Where I came From… Where I am Going – Part 2

Around the farm it is said that my grandmother Aubba Grey made things grow.  While my grandfather Frank would do the plowing and all the tractor work, she would care for the garden.  If something was not growing and producing fruit she just had to know why.  She would nourish and care for the plant until it was thriving.  She let me help her plant things all the time.  She would tell me if I planted it with my little young hands it would grow.  That her hands were old and would not help it grow.  It made me feel so helpful.  Like I had the gift that little plant needed to grow.  It gave me a connection to the plants, that they were young and so was I.  It helped me understand the tenderness of a young plant and how to “baby it” until it could stand on it’s own.  Like me a little thing Navy-2myself could help this tiny little plant grow to be something well established.  Something that would produce fruit like so many other plants around the house.  These plants were part of my life they were friends I passed by and landmarks for gathering places in my wild imaginary adventures I would have growing up in the country.

Aubba Grey taught me how to cook too.  We had to process the food we harvested.  She taught me canning and ways of preserving food.  One year we cut and froze so much corn I became nauseous at the site and smell of it!  I could not look, touch, taste or feel corn any more hahahaha I was over corn for the rest of the year!  She would put me on the counter while she cooked dinner for my grandfather.  He had a job as a maintenance man at a factory.  They still have inventions he made there.  He never wanted to patent those ideas, just didn’t matter to him.  He went to work very early to be back in time to farm.  He came home around 3 p.m. everyday.

Grandma and I would go inside the house during the really hot part of the day and eat lunch.  North Carolina gets very hot and humid during the summer months.  We mostly worked outside all day but would take a break everyday around noon and maybe nap for an hour.  She was an incredible painter until arthritis became so bad in her fingers she could do it no longer.  She loved to watch Bob Ross, after that we watched Price is Right.  I loved BobKiss-2 Ross!  I loved his kind heart and the happy little places he created on canvas.  Now that I think about it I guess we could all make the world our canvas and create happy little places.  That is what my grandparents did to their farm.  Where they saw a tree needed to be, they would plant one there.  Seeing it already grown and giving shade, a home for birds and something yummy for us to eat!  My grandmother is very funny.  She had a curse bank.  That is a coin bank you place money in when you say a bad word.  It had different values the more “bad” the word.  I would check it everyday when I got there.  Sometime I could hardly lift it and would turn around say GRANDMA!  She would look at me say that dam grandaddy got on my nerves!  Hahahahaha!  After Bob would finish his master piece that he completely just pulled out of the air in 30 minutes.  She would look at me and say “ you believe that sh–!” talking about how easily and carefree he had made such a beautiful painting in such little time.

Don’t let the “he got on my nerves” fool ya.  I’ll tell you all about the day I realized how much they loved each other another time.  All the times she would givTractor-2e poor old grandaddy hell telling him to suck in his stomach cause he looked fat hahahahaha.  I’ll tell you about all that later.

I loved it when my grandfather came home.  I started my day with grandma and her sisters in the garden and in the yard.  I got to finish the day bugging grandaddy to let me help him build something.  I would ask him, “what are you doing?” He would say “ just messin”. I never understood what he was really saying until I got older.  Fast forward many years I had to come home and help my mom while she was disabled.  She would ask me what are you doing.  Instead of going through my thoughts of what I was doing and knowing there would be a barrage of questions that would follow from her.  I would simply say “just messin”.  I guess that is a country code phrase for I don’t really want to explain.  Kinda like when someone says “bless your heart”.  That could go many ways but if they say it about your baby hahahaha well.

I would follow grandaddy around bugging him to let me help.  He would tell me sometimes with a little grin I was too little to do this and I would say “ am not”.  He was strengthening my work ethic and making sure I would never let someone tell me I was not able to do something.  We built many things around the farm together.  I learned a ton from him.  Now that I am older I wished I had learned more.  I was young and the older I got the more dumb I became, just another “know it all youth”.  I wish I could go back and really pay attention to everything he was doing.  But what I learned was enough to inspire me and get me where I am today.  Those days on the farm are worth more than my weight in diamonds and I would not trade it for anything.  Realizing what a great environment a farm can be is what motivates me to start a learning center.  I want to share these memories and skills with everyone.  So many lesson from the farm have been applied to my life.  It still amazes me how my grandparents are still teaching me today.

Where I came From… Where am I going

I was born in Dallas and moved to North Carolina when I was 4 years old.  My family is mostly from NC and so we moved back to be with them.  We built a house on my grandparents farm.  Back then they grew all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Over the years that has gotten smaller due to them getting older.

While my parents were at work I stayed with my grandparents.  The skills I learned from them during my youth I would not fully understand until much later in life.  My grandmother had 9 sisters that would come over and help in the gardeTop-Came-Fromn.  At the time they probably had 50 acres of land that was farmland.  My grandmother would had me out there with her at dawn.  I would go running up the hill while you could still see the misty dew hitting the ground, they would already be working hard.  They would hand me a hoe and I would get to work.  My grandmother was praised quite often for having such a clean garden and remember we are talking 50 acres.  Not a small garden like you picture today.

