Monday, March 26, 2012

Barn Charm: Open-Air Barn...

Big Daddy and I were running some errands and driving around Smallville on Friday when we spotted this open-air barn not far from our place. It was quite a ways up the hill from the road, on the other side of a fence and a creek, so it wasn't possible to get any closer.
Big Daddy took this shot for me, as it was on his side of the road and starting to rain.
I love the little window Mother Nature left for us to peek through. Note the big power line running behind it.
This is another one I'm going to have to keep checking on, as it looks like it's only a windstorm or two away from falling down. I hate that there are so many opportunities for 'before' and 'after' shots where the 'after' is nothing more than a pile of old barn wood.

Linking up with

Barn Charm ♥78♥ over at Bluff Area Daily

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hail The Martini...

When it hails, we pour!

Gather hail. Rinse. Dump into chilled glass.  Pour vodka or gin in desired amount.

Add vermouth, or not.

Add preferred garnish.
CHEERS! Because now you're fortified to cope with the shock of finding all those hail dents on your car's hood as well as the damage to your roof.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Smallville Town Talk: The Roller Mill...

Our place, which we've named Le Rustique, is situated between the two small towns of Owensville and Rosebud, about three miles from the first and about five miles from the latter. The whole area, which I fondly call Smallville, has a combined population of 3000 to 3500. In other words, just right.

Most folks around here are friendly as can be [someday I may tell you about the two I've met who are not] and very hard workers. Many of the locally-owned businesses are run by people who either also farm or have another job - or both. The Owensville Roller Mill is one such place.
A line drawing from the perspective of the back parking lot, the entrance most used by locals.
Built by two brothers in 1897 and using a steam engine to power the milling process, the state-of-the-art German technology allowed the flour and grain mill to operate quite a distance from the usually requisite stream or river. The mill has stayed in the same family for years, even surviving the Great Depression. The owners patented their own brand of Good Goods Flour, and one of the surviving original flour sacks hangs on the wall inside. One of the old mills stands as permanent greeter at the front door.
The old roller mill, retired from active duty, but still front-and-center.
I'm not certain when the roller mill ceased regular activity, but the building is still owned by a direct descendant of the original founders who now operates it as a very popular family restaurant. The scale that used to weigh out grain and flour is still in the same spot in the main room, and nearly everybody raised around these parts has weighed themselves on that scale, whether as a kid to document their growth spurts or as an adult to see if they'd put on a few pounds.

Mike, the owner, has plenty of support and assistance running the restaurant from his entire family. The night we first ate there, the eldest of his six children, his daughter MissA, was our highly capable waitress. The place was busy - very busy - but little MissA wasn't the least bit rattled.
MissA standing on the original scale installed by her ancestors.
She showed us to our table and explained every menu item on the big chalkboard hanging on the wall with barely a glance at it. She also pointed out all the family members helping that night. Her grandmother was tending bar, greeting new arrivals and quietly at the ready to help her granddaughter if called upon. Her grandfather was helping to wash dishes just to keep up with the big crowd. Her dad was a little bit everywhere, helping where needed and keeping his watchful eye on the well-being of the four of his children who were there that night. MissA's two younger sisters were double-teaming the entertainment for one large table of regulars with plenty of raucous laughter coming from that direction, and their little brother was acting as self-appointed game director at the basketball hoop set up just for kids.

Big Daddy and I both had the NY strip steak special, and I gotta tell ya, that's the tastiest and most tender steak I've had this side of the Rocky Mountains. But even more special than the steak was the concept that, in 2012, a man and his parents and his young kids can have so much fun working side by side in a demanding service business, make it successful, and still go back to their day jobs or schools the next day, smiling all the while.

And, as we're finding is often the case in Smallville, there is a connection between the Owensville Roller Mill and Le Rustique. Mike's ancestors who established and operated the Roller Mill for all those generations were the same ancestors of the man who built our farm house and from whose children we bought Le Rustique. So Smallville means more than just our little piece of rural America, to me it proves it's a small world out there, too.

If you're ever on Highways 19, 28 or even this section of 50 on a Tuesday through Saturday, take a side trip to the Owensville Roller Mill. Tell them you want to weigh yourself - before you eat!

Linking up with Rural Thursday Blog Hop.
Be sure to check out some of the blogs posted there.
Rural Thursday Blog Hop

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Barn Charm: I'll Huff, And I'll Puff...

...And I'll blow your barn down.

