Foggy Mornings in March

    The days have been especially warm this spring  which has made the grass turn green earlier than usual….you know – that almost neon color that you can only see early in the spring? One of the neat things about living out in the country – even as close to Chattanooga as we are – is the fact that once the moon pops out – this place just settles down into a very quiet and peaceful place. Silence is golden in case you thought it was just a song!  The stars peep out – the moon comes up over the  eastern ridge from the barn….and there is just a calm that takes over.  If you are indeed fortunately enough to come on a clear night – you would be amazed at how many stars are actually in the sky. It is a grand place to watch meteor shows….or just grab a lounge chair and set it out flat in the middle of the field and just soak it all in. 
    Anyway – morning is also like this.  When I say morning – you know – “dawn.”  that is very very early. The fog often comes in and rest in the pastures and fields – I suppose partly because we have the Chattanooga creek running through the property. Jill took some early morning photos that I wanted to share with you so that you can kick your senses into gear and feel what I am talking about. Part of the fun of watching all of your weddings take place out here is that I can just see that the guests are at ease – having fun – taking in the sights and sounds of being in the country. Kids being able to romp and play……older folks enjoying the garden and the reminiscing of memories from their past….and the rest – just enjoying being out of the hectic hustle and bustle of our chaotic society.  Anyway….enjoy these photos and dream about your next visit here at High Point Farms.

sincerely,
Margie Gardner


P.S.  I would love to hear from all of you blog readers…..I relish comments – good ones of course!

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Barn and Outdoor Weddings

First Wedding of 2012 (Ashley B.) Was A Blooming Success

    Loved it!  Loved it!  Ashely & Clayton had a beautiful day for their Georgia country wedding and it couldn’t have been any better.  The air was crisp – the sky a deep blue – the wind had calmed to a gentle breeze – and our old Matriarchs of the Farm (our vintage Pear Trees) had come out in a full bloom just for the occasion. 
    Ashley and her crew of friends from places beyond like New York, Colorado, Michigan, and Augusta, Georgia had converged on High Point Farms with a creative eye and a sweet spirit as they turned our farm once again into a magical place – that was unique and so darn cute!  Once again – a new bride introduced a slightly different location for her ceremony. Pictures will have to follow from the photographer as I failed to nudge my way towards the ceremony but it was half under the grove and half back towards the sod. It was perfect. Pews in the front with rows of haybales – each topped with coordinating fabric sheets.  I can’t wait to get these photographs and post them. I do have a few to share with you – but I am confident that the photographer will have some amazing photos. You can almost just watch a photographer and see his creative mind fluttering with ideas as he aims his camera in to take a shot.
    (***As I am beginning to post this blog – I get an email from John Shim/Photographer. He has sent me a link to his blog for the wedding. Oh, I love these photographers who are Johnny on the Spot – pun, pun!  Anyway…..I obviously DID NOT misjudge this guy….he is very talented and now I will wait in serious anticipation for the full line up of photos.  So…here is a link to his blog  John Shim Photography
    Ashely is a beautiful woman and her wedding gown had a old-timey feel to it – I could just visualize her fittin’ perfectly into some neat old movie.  She was stunning.
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  Ashley had an array of flower girls and bridesmaids – all dressed up in the cutest little farm dresses with lace dangling from the hem.  They too fit the part and the yellow was the perfect color for this early spring wedding. I should have been aiming from the other direction for this photo shot – but I had to take it quick  as they were heading towards the ceremony line-up.

