Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crab Orchard

From left to right, bushels of Golden Delicious, Arkansas Black, Rome Beauty, and Winesap Apples at Brummett's Orchard in Crab Orchard, Kentucky.

Kentucky place names continue to fascinate me. In Pulaski County, the county where we live, we have Bee Lick, Acorn, Blue John, Elrod, Piney Grove and Sinking Valley. Adjacent Casey County (where we spend a lot of time) has Beech Bottom, Butchertown, Honey Acre, Pumpkin Chapel, Phil and Teddy. There is also Flippin and Bugtussle down in Monroe County [for more on unusual Kentucky place names, check out my "Flippin Towards Bugtussle" blog entry from April 2008.] But how about Blue Lick, Chicken Bristle, Dog Walk, Jumbo, Miracle or Turkey Town up in Lincoln County? Among those Lincoln County places there is also the town of Crab Orchard at the intersection of historic Highway 150 and 39.

I love crab apples and have wondered about the name of this town since I first saw it in The Kentucky Atlas & Gazetteer [also published by DeLorme]. Did it once have acres of crab apple trees? We know from looking at the historic images on the wall in the local café that it used to be a spa town in the nineteenth century and billed as "the coolest place in Kentucky" because of its knobby hills and 1,000 foot altitude. [No, they weren't talking hip or funky, folks.]

We went to Crab Orchard today, about an hour's drive from our home, because we had 23 Cornish X chickens, nine weeks old, more than ready to be butchered. We didn't want to do the deed ourselves, after all, for many reasons but mostly because of time (and "time is money") and not having enough of it this week. We brought our other batch up there in July [see "Chicken Houses I Have Known" blog entry from July 2009] when we were delighted to discover Amishman Joe Yoder at J&V's Slaughterhouse on Hwy 39 north of Crab Orchard.

Before we left–and after we heard about a benefit auction on Friday and also picked out our Thanksgiving turkey from the coop (and a few more for our freezer)–we mentioned that Crab Orchard seemed to need a restaurant. Joe told us about the Past Time Café [306 Stanford Street, Crab Orchard, 606-355-0046]. So we stopped there for a late lunch and were not disappointed. Temple had the double-cheeseburger "box" (which included fab coleslaw and fries, but oddly enough didn't come in a box) and I had the chili and grilled cheese sandwich special...with sides of cole slaw and corn nuggets (fried balls of sweet corn and just a bit of batter–much different than hush puppies).

Temple despaired that they were out of the meat loaf special but I reminded him that "meatloaf and mashed potatoes" was what we were having for supper, at home (besides, he would have just said, no matter who's meatloaf he was eating, "yours is better"). We tried the pies and should have known better (not homemade and not like even the worst pie I could conjure up). OK, I know, all this talk of food and you're saying, but she just posted on her ongoing weight loss–clearly we do not lose weight when we eat like this! But I do still need to talk about the food we love and love to eat once in a while, too...and it is once-in-a-while...well, maybe not so much recently but like I said, smaller portions, and we don't beat ourselves up when we do indulge.

Probably the people to answer my "crab apple" question would have been Francis and Rowena Brummett who have operated Brummett's Orchard and Apple House since the 1960s when they planted their trees [5060 Hwy 39 South, Crab Orchard, 606-355-7526]. We've driven by their sign along Route 39 many times but didn't realize they were still in business. Today we happened to see an "Apples for Sale" sign and as I needed some more for applesauce and apple butter, we stopped on the way home. We were delighted by the warm welcome of this couple and enjoyed talking with them. Francis was just bringing in some cord wood to stoke their wood stove in the cold apple "house."

The Brummetts have been married 64 years and are still going strong. Rowena told me about her apple butter recipe that she'd printed up (but in our haste to get back to pick up our boys by 3:30, I forgot to ask for it). She also said at the holidays that she takes an apple, like a Rome Beauty, and cores it out, puts a tablespoon or so of red hot cinnamon candies in it and then presses some around the cored-out hole ("so they dribble over when baking") and bakes them in a pan of water. [They also have several varieties of peaches in July and various kinds of pears available in September.]

Temple asked his usual apple question at an orchard: "Do you have Wolf Rivers?" They did, but not for sale that day [the Wolf River is a very old and hearty heirloom apple and often a pound or more in size].

