Press release from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Sept. 6, 2017:
More than Pumpkins to Pick on Local Farms This Fall
NASHVILLE– A trip to the pumpkin patch has become standard fare for autumn loving locals, and this year it’s worth looking around for more than great gourds. Many farmers are expanding options for consumers to learn how and where food and home goods are grown or made.
Bountiful Acres Farm near Watertown produces a wide range of personal care products, and found that customers also wanted to learn how to make their own. Owner Sue Dickhaus added a retail store in Lebanon where she hosts soap making classes using the same goat’s milk, honey bee products and herbs her family produces on the farm.
In addition to dairy and creamery tours, Noble Springs Dairy near Franklin hosts farm festivals every Saturday from September 16 through October 28. Their celebrations include pumpkin picking, food trucks at their picnic area, a bounce house and petting zoo.
Greeneville’s Two Roots Vineyard and Alpacas hosts a National Alpacas Farm Days festival September 24 and 25. Visitors can try spinning and weaving in addition to touring the vineyard, picnicking and mingling with the farm’s alpacas.
Most agritourism farms, like Falcon Ridge near Jackson, still offer farm favorites like wagon rides, petting zoos, pony rides, all kinds of fall décor, and pumpkin picking. Family movie nights in the pumpkin patch, praise and worship opportunities for area congregations, and educational corn mazes are also popular fall fare. The Plantation Barn of 1810 in Morristown is a popular wedding venue, and this year plans to host a community wide “trunk or treat” for the first time.
Find fall farm activities and products with the Pick Tennessee mobile app or here. Most on-farm activities depend on good weather, so call ahead and check the farm’s social media posts before traveling.
Pick Tennessee is the farmer to consumer service of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and offers farm, farmers market, and farm product directories as well as seasonal recipes. Follow Pick Tennessee on social media.
PRESS RELEASE from the Sparta Green Market. July 15, 2017
Contact: Margaret Petre
SPARTA, TN – The non-profit Sparta Green Market’s 2017 third event of the season opens July 21, 4-7PM at Metcalfe Park near Liberty Square with a full pavilion of vendors, musicians, and entertainment for the kids.
Due to a rainout last weekend, Grassroots Artisans will be located adjacent to Metcalf Pavilion during the Green Market event.
The Artisan group was “created by a group of four individuals to revitalize Sparta and White County’s economy,” says Wendell Rust, co-founder. The event is held monthly in downtown Sparta and features local artists and crafters and the products they create.
Margaret Petre, Sparta Green Market event chair and founder, says, “We are expecting nearly double the number of venders and crafters. There will be local farmers, cattlemen, bakers, produce growers, face painting artists, balloon animals, and honey producers for the third market of the season.”
Popular keyboardist, Whitney Newport, is back for her third season as the featured entertainer.
The Sparta Green Market is the place for growers who have honey, seasonal plants, vegetables, meat, fruits, and flowers to meet hungry patrons in an entertaining atmosphere.
Ms. Petre says, “Patrons can expect top quality products from the Sparta area.” According to Tennessee Department of Agriculture, acceptable Farm Products include, but are not limited to: farm produce, plants, eggs, honey, meat, cheese, decorative gourds, herbs, animal fibers, and cut flowers.
Ms. Petre continues, “An evening event in Sparta is a good way for families and friends to eat dinner downtown, visit local businesses, enjoy the Green Market, and listen to a free bluegrass concert starting at 7PM. We encourage everyone to support downtown Sparta, enjoy the free entertainment, educational booths, locally grown meat, veggies, fruit, honey, flowers, eggs, and much more.”
Sparta Green Market is a “Green” outing so please bring reusable bags for produce and other goods. No smoking allowed and please do not bring pets to the event.
Rule of thumb: Stick with the standards
Once something of a dying art, home canning has enjoyed a mini resurgence as more and more people rediscover the joys of country living. And county fairs are a great place to see what others in your community are putting in jars — and maybe, if you’re up for a challenge, seeing how your efforts stack up against the competition.
