Life Among the Tomato Vines

Life Among Tomatoes
Life Among Tomatoes


Life here at the CowChows is pretty laid back today. The sun is shining; the breeze is blowing; and all God’s children are at peace, at least for the moment.

Gardens are funny things. We’ve got a little plot out back where we planted a small garden just to grow some tomatoes and peppers and squash for the dinner table. We did our best to place it in just the right spot where it would benefit most from the rains and would get just the right amount of sunshine. We prepared the soil; we water it frequently; we’re careful to keep the weeds out and the insects under control. Occasionally, we give it a little boost of fertilizer when the leaves start to look pale. LadyBug even talks to the plants and tells them how proud she is when they bloom and set new fruit. Our little garden does pretty well, and while we haven’t had an overabundance we have had fresh produce on the table all summer.

But then, there’s this other tomato plant. It came up volunteer on the other side of the house. It’s right next to a concrete walkway in hard packed earth; it’s in shade most of the day, and has struggled all summer against creeping ivy and overshadowing shrubs. I haven’t so much as given it a drink of water, and except for pulling off a few tomato worms it has grown entirely on its own. The thing is, this tomato plant is laden with tomatoes that are bigger, more tender and richer in flavor than those we have so carefully cultivated.

So, why the difference? We gave our little garden everything it needed to grow and prosper, and it provided just enough to keep us fed. While the plant on the other side of the house has thrived against all odds and produces an abundance of delicious fruit.

Is the difference due to the struggle? Do we, perhaps, flourish most when our accomplishments require our greatest efforts? Or, do we prosper and flourish most when we allow nature to guide us into the proper circumstances which will enable us to grow?

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

STINGER! – Natural Nuisance Deterrent System

Go ahead, ring the bell.
Go ahead, ring the bell.

Life is good here at the CowChows. In fact, it’s very good. We’ve been conducting a test this summer with an experimental device that is showing such excellent results that we’re thinking of applying for a patent. It’s such an ingenious device that we didn’t even think of it. In fact, we didn’t even realize it was the source of our good fortune until very recently. Here’s the deal…

You may recall that several weeks ago I had a close encounter with the law of gravity due to a hornets nest under the eave of the house. Following that encounter we decided to give peaceful coexistence a try when it came to the hornets. We left them alone and, thankfully, they have left us alone. We had pretty much forgotten the nest was even there until a couple of weeks ago when there was a knock at the door. I opened the door to find three of the neighborhood children. They were all aflutter because we had a hornets nest on our house. I explained the concept of peaceful coexistence to them. They said I was crazy and should call their daddy to come get it down, and they left.

Here’s the thing: they haven’t been back. We’ve also noticed a marked decline in the number of drop-in guests, salvation sellers, and solicitors of all kinds this summer. It’s an amazing thing, and the nest is on the side of the house. Just imagine how quiet it would be around here had they built their nest right over the front door.

So, assuming someone hasn’t already patented it we will soon be offering under the CowChows brand the “STINGER – Personal Privacy, Safety and Solicitor Deterrent System.” It will look just like a hornets nest. Just peel the paper off the self-adhesive bottom, stick it to the ceiling of your porch or under the eave of your house, and then sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet.

We’re also working on a deluxe model that integrates a motion detector and the sounds of angry hornets. We just can’t decide who’s going to record the soundtrack. Any volunteers?

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

Hey, You’re a Honeybee

Hobo Honeybee
Hobo Honeybee

I was outside earlier slinging paint on the front porch of the CowChows when I got a pleasant surprise. You know how the aroma of fresh paint seems to attract every bug for miles around; well I heard a buzz and looked down to find a honeybee had landed on the handle of my paintbrush. I raised the brush to get a better look and saw that he had a tiny bundle wrapped in a tiny red handkerchief tied to the end of a tiny stick that was propped over his shoulder. I said, “Hey, you’re a honeybee.”

“So what,” he said.

“I haven’t seen any of you guys around for a couple of years,” I said. “Where you been?”

“It’s not where we’ve been,” he said. “It’s where we’re going.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“We’ve just had enough, is all. You work hard all day long, try to do the right thing, fulfill your obligations to the hive, and the harder you work the more they take. Eventually, you start to feel like nothing but a drone. There’s still plenty of bees around but they’re the fatcats and the layabouts that never leave the hive. Most of the worker-bees are gone. I’m one of the last to leave.”

