Thursday, August 28, 2014

Random thoughts

Of all the many gifts that God has graced us with, the gift of sight may be one of the most precious. To be able to see the moon beams sparkling off the flowing waters of the Flint River at 4:00 am in the morning is an awesome sight to behold. Why you may ask am I out at that time of the morning? What you should really ask yourself is why is this lunatic walking around in his yard in his underdrawers, toting a 12 gauge shotgun, and wearing a miner's helmet with a light on the top of it? I'm doing that because the dadblame armadillos are about to destroy my yard. I have killed five so far, but there appears to be at least that many more still out there since my grass and yard looks like a herd of hogs have rooted in it. Armadillos seem to have no natural enemies around here other than me. They use their long claws to dig up the grass in search of grubs and worms. Interestingly, the Tall Timbers Quail Research program has added them to the class of nest predators that destroy quail eggs along with other critters such as skunks, coons, and possums. So now I have yet another reason to have a "license to kill" these aggravating pests. I certainly would have preferred them to stay in Mexico and Texas. When I was growing up, we did not have coyotes or armadillos in this area. We do a really good job of trapping our coyotes on Riverview, but I have never found an armadillo trap that works. If any of you know of one that works, please e-mail me at: cader@riverviewplantation.com
 Another blessing of sight is the ability to read. I have always enjoyed reading, and I seem to enjoy it even more as I grow older. For one thing, it doesn't require nearly as much exertion as most of my other hobbies that I still enjoy. Yesterday I read this quote from Aldo Leopold that really resonated with me. He said," We shall never achieve harmony with the land,anymore than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these aspirations the important thing is not to achieve but to strive." Now that is very profound. I firmly believe that God granted us the stewardship of the land and waters of His creation. It is my job to leave it better than I found it for the next generation. I do not own it, but am just renting it for my time here on earth.
 I believe that perfect harmony is impossible, but we try very hard here at Riverview to manage this beautiful piece of property to the best of our ability. We have already had to fight off our federal government who wanted to make the eastern diamondback rattlesnake an endangered species which would have required us to manage our habitat for rattlesnakes rather than quail. A large number of plantations had to kick in money to hire the legal staff to fight an environmental law firm which is 100% funded by the federal government; so we were fighting a group who was being paid by our own tax dollars. Only in the USA ! If these folks try to add the armadillo to that group, they are going to make a grievous error. They don't want a bunch of mad, old women marching on Washington with their broomsticks in their hands. Perhaps I forgot to mention that the reason I am getting no sleep and hunting armadillos at night is that Martha Cox told me that these little 'expletive deleteds' were not going to destroy her yard any longer, and that I WAS going to handle it.
 I need to go take a nap now. More to come later!

Monday, August 18, 2014

That time of the year

Well, we are definitely in the dog days of summer in more ways than one. To an old Southerner like me, the Dog Days of summer meant that the temperature and humidity was going to be almost unbearable each day. According to my mother, it also meant that any cut or scratch would not heal during this miserable period of time, and she was correct as always!
 However, at Riverview, Dog Days have another meaning also. This is the time of the year that Moss begins to solidify his pointing dog strings. By now, we have determined which dogs are gamers and which ones are just trying to collect a meal ticket. We have trained, traded, and drafted new dogs into the rotation. Moss told Cader IV last week that he is still in the market for about 15 more good hunting dogs, and that he has good leads to fill out his quota. In my early years at Riverview, dog buying was one of my many jobs. I don't remember the names of any of the dogs I purchased, but I still remember the tightest pair of hunting britches I ever saw on a female dog trainer who sold me a dog. I couldn't recall the dog's name when I got home with him, and Pop was none too pleased with me. He reminded me about the simple operation we performed on trouble making male dogs, and he had no more problems with my attention to details after that.
 As I have mentioned several times, we are very excited about our introduction of the English Cocker flushing and retrieving dogs into our program at Riverview. Chuck and Jerry have worked real hard on this program, and we are thrilled with their progress. These little dogs are amazing. I intend to own one myself one day if I am still able to shoot anything for them to retrieve. My beloved old Lab will  just be too old to subject to field work any longer.
 I just spoke to Jerry, and he is confident that we will have seven of these dogs ready to go by the beginning of the season, and hopes to integrate another three or four into the hunting rotation before the end of the season. The problem will not be these bright little dogs. The bigger problem may be training the guides and pointing dogs that will have to all work together as a team. Since dogs are much easier to train than people, I would dare say the guides who have never worked with these sensitive little souls may be the biggest challenge of all. Speaking on this subject reminds me of a quote by Robert Ruark that my good friend, Herb Haughton shared with me recently.Ruark said," If a man is really intelligent, there's practically nothing a good dog can't teach him. But a dumb man can't learn anything from a smart dog, while a dumb dog can occasionally learn something from a smart man."
 These Dog Days of summer will eventually give way to the scent of autumn, cooler nights, football season, AND hunting season. I can't wait !

