Thankful November

Thankful November – Building Fires and Driving Cars

collage of photos thankful

“Now when I first come to this creek, we broke up our land with a mule and a single-footed plow. We made plenty of corn t’do us all year long—never bought no corn when I first come t’this creek. Take what we called a single-footed plow, break up th’ground and then go and lay it off, cover it with a single-foot plow, drop it by hand. Now it’s changed so that my grandchildren couldn’t build a fire in that wood stove ’cause they don’t know how. Well, I don’t know how t’drive a car, so I guess their way of doin’ is just as good as mine. But I like my way of doin’ the’best.”

—Foxfire 2

Today’s Thankful November giveaway is a used copy of a Foxfire 2 book. Leave a comment on this post to be entered in the giveaway. *Giveaway ends November 7, 2020.


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    November 6, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Tipper I love your blog. I didn’t get to follow for a few years and have enjoyed getting caught up.

  • Reply
    Mary Anne Johnson
    November 6, 2020 at 10:43 am

    My little great granddaughters, Lily and Ivy, could surely use these hats to keep their little heads warm. They live in rural Georgia and it gets mighty cold where they are.

  • Reply
    Jane Ramsey
    November 6, 2020 at 8:02 am

    I myself crochet. It really clears the mind. Glad your children have learned to crochet.

  • Reply
    Barbara Parker
    November 5, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    I value my Appalachian Heritage. I not only miss the good ole days, but most of all I miss the precious kin folks that taught me about the ways of the land. My grandparents are gone now but their memories that they left behind still live within my heart. Even though times were hard in the 1940’s I would not trade one moment for the way times are now. God knew what He was doing when he let me have such a plain, and simple, and wonderful family and friends.

  • Reply
    Lisa I
    November 5, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    Thanksgiving is full of memories. I am so glad to have grown up with a garden and having so many relatives. This year will be different but we have so much to be grateful for. And God will carry us .

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    November 5, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Neither of my grandmothers ever learned to drive a car, but the immense amount of practical knowledge they had was wonderful. I can’t help but think we’ve lost so much in our culture, way more than what we’ve gained. I appreciate all the medical advances, but it seems like so many families have come apart and few people farm or garden anymore. Housing developments and other buildings have taken over our mountains and pastures. I get sad if I think too much about it.

  • Reply
    Nate Beck
    November 5, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    I recall the story of someone letting the horses out of the pen at night. The next night it happened again. Dad complained of course and said he was going to stay up the next night ad catch the one doing it. No one showed so he went to bed the next night. The following morning the lot was empty. He was mad enough he went to load his shotgun. Mom said no use. She knew who did it. YOU GUESSED IT1!! Dad was sleep walking and Mom had watched Him do it. He never sleep walked again!!! Did I mention. At the time he worked as a share cropper before becoming one of the best trim carpenters around.

    • Reply
      November 5, 2020 at 7:17 pm

      Nate-what a story! I’ve never been a sleep walker 🙂

  • Reply
    Bobby Garrett
    November 5, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    Fall is the best of the 4 seasons.Harvest of the crops,Harvest of wild Game ( yes I hunt to put food on the table) also am getting my steel traps ready for trapping season by boiling them in walnut hulls in Wash Pot to color and dye( just as did the the old mountain trappers).Foxfire reveals much of the old ways and methods that I like to practice.So few of my generation and younger would be able to survive over night in the woods on a cold December frosty night.I like some of the New, but the old ways were proven and worth learning and preserving

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 5, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    I used to plow with a “hillside turner”. In the steep terrain where we lived a plow like the one described in the book wouldn’t work. You couldn’t plow in circles like most people. On a mountainside it just don’t work. Half the circle would force you to plow up the mountain and the other side down. Your furrows would tend to direct the runoff from rainfall down the mountain instead of allowing it soak in. Plus plowing uphill is hard on an animal. Downhill is almost as hard. A tractor fares even worse.

