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Exploring life in

             Bedford County

             Editor’s Note

                    ‘Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
              The kind of stuff you don’t hang on the wall
                       Stuff that’s real, stuff you feel
              The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall’
                   — by Rodney Crowell and Guy Clark

                 T    wice a year we embark on an editorial journey. We call it  of farming in Tennessee. He grew up on his granddaddy’s farm, 30

                                                                       miles north of Knoxville. His granddaddy’s generation was pretty
                      Bedford Life.
                         On this journey, we search for stories about people and  much the last of the sustenance farmers.
                 places of Bedford County that make it unique.            In describing his granddaddy, John said “I made every step he
                    There’s nothing better than pursuing something you love and  made. He was the best college professor I ever had.”
                 getting paid for it. To that end, this spring I began riding around   After talking to John, as I drove away from the extension office,
                 on the side roads of Bedford County (I love driving on back roads)  I was again drifting back in time. I recalled the all night card games,
                 looking for old barns to take photographs of.  I love old barns.  jittery from too many cups of coffee, at Bucky Ludorf’s home up
                   There is great beauty in old things. I love the patina of old, well  on the West Purchase of Southbury, Connecticut. I recalled nights
                 worn tools. I love the look of old people –  seasoned citizens. And  playing  music with  my friend Abe  Coe, playing  our guitars   to
                 I love the look of old barns. There is great beauty in advanced age.  accompany Bucky’s dad, John Ludorf on his fiddle. Uncle John
                   Yes, part of the attraction is in the weatherworn wood but the  was a sustenance farmer like Teague’s granddaddy. He raised hay
                 best part of these old barns is the stories that are embedded in  and corn. He had a big garden. He had cows and horses. Uncle
                 them.                                                 John, as we called him, was also the most sought after fiddle player
                   As you look at the wood in an old stall you’ll often see the chew  at the barn dances in western Connecticut.
                 marks left by generations of horses – it’s called ‘cribbing.’    As John Teague and I concluded our conversation about old
                   If you grew up as I did you may be flooded with memories when  barns we got on the subject of authenticity.
                 you walk into an old barn. In one ramshackle Bedford County   We discussed what we both see as the loss of a culture in
                 barn, I suddenly was overwhelmed with memories from 50 years  which many more people worked on farms, doing what we see
                 ago. It was like I was once again helping Glenn Morris bale hay  as meaningful work. We mourned a little the changes that have
                 on a 3-century-old New England farmstead. I was probably about  resulted in just 2 percent of the population producing the food for
                 12 years old. I hadn’t thought of those days for a long time.  I  the other 98 percent. Most people nowadays would not be able to
                 remembered picking up each bale and tossing it onto the flat bed  produce enough food to provide for themselves. How many people
                 hay wagon and then unloading each bale into the barn’s hayloft.  today know how to cure a ham? John wonders. Not
                 Most of those bales were winter feed for Glen’s Morgan horses and  many, I think.
                 draft horses and some were for my mom’s Saddlebred mare, Ginger,   It seems to me that there is much less dignity
                 and her foal, Mitsy. The work was hard and all these years later I can  in retail than there is in milking a cow. But  that’s
                 still smell the sweet odor of grass hay mixed with my own sweat.  probably just the complaint of an old man. l
                   After collecting hundreds of photos of Bedford County barns, I       Terence Corrigan is the editor of
                 wanted to layer on a story to add context to the concept.                the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.
                   I decided to interview county extension agent John Teague.
                 John and I are about the same age. John knows a lot of the history

                                                                                                          Summer 2018 l Bedford Life 5
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