Hard Time Marrying Part 16

Anya lay awake a long time thinking after Joe went to the barn and the kids slept, the baby snuggled up warm and sweet in the curve of her body.   In his rope bed near the fire, the boy cried out for his mama in his sleep and whimpered without waking.   Anya went to him, smoothed his hair and rubbed his back till he went back to sleep.  His warm little hand sought hers and she felt stirrings of pity for him, even though she tried not to.  She’d already lost the battle of staying detached from the little girl, and was beginning to wonder if she could take the poor motherless thing when she left though she saw the folly in that.  She had no friends, nowhere to go and no way to care for the child. Not only that, she might have killed the peddler.  The law was hard on a woman.  They might be looking to hang her right now. She needed to get far enough away to disappear in a sizable town. The baby would just hold her back. A woman alone would have a hard enough time providing for herself, even if she had nothing to hide. She had to get as far away as possible and seek work as a housekeeper or cook, since that was all she knew.  Having barely been to school, she couldn’t be a schoolmarm.  She’d had enough of men to know she’d never marry.  She needed to get to town where folks had enough money and house to need help. Her prospects were poor, but maybe when she got to Meadow Creek Church she’d meet up with somebody who could help get her on the road to something else.  It would break her heart, but there’s no way she could take the tiny girl.

Out in the barn, Joe was thinking his own gloomy thoughts.  He didn’t want Anya to go.  He started to hope she might stay and they could be a family.  Even though Anya hadn’t warmed to him, he’d gotten a little taste of family watching her doing for the baby and doing about the house.  It had been such a pleasure to come in last night and find supper laid out.  No one had done that for him since Ma died.  When Anya left, he and the boy manage, but who would do for the baby?  She was far too young to go around with him while he worked.

 

Farm Life Ain’t for Kiddies and Cowards

indian dress and henOriginal art by Kathleen Holdaway Swain

Being a farm kid is not for sissies and cowards. The dark side of the chicken-raising experience is slaughtering, plucking, cleaning, and preparing of chickens for the pot.  I watched as Mother transformed into a slobbering beast towering over the caged chickens while we shooed them into the corner of the chicken-yard.  She seemed particularly calculating as she stooped, giving the poor chickens the impression the threat was over. Running her hooked wire clothes hanger at ground level into the midst of the terrorized multitude, she snatched a startled chicken who’d never expected to be attacked at the foot. Exiting the enclosure with her victim, she held it firmly by the head, giving its neck a quick snap before releasing it to turn its last crazy race.  Chickens take a while to get the connection between a broken neck and the end of life.  We crowded by, horribly thrilled by what we knew was coming.  It was scarier than “The Night of the Living Dead” as the chicken flapped its wings, ran with its head hanging crazily to one side, and chased us in ever larger circles until it  finally reached the Pearly Gates.  It looked horribly cruel, but done properly, a quick snap of the wrist breaks the chicken’s neck instantly, giving a quick death.  Sometimes, Mother killed several chickens for the freezer, treating the waiting chickens to a taste of what they were in for.  It didn’t calm them down a bit as the watched the dearly departed flop around the yard.

Roosters are necrophiliacs, turned on by the sight of floppy-necked hens racing by. If one is enticing, just imagine the effect of a yardful! Lustful roosters have no problem resorting to violence toward moralistic humans trying to get between them their fascinating harem. For some reason, Mother was equally determined her chickens not be interfere with her chickens.

Once the chicken was disabled or dead, Mother grabbed it, plunged it into a pot of boiling water, plucked the feathers, slit its pimply white belly and removed its entrails, cut off its feet and head, and prepared it for dinner or the freezer.  I was repulsed when Mother found  unlaid eggs in the egg cavity and saved them for  cooking.  That just didn’t seem right.  I was happy to eat the chicken, but future eggs…disgusting.

Mother looked out one day and saw one of her laying hens eating corn, oblivious to the fact that her gizzard was hanging out.  It bobbed up and down gaily as the chicken pecked corn off the ground.  Apparently she had suffered injury from a varmint.  Clearly, she wouldn’t survive with this injury, so Mother and I tried to catch her.  At least, she could be salvaged for the table.  Well, Her running skills were still intact.  We chased her all over the yard with no luck.  Finally, Mother decided to put her out of her misery by shooting her.  She missed.  She fired again and shot the hen’s foot off. I knew I could do better.  I shot her beak off, then hit her in the tail.  By this time, we both felt horrible and had to get her out of her misery.  Finally, the combined fatigue and her injuries had slowed the poor beakless, tailless, gizzard-bobbing, one-legged chicken down enough so we could catch her and wring her neck.

All chickens didn’t end life as happily.  The LaFay girls, Cheryl, Terry, and Cammie raised chickens for 4-H completion with the of the flock destined to fill their freezer. Late one Thursday evening while their mother was at work, they realized tomorrow was the day for the 4-H barbecue chicken competition.  Mama LaFay wouldn’t be in until way too late to help with slaughtering and dressing the chickens.  After all the time and effort they had put in on their project, they had no choice but to press forward without Mama’s help.  They’d helped Mama with the dirty business of putting up chickens lots of times.  They’d just have to manage the grisly business on their own.

