Uncle Sid’s Lesson In Time Management

It was a beautiful Tennessee spring morning when I pulled in the long gravel driveway of Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie’s farm. The hills behind their house this year are once again bathed in hues of deep greens due to all of the rainfall that we have received. But their drive did show the signs of a whole lot of rain with some pretty deep ruts cut by over 8 inches of rain that used their gravel drive for a riverbed the first few weeks in May.

When I got out of my car, I could hear the hum of thousands of cicadas warming up for a day of courting under the large maple trees in the front yard of the old couple’s farm. The “Cicada Invasion of 2011” was in full progress that day and it seemed they liked to dive-bomb me as I walked to the white frame house. Of course, Aunt Sadie met me at the front door wiping her hands on her apron and led me through the house to the back porch where Uncle Sid was looking at the mail while enjoying the warmth of the morning sun on the porch. There, setting on a white painted round table, was a plate of freshly baked cinnamon rolls and a pitcher of ice cold milk just waiting for someone like me to help myself to some of Aunt Sadie’s homemade delights.

Her cinnamon rolls are the real things, too! Uncle Sid wouldn’t allow any of those canned types to be placed on the table at their house. He has complained for years about canned biscuits causing marriage problems in the home. Uncle Sid puts a lot of stock and value in good homemade biscuits to the point where he thinks that a plate of biscuits and preserves can solve any problem you may have. He once said, “It use to be housewives would pride themselves on their homemade biscuits and now across America in subdivisions early in morning, ladies are up popping open those canned biscuits on every street to the point where it sounds like a young war.”

After exchanging pleasantries and taking my seat in a metal lime green chair near the table to share with Uncle Sid some of Aunt Sadie’s cinnamon rolls, Aunt Sadie asked me how things were going. It had been a pretty demanding week and I sort of complained about how hard I had been working lately. I even made the statement of not having enough time to get things done the way I really wanted them to be completed.

“Boy, (I’m 62 and he still calls me boy) time and how you use it is all up to you,” Uncle Sid said while biting down on one of Aunt Sadie’s cinnamon rolls.

Thinking to myself that Uncle Sid had never worked for anyone other than himself, and had spent his entire life on this farm, I assumed he knew very little about today’s world and the problems with modern-day time management. “That’s true, but today it’s tough in the business world Uncle Sid,” I answered the old man while pouring myself a glass of milk.

Setting his plate down on the porch table he pushed back in his chair and I could tell I was about to get a lesson in time management. He looked at me and said, “I was walking several years ago as a young man on the Haint Hollow County Lane over near old man Howard’s farm when I passed his orchard and saw him out there with a small pig under his arm holding it up to the apple trees. He was letting that pig eat apples one apple at a time. After it would finish an apple, he would move to another for the pig to eat.”

He paused for a drink of milk and continued, “I stood there and watched him for a while and asked, ‘What you doing Mr. Howard?’ He just kept holding that pig up to that tree and answered, ‘I’m feeding my pig.’ To which I said, ‘Ain’t that awfully time consuming feeding a hog that way?'”

Uncle Sid then leaned back in his lime green porch chair and looked straight at me and said, “To which Mr. Howard said, ‘Yeah, but what’s time to a hog?'”

With that, Uncle Sid got up and headed out to do his morning chores and left Aunt Sadie and me to ponder that time management story. And you know, a lot of the things I do everyday is sort of like feeding apples to a pig from an apple tree and I often wonder what is time to a hog?


–  Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com