Aug 2, 2012

Tabor City and Prince Bay Farm

Sometimes it’s tough to leave. It actually feels a little more difficult each time. It felt tough to leave home back in July 11 but I knew I was coming back around and would touch base with the familiar in not too long. Now that I’m on the east coast….and knowing that I most likely won’t be returning to familiar surroundings for some time now…goodbyes are even harder than they had been before. 

 Settling in and getting to know people over having checkpoints on the feels good. I think I’ve said it before but I’m searching or something and being a part of something is part of it. So when I decided in Savannah to get back to the original intent of working on a farm…the first place that I looked at in South Carolina seemed like a good fit and I dropped him a line. 

 Now originally I wasn’t planning on staying a week with Chris and Trish in Charleston. It just turned out that Nick had people staying with him already until July 2nd and he said I’d be welcome at that time. So after a couple of nights in Little Pee Dee I headed towards Tabor City, which wasn’t far away. 

 The drive to Tabor City was great, true small town stereotype stuff. Loads of character painted onto the roadside by way of aged buildings, fallen barns, rusted tin roofs contrasted with shiny new farms, strip malls, fast food joints. It’s my first time seeing tobacco (and knowing what I was looking at) and it looks great lining the fields (even though I don’t support gov’t sponsored poisoning or “your right to smoke”).  The main crops in this area I learned are peanuts, soya beans, field corn and tobacco. Even though this area is in a severe drought the fields were as green as green can be to a layman’s eyes.  

 At the end of the line on Swamp Fox Highway, just before the city limits of Tabor City lays Prince Bay Farm. When I arrived and looked at the barn I had a flashback to my youth and my grandma’s farm. 

  I used to love going out to my Grandma Olsen’s farm when I was younger. She was such an amazing lady. Emigrated from Sweden, made hard by the years of working the land, mother to 7, owner of land and worked it herself. Not hard, tough. I remember stories being told of my dad going to meet her when it got serious with my mom and she sat him down and slapped his back saying “Eat Boy”. Every time we’d drive out from Calgary we’d be greeted at the gate with…the smell of the farm. Chickens, the barn, flowers, fresh vegetables, old wood and waiting to hug us up, my grandma. Her house always had fresh bread smell daily. There was always something cooking and she always wanted to feed you. Her kind eyes looking at you behind her big old fashion glasses, voice sometimes hard to understand due to her accent. Rough hands and soft hugs. Old fashion kitchen table, wood stove, Max the dog, laughter, smiles. I never saw her working her field and really don’t know how she made the bulk of her money. But she always had a couple of cows and I remember one time we found my sister with her arm right down this cows throat. It had suckled her arm and she didn’t really know what to do so it just kept suckling until she had her to the bicep. (love you shorty) She also had a crazy cat and when she got sick once and was in the hospital for an extended time my mom went out to take care of things. Well she couldn’t get the cat to eat no matter what and went to her mom to ask why. Turns out that the cat was missing its morning “bun and coffee”. For years my grandma was baking fresh buns, pouring coffee over one with a sugar cube in it for the cat (I’m pretty sure that was the ingredient list). She wouldn’t eat until after she had her morning bun. And last story…one time my sister and I went out for the egg collection and one hen just would not move. We didn’t know anything about brooding hens or how to deal with them. Every other hen had given up her goods without issue. So after we had a round of…feed throwing, spitting, yelling and general ridiculousness we went and got my grandma. Well she first looked at us like we were on crack and then came down to the hen house with my mom, us in tow to see what this hen was doing. When she got there she laughed so hard, picked up the poor hen, got the eggs and brushed it off. “City folk.” :)

 Back to today… 

 Nick has a cool thing going on at Prince Bay Farm. His family has owned the land since the early 1800’s and they can trace the Prince roots back a hundred year before the revolutionary war was fought.

 So I arrived (oh yeah I go the gig through HelpX) and my very first impression was….this is going to be great. Someone (turned to be Nick) was out in the yard cutting up a huge stack of pallets, a young girl was running towards the house (Boogie), big tree, red barn, old equipment. I rolled off Swamp Fox Hwy into the driveway and took in my surroundings. The property has some rundown structures, an old rusted piece of equipment held a central point in the front yard but it added that perfect country flavour alongside a simple metal roofed house. It’s all a work in progress and may likely always be as there is enough work for a lifetime trying to bring the property around to “perfection” if you ever tried.  

 After our preliminaries and get to know you’s Nick and I sorted out where I could park the Chariot. After getting settled and plugging in the van I popped out to find out who was who and what was what. So in the barn working was two other HelpXr’s, Karen and Delia. Both were awesome stories of travel on their own and great ladies. There was Niki, Nicks girlfriend and her 5 yr old sputnick – Boogie (Bethany). 

 Nick took me on a tour of his land (short tour). He’s got 120acres, much of it undeveloped. He explained that he has plans to host music festivals there which would be awesome with a little cleaning up in the back forest. He has Pecan trees 100+ years old, grows much of his own veggies, and has a bunch of chickens and a bunch of little chicks popping about. 

 He’s got Snoddy Dawg to keep him company, super nice and I had a great time giving up the pets to him! 

