Being Self Sufficient


-Tipper Pressley,

Ed Buchanan, a 74-year-old farmer who farms just for himself, can survey his little kingdom back here in the hills beyond Dillsboro and exult in sovereign independence.

Here stacks of hay, there pyramids of corn, beef cattle in the pasture, a milk cow in the barn, hams in the smokehouse, potatoes in the root cellar, the can house filled to bursting, chickens scratching the yard.

And with an eye of triumph, he can look upon his piles of wood and laugh at winter’s frown.

Ed and his wife Clearsie are so self-reliant they don’t have to worry about the high costs of living and fuel shortages.

“No matter what happened,” he said, “we could get by without any pinch or discomfort. We’ve plenty to eat. We’ve got plenty of wood to keep us warm and to keep the cookstove going for cooking. We can make do with what’s at hand and live quite well. We always have. Living off the  land and doing for ourselves in something we’ve always done. It was the way I was brought up. We raise practically everything we eat. Only have to go to the grocery store for sugar and coffee and soda, something like that. We get plenty of eggs, plenty of milk and butter. We’ve got all kinds of canned stuff my wife puts up. We’ve got plenty of potatoes, both kinds, and plenty of beans. We’ve got our own chickens for laying and for eating. I killed three hogs Thanksgiving Day. They weighed five hundred pounds a piece. I sold one to my son. That left us with four hams. my wife put up sixty pounds of sausage.”

—John Parris – “Independent As All Git-Out”

Favorite Appalachian Sayings



February 26, 2019- by Tipper Pressley

I’m sharing some of my favorite old sayings with you today. I hope you’ll leave a comment and add to the list.

  • That dog won’t hunt

  • If that don’t make your wood burn nothing will

  • Your milk of human kindness has turned to bonnie clabber

  • She threw more out the back door than her man could tote in the front

  • As poor as a bear that wintered up in the Balsams

  • Weddin’ without courtin is like vittles without salt

  • Beauty never made the kettle sing

  • Never get your horse in a place where you can’t turn around

  • I ain’t been in his shoes and I can’t gauge his footsteps

  • It’s never to late to mend

  • Where’s there’s bees there’s honey

  • What can’t be cured must be endured

  • Don’t miss her no more than a cold draft after the door’s shut

  • He’d buy a load of cord wood to peddle out in hell if you’d give him till Christmas to pay for it

  • Sit down and rest yourself, settin’s cheaper’n standin’

  • Lookin’ like the hind wheels o’ destruction

Vibrant descriptive wisdom filled language = Appalachia



Cutting Hay.jpg


Folks in my area have just completed their first cutting of hay. They usually get two cuttings of hay during the summer, and if the weather shines down upon their fields in a good way they might even get three cuttings.

Putting up hay has changed a lot since I was a girl. I remember Whitmire cutting hay on his large cattle farm that borders Wilson Holler. He’d hire local boys to help him and you could see them hot, sweaty, and I’m sure itchy as they threw the square bales onto the back of a slow moving truck. These days its all the large round bales that have to be moved with a tractor.

Jump farther back in time and you can see an even more drastic change in hay cutting time.

When Pap was a boy they cut hay by hand. He told me they only cut hay once a summer in those days. As time went by and things advanced in the mountains of western NC Pap’s family used a cutting machine that was pulled by a team of horses to cut hay. Pap said when that happened they thought they had hit the big time. Cutting hay with a machine and horses was easier and it was so much faster than cutting by hand.

A rake behind a horse or mule was used to pile the hay and pitchforks were used to throw it on the back of a wagon. If you were lucky enough to have a big barn, Pap said you stored the hay in the loft.

Folks that didn’t have a barn or needed more hay than the barn would hold, would cut a small tree, four or five inches thick, and cut the limbs down to where they were short and stubby. The tree was placed in the ground and the hay was thrown around it into a pile of sorts. Pap said the hay actually lasted pretty good with the tree method, not as good as inside a barn, but good enough to provide for the animals.

Over the weekend I had the good fortune of talking to one of Pap’s old friends Bass Hyatt. Bass grew up in Brasstown and went to school with Pap at the old Odgen School. His family has been in the cattle business for generations.

Bass told me when he was just a boy the hay had to be replanted each year. The type of spreading creeping grass we have today hadn’t been introduced in this area so the fields had to be harred and the seed put in the ground each spring. That was an extra burden placed on top of the whole cut it by hand part. Bass said “My daddy taught me to pile the hay in a tall stack and I did it enough that I got pretty good at doing it.”


