Pike County Times
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New Year, New Growth
By Guest Columnist Toby Nix

Though I am well past partying age, I would like to brag that I was up all night on New Year’s Eve.

The fact that I spent the entire time coughing and hacking doesn’t change the fact that I was up all night. Seems I rang in the New Year with a case of acute bronchitis. I didn’t know a chest cough could hurt so badly.

What hurt even more than the coughing fits is the fact that I missed out on my family’s New Year’s feast. Copious amounts of hog jowl, collards and cornbread make for one of my favorite meals of the year. We have all the other appropriate dishes as well, but those are the ones I prefer to make myself sick on to begin a new rotation around the sun.

Thankfully, my wife has promised to replicate the meal this weekend. She was sick and missed out, too.

About the only traditions we stuck to this year was that no one washed any clothes and I made sure to walk outside, then walk back in, crossing the threshold before my wife had a chance to.

I don’t know what would happen if a female crossed the threshold first, but my maternal grandmother always had one of her grandsons walk in her front door first. So I like to keep that one intact if for no other reason than because she would appreciate it. It’s also a surefire way of knowing she will cross my mind first thing every year, and that can’t be bad.

My wife and I had our annual conversation about what we could do this year to produce more food from our land than the year before. We had a good streak going of improving from year to year – until 2019.

Last year, production of everything was down. The garden didn’t do nearly what we were hoping. The honeybees decided to take the year off from us. It was the worst year we’d had since we started trying to be more self-sustainable, so it should be pretty easy to beat last year.

She had her plans for the garden. I don’t ask many questions about that. I’ll dig where she says dig and water when she says to water. Those are my contributions. I defer to her expertise on growing anything.

I told her I wanted to add some ducks to the mix down here. We have 10 or so chickens. About half are too old to lay many eggs, while the other half should hit spring being heavy layers for years to come. A few hatched baby chicks this year would be very welcome.

I think ducks would be a very easy addition to the ol’ homestead. She didn’t balk too much at the suggestion, so I think it will happen.

I may try to sneak a turkey or two in as well. I’ve always wanted a Thanksgiving turkey fresh from the land. We hatched a baby turkey a few years ago but it never made it out of the incubator, unfortunately.

This is all assuming I beat this New Year bronchitis. Which, at the time of this writing, is not a certainty.

Toby Nix is a local writer, guitarist and investigator for the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. He is the author of two books, “Columns I Wrote” and the newly released “A Book I Wrote.” He can be reached at tobynix@yahoo.com.

Submitted 1.11.20