If you’re hesitant to try your hand at canning for fear of making a mistake – or making someone ill — think about taking a course in canning. Local county extension offices offer classes that walk a would-be home canner through the dos and don’t of food-preservation safety.
Also, the USDA publishes time-tested canning guidelines and recipes on a “Complete Guide to Home Canning” webpage that’s easy to find and follow.
Judging in the home canning arts category is no joke to Shelly Barnes, an agriculture extension officer in Wilson County. Food safety is the number one concern for canned goods, she said.
What judges like to see are entries that have clearly been properly processed in clean mason jars, with brand new lids and rings.
So, for example, a bright red jar of tomato sauce that has not been processed long enough is sure to be skipped in favor of a browner product. And if your jelly jars are sticky with jam, that is an indication that something went wrong in processing and it will not likely winning a ribbon.
In fact, Barnes said she’s not above refusing to award a blue ribbon if no entry is worthy of one.
The Competitor View
Tapatha Ray of Smithville knows a few things about blue ribbons. Last year she won an astounding 55 of them in the Dekalb County Fair.
Her farm sells produce at the farmers market on Saturdays. But what doesn’t sell is carefully preserved for winter use by her customers and family. When county fair time arrives, Tapatha chooses samples from her store to submit for judging.
Ray said that in her experience, what “doesn’t work” is getting too creative in canning competitions and coming up with odd concoction and mixtures that judges likely haven’t seen before.
“One year I added bright red peppers to my pickles and those jars were not chosen, probably because they were not your usual pickle,” said Mrs. Ray.
It’s pretty obvious to anybody who’s tried them that home-canned foods taste better than their store-bought counterparts.
So it might seem a little strange that Tennessee fair judges don’t typically perform taste-tests on the contents of the jars they’re evaluating. Wilson County Fair’s Barnes said that’s because they have no way of knowing whether the submissions were in fact properly packed, processed and handled. And the equipment required to check for safety is expensive, she said.
In sum, if you want to make a winning impression at your local fair, choose your produce carefully, use proper mason jars, measure the “headspace” and make certain to follow established guidelines and conservative recipes.
Catching a judge’s eye in a good way often means signaling that you’re confident enough in your canning skills to put traditional simplicity to the competitive test.
Nicole Sauce is a homesteader, publisher, podcaster and local coffee roaster. Reach her at LivingFreeInTennessee.com.
After climbing world’s highest mountain, local man gains appreciation for TN
For his 70th birthday last year, Tim “Bubba” Garrett of Buffalo Valley wanted to do something unique, in keeping with a tradition he’s developed over the years.
So the retired businessman and software engineer decided to climb Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on planet Earth.
He didn’t go all the way to the top. Just to the base camp, and then, for the heck of it, another thousand feet or so beyond that.
Mind you, that’s no small feat. It takes at least eight days just to trek up to the base camp, which is about 17,000 feet above sea level. That’s more than three thousand feet higher than anywhere in the continental United States, and nearly 11,000 feet above Tennessee’s highest point, Clingmans Dome. Climbers often spend several days at the base camp acclimating to the altitude before ascending Everest’s highest ridges.
Being determined as he was that Mt. Everest “wasn’t going to be the hill I died on,” Bubba said he took serious medical and training measures beforehand to prepare for the physically taxing journey.
He said avalanches are always a concern, and bad weather, but altitude sickness tends to be “the real killer.”
“People die going to base camp, because of the altitude,” he said. “There’s just no way to prepare for the altitude. It’s brutal. Just about everybody gets altitude sickness.”
In order to avoid the additional risk of food poisoning, he lived almost solely on energy bars the entire time he was on the mountain.
Bubba said October and November tend to be drier and warmer in the day, but it still gets cold after dark. “When night comes, you better have that down jacket on, cause the bottom falls out of it,” he said.
Past a certain point, “there’s nothing but rock,” Bubba said. So the accompanying yaks provide an essential source of warmth in the camp huts. “The only heat you got is burning the yak dung,” he said.
