Wild turkey has a flavor totally unlike domestic turkey. They feed on insects, acorns and other goodies. Just as wild rabbit tastes better, in my opinion that tame rabbit. When mom was laid up in hospital one year before Christmas, I went up to dad’s and cleaned and cooked for him. My own dear wife had passed on by then. I took up three squirrels I had shot and the first meal I made for him was mashed sweet potatoes covered with squirrel gravy. Sauté the squirrels in a cast iron pan in butter until the meat falls from the bones. Then keep cooking it until the butter browned, add the flour and brown the resulting roux, then put in the milk and make gravy. He ate so much I thought he’d choke. Mom had been sick for weeks before her hospitalization so they had been eating mostly carry out or delivery fast food. Dad would only eat so much fast food before he just stopped eating. I also made him some pie crust cookies. He liked it so much we had leftover squirrel gravy and biscuits for the next two breakfasts
I made pork tenderloin fried in that cast iron skillet, baked him an apple pie after making the pie filling in the skillet (par cooking the filling means less liquid to ruin the crust). and then as a Christmas present, I bought them one of those spiral-sliced honey hams. I took most of the meat off it and we had ham for breakfast most mornings, and I froze a lot. Then I took the bone and the meat off the bone and put it in a pot of beans and put it in the oven for 6 hours on low. Hot damn, was it good. Made cornbread to go with it. When mom came home and was able to take over her own household again dad tried to get me to stay a little longer and cook. Mom was a great cook, but she insisted dad needed healthy food at his age. I just fed his belly with what he liked as a child.
Late every summer the entire extended family would get together. I mean the “very extended” family. Both my grandfather’s and grandmother’s families and their children and grandchildren. The men would seine the pond in the cow pasture behind the house I grew up in. All the bigger fish they caught would be cleaned and fried that same day for a giant fish fry. My grandmother made the world’s greatest hush puppies and coleslaw to go along with the fish. Come to think of it, I need to see if I can find her hush puppy recipe from one of my aunts. We only had large-mouth bass and little bluegill bream in that pond. I still love bream more than any other fish I’ve had.
This past summer I took my boys to Walmart and got them both fishing rods. Then I pulled my old rods out of my parent’s building and got the reels working again (they hadn’t been touched for 20+ years), and showed my boys where to look for worms. I took them to that same pond and taught them how to fish. We caught several decent sized bream and a couple small bass that first evening. It was enough to take home, clean and fry so my boys (and my wife and daughter, too) could get an idea of how good “real” food can be.
A few days later I managed to land a bass that topped 6 pounds. I got her off the hook cleanly and let her go back in the pond. Maybe one of us will hook her again someday.
I’m trying to give my kids memories like mine. I took my older boy squirrel hunting with my dad last fall. I’m looking forward to more of that this year. Squirrel hunting was one of my favorite pastimes growing up. My best friend and I spent countless hours out in the woods with our little .22 caliber rifles. Would you believe that squirrel tastes like chicken?
By now, the squirrel population behind my parents’ house has recovered nicely. I’m talking to my wife about getting my older boy a rifle for his 13th birthday in a month. Hopefully I can pass along that love of hunting and fishing to him. So far, he’s truly enjoyed it, and I’m encouraged by that. He might just be a better shot than me soon. While I’ll hate to admit it when he finally is, inside I’ll secretly be elated by it. Now to start working on his little brother…
My grandfather used to complain about Canada Geese. I’ve never had it, but apparently it was not uncommon as a Thanksgiving meal a couple generations ago. Grandad told me that the problem with them was that you had to soak them for hours before you cooked them because they ate so many of the wild onions that grew around here the meat tasted too much like onion. He said it smelled bad when you cooked it…to the point that you had to leave the house. He could exaggerate at times though, so I don’t know exactly how serious he was.
Several years ago, those same wild onions came up in a conversation I had with my dad. I was asking about milk cows and how many cows a family of 5 would need. Despite growing up with cows on the farm I had no idea because grandad raised beef cattle when I was growing up.
