Weatherford Democrat

November 26, 2012

COLUMN: Storing acorns in a hollow tree

Larry M. Jones

— My Grandma Jones died in 1946 when I was only 3 years old. Despite being so young at the time, I have in my mind to this very day a clear picture of her. She was a frail gray haired old lady propped up in bed in the southeast bedroom of their home. I remember nothing else of her, but this scene has been indelibly etched in my mind all these years.

Despite never having known her, I feel I have what I consider a pretty accurate impression of her. In addition to what I was told by to me by Grandpa, my parents, other relatives, and even neighbors, I was able to witness the fruits of her labors. She had an enormous and beautiful rose garden in her back yard. On a more practical side, just behind it was an enormous vegetable garden which supplied a rich variety of fresh vegetables. Just past it was Grandpa’s orchard which provided limitless fresh fruit. She also had her brooder house for the chickens, turkeys, and geese.

Opposite the rose garden in her back yard was the crown jewel of their food chain — the root cellar and smokehouse. Here they stored their food. In the cellar went the onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, and Irish potatoes. In the smokehouse, Grandpa cured his hams and bacon, and Grandma stored countless shelves of canned meats, fruits, and vegetables. In addition there would be sacks of dried peaches, apricots, and apples hanging from the rafters.

Despite droughts, floods, wars, and the desperate times of the Great Depression, no one ever went hungry at Grandpa and Grandma Jones’s house. What they may have lacked in hard cash, they made up for with thrift, industry, and hard work. Not unlike Aesop’s parable of the grasshopper and the ant, my grandparents worked hard during times of plenty in order to secure what would be needed for their winters.

In today’s society, such an ethic is apparently a forgotten concept. We seem to no longer hold ourselves accountable for our own needs. Far too many constantly have a hand out for their needs, and consider a government provided safety net to be a God given right or entitlement.

My wife Helen and I are strong advocates of Grandma’s example. Down on the Pore farm, we work hard each year to store the bounty of the year’s harvest. Beginning in the spring, we store onions and potatoes for use throughout the year. We love sweet corn and black-eyed peas from the garden, and we freeze several bushels each spring. Pecans can be stored in the deep freeze for several years. Canned tomatoes from the garden are the next best thing to the ones picked straight off the vine. Frozen peaches provide a delightful treat on a cold winter day. Preserves and jellies made from wild plums, mustang grapes, or wild blackberries are a special treat when spread across a hot biscuit. Back strap or sausage made from venison or feral hog fills a large part of our freezer.

Whether a person lives in the Metroplex or down on the farm, this ability to provide for one’s own needs is much the same. If Grandma Jones could do it when she was seventy without running water, electricity, or indoor plumbing, what’s your excuse?

Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy Commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to