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JohnHarding

Newsman/farmer/mallard

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As the voice of Millard the Mallard, the station's improbable mascot, Harding jousted with icon Alden Aaroe in campy, agitated bits that often centered on a certain sparkly beverage or the weather.

Millard was canned a year before Harding took leave. "He was shown the door in September 2000, right at the start of the trashing of the station," Harding recalls in an e-mail from his farm. "I had to look up the dates. How quickly one forgets."

He and Jerri returned to her family's farm in time for the birth of triplet nephews, who will run free within the rural compound, loved by a slew of parents. Harding drew plans for a low-maintenance house that would hold a serious library and the rest of their years together. They finished it in April.

"Most of our stuff is put up, set up and hung up," Harding writes. "The yard is another matter. I call it the strip mine. The weather has not been conducive to working outside. … and the rye grass cooked weeks ago. So we have weeds and well, dirt! The good news is that down heah, there are no weed police."

As for Harding's new life: "Suffice it to say it is very quiet … and quite isolated. (The only nonfarm person I saw last week was the UPS man.) But there's not a lot of idle time. Right now we're in the middle of sunflower season… harvesting, packing and shipping them to market. When I'm not helping out in the fields, I work on my model railroad or read. Or work in the yard or take long walks around the farm. I've lost 20 pounds, and aside from the aching muscles, I'm probably in the best shape of my life.

"What do I miss most? Aside from friends or former colleagues, Ukrop's! Radio seems far away now. I think it's completely out of my system.

"And what of Millard the Mallard? He soaks with the resident Canada Geese here on the farm; swigs liter-sized cold deliciouses, listens to deep cuts on old Miles Davis sides and tells all who will listen that he bleaches himself white and does the AFLAC commercials."— Deveron Timberlake

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