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July – Fireworks and Dog Days

Hello Folks,

Aunt Eunice here. I hope you had a chance to celebrate the Fourth of July in a special way. Cookouts and fireworks are typical occurrences, along with parades. My family enjoyed all three activities. The cookout food was delicious and included a fresh corn salad that is easy to make and can be tailored to your family’s taste. Barley Corn Salad If you don’t want to use the barley just add more fresh corn kernels.  The parade had bagpipe groups, marching bands, fire trucks and lots of floats, though I must say my favorite float is a root beer one! The fireworks were beautiful and something both young and old look forward to seeing.

USnews.com shared – Thought to be invented by the Chinese 2,000 years ago, fireworks have been a tradition of America’s Fourth of July celebrations since the country’s inception, with the founding fathers themselves seeing fireworks fit to mark the birth of their nation. In a July 3, 1776 letter to his wife, John Adams declared that the signing of the Declaration of Independence should be a “great anniversary Festival” and “solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” A year later, Congress itself ordained the tradition, enjoying in Philadelphia “a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons,” according to the Evening Post. Boston also saw a fireworks display in 1777. In the following years, the tradition spread through the Boston area to New York and other cities,

Now that July has arrived it has been a bit humid and hot. My mother was from the south and she said days like that were “close”. She and my aunts would also say the dog days of summer were here.

According to almanac.com – The Dog Days aren’t just when your dog starts panting on a sweltering summer day. These days once coincided with the year’s sunrise rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. Ancient folks thought that the “combined heat” of Sirius and the Sun caused midsummer’s swelter. The rising of Sirius does not actually affect the weather, but for the ancient Egyptians, Sirius appeared just before the Nile River’s flood season. They used Sirius as a “watchdog” for that event. Because it also coincided with a time of extreme heat, the connection with hot, sultry weather was made for all of time! According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Dog Days of summer are traditionally the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, which coincide with the dawn rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. This is soon after the Summer Solstice, which of course also indicates that the worst summer heat will soon set in. The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids tells us all about the Dog Star, Sirius! Here are some of the most important facts: Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, if you don’t count the Sun. Under the right conditions, it can even be seen with the naked eye during the day. Sirius is one star in a group of stars that form the constellation Canis Major, meaning “Greater Dog.” It’s no surprise, then, that the nickname of this big, bold star is Dog Star.

Well, hot or not the farm is a nice place to visit in the summer. There is always a good breeze wafting through the valley and the buildings are fairly cool. If you get a chance come out for a tour of the historic farm this week. As a bonus on Tuesday enjoy a Pottery Highlight, on Wednesday it is Quilting, Thursday is the Paper Craft Highlight and Saturday is Bake Oven Day. These activities are no additional charge to your admission and are worth seeing.

That’s all for now and I hope to see you soon.        Aunt Eunice

Summer Highlights…..a Bonus for Visitors

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. This past weekend summer officially began. Long days will slowly fade into shorter ones and by fall darkness will begin to come far too early for me. The yearly cycle of days and sunlight have always guided the farmer in his round of chores and tasks. Make hay while the sun shines is an example. This Sunday the staff was not only giving historic tours, but also out bringing in the hay. What a wonderful smell is freshly dried hay, I suppose unless you get hay fever! As a child I would gather with the other neighborhood kids and help the farmer during hay season with the baling. We rode in the wagon and when a bale came flying up you quickly stacked it before the next one came. Don’t turn your back on the baler though or you were just asking to get wolloped by a heavy 40 pounder. We also helped throw bales on the conveyor belt that took the bales up into the barn’s hay mow to be neatly stacked, all ready to feed to the horses. By the time you were done the fun had started to wear a little thin as you were hot, sweaty and itchy. It was a smart time to head for the creek and cool off. It was a bit different in the early years of the 1800s when the farmer cut the hay by hand, let it dry and then pitchforked the loose hay onto horse drawn wagons to be taken to the barn. Intensive manual labor. No wonder the farm family was always a large one and neighbors helped each other out.
This coming week on Tuesday June 25th we have a special highlight on cork husk crafts. Jeanna Trezza will demonstrate how to make various items out of the corn husks saved from field corn. This is an old craft and many things were made such as dolls, flowers and the settlers even made door mats for wiping their feet off. On Thursday June 27th the highlight is cheese making. Brenda Massie and Carol Carpenetti will demonstrate how to make a soft herb cheese. I hear samples will be shared. Both of these highlights are part of a program that brings special demonstrations to the farm for visitors to enjoy and as a way to teach about specific heritage crafts, trade or farm skills. There is no additional charge to see these highlights. Under the Calendar of Events you can see the current list of highlight offerings.
I hope everyone has a wonderful summer and enjoys the long days while they last. We would love you to make Quiet Valley part of your summer days.

