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Haunting old houses and making a difference for kids

What an incredible Saturday -- it made up for all those cold, rainy days we endured in February!

The skies were Carolina blue, the sun was out, the humidity hasn't yet returned -- and there were enough events going on around Franklin County to keep almost everyone busy and happy.

Kudos to all those event planners who selected April 27 way in advance -- you couldn't have picked a better day.

We spent the better part of Saturday touring historic houses as part of the Person Place's biennial homes tour -- and even a teenage Nick agreed it was "kinda fun."

That in teen-speak is high praise, especially since he had to spend it with mom and dad but, although he would never admit it, he "kinda" enjoys getting inside some of these amazing homes and hearing the stories of their restorations.

Although we've never missed one of these historic homes tours in Franklin County, we're apparently not very good -- or, very fast -- at it.

We managed to get to only six of the 12 places on the tour, even though we were there for the "opening bell" and went hard until after 4 p.m. when we were worn slap out.

Our only stop was a quick one to grab some chicken and BBQ from the White Level firemen -- which made a great dinner with a minimum of effort!

I know it's tough on both organizers and homeowners, but I hope they'll consider going back to a two-day homes event. There is just too much to see and hear to pack it into one day, even when the weather is picture perfect.

But it was a great tour, again, and there also was the Bunn Fun Day and a farm tour if you're not into historic architecture and local history.

I hope we'll continue to increase efforts on historical and agriculture-related tourism. It brings a lot of people, and money, to Franklin County and doesn't require huge investments in infrastructure.

But these won't be the only enticing events in Franklin County this year. Keep your eyes on The Franklin Times and we'll do our best to keep you informed about all the ways to enjoy your free time right here at home.

Predictable reaction

I got a good chuckle out of recent efforts in Raleigh to keep North Carolina teachers from coming to the Capital City to protest the destruction of our public school system.

But you can't blame Senators and Representatives for wanting teachers to stay home and keep their mouths shut!

Seriously, if you had done what they have done to damage and under fund public schools -- and shortchange our children -- would you want thousands of people in the street calling attention to your regressive and short-sighted actions?

But to show just how far out of touch state legislators are, their reasoning for banning such teacher demonstrations was the supposedly negatibe effect that they might have on classroom time.

If legislators knew what was going on in our schools, they would realize that virtually all districts build in additional classroom time over the meager state minimums so the kids, even if their teachers use a personal day, get more than the minimum classroom time.

Now all this is not to say that such teacher demonstrations are good -- or effective.

Actually, if teachers are truly concerned about improving local education, they wouldn't be wasting so much time on state legislators.

Instead they would start attending county commission meetings and, possibly, even school board meetings.

If a third of the county's teachers would get off the couch and attend school board meetings they would have a much better understanding of the local budget.

And if that many started routinely attending county commission meetings -- where issues like teacher salary supplements, school construction, school maintenance and classroom supplies should be discussed -- they could have a huge, almost immediate impact.

If 300 or 400 teachers showed up at the four remaining county commission meetings this fiscal year -- two in May and two in June -- they would have a huge impact on the local school system.

By the way, county commissioners meet at 7 p.m. the first and third Mondays of each month in the county office building downtown. It goes without saying that those meetings are open to everyone!

Now, if teachers really want to affect public schools statewide, instead of parading around downtown Raleigh one day a year, they should get organized, find candidates who believe that educating our next generation is vitally important and help them get elected.

The point is that teachers are not going to change the minds of the dinosaurs in Raleigh -- so they must help them become electorally extinct and replace them with people who believe our kids and grandkids simply deserve better.

A crazy idea

Isn't it crazy how some of the most off-the-wall, half-baked ideas actually work?

Don't know about you, but I'm finally learning to "never say never" and sometimes even try the most off-beat solutions to a problem, even if the solution is potentially embarrassing.

One of those happened last week as I was attempting to recover from a bad bout of Tar River Typhoid that has kept me out of the garden for too long this spring.

But I was finally feeling like I could breathe and decided to attack the garden in an attempt to catch up to Mother Nature.

