Sunday, March 13, 2011

Repost-A window to my past

Last night I was talking to some people in a chat through one of my regular forums, and questions came up about some of the things I do here at home. Some of the questions were about rabbits, and I mentioned how killing and butchering them didn't affect me very much since I had hunted since I was very young. I told them that sometimes, hunting was a necessity, and it reminded me of a post in this blog I had written a while ago. I dug through the blog archives and found it, and posted the link to share. As I sat here reading it late last night, I decided that today I would repost it here in the blog just to give some of the newer readers a little perspective on some things that have partly made me who I am. Some of you I've met through online forums, some of you I knew 25 years ago in school, and some of you just stumbled across my little corner of the internet and decided to stick around. Either way, this post from December 30th of 2008 will let you see a little bit of my past, and how it has returned to form me into who I am now. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

After reading Farmergeeks response on his blog about the Boy Scout books, it somehow reminded me of my youth. Nope, I was never a scout, but I had always wanted to be one. I wanted to wear that uniform, I wanted to go on outings, have friends, and learn from them, but it never happened for several reasons. One, my parents never liked to drive anywhere other than work or to the store. Two, they could never have afforded anything I would have needed to be in the scouts. And three, dad always said they were wimps, lol, I imagine he couldn't get in either...grumpy old fart. Plus I was a very nervous kid..really withdrawn,shy, and afraid of everything. Hard to believe ain't it??? lol
While growing up, I never learned any of the wilderness survival skills in the scout books like making a shelter or tying knots, but I learned a lot from just living, even though at the time I didn't realize it. I learned to garden, I learned to shoot and hunt, I learned to fish, I learned how to preserve food, and I learned how to live on next to nothing. Times were hard at home, nearly my entire youth was spent from check to check by my parents barely making ends meet.At that time in the late 60's and early 70's, concrete guys just plain didn't work in the winter, so dad was always layed off. To understand where I'm coming from, I'll go into a little detail:

I grew up with my mom, dad, and sister on 3 acres in a small township in the same county I live in now. Our house was a 3 room basement home. NOT 3 bedrooms, 3, living room, backroom, that's it. We slept in the same room as our parents on bunkbeds till I was about 12, when dad separated the 2 rooms. Heat in the house was via an oil burning stove in the center of the living room,no ductwork, just radiant heat.(so even though we had our own room, we had to keep the door open when it was cold) We had well water attached to a kitchen sink and a washing machine, and that was all. We bathed in an old galvanized washtub with hot water from the sink. Our toilet was an indoor outhouse of sorts, inside a closet in the backroom. Basically just a frame with a seat and bucket underneath, with a matching real outhouse behind the old shed that was about 80 yards from the house.In the evenings after dark, dad carried that bucket to the outhouse, 365 days a year. We finally got a real bathroom with a tub, shower, and toilet when I was 15, so we (sis and I)thought we were rich. We had a black and white tv attached to a 25 foot antenna tower dad scrounged from a jobsite, with a grand total of 5 stations. (anyone else remember antenna rotors?) I believe I was around 18 or 19 when we got basic cable.I remember an old rotary phone in the house till around '85 as well. The flat tar roof leaked, the floor was almost always damp, the bare block walls cold, and the place always smelled of heating oil and Hoppes gun cleaner. (though I still love the smell of Hoppes, lol)

Food was always a big issue. During the warmer months, we ate what we deemed as "normal" food, though most was the cheapest cut available, and usually other things from the dented can bins at the local Sparkle Market. We busted our asses with a decent sized garden all summer, and I grew to hate it as a kid. I remember many days of pushing myself and my sister through green briar to pick blackberries, as well as wild grapes, so mom could make jellies and jams to can or freeze. (I still hate freezer jam though!) We never had any animals other than beagles, so our only meat source other than the store (when dad was working) was hunting. I can't begin to imagine how many meals we had that were duck, squirrel, or rabbit. At the time there were still pheasants in this part of Ohio, and we were always excited to bag one since it meant a good sized dinner. I think the worst time we had was one winter when dad and I set off hunting on Thanksgiving morning hoping to get a pheasant so we didn't have to have rabbit for dinner. Luckily we got one that day .

Funny how life works, isn't it? Most of my life I hated the way I grew up and resented my parents for making us live that way. We were "forced" to help around the house and garden. We had to use an outhouse when everyone else had a real bathroom. We had to watch an old b&w tv when the neighbors had color, remote control AND cable! All through my teens 20's,and early 30's, I pulled myself as far away from that life as I could, buying and doing everything I could, just because I could. But here I sit, typing and thinking about all of this and realize something. I'm going back to that way of life on purpose. It makes me chuckle to think about it, but it also makes me kinda sad. I wasted all that time trying to ignore who/what I really am. It took me all this time to find myself, but I made it. Without my childhood, and without Lisa's encouragement I would never be where I am now.....make that-WE would never be where WE are now.Without going into any detail, she grew up very similar in a house not much bigger with FOUR siblings...and I thought I had it tough! Sometimes I write in this blog like it's all me, but it's far from it. Lisa had taken every step right beside me the whole way,taking this incredible journey of lifestyle change that we are on.
Though they'll never see this, thank you mom and dad for making me who I am today, and thank you Lisa for your love and encouragement. You are my guiding light down this path to self sufficiency.


stella said...

Great post, I like it Chris. I can relate to the no bathroom stuff too. Rodger and I built the bathroom on the old farm house for dad an mom after we were married. I think Jason was lil then so its not been that long ago. Yep I know about antennas and B&W tv. lol But lookin back I dont remember wanting the modern stuff tho.
Again thanks for sharng a part of yours an Lisas life.

ab65 said...

I enjoyed reading this post and can relate to alot of it. How I remember being "forced" to work in our garden every summer. Trust me our summer vacation did not consist of beach trips, etc! Although I disliked alot of things at the time, I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything. As you said, it made me who I am today and like you I am actually living that lifestyle again and loving it!! Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

Happy Days said...

Chris, enjoyed your post today!! So glad your back...debbie

small farm girl said...

Totally agree!

Panchito said...

Ha ha! Giant garden for me, too! We all complained like we were dying, until supper that is. My kids have worked hard NOT to work for all these years, and today, as we parents weren’t home, the kids planted the snow peas in our absence. That is a good development, indeed.

You’re going to need all that knowledge shortly, bro! Hold onto your hat, it’s gonna get rough. The ship has veered off course. Anyone who doesn’t know this stuff is in for a REALLY rough boat ride.

Laura said...

Great post, Chris...we didn't have it as hard as you, but I remember my dad selling his blood so we could eat, and my mom scrounging leftover food left on the tables at U of A so she had enough. Funny how these things make us stronger, even though we hated it at the time. Nice post!!

Blog Archive