Friday, August 15, 2014

travels

Martha and I just returned from two weeks in France on vacation with another couple we travel somewhere in the world with each year. I will not divulge their names to protect the innocent, but we always have fun together,and share a lot of laughs and memories together. Since couple "X" is almost as country as the Cox's, we generally fare well when we get out into the country side while struggling in the big cities.
 We spent three days in Paris before escaping to the Normandy region for the balance of the trip. Our first observation of Paris is that there has to be something wrong with a place that will charge more for a coke than a glass of wine. Our next "eureka moment" was that the Eiffel Tower was a much more impressive structure than we had envisioned from photos. It was a sight to see, and was right outside of our hotel room door. Speaking of hotels, I assume that our hotel really enjoyed having me there since they decided to trap me on an elevator for 30 minutes. Have I ever mentioned that I am extremely claustrophobic? Well, I am, and that is no joke. Maybe it comes from spending my life in open spaces. At any rate, the elevator was jam packed,had no ventilation, and had four heat lamps for lights. there was no "call box" or emergency button on the elevator. What saved us was having an employee of the hotel stuck with us. She was able to use her cell phone to call for help who took their own sweet time about arriving. I should have taken that as a sign from the Lord to go home, but I failed to listen.
 On the next day, we visited Versailles where I was trapped in a restroom the size of a shoe box. The handle on the outside worked, but there was no handle on the inside of the door. I did not panic this time because I had sized the door up, and had determined that I could kick the sucker off the hinges. I gave one loud shout for help, and was going to wait one minute before busting the door down. Luckily, my friend heard me, and opened the door. Of course he was laughing so hard that he could hardly turn the knob. It was at this point in time that I realized that the French folks loved me so much that they were determined to keep me in their country.
 A third observation is that all churches in France have the same name, Notre Dame, not to be confused with the football team. I did not see a single First Baptist Church in any town. This Notre Dame lady has the market cornered on churches there. Their churches also appear to be more museums than places of worship. I was disheartened to talk to many young French people who seem to think that religion is a thing of the past, and is only practiced by old folks. Almost all of the young French folks that I was able to talk to had formed their entire opinions of the U.S. by one visit to New York City. Now I have been to NYC many times and know many folks who live there, but folks that ain't typical of the USA that I know and live in.
 We spent most of our time in the Normandy region and absolutely loved it. We visited farms, apple orchards, and cheese production spots. That was where my buddy and I excelled with our small travel group because we knew what the folks were talking about at these locations. We visited one goat farm where they make cheese. The old stud Billy goat services the nannies 24 times a day for two months. One of our Yankee ladies on the tour asked why they called him a "Billy goat". Before the guide could respond, I said,"Hell, lady,he doesn't care what they call him with a job like that". I'm still nursing my bruised ribs from where Martha elbowed me.
 By far and away, the most memorable part of the trip was our visit to the site of the American forces landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day and the American Cemetery there. Martha and I found the cross of a Georgia boy and placed a flower at the base of his cross. I am not at all ashamed to say that I wept!
 For me my most favorite part of any trip is seeing my house and sleeping in my bed when I get home. I could live without these dang gnats, but I sure do love south Georgia. Since hunting season is fast approaching, my next blog will be more about what's going on here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Of dogs and human relationships

While I have many character flaws, as my family has pointed out to me on occasions, I consider myself a fairly keen student of human nature as well as dog behavior. This past Friday night Martha and I celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary, and my oldest daughter, Holly, celebrated her 40th birthday the next day. When Holly was a little girl, she would tell everyone," Mommy and Daddy got married on July 25th, and I was born on July 26th". Now that probably would not be a big deal today, but it used to just horrify Martha to hear her say those words. I must say that I was somewhat shocked to hear Martha explaining to an acquaintance the other day how she had a 40 year old daughter. She casually mentioned that we got married when we were 11, and Holly was born when Martha was 12. Now I did not stay married to the same woman for 44 years by being stupid; so I pilled a "Bre'r Rabbit, he lay low" like the proverbial tar baby. We were both young and right out of college when we got married, but we were not that young. However, we grew up together, and it has certainly worked for us.
 I got to thinking about the women( in my case only one), jobs(again only one), and dogs in my life the other day. I quickly surmised that my resume would look fairly boring, but I am quite happy with it. I do know that there are quite a few differences in training a good dog and training a good woman! As I have watched Chuck work with our English Cockers this summer, it amazes me how he uses gentle reinforcement and repetition to make them want to please him. Repetition and reinforcement with a wife will land you a frying pan upside the head, but these little Cockers are really responding.
 I inherited my love for dogs from my late Dad. In his younger days, Pop was quite a rounder. He once told me that his dog was the only thing that really loved him whether he had been a good or bad person. Of course Pop was also the person who told me to lock both my dog and my wife up in the trunk of the car for 30 minutes, and see which one was happy to see me when I opened the trunk. Wisely, I never followed all of his advice. However, I do strive to be the kind of person my dog THINKS I am. If I can even come close to that goal, I will be living very close to the standards in The Good Book.
 We are beginning to point towards hunting season now, and I will be filling y'all in on things as the late summer progresses on in to fall. Tempus is fugiting on along!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer time

