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Going After the Cows

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Decaying farmsteads with sagging unpainted houses, lone barns, and isolated windmills are common sights along roadways throughout America and particularly in the Midwest. Many small towns are in similar decline with empty stores, vacant houses, closed churches and schools. Some that were thriving in the1950s are nearly gone.

Going After The Cows is a memoir that describes the life of a farm boy living in one of those communities in northwestern Missouri in the 1940s and 50s. During that time he witnessed the transition from horsepower to tractor power and changes to the agricultural economy which caused people to leave rural areas and small towns.

The author describes and reflects on experiences, institutions, and some of the people and special places that influenced his childhood. The narrative is divided into four interwoven parts. The first deals with daily events on the farm, including the havoc caused by a tornado and his experiences in rural schools and a country church. A second describes four neighbors who provided special memories: an alcoholic hired man; the authors nearest neighbor and hunting buddy; a wealthy neighbor who could not drive, but owned the latest model automobile; and a well-educated eccentric bachelor who could quote the classics. Several chapters are devoted to special places, including the marsh and creek, and to activities such as duck hunting and fishing that enriched daily life and led to his appreciation of nature. In the final chapter he reflects on changes which have occurred in rural life during the past sixty years, pleads for better resource management, and speculates on the future of this and similar communities.

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