Pioneer Day Part One or "Gone Country"

If you had told me on Thursday of last week that I was a repressed farm girl, I would have thrown my cell phone and bottled water at you. No way. I am 100% committed to the convenience and comforts of the city. I love log homes and country music, but I really enjoy being a bonifide city girl.

But experience being the very best teacher, I may have to admit the possibility of farm girl genes.

Kingdom Academy of the Arts in Bell Buckle, TN. KAA is the family farm of Ron and Malinda Tuggle. It’s about 65 miles from our home, down into Rutherford County where the hills roll a little softer and the neighbors are close but not *that* close.

The Tuggles are a Christian family who have home-schooled their four children for the last 14 years. Periodically, they open their farm and their home to friends from far and near thru the Pioneer Day Experience. J and I attended last Saturday and even though the weather was unseasonably brisk for late April, we both had an awesome time.

J has an abiding fascination with cement and when he heard that Mr. Scott would be working on layering rocks onto the block chimney, J was a happy dude. Sure enough, Scott gave J plenty of instruction on choosing a rock that fit, using a trowel to apply mortar, filling in gaps and letting it dry. At one point, while sloshing his trowel through a wheel-barrow of cement, J commented, “I could mix mortar all day.” The Tuggle’s new chimney has at least one very special rock applied by JCD. I’m sure he’ll point it out next time we go too. He was very proud.

KAA is the home of a lone sheep who (lucky for us) was due for sheering on Saturday. I wanted to watch the shepherd, Mr. Gordon, sheer her, so I pulled J away from Mr. Scott’s stone masonry project just long enough to witness this. I was surprised at the amount of wool she was carrying around. Mr. Gordon is an old-time shepherd by trade and he shared all sorts of interesting things with us about sheep and shepherding as he sheered her. Sheep’s wool contains lanolin, a natural skin softener. It was neat to run our hands across the newly-clipped wool and feel the lanolin in its natural state. Did you know that sheep have sections of their wool that looks like it has a perfectly crimped perm? We didn’t either.

After the sheep sheering, J discovered his preferred trade of the day. Wood Chopping, complete with an axe, a wedge and all the oak logs he could handle. There were some older boys around, chopping the logs into sections and seeing their success pushed J to want to do more. He gave this task his all and pushed himself to succeed. The axe was pretty heavy but that didn’t stop him from giving it his all. My boy likes to chop wood. What a great, heart-pumping, muscle-building, aggression-relieving activity! I’m filing that away for future reference.

The baby chicks and kittens were cute and cuddly. Unfortunately chicks and kitties don’t hold near the rush of wood chopping, so we only visited them for a few minutes before returning to the wood pile.

Just before lunch, J and wandered over to the carving station. Any excuse to play with knives, right? J enjoyed carving random patterns into a bar of soap…which he later informed his father was a bird. OK.

The front porch of the house was the old-fashioned ice cream cranking station. J spent some time cranking while I worked on our lunch.

Lunch was my favorite learning experience. I’ve grilled plenty but cooking our whole meal over the fire was new to me. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I chopped potatoes, carrots and onions and cooked them in our iron skillet over the fire. We mixed Johnnycake mix (similar to cornbread) and cooked it in the same pan, alongside the veggies. Over a separate fire, a chicken and a roast had been cooking throughout the morning, thanks to Mrs. Tuggle, Krystal and Courtney. We cut our portion and J and I shared an excellent meal together. After all that wood chopping, I think J would have eaten anything. J He was especially impressed with the ice cream that he had helped make.

J traipsed down to the lake for a bit of fishing after lunch but soon returned to the wood chopping. Apparently, the boys who were fishing weren’t too fond of people who wanted to throw rocks into the pond. (Imagine that.)

The Tuggles love animals, especially dogs. They have several big friendly dogs and J took to one in particular. On more than one occasion throughout the day I found J sitting on the steps of the porch, petting the big white dog. Doing something so calming and gentle by choice is such an unusual activity for J. It was a nice change of pace. It also brought up the “I think we need a dog” topic on the way home.

part two of our farm adventure coming ASAP.

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