Monday, October 6, 2014

Senior citizen status

Well, today I officially enter the ranks of senior citizens although some of these fast food twerps have been trying to place me in that category for years. At least I know how to make change in my head, and I know that a half-dozen and six are the same number. That's more than I can say for most of the Einsteins I encounter in such establishments.
 Sometime during the wee hours of the morning, I became Medicare eligible.Since I was up and reading at 3:15 this morning, I celebrated my 50+15th birthday alone. I could have awakened my wife, but my chances of seeing 66 would have been slim and none had I chosen to do so. I have always had difficulties sleeping on a full moon, and this one is a doozy. It will peak with a "Blood Moon" on Wednesday of this week between 6:25-7:15 in the morning. I plan to sit on the banks of the Flint and watch the eclipse. I am either: 1) very light sensitive, 2) a werewolf, or 3) a lunatic. I am going with "light sensitive" rather than options two and three.
 Before I started reading very early this morning, I decided to watch a little television. The advertisements were all about Lifelock or Lifeline for the folks who have fallen and can't get up. The others dealt with devices for foot pain and/or back pain which leads me to believe that the advertisers know their target market during the middle of the night. Only us old, crazy folks are awake during these hours, and if we are awake, we are hurting somewhere.
 I have decided to adopt my Dad's philosophy. He always felt that old age was someone at least 20 years older than he was. He believed that even in his early 80's, and I'm beginning to adopt the same attitude. I have already been promoted to my last Sunday School class at our little country church. There is no older men's group than the one I'm in. My next promotion is across the road to the cemetery. While heaven is my home, I ain't homesick at the moment.
 As Garth Brooks said in one of his earlier country music songs, I'm too dang young to be this dang old" ! I feel good and have a lot of things left to teach my grandchildren. We are excited about opening the 2014-2015 hunting season at Riverview next week, and hope to visit with you here!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Random thoughts from a mature mind

Well, our weather man called for 3-6 inches of rain yesterday while we received just a shade less than one-tenth of an inch. These folks predict the weather about as good as I predict the stock market. In actuality, the light drizzle worked in our favor since we have just finished planting all of our winter rye grass on the lodge grounds. A deluge would have just washed the seed up into piles, and we would have been forced to replant. Additionally, all of our fertilizer would have leached out, and we would have needed to re-fertilize all of the property. The aforementioned weatherman is also calling for lows in the 50's this weekend; so I think that I will make certain to have my shorts and T-shirts ready for a heat wave.
 This is the time of the year that the gnats start declining in favor of the love bugs. I think that I like love bugs better. As I was sitting on the patio overlooking the beautiful Flint River yesterday, I noticed something interesting. There was an old lady on the other side of the river who was throwing her bait as far out in the river as she could cast. Meanwhile there was a man fishing from a boat in the middle of the river who was casting his plug as close to the shore as he could possibly get it. Don't you think that is as good of a definition of "the grass always being greener on the other side" as one can observe.
 It kind of reminds me of the banking industry. I once thought that that bankers had such an easy life. They worked from 9:00-5:00 just raking in money, and having a good time. How I wished that I could be a banker, and not have to work so hard for a living! Well, my wish came true in 1994 at least from a bank director's stand point. Having just served 20 years in that capacity, I have decided that my day job is much better than a career in banking.
 My Dad got in this business in 1957 after attending a seminar on how to make money and have fun in the hunting business. I have been attending those same seminars for years. I'm waiting on one that is titled" how to get out of the hunting business once you are in it". Since I never found that seminar, I did the next best thing. I stuck Cader IV with the headaches, and am enjoying being an adviser and grandparent.
 I'm going to jump back to my patio for a final rambling thought. As Martha and I were sitting out on the patio, I watched about 12 turkeys amble through the yard. I was actually watching for our little albino deer that is living somewhere in my back yard when the turkeys strolled through. As I was reflecting on this beautiful creation of God's, Martha casually asked me which vacation I had enjoyed the most this summer. Now I have not stayed married for 44 years to the same woman by being stupid, but I do sometimes speak before placing my brain in gear. I said,"Honey, I am enjoying this time on the patio more than any vacation destination we had this year because I have not had to visit the first cathedral or museum." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the fight started!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall

