Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lessons from the Zoo

Most people go to the Zoo when they are a small child, me that wasn’t the case. The only Zoo I got to see was the one running around on my farm! I know some of you are are shaking your head right now and thinking-no Disney movies, no vacations and now no Zoo! What kind of childhood did you have?!? I had a great one and wouldn’t change it for anything. It was spent mostly outdoors with some PBS mixed in rollie pollies and mud pies.

Elephants love plaing in the mud just like I do!

Not long ago, I went to the Nashville Zoo with Jeremy. The funny part about this is I acted like a little kid! My favorite parts were watching the elephants and giraffes. The elephants had the biggest and floppiest ears ever! They liked to play in the water to cool off and one really like playing with a log. The elephant playing with the log reminded me of a dog palying with a stick. The giraffes just fascinated me. They were beautiful in a unique way. Maybe it was their spots and the color of the spots. Their long necks reminded me so much of the plant eating dinosaurs! If you combined an elephant and a giraffe you would have a dinosaur or just something out of a scary movie.

How's the weather up there?

What made me laugh, then sad was the farm animals at the zoo. I laughed cause farm animals are just ordinary, every day animals to me and why would they be at the zoo? Then I realized that the little kids around me and their parents had never seen farm animals in person before. They (kids and parents) were calling a cow a horse and a sheep was a goat and a goat was a sheep! This really made me see that we need to better educate public (not just kids) about where their food comes from.

A cow is not a horse......

One of my favorite things about the Nashville Zoo everything reminded me of the animals natural habitat. When I was walking, sometimes I would forget that I was in a zoo! All of the animals were fun to watch. When it stops raining you should take a day and enjoy the jungle...zoo!

How many birds can you count?

Next time you go to the Zoo make sure to stop by the farm animals section and listen to what people say and don't wait 20-something yrs to go see all the wonderful animals!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life is Just Peachy!

This blog is coming to you a little late, but it’s too sweet not to write about. When I was a little girl my Pa’s favorite snack seemed to be peaches. So, I was looking forward to visiting a few peach orchards and then I got sick. Luckily, the Friday before I got sick I went out to Pratt’s Orchard. It’s located right off the interstate. You can actually see the peach trees driving down I 65!
Farmer Jack Pratt weighing freshly picked peaches.

Peach trees surround their farm. If one wanted I am sure they could get lost in the trees (note to self peach orchards could be the new cornmaze lol!). The peaches were huge and looked perfect. It was hot, but people were coming out by the carloads to pick peaches. After I tasted one I knew why-JUICY. All the rain this summer made these peaches have the sweetest and juiciest taste ever! Good thing no one took my picture because I had it dripping down my chin!
Picture Perfect Peaches!

Seeing that I was going home to West TN, I decided to get a basket full of ripe peaches from the Peach House. The Peach House is where you can buy pre picked peaches. After talking to my mom we decided to make Peach Preserves. Canning is one of those little things I was very fortunate to have grown up around. Making peach preserves is very easy. The hardest part was keeping my dad from eating all peaches! My dad said it was the best peaches he had eaten in a loooong time, basically since the orchard on our farm got bad disease and the trees died.

Try these on a biscuit! Yum!

It’s too late for you to go out and get peaches from TN. Peach season starts June 1st, make sure to write it down on your calendar! To get more info on Pratt's go to PickTnProducts.org .

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I am back and blue!

I am back!!! Sorry, for being such a blogging slacker! This past month I have been super duper sick and I am just now catching up on "real" work, so I can blog. Even though I have been a sick little girl, somehow I have been able to still have a few adventures......These next few blogs will be a step back in time and I will update you to the present happenings of my crazy life.

First, lets go back before I was sick to a farm visit and photo shoot I did at Blueberries on the Buffalo farm. Left Nashville bright and early to get to Lawencburg around 7:00am. This way we could get some great pics before people started to get there and before it got blazing hot!

Drew getting the "berry" perfect shot!