Not long after we acquired Le Rustique two years ago, we discovered these standing ruins of an old homestead on the country road that runs south of our road. I took a bunch of pictures of the buildings, because I was sure they would topple over momentarily. [Side Note: Only about a mile away as the crow flies, this terrain is nothing like the terrain of our property. I guess that's the nature of the Ozark Plateau.]
An old homestead. The land is brushed and fenced, but there appears
to be no other activity anywhere near it.
I love the old barn, but it definitely looks precarious.
I think it's square on its rock foundation, but the main structure is a little askew.
Part of the old tin roof looks like it was hit by a meteorite, but I guess it just collapsed
as its underpinnings  lost the battle to neglect.
Last year we experienced some very windy days, a couple of tornado warnings and a night of straight-line winds in excess of 100 mph. In spite of all that huffing and puffing, though, the three structures continued to stand. All my photos following those storms look exactly like these.

Off and on this month the March winds have lived up to their bad-ass hype, though, and the inevitable finally happened.
The old barn stands no more.
It appears that someone has cleared away the tin siding and roof sections, leaving the stone piers and decaying wood to attest that a barn used to live there.
And Missouri loses another barn and a bit of its heritage.
We've been told that this old homestead belonged to the maternal ancestors of the family from whom we bought Le Rustique. That's probably true, because the old dirt road that passes by this land carries their name. I can only wonder how many wind storms it will take to demolish the old house, and eventually the shed.

Linking up with

Barn Charm ♥77♥ over at Bluff Area Daily

Be sure to check out some of the plethora of barns there, many of which are presented by "real" photographers, as opposed to my point-and-shoot method.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Fever Is Not Just For Humans...

We have a whole bunch of bricks left over from our city courtyard project, and whenever we have the time or space to transport some to Le Rustique, we haul them out. The idea is to eventually use them to build an outdoor fireplace/grill in the back yard.

Until then, they're just stacked up along the south side of the house collecting heat. Which is apparently just fine with that particular species that needs heat the most when spring fever arrives.
This little guy figured the stack of bricks was put there just for him. Can you believe he
waited for me to run back into the house for my camera?
He looks like a ribbon garter snake, except that his belly is cream-colored instead of green. I think his striping is just a little different than an eastern garter, too, but he's definitely some type of garter snake.
Remember when garden hoses were striped like this? I'm glad they're mostly bright green now.
Not the best picture, but you can see that he's much longer than I originally thought.
His tail drifts off  under the first course of bricks.
There has been a small hawk hanging around the back yard for the past couple days, so this little snake better watch out or he'll be a spring fever snack for a very fast bird. I'm also being cautious when I let out my pure white, three-pound Maltese for her potty breaks so she doesn't get mistaken for a rabbit.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Walk In The Woods: Pine Cones...

It's spring. Or at least the weather is acting like it's already spring. So no one should be excited about pine cones at this time of year, right? Except for me, of course.

When we bought Le Rustique nearly two years ago, the property had been unoccupied for over five years. The adult children of the original owners had moved away years before, scattering in different directions to earn their livings and establish their own families. Then after the passing of both parents, they hung on to the property they inherited, paying someone to maintain the house and it's surrounding yard, and visiting whenever they could. They walked the wooded acreage they all loved, but with so little time and so much distance, they eventually lost the battle in the forest to the local invaders: red cedar, honeysuckle and floribunda.

[Coming soon: a preview of our attempts to rid that forest of these invaders.]

But back to the pine cones.

There are supposedly around a hundred species of trees in our forest, and we've identified quite a few of them, but we've never found any pine trees. The children of the previous owners told us at closing that they had recently located two pine trees one of them had planted from seedlings as a Boy Scout project - and they are now about forty feet high.

Since I like to decorate with pine boughs and pine cone wreaths for the holidays, I've been on the lookout for those two trees, always wondering, "Is it possible the invasive cedars have already choked them out?" Well, luckily the answer is, "No!"

While Big Daddy and I were walking in the woods, we decided to follow our fence line as it bisects the creek in a thicket behind our pasture. There, on a little chunk of land that is kind of like an island of privacy, we found the two pine trees - still holding on to their pine cones this late in the season, as if waiting for me to get my act together. And since I didn't have my camera on that particular walk, you'll have to trust me that these came from those two trees.
Pine cones still clinging to their branches in spring.
And since it's too spring-like for hanging a pine cone wreath, this is what I decided to do with them. Pardon the photo quality - I've never figured out how to properly shoot glass, especially indoors.
The cowboy roper is an art piece made of horseshoe nails by the late John Kuchera of
 Sheridan, Wyoming. The three bird nests were all found abandoned and on the ground at
LeRustique - one had even been blown onto the doorstep during a terrific wind storm.
This project was inspired by Hope Studios as originally linked by Yvonne at Ink Spillers Attic. Isn't the blog-o-sphere just perfect?