Rural routes started out as rural free delivery (RFD) after much begging by folks living in rural areas. It became a permanent service in 1906. If you like history, you’ll love reading about it. You might even enjoy reading where the first rural routes began in your state.
The Southern Rural Route is in a neighborhood of one to twenty acres in Jacksonville, Florida (Zone 9a). The country road it’s on is barely paved and not wide enough for two cars to pass coming and going. Five of the neighbors have lived on the route for 30+ years creating family compounds and living ordinary lives. The more interesting neighbors are doing the “rural thing” in some way — vegetable gardens, chickens and other critters.
SOME DEFINITIONS YOU MIGHT NEED
Orbiting the Crooked Moon – those who orbit the Crooked Moon generally suffer from a warped view of reality causing friends and relatives to suspect they are C-R-A-Z-Y. They tend to magnetize strange events and other crazy people into their life.
Old Crowitis – a condition that sometimes develops late in life causing a penchant for bright, shiny things (like a crow although research indicates crows aren’t really attracted to bright, shiny things).
MIZZ CHAIRMAN OF THE GARDEN
I am your tour guide on the Southern Rural Route. I claimed to be Mizz Chairman of the Garden when I began this blog because I wanted a big, important title. Sadly, it never caught on. Sigh.
My very first veggie garden was about 30 years ago. I followed Mel Bartholomew’s book, Square Foot Gardening (1981). I think I had two raised beds but this number might be lost in history. Most things escape my memory, even yesterday’s lunch.
Square foot gardening was abandoned when I moved to the two-acre family compound where my parents already had a firm hold on vegetable gardening in a 70-by-something plot. Graciously, I relinquished my dominance over dirt to them. They retired from farming during my artsy years and the soil languished without much thought until 2004 when gardening fever reared up like the monster under the bed.
First, the Fern Bed, an area that had been under siege by escapees from pots of fern, was reclaimed. The Fern Bed name, however, stuck because I didn’t RoundUp the ferns and they kept coming back. By 2008, the vegetable gardening began anew in a few large, plastic pots. The veggies abandoned the pots the next year and required ever more square feet each year until agreeing to reside within the limits of a 50 x 50 plot. Citrus, fig and persimmon trees are also on the property. Chickens would be great but Momma squashed that idea with such a vehemence that, to this day, I am afraid to breathe the word “chicken” for fear Momma would rise from her grave and put the spook on me.
Take the Garden Walking Tour of Southern Rural Route here.
SOUTHERN RURAL ROUTE CAST OF CHARACTERS
Mr. Beekeeper – has a wife, grown children, and a couple of weiner dogs. For years, he had chickens but now keeps bees at his house and at the blueberry farm down the road which also has some cows. In his vegetable garden, Mr. Beekeeper doesn’t hill up his rows or weed, but amending his soil with all that chicken poop makes him the most successful veggie gardener in the ‘hood.
Country Boy – has a wife, grown children, two barking dogs, can’t hear worth a sow’s ear, and welds stuff.
Mr. Golf Cart and Mrs. Golf — until January 2013, they had a 300-pound pet pig who showed up in the dog’s cage when still a baby. The dog seemed quite happy with him so Mr. Golf Cart allowed him to stay on as “Piggie.” I never liked that name and felt Piggie might have been better served with a less obvious name like Bacon. Not that he ever became bacon. Piggie died of old age. Mr. Golfcart’s daughter, Georgie Golfcart, lives next door on the same 5-acre property. Mr. Golf Cart spends a lot of time mowing his 5 acres. The rest of the time he dons his “Security” cap, hops in his golf cart and patrols our neighborhood to supervise whatever is going on.
Bubba – Has a wife, Flip Flops, and a daughter from a previous marriage. He also happens to be my brother. Along with Poppie’s house, he took over Poppie’s wood working shop but has many other talents. He hires out as a DJ and helps me with all my computer woes.
Flip Flops – is my sister-in-law (married to Bubba) who never stays home and hates gardening (!!!). It was her idea for the two of them to move into the house Poppie built on the compound where Momma, Poppie and I had lived since 1985. Flip Flops was wise enough to know that I couldn’t manage the 2 acres by myself. After some major remodeling to enlarge Poppie’s house, the two of them moved in on December 10, 2016. I’m really glad to have Bubba and Flip Flops on the property.
CAST MEMBERS WHO LEFT FOR THE PEARLY GATES
Homer – was not real friendly with the rest of us but he had a purty red tractor to mow his 20 acres up until he died. His wife is much friendlier and sold about 10 acres. She fancies a riding mower rather than the red tractor.
Momma – she was still with us when this blog began but, sadly, she passed to God’s Kingdom on New Year’s Eve, 2012. She was always of the opinion that Mizz Chairman was a fine secretary with all her readin’, writin’ and spellin’ abilities but when it came to common sense, the poor child didn’t have a lick of it.
Poppie – Worked in construction before retiring. Other than Mizz Chairman’s mobile home, every last house, garage, greenhouse, or hut on the property was constructed by Poppie. He died February 28, 2015, at the hands of a back surgeon who nicked his spinal fluid sack and hospital staff who didn’t know how to operate the “crash cart.”
Last updated October 1, 2018