Jane Lew

Snowy Farm Mornings With The Mares

The one thing that I still miss about the farm is the silent snowy mornings. Moving to town has its advantages in snowy weather… streets get cleared a lot faster and the grocery is a lot closer but something is just not the same, let me explain.

My horses on in the top pasture on a snowy morning.

My horses in the top pasture on a snowy morning.

When you own livestock you never get a snow day. So the mornings for me always started early even in the cold. I would get up early, like all farm families do, so I could get the feeding done before work and school would take the day.

Dressed in my coveralls, hat, and gloves, I head out of the back door of the farm-house. I cross the back porch and hear the first crunch of the snow on a step. Walking my way to the barn across the yard I look for them but can not see them in the top pasture. Even though the barn doors are always open the herd of four quarter horse were never in the barn until feeding time.

Even if they heard me tracking slowly through the snow they never moved. They stand at the farthest point away from the barn on the top of the hill. I holler at the top of my lungs”Here Girls!” and get no response. Just the quite… no cars or trucks, no snow plows (sometimes for days), no other person for miles was outside on a 12 degree morning. I reluctantly fill the feed buckets with two heaping scoops of sweet-smelling grain. I Complain to myself about walking up the bank into the pasture to looking for them.

You do it to make sure that everything is alright if they do not come in. Horses trapped in fences, cases of colic and babies born in the open all happen when humans are not looking. Today was not going to be one of those days. I open the gate with the frozen chain and hear it bang as I swing it through the snow and across the frozen ground and into the pasture. The hill blocks my view. No knickers or neigh for me to hear from the group, just my snow boots crunching up the slope to the orchard trees.

Annabell in snow at the farm in Jane Lew

Annabell in snow at the farm in Jane Lew,West Virginia.

Past the orchard trees, I finally see the huddled mares in the upper corner of the field. Snow only ankle-deep and they still do not want to move. “Come on Girls!” I yell again, this is ridiculous I think as the wind blows the quiet snow in my eyes.  I give in and walk to top of the hill and discover I am out of breath and breathing hard. The steam I blow matches the clouds that surrounds them. They breath in and out almost in time and the moisture from the four 800 pound bodies rises into the air. They see me and two heads turn as I finally come close enough to actually touch the snow-covered beasts.

Their winter coats are such good insulation against the cold that snow flakes dance on top of the longest hairs of each animal. Icicles form on the whiskers of each damp muzzle and each wet eye lash. The mares do seem to mind the cold and seem more at home in the winter snow.

Daisy with skippy in snow

Daisy with Skippy in the snow on the Jane Lew farm.

For the small herd, standing and sleeping is more comfortable than slipping down the hill to the barn. I can’t blame them, they have stood together most of the night and have melted some of the snow on the ground . I sneak up close to the oldest mare and slide my gloved hand across her back and talk softly and she murmurs back to me. I get close and feel the warmth of her 100 degree body against me. Warmth and friendship, could life get better for her?

The others push closer to me, nose to nose, they breathe me in and I, them. The smell of the mare’s breath and coats is warm, round and deep. It is the smell of the summer dirt, fresh-cut hay and dark warm stalls.They smell of old barns and fresh shavings,of carrots and cookies, of sunshine and creek water. I kiss each nostril in turn.

Hidden in my coat pocket is a lead rope that I slide around the old mare’s neck. I clip it under her chin… more imagination than rope. I lead her and she willingly follows me down. The younger horses gallop back and forth across the field, bounding, bouncing, jumping and twisting.

Horses Playing in the snow

Horses Playing in the snow

Play time for the young and feed time for the old. I walk her through the gate to the barn, each following her lead without a fight. Her head lowers into the bucket and she blows out the air in her lungs as if to sigh. The rattle of those buckets is the only sound for miles. The sun rises to the shifting sounds in my barn. I toss hay into each stall as the last of the gain gets lipped out of old buckets.

My chore is almost done. The water is thawed and waiting when they finish their meal. The gate is locked up tight. I am alone again in my walk back across the large yard. My cheeks are cold and frosty but my heart is warm. I think to myself…. “Love You Girls” as I hear the squeaky snow under my boot.