Do You Wave at Everyone You Pass?

Blind Pig & The Acorn (Blog)

Do you wave at folks you pass on the road? Around here some folks wave at every person they meet while other’s don’t wave at anybody-even if they know them.

Several years ago a sweet lady named Lise wrote a guest post for me about what she called the car wave hello. At the time, Lise hadn’t been living in the mountains very long and was surprised and pleased when she noticed other drivers waving at her as she drove about her way.

Lise really studied the various car waves she encountered on her travels through the mountains. You can read her post about the car wave hello below.


The Car Wave Hello written by Lise

One of the things I love about being in the mountains is how friendly everyone is. Almost every single solitary person you encounter says hello, is smiling at you, and is willing to carry on a conversation with you about any topic you bring up. Mostly, it seems to me people are content in these Southern Appalachian mountains.

An interesting custom my husband and I have now acquired is the “Car Wave Hello”. This is the manner in which drivers in cars passing by each other on the steep and winding mountain road indicate a friendly hello.

First please imagine that the driver of the car has their hand(s) on the steering wheel, this could be one hand or both, that is visible to the approaching driver. With that said, there are many manner of car waves:

  • The Finger Wave: no, no, no, not THAT finger, the pointer finger. The lone steering hand will raise the pointer finger. At times the thumb is included in this wave, resulting in an “L” wave.
    • This can also graduate to the 2, 3 and 4 finger wave, not sure what constitutes the difference, but there sure are a lot of variances in this method.
  • The Full Wave: this exudes full confidence from the approaching driver and causes me to hope that their other hand is on the portion of the steering wheel I can not see.
  • The Opposite Hand Wave: this driver has one visible hand on the wheel, but the other provides a full perpendicular lift to the ground and gives a full view of the palm and all 4 fingers and opposing appendage.
  • The Waving Opposite Hand Wave: this driver’s wave extends the feeling to the receiving driver that this driver is a very cheery person with not a care in the world and that perhaps, just perhaps, they recognize you.
  • The No Finger Head Nod Wave: every now and then you get no wave, but after you wave the approaching driver realizes “aw, shucks, I didn’t wave”.
  • The Flappy/Fly Wave: for the very same reason the No Finger Head Nod Wave is given, only there is a delay in the approaching driver’s thought process and The Flappy/Fly Wave is more like, “darn it, you caught me off guard” so you get this wave not so much as an afterthought but a too late thought with no time for The Head Nod.
  • The No Wave No Nod No Nothing Wave: well, what can I say, these encounters are always disappointing, but I have chosen to let it go, not knowing what the drivers mood may been.

When I am the driver, I usually have both hands on the wheel. Mostly because the road is steep and very curvy with blind approaches and very narrow lanes. I feel much more in control when I have both hands on the wheel, enabling me to execute the wave without fear of falling down into a ravine. There are times when I am relaxed and forget my both hands rule and subsequently am not thinking about the possibility of the need to execute the wave until I observe an approaching traveler from the opposite direction, unfortunately usually immediately following one of the blind curves, and I must muster the courage to produce some sort of wave, even if it is difficult for the approaching traveler to interpret or understand.

My usual is The 4 Finger Wave, with both hands on the wheel. Every now and then, I give The Opposite Hand Wave or the Flappy/Full Wave specifically for the reasons described above. No matter what, I wave by golly, because I love these winding steep mountain roads and the people I pass on them. But you bet your sweet bippie, I notice the approaching driver’s wave too 🙂

I will continue to observe the car hello wave and it’s variations, and let you know if I discover anything new. But I have to say, driving up and down the mountain is the friendliest driving experience I have ever had in my life!


I’m a car waver. I use the finger wave Lise mentioned when I’m waving at someone I don’t know and I use the opposite hand wave for folks I do know. And I think sometimes I use the four finger over the wheel wave too. I guess you can say I’m trying to continue the general sense of friendliness Lise found when she moved to the mountains of Western NC.


Roasting' Sweet Potatoes

Candied Sweetpotatoes.jpg


GraciousRoots: John Parris lived just down the road from my childhood home and sat behind me with his wife Dorothy in church each Sunday. A lovely couple in every way.  Beloved by many for his columns in the Asheville Citizen-Times "Roaming the Mountains". He wrote with the crispness of Hemingway and the grace of Thomas Wolfe. Indeed, he was a war correspondent like Hemingway and a decorated hero for his work with the Belgian underground during World War II. 

