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December 06, 2016
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Once in a blue moon

American Angus Association president Phil Trowbridge, left, stopped for a photo with Stone Wall Farms proprietors Barbara and Ed Moran at the All Breed Beef Cattle Clinic in Jeffersonville, NY last weekend.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox

Before you start sending letters, I am aware that this astronomical event has not happened in a while. In fact, a second full moon within a single calendar month is rare, which is how the colloquial use of the term came into being. A quick check online illuminated this concept while informing me that usage of the phrase is actually not at all unusual. Within minutes I discovered a brewery, a cafe, a boutique and a board game, all named Blue Moon. Songs have been written and poems have been penned, but the definition of a blue moon remains the same—infrequent, uncommon and odd.

That said, it should come as no surprise that the expression pops into my mind from time to time, since I have been described as both uncommon and odd on the infrequent occasions that people actually speak about me. Once in a blue moon, I attempt to leave my comfort zone and branch out, seeking to learn something that might have escaped me. Last week, while perusing the Where and When section of The River Reporter, I came across a notice announcing an “All Breed Cattle Clinic” in Jeffersonville, NY being held at Stone Wall Farms. The item promised vendors, guest speakers, door prizes and a “complimentary Angus burger lunch” which clinched it for me, since I’m a sucker for a free meal.

Although they’re few and far between, there are occasions that I leave the Wonder Dog at home, and having read that there would be horses, coon hounds and livestock, I ignored the pouting and took off unescorted to Barbara and Ed Moran’s gorgeous farm (—knowing that I’d be punished somewhere down the line. Once inside, the plethora of dogs greeting me did nothing to assuage my guilt, but the damage was done, and I soldiered on without her.

Representatives from the American Angus Association (, Merial Pharm. Co. (, Southern States Cow Nutrition ( and The Center for Beef Excellence ( were on hand, and I perused the booths while observing some of the demonstrations presented by Jeff Nogan and Justin Herman, of Applewood and Trowbridge Farms, respectively. I chatted briefly with Denise Sullivan, the director of career and technical education for Sullivan County BOCES (, who had 11th and 12th grade students at the clinic. “We’re highlighting Animal Sciences today,” she said, “and the kids earn school credit for participating in the programs. They have the opportunity to learn about livestock production and all aspects of the animal industry, including horses, swine, lambs and poultry.” Before moving on, Sullivan asked me where Dharma was. “She’s home,” I sheepishly admitted. “It happens.”

Steering through town, I spotted Girl Scouts and Brownies lining Main Street and screeched to a halt, determined to score some Thin Mints. It only happens once a year, and the cookie drive is a rare opportunity to support the troops and feed my face simultaneously, so I stocked up, asking the girls how much time we had left. “You have until May 8 to purchase your favorites,” said one of the moms, “so you better hurry!” Knowing that I’d run out sooner than later, I inquired about getting more. They advised me to give troop leader Joanne Rosenberger (845/887-4731) a call.

I jotted the number down before being pulled aside. “Didn’t I see you at the Hortonville talent show last week?” mom number two asked. After I nodded, she went on: “Why wasn’t there any mention of Walter Egner and his performance?” Egner has been participating in the annual variety show for 27 years and his rendition of “Anastasia” last week was (IMHO) fabulous. “It wasn’t intentional,” I whimpered. “I ran out of room in my column.”

“Don’t let it happen again,” she admonished, wagging a finger in my face. “Walter is an institution!” “I’ll do my best,” I sighed, hanging my head. “Once in a blue moon, I make a mistake.” Red-faced and ashamed of my blunder, I jumped into the truck and sped off, before anyone else had a chance to call me names and bring attention to the fact that I’m not infallible. Hopefully, Egner will forgive me; otherwise I’ll blame it on the dog. Not wishing to repeat my error and omit anyone else, I’ll write about folk singer Jay Mankita and his afternoon with the kids last Sunday under separate cover. Look for it in the Arts and Leisure section at