The inside of  the barn was decorated too – a bit of a twist to a centerpiece was that they used a clear glass pitcher with cut lemons in the water to imply lemonade but they added a floral bouquet to the pitcher so it was just this cute effect….something that we had not seen before…… but we did like it. The vintage tables were kept within the barn and set at an angle – one as a cake table and the other as the couple’s table.
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Simple….elegant……creative.
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    A bluegrass band (a name that I will dig out of my coat pocket later with contact info that I will place on the Vendor Suggestion Page) entertained into the night. They set up in front of the large red sliding doors and the couple danced away the evening. The food was delicious and was catered by Events with Taste. They had a “Minister For Hire” (another vendor to add to the list) who did a fine job officiating. The evening ended with a nice bonfire out in the horse ring. The chilly evening made for a perfect night to sit by the warm fire and watch the sky fill up with a bounty of stars. It was a night to remember for all – and  I will add that they were all very sweet and friendly. We are awed by the fact that somehow our farm will forever be etched into the memories of their special day – forever and ever.  It was a wonderful wedding to start off our 2012 season.  If any of her family/friends read this blog – let Ashley know that she left her cake topper in the frig…….for a limited time.
   Okay….who’s next?  I think it must be Miss Carlie!

The Season Begins

   It is 10:30 p.m. the night before our first wedding of the 2012 season. Our day has been busy with the last of our lingering “To Do List.”  The weather has been ideal. That alone is amazing since this week has brought tornadoes to the Chattanooga area again. We were spared any damages whereas the storms were more north of us unlike what we experienced last year. Also – this spring has been warmer than usual so everything is green and our  old pears trees are blooming right on cue. Nothing like a wedding with a host of white blossoms permeating the venue. Spring flowering bulbs and forsythia are blooming too – all acting as if they have been on a schedule for this first wedding.  I, frankly, was concerned about booking a wedding this early in the year.  My motherly role took hold as I verbally prepared Ashley for the potential of inclement weather. March is an iffy month with gorgeous crisp days as well as blizzards. But it does settle me a bit to know that we have taken steps to control “the things we can control” and to let the rest be….just let it be.
   With the addition onto the barn and now even going the extra mile – we have added doors to the other two openings of the barn.  Now – the whole barn in essence can be closed up in case of inclement weather. In fact – last night, my husband and I headed to the barn to do a few things. We knew a storm was coming in but somehow failed to realize that it was almost upon us. We got into the barn around 8:30 p.m. and almost immediately we hear the rain start. We had already closed up the barn – all doors everywhere (a total of 9 openings actually)….and though I think it  rained cats and dogs…..the inside of the barn stood still. Yes there was still some air movement but there wasn’t any blowing winds…..no rain of course….the saw dust still….the lights glowing as usual….the sound of the rain soothing to the ears…we sat there on the church pew just enjoying the moment….pleased that we had taken the extra steps to close up the barn so that one way or the other…the barn would be able to host a marvel and worthy event.
    So – the barn is ready – curtains all hung. Our garden has begun its first plantings. Our blueberries are budding and it appears as though this could be a bumper crop.  Our raspberries has been moved so they can flourish. We will be beginning a row of grapes and muscadines this year too.  With our busy season – I hope we have time to can again.  If not…..it will be easy pickin’s for the kids to enjoy.  Our last set up goat twins were born a couple of weeks ago so spring must be around the corner. 
   On your mark – get set – go!  A good night sleep and I will be ready for tomorrow.  I want every bride to know that we have prepared specially for them…that we have taken steps to make the farm shine. 

