Newspaper Archive of
Spring Hope Enterprise
Spring Hope , North Carolina
September 14, 1978     Spring Hope Enterprise
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September 14, 1978

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PAGE 6 -- SPRING HOPE ENTERPRISE, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1978 Fodder Pull Helps Conservation Of Blueb" By BEN CASEY This is a story about bluebirds, or better still, about one man's untiring, around-the-clock effort to preserve and foster the al- most completely diminished population of the bluebird. It is important to point out that we are not talking about the common bluejay, but the little delicate bluebird which practically became extinct in this area in the late 1940's and early 1950's. In December of 1971, Jack Finch of the Mount Pleasant Community was working in his yard with his son when a particular "bird's chirping caught his ear. It was a entle sound, sort of like "tur-wee, tur-wee." Finch and son, Kelly, didn't see the author of that voice that day, but the next two days were ones of unpa- ralleled excitement for the Finch family. For the first time in 36 years, Jack Finch saw a family of bluebirds right in his own yard. "I stopped everything we were doing that afternoon and we built seven bluebird boxes. I had been reading conservation articles in ma- gazines on saving birds and had read one article that had described how to build homes for bluebirds," he said. That initial excitement did not diminish at all in Jack Finch's mind. It wasn't long before he had the local Ruritan Club involved and Homes for Bluebirds, Inc., was founded. It is a non- profit corporation headed by Finch and Ronald Bissette of Bailey, which, in the last few years was built and distri- buted thousands of bluebird boxes. To understand this man's involvement in such a pro- ject is not only to under- stand his unique personality, but it also requires an under- standing of the uniqueness of the bluebird. "The bluebird is a friend to the farmer. He is not a td-eating bird. He eats mainly insects and almost ROOSTING PLACE-Jack Finch shows how openings in the fodder stacks made perfect hideaways for bluebirds to never damages any cultivat- ed crops. Bluebirds have even been known to reduce the population of harmful insects," said Finch. "They don't like to live in urban areas, nor do they like dense woods. They used to thrive in knot holes in natur- al fence posts and in old apple orchards. With the coming of treated fence posts and the passing of many family apple orchards, natural habitats for the birds became scarce. "But the loss of a natural habitat wasn't the main kil- ler of the bluebirds in this area. In the late 1940's, pot- type oil curets with six-inch smoke stacks and rain caps that had no bird screen or guard were installed by the thousands in flue-curing to- bacco barns. In the spring nesting season, bluebirds en- tered the smoke stacks pro- truding above the barn roof in search of places to nest. "After descending 25 to 30 feet into the flues, the birds became trapped in the burn- er or fire chamber. Some farmers remember removing as many as 20 or more bluebirds from the stacks in one barn. Pleas and demands for action by concerned bird lovers failed to stop this needless slaughter. It is esti- mated that as many as two million bluebirds were kil- led in this fashion up until about 1955, at which time the local populations of blue- birds in tobacco-producing areas had virtually been wiped out," Finch sadly re- marked. Finch is collecting material for a book which he envi- sions as a pictorial history of the bluebird. In so doing he discovered that many old- timers remember that blue- birds used to roost in fodder stacks; therefore, be wanted to include a photograph of a fodder stack in his material. Finch wanted to obtain an original photograph of a fod- der stack. He and his wife Ruby spent untold hours on the telephone trying to lo- cate one. He contacted the yearbook division of the United States Department of Agriculture but their search was futile. roost in the old days. The stack protected them from the chin winter air. When wife, Ruby, receiv- ed one final call from the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D. C., with the bad news that they definitely could not locate any photos of a fodder stack, Jack Finch decided to create his own stack and photo- graph it. Like his effort to save the bluebirds, Finch's effort to recreate a fodder pulling scene depicted total involve- ment in the cause. He solicit- ed the help of old-timers in the neighborhood who had pulled fodder in their young- er years. He searched the surrounding countryside for a corn field that had tall stalks planted far apart, similar to the way corn was planted years ago. More than a dozen of his "neighbors