On Friday we will return to get our 23 chickens and the four turkeys from Joe Yoder because we discovered that there will be a benefit turkey dinner and auction at 5pm in Crab Orchard for an Amishman who has contracted leukemia. So we're bringing along some of our Mennonite friends, picking our boys up early from school, stopping at the orchard and some of the Amish-run shops, and then getting our meat. It will be a fun outing for all and a good cause...and a chance to get another turkey dinner in the month of November. And I'll be certain to ask about that Crab Orchard question (and hopefully I can get some crab apples or Lady apples from the Brummetts, too–for jelly, jams and decorations).

Charlie (right) and Hazel, the draft horses at our friends, Melvin and Anna's farm. Today they were pulling a load of shucked corn. Schnoofler, their dog, is a brother and litter-mate to our John and Tom (and poor little Patch whom I will always miss and wonder about).

On the way home after getting our boys we stopped at our friends to check-in about tomorrow (we are dropping off their 25 chickens for them to process between themselves and another family). They wanted to do our chickens for us but we didn't want them to do our dirty work if we couldn't also be there to help–as we have fencing going on here and several other things. PHOTO–Our son Henry tosses a shucked ear of corn into the wagon. Legend has it that when you found a red ear of corn in the patch you were supposed to bring it to your sweetheart for a kiss, as described by Miss Spindle in the play, The Drunkard; or, the Fallen Saved [1850: Adapted by W.H. Smith] My husband told us about this custom, and a bit about corn husking dances, so I Googled it.

So I was delighted that my husband suggested we bring the chickens all the way to Crab Orchard again (as it turns out, this week is the last week that two local slaughterhouses are processing poultry before kicking it in for deer season for the next two months). Also, we were able to select some fresh local turkey, also to be butchered tomorrow, for our freezer–and the "big event" in a few weeks. The drive to Crab Orchard was well worth the $2 a chicken to butcher, the extra gas, and time (well, mess really) that was saved (sort of) in butchering ourselves, but it was also fun to enjoy the scenery and to have had a nice daytime date with my husband.

And on the way home, after visiting our friends, we watched a glorious pageant of sunset in Casey County:

Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh;
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.

Now the darkness gathers,

Stars begin to peep,

Birds and beasts and flowers
Soon will be asleep.

NOTE: Words from a beloved hymn "Now the Day is Over" by Sabine Baring-Gould (lyrics, in 1865–he also wrote "Onward Christian Soldiers") and set to the tune "Merrial," composed by Sir Joseph Barnby in 1868. [It was apparently also among those hymns sung on the ill-fated Titanic.]


Ladyfromthewoods said...

J.H.Giles has a reference to Crab Orchard in her book "The Kentuckians". As you know, she researched well, and painted it as an actual, unexpected grove of crab apple trees when the settlers came this way to establish Fort Logan. And did you know Stanford used to be called St. Asaph, named by Ben Logan who established Logan's Fort?! O-kay, enough of my babbling about local history. lol.

I do believe that we met Mr. Brummett at the auction in Ottenheim this past spring or whenever that was, when we saw Temple and the boys. He reminded me of my pappaw.

Tora said...

What a lovely blog - I enjoyed your commentary and have added you to my faves on my blog. I'll be back!

Catherine said...

Teresa, that is great to know and I appreciate the reference. I have not read that novel yet but have enjoyed the few Giles books I have read (I should take a month and focus just on her).

Mr. Brummett is the kindest man--a real twinkle in his eye.

Thanks for posting!

Catherine said...

Tora--thanks for coming by and glad you'll be back.


Suze said...

Oh wow as I said the other day I want to emigrate now! I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

Knightingale said...

I have been researching my family roots. My Scottish grandfather told me about seeing real American Indians when he was a boy. He traveled to Kentucky when his widowed mother married a Scottish Kentuckian who had a grist mill in Crab Orchard. I found that his stepfather died at the Old Manson's Home of Kentucky in Selbyville. Found several news items and mini obit of his stepfather's mother in The Interior Journal.
Reading your accounts is so interesting. Would live to visit one day. Great post. Thank you for sharing your adventure. K

Catherine said...

Thanks for sharing all of your local history and great stories about this beautiful country!

All best, Catherine