The Start of a Pumpkin Patch

April 25, 2014

Well it’s that time of the year again. The pumpkin patch has been planted. Now let’s hope something actually grows! MaryEllen is a huge gardening help so far, so I actually have some hope.

Pumpkin harvest of yesteryear.

Now I have some pretty old seed that I just can’t bear to throw away. So, there are a few hills that we’ll keep an eye on. If nothing grows in two weeks, we’ll put something else in them. One that I’m pretty sure will not grow is King of Mammoth. This is the largest variety that I’ve ever grown. They are not as large as the modern giants, but that is OK with me. I’m not going to spend that much time on feeding the thing extra to make it a giant. The King of Mammoth pumpkins are more round and not as ribbed like the typical pumpkins that we’re used to seeing around Halloween. I obtained these seeds years ago from Baker Creek Heirlooms seeds, but don’t recall seeing them in the last few years. This variety dates back before 1824.

We planted one hill of old Rouge vif D’Etamps which is also known as the “Cinderella” pumpkin. I haven’t bought any more of this seed in the last few years because it wasn’t the best tasting pumpkin that I’ve grown, but it did grow well. I really don’t think this seed will grow either due to its age.

Charlotte several years ago with a squash plant.

Another very old seed that I planted on hill of is Kikuza. I obtained this seed years ago from Seed Savers Exchange. This is a tan ribbed pumpkin that I can’t recall ever successfully growing (I’m sure that is not the fault of the seed). But, just can’t stand not to give the seed a chance.

In 2011 I bought some seed and never used it. So, I planted a few hills of North Georgia Candy Roaster. This seed came from Southern Exposure. The descriptions say it has an elongated banana shape and makes great pies.

On to the new seed….

I am really excited to try and grow Amish Pie Pumpkin. This seed came from Seed Savers Exchange. A few of the things that attracted me to this variety was that it is said to be an excellent keeper, has minimal pest problems, and grows well during dry spells. They say it comes from Maryland, but we’ll see how it does in Tennessee. The pumpkins typically grow about 15-45 pounds.

A squash plant from a few years ago.

This year we planted some blue varieties which are popular in Australia (so I’m told.) Each year, whether anything is planted or not, I pour over a few seed catalogs. My favorite is Baker Creek because of their pumpkin and winter squash section. It was very difficult to narrow it down to 3 blue varieties. So, here they are.

First of all the Blue Hubbard Squash. I have been wanting to stuff a hubbard for Thanksgiving for years now. Perhaps this year I’ll have one to stuff. These are expected to be 15-40 pounds. They are from the north east, so I’m not sure how well they’ll survive the heat and abundant squash bugs. The seed was obtained from Baker Creek.

A baby pumpkin from several years ago.

The next blue variety is Crown. This is suppose to be a very sweet variety. It is expected to weigh about 12 pounds and is sort of a flatter shaped pumpkin.

A third blue squash is called Queensland Blue. The pictures I have seen of this look like it has an interesting shape and it should grow to about 12 pounds as well.

In the typical pumpkin category, it was a toss up between Connecticut Field Pumpkin and Howden. I ended up purchasing Connecticut Field Pumpkin seed from a new-to-me seed company called St. Clare Heirloom Seeds. This grew well in our first pumpkin patch in 2007, so I’m hoping it does well this year for us too.

If memory serves, this plant is a Tennessee Sweet Potato Squash plant.  They grew really well here, but I was afraid to try them, as “The Complete Squash” listed them as good for cattle feed.

Next is Greek Sweet Red from Baker Creek. When I first grew this in 2007, there were no pictures to be found. Now there are. This is suppose to have excellent flesh. I don’t remember getting any the last time, but we’ll just chalk that up to inexperience and hope for the best this year. The thing that really attracted me to it, besides being yummy is that it is said to be very resistant to the squash beetles! Lord knows we need that around here. Another source said it is resistant to vine borers. I’m hoping the prolonged cold this year helps that bug situation, but I have my doubts.

The pumpkin patch a few years ago.

Even though we have Blue Hubbard seeds, St. Clare’s made the True Green Improved Hubbard variety too good to resist. This was introduced in the 1840s, so that is a plus. (I have this dream of having a War Between the States Era garden. Maybe someday.) It says it’s an easy grower and and excellent keeper. Also, Baker Creek had a wonderful picture of it in their Seed Year Book. If only we could grow a Hubbard like that!

