Farming

Coming Home to West Virginia; Saving a 1860’s Family Home.

“Coming home to West Virginia” is how David Cutlip described the adventure of saving his Great Grandfather’s log cabin constructed in the 1860’s. The story spans 4 generations, crosses state lines and brings new life to a beloved log home.

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The Cutlip Reconstructed 1860’s cabin in Beverly, West Virginia.

This story begins along a rural road in what is now Webster County, West Virginia with  Marion Wilson Cutlip who built a log home in the mid 1860’s. The cabin is made from hewed poplar logs that grew on the 250 acre farm near the community of Hacker Valley. Marion,his wife and four children were the first to call the cabin home, but not the last.Little did Marion know that he had creating a home that would last for over 150 years and would pass to his Great Grandson. Living and working the land as farmers,the family eventually out grew the small log home that measures only 16′ x 23′ feet. So, in the early 1900’s additions and siding were added, hiding the hewed logs from view. In the 1970’s, the house was no longer occupied  daily and this is how it appeared for the remainder of the years it sat on the farm.

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Cutlip family home Webster County, West Virginia 1860’s before moving the logs to Randolph County, West Virginia in 2007.

Years passed, the farm and home were eventually sold out of the Cutlip family.Times change and members of the family moved away from West Virginia looking for better opportunities, including Davids family. David returned to West Virginia to attend college at Davis and Elkins College, and visited the old home place many times while a student. His love of family history and the families ties to the house continued to grow until adulthood. While living and working in Ohio, he never forgot the house from his childhood or the way West Virginia made him feel. In 2007 the farmer who then owned the house allowed Dave and his wife Patricia to purchase the home back and the real work began.

 

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After tare down and the reconstruction of the Cutlip log home with help from Mark Bowe.

By the end of 2009 David and Patricia began the work of finding out if the logs of the house were salvageable. As with all houses of this age, water and bugs (termites here in W.V.) can wreak havoc on old logs. With some searching the couple found a nice location for the future log home outside the small town of Beverly, West Virginia. Then they found Mark Bowe the owner of “Antique Cabins and Barns” in Lewisburg, West Virginia who would be charged with dismantling and moving the heavy logs. Mark  Bowe (before “Barnwood Builder” Fame) found the project promising and within a few months had his crew (some that are still members of the “Barnwood Builders” television show today) dismantle the house. By the end of the first week the 150 year old logs were dismantled, loaded and trucked away to a storage yard in Lewisburg, WV.

Nearly two years later Mark and his crew delivered the logs from the Lewisburg log yard to the new home site where a new foundation had been constructed.The work to construct a new log home continued over the next 5 years. As this was not David and Patricia’s primary home they took their time to make their dream retirement home come true. In the end the home is the perfect balance of old and new features,that keeps its warm rustic appeal.

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David Cutlip, Thomas Powers, Patricia Mayes with Christopher Powers at the back addition of their log home in Beverly, WV Jan 2017

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Front yard view of Cutlip log home with additions Jan 2017

To the log home,the couple added space to the small original floor plan. They added a modern kitchen, dinning room,a study, two bathrooms and quest room to the design. They were able to keep the historic feel by reusing many of the features from the log cabin, such as the hearth stone and fire-place surround that David remembers as a child. Dave and Patricia have added antiques and family heirlooms to the decor of the home.These additions make a warm and inviting space that honors the generations of his family that worked the land so hard to create this log home.

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Living room with Hearthstone and fireplace surround from original house build by David Cutlips Great Grandfather in the 1860’s.

 

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Modern Kitchen addition added to the Cutlip/ Mayes home with a light and airy feel.

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Gas log fire-place behind antique farm table in modern addition of the Cutlip/Mayes log home.

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Master bedroom with sitting area in 1860’s portion of the house.

David and Patricia have collected a verity of antiques to decorate their home. With two interesting items that stand out when you spend some time in the log home. One is Davids Grate Grandfathers desk that was made on the Webster County Farm and the Linsey- Woolsey coverlets that his Great Grandmother wove from flax and wool from the family farm in the late 1800’s.