Posted by The Blind Pig and the Acorn, March 3, 2018

Murphy, North Carolina / written by John Parris

Sitting around a hearth fire of a winter night roasting sweet potatoes in the ashes is one of Aunt Tennie Cloer’s fondest memories.

“Back when I was a girl,” she said, “folks got a heap of pleasure in the simple things. And roastin’ potatoes in the fireplace was one of them. They were all the go back then.”

“Folks would drop in of a night and gather around the fireplace and we’d take sweet potatoes and cover them with ashes and embers and sit around and talk and tell stories while they roasted.”

“When the potatoes were done, we’d rake them out of the fireplace and knock off the ashes and blow on ’em until we could hold ’em without burning our hands. Then we’d have a good time eating ’em.”

“Unless you’ve had sweet potatoes roasted in ashes, you can’t begin to know how good they taste. Especially on a cold night before the fire.”

Aunt Tennie, who is 92 years old, grew up on Sugar Fork River over in Macon County back in the days when the hearth was the center of the home-the source of warmth, sometimes light, and always food.


We’ve been on a sweet potato kick around the Blind Pig house. We’ve been baking ours in the oven instead of roastin' them in the ashes, but they’re still good.

Granny once told me she could barely remember her Grandpa taking her to see an old woman that lived in a log cabin somewhere along Highway 141. She said the lady was old as the hills and she cooked them something to eat right there on the hearth.



JANUARY 17, 2018

Erin Helm image.jpg

We all know adventure is the spice of life but the reality is most of us are too busy working a 9-5 to be able to sprinkling in too much adventure. Having any job, let alone a full time job, can make it difficult to find the time to add adventure into your life. So when you work 40+ hours a week, we really have to rethink what adventure really means.

Adventure doesn’t mean selling all of your things, converting to van-life and traveling to far off places. Although let’s be honest, that would be amazing! It just means adding things into your life that fulfill you. Things that get you moving while inspiring you. Many times these “micro-adventures” don’t have to be far away but can be in your own backyard wherever you life.

Here are some ways that you can work full time and still take advantage of whatever free time you may have to get out there and explore.

Let’s start with weekends. Give us two days off in a row and the world is ours!


One of my favorite things to do is to head out after work on Friday evenings and drive to the nearest state park for a weekend camping trip. If camping isn’t your thing, then drive up on Saturday and spend it hiking or in a hammock. Crack open some marshmallows and make smores. You don’t have to go far but these simple resets help me when I’m back at work on Monday through Friday.


Maybe it’s a trip overseas. Maybe it’s a day trip to the mountains. But plan to go with an emphasis on plan. If you don’t plan for it, you’ll never save the money and you’ll never schedule the time. It’s not easy and may stretch your finances, even if you just go for a day trip. But nothing helps us reset more than travel. So go to a place you have never been. If there is a town close by that you have been wanting to visit or a park you have really been wanting to go to, wake up early, fill the car with gas and get going!

Erin Helm waterfal.jpg



I love starting my Saturday or Sunday out by going to a local trail and hiking. This is a great option for those on a budget. Pack a lunch, bring some water and head out. Throw up a hammock and read a book while the wind blows in the trees above you. 

Erin Helm Hike.jpg


One of my favorite things to do is visit the local breweries. Go on a brewery tour with some friends. Beer is always delicious and supporting local businesses is an added bonus. Get a group of people together and spend the day trying different beers, you may even find your new favorite!


Take a class at a local studio or business. It only takes an hour a week to learn a new skill and cultivate your passions.

Erin Helm Pottery.jpg



There are always events happening on weekends. Go to the farmer’s market, a festival, a concert, an art showing, trivia night, etc. Check your communities website, Facebook or local papers.


Go see a new exhibit at your local museum. Try a new restaurant. Go see that movie that you’ve been wanting to see! Buy that book you have had your eye on. Whatever you do, just do it. What’s the worst that could happen?

Now Let’s Talk Week Days

Weekends are easy. Well, easy-ish. But it can be a bit harder on weekdays to scratch that adventure itch especially if you have to go anywhere near Atlanta traffic which can add a couple hours to your workday just by commuting. It’s hard enough to wake up before the sun rises and to be at work all day, so how do we squeeze adventure into week days when 8-12 hours are at our desk or in the car? There are several ways to do this and none of them will work for everyone. We just have to choose what fits our interests and time the best and then when we find what works, we have to make intentional decisions that help us maximize those decisions.