Fall officially arrives in south Georgia at 10:36 pm this evening, and, right on cue, Mother Nature is pushing us a cold front through here tonight. We should have very fall-like conditions here for the balance of the week. One thing is certain--we are flat ready for fall at Riverview. The woods are beautiful, and the dogs are playing themselves into hunting season shape with dog running occurring two hours each morning now.
 We have also brought in all of our kitchen and housekeeping staff to begin cleaning and going through all of our cottages. Greg says that we will plant our winter grass on all of the lodge grounds later in the week. When that grass starts coming up, I know that the arrival of guests is just around the corner.
 This past Saturday, I took my triplet nine year old grandchildren on a dove hunt. I had already tried the two boys with a shotgun earlier, and neither of them have quite enough upper body strength to handle a shotgun yet other than at a gun range. Nate and Keaton did kill hundreds of doves(according to them) with their BB guns while Eva picked every dove I killed up without losing a single bird. She is the best pick-up person I have ever had, at least of the two-footed version. I would tell you how many she picked up, but let's just say that she picked up the limit.
 I did have one minor problem with my little pick-up lady. During the best 40 minutes of the hunt, she looked at me with those big beautiful eyes and said, "Papa, I need to go to the bathroom, and I can't do that out here. You need to take me to Mimi's house". So, away we went. When I shared this story with my son, Cader IV, he looked at me and stated,"Who is this old person in my dad's body"? Then he proceeded to remind me of the time that he got stung by 4 bees on a dove hunt, and I would not take him to the house. He then recounted the time he cut himself with his pocket knife on another shoot, and I suggested that he pee on it and rub some turpentine on the cut because I was not leaving the field.
 Grandchildren are different, and that is all i have to say on that subject!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Of Boys,puppies, and shotguns

I've always believed that if a parent can teach his children to love the outdoors, that parent is leaving his children a legacy much more important than any monetary wealth he might leave them.Those children will always enjoy life, and be a lot less likely to get in trouble. One of the most interesting correlations that I ever read concerning prisons is that very few prisoners have ever owned a hunting or fishing license.
 The first time I ever shot a shotgun is a memory that I will hold and treasure forever. Looking back, I can readily admit that I was much too young and small to pull the trigger, but I begged my Dad so hard that he pulled the dogs in close just in case I could not hold the muzzle up. I never knew for certain whether Pop loved me or his bird dogs the most. At any rate, he handed me his 12 gauge, LC Smith double barrel and double triggered shotgun, and advised me to step on up. A covey of quail burst out from under my feet. I managed to get that heavy gun up to my shoulders, and promptly pulled both triggers at the same time. By some stroke of fate, a bird fell. As the bird was falling, so was I--minus my two front teeth that the shock of the recoil knocked out of my mouth. Pop always said that he had never seen anyone laugh and cry at the same time until then.
 My favorite Christmas was the Christmas that Santa brought me a 20 gauge single shot, shotgun, a hatchet, and a non-folding knife. I already had been well-schooled in gun safety, but Pop went through the importance of gun safety again before turning me loose with this one piece of advice, " do not shoot anything that you do not plan to eat unless it's a varmint." The only problem with that advice is that he failed to give me a definition of a "varmint". I promptly went out in the yard and shot a squirrel out of a pecan tree. We always called them "tree rats"; so I figured that squirrels were varmints. According to Pop, a squirrel was an edible animal. Since I had killed him, I had to clean and skin him, and Mom would cook him for me to eat. In my later years, I cleaned an entire deer quicker than it took me to handle my first outdoor butchering process of my trophy squirrel with my brand new knife that would hardly cut hot butter.
 My favorite memory involving teaching Cader IV to shoot was the year that I was training him and a new lab puppy at the same time. The day that I finally decided that both were ready, we took my boat to a little island on the river to try to bushwhack some doves flying in to water and pick up a little sand grit from the river. I had Cader standing in front of me, and had Josie on a leash. The action would go like this-- a dove would come drifting in, Cader IV would shoot falling back on me. I would catch him with one hand, and grab Josie's leash with the other hand while yelling,"Stay, Josie, and no, Cader, you did not hit that bird". At the end of the afternoon, I was completely sweated down. If memory serves me correctly, Cader IV killed four doves, and Josie retrieved all four of them. Those are precious memories !
 Both of my daughters can shoot also, but they kind of lost interest in it when they started wearing make-up, but they both still enjoy fishing. Thanks to the outdoors and the good Lord, none of my children, who are now parents themselves, ever got in trouble while growing up.
 Hunting season is just around the corner. The weatherman says that we should feel our first hint of fall next week, and we are ready for it!

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.