But while the yaks may be indispensable as pack-animals and fuel-providers, they aren’t particularly friendly, said Bubba. “One of the really dangerous things up there is, if you get near a drop-off, those yaks will push you off,” he said. “They tell you to watch out for the yaks. They’re mean and they’re big.”
Bubba’s camera became a yak-casualty after one of the brutes stepped on his bag.
As for day-to-day nourishment, Bubba said he lived on pretty much solely on energy bars the whole time because the last thing he wanted on top of everything else was a case of food poisoning.
His time on Mt. Everest lasted just shy of three weeks. “I arrived at base camp November the 15th, and my seventieth birthday was on the 16th,” he said. Bubba described the homeward expedition off the mountain as “starting the descent of my life.”
Nowadays Bubba has embarked upon his newest adventure: raising Tennessee fainting goats. It’s something he’s wanted to do since childhood. He’s getting assistance from his good friend, Billye Foster, a professor at Tennessee Tech’s School of Agriculture.
“She told me that ‘Raising Goats for Dummies’ was going to be too advanced for me, so she made me my own book,” Bubba said.
Bubba plans to hire out the goats for free to clear overgrown rural cemeteries around the region. Although he said that if the property owners can afford it, he’ll encourage them to make a donation to a charity that serves farmers in Africa that Professor Foster works.
Through all his travels and adventures and novel undertakings over the years — Professor Foster says Bubba is the type of person who “changes directions easily” — Bubba says he’s come to truly appreciate an old adage that says, “Happiness isn’t getting what you want, but wanting what you got.”
“People spend a lot of time saying, If only I had this or if only I had that,” said Bubba. “Well, I’ve traveled all over the world and I have never found a better place to be than right here.”
DeKalb County artist expands frontiers of experimental creativity
Claudia Lee loves what she does and loves living where she does it.
Growing up in Connecticut and New Jersey, Lee always knew she wanted to live in Tennessee.
“When I was little, I had a best friend and he and I were determined to move to Tennessee because that is where Davy Crockett was from. We were big Davy Crockett fans,” recalls Lee, who 20 years ago moved to the woodsy slopes and shady hollers northeast of Dowelltown. Prior to that she spent three decades in the Tri-Cities area, in fact not far from Crockett’s Greene County birthplace.
Lee has become something of a pioneer in her own right — not just living, as she does, encompassed by DeKalb County’s timberland wilds — but as an artist. On an old farmstead along Cripps Road, she’s made a home and runs her Liberty Paper art studio amidst the tall pines, thick cedar and sturdy hardwoods, by a small stream that runs down to Smith Fork Creek.
Lee’s artistic expertise lies in handcrafting colorfully elaborate paper — typically from raw fibrous plant materials, like flax and leaves of abaca, a species of banana tree native to the Philippines. In turn, she masterfully stitches, weaves, molds and otherwise shapes the paper into elegant sculptures, ornamental boxes, wall pieces, decorative lamps, table adornments and richly detailed book covers and scrapbook pages.
Lee says she’s always experimenting, always making unique paper sheets with novel textures, hues and consistencies.
She’s collected numerous honors and recognitions for her expressive spirit and innovative initiative over the years.
In 2011, she was commissioned to design the various individual Governor’s Awards that the Tennessee Arts Commission biennially bestows upon the Volunteer State’s most creative contributors to the arts and cultural life. “The awards themselves represent artistic genius from some of the finest working artists across the state of Tennessee,” the commission’s website declares.
Lee’s latest accolade came in the form of a cover-feature and six-page photo spread of her work in this summer’s edition of a national quarterly magazine called Bound & Lettered, which is prominent in the world of bookbinding, papercraft and calligraphy. In addition, the editors asked her to craft an essay detailing her fascination with papermaking.
