Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I have been reflecting recently on how many of the tools I use on our homestead have been around this farm my entire life. The peavey I roll logs with belonged to my grandfather. The hatchet I cut ice from the animal's water tanks with was my Dad's trapping ax. When I was about five, I stole it out of the back of his 1952 Chevy and tried to cut down one of the yard maples. I got in some trouble for that.
One of the tools I used recently was my Dad's Kabar knife. It has been used by three generations for certain butchering tasks and it has a story. At the end of World War Two, a retuning sailor who was a friend or relative gave it to my then teenage dad. I am sorry I cannot remember who. I am also sorry I never asked my Dad if he chose to take it with him when he was drafted in 1951.
While the Kabar was designed as a fighting knife, Dad used it as a boy kill chickens for the table, and his dad used it to stick pigs to bleed them out. Dad had to butcher one chicken every Sunday for Sunday supper. Sunday supper was always chicken and jello, both regarded as treats by his mother. My dad hated both as an adult.
During my childhood, the Kabar lived most of the year in a drawer in the basement. When I was old enough, my dad showed me how to use it in lieu of a cleaver to butcher deer. He never carried it hunting, as a pocketknife is adequate to gut, and he had another knife to skin.
As an adult who returned to the family farm, dad showed me how to flick the Kabar to cleanly decapitate a chicken. He also showed me how to quickly stick a hog after shooting it to bleed out the animal properly.
The sailor also brought my dad another gift; a portable airfield light that ran on 12 volt car batteries. While heavy, the light was portable and very powerful. Dad put it to less mundane use than the Kabar. His sister Irene had a boyfriend and Dad had my family's perverse sense of humor. One night he hid in one of the outbuildings with the light and a shotgun while Irene was out with her beau. He waited until the beau walked Irene to the porch for a goodnight kiss. At that moment, a very bright light struck the lovers and a shotgun blast exploded in the air. The beau took off and Irene eventually married another.