Farms and berries

I love the beauty and history behind the old farms that dot the West Virginia landscape. I’ve been on several in a number of counties across the state and there’s usually something unique about each one. Some have big trees like the huge white oak I admired last week on a Braxton County farm.
It sure was a good shade tree as its large limbs created a massive crown of lush green, sun-blocking leaves. The trunk is over 50 inches in diameter and that tree has to be over 100 years old. The mighty oak towers over all the other trees growing around it in the edge of an old field.
Around the ridge I noticed a really old and rusty hay rake and small barn that had to have dated back to the early 1900s. A grownup orchard rolled up the hill behind them. When I see places like this I always wonder what life was like back when the barn was built and the hay rake and orchard were still used.
The old log structure was undoubtedly a sheep barn as the opening was too small for anything else. A couple of chestnut trees as well as a large persimmon tree were more than likely planted at one time and still stand beside the barn today. As I looked inside it appears to be a deer barn now, as there was a nice bed wallowed out in what little bit of hay that was left.
Tara and I followed the road on around the ridge and then it became lined with berries. Tara loves to pick berries. I do too, but Tara enjoys it more. It’s in her blood as she grew up picking berries and we make it a point to go at least once a year. And these were the best berries in my opinion.
I’ve heard them called wine berries and red raspberries. Call them whatever you want but they’re no doubt my favorite. Besides their sweet flavor there are no seeds to get stuck in between your teeth. Needless to say, we spent awhile at this berry patch as it’s always hard to get Tara away from them. The berries did well this year.
After that snack we headed down off the backside on a steep road that led down to a big field in the bottom. There was another old barn but this one was bigger. The road turned to the right and there was a one-story farmhouse that had obviously been there for a long time.
Upon approaching the front door while watching for snakes, I noticed two ole’ timey push mowers under the front of the house. And I’m not talking about push mowers with engines in them. They had nothing more than metal and two wheels and that was it. I couldn’t have even imagined what it would have been like to mow your yard with one of these. And to think I complain about mowing now.
We entered the house through the back door and there was a TV in the corner. This TV had to have been one of the first TVs ever made. It was definitely the oldest one I’ve ever seen. Old isn’t the word that should be used — ancient would be better.
The wood used for the walls was still in good shape and looked like walnut to me. In a small closet beside the fireplace we could see newspapers tacked up on the walls. I was assuming they were put there for insulation purposes. As I looked closer I found a date on the top of one of them and it read January 1935.
There were a few old books lying around that had collected plenty of dust. A calendar for 1967 and a couple of cups were some other things I found interesting nosing around inside the house. There was a cellar and a couple of other sheds around the back of the white farmhouse.
Inside the cellar in amongst all the old jars an ole’ time washing machine and a pair of black boots caught my attention. I wouldn’t call it a machine, as there wasn’t much to it. It looked like it would have been a chore just to wash clothes back then.
After taking a walk back in time we hopped on the 4-wheelers and headed back toward the truck. I gained even more respect for the old-timers and the hard work it must have been with the tools they had to use. I might even quit complaining next time I have to mow the grass.
There are several old farms just like this one dotting the West Virginia landscape but the one mentioned above is my favorite as it’s now where I do most of my hunting.
These were some of the things I observed the first time I stepped foot on this special place and I still look at them every time I go back. It’s always good to take a step back in time and think of what life was like living in the West Virginia hills and hollows before modern day technology. God bless these old farms and the old farmers who worked this land. They sure are unique places and hold a lot of West Virginia history. Let’s hope they’re never lost or all turned into subdivisions.

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