"Look!" "A horse!"
Sandy turned her attention away from the
highway to glance out into a pasture they were driving past on their way
from Dallas to their parent's home in Oklahoma. There munching on the
prairie hay was not a horse, but a cow, and this brought a moment of
reflection to her. Her son, four years old, and grandson to decades of
ranching families, did not know a horse from a cow.
She enjoyed her visit in Oklahoma with old
friends and when one of them shared a story of her youth with her this also
gave more time for thinking.
"I remember." Her friend Sally began to weave
a tale of interest because of the circumstances involved. "I remember when
we were children living out on the prairie around Hominy, Oklahoma." "There
were wooded areas nestled in the lower slopes where water run off had
naturally collected in a reservoir." "Small animals such as rabbits were
plentiful in the timberlands there."
"My parents were working out in the pasture
with the cattle and us children were alone." "My older sister was
responsible for preparing an evening meal." "She looked around and commented
that there was nothing to eat in the house." "Mary tried to rally some of
the other children to brave the snow and cold to hunt." "Not one of the
children would budge from the house, except for this the story teller and
then the youngest girl."
"Mary wrapped my legs in gunny sacks in order
to keep them from freezing." "Our old dog immediately began the hunt by
running the rabbits into a log." "Mary then took a stick and frayed the end
of it in order to make a brush like a tool." "By twisting it in the rabbit's
fur she was able to pull the little animals from the log in this way."
"Before the hunt was over, we had five rabbits to take home." "Our old dog
was so faithful." "He was happy with the heads Mary twisted off and threw to
him." "I was small but I was able to drag two of the rabbits home." "Mary
carried the other three." "Times were hard."
Sally finished her story and Sandy had no
question as to the truthfulness of it, since she herself could remember
hunting rabbits in the same manner. The advantage she had was that her
family was blessed with boys and a father who were the leaders of the hunt.
There would be a time of great organized efforts between their small family.
The boys and her father allowed a girl to come along because she was the
oldest. When the hunt was brought home a combined effort to clean the
animals, was practiced with even her grandfather taking part. The skins of
the animals were nailed to planks in order to dry and cure in the cold
winter weather. These skins would be used in various ways. After the meat
was cleaned then her mother's skills of canning and preserving the meat came
into play. Some of it was taken to lockers in town after having been wrapped
in white paper and marked appropriately. Other pieces were canned in jars
using the pressure canner. Every part of the animal was given a place in
their diet. Even the brains of some of the animals would be collected
together and served with scrambled eggs the next morning. Of the larger
animals, their bones were packaged as either soup bones or the longer bones
were boiled, cleaned and scraped to be used as knife handles. Burning
artwork into these made attractive sale ready items.
Sandy was thinking about her largely
vegetarian friends of the city and wondered how they would look at
activities such as this. Differences in place and times created needs for
survival of a totally separate realm. She wouldn't speak with her husband,
her family or her friends about any of these things. Rather than that the
young women would simply pull the note book from her desk. On a page in two
separate rows were notes under a heading, "City or Country." Carefully she
listed events and happening around the two places, the city or the country.
She knew when she finished her list she would have to make a decision as to
which direction to turn and, indeed, live with that for the rest of her
The rewards for her moving to the country
would not come for another forty years during which time there was an ice
storm and power outage. Her son's very young family enjoyed the heat from
their wood stove, and the power from his emergency generator. Though grocery
stores were sold out and finally closed, they went to the stored food in
jars and were able to have survival food. Of course, others, she was sure,
were more self sufficient with power windmills as she had known in her
childhood. Newer developments with solar energy were being practiced by some
as to heating of water for showers and so on. She also knew there were
others who simply went to bed and covered themselves in blankets against the
At the moment she would have to be just
vigilant as to continue working a little at a time for improvements of this
nature. It is true one cannot store up totally. However, by being balanced
to keeping just enough for an emergency is not wrong and sometimes, means
the difference between comfort and, or, anxiety.