One of the problems of being an amateur gardener in a rural area with a lot of professional farmers around is that you probably give them a good laugh a few times a year with some of those half-baked ideas.

Such was the case last week.

In the winter, I decided to move part of the garden and got a neighbor with a plow to come in and turn over a good-sized section of a fescue-covered field with intentions to make it a garden.

And, 'cause I try to avoid chemicals whenever possible, I didn't kill the grass first and figured flipping it over with a plow would do the trick.

The next step, if you're a farmer, would have been to hit the area with a disk, chopping up the dirt and leveling it out.

But I didn't have a disk nor a tractor to pull it, nor can I justify such a large purchase for a mere garden.

I figured my trusty old tiller, a huge beast called a Horse model by its maker, Troy Bilt, would do the trick.

What I didn't count on was that the wheel base on the tiller was too narrow to span the large farrows left by the plow -- and I spent a good while wrestling with the Horse, trying to keep it from either turning over on the furrows or getting stuck because the dirt was too high in the center.

After wrestling with the tiller and mostly losing, I was about to yell "uncle" and try to get someone with a disk to come back and do the work properly.

About then, Donna -- a Tennessee girl who grew up in town, not on a farm -- made an outlandish solution.

She suggested I just take our pickup truck and run it back and forth a few times over the farrows, flattening them enough that the tiller could travel over the ground.

That's the craziest idea I ever heard, was my off-the-cuff response. You'd think I'd learn because my off-the-cuff responses usually turn out to be wrong and sometimes get me in trouble.

Although I may not be too bright, I am smart enough not to burn any bridges with the woman who was cooking supper, so I tried to make a joke of her idea.

I even recalled an old story about a "poor man's manure spreader" from my days hanging out with real small farmers.

One of 'em used to get old box springs off beds, you know the heavy old metal ones He'd hook one to his tractor with a chain and then tear around the cow pasture like a maniac.

Dragging the heavy set of bedsprings would break up the accumulated "cow pies" from over the winter and spread them out over the pasture so that they were useful instead of a problem.

It was unconventional -- but darned if it didn't work.

Hmmm, I began to wonder if driving the truck over those furrows would flatten them just enough -- and since the ground was pretty dry, it wouldn't pack it much, either.

Eventually, despite all those reservations, the potential benefits outweighed the pitfalls -- and a-driving I went!

Darned if it didn't flatten out those furrows pretty nicely -- and after a few passes, I switched back to the old motorized Horse and managed to till up the entire site rather nicely.

I'm just hoping that none of my real farmer neighbors saw those antics because if they did, I'm sure the tales around the country store meetings went something like this:

"My idiot neighbor had his garden nicely plowed up -- and then apparently lost his mind and drove his pickup back and forth over the ground. Have no idea what he was thinking -- or trying to accomplish."

Oh, well. Truth be told, I've probably done a lot of stranger things -- and most of those didn't work out as well.

But if you find yourself in a similar situation, feel free to take the advice of a Tennessee girl with more practical sense than farming experience -- and drive away. Aim the tires for the top of the furrows -- and hope it's not too wet or be prepared to switch to four-wheel-drive.

Your neighbors may think you strange -- at least until the squash, peppers and okra are coming in by the basket full! And by then, who cares what anyone thinks, you'll be too busy pickin' and eatin'.

Berry time!

Don't forget, the annual Franklin County Strawberry Festival is tomorrow, Friday, May 3, at the Shannon Village Shopping Center in Louisburg.

The event begins at 10:30 a.m. and usually lasts barely over an hour, just enough time to get you re-acquainted with one of Franklin County's tastiest crops.

There will be a recipe judging contest and free strawberry ice cream beginning about 11 a.m.

And, of course, there will be strawberries available to purchase -- so bring a few extra dollars and enjoy the unofficial beginning of the spring harvest.

Enjoy your weekend -- and grab local strawberries before they're gone!


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Members Opinions:
May 02, 2019 at 11:08am
SO! The teachers went to the state capital on a communist holiday, wearing Red, showing their butts, and you are their head cheerleader. Your column ought to read: They've already destroyed an entire generation of our young citizens and they should resign. Good show comrade.



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