November of 2020
This morning I came across a quote on social media, putting it all in perspective.
“This is not the year to get everything we want. This is the year to appreciate everything we have.”
And what a year it has been. In this month of giving thanks, those of us in agriculture can look forward to some normalcy in 2021. Spring lambing operations will turn the bucks out with the ewes soon. Cows will be pregnancy tested and on winter feed to produce a calf next year. The hay bales are stacked high enough to get us through the winter.
If we can just see far enough ahead to the spraddle-legged foal nosing for a hot, rubbery bag of milk, to the adolescent bunch of calves on the feedground taking off in a sprint, tails in the air and free from their moms for a moment, to those twin lambs easing out of the jug, with their mom blatting encouragement, to the first smell of green grass and spring shower putting hope in all of us.
Yes, some things will be the same.
This month does bring a turkey to mind – not the fat, juicy one we’ll be serving on turkey day. This turkey came about long, long ago while Bob and I were “living in sin” in Barnum.
Thirty-eight years ago this was not common and a bit of a scandal. One day, there was a test.
Wild turkeys roam the Middle Fork of the Powder River. Jim Harlan used to feed whatever was in the corral in wooden bunks that leaked corn. In the winter, there would be a steady line of turkeys going in for a snack.
We would see turkeys up and down the road until April first – the first day of turkey hunting. They seemed to know when to escape to the pine ridge.
One winter day, Jim and Bob decided to go hunt a wild turkey. This was not accomplished with camouflage and a turkey call, or a license, but with a pickup and a shotgun. A plucked, wild turkey was deposited on my doorstep with the announcement the family would be coming to dinner.
Numerous panicked calls to my mother ensued. I’m not sure she ever had cooked a wild turkey either, but she did manage to calm me down. This was way before the days of Googling “how to keep a wild turkey moist and tender.”
I did have confidence in my southern cornbread dressing recipe from my mom, as well as my pies, which were also gleaned from my mother’s kitchen. Mashed spuds, a can of cranberry sauce, something green and dinner was on!
The turkey came out of the oven golden brown, skin crispy and stuffing oozing out of the cavity. It could have been on the cover of a magazine. However, the turkey was also tough as a boot! I don’t recall, but I guess we managed to choke it down, and I’m still here after 38 years.
This Thanksgiving is an unknown factor for all of us. Hopefully we can manage some semblance of togetherness. And, we’ll remember to be thankful for what we have.