Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
By Liz Taylor
February 6, 1980
Mouse River Farmers Press, Towner, N.D.
There are two questions this week that need answering. Where do you get the ideas for your column, and who is Liz Taylor? Or, as it is phrased, “who the _____ is Liz Taylor?”
Liz Taylor is my name, and while I have heard there is someone else by the same name, I have never met her so all I know is “what I read in the papers.” The other Liz Taylor is shorter, darker, more beautiful, more ‘zaftig’, and also considerably more well know than I, but the same age.
Since this was probably a serious question, I will introduce myself. My name was Elizabeth Dokken (parents, Syvert Dokken and Clara Oium Dokken) until I married Marshall (Bud) Taylor almost 21 years ago. We live on a ranch about 17 miles southeast of Towner and have three children and some cattle and horses. The children’s names, in order of birth, are: Justin (19), now in his second year of college at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota; Tara (12), our only daughter, 7th grade at Towner, and Ryan (9), who is in the 4th grade.
The cattle are named, rather descriptively, by my husband and I only know a few, “Brockle Face,” “Spotty,” “The Mean Cow,” “The Old Line Back,” and (of course) “The Young Line Back,” “Curly Hair,” “Stubby Tail,” “One Horn,” and those named after previous owners, such as “The Red Hoffart Cow,” and “The Last Haman Cow,” and so on. I could go on for several pages, but generally speaking, they are usually called “the cows” or “the damn cows,” depending on whether or not they are in or out of the pasture or what they are up to at any given moment.
The horses are named in the same exciting way. “Thursday” and “Friday” are the Belgian work team, and I’ll bet you can’t guess the days of the week they were born! Silver, Buck, Minnewaukan, Adam Pete, Geronimo, Sharkey, Big Poco, and, of course, Little Poco…and again I won’t go on, for you get the general idea. I think there are 12 or 14 horses in all, if not, we’ll buy some.
I am 47 years old and the cattle and horses and kids are younger and Bud is a little older.
As for where I get the ideas of what to write about…everywhere! What I read, and I read more than I should, that is, my housework sorely suffers while I pursue this favorite pastime of mine, and then there is what I see and hear on television, and what I hear on the radio. A random sampling of what I heard and read recently and didn’t know, and come to think of it, didn’t need to know…
The New York Times, Sunday edition, requires the newsprint derived from the pulpwood made from over 600,000 trees or about 300 acres of land, every weekend, multiply this by all the large city daily papers and you won’t be surprised when you get up some morning and find yourself in a desert!
How about this, a hummingbird beats his wings 4,500 times per minute…and who cares? A woodpecker can peck 500 times per minute and if you have ever tried to catch 40 winks with a woodpecker pecking on your wall or roof you will surely believe that! And a tarantula can live for 2 years without food…hey, man, I thought you were dead! Did you know the heaviest organ in the human body was the skin? It weighs right in there about 7 pounds. Want to lose a little weight? Go have yourself skinned alive!
Speaking of such trivia and newspapers in general, surely you all heard the recent TV ad which said that newspapers are 65 percent advertising, 30 percent news, and about 5 percent “other.” So why not call it an “ad paper” instead of a newspaper? Good question.
A lot of us scoff at TV but think for a moment of the marvels this often cursed medium has brought to us. Eric Sevareid, well know commentator, and, of course, North Dakota native, said in an interview upon his retirement, that we should not be so critical of television. He went on to say that as a child in the Velva, N.D., area, all people talked about was the weather, crops, prices for same, and common gossip, and that television had opened up vistas for people never before dreamed of. Maybe we know more than we need to know, but I for one, think it is better to be so well informed.
And to continue on with this plagiarism, here is something stolen from a medical column of 50 or so years ago. “Dear Dr. Brady, Having suffered for over two years with pin-worm pruritis, and having spent $1,600 for two operations and consultations with physicians, all to no avail, I bought an ounce of 2 percent ammoniated mercury ointment, applied it to the itching skin, and obtained great help in two days. I now have almost no itching or stinging. A friend clipped your suggestion and sent it to me. It has been a miracle in my life. Mrs. F.B.L.”
Answer: “Your friend probably clipped it from Little Lesson No. 13, ‘Unbidden Guests’. For this booklet, dealing with cooties, bedbugs, chiggers, hookworms, pinworms, round worms, tape worms, mosquitoes, flies, fleas, cockroaches, ants, black widow spiders, trichina, or what have you, send me 35 cents and a stamped, self addressed envelope. Any druggist can supply 2 percent ammoniated mercury ointment in collapsible tube.”
Well folks, this may not seem like much to you, but if you are itching for spring to come, why not go see your friendly pharmacist and get a little of that 2 percent stuff…of if you can’t stand the pain from any more winter, perhaps a little of the 80 percent stuff from Towner’s ‘northside clinics’ might help.
By the way, that little medical column comes to you from a yellowed clipping I got from Connie Williams in Towner. I stopped to see her one day when I was in town and she gave me that and some venison sausage. I, in turn, gave her some summer sausage given to me by my brother, Adrian, well known wildlife chef. I went home and fried the venison sausage she gave me and served it with pancakes…an enjoyable meal, to say the least.
The summer sausage I had given her (I said it was venison) was apparently eaten and enjoyed by the time I called her a few days later to tell her it wasn’t venison summer sausage, but pure beaver! She did not turn green, but expressed her delight that she and her family had been given the opportunity to sample beaver…having already enjoyed such delicacies as bear and ‘coon. I’m glad they enjoyed their beaver sausage, but I, for one, am always a little cautious when I sample brother Adrian’s cooking. It conjures up in my memory of those bygone days of my youth when he was cooking such things as Mouse River crayfish, snapping turtle eggs, blackbird, and yes, I have eaten crow in every form!
My favorite story about our wild culinary was the fall we such an abundance of wild mushrooms. They seemed to grow everywhere and there were such varieties…I read everything I could find about mushrooms, which were poison and which weren’t. Finally, I just fried about 8 different varieties in a pan of butter and ate them, a truly enjoyable feast. I was living alone at the time and Adrian came in while I was enjoying my meal of fried mushrooms, toast and coffee. “What kind of mushrooms did you pick today?” he asked. I said I had several different kinds in the pan. He appeared quite shocked and concerned. “Good Lord, if you die, we’ll never know which one killed you and which ones are safe to eat!” and walked out.
NEXT WEEK: “Dumb Norwegians…and other jokers!”