Calving, reading, and rabid dogs

I have always enjoyed winters in Rappahannock County; this one more so than others. I love feeding the cows and seeing the look of appreciation on their faces as they chow down on fresh hay. I especially enjoy those sometimes necessary jobs associated with cows having calves. I am not a talented enough writer to put words to the feeling one gets when witnessing the successful adoption of an orphan calf by a cow that has lost her calf. Even in years such as this one, when cattle prices are low, the rewards the cows give to me far exceed what I give them.

In the afternoons, weather permitting, as it so mercifully has this winter, I repair and build fences. As Robert Frost famously once wrote (and President Trump evidently read): “Good fences make good neighbors.”

During the long winter nights, reading is my pastime. I enjoy both fiction and nonfiction and have devoured books by Craig Johnson, Lee Child, Patrick O’Brian, John Sandford, David Baldacci, Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell, Ian Rankin, David McCullough, Ron Chernow and Nat Philbrick, to name a few.

During the early part of December, I was in a bit of a panic as I didn’t have a new favorite author whose books would last the winter.

I explained my dire situation to Kevin, the owner of the Royal Oak Bookstore in Front Royal. In the past, Kevin had given me sound advice, so when he suggested that I read the Inspector Morse Mysteries by Colin Dexter I did not hesitate to purchase a dozen or so. The novels can best be described as modern day Sherlock Holmes stories.

Many chapters begin with a famous quote which foretells the chapter to follow. One chapter in particular begins with a quote from Mark Twain, which prompted me to write the next part of this letter. “If you don’t read the newspapers, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspapers, you’re misinformed.”

This quote suggests to me that for a long time America has dealt with what we now refer to as Fake News. Depending on which party is in the White House, the media is either a docile lapdog or a rabid dog. The objective watchdog of the Fourth Estate is about as rare as a unicorn. Even though the media takes itself seriously, the American public takes the media with a grain of salt.

In my personal history book, the winter of 2017 will feature the near perfect weather for calving and fencing, inspector Morse and Unicorns.

P.S. Although I might be uninformed, or maybe misinformed, it seems our [Rappahannock County] Supervisors are taking lessons from Nancy Pelosi — first, they have to pass the budget in order to find out what’s in it.

Michael M. Massie

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