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Hand made desk made by Marion Cutlip in Webster County, West Virginia. Shown in the home of his Great Grandson David Cutlip, Randolph County West Virginia 2017.

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Hand woven Linsey-Woolsey bed coverlets made by David’s Great Grandmother on the Webster County farm, late in the 1800’s

It is heartwarming to know that both of these wonderful heirlooms were not only made by his family on the farm, but were made from products on that farm. The desk is made of poplar planks that were milled from trees that grew in the woods of the Webster County  farm. Marion Cutlip designed and constructed this desk to be used in this very same house. David said after our tour that with 6 people living in the 2 story, 16’X 23′ log cabin together “He thought that this desk was about the only space that his Great Grandfather had in the entire house”( and I do not doubt him one bit).

The coverlets were made by  Davids Great Grandmother. The family produced the wool from their own sheep and grew the flax that would be spun into linen for the coverlets.I was amazed at the coloring and detailed patterns of the Linsey-Woolsey blankets and can only imagine the time it took to make just one of these covers. In more modern times families who used this type of fabric and dressed in the bright patterns and plaids that could be woven on a family looms were thought to be poor. As the rich were able to buy fine imported materials from Europe. Today, any person who could master this art would charge highly for their fabrics and would be looked at as an artisan of the highest order. The skill of making your own fiber and fabric is a tradition that is long-lost in our day and age.

My visit to my friend’s home was such a wonderful learning experience. My family and I took away lots of great ideas for our own home remodel. We got to hear some wonderful stories about the people and history of our state and were reminded that it is possible to  bring together the past and the present and make a dream come true. David Cutlip and his wonderful wife Patricia Mayes have saved not only an old house from further deterioration but made a beautiful home from the dreams of a young man many miles from where he called home.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Barnwood Builders, Beverly West Virginia, cabins, Country life, DIY projects, family memories, Farming, Hacker Valley, heirlooms, Homestead, log home, Randolph County, Webster Springs, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

West Virginia’s Newest Predator

No matter how you stand on the issue of hunting/trapping it seems to take a different tone in rural places where farming is a way of life and predator hunting is seen as a vital part of protection for livestock. West Virginia like many eastern states is seeing an invasion of a new kind of predator. The Coyote is a relatively new member to the Appalachian ecosystem as migration of the Eastern Coyote ( a cross bred coyote and wolf)  has taken generations to happen. But the population is growing and more people are discovering what western folks have always known. No one wants a Coyote in the chicken house! So what to do with the increasing populations of non-native predators in our state?

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Shy Coyote in Pennsylvania

The West Virginia Department of Wild Life has stated this on their Coyote research website page. “Predator control of coyotes preying on livestock should be restricted to targeted animals. Although bounties have been liberally used on coyotes in the west, no bounty system has ever worked. Liberal trapping seasons for the coyote should continue. Methods to encourage the sport of predator calling and means to target the coyote as a fur-bearer and game animal should be explored.

It is a challenging to be a farmer or rancher to start with, but to hear the yipping and howling of a pack of Coyotes from the front porch of your farm can be unnerving. Over the 18 years that we lived and worked our farm Coyotes were only in our area the last 6 to 8 years. It was often in the fall and winter that we heard the late night howling of the dogs.  Often it was during the early spring foaling season on the farm and same time of the year that our neighbors cattle were calving out in the pasture. By the end of  February  and March we would often see our friends out tending to the new-born calves and would meet along a fence row and talk about the winter weather and how the babies were growing. Often Tom and I would hear about the calves that were killed by Coyotes. It is tragic but one new born calf is no match for 3 or 4 Coyotes. Even today  we often spend time with farmers who raise sheep and goats who have purchased “watch animals” like Donkeys to protect the herd from the preying eyes of the dogs. The Coyote topic is becoming more common in my circle of friends. No farmer wants to lose his income to a predator. Losing one calf is a real financial  blow to a farmer. So hunting the mysterious animal is becoming big sport in the hills and hallows.

