Yesterday I stepped back in time to the 1840’s. I attended the annual Hart Square Festival in Vale, NC. Once a year Dr. Bob Hart and his family open their village to the public and allow us to step back in time to get a perspective on what life might have been like during this period of time. Once you enter the village you truly feel as if you have entered the 1800’s. Dr. Hart has amassed over 100 log cabins, barns and structures which he has taken down and re-erected on his property. If that is not enough, his collection of authentic antiques that he places in each of these log buildings will simply amaze you. As a collector, this is my favorite place to go to see these type of antiques. Even after 11 years of going, my husband and I can always see something new that we had not seen before. During the festival Demonstrators are there to show you how our ancestors would have lived and how they would have performed everyday tasks in order to survive. Things were not as easy for them then as they are for us now even doing simple things like preparing their meals, washing their clothes or simply getting their food they needed to survive. There is also bluegrass music. Several bands come to play at the festival I think there were as many as 7 or 8 at different cabins around the grounds. It seemed to me this year was even bigger and better than before. I felt as though there were more demonstrators, more young children and of course more cabins. Many people dress in period costume even if they are not part of the docents. It all lends to the experience of Hart Square. A new Education Center is also being built to have classrooms for these type of lost arts and for school children. I feel it is so important to help preserve our past for future generations to come. There is also a civil war reenactment If you go next year the tickets go on sale the first of October and they also now have a website https://hartsquare.com/the-festival/ to get tickets online and to also read more about the Village of Hart Square. I know I can’t wait until next year.
This past Thursday, I got an email that told me that part of my soil tests was ready to be reviewed. Now, this may sound funny to you but I was a little excited. I mean science really was not my favorite or my best subject but I think this is kind of interesting. As I said in an earlier post anyone you ask for recommendations or advice on how to increase your hay fields or what your soil needs to produce more vegetables, flowers or fruits I always got the same answer. Take a soil test first and that is what I did. I wanted to find out what my soil was lacking and what I needed to add to it to help it become optimal for the type of crop that was being planted. It did just that. So now I am going to go by what the soil test showed and try to follow the recommendations it listed for my blueberries, pasture, and even lawn. I am using organic fertilizer in my yard and pasture.
Just the subject of Pasture Management is so broad and has so many different opinions as to how to maintain your pasture it is amazing. I’ve decided to go organic or as close to organic as I can get with the amendments to the soil in the pasture. One of the main reasons is the sheep and donkeys will be eating the grass that is there and the type of amendments that I am adding are natural, so they will not be getting any synthetics to their diet in the pasture. Because this is becoming more and more popular there are more places that are now carrying organic supplies for the farmers. One of my favorite suppliers is Seven Springs Farm in Floyd, Va. They carry a lot of organic materials and other farm supplies.
This is a stack of logs that I have had for about 16 years. They are being used for a barn that we are putting up in front of the house in the pasture that I have pictured above. Because the number of sheep that we have is multiplying, we need more pasture. Therefore, when you have more pasture in different places you need more shelters. So the work began on Saturday for the barn. My husband dug the footings and then poured concrete into the holes. After the concrete dries we will lay block for the first course of logs to go up. It’s time to use these logs anyway. When my mom and dad and I uncovered these logs there were more that had damage than I had expected. Even though they had been covered, apparently they won’t last forever stacked so they need to be used. The barn project will probably take awhile as there just are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that we would like to do. I think I have about 50 things on the to do list now, not to mention what is on my husbands. At the end of the day, it’ll be one step closer to being done.
This past Friday I went to my local Cooperative Extension Agency and picked up several soil sample boxes. I labeled the boxes and filled them with soil samples from the farm. I will be mailing them to Raleigh where they will be tested. I will then get a report based on the plans I have specified for each sample which will tell me what my soil is lacking. I think this is one of the most important parts of farming. Depending on what you are planning on doing with the soil whether it be used for crops, pasture, vegetables, fruit trees or flowers a soil test should be one of the first things you do to improve your soil. This is a great article on Soil samples
Different types of crops need different types of soil. The levels of Ph should be different for different types of crops. Here is a good article on Ph levels. It all seems scientific to me but if you ask most farmers about their soil and how they are able to grow good vegetables or crops I always get the suggestion to take soil samples. I can’t wait to get the results back to see what amendments I need to make to the different areas of the farm. Building good soil takes time and work but is necessary for successful farming.