Lee wrote that her vision has always been to “develop a signature body of work” which would blend “many textile techniques, including weaving, spinning, dyeing, and stitching.” But it’s the methods of her undertakings, as much or more even than the finished products, that fulfill her yearning for artistic adventure.
“When you make paper almost every day for more than thirty years, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the magic of the process,” Lee wrote. “It begins with a humble plant growing in yard, field, or woods; cooking the plant to remove non-cellulosic materials; beating it into pulp; and adding the pulp to a vat of water.
“Next is stirring the vat with your hands,” she continued. “An experienced papermaker can tell by the feel of the pulp in the water if the amount of pulp is sufficient for a sheet. With each dip of the mould and deckle into the vat, the sheet miraculously forms before your eyes.”
Lee doesn’t see her artistic role solely as one of blazing new trails and charting exploratory courses on her own. She gains great satisfaction and gratification in teaching the techniques of her craft both to novices and other experienced artists.
Lee said papermaking was something she learned “from the ground up.”
She knew immediately it was something she wanted to learn when she first encountered it at a craft school decades ago. It’s something that often draws people in from the moment they see it, she said.
“Sometimes people just walk into the studio and that’s it,” Lee said. “It is very tactile. And it is immediately accessible to people.”
Getting started “is so easy to do,” she said.
“I have worked with small children and handicapped kids, they can all make paper,” said Lee. “So it is a very friendly medium. If you make a mistake, you dump it back in and make another one. It is user-friendly, easy to do and you can do it very simply at home with very little equipment.”
One of Lee’s primary objectives when instructing people is to teach them in a way that build their confidence and understanding of the process, so they indeed can do it again on their own. “I want them to go home and do it,” she said. “I don’t want them to be like, OK, I did that once, now what?”
Those who take an immediate interest have sometimes become absorbed already with scrapbooking or notecards or activities that require purchasing a lot of paper at a craft store. “It’s kind of the next step up to make your own paper,” Lee said.
Working with established artists who’re already proficient in some other medium is also rewarding, she said. Helping them incorporate their own handmade paper into other projects and creations enables them to dive deeper into their own creative processes.
“People can design a unique sheet of paper for their work, so that no one else is going to have that kind of paper,” Lee said. “And the great thing about making your paper if you are an artist is you can design what you need. If you run out, you just make more.”
Parks and campgrounds urging heat-treatment certification
Federal and state natural resource agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation want to expand availability of government-certified firewood at public campgrounds.
Public lands managers are looking to put a damper on fires made from wood that hasn’t undergone heat treatment beforehand. For that reason, hauling unapproved firewood into a state park or federal recreation area might become a thing of the past in the not-too-distant future.
Their aim is to impede the spread of tree-threatening non-native creepy-crawlies, like the emerald ash borer and longhorned beetles, both indigenous to Asia, as well as the gypsy moth and gold spotted oak borer, which are unwelcome guests to Tennessee from, respectively, Europe and the southwestern United States.
“All these things have been introduced — that’s why we call them invasive,” said Greg Aydelotte, who administers plant protection and quarantine procedures for the USDA.
Aydelotte was one of several forest-health specialists who delivered presentations in Cookeville this spring during a seminar on the certification process. The goal of the May 25 conference, attended by about 50 people, was to cultivate interest in the certification program among would-be Upper Cumberland wood-products entrepreneurs.
“Emerald ash borer tends to be the one that we handle in most situations involving firewood,” Aydelotte said. “People will bring firewood from long distances.”
For that reason, campgrounds are often suspected as a point of entry when invasive pests spread into areas that were previously free of them.
According to a TDEC information sheet on the state’s “Don’t Move Firewood” campaign, “Native trees have defenses against insects and diseases that they’ve been living with for millions of years. Likewise, native predators eat native insects, keeping their numbers in check. Non-native insects and diseases have no predators in their new homes and the trees have no natural defenses against them. Because these foreign bugs don’t have anything stopping them, they reproduce rapidly, killing thousands of trees in their wake.”
