The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Man Of The Georgia Mountains

By Jack Rottier © 1989

Issue: January, 1989

He is a special breed - R.L. Anderson is a mountain man. He was born in the mountains of N.E. Georgia, near Hiawassee. He lives there and plans to die there. With his wife of thirty years, Geneva, they have avoided many of the problems that harass a city dweller.

They are practically self sufficient. Seldom do they shop at a grocery store - sugar, salt, flour and a few sundries are all they need. They raise their own potatoes and other vegetables in a small garden on their 100 acre farm. R.L. grazes about 60 Black Angus on his green acres, from which he butchers a heifer a year for their meat supply; he has two milking cows for milk and butter for their table - any extra is sold to neighbors. He raises two pigs every year for their bacon and hams, and keeps a flock of chickens to supply eggs for themselves and neighbors. Several beehives give them an ample supply of honey. R.L. hunts deer, usually on his own property; when the spirit moves him, he takes his two coon-hounds out for an evening of coon hunting in his forestlands. Ask him if he enjoys life, he'll answer: "What else can a man ask for?"

Besides working his 100 acres of grazing land and forests, attending his 60-head of Black Angus, R.L. enhances his income by working with his heavy-duty chain saw. First he cuts an ample supply of small logs in the springtime (to dry out during the summer) for his pot-belly stove that provides his heat in the winter. Then he takes on odd jobs with sawmills in felling trees, or sawing firewood for the many tourist homes in the mountains of N.E. Georgia.

The Andersons have a TV, but he seldom listens to it. "I don't listen to all that 'political bull' that comes out of Washington and the local news of crime and accidents don't bother me," says R.L. For relaxation, "I just like to sit out on the porch with my dog until the sun goes down." His dog is a Border Collie, a breed developed in Australia, which is very proficient in driving cattle. It goes after his chickens when they feed near the highway, in front of their home, and snaps at flies which disturb R.L.'s composure while sitting in his favorite reclining chair on the porch.

His wife is usually busy in her off-hours sewing on colorful quilts which she sells for from $250 to $500 to tourist who visit the area - and there are many who come to the cool Georgia mountains to escape the heat of the southern states. Financially their marriage is on 50-50 pre-marital arrangement - he expects his wife to carry out her 50% of all family expenses. R.L. will not sell any of his land, which has a high real estate value now, but has divided some of his land with his children. They have two boys and a girl who live nearby on the homestead property.

R.L., age 66, and his wife, age 65, are in excellent health and seldom visit a doctor's or dentist's office. He doesn't smoke, drink or chew tobacco or snuff, as many of his peers do in the mountains of Georgia. However, his wife, Geneva, enjoys a pinch of snuff while working on her quilts. R.L. is as strong as an ox and can swing an ax with the best of the "loggers." "You'd have to put me in a wheelbarrow before I'd ever see a doctor," says this mountain man.