Pick Yourself & Rusty Clapper’s Cow

Pick Yourself

It took me a long time to get back to pottery this year but no longer than last year. Maybe I was waiting for someone to pick me to do something rather than just starting. It can be a bit scary to just start, as you would like to play it safe and wait until everyone and everything is ready. Maybe I was waiting for inspiration, a better idea, for the right weather, for some gallery to pick me to make a commission, for some customer to pick me to make a plate setting. Today I thought I would pick myself and just start making pots. By just starting, I do mess up but get better as I go. Just starting means you’re on the hook for ideas that may not work. Not starting could mean you were not ready to fail. But if you make art, you fail many times as it’s part of the process.

But today I told myself I would fail, and it felt great. We go to our jobs as they tell us in school. They train us to follow all the processes that would guarantee success, to make all the normal things for normal folks to make money for the stockholders and for our families. But if those above us fail from being too normal, we still lose our jobs. Normal is a race to the bottom and too normal is bankruptcy as normal folks can buy it anywhere. I don’t ever want to make normal work at the pottery for normal folks. Folks like us do things different.

Others can buy those normal pots at normal places like Walmart and Amazon. And to get better, I may mess up a bunch. I’m putting myself out there and taking chances to connect with those who may enjoy what I do. If I can just make a few things and show it to a few folks, maybe they will show it to a few other folks, and then I might be on to something. If I pick myself and nothing happens, then maybe I need better work that communicates, creates change in some way, and connects with people.

As the great marketing philosopher Seth Godin says:

“It’s up to us if we are picking ourselves to decide what we want to be known for. It’s essential that we not permit ourselves or anyone else deniability just because it’s ‘doing my job.’ I think if you’re doing your job, you’re responsible for the work whether or not someone asks you to do it.”

You and I can make a statement or give a gift to the world. There is no better time, and we can reach a world of people by just a few clicks. We do not need permission to pick ourselves, nor do we have any gatekeepers to tell us what we can or can’t do. We can simply start and see what changes we can make to the world around us, even when those who are far more normal, looking for normal things may disagree. Many may not like what we start or finish, but that’s ok; it was not for them, but for the few on the edges. You will be surprised how much is on the edges by picking yourself and just starting. By starting on a journey, you may find yourself in strange places doing new, exciting things, and helping others–like waiting on the kamikaze corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

Rusty Clapper’s Cow

It was 7:00 am when Rusty Clapper finished milking. He had to finish on time as today was the day the milk truck would come at 8:00 am. Rusty had a cow that was almost ready to freshen, and he needed to clean the pen. He thought it would be safer to put her across the road in the small pasture, as the ol’ gal was a bit jumpy, and he didn’t want to spook her and all from cleaning the pen and laying down bedding. She went across the road real nice and easy. Rusty went to cleaning the pen. He fluffed up the bedding extra special. 

Everything was running smoothly until Rusty tried to lead the cow back across the road. 

Now Rusty Clapper never in all his life had seen nor heard of a cow simply laying down while crossing the road. He had never thought that his milk cow would end up stopping traffic for the better part of the day because of where the cow decided to rest. It was on the sharp bend on Clapper Hill right in the middle, leaving no room for traffic on either side as the right had a large maple tree and the left side had a deep ditch. Many a good folk not from the area would have issues making kamikaze corner on the Clapper Hill bend. It was more like a 90 degree turn with no S shape at all with no sign because a big water truck took it out six months back when they lost their breaks. Rusty made good money pulling folks out of his field up there, and he always had a tractor ready when someone would knock. Rusty Clapper yelled to the barn for the boys to come out and lend a hand with his cow. He had to yell as they had no cell phones at the barn because you could not get a signal anyway up on Kamikaze Corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

Rusty Clapper had one of the boys park the John Deere tractor in the road on one end to warn traffic, and his Oliver tractor on the other end to do the same. By now there was an extensive line as the gas company was fracking a big well on Clapper Hill and water trucks, log trucks, and the milk truck in the back all came to a halt due to Rusty Clapper’s cow. Folks were getting out and gathering around the cow to see if they could help old Rusty in some way while others took video of the event. Rusty formulated an action plan and told his younger boy to run and get the four-wheeler and chain and drag up an old car hood. The plan Rusty had would be to have a bunch of guys like us help him shove the milk cow over on the hood real easy like and simply slide her out of the road. So, with the four-wheeler hooked to the car hood we all tried pushing Rusty’s cow over. “Ok, hold up boys. I see feet sticking out the back.” says Rusty. We all looked, and he was right. The cow was calving right there on Kamikaze Corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

“Well, I better run to the barn and get the pulling chains and a pail of water. We better pull the calve here if we can before we try to move her.” Some guys took a break to call in late on the one-half cell signal bar the milkman found further up the road and others had a smoke while we all waited for Rusty Clapper to come back from the Milk house. It took another hour to get the calf delivered into the road. Things like calving can’t be rushed, no matter where you might be going. While waiting, Rusty told us all just last year he had six cows freshen Easter Sunday morning all the same time, and he missed church. Once the calf was pulled from its mother and into the road, Rusty cleared its nose and throat, then tied off the cord and drug the calf around front to let the new mother clean things up some as we all stood around waiting for the ordeal to be over with. “Well, she might have milk fever.” said Rusty. “I better go get a bottle of calcium gluconate and the IV.”

When Rusty Clapper got back, he pushed the IV needle into a vein in the milk cow’s neck and had Milkman Dan hold the bottle up. “Ok. Maybe that’s why she laid down in the first place. She’ll be good as new in a few minutes, guys. Thanks for stopping by today, Dan.” Rusty said, making a joke as the calcium emptied into the cow’s blood stream. “You got my Milk check payment in your pocket or is it in the truck?” 

“Yeah I do.” says Milkman Dan handing Rusty an envelope. “But I should take part of it as payment for a late fee and a vet bill.” 

“Well, that would be hard to do Dan.” said Rusty smiling. “Not unless you rip a corner off and take it with you. But they may not cash it at the bank.” 

“Shut the hell up and get moving,” said Milkman Dan with a cigarette hanging from his lips. “My hands are cold.”

Rusty Clapper then gave the cow a slap on the back, and she stood up like she had someplace to go. We all clapped. As folks walked back to their vehicles, Rusty and the boys moved the cow and calf to the barn, then went to work removing all the cow-moving emergency equipment from the road. Rusty waved us all though like he was managing an accident scene. The whole event on Clapper Hill made Facebook and everyone in the area sent in hearts upon seeing the calf delivery out on Kamikaze Corner on the Clapper Hill bend.

There might not have been a real calf delivery up there on Clapper Hill, and there may not be a real Rusty Clapper. But there is a real Kamikaze Corner on the Clapper Hill bend, and I got to meet that maple tree up real close and personal. This is my story about my town. So, I get to tell it how I like.

Written By Al Wayman:
Creek Road Pottery LLC

Edited by:
Erika Sickler
Content Writer/ Editor
Creek Road Pottery LLC


If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for our newsletter and become a raging fan.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

18 − seven =