Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Marcus Carey’s On the Marc: Living the ‘old-timey’ way prompts deeper respect for past
Living an “old-timey” lifestyle sure gives me a much deeper respect for the men and women who built this country. They didn’t have the choice to do things the “easy way.” Perhaps they had become so accustomed to the hard life that they never considered how hard it was. But from my perspective, it had to occur to them from time to time.
What I am talking about is the choice my wife and I made many years ago to preserve certain aspects of a way of life that most people these days barely even think about. We were raised in the suburbs. We met at the local country club pool. Our families enjoyed backyard picnics, golf and vacations to Florida. Eventually we married and as a young couple, in college and with no money, our idea of a great vacation was to visit her grandmother for a week each summer at the old homestead in Paintsville.
My wife’s grandmother was a wonderful woman. And the stories of her life on the farm in the Eastern Kentucky mountains captured our attention.
She told of the days when all travel was by horseback and how men made what little living they could doing things like cutting and selling the massive virgin timber that grew in this hard-to-reach sanctuary of the Appalachians. She told of gathering honey from hollow trees and how the family produced all of its own food. She was a wonderful cook who never looked at a recipe or used a measuring cup or spoons. She baked biscuits that were to die for, made the best beans and fried corn I’ve ever had, and for the most part retrieved the vegetables which accompanied the big lunch from the rows of jars on old board shelves in her cellar.
For years my young bride and I grew in our admiration of this woman. And the stories she told of how the family moved to Kentucky from West Virginia, the roads that barely existed and the life they were forced to live inspired in us a deeper respect for what had been done in order to give us the advantages we enjoyed back at home.
Over time, my wife and I have tried to preserve as many of those old traditions as we could. We raise our own organic garden without the use of modern pesticides. We raise our own orchard. I hunt the woods for venison and then salt, smoke and preserve some of the meat the old-fashioned way. We can our vegetables, we make our own apple sauce, cider and fruit products. We do use our freezer, too, and as of last week it is just about full
But there is a price to pay for trying to live that old-fashioned lifestyle. I’ve been away from the computer for a few months now. The effort needed to do all that food preparation – the hunting, skinning, butchering and preserving of the meat – takes time. It leaves me exhausted most nights and it gets me up very early most mornings.
I have sore muscles, my feet hurt, my hands are cracked and my finger tips are split. The firewood is cut, the smokehouse ready for cold weather to salt and cure the hams and bacons, and now that trapping season has arrived, I have gathered together the equipment I need and begun to set miles of trap line to target the exploding overpopulation of coyotes that are killing our rabbits, our turkeys, our fawns, our calves and our pets.
Yes, we will enjoy the bounty of the land this winter as we retrieve a jar of beans or pickles or tomato sauce from the cellar. Yes, we will sip cider at Christmas and make apple pies from our own trees. Yes, we will have venison sausage with our own fresh eggs for breakfast. And, yes, we will give thanks for all that has been provided.
Indeed, living this “old-timey” lifestyle gives me a much deeper respect for the men and women who built this country. They didn’t have the option of going “Kroger-ing,” shopping at Wal-Mart or popping in to First Watch for breakfast. They had to do what we’ve just done, and a whole lot more, just to survive. We are doing it by choice. Not only to feel more in control of our own future, but to preserve the old ways, keep traditions alive and to show respect.
Dawns come later now for a while and so with a plate of fresh venison sausage and a cup of coffee, I hope to be back at the computer sharing an offering or two of “The Marcus Carey Perspective” with you. And if nothing else, I have to admit, it sure feels good to sit down, even if for only a few minutes each morning.
Marcus Carey is a Northern Kentucky lawyer with 32 years experience. He is also a farmer, talk radio host and public speaker who loves history and politics. He is a prolific and accomplished writer whose blog, BluegrassBulletin.com, is “dedicated to honest and respectful comment on the political and cultural issues of our time.” He writes a regular commentary for KyForward.