Fall Newsletter 2017

Hello ol’ friends,

Hard to believe September is here, dog days of summer and all.  It’s that time of year again when you can almost hear the grass growing.  And it seems like we’ve had so much rain lately.  Sometimes the grass looks worse after you cut it than it did before.  But, fall is just around the corner….and the first frost.

Like all farm life, there have been some changes here at The Onley Place.  My dear ol’ mule “Candy” died this summer.  I’m not sure how old she was, but must have been near 30 (that’s old for a horse).  She was given sweet feed twice a day and had all the grass she could hold.  I like to think she had a great life here.  I really thought that 29 year old “Lizzie”, the horse, would go first, as she’s been nothing but skin and bone for a few years now, but she’s still prancing around just fine.  So, I’m gonna start looking for a new mule and maybe have one by the Spring.

Bill Johnson, the bantam rooster, and one of his hens raised 5 chicks this spring.  They’re grown now and eat like crazy.  I’m looking to give them away soon.  I also raised a little black bantam hen that was bought as a chick from the feed store.  So Bill Johnson will spend the winter with two hens……..

Our last hive of bees died out recently.  I think they were overtaken by hive beetles and the wax moths had begun to work on them also.  When a hive gets weak, they can’t fend off beetles and moths like they need to.  I’d really like to catch a couple of swarms this coming Spring.  I’ve got plenty of equipment but it’s expensive to buy the bees.  Keep your eye out for swarms…..I’ll come and get them.

And our beagle “Highball” is doing just fine.  He’s a year and a half old now and still full of excitement.  He doesn’t know a stranger.  I have to shut him up in the pen when we have weddings here or he will be the center of attention while the bride and groom are outside taking pictures.  He has calmed down a little with age, but still on the go all the time.  And he still drags everything he can find into the front yard.  We had a logging crew working near the house this summer and he found a trove of plastic bottles, oil cans, plastic bags and other stuff to drag into the yard.  But he’s a very loveable dog.

Gene and I took a couple of short trips this summer.  We were in Orlando for Easter enjoying the palm trees.  In June, we went up to Cherokee, Asheville and Boone, NC.  Despite light rain, I got to see the outdoor drama “Unto These Hills”, which I have wanted to see for a long time.  We rode the Smokey Mountain Rail Road, and had some great meals in downtown Asheville.  We also took a short trip to Georgia with our friend Barry.  And, we’ve been to the Outer Banks a couple of times.  Now our busy season is about to start here at the barn, so looks like no traveling for a while.

Last year my ol’ friend Jo Boy Harrell gave me a nice large cypress tree off his farm.  Friends Mike, Marty, Gene and I went over and cut it down and Jo Boy loaded it on a trailer.  We brought it here and another friend, Kenny, brought his portable sawmill over and cut it into siding boards.  It was then racked under the shelter for drying.  This Spring I began putting it on the old 1765 “Rountree House”, and man does it look good!  For those of you coming to the shows soon, it’s the house on the right just before you get to the barn.  I’ve still got a little more to do before the siding is complete.  I also did a little work on the inside of the circa 1850 “Heber Eason House”.  The only one I’ve fixed up for someone to stay in is the “Little Joe Stallings” house.  Gene helped me quite a bit with that one.  It actually has a working bathroom, new sheetrock and paint, and carpet.  My square dance friend Lori stayed there this Spring after one of the shows.  If you come to a show, walk over and take a look at it.

We did general maintenance on the barn this summer, including replacing the lights over the serving area and in the kitchen.  We also built a new façade under the two windows looking into the upstairs from the main floor.  I took old siding boards from my granddaddy’s house that was taken off last year when it was resided, and put them around the windows.  Then we added a porch awning under the windows.  I think it looks great.  I think that will be the last façade we do, as we have no more walls to use.

Gene and I went up to a special birthday party for dear ol’ friend June Bergland at the Riptides Square Dance Club earlier this summer.  It was great to see some old friends.  I even danced a few tips, and actually remembered most of the calls.  Matt Worley did a great job as usual and even asked me to call a tip.  But, it’s been several years since I called, so I wasn’t comfortable enough to take him up on it.

June Bergland and her late husband Warren were very active in Square Dancing, serving as club officers, festival organizers, and supporting new callers like I was back in the 70’s.  They often hosted after parties in their home after special events, and always invited me.  I got to meet a lot of great traveling callers at Warren and June’s home, some I still consider good friends.  So happy birthday June!!!

Well, I tried my hand at making blueberry wine and watermelon wine this summer!  Gene and I picked 2 peck buckets of blueberries off our bushes, one we froze in packages, and one we made wine out of.  And it actually turned out pretty good, it’s aging now.  But the watermelon wine took a bad turn.  I don’t think I left the fruit in long enough to ferment.  It was awful!  Needless to say, I poured it out.  Now my muscadine grapes (James grapes) are just getting ripe, so I’m planning on making grape wine again.  I really don’t drink any of it, just give it away.  Now I want to make tomato wine…..lol.

We have 5 more weddings here at The Onley Place this fall.  I think that makes 10 this year.  And we have a 90th birthday party, and one show before we start decorating for Christmas.  Its’ gonna be a busy season.  I wish you all could see the barn all decorated for a wedding….it’s great.

Our first show is October 14th.  It will be a tribute to my dad, “Peter Pan”.  Yup, that’s what most folks have called him all his life.  Friends Adam Nixon, Dickie Sanders (“Little Dickie & The Misfits”) and others will be providing the music, and there will be some special guests also.  Daddy sang country music throughout my childhood.  We’re looking forward to that.   At Christmas, our dear friends Bubba & Elizabeth Beasley from Charlottesville can’t be here this year.  They have two beautiful little girls now, so weekends away are almost impossible for them.  You guys will be missed.  But……….our up-right bass player with them, Mike Hott, will be here with a couple of his friends, and our dear friend Chris Palastrant will be here on the keyboards.  And of course, Connie, Jo White, and the rest of the crew.   Out-N-The Cold will be back for Valentines, and Eyes of Emeline will be back for our April show.

On a final note, our “head cashier” Larry Hatfield has been under the weather quite a bit this summer.  He’s spending some time in rehab now.  Hang in there Larry.

That’s about all for now.  We’ve got plenty of wood under the wood shelter, so we’re good for winter.  Hope to see you at a show.

Friend,Steve

Steve