That’s all for now. Take care and hope to see you soon. Aunt Eunice

Summer…Time for New Recipes

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. After all the talk in the last two letters about relaxing this summer, I’m afraid to say on Saturday I was as busy as a one-armed paper hanger! Summer Garden Party was a lovely event though and we had lots of visitors. Guests enjoyed making garden inspired art, tasting delicious foods made with fresh herbs, touring the kitchen garden and trying herb breads at the bake oven. Here is a picture of the pot holder my 7 year old granddaughter made, her first real sewing project. 

Part of the fun was trying new recipes out like the lemon/basil cake and lavender lemonade. I was happy to be the taste-tester. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! Here is the Lavender Lemonade recipe for you to try. Here on the farm we make a virgin version. Up to you what version you want to make, just remember, don’t drink alcohol and then go out and try to drive the buggy home! The horse doesn’t always know the way!! Lavender Lemonade

If you missed Summer Garden Party that’s a shame, but there are other activities and events coming up. This Saturday is Children’s Day and there will all sorts of activities for young folk to try such as chores like Laundry Day, crafts to make, and games to play. There is no additional charge for Children’s Day.

On the Fourth of July we will have some extra activities to honor that special day like a History Bee and the reading of the Declaration of Independence. Stay tuned for more on that.

I find it hard to believe we are already talking about July! My, my, time does fly. Don’t wait too long to come out and see us. Summer is over in a flash and you deserve a chance to relax, explore the farm, have fun and learn something new. That’s all for now, folks.

Hope to see you soon. Take care. Aunt Eunice

And So It Begins…Summer

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here to invite you out to visit our 19th century farm museum and learn something about the past. Now that summer is here you may find you’d like to spend some time in the fresh air. The last time I wrote to you I mentioned about taking it easy this summer. A visit to Quiet Valley might just be the ticket. This Saturday June 15th, along with the tour, you can enjoy the Summer Garden Party for no additional charge. Our theme area will feature Pennsylvania German Floral Motifs and adults can make some wall hangings or quilt a small piece using flower designs as inspiration. Children will have fun with vegetable stamping and making hex sign string art. At Brunching in and on the Garden you can try samples of thyme flavored jam filled cookies, lemon/basil cake and herb potato salad. We will be happy to discuss culinary herbs and edible flowers with you while there. Here is a link to Edible Flower Information. Remember, when in doubt, don’t eat it! Historic interpreter Jeanne Quinn will give you a tour of the kitchen garden and explain some of the medicinal uses of herbs and wild plants. Down at the outdoor brick bake oven they will be making herb breads and samples will be shared. The weather should be lovely so I hope to see you out here taking it easy for a while.
During the summer there are a number of chances to see some very talented craftspeople and artists sharing their passion for various folk art and heritage crafts. We call these our summer highlights and there is no extra charge to see them demonstrate while you are here for the tour. Look under Summer Highlights under Calendar of Events to see this year’s schedule.
Next Saturday, June 22nd, is Children’s Day and it is an extra good time for families visiting Quiet Valley. Young folk can try out various old time chores like Laundry Day and  “Vegetable” picking or make crafts and play games. Truly some old fashion fun and a nice time in the fresh air.
Summer Garden Party and Children’s Day give Quiet Valley’s summer season a great beginning. I hope you will come out and visit with us.

Picnics, barbecues, visiting the swimming hole, fishing, boating, jigsaw puzzles on Sunday afternoons, gardening, walking barefoot in the rain, ahhhh! And so it begins…Summer!!
Take care and see you soon. Aunt Eunice

Summer Time – The Living Should Be Easy!

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. Well, our Frolic weekends were blessed with beautiful weather and we want to thank the community for coming out to support our farm museum. It was quite busy and there was plenty for guests to see and do. Now it’s time to look ahead.