Go for a morning hike/run/walk at your favorite local trail (yes this involves waking up earlier . . . I know).

Erin Helm morning walk.jpg

Watch the sunrise while sipping on your favorite coffee. This is a win/win as you get your morning caffeine and the magic from re-centering your perspective as you watch the world wake up around you.


Take the back roads to work. If you’re in the city, this may create more stress depending on what side roads you’re on. But sometimes the simplest thing of changing your surroundings is a great way to switch up your daily routine.

Eat your lunch outside and enjoy the day!

Take a walk during your lunch break. This is a great way to get outdoors, let go of whatever stresses that have already accumulated in the morning and get refreshed before the back half of the day.

Take an evening hike. Find a trail nearby and enjoy the sunset.

Go to your local gym for a class or activity. Try rock climbing, yoga, pilates, kickboxing or running.

Erin Helm climb.jpg

Get involved with a local group or club. There are tons of groups to be a part of – trail running, mountain biking, book club, ultimate Frisbee, knitting, etcetera.

These are just a few ways that we can begin to add more adventure into your busy work week.

I used to believe that “adventure” meant that I had to live in a place that was overwhelmed beauty like the desert in Utah or the mountains in Colorado. I thought I had to have the best photos and gear to get the most out of my “adventure”. I thought I couldn’t do it because of my job and the very real physical and emotional constraints that put on my days. However, once I realized what adventure meant to me, it changed everything. I was able to reframe it from “somewhere over there” to “somewhere right here”. My mini adventure may not as pretty as a mountain waterfall but my adventure is now what I make it. It is about getting outside, trying new things and doing what I love. It’s carving out the time to do things that make my soul feel full. And that is the best kind of adventure of all.

Appalachia Through My Eyes – The Muddy Time of the Year

Mud Season.jpg

Blind Pig and The Acorn

Celebrating and preserving Appalachia

 January 30, 2018

This has been the coldest winter we’ve had in several years which you all know I love. The part I don’t love is the mud that comes along with the cold. When the temperature stays right at or below freezing for several consecutive days the moisture in the soil freezes. The dirt expands as it freezes. As the temperature begins to rise the ‘expanded’ dirt turns into the muddiest soupiest mess you ever saw.

It’s been quite a few years since our driveway has been in the shape it is now. Mind you it’s never that great, but it’s really bad now. The girls and I have been parking at Granny’s and walking for the last week. They can’t believe how bad it is. Their last ride off had them both saying they weren’t going back up in their car till Spring. I told them they’d just forgotten how bad the mud could be. I remember more than one early morning ride down it when they were in high school with both of them screaming I was going to kill them. Apparently, they’ve forgotten those episodes of hysteria.

The UPS driver made a delivery to Granny’s right when we were getting ready to head up to our house the other day. He said he’d just come from our place. Chitter said, “You didn’t try to get up it did you?” He said, “Naa I parked at the bottom.” Chitter told him she was sorry about the mess. He said, “Don’t worry about it every road in the county is like this.”

If it wasn’t for my new car I’d still make it up and down every day. Muddy driveways are something I’ve grown accustomed to over the years. Pap and Granny’s could get muddy especially in the days when Pap drove an oil truck home every day. My uncle’s driveway is paved now, but in days gone by it got to be as bad as ours is every year and it’s longer. Papaw Wade lived with my uncle in those days.

Pap used to have a 1973 white Impala. One day we were going up to see Papaw Wade. He hit the driveway with everything that car had. We made it about halfway up and did a complete 360 in the middle of the road. Before I knew what happened we were turned around headed back down the hill. I about cried but Pap just laughed. I can’t remember if we made it up that day on another try or settled for walking the trail through the woods.

The road we live on was gravel until the girls were about five or six years old. When I was a teenager the gravel road would get bad in certain places. I remember one year it was especially messy just above Clate and Mary’s. I had a little black Ford Exp. I worked at Catos so I had to dress up nice for work. One day I was coming home and got stuck in the mud. I tried to spin myself out a few times but soon gave up. I didn’t have any other shoes to put on so I finally took off my heels and hose and walked the half a mile home in my dress. Granny got a big kick out that she laughed and laughed at me. I said, “Well what else was I supposed to do wait for someone to come find me?”

If you look close in the photo you can see Chitter is barefooted. I’m not sure how she got down the hill without her boots, but she didn’t have any to wear back up. Granny tried to get her to put on a pair of her old shoes but Chitter wouldn’t have it. Said she wanted to feel that gushy mud between her toes.