Living in the 50’s there was no such term used as “Living off the Grid”. If there was, then we were ahead of our time. We were always off the grid. No one told us we were the family of the future. They used different words to describe how we lived. Some of them were not so kind, but we just took it in stride. We had something those town folks did not have. We had fields and freedom to run and jump into the puddles and farm animals for friends. Once in a while in the third grade this would bother me a bit. One day I was not proud of the biscuits I took to school for my lunch. When lunch was called, I accidentally picked up the wrong brown lunch bag. As I peered into the bag, I noticed biscuits, but they were burned on the top. Soon a young lady told me that was her lunch. I apologized and picked up the other brown bag. When I peered into the bag, there was the most beautiful slightly brown biscuits one can imagine. All were a nice toasted brown with melted cow’s butter in the middle. They were my favorite sour dough biscuits. I was never again ashamed of the biscuits I took for lunch. I shared a couple of these biscuits with the young lady that had the burned biscuits. These were some of the silent jewels we had on the farm.

 

Living on the farm, a mile away from the nearest phone, we had to be our own doctor. If we got cut and was only bleeding about a pint at a time, we just closed the wound up and went about our business. As long as the body appendage still worked, we were ok. I can remember stepping on broken glass as we ran barefoot through the puddles. Mother just put a butterfly type bandaging on it and away I went. The rule was if it bled enough, it was clean inside the cut. Just close it up and keep the dirt out of it. I had to wear a sock and stay out of the puddles for a while. Mother knew a lot about what the land had to offer for medicines. There were plants such as the lowly dandelion that supplied a lot for us. We used it from making a fine wine to food on the table to medical problems. We were not supposed to touch the wine, but then what was the harm if they did not know.

As a youngster, I was a little stubborn on the learning curve. Mother would instruct us “not to do” stuff and of course, one of us would attempt it and blame the others. Sooner or later, mother would get tired of always instructing us and prepare something to teach us she meant what she said. More than once, I was the recipient of this type of teaching. I understood her instructions, but for some reason, the fear factor just did not register. Even an occasional whooping or standing in the corner did not slow me down. It was sort of like all part of the deal. Kinda like ya had to pay to get into the movies. If you did something wrong, you had to pay for it. You just weighed the punishment against the crime. But one winter, mother got tired of instructing me to wear my mittens while playing in the snow. In my own defense, if ya outside playing and someone wants to make a snow man, you can’t stop the world to go inside to get your mittens. You just jumped right in and joined the rest of the kids. The only thing, I had a small problem. For some unknow reason, my hands did not like the snow. They would dry up become chapped and crack and bleed. Of course, this would hurt a bit, but it was part of the process. But mother looked at this differently. Her thoughts were,” what kind of mother would allow a kid in the third grade to walk around with cracked and bleeding hands “. She took this as an insult on how well she took care of the ten of us. So, she came up with this plan. I was to wear my mittens or else. She was really good at making salves to treat wounds and stuff. She made up a salve I was to wear whenever my hands started getting bad. And she forced me to use this salve. Normally, we would use stuff like Rosebud salve or vicks vapor rub. Those were not too bad. But this was a special salve she made just for my hands. It was guaranteed to solve the problem.

Now, I am not sure how many of you city folks have ever had bear meat. Mom would cook the meat for stews. It had a definite smell while boiling on the stove. Mom took some of the fat from the bear and boiled it down and added some herbs with it. The Indians used bear grease for a lot of things. I was to use this for my hands. I must tell ya here that bear fat has a most distinctive odor. It is not pleasant and is most difficult to disguise. Mother made no attempt to change the smell of this grease. I had to go to school with this smell on my hands. I did not have a problem with any classmates hanging around me that winter. Every time mother would notice I was going outside in the snow without my mittens, she would get out this grease. That was the only winter I had a problem with cracked hands.

To this very day, there are times, I would walk outside and smell that a bear had been through during the night. That is an odor, and a lesson, I will never forget.

Have a nice day now Ken White


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