On the last Tuesday of year 2015, December 29th the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburgh Diner in Duanesburgh. This was the first day that the OFs have even had a hint of winter driving. Early in the morning the roads to the Duanesburgh Diner had some snow, and it was sleeting by the time the OFs who made it to Duanesburgh and were fed. When the time came for the OFs to head home it was not bad at all.
In discussing the column with a published writer who reads the column but lives waaaay out of the area he said he understands the problem of writing the column with a semblance of freshness because of the redundancy of conversations the OFs must have. Which, to the OFs are not redundant, but variations of topics that have been covered many times before. This makes reporting the fodder fed to the scribe by the OFs difficult. However, it is not unique to the scribe because he too is an OF and it all seems relevant and new to him.
One point the scribe failed to bring up in the conversation with the author, is that much of the chatter of the OMOTM is on aging and the problems that tag along with getting older and how the OFs cope. The scribe was taught many years ago the best way to learn anything and retain it was through repetition. In that regard (and the scribe cites this as an example) the discussion of ticks in different ways, and repetitively, should help those that read the column (and the OFs themselves) to know what to do, how to realize they have been bitten, and how to avoid and understand the world of ticks.
Now to the conversations of this morning. One OF reported that he was called to remove some beavers from a pond where the beavers were causing a lot of trouble, and property damage. After obtaining the proper permits the OF harvested five beavers from the pond. The OF said the beavers were very large and he was glad he had help in getting them out. This OF told the other OFs that now that Russia is mad at us and not buying the beaver pelts the bottom has fallen out of the beaver pelt business. The Chinese demand has not picked up the slack so it is hardly worth the gas money to mess with these animals. That may be way they are proliferating to the point where they really are becoming a nuisance.
Our resident beekeeper reported that one of the honey people he knows is buying used bourbon kegs and filling them with honey. This fellow is going to leave the honey in the kegs for a yet to be determined amount of time. The prototype apparently showed that the honey will absorb some of the bourbon flavor from the kegs. The alcohol will be long gone so as only the flavor will be left and the theory is he will have bourbon flavored honey. He hopes this will catch on. It might with the, “I’m going to hire a wino to decorate our home” crowd.
The OFs discussed the reality that more homes being built in some areas of the Hilltowns is affecting the water tables. Some homes (as other houses are being constructed around them) have noticed their well levels have gone down to the point where some have run out of water, or their wells have taken a longer time to recover. These OFs report that wells which previously delivered ten to twelve gallons a minute water flow are now in jeopardy.
The OFs progressed from this type of water to local streams, and lakes, specifically Warner Lake, and Thompson’s Lake and the stocking of fish. Some of the OFs were pretty sure the process of restocking is still going on, while a few others were not so sure. An OF mentioned some state hatcheries have been closed down and the only reason they could think of was state budget restraints. The OFs started their fish tales on the size of some of the fish they have in their ponds, or ponds they know of, especially the size of some of the carp and catfish. These two aquatic scavengers do keep the OFs ponds clean. One OF mentioned that he has grass- eating catfish in his pond and they are pretty good sized and do gobble up some of the algae.
The OFs talked about name changes and some of the OFs names are not their real (?) names. The OFs told stories that when their parents emigrated quite often their names would be changed at Ellis Island to a more common name so they would be able to find work easier. One OF mentioned his father’s name was changed from what it was to a more “Americanized” name so he could do just that…take employment. This OF said that one of his father’s brothers also changed his name and it was different than the one his father took, again for the same reason. His other uncles did not have to change their names because they stayed on the farm. Social Security and birth records must have a grand time with all this. Anyway, “Hey, you” works for anyone and is gender neutral.
Those braving the weather and making it to the Duanesburgh Diner in Duanesburgh and sitting in the warmth of the Diner with hot cups of coffee were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, and me, and that’s it.