 

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Categories: Country life, Farm work, Friendship, Horses, Jane Lew, Memories, snow, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Shoeing a Horse with the BarnWood Builders T.V. Show and Spiker farm.

As part of every episode of Barnwood builders Mark Bowe  always likes to show off other skilled craftsman or tradesman who do things the old-fashioned way. So when producers from the show discovered that Tom was a farrier,they were thrilled to add his skills to their show. To film his farrier skills we needed a willing client and a farm to work at. We were able to contact Sue Ann Spiker, also from Jane Lew, and include her and her farm in the last portion of the filming of this episode.

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

If you have been following along with my last couple of posts about our house remodel these are the guys who invited us to join in the fun of their T.V. show and help us get barn wood for our family room. I have already shared the barn at Home remodel #1  and showed off the set and my house in Home remodel #2. But the last part of our day of filming really was about my husband Tom and his client Sue Ann Spiker and her farm.

Tom has worked for Sue Ann for years and when Tom was in middle school she was his Art teacher. When setting up this portion of the show Tom and I needed to find a horse and farm family willing to have a film crew on the farm.  Tom thought of Sue Ann’s horse and farm right away. Sue Ann and her husband John, have historical buildings on their farm. This also excited the show producers and we ended up not only shooting Tom with Sue Ann holding her horse but getting a guided tour of their Guest House, Barn and 1700’s cabin. A real treat for everyone that was on set that day.

Actor Mark Bowe talking with the Director of Barnwood builders

Actor Mark Bowe talking with the Director of Barnwood builders

Sue Ann has spent about 5 years or more restoring and decorating the buildings on her farm. The Guest House is a lovely two-story house built-in 1862. The family rents out house, cabin and barn for family gatherings and weddings. More information is on the families website at Sunny Pointe Guest House. com. The main excitement for the show is the little one room cabin or as The Spiker family informed us is the “Loom House” where linens were woven for the farm family 1700’s. The cabin is now set up as a bedroom with a lovely fire-place to keep couples warm at night.

Sunny Pointe Guest House side yard view

Sunny Pointe Guest House side yard view old cabin in shadows

 

Cellar steps into the basement to Sunny Pointe Guest House

Cellar steps into the basement to Sunny Pointe Guest House

back of cabin at Spiker Farm

back of 1700’s at Spiker Farm

Sue Ann Spiker and her 1700's cabin

Sue Ann Spiker at the front of her 1700’s cabin

bed inside cabin at Spiker Farm

bed inside cabin at Spiker Farm

Christopher walking in front of fire place  in cabin at Spiker farm

Christopher walking in front of fire-place in cabin at Spiker farm

Front door of cabin with photo of Gen. Thomas "Stone Wall" Jackson

Front door of cabin with photo of Gen. Thomas “Stone Wall” Jackson

 

One of the secrets of the cabin revels it’s self around this door… the builder and his family will be forever remembered.

door jam of old cabin with fathers initials and 8 of the twelve children that lived and used the cabin

door jamb of old cabin with fathers initials and 8 of the twelve children that lived and used the cabin

Cabin door jam with more initials carved into the frame

Cabin door jamb with more initials carved into the frame

After the tour it was time to get Tom working on Sue Ann’s horse and here he is getting his microphone.

Tom getting ready to shoe. sound engineer hooks up his micriphone

Tom getting ready to shoe. sound engineer hooks up his microphone

Sue Ann also getting ready to talk about the farm and her horse.

Sue Ann Spiker with sound engineer getting her microphone

Sue Ann Spiker with sound engineer getting her microphone

I can only tell you that the portion where Tom puts a shoe on the front of Sue Ann’s horse went fine. I was with them, holding on to the horse’s tail so that the camera man would not get kicked in the face. He was so low and close to the horse that we all just were a little worried about his safety. So, sadly I was not able to get photos of that portion of the filming. In the end, I was glad I was at the rear of the horse. She was a little wiggly and it took a while for her to get comfortable with all the attention. So the photos I have are of Katie the producer getting some time with “Miss Lee” the Tennessee Walking Horse before everyone got busy working with her feet.

