The Bible tells us in the book of Proverbs, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn away from it.”
The other week my two youngest grandchildren spent several days with my wife and I. Their Mom had asked me to show them how things work on a small farm.
The first day I let the two girls ride my four-wheeler and then drive my old truck. Neither one of them wrecked so I thought they both did pretty good.
Next morning, I showed them what a potato rake looked like and they followed me to the tater patch. The girls learned how to pull up the potato vines, shake the dirt off and pick off the taters. By slowly pulling the rake through the dirt, where the vine had been, they began to roll out larger potatoes. Before you know it we had dug a five gallon bucket of red, white and yellow Irish potatoes.
Next we rinsed the potatoes off and placed them on a table to dry. We then took a few in the house to fry. Yes-sir, I showed those girls how to thinly slice each potato, roll them in batter, and toss them in a waiting cast-iron skillet with a little hot grease.
Each girl took their turn turning the potatoes over until they were cooked through and through and each one came out a golden brown.
They then placed the fried taters on a paper towel covering a plate, sprinkled some Norton Farm Tater Dust on them, added a side of ketchup, and ate until they were full as ticks.
That evening I took the girls around the farm and showed them all the blueberry bushes. The bushes were loaded down with ripe berries. We had each taken a pail and I told the girls just to pick the dark blueberries. Well I do declare, those girls ate about as many as they put in their pails.
Late that evening, my wife showed the girls how to make a blueberry cobbler fit for a king. Why each one of those girls ate two helpings, topped off with vanilla ice cream. Yum-Yum, I also ate my part too.
Next morning, it was off to the butterbean patch. Well it was just me picking, but both girls helped shell a five gallon bucket of beans even though they don’t eat them.
Don’t know quite what’s wrong with this younger generation not eating butterbeans. Man, to me, ain’t nothing better than a pot of colored butterbeans cooked with a ham-hock, a slice of cornbread with butter, and a little chow chow spooned over them.
Talking about chow chow, the next day we put the girls to work washing and chopping up vegetables to make a batch of chow chow. They help wash and chop each green tomato, bell pepper, onion, and cabbage. They then stirred it all together in a large dishpan and added lots of salt.
The chopped vegetables had to sit overnight in the fridge and the next morning we rinsed the salt off. After the girls measured the sugar, vinegar, and other spices, to put over the vegetables, it was placed on the stove to come to a rolling boil.
While the chow chow was coming to a boil, my wife showed the girls how to heat up the jars and lids so the hot chow chow, when placed in the jars, wouldn’t burst the jars and the lids would seal.
Finally, the hot chow chow was ready to go into the jars and the caps tightened. With some good help from the girls we made twelve pints of wonderful chow that day.
These ordinary chores may seem folksy to our younger generation. But someday I hope my granddaughters can put these farm and cooking skills to use for their own families.
Remember, knowledge and skills you teach a child today may not immediately bear fruit, but someday they might say “I remember when my grandparents taught me how to do that.”
J.A. Bolton is author of “Just Passing Time,” co-author of “Just Passing Time Together,” and just released his new book “Southern Fried: Down-Home Stories” all of which can be purchased on Amazon. Contact him at [email protected]