Dear Milk Streeter,

The sap season has been decent but not stellar. We will end up making 700 gallons at Two Pigs Farm this year with our new evaporator, RO machine, vacuum pump and all the other equipment that goes into a good-size operation. The sap ran well early on things but froze up for a couple of weeks. Our last run will finish up by mid-month and then the sap will turn cloudy as the trees start to bud out. And then the cleanup—removing taps, pumping out lines, cleaning the equipment for storage, bottling the syrup and sending it off to the warehouse. But, it beats milking cows!

Once in a while I like to do a Vermont humor edition of Swearing Hill News. Some of these are the jokes I grew up with and others I have found on a variety of Vermont humor sites. In any case, here are my favorites.

How do you know if you’re from Vermont? You’ve taken your kids trick or treating in a blizzard. You have more miles on your snowblower than your car. You have 10 favorite recipes for venison. The local hardware store is busier on any Saturday than the toy store at Christmas. Driving is better in winter since the potholes get filled with snow.

A few years back, I walked over to the country store next door in the late afternoon and said, “Nice day” to the older gentleman sitting on the bench outside. He paused, looked at me, and then said, “So far.”

When I was a kid and we lived up on Southeast Corner Road, a gentleman from the state Department of Conservation was trying to find our cabin. He stopped at the bottom of our road at Bernie Squire’s place and asked Bernie if he knew where the Kimballs lived. Bernie rolled out from under his truck, walked slowly to the gate, looked the stranger in the eye, and said, “Yup.” Then he walked back to his truck to finish his repairs.

Road jokes are always the best. Back in the '60s I experienced one of them first hand. I was lost and asked a 10-year-old standing by the side of the road if he knew where Maple Street was. He said, pointing to the ground, “You’re sitting on it.”

Here is a series I just came across that sums them up pretty well.

Does this road go to Montpelier? Nope. Stays right here.

No, I mean can I take this road to Montpelier? Don’t think you can get it in your car.

Will, if I drive down this road, will I get to Montpelier? Don’t know how good a driver you are.

You don’t know anything, do you? I know I ain’t lost.

There’s not much between you and an idiot, is there? Just this yard and that fence.

Calvin Coolidge humor is legendary. When the first lady was touring a poultry farm, she noticed a rooster mating vigorously with a hen. She asked the tour guide, “How often does he do that?” The answer was, “Oh, most of the day.” She then said, “Please tell that to Mr. Coolidge.” Later in the day, as the president was getting the same tour, he was given the message from his wife. Coolidge asked, “Well, how many different hens does he do it with?” The answer: “Oh, about a dozen.” Coolidge replied, “Please tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”

The real old-time Vermonters, not the folks who moved up from New York or Connecticut, have rules to live by. They don’t wear shorts or sunglasses, or go swimming. They don’t use tool boxes—the hammer, pliers and baling twine are somewhere on the floor of the truck. They don’t drink. They don’t take vacations. They have been to the next town but only once or twice. They rarely get married. They don’t own anything new. They are perfectly happy to not talk if they have nothing to say, especially about where they hunt and fish. And when they sit down to dinner they say, “It’s time to get down to business!”

Perhaps the most charming aspect of Vermont humor is that Vermonters love to poke fun at themselves.

How many University of Vermont freshmen does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, it’s a sophomore course!

Well, that’s about it for this month. I leave you with one of the oldest jokes about the seasons. In Vermont, the seasons are “Almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.” Appropriate for this year.


Christopher Kimball

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