Oh yes, Long of Naples!!! My daughter keeps asking me about the flavor, and I keep telling her that I don’t know. We grew a few of these babies one year, took pictures, put them in the barn, and then left for Ohio the next day. When we got back home, some other creature(s) had gotten to them. So, we are hoping to try eating them this year! big-squashThis is from 2008 or 2009.  Long of Naples.

New this year is the Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash. We use a lot of Butternut squash around here and this is suppose to be very similar to it, but with more flesh in the crookneck. It is said to be a favorite of Amish and a favorite of Baker Creek.

Of course, we cannot plant a “pumpkin” patch without Waltham Butternut. These grow for us every year, whether we plant them or not! If we don’t have a garden per say, they grow out of the compost pile. They get used quite a bit in this household.

Winter Luxury Pie pumpkins did well in our first pumpkin patch. There is a book called “The Complete Squash” by Amy Goldman that I have read several times. Ms. Goldman has nothing but good things to say about this pumpkin. I personally love them myself, just for looks and for pies. They have a white netting on them that makes them look a bit unique.

Pumpkin plants from years gone by.

The last thing that makes up our little patch is small squash. Delicata and Sweet Dumpling Squashes are both so little and yet so sweet! What a treat. I have grown a few Delicata before, but the sweet dumplings are new to our garden.

The last little one may or may not grow due to the age of the seed is New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins. They are about 4 or 5 pounds. We’ve not grown them before either and if they grow, I’ll be very happy to see how they do. They were introduced in this country in 1865.

A squash or pumpkin blossom from a few years ago.

Oh, and last but not least, is Kabocha Squash. These are little green pumpkins with very sweet flavorful flesh. They are a staple in our kitchen. The last time we had one about a month ago, I saved the seeds. We planted a few hills of those seeds.

That about wraps up our Pumpkin patch preview. In choosing these varieties, I study the seed catalogs and the book The Complete Squash. Winter squash and pumpkins are some of my favorite things to grown. How about you? What varieties do you like?

Some of the harvest from our first pumpkin patch in 2007.

First Snow of 2014

February 13, 2014

As we sat eating breakfast this morning, I just had to go outside! We got about a half-inch of snow, the sun was shining, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bluer sky! By myself, I went for a nature walk. I’m resurrecting this blog to put up a photo essay of the first snow, February 13, 2014.

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The Uniforms Arrived!

September 25, 2013


This morning the UPS man pulled up with boxes for Kevin and James. They have arrived a day early!

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And, what better thing to do when the uniforms arrive than to make hard tack?

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When I saw the boys in uniform, it gave me just  little glimpse of what those mothers in the 1860s must have felt.   I have read accounts, but seeing them in uniform, even if just to reenact, stirs up the emotions.  How did they get this big?  So young, yet so much more grown up than the last time I looked.  Would they ever see their sons again?  Hear from them?  Communication was nowhere near what it is today.  I am all too grateful that they are not going off to march in battle, but going to help people learn history.

We’re suppose to be going to a skirmish on Friday, living history on Saturday, and a marker dedication on Sunday after Mass.  Busy, busy!  Now, if only I could spend the next 2 days sewing, I might be able to get something done for the girls. If you have sky blue, gray, or butternut wool that you’re not using, please pass  it on so we can get John outfitted!  Thanks for reading!


Forrest Homecoming 2013

September 20, 2013

One of the interesting things we found out about at Elm Springs was the homecoming at the Nathan Bedford Forrest boyhood home.

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Being members of the Children of the Confederacy, we volunteered. The three older boys and MaryEllen went to work. We help set up a bit. The kids manned the place where drinks and snacks were being sold, yet the still managed to get around, learn, and have fun. (As a matter of fact, during the end of the school year interview, this event was listed as a favorite field trip.) I did what I could, helping to keep the bathrooms tidy and supplied. On this day we also met (finally) the group that we will be reenacting with!!! (Also, a note about Nathan Bedford Forrest… if you think he started the KKK, you need to learn your history! N.B. Forrest was a hero who risked his life and wealth fighting for what he believed was right. And I am not taking about slavery here! Please, I beg you, go to original sources and find out the truth for yourself!!! OK, end of rant!)

There were speakers, musicians, games, vendors, and demonstrations to keep visitors busy all day, and the weather was lovely!

forest homecoming 2013 023 John and James (“the Army guy”) helping to set up”

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forest homecoming 2013 026 On the back porch where drinks and snacks were sold

forest homecoming 2013 027 cannon demonstrations

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forest homecoming 2013 053 forest homecoming 2013 054 forest homecoming 2013 056 Talks and demonstrations on fashion of the time period a Confederate Women, featuring Emma Samsom

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forest homecoming 2013 058Vincent with a Nathan Bedford Forrest reenactor

forest homecoming 2013 063 MaryEllen in a hat that she just loved

In the museum room of the house…

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After the homecoming…

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James Turned 13!!

