Gifts from the Garden

The garden is yielding its bounty.  After several harvests, there are twenty-eight quarts of beans in the freezer.

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The red beets should have been harvested sooner.  Even though they are pretty large, I plan to make some fermented pickled beets with them.

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I was going to wait to harvest the carrots, but I decided to pull the ones that were poking up through the wood chips.  In the four places we have gardened, I have never grown carrots this long.  I am thinking the wood chips really helped to amend the soil.

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Thank the Lord for His good gifts!

Glimpses of Summer in the Mountains

Beautiful blossoms are attracting the butterflies and bees.

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The other day, I noticed this tree blooming.  The blossom is like a bristly feather fan.

We have got quite a stand of mullein growing out of an old pile of coal at camp.

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The string beans are bearing: both Roma and wax.  The second picture, which I think has interesting perspective, was taken by our youngest.

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A friend dropped off a solar dehydrator for us, so I am experimenting with herbs and greens.

Interesting mushrooms are growing under the oak tree beside our garden.  I think they might be edible, but I am too cautious to try them!

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An afternoon at Martin’s Fork Lake was a welcome break from the heat we have been experiencing.  I had forgotten how beautiful the view is there.

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Gladiolus and Fireworks

The gladiolus have burst into bloom this week.

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On July 4, we were invited to a celebration at a fellow church member’s home.  After hours of fun including swimming, water sliding, trampoline jumping, music, and socializing, the fireworks show began.  It was a fabulous show complete with music, lighted balloons, laser lights, and the longest grande finale I have ever seen.

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“Through the eyes of children”

Gabe’s Branch Falls

This morning we went on an outing with some of the summer staff to Gabe’s Branch Falls.  The falls are one of those hidden spots that only the locals know exists.  To get there, you drive four miles on a gravel road.  The stopping spot is unmarked.  Then you walk down a bit of a path until you spot the falls.  I had been there in my 20’s but had forgotten the beauty of the place.  From the top, the pool of water looks quite deep.

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After gazing at the water for a bit, we hiked down to the bottom.  Someone has built wooden handrails and steps, for which I was grateful because of the steepness of the incline.  Even so, the descent was a bit slick due to the night’s rainfall.  Upon arriving at the bottom, the water did not look as deep.  Although if it had been hot, swimming in it would have been refreshing.  Coming from the mountains, I’m sure the water is quite cold.

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The children soon found amusement in trying to skip rocks or just plain throwing rocks in the water.

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Choosing sticks, collecting unique rocks, and adding to a small rock damn were also interesting activities.

The rush of the falls, the coolness of the air, and just being out in nature was refreshing.

Blossoms, Gardening, Creatures, and a Sunset

This time of year, blossoms, both wild and domesticated, can be seen declaring the glory of God.  Every week, there seems to be a different type of flower in its peak.  In the woods, the wild azaleas are displaying their brilliant orange blooms; and by the lodge, the delicate purple flowers of the hostas have pushed up above the leaves.

 

I am always struck by the flow of plants through the spring and summer.  In the vegetable garden, the peas are nearly finished producing; but this week, the beans and tomatoes began to blossom, promising more produce in the weeks to come.

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What is in the box that has captured the attention of these children?  It’s a box turtle rescued from the trail.  The creature provided wholesome entertainment on a rainy day.  The next day, a ring neck snake in a box caused quite a stir among the kids.

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One evening, the sun was a bright fire ball slowly sinking behind the mountains.  A camera cannot fully capture its beauty.

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“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  -Psalm 19:1

Cherries

Cherries are a beautiful fruit and a rare treat.  It was a blessing when our neighbor on the trail offered that we could pick cherries from her trees.  My husband and I picked the first time.  The fruit was so ripe that many of them left their pit behind when plucked from the tree.  While we were picking, the birds scolded us, reminding us they were waiting for their turn.  After removing the seeds,  I put away four quart in the freezer; plus we ate about a pint mixed with plain yogurt.  Later in the week, the children and I picked again.  This time I managed to slide all the way down the hill on my bottom while holding the bucket and not spilling any cherries in the process!  We gained another quart and a half to make two pies for our summer staff supper.

