It’s the day after Thanksgiving Day and it’s wet and cold with freezing rain. I usually postpone going to my basement office to write this weekly column, but today it was a welcome retreat. It’s such a nasty weather day that I even delayed doing my chicken and dog chores until nearly noon.
Today did have one bright spot. This morning while ol’ Nevah and I were drinking coffee, I spied a covey of wild quail foraging in the yard just off our deck. I knew the covey was around, but I hadn’t seen it for more than a month and I feared it had permanently moved across the road. Nevah and I watched the covey as it moved to the south side of the house, spent a few minutes in Nevah’s flower garden and on our front porch and sidewalk before it flew down the driveway towards the grain sorghum plot. I hope they got sated before the ice coated all their food sources.
Now that I know they covey is around the house, I brought a bucket of grain sorghum and corn from the barn and spread it around in the protection of some cedar trees close to the house. Hopefully, the covey will find the grain and we can regularly enjoy its company through the winter.
I doubt seriously if I even try to hunt that “pet” covey. I get more enjoyment out of watching the birds than hunting them.
Can’t say the same about the pen-raised birds we released and hunted this week. Nary a one got away and the bird dogs did a great job. Those quail breasts will be mighty tasty eating one of these evenings.
I finally got around to doing a job here at Damphewmore Acres that I’d been postponing for years. Here’s a little background.
When we moved here 11 years ago, I demolished the old vacant house on the place, but not the hand-dug well located near the house. I soon found out the well didn’t hold water in dry years and the top was getting rotten, so I knew it was of no practical use and was just in the way when we mowed the lawn, and an ever-present danger to anything that got near the rotten top.
So, last week, during a couple warm days before the storm hit, I went to work filling the old well, using the tractor and loader. I must remark that I felt more than a little guilty filling in that old well because it had probably been there for more than a century. Furthermore, the builders of the well were exquisite stonemasons. The well was at least 40 feet deep and was lined with small slivers of limestone from the bottom to the top. After 100 years or so, I couldn’t see a single stone out of place. The walls were still straight and true.
I couldn’t help but imagine the work, skill and, yes, courage, it took to build that well. First, the hole had to dug by hand. Then the courageous stonemason, who simply couldn’t have been claustrophobic, had to climb a ladder into that hole. It couldn’t have been more than 4 1/2 feet across. Then, someone had to hand down the limestone rocks, probably in a bucket, and the stonemason started laying rock toward the top.
Once off the bottom, the stonemason either had to work off a ladder laying stone, or he could have built a circular scaffold to work from, with other workers, or most probably a draft horse, pulling the scaffold skyward as he worked.
Regardless of how it wuz done, it took an immense amount of work, skill and just plain guts to build that well … and now, sadly, I was going to fill in his limestone masterpiece in one short afternoon.
First, I pulled the ancient hand-pump and pipe out with the front-end loader. Next, out came the “modern” submersible pump and its electrical wiring and plumbing the same way.
Then, I collapsed the top foot of the well with the tractor and loader and began pushing the concrete top and the rocks laid flat around it into the well. After all the rocks were in the hole, I began hauling dirt to the site. Rather rapidly, the hole got filled up. Plus, I hauled enuf dirt to provide soil for grass next spring.
When the job wuz done, I took some satisfaction in a job well done and I nostalgically hoped that some day a thousand years from now, some futuristic archaeologist will discover the well and try to figger out its history. Oh, before I started filling the well, I threw in a few pieces of broken glass just for confusion.
Next week the deer season opens and I’ve got four blinds ready to use. I’m a pretty nonchalant seeker of venison, but I’ll still go out to a blind when the weather suits me and see if a suitable deer and I will cross paths. For me, “suitable” is a fat doe or yearling that’s a lot better eating than a skinny old buck stung out from the rut. Besides, you can’t eat antlers and I don’t need another coat hanger.
I’m reading a history of Founding Father John Adams. The book, by noted historian David McCullough, was a $5 bargain I found a few weeks ago in an Emporia flea market. I haven’t finished the book yet, but it’s fascinating reading about a key figure in the founding of our nation.
Guess I’ll close out the week with two quotes from Mr. Adams: “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it.” And, “Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.” Have a good ‘un.