Monday, July 09, 2012


Finally, Gary, Doc Ahler, and I got out for another adventure this past Saturday!  It has been some time, due mostly to Gary's hectic work schedule, and Doc's various political commitments and his love for "fine glass"!  Me...well, I can go out and play most anytime, providing there's not some new aliment afflicting this ever aging adventurer!
Gary had an idea where to go, but Ahler soon diverted our interest toward the rich farming valley of Delano, Tennessee (that's right, named for the President), where the "plain people" live and work.  This group of Mennonites is new to the area near Calhoun, in Polk County, Tennessee, having only started the community in December of 2002.  The good soil proved good enough to warrant a "farm market" that very spring (2003), and folks are beginning to learn of it's location and fine produce.
The Delano Community Farm Market is open mid-April thru October.  It's the center of activity for the Christian community of 18 families working 400 acres (a triangle of land formed by Hwy. 411 and Bowater Road in Polk County, TN), growing a wide range of vegetables from asparagus to zucchini, picked and brought to the on-farm market daily.

The market also sells homemade breads, cookies, jams, jellies, honey, soaps, etc.  Every September sorghum molasses are cooked the old fashioned way.   All farming is done with horse-drawn equipment and lots of hand labor.

It's a great little drive, from anywhere in East Tennessee, and you can count on getting the finest vegetables and canned goods, like the wonderful peach/pineapple preserves I happened upon there Saturday!  It was so good on my Monday morning biscuit!  
The tomato I brought home made a great bacon and tomato sandwich Sunday morning, and it was gone quickly, almost too fast to remember, while watching CBS's Sunday Morning.

Anyway, it seems everything these folks grow taste like it used to, and should!  I've read that it's because they "plow deeper" than us common people.  Seems it keeps the soil "mellow", which to them is far better than us "despised Yankees" that only scratch the surface!

The fellow, and his son, at the market were very congenial, offering comment about the various produce and canned goods, as well as telling us about the on-site sorghum making there in September.  
I was telling him how I used to work my uncle's "sorghum mill", stirring the sticking mixture down the steaming troughs, or drawing off the finished "molasses" into jars or buckets, and applying labels.  He seemed pleased I knew a little something about the old, good ol', ways, and I told him I would be back in September.  He told me the smells would bring back all the good memories of those days, and I believe it to be true.

We stuffed Gary's truck with corn, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, and the preserves and made the loop around the 400 acres.  There is a sign saying it's all private, but Dr. Ahler insisted, so around the dusty road we went.

They don't really like photos being made of them, but I couldn't resist a quick, through the back glass, shot of a buggy with a little coverall clad, dusty seat an all, boy, wearing his straw hat, while clinging to the back of his dad's buggy!  It was precious and I just had to have it, even if it wasn't the best shot I ever took.  I even gave it a "painting" effect, just to help hide anything identifying them.

On down the road, we were taken aback by a young woman standing by a mailbox.  Wow! I wanted to jump out and capture that for prosperity, but I knew it would have been disrespectful.  However, she did look up, cracked a shy smile, and waved briefly as we slowly passed.  

I have to assume she was married since her prayer cap was white.  They never cut their hair, which they wear in a bun on the back of the head. On their heads they wear a white prayer covering if they are married and a black one if they are single.

Just past there was another young girl wading in a creek, still wearing her long dress with apron, and her traditional black hat!  All shots of a lifetime, but not to be taken by me!  I still wonder what was in that handwritten letter (plain to see as we passed), and who it might have been from.  Another young girl from another community perhaps?  A secret friend?

It's a small community with "plain" ways, where everyone knows everyone's business, but if you think about it, it would be nice to again know your neighbors, and work the land with your father and brothers.  We left so much behind.

It's plain to see that the barn is an important part of the farm life.  They are the largest structure, built not just for livestock, but often for meeting places.

Water for the farm is pumped up by windmills that dot the landscape, and no electrical lines touch the homes.  When it gets dark in this area, they go to bed!  There is no TV or Facebook out there, nothing to distract you from making a living from the earth, and the next morning, soon as the sun is up, they are back at...probably happy as larks!

Along the way to and from Delano, we passed old houses and barns, some still being lived in and functioning.  I love to just ride the country roads and snap photos of these structures.  They won't be there long, and since I was privileged to have had the pleasure of living and working on a farm in my formative years, I certainly appreciate what they mean, and am saddened by the realization that they will all be gone someday soon.  Not even my son will ever know the simple pleasures of that life.

