I’m in the middle of Nowhere, GA, USA, down a long, flat two lane road flanked by silos and pastures, and the pavement my tires are rolling across are usually traveled by farm vehicles and semis. There’s no swarm of tourists outside a gate surrounding this White House, and my town of “Nowhere” happens to be somewhere, which happens to be a Bed and Breakfast called the White House Farm in Montezuma, Georgia.
Instead of uptight men in suits at the end of the drive, you’ll find a couple of blond Newfoundland’s who may or may not care that you’ve arrived. Watch your feet for half a dozen of the farm cat population, and take a deep breath of that pungent farm air when you step out of your car. After the first one, you hardly notice the smell of cow/hay/goat/chicken.
I can’t help but preface this by saying I don’t classify myself as a B&B kinda gal. I’m an anything-goes kinda gal, but that usually means a hostel or a castle or a quant little inn. When on a trip for a major holiday with The Boyfriend’s family, howeva; all fourteen of us just aren’t gonna fit in the two bedroom house his grand daddy built. Add to that the fact that one hundred and twenty miles south west of Atlanta, the towns that are strung together by the green of a cash crop, peach tree grove or the pine tree farms with each of their offerings forced into perfect rows and that’s not the kind of place you’ll find a major hotel chain. The connections break only for small white churches with modest spires, dirt and grass parking lots and neglected graves; not for a Marriott, Holiday Inn or a Ritz.
We’re scheduled to spend three nights at the White House farm, the first two of which the Yoders’ will be absent and we’ll be on our own. The back door to the big white house is left open, if you follow the signs to the far right side of the building and up the stairs with a turn that only offers a two foot clearance, head through the screen door, and through the kitchen you’ll find the rooms. I recommend holding your bag chest height if you want to make the angle on the stairs without being stuck or impaled.
We’ve been told that the door is open and that we’ll be staying in the Rose Room, which is the second of three doors on the left. The three rooms on the right are the bathrooms, which a silent directive that there will be no nekkid sleepin’ in this B&B! At least, not without consequence in the form of getting dressed for a 2am visit to the loo or streaking across the hall. In said cozy bathroom there’s a note over the sink telling me not to drink the water due to Nitrates (que tal?), and an oddly angular shower that you have take a step up to, in order to take a step in. Still, it offers well water by way of a soft spray instead of a powerful stream, but it makes my hair soft and reminds me of home in Anchorage as a kid and drying off from a bath on the hearth in front of a hot little Duraflame with my mom holding a towel behind me to trap the heat and hide my hiney.
Back in the room and complete with a tag that says “Rose”, we find two keys in a porcelain tray on an antique dresser between two double beds. At the foot of one, a box air conditioning unit is parked in one of the windows and this romances me, since I’ve only seen them on television. Seriously. I’m not sure I believed they really existed and weren’t just something Hollywood invited to communicate oppressive heat in moving pictures.
I have to rewind and revisit: double beds. When my PFL called to make the reservation, did he use the term “girlfriend”? Is this an oversight, a failure to note a sleeping preference or a religious standard being imposed? There are only three rooms, perhaps the third (which I know has a queen) is under…renovation? No matter. I’m here to relax. Maybe I’ll even sleep better and snore less without the human space heater pressed up against me.
Over our entirely-too-early-for-a-pseudo-vacation breakfast coffee on the screened in porch our first morning, we see that a few turkeys have escaped their pen. They’re running along side their brothers and sisters on the other side of the wire back and forth and forth and back before a neighbor woman comes by to try to usher them back in. She’s in her dress and veil and hose and good shoes, carrying an umbrella in the mist that’s falling that morning and looks a bit defeated before she even tries. She must have done this before. A few minutes pass before she gives up, and on her way back to her car we exchange a few words. I’m left unsettled knowing her mission wasn’t accomplished, because, as anyone who knows me will tell you: I’m one of those people who just cares too damn much.
I continue sipping my coffee in my flannel jammies with ironic roses on them (a gift from my step mother three Christmases ago) with wild bed hair and crusty eyes when I say to The Mc “we could go catch ‘em and put ‘em back in”; and he looks at me like I need to pass the crack pipe. “Come on,” I say, “it’s Thanksgiving. What better start could you ask for than a little turkey wrestlin’!?” He dismisses me, but the thought is lingering and spiraling and there’s already a picture being painted in my mind of just how this is going to go down.
A few minutes later his cousin Horace and Horaces’ wife Janelle join us, and the conversation is revisited. I explain about the animals poor eyesight, how all you have to do is hug them to keep the wings from flapping, and how they really don’t move that fast. This is all knowledge I wish I could say I learned back home in the wild untamed last frontier, but more likely it was the boob tube and my guy Mike on Dirty Jobs or some random fact book during an extended visit to the ladies.