Well, we have finally managed to pick and ship our last sweet corn. I know that you have all heard the old expression, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch". The season started very good on both yields and prices. We managed to maintain our high yields,averaging 510 crates per acre, but the market pricing collapsed right during what should have been our best pricing period, the July 4th marketing period.. When you are selling a perishable item, you have to sell it at some price or dump it. That perishable item bit got me to thinking the other day. We, too, are perishable items; so we need to live accordingly. I plan to enjoy being out of the heat and the gnats for a while, and just count my blessings! I have also discovered that, if you laugh a lot, your wrinkles will be in the right place when you get my age.
 Activities on Riverview are now settling in to our normal summer pattern. We are going through all of our jeeps repairing,servicing, and in some cases repainting them. The training of our English Cocker flushing dogs continues at a brisk pace. The woods and the feed patches are looking good, but we need to keep getting these summer time showers. It is hard to believe that only a few short weeks ago we were suffering from too much rain. However, 110 temp/humidity indexes can suck the moisture out in a hurry.
 Martha and I began a tradition a few years ago of trying to be gone from here as much as possible during the month of August. If we have a slow month here, it is August. It also is the most miserable month of the year here. I believe that the temperatures and gnats both peak during the month of August. In closing this short post, I have determined that the world would be a better place if we had a few more lakes,rivers,fishing poles, and lightning bugs!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Heat

Whoever wrote the lines to the song that goes,"summertime and the living is easy" never lived in south Georgia. Cader IV and I just got back from spending an hour or two in the sweet corn field. In addition to ingesting about a billion gnats, the temperature/humidity index was hovering at a pleasant 112 degrees. It got so hot that the sweet corn started popping, and the harvesting crews thought it was snowing and they froze to death in the field. Well, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but I think that you can get the gist of the picture. The good news is that harvest is going smoothly, and prices are decent,especially compared to last year.
 We did face a dilemma last night. We had a very small but powerful thunderstorm blow up about sunset. It knocked down a couple of trees across the power lines and splintered a utility pole. It just so happened that I found the spot where this occurred on the lodge road, and called our local EMC. Almost this entire area was out of power including our sweet corn plant that was in the process of chilling and loading about $200,000 worth of sweet corn yesterday. Since I keep the EMC head man's cell phone in my contacts on my cell phone, I gave him a quick call to inform him of the emergency and where the down lines were. He said, " Cader, I can isolate your house and Cader IV's house, and back feed your corn operation. I can have it running in 20 minutes, but this will cause y'all to be out of power for three to four hours". Martha was standing right beside me and asked me what he said. I replied, "hold on, honey, we have a bad connection. Let me walk out in the yard". Once out of her hearing, I said, "OJ, get my corn operation going as fast as you can". Did I mention that Martha and I were both hot and sweaty when the power went out? Oh well, sometimes you have to take one for the home team.
 On the hunting front, the feed patches are coming up nicely with the abundant moisture, and our natural cover looks great! We have also eradicated a bunch of briars with some concentrated spraying of Garlon on many of our hunting courses. Finally, we continue to be very excited about our training program with our English Cockers for flushing and retrieving.We will not have one on each jeep by fall, but we should have them ready to go on at least 60% of our jeeps by fall.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Aging

I have always been a big believer in a cash flow budget. While income statements and balance sheets are important, a small company like Riverview lives and dies on its cash flow. Because of that fact, I have always prepared at least a twelve month cash flow statement. Back in my younger years, I always added about $5,000 to my cash flow budget for car repairs on Pop's vehicle on an annual basis. It would make him furious, but I had the history and facts to back it up as a line item. Have you ever heard the old expression," what goes around ,comes around"? I have become my father, and am now catching hell from Cader IV, Greg, and Jerry.
 But, here's my story, and I'm sticking to it. About three months ago, as I was driving to work from the house on a frosty morning with windshield impaired visibility, a pine tree in my yard suddenly lurched into the side of my Expedition. Then yesterday as I was backing up to turn around, another pine tree suddenly crashed into the rear of this same poor Expedition. Cader asked me, " Dad, doesn't your car have one of those sonar systems that starts beeping if you are about to back into an object"?  I told him that it most certainly does. However, mine must be defective because it never goes beep,beep,beep. Instead, mine goes beep, BAM, at which point it is way too late to stop.Now the smart butts are threatening to bring the dozer down to my house and push down all of the pine trees within a 300 yard radius.
 There was a time in my life when  badly wanted to have a BMW. Now I am willing to drop the "W", and maybe settle for a Sherman Tank.While we do not have HOV lanes down here in the country on these dirt roads, I doubt that I would be able to use them were we to have them. I am noticing a reluctance for anyone to ride around in the woods with me. Rather, they are all volunteering for me to ride with them.
 We will start picking sweet corn on Monday; so y'all start visiting the grocery store next week and buy lots of fresh sweet corn! I will have more to report on the hunting operations later, but everyone on our mailing list should be receiving our summer newsletter by the first of next week at the latest.