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The Old Men of the Mountain by John R. Williams

Again those up early had a chance to catch a glimmer of sun, however, on this date October 2nd, 2012, the sun quickly ran away to hide behind the clouds. Also on this date the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Blue Star restaurant in Schoharie. The OF’s straggled in and filled in the area the restaurant had already prepared for the OGs. The inside of the Blue Star was bright, warm, and dry as the OFs watched the grey skies roll in on the outside, but their spirits were not dampened…the OFs were comfortable and eating.

Some of the OFs noted that along the way to the Blue Star restaurant in Schoharie many groups of deer were encountered. One vehicle reported four groups of from four to six deer ― in each group ― in a six mile stretch of highway on the hill. Spotting these critters darting across the road from out of the hedgerows has many drivers slow their speed, and cuts the chatter in the vehicle as all eyes are focused on spotting the animals before they are splattered at too fast a speed, and there are dents and fur all over the front of the car. Leaving a dead animal of that size in the road is much more traumatic than leaving a squashed squirrel.

The OFs mentioned that our area is approaching the peak of the deer rutting season (the hill coordinates are about N 40-44 Longitude, and W 70 or so Latitude. At these coordinates the deer rutting season is about the middle of September to the middle of November) so when traveling on the hill during this time of year especially, it is eyes on the road at a prudent rate of speed which should keep the driver from a deer/car confrontation.

As the OF’s gather around the table in the various restaurants we attend, the waitress/waiter comes around and asks what we want to drink. At some restaurants they already have the cups up and ready, and a few know which OF gets the decaf and which gets the high test coffee. Many times at these places the waitress has a carafe of each at the ready. This is very important because some of the OFs show up with the coffee shakes and the hands do not stop wobbling until they have that first jolt of caffeine. Then after the caffeine kicks in, and the wobbling stops those particular OFs will join in the conversation.

It is almost a regular part of the OF’s tête-à-tête to compare what it was like way back when God was experimenting with dirt, and how to make it, and His plan to make the dirt perpetual so he didn’t have to mess with all the time. The OF’s were watching God figure this all out and they were offering their suggestions. They were comparing then to how “things” are done now.

As the OFs were at the Blue Star having breakfast the subject of breakfast came up and double-yolk eggs. One OF said that he has not seen one of those in years. The OFs around this OF at the table agreed and wondered why this was. There is nothing wrong with a double yolk egg other than it has more cholesterol in it than a regular egg because of the double yolks. One OF suggested that when the eggs are candled the double yolks are yanked so they don’t come to market. This OF mentioned how his mom would candle the eggs and take out the ones with blood spots, but not the double yolked ones. There was nothing the matter with those. The double yolked eggs were really good for swiping a well-buttered piece of toasted home-made bread by it folding in half and then eating (and cleaning the plate at the same time).

Now that the OFs had time-warped, they started talking about haying again and how different it is now than when they were doing this necessary farm chore. One OF told a story of when field balers first came on the scene and he was on the baler pushing wires, a girl from a couple of farms up the road came to help bale and she was doing the twisting, or hooking, on the other side of the baler. On this particular day things were going along normally when all of a sudden the girl jumped from her seat on the baler and ran screaming across the field. The OF’s father who was driving stopped the tractor and the OF who was pushing the wires got off the baler as the father ran to see what had happened to the girl. The OF ran around to the other side to see what was wrong with the baler that would make her take off like that. What the OF found was that the baler had picked up a snake, and about 4 or 5 inches of the snake was sticking out of the bale swinging its head back and forth with its forked tongue darting in and out all over the place. No wonder the young lady took off screaming; if this snake was on the OF’s side of the baler he might have taken of too.

Before we had hay balers we put hay in loose. The hay was picked up from the windrow with a hay elevator, and a couple of guys would mow it away on the wagon. Quite often the OFs (particularly if they were family members) would have a sibling rivalry as to who could get the most hay on the wagon before either they or the hay started falling off. Another OF told a story of almost the same as the snake story, where all of a sudden the two mowing the hay on the wagon from the hay elevator took off across the field flaying their hands about and yelling. This time it was obvious. The loader had gathered a large group of ground bees that were in the windrow and these bees were a little ticked off and took it out on the two who were on the wagon. The OF said that some of those bees got ‘em, too, as they ran.

Once balers came out that were automatic, and after that “kickers” were developed, the bales were kicked right into a wagon with high sides and back so only one farm-hand was needed. All that farmer had to do is drive the tractor, and know how to fix a “knotter”. This device was designed by Satan. It was what tied the baling twine together after a bale was completed, and it was continually forgetting how to tie a knot. The OF’s said, “who knew then what was baled up inside those bales, and with the newer round bales there could be anything wound up inside of one of those things.” Another OF said, “And how about silage? After field-chopping the corn and bringing it to the ensilage blower who knew what got blown into the silo?” “Good source of protein for the cows,” one OF said.

The OFs that made it through the mine-field of deer to the Blue Star restaurant in Schoharie were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Carl Slater, Miner Stevens, Jim Hauser, Glenn Patterson, Ted Willsey, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Ssome, Joe Loubier, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Henry Witt, Lou Schenck, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Dom Moser, Arnold Geraldsen, Don Wood, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Jim Rissacher, and me.

If anyone is interested at fair time, the fair in Altamont has, in their old equipment shed, a hay loader that is generally rigged up to run.

 

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