Conversation Starters

You never know when you’re going to need an interesting topic to chew over when gathered with friends. The guys who go to the Mule Barn Truck Stop on a regular basis are not immune to the need, as evidenced by Bert, and shared here by Slim Randles.

I have some cherry pie left from Mother’s Day I’m willing to share. We like it with chocolate ice cream, but you can top yours any way you’d like. In a bowl with milk and sugar is good. You can call that breakfast. 🙂 Enjoy…

It was a bright morning, and we had finished off the coffee and conversation at the Mule Barn truck stop, and we couldn’t think of anything much to do because we were still full from breakfast and it was too early for lunch, and the political problems and Hollywood gossip tanks had been thoroughly topped off. So we went over to Doc’s house to look at his mare in the back yard. She had, he said, a quarter crack in a front hoof.

So there we were, in a half circle around the little mare, staring at that slight crack as though focusing would bring a welded solution to the problem, but we all knew we just needed to drink Doc’s coffee and change the scene.

“I see you have a block of salt,” Bert said.

Doc nodded.

Bert said, “Speaking of salt …”

We really hadn’t been, but smooth transitions aren’t always easy.

“…. puts me in mind of the time I stopped in that little store,” Bert said. “Few years back now, I guess. Well, it was about the last time Milly had pups, because I think I’d left her home to have them. Of course, she waited until I got home ….”

Doc and Steve stared at him encouragingly. “And?”

“Oh … well, there’s this little store up north … out in the middle of about flat nothing … and it was hot and I was thinking of a nice cold cola right about then, so I stopped.”

Bert looked around. “Dang store was about full of salt.”


“Everywhere. This guy had ice cream salt. Bags of it. Salt blocks for horses, sheep, cows, rabbits, and even danged guinea pigs. He had regular salt. He had huge bags of bulk salt for putting on the ice. You know, for winter.

“So I went to pay for my drink and I says to the guy, ‘You must sell a lot of salt.’ And he says to me, ‘No, but that salesman who calls on me sure does.’”

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Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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