All posts by gsdoby

The Mystery

I guess every family has there little mysteries. While this one may not be worth a best selling novel, it is one I know we will never be able to solve.  It involves my father’s dog tags.

My dad was drafted right after WWII ended.  He served most of his time at Fort Bragg and Fort McClellan, Alabama.  After his service he came home to start a family and began his career as a carpenter and farmer.

We now move forward to sometime I think in the 1980’s when dad received a phone call one night from a lady that lived in the community.  Her husband had passed away and she was going through some of his things.  In a box she found and set of dog tags.  Dad remembered his serial number even though it had been 40 years since he was in the service.  He repeated it to the lady and confirmed they were his tags!  The lady got them to my dad.  He kept them on a dish on the coffee table after that.

While my dad did know the man, he had no idea how he came to be in possession of his dogs.  Every once in awhile dad would see them and comment on how he could not figure out how he wound up with them.

I guess we all have some mysteries in our lives, some great and some small.  I hope your may find answers to your mysteries.  Until later, have a nice day

Black Walnuts

On some of my cousins land there are black walnut trees.  Black walnuts are a nuisance to some people.  They have a stronger taste than English walnuts that many people do not care for. They also are extremely hard to crack compared to other nuts.  They also tend to wear out lawnmower blades, which is another reason some people do not like them.  They also can stain your hands and clothing.  If you get it on your skin you have to wait for it to wear off if you do not remove it very quickly.

A few years ago there was an extremely abundant crop on the trees in the edge of my cousins yard.  I asked him if he wanted them and he said I could have them, they were getting in his way mowing.  Since I was not working at the time, I decided to gather them up.  It turned out to be more of a task than I had imaged. I placed them in our barn to dry out.  After they dry you have to remove the hulls, which contain the stain of the walnut.  This is done by driving a tractor or some other vehicle over them to break the hull loose. Once this is done you are left with a walnut in the shell.  I bought a cracker designed specifically for black walnuts.  I would crack them and my dad would then get the “goodie” out of the shell.  This also gave my dad something to do during the winter.

Cracked WalnutsDad working with WalnutsShelled Walnuts

We wound up selling enough to pay for the cracker and have a little “spending money”.  We have been cracking walnuts every winter since, although I did not do as many this year since my dad passed away.   While I sold a few,  I kept a few for personal use.  They are a good snack and there is no better dessert than one of mom’s apple walnut cakes.

A couple of loads

One summer when I was growing up daddy was home one afternoon and did not have any plans.  This was not a good thing.  My dad was not one to just sit around.  Instead he would find something to do and many times it meant that I would have something to do also.  This particular time daddy suggested that we go pick a “couple” of loads of rock off of the tobacco fields.  For those of you who think this does not sound like fun, you are correct.

The land around Dobyville does have its share of rock.  While the smaller gravel size may not be a problem, larger ones can get way when plowing and working the crops, and it is a good idea to get them off the fields.  While geologic studies may disagree,  I think these rocks may be capable of breeding.  It seems like no matter how many rocks you remove from the land, they will return the following year after plowing and getting ready to plant a new crop.

This particular HOT summer day we hooked up the trailer, which is rather large, and headed for the field.  Since there were several rocks on the field it did not take too long to pick up and dump 2 loads into a gully in the pasture. Since a thought a “couple” meant 2 I thought me might be done.  Daddy defined couple differently.  Since we had started he decided to clean up the entire field, about 5 acres!  The chore had started out as something to do one afternoon had become a major project.  To make a long story short,  daddy had decided that things were OK later in the week after we had hauled off 22 loads of rock.  I slept very well that week.  Some of the rocks were large enough that it would take my dad and I both to lift them.

The moral of this story, make sure you know someone defines “couple” when planning out a task!

Having milk on the farm

A few years ago there was a popular series of ads based on the question “Got Milk?”.  My thought was always “Yes!!”.  When I was growing up the milk cow was a basic staple of farm life.  This is a picture of my dad with the last milk cow that we owned.  Milking the cow was always part of dad’s duties.  I would remember getting up in the winter and looking out the window while it was still dark outside.  There would always be a light in the barn, meaning daddy’s day had already started.

One cow would always give more milk than my family could use.  Back when I was growing up we would drink milk with practically every meal and still have milk left over.  Not sure what modern nutritionist’s would think of a diet with that much whole milk in it but we managed to do OK.

We would sell or trade the extra with different neighbors and relatives.  Mom would also sell extra butter that we would produce.  One time a neighbor wanted to buy some milk from us.  My mom asked the lady if her children would drink it since they were used to “the store bought stuff”.  She said she would find out. She came back in a few days and said they did not drink it at first but she figured out a way for it to work.  The lady would take the milk and pour it over into jugs from the grocery store.  The children never said another word.

Every year you  would have to turn the cow “dry”  when she was getting ready to have a calf.  During this time we would get milk from our uncle.  He and my dad would always try to coordinate when their milk cows were bred so we could have milk all year long.  Back in those days there were several people that still had milk cows in the area.  I am afraid this is another casualty of our current culture.

As I mentioned earlier,  Mom also made a lot of butter back in those days.  Thankfully this was after electric churns were in use.  I do not remember how much mom would make in a week but we would always have extra, even though we did eat a lot. Breakfast usually ended with a hot homemade biscuit filled with butter and jelly.  After churning the butter, mom would always press the butter into a mold that would shape the butter into a form for storage.  Most people had a wooden butter mold although I have seena few made out of metal.  Most of the time the top of the mold would have some sort of image carved into it so a design would be on top of the finished cake of butter.  If I remember correctly ours had a bird carved in it.

Another fun part of having all that milk and cream was getting to make homemade ice cream in the summer.  The first ice cream maker we had was manual with a hand crank.  A lot of times this would be a Sunday afternoon family project.  My parents, sister, and myself would take turns cranking for what seemed like forever.  The longer you cranked, the harder it was to turn.  I did not mind that because I knew that finished ice cream was not far away.  That ice cream was delicious, especially after all of that cranking.  We finally got an electric freezer that is still in the basement.  Sometime I may have to get it out and give it a try.

The final part of this to mention was buttermilk.  This is something a could not develop a taste for, although me dad used to drink it on occasion.  In my opinion it’s main purpose is to be an ingredient in biscuits.

Well, so much for my thoughts about the family milk cow.  Hope you have a nice day.