Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Grandma was quite a character. She was a quiet woman but she could surprise you at times with the things that she did.
Grandma could cook. She was the best cook I ever knew. Even better than my mother. I do not like pancakes but I always hoped she would make them for breakfast when I was there. That was because she made her own syrup out of water and sugar.
Grandma made homemade bread every day. And I mean every day. She cooked and baked on an old wood stove. Anyone who has had food cooked that way knows how much better it tastes.
Grandma had been cooking since she was a small girl. Once in a while on Sunday when they were making Sunday dinner, Grandma would ask one of her daughters to take the homemade biscuits from the oven. They would start to look for pot holders or a towel to hold the pan to keep from getting burned. Grandma would give an exasperated sigh and grab the pan with her bare hands and set it on the table.
I remember being shocked when I was in high school. Grandma had had a stroke. After a long hospital stay she was finally home. She went to take biscuits from the oven and had to bounce the pan from hand to hand. She felt the heat.
Grandma said that while she was in the hospital the doctors and nurses talked about her like she was a baby. She was unable to speak. The doctors told everyone that she would never walk again. She laid there and thought to herself; "I'll show them!" She got tired easily at first but she could walk just fine.
She was a farmer's wife with all the work that entails. She cooked a lot of fried chicken. She would send my uncles out to catch and behead a couple chickens for dinner. She used a wire that had a hook bent at the end to catch the leg of a chicken so the person could get it in their grasp. Then the boys were supposed to chop off the heads with an axe.
Now getting a chicken to lay its head calmly on a chopping block while you cut off its head is an impossible task. They wiggle, they squirm, and they have extremely agile necks. My uncles would have a time trying to do the chore.
Finally Grandma would get tired of waiting. She just grabbed the chickens by their heads, spun them just so and wrung their heads right off their necks. It took seconds.
There was the time the cow got gas. Cows do not belch so gas stays inside and grows. If not taken care of the cow will die.
Grandpa had gone to town and would be gone for a couple of days. If he had been there he would have "stuck" the cow and it would have been done. Sticking the cow meant taking out his pocket knife and stabbing the cow in the spot where the second stomach was. It released the gas and all was right with the world.
Grandma did not know how to stick the cow. So she figured it would be fine until Grandpa got back. The cow just kept swelling and bawling. It bawled constantly and loudly. The swelling got bigger and the bawling got louder. Finally Grandma knew she would have to take care of it herself. She had no idea how to stick the cow. She grabbed a rake handle and shoved it into the proper opening on the cow. There was a great noise as the gas escaped. My mother said the smell was unbearable and hung over the farm for days. The cow was fine.
A wolf had been killing the livestock. Grandpa had not been able to catch it. It was another one of those times when Grandpa had to be away. Grandma heard a ruckus out with the animals. She looked out the window and saw the wolf.
She grabbed Grandpa's double-barreled shotgun. She had never shot a gun but she decided to play Annie Oakley.
She ran out to where the wolf was. She lifted the shotgun in both hands and held it out directly in front of her. She pulled both triggers at the same time. The shotgun kicked back and hit her in the mouth. It knocked out both her front teeth. I do not know what happened to the wolf.