Thursday, July 1, 2021

Saved by a Ham

On High Acres, Daddy had one firm rule - when everyone arrived on the farm, he locked the gate and unless there was some dire emergency it remained locked until every one went home. If we ran short of something, he would get Stanbury to pick it up on his way up in the morning. However, between Stanbury's interpretation of your need and the availability of the product in the closest town at the bottom of the mountain (that consisted of three buildings, only one of which was currently occupied and that was a combination gas station/ general store), it was always a crap shoot what you would get.

Our staples included beef from the Angus cattle off the farm and fresh Rainbow trout from one of the neighbor's trout ponds. The rest of whatever we needed we brought up each time we came. Breakfast was always some type of sweet roll, lunch was usually sandwiches (often these were taken with us in the morning on whatever adventure we were embarking on), and dinner was a full sit down meal, sometimes grilled. And there were always snacks, chips, and fresh apples (in season) on the bar in the great room. 

Of course these were the years Mama had a proclivity with the bottle, which was easy to do on the farm since everyone started with Bloody Mary's and it went down hill from there - sometimes literally. But, when everyone else stayed out most of the day, at least all morning, Mama stayed in. She always had her list projects she was working on for the house.

It may be refinishing a chest, painting an iron bed, or restoring any of the other assorted treasures Stanbury had found for her. And, as I said, the house was a work in progress. The operative word there being "in progress". She would start every morning on some project with all intentions of finishing it, but it seemed by the time we got home around the middle of the day, the paint brush was on the paint can, the iron bed was half painted, and Mama was messing around in the kitchen working on her 2nd or 3rd beer.

This brought us to another matter - food.  While most of the meals were planned out, there was no hard and fast rule about what we were eating. However, there was an issue when we would come back in the afternoon and Mama had taken it upon herself to start supper. If no one paid attention, by the time she said "it was ready" there was a good chance we would find ourselves sitting down to a mess of burnt fried trout, a raw roast, some unrecognizable species of meat, and a table of starved folks.

There was one saving grace if and when such a disaster occurred. One of us would get up and go to the refrigerator. Chances were there was a canned ham in there. For some reason, Mama had this maternal instinct in her to provide for us even when she wasn't quite up to it. I cannot tell you why, but she always had one of those hams on hand. We would open it, slice it up and serve it. Voila, supper was saved.

To this day, when ever my brother sees one of those canned hams, he refers to it as our salvation. "Do realize how often we would have starved had it not been for one of those?" Well, I think that's carrying  it a little far, but there were many nights I was damn glad to see one when I opened up the refrigerator.

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