“But, what about the others, the ones left behind?” I asked.

“Hey, we talked until we were buzzed out. All the fatcats want to do is strut around making rules and giving orders, and all the layabouts do is sit on their stingers and say, ‘That’s not my job.’ Hopefully, they’ll wake up before it’s too late.”

“But, what about making honey?” I asked.

“Everything it takes to make honey is still here,” he said. Make it yourself, or get the bees to go to work.”

“How do we do that? I asked.”

He shrugged and said, “Do a little jig, they’ll like that. Hey, you missed a spot.”

I turned to look where he was pointing and when I looked back, he was gone. “Wait,” I called, “Where are you going?”

A tiny little voice from high and away came back to me, “Yeah right, like I’m going to tell you.”

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

Happy Feet!

Do the Happy Feet dance!
Do the Happy Feet dance!

Want to have some fun?

I attended a Rose Croix funeral service this evening for one of our dearly departed Brethren, Illustrious Brother Jobie Goslee. It’s a beautiful ceremony and I feel honored to participate in it. As a participant it is also an opportunity to get all gussied up in my tuxedo, which is why I wound up having fun on my way home, at Wal-Mart.

I stopped in to get a few groceries. Apparently, wearing a tuxedo in Wal-Mart is similar to a hooker going to church; everyone wonders where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, and why you’re here.

Most people played it cool; they just glanced at me and then looked away as if to say, “Oh my God, the imaginary guy in the tuxedo is back.”
Some people were friendly and nodded to me approvingly.
One lady was especially friendly as she welcomed me to Wal-Mart.
And, one young lady actually greeted me and told me I looked nice, and then beamed when I thanked her and responded that she looked nice, too.

Then, of course, there were the others. Like the guy who waited until I was around the corner, and he thought out of earshot, before he turned to his wife and said, “Bond, James Bond.”
Or, the kid who was trying too hard to impress his friends when he called from the far end of the aisle, “Excuse me sir, have you any Grey Poupon?”
My favorite, though, was the young girl who asked me to do the Happy Feet dance, and when I explained that I hadn’t seen the movie she broke into dance and showed me how it was done.

I still don’t think I can do the Happy Feet dance, but now I’m thinking maybe I’ll just wear my tux sometimes for the fun of it.


Tim Couch

Attack of the Blob

Hand Sanitizer in BULK
Hand Sanitizer in BULK

There’s been a lot of talk in the news recently about this Swine Flu, or H1N1 virus. They say they’re expecting it to get worse this Winter and we should all be taking precautions. I was reminded of this earlier when I was in the store and saw this big jug of hand sanitizer. You’ve probably seen it; it looks like clear runny Jell-O. I figured it couldn’t hurt to be prepared so I asked the guy to bring a forklift and load me up a jug.

I went on about my shopping but every time I reached for something I couldn’t help but wonder how many other hands had already touched that can or that box or that banana. By the time I was done I was more than a little obsessed with thoughts of having touched things that were touched by other hands that had touched other things that had been touched by yet other hands.

When I got out to the truck with my load of goods and groceries the first thing I did was break open my new jug of hand sanitizer. I slathered it all over my hands and then leaned back in the seat to take a deep breath. After a bit I was ready to go, but as my hand touched the ignition key I realized I had touched that key before sanitizing my hands. So, I went back to the jug and this time I sanitized the key as well as my hands.

But then, I looked around. I had also touched the steering wheel, and the door handle, and the center console, and the climate controls, and who knows what was on my hands in the past when I didn’t have hand sanitizer? I’m a little fuzzy on the details but the next thing I knew, I and the inside of my truck looked like we’d been attacked by the Blob. There was clear runny Jell-O everywhere, but I was pretty sure it was safe.

Unfortunately, I had used up nearly all of my jug of hand sanitizer; which meant I was going to have to go back into the store for more; which meant I was going to have to…….touch stuff……..ohhh no.

Hope your day goes well. Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

Free AK-47 with Vehicle Purchase

Have you been thinking it’s about time to trade in your old truck for a new one? Have you been thinking that being able to protect or defend your person, family or property might be a good thing? Well, there’s a car dealership in Missouri that agrees. Right now you can get a free AK-47 rifle with the purchase of a vehicle. Maybe it’s not the ideal solution to today’s problems, but it beats sitting on your ass and waiting for the Government to take care of things. Plus, you get a new truck!

