Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NOT a primitive hiking trail....

Most of you know, that I live very close to the Knobstone Hiking trail that covers over 57 miles in south central Indiana. This is a primitive (and we now know that I'm a "Prim!") hiking trail which is a great opportunity to enjoy nature-bathing and to reduce stress. I miss my morning hikes in the Knobstone back in Indiana.

Most of you know too, that my father has been in the hospital (in Ohio) for the past week recovering from colon surgery and then a more difficult recovery from the narcotics used post operation. Yesterday was probably the worst day for Dad, Mom and I. So I really felt that I needed to get into nature to 'let down' and to try to eliminate some stress. Fortunately for me, across from the hospital is the Twin Arch Reserve...green space and hiking trail along the Great Miami River. Boy was I in for a surprise...this was no 'primitive' hiking trail!

My initial thought was ...."Like, for real....are you telling me that I can't cross the yellow center line while walking?" I was shocked when I got out of the car and started on the path...it was completely paved and striped...and of all things marked with a pedestriam crossing warning! Well those who know me....know that I march to a different drummer...so I walked on the wrong side...the whole time!!! Got a lot of strange looks...but I just smiled. First of all...I wanted to walk close to the river...as water is always good therapy. So I stayed close...to the sounds of the rushing river. Once I got over my initial shock...I enjoyed exploring around the river. I kept straying off the trail...because this area is part of the original 1830 Miami Erie Canal. The park gets its name from the twin arches constructed in 1837 to allow water from the Miami River to flow into the canal. There are only 2 such arches left standing in Ohio. I ventured as close as I could to get this shot! (My legs are just now healing from all the bug bites...so it's not my best shot for sure.) You can see the beautiful stone work. Life in the early 1800s was primitive...but transportation by canal boat was a big improvement. If you get to this area, John Johnson's Farm in Piqua, Ohio is a living history museum with canal boat rides on part of the original Miami Erie Canal.
As for me, I'll stick to the Knobstone, where the trail is small, natural and I am surrounded by nature...not asphalt and yellow paint!

Another hot day today...Ohio is lacking for rain...so what was green is now turning yellow. We had another slight fog this morning so I am going to count that as at least snow flurries this winter. I heard the other day that if there is a really hot summer that the following winter will be mild. We shall see as we have had a blistering hot summer.

Affectionately yours...
along the Great Miami River...

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm a prim, she's a prim...are you a prim too?

After stopping by a primitive store on Saturday...and purchasing a new magazine, A Primitive Place...I read that I was a "Prim"...I didn't know that...A long time ago...I had a boss whose husband's name was Prim, but I was surprised to find out I was a Prim too. I guess if you like primitives antiques, reproductions, etc...voila you are a Prim. Checkout their website www.aprimitiveplace.org for more information. They have a "Prim" blog, a "Prim" chat...etc. I do like the fact that it also includes Colonial pieces. The magazine is expensive at this time, $8.00 printed quarterly, but I have had over 8.00 worth of fun with it and so has my mom! I think the thing is...it is produced on a much more amateur level. I think this is great. Looks like members of the website have submitted their own digital pictures of their homes.
So you can really study the pictures (although they are dark, one of the things I hate about primitive decorating!) for ideas..and they included a section on crafts and how to get the look you want from the primitives.

I am not big on a lot of primitive stuff...you know what I am talking about...the stuff you find in the stores....textiles all stained with tea so that it appears dark and aged, reproduction samplers, stinky candles...etc. I do like a lot of the furniture though. Pretty much all Johnston Benchwork furniture I like and in Troy, my favorite store is Canal Street Primitives.(I can not find a website for them, but they are on Facebook.) The owner makes a lot of the wood furniture...including cupboards, shelves, blanket boxes and the like. Last Saturday their fall open house, I picked up this 'noodle' board. I'm not sure I would put noodles on it since it is painted.(could cover with wax paper though)...and it does scare me because it fits over the stove..and I don't want to set it on fire...but it has its purpose. It covers the stove or sink too..and gives you extra counter space. I'm hoping that when my daughter comes home this fall..we will be able to cool Christmas cookies on it! (or at least use it to give us more room!)