Vendor Suggestions

    We are in the homestretch before our first 2012 wedding.  Curtains are hung, fresh saw dust strewn on the barn floor, pear trees beginning to blossom as if on cue, and the grass is turning that unique green hue that is indicative of springs arrival. 
    We have a long line up of weddings this year so that means that there are brides everywhere making lists and contacting vendors as they plan and coordinate their own lists of sorts.  I have compiled a Vendor Suggestion Page for my brides that may be a good place to begin as you make your plans.  You can also get to this page through the link at the bottom of the Venue Pricing and General Information page. As the year progresses, I hope to add to the list. So, whether you are looking for photographers, cakes, flowers, or just accommodations for your out-of-town guests….check out the page and see if it is helpful to you.  Any feedback that you want to shoot my way is always helpful – either before or after the fact.  Hearing first hand from my brides on how they viewed their vendors gives me fodder for my recommendations….happy brides and happy guests = making my Vendor Suggest Page list.
    I did want to tout one vendor to you today and introduce him to you.  His name is Dave Connis.  He is available for hire as a band.  His general genre is likely folk but he can shift towards bluegrass or country or old country or even ole-time gospel easy enough.  He is just one of those extremely talented guys that is diverse and plays many instruments.  I would thoroughly enjoy just sittin’ and listenin’ to him and his crew just jammin’ together in an ad-lib forum.  They offer some unique instruments too.  His contact info is:  Dave Connis   dave.connis@gmail.com.  With the beautiful views that dominate the daylight hours here at High Point Farms – once darkness approaches, the barn and the soft glow of the lights in the barn – well it is almost like the second act of a play. Adding a band to your line-up just becomes icing on the cake and fits in quite nicely here.  So – consider Dave Connis and let him know that I recommended him.
    I hope to introduce a few more of my vendors to you through this blog as time goes on.  So – till later,    Margie Gardner

