….I got interested in living OTG. I am not 100% sure why, actually. I have never liked camping, dirt, bugs or hard physical work (I had done enough to know that without a doubt). And changing light bulbs was about the limit of my DIY-abilities. Still, something snapped, popped or short-circuited and, all of a sudden I could not get enough of timber framing, plumbing, electrical work and all that sort of thing. I kind of think it is a phase we all feel at some point and I felt it just after turning 50.
I really had no idea.
Part of trying to find a clue was, of course, reading books and, surprisingly, there were not that many that were contemporary. The last books on OTG around the turn of the century were really the FoxFire series and the Whole Earth catalogue from a much earlier time. The best source of information back then was Mother Earth News (MEN), a magazine and internet forum still focused on homesteading, farming, pole-barns, quilting and making jams.
The articles in MEN were hilarious to me. I’ll never forget one that was titled, “Birthing Lambs”. The article detailed the whole harrowing process but it was the advice to get ’em started breathing that sent me into hysterics. Seems lambs don’t breathe well on their own and the mid-wife/husband (human) is obliged to clamp their own mouth over the nostrils of the baby lamb and suck out all the birthing phlegm to clear the obstruction.
That almost put me off. Well, it DID put me off having a farm that raised sheep, lambs or anything that required sucking phlegm.
Anyway, learning about OTG was a lot of fun and I made quite a few internet friends on the MEN sponsored forum from Kevin to the OOMs. The OOMs are Old Order Mennonites sprinkled along the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia and other regions Hillbilly. The OOMs were and still are fascinating. They are like the Amish only more so.
I love the OOMs.
Part of the appeal was their incredible wealth of long-forgotten, old-time, knowledge from how to blow up rats in your barn to how to refresh your enclave’s gene-pool. And a side benefit was that Sarah and Majere (my two OOM buddies) spoke to me as an ‘English’. They modified their Pennsylvania Dutch to accommodate those on the forum but, generally, their conversation was liberally enhanced with old fashioned terms. I have not had the benefit of enjoying real, natural, down-home, old-country-speak for a long time.
A friend of mine is a somewhat newly displaced Carolinian (now in BC) and he has that same quality of speechifying and it is a lot of fun. ‘Course, being’ Merican, he has coon dogs, rifles and a pick-up truck. He hunts. He quotes Mark Twain. He is, otherwise, quite acculturated to these here parts and is even a bit more sophisticated than the local homies so we ain’t talkin’ ’bout no hick.
Because he is a hunter and I am not and yet I keep wondering if I should be….I asked him, “Hey, wanna see my huntin’ rifle? Never been fired.”
“Never, eh? Then, nope. Don’t wanna see it.”
“Aw, shucks, man. Maybe I’ll just bring it along some day. You can show me how to kill things and all……”
“Leave yer irons with yer hoss, son.”
Swear to God…just like that….straight from the mouth…no thinkin…right there….
I just broke up.