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I cannot emphasize enough that we are only as healthy as the food we eat!

My sister Sue passed away in June, 2014. Sue was six years older than me and a picture of health. She and her husband Mike had just climbed a mountain in Italy, and then eight months later, she passed away from pancreatic cancer. Toward the end of her fight, she confided in me her concern of our food supply, and I must question the same.

Make no mistake… I am not blaming my sister’s death on our food. We, as Americans, live longer and healthier lives than ever. Our farmers do practice sound farming habits, however, in my opinion, I believe a locally grown, non-GMO food source, raised in your garden, is the future of the health of American families.

The year is 1975. The place is Hackneyville, Alabama. I limped in a walking cast to my great uncle’s garden.

I said, “Uncle Ren, that’s the most beautiful garden I have seen!”

The old man looked at me and said, “Son, you feed the ground… it feeds you.”

I scratched my head, as my great uncle, a grand old gentleman in blue coveralls, explained to me the great benefits of “green manure.” You see, he planted clover in the garden every fall, then disked it into the ground in January. He allowed the green plants to rot… this is called “green manure.” He would also cut horse or cow manure into the garden as well.

This lesson served me well in a very long agriculture career.

Hunting South Dakota Roosters with Vintage Side-by-Sides

“Dad gum my hand is cold!” I thought. I had removed the glove from my right hand because of the double triggers on the old Westley Richards, and stuffed it in my shooting vest. I was blowing hot air into my cupped hand when it happened. The old rooster exploded at the nose of Roger’s large pointer and all thoughts of a frozen hand vanished. My right thumb cocked both hammers with a single sweep and the old muzzleloader found its way to my cheek like it was born there. I thought, “Wait….wait.…too close to the dog.” The magnificent bird yelled a loud cackle as he quickly gained altitude. Then white smoke exploded from the right barrel followed with a deep throated BOooom! The rooster, flying left to right, collided with a string of lead 6’s and he fell from the sky like a large rock. “Well, that ain’t something you see every day!!” yelled Roger. My friend wasn’t talking about my shooting skills or lack of…….he was thrilled with witnessing an 1855 Westley Richards 14 bore Muzzleloader, historically known as a ‘Detonator,’ come back to life on his farm in Mitchell, South Dakota! My son Matt yelled, “Nice bird Dad,” as my 7-year-old Grandson Sam stared at me with bright blue eyes and a toothy grin! Sam trotted over and picked up the great rooster. “Grandpa, look at him……he’s beautiful!” I replied, “Yes he is son, and he’ll eat good”. We walked to the end of the harvested corn field when Roger spotted a rooster run into a patch of native grass about the size of a basketball court. I said, “Hold up! Let me reload!” With the right barrel ready again, we waded in. Almost immediately the rooster flushed in front of Matt who quickly killed the bird with his Benelli auto 12 bore. Oddly, the bird fell on top of a round bale of hay. I said, “Great shot Son!” as Matt walked to retrieve his bird. I walked in the opposite direction towards the end of the grass cover thinking, “Who knows…….maybe that bird has a brother with him.” Unbelievably, another rooster exploded at my feet with a loud cackle!! It was another left to right…….the old gun found my shoulder and I cleanly killed the bird at 25 yards. White smoke and its fine aroma filled the air like fog…….and we all smiled.

How much production does a food plot need?

The sun was popping up on a cold January morning. I sat in a duck blind with a good friend over flooded corn as steam drifted off the water. The sound of jets flying overhead put my heart in a ‘giddy up’ mode as a dozen Mallards cupped their wings to settle in our decoys. Gripping my 1898 Parker DH 10 bore double gun I stood, and took an eye on a bird settling in. The KABOOOM of the old Parker’s black powder load sent the green head to the water like a giant tennis racket had swatted him from the sky. The white smoke and smell of burnt powder made me smile. Oh, how I love to hunt……and oh, how I love old guns!

I said to my friend, ”Ross, what a beautiful morning, and what a beautiful place you have to shoot ducks”.

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