Written by Edna Liggin
October 21, 1976
Victor Tabor, who lives on Rural Road 3320, south of Spearsville, is an almost self-sustaining, on-man farmer, a rare breed in this day of supermarkets, co-ops, and big farms. In fact, he is almost extinct!
In the day s of Mr. Tabor’s great-grandfather, Joseph Shaw, it was almost standard procedure to raise all the feed and foodstuffs. Today, it is very unusual to find a farm like that of Victor and Iza Patton Tabor.
Moreover, in sheds, outhouses, barns and out in the pasture itself are farm tools and equipment that is old, rare, and of unbelievable quantity! We saw it with our own eyes, and yet cannot believe it is all there!
“OLD McDONALD HAD A FARM-EE-I-OW”
What does the Victor Tabor farm have? In the first place it has built up a very comfortable cycle or feed-back process of its own. The land produces the corn for the mules, horses, chickens, hogs, and pigs; the cow gives rich milk for drinking and butter; with the unused milk going to the pigs, chickens and the cats. The hens supply the eggs for the family (they give the extra to friends). The mules pull the plow that tills the soil that grows the corn.
So, there goes Old McDonald in full force. Getting fringe benefits from it all are the ducks, the rabbits, the goats, the other cows, the pet bull, and the dogs. All the animals are fat and in good condition; all love Mr. Tabor and respond to his call where by voice or the rattling of a shuck. He has only to lower the limb of a tree and the goats stand on their hind legs and nibble the leaves.
“If you put axle grease on a cut on a white horse, the hair come back black hair; on a black horse it comes back white,” Victor Tabor told us. Such is the animal husbandry Mr. Tabor has acquired in his many years of farming. He seems to have done a lot of it, with the help of Watkins salve and Absorbine Jr.
We asked Victor when he first owned an animal. He replied, “When I was 21 my father gave me old Tony.” This released a flood of memories of old Tony between Victor and his cousin, John Matthews.
His animals are all named. The goats, too, have a name. The mules are Belle, Ada, and Nellie. Two of these are white, another grey. He frequently hitches all three together for a work-out. He has kept a grey mule (not the same one) for over 25 years. In all, Victor Tabor told us, he has owned between forty and fifty mules.
“Do you have any planting secrets or signs?” we asked. We were told that he always planted corn in the full of the moon (on the increase) as this made the corn come up with long shanks, easy to work out quickly. He plants Irish potatoes on dark nights in March. About the potatoes, he told us, he always planted 100 pounds so he would raise plenty to divide with friends. Like the hens, with such ulterior motive behind production, they produce!
It was like going back in grandpa’s day to walk through his cow lot, and chicken run. Time and elements of weather has softened and worn the planks of the little sheds. Scattered on the ground are doors from old cast iron, wood-burning stoves, and from these the chickens are supplied food and water. The ducks came out to greet us.
Nearby in a pasture the fat cows lie basking in the sun, McDonald’s contented cows. At a call from Mr. Tabor the eleven goats come up with friendly ” “Baa-baa” greetings, expecting of food. An enormous black colored bull stands up; coming to his side. Mr. Tabor identified him as half Brahma, half Charolais. At times, while he rests, the goats clamber up and down his back. When the Tabor milking time comes, Victor fastens the rope holding the calf off to the bull’s horns, and the bull maintains his status quo until the milking is finished.
Did we not say the Old McDonald farm is on of co-operation; of feed-back?
Beside the corn Mr. Tabor and the mules co-operate to produce together, there is the hay various ones of them enjoy, and from the corn Victor and Isa enjoy meal ground by the the mill of Mr. English. The work goes on and all eat well.
HISTORY IN THE TOOLS
An inventory of the farm tools Victor Tabor has collected reads like a history of the area. If tagged, he could have represented by name many of the skilled master farmers of bygone days. Some of them we had never seen before, certainly younger generations than we, would find them completely unknown.
What triggered Victor Tabor off on this collecting of old farm bits and pieces? The first thing he got was an old wagon spring seat which once belonged to his grandfather, John B. Tabor. This was about 25 years ago.
He has a set of lead harness, and back bands bought at Jim Buckley store many years ago by his grandfather, William Reeves. He has two cow yokes made by Ross and Willie Reeves when they were boys. He has his Grandfather Reeves well roller, a big thing.
