I spent much of the seventies and early eighties running a cattle farm in the Maritimes of Canada. Today I live along the Crystal Coast which is part of the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. Many people have heard of Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Duck, and Cape Hatteras which are all part of the Northern Outer Banks.
Few people know about the Southern Outer Banks.
The Southern ones extend south from Cape Lookout and are at their best when the beaches become south facing along the Crystal Coast.
The area is about as far away fromt the Canadian Maritimes as you can get in climate. The name for the area comes from the way the water looks in the summer sunlight.
A couple of weeks ago we had a visit from some friends who were neighbors of ours when we lived in Tay Creek, NB. We had a couple of large farms there and about 200 head of cattle. When we moved from our Tay Ridge Farm in 1984, one of the things that the neighbors gave us was a rock with "Tay Creek" painted on it. Rocks are part of life in Tay Creek. Someone once said that if any of the farmers who settled Tay Creek had any idea of how many rocks they would have to pick over their lives most would have never started farming.
Tay Creek was especially rocky piece of ground which was reserved only the Scots and Irish. The English settlers got much better land. I was lucky in that one of my farms had red soil which had many fewer rocks, but it still had plenty. Sometimes in the spring when we were working our garden on the home place which is just to the right of the red marker on the linked Google map, it would appear that we had more rocks in the garden than soil.
Each time we plowed a field we got a new crop of rocks which mean you had to haul them off the field. A local saying was that the one crop you could count on was rocks. The extremes of temperature and frost always brought more rocks to the surface. We actually witnessed minus forty degrees Fahrenheit in Tay Creek.
We also got nearly twenty-three feet of snow the first year we were there. Some years snow would come by the end of October and not leave until early May. One former neighbor from the area visited us one spring and drove down the Shenandoah Valley in April. He asked my wife, "Tell me why in the world you left this and lived in Tay Creek?"
That perhaps is another story, but we now live in Carteret County which has no rocks and hardly gets any snow. In fact we have to manufacture our rocks for driveways and ditches. The soil is deep and rich. You might find a sea shell, but there are not rocks that have not been hauled into the county.
A couple of days ago the forecast came out that we were going to have a late frost. That put me in a quandry since I had already planted some small tomato plants. Finally I decided that I could put clear plastic cups on top of them. However, with the winds that we sometimes get, I was worried that they might blow off. I could have dug around and found about half as many lead fishing sinkers as I needed, but putting a small rock or two on each cup made more sense. The only problem was that I had no rocks and of course there was no where locally to go pick rocks.
I solved my problem by buying a bag of rocks. I am sure if this news ever gets back to Tay Creek, they'll likely want the rock that they gave me back, or they will probably try to charge me for it. However, I think my purchased creek rocks did great on top on top of my minature greenhouses.
Hopefully my tomato plants will come through as usual. We normally get our first homegrown tomatoes around the first week in June which is about the time when the folks in Tay Creek put their tomato plants in the garden.
Living in Canada was a wonderful experience, but I don't miss the rocks, cold weather, and black flies.