 Nick himself is a trip. In the 90’s he chucked off the yolk and turned total hippy following the festival circuit around selling jewelry and artwork. He returned to the far not all that long ago to help look after his mom who unfortunately has alzheimers. The good thing is she literally lives just down the road and you can see her house from Nicks front yard. 

 So after crashing out the first night to the sound of the cicadas and waking to the crow of the rooster, I was ready for work to begin. Turns out I got there during the hottest week of the summer so far, record setting almost, everyday 100+, highest temp, 108f. Job I was doing…chopping stumps from the ditch. When finished the first day my clothes were so wet, I had never felt so sweaty in my entire life. In fact never before have I ever put out so much sweat as I did at Prince Bay Farms. That’s not anything against Nick, the tasks were work but not brutal work. No it was simply that at 8:00 am it was already 85f and by 9 it was 90. The sun cuts an arc over that area of the world that I have never seen before. It seems to sit at high sun for 15hrs of the day. The temperatures on the corners of the fiberglass top of the camper were unreal. I wish I had a digital thermometer because I’m sure they were pushing 120. Only thing saving the van from being a roast box was the extra bed cushion being pushed against the front windows and the fans going constantly inside. I’d turn on the a/c after 5ish and let it do its thing. There is no point in trying to fight sun that hot in a vehicle with an a/c unit unless you really have no consideration for how much power you are draining and being that I didn’t want Nick’s eyes to jump out when he got his next bill, I tried my best to keep it to a minimum.

 Each day was a little different and we always found some laughs, some time to talk and because Nick is an extremely well read person he always has something that you probably don’t know about but would like to. We took a day to the river which was so so very nice after the temps we had. It’s too bad it was as far as it was; I would have liked to have ended everyday with that sort of a soak. 

 Niki was a great hostess and her lunches and dinners were a welcome event every day. They keep things simple which is how I enjoy them and the longer I was there the more comfortable it got. Nick makes a mean curry dish and they also took London and I out to a local BBQ joint to sample some goods. I was happy to not be the subject of accent discussion as his English accent obviously outweighs the Canadian “eh” on the attention scale. The southern belle waitresses were quite smitten with him and came over for a gander. One of them may have eaten him alive if he gave her the chance. Oh and their accents were thick southern drawl…damn for some reason I love that accent on a woman.  

 I guess I didn’t tell you about London. Josh came from England on a journey taking him across the US from New York to LA via the coast. He had just come from Washingston DC and picked Nicks farm because it sounded like it was a cool place to hang out. We clicked instantly and I joked that we could attempt to outdo each other by who could say sorry the most. After being in the US for close to 6months now it was a super super welcome encounter with someone that knows proper measurements, pronunciation and manners of a different type. :)
 Josh visited a bar in New York and tells a story about being greeted at the door with a megaphone wielding biker vixen/ turns out after a few beers Josh made the mistake of sauntering into the girls washroom to relieve himself and returned to “Hey London do you have a vagina?”.  Now that bar sounds like a bar worth visiting J And so London it is. I like nicknames better anyway, always have! 

 I also had Boogie the 5 yr old (not my nickname but I like it)who on day one wouldn’t give me the time of day and by the weeks end wouldn’t give me time to breathe. She was awesome fun and I really do love kids of all ages. After not seeing Abe since April it was good to get a kid fix again. She was spunky and smart and one heck of a chicken catcher when put to the task. I enjoyed soaking her with the hose on a regular basis, asking her question to which she had no answer, torturing and tormenting her and letting her do the same for me. She has a favourite chicken, Binky Boo and poor Binky Boo is the subject of constant rounds of attention, lovingly but still delivered by 5yr old-ness. She also has a love of nicknames and like any 5yr old is exploring her language skills so the word combos that shoot out are quite hilarious. Josh gave me praise for my patience and ability to keep her engaged. It was easy though, she was a great kid who made me laugh. 

 When my time came to an end I doled out the hugs, the thanks and the good byes and hit the key on the chariot…didn’t start….hit it again…didn’t start…pumped it, laughed, hit it again…vroom!!! Turned on the webcam, and headed north for Oxford, NC where a Clydesdale, a bunch of goats and a lady named Karen lived…

My favourite chicken. Cornish Game I think

cheeky bugger wouldn't sit still for the photo op

Karen (left) and Delia! Hello ladies!

Karen and Nick surveying the garden plot

I love stuff like this

Another strutter

After a day of work...comes some rest! polysporin please! ;)

I call him Mr Mr. "Honk honk"

Nick is in the process of building an outdoor shower (which I love after experienced one at Ricks in St marys, ga)

Working with the bamboo was neat. I don't think it would last long back home though

The bodyguards of the chicken coop

Mr Turkey!!

Mr Rooster!!

BOOGIE!!! Miss you punk!! Look at those eyes...this girl is going to be trouble when she get's older

left to right. Josh (aka London), Nick, Niki and Karen

Snoddy, Josh, Karen and I before I fired up the beast and hit the road

Team Prince Bay!

I got this from Nicks facebook page...she's a cutie alright! The chicken whisperer!!

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