Thursday, October 6, 2016

Wilbo Remembers Ten Years Living on the Land in the Middle of Fields and Forests of Lower, Middle Michigan.

I grew up in a rural township named Burns Township. The township stood in the middle of lower Michigan, between the major cities of Flint and Lansing. All of our neighbors farmed the land, raising wheat and corn and managing herds of cattle and swine. We lived in a farm house and raised five acres of vegetables for our table and to sell. We kept a handful of chickens for eggs and meat. Our shopping required at least a drive of an hour to a fully stocked grocery store. For clothing and durable purchases, we often found ourselves driving into the major cities of Flint and Lansing. To go to school, we boarded a bus that took us to a building ten miles away from home. 

Living in the country far from the conveniences of cities had its advantages. I became adept at watching wildlife, birds and animals that showed very little fear of members of our family. White tail deer began bedding down in our front yard, safe from the hunter and safe from the jaws of coyotes. Our bird feeders flocked with many species of birds, especially during the migratory seasons of May and October. I delighted in seeing the arrival of Robins, Blue Birds and Blue Jays to our feeders. I still try to identify all the birds I see to this day, and use the field guides I acquired while living at home. 

When living in the Michigan countryside, the foods most loved by family and neighbors come from the fields and forests close at hand. For late summer dinners, we piled our picnic table high with boiled sweet corn, eating the sweet treat covered with butter and salt until full. All summer long, we would filet and pan fry the fish we could easily catch off the dock of a local lake. My mother's recipe called for a simple breading of flour and pepper. Fish dredged in the breading became delicious deep fried in fresh corn oil. A passel of pheasant or a leg of venison meant an evening of feasting, all prepared to my mother's recipes. We liked pizza, but we never let pizza substitute for real food, sourced from the field.

Male Eastern Bluebird
Dehaan - Own work
CC BY-SA 3.0
!7 December 2008
 — at Burns Township.

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