    Eventually somebody invented the hillside turner. The moldboard and point were attached to the beam of the plow on a hinge. You could plow in one direction, turning the soil over in a downhill direction and when you reached the end of the field you turn the animal around, release a catch on the moldboard, raise the handles and flip the moldboard over and engage the catch again. The plow was then ready to go the other direction still turning the soil downhill.

    The hillside turner works but the whole process is flawed. Every time you turned the soil the whole field moved downhill. So all your topsoil eventually ended up at the bottom of the hill while the upper side of the field became less and less fertile ending up only capable growing broomsage if anything at all. Many times those mountainside fields stopped on the banks of a branch or creek at the lower side where flooding rains would wash all that fertile soil downstream to eventually settle and create bottomland for flatland farmers or maybe a delta in Louisiana.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Everyday older I get the fonder the memories of my youth become. I often wish I had a chance to follow a horse plowing thur the tobacco patch rows, or hunting over a pack of beagles after Thanksgiving dinner with neighbors. I notice in the present day driving a car isn’t as important to the youth of today as past generations, alas the “Uber / IPhone” generation march to a different drummer.

  • Reply
    Sandra McDonald
    November 5, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    Yes, we are very thankful in November for a bountiful garden and the strength to tend it.
    God provides food for every bird, but he does not place it in it’s nest.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    I guess I’m part of both those worlds. I’ve plowed with horses, mules and even a team of oxen as well as tractors. I’ve also driven cars and trucks coast to coast many times. Walking behind a team of oxen or a slow team of horses was by far more peaceful than the fast pace of the highways. Just yesterday after observing several crazy reckless drivers I made this comment to my wife, “Common sense is really an oxymoron. If sense were really COMMON more people would have some of it.”

  • Reply
    Sherry Thacker
    November 5, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    If the young people had to live like our grandparents they would never survive

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    November 5, 2020 at 11:35 am

    My husband & I were just talking about plowing with mules a few days ago. I do remember a single pointed blade that went pretty deep and threw up a roll of dirt. I remember Daddy plowing all day with mules in a bottom so long one turn took a day. And plowing our garden where the mule’s foot & leg went down into an old welll no one knew was there. They put old railroad crossties and dirt it it but there was a sunken place there that’s probably still there. The stuff of nightmares especially since Mama would sing a song about a little girl falling in an old well and getting killed.

    We have just bought one of the small to medium sized tractors! My husband is in absolute heaven!! It was delivered yesterday and he’s already carried an old mower in the bucket back to his recycling area for metal. I cost a fortune but it should last a lifetime.

    I have some of the Foxfire books and I love them. Should I win this one, I think I will give it to my best friend who has been gardening & canning like mad after the shortages we’ve had.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 5, 2020 at 9:36 am

    I just think we humans know deep down that change does not come without loss. We wish it were obly ever the loss of the undesirable things. But the good and the bad are so intertwined it seems it can never be just one way. One casualty of economic change is often a straining and weakening of family ties. And we can feel it as a great loss but cannot say how great.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    November 5, 2020 at 9:21 am

    I think his way of doing things was the best. I would like to have his knowledge Both of my Papaws were blacksmiths and one never owned or drove a car. Of the combined children 19 aunts and uncles, most deceased, and many grandchildren, not one knows blacksmithing. That is another skill I wish I had learned.

  • Reply
    carol harrison
    November 5, 2020 at 9:07 am

    I want to mention a book written by my memoir writing class teacher. “Daughter of Appalachia” written by Betsy Evelyn Slone Summers. She grew up a coal miner’s daughter in the mountains of rural West Virginia. It takes you from her early memories to her BA in education and MA in mental health counseling. It is a delightful insight into her life and times in this country. I believe it is still available on Amazon.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2020 at 9:06 am

    Knowing how to build a fire and drive a car are both important to me. I’m thankful that using a mule to plow is no longer necessary.