Spring season for school tours ends this week so that means summer can’t be far behind. While the summer season on a farm is plenty busy folks in the past knew it was important to have some lazy days mixed in. There is some saying about “all work and no play makes Aunt Eunice a dull gal”! I prefer to be sharp as a tack. There are a number of old fashion activities that are still relevant in this day and age. Picnics are fun and get you out of doors. People today spend far too much time indoors, unless you’re a street sweeper. A fine traditional job that keeps you fit. Your mailman in town gets outdoors quite a bit as well. Pack up a basket with some cold fried chicken (skinless and grilled for you who are health minded), some nice potato salad, fresh fruit and lemonade. Throw in some tin plates and cups along with cutlery and a pretty tablecloth and you are ready to go. Find a spot near a cool stream and take your fishing poles. Maybe you will catch a nice trout for supper. If nothing else teach your children the basics of fishing. It’s a good lesson in patience.

Old fashion games can be a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I hear there are newfangled yard games today called Corn Toss, Can Jam and Washers. I recommend horseshoes for the menfolk and croquet for the ladies and children. A scavenger hunt is a good way to involve everyone if you play with teams. A prize for the winners of a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies keeps things competitive.

Here’s some information from www.kitchenproject.com on Chocolate Chip Cookies, one of my favorite cookies. Like many great discoveries…and this is one of the greatest, it was a mistake.

Ruth Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies in 1930 at the Toll House inn she and her husband Keneth ran near Whitman, Massachusetts. Like a bed and breakfast she made food for her guests. One evening in 1937 she got the idea to make a chocolate butter cookie so she broke up one of the bars of semi-sweet chocolate that Andrew Nestle gave her. She thought that it would mix together with the dough & make all chocolate cookies . Needless to say, it didn’t. However the cookies came out decent so she served them. They of course were so good they had to be done again. She published the recipes in several newspapers and the recipe became very popular.

This gem of Ruth’s she called the Chocolate Crunch Cookie and she made a deal with Nestle that they could put the recipe on their chocolate bar if they supplied her with free chocolate for her cookies at the Inn.Nestle tried to make it easy for people to make these cookies. They even included a small chopper in the package. Finally, in 1939, the Chocolate Morsels that we know today were introduced.

The Chocolate Chip cookie is the most popular kind of cookie in America. Seven billion chocolate chip cookies are eaten annually. (I swear, Aunt Eunice only eats about a million!) The Toll House produces thirty-three thousand cookies each day. Some Vendors only sell chocolate chip cookies. Half of the cookies baked in American homes are chocolate chip.

Let make a pact to find time to relax, play and have fun this summer. Let Living Easy be our motto for a few months. Mow the lawn, wash the clothes and dishes, but try to simplify life from June through August. We all need time to regenerate and get back to nature. On that note, come visit Quiet Valley on our opening day of summer tours, Saturday June 15th. In addition to the historic tour you can enjoy the Summer Garden Party at no additional cost. Learn about growing herbs and vegetables and different ways to use them, try some tasty samples, make some garden inspired artwork and just breathe in the fresh air. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

That’s all for now, folks. I hope to see you soon at the farm. Take care and take it easy.
Aunt Eunice

Frolic – Not Over Quite Yet

Good Day, Folks,

Aunt Eunice is back to remind you if you didn’t make it last weekend to our Farm Animal Frolic, you still have this weekend, May 25 from 10am to 4pm and  May 26 from noon to 4pm to come on out.
This Saturday May 25th will be a busy one with many special activities. The PA WoodMobile will be coming and will share a beautiful display in their 35 foot trailer exhibit. Learn about local trees in our area, the history of the forest industry and what every day items are made with different woods. The early settlers couldn’t have survived without the native trees. Most everything was made from wood especially in the early years of settlement. The black locust tree is known as the strongest timber in North America and is the most durable American wood for ground contact. This was used on the farm for fencing. White oak was used for basket making and red oak for flooring. Cherry trees provided medicinal benefits as well as other ones such as the fruit. Black walnut hulls were used for dying wool and as a stain.
Margaret Quinn will be here on the 25th to shear our sheep, an interesting demo. It is amazing how small the sheep look after being sheared. Their babies don’t always recognize them at first. The spinning and weaving group will take one of the fleeces and turn into a shawl during the day.
Lots of other fun activities will also take place. You can shop at the Friend’s Collectible tent and find some nice bargains. The gift shop is open as well and contains some lovely hand crafted items. There are games, hay jumping, wagon and pony rides, storytelling and more!
We are all waiting to see if Sweetie Pie, our pig, has her babies by this weekend. Maybe you will get to meet them. If not, there are plenty of other animals to meet. This year’s chicks so far are the Buff Orpington breed which is beautiful with a nice personality and winter hardiness. The breed originated in Orpington, Kent, United Kingdom in the late 1800’s. There are Black Orpingtons, White Orpingtons, Blue Orpingtons (somewhat rare), and Buff Orpingtons – the Buff color being the most prevalent. They are raised for the purposes of both meat and egg production;  also Cuckoo Marans which were developed in France in the mid 1800s in the town of the same name, Marans, France. The breed made their way to England in the early 1900s and quickly became very popular for their rich, dark brown eggs — a trait they are still known for today. These beautiful birds were first exhibited in 1929 in Paris by the Poultry Breeders Society of France, and since then have become popular around the world. This is a good, hardy breed which does well in a free range setting.
Come out to our historic farm and learn more about the farm animals and meet the babies. It will be fun for the whole family.

