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November – a Time of Transition

Hello Folks,

Aunt Eunice here. November has arrived and I am planning many birthday parties for my family as six of us were born in that wonderful month. November is an interesting month. Technically it is part of the autumn season, but most of the colorful leaves are gone by then and many time the weather seems like early spring or winter. It can be warm, hot, cool or really cold! It seems like a month that can’t make up its mind.

As a child growing up in Monroe County it was the norm to have some snow in November and by December it was here to stay with layers just getting thicker and deeper. Flexible Flyer sleds were the favorite way to travel downhill and rides kept getting faster as the snow was packed down into a smooth, firm surface. By the time I had children the snow was concentrated in the months of January, February and March. There was rarely enough snow to pack down for the runners on sleds to ride on. Saucers, toboggans, and later on inflatable sleds that resembled pool floats, became the best way to ride on the lighter snows we were now getting.

November at Quiet Valley means a transition from the historic farm tours to winter programming. In the house and cabin many items are packed away and will spend the winter in the attic. Tools and equipment needed for outreach programs will be readied and the Education Center is prepped for school children coming to enjoy a Molly the Sheep program, and yes, the sheep will actually be there for the children to meet. The Farmhand Adventure is also popular and teaches the students about wheat, bread and butter making. They make their own small loaf of whole wheat to take home. Hands on History classes like Christmas in the Colonies and Just for Nice are available for groups, too. Many of these programs can be presented at schools, senior centers, libraries, etc.

In the past November was also a time of transition for the farmers. Time to move from the harvesting of crops to putting the gardens and fields to bed. Winter wheat was planted, it was time to cull the herds and plan for butchering, take care of repairing tools, check on the condition of buildings and farm equipment, split more firewood and later in the month the farm wives would plan for Thanksgiving and would bake for many days prior to the dinner. A traditional Pa. German favorite was black walnut cake. Black walnuts are very common in this area and are very tasty, but hard to get out of their shells, unlike English walnuts. They are worth the time it takes though. Watch out for small pieces of shell that can get mixed in with the walnut meat.

I am including a recipe for a black walnut cake. Make one to try yourself before you serve one to your company. That’s what my mother always taught me to do. Walnut cake recipe.

Since November is here my thoughts and energies at work will turn toward our final event of 2019, our annual Old Time Christmas. It is a lovely event. Stay tuned for details or visit the calendar of events page for more info. Thanks for checking in. Take care. Aunt Eunice

45th Festival and Beyond

Hello Folks,

Aunt Eunice here. Our 45th Harvest Festival is over and what a wonderful event it turned out to be!! The weather was perfect and the visitors plentiful. Guests were able to try samples of cracklings, scrapple and sausage at the Butchering demo, freshly made farmer’s cheese at cheese making or stuffed pig’s stomach at the Dutch oven demo. They could help with tasks such as stirring the apple butter, stomping the sauerkraut, doing a bit of bobbin lace making and churning butter. Children ran around in the fresh air and were able to have fun with pastimes like tug-of-war, sack races and throwing the corn dart. They also had “chores” to do and the favorites were washing the laundry and cracking the corn. There were so many things to do and see that you could spend the better part of the day and never get bored. If you missed attending put it on your calendar for next year, October 10 and 11, 2020. I want to say thank you to all who came and supported the non-profit farm museum and to all the wonderful volunteers who made the festival possible.
The Brodhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited attended Harvest Festival and taught our visitors about fly tying, casting with a fly rod and the history of the sport in our area. Don Baylor is the founder of the local chapter. Here is an excerpt from a description of his 2017 presentation found on the groups’ website.  Pennsylvania is steeped in trout fishing tradition and evidence exists that the Poconos was the birthplace of fly fishing in America. Through Don’s extensive research he will explore and explain the rich trout fishing literature, legends, and lore of the sport in the Poconos and the many celebrities, presidents, and writers who have fished its storied waters and lodged in its grand hotels and hostelries- including the almost mythic Henryville House among others.
   Just some of the names from the 1800’s and early 1900’s who graced these waters reads like a Who’s Who of historical characters: presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Calvin Coolidge, General Phillip Sheridan, governor Gifford Pinchot, boxing greats John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain, …..Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley – and many others of note.
   A bit of local history I really didn’t know much about. How about you? Learning and having fun are two things Quiet Valley is good at combining.
A bonus for Festival goers was the birth of the baby piglets in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Guests were able to tiptoe in and get a peek at the nine tiny piglets. Too cute!
Farm school trips have begun again and students are experiencing life on an 1800s farm for a few hours. Making memories as well. Many visitors to Festival mentioned that they came to the farm on field trips when they were young and still have fond memories about it. I hope you come out soon and make some fond memories of your own. How about at our next event, Spooky Days on the Farm, October 25, 26 and 27? Family friendly in the day and a bit spookier after dark. There is a very well done murder mystery Friday and Saturday evenings between 5pm and 8pm, last group goes at 8:00. Dare I say you will have a Spook-tacular time?!
Then there is always my favorite event, Old Time Christmas, which will be here before we know it. Hands down the best way to get into the true spirit of the season. December 7, 8, 14 and 15.

