**Last week, I promised that I would save the adventures of Tuesday, October 24 until another time for a more complete account. Here it is.
Also, the correct name of the SMHS play mentioned in last Wednesday’s edition is “These Shining Lives.”
I was not sure what 400 acres looked like until last Tuesday afternoon. Following our GPS, leaving Senoia, passing through Haralson, we finally turned right into the fenced property; after admiring pastures dotted with hardwoods and pines, and what seemed like miles of scenic beauty, we came upon a lovely Texas-style farmhouse perched atop a gentle rise. “Wow,” I whispered. “I think we may have arrived.”
Before we could get the car doors opened, a trio of dogs, three very different breeds moving at three very different speeds, greeted us. “Don’t touch them,” a commanding voice issued from our hostess. I admit that I was a bit put off. I had no intention of touching the dogs; well, maybe the little beagle, but I quickly put my hands in my pockets and smiled weakly at Rita Brown. “They will lick you to death if you touch them even once!” she laughed.
I was totally relieved. I thought that I had made an immediate faux pas, and that we would never be invited back to Longview Cattle Ranch, that our maiden visit was spoiled right off the bat. No Way. David Brown shook our hands and offered a big, ole farmer’s smile. We were Welcome. We could stay a while. See the museum, have some cheese and crackers, sip a favorite beverage, and watch the sun go down from the back porch of this congenial couple’s warm and inviting home place.
David Brown, a conservationist by trade, used his skills and gifts as a self-taught landscape architect to create an Eden for his family. He insisted, to our great delight, that we ride out and visit the herd. Black Angus, up close and personal, are truly huge beasts. 1200-1800 pounds! Rita, his lovely wife who alongside her husband of over 30 years, raised children as well as cattle, says David knows every one of the 120-odd cows, bulls, and heifers by their special number. And by the animal’s contribution to the ranch. One particularly maternal cow he pointed out has been with them for 18 years. We learned that though they are raising Beef for market, they are also very involved in improving their bulls and cows genetically. Bill and I got to see a fine example of a Red Angus also.
There was much to learn, and even though I had done a crash course on the Internet re: “Cattle” before our planned visit, I expect it may take me a few years to learn everything needed to know in order to run as fine an outfit as Longview Ranch.
David Brown is not just interested in improving the land and the animals, but it is the history of his property and the region that has caused him to create an amazing “Barn Museum” where, against a beautifully painted mural encompassing three walls, he displays hundreds of artifacts which tell the story of Coweta County since “time began.” Their talented daughters are the artists who painted the backdrop for a “cyclorama”; real trees and crops move out from the painted woods and fields on the barn walls. Animals who once roamed Georgia, wolves, bison, bobcats, wild turkey, and the majestic black bear are depicted on an artistic time-line along with Native Americans in front of the Wigwams which were their homes. These earliest settlers, mimicking the beaver, used the trick of Girdling cambium to kill trees, thus clearing land efficiently. Their planting techniques were also displayed. Great stuff!
Some of the many artifacts displayed were found in and around a rise where the Muskogee (now most often called the Creek) lived out of danger from the flood plain, the same low area where a local movie studio once ignored David’s warnings of bad weather and consequently “lost” hundreds of miles of cables in the mud and considerable time when the weather turned foul. Oops.
Some of his finds were unearthed in stream beds and probably hearken back to the prohibition era. A liquor still on the property may have been responsible for a recent prize find; a large signed and dated clay jug once held some fine moonshine. The artist of the large jug has similar pieces in the Smithsonian.
David demonstrated many of the smaller farm implements and tools like a broom-making stool. Did you know that Early Americans were the first to create tools where the worker could sit down at his task. Surprised?
Our visit wasn’t all educational. We, too, were invited to sit down for a long, wonderful chat while we munched on delicious cheeses, olives and homemade dips. I got a crick in my neck, turning this way and that, trying to see all the beautiful family heirlooms Rita has displayed in their cozy living and dining areas. I think I counted tables and chairs enough to comfortably seat their large extended family; probably twenty people could relax in the combined “open floor plan” the couple designed when they built the farmhouse. The interior of their home could well have been a Southern Living Design House. Quilts, spinning wheels, yarn winders, ancestral trunks, and handmade bricks formed the fireplace hearth.
Quite a feat to make Big and Cozy work. But it does, and Mother Nature was consulted, too, when the site was chosen. The views from the front porch, facing East, and the back porch whose panoramic view captured a stunning sunset, were both magnificent.
Bill and I were reluctant to leave. I don’t know when the hospitality has been as gracious, the smiles as warm, and the laughter as contagious as that among the fine folks of Longview Ranch. Thank you, kindly.