Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Interview With: Richard Jones (57)

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Interview With: Richard Jones (57)

Article excerpt

Address: Happy Jack's Pumpkin Farm

966 Hickman Hill Rd., Frankfort, KY 40601

On: 4/7/2015,10:12am

I had a weekend off from working in the archives at the Kentucky Historical Society, where I was on a fellowship, and I googled "public farm near Frankfort, KY." The first result to this search was Happy Jack's Pumpkin Farm. When I arrived, Richard greeted me at his door, and immediately showed me around his farm. Then, he graciously invited me to Easter dinner with his extended family at his sister's house on the other side of town. One of the reasons I made this digression into interviewing farmers was because even the laundromat was closed on Easter Sunday. During this dinner, I met Patsy Webb, who I also interviewed. Richard connected me to two of his other farming friends, and that's how I got to interview four different farmers for this issue. The images below show the various zoo-quality animals and top-grade crops that Richard has on his spacious farm. He also built most of the wooden furniture and various other museum-quality items portrayed here. In his replies, he talks about why he has diversified into so many different areas, the politics of farming, and what it's like running a farm that is open to the public for a good part of the year.

Faktorovich: Flow did you first become exposed to agriculture? Did you start farming as a child? If so, under which circumstances?

Jones: Well, we grew up here. We moved onto the farm when I was an infant. I lived here all my life since I was 6 months old. I've always enjoyed being outdoors, explored, fished and hunted, canoed up the creek. I liked working on the farm too, started working when I was 8 years old. Dad had me driving in the truck when they picked up hay. I remember I couldn't see over the steering wheel. I could just see over the dash and through the steering wheel and I couldn't reach the breaks. I kept the throttle on it and the truck would creep along kind of slow, and they'd pick up the hay. And if they wanted me to stop, I'd have to turn the key off to turn off the motor. A lot of times, I'd scoot over and grown men would get in and they'd stop the truck. Sometimes, they'd tell me to speed up, and it'd go faster, too fast, so they'd be running to get the hay in. So, they'd tell me to slow down. Then, the truck would die, and they'd cuss me because they'd have to start it again. As I got older, I started doing more of the manual work, chopping tobacco. I also spent time finding arrowheads while we were out there.

Faktorovich: Was your family involved in farming? Did they start in this field or did they do something else before this?

Jones: I'm a 5th generation farmer. My great-grand father farmed. I'm not for sure where they came from, but they immigrated from across the ocean, from England or Ireland, who knows. The Joneses came from Whales, Welsh descendants. About the other side, I'm not sure where they immigrated from, and on both sides, they all farmed. They immigrated over here for reasons of freedom from whatever was causing them problems, thinking they would have opportunities here. A lot of it was subsistence farming back years ago, and they started growing cash crops: tobacco and cattle. Tobacco was the number one cash crop for a while in Kentucky. Since I've been farming, I diversified from tobacco to growing produce, and pumpkins. We are in a 50-miles radius in central Kentucky which has the most cattle per acre of anywhere in the US, because of the bluegrass. It is not the whole state, just this area that has the largest density. We don't have the maximum-head of cat- tle on this farm because we grow a lot of produce. We are more diversified than any other farm. We have sweet corn, cantaloupes, tomatoes, watermelons, squash, beans, lettuce, sweet potatoes, onions, cabbage, coli flour, kale, green beans, asparagus, peppers (sweet, all kinds), over 40 varieties of squashes and pumpkins, firewood, with several acres of each. …

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