Katie Rolnick the producer with Miss Lee the Walking horse

Katie Rolnick the producer with Miss Lee the Walking horse, Bruno the donkey is in the back ground

The shooting ended with Tom letting Mark Bowe try his hand at nailing on a shoe and talking to everyone at the end of a very long day.  The sun was setting, Tom, Christopher and I climbed into the truck to head home. The day was perfect and we learned more than we ever expected to from this experience and we still had one more day of filming to go.   The view of the rolling hills and green grass of the Spiker farm were hard to leave behind but after 9 hours of filming and a couple of hours of driving and unloading lumber. I was ready for my home and bed.

Rolling pasture of Spiker Farm

Rolling pasture of Spiker Farm

The following day was time to film my house and to take the film crew around our local area to find beautiful scenic and rural images for cut-ins during the show. This ended up being my favorite part of the filming. I was not on camera but got to spend the day with this wonderful people and get my only photo taken.  I got this photo of me in a e-mail a few days after the team left never even knowing Katie had taken it of me while in my kitchen.

Jolynn Powers holding  television camera from the Barnwood builders crew

Jolynn Powers holding television camera from the Barnwood builders crew

The remaining portion of the story is more about demolishing my house and the actual rebuilding process and that will take a while to do and write about. In the future I will share more photos and stories about the mess we make.  In the mean time,I though you might like to see the lumber from the barn. It is beautiful and we have plenty to do our walls and some other projects.

10 pounds of nails came from the lumber

10 pounds of nails came from the lumber

 

Categories: Barns, Barnwood Builders, blacksmith work, family fun, family memories, Farrier work., history, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, Horses, Jane Lew, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Home Remodel # 2 Filming Barn Demolition with the Barnwood Builders at Jane Lew West Virginia.

If you are just dropping in, I am working on a home remodel with a company from Lewisburg WV. They happen to have a television show titled the Barnwood Builders.  They invited me and the blog to take part in not only a large amount of barn lumber but also in the filming of the episode at a barn in Jane Lew, W.V. The process began with Tom and I scouting out the barn and getting to know the producers. You can see more of that post at                            Home Remodel #1 .

Lets just say the I was thankful when Katie one of the producers, canceled Tom, Christopher and I from coming out to the site on Saturday. The rain was bad and the temperatures cold. Generally a typical dreary spring day in West Virginia. This also meant that the filming of my portion of the show was already a day late. Sunday morning Tom, Christopher and I packed into the truck and headed out  for a long day at two different locations. When we arrived the shed and outside wall of the feeding area of the barn are gone and they are working on getting some of the interior wood ready for Tom and I to take home.

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

We greet the producers and some of the staff as we walked up to the old house that is on the property. The sitting room is full computers and cases, it is now “Head Quarters” for the crew. With in minutes I received  a microphone and transmitter. On a morning that started out about 38 degrees this was the worst of the entire experience. The cord, microphone and box were freezing cold. It took my breath away to have an ice-cold cord dropped down the front of my sweater and run around my waist to my back where the sound engineer clipped it in place. BURRRRR!!!

I then headed over to met the director and star of the show. I walked across the yard to the fence in this photo and waited. Tom and Christopher waited on the porch and watched in the distance. I had no idea of any of the plans for story or lines. I was flying blind, alone and cold. I had not really realized how cold it was and had only worn a sweater and a wind breaker… no hat, no gloves, just rubber muck boots that would later fail me.

Eventually from the field that you see in the photo two men walked up to me at the fence and introduced themselves. Mark Bowe is the star and owner of Barnwood builders and Steve is our Director. They proceed to explain what we were going to do and what was going to happen first. Mark Bowe would pretend to see me standing at this very fence and walk across the field to see what I wanted and the story would run from there. The story for this episode is that a local woman writer is curious about the strangers taking down a loved local barn and wants to learn more. Pretty close to the truth and totally possible where I live. They begin filming with in minutes of our conversation. I stumbled through a few opening sequences, but get my stride and we film at the barn for the next 3 hours straight. All the while the rest of the crew continues to work at removing boards that I will eventually take home.