Within a 50 mile radius of our home there are 3 Coyote hunting contests every winter. Coyotes are legal game year around and electronic calls and artificial light or night vision hunting is legal from Jan to July. There are no bag limits, daily,seasonally or annually. So all a person needs is to hold a legal West Virginia hunting / trapping license to pursue a Coyote. Even with this liberal policy the Coyote population is growning and the conflict continues to rise.

So this fall as my husband and son were out deer hunting they watched a pack of three coyote running through the woods chasing a doe deer. It was a within a five-minute walk to a friend’s house where they roamed. They were close enough that if you walked your dog you may be confronted with them. I was shocked even after hearing them in the darkness night after night to think that they were hunting so close to our families farm and even closer to our nieghbors house.

What would you do? What will most of the rural farm families do when this happens to them? When is wild life to close for comfort? Do we need to lose life stock and small pets before it is allowable to remove the threat? The need to answer these questions are being raised in West Virginia, Pennsylvanian and Virginia.The Department of Wild Life of West Virginia says it is OK to protect and defend, so my husband felt that it was in the best interest of that doe and my neighbors dogs and cats to harvest two of the three Coyotes that day.

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Coyote dead in the West Virginia Woods 2016

I sit here and wonder if the Coyote will be to West Virginia and Pennsylvanian what the wild boar is to Florida and Georgia. An animal that causes more damage than good in the ecosystem and ends up on the front page of the DRN’s list of problems. I know for now that with the help of hunters and trappers we may have a chance to keep the Coyote out of the chicken house but we may need more professional help like Florida and Georgia have resorted to for their pig problems. What the future holds for farmers and Coyotes is unknown but I do know that the problem is not going away any time soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, coyote, deer hunting, equine health, Farming, Hunting, natural resources, West Virginia, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Better Mouse Trap

Today after 4 days of use I have to share my feelings about the Tomcat Live Mouse Trap.I rarely write a product review but for this product I am making an exception.After years living on a farm, in the country and now on the edge of town we have had our fair share of mice. Having field mice sneak into your house, barn, or garage is nothing to be ashamed of and is in some cases expected, animal feeds draw the darn things.

So over the years we have tried to control them with every trap or poison on the market, with mixed results. Most of the time the poison worked for the summer and was gone by fall and a new crop of mice moved into the feed shed for the winter.Making us constantly buy more product that is dangerous to use around dogs, cats and kids. We tried several snap type of traps with some luck but they miss many times and make a mess with the mouse that does get caught.Often times you are just refilling the trap night after night with the mouse stealing the bait… That makes me mad!

Then we tried glue traps in the house…. DO NOT DO IT!!! it is the most heart wrenching experience to have a mouse caught and start screaming for dear life at two in the morning. The glue is a very sticky surface and once caught the mouse is stuck and not able to move. You can’t even pull the darn little guys free from the glue to get them to stop shrieking. Then what do you do with the trap? A live animal that you trapped is stuck in glue and still trying to free itself? You can’t save it now covered in glue, you don’t want it in the house, so you end up tossing a live mouse into the trash or out the back door so you can stop thinking about the worst mistake you have made that day.

You can get large live traps but most of them are too large for a field mouse. I have also seen the price on live traps for mice at 20 bucks at the feed store. So when a mommy mouse found my dishwasher insulation the perfect place to have here babies, the trap problem was on again. I had no idea how many mice we had in the house but we were pretty sure their were more than one. So while out looking for traps I came across the Tomcat live trap at a CVS drug store. For 6 dollars I bought my first live mouse trap.

I really did not expect much from the very simple design based on a lever and fulcrum principle. I set the trap…(no snapped  fingers with this design) added the peanut butter to the bait cover and placed on the floor of the kitchen that evening.The trap door is placed in the open position with the little legs standing on the floor to keep the door open and you walk away.