Summer has been rough weather wise. According to the local weatherman...June, July and August were way above normal temperatures. June about 7 degrees above, July 5 degrees and August is going to hit about 6 degrees above normal. They say...very rare for all 3 months to be above normal.
I guess my garden is ok...my husband has promised to keep watering it ....I'm in Ohio..taking care of Dad. He's still in the hospital...post op. Surgery went well...but at 90..a lot of confusion and difficulties from everything.

Affectionately yours...

from along the Great Miami River...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lazy hazy days of summer

Had a soothing and relaxing storm yesterday morning...it gave us over 1/2 inch of rain...which was much needed. I really didn't need it in my rain barrel, but am always thankful for free water and labor! I don't have to water the garden! It rained off and on til almost noon. Some say that was our last chance for rain for at least 10 days.
Picture of the natural wildflowers in the pasture above cost me dearly! I think the shot turned out pretty well, but my legs look like I have the chicken pox....I mean I was attacked...I'm guessing since I stepped into the tall and weedy wildflowers to get this shot. I had "Off" on....but I don't think the "Off" was 'on' because I think there is only 1 spot (no pun intended!) where there are no bites! Working on Plan B to prevent bug bites. (Or Plan C...I think I've lost count!)

Not all bugs are bad though...here is I think a real ladybug...not the orange Asian kind..but I didn't see any spots at all...oh wait...they're all on my legs...

While sipping tea on the deck....I spotted (again with the 'spot'...you can tell what's on my mind!) this neighbor enjoying the afternoon. Looks like she could use some more sun...

Another foggy morning....on this Sunday. My fog count for August is now up to 3. It was a light fog...so I'm guessing maybe that would translate to snow flurries? I hope so...heat index this afternoon is over 95. A slight breeze makes working outside a little less difficult. My husband and I are clearing around the old chicken coop barn. This old wood barn will become our garden workshop and storage shed. At least that's the plan...uh...Plan A? I can only hope!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fogs, Fairies and domiciles

Another fog this morning....yay that means at least 2 snowfalls this winter! And it was a beautiful morning too boot. I decided to clean up the bonfire area...as it was a calm and cool morning. We are due for rain tomorrow afternoon so I felt like it was time to burn off some collected tree trash and weeds. I waited till now because I thought my pile of tree limbs provided homes to a lot of birds, but since the singing has stopped and under careful observation, I have not seen any birds in the area it was time to get to work.
However, I could not bring myself to burn this broken abode of the pileated woodpecker.I have watched many a summers, where the residence woodpecker would build a home for his family! It was a very nice rooftop penthouse for many years, till a strong storm lowered it to ground level. Notice how it has a front door and basement door...

After the fire burned down some...I got to thinking of other domiciles around the farm...so here are a few that I found. This the Leaning Tower of Borden...for the local Bluebird family. Not sure what happened here....but more than likely I can blame this on some sort of a 4 legged creature. (but not Cheyenne!) There is a nice level nest inside.

For many years my 18th century bird bottle from Colonial Williamsburg has been empty. This summer in this low housing market,it finally became home to a needy family. I never got to see any of them....but from the looks of the nest it was quite a nice home.

I have saved the best for last. A local gypsy fairy took up residence in my garden for a few days. You know the gypsy fairies...they come and go quickly and you never can see them. I was invited to take a look at the outside of the home...but warned not to cross the treshold.I have not seen a finer dwelling than this. The gypsy fairies moved on...but what a wonderful example of design and construction.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First big fog of August = Snow Storm in Winter

Woke up to a really great, thick fog this morning. So thick in fact, that if you stayed outside long enough...you felt like you were in a cloud.
According to weather folklore...the number of fogs in August equals the number of snow storms in Winter! I'm excited...I love snow storms....but then I think it may be wishful thinking in this really hot, dry summer. This was our first fog of August.

