Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Back to the Earth and Natural Foods"

I'm here to tell you, we were "back to the earth" before back to the earth was cool. You read about the increase of all kinds of allergies and ailments in children these days. And partly to blame, researchers say, is that these children are growing up in a too sterile environment.

Just to put it simply, we didn't have that problem. I think the way I grew up I've probably been inoculated against pretty much everything except maybe rabies and holler horn. If I was roaming around the woods and got thirsty I drank from the next creek I came across. Once I drank from a creek and after walking further upstream found the bones of a dead heifer in the water.

Maybe we were deficient in something; one thing we liked to do is break off a piece of the cow's salt block to lick on. Of course we were always particular about only licking on just the freshly broken side and not the side where the cow had licked.

And as far as whole grain natural food, I just sort of naturally had a hankering for it even at an early age.

I can't even remember how I developed a taste for the cross-sections of "corn on the cob" out of the corn silage. My dad and mom rented a dairy farm up until I was six years old and I was sick once and couldn't go along out with my folks to do the chores. So I begged my mom and she brought me in some corn to eat when they had the chores done. (I'm wondering how many of yall had a mama that good?)

Some years later when I was working on the Zehr dairy, we put up some corn silage a little too green and the corn "juice" began dripping out of the joints between the upright silo blocks. I figured since I liked the taste of the fermented corn grain, maybe this juice would be good stuff. So I rigged me a little spout and caught some of it in a container. Whew! I don't know what the makeup of that juice was, but it didn't have the same flavor as the corn grain. Experiment failed!

It's kind of sad though; these days the newer forage harvesters have on board kernel processors which crush all the kernels. This makes it more digestible to the cow but has no sympathy for the corn silage corn on the cob lover like me.

Another taste I developed was for petunia blossoms. There is a weed called sheep sorrel that has a tangy flavor that I enjoyed. I hadn't had any for years but tried some just a few days ago. Yep, still good. There is also a little clover plant (don't know the name) that was especially good after it had bloomed and formed little seed pods that look like miniature okra.

I used to like the cow feed at my uncle Bud's dairy. It was fresh ground at Wydner's Mill on Main Street, Rustburg, and had molasses mixed in with the grain. You had to chew kind of gently, swallow the soft stuff and spit out the less digestible cob pieces. Still today, if Mary makes some really whole grain cookies or something I'm apt to say, "Man, these things are cow feed." And that's not necessarily slamming them, I just happen to remember the flavor.

And I had forgotten it till just now, how when mixing up the milk replacer to feed the baby calves I couldn't resist helping myself to some of the lumps out of the not quite mixed up milk.

So are you surprised I'm still alive? I may catch the consumption tomorrow, but I feel fine presently. Funny thing though, you should see me when I leave a public restroom these days. Wash my hands good, with soap. Bump faucet off with back of hand. Have paper towel ready to dry hands. Open door using paper towel like a glove, then try to throw towel in trash can while holding door open with foot.

Reminds me of old Harry Mitchell. He hauled logs on an old two-ton truck usually from somewhere near Rustburg to the sawmill in Brookneal. By the time he got to Gladys it looked like a funeral procession with him leading the way.

Harry was a slow driver but also had a phobia about germs. His hands had a raw look about them from frequent washing. I never saw it myself but was told how he would stop at the Gladys Mini Market and would wait outside the door till someone else would open the door, and then he would jump in behind them without having to touch the door himself.

Country germs are one thing. Public germs, now, they're another.

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