I hope to see you at Frolic. That’s all for now. Thanks for checking in. Aunt Eunice

Frolic – It’s What Baby Sheep and Goats Do

Hello folks,
Aunt Eunice is back to talk about frolicking. Does anyone remember as a young child just leaping and jumping about with mad abandon for no particular reason? Just for the sheer joy of it? Oh, to be young enough to kick my heels up again! When I watch the new baby goats (known as kids) and baby sheep (known as lambs) run and gambol about in a gleeful excess of energy at only a few days old, I do admit to some mild jealousy. I had my chance though. My mother always said I had two speeds. In the daytime, completely on, full speed ahead! Lots of running and kicking up of heels then. At night time, the sleep of the dead. An atomic blast wouldn’t have budged me. Oh, to sleep that well again! The things we don’t fully appreciate until we get older. As the first weekend of Farm Animal Frolic approaches I eagerly anticipate watching the performance as the baby animals show off for us. Come out and enjoy the show with me. Frolic is Saturdays May 18 & 25 10am to 4pm and Sundays May 19 & 26 from noon to 4pm. Lots to see and do. See the full schedule of activities.

May – Prime Time for Gardeners

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. Well, we are getting busier than a beehive here on the farm. School classes are buzzing along with the students enjoying everything from learning about spinning, to school in the 1890s, to how to throw a corn dart! Great fun and a great educational opportunity.
The “mostly” warmer weather that finally arrived has Farmer Milton jumping into gardening mode. Any gardener feels their excitement level rise in May. This is when the prime planting season really gets rolling. The farm’s kitchen garden is rather large and takes a lot of tending, but the reward for hard work comes later when you harvest your produce. We have already enjoyed a large amount of asparagus. Things like peas, beets, carrots, spinach, broccoli, onions and lettuce were planted. Soon cabbages and potatoes will be planted in the field. As a younger gal I helped with the undesirable task of picking potato bugs off the plants.
Later at the end of May when the temperature rises, the frost sensitive vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, beans of many types, cucumbers, summer squash and more will join the rest. Plants like horseradish and Jerusalem artichoke may not be in everyone’s garden, but they are right at home in our Pennsylvania German one.
Jeanne, our resident herb expert, has tackled the herbal section of the garden and it is looking great. She still needs to put in lavender and rosemary when it’s warmer and has requested lots and lots of marigolds. Marigolds are not only pretty, but help keep certain insects away. According to EHow French and African marigolds are often cited as the most powerful Tagetes species for repelling insects. Both contain chemical compounds called thiopenes in their seeds, roots and other plant parts that are offensive to nematodes, aphids, cabbage maggots, white flies and other pests. French marigolds (T. patula) and African marigolds (T. erecta) are also pretty additions to the garden. The flower heads of the French varieties come in single or multiple whorls and in solid or variegated shades of yellow, orange and burgundy. African (sometimes referred to as “American”) species are taller than French marigolds and have larger pompom-shaped flowers in solid, sunny colors. More Info
Most of us here at Quiet Valley are avid gardeners and enjoy using food and herbs we grow ourselves. If you would like some nice, healthy, locally grown vegetable plants for your garden come out to the farm for our Farm Animal Frolic on May 18, 19, 25 or 26. Gary Oiler, a QV founder, retired farm manager and horticulturist, raises plants that will be offered for sale. Come the first weekend for the best selection.
If you would like to learn about gardening come out to Quiet Valley’s Summer Garden Party on Saturday June 15th. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have much room. Raising vegetable plants and herbs in containers is very rewarding.
I hope all of you will find some way to partake in the joy of gardening. Growing something for yourself feeds the soul as well as the body. I suggest you start with a pot of rosemary, a pot of lemon thyme and some basil. All fragrant and delicious when used in recipes. Here is a recipe to try. QV Lemon Thyme shortbread
That’s all for now. Thanks for checking in, folks. Aunt Eunice