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Close up of trap door on Tomcat live mouse Trap

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Side view of Tomcat live trap this shows bate tray that is placed in the back of trap with peanut butter

 

The following morning the door was closed and the weight of the trap indicated I had a mouse in the trap. No SCREAMING, NO GLUE MESS…. just a heavy trap that  I took out in the back yard and opened and shook. Out popped a very hot, sweaty, tiny field mouse who hopped off into the tall grass in the field behind the house. Inside the trap was a few mouse droppings that I washed with the sink sprayer and let dry for few minutes before resetting the trap.

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Back of Tomcat live mouse trap with bait tray

I followed this routine 4 nights in a row… and got a mouse every single night. All with the same trap and peanut butter. The only problem was remembering to check the trap to see if it needed dumping. I washed the trap today and will set it again tonight with hopes that this is the last of the mice. But even if it does not catch a mommy mouse I have found a fast,clean, noise free way to get rid of the mice. I do not have to worry about the kids getting into a snap trap or into poison that could really hurt them and for 6 dollars I have found a trap that I can use over and over. So now you know why I am pleased to share this product with all of you.

If I was going to rate this product I would call it excellent. I like the design, the easy set up with no snapping parts. I love that it is easy to remove the mouse and supper easy to clean up after each use. Set up is fast and it is easy to tell if the trap is full I found it to worth every penny of the 5.99 plus tax.I have caught 5 mice so far!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Country life, family health, Farming, mice, rural life, traps | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Victorian Era Mummies in West Virginia

This is a story of one West Virginia mans curious mind. How he managed to develop a formula for making mummies and how he refused to give his secret formula away for years.How his experiments resulted in two mummified females from the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (also known as the TALA in Weston, Lewis County, WV) and how they have survived for over 120 years.

Image being alive during the Victorian Period (1837 to 1901) in the United States. Interest in all the sciences was growing and new discoveries were happening in every field. The interest in Egyptian culture and mummies is fueled by the discovery of the Pharaoh  Ramses II  in 1881. People are collecting relics of everything human, bones, teeth, hair and death masks were all common.Ordinary people are struck with deep curiosity about our world and how it worked.P.T. Barnum was touring the country with a spectacular collection of wild animals, strange entertainment acts, and items collected from around the world. Sideshows traveled small towns with strange examples of natural oddities that everyone could see for a few cents.So for one farmer/undertaker is was a wonderful time to explore his own curiosity about Egypt and their mummies.

Barbour County Courthouse, Philippi, West Virginia built 1903

Barbour County Courthouse, Philippi, West Virginia circa 1903

Graham Hamrick of Philippi, WV was not only a farmer but also a local undertaker. In his life he was educated in common burial processes and use of embalming fluids. He found the process of mummification interesting and wanted to learn more. It is stated that he found his formula with in the pages of the Bible somewhere among the pages of The Book of Genesis. With a secret formula in hand, Hamrick gathered materials and began to experiment with the process. Hamrick is said to have mummified fruit, vegetables, small animals and snakes before the trying to mummify a human.

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Female Mummy #1 taller of the two

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Philippi Mummy #2 smaller of the two

To mummify a human Hamrick  would need human remains to prove his secret formula worked. Living with in a day ride to Weston, and the TALA, Hamrick  arranged for the purchase of two sets of unclaimed female remains at the insane asylum. This fact makes me sad for the two woman, who were forgotten by families, sold to a farmer and mummified instead of having proper burials. After transporting the remains to his farm Hamrick began the process of turning the remains into mummies.  crop of TALA front lawn on Easter

At the time the process is thought to have taken several weeks but no one was really sure how long. When Hamricks process finished and the results were visible, he had created what resembled Egyptian mummies.He began to share his successes with others in the local area and beyond.

Eventually, he was contacted by the Smithsonian Institute, who wanted to add the mummies to the museum’s collection and display them to the public with the formula he invented. The farmer refused to share the formula even though he had sent in the process into the U.S. Patent office.The mummies remained in Barbour county until they were recruited by P.T. Barnum’s for  his circus shows. The Mummies spent several years touring the United States during the end of the 1800’s.

