Category Archives: Farms and Farming

The Days of Burnsville…

Once upon a time, my friend named Andrew said to me, “Come up to the mountains!  You will love it here and never want to go back home again… you will need to bring all your possessions and all your family and just come up here and stay like me because I fell in love with it and there ain’t no goin’ back for me!”
I didn’t believe him.  I’d fallen in love with many a place with a small desire to stay, but nowhere ever felt like home in the sense that I would almost prefer it to my hometown of Raleigh, NC.
Still, I made plans to give the mountains a chance.  I arranged a work-trade at a fish farm in Burnsville, NC.  I also was able to convince my very good friend Joanna to come along (didn’t take much pulling and tugging).  We arrived to possibly the most beautiful place imaginable, owned by some of the best people imaginable.  Here is our tent:

Here is a boat.  I took it out for a test drive on one of the ponds with their neighbor Linda once.  It was a beautiful afternoon:

There were muscovy ducklings upon our arrival!  (Their coloring and the lighting made this picture hard to get, but I tried):

Then there was Creasy, the resident lovesick goose.  He followed me everywhere, honking all the way.  I am now incredibly interested in goose behavior.

We collected many rocks from the creek for various decorating and masonry projects around the farm: one day I found the teeniest salamander:

One day while cutting down locust trees, Tommy found this grey tree frog.

Oh, and last but not least, I met a boy named Russell who comes to the door of my tent to serenade me with blues music.  Do take notice of the indignant goose in the background.

Suffice to say, Andrew was right: I am very much in love with the mountains.  I don’t want to leave, even as I really want to get back home to friends and family.  My next goals are going to focus on ways to spend, ultimately, half my time at home in Raleigh and half my time up here in the Asheville/Burnsville area.

Stay tuned!

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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Animals, Farms and Farming, Photography


In which Jessica keeps waking up in her own bed

It was a strange sort of normal seeming transition for me to go from sleeping in a tent every night for four months to go back to sleeping in a bed. The first night it was okay; I slept like a little rock and woke up on my back, and surprisingly every inch of the aforementioned posterior was touching a section of bed. But after that, the wonderfulness of the bed wore off and I started to sleep horribly. The bed was too squishy. I could feel all the squishy parts of it all over me all night.

It didn’t help that there was a cat walking all over me…

Wait a second.

There were cats at the farm, too.

The thing was, I was at a farm. Now, when you think “farm”, you probably don’t think “living in a tent.” And if you do, then you’re really awesome. If you don’t, that does not make you not awesome, it just makes you a normal person who goes about life assuming that the other parts of the world that you do not see are a certain way, which is NOT TRUE GUYS. But since you assume that anyway, you probably think that “farm” means “cows and roosters.” Which, incidentally, were also a part of my stay. I don’t know if you would assume I would be sleeping in a house. I mean, there was a house there, but it was not for me to sleep in.

I slept in the house once, because I was sick and the family who owned the house and the farm and whatnot decided that I should sleep inside in a real bed so I could get a better night’s sleep and heal faster. It worked. I was in Louisiana, but even Louisiana has cold winters, especially when your only source of heat is yourself and hopefully your blankets are insulated enough to help you keep your own heat to yourself.

This is actually another cat from the farm, Cheddar Blossom

Even though the night was supposed to be comfy, and it was, there was a cat. The farm owned four cats, along with some strays that still ate the food, and one of them was in the house all of that night. She came into the room and happy pawed my face and then slept on my head. I don’t know why she couldn’t have just slept beside me or on another part of my body, but she was this particularly strange calico named Two-face who was kind of whiny and had lots of fleas and gained weight around her stomach only, so we kept wondering if she was pregnant, but then she wasn’t, because her stomach size fluctuated by the week and she never… well, anyway, that is pretty irrelevant.

In the really early days they put me up in the bunkhouse over the colonial-style kitchen. That was cold, too, but the cats would usually sleep with me, so I wasn’t too bad. Everyone was jealous that the cats seemed to like me best. They said it was because I have a calm nature. I didn’t know I had a calm nature; I feel pretty… I don’t know, over-active in my head, and I very often have trouble sitting still. But, I guess, I do not really get strung out or stressed… definitely not as much as some people. So I suppose that is what they meant. How nice of them.

After three weeks, I determined to move out to a tent.

Actually, I determined after the first week, but it took me two more weeks to actually get around to it.

I waited till this girl named Marlee left. I then took her tent and the book she was reading and her muck boots. She was aware that this was my plan, so I exaggerated it to say I was taking her identity and soul too, so she would know that I really wasn’t eagerly counting the days till she left. Fortunately, she wasn’t one of those serious, sensitive girls who can’t take a joke; Marlee was a really cool girl. Her hair was a little longer than mine and nearly as curly, so I kept observing her hairstyles so I could follow suit once my hair grew to that length.

Marlee walked with quite the swagger, and for about a week of wearing her boots, I felt compelled to walk the same way. But then I got my own swagger when I started having this Christmas song in my head that I can’t remember the name of which compelled me to do a kick-march sort of dance through the rows of kale and feel like I should apologize for singing Christmas songs. I did for a bit, but then I decided that this was a favor that nobody in the world deserved, especially if they thought they did. I have a right to sing any song I want to at any time, right? Right.

Marlee’s tent actually belonged to the farm. It was a happy yellow Junior Scout tent that I had to sleep diagonally in. The first night I slept in it, it was a low of 20 degrees, and I think I woke up every time the temperature dropped, feeling my bones shrink and maybe crack a little. It didn’t help that the evening prior, I had drank a beer and eaten some beans that had not been soaked long enough, so I was extremely gassy. Imagine how it feels to have gas freezing inside of you.

My last night in my tent, I discovered that a sleeping bag is much more warm and insulating than three blankets, and I wanted to hit myself over the head for waiting four months to realize that.

I felt so accomplished after my extremely cold night in my tent. I could do ANYTHING. And I still can, but at that point, I really could.

Upon my return home, I kept waking up thinking that I must be at the farm, and finding – lo and behold! – I am not.

And, most of all, I kind of want to go back to sleeping on the floor, or pitch a tent in the back yard. Apparently my mom is all for the latter.

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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Farms and Farming, Memory, Transitions


Farm Days II

Marlee rockin’ a shotgun – i.e., what we do on our days off.
The neighbors’ horses let us take pictures of them.
Some ‘shrooms found on a hike up in Clark Creek, Mississippi
Um.  It was just one of those days.
Lovely sunsets every evening.

Early Farm Days

This is Samantha.  She is a 2 1/2 year old farm girl, sleepy after a long day of following all the Wwoofers around.  
Maddie plays gee-tar when not working in the fields.  
Red Giant mustard greens in the afternoon… ah…
The neighbors have cows who come and graze in nearby fields every morning.  
Dishes the better way.
The Wwoofer dining area!  Pretty much the best place ever.
“All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened.” ~Ernest Hemingway
Early morning kale, smells that mingled with frosted mud and sent my wandering mind back and around…
Foggy morning live oak and fence post; a perfect morning for a walk around the 65 acres I now call home.
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