Growing up

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I had managed to save a few photos of me as a kid. I found that while I was searching for people that may have photos of me had passed away or the photos had been lost, damaged, or even destroyed. In any case, as a kid, I really didn’t focus on getting photos of the tasks and projects we did. In our world today, it is believed if there is no photo it never happened. very unfortunate for many people in my generation. However, there are some leisure photos that were taken to remember the good times. I will try to keep this page updated as much as possible so I can keep the way I grew up alive and pass the word along to you.

This is a photo of part of the house and some of the property we lived on from the time I was 3 to the time I was 11. This is looking at the house from Holson Valley road. I really miss this place and I have some great memories there. The lessons I learned while we lived there I will carry for the rest of my life. This is my beginning. We didn’t have much. we raised rabbits for meat, chickens for eggs and meat, goats for milk, and we also had a huge garden that we planted. We would preserve the harvest for coming hard times when the creek would rise and trap us there. During these times we would rely on the food we had preserved and the fish we would catch to get us through.

This photo is looking down the road toward the creek that would come up to the bottom of this small hill. I remember so many times walking down this road to go swimming or fishing. even after I graduated I made it a point to keep going back to this old house in the middle of nowhere. Over time the house would be broken into and destroyed by people that would pass by and shoot at it or knock down the walls. It was upsetting but things like that happen.

A lot of my summers were spent here after we moved. We would camp and fish and in the fall we would hunt. There was plenty of land to do these things without the bother of outsiders or the worry of someone scaring away the deer we were tracking. Even if I went back alone I never really felt alone. It was like there always someone there with me.

This is Holson creek on one side of Blue Mountain. This is one of the times it came up and made the roads impassable. When it was like this we would be stuck for a few days after the rain would quit provided the rain only lasted that long. Other times, the water would get much higher, keeping us there longer. These are the times we prepared for. They were difficult, but we were a family. I can remember going to bed being lulled to sleep by the sound of the rain hitting the tin roof. Other times, I could hear the creek roaring just down the road. I knew, then, I would not be going to school the next day. This to me was not a big deal I never really liked school that much anyway.

The summer rains were the worst, these would bring tornadoes that would send us to the storm cellar. Now that I live in Arizona, I have people ask how did we handle that kind of scare and possibility of loosing our homes. The answer is actually simple, being raised in that environment, it was just a part of life. Growing up in these areas I can remember many times we would head for the cellar. We were already prepared for such an emergency.

This is a photo of me and my family in front of the garden we would tend. The full size of the garden was just over an acre if I remember correctly.  Know it was huge and we got a lot of food from it.  I can remember mom canning what seemed like hundreds of quarts of vegetables. We were also lucky in the sense that there were a lot of berry bushes and trees in the forest and on the property. From these, my mom would make jams, jellies, and lots of pies. I learned a lot about edible plants that way, which, came in handy while fishing along the creek bank. I always had a snack during summer. I also remember going into the woods with my mom and sister one summer to harvest Polk Sallet greens and a few others. One of the most prolific “weeds” as my mother called it, was purslane. Seems my parents hated wild edible plants, I never really thought much of it.

This is another view of part of the garden and the barn where we housed our rabbits. The rabbits were kept in hutches and were tended to several times a day. We had to keep an eye on them in the summer because they would get too hot. We would lose a few as a result of heat stroke in the summer. We had to install some large fans in order to increase the air flow to keep them cooler when the temps would climb.

Once the rabbits were at the right age we would butcher them and put them in the freezer. This culling of the herd, so to speak, kept food in our stomachs. Rabbits we raised for foodI still remember the taste of two of my favorite rabbit dishes, rabbit stew, and rabbit pockets; which were pizza pockets made with rabbit meat. These were very good and as I got a little older I developed the taste for rabbit fajitas. This is how I learned you can substitute rabbit for any chicken recipe. In the photo, you can see several of the rabbits that we raised for food. At one time, we had over 100 rabbits. I remember slaughtering them. It was a little hard at first, however, once you begin to understand where our food comes from, it isn’t so bad.

Every morning I had chores, even as a little kid. In this photo, I was around 3 years old, while mom would be milking the goat or watering the chickens and I would be feeding them. These same chickens provided us with not only eggs but, meat as well. There is something to be said about farm fresh eggs. I love how they do not run all over the pan while you are cooking it. This to me is the way to live, not only is it healthier but, in my opinion, more life fulfilling. If I had it to live all over again I would in a heartbeat.

Being raised this way, in this environment, really gives you an appreciation for where your food comes from. I was never afraid of killing my food, I understood from a very young age what we needed to do and why we did it. I know that is lost with a lot of people today and frankly, it is sad, but a lot of them do not even know where a steak comes from. It is like they have absolutely no clue that they are eating a dead cow and that it once ran free in a pasture if it is organic. If not, it was cooped up in a pen somewhere and shot up with hormones before it ends up on their burger.

Our nanny goat. she gave us a lot of milk. The baby goat in the picture we ended up having to bottle feed. It would never take to its mother. Every morning I would get up and feed, water, and milk the goat. I was raised on goats milk for the first 11 years of my life. You can truly taste the barnyard in goats milk. We would make a lot of things using it. Homemade bread, cheese, and even on our cereal in the morning.

Fishing in Holson Creek. One of my favorite things to do hands down. Believe it or not, I am only 5 years old in this picture. This is a photo of me casting my line into the water. just 3 years after this photo was taken, I remember going to the creek without my pole and making one from a piece of river cane and some scrounged tackle. Most of the fish I caught from this creek were crappie, bluegill, and sunfish, still fish just the same. I was very proud to be able to contribute to the dinner table in my own way. Till this day, I love fish, it is still one of my favorite things to eat. Another way we would be able to fish was either by jug fishing or with a trotline. I remember some pretty tasty catfish being caught in one way or another.

These next two photos are of me with some of my catch. The one on the lower left I am 5 years old with a stringer of perch.  The one on the right is actually a weed eater line full of crappie. I ended up catching too many for my stringer. It must have taken 8 or more hours to clean them all, However, it was well worth it.

Another thing I really enjoyed doing besides fishing was hunting. Mostly squirrel, rabbit, bird, and on occasion deer hunting with friends. Every time we went out we came back with dinner. On several occasions, we would just light up a fire and cook it up right where we were. In my opinion, there is nothing like fresh meat or fish cooked where it drops. As time goes on, I will try to contact some of my old friends and scout masters to see if they still have any of the photos that were taken of me. I would love nothing more than to post them here so you can read more and more about how I grew up and the experiences I had. One of these days, I hope to return to living this way. It was by far the most rewarding way of life. Besides, I wouldn’t really want to live any other way…Well, maybe in the tropics.

This is actually what has happened to a lot of the photos I had. Most were a lot worse than this one. This is a photo of me hunting for squirrel, at age 14. This is an old Stevens break action 20 GA. I can not even begin to tell you how many meals this shotgun got for me. This is one of the very few action shots that were taken while hunting. We never really kept that great of records and we never really thought that a camera was part of our kits. This is long before cell phones and digital cameras. At this time home computers were a little too heavy to try to lug around as a laptop. Never the less, I loved the experiences I had growing up. These experiences are what has made Arizona Bushman.

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