Pigeon Roost

February in Pigeon Roost 2



The 1974 Winter Edition of the Foxfire Magazine contains a compilation of newspaper articles written by Harvey Miller. At the time of the magazine’s publication Miller’s weekly column had been around for sixty years and was till being published in the Tri-County News located in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

Here are a few of the February excerpts from the magazine.


Uncle John Miller was the writer’s uncle and he was a farmer all his life, but in spare time, he worked the timber business and always kept a team and snaked logs with his horses a lot out of the mountains to the site of the sawmills where the logs was sawed into lumber. I recall that my uncle had a work mare named Daisy and she was what is called a “wind sucker” as she would take a bite of corn and then she would grab her feed trough and take deep breaths and she would by doing this, soon eat up her feed box. One day after my uncle had fed his horse, me and his two sons, Lee Roy and Vester, poured snuff along the top of her feed trough; she sniffed the snuff down her throat and talk about an animal running around in her stall kicking and snorting! She certainly did until she go the snuff blowed out of mouth. Us boys thought that would cause her to stop her “windsucking” but we learned that it didn’t do nary bit of good.



On Thursday night, January 26, a resident reported of seeing a large circle around the moon and there was one star in the circle. They reported one more day of pretty weather and sure enough on Saturday, it was a cold day. Since then up to now, as I write, we are still having some real cold weather.

The last work steer on Pigeon Roost was sold again recently and was three years old and weighed about 1500 pounds. The last steer before this one that can be remembered of being sold here was about twenty years ago and it too weighed about 1500 pounds and it sold for $200.



Ed Bennett, Sr. reported that he observed three foxes fighting Sunday in the deep snow far up a mountainside. He said one was a grey fox and the other two was red foxes. He said there was the most signs of foxes in the mountains during this snowy weather than he had seen in many years. It is thought that the foxes kill a lot of cotton tail rabbits. But despite this report, there is getting to be a lot of rabbits everywhere in this hilly country. One outdoor sportsman said you never know what kind of wild animals inhabit the mountain country until there comes a tracking snow and you can discover all kinds of the wild animals in the snow.



I hope you enjoyed this peek into Pigeon Roost from days gone by. I surely wish we’d get a least one good tracking snow before spring of the year arrives.

Be sure to jump over to the Foxfire website and poke around. They are still publishing the magazine and those wonderful Foxfire Books too.


canning jars full of food

Come cook with me!

Location: John C. Campbell Folk School – Brasstown, NC
Date: Sunday, August 23 – Saturday, August 29, 2020
Instructors: Carolyn Anderson, Tipper Pressley

Experience the traditional Appalachian method of cooking, putting up, and preserving the bounty from nature’s garden. Receive hands-on training to make and process a variety of jellies, jams, and pickles for winter eating. You’ll also learn the importance of dessert in Appalachian culture and discover how to easily make the fanciest of traditional cakes. Completing this week of cultural foods, a day of bread making will produce biscuits and cornbread. All levels welcome.

Along with all that goodness Carolyn and I have planned a couple of field trips to allow students to see how local folks produce food for their families. The Folk School offers scholarships you can go here to find out more about them. For the rest of the class details go here.

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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 25, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    A circle around the Moon or the Sun is a predictor of bad weather. There is a lot of truth to it. The circles are caused by thin high cirrus clouds that often precede a storm. We used to count the stars inside the circle around the moon each star meant one day longer before the wet weather. The long range forecast didn’t usually work out exactly but the circle with one star inside often did.
    Back when I was a brat the Almanac was your only weather forecaster so we paid attention to nature’s predictors. Then came the Weather Channel which ain’t no better than the Almanac.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    February 25, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    I graduated in ’67, so I know a thing or two, like I like the stories you tell of Harvy Miller’s experiences.

    When I was about 5, Daddy took me loggin with him and Alice, a mare. After we got to the woods, Daddy told me not to get in the trails, that he’d be coming back this way with some logs. But you know young boys, tell them what not to do and they do it anyway. Daddy got the logs trimmedand here him and ole Alice come. She was stronger than Dirt and I shimmyed out of the Trail and saw them go by. Daddy was running to keep up and just a giffy , they were gone. I gathered my Carnation Cream cans I was using for cars and left too. Daddy had tied the logs, 3 or 4 big, long logs together and ole Alice didn’t have any trouble pulling them. …Ken

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    February 25, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Beautiful horse in the photo. All decked out in dressage bridle. That’s the kind of bridle we use on my big guy. The horse in the next stall over at the barn is a “wind-sucker.” In horsey circles (racing and showing) they call that “cribbing.” It’s really hard to keep weight on cribbers. Depending on how bad they crib and on what they hook their teeth, horses can wear their teeth down so badly they have to have different feed or wet feed because their bites are gone.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2020 at 11:09 am

    When I read of a tracking snow, it makes me realize how scarce wildlife had become in my area during the 60s. Later they started introducing deer and other wildlife back into the mountains. Fox and squirrels were common, but I think they may have hunted most of the rabbit and deer out during hard times. I wish I could have caught yesterday’s post about fat back. My sis cooks occasionally for her “Appalachian to the bone” husband. When I mentioned Mom used to roll it in flor and fry she was amused. I am older, and Mom had many “make do” tricks with what we grew and raised. Some would have described her as a “go getter.”

  • Reply
    February 25, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Sure did enjoy that reading…. we haven’t gotten any tracking snow ,..or as I say , not enough to lick off a tree branch.. I love a good snow, missed frolicking in a good-un this season.but am also feeling a bit of Spring fever … that itchiness you get when see that the easter flowers are springing up already, you’ve even seen a dandelion or two. you hear the frogs, those few 60 + days we’ve already had were a tantalizing taste of what I will be glad to see come again

  • Reply
    harry adams
    February 25, 2020 at 10:32 am

    The last comment of wanting a tracking snow has been a wish I have had this winter. We have only had about 3 inches on the ground and I enjoyed looking at the tracks on my morning walks. One night it was the deer herd that went on the driveway and the next night coyote tracks on the drive and in the yard. I saw mouse tracks around my truck which says I need to put the traps back in the vehicles. Squirrel, bird and rabbit tracks around where I have been trying to feed a flock of wild turkeys. If it continues to stay warm I’ll have to break down and put out trail cameras.

    The other thought is that going way back to 1967 may be ancient history to some, but I think that was just yesterday and then realize how long ago it was. Time goes by so fast.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2020 at 8:53 am

    The Weather Channel said NC was getting snow a few days ago. I didn’t hear which part of the state it was but sure hoped it was in your neck of the woods. There is a system headed our way that promises some snow, probably just enough to make for dangerous driving. I hope the same system intensifies as it heads your way. I love looking for wild animal tracks in the snow.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 25, 2020 at 8:14 am

    It is interesting to me that Mr. Miller’s columns capture a time of transition between agricultural and industrial ages and that the last vestiges of old time farming ways and folkways were going away. I never saw a work steer nor heard of one being used. The last time I recall seeing a man plowing with a mule was in 1976. It is a vibid memory still.

  • Reply
    Donald R. Byers
    February 25, 2020 at 6:14 am

    I enjoyed this!

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