Finally, they were returned to Barbour County and the Hamrick family. They stored the bodies in several different places over the years, in the barn on the farm, under the bed of a local history buff. Then in 1985 the two female mummies even survived the worst flood in North Central West Virginia.

 James Ramsey, an 82-year-old museum curator, explained in 1994: “After the flood dropped, they were covered with green fungus and all kind of corruption. [A man] secured some kind of a mixture that would get the green mold off them and also the hairs that were growing on them.”

The mummies would finally come to rest in the Philippi Historical Societies hands and be displayed at the Train Depot Museum,where they still remain to this day. They have the mummies displayed with the “Secret Formula” posted on the wall of the display room.

 

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Philippi, WV Train Depot Historical Society Museum

 

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Graham Hamrick information and formula

The Historical Society also was able to get a copy of a letter written by one of the ladies  before her death at the Tran Allegheny Insane Asylum. The transcription of the letter is sad. It is hard for me to believe this young woman (age around 17) would be left and forgotten by a husband and family. Yet,it gives us great insight into the world of the mentally ill in the 19th century.

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Transcription of a letter from mummified woman to family 1880’s

I found the whole experience to the Depot Museum  wonderful. The other objects in the collection are educational also. Most dating back to the civil war era and the stories of the battles that filled the hills of this town are worth their own trip to the museum. Philippi  being the location of the first land battle of the Civil War makes the entire town a treasure trove of stories for further visits.

If you are lucky enough to be traveling in the north central portion of West Virginia. Take Rt #250 through the historic covered bridge into Philippi to see the Mummies. The museum is on the right just across the river next to the train tracks. Pay the small donation fee and take a look at one the little Mummies that Philippi made.

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Barbour County, Country life, Farming, ghost stories, historic locations, mummies, museums, Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, traveling | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Time and Place to Heal

    Do you ever wonder after some major change in your life that maybe even if things didn’t turn out the way you expected that they turned out for the best?

Quarter horse mare and foal... my baby "Dancer"

Quarter horse mare and foal… my baby “Dancer”

   When Tom and I moved off the farm 2 1/2 years ago I think we were both felt a little confused and lost. We had thought that our future was the land and the animals that we had filled it with. We both had jobs and at the time a toddler who needed us. We just had no idea that the future had us elsewhere and that we needed time away from the farm work to rest and heal. Tom needed two major surgeries and I needed to get time to raise Christopher, grandma need a place to recover from major surgery and I would eventually need time to heal a broken bone and time start this blog. ( this is my 50th blog post, a year has almost passed on WordPress)

Tom the day after arm surgery aug 2012

Tom the day after arm surgery Aug 2012

 When we moved Tom was suffering from not only Carpal tunnel but Cubital tunnel also, in both arms ( Cubital Tunnel is at the elbow) and it was getting worse. I knew without the surgeries his days of farm work and being a Farrier to our clients horses were over. I also knew that I was just plain tired of working so hard. Taking care of a toddler, working and looking after 7 head of horses and the rest of our animals was more than a full-time job. I wanted more time to play and show our son the world and you can’t just pack up and leave 15 or 20 animals alone and go to grandmas 1500 miles away.

Tom forming horse shoes on anvil

Tom forming horse shoes on anvil

  So our move off the farm was a good one, not because we understood that we needed to find the old unloved house that we now live in or bring it back to life. We had no way of knowing that the time and money to get Tom arms fixed would take years, not months to correct.That Christopher’s grandma would need loving care and at our house for several weeks or that I would need to let a broken bone heal for 6 weeks. Some how, not having the farm was just what we all needed at the right time.