Leap for Joy – Feb. 29th Is Almost Here

    Leap Year comes around only every four years.  Two more days till we get  to imagine how special of a day February 29th must be.  That said – It is a day that we here at High Point Farms will celebrate and leap for joy.
    We have been working towards our dream of a Wedding Barn Farm Venue now for almost 14 months.  With more imagination than money, we set the project in motion on January 1, 2011.  Our lists were long.  First list was how to get the farm and barn at the same level (or better) than when my daughter Jill got married in 2005 at the farm. Granted – we have been going the extra mile more so this time around than we ever did we Jill. We added the bathrooms and took out some stalls which we didn’t before.
    We were so appreciative of our early brides who came and toured early on and were very supportive as we would say…..”and we are going to build this….and we are going to add a that…” and so on.  We were good salesman or maybe we were just good communicators. But each early bride seemed confident and tickled at our ideas and our plans. It certainly helped that we had done this before with Jill – and we had amazing pictures to tout in our defense.  That said….we were aiming high and the game was on.
    Our first bride was amazed at  how we had transformed the farm from her first visit in January 2011 to her wedding on the first of May.  You could see the pleasure and appreciation on her face when they came to set up for their wedding.  Their pictures even today bring joy to our hearts as we saw once again how a good photographer and a creative bride can transform our farm into a magical dream come true before our very eyes.
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    With wedding number one under our belts, we feverishly continued more projects in preparation for wedding number two. Tours were becoming frequent as my website had begun to gather traction and more brides booking for the fall.  As we saw that our suspicions had been confirmed – that we weren’t the only ones who thought it was a good idea to have a farm/barn wedding….we began to construct a master list of how we would like our barn and farm to evolve into.
    We created this list to include tables and chairs which we added early on.  With each new bride and each new deposit and payments – we returned the money back into the business and our wish list grew.  More room – let’s take out a few more stalls.  Extra electricity – call the electrician and run some additional lines in the barn as well as the Milk House.  Lay some flagstone in the high traffic area.  Replace toilets with efficient ones.  Add a Buffet room.  Along the way, we would re-write the contract a bit to reflect some of the changes. Various brides would suggest add-ons that they would relish and some of them we would add for them as well as include in our list of add-ons.
  As fall 2011 came around – tours jumped into high gear and bookings began to spike. We saw our 2012 year beginning to fill up. As we began to explain to those brides…..”we are going to build an addition onto the front of the barn because……”….we found ourselves again painting a picture of an exciting feature “yet to come…” and hoped that we would meet their approval. With winter upon us finally – no more weddings till spring 2012….we jumped into serious project mode, drained our reserves once again, and hoped that our vision for the addition could be pulled off and that it would turn out as we had hoped. Of course during this time – we still had oodles of tours. I hate apologizing for construction mess but winter was the only time for us to even consider doing such a project – and from the brides standpoint – they were anxious to come and see and book for 2012.
    So…back to February 29th…this was our target date to be completed with all of those promises and we have completed them!  Yeah!  The website will reflect new pictures and information and begin to show some of the additions. Of course we anxiously await our professional photographers’ angles as they include them in their photos for these upcoming brides. They will do a far better job at showing these new features at their best! But…as promised…..I am going to include a few here on the blog for those faithful readers who too are anxious to see them – FIRST.
    First is the “foyer” as we refer to it.  It really turned out as I had hoped.  It “marries” itself to the original barn structure very well as we rescued old barn wood from some of the tornado damage on Sand Mountain plus some old vintage windows from a salvaged house in Flintstone.  The construction crew of Woodward Enterprises did an amazing job along with Mike McMannis who built the basic structure.
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    The Foyer is a 24 ft. x 24 ft. fully open (no inner poles) area that adjoins with the rest of the open barn area. Each of the three outward sides have sliding trolley doors. The front has the largest doors which are a distressed weathered red/gray….that have the large curtains flowing from them. This makes for a great photo op.  On each side – these doors too open up – again….a twelve foot opening so that when the weather is fine – it has a great in and out feel to things.  If the weather were to be too windy or rainy – these doors can be closed to help protect the inside of the barn.  Curtains will also hang from these side doors.  Large flagstone areas have been created off of each of these doorways to transition the traffic flow from inside to out.  Gutters placed on the addition to keep the rain from damaging our traffic flow areas. Concrete floor with a brush coat for dancing in the foyer. Lights draped in the addition as well with a funky old wheel chandelier hung in the center of the addition..  This would be a cool place to have the wedding ceremony even!
    Next, we added a door onto an opening on the garden side of the barn.  In fact, we added another opening further down on that same side and hung  what we will refer to as our “Tucker Doors” on both of those doorways.  These are big heavy hunkin’ doors from some old carriage house and they too are on a trolley roll system. These are going to be great for photographs too!  Plus – it will again make it easier to flow in and out of the barn. You can close them if you want or open them. Let the breeze in or shut it out.
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    Another big change which I didn’t quite find a good way to photograph is that we have created a pea-gravel drive that loops from the parking lot up past the blackberry beds that allows you to drop off your guest then they circle back down through the “old” section of the garden and back to the parking area.  Before – we did allow a few cars to drive up on our grass and drop off “granny” but then they had to circle back through our grassy lawns. We wanted to make sure that we could protect our grassy areas – protect our view shed – allow convenience for drop offs – allow vendors close enough access to drop of their supplies – prepare for high traffic or inclement weather – etc., etc….so….this was our solution.  You will see a signage change that will lead your guests down Parrish Lane (not up Farmhouse Lane as you likely did for your tour)….then veers left onto the new driveway….crosses through the low end of the field and up to the parking area.  Guests can either park or drop off then park.  By using the pretty pea gravel – it keeps our country feel and avoids the gray color of concrete.  This again – will help protect the farm and “you” on the perchance of any inclement weather….and help traffic flow.
    There will surely be a few things that you will also notice once you come for your day. We will leave those treasures for you to discover later. I hope it all demonstrates efforts to please you and to create this wonderland for you.  We have totally reinvested in this project from day one and we can now take a big sigh of relief and bit of pride in our work.  For the brides who booked early and got their discounted venue price – consider yourself lucky and thank you for trusting us to complete our projects in a timely manner as well as in an artistic manner.  For the brides who have booked recently and have the updated price list – know that we have thrown in all sorts of goodies into the basic package that will help you prepare for your special day – things that we did  not offer the previous clients.
    We do have additional projects – things we had not tell anybody about….but that too…will wait for another day.  Hopefully – we will accomplish them even before our first wedding of the year – March 10th….But, count on me to blog about that too in time.  We are grateful for the exceptionally warm weather which has allowed us to work more outside replanting grass around the foyer, transplanting raspberry bushes, create additional signage, plant some plants, and such.
    Are you excited?….I hope so!  We can’t wait for this year to begin.  We just know that this will be a special year. So….on February 29th…..let’s all leap for joy!
Margie

