A cold, muddy chore – but worth the effort
Editor's note: This item has been updated. A previous version did not list the complete recipe at the end of the column.
Julia and I were making several types of energy balls when Daddy walked into the kitchen announcing his plans to head back to the pond and tackle his project of seining out the large catfish before winter.
"Mom, may I go back and watch?" Julia wanted to know.
"Do your after-school chores. Then you're free," I told her.
Streaking here and there, she wrapped up her jobs, then headed back beyond the pasture, which is home to our two horses and steers.
Curiosity took over. I had to go back and watch too. Besides, what man doesn't enjoy having his wife watch him tackle difficult tasks? As soon as the little boys had awakened from their naps, we were off, leaving the kitchen as is. As we neared the pond, little Joshua began getting all excited. His excitement knew no bounds as he heard his older siblings calling him from the banks.
Scanning the pond, I spied Hubby wading in what was left of the pond after it had been drained a good way. There he was, in 45-degree weather, wading water well over his knees, not to mention the foot of muck he sloshed through with every step. The long seining net was strung across the entire length of the pond to net all the fish to take out the cats to keep them from suffocating over winter when the oxygen levels drop.
Rounding the pond, we joined the children watching from the bank and trying to stay out of the mud. Do all boys enjoy mud
While Daniel, barefoot in the cold watery muck, dragged the six-foot-tall seine through the pond, he walked back and forth, coaxing it over the muck. His dad held securely to the other end. To our delight, Grandma soon joined those of us watching.
"There goes a fish. It jumped right over the net!" declared Austin.
"Red ear do that," Daniel explained.
After 60 minutes of labor, the net was inching closer to the banks. The water swirled through the tiny space they had left. In minutes the fish were in the net, which was now folded in half with the top side with floats strung across the top, just above the water's surface.
The guys knew they'd need to move quickly with such a large amount of fish in a little area with murky waters. As Grandpa held to his end, Daniel kept hanging on to the other end, which was now only 20 feet away.
"Daniel, may I come in and help?" I wanted to know. He debated, then replied, it's up to you. In seconds I had taken off my shoes and socks and was at his side. I felt like a young girl once more as I sloshed through the mud.
"Mom, isn't it cold?" Julia wondered.
"Yes, but it's OK," I tossed back.
Joshua wasn't impressed. He wasn't sure about all the ado. Instead of quietly fishing or just throwing in fish food and watching the cats eat it, he was fussing. Julia and Grandma kept him quiet while Daniel and I helped each other sort through the fish.
"Can I just grab them with my hands?" I wondered.
"The big ones aren't that simple to get with your hands," he answered, grabbing another one and putting it up to the growing pile.
Inching closer to where Grandpa was holding his end, I pulled the net up out of the water for the children to see. Flashes of blue, gray and even shades of purple flashed in the nets by dozens or hundreds.
"Look, isn't that beautiful?"
"Don't you think that is just how it looked when Jesus was with his disciples, and they caught all those fish?"
Now my mind was reeling, my heart burned within, Didn't Jesus then tell them to be fishers of men? Aren't there unnumbered people who need Jesus, just as the unnumbered fish swimming this way and that, trying to find a way out?
"Children, Jesus called us to now be fishers of men. That means helping and saving other people, just as we are bringing in fish," I explained.
When Daniel had taken out the last cat, we released the remaining fish. It was hard for Austin to see the 30-inch grass carp swimming to freedom, yet knowing they aren't good to eat and need them to help keep the pond clean, he was fine with the plan. Daniel counted 22 nice cats and placed them all in the tractor bucket to go butcher them. Now, all we had left was taking the net out of the pond and hot showers. What a welcome thought!
As I headed back to the house, my skirts felt icy; then walking through the living room, I left muddy tracks with each step. I smiled to myself. Surely I don't have the chance to help Hubby with endeavors like this every day!
So, here we are. The freezer is stocked for the winter. No, we don't want fish for Thanksgiving, so why don't we do a more traditional recipe this week like these delicious pumpkin pie squares?
Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, housewife and writer in rural Illinois. To learn more about the column visit www.amish365.com/about.
Pumpkin Pie Squares
• ½ cup butter, softened
• ½ cup brown sugar
• ½ cup rolled oats
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 eggs
• ¾ cup white sugar
• 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
• 1 (12-fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground ginger (opt.)
• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves (opt.)
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (opt.)
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1. Mix together butter and brown sugar then mix in flour and the oats to make an oatmeal crumble crust.
2. Press crust inside a 9×13-inch baking dish.
3. Bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
4. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling ingredients.
5. In a large bowl, beat eggs and mix in white sugar.
6. Beat in pumpkin and evaporated milk (I use our own fresh milk.).
7. Mix in salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
8. When crust is finished baking, pour filling into hot crust.
9. Mix crumb ingredients, and sprinkle over filling.
10. Return to the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes, until set.
11. Let cool before cutting into squares.
12. If desired, serve with a dab of whipped topping on each piece.