All Tennessee State Parks now adhere to a certified-firewood-only “policy” — although it’s not actually a state law, according to TDEC spokeswoman Kim Schofinski.
State park managers also don’t want people bringing untreated wood in from the surrounding vicinity. TDEC officials believe areas near Tennessee state parks may in some cases already have infestations of invasive forests pests, even if they’re as yet undetected.
“We encourage campground and cabin guests to follow this policy in the effort to stem the spread of invasive pests that damage our forests,” Schofinski wrote in an email to Center Hill Sun. “This is a joint education effort with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry and the Nature Conservancy of Tennessee. National Parks also have firewood policies in place.”
Campers are still allowed to make fires using “dead material on the ground” or “downed wood collected inside the park, near the campsite.” However, in many circumstances such fuel is scarce near high-use camping areas, or gathering it may in fact be prohibited in some places.
Park and campground managers are encouraging private vendors to fill the void by selling more certified heat-treated wood that’s “clearly marked with a state/federal seal.”
Obtaining a government seal of approval — and with it, an official online listing by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as a certified-firewood seller — requires signing a compliance agreement and acquiring a firewood-heating system, which in turn must undergo periodic inspection by regulators.
To ensure the firewood is heated to at least 140 degrees for 60 minutes, as required for the certification, temperature probes are inserted into individual sticks of firewood throughout the kiln.
“We’re looking for the center to reach those temperatures,” said Heather Slayton, a forest health and sustainability expert for the state Division of Forestry who has been delivering presentations around Tennessee on the firewood-certification program. “The probes are put randomly throughout your kiln, and every single one of the probes have to pass the certification.”
Slayton said there are a number of “turnkey” kilns available on the market, but homemade rigs and systems work just fine, too. Woodland property owners, farmers, loggers and anybody else that might have access to a steady supply of fuel-timber is encouraged to get into the firewood-selling game.
Constructing a homemade kiln-heating mechanism is perfectly acceptable. “We’re not certifying the kiln design,” said Slayton. “Build it how ever you want to build it.”
The central requirement is that certification regulators verify that it’s heating the wood sufficiently, and for the appropriate period of time, to terminate all unwanted bugs and their larva, she said.
According to the USDA, heat treatment procedures may employ steam, hot water, kilns or any other method that raises the center of the wood to 140 degrees for a full hour.
“It doesn’t have to be high-tech,” said Slayton. “But you do have to be able to monitor your temperatures and write them down. If you’re going to build your own, you need to make sure you think about how the thermodynamics work.”
If the kiln isn’t insulated properly or doesn’t allow for appropriate air circulation to disperse the heat, it may fail when put to the test by the certifying agents. “You’ve got to hit those temperature thresholds,” said Slayton.
Retail sellers of certified firewood include big-box stores like Lowes, Home Depot, Gander Mountain, Academy Sports, as well as numerous other smaller vendors like grocery stores and gas stations, she said.
While the number of certified firewood-drying kilns in Tennessee is still relatively small, Slayton said she’s “working extremely hard to raise that number so folks can buy Tennessee-produced certified firewood as opposed to out of state producers.”
If you’d like to get more information about the procedures for certification, contact Ms. Slayton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s obvious truth in the observation that unforeseen slips often come ‘twixt cup and lip. It’s easy to forget, though, that much goes into making the cup’s contents worthy of attempting a sip to begin with.
Local roasting experts agree that starting with freshly roasted coffee beans makes all the difference.
Coffee flavor stems from the bean itself and Eric Tate of Bootleg Roasting Company takes time to learn the best roasting profile for each bean he sells.
Bootleg specializes in a dark roast, but they have found certain high-end beans, such as those from Hawaii’s famed Kona Region, taste much better at a medium to light roast. BRC, derived their name as a joke about being a black-market bean provider: they were an underground source for fantastic coffee for their family and friends.
Calfkiller Brewing Company’s fire-roasted blend sprung from roaster Don Sergio’s love of a quality cup of coffee and a need for something special to add to a coffeehouse stout beer. After experimenting with a homemade contraption over an open fire, Sergio developed his own roasting system to take advantage of his unique take on flame-based roasting.