Even Woody enjoyed the fog today lingered so long that it kept any stray horse flies away for the first time in weeks...so he got to stay outside longer...he was happy.

After the fog cleared... it turned into another beautiful 'fall' like day in the valley. I'm still watering my garden...not sure why.........

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Late summer musings....

Odd thoughts for a beautiful day in August.......

I miss the birds singing in the morning and the insects at night....now all we get are insects all the time....

Rain barrel water is like fish and guests...it stinks after 3 days...

Butterflies are up and working by 10:00am...buzzards on the other hand are just waking up....slackers...

Hiking boots and long aprons...elicit feelings of Jed, Elle May and the cement pond...not the look I was going for....thanks anyway Granny.

Crazy echinacea is coming back in August when everything else is dying...go figure.

Chamomile harvest is very poor this year....I blame the gardener.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Teapots and premiums

I'm showing my age here...but does anyone remember the 50s and 60s when companies gave away premiums with a purchase or sold items for box tops and a small amount of cash? My favorite is Dolly Parton talking about Breeze detergent on the Porter Waggoner TV show during the 60s. Breeze actually gave away dishtowels in their boxes of soap. (Makes you wonder how much soap you were missing in each box...) At each commerical Dolly would say with a giggle "You can't buy 'em! You can only get them in boxes of Breeze."

Well my favorite teapot is a gift from my mother...but it was also a premium from 70s. In 1976 my mother found herself an empty nester. Both my sister and I had married and moved out. Some time during this period, she started using Diet Imperial margarine. Diet Imperial began offering teacups/saucers as premiums. These bone china teacups and saucers were manufactured by Royal Windsor Bone China. Collecting the box tops and with a few extra dollars per item, my mother was able to collect 12 cups/saucers, 12 cake plates, sugar and creamer and this wonderful teapot.
Included with each china delivery were additional coupons for Diet Imperial.
When my mother gave me the complete set, she also included an old order form. Her selection was the "Forget-M-Not" pattern. And we know how much I love Forget-Me-Nots! While I suspect that Dolly's dishtowel wasn't made of the best material, this teapot is perfect and serves up a great pot of tea.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing

Interesting article printed in the New York Times on July 5, 2010. Seems the Japanese did a study of involving 280 healthy people who were instructed to walk 2 hours in a nature park or forest and another group walked 2 hours in the city. On the 2nd day, the groups traded places. What researchers found was that the group that walked in the forest or nature park showed a lower concentration of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure and basic increase in immune function. A hike in the forest also increase white blood cells. This increase in white blood cells in women lasted for over 7 days! This Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing has become very popular in Japan.

This just proves what I have been saying all along...we need to spend more time in the woods and nature! I just finished reading Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. It is a very interesting book on the "nature deficit disorder in our children. Louv's thesis is that the health of our children and the health of the Earth are bound together. Louv's highlighted quote from his research is from a 4th grader from San Diego that said "I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are." Louv's goal now is "no child left inside"

I am very fortunate to live within walking distance of the Knobstone Trail located in south central Indiana. Just being out in the woods in the early morning...(before the bugs) is a great way to start your day, get some exercise..and it looks like a great way to restart your health and reduce stress. Scientist say the phytoncides which are the airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from rotting and insects also have been shown to benefit humans.

All 3 pictures are from the Knobstone trail which is a primitive hiking/camping trail especially maintain for hikers only.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wild Flowers...One of August's few redeeming virtues

Wildflowers are about the only good thing about August. The heat here is killing my garden and making life rough on the horses. As I predicted in an earlier blog, we will have way over 60 days this summer with temps over 90. This also means since we have high humidity...we have had a heat index of over 100...Today as I write this, the heat index is 110.

Wildflowers seem not to mind. They don't require any extra watering ....and they come back year after year without any help! If you are lucky and give up a space for them to grow...you will be rewarded.

