a purpose, I have not found it.

That’s a subject for the future, probably after the snow has melted and the flies have returned.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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