John visits the Gentleman Farmer

John visits the gentleman farmer.

Bob Hicks is an very young eighty something years old with a tremendous love for the land.  He is a recently retired Atlanta attorney and lives in Marietta with his lovely wife Micheline.  He also has a wonderful 300 and more acre farm on the Chatooga River right outside the small town of Lyerly, Georgia. Bob is very well read in the classics and enjoys Conrad, George Elliot, and Proust among many others.  He is working on developing a heard of Angus cattle.

The cows disappear into the woods during the heat of the day and come out to graze in the early evening.

The cows disappear into the woods during the heat of the day and come out to graze in the early evening.

I needed a rest.  I had been working hard for a while and my knee was hurting.  I figured that Dekie and I could visit the farm and I could relax, get my leg up, and read a book.  Oh, I forgot to tell you, Bob is Dekie’s father and Dekie is my wonderful fiance.  Anyway, we loaded up the coon dog and headed out.

We found Bob in his well equipped wood shop.  He was making a walnut frame for a rather large map that he had recently purchased for his library at the farmhouse.

"See, John, this walnut tree fell and I had it milled.  Now, I can build me a picture frame"

“See, John, this walnut tree fell and I had it milled. Now, I can build me a picture frame”

I really don’t know that Bob wanted a diversion from his project, but he greeted us warmly, and after a bit of conversation, he said, “Come over here, John, I have a question for you.”  We walked with him over to the nice arbor which was covered with an old wisteria.  He pointed and said, “would you study this and please tell me how far to prune it?” He went back to his shop project.  Something in my mind told me that my plans for the day had changed.

"Could you show me how to prune this monster wisteria?"

“Could you show me how to prune this monster wisteria?”

Dekie got the lopping shears and made a cut or two while I studied the project.

I really couldn't just stand there and watch.  She's not tall enough, anyway.

I really couldn’t just stand there and watch. She’s not tall enough, anyway.

Then, figuring that she wasn’t tall enough and that it would be easier for me to do the cutting than to hold a ladder for he, I went to work.  The idea was to get inside and cut the vines high enough so that I wouldn’t have to duck when I walked into the arbor.  I tried to cut everything that was lower than seven feet.

Try to cut off anything under seven feet.

Try to cut off anything under seven feet.

Don’t get me wrong, I think wisteria is a beautiful vine, and I admit that it has pretty flowers in the spring, but if it isn’t kept under control it will take over a kudzu patch.  This particular wisteria planting was loaded with seed pods just getting ready to shoot seeds all over the place.  Underground roots were putting up shoots all through the sitting area.  It took a couple of hours to get things under control, but looking back it was worth the trouble.

almost finished pruning the wisteria arbor

almost finished pruning the wisteria arbor

With the hard part done, Dekie and I took care of the detail and stepped back to admire one of the gnarled trunks.  Don’t get me wrong, though.  I always advise my landscaping clients to avoid this plant like the plague.

cleaned off wisteria trunk

cleaned off wisteria trunk

The farm is really a big garden.  A caretaker, Scott Kiger, sees that the major farm chores are provided.  Scott is also a well known horse trainer.  I asked Bob about his reasons for buying a farm and he told me that he had bought a 25 acre farm in Marietta in the late 50’s and moved there in 1962.  He watched Atlanta and Marietta grow and to his dismay, in the early 80’s, fifteen acres of his farm were taken through eminent domain for a school building.  He told me that he liked the farm in Lyerly because it was far enough out that he should be able to keep it.  He bought this farm in ’89 at an auction.  He said, “I was the only one there in a suit.  I learned that one should never wear a suit to a country auction.”

One of the attractions of the farm is a gazebo built looking over a beautiful lake that Bob had made early on.  After having finished the wisteria, I was delighted to see the table being set for lunch—pork loin, cous cous (“pearl” cous cous, not the cardboard looking kind), and a delightful salad that Bob referred to as “rabbit food”.

Oooooh, lunch at the gazebo on a pleasant afternoon

Oooooh, lunch at the gazebo on a pleasant afternoon

I wanted to take a picture of the hay barn on the other side of the lake, but about that time, Speck, the Walker coon hound decided to ask me if I would “please pass the pork loin.”

"Would you please pass the pork loin?  Pleeeeeeeese?"

“Would you please pass the pork loin? Pleeeeeeeese?”

After dinner, I was given a good tour of Micheline’s Kindle.  I had never spent much time looking at one and I was impressed.  I guess I really must get my book, Requiem for a Redneckformatted for Kindle and other e/books quickly.

Micheline loves her Kindle

Micheline loves her Kindle

As we talked, I noticed that the horses were leaving their cool spots in the shady woods to come out and graze.

The horses come out to graze in the early evening

The horses come out to graze in the early evening

Micheline told me that Shingle was one of her favorites.  She went out to say hello and Bob joined her.  What a nice picture.

Bob and Micheline Hicks with Shingle

Bob and Micheline Hicks with Shingle

It had turned out to be a rather restful day after all.  The sun was making its move to hide behind the foot hills to the west and it was time to go home.  I wish to thank Bob and Micheline for the wonderful day.

********

 

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Try “see inside the book”

 

******

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. BILL AMOS
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 13:56:50

    FRIEND JOHN…AINT IT NICE THAT WE HAVE FRIENDS WITH FARMS SO WE CAN VISIT BUT NOT HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF…AS YOU KNOW WISTERIA HERE IN THE SOUTH CANNOT BE AVOIDED..I HAVE A 150 YEAR OLD PINE IN MY FRONT YARD .WITH A EQUALLY OLD WISTERIA CASCADING FROM THE TOP..PROBABLY CAME OVER WITH OGLETHORPE….ITS LIKE A FAILED LOVE AFFAIR..PRETTEST THING YOU EVER DID SEE FOR TWO WEEKS THEN TRYING TO KEEP IT OFF OF YOU FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR…LIKE THAT OTHER VINE THAT STARTS WITH A “K” I THINK WE SHOULD BE LEERY OF GIFTS FROM CHINA..BUT YOU KNOW EVEN THAT OLE KUDZU VINE HAS A BEAUTIFUL BLOOM ON IT ONE TIME EACH YEAR….IVE GOT A NICE SPECIMINE IN MY BACK TARD…WHEN YOU COME FOR A VISIT ILL LET YOU SHOW ME HOW TO PRUNE IT…I WANT A BONSAI EFFECT IF YOU DONT MIND…YER OL BUD…BILL AMOS

    Reply

  2. Runette Ford
    Aug 29, 2010 @ 16:53:33

    What a great article! I have not seen Bob in ages. Reading your article brought back many pleasant memories. I used to go the farm sometimes with Dekie when we were at Darlington together. Please give Bob my best next time you see him. He looks great!

    Reply

  3. Jane Schulz
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 17:00:33

    I had the pleasure of spending a weekend at the Hicks farm and think it is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. Bob and Miheline are gracious hosts and are justifiably proud of the farm.

    Thank you, John, for showing it to me again and bringing back delightful memories.

    Reply

  4. Claire Collins
    Sep 25, 2010 @ 15:43:56

    help!

    It’s been great fun visiting with you and Dekie today. I hope you will come visit again!

    http://clairecollins.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/there-are-all-of-these-things-in-my-yard-help/

    Reply

  5. Trackback: An over the top vegetable garden sprinkler and a Father’s Day present « johntheplantman's stories, plants, and gardening

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