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Monday, January 31, 2011

Three Farmers and a Dog

King, Judson's coon-hound King, eats loaves of Wonder bread, nothing else. I watched the old dog squatting in the manure. Judson says King is in excellent health, but when I went to the farm with him one afternoon I saw King hardly had enough energy to snap away flies.

Judson's son uses King to run down coons.

"Rest of the time he just sits around, doin' nothin'!"


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Judson had his other leg amputated recently. In spite of this hardship, he turned down one hundred thousand dollars that was offered for the choicest seventy-five acres of his land. His sons all wait. When he dies, they will all be rich.

"They are whittling me away, they are." Judson uses a rope to pull himself up into his tractor where he goes to sit, although it no longer works. The house is failing. The tractor tires rot on rusted rims. King eats Wonder bread, and the last of Judson's cows hang, slaughtered and sold for meat.

"I can't imagine eating those cows of his," Dad told me.

Judson eats woodchucks, wild cats, squirrels, and geese that have decided to winter on the icy pond.

"Ever eat cat? It's terrible!" says Judson.

Who has time to wait for a diabetic alcoholic old farmer with no legs to die?

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Frank Johnson, the Swede, who lives closer to us than the Judsons, remembers one of the times he went to New York.

It was before they had parking meters. He brought his father in to get him a wooden leg from a guy in New York who sold wooden legs and arms and feet from an office in a building on Broadway near 64th St.

Frank said it was incredibly easy to park the truck. No meter, you just parked and got out. He carried him upstairs and then they picked out a leg. The old man strapped it on and then they walked down to the car.

"Hell of a place to sell wooden legs," Frank said.

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Later that same day I ran into Eddie Lizauskas, our first selectman, another dairyman left in the area. He was operating a backhoe, at the town dump.

"I've known Frank a long time," said Eddie. "He's always worked that farm alone. Frank's just a dumb old Swede."

Eddie returned to his work. All the roads in our town were maintained by his crews. His farm was a profit center. Two milk trucks a day roared up and left full. The milk check got bigger. The manure pile outside was as tall as a mountain. The piles of corn silage covered with black plastic weighted down by old tires were even higher.

Eddie ran for first selectman and won.



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