Johny Jett and Tim loading wood on to fork lift . the wood will  is for my house

Johnny Jett and Tim loading wood on to fork lift . the wood will is for my house

As you can see in the photos the ground is wet rutted mud. Making it a tricky place to walk,talk, think and “Act” in. It was all I could do not to fall. Then as Mark and I walk away from the barn, I do it, I find a rut with the tip of my rubber boot and trip. Still filming, I reach out and just grab his arm and we laugh. I say “It’s OK you work out” as he laughs and has some charming reply(that I have no memory of now) and keeps me from falling face first into the mud. We walk another 20 feet almost to the fence and the unthinkable happens. My boot gets sucked into the wet mud and I totally lose it. I just holler ” Shit!”…. “My boot is stuck in the mud!” as I pitch forward about falling on my face again. Twice in less than ten minutes, I have made it in to the blooper reel. Mark and I finally make it up into the yard laughing when the director and camera man reach us at the gate. Steve the director at this point complements me on my abilities ( of what I am not sure) and says I am actually good at this ( I am a basket case) and wants to give me a hug. “Wow, third hug in just three hours must be doing something right” I think to myself. I am free to return to seeing my family and friends at the  house as the crew finishes moving piles of lumber.

The time off camera is good, we all eat lunch from my friends Josh and Andrea Evans’ restaurant. They own The Second and Center Cafe’ in Weston, West Virginia.  Sitting around the yard and porch of the house,I finally get to take some random photos and spend time with Christopher and Tom. We are all getting excited to load lumber into our truck and watch the barn go down.

Grahm from the Barnwood builders gives Christopher his personal hat

Grahm from the Barnwood Builders gives Christopher his personal hat

Josh Evans owner of Second and Center Cafe with Bryan from the Barnwood builders

Josh Evans owner of Second and Center Cafe with Bryan from the Barnwood Builders

 

 

Lunch break Mark Bowe and Andrea Evans

Lunch break Mark Bowe and Andrea Evans

Loading up only one truck load of lumber for the shoot is great, it gives everyone the opportunity to get filmed even my little Christopher. Mark Bowe, Johnny Jett, Tim and Sherman, help Tom and Christopher load up the truck. Christopher is loving all the attention and steals the show when he dances with Mark in the muddy road.

Christopher with Star of Branwood builders Mark Bowe  loading lumber int o our truck

Christopher with Star of Barnwood builders Mark Bowe loading lumber into our truck

With the lumber loaded we drive away from the location only to return on foot. Tom parks the truck out of sight and  we all walk back to see the final moments of the barn going down. It is a happy and sad feeling watching part of my community being torn down. I have included a short clip of the last few seconds of the barn going down with sound. The cheering and talking is a little loud so please excuse it. I have no skills at editing video.

We  finished our trip home to unload this pile of lumber and head back to Jane Lew where we met the film crew at another location.The production company also wants to film at my  friend Sue Ann Spikers’ farm. She owns a beautiful property with several old buildings, a house and an old cabin. The Barnwood builders want to see the cabin and talk about its history and visit Sunny Pointe Guest House. Sue Ann is always ready for guests at her restored 1860’s Guest House and 1700’s cabin.

Sue Ann Spiker and her 1700's cabin

Sue Ann Spiker and her 1700’s cabin

This is where I will leave this Blog post. I will continue the story of Tom shoeing a horse for Sue Ann’s and share photos of the farm, guest house,and my pile of lumber. I want to explain more about what we are going to do with all this wood and the treasures we found inside the old barn.

I still can not believe that I was part of this experience and that the Barnwood builders will be back at my house this summer again to shoot footage of the after part of my living room.Hope you are enjoying a behind the  camera look at a TV show and who would believe that this all happened because I write a blog.

 

Categories: Barns, Barnwood Builders, blacksmith work, blogging, family fun, Farrier work., friends, heirlooms, history, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, Jane Lew, nostalgic, recycling, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Home remodel Part 1# The Old Barn, Barnwood Builders and My House.

