Whitesburg KY

Winter food was canned, dried, or cured in salt

As the evening of time slowly drifts my way, I find myself wanting more and more to write about times gone by.

As I have stated previously, there’s no way I would want to relive my childhood, even if I could, because there are not very many good memories back there.

There were four of us stepchildren, and about all we did was exist from day to day, with no hope of things getting any better. By the grace of God, we reached adulthood without getting beaten to death in the meantime.

Back then, we raised most of what we ate, except for a few essentials we had to get from the store. We didn’t have electricity until I was six or eight years old, and the only way we had of preserving our winter’s food was by canning, drying or curing it in salt.

We ate a lot of wild game to go with our other foods. We ate such things as squirrel, ‘possum, groundhog, yellowhammers, rabbit, pheasant, grouse and quail. We ate whatever Dad could kill, but I’m afraid I would have to get awful hungry today to eat a ‘possum. As a young’un I thought it was awfully good, but greasy.

If we were lucky enough to catch a mess of fish we ate them that day because we had no way to keep them.

There were all kinds of wild greens we ate, and I can still remember some of them and like to eat them, but I have forgotten many of them too.

If we caught a ‘possum in a trap, Dad would take it behind the house while holding it by its hind legs until its neck broke. To prepare it after it was skinned, it was cooked for awhile and then fried with lots of black pepper and some salt. Sometimes a piece of spicewood was added while it was cooking, just for taste.

Needless to say, we didn’t get many pheasant, yellowhammer, grouse or quail because they were harder to get. I haven’t heard a yellowhammer hollering in many years because strip mining has destroyed much of their habitat, and they have moved elsewhere.

But I do remember how good yellowhammer gravy was, because there was nothing like it.

Sometimes we would have a cow and a hog, and we always kept chickens. We had an old cow one time, and it had big, long horns, and I was scared to death of it.

When I had to give it some hay I would go the backside of the barnyard and throw in some hay, and then run like mad and put the rest in the barn before she figured out what was going on, because she would come running.

I really don’t know if she would have hurt me or not, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

I always liked to slop the hogs, I guess because they were so messy. We never did have a horse. Dad would always borrow Aunt Callie Back’s horse, Old Silver, and Dad, in turn, would do something for her in exchange.

I could do a lot with a horse, such as using a sled, a wagon, or logging, but I only tried to plow one time and I think I sweated more than the horse did so I gave up on that idea. It looked easy, but on the hillside there wasn’t anything easy about it.

I always liked to take care of chickens and gather the eggs, but the last chickens I had, I’ll bet I had $3 in every egg I got from them.

And that’s enough from the funny farm until next time.

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