My grandfather plowed the fields and did all the machine work.  He is a what I call “a Frank of all trades”.  There wasn’t much he could not do.  If he did know how he would try anyway until it worked.  He had some inventions that people still can’t figure out how they work to this day!  I have had electricians tell me “that should not be working like that” but it does hahahaha.  My grandfather, Frank lives his life like the greatest currencies are kindness, fairness and humility.  He is a very happy man who worked hard but enjoyed every task, frustration and hurdle he had to jump.  This is a true patriarch like the ones you read of in the Holy Bible.  He show me the value of “good ol’ country know how”.  He taught me so much with hardly saying a word.  I watched him like a hawk!  I would even hold my breath sometimes and push my stomach out so it looked like his “fat belly” as grandma called it.  HaMiddle-Came-Fromhahaha He wore overalls all the time and so of course I wanted some too!  I still wear them today.

The story of my grandparents is one that would inspire and teach me for the rest of my life. I am still amazed today by them. At 91 and 92 wonderful years of age they are still just as loving and full of knowledge. They lived off the land. What they put into it they got back and respected it for that. The family was well taken care of by the harvest that came from that land. I am now living on the farm. I have been preparing the land to plant this year. It is such an exciting time for me. This year I have build a small house, I am getting married, starting an incredible company and now I get to put seed in the soil I grew up on! What an incredible journey and I want to share it all with you!

It all started in Antarctica… or did it?


Barely over the roar of the massive engines through the loud intercom speaker came an announcement.  The voice echoed through the belly of the hollow plane.  It was a U.S Air Force C17 Globemaster III.

It had no fancy wall covers.  Everything that made this hunk of metal soar through the air was exposed.  There were levers, buttons and straps everywhere.  These planes were designed to transport cargo and that is what I felt like.  Sitting in seats strapped in like cargo ready to off loaded we listened intently.  Some had the look of “been there done that”, some had the look of dogs in cars as they realize they were close to home, squeezing their noses through the crack of the window.  Some like myself looked with excitement like a puppy seeing snow the first time.  After 5.5 hours on this flight I felt like a spring cow.  Have you ever seen cows jump when released from the barns after a long winter? Yeah like that too! Hahaha

I had left home to go work in the coldest, highest, driest, most remote place on earth.  I did not know one person although the first season pioneers grouped ourselves together.  It was just like college.  Creating life long friendships with people who share your freshman year.  Some of us would go on to different departments and some would climb the ladder to Executive Chef <<< that is yours truly!

We were told over the speaker to hurry along to our transport vehicle.  A giant bus called “Ivan the Terrabus” named after Terra Nova, Ivan even has it’s own Facebook page.

There are only six of these gigantic machines on earth, two here and four at the North Pole.  They said not to stop and take pictures there would be plenty of time for that later.  Hurrying us along for full day of orientation to our new icy home.

As the door was opened the cold air burst in the cabin.  There was no trace of heat anymore just bone chilling cold air.  I had my gear on already as I watched the seasoned veterans start to put theirs on at the announcement we had landed I followed suit.  As I got closer and closer to the door I could catch glimpses of the flat white.  I saw vehicles that looked like something from a sci-fi movie.  Finally I got to the door and squeezed out with my big orange bag and huge red parka.  I looked to my right and there was the the largest volcano I had ever seen.  Heck! It was the only volcano I had seen!  It has a little plume of smoke coming from the top which made it look like a home to some Yoda like creature.  It stood over the town mightily and almost proud.  I was motioned along by the people waiting on the ice runway and the person behind me.  As it stepped on the ice I was amazed!  It was real ice hahaha.  I was born in Dallas and grew up in North Carolina.  I had never walked on ice in my life.  I took a deep breath and the hairs in my nose froze instantly.  It was such a strange feeling for a guy who had just lived 10 year at the beach in North Carolina.

I was out of my element.  I was new and had no directional bearing of where this would go.  I was in for the ride of my life.  Over the next 7 years I would grow as a man and grow in faith.  I would find that I was being taught skills that would transition to my next calling.  That is how life is for me.  I get called from one place to the next.  I was giving a great opportunity which I talk about in my entry, Sounding the Shofar in Antarctica. Here at the bottom of the earth I would find truth and learn I had ears to hear and eyes to see.  Isaiah 41. “But you, Yisra’ĕl, are My servant, Ya‛aqoḇ, whom I have chosen, the descendants of Aḇraham My friend, 9 whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest parts, and said to You, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

Meet Russell Freeman


I am a Chef, Wilderness First Responder, owner of Freeman Tents and outdoor enthusiast.  I grew up on a farm, learning the old ways of my grandparents who grew up during the Great Depression.  I had a big family around me.  I was in the fields before I could go to school.  I had realized the importance of preserving the fleeting knowledge of homesteading.  I knew this realization was going to change my life.  It is this pursuit to preserve that knowledge that has lead me to start Freeman Tents and Outdoor Supplies.  Who in the very near future will be opening a Primitive Learning Center.  Freeman Tents manufactures and distributes Canvas Wall Tents, Wood Stoves and is a one stop shop for all your camping needs.

I worked for the United States Antarctic Program for 7 years.  During that time I trained to use many different skills for cold weather survival and rescue.  Glacial Search and Rescue (GSAR), Crevasse Rescue, Zodiac Rescue, Whiteout survival, CPR, First Responder, a member of the Fire Team and Mass Causality Incident protocols.  Spending months living in a tent at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet camp (WAIS Divide).  Supporting projects such as Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD), Antarctic Geological Drilling (ANDRILL), and WAIS.

I spent winters on the ice as well summers perfecting my cold weather survival skills.  Ending my run on the ice in 2013 to start a company that will supply and educate people to live and survive in the wilderness.