 

Schools on the Farm

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here.
The “peepers” are calling, robins moved in even before that and a number of ground hogs are out and about. The farm had its Spring Clean Up on Saturday April 6 and looks like a shiny new penny. We’d like to thank all the folks who came out and helped.

School groups came out yesterday for the first day of Spring Farm Tours. On this historic tour of a traditional homestead, children have the opportunity to observe a typical day on the farm, visit with the animals and learn something about family life in 19th century rural Pennsylvania. There is also time to visit the one room school and have a “science” lesson on simple machines and play some old fashion games. It’s nice to see the classes as they absorb information about the past and have a good time while doing it.

Today was Egg Day for the April preschool class. They observed frog eggs from the pond, and learned about chicken eggs and how babies hatch out of them using their egg tooth. They dyed eggs in natural materials such as onion skins and red cabbage. They also examined the eggs of the largest of birds, an emu and ostrich. Their little eyes grew almost as big as the ostrich egg as they saw just how large an egg can be. After a story they all headed down to the farm and had a chance to meet the latest additions to the farm family, baby chicks. Such fun! I feel young as a spring hen when I join in the activities of their class.

Speaking of eggs, this is Easter week and the perfect time to start a family tradition of an Easter tree if you don’t already practice it. It is a great activity for your children or even adults. It adds quite a festive touch to the yard this time of year. The original Quiet Valley family was Lutheran, but if you aren’t it can simply be an Egg Tree, a celebration of spring. The egg tree traces its roots to Germany. There, it is known as Ostereierbaum, or Easter egg trees. It is also popular in neighboring Poland, Austria, and Hungary. In the Guinness World Record race for the tree with the most eggs, a red oak in Rostock Zoo earned top prize for its nearly 80,000 egg display. The Easter egg tree tradition is centuries old, but the origins of the story have been lost over time. In the U.S., Easter trees are especially popular in the Pennsylvania Dutch region, but you can find pockets of the South that embrace the tradition as well.

If you would like to learn more about the farm Quiet Valley’s first event of the year is coming up in May. Farm Animal Frolic is on May18, 19, 25 and 26 and it is a great chance for you to see all of our wonderful farm babies. They stay little such a short time so come on out to Frolic and visit them while you can!

Thanks for checking in and don’t be a stranger. Aunt Eunice

 

April Has Arrived!

 Happy April Folks,
   Aunt Eunice here. I came into work on Monday and was prepared for jokes and pranks to crop up throughout the day. Farmer Milt is especially known for playing a good prank! After all it was April Fool’s Day!! I waited on tenterhooks for the first joke to spring up determined to see it coming. As the day progressed and nothing happened I became more and more nervous. Much to my surprise when the end of the day came and it was time to go home and no pranks took place, I actually felt disappointed. What happened to everyone’s playful, mischievous side?! A well thought-out, harmless joke can be a great laugh for everyone as long as you are a good sport about it. It made me think about how the tradition of this day got started. Click on the link and see what History.com says about April Fools’ Day.
Some of my favorite worldwide jokes were the famous Swiss Spaghetti Harvest, the National Geographic – No more naked animal photos and Taco Bells – We Bought the Liberty Bell.

When I came up Quiet Valley Road this morning it was a bit dreary, wet and cold, just as the weatherman predicted. Lining the right side of the road though are a number of clumps of Snowdrops flowers also known as Galanthus. How lovely they are and certainly brightened my outlook. They are one of the earliest spring flowers in our area and as their name suggests, these flowers may not even wait for the snow to melt before emerging from their sleep, instead pushing right up through the snow, a enchanting sight for a winter-weary soul. They seem to be a bit late in blooming this year. Better late than never.

April is off to a good start and here at the farm we are scurrying to prepare for Spring Field Trips which begin on the 15th. It’s never very quiet at Quiet Valley and we are almost always as busy as beavers.

That’s all for now, but I’ll be in touch again soon. Thanks for checking in. Aunt Eunice