You are looking at the newest members of our farm family. They are registered St. Croix hair sheep. We were able to get six ewes that are about a year old from Cynthia at The Billy Place Farm in East Bend, NC. Cynthia is such a great person to work with. I had a ton of questions for her and she was so patient and answered them all. It is rare sometimes to find people in your field of interest who are willing to share their knowledge that they have worked hard to earn. Such a relationship when found is a treasure. We will be getting a registered St. Croix ram from another farm soon so hopefully next March there will be lambs out in the pasture.
We currently have Katahdin sheep and some Katahdin, Dorper mix. They are both hair sheep breeds. I really liked the look and the characteristics of the St. Croix sheep, so I wanted to add them to our farm. They are a heritage breed from the Virgin Islands and are listed as “threatened” by the ALBC Conservation priority list. For more information on the St. Croix sheep you can look at Slow Food USA/St Croix Sheep or St Croix Sheep. These two sites have a lot of wonderful information on all things St. Croix sheep.
This little guy is the lamb that my mom and dad are bottle feeding. Isn’t he a cutie? He’s a couple of months old and is a Katahdin sheep. We currently have about 20 lambs running around on the farm. They are so cute. I can’t wait to see the St. Croix lambs next March.
This past Friday night my husband and I went to see The Earls of Leicester at The Historic Earle Theater in Mt. Airy, NC. What a great show it was. Not only are they the IBMA entertainers of the year, but their Dobro player, Mr. Jerry Douglas is the IBMA Dobro player of the year, their Banjo player, Mr. Charlie Cushman is the IBMA banjo player of the year and their Bass player, Mr. Barry Bales is the IBMA bass player of the year. Their lead singer Mr. Shaun Camp is awesome as is their Fiddle Player, Mr. Johhny Warren and their mandolin player, Jeff White. You just don’t get much better than that from a Bluegrass Group. There were all age groups present for the show. I think it is wonderful to bring some of the early music of bluegrass to the present. It helps to bring to life a lot of the old sounds for those who didn’t remember Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs music. As I sat listening to the music, I watched a 10-year-old boy sitting beside I’m betting his grandpa listening to the music of his grandpa’s time. That little boy was loving it but I’m betting his grandpa was too not only because it was the music of his time but it was special to share that with his grandson.
They will be coming back to the area when they play at Houston Fest in Galax, Va in June. If you have a chance to see them it truly is a first class show. I know I can’t wait to hear them again.
Isn’t it amazing how one small thing can suddenly change a lot of plans? This was the case this past Saturday. My son and I were just about to walk out the door when my husband called and said. “There’s a sign down the road that says, blueberry plants for sale.” He knew I was in the market for some and would be ordering the plants fairly soon. I said, “That’ll be our first stop.” Well, we did stop and I never made it to town that day. I bought 50 blueberry bushes and had them all planted by the next afternoon, with the help of my son, dad and mom of course.
I normally order my blueberry bushes from Stark Brothers but these plants looked so good and healthy that I decided to buy them from Joe of Joyner Farm and Nursery. He was so helpful and knowledgeable and was kind enough to answer all of my questions concerning all things blueberries. His wife Sarah was super sweet and helped me load the berries into my truck. (It took two trips). If you are in the Pilot Mountain or the Belews Creek, NC area give him a call (336)462-4657. I will be pinching the blooms off this spring, so the plants can focus on getting established in their new environment. That’s going to be a hard thing to do but is necessary for a better plant. He has several varieties available, some of which I had not heard of. I bought Premier, Brightwell, Ochlockonee, Tifblue and Climax. These plants will produce from May until September.
I hadn’t really planned on buying 50 blueberry bushes last Saturday but I am so glad I did. I hope to start a U-Pick farm at my other grandparents farm up the road from the farm that I live on now. We currently mow for hay there but we have room for more things, So I wanted to start with blueberries and hope to add a few more things there in the future. So exciting!!
This farm is also a very special place. One where my grandparents worked very hard on. They raised a garden here for many years. I think they tried growing a little bit of everything here. It’s kind of funny my mom and I were talking one day and she said that probably the one thing my grandpa really didn’t like to grow was blueberries. She said she thought it was because the birds seemed to eat most of them. I figure though with 50 bushes and maybe more in the future there should be enough for us and the birds. I guess time will tell.
Several years ago I took a rug hooking class and have hooked rugs ever since. The rug pictured above is made using a pattern from Maggie Bonanomi which is the first pattern that I hooked. I decided to go ahead and hook another rug using this pattern since I will probably always keep the first rug that I hooked. Being that it is a log cabin it makes it special to me. Here is my first finished log cabin rug. Rug hooking began as a poor women’s craft. Antique rugs were created on burlap after 1850 because burlap was free as long as they used the burlap from old grain and feed bags. Fabric scraps were used for the rugs as yarn was too precious and would have been used for knitting and weaving. For more information on the history of rug hooking try Wikipedia on Rug Hooking.