Well, I’ve gone on enough for now. You all take care and I hope we see you on the farm soon. Thanks for checking in.  Aunt Eunice

 

Ah, October!

Hi Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. I have been off on vacation to beaches in New England. I managed to visit a few historic places there that are even older than Quiet Valley. Now I am back and am in high gear preparing for our wonderful Harvest Festival which is on October 12th and 13th. It’s a lovely time to hold an outdoor event. October has become THE month for visiting the Pocono Mountains. It is also one of the most popular months for having a wedding. The beautiful foliage, the comfortable daytime temperatures make walks or bike rides a pleasure. The cool, crisp evening air allows for a marvelous nights sleep. It’s a good time for a cup of hot cider and sitting around a fire in the evening. There are usually still a few summer-like days mixed in, enough to give us a brief reminder of August. October makes me think of caramel apples, butternut bisque soup and shushing through the dry leaves. I have always loved that sound as you shuffle your feet through a pile of yellow, orange and red leaves, shussh, shhhush, shussh, shhhush! Makes me feel like a kid again.
Just watch out for hidden walnuts under the leaves! They can catch you unawares and cause a tumble onto the ground. Here on the farm we are diligently raking up the leaves and walnuts and butternuts. We will continue doing this right up to Harvest Festival so visitors can have a clear path as they check out all the demonstrations and activities. At the traditional dying area you can see walnut hulls used to dye wool yarn a nice dark brown color. It was also useful in making a stain in the past. The nut meats were a good source of protein and quite tasty. The walnuts on the farm are black walnuts which are not as easy to open as the English walnuts you buy at the grocery store. You always have to be careful of biting down on small pieces of shell.
I encourage visitors and local community members to come out and support Quiet Valley’s largest fundraiser of the year. For small non-profits like ours this event is very important. Your reward will be to learn some interesting things while having a good time and helping a great organization. Ah, October! Enjoy this month, it’s one of my favorites.
That’s all for now. Take care and talk to you soon. Aunt Eunice

September’s on the Horizon

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. I feel as frisky as a young goat thanks to this lovely cool weather with which we’ve been blessed. It makes me think of fall and that’s alright, though I’m not quite ready to let go of summer. We have three and a half weeks before summer officially ends and I plan on enjoying every day of them. This past weekend the Pocono State Craft Festival was held here on the farm and it was a lovely event. Lots of folks came to visit, check out the fine art and crafts that were for sale, and have a look at the farm museum. Next on the calendar is our Covered Bridge Farm to Table Dinner for which tickets are all sold out. Good food, lovely setting and good company.
Summer tours season ends on Monday September 2nd (Labor Day) so you can still get a visit to the farm in. We are open for Fall tours, which technically take place during the summer according to the calendar, on Saturdays September 7 and 14 from 10am to 4pm. That’s your last chance for the regular historic tour in 2019.
The biggest adventure of our year is on the horizon. Our 45th Harvest Festival will take place on Saturday and Sunday October 12th and 13th. This year’s theme is “Farms – Center of the Community”. There are far too many demonstrations and activities to list, but you can read more about it under the Calendar of Events section. I always pray we can have smooth sailing for Festival as it is our largest fundraiser of the year. Good weather, large crowds, plenty of volunteers are all needed to bring about success. When September arrives it will be full speed ahead on preparations for this event. I hope you will consider coming out to support us and our Harvest Festival. You are sure to have a marvelous time so come and enjoy yourselves!
That’s all for now. Have fun during these last few weeks of summer. Take care.
Aunt Eunice

Bits and Bobs

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. August has arrived and I am now wondering what plans I have time to make before summer ends. Visits to family, a weekend away, a few days at home to catch up on chores? I know for sure I will be on the farm tomorrow August 10th for our 13th annual Heritage Craft Day. I will be the one demonstrating basket making.
Most times I am working in Quiet Valley’s office, but I treasure the times I can work on the farm. Yes, the air conditioning in the Ed Center is nice on hot and humid days. The farm is so lovely though and I love interacting with our guests. I do a bit of this and that for Quiet Valley. Marketing, advertising, PR, being webmaster, creating special events both small and large, administrative assistant, a tour guide occasionally, teach workshops and am even a demonstrator. When needed I help put up tents and tables, set up areas for events, wash dishes, cook, sweep floors and more. No moss grows under a staff person’s feet here on the homestead!
Working for this small non-profit means wearing many different hats, not just your Quiet Valley bonnet! The staff works very hard to cover their many roles, to keep business thriving, visitors educated and entertained, to keep the buildings and grounds in good repair, to develop new events and programming, take care of raising crops and farm animals and so much more. Each time I am on the farm a tiny little mission of mine is to pick up the odd bits and bobs of litter that can be found. I have an issue with litter. Women in the early 1800s on the farm wore outfits without modern day pockets. They used a pouch type of pocket that tied around their waist and was worn under their apron.
I put the litter debris plus interesting things I find on the ground (unless it is something that makes me say “Eww!!”) in my pocket until I get near a waste can. Sometimes it is surprising what I collect. Last week I dumped my pocket out and was amused at what I found. It was like a cross between a child’s keepsake box and Mary Poppin’s carpet bag! It is astounding how much you can fit in your pocket. There was a pretty dried half of a walnut. When I turn it one way it reminds me of a pig snout and the other way of an owl’s face. I also had thirty six cents, empty candy wrappers, a broken pen, the corner of a credit card, a rack card, a gray plastic guitar pic, a Popsicle stick, a nice turkey feather, a turquoise hair band, an earring back and a partridge in a pear tree! No, actually I am kidding about the partridge. I would never put one in my pocket!
Bit and bobs, odds and ends, the little things that escape our possession or ones some of us set free on purpose. Some day I may make a collage using these type of found items. Wouldn’t that be an interesting project? Making art from the detritus of life.
I hope you make it out to Heritage Craft Day tomorrow. If you do come stop by the basket making area and introduce yourself. I would love to meet you.

