Leather Britches

Shucky beans

leather britches, leather britches beans noun
Green beans put on a thread or string (as at a bean stringing), dried in the pod by hanging on the porch or by the fireplace or by laying in trays or on scaffolds in the sun, and preserved for later boiling in water and winter consumption. 
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 292 Beans dried in the pod then boiled, "hull and all," are called leather -breeches. 1939 Hall Coll. Hazel Creek NC They'd dry their beans, yes. They'd dry leather britches beans they called it. I dry mine in the sun. My grandmother dried hers on a string, hung them up in the porch or around the fireplace and dried 'em. I still dry those leather britches beans. That's what they called 'em then. (Clara Crisp) 1957 Parris My Mts 212 It's a flour sack filled with dried beans-in-the-hull which mountain folks call "leather-britches." 1975 Jackson Unusual Words 155 Dried beans had numerous names-leather-britches, fodder beans, shuck beans, and dry hulls. 1977 Shields Cades Cove 36 These were known as "leather britches" beans, and when rehydrated, cooked, and properly seasoned, they were delicious. 1978 Montgomery White Pine Coll. III-2 Our beans we would dry them. They called them leather britches, and you'd string them on your string till you got something like a yard long, then you'd hang them in the smokehouse or somewhere when it was warm weather and they'd dry out. Then all you'd have to do in the winter if you took a notion for green beans why you could go get your leather britches and put them in the water and soak them overnight and you'd just have a  livelier spell of green beans than you ever had when they come out of the garden. 1982 Smokies Heritage 66 = long string beans strung together by needle and thread then hung upon the cabin or smokehouse wall to dry. 1986 Ogle Lucinda 50 So they would dry fruit and berries of all kinds also string green beans with a needle and thread and hang to dry. These were called fodder or leather britches. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


It's been a few years since we've strung up any leather britches, but we've got them on our to do list for this summer. If you've never had leather britches they are very good, but have a completely different taste than fresh green beans or ones that have been canned. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing August 5, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. Unicoi State Park  in Helen GA.

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It's Lay By Time

Packsaddles hide in the corn and sting you

Lay by verb phrase To leave a crop to mature after hoeing it for a final time late in the summer. When a farmer has the crop "laid by," the labors of plowing, planting, and cultivating are over, and he can sit back until the crop is ripe. 1834 Crockett Narrative 154 Having laid by my crap, I went home, which was a distance of about a hundred and fifty miles. 1905 Cole Letters 80 Soon as crops is laid by if I live expecting to here from you soon I remain your son. 1953 Hall Coll. Bryson City NC The spring of the year come, why [Jake Welch, a neighbor] went to plowing and planting his corn, and beans, and potatoes, and things-cultivating that stuff at home. He'd take care of that ontil he got through and got his crop laid by. He'd generally get it done laying by corn in the latter part of July. (Granville Calhoun) 1955 Dykeman French Broad 322 The third or fourth week in August, when crops were "laid by" and "garden truck" was at its most plentiful, families within a radius of many miles put finishing touches on their arrangement to attend camp meetings. 1976 Carter Little Tree 90 "Laying -by" time was usually in August. That was the time of the year when farmers were done with plowing and hoeing weeds out of their crops four or five times, and the crops was big enough now that they "laid by," that is, no hoeing or plowing while the crops ripened and they waited to do the gathering. 1979 Smith White Rock 47 All cornfields were hoed at least three times; the last time was called "laying it by." 1995 Weber Rugged Hills 67 "Well," someone will say, "the corn is 'laid-by' for this year." What they mean is that there will be no more hoeing or cultivation. Crops are now tall enough so that they won't be crowded out by weeds. Any weeds growing in the rows will be left where they are. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


We didn't plant any corn this year, but Granny has more than made up for it. She's planted corn at pretty much every corner of her garden and yard. Every time I think she's through with her corn planting she'll tell me she planted a few more little rows. None of her corn patches get enough sun so it's doubtful any of it will actually make, but she sure does like planting it and hoping it will. 


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Planting by the Signs Calendar - July 2017

Planting by the signs calendar for July 2017

The Deer Hunter and I wanted to get a late planting of beans, cucumbers, and squash in the ground, but between the rain and work we've only managed to get another row of Yonce Beans planted. Not sure if we'll get the cucumbers and squash in time for them to produce before fall. 

I know a few folks who live farther south than us who've had to give up their garden due to the excessive rain that's fallen in their area so I'm not complaining one bit about our rainy days. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Friday July 7 @ 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at the Art Walk in Murphy NC and on Sunday July 9 @ 1:00 p.m. at the Festival on the Square in Hayesville NC.

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Wild Berries in Appalachia

Wild berries in western nc

This time of the year, I start checking on the blackberries that grow wild around my house. The berries are just now beginning to ripen. A recent email from a Blind Pig reader got me to thinking about the other wild berries that grow here.