One of the other beautiful places we passed was the "Twin Eagle Ranch" in Ten Mile, Tennessee.  According to what I couldn't find on the Internet, it seems the place is not open right now.  We noticed some roof damage on the barn, from recent storms, but that's not why it isn't open.  Must be changing hands, or it's for sale, or something.  However, it's quite a beautiful "white fenced" piece of property, with it's barn like resort building, lake, and out buildings.

Across the road is a great looking old home, we assumed the owners, with a concrete silo sticking up along the side of the road to identify the ranch.  Behind the iron fence, and the "lawn jockey", was a beautiful white, remodeled old home, with giant "southern style" columns, a well manicured yard, all behind a plantation style rock wall.  
I would have loved to have stayed for supper, but there was no one around to invite us!

Later on, we passed the Ten Mile Missionary Baptist Church.  It seemed to be a thriving place, with many out buildings for class rooms and socials.  

If you get off Highway 58, down in that area of Meigs County, Tennessee, you'll see lots of things that remind you of the "good ol' days", provided you even remember those days.  I loved the farms, fields, livestock, white board fences, and chicken houses (lots of them), barns, especially the one almost completely covered in Trumpet Creeper!  

Oh you remember the old "creek rock" filling stations that used to be sparsely sprinkled along country roads?  Well, this one reminded me of my roots in rural Alabama and lower Middle Tennessee, complete with the Sinclair gas pump!  

Someone had added a "Good Gulf" sign to it at some point, and that addition made me wonder if  some local history buff hadn't built it just to remind him of the "olden days"!  Who knows, it was too hot for anyone to be out, so we drove on.  It could simply be it was just recycled when gas distributors were changed by the store owner!

And then there was the 100 year-old M. E. Trew General Merchandise store. 

Trew 's Store was established in 1890 by John Wesley Trew near Calhoun, TN, the site of the first county seat of McMinn County Tennessee.
It is properly located as being half way between Highway 11 and 411 on Highway 163 where County Road 783 enters. Dentville was a one time postoffice in the store and the community still retains its name. (To the ole timers, anyway.)
John Wesley Trew's grandparents, Dr. Thomas Trew and wife Nancy James purchased 463 acres in the Calhoun area in 1836. They came here from Jamestown, Kentucky. They stayed in the area, known as Dentville, and raised their family of ten children.
It's a bygone era, but you can still see evidence of things like this and more that bring back memories of your experiences from yesteryear!  Even the occasional dead of dying old oak tree in a field, like the one I used to play under in the back of Grandmother Williams' old "tar paper" house.  Alas, nothing last forever, not even the old oaks, hickory's, and poplars.

Safely back in Roane County, we said goodbye to the doc, after carrying in his watermelons and corn, and seeing his giant geode!  He was so proud of it, and not wonder...look at the size of it!  He says 350 pounds!

I love these "road trip" Saturdays, with these two guys.  It will be hard to give them up one of these days.  We aren't getting any younger, but man, do we ever have a great time.  We never know where we're going to do or where we'll end up...maybe at your house next week!


BRUNO said...

If you ever make it HERE---bring FOOD, Sweet-Tea, and heavy-duty chaise-loungers!

(A 55-gallon drum of DEET will be available in summer---or, a rank of wood for a bonfire in the winter...!☺)

FHB said...

And he ain't kiddin' ether, about the deet.

That geode is friggin' huge. Gotta be worth a stack of coin, considering what they charge for the little'uns.

Crusty said...

I hope all is well at your house. I'm a long silent follower.

Paul Mashburn said...

Nice to know you are out there Crusty! I'm doing fine!

Erin said...

I was so excited to see your pictures and read your blog tonight. I've been working hard on ancestry research, and you had pictures of Trew's General Store and "Dentville." Dr. Thomas Trew and his wife, Nancy James, were my great, great, great, great grandparents. My grandma was a Trew before she married my grandfather. What rich family history! I would love to make it to TN to see these places for myself, but until then, thank you for sharing!!

Laura Eubanks said...

My husband and I are very excited about going to Delano Community Farmers Market. We are leaving in the morning. We enjoyed your blog. you took some beautiful pictures. we live in north Georgia.

Paul Mashburn said...

Wow, silent readers! I had no idea...maybe I should blog more often.

angel7 said...

Just found your blog. I am an Athens TN native who has been "exiled" to Los Angeles for almost 40 years. Your photos brought back so many memories for me. When I was back in Athens last year I saw an Amish farmer in his buggy several times driving down Hwy. 11 and again on Decatur Pike. I am so homesick again after seeing your photos. God bless you.