SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.
Last week I published the electronic version of my latest book: The Path to Now: An Octogenarian's Account of Life and Travels in North Florida and the World. Though it deals very little with sailing (there are a few Atlantic crossings as a Seafaring Cowboy), the stories are about generations of the Geiger family who lived and continue to live simply. I wrote the book as if Al Geiger is telling the stories from his front porch swing (which his mother designed and built in 1916). I hope you enjoy the excerpt and if you are looking for a good read and purchase a copy, thank you for the support. The paperback version is in the works. I'll keep you posted.
Our Barred Rocks chickens were the size of Rhode Island Reds, but I preferred bantams as pets: miniature red roosters and hens. They were smarter than the Barred Rocks. If a bantam found a hole in the fence big enough to get through, he remembered where it was so when we fed him on the other side, he ran back to that hole rather than all the way around the fence. Though they could fly, they avoided it if possible. I had that coop for my bantams that I pulled behind my tricycle, but once they discovered the old camphor tree back there, they preferred to roost in it. Every night they settled higher and higher until chickens were sleeping thirty feet up that tree. Each morning they glided down in a spiral, like birds of prey riding a thermal.
Like all chickens, our roosters fought to establish the pecking order, but it wasn't always linear. With some trios, each one could boss one of the others, but not both. Any bantam rooster was the top of the pecking order, though, even if a Barred Rock rooster towered over him.
I helped gather the eggs when I was young. I reached up into the nest, felt around since I was too short to see, and occasionally found something besides eggs. Sometimes a rat snake was in there instead. The jaws of even a small rat snake stretch far enough to allow it to swallow an egg whole. We tried to catch these snakes. We squeezed their bodies, working the egg toward the mouth until the snake's mouth opened and out popped the egg, still intact. But we didn't kill the snake: he was still useful. Instead, we found a rat hole to put him in. Later we might see the snake with a long swelling where it had swallowed the rat. Better that it should eat a rat than our eggs. My mother said that we did not sell the eggs that had been swallowed by a snake; we ate those ourselves. But occasionally, one got mixed in with the rest of the eggs, and since customers ate raw eggs, too, one of them may have eaten a raw egg that had once been swallowed by a snake.
We ran an egg route, selling about ninety dozen eggs a week, mostly to individual customers. Newspapers included a marketing section with the latest price of grocery store eggs and the higher direct-to-consumer price, which we charged. The lowest price I recall was forty cents a dozen some time before 1939, but my older brothers remembered selling a dozen eggs for eight cents at the beginning of the depression. By the time we quit selling eggs in 1954, we were charging 99 cents a dozen. Judge Madison's wife was one of several customers who had bought eggs from my grandmother Geiger in the 1800s when eggs were delivered in beds of Spanish moss. An old woman the first I remember her, she always had cookies for me, so I was sure to tag along when we were delivering her eggs.
Sometimes we sold chickens. We kept a record of requests and chose a chicken that had stopped laying many eggs to include in the following week's egg run. Most chickens we delivered alive, but sometimes a customer preferred them already killed. I was barely old enough to deliver eggs when a customer asked for a dead chicken. She was skittish about having to kill chickens herself and hated seeing them run around with their heads cut off. I had never killed a chicken before, so I asked old Mrs. Herbert, one of our customers, to kill it for me. She agreed, took it around to the back of her house where she had a chopping block, and lopped off its head. The woman who had ordered the chicken was waiting in the street with me for Mrs. Herbert to return. Instead, running around the side of the house toward us was this chicken with blood spurting from where its head should be. The traumatized customer didn't join in my laughter. Here is your chicken, Ma'am, almost dead as promised.
Not long ago we were asked what recipes we have to keep from getting bored with baked bread onboard. MONDAY we'll share our favorite untraditional breads.PREVIOUS
Connie McBride's work has been published in Good Old Boat, Sail Magazine, Small Craft Advisor, Cruising World, All at Sea, and Blue Water Sailing. As a full-time liveaboard cruiser for over 15 years, she has written several books and in her spare time, well, who has spare time?
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