When we got there we were greeted by the farmers Dan and Debbie in front of their big red barn. They are a Pick Your Own Blueberry patch, which was beatuiful with the dew still on the bushes in the early morning light.

Blueberries still on the bush

Truthfully, I wasn't a big blueberry fan. I love blueberry muffins, but not eatting blueberries by themself. They always had a tart taste that I just didn't like. Oh, how I became a lover of blueberries after this visit. These farm fresh berries tasted soooo good! I was amazed the difference in the taste of these berries straight from the farm and store bought. If you ever have a chance to eat blueberries straight from the farm-do it! yummm!

Dan holding blackberries

Being a farm girl, I have ate and picked my fair share of blackberries. They are everywhere on my farm, so when Farmer Dan asked if I wanted to taste their blackberries-I was like sure. Never did I realize that these blackberries came from a THORNLESS bush and was huge. They were nothing like my little fence row blackberries! Of course they tasted yummy as well.

The BIGGEST blackberries ever!

If you are looking for a nice country drive head down to Lawenceburg and pick you some berries for your trip home!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Great Burgers, Steaks, and Friends Hidden in Small Town Tennessee

When you go to college and live in the dorms there is a huge chance that you are going to get a weird roomie. For me, I was very fortunate that my new roomie would be someone that I would become great friends with. Even though, Leah and I were from two different sides of West TN we already knew each other. We met the summer before our senior yr of high school at Volunteer Girls State. Then a mutual friend of ours told me she was looking for a roomie and I was needing one. We were freshmen roommates and friends ever since.

Lately, I haven't been making it to West TN to hang out with all my friends due to work travels, etc. It had been about a year since I stayed in Lauderdale Co with Leah. LC reminds me a lot of where I come from with it being small and rural. While I was in LC I went to a wedding, and to two different dining spots.

Big Daddy's Diner in Gates
We ate lunch at a little place called, Big Daddy's (formally known as Miss Evie's) in the big city of Gates (j/k). First off i like this place cause it is half gas station, half store, and half restaurant. The outside looks like an old country store. Inside the restaurant part there is all kinds of Elvis memorabilia, old licence plates, and old farm equipment. According to Leah everything is good, so with that I ordered a cheeseburger with spicy fries. I was craving a big juicy burger and this hit the spot. It was fun just eating and getting to hang out.

I think Leah likes the burger!

After the wedding, we went to Chisholm Lake. It's restaurant and I really can't tell you how to get there, even though I have been many, many times. You have to go through Nankipoo (trust me I can't make this stuff up), turn right after the Pic Sweet Fields, go down long road till it turns into a gravel road, somewhere you turn by the big tree (that use to have a sign, but got stolen)........basically it's in the middle of no where and it's on stilts. Enough about getting there lets talk about the food! You have the chose of steak or crab legs. Yep, a very simple menu. I always get steak and its huge! They cook it a medium rare perfect. Make sure if you go to bring cash, cause they don't accept credit cards. Bring a big group and stay late. There is always fun at Chisholm Lake!

Leah and I at Chisholm Lake.

Spending time with Leah was a lot of fun and I am kicking myself for not making time to hang out with my friends like I should. I can't wait to get back to LC and to hang out with my girly!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stop and take a look around-You might see someone you know!

Have you ever been driving down the road and thought to yourself that the place you were passing on the side of the road looked like a neat place to stop? How many of you then actually stop? Well last week I was being guided by my GPS and came across two really neat antique stores. The first one I stopped at had all kinds of neat old treasures. They had old quilts, furniture, magazines, and old family photos (which I thought was weird and sad). I found a few cute items including pig and sheep ordainments, a birdhouse made of an old TN license plate, and an old Boy Scout book in really good condition published in 1911.