The old oxen yoke is really historic. Did you ever hear of Copley, a mile long switch, a flag station, between Bernice and Lillie? The Henderson-Bennett Sawmill was located here. Oxen were used to operate the mill. Later Victor Tabor obtained the yoke from Willie Payne who lived on Cornie.
Instead of asking, “What else is new?” we asked Victor “What else is old?”. We then followed him, and peeped and probed into seven or eight sheds all full to the brim with old things. We saw an old meat saw that once belonged to Bob Reagan; an never-before-seen ice cutting saw; Bob Tabor’s old wooden maul; a hatchet of Bob Tabor, Victor’s father, bought from Jim Tabor for twenty-five cents long ago; two very old anvils.
How our ignorance showed! What was a handstick? That was used in log rolling, either in clearing farm-land or selling timber, etc. A frow? That was used with a turning motion to rive out boards (as shingles they went over tops of houses?) A fresca? (not a drink) was a dirt moving machine, pulled by two mules with a rope to manipulate.
Other tools were familiar enough to make sense to us. We could appreciate the long tongs which with Grandpa could pick a coal of fire to light his pipe though frequently in those days Grandma too, smoked a pipe. There were the rare, twisted trace chains, the bear traps, the sheep shearers, parts of buggy harness; the T-Model hub cap, switchboard showing the Amperes and also T-Model wrench, the wooden faucett that went into the vinegar barrel, the iron lard press, just all sorts of small things, hanging, in buckets, boxes, barrels.
THE BIG, THE OLD, AND THE NEW
A modern tractor is in one shed of the Tabor barn, so that if needed be, he could farm as others do in these times. But who wants to look at a tractor when under the shed are three old wagons, a frame from a covered wagon of long days ago, a rubber tired log wagon. In the corn crib reposes the last of the old corn; the new is yet to be gathered. Homemade hickory baskets, old and new, are nearby for use with the corn.
Outside, the barn sheds are two mule hay balers; a two-mule hay rake, and a riding cultivator. He has several corn shellers, and a multiplicity of plow stocks with names sounding like music to yesteryear’s dirt farmer…middle busters. Gee Whiz, Georgia plow stocks, iron beam plow stocks, fenders and plow points everywhere. He showed us an iron piece, with point, that he plowed up and recognized as coming from a Dialog cotton planter. The remark was made that you really needed a lot of cotton seed when you used this planter.
In sheds and on shed walls and many singletrees, perhaps fifty of them, some handmade. Hanging also were banes, bridles, horse collars, saddles, spurs, cowbells, grappling hooks, well pulleys, well buckets, stirrups from a side saddle. By now our mind was boggled trying to comprehend it all.
There were some cuties! One was a iron nail puller, hammer, and hatchet, all in one (a handy tool). What we thought at first was a shoe last turned out to be a device for capping beer bottles (was it home brew during prohibition), and we wondered where in the world were those old bottles: Another never-before-seen something was a raisin smasher. This looked like a little sausage grander, and embossed on the iron handle was a patent date of May 5th, 1907, also embossed Enterprise Mfg. Co., Philadelphia, Pa. The thing that got us on this little tool were the the embossed words, “Wet the Raisins”. When Grandma ground for her fruit cake, did she wet the raisins? Out in the barn, we saw an energy wheel grinder for sharpening mower blades that was another clever invention, still in turnable shape.
A BIT ABOUT VICTOR AND ISA
This on-man farmer, Victor Tabor, was born May 2, 1914, the son of the late Robert S. and Ethel Reeves Tabor. He took time out from his farming beginnings to fight for his country in World, War II. Isa, his wife, is the daughter of Bill and Theodore (Docia) Fuller Patton.
She showed us one of her antiques, a china dog, over one hundred years old, a Christmas present long ago to John W. Cherry when he was a boy.
When visiting them, we were refreshed with coffee, lavishly dolloped with thick cream from a big gallon glass jar of fresh milk. In their refrigerator are several big bowls of freshly churned butter.
They put up a lot of fruits and vegetables, using discarded refrigerators and deep freezers to store the canned goods. Here on this farm plenty for all abounds, animals and man alike. All around are the signs of past generations. Here and there an iron pot; a pottery jug, a dusty trunk, a big flour barrel, and old Maytag washing machine, or a footed bathtub.
Who could ask for anything more? Could we have a return to this kind of living?