One of the members of the River City Grotto is Jack Hart. Jack was heavily into cave exploration back in the 1950-1960s. Jack is also a big game hunter, Bee Keeper, Farmer, Former U.S Marine, Financial Planner, and intrepid story teller. Jack is truly a Jack of all trades.
Jack lives in Jacksonville FL. but also has a farm up in Sulphur Springs, AL that he visits often. Betsey and I were invited to head up and spend the weekend with Jack on May 6-9, 2021.
Jack’s Farm is about an 8 hour drive from Jacksonville, close to Cloudland Canyon State Park in GA.
Cavers are always welcome to Jack’s Farm. After morning chores Betsey relaxes on the front porch.
Jack’s Nephew, Ben Hart, came up to join us all at the farm. After some coffee we set about mowing and tending fields. After lunch we had a little cave exploring planned. Jacks neighbor and friend, Alison, came over to join us.
Betsey, Alison, and Ben walking across the field to the first cave. These beautiful flowers were growing in the area between the field and the hardwood. The entrance to Russel White Cave.
After exploring the area we returned to the farm where Jack was busy doing all the things that farmers do. Betsey, moved to the fire-pit shortly after it was lit to find a rather large black rat snake. Jack went over and picked the snake up to relocate so it would not get harmed, from fire or lawn equipment. The snake disappeared, as snakes do.
The next morning while sitting on the back porch having coffee-a baby bird suddenly appeared on the porch with a light thump. The parental birds popped out of the birdhouse above and started flying excitedly about. We guessed that the parental blue birds threw the baby out. As they flew around, we moved away to watch and joked how the birds were tweeting “get a job”, “make something of yourself”. The baby bird would jump off the floor of the porch and fly about a foot before crashing into the grass below, it would then waddle back to the porch and climb up to the floor with wings a flapp’en. On the second attempt, it made 5 feet, then 10 feet, then they all just disappeared.
Remember the snake we were talking about. Well, that afternoon after lunch the snake came back out. We noticed the snake careful wrapping itself around the end logs and climbing up the side of the cabin, in the direction of the very bird house where that young blue bird was thrown out of the nest. We watched the snake climb log by log, curing around the corners until it made it all the way to the roof. The black scaly reptile slithered across the roof until it was even with the bird house-it looked over the roof with tongue darting, right at the bird house-then just resumed its path across the roof and went down the other side. In a busy world we miss these great performances of nature. However, out here on the farm, they are daily occurrences. It is nice to relax and enjoy the spectacles that life gives us.
Jack with the snake.
That afternoon after chores were complete and the snake had relocated once again. Alison came over to join Ben and I so we could explore a cave called Howards Waterfall. Howards Waterfall has about 3 miles of good passage with another 3 miles of unpassable (bad air and water sump)passage. The entrance is kind of a hands and knees crawl before getting into the main cave. Ben had found a new part that involved a climb. The new passage was the goal.
Ben and Alison at Howard’s Waterfall. Nice walking passage inside. Surveying the beginning of the climb. The end of the Climb.
When we returned to the farm we found that Jack and Betsey had been hard at work. Jack was very happy the bee hives were doing so well and happy to have trained Betsey to tend to them.
Betsey the Bee-keeper.
(Photo by Jack)
Jack and Betsey coming up from working the lower pasture. Betsey cultivating the field. The last evening at the farm.
Jack’s Farm is magical. You work hard and completely relax. The air is clean and clear with great neighbors and caves nearby. Jacks Farm is wonderful to visit-Betsey and I can not wait to go back. Thanks Jack.
Story and photo’s by Philip Walker