Robbins Farmers Day: Wagons, Faces and Feet

A teamster, a parade and a mule. This weekend mule Polly and I hung out with Ronald Hudson at Farmers Day in Robbins, NC. He and I were in the parade and I made some photos I thought you’d enjoy. They’re loosely in the order they happened.

Hurry up and wait: my dear friend Ronald Hudson. I bought mule Polly from him 15 years ago. This weekend he and I drove her through the Robbins parade.
Heading to the start of the Farmer’s Day parade. It’s tradition that horses, mules and wagon lead the parade. Here, the group of riders we followed to get the start of the parade.
Heading to the parade: Ronald and his dad built this buck board wagon in the 1960s. It’s called a buck board because it doesn’t have any suspension. It really is like sitting on a bucking board – hence the buck board name. That’s mule Polly pulling it.
Rolling along: the wheel of Ronald’s wagon

Ronald’s wagon has wood wheels with steel rims. Most wagons now have rubber tires like on cars. As we rode in his cart to the start of the parade, he said, “I want you to listen to that. That’s a rare sound we’re listening to anymore.” I made a recording for you so you those steel rims turning. Listen closely and you’ll hear Ronald saying, “they don’t know I don’t have brakes.” Just click on the player below to hear those steels rims rolling.

The patriotic chicken and goat lady. They were part of a larger group that inclded…
…more fowl.
On the parade route. Yes, it was that dark. We only got a little wet
They did not get wet
And the crowd goes wild! Jill (ripped jeans) has the distinction of being the only person I know that ever rode Polly. She doesn’t take kindly to being ridden but she’s a great wagon mule.
Kid rider

One of the best things about being in a parade is you get to watch the crowd as they watch you. The Farmers Day parade made a big loop through Robbins. It started up the main drag then went through a neighborhood, an abandoned industrial district and ended up in another neighborhood.

Friends watching
Soft serve ice cream and funnel cakes
Lee Barnes selling knives
Lee said this knife would be good if I got in to a car crash. He said, “You can cut yourself loose with the blade in the hooked part of the knife then smash the windshield with the knob on the end.” I told him I probably didn’t need that on my wagon. I wonder where that knife is tonight.
The backward message on the flag says “The South will rise again”
The hands that guide the mule: Ronald’s hands. Those hands have steered wagons and mules an incredible number of miles. I’ve also sat next to those hands for some wagon crashes. A few years ago, Ronald and I had a runaway with mule Polly that broke his wagon in two and she vanished in to the night.
You’d grin like that, too, if you were sitting on this Friesan.
Cruisin’ the Pottery Highway: the community of Seagrove just up the road from Robbins, is known as the Pottery Capitol of the World.
Watching from an old Ford

After running up the main drag, the parade turned off and ran through a neighborhood. Talk about bringing the parade straight to the people.

No Trespassing and Beware of Dog: red-haired girl with signs
The tin roofs of Robbins
Green roof and orange shirts
When a truck is the front porch
I asked the girl what the name of her horse was and she said, “It’s name is Unicorn.” Why didn’t I see that…?
Horse with a red bow
Waiting
Smokestack. It’s been cold a long time
There’s no train coming
The four-up

After the parade, Ronald and I drove Polly around Robbins and caught up with some old friends.

Wayne Hussey: Wayne is, hands-down, the number one big hitch teamster in North Carolina and way beyond. Wayne still plows and cultivates with mules. You can hear and read a beautiful post I did about visiting Wayne’s farm a few years back with Polly right here. It’s called “It’s Not What’s Over the Door“.
Wayne and one of his mules
Wayne’s four-up hitch of Belgian mules. That’s his wife Janice on the wagon seat.
My buddy Ross’ team
Boots and lace
Ronald’s daughter Sonya hanging with Polly
End of the day
The Taco and the Stealth Bomber: my 4-cylinder 2006 Toyota Tacoma pulling our 1992 Brenderup trailer. It was the smallest truck and trailer at Robins but still plenty to haul all I needed. Look closely and you’ll see my two-wheeled cart in the bed. It was also the easiest to park and probably got the best mileage. I slept in the trailer while in Robbins.
Until next year

More Stories About Ronald and Wayne

A few years ago, mule Polly and I took off on a mule ramble from Ronald’s house to Wayne’s. The account of that ramble is called “Ronald’s Borrowed Vomit Saddle Bags” and you can read it right here.

