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Burkhardt’s Bottom steeped with family history, heritage

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More local farming stories sought

By Phyllis McLaughlin

As editor of a weekly newspaper, I find it’s easy to get caught up in coverage of meetings and events that occur in the county in the days leading up to our Wednesday publication. Of course, these are a big part of what a newspaper is supposed to cover in a community. Meetings generate news for residents in terms of how government officials spend our hard-earned tax dollars to provide services we want and need.

Fires, accidents, burglaries and other

events also warrant thorough coverage to let readers know what’s happening in their own neighborhoods.

What gets lost, sometimes, is some of the “every day” stuff. Stories that paint a picture of what life is like in Trimble County. In the movie “Runaway Bride,” Richard Gere’s character, who is a columnist for a big city newspaper, sums up his job: “Journalism is literature in a hurry.” I like that quote, but I don’t believe it’s completely accurate. Literature, though it may be, more importantly: “Journalism is writing tomorrow’s history today.” Being an avid genealogist, I know the news we cover each week lives on for decades. In 2035, someone will be researching family members who lived here; they will scan the pages of the Trimble Banner for information about these ancestors. They will be excited to find an article written about the farm they owned, or the work they did for the community. Hands down, it beats finding their names listed in the court records.  So, one of my goals this year is to start a regular series of features focusing on Trimble County’s agricultural heritage. This week’s story on Page 1, “Breaking from the Herd,” is the first installment. This is a project I’ve toyed with since I moved over to this position from Carrollton. Finding the time to do it has been the challenge. A couple months ago, I ran across the J. Edwards Beef farm on Facebook, when someone suggested I become a “fan.” That led me to their Web site, and I thought that their operation would make a good story. I don’t know of many farms in the area that sell the meat they produce directly to their customers.  So, I got in touch with J.C. and told him my idea. He invited me to come to the farm this past Saturday. I got to observe – and help – as the family moved 50 head of cattle from one pasture to another, then got to the business of vaccinating the herd and separating the calves from the mamas for weaning. I learned a lot. I do enjoy new experiences, so the morning was a lot of fun. And now I can say I witnessed something I never thought I would – the process of turning a bull calf into a steer. I won’t go into the details, but I will say this: I’m glad it’s not part of my job description here at the Banner.  J.C. and Hannah are the quintessential farm couple. Their young children go with them out into the fields – Sawyer, who is just an infant, accompanied mom riding in a sling as she helped bring the cows to the summer pastures.  I was honored to be part of it, and at the same time a little jealous. J.C. and his sister, Tricia Hardin, pointed out the houses in the area where so many generations of their family has lived. That’s heritage. Their children, I calculated, are the seventh generation to live on or be closely connected with Burkhardt’s Bottom. They will always know who they are and where they came from. Conversely, it has taken me two decades of research to find out who my great-great-great-grandparents were, where they lived and what they did for a living. I would like for this to be a monthly feature, but I need your help, Dear Readers, in finding the stories. I’m looking for farmers who have turned away from traditional farming, like tobacco, to less-traditional crops. Or, perhaps you know of farmers who have a nontraditional approach to growing and marketing traditional farm products.  Please send your nominations to me at pcodling@mytrimblenews.com or give me a call at (502) 255-3205. I’m looking forward to “digging in” and telling more of the story of Trimble County.