My dad, on the other hand, grew up milking cows. He told me that their family of 6 had so much milk from two cows that they threw half of it out every day. They had enough for milk for all its various milky uses and even enough cream for my grandmother to churn her own butter. I asked him why they threw away half of it and he told me it was because of the wild onions! Of course, that made no sense to me and further questioning revealed the rest of the story: they threw out the evening milk because the cows would be grazing in the pasture all day and the onions made the milk taste bad, so they threw it out. They only kept the milk from the morning because the cows were in the barn all night munching on sweet hay and the morning milk tasted good. I still haven’t decided if a couple milk cows are in our future or not though.
There’s nothing like a home smoked ham, is there? Uncle Dana liked his bacon. Autumn also meant that Grandma opened up the first of the bread and butter pickles she had put up the year before. Absolutely delicious. She always allowed them to sit a year in the dark root cellar before she served them to let the flavors mingle. Autumn was also the season for putting up apples and pears in jars. You make simple syrup and leave it plain, or add cinnamon or mint (makes the jars ruby red or emerald green). They have to sit for at least a year. Grandma (and my mom) also made jars of pie filling. Apple, peach, apricot, mixed berries. strawberries with rhubarb, pumpkin and sweet potato. That way you had filling ready for making pies after they were in season. Both my grandfathers were partial to grilled tenderloin or fish tail sandwiches and autumn was the time to eat them as the tenderloin was fresh from the hog slaughter. Us boys would make a weekend trip to Lake Erie and catch a mess of perch and walleye and we’d have a big family fish fry. The catfish we had was locally caught. Perch, walleye, catfish and crappie were the staples. If we were lucky the white bass would run in the local creek and we could bag a mess of them, too.
Fresh game was good, Rabbits, pheasant, quail, grouse, duck, Canada geese and deer. Me and my brother still make our own venison summer sausage.
Aye, we had good times, didn’t we?
Memories around autumn. The most common thread was the presence of extended family.
We didn’t raise tobacco, but my grandfather leased fields to a man that did. I got my taste of pulling tobacco as a young child and got a few bucks as a reward. I was too young to do much, but getting those few dollars meant the world to me. Every now and then you’d see one of the laborers take a leaf straight off the plant, cut it up and share it with his buddies. They’d roll the leaf right there and smoke it like a cigarette.
When I was older and soccer practice began in mid to late summer, we’d run anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 miles as a team before practice. The entire run was surrounded by tobacco fields and I still remember the aroma. That farm is still in business some 28 years later. They’re still growing tobacco, soy beans and milo depending on the crop rotation.
Fall meant festivals and pork BBQ of any variety you could imagine. My school had a fall festival each year and they smoked hundreds of pounds of hams over hickory wood and sold plates to local businesses all night long for the 3rd shift workers, and to the festival-goers the next day.
It meant Saturdays with the cousins trying to knock each other off of rolling barrels while our parents made furniture to sell at the fall festival.
Fall meant dove hunting, squirrel hunting and deer hunting were all in full effect. You’d wake up to the sound of shotguns in the field next your house every Saturday… that is, if you weren’t the one waking everyone else up at sunrise.
It meant playing in the hay loft and building forts out of the square bales. Or setting up obstacle courses to try and conquer to see who could do it the fastest.
It meant Halloween and candy and a party at the church near our house with all the younger kids in our area.
Man, I miss those simple times.
Seeing the world today is almost enough to make you weep. I read an article two days ago where the white author was proclaiming how racist it is for a white person to own a dog. He ended it by saying that all white people should give their dogs to POC or give them to the nearest no kill shelter.
What have I done to my children by bringing them into this world? I moved “back home” 18 months ago. We’ve built a house “on the farm.” I’d love for my kids to experience things like I did growing up. It beats Atlanta, that’s for sure, but they’ll never know those simple joys. I didn’t intend for this to be such a downer comment. Focus on the good parts.
My favorite time of the year is Autumn. The summer temperatures moderate, there are usually fewer storms and rains, the air gets crisp, apples are harvested and cider pressed. The light is flat and the colors of the trees are amazing. Falling leaves are a pain to rake but they are also fun to run through, making ‘whoosh’ noises as you run. They also show up little dust devils, tiny cyclones a few feet tall as they whirl and crackle in the miniature tornadoes. We’d see them and run through them to feel the whirl of wind and the leaves. The nights get longer. It’s harvest time on the farms and I helped my paternal grandparents on their farm. Corn and soybeans were picked and put in gravity bed wagons, then hauled off to the local grain mill. The proprietor was a large man, some six feet six and at least 400 pounds. Every trip we made to the mill, he gave me a candy bar and a cold soda. If we made six trips, I got six candy bars and six sodas. I was rail thin back then with growth and constant exercise so they never bothered me.