and friends show- ed up that hot morning in mid-August. They were all in their 60's or 70's but that did not seem to slow them down at all as they attacked the corn field. It was a festive occasion, like a reunion, as they recounted experiences they had farming in the days before mechanization. After pulling the fodder on about a third of an acre, cool watermelons were sliced and eaten at the end of the rows. Then, after a few more rows had been pulled, another old time custom was recreated as the workers stopped this time for a pull on a jug of cider. Once the workers had been coaxed back to their jobs from the cider, Ruby and a friend, Mrs. Sydney Boone, carried a note pad and tape recorder into the field to interview the men about their experiences with fodder and to determine whether any recalled seeing bluebirds make winter-time roosting havens in the stacks. Several of the men recalled quite vividly the scene from days gone by and remembered flushing blue- birds from the stacks when they went to them to get fodder for feed. While some of the over- heard conversations about work and play in the corn- fields had to be edited sev- erely, the information helped document the material which Finch hopes to include in his book. Those pulling fodder that day included Everett Glover, Billy Bissette, Eddie Bis- sette, Hugh Wester, Eddie Williams, Paul Pace, Don Glisson, Charles Creech, Sydney Boone Sr., Julian Whitley, Herbert Murray and Finch. Several days later, when the fodder was dry, Hugh Wester and Herbert Murray joined Finch in the field to help tie into large bundles the small bundles of fodder that had been hung on the corn stalks. A tall pole was anchored four feet into the ground and the large bun- dles were stacked around the pole. Night Work Fodder, like tobacco, comes in order, and is easier to handle at night when the moisture in the air gives more body to the leaves. To add further authenticity to the event, Finch returned to the corn field near midnight one Friday evening at full moon to recreate the scene of one man standing on top of the stack catching bundles of fodder from workers be- low and stacking them around the pole. Later, when the fodder stack had settled and dried even more, still another visit was made to the field to take daylight photographs illus- trating the places in the stacks that bluebirds would enter to roost. Is Jack Finch a fanatic about projects like this? "Yes!" he exclaims. "You got to be fanatical if you are going to get involved enough to get something done. Homes for Bluebirds needs all the help it can get to help bring back the bluebird to this area. The average per- son just doesn't get fired up enough to be of great help. "I often wonder how much we could accomplish if we had the money to spend on this project that someone might spend on just one car like a Mercedes. We could hire one full time person and keep them busy all the time in this effort if we had the funds," Finch lamented. Jack Finch is not your average bird watcher. He is not at all like the some- times comical creature hid- ing behind bushes with bino- culars to observe man's fea- thered friends. Having been a farmer for many years and now in his 60's, he is sort of retired, but his athletic physique and sun tan make him look 20 years younger than his real age. Allowing his son, Dan, and Rudy Perry to manage much of his farming business, he is devoting more and more time to Homes for Bluebirds, Inc. His character is best por- trayed by his comments about an old mail carrier he once knew. Finch said, "This old mail carrier used to say, 'What you don't know, won't hurt you.' He couldn't have been more wrong." "I believe what you know can hurt you. caused people to enjoying a lot if they had known could have had a pleasure. I feel that about the bluebird. are so many people, ally children, who er seen a bluebird. something I don't would forget if they saw one." If you see a small whose head, hack, I and tail are a vivid rusty-red breast, sides, with a Jack Finch or, visit his farm and small, inexpensive box with the proceeds to further promote preservation. You might even involved in projects the bluebird that as Jack Finch did dinner table began the prayer, venly Fodder .... " Steak We Feature 15 Sizzlin Varieties Of U. S. Beef Cuts Daily PARTY FACILITIES AVAILABLE Specials Daily PHONE 291-6100 NASH ST., WILSON, N. C. ANNUAL FIREMEN'S DAY SPONSORED BY FERRELL'S VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT. SEPTEMBER 16, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. SAMARIA COMMUNITY BUILDING BARBECUE & CHICKENo00LATES (Eat In or Take " m GO CART RIDES COUNTRY STORE DUNKING MACHINE CRAFT'S GAMES BAKE SALE AUCTION AT 2:00 p.m. Entertainment Throughout The Afternoon . Come Out And Have A Good Time Help The Ferrell's Volunteer Fire Dept.