Roasters in our region all tell a similar tale that starts with equal parts love of good coffee and passion for local marketing. They began roasting at home, then grew to providing coffee for family and friends. They built their own intermediate-sized roasters – each adding a unique take on the concept. And as their skills developed, they took the plunge into the retail market.
Yet there is more to roasting coffee than simply applying heat to a green bean, according to Zach Buckner of Broast in Cookeville.
Ambient temperature, airflow and relative humidity can impact the speed of the roast as well as the flavor of the end product. Buckner compares using freshly roasted coffee to using fresh herbs.
Buckner says there is just no comparison between a coffee roasted four days ago and one that has been sitting on a shelf for six months. In sum: Freshness matters.
With the growing number of micro-roasters in the Upper Cumberland region, there is likely a fresh bean that meets the preference of any coffee drinker. Consider trying something new in your morning brew from a local craftsman.
● Calfkiller, Sparta: http://calfkillerbrewingco.storenvy.com/
● Broast, Cookeville: http://www.broasttn.com/
● Bootleg Roasting Co., Cookeville: https://www.facebook.com/bootlegroastingco/
● Holler Roast Coffee, Lancaster: HollerHomestead.com
Nicole Sauce is a local coffee roaster, backwoods podcaster and publisher of Center Hill Sun. Learn more about her homesteading endeavors at LivingFreeinTennessee.com.
Time to mark your calendars to start setting aside a little early evening time on the third Friday of each month for dropping by the Sparta Green Market.
The monthly festival of fresh food, open-air local shopping and lively music begins Friday at Metcalfe Park near Liberty Square in downtown Sparta.
Starting at 4.pm., it’ll include a full pavilion of food and craft vendors, talented musicians and entertainment for kids.
Green Market chairwoman Margaret Petre says to expect more than two dozen booths and attractions at the May 19 fest, including local beef-raisers, bakers, produce growers, face painters, balloon-animal designers and honey producers. Featured musicians scheduled to perform include Green Market veteran Whitney Newport, a keyboardist back for her third season, and guitarist Eli Payne, who’ll be playing the market for the first time.
The Green Market takes special pride in attracting and displaying “top quality products from the Sparta area,” said Petre.
In addition to free entertainment and educational booths, the market provides a vibrant hub for buying and selling local meat, fruits and veggies, honey, flowers, eggs and a whole lot more, she said.
“An evening event in Sparta is a good way for families and friends to eat dinner downtown, visit local businesses, enjoy the Green Market, and listen to a free bluegrass concert starting at 7 p.m.,” Petre said.
Don’t forget: it is always a good idea to bring chairs and an iced cooler for meats, poultry or other items you might purchase at the market. Also, because Sparta Green Market is in fact a “green” outing, organizers encourage shoppers to bring reusable bags for produce and other goods they purchase. No smoking or pets are allowed.
For more information, contact Ms. Petre at email@example.com, or send a message on Facebook.
Of the hundreds of cattle breeds raised on farms and ranchlands throughout the United States, few are more striking and recognizable than Texas Longhorns.
Longhorns have earned distinction not just for their ability to survive and thrive in arid, barren and otherwise inhospitable wilderness environments, but as a cultural and historical symbol of the Great American West itself.
They’ve been described as the “original bovine” in North America.
Today, longhorns represent just a fraction of the total number of cattle raised in America — especially outside Texas — estimated at less than one percent of the total population as a whole. The Fort Worth-based Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America reports about 80 registered commercial longhorn ranches are operating in Tennessee.
Even though their relative population is small, Texas Longhorns maintain a sturdy niche market, both for breeders and direct-to-market meat growers, said Roger Townsend, president of the Tennessee Valley Texas Longhorns Association.