Today I use wool strips that I have cut with a wool cutter. I pull those strips through monks cloth or linen with a rug hook to fill in the pattern that I have transferred onto the cloth. I use a quilters hoop on my cloth to make the cloth tight which makes it easier to pull the wool strips through. There are also rug hooking frames available that a lot of people use instead of the quilters frame. Once the rug is finished the edges are also finished with a binding.
Rug hooking has become a popular craft for both women and men. There are many different patterns available for most interest. There are several shops that have rug hooking supplies. One of my favorite shops is Notforgotten Farm. Lori Brechlin is so talented. She has one of the sweetest shops on her farm in Virginia. If you ever have a chance to visit with her you should. Her blog has a lot of wonderful information and she also sells on etsy. I took lessons from Delores at Maple Hill Studio in Lansing, NC. She also carries supplies and is a wonderful teacher. Several other studios and blogs that I like to visit are: Orange Sink, Wooley Red Rug, The Burlap Owl Primitives and Plumrun Creek. I have purchased items from The Dorr mill Store as they have a great selection of all types of supplies. I hope this inspires you to try a new craft such as rug hooking if you don’t know how. It’s a wonderful craft to learn, a way to keep history alive and will provide your home with a beautiful keepsake for generations to come.
It has been a busy month at the barn. I think around 20 lambs have been born since Christmas. They are so cute especially when they all get together and start running and jumping around. The ewes have done fairly well this year with their little ones. It’s amazing how protective the mothers can be of their young. I have seen this not only with the sheep but of the cows and the donkeys. It’s just natural for mothers to be this way.
Our donkeys are here for protection At one time we were having an issue with the coyotes but since the donkeys have been here we no longer are having that issue. They have so much personality and each one is different in their ways. They also run around and chase each other during the day. So at any given moment, you might see the donkeys running around or the sheep running around the pastures. It’s just part of the way farm animals behave. It does make you laugh though because they do it just for fun. So if you ever need a good laugh just go visit a farm and watch the animals for awhile, it might just brighten your day.
This past week a friend of mine introduced me to a Bread Machine. I have to ask myself why haven’t I tried this before? I mean, how long have bread machines been around. Forever, right. Well, I did try it and all I can say is WOW, I’m very impressed. You just put your ingredients in the machine, push a few buttons and before long you have a wonderful smelling kitchen and a very delicious loaf of bread. How simple is that? After all these years of mixing, kneading, rising and baking bread I am now with the program. You can make so many different kinds of bread in the machine but not only bread, would you believe you can also make jam. I was surprised too. I can’t wait till this summer when the strawberries start coming in. I will be making strawberry preserves to serve with my homemade bread.
I think there is something special about making bread, you get such a feeling of domesticity. It truly is a comfort food not only for you but for your whole family. As a gift, a loaf of bread is so special. It provides nourishment, comfort and solace to someone special or a special family.
I am off to make another loaf of bread, no maybe I’ll try the cinnamon roll recipe next. So many possibilities……
We are getting our first snowfall here in North Carolina. It actually started yesterday afternoon, continued thru the night and is still coming down at the moment. Isn’t it beautiful? It’s going to be a good day for homemade chicken stew and some indoor projects.
Several of our sheep had lambs yesterday. Some of them had twins. One is having to be bottle fed as its mother just would not take it. This happens sometimes, some of the ewes are wonderful mothers and some, well I don’t know why they just won;t take their baby. It’s just part of having animals and farming. It makes for a busy day. Besides watching over the newborn lambs, hay had to be put out in all of the pastures to make sure the cows, sheep and donkeys had enough feed to last them during the snow storm. Also, getting as many ewes with new babies put up in the barn was also imprtant. The ewes that had twins were the main ones that were put in their own stall. This helped to make sure the mother fed both of her little ones and also helped to keep them sheltered.
As I look out the window, it’s still snowing. Not sure how many inches we have now but I would say, it looks to be around 8 inches. Snow days are wonderful when you can stay in, slow down and just do whatever you want to do indoors. Whether it is looking at your favorite blogs, watching a good movie, reading a good book, or getting a few projects done. We need these days, I think it re-energizes us for the next days list of things to be done. Wherever you are, I hope you have a chance to slow down, rest and get a moment to do whatever you want to do. As for me I hope it keeps on snowing!!!