With all of my new/old purchases I was heading back to Nashville when I saw the Cumberland Mountain General Store. It just looked like a place I just had to see. Once I walked in, it was like a time warp. There was so much cool old stuff, it was everywhere.
Cumberland Mountain General Store

While I was looking around I picked up some items that I wanted to buy. These included numerous old flour sacks, an old canister set, a corn maze sign, and a 1920 book on cattle diseases. When I sat them on the counter, the girl standing beside me said my name. Shocked I looked up and it was my friend Jenifer. It is such a small world! She actually worked there in the back in an old soda fountain shop. It had just closed for the day, but she let me go back and take a look. It looks just like the soda shops in the movies where the girls are wearing poodle skirts! While I was there I had to get a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream.

Time warp back to the 1950's

This time last year Jenifer and I were in Europe together!

Once I told my mom about this place she wanted to go. So, this weekend we are going to load up in the mini van and make the trek over to Clarkrange, TN. To see more about Cumberland Mountain General Store watch them on Tennessee Crossroads
http://wnpt.org/productions/crossroads/2009_jun.html .

The owners are super nice!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Christmas in July and Pig inside a General Store

Farm visits are one of the best things about my job. I love going out to a farm and talking to farmers. Recently, I went out to Sycamore Springs Christmas Tree Farm. It is located close to Allardt home of the Pumpkin Festival where they weigh in the largest pumpkin (I hope to go this year!) The family I went to visit is the Pennycuffs and I worked with their daughter Kacie in tourism. Such a great family! The visit was probably one of the best/most fun I had ever had.

Kacie making the best lunch ever!

The farm is a start up Christmas tree farm which means they won’t have any trees ready for sale. They are going to sale some vegetables with the main focus on fall. They have planted pumpkins and Indian corn. Being so close to the Pumpkin Festival they are thinking about having bluegrass music and their own pulled pork that weekend. They have had to battle quite a few elements since beginning their agritourism venture. The drought hit them hard and they lost a lot of trees, they battle the wildlife over their vegetables, and a few weeks ago a tornado. A tornado came right by their house and took out part of their retail shelter they had help building with TAEP funds.

Future Christmas Trees!

After the farm visit I got an inclusive tour of were they live. We went to Alvin C. York’s home and across the road is a beautiful old grist mill. Then we went to the Bible School he built. After he built the Bible School he worked to have a high school built and it is called the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute. This school has the largest high school campus in the US.

We stopped by a store called Forbus. Here, you walk past large wooden statues of Indians to open a door to the past. The first thing I noticed was the smell of fudge, which I got to sample. The chocolate fudge is extremely good. This place is not just known for its fudge, but for the people who come here on a daily bases. Older gentlemen come and play a card game called Pig. This is apparently a big deal, because its been on ESPN. We walked to the back and sure enough there were at least ten men wearing overalls playing Pig!

Play Pig at Forbus General Store

It was a great day with great people!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Workshops and Wineries

With work I travel a lot to workshops and conferences. This week I went to Baxter, TN for the Tennessee Sustainable Tourism Workshop. You are probably thinking what in the world is in Baxter and what is sustainable tourism? The workshop was held at Delmonaco Winery and Vineyard in Baxter. Sustainable Tourism is sustaining the environment, culture and heritage of a region while at the same time sustaining the economic growth through tourism. I am involved because agritourism has always been sustaining the environment and the rich farming history of our state since the first pick your own. They are doing four workshops across the state and this was the second. To find out more about what Tennessee is doing about Sustainable Tourism go to http://www.tnvacation.com/sustainable/ .

Delmonaco Winery and Vinyard

Inside the winery
The workshop couldn’t have been at a prettier place! Delmonico Winery and Vineyard is gorgeous. It’s also huge! That’s how they were able to host a workshop of 100 people. They host all kinds of events from weddings to corporate parties. When you stop by make sure to try the Muscadine and Blackberry wines. I hear they are really good. They have wine tastings everyday and on the weekends they have concerts. What fun would it be to bring a picnic, sit among the vines, and listen to live music! To find out more about Delmonaco Winery and Vineyard go to http://delmonacowinery.com/default.aspx

The vineyard