I haven’t written yet about Kentucky because I’m afraid that once I start, I won’t be able to quit. I’m wildly in love with the parts of the state that I’ve seen so far, so much so that we bought a parcel of land.
The Bluegrass State is the horse capital of the world, as it touts itself, but I like to call it the Limestone State.
We’ve driven around the central and western parts, avoiding the east. I don’t want to see the mountaintop removal. It would pierce my heart, I’m sure. I see enough “friends of coal” bumper stickers.
The state is absolutely rife with coal, natural gas and oil. I don’t think there are any old growth forests left; as one of my books has noted, the landscape was “denuded” by the timber companies. We haven’t yet met anyone who doesn’t take hyper-exploitation for granted. Whenever we visit our property, we’re asked very matter of factly if we’re going to drill for gas/oil on it. I’ve learned to try to conceal my horror and just shake my head.
In fact, we just found out that there are three old oil wells on the property. Presumably these have been capped. We haven’t spotted them on our walks, but we haven’t exactly been looking for them either. We’ve been looking for water near the site we’ve selected for a future home, and to that end had a geologist visit. The map we received shows many oil/gas wells in the area, along with fractures in the rock that holds our best hope for water.
Water is an issue in Kentucky. In the rural area where we want to live, most people farm. You don’t see mono-crops in Kentucky. No row after row of corn. You see cows and horses grazing. You see hay rolled up (this is the season for that). You see gardens and fruit trees. You see evidence of bee keeping. I’m sure there is agribusiness in Kentucky, but most farms look small and family operated to me. Like many states, Kentucky hasn’t had a lot of rain in the last few years. Our well driller was telling us about a farmer who has city water plus wells and wants more water yet. The concept of conservation has not taken root.
The psychology of the state is a bit misunderstood, in my opinion. The knee jerk liberal reaction (whenever I do talk about Kentucky) is that gun loving Deliverance type people live there. Well, yes, that is true. But Kentucky is a split personality. Like all of the Northern states, Kentucky had slaves. But like the Northern states, when push came to shove, they entered the Civil War on the Union side. This matters.
Kentucky was never home for indigenous people, either. Seneca and other nations used it as hunting grounds. I haven’t done a lot of research on this yet, so I don’t know why Native Americans didn’t settle in the area, but I don’t think there are any massacre sites in the state.
And yes, the Creation Museum is tax supported. We drive by it. I haven’t been there, but I hear tell that the T-Rex, who is standing next to Adam and Eve in the Garden, has a saddle on it. Okay, that is embarrassing.
People do like their religion but they are also into sin. The Volstead Act was actively defied in Kentucky with moon shiners supplying bourbon whiskey for the nation. Kentucky has always grown tobacco. And though this isn’t widely known, Kentucky lags only California in marijuana growing. You can’t convince me that all of that sin is for export only.
Privacy is valued. I think there is an intrinsic understanding that privacy is crucial for liberty to exist. Some of the gun toting is a reflection of that ideology.
The people we’ve met so far love to tell stories and they’re pretty good at it. But when you walk away from a conversation, you realize that very little personal information has been revealed. Here in Yankee country, I can hear all about someone’s sex life just standing in line at the grocery store.
The rural area where we will live has, like rural areas all over the country, been severely affected by methamphetamine. I don’t think there is a family on the mountain that hasn’t been directly impacted by the scourge.
The first neighbor we met was worrying out loud that we’d “fall in with the wrong people.” When I asked who they were, she just said, very sadly, “drugs.”
I learned later that her son was disabled for life in a meth cooking accident. When our agent was looking for people to do some work on the property, he struck out. Everyone that did that work was either “dead or in jail.”
The War on Drugs has utterly failed these people.
We met this neighbor, a 77 year old woman, when she was walking around on the mountain, looking for ginseng. She’s lived her whole life on the same mountain.
I hope when I’m her age, I’m still walking around on the mountain.