Merry Christmas from the Barkley's Mill Family
The Barkley family thoroughly embraces farm life and the cycles that come with growing heirloom corn and producing stone ground grits at our mill in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. Springtime planting leads to the long summer growing season. With fall comes harvest, an especially busy time when the corn is meticulously picked, shucked and sorted by hand. A quiet period, when the corn slowly air dries in the crib, precedes the winter shelling and milling season. Once the milling is complete, it’s time to start prepping again for another planting season.
The rhythm of these seasons was not always second nature to the Barkleys. Prior to 1986 and establishing Southern Cross Farm, home to Barkley’s Mill and Stoned Happy Grits, in Barnardsville, North Carolina, the family lived in nearby Asheville, “in town,” as they say.
Ensconced in the lap of the land for three decades now, the family appreciates the blessings the farm bestows during the passing seasons of growing and crafting corn into non-GMO stone ground grits.
The Christmas season brings its own special blessings to three generations of the Barkley family who call Southern Cross Farm home. Family matriarch Iris Barkley recalls the family’s first Christmas on the farm, a time when she and her husband were just settling in to their new home with their three young daughters.
"We had moved out to our new farm with much excitement for our new life adventure. Having lived in "town" for a decade and all of the girls’ lives, farm living was definitely going to be a change.
Our first Christmas was met with feelings of difference for Jim and me, but the girls were off the chart with joyful giggles and wonder. We bought our Christmas tree. Unfortunately, there were none small enough on the farm that we could cut down ourselves.
We were able to find all of our ornaments, much to my surprise! I knew they would be on the bottom of the stack in the back of the storage building, the hardest place to get to, and sure enough, they were. We finally unearthed them, and the girls began tearing through the ornaments with screams of "I made this one!" and, "I remember when we got this one!" and "Grandmother gave us this one!"
For some reason everything seemed newer this year ... as if it was our first Christmas! Jim, being the calm of the festive storm in the room, reminded all of us that we needed to wait on the ornaments; lights had to be put on first. He quickly did his duty, and then it was time for the angel.
I had bought a beautiful angel when Jim and I married and I LOVED this angel! Everyone began searching for her. I found the box where I always stored her but, no angel. The girls could tell I was quite upset at the possibility of not finding our special angel.
Auburn, our oldest daughter, jumped to the rescue and told us not to worry; she would MAKE us a new one. She ran upstairs and we had no idea what she and her creative mind would give us.
It's crazy how the smallest things can mean the most. It wasn't long before Auburn came bounding down the stairs with her rendition of a Christmas angel. Made from several colors of tissue paper, tape, magic marker, and tons of love, was the most beautiful angel we could ever dream of adorning the top of our Christmas tree!
Jim and I were so touched by our first farm Christmas special moment. Our "new" angel continues to put a smile on our faces, during Christmas, 30 years later!"
Whatever your holiday tradition, we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
From the Barkley Family to yours!