My favorite month of the year was October. Not just for Halloween, but in general it’s moderate in wind and rain. The almanac says October usually has 19 fine days and I believe it. Football season on Saturdays and Sundays. Some days you wake up to frost in October. One year there was snow in October. It melted off the next day but there was a skiff of snow on the ground.
Another thing that happened in the late summer and autumn was we would find radiosondes on the farm released by the National Weather Service. They were instrument kits sent aloft on balloons for atmospheric readings. They also had a parachute attached. When the balloon burst at altitude, they floated back down on the parachute. The instrument kit has a paper box you unfolded, put the instrument in it and sent it back, free to the Weather Service. You put on a note where it was found and when. We used to find three or four a month in autumn due to the wind patterns. We were allowed to keep the parachutes and us kids had a ball with them. We’d tie one around our waist and see how fast we could run with the chute dragging behind holding air. Or we’d tie various objects to them and go up in the hay loft of the barn and drop them to see how they floated to earth. On really blustery days we flew them like kites but you had to use strong cord as they really caught the wind.
Yes, Autumn is my favorite season, and October my favorite month. The scents of autumn. The smell of leaves, of fires in fireplaces, of smoking meats. It brings me back to my teen years. Hard work in the fields getting the harvest in then plowing and preparing for next year, or planting winter wheat.
A couple of other things happened in Autumn. Uncle Wink grew tobacco. It was harvested and put in special barns to dry. Sometimes in October or November, the weather was just perfect. The dried tobacco was too brittle to move as it would crumble. But in a certain weather, foggy, cool it was time to move the tobacco to the burly. The leaves regained their flexibility. The whole family descended on Wink’s farm and any boy strong enough was put to moving tobacco bundles (50 pounds or more apiece) from their drying poles. The smaller children and the women cooked for us all. I can still smell the tobacco from those days.
The other thing that happened was the hog slaughter and butchering. Again, at Uncle Wink’s farm. Every family in the larger family bought a hog or two as a feeder pig. Wink raised them and we all chipped in for feed and such. Wink and his sons, doing the labor raising the hogs, got their hog for free. On a Saturday when it was crisp and cool, we all arrived at Wink’s. The hogs were rounded up and they were slaughtered and butchered all in one weekend. They were killed, had their throats slit, bled, then were opened up and cleaned, washed then scalded and scraped. They were skinned and cut up and wrapped and put in Wink’s ice house or went into his large smokehouse. Each family’s packages marked with their symbol. In a monstrous copper pot, the cracklings were made over an open fire. Everyone got their share of cracklings. At first me and my brother could only skim the cracklings out of the pot or keep the fires in the smokehouse going with lots of smoke. Later we were set to grind sausage. Between two kegs of nails a board sat and on that board was a two-handed manual grinder. One of us would stuff fresh pork into the grinder along with the correct amount of sage for each family. Ours had a lot of sage in it as dad liked it that way. The other would grind using the handles. We converted a #5 tub of meat into sausage. When one of us had their arms give out, the other cranked and the first grinder stuffed and seasoned. We took turns grinding all day except for meals. I’d like to know how many tons of sausage we ground over the years. I can still taste those hickory smoked hams we got out of it. Can’t find anything like that now.
We both had amazingly strong arms due to the sausage grinding and we won several arm-wrestling bouts at school. A few bullies got their comeuppance when they picked on the wrong, skinny kids with the stout arms.
I see where Antifa and BLM are calling for the burning of Congress and SCOTUS over replacing RBG. They should remember a little factoid, to wit:
The Third Infantry Regiment (Old Guard) is mostly known for guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and performing ceremonial duties at the White House and Arlington National Cemetery. However, they are a fully trained, fully armed and equipped infantry regiment filled with motivated hard chargers. They will have something to say about burning down Congress or SCOTUS or the White House. They are fully capable of putting down an insurrection.
It would not be wise to provoke their use as infantry. A little reminder for the fools at Antifa and BLM.
