Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tractors, Back Roads and Old Farmsteads

Jim's perennial wheelin' and dealin' has taken a busy turn recently. This obsession with "trading" is apparently a genetic trait, notable in this generation in  both his brothers as well.  [J.'s cousin, a meticulous genealogist, has shared excerpts from family wills and transactions that indicate his fore-fathers were kept busy down there in Pitt County, NC swapping parcels of land, horses, mules and wagons.]

My part in the process these days is to post various items on craigslist or to answer
the phone occasionally.

It is also important that I willingly load into the car to go on various scouting missions or clamber aboard old Snort'n Nort'n for pick up or delivery ventures.
Monday's quest took us along a narrow road that twisted beside a creek swollen with water from the recent rains.  Few houses along the road were occupied.
We saw several of these swinging foot bridges. Rutted tracks suggested that in dryer weather the creek could be forded, although the old farmhouses beyond stood forlornly abandoned in their soggy fields. 

Note the house trailer standing alongside the old two story house.This seems to have been a trend in poorer rural areas.
Apparently when an old house became too derelict to justify the expense of renovating, a 'single-wide' was moved in nearby to take advantage of the electrical and water hook-ups.
Now the trailer houses are deserted as well.

It turned out to be the wrong road [we needed to head up toward Gravel Switch] but it was a chance to see parts of Casey and Marion Counties which were unfamiliar.

Old buildings intrigue me and this quiet road seemed to have more than the usual share of abandoned farmsteads and derelict barns sagging lop-sidedly toward the ground.

All photos were taken from the moving car as we meandered through rain that [almost!] thickened to sleet, then gave way to feeble sunlight.

The oddly constructed church sits near the traffic light in down-town Bradfordville.

The downside of listing items for sale is the spate of phone calls
during the first few days after items are posted.
The phone shrilled at 6:30 this morning.
We were awake, but still thinking about starting the day.
I leapt from bed, heart pounding. [After all, a phone call at that hour surely means death, dilemma or something unpleasant to be dealt with.]
J. reached the phone first and I quickly gathered this was a man calling about a tractor.
He lived two counties eastward and was in the earlier time zone.
A second call came while I was cooking breakfast.
I picked up the phone and managed to decipher that this caller also was looking for a tractor.
His actual words, spoken in the local vernacular were, " At ere John Deere yur sellin'--has it done went yet?"
I hastily handed over the phone!
Early caller # one appeared in due course, bought the tractor. J. was planning to pick up another tractor [!] which he bought on Monday's expedition, so agreed to deliver one on the way.
I have now spent the better part of two days "along for the ride."
An old hand at this, I go well prepared with several magazines, a book or two, clothing to meet any weather changes, my camera.
A stop for lunch somewhere is part of the package!
I make what I hope are appreciative noises while J. extolls the details of the latest swap.


  1. The people in those old farms clearly didn't do enough wheelin' 'n' dealin'. Or maybe that house trailer was their last purchase that they never did sell!

  2. This did make me smile :-)
    After reading, I spent an interesting time on Google earth. I decided to put in Casey county KY and have a look on the satellite view. All those trees! all those mountains! What particularly caught my eye was the Grenn River lake county park. The trees are so dense and the huge lake.How interesting to see the terrain, so different to where we live, which is mainly flat and not many trees.

  3. "I make what I hope are appreciative noises"

    Yup - I can just about hear that MM -as can every other married man who reads this!


    {actually you don't need to bother. You're going to get told regardless!}

  4. I just love reading your blog! The story of the man's accent gave me a chuckle. Kind of reminds me of the problems James Herriot had with the local vernacular in All Creatures. Those old abandoned houses intrigue me too.

  5. MM,
    Are the abandoned farmsteads owned by family that has long since been deceased? Or is in tax forclosurers. Relatives not wanting to live the country life?
    Some of what you shown are beautiful properties. I would jump on one of them.
    I don't answer the phone when tradin' fever hits here. I don't know about car parts, cars, or other UCP"s (unidentified car parts).
    Have a wonderful rest of the week.

    Have a wonderful rest of the week.

  6. Love it - the wheelin' 'n' dealin - doin' some of that mesself right now!

    LOVED the photos - and felt I was exploring with you. Will have to follow Kath's lead and go look your neck of the woods up on Google earth.

  7. John; In many cases old and rusty equipment sits in the farmyards--mute testimony to discouragement, perhaps.

    Kath; Green River Lake is an 'engineered' lake. Kentucky abounds in creeks, rivers, brooks, but almost no natural lakes. The first summer we were here J and I spent a day at Cumberland Lake Dam where there is a fish hatchery, also a museum. There were old photos of the small farms that were taken over by the government and then flooded by the dam project.

    Al; You've pegged it! I tire of the 'appreciative noises' long before the details of the trade and the virtues of the new acquisition are recited. Now really--would you men listen if I wanted to explain in huge detail how I made a quilt???
    Jane; That opening chapter in All Creatures is unforgettable--the dog that 'womited torrible bad!'
    I try to imagine these old houses as they must have been--neat white paint and tidy yards.

    Denim; You're asking the same questions I have pondered regarding these properties and I suspect each thing you have listed applies in some of the cases. Sometimes families "die out"--as my Grampa Mac would have said. Other times younger generations have given up farming for the lure of city jobs. I was also told recently that the deep blood ties in this area foster an attitude of "that was grand-daddy's house and we can't tear it down"---so--its left to fall down! Quite often the farm land is leased out for corn or soybean crops or even to have the hay cut or as rented pasture.

    BB; I've bought a few items through ebay--frustrating that the bidding stagnates and then takes off literally in the last few minutes. I haven't figured out how to list an item--I daresay if I put my mind to it, the process isn't that different than craigslist or the more local listing J. used in Wyoming.
    Glad you enjoyed the photos. I missed some interesting shots not wanting to ask J. to slow down or stop--thought we would be returning by the same route when his business was done, but that didn't happen.

  8. Wonderful shots ...especially considering you were moving ....The old building make me a little sad ...I wonder what the story behind each of them is ...and that church it my eyes or are the walls woven ???? ....xx