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Wild Willie moves home to farm

July 21, 2011

William Buckner standing between two rows of his lush cucumber vines out on J.Y. Turner Road. (Submitted photo)

Leviticus 19:9-10
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge; neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare; neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”
William Buckner, III, resident of Maben and native son of William Buckner, Jr. has finally decided to return to Maben and become a farmer. William has traveled the nation over from south to north and east to west searching for work and happiness, but finally he has returned to Maben where God wanted him to be in the first place. This kind of reminds me of Jonah in the Holy Bible when God spoke to Jonah: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.”  Jonah did everything accept what God asked. Anyway God sent a great fish which swallowed Jonah up and carried him to Nineveh and spit him up on the shore.  Well, after many struggles in William’s life, he has finally come home to be a good steward of God’s Earth out on J.Y. Turner Road, where he raises any manner of vegetables for friends, family, and for sale.
There is a garden in front of the house and one on either side of the house at the back, in which he raises peas, butter beans, squash, cucumbers, cow horn okra, and bell peppers, which for a nominal fee he will sell them to you. At the end of one of his gardens is his Ford 8N tractor that he uses to break up the garden and then row it up before planting rows and rows of vegetables. According to William, he hits the garden at day break gathering his harvest. Even though he travels to Maben’s Farmers’ Market selling his produce, most of his customers just go to the patch in front of his house and he sells them what they want right there on the spot.
In his living room, the floor is covered in tomatoes, all ready to go home with someone to make into jars of tomato sauce or maybe jars of chili, or vegetable soup. William has what looks like an antique scale for measuring pounds of tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, and peppers that he sell by the pound. Peas and butterbeans are sold by the bushel or maybe a peck. When I asked him how he kept the deer out of the pea patch, I was tickled at his reply. He told me he collected his urine and would then pour it around the garden, plus he would hang his old sweaty shirts on the garden posts. So, there you have it straight from the farmer’s mouth.
William said that when he goes out at daybreak, he sings to his garden as he picks whatever needs picking. Now why is this not a surprise? The Buckner family is famous for their singing and picking any stringed instrument.
William said that on Friday night he can be found over in Sparta at the Sparta Opry picking and maybe grinning with his sister Linda B. McMinn as they entertain the crowd.
William says that if his produce does not sell fast enough he cans it. He showed me his eight quart pressure cooker that he uses on some jars; on others he uses his water bath cooker. When I asked William about his recipes, I was told that they were old family recipes, some at least a hundred years old-some his grandmother’s recipes. He says that some recipes belong to the Turners, as he is the son of Lavern Turner Buckner, who is the daughter of J.Y. Turner. He makes cucumber pickles, cans tomatoes and  snap beans and whole potatoes; you name it, he makes it. This is a side of William Buckner that even he did not know was inside of him.
Not only does he sell his produce at a nominal fee, he also helps his friends with mechanical problems and maybe even some electrical and plumbing help. This little story reminded me of an old country song, “Country Boy Can Survive." William is surviving and thriving out on the J.Y. Turner Road in Maben - the home of his youth.
Wild Bill’s Chili
2 ½ - 3 lbs ground chuck or deer burger
6 cans (14.5 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
1-28 oz stewed tomatoes (original recipe-onions, celery, green peppers)
5 cans (15 oz) light red kidney beans
1 -13.25 oz can sliced mushrooms
1 – 15 oz whole black olives – sliced
½ jar Louisiana sliced Jalepeno peppers (12 oz.)
1 large onion, chopped well
1 large green pepper, chopped well
1½ stick butter
1 T black pepper
1 T crushed red pepper
1 T garlic pepper
½ tsp chili powder
3 pkgs. McCormick Hot Chili Seasoning Mix
Brown ground beef in skillet; Drain-do not over brown.
Place in 8 qt. boiler; add 1 qt. water; Add chili seasoning;
Add onions and bell peppers; Bring to a boil, stirring well.
Reduce heat by half; combine all other ingredients. Cook at half heat for 1 ½ hours, stirring frequently.
Add butter and 1 qt. of water; Reduce heat to simmer.

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