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Getting your groceries the old school way

Farm to Table is different if you grew up on a farm.

Brent Murphree, Senior Editor, Delta Farm Press

March 20, 2020

2 Min Read
My grandfather accidentally bought my 4-H calf when he was trying to up the bid at the fair auction.Getty Images/iStockphoto

At this point, I don't think anyone needs coronavirus related commentary about the lack of toilet paper on the grocery store shelves or what products are no longer available in the produce aisle.

However, the memes on Facebook and the Twitter-verse do have me thinking about how we used to eat on the farm. Farm to table is a new way to eat for urbanites, but not for us old farmers.

The first fresh to table experience I can recall is Grandpa chopping the head off of a chicken in our backyard. I remember the smell of the feathers after they dipped it in the hot water before plucking it.

At four or five, my sister and I were given a calf each. It was our responsibility to feed them. At some point we finished feeding them. We opened savings accounts. And, we ate some really good steaks.

Some of my most exciting times were when we’d brand the cattle, doctor and castrate them. At a very young age I’d get to hand the guys the long stainless-steel tool used to give the cattle their pills.

They’d sell the mountain oysters to Norton’s Corner, a country tavern just down the road from the farm. There are things I don't need to eat.

At nine, my first 4-H project was a beautiful Black Angus calf, Blackie. By fair time he was huge, but gentle. I had trained him to lead, groomed him and at the fair, showed how gentle he was by laying up against him when he was down in the stall.

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When time came to show him, I had a bad case of stage fright. I told Mom I could not go into the ring. She insisted that I get moving. She reached for a whip and I acquiesced. I got a blue ribbon.

Grandpa accidentally bought Blackie during the auction while he was trying to up the bid. Blackie was loaded to take to the processor, and I was relieved to not have the responsibility. We had some very nice steaks.

We were always putting in gardens. Sometimes Dad would run up some rows for a big garden with corn, squash and okra, but mostly they were small plots behind the house.

One year we planted a big garden in the feed lot. The soil was hot with nitrogen and the plants grew like crazy. The foliage was like a jungle and the vegetables were huge.

I was working on my grandparent's farm that summer. Grandma cooked boiled okra for every meal for weeks. When boiled, okra oozes like snot. I called Mom and Dad and asked if I could work in the cotton fields for the rest of the summer. No more boiled okra for me.

So, as soon as the rain stops, I'll be putting in my garden.

About the Author(s)

Brent Murphree

Senior Editor, Delta Farm Press

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