Alright, so LD has been wanting me to write this post about the diverse grouping of neighbors we have here for a while since I have had more interaction with the locals. Being in charge of more of the outside construction has granted me the benefit of experiencing more of the drop-bys, feeler talks, questions, meet-and-greets, and the more amusing what-the-heck-were-you-thinking-moving-here looky-loos. We knew moving to the mountains, especially where we are, would lead to some interesting people but you never know quite what you’ll see.
Let’s start with the positives. There are actually quite a few people up here with good education, quality jobs, and sound minds. Who would have thunk! We have a very wonderful and caring Baptist preacher, Jerry, down the road that checks in on everyone in the area (on a 4-wheeler) and who spent a good minute with us talking about some of the fine folks of Swiss, the smaller community that we live in here in Burnsville. (Sidenote: Each and every fold of the mountains here is a different community. We are in Swiss but there is also Ivy Gap, Bald Creek, Possomtrot, Cane River, and so on.) Jerry has informed us that we must be careful who we trust but that most everyone is “good people.” I feel that we will be in his prayers for a while until we get acclimated to the area. Jerry is approximately 65 years old.
LB and December live just up our road 300 yards or so and they take care of there son who may be 25-30 years old and is special. He waves every time they drive past our house and is always wearing a sweet smile. LB is retired and worked for a group that counseled troubled individuals. December works still, quilts, and has a large canning supply from their garden. We have been roughly invited up for a coffee on the porch and a Sunday supper when things settle down a bit. LB is approximately 65 years old.
March and Janet are a husband and wife duo that live further up the other road that I met when some hogs got out in the area and were bothering their horses. They came by to see if the swine were mine and we had a nice talk. March is from Alaska and Janet is from Baltimore I think. Their kids hooked them up years ago and they moved to North Carolina to get away from it all. They own a wonderfully large horse farm and also have a deerhound that apparently we don’t want to meet without their presence. Janet is a talker and March, well he seems a little more reserved. But happy though. March and Janet are approximately 55 years old.
On the other side of our woods/mountain/ridge is Adam M, his wife April, and their 8 year old son Levi. Adam lives on the same piece of property that he grew up on and is going to be a great resource for us. His day job is working at the Extension Services but he also farms multiple plots of acreage all over Yancey County. He grows pumpkins by his house, cabbage and kale down beside the main road through town, broccoli over the ridge, and many others. He is a part of a food growers group that delivers local food to local businesses like the Ingles grocery store and even some places in Asheville. He holds grafting workshops for heirloom apple trees as well. This guy is the real deal and is doing what we hope to be doing down the line. This family has given us lots of insights into our “other” neighbors as well. We’ll get there in a minute… Adam is approximately 45 years old.
Just up from Adam is another group of Asheville-working commuters that we have not met yet but Adam says they are exactly what you think of when you think of Asheville. Looking forward to meeting them sometime soon. There is a mechanic that lives up the road who races, literally races, up our street almost every Saturday. He has a Chevy Blazer and a Camaro that are both 1/4 mile ready and loud as hell. I actually enjoy the sounds and smells of these moments… There is Jimmy and his son Joshua who farm up the road and tip their beers to us as the drive by on the way up, and there are about 20 other neighbors on our road leading up to the farm here. Average age is probably hovering around 45 here. We are the young ones at 35.
Then there are the ones that everyone expects to hear about. The guy up the road that turned our upper garden who recently had shot himself in the knee with a 16 penny nail and somehow missed everything important. The classic mailman who drives a 25-30 year old station wagon and is the nicest mailman you will ever meet. The skittish ones that live in the trailers at the top of the mountain who look like their family tree went through a lot of harsh winters. They are all here.
We also learned that the older woman who lived in our house before, Madge, was a semi-single mother of 12 children. Two died early in life, but 10 survived. She raised them all in our 800 sq. ft. house and lived here her entire life. This was an interesting family to say the least… Their dad had 27 children all over the area so he was not around much. One sister lives in Tennessee, one in Mars Hill, a couple sisters live less than 1/2 mile away from here, and then there are the two brothers named Bobby and Trick.
Trick, a “former” convict lives just on the North side of our property and has an affection for rebel flags, horseshoes, any kind of cheap lite beer, and a fairly occasional smoke. He also is housing his nephew Jamie who is his own words, “has a strong back and a weak mind.” Jamie is a gopher at any construction gig he can get here and Trick, well I don’t think he does much at all other than work on his “green” thumb. Trick and Jamie both drive scooters by the way. I have no idea why but they look ridiculous on them. Trick, real name Alan I think, looks like a ZZ Top drop-out and has a knack with people. Jamie seems nice but I wouldn’t trust him to watch a bush for me. They both also like to sing country music on Sunday mornings sometimes, at the top of their lungs, still drunk from Saturday night. This is happening less frequently now that it is getting colder.
Now for Bobby and his wife Dana. Madge carved out a piece of her property a long time ago for Bobby and it just so happens to be fully encircled by our property. He is locally known as the “Chicken Man” and raises roosters for fighting in Kentucky, where he says it’s legal… They have been using what is now our property to spread out for the past 25 years, including the use of our barn. They were not too happy or eager to move their belongings back onto their land when we arrived let’s just say. Bobby works at the local hardware company as a delivery driver and Dana works at both the Ingles and the Dollar general. They have something like 40 roosters in large separated hoops, 30 or so free range chickens that will be turned into more fighters and/or dinner, a slew of varmint dogs that try to attack us when we go to the barn, and a horse that we so nicely let them keep in our lower pasture for the moment. We started out trying to be cordial to them at first because of the circumstances, but things have changed rather quickly. It took them a month and a half to finally get all their stuff out of the barn only because we finally had enough of waiting. That and the terrier-terror they have bit LD one day. Bobby also apparently has a “green” thumb and we made that discovery while clearing out our land next to the barn not 50 yards from their trailer. Then they moved one of the surveyors ribbons. That was when Dana and I had the Talk and I explained that they needed to recognize that things had in fact changed, and that we weren’t some pushover city kids with dreams of stardust in our eyes. We were there to work and no one was going to interfere with that. I look forward to fencing them off soon from our property and making things a little more tight for them on their parcel. They also have 2 sons and at least one daughter. One of the sons is in jail and the other is a decorated sniper. The daughter lives up the road and just gave birth to her second child. She seems lovely too…
There are others that fit the many profiles you would expect here but that could go on for hours. The people of Burnsville, the town, have been great! It is a small community of 1,700 people and many are actually transplants that came to enjoy what the mountains had to offer. The locals are simple but straight-forward. It is definitely a slower pace of life than we are used to but it is nice. Some days it kind of reminds me of Mayberry if Mayberry ever grew up, which isn’t saying a whole lot really. Access to Asheville means there are a lot of artistic, granola types here but they are scattered among the hills. It is our goal to find them now.
Note to those who are worried about our safety: I am quite quick to tell anyone whom I might see as an issue that I work from home and that I am always around. I carry my gun on my hip most days and I am beginning to look the part here. I am also quite regularly seen with a red handled machete (Walking Dead fans might get that reference.) Our dog Cloud is a massive Pyrenees and our Guineas sound the alarm at danger as well. That will take care of the people at least.
Now I just have to do something about the bears…