Grandma staying with us after her surgery

Grandma staying with us after her surgery

   I guess this broken bone in my foot has really changed things for me.I was always looking after everyone else so they had time to heal, now it is me who needs the time off. I think I broke my foot in September but I’m not really sure. The pain just kept growing and no healing was taking place. The pain got so intense that I just couldn’t take a walk out to our mail box anymore. I had to see the Dr and hope they could fix what ever was wrong because without some kind of help I was looking at losing my job and not being able to do simple things like grocery shopping. All due to my feet hurting.

Well the mystery is now over and I look like this…..

Jolynn in her leg in air cast Dec 9th 2013

Jolynn in her leg in air cast Dec 9th 2013

I have some how ( the Dr say stress fractured) the small bone under my big toe joint. I would try to spell it but really it is not worth the mental anguish to figure it out. They are hoping that with 6 weeks off my feet and in the cast it should heal but given the fact that I think I have been walking on it for almost three months with no signs of healing they are not sure what to expect. If the bones do not knit themselves back together then surgery going to be in Feb. At that point they will remove a portion of the bone that is floating loose in the ball of my foot. That would mean another 4 to 6 weeks off.

    So as I look back over the last 2 1/2 years, the amount of time we have been off the farm, I can’t help but to see that we needed this move. The whole family needed less, less things, less land, fewer animals and more time to rest and heal. Who would have guess that my 1920s cottage with thousands in repairs would turn into a safe haven for all of our broken bodies. Again, I am always amazed at how things work out for the best even when we are unwilling or unprepared to see what we need at certain times in our lives. I am just glad to have this healing place we call home.

the new back porch Tom built on the old house last year

the new back porch Tom built on the old house last year

Categories: Family, Farming, Farrier work., Healing, Home | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Jane Lew,West Virginia, my little town

   recently I have been thinking about how to share more about what I love about my rural life. I realised to do that I should really start at the beginning. The beginning of my experience here in a teeny town in central,West VirginiaWest_Virginia_State_map

Please do not confuse with the state of Virginia.                                                              

      Ok, yes  we were at one time one state. The civil war and topography spilt the state and I reside in the historically confederate and more rugged portion that became West Virginia. Looking at this simple map my location is off of interstate 79 near the city of Weston. The actual name of our town is Jane Lew. A Town of 547 people if you go by the 2011 census records. My family doesn’t actually count in this number as we do not live in city limits. Several thousand live within the zip code and that puts us up to say 3800  people who call Jane Lew home.  The town does have several amenities that we all love and share but we have NO stop lights only a couple of stop sign intersections and a nice off ramp from the interstate. 

main street Jane Lew, Wv

main street Jane Lew, W.V.

Other end of main street taken from the park

Other end of main street taken from the park

Hackers creek road entering into the town of Jane Lew from interstate

Hackers creek road entering into the town of Jane Lew from interstate

The actual town has a nice city park and a very small downtown area with a couple of shops for car repairs and two funeral homes, a gas station.  Several of our historical buildings used for the senior center, VFW,water and gas companies. On the out skirts of town we support three or four gas exploration companies, Two log home builders, a truck stop, two diesel repair garages, a dollar store, a hotel and 3 restaurants.  The town does offer two doctors offices and soon a pharmacy. We are really booming here.

  Off the interstate about five miles is where my husband has spent 45 or his 49 years of life. He grew up in the same house that we raise our oldest son. We farmed, worked and hunted the same property that his father bought and cared from the 1970’s. But recently we made a change and we are now remodeling and restoring a 1920 general store into our forever home. We still live about 5 miles from the interstate but in a more developed community.

the powers farm in 2001 Jane Lew wv

the powers farm in 2001 Jane Lew,W.V.

Photo of the house we are remodeling after years of neglect.

Tom removing old back porch

Tom removing old back porch

   Moving to a small town from a big city was a huge change for me. (My home town was around 20,000 people a true suburb of Denver Co). One of the very first things that was new to me was that everyone is friendly. People wave as you drive past their homes from the front porch or out mowing the grass. Old men wave as they drive down a country road. Everyone  just waves for know real reason. One of my first conversations with my husband was ….. “who was that?”… a woman waved at us while we drove past, she was collecting mail from the families road side mail box. My husbands replied “I have know idea”. Confused I said ” Then why is she waving at us?” Tom laughed and responded….”thats just what you do here.”

