June 2006


Michael Spiker

Mike reflects on many of the chores he performed at the Spiker Farm.

My father, Bradford Zinn Spiker, and mother, Alice Williams Spiker moved us from Auburn WVa to the “Sophie Zinn” house in 1951. They had purchased this land as well as the “Buckner Zinn” farm from the estate and decided they were going to raise their children and farm there as well as teach. Rose “farms” were located next to Jacob and Gay Zinn Spiker’s farm and farm house which is now owned by me and my brother & sisters. Thus, some of these stories occurred when we lived at the Sophie house but visited & worked at my grandparents house.


My grandfather had 2 workhorses which were used to pull the buggy, hay wagon, mower, rake, tedder, manure spreader, plows, disc, sled and other farm implements. My father jointly farmed with Jacob for several years and he did not buy a tractor until the early 60’s. Thus, everything was done by “horse power”. I started farming at 5 years of age by riding the horse to pull in hay shocks to either a barn or usually to the location of the hay stack where the shocks were used to construct a hay stack. Also, I had to ride the horse to pull the hay fork at the barn at the Spiker farm as hay was loaded into the barn from hay wagons. I would sit for hours on the horse while I guided it to the barn, stack, etc. Thus, riding horses does not have the appeal to me it does to others.

Re “bee incident”. One afternoon at the Buckner Zinn meadow, I was asked by my grandfather, Jake, to pick up any rails, sticks, rocks from the meadow after the hay had been cut. This meant they would not have to be in the hay at barn etc. One rail I turned over revealed a swarm of yellow jackets which seemed to like my body. They covered me and I was stung numerous times. Jake & Brad heard my cry for help and literally “picked off” one by one all the bees until they were gone. The only good things that resulted from this incident (1) I did not have to work in the hay field for a few days and (2) apparently I am not extremely allergic to bee stings.


I remember one winter morning my dad came in and said we had to go to grandma’s and help her with her sheep. She had some sheep in the meadow beside the farm house & beside the big barn. My dad harnessed the horses & hooked them up to the sled. He then told me a number of lambs had frozen the night before and died. We then proceeded to load the dead lambs on the sled and hauled them to a hollow where I unloaded them. Apparently a number of the sheep got caught outside by a sudden winter storm & froze to death. I still remember the horrible event and how Mother Nature can strike harm at any time.


Once a year Lynn, Bob, Brad, Ed & Burns would come to the Spiker farm for their annual “fishing”event timed for the red sucker spawning & frog season. They would start at the Buchner Hollow water hole and walk up stream to the Grant meadow barn & catch any frog they could, gig (a long pole with a fork “gig” on end) any sucker gar or other non-game fish as well as any frog they could not catch. I was in charge of carrying the feed sack for the “catch” until it got too heavy & then they gave me another one. I was allowed every now & then to “catch” my own frog fish. Uncle Bob always had the gars stuck in the sand bars face down so they would not get away. Someone always fell down & got wet & everyone laughed at their expense.

The next day they would seine the river downstream & remove any gar & other trash fish as well as inventory the good fish in the river.

Farm House

The Spiker farm house had weeds, briars etc around it when Brad acquired it from the rest of the family. We had to clear the outside as well as clean up the inside of the house to make it presentable. It has undergone various changes.

In 2004 a summer flood left mud & debris in the house since 4 plus feet of water entered it. This was the second known flood (after the 19950 flood) to have entered the house.

This flood “forced” us to remodel the entire downstairs & rebuild the back bathroom. In 2006 we remodeled the upstairs & refinishing the floors, walls, etc.

The house has been the site of many family gatherings, visits and especially the annual Memorial Day reunion which I look forward to. I hope the house serves as a reminder of our past (the land upon which the house sits has been in the family since 1840) as well as a location for future family/ friend gatherings, visits and especially the reunion.