Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Bootlegger's Hole and Other Farm Mysteries

On Sunday Adam and I had a helpful conversation with a church lady regarding the mysterious hole in our yard, which you can read about here. Her information was quite intriguing!
We described the hole to her: 4' by 5' rectangle, about 5' deep, well-sealed with cement block walls, very dry, empty, unused. We told her that since there was no line or connection to the house it could not have been a septic system, which was her first assumption.
But she declared it could not be some kind of cold storage; nobody in Pamlico County that she'd ever heard of (and she's lived her all her 100 years), ever dug a root cellar like that in their yard. She also stated it's probably not an outhouse hole simply because it was never used. What kind of family would make such an expensive potty hole and never use it?
Then she stated her personal opinion from years ago living in the county: it's a bootlegger's hole. Yep! Some of you friends on Facebook who guessed that, were probably right.
Our friend Cricket (her nickname from childhood because she was so active) described rural Pamlico County in the early and mid-1900s as legally remote; everybody did what they wanted to do, minded their own business, and the "law" did not intervene much in small-time crime. Evidently such hidey-holes for stashing illegal alcohol and moonshine were not unusual. Ours is now covered up again:
 I'm standing in the driveway behind the house. This bootlegger's hole was in plain sight, right by the pasture gate, although if it is very old -- 1920s? 1930s? -- perhaps that was the back of the property. I'd like to uncover some old county maps to find out. I'm not sure when "whoever" decided to cover it with a flower bed. Was that to prevent anyone falling it? Or was it the ultimate disguise, to dissuade the revenue man from digging there? Hard to tell.
And that's not the only unusual finding on this farm - oh no!
A while back I was nosing around in the orchard-cum-chicken-yard, and I noticed in the corner beneath apple tree and posts ... several very large conch shells.
 What in the world were they doing there? They didn't drift in from the sea. Did someone put them there? Why? Because they're good for apple trees? But why not put them under more trees? It's a mystery, but now I know why my hens gravitated to that corner first; they were pecking at those shells. Seashells (I've read) provide a cheap source of grit and calcium for chickens.
I wish I could get a better photo of this object below. It's a big round coconut. In our orchard. Yeah ... I know! That's poison ivy all around it, so I did not delve in too vigorously.
 I first noticed it in the winter when nothing was growing there and it stood out. Thing is ... I'm sure it wasn't there the winter before. I trimmed all those apple trees and spent quite a bit of time in the orchard. Wouldn't I have noticed it? Well ... I think so. In our growing dotage, it's hard to be sure.
poison ivy on post with coconut at base
 The chickens came arunnin', as they do. "What's that crazy woman up to now?" they cackled.
 The dogs lifted their heads.
I gathered these unusual farm finds in one post because another one occurred yesterday. Twice, as I exited the kitchen door to the porch, my very-long, flowy farm skirt caught on something at the base of the door frame. The second time, I looked down to find out what it was. And it was a sharp piece of metal, slim, small and rectangular, sticking out of the wood at the base of the door jamb. "Adam!" I hollered, "Could you come check this out?" He pulled it out with some pliers. It was the tip end of a knife.

Really? How did that happen? When did it happen? Somebody stuck a sharp knife blade into the bottom of the door jamb, broke the blade off, and left the tip in there. I shivered thinking that none of us, in nearly two years, had sliced open a foot on that piece of metal. That would have been yet another trip to the Minor Emergency!


  1. Wow! Life is interesting at your place! It's a regular treasure hunt! Are the dogs in some kind of enclosure? I wonder if folks have been visiting your farm leaving gifts or if the chickens have been unearthing things in their scratching. Yeah, the knife thing is kind of scary and the bootlegger hole is a fantastic bit of history! :)

  2. What a pity your treasure hole was empty. But still an intriguing story. I suppose the flower bed was there to help the owner locate the loot. There is a local rumour that we have a WWII air raid shelter under our garden. There is a slight bump in the lawn. But I have never felt like investigating in case I dig up the lawn for no reason.

  3. Wow, sounds like an interesting place! It's always fun to find things we need to research and learn about. I've learned a lot today......

  4. Very cool finding about the Bootlegger's Hole. It's amazing that you had a 100 year old resident to talk to about it. I'll bet she has lots of interesting stories to tell.


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