After a few weeks of unseasonably warm weather, fall is now upon us in earnest. By the time this issue of the magazine has been sent off to be printed, bound and mailed to subscriber mailboxes, winter will likely be knocking at the door.
Winter can mean different things to people. I like how Wisconsin dairy farmer Jason Julian talks about the “free concrete” the cold weather provides him — certainly a welcome transition from the mud he and a lot of other farmers in nothern climates are slogging through right now.
In Alabama, John Coley suggested I wait until spring when I asked about visiting him and his heritage hog farm. “Winter is just a mess here,” he said. “We don't get the nice frozen ground you have up north.” That said, I am a little envious of the earlier planting and longer growing seasons afforded in the southeast.
This issue is the 80 Susan and I’ve published since buying the magazine from Gail and Allan Damerow in 2007. I am indebted and grateful to all the amazing contributors we’ve had over the years, providing useful and interesting content for our faithful readers. It’s a lot of work putting out a magazine every other month — keeping track of subscriptions, managing advertisers, working with contributors, designing pages and supervising the printing and distribution.
That's all in addition to general business responsibilities like bookkeeping, customer service and social media management. All that work, and a good bit more, is divided up between me, my wife, Susan, and our indespensible halftime employee, Kelly. But because I get to visit with so many people involved in draft animal power, homesteading and small scale diversified family farming, I rarely feel overworked. Compared to what they (you) do, every day, my work day is a walk in the park. It's hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are telling the stories of people regularly working 60-hour weeks and often putting in over 100 hours a week — especially when those people are so happy and contented.
I took a trip to Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia in September to attend a couple field days and visit a few friends. A lot of these stops will end up being episodes on our RFD-TV show (see page 99 for the schedule). In Tennessee, I visited Paul Smith who lives outside of Crossville. A heavy machinery operator, Paul puts in a full week away from home but still finds time to train a lot of mules for people. Having heard about Paul’s skills for a few years, and seeing his posts on Facebook, I was looking forward to meeting him. I was not disappointed. He's a man of few words and most of them are worth writing down.
Outside Atlanta, Gene England has been adding buildings to complement the site of his grandpa's cabin reproduction. He's added a general store, grist mill, blacksmith shop and smokehouse. Gene has a wealth of knowledge about our country's southern heritage and a passion for sharing it. That show will be in the first week of December.
One of the Kentucky stops was to spend some time in the woods of Berea College in the central part of the state and watch Ben Burgess and Sam Tackett practice worst-first restorative forestry for the college. It is a unique arrangement. They use their own Suffolk Punch horses and equipment, working for the college to harvest timber, following the forest management plan set up by College Forester Clint Patterson.
We'll have more to report about this work in an upcoming issue as well as on our television program.
While I was at the logging camp in Berea, Healing Harvest Forest Foundation founder, Jason Rutledge of Copper Hill, Va., delivered to Sam and Ben two young stallions that had been donated by anonymous sponsors of HHFF. In addition to working in the woods beside their other horses, the stallions will service their mares, helping perpetuate the endangered breed.
While at the Brush Creek Plow Day in Melber, Ky., I spent some time with some folks from the American Brabant Association: Karen Gruner, Jason Julian and Susan Zenker, who talked about the leg evaluation system they are implementing to assist ABA breeders to reduce the incidence and severity of chronic progressive lymphedema (CPL) in their foals. That episode will air in late January.
A lot of folks enjoy watching our television program, RuralHeritageon RFD-TV. But a lot more don’t want to pay for or can afford cable or satellite TV. And there's the folks never in front of the TV when the program is scheduled to air, remember how to record the show on their DVR or VCR, or have a younger relative who seems to instinctively know those things.
If you’ve wanted to see our show but don't get the chance, you might want to check out our YouTube channel. Most shows we produce, particular newer ones, end up on our YouTube channel eventually. It is free to watch — you just have to put up with an occasional commercial, though fewer than on regular TV. To find it, go to YouTube and search for “Rural Heritage”. Once you're there, you'll want to subscribe to get alerts when new content is added. It's all free.
My travel schedule lightens up during the winter. There are fewer events to attend in a normal year and , of course, a lot fewer during this pandemic.
So that means I will be at home. A lot. I am looking for story ideas I can safely cover during the winter months. Maybe something inside but masked and socially distanced. Maybe something in the muddy out-of-doors down south or somewhere up north in the snow.