Of Cabbages and Kings
John Hammel was employed by the government. He retired and bought 35 head of White Park cattle, a breed from Britain. They are lean animals; grass fed and calm in demeanor. John added another attribute. “Our cows don’t do drugs. Say no to GMOs.” The Hammels do not believe in genetically modifying their animals. These cows live an organic life.
John’s wife Teresa, works full time at Deaconess Hospital, then part time in the baby’s intensive care for Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. The Hammels are busy people.
John Hammel was raised by his grandparents on a cattle ranch. “My grandmother was my anchor. She never resorted to spanking or other punishments. When I did something wrong she looked at me with a sad expression. I loved her dearly and didn’t want to disappoint her,” he said.
In addition to the cattle, Hammel raises and trains mules. He belongs to the North Idaho Saddle Mule Club. They schedule rides, maintain trails and, as he puts it, “do a lot of good potluck eating.” The group attends Mule Days at Reardan and participates in the draft horse and mule show at Sandpoint. He said, “To introduce mules to people,” he said.
The Hammels have had two sons in the armed services. Justin and his wife Tory live in Alaska where Justin serves in the U.S. Air Force in Fairbanks. Tory is in the reserves.
When John and Teresa visit them, John takes his fishing gear along to bring home halibut. There are many places in this world the Hammels have visited, including New Zealand, where John Hammel said, “I was standing on the curb, ready to cross a street. A man behind me pulled me back just in time to avoid being run over by a cab.”
One day Hammel had an idea. “There had been eight, one-room schools in the area between small towns near Tonasket. I invited people living in the surrounding countryside to a restaurant. I plugged in a recorder and taped our conversations,”he said. Three books came from that gathering: “Wauconda Tails and Trails,” “Kettle River Reflections,” and “All Roads Lead to Tonasket.” Three editors were involved in working on the books. Hammel’s idea was important as it captured history of the area for children whose families had lived there and offered lasting information for others who would come along in the future.
The Hammels contribute much to our society as they go about their work and involvement in various efforts. Thanks John and Teresa. Hope to meet you again.
Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.