At the Jamison Family Farm, every field has a name and almost all of them predate me as my great grandfather started this farm. There is the upper field, lower field, bull pasture, crown hill, salt peter field, the "10" and others. Over the years, the farm has raised cattle, a few hogs, chickens and some very loud guineas. In my great grandfather's day, he also raised grain and some sheep; chestnut trees were everywhere. There is also an apple orchard and a nice garden spot. Potts Creek runs along one side of the farm. It's cold outside as I write this blog, around 9 degrees F. When I was a boy, there were a few times the creek would freeze solid and I'd use an axe to chop a hole/path in the ice so the cattle could get a drink - I thought it kind of exciting. We always fed square bales. When feeding, we used a tractor and a hay wagon in tow. To keep the cattle from bedding in the hay and ruining it, one had to spread it out thinly such that it made a good meal, but a lousy bed. I can remember times feeding hay by myself, loading the wagon, pulling it into the field, setting the tractor in low range, 1st gear (a crawl), hopping off the tractor and onto the wagon to feed out the hay while it was in motion. If the tractor veered off course, I'd jump off the wagon, back on the tractor, correct the course and back on the wagon - all the time, noting the position of the bull relative to my body. I was more fearful of that bull than any tractor. It was mandatory to collect all the twine and a lot of fence posts had twine necklaces after winter's feeding...
The farm is divided by Route 18, now called Potts Creek Road. My grandfather admonished us grandchildren, "Never buy a farm with a highway going through it." Every fall and spring, we would move the cattle from one side of the road to the other. "Over the hill" was where the cattle spent the summer and "below the road" was where they were wintered and fed. We had these road signs, "CATTLE CROSSING", and when it was time to move the cattle from one side of the road to the other, us kids would stand out in the road with those signs stopping traffic. I thought it was pretty cool, however, it seemed one cow always resisted and would take off parallel with road (refusing to cross it), heading northeast to Covington or southwest towards Paint Bank. We could stop a fully loaded tractor trailer with those cattle crossing signs, but the wayward cow would motor on by and the chase was on... I'm glad it's all hay now.
While I have my farm memories, I am certain my children will have theirs too as they are immersed in making First Quality Hay.
More blog posts to come throughout the New Year - stay tuned!