February Brings A Few Pictures

   I thought I would share a few pictures of some of our projects.  We still want to hold out with a full course viewing until our projects are completed.  Winter under the best circumstances is still a bit colorless though this winter has been exceptionally warm and “rainy.”  Several of our main projects have meant disturbing the grass nearby so we plan on throwing the seed and fertilizer to our lawns this week so to jump start a greener spring display. 
   Our to do list is getting shorter with our biggest projects nearing their completion.   We are excited to see our end result and anxious to share them with our audience. With our early daffodils already blooming – we know that spring is just around the corner.

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Our Tucker Doors are these big heavy old red worn wooden trolley doors that are hung on these east side of the barn. A new entry way as been added which will help give easier access to the buffet room and inside eating areas too. These doors will be open when the weather is nice and they can easily close up if they need to. The bit of red helps to bring a bit of color to that side of the barn.

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A flag stone puzzle of sorts…..though the farm is a farm full of grassy fields and lawns – we have set out a few areas of flag stone in the high traffic areas like your entry way to the Tack Room/Lounge and to the new Foyer addition too.

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Are those flowers blooming in the background?  No…..but Gatsby thinks it is a perfect spot for a nap.

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Well – sort of flowers blooming.  My new Etsy order came in yesterday….I love these metal flowers that add a bit of color to the barnyard!

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Well….yes indeed, there are flowers blooming at High Point Farms….these pansies and ornamental cabbage are doing a fine job adding a bit of spring to the barn.

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And – the first set of curtains have been hung in the doorway of the new foyer…..oh things are  taking shape.

Tick Tock – January Ends

    2012 is here and February greets us tomorrow.  January came and went quick as a wink. The holidays, the rains, the constant flow of tours, and our winter projects consumed this month.
    I am trying to keep some of our project updates captive so to be able to display them at once for full effect but it is exciting even to us to see each piece of the puzzle coming together. The new addition is settling in. Doors made and hung. Hardware added. Gutters hung. More lights strewn. Funky chandelier made and hung. Flagstone pathway replaced. Heavy old vintaged wood trolley doors hung along the east side openings. Painted the buffet planks. Created a cool wall of windows between the lounge and buffet room. Stage One completed on the new Animal Barn (dubbed “Nana Barn” because it is was me – a.k.a. Nana – who begged for a barn to house my critters through the winter). More trees planted.
    February will be busy too. New entryways. Make more curtains and hang them. Put up more lighting. Design our vegetable garden and begin to implement them. Fertilize sod and hayfields.  Make some new signs. Transplant some flowers. Complete stage two on the Nana Barn (close it in and create some stalls). Refresh the sawdust . Cut some more log rounds. Mulch, mulch, mulch.
    So – check back for a few pictures.  I may sneak a few in for those who follow my

Lingering Business before 2012 Arrives.

