George, Nic and myself picked up the badly needed livestock trailer on Sunday. We got a late start for a same-day, round trip to the northeastern most tip of Tennessee (didn't get home until 2a.m and I had a twelve hour shift to look forward too.) Typical. I found the trailer on Craig's list. It's former owner is a fine and impressive young man with a name like a romance novel character, Clint Steele. Rail thin, blond, with a deep southern drawl and old-timey words, he is a biologist for the EPA and does something with mining permits. I admired a crate that he uses to transport goats in the back of his truck. "I cobbled that together," he said. WHAT?! Who says that? Apparently folks just miles from one of the oldest colonies in this great nation. Clint must be livin' right because he lives in one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen, Bristol, Tennessee. He is a most hospitable individual and I'm sure he makes his mom proud. He offered us food, drinks and sent me home with some garden seeds, actually, lots of garden seeds. He gave me half-runner beans and peaches-n-cream corn. For all of his generosity he would not part with his greasy bean seeds. "I need those," he said. That, of course, made me want them. Never you mind Clint Steele, I found them at heirlooms.com. for $6/pack. They have seeds grown in the same family for the past 100 years or so, families from Clint's very county. These are the beans that my parents grew up with in eastern Kentucky too, they have no fuzz on their pods and it makes them look shiny. After cooking with a chunk of pork they look greasy-and taste delicious. My mom called this "cooking the beans down." We like them shriveled and salty.
On the table right next to the seeds was an old fashioned six shooter, disassembled, ready for cleaning. It had been a recent implement of mercy for a goat who had suffered two days and was making no improvement. He apologized for its presence. We assured him that we intended to pay for the trailer, firearms would not be necessary. It lightened the moment as he remembered shooting the poor goat.
We went to the barn to visit the goat's orphaned twins. Clint has a barn, a real barn. His barn makes mine look like a dog house. He and his wife purchased their property about a year ago. They recently painted the barn, and it is beautiful. Designed as a tobacco barn, it has spaces between the slats wide enough for me to stick my fingertips in. Those are there to allow a gentle breeze to come and dry the leaves which would hang in the upper stories of the barn. [If they were still growing tobacco that is. The government made rules against that for these farmers and they are having to come up with new pursuits. Clint went to college on a scholarship for the children of displaced tobacco farmers. That's nice of the government to do -after they tell you what to do with your land.] This barn might very well be four stories high. Looking up from the ground inside makes me feel like a tiny flea. The barn is put in perspective by the mountains which dwarf it. It is big to me, small to the mountains.
After making acquaintances, counting and recounting the money and signing the necessary papers, Clint got the truck and trailer turned around for us. He offered me some chicks on the way out. I declined because I am tired of chicks right now, they require too much babysitting. I have to raise chicks in early spring when my optimism is high. After a few of them drown in stupid places and get flattened for failing to see the thousand pound horse in their path, my optimism fails. I need a break from chicks in June.
The trailer is more than I'd hoped for. Clint and his wife are horse people who need more trailer than this. I am a goat person and it is perfect. Thanks Clint. Hope to see you again someday.
I love this land of promise. The Appalachian region is my favorite kind of place, so I might see him again someday. I love everything about these mountains. The mountains of my parents home-place look to cold and aloof for me, they dare you to live there. Eastern Tennessee, northwestern North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia are as good as it gets, their mountains say "Come hither," and they are green and friendly. One day I hope to live there with my goats, and George can come too - if he is nice.