And since it is Washington, DC, posse comitatus prohibitions do not apply. Trump does not need to even invoke the insurrection act. He can just order the Old Guard to saddle up in full battle rattle and stand by.
When the American Indian Movement occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs HQ in Washington, they strutted about showing Winchesters and such and declaring they would never move until certain things were fixed to their liking. Nixon, being a clever sort did not call out the Old Guard. He just called in the Rangers to look things over. The rangers observed and allowed themselves to be seen observing. Ranger patches in full view.
Seeing that, the protesters held a quick meeting, declared “victory”, and left for home. Rangers do not play well with others. If you want to influence hearts and minds, call the Green Beret. If all you want to do is break sh*t and hurt people, call the Rangers.
This of course would be more of a job for the Old Guard than the Rangers. The Old Guard are expressly allowed to defend the capital with no martial law being declared. Since DC is a federal city most laws are a shade different there. Besides, the Rangers are currently employed elsewhere.
Proposition: The United States has technological and tactical superiority but it must maintain these if it wants to avoid the consequences of being a super power in decline.
True. When you fight the United States, you are not fighting our Army, or our Navy, or Air Force or Marines, you are fighting them all at once, along with their technological superiority. Your Sukhoi fighters may be close to our F-35 in capability, your submarines sneaky, you may even have an aircraft carrier, although I hesitate to call what China and Russia have aircraft carriers. Your army may number in millions and you may have as many or more tanks. But to fight the USA you are fighting an interlocked and integrated system. You have to get past the eyes and ears of our satellites, AWACS and Hawkeye aircraft. You have to prevent our electronic snoop aircraft from hearing you. In the weeks before the actual confrontation, when posturing is the mode, our Rivet Joint aircraft in conjunction with other reconnaissance will have compiled a complete electronic order of battle on you. We did it to Saddam, which is why we were able to target his command and control structure so precisely. We are constantly updating the electronic order of battle on both China and Russia. Especially China.
Even though our forces are interlocked, if you manage to blind one source they can act independently. No communist or former communist government will trust its military to take initiative, as motivated and initiative-taking officers could threaten the political structure back home. Commies and other dictators always fear a coup more than the enemy. In training the Saudis to be an effective fighting force, we had to overcome the basic totalitarian structure which feared its best leaders. Trying to train troops at platoon level to overcome, improvise and adapt is hard when for years they have been trained by rote and varying from the rigid structure one degree was not tolerated.
The ability to take initiative when an opportunity arises is one reason why Israel has kicked Arab ass from day one. Even outnumbered several to one, with nations attacking from all sides the Israelis manage to seize tactical opportunities their opponents dare not try for fear of reprisal from their superiors.
Some nations can out range us (for now) with tube artillery, and they may have more artillery but nobody, and I mean nobody, ally or foe, can mass and control artillery fire like we can. Add in that with the possible exception of the Israelis, nobody does close air support and long range strategic air strikes the way we do, either. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have only made us better at conventional war; (other than Israel), what military right now is more experienced and blooded?
Question – Was the motion picture Patton, well done?
I only knew his son, personally. But from people who knew Patton Sr that I have known, it was pretty good but played too much on the prima donna aspects. Patton senior had a rather high-pitched voice and he cursed so much to make up for it. His son was just as liable to break out in profanity. Patton was anything but a prima donna. He wanted to hurl headlong into battle and wrest it from the enemy. It is true he had a distaste for Montgomery as he found Monty far too cautious and a man who took too much counsel of his fears. One of Patton’s mantras was from Julius Caesar (Gallic Wars I believe) who said to not take counsel of your fears. A lot of the dirty aspersions attributed to him were Hollywood gunk. Yes he did pray and did curse like a stable boy. But he was a tactical genius and had great concern for supply and logistics., Without his careful planning and logistical mastery, he never could have made that sharp turn and relieved Bastogne. Patton’s theory was to grab the enemy by the throat and kick him in the balls. Fix the enemy in place then maneuver against him and hit him where he was weakest, then fold him up like a geisha girl’s fan.
If he had gotten those 400,000 gallons of fuel he requested before the German counteroffensive he could have spoiled the Bulge attack and cut the war short by several months. But Patton had shown himself a logistical master as early as the Mexican Punitive Expedition in 1916. Without his logistical mastery the war in Europe may have been over after the war in the Pacific, and we may have seen a mushroom cloud over Berlin as a result.
