When I was a little boy and would hear my parents talking about August being the Dog Days of Summer, I just assumed that was due to the fact that it was so hot that only a dog could live outside in Southwest Georgia during August. Much to my chagrin, I have discovered that the Romans coined this phrase thousands of years ago. They were referring to the Dog Star, Sirius. At least, they had one part right. The Romans used it as a reference for the hottest and most humid days of summer. I’m not about to argue with the Romans as they had this bad habit of crucifying folks who disagreed with them. I actually took three years of Latin in high school, and came to really admire the Roman civilization in its early years. I can still quote a bit of Latin, but not as much as my friend, John, can.
One of the many things that I remember about the Augusts of my youth is that my mother would caution me that a sore would not heal in August, and she would warn me not to cut or scrape myself. She might as well have waved a red flag at a bull. I spent all day outside in the fields working, and kept my trusty Barlow knife in my pocket to whittle with if Pop happened to not be supervising my job progress at the time. Consequently, I always had a cut or two on me. Guess what? They would not heal. I believe that it had a lot to do with the gazillion gnats lighting on my sores, and the fact that I kept brushing them off before a scab could form. Also, our relative humidity is so high down here that sweat just runs like a river on your body even if you are just standing still, and sores will not heal when they stay damp. Our temp/humidity index is predicted to hit 107 degrees here today!
At Riverview, August is always not only our hottest month of the year, but it is our slowest month also. The crops have been harvested, and we generally wait until mid-September to begin seriously working dogs, and working on Lodge Grounds clean up. We do work our young dogs under the shade of a couple of big oaks near the kennel for an hour or two each morning, especially our English Cockers which we are not only training for ourselves, but for other folks as well. Due to that fact, we can’t stop working on these little dogs just because it is hot, but we do limit the hours, and find some shade. I doubt that you could boil an ounce of fat out of Andy Hay or Josh Davis right now as they are in charge of the English Cocker training program.
Our primary routine at Riverview for the month of August is equipment maintenance and repairs. That includes jeeps, tractors, trucks, and any other piece of equipment that I might have backed into. The good thing about maintenance is that we can perform most of these jobs at our shop, where we have huge floor fans that at least blow the hot, muggy air around. The shop is also surrounded by pecan trees, which are in full leaf and bloom. Well, the ones that Hurricane Michael did not blow down are in full leaf; so that provides some shade with the fans, but it is still hotter than the hinges of hell down here at the moment.
I usually ride out to the shop with Cader IV at 1:00PM to meet with the men, and get an idea what everyone is going to be doing for the day. Cader IV very wisely advised all of them to stay well hydrated, and to take plenty of rest breaks. The old “has been” boss in me popped in, and I asked them to do me a favor. I said, “Guys, Cader IV is absolutely correct. This heat is dangerous, and you need to take breaks. If you don’t mind do this old man a favor, and hide when you take a break.” There is just something in my background work ethic that puts my nerves on edge to see a bunch of folks on payroll sitting around drinking bottled water on the company clock even when they have been told to do so. They told me that “if I would advertise on the radio when I was going to be riding around, they would do me the courtesy of hiding from me. I’m old school, and that makes me feel better.”
I really wish that I had some way to send all of you a panoramic view of our woods and food plots. Our cover has never been more beautiful thanks to Hurricane Michael’s involuntary tree thinning program. But, don’t worry. We still have PLENTY of trees for y’all to use as an alibi for missing a bird with the exception of three courses. You can always say that the sun got in your eyes if you happen to hunt one of those courses after the weather turns cooler as we will probably start using these three courses after Thanksgiving. Mother Nature along with tons of heavy equipment and dedicated employees allowed us to clean up and burn every bit of our storm debris. I did not believe that this would be possible, but our spring and summer rains started and stopped at perfect times to allow us to accomplish this task.
If we survive The Dog Days of Summer, we are very excited about showing y’all the new and improved Riverview this fall and winter. May God bless each of you and your families!