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Can’t Fix Stupid

By: Axie Barclay

I was out chasing guineas and turkeys around the outbuildings, trying to shoo them in for the night, with an over-amped heeler dog on one side and a baby on my hip when I realized that you can’t fix stupid.

It’s up to you whether I’m referring to the dog, the guineas, the turkeys,the baby, or myself. But I will say that when the guineas scattered and some went in, some kept running into the chicken wire enclosing the garden, and the turkeys flew up into the fur trees – scared up there by the dog, who also persisted in running the second group of fowl into the chicken wire – and the baby started to cry from all the jostling, that leaving the f*&^ing birds out as coyote bait crossed my mind. In fact, that night a great many birds took their chances with the predators.

The adage that “you can’t fix stupid” isn’t new, and we use it a lot on the farm – usually coupled adjectively with an explicative. Regardless, as I threw several adjectival phrases at the guineas, I thought about other old timey and/or farmy phrases that still resonate.

You can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink.

This also applies to the guineas, as well as cows, turkeys, children, co-workers, dogs and, oh yeah, horses. Just because you lead someone somewhere they need to go, doesn’t mean they’ll avail themselves of the opportunity. It can be really frustrating when this happens, when something is so apparent to you, when you try so hard to help someone, and they won’t make the effort. You can’t make a horse drink, and you can’t make someone change or succeed, or, basically, drink water when they don’t want to. The only thing you can control is what you do.

No use crying over spilt milk (or spilt breast milk).

When my son was born 12 weeks premature, and the long stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit really wore on my Spousal-Type Creature (STC) and me, our sense of humor kept us going. Pretty much all I could do for my son was keep him on breast milk, but after we lost his twin sister unexpectedly at 20 days old, my milk supply dropped drastically. One day I dropped a very full bottle of breast milk, and its precious contents spilled across the floor in a white puddle, and after cursing my clumsiness roundly, this phrase made me at least be able to laugh at myself (though I might have cried into my spilt milk a little).

Count your blessings.

Not really an adage or even farm-related, but solid advice.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

I quibble with this one since a few people I know take it to mean “spend a dollar to save a dime.” If you look at this phrase as a lesson in frugality, here are a few other ideas: If you don’t like the price of groceries, learn to garden. Frequent libraries, clip coupons, and trade water for soda. Last time I checked, tap water was still free. Buy in bulk, don’t waste food, read instead of splurge on the premium cable package, and, for goodness sake, shut off electronics when you’re not using them. Basically, save your pennies, but don’t cheap out on cattle fencing if you want to keep them out of the road and your neighbor’s corn.

A dog is a man’s best friend.

Unless he’s chasing guineas into the chicken wire, again and again and again… which brings us to…

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

‘Nuf said.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Eat food. Real food. And anything breaded, fried, frozen, microwaved, or served out of a drive-through window doesn’t count.

Garbage in, garbage out.

This can relate to what you put in your body or your mind. If you eat only crap, you’re going to feel like crap. Similarly, if you inundate yourself with inconsequentialities and not substantive or thought-provoking things, if you don’t challenge your mind and body, then frivolity isall you’re going to be able to put out into the world. Do you want to be useless or do you want to contribute something?

Never doubt that a small, determined group of citizens can change the world.

One meal, one book, one ingredient, at a time, our choices matter. We create the changes we want to see in the world. Want to see less voter apathy? Vote. Want to see a cleaner environment? Don’t litter. Want better food? Buy better food. Want a meaningful book? Write it.

And these are just fun…

Finer than frog hair.

Happy as a clam.

God willin’ and the crick don’t rise. (This one just makes my STC laugh.)

I’m sure I’m missing a few, but until next time, mind your p’s and q’s, opinions are like assholes, and don’t lead the turkeys to water. They’ll drown.

Axie Barclay is a Michigan writer with a cow-habit. Having discovered the joys and potential for growth inalternative agriculture, she quests ever longer and harder for ways to combine farming and writing into a business. When not milking cows, making disgruntled noises at the latest disgusting thing the heeler dogs dredge up, riding horses, or keeping the fence up around her small beef herd, she’s holed up reading an eclectic array of books or tapping out pages. When not working, she enjoys kicking back with her honey, family, and friends at a bonfire with some beers. Chat her up on Twitter and Facebook, /axieb, or where she delves into literature and agriculture with a relish… and occasionally ketchup. Soon to be homemade.