Thursday, April 7, 2011

Meat processing always reminds me of my fourth grade teacher and my Dad.

We lived in Grangeville, Idaho, the beginning of my fourth grade year. I had just had a baby sister, Little Sister, and my favorite teacher that I had had for two years, Mrs. Swanson, had been killed in a car accident in Glacier National Park. Her passing had been hard on all of her students, who had loved her, and the whole school in general, but life had had to go forward. The new teacher, I do not remember her name, was a first year teacher. She in hindsight may have been struggling to get her bearing with her new teaching position but all I remember is that she didn't like me. She thought I was the biggest liar that ever walked the face of the earth and was very frustrated with me. I could feel her dislike of me, but because of truths that I was took young to understand and she didn't know, it was not our fault.

I liked show and tell it was my favorite part of the week. We got to get up and share our lives with our fellow students and the teacher, I like a captive audience, did then and do now.  I always shared on show and tell day. I shared the arrival of my sister, just before school, I shared that my dad had shot a deer, a deer, a deer, a deer, a deer, a deer, a deer or two each week a total of 17 times, and he had also shot a white turkey, even though you weren't supposed to. The teacher assumed that I just had to be the center of attention and when another student shard their fathers harvest I had lied and said my dad got one, I had not lied not even once. My dad had shot the deer, I know now that it was poaching but back then that is how he had been able to feed us, he had never tried to make me into a liar by saying I couldn't tell about it in school. He to this day never knew how much my teacher had dislike my lying in her classroom.

We had always processed the meat at home and it always reminds me of that time when I do it now. I got to use the same industrial grinder he had used all those years ago to process my goats, it is mine now. The white turkey was just the result of my dad and his friends, all with large families to feed,  trying to shoot a white turkey that had become part of the wild flock as a contest. The Camus Prairie around Grangeville was a wonderful place for a deer to grow, all grain feed, to this day the best deer I ever eaten. I moved to Arizona, in December of that year, much to the teachers relief, I think.

My dad was also an avid coon and cat hunter, he and his friends ran there dogs most ever weekend. They enjoyed the exercise, the hunt and the friendship, that the sport afforded them. My dad did get to run his hounds again once we move to Plains, but the law changed in 1972 and he could not longer harvest enough fur animals to feed his dogs so eventually had to sell them all. His health deteriorated shortly after their going. The exercise had helped him stay thin and without it he slowed down and got highblood pressure with in a short time. He was never the same, hunting wise, once the dogs were gone, he did continue to hunt elk and deer, but with in the legal limits, 1972 laws had really changed the whole hunting scene in general. My dad is a very interesting man, the hunter, the father, the grandfather, uneducated by many educated peoples standards, but he is a self educated man, he is a master chess player, also self educated, and the educated Professors he played with at the university always discounted the man when they looked at him, a mistake. He is 74 this year and I hope he lives many more, a truly wonderful man..... tomorrow.

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