Cheryl, the oldest sister, drew the short straw and won the privilege of wringing the chicken’s neck.  She’d seen Mama do it lots of times but didn’t understand the theory of breaking the neck with a quick snap.  She held the chicken by the neck at arm’s length and swung it around a few times in a wide arc giving it a fine ride, but no real injury.  When she released it, it just ran off drunkenly.  The girls chased and recaptured the chicken a couple of times, giving it another ride or two before the drunken chicken flew up into a tree, saving its life.  Acknowledging her sister’s failure, Terry stepped up to do her duty.  She pulled her chicken from the chicken yard, taking it straight to the chopping block, just like she’d seen Mama do so many times.  Maybe she should have watched a little closer.  Instead of holding the chicken by the head and chopping just below with the hatchet, Terry held it by the feet.  The panicked chicken raised its head, flopped around on the block, and lost a few feathers.  On the next attempt, Cammie tried to help by holding the chicken’s head, but fearing dismemberment jumped when Terry swung the hatchet. The poor chicken only got a slice on its neck.  By now, all three girls were squalling.  Cheryl tied a string on the maimed chicken’s neck.  As Cammie held its feet they stretched the chicken across the block.  By now, Terry was crying so hard so really she couldn’t see.  Taking steady aim, she chopped Henny Penny in half, ending her suffering. Guilt-stricken, they buried the chicken.
Defeated, they finally called their Aunt Millie, who came over and helped them kill and dress their chickens for the competition.  They triumphed and won second place in a field of two.  God only knows what the other team’s chickens may have endured.  All’s well that ends well.

Homemade Liverwurst Recipe

pate liver baked liverwurst 3

1.25 lbs liver frozen and cut into 1″ cubes.  (Can be pork, beef, chicken or any combination)

1/2 lb beef tongue or pork shoulder frozen and cut into 1″cubes

3/4 lb fat(I added butter or margarine to make enough fat)
3 tsps table salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 onion +1 TBS oil, grated and cooked till soft and golden
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground mace
2 tsps dried marjoram
1/4 tsp ground coriander, optional
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS crushed garlic
I TBS ground sage
Grind chilled, raw meats together.
Mix in sauteed onion, garlic and spices.
Grind again.
If you want to use as spread, cook mixture until 160 degrees and store in covered container for up to 5 days.  Will be dark brownish, gray mix.
Or
Can stuff into casings(may have to add 1/2 cup ice water to get proper consistency to press into casings)  Can smoke 1 1/2 hours to get temp to 160 degrees interior.  To have fresh, grill or pan cook.  Unsmoked sausages will keep up to 5 days.
Or
Bake in loaf pan at 350 degrees till internal temp of 160.  Slice when cooled and use within 5 days.
I double or triple amounts depending on amount of meat I have.  Works great.
We started making all our own sausage to avoid nitrites.  It is much cheaper and more delicious.

Don’t Mess with My Caterpiller

imageI was happy to find a nice, healthy looking caterpiller gobbling this yarrow in the gardening center today,  I picked it up for my butterfly garden along with a few other plants.  The young lady in check out must have been brand new.  She picked up my yarrow bumping the caterpiller to the counter.  Before I could stop her, she brushed into her little trash can. Continue reading

Dirt is Good

image

Ilove dirt.  This is some great dirt. It is the color and weight of chocolate cake mix, but I haven’t tasted it yet. I am moving a lot of this into the strawberry bed just outside my backdoor.   This particular dirt is from a our four year old compost he heap where we dumped grass, branches, garden and kitchen refuse, bured a few varmints.  Bud has turned this pile 3 to six times a year for the past four years with his garden tractor. It would have broken down much faster if I had left it alone, but I planted Cushaw, Yukon Gold Potatoes. And Sweet Potatoes in it last year, so he couldn’t turn it for a long time.

We have a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a year old compost heap.

My Parents’ Marriage (from Kathleen’s Memoirs of The Great Depression)

Grandma young adult0007family6homestead (2)The top picture is of Mary Elizabeth Perkins about the time she married.  The second is of Mary Elizabeth and Roscoe Holdaway when they were in their late sixties or early seventies. The third picture is of the Holdaway Homestead in Red River County Texas.  The young blond man in the center with the bicycle was Roscoe.  He was eighteen at the time this was taken.  He was twenty-eight and Mary Elizabeth twenty-two at the time of their marriage. They probably didn’t expect to have children since their first child wasn’t born for six years.  This is the story of their courtship and marriage from the memoirs of their daughter Kathleen. Continue reading

So Much in a Picture

homestead (2)This is a  1904 picture of my Great Grandfather John Dobson Holdaway, his wife, Elvira Perkins, Holdaway, and their three sons still living at home.  My Grandfather, Roscoe Holdaway is pictured in the middle with his bicycle, James Holdaway holding his rifle to his left with George Holdaway on the end, his pet groundhog at his feet. Continue reading