Appalachia Pigeon Roost

October in Pigeon Roost 2

fiddle laying on floor

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 October excerpts from the magazine.


When have you smelt any cabbage cooking in an iron pot on the fire in the fireplace and with it a hunk of side hog meat? No better eating I wouldn’t think when cooked tender and have a big old cup of sour buttermilk to drink to help choke them cabbage down. That fiddle tune of “Boil Them Cabbage Down” still sounds good to us, just heard it played the other day by old time fiddlers. I like the old time classical mountain music so much better but don’t get to hear much of it anymore. Music, like everything else, is getting more and more in modern style and the old time tunes is fastly fading into oblivion and may not be long until no one around that can play them. Also clog dancing now may not be nothing compared to the toe dance of yesteryear either.

Mrs. Edith Miller growed a crop this year of Indian beads or some calls them Job’s tears. She is being made busy these days stringing them into long strings. If anyone is interested in buying a string of the Indian beads, contact Mrs. Miller. Her address is the same as mine.




The first frost of this season occurred at scattered places on the night of Monday, Sept. 28, in the lower end of the Mitchell County section. It was a light, dry frost and did not nip any vegetation. The katydids lived up to their prediction this fall.




Park Hughes, a farmer who lives on Byrd Creek at Pigeon Roost, reported to the writer that he is seeing something going on with one kind of bird that he had never seen before in his life, that is the blue jay carrying corn out of his cornfield and storing it away.

Hughes has got a corn patch not too far away from a wooded area and the other day while he was setting on his front porch, he noticed the blue jays (six or seven of them) busy flying coming and going from his corn patch into the dark woods. He said that he just wanted to see what the jay birds was doing as he knowed they they wouldn’t be be raising young birds at that time of the year. So he decided to go over to the cornfield and see why the birds was getting the corn so fastly. Well, he went into the woods and he found out that the birds was placing the corn in behind some bark that was pulled out on a white dead oak tree. The blue jays was putting it there to stay for awhile as they crammed the corn behind the bark as far as the could.



I hope you enjoyed the peek into Pigeon Roost via Mr. Miller. I wish I could tell him not to worry the fiddle tunes are still being played. I also wonder if the blue jays thought bad weather was coming.

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


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  • Reply
    October 16, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Enjoy reading these too, and I do love cabbage cooked down ,so good 🙂 think I want to hear that fiddle tune, ”Boil Them Cabbage Down” ..:)

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    October 15, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    I do enjoy these reports.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Great and informative post today. So much to cover, and my busy brain is trying to focus on the parts that stand out to me. Miss Cindy’s post certainly made me think! I just cannot imagine children looking back on a life filled with mostly cell phones, and schools so much stricter than they were when I was young. By strict I mean guards and locked doors to let you out with parents or authorized personnel only. In my school we were left to roam about on our lunch breaks–so free. Then I recalled how we could not wear pants to school, and feet and legs stayed cold all Winter. Maybe all was not “the good ole days.” I wondered why our young ones do not always care for school, and when I went to get my grandson out early I found out. Sadly, I guess it is just the times, and everything must change
    But then again, some of my friends even today look back on their youth of gardening and canning as just plain drudgery. More than once I have heard, “I got enough of that growing up.” I do miss the times where nature was such an important part of life. I like the kind of people who study a blue jay’s habits, and no complaint from me about the smell of cooked cabbage. Yesterday while cleaning the front of the house I noticed a lifeless bumblebee clinging to a flower. Such a thought provoking sight, I had to stop and snap a picture with my phone. Then I thought of who I might share this touching picture with, and could think of nobody. Maybe that is why I love The Blind Pig and all its readers, because Tipper could have spun a whole magic story around that bumblebee.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 15, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Years ago, when we use to get a lot of Snow at Topton, before one came, my uncle Tommy Higdon, brought me a bird feeder he had made. It was large enough to hold almost a sack full of those colorful seeds from Ingles. I added some Sunflower Seeds to the mix, and the birds just loved it. Before long, birds were covering the Feeder, they were watching from the woods nearby. I had 15 Blue Jays sitting in that thing at the same time, and they would scratch out seeds that fell to the ground for the smaller birds, who they had run out. The Blue Jays wanted the Sunflower Seeds, with the Jacket still on. They would get a mouthful and peel the shucks right out and eat the goodie inside, without any hands or fingers. It was amazing to watch my Favorite Bird. …Ken

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 15, 2019 at 9:36 am

    I can’t remember ever seeing blue jays carrying corn but often see them this time of year carrying acurns (acorns). They bury all kinds of seeds and nuts in the ground. Just like squirrels, blue jays don’t find everything they bury. I suppose some of my volunteer shingle oaks could have been planted by blue jays.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      October 15, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      You pronounce “acorn” just like I do, /akern/ not /ei·korn/. Only one syllable!

      • Reply
        aw griff
        October 15, 2019 at 11:28 pm

        Yep Ed that’s the way I pronounce it. You know I’m not good at spelling words the way I say them.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    October 15, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Love my Foxfire books. They seem to be written with love of the past. They explain everything so clearly anyone can understand.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2019 at 9:14 am

    The blue jays are like so many other birds when it comes to predicting weather. I think it is so fascinating how the hummingbirds know when to start their trip south and allow enough time to arrive before cold weather. Based on weather folklore, we are in for a doozie this winter. The animals have eaten nearly every piece of fruit and vegetable around here this year. A lady sent pictures of her open persimmon seeds to the news station’s weather department. They showed big spoons in every one, just like mine did.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 15, 2019 at 8:20 am

    Seems us Appalachian folks tend to be sort of stubborn about hanging on to our heritage. At the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway the museum tour ends with a video if Appalachian kids playing the old tunes. I know you and yours can relate to that.

    Frost at the end of September huh. I would have to do a lot of adjusting to my planting schedule if I moved up there. Spruce Pine is about 1200 feet higher than I am.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 15, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Certainly a reflection of a simpler time. Do you think our present times will ever be looked back at with fondness?

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    October 15, 2019 at 7:18 am

    I love foxfire . Wish I had some of that cabbage with some cornbread.

    Speaking of cabbage: here’s one of my adventures which are usually really funny later. I was at Kroger & the cabbages looked good. We hadn’t had one in a while so I picked one & put it in my cart. One moment later another cabbage rolled out of the bin, took a bounce & landed right on the top of my foot! Even though I had on flip flops, it didn’t really hurt but it sure was a surprise. I looked around and if anyone besides me saw it, they didn’t react.

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