Brandon Cody Trivett, Farmer, Age 21; White Top, Virginia:
“I’ve grown up here all my life. [It’s] nice, peaceful. It’s just its own little place.
I like riding dirt bikes, horses, hanging out with buddies, taking care of my son and being around my family. We [he and his buddies] just ride around, and we might drink a beer or two here and there or just sit around and shoot the bull. Maybe light a fire or two here, you know.
I farm right now. I’m breaking horses for a woman up there, doing a little bit of fencing and little bit here and there…not too much and not nothing.
If someone wants me to ground work some horses, I’ll work horses. Shoe, trim, whatever she wants me to do… mow hay… whatever. It is [rewarding] to me. I ain’t got nobody breathing down my back or nothing, you know, I just get to enjoy what God created.
I got into horses with my dad, and I just picked it up from there. Enjoyed it, loved it, and just wouldn’t have it any other way. I first learned when I was about 5 years old, and started breaking them when I was about 13, 14 years old. I just like Quarter horses.
(Training horses) You got to start them off on the ground, start them slow, and break them there. [You] love them up, get them to trust you a little bit, and then you start throwing a saddle on them. Not really throw a saddle on them, but start getting them used to working back and forth. Just listening to you and everything else and then you work them with a saddle. Eventually, [you] get on them, which is trust.
Me and my buddy Logan was riding up on Fox Creek up there in Troutdale, Virginia and there was a tree draped across the road. He’s on this old Appaloosa, [and as] we were walking across, he grabbed that tree and his horse climbed out from under his hind end there and kept on walking. She turned her head and kept on darting down the mountain. We chased her for about five miles. That’s about the funniest thing I’ve got ahold of.
[Once] we found an old scrap metal barrel, and we found three trees right in line with each other. We tied three ropes to the trees, put that metal barrel on there, put a piece of carpet on and we made us a little ‘buckin’ barrel, like a bull. We weren’t much of bull riders, you know, but we used to love to ride that barrel.
I wouldn’t call myself a hillbilly, I’d just say, ‘country.’ We’re just different kind of people. We’re a different kind of breed. We get along with everybody, everybody helps everybody out and there really ain’t much drama around here. [We] work hard, and take care of what we got to.
I’ve worked a little bit of everywhere; I’ve worked up Roseville, Michigan, South Carolina and everywhere else, and I couldn’t stand being away from home. Everybody just seemed a little rude to me. You didn’t see mountains, trees, back roads and nothing like that. You had major public highways, four lane roads and buildings the size of, daggone, I mean they’re just ginormous!
[After], a month or two, three months at a time, I just end up coming back every time. [My family [drew me back]. I’m very family-oriented, and everybody else around here is, too. I tell you what, it was just a relief [to come home]. It’s like I’m getting ready to see my family, I get to see my son and enjoy the mountains like I used to. It just never gets old.
[My son is] a little over a year and a month old now. His name’s Calen Lane Trivett. He’s my pride and joy. He’s something else. He’s moving around, dancing, singing… hollering,’ dada’ and everything else, boy I’ll tell you what. Just makes me smile, yes sir. I love him to death.
(Explaining his tattoos) That was my best friend there, Mikey Balthazar. He ended passing away back when we was in school. I was 17. I was raised up in diapers with the boy. He was my brother, you know? Ended up finding a different road to take, and he just ended up passin’ on by himself. Hard to talk about, you know? That right there’s an old travel cross, got that one right there for my son and that one right there says ‘family is where it begins and never ends’.
We keep losing jobs and everything else. Everybody is just shutting everybody down. The economy’s dropping, and nobody wants to buy nothing no more. We ain’t got much around here, so we gotta do what we can to make it through.
We work hard [to survive]. We earn what we can, work our own gardens and everything else. Just do what we can to survive—hunt, fish, everything else. Take care of our family the way we should. We can make something out of anything. We can take a 10 x 10 log there and build anything with it. Build anything out of anything.
(On how to fix the economy) Shoot, I really don’t know. Get a different President in there and just help try to fix the government and not try to ruin it. Get all these these terrorists and everything and just get them on out of here. There’s enough stuff going on over here and everywhere else, I’ll tell you we don’t need no more. The way it’s going it ain’t going to be good.
Lord have mercy, I really don’t know [where Appalachia will be in 15, 20 years]. Lord willing, maybe a few more jobs, a lot more youngins’ around, better school systems, a lot less drugs—get the drugs out. There’s a little bit [of drugs] everywhere, and it’s just ruining everybody. It’s taking everything from us.
(People making fun of Appalachian culture) It sort of breaks my heart, [and] it makes me mad at the same time. I’ve always been good to everybody else and treated everybody like I wanted to be treated. I just don’t see why someone would want to treat someone bad. You walk up to a stranger, I always shake my head ‘howdy, how ya doin?’ People walk right by you, give you these mean, smirky looks. Ain’t no call for that.
Where I come from, your daddy raised you right, treat everybody like you wanted to be treated. Always be nice and if I got a chance to talk to somebody I’ll stop and say hey. If I can help anybody out, I’ll help anybody out. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done to me or whatever else, if you need help, I’ll help you. That’s the way we are around here and in my eyes, that’s the way it should be all over the world.
[My happiest times were] When my son was born, and getting saved by my Lord, Jesus Christ when I was 16 years old and you know, about them two was probably the happiest I’ve ever been.
I just want [my son] to be a hard worker, respectable young man, raise a family of his own and do the best he can with what he’s got and not complain about the rest. Life is what you make it.”