The wildflowers in the pictures have been with my 1894 farmhouse for a long time. This year I have not mowed the pasture as much as usual...and when I did I gave the wildflowers a wider path. I've been rewarded with a lot more cardinal flowers, black eyed Susans, ironweed and others I can not name.

Looking forward to a cooler autumn...but I am thinking we may go from a hot hot summer...into a cold winter without any fall. Local weather folklore expert reports that if the first week of August is very hot...then it will be a cold snowy winter.

I know what to expect!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bucket Bench

So last week while at the Longest Yard Sale on Route 127, I purchased this bucket bench which my husband loaded in the car for me. While I was in the process of unloading it I was mildly surprised by its weight. Hmmmm not exactly what I was thinking...I thought it would be a little lighter in weight...figuring the builder had used pine boards. On closer inspection I found that the top board had not been painted underneath.

So the question I have..is the wood cherry or walnut? I am usually really good at identifying woods. This one has me stumped. I guess lack of practice has caught up with me! However, when I placed some water on the board...it became bright red....so I'm leaning towards cherry. Now what am I going to do? I was planning to put the bench on the front porch and let it go rustic while supporting some potted plants...now I'm not so sure. Stay tuned...I think I will be removing the brown enamel paint and refinishing this bench!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Enchanted Tea and Tea Bowls

I've been a coffee drinker for many decades. ( I drink enough to qualify for a Folger's commerical...you know the one..."The best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup!) However, recently, I have added drinking green tea to my daily routine! Tea time is something I think we all should do for ourselves, regardless if we like tea or coffee!

Green tea is an enchanting botanical with lots and lots of wonderful aspects. Recent medical reports have green tea drinkers of 2 cups..showing a 48% reduction in cancer. It helps fight heart disease, plays a role in lowering cholestrol, plus helps to prevent strokes and diabetes to name a few.

I first started drinking green tea after a trip to Scotland to visit my daughter. While in Glasgow I picked up a couple of packages of Whittard Green Tea. Now Whittard is one of the best loose leaf teas that I have ever tasted. If you are to really enjoy tea...you must drink a good quality loose leaf tea. (Some die hard tea drinkers say that what a tea company actually puts in the 'tea' bag..is the tea they sweep up off the floor after processing loose leaf tea.....yuck!) So you want to start with a good loose leaf tea. ( Check out Annie's Tea Time for Whittard Tea.)

But here's the thing...I don't care if you drink black, green or white tea...it is the ritual...that I feel is most important. I stop what I am doing (weeding, planting...mucking stalls!) around 10am or so and make time for a tea break. (I know, you are thinking...aaahh tea time is suppose to be at 3-4pm. Yes, true...but that's when my husband likes to have coffee...so I had to come up with my own tea time!)
This involves brewing the water to the correct temperature, warming up a tea pot...and chosing a bone china cup or tea bowl for your sipping pleasure. I think it is the ritual of creating your tea and the time spent sipping... that plays an equal part with the tea in creating good health!

My cup of choice..is actually a tea bowl. I have collected soft paste pink lustre china for several years now. My favorite pieces to collect are the handleless cups and sipping saucers. Long ago, in the 19th century tea was served in a tea bowl..and then poured into the sipping saucer. This rather deep saucer allowed the tea to cool rapidly for quicker enjoyment. I prefer to enjoy my tea in a handleless cup or tea bowl. I have several that I use from my collection. I use my 19th century china, because while it is very pretty to admire, it is by far a greater pleasure to wrap my fingers around a beautiful steaming cup of tea.

My first tea bowl was given to me by my mother. It has been in the Scott family since the early 1800s. I love it and it holds a special place in my heart. I have failed to find any of the same pattern. Currently I am very fond of the Dahlia pattern which was very popular in the mid 1800s and still can be found frequently in antique stores.