My companions for the “Vomit Bag Ramble” as it came to be known. That’s Polly hauling the gear and Buddy carrying the saddle. I borrowed Buddy from Ronald. He’s one of many fine mules he’s loaned me over the years. (Eldorado Outpost, Eldorado, North Carolina)

Stream the Lost Sea Expedition

Ready for some more mule and wagon adventure? If you haven’t already, stream the Lost Sea Expedition, the 4-part Public Television series about mule Polly and my 14 month voyage across America. You can stream the series right her on Amazon.

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16 Responses to Robbins Farmers Day: Wagons, Faces and Feet

  • Is you here in ONC. You used to ride through from time to time.

    • Hi Carol. I’m in western North Carolina at the moment. I look forward to returning to Oriental and visiting with everyone in the not too distant future.Say hi to Ken and all the Beaners for me! Bernie

  • Awesome story telling as usual! Thank you! It’s a wonderful but usually very hot event! Glad you got to hang with some of our friends and iconic Muleskinners!

    • Thanks for the kind words Shannon. This really was a magical Robbins Farmers Day. Those guys are real treasures and their stories need to be preserved. I even got some great audio of Ronald swapping stories with an old friend. We sure look forward to hanging out with you at Benson or wherever we catch up next! Bernie

  • I almost went to this. I usually do go but had to work. Love seeing Rinald and Ross and Wayne. My friend Kathy went and won the mini donkey trophy. See you next year there hopefully.

    • Hi Denise. I saw Kathy at the awards ceremony but didn’t get a chance to say hi. Too busy running my mouth with Ronald! Hope you’re doing well. It would be great to see you at Benson and if not then, up the road. Hope you’re having a good summer. I was just writing about Mr Winston in the upcoming “Trash to Triump” book.

  • Bernie it was wonderful that you and Ronald were able share much needed fellowship together. Buddy time does well for the body, mind, and spirit. Again I give my gratitude to you for the everlasting friendship you and Ronald share. Both of y’all are muleskinners with a great legacy. Legends in your own times. I know Dean and Tiffany are in gratitude as well.

    • Hi Carol. Your words “much needed” really capture how I feel about catching up with Ronald. As you know, he’s the man who got me in to mules. Due to Covid, we didn’t see each other for over a year. Phone calls are great but at some point, you just need some good old Butt in the Buggy time! The other wonderful thing about catching up with Ronald is all the great folks in his orbit. He and his family and friends have really helped me build a body of work around traveling and living with mules. Great seeing you at Robbins Carol. Next time I hope to catch up with Ethan. ’til Benson! Bernie

  • Enjoyed your take on Robbins-farmers-day…shared, Bernie.

    • Hi Mary Anna. Robbins is one of my favorite small festivals. Attending with a mule and a great friend (Ronald Hudson) is a great way to get a close-up view of a community. Sure appreciate your sharing! Happy Adventuring. Bernie

  • I loved reading this. Amazing people and awesome mules.

    • Hi Anne. So happy to hear you enjoyed this. Robbins really is a magical place to visit as a spectator or participant. An incredible mix of mules, horses, and people of all gaits, sizes, colors and shapes. I look forward to bringing you more photos and stories from my wife Julia and my next mule outings! Bernie

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. Ronald is my brother and you can imagine how much I enjoyed reading your Robbins Day report and how our family plays a part in your life.

    • Hi Vicky, Great to hear from you. I’m so happy you enjoyed reading the Robbins Farmers Day report. Ronald has played a huge part in my life, from providing me with mule Polly to wagon advice to keeping Polly when I was unable. We’ve traveled many happy miles – and a few mighty cold ones – in our wagons and I look forward to many more. You sure are lucky to have Ronald as brother. He’s meant so much to me, especially after my dad died. I hope all’s well your way. Thanks for the lovely comment. Bernie

  • Great pictures Bernie

    • Thanks Billy. So happy to hear you enjoyed the photos. If you haven’t already, Robbins is a great parade to attend! Happy Adventuring. Bernie Harberts

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