Garter Snake causes Rain Dance

Would you care to dance?
Would you care to dance?

I wish you could’ve been here. What with the summer heat we’ve been having lately BG and I have taken to doing the yard work around the CowChows either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Mostly late afternoon because early morning is kind of an alien concept to me. I know it exists but I really don’t speak the language or understand the customs. But, this morning she managed to rouse me pretty early and we went out to do some chores.

We’d been out for a while and it was beginning to warm up so we were heading back into the house. As we neared the back porch I looked down and right against the wall lay the cutest little garter snake you ever saw. BG doesn’t like snakes, any snakes. She no longer believes the only good snake is a dead one, but she still believes the only good snake is one that is far from her house. So, while I went to get my Ozarks Snake Wrangling equipment she watched the little varmint to make sure it stayed put.

I returned with my stick and glove, and was easing in to make my move. BG had been standing in the same place for several minutes without moving, and just as I was sneaking up on the snake a giant earthworm wriggled up between her toes. This was no ordinary worm by any measurement. This was the Godzilla of earthworms. It was nearly as big as the snake, and when BG jumped it startled the worm and he began to thrash about like a snake, which did nothing to calm BG. She began to dance and shriek. This in turn startled the snake. He decided to make a run for it, but with me behind him and a concrete wall beside him there was nowhere to go but toward BG. The worm was thrashing about at her feet; the snake was coming straight for her, and she cut loose with a dance that really brought down the rain.

The snake got away. The worm, amazingly, did not get trampled. And I, apparently, wasn’t supposed to find any of this funny. On the bonus side though, I think I’m going to get to sleep in tomorrow morning.


Tim Couch

What Japanese Beetles?

Japanese Beetles on a tasty green leaf
Japanese Beetles on a tasty green leaf

One of the great things about living in the Ozarks is the constant changing of seasons. It seems like only a few days ago we were in the throes of ice-storm season, and then came allergen season, and of course thunderstorm season, and now we’re in the midst of Japanese beetle season.

If your house has not yet been overrun and your plants devoured by Japanese beetles it means one of two things. Either you have the crappiest tasting plants in your neighborhood, or you have a neighbor like me.

Here at the CowChows we try to get along with everybody, but when the Japanese beetles began eating the green off our shutters it was time to take action. We thought about insecticide but couldn’t find one that kills only Japanese beetles. I tried going around squishing them but that quickly turned into a fulltime job. And then we heard about these nifty “Japanese Beetle Traps.” What could be better than that? You hang up this plastic bag with a little scented lure; all the beetles do a Hotel California conga into the bag, and no other bugs get hurt. It sounded perfect so we bought a bunch of them and hung them up all around the place.

There’s just one little problem with this solution. It works too well. All the beetles for miles around were magically drawn to our yard. We had bags full of them, and then trash bags full of those bags, And then, under the summer sun they began to rot and stink until our neighbors began to complain about the stench and when we said, “It’s the Japanese beetles,” they said, “What Japanese beetles?”

Turns out we had solved the Japanese beetle problem for everyone around us. While we were doing battle with these voracious little devils our neighbors thought we had developed a hygiene problem. That’s when I realized I was doing it all wrong. So, I gathered up all the lures and went for a walk around the neighborhood. Now when one of my neighbors complains about the Japanese beetles I just smile and say, “What Japanese beetles?” Life is good here at the CowChows.

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

How to implement the Fart Tax

Farting is your Patriotic duty
Farting is your Patriotic duty

Methane gas is the second most worrisome of the greenhouse gases contributing to Global warming. A recent report shows that livestock, particularly cattle, produce as much as seventeen percent of the methane gas present in our atmosphere. There is talk in Washington of taxing the offending bovines. A new study, not yet released, by the Atmospherical Solutions Society’s – Geological Astronomical Studies (ASS-GAS) department reveals that human activities contribute approximately sixty percent of the world’s methane. Given the current economy and the present administration in Washington it’s easy enough to see that we will all soon be paying a fart tax. The only question is how will the tax be implemented? Several methods are currently being considered.