That’s all for now. Take care. Aunt Eunice

August

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here.  Last Saturday we held the second summer member’s picnic here at the farm. After a delicious potluck dinner everyone divided into teams and participated in a scavenger type of Treasure Hunt. Each team had to solve 9 riddles which took them to different parts of the farm. When finished they received the missing piece to their treasure map and a final riddle. Once solved it led them to their buried treasure. It was a lovely  evening to be on the farm and a good time was had by all. Consider joining Quiet Valley as a member and then attend the next picnic on August 15.

In a few days the month of August will be upon us. At one time it would have been called the month of Sextilis. According to Wikipedia August is the eighth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and the fifth of seven months to have a length of 31 days. It was originally named Sextilis in Latin because it was the sixth month in the original ten-month Roman calendar under Romulus in 753 BC, and March was the first month of the year. In 8 BC, it was renamed in honor of Augustus.

August is a good time to sit in an open area and watch the night sky for the Perseids, a major meteor shower, which typically takes place between July 17 and August 24, with the days of the peak time varying yearly.

Other August activities on a non-cosmic scale are Quiet Valley’s Heritage Craft Day on the 10th and the Pocono State Craft Festival on the 24th and 25th. They are both worth your time with the Heritage Craft Day being a bit more family friendly. The PSCF is perfect for serious shopper or folks who admire fine arts and crafts. We are having a special highlight the week of the 12th – 17th with the first time loading of our new lime kiln. The date of the actual firing has yet to be announced. Not something you can see every day.

The last day for the summer tours is Labor Day which is September 2nd this year. Fall tours will take place September 7 and 14. Don’t miss out as these will be the last tours for 2019.

I hope we see you at the farm before summer ends. Thanks for checking in. Aunt Eunice

Pie, Pie, Me Oh My

Hello Folks,

Aunt Eunice here. In our neck of the woods and many other parts of the country we are just coming out of a particularly nasty hot spell. High temperatures are not something for which anyone wants to hold a record! This week is starting off a little more reasonably. This is the time of year to head down to the swimming hole and cool off. If you don’t have a pond, walking in the creek can be a nice alternative. My grandchildren and I were in the creek a few weeks ago wading and splashing around. I told them to look for light colored stones in the creek bed because sometimes they are pieces of old pottery. It turned into a treasure hunt after the first piece we picked up was a lovely chunk of a white plate with little blue flowers on it. Our house was built in the 1860s and the stream is only about 100 feet behind it. These are remnants from the folks who started my farm. At this point we have a basket full of pottery and china shards. What fun! Remember to have someone with you if you are playing near or in the water.

With August on the horizon I am beginning to make plans for Quiet Valley’s Heritage Craft Day on August 10th. Various heritage craftspeople will be out to demonstrate their specialties, things such as spinning, weaving, paper crafts, hay fork making and more. This event offers a chance for visitors to try some crafts out for themselves. There is also an area for children to try some crafts. I am also thinking ahead to the Pocono State Craft Festival which is August 24th and 25th. This is the time to come if you like shopping for fine art and craft pieces, watching demonstrations, listening to live music and enjoying open house tours of the historic buildings. There will also be an artisanal bread sale, one room school presentations and wagon rides. There will also be baked goods to buy. All funds raised support three fine non-profits, the Pocono Arts Council, the Pocono Chapter of PA Guild of Craftsmen and Quiet Valley. I am planning what pies I will make for the bake sale. Cherry crumb pie and fresh peach pie with a lattice top crust always do well. Lemon sponge is old fashioned and yet still a favorite as is buttermilk pie. There is a saying “Easy as pie” which means something is simple to do. I am not sure folks today think making a pie is easy, but in the past all young ladies learned how to make a good pie and a tasty cake. Today it should be a “piece of cake” to make a pie as you can even buy a ready made pie crust to speed things along. Making pie can be very satisfying and gifting people with a homemade one is a sure way to make a friend. Try our recipe and you may become a pie making fanatic. Buttermilk Pie

Thanks for checking in and we hope to see you here at the farm real soon. Aunt Eunice

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