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Paletopia
East Tennessee: June 10, 2022
© 2022 James LaFond
NOV/4/22
Written from memory on 6/15/2022 in Denver, Pennsylvania
The trees are between 50 and 150 years old, with most at the median. This appears to be a cattle pasture from the late 1800s that has largely been left fallow to reforest, mostly in the past 50 years. The land in East Tennessee is not far from the Davey Crockett Boy Scout Camp. The land is well-watered and nowhere near level except where man and machine has made it so.
A heroic battle has been fought against invasive plants, reclaiming the land for mixed agriculture. The center of this 20 acre plot of high clay soil, is a drainage pond that is stocked with two kinds of fish which I do not recall and is chock full of frogs. There is a good 70 foot drop from the crest road to the property bottom. The second daughter has a salamander she captured in the pond which lives in an aquarium next to the chicken hatching station in the mud room, which overlooks the pond from above.
The lady of the house, who is tall and beautiful, could play an elf queen in a movie and packs a gun and a knife, runs the homestead. Her regular employees are four children: girls of 10 and 8, a boy of 6, and a girl of 4.
The two older girls mind the chickens and name them. Stories of chickens who have been murdered by predators are given to Uncle James at the breakfast table. There was Tweetle Dee and Tweetle Dumb, both killed—though one did survive a raccoon attack.
The eight-year-old tells me of her own rooster, whose name I forget, Cluck, I think, “I loved him. He died a hero, fighting a hawk. He was protecting a hen and by the time I got to him and chased off the hawk he was dead—he was a hero!”
The four-year-old, who would try and take all of my attention and insisted on foraging in her best dress, said, “We all cried, because we loved Cluck!”
Mom was marshaling the children, and the visiting men. Mescaline and I drove some pipes and fence posts for her to string lines for creeping vegetables.
An inner chicken coop was needed for a breed of toy chickens who lay tiny eggs, who would live within the goat pen, where the big chickens ranged. The billy goats have been found to deter predators. A pallet was used for a gate. Scrap fencing 3 feet high was used, linked from post to post by my weak ass while the two bucks drove the posts. Boris the pig, while not being mounted and humped by the nasty blonde billy goat, found his way under the fence to the chicken feed. Logs were laced to the base of the fencing—a job well done.
Boris frustrated, we repaired to the porch for water while the Lady selected the rabbits for slaughter. Mescaline says to me, “The goats are in—better tell Sean.”
I looked up to see a goat leaping into the pen to get the chicken feed. Sean and Mescaline dragged the billy goats out and we raised the pen height to six feet with more wire fencing.
There is a bull, three cows and a steer down on the lower pasture. They like to swim in the pond, which is 12 feet deep at the center. Wood ticks and pollen are thick—the pollen as bad or worse than the rest of the green-clouded east coast this year.
There is enough standing and dead wood to feed a wood stove for a year, an item Sean has yet to install. Hiking trails and a shooting lane have been cleared on the back end with a new red tractor donated by a generous friend—a reader of mine, I suspect.
The side roads are barely two lane here and the grades are no more severe then Pennsylvania in the main. The front porch is surrounded by herb gardens and each child has a vegetable patch beyond those. After two years blueberries are in and the steeper hillsides have been planted with blackberry, raspberry and strawberry. I plan on sending elderberry and Oregon grape starts from Utah.
Two dogs, a German Shepherd and a hound, roam the property. Visiting Paul Bingham noted, “One day, that Shepherd, when he’s full gown, is going to hatch a plot to kill some of those goats. They’ve had most of the shepherd bread out of them. The way to break them of that is to put a collar on them and shock them when they show aggression towards the goats. When they are grown, its too late, because their neck is thick and they take shock well at that point.”
Composting has yet to begin. Rabbit droppings are cool enough to use as direct fertilizer and a compost system is in planning. The sky above has gaps for the sun and moon thanks largely to the pond and pastures, with the house fairly shaded.
There is a separate driveway to the gym, which is, I think, 16 by 48 feet with an open covered wing for lifting weights, which include gymnastic rings and kettle bells and dumbbells of a weight I cannot imagine handling.
On the front porch a sign reads, Glass Family Homestead, Established 2020, not a savage feral mophead, urban Kang, tattooed Quean, or an oppressed refugee of Hither Asia in sight.
Congratulations and thanks for your hospitality.
'A Hard Floor is an Honest Friend!’     ‹   modern combat   ›     Riding with Mescaline Franklin
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