Either way, they don’t believe I’m serious, and I finally say “well, I’m going down to wrassle me some turkeys. Besides, just look at ‘em. They want to be back with their friends!” at which point The Mc, while trying not to pee from laughing at me completely bows out and gestures me forward.
After a quick change into jeans and a long sleeved tee shirt, I find cousin Horace prepared to escort me on my farm adventure. Once on the ground and in the midst of Big Turkey Love, I walk up and lift my arms, thinking I need to make myself look bigger. It works. We easily herd the convicts into a corner and one gets his head through a 2×3’ break in the fence. I imagine he thought he could squeeze through the opening? The self trapping makes the capture considerably easier on me, since now all I have to do is get behind him, pull him gently back out of his wire noose and walk him to the door. Horace opens the flap in the wire wall as we lather rinse and repeat. I give 4 of 6 escapees a hug and deliver them home, and Horace (being a greater adventurer than my own man) gives it a go and hugs the other two back home.
The event was well documented by The Mc with my schmancy new camera from the safety of the screened in porch with the tin roof (PS it was sprinkling and the rain sounded like angels had brand new taps on their shoes, and were dancin’ on the top of the house). The blur in the photo is no doubt due in part to his convulsions while giggling in a way no grown man ever should as he watched me waddle like a zombie to pick up a beachball size and weight creature that wanted nothing more than to click it’s heels claws and go home.
With our first adventure complete, I was free to walk the property and take pictures of their animals up close; which made me sadly aware that we were on a working dairy farm. There was a Holstein with an utter so full I could swear she was bowlegged and I could feel her skin pull as she walked across the field to catch up to her pals. I love milk, but not enough for her to hurt. There were peacocks hiding in massive pecan trees, pheasants ducking behind their egg laying bins, goats running and playing like a pack of puppies. They made my heart warm and sad at the same time – wanting to know and love each one of them and being aware that they aren’t pets…they’re food.
We spent the majority of our three days in the area a few miles away from the B&B with family, but were able to have a home cooked breakfast our final morning. The Yoders’ were back from a family reunion in Alabama with 109 folks in attendance (and I thought 14 was an overwhelming number!), and Ms. Edna whipped up a heck of a parting buffet. At 7:30 we were seated in the kitchen overlooking our friends the turkeys (there seemed to be less of them now…) when she came in escorted by her son to drop the freshly made plates. Scrambled eggs (who I may or may not have met 48 hours prior), ham,, raspberry stuffed French toast, fresh bread, fresh strawberry jam, grits and a fruit “slush” made up of pineapple, grapefruit and banana blended then frozen were laid out before us and devoured.
According to a pamphlet I picked up in the kitchen, the Mennonites believe in 30 very specific (and numbered) bits of the bible, and based on my potentially tipsy state when speed reading approximately twenty 2×4” pages, I can roll it up to an executive level and say they have and extensive relationship with 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. There is great avert-your-eyes-intimacy with the rules about women’s hair (never to be cut, always to be veiled) and with men being closer to God than their women folk.
The last bit may have bothered me if I hadn’t met Ms. Edna that last morning and experienced her cutting wit and wonderful sarcasm, because her ability to throw one line zingers right back at cousin Horace with a straight face proved to me once and for all that these women weren’t missing a thing. In fact, they might be sexier than many mainstream American women, with those few inches of ankle exposed between the hem of a dress and the white socks scrunched down and escaping the tops of running shoes.
Who I am to judge either way? A turkey hugging city living ex Alaskan with a lame eye and a knitting addiction. None of that has anything to do with anything, which is precisely my point.
You don’t need to be particularly religious to visit the Mennonite community, nor “one of those B&B travelers” to enjoy their hospitality, nor do you need to be a farmer to enjoy the animals or a cook to enjoy the food. What you need to be is open, genuine, hungry and adventurous because when you head out to hang at the White House Farm in South Georgia, you never know what will be waiting for you. Mostly likely it’ll be cats, but there might be something else, too.
The White House Farm and B&B
Price: $171 for 3 nights (with a discount since the proprietors were absent) I *think* the rate is $89/night
Reservations: Don’t bother emailing or looking at their website just call. 478-472-7942
Amenities: Farm animals, quiet roads to run or cycle on, fresh air. It’s a farm.
Likelihood of a return visit: 80%
Distance from Atlanta: 120 miles
Time to visit: Late summer when the gnats are dying down but it’s still warm enough for the locally made ice cream from the farm next door.
Take two of many, with thanks to Sherrie and Leah for their love, support and very constructive criticism. More constructive feedback still welcome, and if you want to see the rest of the pictures just hit my Thanksgiving set on Flickr.