Commentary – If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em!

Chris Clegg

The things we used to do when we were kids!

One of the long forgotten memories resurfaced June 12 during a visit from author Cecile Gannon, author of The Cream Can Romance. Among her many interesting stories was the barnyard salt lick.

Children of towns and cities may not know this but years ago – and still today – farmers purchased huge blocks of salt. The ones we bought were maybe one square-foot, perhaps a bit bigger. We placed them on the ground or in small boxes, and watched Bossy and her buddies ante up for a snack.

We named one milk cow Elizabeth Taylor, but that’s another story. I’m sure Liz would be thrilled with having a milk cow named after her. What woman wouldn’t?

I seem to have a vague memory of my older brothers and sisters, along with a few cousins, sneaking behind the barn where the salt block was. They would enjoy a few licks themselves.

Oh, gross!

Geez, Bossy and her gang were licking on the block. Slobbering, drooling, stinky cows! And my siblings were enjoying this treat?

Yuck! I refused to take part in their shenanigans.

But my sister, Donna, sure seemed to be enjoying it. She was one year older than I and kept insisting it really wasn’t that bad.

Later, I finally decided to take the plunge. I went out by myself, chipped a piece off the block, and slowly it edged it toward my mouth.

“I hope no one is looking. Just when was Bossy last here? Did she slobber all over it?”

I remembered Bossy’s tongue whipping in and out of her mouth into her nostrils. Gross!

But the older kids sure seemed to enjoy it. What was this marvelous secret? Was it really tasty? Was it all an act to show how brave they were, only to laugh at the little kids at our expense?

Curiosity got the best of me. I took a small lick.


How could that be? How could something so disgusting be so good? Wouldn’t licking the salt block be like kissing a cow? Eww!

Apparently not!

Many trips were made to the salt block over the years. I know there is a picture in our family and Uncle Joe Luka’s family to prove it. Imagine 6-12 kids all around the salt block, waiting for a piece. What a memory!

and dad never complained we were stealing a piece of the cow’s much-needed salt. I don’t know if it was because people or animals don’t generally eat salt unless their body is craving it, or because it was so cheap they didn’t care.

Maybe they were snickering like all the other adults!

Whenever this story is told, I quickly discover it’s nothing new. I think every kid raised on the farm has a lick at the old salt block. City slickers would roll their eyes and vomit at the thought, but as the old saying goes, “Don’t knock it till you try it!”

There is another old saying that applies. “If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em!”

Perhaps I should have known better. Older brothers and sisters would never lead their younger siblings astray at their expense for a few laughs, right?

Besides, Bossy and Elizabeth Taylor didn’t seem to mind. After all, they put up with the awful kid’s drool, right!

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