Slowing down the hectic pace of your life, to brew a correct pot of good loose leaf tea, steeped in a china tea pot, sipped from a beautiful tea bowl while sitting on your porch or deck or in the garden; that my friends is an enchanting country pleasure.

ps Another great thing about handleless tea bowls? They are easy to stack and do not take up as much room as a tea cup with a handle!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Magic in the early morning.....

Well, I think the stress of the very hot summer, my daughter moving to Sweden and my elderly parents...has finally gotten to me! I got up way before dawn and took my canoe out on the pond!
Now there is just something about a canoe that takes one back in time and as you paddle and quietly glide along...brings about a very primitive feeling. This was the first time I took my little red canoe out before the sun was up!

Just to make the excursion a little more interesting I took along some small floating lights in the shape of flowers. I had purchased these lights for my stepdaughter's wedding but we never got a chance to use them. So I was just curious...to see. As I let them go...the pond was so warm and still..that they didn't move much at all...hence the 'line' of lights. Little did I realize that there was fog coming up off the pond till I uploaded my pictures. Kinda spooky if you ask me, but really quite magical for an early morning.
Sky was turning pink and red as I paddled around and picked them up. What fun...I may even go out again tonight!

The heat index today is way over 100 again...my flowers are just about shot. Trees are turning yellow...along with the walnut trees which always turn early. We are at day 55 of 90 or above temperature.

Leaves are falling like large snow flakes...makes one wonder what to expect for autumn's weather. I think the yellow finches are turning to their drab winter color...wonder if that means a quick fall and early winter? Time to start counting the fogs in August ...this will let us know how many snowfalls to expect this winter!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Moving slow and rain barrels

I finally convinced my husband that we needed a rain barrel to help water our flowers. The main garden is close to the back wall of the kitchen which supports a down spout. So...while I was away in Ohio (with my elderly parents) he installed a new rain barrel.
Now, I have to say this.....it is what I asked for...but not what I wanted! This is a plastic fake barrel with a flat back. This does fit nicely up against the house...but I'm such a 'hater' of plastic...I am having a hard time "liking" it! I would really prefer a old wood whiskey barrel. There is just something about plastic I do not like! But so far it's holding water just fine.

When we got the rain the other morning, I did take note that a good 1/4 of rain will totally fill up the barrel.Four days later, I'm still filling my water cans!

Barrel does come with an overflow outlet...but I'm not sure why..in that it could just overflow over the opening. There is a screen to filter out leaves and trash from the downspout and also a faucet comes with the unit.

I also enjoy this water for the bird bath, just seems more natural. We had to place the barrel up on some wood blocks so that you can fit a watering can beneath the spigot. We also attached a small section of old garden hose.

One thing I've noticed....using a rain barrel gives you time to stop and smell the roses! The water spigot fills up the watering can at a much slower pace then the regular hose. This is really great when you think about it...time to stretch, look over the garden and pasture and time to dream of the next garden area.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Longest Yard Sale

Oh...what fun! Today my husband and I got to go to the Longest Yard sale that runs I think from Michigan to Alabama on Route 127. Now if I remember my class in Ohio history correctly...and believe me, that was a long long time ago, Route 127..was origianlly a path that the Native Americans in Ohio would use to come hunt in Kentucky. Also, I believe it was first used by the buffalo thus making it an easy beaten down path for the Indians.

Anyway, over the last decade or so...it has become the longest yard sale (over 675 miles) ...and wow, was it fun! I wasn't sure I would get to go but I made my mind up that I needed to see it for myself and this was the first year that I did not have any plans.

This yard sale has been covered a lot by HGTV and other TV channels. You can read more about the sale by this link www.127sale.com

I was able to pick up another goat yoke, a great bucket bench, scythes and some other odds and ends. It made for a great Saturday adventure. Since I was in Kentucky I also saw a lot of horse items. In fact, my husband and I even checked out 4 or 5 buggys and driving carts.