  That example explains my whole experience, Confused.  It me took a while to learn to love it. If you see a car passing your home, some one you have never met is waving at you. It is also expected that you will wave back. If you are in an area that you don’t know, I suggest that you do wave and wave to every person you see on that porch. It is bad manors not to and you do not want anyone to think you are there for any reason other than friendly ones… Remember you are in the second leading gun ownership state in the US. Friendly is fine, strangers on the other hand take some getting used to.

   In summer you may wave 5 or 6 times in 4 miles. You wave to the farmer out cutting hay, the neighbor walking her dog,  the mail man who passed you in his personal SUV (No U.S. mail trucks  here) as you head to town. It is a strange and wonderful habit and it makes me smile when I think about how many strangers I have now waved to in passing.

Mr Hicks and Mr Randolph putting up hay

Mr Hicks and Mr Randolph putting up hay

  It is also impossible in a small town like mine to teach children to “NOT TALK TO STRANGERS”. I am not sure if it is a southern thing or just a small town thing, but its expected that you speak to everyone you see. From a simple nod of the head to an involved conversations with people you have never met before. As the new girl in town I used to dread going places with my husband… no one knew me and everyone wanted my story. It was hard to repeat the same information over and over.  No, I am not from around here… No, I don’t have a church yet,…. No, I have never lived in a small town… No, I am not from California… no… no… acccck. Please stop asking me Questions.

   Time moved on and I became just one of the many faces in “town” so it got easier. Then people assume that you know everyone they know or that you need to hear the details of the problem they are having that day. I have heard stories about cheating husbands, injured farmers and animals, children that have school problems all from total strangers. I  love and embrace that West Virginians love to ask questions, butt into conversations if they think they can help, and share a sweet hello… like “good morning sunshine” while shopping at the local   Dairy Mart. I never once remember anyone calling me sunshine at home! I also don’t ever remember someone over-hearing that my debit card didn’t work offer to pay for my gas. I just pumped 7 gallons at the local 7-11 and darn it, it was payday, I just knew that meant money in the bank… was I wrong!

   Danny, only met me once, but offered to cover the 20 dollars to make sure me and the babby got home ok. Embarrassed and totally over whelmed at his kindness as he handed the woman behind the counter a twenty. I drove home in tears and promised to repay him the next day when I got the mess at the bank figure out. He wasn’t worried about it at all….. He said “He had been their, and new what it was like to be short on cash.” and continued “when ever was fine to pay him back.” I went the next day to his repair shop and gave him back the twenty and thanked him until the tears were in my eye again. He hugged me and said that he had lived his whole life in this small town and knew my husband most of his life and knew that he was good for it.  This was a lesson for me and one that I build on still today. People here are good people and are willing to help when they can and I now understand that it is my job to pass it along to others when I can. “Pay it Forward” has been working here a long time before Ophra made it trendy.

    The stereo type that there is nothing happening in a small town maybe true. Three places are open after 8pm here in Jane Lew.  The 24 hour truck stop is one and the other two are a gas station and a Dairy Mart. We have no video store or Red Box , no all night laundry, or even a 24 hour Wal-Mart. But, Jane Lew does have little league baseball, churches, the largest craft fair in the northern part of the state, a best rated elementary school, a national rodeo every summer and lots and lots of friendly families. It is the families, rich, poor and in-between that make this my home. It’s the Dr’s wife out volunteering at the elementary school, it’s the Paster cooking hot dogs to raise money for vacation bible school. It is Danny the tow truck driver paying for my gas, the sweet sound of  children on the play ground, and the fire fighters community Pig roast that make it home. It is the way that some one I have never met will stand at the ice cream shop and tell me stories about how their Mamaw and Papaw lived near here and had a farm, that makes the roots grow deep in this place. A small sweet southern place to call home.

