Five Golden Rings

Please note: If you are one of the people who yesterday tried to find my journal entry and instead found yourself on a page that began with an entry from years ago, I am sorry. Each year I create a new page to house that year’s journal. That new page is placed at the top of the list. However, yesterday’s attempt at publishing the new page included a directory error, so the new page didn’t publish, and the result was a mis-direction to a page of Journal archives. Oops! I have now corrected that publishing error and the page for 2024 is now at the top of the list of journal entries on the website. 2023 is the next item down on the list in the index of pages. I’ll be posting here today and for two more days, and on New Year’s Day, the posts will begin to appear in 2024. If you bookmark the location of my journal, you will need to change your bookmark to the new page. You can navigate to 2024 from this page by clicking this link. I’m sorry for any confusion this has caused.

There are a lot of children’s books that feature the twelve days of Christmas and show the gift for the fifth day to be jewelry. After all the traditional song names the gift as 5 golden rings. For the most part, I don’t run in circles of people who have a lot of jewelry, however. I do have one ring and it is gold. I’ve been wearing the same ring for more than 50 years now and I’m neither inclined to remove it nor am I inclined to need another. So, I subscribe to the theory that the entire song detailing Christmas’ twelve days is about gifts of birds. That applies not only to the golden rings, but also to milking maids, dancing ladies, leaping lord, piping pipers and drumming drummers, but more on those items later if I decide to continue this theme for the rest of my Christmas journal entries. I don’t often work ahead on my journal, so topics for the next week aren’t clear in my mind yet.

Five golden rings, however, is, in my mind a reference to a gift of five ring-necked pheasants. I know a little bit about ring-necked pheasants because I lived for twenty-five years in South Dakota where the Ring-necked Pheasant is the state bird. I suppose there is an entire journal entry on how the state ended up choosing a bird that is not indigenous to the state as the official state bird. And there is probably another entry possible about the fact that in South Dakota it is legal to hunt and eat the state bird. I don’t think that the residents of many states hunt and eat their state bird, but South Dakota isn’t alone in that quality. Alaskans are rather fond of eating their state bird, the willow ptarmigan. Like the pheasant, the ptarmigan is a bird that spends more time walking on the ground than flying, which might contribute to making it a bit easier to successfully harvest the birds. I am not a hunter. I don’t own a shotgun. The only pheasants I’ve ever harvested became victims of the fast-moving grill of my pickup truck combined with my slow reactions.

I do, however, enjoy eating pheasant. When we lived in South Dakota I had friends who were avid hunters who generously shared their bounty with us. Pheasants aren’t like the chickens and turkeys that they sell in the grocery store. Like other members of the grouse family, the birds have powerful breast muscles that can deliver bursts of power allowing the birds to take to the air in a hurry. They flush nearly vertically, which makes them interesting to hunt. And they can quickly reach nearly 40 miles per hour in speed. This means that the meat from the birds is more lean and less tender than that of farm-raised turkeys and chickens. If you don’t prepare it properly it can be dry and a bit stringy. As a result, I’m fond of cooking the meat in the crock pot, which makes it quite tender. One of my favorite ways to prepare the birds is to make them into pot pies. Just writing about it makes me feel like making one soon.

Fortunately for us, South Dakota is a destination for avid pheasant hunters from out of state and we have a friend out here in Washington who makes an annual pilgrimage to South Dakota to hunt the birds. Like other pheasant hunters, he has overstocked their freezer and we were the recipients of two packages of frozen pheasant from their house. They are in our freezer waiting for me to take them out for pot pies. That is a good thing because these days we rarely cook an entire turkey, preferring to purchase just a breast with the somewhat smaller thanksgiving gatherings at our house. That means that our turkey bones and leftover meat go into soup not leaving enough for pot pies.

Christmas, however, is not the season of home made pot pie at our house. With a family feast on Christmas Day and another planned for New Year’s Day we have a refrigerator of other leftovers that need to be consumed this week to make room for New Year’s Day groceries and leftovers. The pheasants in our freezer will have to wait.

So, with no extra jewelry and the pheasants remaining in the freezer for another day we don’t have many big plans for the fifth day of Christmas at our house. I think we’ll catch up on a bit of house cleaning and end of the year record keeping. It is time to start gathering the numbers we will need to file our income tax return. I have a couple of projects going on over at the shop at the farm including a new kayak that needs my attention and the wood that I will use to make the boxes for two new bee colonies that I intend to add to the apiary this spring. I try to get over there to work on those projects when I have a bit of spare time, which is most days now that I’m retired, but I am a bit surprised that I seem to be as busy in retirement as I was before. I’m not sure how I found time to work back in the days when I was employed.

However you celebrate, I hope that you have a blessed fifth day and that you keep the observance of Christmas in your mind for the entire season. Epiphany begins a week from tomorrow and that is an entirely new season in the Christian year. Blessings!

Made in RapidWeaver