Large crowd turns out to learn the way of the Old Farm Days

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Last Saturday children of all ages enjoyed taking a walk back in time, a chance to learn –

or remember – what life was like for the farm families of long ago.

The first Butler County Old Time Farm Day drew visitors from across the county who wanted a chance to see such rare sights as a gristmill at work, a real blacksmith plying his trade, and a bevy of fine-looking mules and horseflesh plowing the fields. Mule teams from as far away as Atmore and Milton, Florida joined with locals to share their equipment, animals and expertise in old time ways.

The event, organized and sponsored by a number of farm families along with businesses throughout the county, was held on the James McClure Farm on Halso Mill Road.

Old tractors, from Farmalls and Massey Fergusons, to John Deeres and Fords, could be seen and watched at work on McClure’s property. Mule and horse teams also pulled plows and transported folks by covered wagon and surrey throughout the morning.

Inviting shade drew visitors to tents beneath the tall trees, to browse among vendors. Such items as handmade handbags, pillows and aprons, handcrafted birdhouses and ceramics, floral crafts and fresh produce, including watermelons, corn, peaches and tomatoes, were offered for sale.

Visitors also got a chance to see master farmers and craftsmen at work.

Tracy Boggan was enjoying the shade as she skillfully wove a basket from strips of white oak.

&uot;I was six or seven when I started making baskets. I learned from my dad, John. He has the basket shop in Greenville,&uot; the young woman explained.

&uot;My father has been making baskets for 54 years. His father taught him, and his grandfather taught his father…so it has been passed down from generation to generation,&uot; Boggan said, adding with a smile, &uot;Now, my children also know how to make baskets.&uot;

Glenn King, sporting overalls and a John Deere cap, proved a deft hand using his gristmill at Farm Day. It’s a skill he says he learned during his own childhood days on the farm.

&uot;I’ve owned this one, a 1950 model, for three years. The lady selling it didn’t know what it was, but I sure did,&uot; King said with a laugh.

&uot; I took it home, cleaned, sanded and painted it and it works fine. That’s a 1950 model John Deere tractor back there, too,&uot; the farmer explained.

By mid-day, King had given away more than 150 pounds of freshly ground corn meal to folks.

&uot;We do 25 pounds every time we fire the thing up. Yep, I did a lot of this as a kid. If you had corn in the crib – and a nice fat hog – you didn’t go hungry,&uot; King said with a grin.

Claude Neil Faulkenberry of Greenville drew plenty of attention as he pounded away on his anvil, creating hand-wrought implements as visitors watched him at work.

Music with a country beat wafted through the air on Farm Day courtesy of Bill Campbell, disk jockey, rodeo announcer and one of the event organizers. David Norrell served as the day’s emcee, keeping everyone informed on activities.

&uot;Folks, there’s still fresh tomatoes for sale…you won’t find them at these prices in the grocery store. And stop by the food concession in the old barn to enjoy a burger and a cold soft drink,&uot; Norrell reminded the crowd.

April Smith, who helped man the concession stand, said they had been &uot;very busy&uot; and were pleased with the turnout for the day. Smith later shrieked with delight when she learned she had been the lucky winner of raffle for a handmade quilt. A number of door prizes provided by local businesses and individuals were also given away during the morning.

Rochelle Mosley, McClure’s daughter, pronounced herself &uot;absolutely thrilled&uot; her 85-year-old father had volunteered use of his property for the event. &uot;This has been really good for him. Several folks came out last night and camped here and Daddy was out with them…I don’t know when he ended up going to bed,&uot; Mosley laughed.

Mosley and friend Kathy Atchison entertained Farm Day youngsters with balloon animals and face painting. &uot;I told them I had plenty of hot air and Rochelle had the talent for the painting,&uot; Atchison quipped.

Plenty of children attended the family-friendly event, participating in pedal tractor races and excitedly searching for shiny quarters among the strewn hay during the &uot;gold rush.&uot; An assortment of animals, including a milk cow and her calf, goats and miniature horses drew the attention of young and old.

Ducks, chickens and bunnies were also offered for sale.

Nine-year-old Heather Renee Trent was a busy young lady at Farm Day. She took a break to pet her newly acquired black rabbit while she shared details of her morning.

&uot;Well, I have been feeding cows, riding horses, riding wagons…I brushed the little horses, put corn in the mill and got a balloon puppy made. I’ve been

kind to people - and I'm just having a good time,&uot; the freckle-faced youngster said with a grin.

As Farm Day drew to an end, the tractors, wagons and buggies assembled for a grand finale parade across the field. Astride his scooter, Thurston Mosley carried Old Glory as Johnny Cash’s Ragged Old Flag played over the loudspeakers before the day’s big finish.

Feed caps and cowboy hats were clasped over hearts as The Star Spangled Banner rang out through the warm June afternoon.

For Kathy Atchison, it was a day that brought a bit of her country childhood back to her.

&uot;I remember when I was a little girl, I always wanted to go out with my daddy on the tractor. My family told me I used to fall asleep on the tractor out there with him,&uot; she said, a faraway look in her eyes as she watched the vintage tractors and plows journey back and forth across the field.

&uot;Those are such wonderful memories. This has been a great day,&uot; she added.

Retired farmer James McClure, cane in hand, declared himself &uot;a little tired, but very happy&uot; he had been able to provide a spot for the first Farm Day.

&uot;It seems like everyone had a good time here. I sure am glad,&uot; the elderly gentleman said with a smile.