Hollywood did as Hollywood does. As one director said in answer to fictional embellishments of a factual story; “We ain’t making a PBS documentary, here”. While they did show Patton’s tactical genius, they tried too hard to make him a frail man, which he definitely was not. You could say that Patton and his men saved the European war for the allies.
Our greatest generals in WWII, Patton and MacArthur were both masters of logistics. MacArthur was the better strategic general and Patton the tactical. If MacArthur had been in charge in Europe, he would have let Patton run wild through Germany and been in Berlin about the time that Hitler started the Bulge offensive. With Patton charging at Berlin Hitler would have been too busy to think about Antwerp and splitting the allies in two.
With the plethora of recent, pressing subjects to write about, it’s difficult to choose just one. How does one sum up the current heated political landscape in a simple letter. How does one convey compassion and concern with the Corona, COVID-19, Wuhan or whatever it’s called outbreak and its lingering consequences?
I do not know exactly, being the mere mortal that I am. However, as Admiral David Farragut famously cried out “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”.
Let’s start with the political landscape. Some have said this season’s election cycle is the most divisive ever. I am not sure about that claim as I haven’t been around forever. What I do know, is that politics by its own nature is divisive. It’s supposed to be. So, politics it’s not necessarily bad as some have insinuated.
Americans are witnessing a planned well financed all-out attack on its core values, principles and imperfect history upon which it stands. One of which is, “one Nation under God”. This very phrase being omitted from the oration of the Pledge of Allegiance, not once but twice, in error (sure) at the recent Democrat Convention. Perhaps it was an honest omission but I seriously doubt it. More likely, it’s an insight into their vision of the United States. A vision devoid of God and replaced with the tyranny of the state. So perhaps the new pledge will be One Nation under US (the state, their state). A frightening prospect at best.
Speaking of the DNC and Democrats….
The violence in the mostly Democrat controlled cities, large and small, continues under the guise of Social Justice protests. Nothing about the violence and rioters is about justice. Mind you, I am not talking about the protest and protesters. As long as the protests remain peaceful and are conducted in daylight, they remain legitimate. However once darkness falls it’s been painfully obvious that the peaceful protests turn into violent riots. One doesn’t participate in a peaceful protest armed to the teeth with bats, bricks, hammers, crowbars, face shields and professional grade gas masks. No, this equipment is for one reason and one reason only. To engage in violence and riot. It’s not about social justice, nor anyone who has been a victim of injustice. The weapon wielding rioters are using the excuse of social justice for BLM as an excuse to burn down, loot and plunder. And the BLM organization is more than happy to have these ill-informed and ill-intentioned rioters unleash anarchy on the streets of America.
As with most people, Black lives matter to me. I too have Black friends and co-workers. However, it is necessary to point out that the BLM organization doesn’t represent most Black lives. How do I know. Go to their web site and read. Research their founders, their history and their current ideology. Look at Chicago and the number of Black lives lost due to the murderous gangs. All one gets from the BLM organization is complete silence. They don’t care about Chicago, Portland and most recently Kenosha. They simply don’t give a hoot about any community suffering under gangs in Black neighborhoods. It doesn’t fit their agenda. Those thousands of Black lives do not matter to them. So, what does matter to them?
For one thing, it’s power. More specifically it’s political power. They are using the social justice mantra as a cover to cause division, incite violence and perpetrate a coordinated assault on America, its institutions and its people (you and me).
They masquerade as a benevolent and worthy cause while they continue to implement the downfall of this country.
I will continue to care and support my Black friends, co-workers and fellow citizens. However, I will not offer the same for an Organization which is Marxist (Socialist/Communist) and anti-freedom at its very dark sinister core.
I pray that the violence will end. And end just as quickly as it began. I pray for and will support real social justice. I pray people will see through the charade of the Organization that supposedly champions social justice. I pray for all Americans, no matter what their skin color, to live peacefully while they pursue their dreams and live their lives.
So, let us be adults and act as adults. Caring, kind, compassionate, ready to defend one another from the evils that sometimes ensnare us.
A man far better and immeasurably superior to me, said “Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called the children of God”.
What will you do?