  • Reply
    Gaye Blaine
    November 5, 2020 at 8:46 am

    “ Foxfar” as I pronounce it, captured some beautiful ( although they did not label themselves as such) mountain people capable of surviving harsh conditions with a lot of grit and back- breaking work. Wild berries and fruits were once plentiful; my grandmother Downs dried strawberries into leather for my dad to eat through the winter. She used a clean rag laid on a piece of old tin to dry the mashed up berries. This was stirred in her pie safe and peeled off as needed. She cooked on cast iron spiders in the “far” place. She wore long dresses always covered in an apron with a bib which she pinned across her chest with safety pins. Why she never had a neck strap was her choice.

  • Reply
    carol harrison
    November 5, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Thankful for my family and thanking God that they are safe and healthy in these trying times. Praying that we all survive the strife in this country. Giving it to God to sort it all out by his will.

  • Reply
    Mary Anne Johnson
    November 5, 2020 at 8:32 am

    I dearly love the Foxfire book that I got last year. It brought back so many memories that had been stuck in my heart.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2020 at 8:31 am

    I also love this time of the year, Oct. and Nov. being my favorites months. Back years ago when I still hunting by this time of year I would be more anxious for Thanksgiving than I was as a child for Christmas. The reason was because rabbit and bird (quail) seasons opened on Thanksgiving. By now rabbits and wild quail are nearly extinct around my part of the state, but Lord helps us with the deer. Never had a desire to deer hunt. Part of the joy for me was my dogs. I don’t know what this says about me but I think I have a real good idea about the plow hat was used for breaking up and planting the ground in the story above. I have the plows and the mule drawn cole planter (still use to plant my corn) that my grandfather used when he farmed with a mule. I know very little about computers and the new ways of communicating such as Facebook and Twitter. It has been years since I heard running beagles or someone shooting on a covey rise on Thanksgiving morning or any other time of the hunting season.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2020 at 8:30 am

    I agree with that post. I love the old ways, but I sure do like and need the new technology. I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how proud you should be of your children. They excel in so many of the pastimes of times past, but they embrace the new world of technology. Examples are Chitter’s chicken raising and their musical talents. Jewelry from polished rocks, homemade soaps, herb gardens are all making use of talent instead of settling by sitting in a boring cubicle in a stuffy office. They obviously also have deep family values. Now there, that needed to be said!

    I love the four seasons, even though in youth I hate Winter. Each month has its place, and February is a great house cleaning, garden planning time. Now we will be able to watch Tipper’s helpful and informative videos this Winter.

    • Reply
      November 5, 2020 at 8:32 am

      Bet your children can build a fire.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2020 at 8:27 am

    Tipper, I am so thankful to be alive. Myself, my husband, my daughter and her boyfriend had Covid. It has been a ruff 2 months. I had to be put in a room at the ER and be given IV. Temperature was high. I really just wanted to die. My daughter’s boyfriend didn’t have it to bad. It is so wonderful that none of of died from it.I thank the Good Lord we made it threw. Alot of people didn’t. The ones that are in the hospital, I pray for them. This virus is a monster.

    • Reply
      November 5, 2020 at 4:59 pm

      I love The Blind Pig. I never really farmed. We had gardens as a kid in Kingston, Tn. I loved seeing the beautiful c ountryside. My Daddy loved the Foxfire books & so do I. I am collecting them little by litt le. So put my name in the basket please.

  • Reply
    William Dotson
    November 5, 2020 at 7:31 am

    Thankful for all you do all year.

  • Reply
    Leon Pantenburg
    November 5, 2020 at 7:14 am

    Love November – I go hunting, walking through the woods, and enjoy the leaves turning.

  • Reply
    John Hart
    November 5, 2020 at 6:59 am

    We have had a fire in the fireplace for the last two days. WONDERFUL!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2020 at 6:56 am

    i love november too though thanksgiving will be very different this year.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 5, 2020 at 6:15 am

    So much to be thsnkful for this year. Our health and happiness the first

  • Leave a Reply