Letter to Dave

Dear Dave,

I want to start this letter out with a little about heating with corn. First off, I just checked our electricity bill and we’ve used about 2000 less kilowatt-hours this month as compared to last year. Bear in mind that we were already using one corn stove last year and that this years numbers have gone even lower with the addition of a second stove. I have also gone from using four blankets and three cats to stay warm on the couch to basically one blanket and cat-optional (although it’s still usually three.) By the time heating season is done, we will have used about 240 bushels of corn which has always been pretty inexpensive and stands to become even more so in the future. Corn prices got pretty high last spring but came down by the time we purchased (and sold, unhappily) our corn. I still believe in corn-based ethanol but time marches on and it seems that cellulosic ethanol has exited the laboratory and may be produced on a large scale in the near future. The price of corn will always rise and fall, but cellulosic ethanol makes heating with corn appear very attractive. I guess we’ll just have to compare next years electricity bill to this years to get a better indication.

How are things in Carrington, Dave? We spoke a couple of times since my last letter and life out there seemed much like life around here-frozen. This has been the most consistently cold winter in quite a few years. I’m interested to see what sort of spring will reveal itself once it begins to thaw. One benefit of the cold was that it trapped all of that moisture and gave us time to consider how we will handle the excess moisture. I plan to get that cattle out on leftover corn stubble before it thaws, then retreat to our sacrifice paddock and feed hay until things dry up. I’m sure farmers around Carrington are as concerned about spring work as are the boys around here.

I was thinking about chores this week, Dave. Chores are those tasks which you finish each day but are never truly done. They are not towering accomplishments, but taken as a whole, chores are the things that make a household or business work well. I think chores have even more to do with how kids turn out as adults. When we were young, chores would have been cleaning calf pens, feeding the cattle or mowing the yard. We learned how to make these somewhat boring tasks better by talking to each other, listening to music or making a game out of the task. These acquired skills are quite useful as not everything in life is exciting-particularly a job. I think that thirty years ago parents made their children do chores because they were good parents. Today, parents will give out an occasional chore so that they believe themselves to be good parents. Where we once defined ourselves by our responsibilities, we now only take them on for show-something learned as children. Maybe we think that an easy life is a gift to our children and a sign of progress; the truth is this gift of ease will become a burden to them once they exit the world created by mom and dad.

I know I’m preaching to the choir, Dave, but there are others looking over our shoulders. Most of them will be singing right along with us, but there may be a few just mouthing the words.

You’re little bro’

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