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We can't live in fear, paranoia

Date: 4/17/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

As I write this on the morning of April 16, no reports about who committed the cowardly and vicious attacks in Boston have been announced.

One thing for sure, though, is this is a tragedy that hit home to Western Massachusetts due to its proximity and the number of residents who were in the city for the Boston Marathon.

Our lives have always been at the mercy of a single event – something that can happen in a moment that is out of our control.

It seems to me that the only recourse we have is to live as best and fully as we can. We can't exist in fear or paranoia, but make each day count as a positive one.

Green Acres

I can't help it. You can take the boy off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy.

When I was speaking to Doug DiMento, spokesperson for Agri-Mark, the dairy cooperative, and I couldn't help but feel the urge I've often felt about ditching the city life and growing something.

I will gladly admit that the smell of a barn is reassuring to me – the animals, the feed and the hay. The vegetables you grow always taste a bit better and there is a real satisfaction in knowing you've produced something. Now I know exactly the work that goes into a dairy operation. I milked cows and goats. Goats, by the way, are far superior. They are lovely, intelligent, clean animals. They come into the milking area by calling their name.

It's like having dogs that produce a cash crop.

Granted, I am prejudiced. While I think a Jersey cow is a beauty, the pair my family owned always seemed a bit slow but yet cunning. The first time you get hit by a tail covered in you know what, you tend to change your opinions of cows.

Milk animals require seven-day care and I never complain about the cost of milk knowing what must be done to get that carton into my refrigerator.

Knowing the work, I would never get into that end of agriculture. Taking a day off requires having the back-up personnel who know what they are doing.

Perhaps I've expressed this opinion before, but I really believe that all American kids should work growing food so they have a better idea of the process.

And if we were smart – which frequently we are not – we should be encouraging the production of food in New England with the same zeal as we talk about high tech jobs or precision engineering. We've got to decentralize our food industries and widen the different varieties of what we grow. Agriculture has been under-estimated by people in this region for years.

Is there a vacant field in each community that could be used for an agricultural program? There are two in Springfield on Central Street that are owned by the city and are unused.

One was the location of a community garden, but for reasons I didn't understand, the city kicked those gardeners out. The other used to be the location of the Spruce Manor Nursing Home.

Sure, these two locations may be best suited for homes or perhaps retail, but nothing is happening on those fronts.

Why can't urban kids learn how to produce food? Why can't agriculture be an educational priority?

That's right, she would have been a fan

I've got to hand it to pop star Justin Bieber. He has set a new standard for egotism. In the Netherlands for a concert, he visited the Anne Frank House museum and left this message in the guest book: "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a 'belieber.'"

A "belieber" is what Bieber calls his fans – "believer," "Bieber," get it?

While officials at the museum defended his remark, noting his age and giving him credit for coming to the museum, I'm afraid I'm less forgiving. I can only hope this twerp is saving his money for his inevitable fall from grace.

Thank you

I want to publicly thank William Walls and the staff of the Massachusetts Veterans' Memorial Cemetery in Agawam for the truly memorable ceremony they gave my father and mother who were interred at the cemetery on April 12.

The Air Force Honor Guard paid a tribute to my father – who died in 1996 – and to my mother who passed away in January that I know will live with me the rest of my life.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.