Unlike cattle stocks that predominate today, “no one set out to develop Texas Longhorn cattle as a breed,” according to an informational webpage set up by a professor and longhorn conservationists at the University of Texas. “Instead, they evolved in North America from descendants of cattle brought into the Americas by the Spanish in the late 1400s and early 1500s.” Early herds roamed wild for centuries, and “underwent intense natural selection.” Descendants of the original stocks developed robust disease resistance, enabling them to flourish in harsh range conditions. With their prodigious, spike-tipped headgear, worn by bulls and cows alike, they could formidably defend themselves and their young against predator threats.
Owing to their natural evolution, Texas Longhorns today are capable of ingesting a much wider array of plants than other cattle.
“A lot of people compare them to bison or even goats,” said Townsend, who runs about 250 head of purebred Texas Longhorns on his ranch in Giles County. “They will graze and forage and go out in the woods and eat vines and things that other breeds nowadays won’t.”
Most all today’s cattle varieties have been bred “for one particular thing, be it for beef or milk,” he said.
Preeminent congenital trait among longhorns are endurance, stress tolerance and vitality, but were engineered by the hand of nature, not man.
“Longhorns are a beef-type cow, but because they are rangier and leaner, the meat is low fat and low cholesterol,” Townsend added. “It is very similar to eating bison.”
Meat from longhorns “is very profitable and definitely sells,” he noted.
Steer By Silver Point
If you’ve ever found yourself moseying along Highway 141 just west of the little hamlet called Silver Point, you may have observe a stately herd of the regal beasts grazing along a rolling parcel of highland pasture.
Randall Fedon, with his wife, Rosemary, has run a herd of purebred Texas Longhorns on their R&R Ranch property there for more than a decade.
Fedon, who lived as a child in Arizona, said he’s always loved the majestic look of longhorns, and both he and his wife “came from farm people.” When they bought land in Putnam County more than a decade ago, they knew they wanted to run cattle on it.
Texas Longhorns, said Fedon, fit the bill.
“We just like to let them roam out there, like they did in the West,” he said.
Despite their imposing appearance and reputation for stubborn perseverance in hardscrabble domains, Texas Longhorns typically display a placid temperament and exhibit docile behavior.
“They are really easy,” Fedon said of caring for his herd. “You can pet them and everything, as long as they are not mating. Then you need to watch out.”
No Bull, Longhorns Aren’t Dull
Texas Longhorns possess unusually sharp minds between their colossal horns. They’re among the most intelligent of cattle breeds.
“Longhorns are very inquisitive,” said Townsend. “If you go out and sit in the field on my ranch, it will be no time before you are surrounded by 20 calves. If you sit still, they’ll come up and start nudging you. If you have a cap on, they’ll nudge it off your head and start licking on you. It’s just how they are. They’re nosy and inquisitive.”
Townsend warns those who buy calves from him to raise for beef that they’ll nudge their way into your heart if you’re not careful.
“I tell people not to take a calf home and let their wife or kids make it into a pet, because if that happens it’ll never make it to the freezer,” he said. “I’ve then had those same people come back later saying that’s exactly what happened, the family wouldn’t let it be killed. They’ll grow on you, for sure. People love them.”
Visitors to the area and passersby along Highway 141 are welcome to use the R & R Ranch pull-out area on the north side of the road to view and photograph the longhorns over the fence, as long as they’re respectful of the property and animals.
Another pullout is located along Buffalo Valley Road, about a half mile past the Silver Point Baptist Church at the bottom of the hill. The R & R Ranch is a little under a mile and a half west of I-40’s Exit 273
“They are really neat. They’re a different kind of breed than you see much around here, that’s for sure,” said James Jones, a resident on the R & R Ranch who helps the Fedons look after the cattle. “You wouldn’t believe how many people stop and take pictures. Sometimes, people will stop right on the road and I’m like, Oh gosh, that ain’t good!”
To contact the Tennessee Valley Texas Longhorns Association, email Roger Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org. His number is 931-309-9480.
Visit the Texas Longhorns Breeders Association of America at tlbaa.org.