Traffic was not as bad as I thought it would be and everyone was very careful of the foot traffic. My biggest gripe...if you can call it that, was that in all our driving, there was not one place to stop for fast food..or more specifically a bathroon! There was plenty of food to be found...for sure. However, since it was fairly warm today...I really sweated out most of my body fluids.

We left the house at 9am and got home well past 5pm. As I was walking around ...I could feel fall in the air. Doesnt even seem like summer anymore other than the heat. The walnut trees are really letting go of their leaves and the yard sales were full of fresh produce. (Sorry..just had to get in a comment on the season!)

If you love antiques like I do and use them to decorate the house, garden and barns...this was a great way to spend a 'harvest' Saturday. Can't wait to hear what Janice was able to find on Route 127.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Good News and Bad News...

Aaaah...a great rain and thunder storm this morning. I really enjoyed sitting on the front porch(not the deck!)with a cup of green tea while it stormed. As an UPS truck pulled up, I walked out to greet the driver...told him I was 'happy' to walk in the rain for once! We got over a quarter inch of much needed water...and it seems like it will continue off and on all day.

Just watched the local weather and we are set for record highs again next week...up or past the 100 mark again. Now they say the more moisture we have in the ground the less likely we are to reach 100...so let it rain. I'm a little tired of this heat. My garden is more tired of it than me.

Now for the good news.... we have no walnuts! We had a wind storm in the spring and it looks like it took care of all the black walnut buds...because none of my black walnut trees have any walnuts. I have over 8 black walnut trees and no walnuts. Now some say that the trees do this every couple of years...(and the previous owner of my farm said...oh don't worry...you will only have walnuts every couple of years...yeah right...) Anyway I've been on my farm for 17 years...and I can only think of 1 other year where we failed to have a 'bumper' crop of walnuts and that was due to a heavy wind storm in the spring...well it looks like the wind worked its magic this year....I am so happy not to have to pick them all up...or fall down ...slipping on one.

Now for the bad news...we have no walnuts! What are our squirrels to do? Our walnut trees provide food for the local squirrels for the long winter months. I've not seen any squirrels lately..so I am not sure if they have moved on to greener pastures...but it looks like I will have to put out a squirrel feeder this fall/winter. And that is a first for this farm.

While we are in the same vein as good news/bad news...remember you get what you pay for. Here are pictures of my wildflower meadow this summer of 2010. Seeds were purchased from Lowes.

Notice anything??? Yep, no flowers....

Now take a look at this picture same meadow summer of 2009

and this one...

So the good news is...you can purchase great wildflower seeds online from American Meadows They are a great company and very helpful. More expensive than the wildflower seeds at Lowes...but well worth it.The bad news...my wildflower meadow will be disked up this fall..and I will start over and replant with seeds from American Meadows.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Forget-me-nots and watering the 18th century way

This is the final week of 'middle' summer and the heat is blistering. We are under a heat alert. Temps should hit almost 100 tomorrow with heat index a lot higher. You can cut the air with a knife, even at 9pm when I went to check on the horses.

Once again I was on the road between home and my parents home in Ohio. It was very comforting to come up the driveway of the farm this afternoon after a 3 hour drive. And John Denver's lyric, "Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend" came to mind. I am happy to be home at least for a couple of days.

The weather really kept me in the house though... If I am to work outside I need to get outside early in the morning and stay there. I ventured outside later in the evening to check on my Forget-Me-Nots. I have been giving them a lot of TLC this summer and I was worried that my husband neglected them while I was in Ohio. They are doing fine, but I did give them a really good drink. They are strong enough now to withstand the sprinkler.

When they were just seedlings, I used this wonderful clay pot that I purchased from the garden at Colonial Williamsburg, VA. As you can see, it has a small hole at the top and the bottom is covered in small holes. The idea is that you keep the clay pot in a larger pot filled with water. When you need to water seedlings, you place your thumb over the top hole and when you wish to release the water you remove your thumb and a small dribble of water comes from the bottom holes. This is perfect for starting seeds or any tender seedlings and a great addition to your garden tools.