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Summer Break Begins

Before our summer season of volunteers begins, we grabbed the chance to have a bit of family vacation.  Since we have lived in Kentucky for ten years, we figured we should take in the world heritage site of Mammoth Cave.  To quote Stephen Bishop, an early guide, the cave is “grand, gloomy, and peculiar.”  The tour guide shared interesting tidbits of information, and it was an adventure squeezing through narrow passages and climbing and descending hundreds of steps.

Being part of the National Park System, there is more to Mammoth Cave than what is underground.  There are also trails to hike and beautiful sights to see above ground.

After our time away, we returned home to welcome my husband’s parents for a visit.  Our youngest celebrated his ninth birthday with presents, lasagna, and ice cream cake.  Since school is out, there has been lots of time for play including match box car races, marble track, and trampoline.

The garden has yielded some beautiful produce.  The bountiful rains have filled out the radishes and strawberries and caused the greens and herbs to produce large leaves.

Our last home school group meeting was a field trip to Pine Mountain Settlement School where we toured their agricultural initiatives including gardens, chickens, honey bees, and hoop houses.  A gorgeous, sunny day after several rainy days was a welcome treat.

Snapshots from the Week

The last few weeks have been full with finishing the school year and preparing for our summer season of volunteers; but it was fun to arrive at camp and find the peas, potatoes, and greens we had planted in April pushed up through the soil.  I was able to harvest a few radishes and salad greens, and we have pulled enough strawberries for the six of us to each have a few.

The iris, which is my favorite flower, were in full bloom.  I found a wild one blooming at the edge of the woods.

The children and I got the summer vegetables planted: beans, corn, several varieties of summer and winter squashes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.  Teamwork made the job go quickly.  Our oldest pulled back the wood chips with a hoe.  Our daughter and I planted the seeds, and our two youngest boys took turns covering them up.  At the end of one row, we uncovered a salamander which the kids found to be a fascinating diversion.

Later in the week, after all the vegetables were planted, we were grateful for a lovely, soaking rain.

One morning, the clouds were rolling in over the camp; and I had to stop and thank the Lord for the beauty of the sky.

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That same morning, I admired the colors of our breakfast fruit salad.

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Our oldest spent quite a bit of time in the shop working on wooden creations.  This was his first chiseled piece.  Later, he made another and was excited that someone bought it.

20170516_112322 A few snapshots from the week!

Farm Sale

A traditional activity of Pennsylvania farmers is attending farm sales in the spring.  It is a place to gather and exchange pleasantries with other community members, pick up a few deals, and buy some lunch from the food stand.

This spring, after more than forty years of farming, my dad decided he was going to rent out his fields and that he would sell his equipment.  Another man had some small items to sell, so an auction was planned.

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I hadn’t been to an auction for years, and it was a new experience for our kids.  At nine o’clock in the morning, the auctioneer began selling small items off the back of the wagons.  A sampling of items included tool boxes, tools, a vintage egg basket, a potato planter, a sump pump, shovels, chicken feeders, and even a “training stick” from the 1940s (AKA Board of Discipline).

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The call of the auctioneer has a draw that holds the attention.  From time to time, he would throw in some casual banter to lighten the moment.

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Our oldest got to be a runner and hold up items for the crowd to see.

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After scanning the crowd, I quickly realized this was predominantly a men’s event: men of all ages, various professions and church affiliations.

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The intermittent rain did not seem to put a damper on the attendance.  Some put up umbrellas, and others just stood in the gently falling showers.

After selling the small items and garden tools, the auction moved onto the farm equipment including tractors and implements.

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Throughout the auction, the food stand was open where one could purchase typical Pennsylvania sale food including chicken corn or ham and bean soup, sloppy Joes (hamburger with BBQ sauce on a potato roll), hot dogs topped with sauerkraut or BBQ, whoopie pies, and various kinds of pie by the slice.  Pie is my dessert of choice, and there were lots to choose from: shoo fly, apple, pumpkin, cherry, red raspberry, lemon meringue, blueberry, and more.

At the end of the day, some items went high and some went low.  As my dad said, it all came out in the end.   I was glad to have experienced a bit of my Pennsylvania roots.