A little patch of Heaven in county

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

Did you know there was a little patch of heaven in Butler County? So said Dr. Ed McGraw after paying a recent visit to Whitman and Kevin Kramer’s homestead out in Forest Home. I’m inclined to agree.

It’s about a 12-mile drive from Greenville, but let me assure you the drive is worth it. It gives you a chance to see a part of this rather beautiful county you may not have seen before.

There are some interesting old houses along the way, and the bittersweet sight of all those country stores now shuttered and boarded up, evoking memories of ice-cold Nehis fished out of the cooler and the days when a quarter could buy a fistful of candy.

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I also noted several historic churches and other building with signs I will stop and read one day when I have more time.

But the best part of the whole journey is certainly the destination.

Just past the Forest Home intersection, there is a charming tin-roofed 1878 Victorian farmhouse on the left, with a wonderful, big workshop for Kevin -surely the envy of many a local handyman or woman – and Whitman’s chicken coop and new nursery operation.

These are not ordinary chickens, I should point out, but exotic ones we visited once before in the pages of our paper.

Sadly, Ivan brought in hungry raccoons and other predators that depleted some of these fabulous-looking creatures, but there are still enough to certainly entertain. Adonis, Whitman’s gorgeous orange-red rooster still struts his stuff proudly, I am glad to say.

Ivan also brought a new addition to the family, a little white dog the family named &uot;Buttermilk&uot;. Buttermilk looks like a blend between a Jack Russell and a Chihuahua, barks big but loves to be picked up and cuddled. Of course, I was glad to oblige (I think it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship).

Buttermilk and her big buddy Sass have a good time frolicking together out on the farm.

And Whitman, plant lover that she is, has some beautiful flowers and wonderfully fragrant herbs to browse among in her new nursery.

&uot;I have to credit [oldest daughter] Rosemary with the variety of colors I have in here now. She loves these eye-popping colors,&uot; Whitman said as she waved her hand toward the brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow that mingled with the softer pinks and whites.

&uot;Flowers are one place where it’s OK to be a little tacky – look at those big ruffled petunias, so gaudy,&uot; she added with a grin.

Whitman has created a haven for birds of all sorts in her nursery. &uot;The birds come and bathe in the wildlife pond, and while they are soaking wet and too heavy to fly, they like to eat the bugs – sometimes, they eat the ‘good’ bugs too, but you’ll have that,&uot; she told me.

As the bees buzzed between the sweet smelling rose blooms, Whitman told me she hopes to add a beehive to the mix at her nursery. And she is talking with local &uot;birdman&uot; Charlie Kennedy on holding a bird seminar out at the nursery for those interested in learning more about our feathered friends.

&uot;I want this place to be a destination for folks to come and enjoy – more than just a nursery.&uot; she told me. Indeed it is.

Angie Long is the lifestyles reporter for the Greenville Advocate.

and can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 132 or via email at angie.long@greenvilleadvocate.com.