Could be worse …

The rancher had been gone on his first long vacation in over twenty years. He finally got a call through to his friend and neighbor who was running the spread while he was away.

“Hey, buddy, sorry that you couldn’t get through until now. I had to buy a new charger for the cell phone you left here. Oh, by the way, I do have a little bad news. Are you sitting down? I’m sorry, but your dog has died. Yeah, he was a good dog. You’re asking how he died? Well, it might have been from eating raw meat that had gone bad. What? Oh, I think he was eating the carcass of that prize bull calf you were raising for breeding. No, that was kind of an accident. Agreed, the fire truck ran over the calf, but the firemen couldn’t see anything at all, I mean with all that thick, black smoke billowing all over. You know, I never realized that tractor tires made that kind of smoke or that kind of smell when they burned. Boy, you could smell them burning for miles around. What tractor tires? Oh, they were on that new John Deere of yours. I guess that we left it parked too close to all those stacks of hay you put up last year. You know, once a row of hay stacks starts to burn, it just seems to spread forever.

The hay caught fire from all the embers and cinders blowing off of the barn roof. I guess the flames got to the barn by following the path of fuel that was spilled when we were trying to get the water tank closer to the house. How was I to know that tank was full of diesel fuel and not water? Boy, you should never, ever try to put out a house fire with that stuff! The fields burned clear up to the highway.

The fire started in the kitchen. We’re guessing some cooking oil was knocked onto the stove. Yeah, a lot of things got knocked down when your new pickup went through the kitchen wall.

I had just gotten back from town with the mail. I couldn’t find your cell phone charger, so I tried to hook it up to the mobile charger in your truck. I couldn’t find that either. I guess that I must have somehow left the truck out of gear. Anyway, I was on my way back in to finish cooking dinner when the pickup passed me. You know, new building techniques must be more fire retardant than the older part of you house. The new addition you just finished was the last to go.

But, like I was saying before, I had just gotten the mail. Remember that insurance payment you were so overly concerned about? Yeah, the one you had me mail? Well, funny thing, you’re going to laugh when you hear this. I mailed it to Salem, South Dakota, instead of to Salem, Massachusetts. Funny, huh? Anyway, along with that returned envelope, you also got an important-looking one from the real Salem, Massachusetts. I went ahead and opened it. It says something about insurance and cancellation or something.

Hey, buddy, I’m sorry about what happened to your dog.