Today begins the first step in the process of our remodel. Tom, Christopher and I are meeting the show producers for BarnWood Builders, from the DIY Network, at the barn that they are demolishing to repurposed  into a pile of supplies for our home. The Barn is way back in the country taking us around 25 minutes to get to from the interstate of I-79 and the Jane Lew Exit. So the logistics of moving the lumber out is still in the works. But here she is in all of her 120 year old glory. This is her before photo. I am a little sad to see her go as I have passed by her so many times over the years but the other part of me is so EXCITED knowing that I will share in her future and will love her even more at home.

Kenchelo road barn before being torn down

Kenchelo road barn before being torn down by the Barnwood Builders

The story behind her removal from the property is a common one. The home owner has passed away and the next generation of owners don’t want the barns and needs to remove them due to flooding and new uses for the pasture. As you can see the barn is in need of repair and in some cases dangerous to use. So to remove them solves lots of problems for the owing family and adds nicely to our new house.

When we visited the farm today the bottom land was still swampy. I was ankle-deep in standing water only feet from the shed on the right. This move will be very tricky… lots and lots of mud, gravel and hard work!

Here Tom and I walk down to get a closer look at the buildings and what we would find still in them or if they were empty of all history.

Tom walking to barn on Kenchelo

Tom walking to barn on Kenchelo

Tom looking at barn

Tom looking at barn

If you look closely at the siding boards… some of them are massive. Tom and I are guessing 18 to 20 foot lengths, twenty inches in some cases wide. Only massive trees produce lumber of this size. In most cases these trees grow on the farms or near the farms where the barns stand.  Tom says The boards look like white oak and are in wonderful condition for reuse. We are so lucky to keep some of this wonderful wood close to its home.

Sean,  Barnwood Builders producer, and Tom talk equipment and timing and I just hunt around the old barn looking for lost treasures. I found a couple of things and that will eventually become part of my home decor. The team from BarnWood Builders will arrive tomorrow and some of the filming will begin at the site and if we are lucky the rain that the weather man predicted will some how pass by.

So I guess I better get things ready here before the crew shows up to do some filming here at the house for the “Before” Portion of this project. Here are some photos of the family room as we use it today… lots of white walls and brown. I cant wait to see what happens when we add the barn wood as paneling to the walls in this room. Then Tom and I will be replacing the carpet in the family room with slate tile on the floors and a new ceiling light fixture. We are making a Chandler out of canning jars. So much fun and so much work to do over the next 4 or 5 weeks.

 

Family room from the laundry room door

Family room from the laundry room door

Famliy room from the front door

Family room from the front door

large front window at front of room

large front window at front of room

office portion of the family room

office portion of the family room

Wish us luck we could use it right about now… The national weather service in Charleston, WV already has flash flood warnings on the radar for tomorrow. So who knows what is going to happen over the next few days.

Categories: Barns, Barnwood Builders, furniture, heirlooms, history, home improvement, home remodeling, Homestead, Jane Lew, recycling, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Puffball mushrooms, Safty tips and Recipe.

  This time of year in West Virginia is a blend of late summer heat and cool rainy days. Perfect weather for wild mushrooms. This last week has been full of friends dropping by saying, ” While we were out in the ( you pick the place), woods, river bank or yard, we found this… mushroom. We were wondering if you can eat it ; do you know what this one is? Well most of our  friends do know something about mushrooms so they do look for the edible ones but it is always nice to have some one back you up on what you have and if you should eat it.

two puffball mushrooms cut in half each one larger then a large onion

two Puffball mushrooms cut in half each one larger than a large onion

    On Tues a friend dropped these two mushrooms off at the house he found them on the creek bank behind his house.  Puffball mushrooms are very common and easy to find but to need  cut in half when small to make sure they are not Earthballs or confused with a starting bud of the POISONOUS AGARIC mushroom. At this size a Puffball can not be  confused with any other mushroom making it very safe to harvest. Earthballs are small round mushrooms that are a dark purple inside and smell very strong they are not for eating. The other poisonous agaric mushroom also forms into a white button when small and eventually forms a traditional ” toads stool” when mature.                                                           

 If you were to confuse the two while small the safety tip is:

    Slice open the ball and see if an egg-shaped cap appears inside the button,in some cases it looks like the soft outline of a mushroom growing inside the button. Do not eat the ones that have anything inside other than creamy white flesh.The inside of the Puffball is white and looks like cream cheese.It can be sliced and fried or chopped for other uses. Use them fresh and do not let the mushroom turn grainy or chunky that is a sign that the mushroom is deteriorating and spoiled. Always cook wild mushrooms some people are sensitive and could get an upset stomach when eating any mushroom cooking does help reduce the chance of an upset.

