Left to right: Jack, John (grandson) and farmer John King
Recently, I wrote a post about the original homestead that John King bought in his early twenties. Now in his seventies, Mr King has spent his adult life as an independent farmer. He can point out his achievements of growing a farm by the buildings that stand on his farm. Prior to his moving onto the farm these buildings were not there.
John King is a friendly man as are other members of his family that I met on the day when I talked with him about his farm. Jack, his cousin, was at the farm picking up some tobacco sticks from John for a project he was working on just down the road. John Sr, had been a tobacco farmer until the government had a buyout for Kentucky farmers. John, his grandson, had just come home from some classes at the college he was attending.
Second large barn that John King built on his farm
Mr King runs a hands-on farm. Every building except for the two homestead buildings has been built by him. Now he didn't go to the lumber company and purchase his building supplies. Rather he went to the woods on his property and felled trees for each building he was to build over the fifty or so years he has lived on his farm. He would take his felled trees to small sawmills located near his farm where the mill hands would cut the wood into the dimensions that Mr King wanted. Then he would haul it back to his farm via tractor with wagon or horse and wagon. Then construction would begin.
First large barn that John King built on his farm
Over time John built three good sized barns, a storage garage, a small utility shed, a corn crib and a tractor shed. All from the trees on his property. All his buildings have been kept in excellent shape.
Growing a farm is quite an accomplishment. I took several photos to show what one person can do when he has the will and the way to make things work.
Oh, and part of his life on the farm changed when he stopped raising tobacco. He took an off farm job for a while telling me that it was almost impossible to make enough money as a small independent farmer anymore unless one worked both on the farm and an outside job too.
The Kings, according to grandson John, grow all of their food for year-round consumption as well as raising cattle for beef.
Small farms, according to 2009 statistics, have grown by 4%. Mostly attributable to demand for local and organic food. Most of this growth is found in small farms under 50 acres.
My old shed is rather unique as it has a roomy open porch where one can sit and read or think or do just about anything. A wood plank door located at the back of the porch leads to an interior room, also roomy with a broad wood shelf along one side. When I first moved here, I thought of converting the shed to a studio but soon realized that the hornets, spiders and insects loved the place more than I did.
And another species soon loved the place when I hung my bushel basket high up on the porch wall. I soon realized that a couple of little Carolina wrens were zipping in and out of the basket after I had hung it. I tilted the basket a bit to peek inside and realized that the wrens were setting up an encampment for their future family. So instead of sitting on the shed's porch to read and think I backed off and and occasionally watched their activities from a distance. I was rewarded by their lovely songs that first summer. Now five years later, they are still using my bushel basket each summer -- hanging on the shed wall just for them. As I write this, the basket nesting site is empty of wrens. Gone also is their lilting summer songs that they sing during nesting time, especially the male. I still have an occasional view of the wrens as they flit about my trees with various short chirpy notes. They stay through the winter. They usually mate for life. Yesterday my fall day was heavy with winter-like skies. A sign of the approaching winter season. I realized it was time to start battening down my hatches to keep me warm and safe against winter storms. Then again, spring will return and the wrens, hopefully, will still be here with me and again decide to nest in my basket. What goes round, comes round as my good friend always used to say. I'll keep my basket hanging just in case.
Please stop talking about Black Friday. Has any one thought about excess consumerism. Or declining resources. Or corporate greed. Or media brain washing. Or public mind conditioning. Can anyone who plans on spending money on Black Friday really say they absolutely have to buy it to help save natural resources or wildlife or open space -- that are declining at an exponentially fast rate! Glutinous consumerism is ugly. Perhaps shoppers think only in the now and not for their future generations. Black Friday is for fools. Can you live within the parameters of practicality?
In addition to not buying on Black Friday join the moratorium on consumer spending on Nov. 26th in North America and Nov. 27th internationally.
John King is a man that has successfully made a farming life for himself and family. He bought a large parcel of land in his early twenties that was to provide the type of lifestyle that he was familiar with and wanted to pursue during his lifetime. Now in his seventies he can reflect back and say it has been a full life filled with hard work and a love of family. He mentions that, "full time farming has become a thing of the past, one needs an outside job to keep the bills paid."
BEE HIVES STORED ON PORCH
When John bought the parcel of land it came with a handsome barn and a sturdy wood house. He and his wife made their home in the above cozy house for a few years and then built their own roomier house. The homestead house remains in its original state and still sits on a slight incline toward the back of their farm. Now sitting gracefully alone on its hill, it can almost whisper to the leaves that surround it, "its been a good ride."
STILL IN USE
Built before John King occupied the land, the homestead barn still stands solidly erect. Still in use for farm machinery, it appears to have many good years before it. Located near the original homestead house, together they formed a team before John bought the land. They are the only two structures left on the farm from the previous owners.
Somewhere in the land's history a tannery was located here, long before John's tenure. It was near Clear Water creek which runs through his property. He said the tannery provided employees with adjacent small tenant houses. Now he tells me that only one steel post remains of the once large operation. John was very amenable to letting me stroll around his farm and ask many, many questions. His farm was a reminder to me of the many farms I have known -- that they contain our rural histories and the predictability of the survival of independent farmers. Each independent farm comes with a different story yet they have a common denominator of values that includes discipline, planning, physical work, family, community, and sharing. More about John King's farm and its evolution -- soon . . . . .