September 19, 2013

Announcement: We now have THREE teenagers in the house!

Honestly, most of the time it is rather enjoyable.

We made a cake for James’s birthday and he insisted on putting the candles on the cake. (I’m sorry for the poor quality pictures!)

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Chattanooga 2013

September 19, 2013

Every now and again I like to go check out the blog of our favorite War Between the States band. For the past 7 years or so, I ask when they are coming to Tennessee. Well, around February or March while looking at the events page, I saw they were going to be in Chattanooga!!! I ran out to tell Joe, who’s response was, “So.” Then when he looked at me he became concerned and said, “You’re not going to go, are you?” I replied, “It’s a lot closer than Virginia!” I marked it on my calendar and looked up the nearest state park for camping. When it got closer, we found out that the Tennessee Division Children of the Confederacy were having their annual convention the same weekend very near there. (We are still members of Virginia Division, long story!)

The Thursday before that weekend was the Graduation and Sacrament party for the homeschoolers in our area (sort of). So we could not leave before Friday morning. Then we had to be back home in time for 4:00 pm Mass on Sunday. It would be a tight weekend, but that’s OK.

We went to the Graduation and Sacrament party where Kevin officially “graduated” 8th grade. I don’t have a single picture! Ugh!  Updated to add that some lovely young person read my blog and sent a few pictures of Kevin’s graduation. (Thank you, M.C.!)

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Kevins 8th grade grad

Friday morning we packed up the best we could and headed out to a state park in Georgia. We set up camp the best we could when we got there. It started to sprinkle and we were trying to get to the convention on time. We got on our way, a little late, and were able to call and find out that they were waiting for us.  We arrived at the hotel and got back on the road to a town called Ringgold, GA.

There is an old chattanooga june 2013 010church there, built in the early 1800s, that has been turned into a museum. They held a memorial service there and then every one had time to explore the museum. After that, on the way back, we stopped at a beautiful Patrick Cleburne monument. There were many markers there explaining the history. Unfortunately, we were trying to beat the rain, and I could not find my camera at that stop. I know we have pictures somewhere of the kids with it.chattanooga june 2013 015chattanooga june 2013 012chattanooga june 2013 011

Everyone went back to the hotel and we went to Walmart to get a Sunday shirt for one child and some socks for another. When we got back to the hotel (where the convention was being held) there was a pizza dinner and then swimming. It rained a lot while they were in the pool, but the children didn’t mind. It was nice to see some of the same faces that we met at the Tennessee convention we attended 2 years prior.

After all that, we headed back to the campsite. Things were a little wet as the big tent needs a good coat of water-proofing stuff. (Is that a word?) I was told the little tent had a hole, so before we left I purchased a patch kit. Let me tell you, it was a lot bigger than a patch kit could handle. The boys put a sleeping bag near the hole and did OK. It had stopped raining at that point. We headed to bed since we had to be at the convention in the morning.

Up came the sun and we got all dolled up to go to the convention. It is run like a formal business meeting. There are flag ceremonies, speeches, awards given, etc. There is also a “catechism quiz” for 3 different levels. My children did well. Veronica won the pre-junior and John won the senior. The boy who won the junior division knew the question after two or three words came out! He really studied! After the business meeting there was a luncheon. A good time was had by all.

chattanooga june 2013 016 chattanooga june 2013 017 chattanooga june 2013 019 chattanooga june 2013 022 Pre-Junior catechism quiz.  Yes, she was the only one there, but they were very impressed with her knowledge, especially when she named General Lee’s horse!

chattanooga june 2013 026 Junior catechism quiz

chattanooga june 2013 028 Senior Catechism quiz

chattanooga june 2013 033 chattanooga june 2013 036With Tennessee division United Daughters of the Confederacy President)

We changed into some “play clothes” and headed out to Lookout Mountain to see the band!!!

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It was so exciting to be able to see them live. There was a little thunder at times, but the rain held off and they gave a long performance. Our friends from CofC were there when we arrived (we had told them about it). They left at intermission. Then some other friends joined us (a surprise for my kids!)

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My boys brought out a couple of their puppets. (They make puppets.) Well, it turned out that one of the members of the band used to work for Jim Henson! He was an artist who illustrated Muppet books! He was really enjoying James and his puppet and wanted to get picture of them after the show! So, they did. We got autographed posters (as a matter of fact, one hangs in our den just over James’s desk.)

