Homesteading

Homesteading

ProgramHomesteading

This is another episode from the first season of FOLKWAYS in 1982.

While most of the artists in that first series are no longer with us, this is a chance to visit them again and see some of the very best and authentic folk art practiced in the southern Appalachians.

Although the production tools available then can't match the quality of today's digital video, it's still a fascinating look back at part of our cultural heritage.

Survival pottery was bread and butter business for both the potter and his customers in the days before refrigeration. Food processing took a major amount of attention and depended heavily on the heavy clay and stoneware jugs, churns, pots and pitchers. They were as common as plastic and carboard containers are today.

This program features Burlon Craig, who at the time of production was one of the last folk potters still working in North Carolina.

At his home in Lincoln County, he dug his own clay, made his own alkaline glaze from ground glass and ashes, and fired his pottery in one of the last remaining ground-hog wood-fired kilns.

He became famous for his face jugs, although he routinely made all kinds of pots.

The series visited Burlon again in the 1990's to find him still working pretty much as he always had done. (see Pottery Revival in Catawba Valley) In the interim, pottery making had enjoyed a revival in North Carolina and there are now hundreds of excellent potters in the state. Craig's techniques and style inspired many new potters.

Homesteading at Home

So you like the idea of living in the country and growing your own food? Homesteading involves much more than just planting some seeds and picking the fruits of your labors. Here are some experiences from homesteaders, taken from homestead.org:

"A country home typically defines a house, a somewhat controlled area around the house, and a larger, more natural, maybe wild area expanding beyond--whether majestic mountains, undulating sands, shimmering waves of grasses, or the quiet, cool green of forest. It is often more, the sum of house, garden, and landscape plus the magical, mystical aura common to a natural place. The whole can only be improved by working with instead of against nature." Gene Gerue, "The Ideal Country Home"

" If you have never raised a pig before it is best to raise one or two for the freezer to get an idea of their behaviors, abilities, and personalities. Breeding can be tricky and handling boars can be dangerous. If and when you decide to buy a pig to raise, choose a gilt, or a barrow (a castrated male). Either will give you a good indication of what to expect and will get you started on possibly breeding in the future." C.J. Mouser, "Getting Started with Pigs"

"Chickens can offer good, home-grown food in a short amount of time.  Fresh eggs are much different than what is in the stores! For the creative...feathers can be used in many crafts as well. You have thought about it for some time. You think you have room. It's time to decide and take the plunge!" Jan Hoadley, "Selecting and Starting Chicks"

"Homesteaders must remember always that planting fruit trees is a very labor intensive effort. Fruit trees are even more time intensive.  Think about this:  Plant the wrong peas, and you've made a three month mistake.  You lose a planting season. Plant the wrong fruit trees, or plant them in the wrong place,  and it may be a ten year mistake, and you may never really get to make it right." Ed Mashburn, "Planning the Homestead Orchard"

"Over the course of the last 25 years,  I have gardened both sides of the MasonDixon line, and  I have compiled a Gardeners' List of Untruths, for those of us who have followed to the letter the advice of the" Master Gardeners", come up with nothing to serve our families but dust and weevils, and had our neighbors turn us in for suspected toxic waste storage (HEY, that's my garden!).  Keep in mind that I have personally tested every Untruth, and while I will never claim to be a Good Gardener, I am comfortable in my role as Blackthumb, Defender of Inept Gardeners, Protector of Those Who Keep Trying." Sheri Dixon, "Helpful Hints for the Cultivationally Challenged"

Resources
Homestead Web site
Homesteading Today
Homesteading Resources by Jason