   I have many who have asked for photos of my daughter Heather’s wedding.  I have posted some of them on the website but I didn’t want to overdo her exposure on my website. But, I will post a few of them here for those who have so often inquired about them. I will say that I am a believer in God’s divine intervention and how so often things come about for a specific purpose and reason. So as Heather got engaged mid-year but put off the official announcement till after my son’s wedding….then complications of her work schedule that was requiring a lot of out of town travel….everything was coming down to the wire as far as setting a date much less announcing an engagement and a date. With our fall line up being fairly booked, November 5th was secured with only a couple of months to pull everything together.
   It was a huge relief to Heather for me and Jill to tell her calmly – don’t fret…..we can do this…and we can do that….we have tables….we have chairs….we can do all of that…so….again….don’t worry.  I felt as though I had practiced all year for that date.  I have practiced a little bit at each of our brides weddings…as I saw what they did….what I liked….what we didn’t….we became more organized…..more thorough….more efficient….and more confident. I can only thank all of our brides and their families and their vendors for it. It has been a wild ride this year and I will easily state that there have been few hitches. Oh yes, we have learned a lot but the point is that the people we have met and worked with/for have been a wonderful group of people and it has been a pleasure amongst all of the work to have met and served them.
   Heather’s wedding had a beautiful fall day and the colors couldn’t have been prettier. They were married in the front field with Lookout Mountain as their fall tapestry backdrop.  The day was a warm autumn day and the wedding held at 11 a.m. The little touches here and there were so very Heather and Madison.  Our guests enjoyed their day and my helpers were a God-send. The Barn at High Point Farms is still just her home….a place that maybe has a face-lift but looks like the same place that she played in as a child. It has not transformed into something it isn’t so that again helped to make this special day for Heather so perfect. So….I will include a few photos below.
   One final tidbit…..taxes, taxes…..what a nightmare to deal with.  That said….here is the long story made very short.  I didn’t charge my brides Georgia sales taxes but discovered mid-year that I should’ve. I took the financial hit and paid those taxes on the 2011 weddings and resigned myself to paying for those 2012 brides who had already signed contracts. I altered any new contracts to include a statement saying that they will have to pay the 7% Ga. sales tax. Now…I have been told that we are an unusual enough venue that we actually don’t have to pay the sales tax after all. Yeah!  Good news for me in that I will get some money back and not have to “eat” that expense next year for a slew of events.  Good news for many of the 2012 brides who had signed new contracts where they thought they would have to come up with 7% tax on their weddings – so that is a bit of money put back into their wedding budget!  Merry Christmas!
  Enjoy the little slide-show.  Photos by Jennie Lee Photography in NE Tennessee.

Cold, Dreary, Rainy Days of Winter

They had to come – it was inevitable. Those cold, dreary, rainy days of winter have returned once again.  The garden is all but gone – a few collards left for my mom’s friends….and there are signs of grass seed popping up. Leaves have all dropped and a few remain slippery on my pathways. My husband etches away at finishing my own personal barn – ya know, the one that will actually house my animals so my Barn Venue can stay preserved. Well – don’t you know it, my goats have a knack of finding the coldest rainiest days to birth their babies. Last year, it was right after Christmas that we had 21 baby goats born in about 10 days….and those 10 days included that single digit temperatures and several inches of snow – remember?  Well, luckily this year isn’t quite so bad, but…..that first cold snap that we had this week where there were hints of snow flurries…well, that begin with our first set of twin goats born. That was followed the next day by Lulu – the little dwarf black goat who had triplets as easy as you please. Another set of twins came a day or so after that. We have likely 4 or so more nannies to go.  Luckily – we have them all under shed in my backyard….divided….with haybale type igloo sections….and heat lamps.  I will include a picture.

By the way…..I have no idea if anybody reads any of these blogs…but…please…feel free to comment here or on our facebook page so I know that I’m not talking to myself.

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Autumn Wedding Photos Trickling In

  With the final rush of the autumn weddings gone, life is beginning to resume back to some resemblance normal. Venue projects are snailing along – tours seem to never end though the gloom of winter seems to have set in – and the list of farm chores never lulls.  But my eyes light up when my in-box is full of new wedding photos. 
  These fall weddings were magical. The colors were quite vibrant and with the peak of High Point on Lookout Mountain to our west and a thick forested ridge to our east – there were few shots that didn’t include the autumn colors. Even the blueberry bushes trumpeted their last blast with deep red colors. The sun hung low in the sky making for some beautiful angles of light. 
  I will include a handful of my favorite photos from the Meagan and Jonathan wedding in October by Arc Studio. The bride’s beauty is worthy of a magazine feature article so it was easy for her photographer to capture some amazing shots. 
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