Dewberries are similar to blackberries in appearance and in taste. Dewberry brambles are smaller than their cousin the blackberry. Dewberries also have more of a twining vine look to them. 

Around my house dewberries grow in the same areas blackberries do, as in across the road from each other. Although dewberries are just as tasty as blackberries they don't usually bear the same quantity of fruit that blackberries do.

Wild blueberries 

Of all the berries blueberries are hands down my favorite. If nothing happens the ones I have planted in my yard look to hold the biggest harvest I've ever gotten. I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed the birds don't find them.

Lucky for me wild blueberries also grow around my mountain holler and they're already ripe. I found the little patch above growing along the bank of Steve's (my brother) driveway. Kinda selfish, but I haven't told anyone else because I'm eating them all by myself. And I'm hoping by next year the wild blueberry bushes will multiply...then maybe I'll share my secret.


Huckleberries are similar in taste to blueberries, but they are much smaller and don't get ripe till later in the season. Huckleberries grow all around my holler, but especially up on the ridge behind my house. The little patch in the photo is growing along the trail leading from Pap and Granny's house to ours. When Chitter and Chatter were younger I used to watch for them when it was time for the school bus. They had a pretty far piece to walk. During the first weeks of school I knew they'd make pit stops at the huckleberry bushes that grow along the trail-eating their way home.

Another common berry around my house are gooseberries or at least they used to be common. I went to the bush I remembered being near Pap's garage to get a picture, but it's no where to be seen. I believe the last time the EMC trimmed they must have gotten it. Gooseberries are a greenish color and are shaped like blueberries. They have a sweet taste, but not as sweet as blueberries.

The season for wild strawberries has passed. Unfortunately I've never found many growing around our place or Pap and Granny's. There used to be a wild raspberry down below Pap's but it's been gone for years, mowed down for new driveways and homes. 

Lot's of folks gather elderberries, but I wouldn't know one if I seen one! I do wonder if they grow close by. Pap told me he was sure I could find some along the creek between here and the folk school, but I've never looked. 

Hope you'll leave me a comment and tell me about the wild berries around your place. Oh and be sure to drop back by in a few days for some berry picking tips from Blind Pig readers.


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How Does My Garden Grow?

How does my garden grow June 2017
Our garden is lush and beautiful. Everything is thriving and things are beginning to produce. Fresh veggies = the best eating of the year if you ask me.

Yonce beans

Our Yonce Beans have been picked once and are almost ready for another go around.

Sow true Seed Garden
Cucumbers and squash are beginning to come in and tomatoes are green and growing. My candyroaster in the backyard may reach you folks in TN before the summer is over-its monstrous! Pumpkins and zucchini are coming along too. 

Grapes and apples in appalachia
Looks like our grape harvest will be our best ever. Apples are looking good too, although both trees have many brown leaves from the last hard freeze of spring. Hopefully we can do some pruning before next year's fruit sets.

Hope you'll tell me how your garden is fairing so far this summer. 


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Help a Blind Pig Reader Solve a Mystery

Bean flowers brighten the dark

A few days ago I received the following email from Blind Pig and The Acorn reader Sue Simmons:

Tipper maybe you can solve this mystery for me we had  beautiful green beans in bloom, staked, and they were six feet tall. We went out to look at the garden and all the leaves were off, looked like they had been cut off very clean. The blooms were still there pretty as could be no leaves. A week or so later beans were beautiful with lots of green leaves, next day all leaves perfectly clipped off. We have two green beans, one for my husband and one for me. We looked for deer tracks but didn't see any and no bugs of any kind. What has happened here?? Maybe you or your readers can solve this mystery. Your comments will be appreciated.

My first thought was that rabbits ate Sue's bean leaves, but then I realized she said they were six feet tall so I hope there's no rabbit that tall walking around! Could it be a bird of some sort? 

If you have any guesses at what could be eating Sue's bean leaves please leave a comment and tell us about it. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing at Unicoi State Park this Saturday June 17 at 8:00 p.m. 

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Planting by the Signs Calendar - June 2017

Planting calendar for June 2017We've been getting plenty of rain and sunshine and our garden is thriving because of it. We also topped off the garden with a fresh load of mushroom compost so I'm sure that extra dose of nutrients is helping too.

Almost an entire row of beans failed to come up and the other two rows came up pretty spotty. Over the weekend we replanted them all and I'm hoping this time the seeds do like they're supposed to and sprout. 

Drop back by in the next few days and I'll show you how the garden is growing.


