Despite the pouring rain, we had a great time showing our USDA Certified Organic farm (Half Hill Farm) in Woodbury, TN to Allison Belt and photographer Rachel Tenpenny. They were here for a May 2014 feature in Murfreesboro Magazine on organic farms in Middle Tennessee.
We currently have Shiitake, Reishi and Turkey Tail mushroom logs available for online order, or call for pick up at either our farm or the Farmers’ Market in Woodbury.
Jimmy Simpson told us early this Spring to wait on planting. “Knee high by July,” he said. “As long as we got it in by June 15, we’ll be fine.”
We were getting worried we were planting our organic corn late this year after seeing our neighbor’s corn knee high by June.
We’re trying not to count our ears before they’re harvested, but we’re pretty darn proud of our 14 feet tall organic open pollinated Trucker’s Pride corn. Not everyone is so lucky this year, so we’re counting our blessings instead. We have to admit it’s a combination of a little luck and old-timer’s wisdom.
To be perfectly honest with you, it’s actually our second planting this year in the same field after we discovered the first attempt in late May never put a single seed in the ground.
We found that out the hard way, but it made us miss the drought conditions that destroyed most of Tennessee’s corn crops. Better late than never, especially when you’re making moonshine. It also allowed us to use seed corn Jimmy had personally hand-selected and shelled for next year. His mules didn’t seem to mind the extra work either.
Sometimes people need a good reminder of how things used to be. We could speed things up with tractors or increase our yield with a few chemicals, but when it comes to making good whiskey, some things just can’t be rushed.
A good team of mules are hard workers. Sometimes they’re slow, sometimes stubborn, but dedicated to getting the job done.
This is the second year we’ve teamed up with the Middle Tennessee Mule Skinners Association to disc our organic corn fields. Twelve teams came out Saturday and helped make farming look easy. The field they disced will become the corn that makes our authentic Tennessee Moonshine.
If you missed this year’s discing, be sure to come to our grand opening Saturday April 21 for free mule wagon rides, tours and Moonshine tasting. You can also catch a performance by the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. And if the timing is right, we’ll have a few bottles of Shine for you to take home a genuine taste of this unique Tennessee experience.
John Whittemore steers the corn picker and gravity wagon to harvest. We’re harvesting our first seven acres of organic corn today and hoping to get at least 50-60 bushels of shelled corn per acre. The corn will be shelled and stored on site and later stone-milled at Still House #1.
Starting next year, the farm will plant 20 acres of rotational organic corn crops on the 300 acre farm while securing the rest of the distillery’s grain needs from local farmers. We’re aiming to complete our USDA Certified Organic process next summer to preserve the land and water for generations to come.
We didn’t have to look far for spare barn wood for Stillhouse #1. Billy remembered there was a damaged barn just around the corner on Pea Ridge.
The owner, Robert Bogle, was home and said we could help ourselves to whatever we needed. He had been following our progress in the newspaper and was happy to hear we got our federal permit. He said the state should be easier.
Robert knew a thing or two about moonshine and the revenuers and took us inside his home where his wife Louise directed him to a small stack of scrap books she had kept throughout his time as Cannon County Sheriff. She reminded us they were lucky the books survived a fire that took their home a couple of years ago.
Scattered throughout the pages were stories from the local newspaper of moonshine and whiskey busts across the county in the late 70s and early 80s. It was clear by the headlines many locals had moved on to growing marijuana and did a lousy job hiding it from Sheriff Robert Bogle. The few old-timers, who weren’t the least bit tempted by the new cash crop, quietly stuck to a 100+ year old folk tradition of whiskey making on Short Mountain.
STILL CAPTURED (1982) – Sheriff Robert Bogle displays a 50 gallon moonshine still that was captured by state Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents and deputies from his department late Friday, Sept 4 in the Pea Ridge section of the county on a farm known as the Keith place. Confiscated in the raid was the still, four barrels of mash and a 1967 Ford pickup truck.
John Whittemore shares how organic and permaculture farm practices used by Short Mountain Distillery honor our agricultural heritage. You can hear the guys from the CO-OP putting together our grain bin in the back ground.
Short Mountain Distillery planted 7 acres of organic corn you see featured in this video. The test went very well, and John is busy planning 20 rotational acres of organic corn on Billy’s 300 acre farm for next year.
The organic corn for our first batch of whiskey and moonshine has started poking out of Short Mountain! Even better news: the goats didn’t find a way to it. John Whittemore says we’ll have to figure something out to deal with crows.
This Friday and Saturday (May 19-20), stop by our booth at Good Ole Days of Cannon County on the square in Woodbury. John will be there most of the time and will be offering a discount on our Spring Planting 2011 t-shirts celebrating our first planting. John’s talented family will be among those performing at this annual community event.
The weather couldn’t have been more nice up on the mountain. Here’s some video from yesterday featuring the hard work of five mule teams belonging to Andy, Buddy, Terry, Mike and Doug. Here’s more in photos:
About every weekend in April, a few local mule teams from the Middle Tennessee Muleskinners Association will give us a hand discing and planting 7 acres of organic corn on the farm.
The Farmer’s Almanac said moon phases favor May 3 – May 10 for planting corn in Woodbury, TN. Some tell us to wait until the the oak leaf buds are as big as a squirrel’s ears, but after this weekend we can’t stand to wait any longer.
Nature has its way of telling you when it’s right. It’s an old fashioned way of doing things up on the mountain, but it gets the job done.
Our t-shirts are here! Celebrate Spring Planting 2011 with a t-shirt from our online General Store, or email John Whittemore (if you can’t catch him in town) or call him 615-971-4925.
These shirts are made in the USA and screen printed in Murfreesboro, TN. They commemorate this year’s Spring planting of our first organic corn with some very special help from our friends and neighbors at the Middle Tennessee Muleskinners Association.