Morning breaks soft in the fall. Chilly air contrasts with the white fire of the sun as it floods through my woods. I sit at my old work table in solitude and think about the new day. What will it bring? How can I shape it? I am on a path of simplicity. My world opens up to me for yet another day. Here is a poem by Virginia Woolf that fits my mood today; How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here forever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.
While out on an errand today, I noticed this simple yet graphic quilt-square attached to the gable of a horse barn. I quickly pulled over to take a photo of this beautiful old pattern as my camera travels with me most of the time. The idea of placing quilt-squares on barns was in part to honor women who have contributed their skills as quilters both historically and presently. They made and still are making quilts of all sizes for use in homes for warmth or decoration. Here in Central Kentucky the movement to place the quilt-squares on barns has grown exponentially since I moved here five plus years ago. It has even spread to placing them on commercial buildings, fences, and farm outbuildings. I don't know the name of this pattern but I am sure someone out there might know it. I used to have a great quilt pattern identification book but no longer.
Anyhow, as I was taking this above photo I moved around toward the side of the barn to get an angle shot and -- surprise, I found another quilt-square. This was a first for me -- seeing two on one barn.
This blue and white quilt pattern is also unknown to me. It really doesn't matter -- it's enough that they are symbols of the great artistic skills of women quilters. Oh, as I left I wondered if possibly there was another quilt- square on the other side of the barn -- or the back side? Couldn't walk around to see as this barn was on private property. Now, my quest is on -- to find a barn with three quilt - squares. Hmm . . . . .
Found this short video online -- produced by Scott McLean. I call it peak oil in a nutshell. Worth watching if you are wondering about what your children and grandchilden face in their future.
Hopefully you are practicing reducing your oil use in such things as cosmetics, blow-up Halloween figures, items made out of plastic, fake Christmas trees, video games and I could go on and on and on.
No one likes to hear about reducing our oil use as it takes away all the fun things that we feel we need. But I feel just cutting back a little (or a lot) helps.
CNN Money has this video on its site and of course it is biased toward corporations. Here there is praise for all the oil wells being drilled using the fracking method on farm lands. Click on this link and ask yourself how can we stop this madness given what we know about its polluting effects to water, humans and wildlife?
Last night was cold. I always turn off my heat at night unless it reaches down to 20 degrees outside. That temperature is my signal to let the heat stay on through the night. Bundling up with lots of covers is therefore a ritual I perform every night once the cold weather sets in. Last night was no different. After watching the election returns, I threw the above quilt on for an extra good measure of warmth as I settled into my bed for the night. This morning as I straightened my bed covers my mind was still on the election. As I tossed my quilt on top of the bed, I took notice of the many cloth pieces sewn together. My thoughts became aware of its colors, shapes and patterns -- it could be used as an analogy to the election results. The election results appeared to tell us that yes, there are issues that drive a presidential election campaign. But in reality, like the quilt, we are individuals first and foremost not chess pieces moving around on someones poll charts. That we do vote with our own reality rather than the ones that are driven at us by candidates. By us being of different colors, shapes and patterns we can become a whole. A diverse whole. Like my quilt.
OSAGE ORANGE DISPLAYED ON MY OUTDOOR "ALBERTA" CHAIR
Horse Apples or Hedge Apples are all common names for the Osage Orange tree fruit. Almost the size of a grapefruit these unusual looking fruit are associated with harvest themes this time of year. I saw a storefront window lined with them a couple days ago and almost walked in to ask if I could buy some. But then I thought why not go out looking along country roads for them. It was a cool sunny day and besides I could take my camera and catch a few photographs.
OSAGE ORANGE TREE
The Osage Orange tree belongs to the mulberry family. It's a deciduous tree, rather small, and makes great hedge rows in farmers fields.Unfortunately hedge rows in farmers field have all but disappeared Now I find Osage Orange along farm roadsides that have not been tempered with.
CLOSE-UP OF AN OSAGE ORANGE FRUIT
An old saying is to put an Osage Orange fruit under your bed to repel spiders and other insects. It's a saying that has proven to be scientifically true. Science has found that the Osage Orange repels several insect species as well as the commercial DEET that you find in stores.
Other parts of its attributes is that it has naturalized all over the U.S., its native origins trace back to historic times, has a lovely scent, and its wood is exceptionally hard and was used by the Osage Nation as well as the Comanches for their bows.
COUNTY ROAD WITH OSAGE ORANGE LINING THE RIGHT SIDE EDGE.
LOOK CLOSELY FOR THE YELLOW SPECKS.
After searching several roadsides, I got lucky and found the above lovely country road that had a long run of Osage Orange along its side. I grabbed my bag and picked up some fallen Oranges to display on my outside wooden "Alberta" chair. Oh, one thing I forgot to say -- don't eat the fruit -- they are poisonous.