The Many Faces of Toast

The guys down at Slim Randles’ imaginary diner – or maybe not so imaginary – The Mule Barn Truck Stop, sometimes have way too much time on their hands. Must be the effects of the deep, dark winter when not much happens except cold and darkness and probably lots of snow. 

I prefer my coffee in a mug. No Styrofoam for me. And it is best when accompanied by something sweet. Feel free to grab a cookie for yourself and enjoy Slim’s story.


The guys were outside at the sale barn, sipping coffee in Styrofoam cups and waiting for someone to say something. Inside, the pitch of the auctioneer was heralding the glories of an old spavined milk cow, and fevered cattlemen were waving cards with numbers on them.

It was quieter outside.

Finally, it was Herb who spoke. “You guys ever burn the toast and then scrape it?”

Toast, huh? Why not?

“Used to do that a lot before the toasters got modern on us,” said Doc. “Hardly ever burn any more.”

There was a period of coffee sipping and dog petting while the conspirators considered the vagaries of making toast.

“Well,” said Steve, the resident full-time cowboy of the bunch, “I know when you’re makin’ toast over a campfire, it’s dad-blamed easy to burn it. I usually just toss it to the dog … once it cools down some.”

“I didn’t know you could make toast in camp,” said Herb.

“Easy,” Steve said. “just stick  the bread with a small twig and remember to turn it over.”

“Wonder who invented toast,” Dud chipped in. “Maybe some cave guy?”

“I’m not certain cave guys had bread, Dud,” said Doc. “Maybe a little later on in history.”

“In cow camp,” Steve said, “we’d sprinkle some salt on the top of the cast-iron range and then toss the bread on it. Salt keeps the bread from sticking. If you remembered to flip ‘em, the toast ain’t bad.”

“Salt?” Doc asked.

“Well,” said Steve, getting up to head for more coffee, “the toast tastes better if you brush the salt off before you eat it.”

Such is the manner in which the problems of the world get solved around here.

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Have you ever fished with one of Luther’s floozies? Learn how in The Fly Fisherman’s Bucket List, available at
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Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” and is the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press.
If you enjoy his columns here, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It has some of the best of his offerings through the years.

8 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Toast”

  1. I agree, seems like those guys have a bit to much time on their hands. However, they never fail to bring back fond memories!

    1. Love the memories of your farm and Dave’s sense of humor when I read Slim’s posts to get them ready. There is something so endearing about cowboys and farmers. And I think they have such a down-to-earth approach to life that there is great wisdom in what they share.

  2. I’m so grateful for the memories of your visits to out corner of the world and I cherish every one of them.

  3. Sheila Swenson

    Well dear Maryann…it is going on 1 a.m., yet something told me to check this post out, I didn’t even read the entire post, upon ‘knowing’ mother commented.

    Those days when dad and mom would ‘shovel’ those hogs into the loading shoot to head down south to Madison are truly heartfelt for me.

    These were the days when every day was a challenge, for them to put food on the table, to supply for a family, to give us love, comfort, warmth, clean clothes. These were the ’80’s. Times were more than rough. Such is evidenced by one particular photo of the west porch; crumbling and dad wondering how it shall be rebuilt, in order his family may retain a roof upon our heads.

    He did.

    He was also a farmer. A farmer of truth, hard work, he toiled in the midnight hours during the harvest season, he produced food for the hogs during the winter months, stopping inside to unthaw his frozen beard and snot dripping from his hair filled nose.

    He did these things…He will always be…my farmer dad and I as well,

    ‘A farmer’s daughter.’

    1. Great memories. Those are the things that fill our hearts and heal them from the pain of loss. Cherish yours.

  4. Such was a valid poem a wrote and placed in his suit pocket at Trinity…I longed to speak, but God told me otherwise…also in the other pocket was the tussle from college…th one thing I KNOW h was proud of. I cherish all, and have no regrets…we have healed……

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