Christopher riding in puddles at Jane Lew park

Christopher riding in puddles at Jane Lew park

Pair of boots forgotten after rodeo and left on a stump

Pair of boots forgotten after rodeo and left on a stump

Categories: family fun, Farming, Friendship, Home, Jane Lew, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Horse Farm Labor is Our Second Job, Finding the help you Need.

     Tom and I  travel to so many farms during the year that we hear some of the same complaints at every stop. Frist there are not enough well-trained Farriers and second that finding farm workers, caretakers and horse handlers is almost impossible. Thiers reasons for both of these problems and some of it has to do with economics. Frist, Low pay for the hard work  sends many into town and second, farmers are not  good at  letting people know that they need or want help. 

Tom leading horse to pasture

Tom leading horse to pasture

Tom putting shoes on Oat

Tom putting shoes on Oat

 If you have a problem on a horse farm the best two things you can do is let your farm community know what kind of  help you are looking for. Farm stores have bulletin boards, clubs have news letters, and friends have kids these are all great ways to get the word out the you need a helping hand around the farm.  Pay well and often, everyone loves payday and even the kid who cleans out the barn needs paid before he leaves for the day.  

 Over the years of showing, raising and training horse I have worked for several farms in my area. Yes, I shoveled horse poop for a living. Not glamorous work but it beat the rat race any day. I received fair pay, always about double what minimum wage was at the time.  Farm work is hard, dirty and at times stressful. To modern kids Micky D’s is a lot easier and pays better than most farm jobs. Keep this in mind when you are looking to put up hay in 90 degree weather with a 5 am in starting time and that kid at Micky D’s is making 9 dollars and hour.If you want them you will have to pay them.

      This also is true for your Farrier, if you own a horse part of owning that animal is occasional foot care. Most farriers charge a standard rate for trims/ shoe/or resets. Pay your bill promptly and you will have a good relationship with him, wait to long or try to haggle the price and you will be looking for a new one very quickly. If you are not able to afford to pay everyone cash remember that some people are open to barter for services. I have  mucked stalls for riding lessons and Tom has trimmed horses  for hay. Just be clear about what you need and what you have to offer. We have always been happen when we worked out a deal.

 I also do sitting for several horse farms. We all need a vacation now and then. Sometimes families  just go to the fair and other times families need to head out for an emergency, it is this short periods of time that I help out on the farm.

Squaw and dancer

Squaw and dancer

I find that there is a real need for farm families to leave  a few head of horses, a couple of dogs and cat alone for a few days. The horses really need people who understand them if you are going watch them and the time to care for them is pretty labor intensive. I find the best way to find some one who can help, is asking your other horse friends, farriers and farm stores. I get asked all the time because my husbands farrier business. We both are willing  and able to help with animal care. The rate that we get  to come to your farm and care for your horses is not  much less then you would pay to a stable them while you are away. So with each additional horse we charge an additional fee. I find this the fairest way to charge for my time and gas. This way I can keep my rate the same from farm to farm. This makes everyone pay the same and no one gets up set over changes in pricing. The biggest difference is that the horses are at home in their own stalls with their feed and water and no hauling needed. It’s to the advantage of my clients that they do not have to stress the animal while they are away. 

  No matter what type of labor you need for  your farm, remember to just get the word out that you need a farrier, a farm sitter, a person to help string fence. They are their and if you pay them fairly they will be willing to come back and work for you over and over. It is worth building these kinds of relationships because over time you never know who it will be to help out. I never thought that Tom being a farrier would over flow to farm sitting and that I would be working with some many wonderful families and their animals.

Farm that I sit for while the owners are out of town and one of their walking horses

Farm that I sit for while the owners are out-of-town and one of their walking horses

 I hope that my friends Ron and Marylyn have had a great trip and that they feel confident that their horses were in good care while they were away. It is always fun to spend time on their farm and we love doing it.

Categories: Farm work, Farming, Farrier work., Friendship, horse health, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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