Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Copper Top Still in the hills and a chance to ride a Combine. What a week!

I don't even know where to start.  In the past two weeks we have checked some major thing off the old bucket list.  A few months before Anna and I left on our trip we sat down and made a list of a few major things we would like to see along the way.  Much to my surprise one of Anna's top things to do was to see a large corn maze.  I myself had never heard of such a thing.  A corn maze I thought, where the heck are we going to find one of those.  Well much to my astonishment it is not to hard in corn country.  So off to a corn maze it was and what a great time we had.  It has been a long time since I have taken a old fashioned hay ride. Anna and I had a blast picking out our Pumpkins for the top deck of Blue as well as getting lost in the Maze.  Whomever came up with the first corn maze was a real genius, what great thing to do in October.  Having checked off the Maze, we moved on to the next item on my list, a visit to the Jack Daniels Distillery.  As many of you know I have been known to enjoy a good glass of Jack Daniels, and having an opportunity to go to the spot where this fantastic whiskey has been made since the Mid 1800's was not something I was not going to miss.  As we walked the grounds on the tour, we got a chance to see the main still which was pumping out hundreds of gallons of 140 proof moonshine ready to be dripped through the oak charcoal then barrelled for 5 to 8 years before it will be bottled and hopefully happily consumed by some lucky guy like me.  I did find it very humorous that Jack Daniels is made in a dry town.  Everyone commented at the end of tour that they would surely kill for a taste of Jack Daniels fine whiskey.   After visiting the Jack Daniels factory,  Anna and I received a wonderful invitation to visit Bill and Carol Yancey's farm in Tennessee.  Ever since I first learned that Bill was a farmer I had spent many an evening joking with him of how I had always dreamed of driving a combine.  After an evening of enjoying some fine George Dickel Whiskey he made the mistake of telling me he had one.  It has been a running joke for many months that maybe, just maybe he would let me drive it.  All joking aside our visit to the Yancey farm was one of the most memorable things I think we have done on the whole trip.  There is a real wholesome and rewarding feeling one receives working the land for a living.  Bill and Carol have made a fine living doing just that.  They have a great appreciation for their property and history that epitomizes the American farmer.  They treated us along with Bill and Laura to a day filled with southern hospitality which of course included some incredible food, especially the pecan pie.  At the end of the day I had driven a combine, filled it with soybeans, transferred it to another tractor and loaded it into a silo.  As I watched the beans flowing into the shoot which threw them into the silo I was overwhelmed with a feeling of pride in taking part in one of the things that has made America great.  After a day on the farm Bill treated us to a fine cigar on his back porch.  When you look back on life you will remember a few special days and for me this will be one of those.

What have I gotten myself into?

I guess I am tall enough for this ride


 
I can not believe this but I think I am lost


You guessed it- That is a real cotton field


Tractors make everything look cool


Look honey I see some corn


Can you imagine picking this by hand?

The fall colors with the lake are beautiful

The river still constantly surprises us
Let the games begin

I never knew there were so many steps to make Whiskey


One of the main things that makes Tennessee Whiskey different from a Kentucky Bourbon is the mellowing process which key ingredient is oak charcoal.  Here we were given the rare opportunity to see the Oak being burned into charcoal.  You might think it is easy but I am told burning oak into charcoal suitable for this process is an art that takes years to perfect.  The fire must be kept at the perfect temperature.  A couple of good old boys stand around with hoses to keep it the right temperature.


Good Old Boys

Had to take a shot of this

Jack Daniels has its own fire department.  I guess you need one when you have two copper topped stills that are ready to blow up if you make the wrong move


This statue of Jack greets his workers every morning.  Did you know Jack's real name was Jasper?  Who would ever buy Jasper Daniels.


You got to share a moment with the man

Every drop of Jack Daniels Whiskey has come from this cave spring.  This cave spring is the main reason that Jack came to this area to make Whiskey.  The water is pure and is the key ingredient in the recipe


Beautiful horses on the farm


Fits like a glove


Bill and Carol's son was married in this barn just 2 weeks before we came.  We saw the pictures and could not believe how cool they made the barn look. 


Bill and Carol also raise beef cattle.  It is a real trip to walk around the farm and see the free range cattle doing their thing in the fields


This tractor would be my Dad's dream


Laura taking a ride on one of the beautiful horses on the farm


Finally I got my opportunity.  Believe it or not I am at the wheel of this monster.  I still can not believe that Bill actually let me drive it


I do have to say that I think he breathed a sigh of relief when I got off it and nothing had gone wrong.

Here is the man himself,  Bill Yancey in his element.  A true southern gentleman and a true friend.  Thanks for the hospitality, it will be tough to beat.

A real sense of pride watching the soy enter the silo


Bill was happy to see the Silo was almost full.  Soon he will be back on the boat



Good food, Good friends, and a fine cigar.  Life on the farm is good


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