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There’s just too much for one trip

old barn at Smead AR

This old horse barn at Smead, Arkansas, was built in the early 1900s according to Bob Abbott, whose grandfather lived, worked, raised eight children and died on the home place where the barn sits. The shed overhang to the left was not part of the original structure.

This is the second week we’ve visited the old home place at Smead, Arkansas, a first in the Weekly Grist collection of epistles. So much to shoot and such short days. Last week we shot the house and some out buildings. The barn is typical of the era. Get a good description of the barn and see three more pictures where this story started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there, a cool thing to do. We’ll wait here while you look.

Small friendly, super cool dog

small dog

When you arrive at the old home place, you are immediately checked out and greeted by this small ambassador for the Dodson family. She appears to be mostly rat terrier.

In the south, no rural home is complete without at least one dog. Really enlightened residents have more than one dog. This place is one of those.

The dog in the picture is the smaller and friendlier of the two. She appears to believe that each different human being is a new two-legged toy. We have a Rottweiler with that mentality.

She appears to be mostly rat terrier with a few neighborhood friends and neighbors tossed in to keep the gene pool well diversified. Most of these smaller terrier dogs I’ve seen are frenetic barkers. Not this one. She followed me around and watched what I did. When I beckoned her, she came forth to lick me and be scratched and petted in return. We then went on our ways, me to shoot, and her to watch until the next affection session. What a concept!

Inside the barn, the patina of age

One can only admire the sturdy construction of this great barn. Now clocking along for 90-plus years, it is wearing well.

stall gate inside barn

Nothing fancy here, but strong and functional. The gate latch was supplemented, no doubt by a small chain. Look at the indentation in the second gate slat from the right and you will see a where the chain wore the wood. The small chain snap-link above the wooden latch competed the chain circuit. Since the wooden latch was reachable by a child, the chain provided the insurance to keep critters and kids in their proper and respective places.

Detailed look

Taking a closer look at the gate latch, you can see the tool marks where the craftsman made the latch by hand.

hand hewn latch

Look closely to see the hand-hewn tool marks on this 90-plus year old latch. DeWalt, Ryobi, and Black and Decker and the like were not even a figment of anyone's imagination when the craftsman carved away everything that was not a gate latch. It still works. End of story.

Never fixed and probably a good thing

ladder repair needed

We conjectured that a cantankerous mule or horse probably dispatched the lower rung and upright of the loft ladder in the barn. "It's been that way since I can remember," says Bob Abbott. His grandfather was the owner of the barn. That broken rung probably kept Bob and his siblings out of that loft while they were still at a tender age, but charged with curiosity which nearly always results in cuts, bruises and breaks. A wise and discerning Grandpa takes advantage of such a barrier.

Smead kids went to Holly Springs School

Holly Springs School

This was Holly Springs School where Smead kids got their first exposure to the three "R's."

A few miles east of Smead is another small community, Holly Springs. Unlike Smead, Holly Springs is alive and well with a church and a well-managed community store. It’s not big, but it is a good community. The old school building above, after a round of school consolidation and a stint as a community center, now belongs to a local church.

According to local sources the school was built in 1930 or 31. Prior to this building, grades one-twelve were taught in an older frame structure. Grades one through eight were taught in this school. Students in grades nine through twelve were bussed to Sparkman, Arkansas. The roads, then, not being what they are not, did not facilitate rapid movement of the buses. Long waits for short rides were de rigueur for the times.

Amazingly, the aggregation of unsupervised young Arkansans charged with pre-pubescent energy, with too much time on their hands (the older ones were just beginning to feel hormonal stirrings), did not perpetrate a wave of juvenile misbehavior. A normal set of circumstances 60 years ago. A bizarre miracle now.

More pictures

Sixteen pictures from eight gigs of shots made the short list for this story. Not all of them made the cut. Click here to see a high-resolution gallery of all 16 shots including the smoke house with moss on the roof, a second shot of the old smoke house, and old broken brick and the old home.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Yes it made a sound.


“When a tree falls in the woods and nobody is … ?”  We’ve all heard the question and probably joined in heated conversations. To see my debunking of this eternal question and to get a closer wilderness scene above, visit the photo of the week page on Corndancer dot com where this story started, a very cool (and safe) thing to do. Click here.

There's more to see here during winter months. During the winter landscape colors are not as intense, but the shapes and intracies of nature are much easier to see.

There's more to see here during winter months. During the winter landscape colors are not as intense, but the shapes and intricacies of nature are much easier to observe. This creek is near the bridge over the Ouachita River in central Arkansas, east of Gurdon and west of Sparkman.

It has always been my belief that there is more to see in the great outdoors in winter than in summer, at least in these environs, where we are not up to our keisters in snow for the biggest part of the winter. The scene above illustrates the point. A lot of what you see there would not be visible in the summer.

Many who enjoy the outdoors confine their forays into the depths of nature to more temperate seasons. There is a lot to be missed. The light is different because the sun is lower in the sky and where deciduous trees cover most of the landscape, there is simply more to see when the leaves drop.

The colors are different. The image above  would not look the same in warmer months. This was shot just north of Holly Springs AR on a county road. A creek crossing the road is routed through a large culvert, leaving a nice sized pond up stream. In the pond, the two old dead trees and sky made an interesting reflection, particularly when crowned with the winter version, golden yellow grass. This is not available during the warmer months.

Winter colors are different. The image above would not look the same in warmer months. This was shot just north of Holly Springs AR on a county road. A creek crossing the road is routed through a large culvert, leaving a nice sized pond up stream. In the pond, the two old dead trees and sky made an interesting reflection, particularly when crowned with the winter version, golden yellow grass. This is not available during the warmer months.

While I was shooting the scene above, what I was doing did not escape the eye of an area resident. Neither did the scene. He stopped his car, and with a big smile on a toothless mouth, asked what I was shooting – well actually, ” whut I was takin’ a picture of.” I explained what I saw. To my surprise, he said he had noticed the same thing and agreed that it should be recorded. He departed, but before I finished shooting the scene, he returned with a friend in the passenger seat of his car. He did not want his friend to miss seeing the action. His buddy had teeth, but far short of a full set. They were not youngsters by any stretch of the imagination. We all conversed a bit and they went on their ways. Then I swung the lens a 180.

Evidence of a cast gone bad, the ubiquitous icon of southern bank fishing.

Evidence of a cast gone bad, the ubiquitous icon of southern bank fishing.

Where the creek exited the culvert on the south side of the road, sure enough, there was the ubiquitous icon of southern bank fishing, a hook, line, sinker and bobber on a twig. This is not the first time we’ve explored this phenomenon. Click here for that adventure, you’ll snicker — and a practical joke I played on a good-natured neighbor.

This interstate highway right-of-way marker has not a thing to do with the subject at hand. However, I suspect that not many people have ever laid eyes on one. Now, more people have.

This interstate highway right-of-way marker has not a thing to do with the subject at hand. However, I suspect that not many people have ever laid eyes on one. Now, more people have.

Later in the day I encountered something seldom seen even by outdoor explorers such as myself and probably never for those not so inclined. It is a right of way marker for Interstate 30 near Prescott AR.

Thanks for dropping by, feel free to comment or drop me an email at jdempsey@cablelynx.com.

Joe

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