One Japanese company is developing the Fart-O-Meter. This is an ingenious device that can be conveniently slipped into any back pocket, or worn comfortably fastened to the optional waist band. By constantly monitoring the ambient air it will keep a precise record of all taxable expulsions. At specific intervals each device will transmit wirelessly an update of its readings. Each transmission will be received, recorded and the appropriate tax calculated by the new government office, the Biological External Revenue Service. The organization of the B.E.R.S. is still underway and film maker Michael Moore is said to be under consideration to head the government office as Fart Czar.

Tests of the Fart-O-Meter are ongoing and while the technology seems promising there have been some problems. According to the chief officer of development, Ono Stinkomoto, “…the readings of the device are precise and dependable in less populated areas, but when tested in crowds such as a sports arena or subway the thing just goes nuts.”

Geography and Demography

Another promising method for calculating the eminent fart tax is by using geography and demography to determine tax responsiblity. Studies have shown that diet and lifestyle directly determine the amount and frequency that a person passes gas. By analyzing the normal diet and lifestyle of a given demographic we can estimate not only how often the average citizen will fart but also what level of greenhouse gases those farts would contain. Statistically and politically this may prove to be the most reliable, fair and transparent method to date. While the diet and lifestyle of those living within a given geographic area varies according to financial means this method would allow the tax to be spread evenly throughout the area. Thus, this particular method has come to be called the Flat Fart Tax.

Unfortunately, the F.F.T. is not without it’s problems either. Predominantly Red States are more heavily populated by red meat eaters, whereas those living in predominantly Blue States eat more fruit. Determining the boundary lines for the several tax regions has proven difficult, and no existing enforcement agency is equipped to control line-jumpers who might cross over into a neighboring region to enjoy a steak without paying the higher tax.

The Honor System

A final method under consideration for the calculation and collection of the fart tax is the honor system. Under this system everyone would keep track of how many times they farted during the day, nighttime farts would be estimated, and the tax would be calculated and added to our annual income tax. This would, of course, be the simplest system to implement. There would be no need for additional infrastructure as the existing I.R.S. would be able to collect and record the payment of taxes. Jobs would be created in the form of government agency employees to perform the necessary audits to ensure fart tax compliance. And, the construction industry would be stimulated as new prisons are built to house tax evaders.

As tempting as this system may seem it too is not without it’s shortcomings. Tax evasion, as mentioned, would obviously be a problem. Enforcemement would be difficult. New laws and regulations would have to be enacted and enforced. Our law enforcement agencies would need to be trained to spot and recognize perpetrators. It would, in short order, become a convoluted and stinky mess.

The good news for us consumers is that once all the details have been aired out and the fart tax is implemented the government plans to subsidize the bean industry. The price of a can of beans at the grocery store is expected to fall to an all time low. However, Beano will be declared a controlled substance.

Yours in pun,

Tim Couch

Never too old to play

Priceless angel
Priceless angel

Kids are great aren’t they? All that boundless energy and unbridled enthusiasm for life, the fearlessness with which they approach everything they do, the careless joy of simple play, and their endless curiosity for everything around them always puts me in a special mood. That’s why I try never to miss an opportunity to screw with their little heads.

I was out dawdling in the yard a while ago, and several of the neighborhood kids were playing nearby. The sound of their laughter and their occasional high pitched squeals took turns making me smile and setting my teeth on edge. I suspect it has something to do with turning fifty that other people’s children aren’t quite as endearing as they once were. But, I’m quite experienced in the art of prepubescent ignoration and so I was going about my piddling without too much discomfort.

Unfortunately, in my determination to let them have their fun I didn’t notice that they had noticed me. “Hello,” I heard in a tinkling little voice. I looked up and there were three of them. They had me surrounded on one side.

“Hello,” I said, “and how are you ladies doing today?”

“Fine,” they said in chorus.

“It sounds like you’re having a lot of fun over there,” I said, and they all laughed as if I’d said the cleverest thing.

“How old are you?” asked the medium sized blond one.

“Well,” I said, “that depends on what you mean by old.” This gained me a quizzical stare but no further discussion of my age.

“We like your house.” said the taller dark haired one.

“Thank you very much,” I said. “We like it too.”

“Where did you get the money to buy such a big house?” asked the little one, her blond curls framing an angelic face.

“Well,” I drawled as I squatted down to their level. I looked around suspiciously and then whispered, “We used to have a little girl about your age, and we sold her. I sure hope your Mom and Dad don’t want a bigger house.”

They were still screaming when I stepped inside for a glass of iced tea. See, you’re never too old to play with the kids.