The winner of Southern Mountain Speech by Cratis D. Williams was Tamela who said: 

"The only ones I'm familiar with are "keen" (as first described and in describing a well-sharpened tool), "knob" (in these parts it's usually a hill out in the middle of flatlands - "Pilot Knob" south of here, as the name suggests, is a landmark which pilots used to orient themselves before modern navigation instruments), and kernel (which not only is used to describe hard lumps that form just under or on top of the skin but also to describe "corns" which often form on the toes from wearing ill-fitting shoes). When I was growing up, "keen" was also used to express appreciation or admiration of something as in "That's a keen sweater you're wearing" much the same as "nifty" or "cool" were the slang of the day - only "cool" seems to have survived the passage of time. It saddens me, although I know it's true, that some people think the use of terms like these indicate a lack of education. It reminds me of a student (7th grade) I once had who had written a wonderful short story with just the right amount of local descriptors and vernacular to bring the story to life. I praised her skills, not only of observation, but also of expression and encouraged her to enter her story in a coming competition. Unfortunately, her English teacher had other ideas and thought it was "too common". The child never showed me another story - I was only the Science teacher. I do hope she found encouragement elsewhere and is writing today. Being able to use colloquial speech without mocking the speech and without being derogatory enhances the setting of the story and the understanding of the characters - she had that gift."

Email me your address Tamela and I'll get the book in the mail!


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday June 3, 2017 @ 1:30 p.m. Art, River & Music Festival - Murphy NC and on Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. Vogel State Park - Blarisville GA.

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Sevin Dust or a Natural Remedy for Garden Bugs?

Organic pest control in the garden 
Pap's old sevin dust can

We don't usually have issues with bugs doing damage to our garden. There's always  Japanese beetles on the beans but not much else that we have to deal with. Pap swore by Sevin dust, but I'd rather not use it unless I have to. 

A quick google will turn up all sorts of homemade insecticides-like:

  • water mixed with dish detergent
  • water mixed with pepper flakes or chopped hot peppers
  • pee-I think I might rather have sevin dust than pee
  • planting marigolds or nasturtiums around the garden-I always plant nasturiums and marigolds maybe that helps keep my bug issues at a minimum 
  • oily mixture made from dish detergent or peppers
  • a sprinkle of wheat bran
  • a sprinkle of tobacco dust-not sure where you'd get that unless you grew tobacco or knew someone who did
  • a tea made from tobacco and water-most recipes said this type of insecticide should be used sparingly due to the high nicotine content
  • releasing friendly bug eating bugs in your garden like ladybugs
  • pick the bugs off by hand and drown in a jug of water-this would take the patience of Job if you had a big garden, but I know folks who do it every year

The only homemade insecticide I've ever used from the list above is the pepper/oil mixture. Maybe my recipe was off, but it didn't work for me.

How about you-do you use the old stand by sevin dust or have you found a more natural remedy that works?



  • The Pressley Girls will be playing Friday May 26 at 5:30 on the square in Hayesville, NC.
  • The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday May 27 at 7:00 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater in Bryson City NC. The cost of admission is 10 dollars and all money raised will be used for maintenance of the Lauada Cemetery.
  • The Pressley Girls will also be performing Sunday May 28 at 12:00 p.m. in Blairsville GA at the Spring Arts and Crafts Festival.

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Jacob's Onions

Best way to eat green onions

Jacob’s onion noun A green onion.
1975 Purkey Madison Co 53-54 A variety of vegetables grew in long neat rows; tender green onions (called Jacob’s onions), peas, beets, carrots, radishes, lettuce, beans, parsnips, tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet and Irish potatoes. Ibid. 106 I will never forget the endless bundles of crisp sping onions with their long white heads and slender green blades, which my mother prepared for market. Mama called them “Jacob’s Onions.” I don’t’ know why unless it was because they were so prolific.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I have never heard green onions called Jacob's Onions have you?


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Garden Update - Lettuce Trial and A New Bed

Sow True Seed Lettuce

I planted my trial set of Sow True Seed Lettuce Seed on April 2. In a little over a week the seeds had all sprouted. Currently they are up and growing. Let me give you the run down on how they're doing so far.

Sow True Seed Romaine Lettuce

The Parris Island Romaine came up in a sort of spoty fashion. There are thriving little bunches and then you can see the spaces where the seeds didn't come up as uniform. The seeds that did germinate are thriving and seem to be growing quickly.

Sow True Seed Buttercrunch Lettuce

The Buttercrunch didn't come up as well at the Romaine and isn't quite as healthy looking either. I'm hoping it will catch up though.

Sow True Seed Jericho Lettuce

Jericho germinated the best out of the three varieties, I'm hoping that's a good sign that it will indeed stand up to hotter temps as spring progressing into summer as its supposed to.

How to build cheap raised beds

I think I told you our raised beds had to be replaced. There used to be 2 beds in the space you can see in the photo. Having two beds so close together left a space in between that was impossible to mow and hard to weed-eat after the tomatoes grow tall.

With finances being tight The Deer Hunter decided to use some of the trees we had to take down a while back for the sides. He scotched them in place with rebar and filled in the gaps underneath with pieces of wood and dirt. The logs will eventually rot, just like the boards did before, but even if they deteriorate a little faster the logs were a quick fix when we needed it. 


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