Archive for the ‘homestead’ Category

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.

MEs 11th and frist snow 2014 008 What we saw at breakfast

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The pumpkin patch MEs 11th and frist snow 2014 048

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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 052 Working hard or hardly working?

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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Fair 2013

August 14, 2013

Ever since we moved here, we wanted to participate in the loca fair. It wasn’t until 2 years ago that we actually did. This year is our third year. Today we went to the fair grounds to see who won what. This is not extensive and some of the things we don’t know if they placed or not. The 4th and 5th place winners get participant ribbons. They were labeling items while we were there, so I’m not sure about a few of them. Anyway, here goes… in random order….

Giles Co fair 2013 023 Charlotte’s scrapbook took a first place and best of show!!!  (No on in the family has ever had a best of show ribbon before this year!)

Giles Co fair 2013 024James’ homemade puppet collection.  His ribbon is the blue for first place, not the white.  (Unless he also got 3rd place for something there?  I don’t know!)

Giles Co fair 2013 025Kevin’s “Helm’s Deep” from Lord of the Rings won second place in the model category.  Personally I think they should have a separate lego category as so many come in.

Giles Co fair 2013 026 Charlotte’s Marian shrine made out of popsicle sticks won 3rd place and MaryEllens’ decroated popsicle sticks won 1st in the small wood category.

Giles Co fair 2013 027James’s decorative wooden ax won 1st place in large woodwork.

Giles Co fair 2013 028Kevin’s collection of Lord of the Rings lego figures. (ed. to add. 4th place in collections.)

Giles Co fair 2013 029Jame’s photo of the soldier won first place in photo of a person or persons.  I’ll see if I can find the original photo since my flash ruined it here.

Giles Co fair 2013 030 Kevin’s Frist Place in Any other Painting (It was Acrilic and they didn’t have a category for that) won Best of Show!!!

Giles Co fair 2013 031MaryEllen’s horse drawing that was made into a plate from her friend’s birthday party won second place in marker drawing.

Giles Co fair 2013 032MaryEllen’s little figure won second place in paint on wood.

Giles Co fair 2013 033MaryEllen’s pencil drawing won 4th place.

Giles Co fair 2013 034MaryEllen’s crayon drawing with real grass!

Giles Co fair 2013 035Veronica’s horse and unicorn drawing

Giles Co fair 2013 036James’s face won first place in charcoal drawing.

Giles Co fair 2013 037James’s tank in the marker category (ed. to add won 4th place in marker and crayon art.)

Giles Co fair 2013 038James’c cannon photo (looks blurry here, but is not) (ed. to add 4th place in photo of man made structure or structures.)

Giles Co fair 2013 040James’s opossum in a trap photo.

Giles Co fair 2013 041MaryEllen’s wax figure won 3rd place

Giles Co fair 2013 042MaryEllen’s bookmark won first place in cross stitch

Giles Co fair 2013 043Charlotte’s fabric doll (sort of up side down) won 4th place in stuffed toys.

Giles Co fair 2013 044“Chip,” James’s prized puppet won 5th place in stuffed.  There was no other category for him, but it didn’t seem fitting.

Giles Co fair 2013 045MaryEllen’s cake won 3rd place.  It looked much better when it was delivered.

Giles Co fair 2013 046MaryEllen won first place for her skirt.

Giles Co fair 2013 047MaryEllen’s “biscuits”

Giles Co fair 2013 048MaryEllen’s pumpkin pie won 3rd place

Giles Co fair 2013 049MaryEllen’s green knit scarf won 2nd place.

Giles Co fair 2013 050On the right had side, you can see a little orange wax figure.  That’s Charlotte’s 5th place.

Giles Co fair 2013 051Charlotte’s covered lego model

Giles Co fair 2013 052Kevin’s big watermelon (21.8 pounds)

maryellen fair 2013 015 Blurry picture taken by MaryEllen of her “ocean box” that she has been working on for school in zoology won 2nd place in models

Spring Through Kevin’s Lens

May 19, 2013

Kevin was showing me some of his wonderful pictures and I mentioned that a blog post would be nice. I’ve been waiting for him to put them on my computer. While looking for some pictures the other day I ran across Kevin’s. I wonder how long they have been there. Enjoy Kevin’s Spring at Bodenburg 2013…













And, finally, a self-portrait….


Thrift Shop Fun!

April 24, 2013

A couple of days a month we go into the city for “Enrichment” days. The girls have a Little Flowers group, the boys have a boys club called “Brothers in Christ” and there is even a little 4-year-old club. It is also our library day, where the selection is significantly bigger than our little country libraries. (However, I forgot my library list, but I digress!)

We decided to go in early so we could do some thrift shopping. We stopped at this one shop that we had not been to in a couple of years. Their prices did go up, but who’s hasn’t? My big find there was a little tiny crock pot that I have been wanting for years. I hadn’t bought one because none could be found that did not have a plastic lid. Well, the one yesterday had a glass lid and looked as if it had never been used. We like to cook overnight oat groats and this pot is the perfect size, so we’ve already used it! It was brand new and the plastic plug protector had never been removed. What a find.

