As I write this edition of Summer Scene, the first thought that came to my mind is a verse in the Bible from Job 1:21 which says, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” While I wish that He had not taken so much away with Hurricane Michael, I am also reminded that the Chinese word for “crisis” is the same as the word for “opportunity”. We have taken this disaster as an opportunity to make Riverview more beautiful than it was before the hurricane, and that is really happening. Of course, good credit is also a blessing, and we needed it to accomplish what we are doing to completely transform this crisis into a great opportunity.
Without any further preamble, let me launch right into what is going on this summer. I am going to begin with our woods reclamation program which Jerry is in charge of. Cader IV has secured two skidders, four rubber tired front-end loaders, and a feller buncher, which cuts down snags rather than having to use chain saws. Moss, Reid, Matt, Zeke, Clint, Will and Casey are doing an outstanding job of running this equipment while Jerry flits from site to site supervising and lining up the priorities of cleanup. Since he is doing so much riding, Jerry has become concerned that he is getting fat. I told him that he was not getting fat, but he was just becoming easier to see. Speaking again of Jerry, he and I fish together a bit. I think that if you weighed a baby on his fish scales, most babies would weigh somewhere between 19 – 21 pounds every time.
Once a week, Jerry and Cader IV get together to plan what areas of the plantation we need to concentrate on for the coming week. I reminded them to be decisive since the road of life is filled with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision. These two men are a lot of things, but indecisive is not one of them.
Jerry wanted everyone to know that the Flats, Bowl and Old River courses will become “no alibis” courses as they will be mostly wide open with grasses and food plots. We will be planting some pine strips in them this winter, but we are already planting love grass and switch grasses in them. We are also taking a lot of small, junky hardwoods out of almost all of our courses; so there goes more alibis. We have at least six courses that are going to be more huntable than prior to the hurricane, while all of them will look better. I really believe that you will be shocked at how beautiful and clean our hunting courses will look this fall. We do need some more rain to finish burning all of our piles that the front-end loaders have gathered up although we had burned a lot of them before we hit this dry period.
Now, let’s switch over to our food plot program. A lot of great things have come out of Texas, but the Sugar Cane Aphid isn’t one of them. This pest has almost decimated our feed patches for the last few years even though we have sprayed repeatedly trying to kill them. We are switching to Pearl Millet this year, and are using a Tift Leaf variety. It makes a hardier stalk, and seems that it is more resistant to the aphids. My hope is that those dang aphids will become as confused as a fart in a fan factory, and take their voracious appetites elsewhere. We have high expectations of much better food plots using the Pearl Millet.
Meanwhile, Greg has been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger in a sand storm. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we are not planting sweet corn this year. However, Greg is getting two new projects up and running in the agricultural operations as we are planting both Satsuma oranges and blueberries. The equipment and technology are above my head. As Greg tries to explain it to me, I sit there looking like an envelope with no address on it. But Greg is a great farmer, and I have a lot of confidence that at least he understands it.
Changing subjects, I certainly don’t want to leave out our kennel and dog projects. We are having to replace some tin and fans there due to storm damage, but that hasn’t slowed down our program at all. Andy Hay, with assistance from Josh, is doing an outstanding job with our English cocker program. As soon as Moss can get off the heavy equipment, he will begin buying and working with our big dogs. Andy tells me that we are training four new Riverview Cockers. We are also working with some of our fully trained young Cockers on flushing and marking birds down. One new thing we are doing with this program is that we are training Cockers for other people as we now have plenty of fully trained ones for Riverview. We are currently doing this for four individuals, and could add more if anyone is interested. Andy is truly a dog whisperer, but I do remind him occasionally that sometimes you are the top dog, and sometimes you are the fire hydrant.
Now, we will change subjects to the lodge grounds. There will be no signs of hurricane damage down here by October. We will be reroofing all of our cottages this summer, and making repairs to golf cart houses. We are also adding an outside firepit for River Cottage this fall since the one at Founder’s Cottage was so popular last season. Of course, our famous Chef Retha is busy putting up mayhaw and blackberry jellies along with green tomato pickles and other Riverview delicacies.
I also did not want to forget to mention that we will continue our very popular holiday promotion program where we discount our base rate by 35% for our “frugal” hunters. Those dates this year are:
November 27 – 30 | December 20 – 21 | December 27 – January 2
As has been my custom since I began writing Summer Scene in 1974, I would like to close with a few random thoughts.
My very first thoughts deal with aging, an experience that I am beginning to understand more and more each day. If things get better with age, I must be getting close to freaking magnificent. Every day I beat my previous record of days that I have stayed alive. I just can’t believe how old people my age are, and it’s truly scary to think that the people I went to high school with are now running this country. Maybe that’s why we are in such of a mess in Washington these days. Finally, on the subject of age, I don’t know how I got over the hill without ever getting to the top.
Just a few more things I would like to add before wrapping up. Remember that life is not a fairy tale. If you lose your shoes at midnight, you are probably drunk. I also read recently that Ruger is coming out with a new pistol named “The Congressman”. It doesn’t work, and you can’t fire it.
And, this last one is for my beloved wife of almost 49 years now, Martha, who continues to keep me straight, and is doing great with her cancer prognosis. “God may have created man before woman, but there is always a rough draft before the masterpiece.”
We are all doing well, and pray that you and your families are also. We hope you have a great spring and summer, and REALLY look forward to showing y’all the new and improved Riverview this fall and winter.