Guest Columnist

Signs point to change. You can bank on it

Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County.
Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County.

A couple of hours from where I live my favorite advertising sign sits in front of a farmhouse along a two-lane road. I am unable to explain why I like the “FRESH EGGS” sign so much. It’s a simple sign, spray-painted on to some nailed-together boards, topped by a metal rooster. No drumroll and fireworks here. No neon lights under the orange-colored skies of a city. Nope, just a sign. Turn down the volume, maybe send the march-of-time packing, and sell a few eggs. Passing by the sign a few times a year I am pulled to the 1960s, when it felt like we were all happy together, when we believed in magic,

So much has changed since the 1960s and, for the most part, I enjoy change; but some of it simply doesn’t feel right. I have become an old curmudgeon, one who mumbles under his breath a lot, even when all alone on a tractor; and I am unable to affect change.

Out in the fields around my place farmers are well in to the first cutting of alfalfa hay and grass hay. There should be at least three cuttings this year. It’s a tough year to be a farmer. The farmers don’t act nervous, but they should. The current administration is making foreign trade difficult for everyone by imposing tariffs on goods from countries that buy our grain and our pork. Those countries will then impose tariffs of their own on U.S. imports. Mexico just announced such tariffs. And to make matters worse the Federal Reserve is likely to raise rates numerous times in the next year and a half, meaning that farmers will pay more to banks for their seed, fertilizer, machinery, etc. The center cannot hold.

And of course banks, being the creatures they are, will increase profitability while hardworking Jeffersonian agrarians who fill the labor force out here in rural America will have no choice but to stand back and wonder what in the heck happened. Have I told you about my love for banks? Oh sure, there are lovely humans who work in banks, and some of them truly believe that banks are in the business of service, rather than in the business of making money. I hope they call me.

I really need to let this bank stuff go. There are so many more important things about which to worry: volcano deaths in Guatemala, continuing killings in Syria, the obvious cluelessness of Bill Clinton, and the continuous rolling back of measures that protect those animals on the brink of extinction.

It’s nearly dark as I write this and a doe and her newborn fawn are bedding down in my front yard. There is something heartbreakingly compelling about a little spotted squirt hanging with her mum. It’s not something easily explained. I’m told that fawns are on their cloven hooves walking and trotting within an hour of their birth. Admittedly, it took me almost a year after my birth to do what a fawn can do in twenty minutes. I am humbled.

• Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County. His book “The Iowa State Fair” is available from the University of Iowa Press.

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