Matfield Green - Our first years

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Coffee at the Talkington's

Bill and I visited with June and Phyllis Talkington this morning. June has been struggling with lung cancer. He has a doctor's appointment this afternoon. But he seemed bright and happy this morning. Grandson Jimmy (a semi-pro football player from Joplin, MO) is visiting for an extended period, helping his grandfather with the hog farm operation. Since it was cold this morning - 29 degrees and a dusting of snow - Jimmy took care of the chores and June stayed in.

June is the source for history and information about the bunkhouse. He and his brothers worked around there in the 40s when our property a major artery near the heart of the Rogler cattle operation. This morning June told us that his brother and two other young men dug the dip tank in the stockyards on the west side of the tracks in 1941 or 42, just before the brother went of to war. They dug it buy hand, cause nobody had a backhoe in those days. They dug it well and, according to June, "It looks like it could still hold water."

The dip tank we're talking about is about 8 feet deep at the center and maybe 10 feet long. Filled with water and some kind of insecticide (creosote, says June, and we've found lingering evidence of something lethal called thoxiphene), cattle would be driven into the dip tank and then swim across the deep spot and walk out the other side, shaking out their fur as they emerged from the dip. The procedure killed ticks, which would build up by the dozens under their ears. After about 1947 the tank was replace by trucks with sprayers.

We talked about gardening (don't try to do anything with this soil when it's wet or we'll end up with clumps that will last all summer), and the old rural schoolhouses, which used to pepper the prairie, one every two or three miles it seems. Two outside dogs slept on the front porch in the sun and the little dog, Patches, begged for cookies at the table. Phyllis shared her secret for a delicious and bountiful tomato crop - an organic fertilizer called "Tomatoes Alive" from


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