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After speaking with the band members for a while, we enjoyed walking around Lookout Mountain park and being with good friends.

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When we left Lookout Mountain, we went back to the campsite with our friends.  The kids roasted hot dogs over the fire and there was peanut butter and jelly.  They also went to the playground.  Then, sadly, our friends left, but we had a good time camping.

The next morning we wanted to go to McKay’s Used Bookstore before we left.  Just down the road we passed a Confederate Cemetery.  We decided that we needed to go back there.  McKays was not open yet when we arrived, so we went back to the cemetery to pay our respects.

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We went back to McKay and found a book illustrated by the banjo player!  After McKay’s we headed home, got changed for and went to Mass, and had a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon and evening.

Native American Memorial in Alabama

September 19, 2013

Thinking about this post was not too easy. How does one describe this place? Well, for starters, a friend of ours was talking to the boys about photography. The man showed them a picture of a “prayer circle”  6 june 13 199  some place in Alabama and tried to describe the place to the boys. There really are no words to describe it, as I later found out. Also, I didn’t realize how close we are to it, thinking it was somewhere way down in Alabama. 6 june 13 187

Aunt Sue wanted to take a ride on the Natchez Trace. We had never been south before, so we went that way. Of course, a child or two had to go to the bathroom. As luck would have it, it was our day to be inconvenienced by the government, (Don’t get me started!) due to the sequester that our president said was “never going to happen” in a debate that I watched.  The bathrooms on the Trace were closed on that day! So, we had to take an exit, which ended up having a nice little visitor center and the kind people told us about this memorial. We ventured south and found it. 6 june 13 196

The man who built this thing is Tom Hendrix. 6 june 13 238 His grandmother was a Native American woman who was forced out of her homeland on the Trail of Tears. She walked back to her home and was the only one that they know did this. Mr. Hendrix was trying to get a stone in the wall for every step she took. He carried each rock 3 times; loading them on to his truck, unloading them at his home, and then putting them where they belong in the wall. As people have learned about this place, they send him rocks from all over the place. I could post pictures of nothing but rocks here, and Mr. Hendrix has a story for each one. He is a master story-teller and we were blessed that he was there. 6 june 13 211

Oh, the prayer circle was built according to Native American ways. He had a native come in and teach him. There are no electronic devices allowed in there. It was phenomenal!!! If you ever get a chance to go there, it would be time well spent. Mr. Hendrix has written a book about the history of his grandmother and their people called If the Legends Fade. I’m looking forward to reading it one day soon.

The only reference I found to it on the internet can be found here.

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CofC Scrapbook

September 19, 2013

This is just a little tiny post. The children have been members of the Children of the Confederacy for many years. Last year John served as Historian for the Virginia Division. One of his jobs was to create a scrapbook. Kevin submitted a picture for the annual art contest (for which he received honorable mention), and our little chapter, the Belle Boyd chapter, submitted a yearbook. I took some pictures on the day we were mailing everything off and wanted to post them here. By the way, Children of the Confederacy has a new website.

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We were missing Genevieve here, but she wasn’t a member of the CofC yet!

Charlotte Turns 8!

September 19, 2013

We celebrated Charlotte’s 8th birthday this year. We took Aunt Sue to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Ave Maria Grotto. We met up with other friends of ours that day as well. It was a beautiful day and everyone enjoyed themselves.

First here are some pictures of Charlotte opening a present from Aunt Mary Lou and Uncle Al.  (Thank you so much!!!)

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That is all the pictures I took. Luckily Kevin took a few from the Shrine…







Edited to add that I found some pictures from the day that I took!!!  Here they are…

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Elm Springs 2013

September 19, 2013

Aunt Sue came and visited us at the end of May. We had a lot of fun and tried to take her to a lot of places locally. One day we went to the Polk house in Columbia, TN. For some reason, I don’t have any pictures of that on my computer. This was the house that President James Polk’s parents lived in and he visited there every day when he was in town. There was also a neat display, in a separate building, of Mrs. Polk’s things such as dresses, a couch, and many personal effects of hers.

After lunch that day we went to Elm Springs, the headquarters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I would say that was the best part of the day. We had a tour of the house and we made some Confederate connections which led us volunteering for the Forrest homecoming event. But we’ll save that for another post.

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We drove home through Mt. Pleasant and stopped to read the history signs there and see the Confederate Monument in the center of town. There was a group of Confederates formed there called the Bigby Greys. The town was so very proud of that group marching off to war. We vowed to go back and study more about it on another day.

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