Dear County Agent Guy

Autumn chores


It is now officially autumn, which means it’s time to quit putting off your summertime projects and start putting off your fall chores.
Back in the days of yore — a historical period known for its heavy use of the word “yore” — one particularly loathsome fall task was putting up the storm windows.
Kids these days are deprived of the joys of this job. It was one of autumn’s true delights, like that first bite of a crisp apple or outrunning the school bully and avoiding one of his atomic wedgies.
Hauling the storm windows up from the basement should have been classified as hazardous duty. My brothers and I were assigned this mission due to the vast tonnage of cobwebs that had been woven around the storm windows by cellar spiders. A 9-year-old boy could emerge from the basement with the hairdo of a 90-year-old.
Except for it wasn’t all hair, and some of it was crawling.
After grunting the bulky, yet fragile storm windows up the basement stairs, we then had to clean the windows’ glass. Nowadays, if you told a kid to clean the windows, he would download antivirus software. Modern conveniences often rob youngsters of some of life’s greatest pleasures.
After all, what’s better than the sense of accomplishment one receives from looking through a sparkling pane of glass? A pane that you had painstakingly cleaned?
It makes you feel like running out and cleaning some windows, doesn’t it? Hey, I’ve got an idea. You could experience just such a thing at my place at no charge. Just remember to bring along a bottle of Windex, some paper towels and a ladder.
Another icky and inevitable fact of country living is mice, rascally rodents who covet your lifestyle and would like to take over your home.
They just want to move in for the winter, they’ll say. And, oh, can they bring a few dozen of their closest friends? And turn your sock drawer into a condo? And party in your pantry?
We catch mice with glue traps. If you’re a klutz like me, using glue traps involves the possibility of trapping yourself. You’ll be walking along when suddenly you’ll notice that one of your socks is permanently attached to a super-sticky plastic rectangle. This makes it difficult to put on your shoe.
Another downside is catching a mouse in the middle of the night. If you’re like my wife and are supersensitive to nighttime noises, you’ll be wide awake the instant a mouse gets stuck in a glue trap.
She will wake me and alert me to the situation. And she’ll be right — somewhere in the inky darkness there’s a critter who is furiously squeaking, stuck in the tar-like glue trap. For some reason, it’s my job to dispose of the bothersome bugger. This usually involves tossing it outside, which is where the uninvited guest came from in the first place.
This task can be much more hazardous than it might seem. Mice can harbor the hantavirus, a germ that’s of little consequence to rodents but can have the unfortunate effect of being fatal to humans. This fits in nicely with the mouse’s plans for taking over your house.
I don’t know what my wife would do if I weren’t around to dispose of glued mice. I suppose the house would become littered with plastic rectangles that have tiny fossilized skeletons stuck to them.
Such duties are the bailiwick of us guys. We are sent to basements to evict squatter salamanders and battle armies of cellar spiders. But, we’re OK with this because it gives us an excuse to go around exuding an aroma that might charitably be described as “earthy.”
The women in our lives, generally speaking, have much higher cleanliness standards than us guys. This is a good thing.
If it were up to guys, bathing would be something that you would do once a month whether you needed it or not. Clothes would be washed only when you happened to get caught out in the rain.
If it weren’t for the women in our lives, our houses would be much darker due to their extremely grungy windows. That is, if we had any windows at all. It would depend upon whether or not the cave we lived in had an opening that could qualify as a window.
I could go on, but my wife is searching for me with a “honey do” list in her hand. No sense in putting it off; I’m going to start procrastinating right away.
But first I have to Google “yore” and figure out what it actually means.
Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry works full time for Dairy Star as a staff writer and ad salesman. Feel free to email him at [email protected].


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