We ended up going thrifting both before and after clubs. Here are some other fun finds. First of all some books…

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And some hats….

thrift find 012For the ladies.

thrift find 016 This one is James’.

thrift 2 003 thrift 2 004 Charlotte’s hat, but Vincent just had to get into the pictures.  He’s a cutey!

A couple of patterns…

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thrift find 001 (Yes that price tag says 49 cents!!!)

There is a Spring Beatrix Potter unit study.  I printed the whole thing out years ago and come across it from time to time.   This  year I remembered about it at the right time of year.  We just started it this week and it has me keeping my eyes open for all things Beatrix Potter.  Yesterday at two different stores, I found these:

thrift find 009 They are melmac, perfect for our tile floors and Veronica loves them already.

The boys love to go to look for jerseys and military-type things.  Here’s some of their finds…

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thrift 2 005 thrift 2 006 This one is the prized one because it is some kind of rare alternate Titans jersey, of Vince Young.  It is the same as my Fred Smoot jersey (that you can see in this post), about which we were told by a reliable source that it was as close as you can get to the real thing.  The numbers are sewn on, etc…

The boys had about 10 jerseys in the cart at one store so that they could get one for everyone on their football teams when they play again at church or wherever, but I put my foot down on that.  But, it shows the generous spirit of my boys.  That is nice.

Oh yes, one day I’m gong to put a puppet post togher.  James and Kevin have been making puppets and are even sometimes part of their friends’ show “Buffle and Friends.”  So, James and Kevin are always on the lookout for good puppet material.  Yesterday James found some black and Kevin found some green.   This morning, Kevin made his new puppet which he calls “Spinky,” so he tells me.

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John has been looking for a few years for a good desk.  He traded his away to his sisters one time (and I think regretted it ever since.)  He found one for a reasonable price yesterday and they were kind enough to take 10% off.  He’s already got it up and running this morning….

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The boys like 80s rock and were pleased to find a Joshua Tree CD.

For our gaming pleasure…

thrift find 015 Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit, complete with gold ring.

Last, but certainly not least, was our last find of the day.  I nearly fell over when the girls brought it to me smiling, and I asked in a doubtful voice, “How much do they want for it?”  “$2.99,” MaryEllen said.  I exclaimed, “Put it in the basket!”

thrift find 010 Yes, what you see here is a Pleasant Company American Girl retired Kirsten Doll in her original dress and apron.  She is missing a pinky on one of her hands and her toe and finger nails have been painted, but not too messy.  Her hair is a little dry at the ends, but she is in perfect playing condition!  We were quite pleased to find the doll.

So there you have it.  There were a few other finds, like some sewing material for Mom and a postcard of Renoir’s painting of a girl with a watering can.  We had an enjoyable day out that ended with us going to see the last 2 innings of a friend’s baseball game and visiting with them for a little while.

MaryEllen’s Cookin’

April 3, 2013

MaryEllen is becoming quite a good cook. Even her eldest brother told his friends that the other day. For St. Patrick’s Day she made a delicious loaf of Irish Soda bread shaped like a shamrock. Just thinking about it makes me want soda 2013 2

MaryEllen used the recipe below except she replaced the sugar with Sucanat and replaced the buttermilk with soymilk with umeobeshi vinegar in it.

She took a cooking class with some other girls her age and learned to make some delicious lunches.  She has made a tofu feta wrap, which I didn’t get pictures of, and this lovely curried tempeh sandwich with avocado and aolie (is that how that is spelled?  It’s a gourmet mayonnaise) on sourdough bread.  It was delicious…

curried tempeh

Now, here are token baby pictures taken this morning by Charlotte…

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From Kevin’s Camera

March 30, 2013

Kevin created this using a Star Wars book and the legos that we already have.





This is what he does while traveling in the car…



From James’s Camera

March 30, 2013


Puppet shows in the van…


This is what happens when big brother gives little brother a bath…

Does this picture remind anyone of his Uncle Joe, or is it just me?



Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

March 18, 2013

Today is officially St. Patrick’s Day in the Church. It was moved this year because it fell on Passion Sunday. We have quite a thunderstorm brewing out there, as we are under severe thunderstorm watch just about all day. We are decorated and MaryEllen is baking a cake. The Irish Soda bread will be started soon. Hopefully someone will take pictures to be posted later.

Until then, I wanted to record my Aunt Gert’s Irish Soda bread recipe. Growing up, my Mother made it every year for St. Patrick’s Day. I presume it was my Grandmother’s recipe, but will only be able to confirm that when we meet again, as Aunt Gert has passed on and my Mom doesn’t remember things so well.

Preheat over 375 degrees

-3 Cups Flour
-3 Tbsps. Sugar
-1/2 tsp. Salt
-1/2 tsp. Baking soda
-3 tsps. Baking soda
-1 Cup RAisins
-1 1/3 Cup Buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients together.
Add Buttermilk, mix well.
Dough will be sticky.
Knead 10 times.
Make a round loaf.
With sharp knife, make a cross on top of loaf (to let the devil out).
Bake 35 minutes.
Bread will have a hollow sound.
This amount of dough makes 6 texas muffins.

(Disclaimer, we are neither Irish or Texans. 🙂

We hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!