The frist step to cooking a Puffball is to remove the outside skin. This leaves you with the creamy white clean insides to eat.

The outer skin removed from a large Puffball mushroom

The outer skin removed from a large Puffball mushroom

     Again this was a 1 pound mushroom  so with company on the way for dinner I thought an appetizer was in order and took half of the mushroom and chopped it fine and made a warm mushroom dip with garlic crackers. The dip  left on the thin side has many uses like sauce for chicken or over noodles for a meatless mushroom meal.

This is what the thickened dip looks like and it was a hit with company as I finished making the rest of dinner.

Puffball warm chip dip

Puffball warm chip dip

    Warm Puffball chip dip

1/2 pound mushroom finely chopped ( any mushroom will do)

1 stick butter softened

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced onion

3/4 pound of sour cream

1 bouillon cube (dissolved) or 1 Korr chicken broth tub

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons flour ( optional, omit for sauce)

chips, crackers, or vegetable slices

 1. Saute mushrooms in a large frying pan on medium heat with 5 tablespoons butter and lemon juice until tender.

2. Add finely chopped onion.

3. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Add sour cream, bouillon granules, and salt and pepper and simmer 3 minutes.

5. mix flour and two table spoons butter together into a paste  use as a thickener for dip.

6. Add paste to hot sauce and stir until thickened.

7. serve warm in a fondue pot in small slow cooker for party’s.

 yields about 3 to 4 cups.

   In my effort to learn more about mushrooms I have gained lots of safety tips and the above recipe from the wonderful book listed below. It is the book that we use the most.  I think every beginner should have a copy the photos are wonderful and the information shared is simple and easy to use. I take it with us every time we are out in the woods.

             “Wild Edible Mushrooms”

             tips and recipes for every mushroom hunter 

                                by Hope H Miller.

The book is easily found on Amazon at this link http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Edible-Mushrooms-Recipes-Mushroom/dp/0762771437/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382016858&sr=1-1&keywords=Wild+Edible+Mushrooms.

My son also bought me a second identification book for my birthday it is more of a traditional field guide with thousands of mushrooms and drawings. It is useful to give a second description for a new mushroom and is handy for ones that look so similar. It is recommend having at lest two books to use while trying to identify wild mushrooms.

                         “Mushrooms”

                          Peterson field guides

               By Kent h. Mckight/ Vera B. Mcknight

again the Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/Field-Guide-Mushrooms-America-Peterson/dp/0395910900/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382105122&sr=1-2&keywords=mushrooms+field+guide

  This book covers a larger verity of mushrooms and is handy when a question about what verity you are looking at or what ones are edible.Since we focus our time on the edible ones I use this book less often, but find it useful. Amazon lists several field guides, and regional guides to help with identification.

 Mushroom hunting has been on of the best hobbies that our family enjoyed  the last few years. It is something everyone can do and share in from the littlest in our family to the oldest. The locations are not limited to the woods. As I explained the Puffball above was found in my husbands best friends back yard along a creek bank .So even a nice walk through a park or  stream side maybe the place to find wonderful mushrooms to share. It is the time together walking, cooking and eating that makes this experience so much fun and healthy. It is nother way for me to eat healthier and be less dependant on society for my food. It is hard to believe but just one Puffball made about 3 quarts of meatless soup and a wonderful dip for entertaining all free for the taking. It is a lesson I am so glad I am learning.

Tom and Christopher mushroom hunting in Jane Lew , Wv

Tom and Christopher mushroom hunting in Jane Lew , W.V.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: cooking, family fun, Foraging, Jane Lew, Mushrooms, wild food | 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

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