Fall: The Perfect Time for Hiking

Fall: The Perfect Time for a Hike

Is there a more invigorating time of year than fall? The crisp air, sunny skies, and vibrant colors just beg you to come out and play.

A new hiking trail, built by the Countryside Conservancy, just opened in our area. Called The Trolley Trail, it runs approximately 3 miles from Clarks Summit, to Dalton, PA. The trail runs along an old trolley line and the plan is to extend it for 14 miles.Continue Reading

Cobwebs in My Head

A nature walk is a balm to my spirit and a great way to clear the cobwebs out of my head. What ways have you found to deal with depression?

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;  or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12: 7 – 10

Sometimes I Just Need Out

The older I get, the more of a hermit I’m becoming.  My life lately has been pretty confined to my garden and my kitchen. Harvesting, cooking, preserving. Repeat.Continue Reading

A Walk in the Woods

I had the pleasant opportunity to take a walk recently along a mountain ridge. The area had many rock formations with dry, shallow soil. Here’s a little of what I saw growing in these harsh conditions. I was reminded that even when life is difficult, or my spirit is dry, God surprises me with beauty.

Wood Strawberry - related to the Wild Strawberry but has a yellow flower; the berry is not as sweet as the Wild Strawberry.

Appalachian Sandwort - this plant is only found in a few of Pennsylvania's counties and is considered endangered here.

Low-bush Blueberry - it will be a few more weeks before the berries are ripe and sweet.

Greenbrier - this prickly, woody vine provides cover for small wildlife.

Greenbrier Thorns - when these plants form a thicket, they are difficult to pass through.

One of the many lichens on the mountain.

A few more types of lichen growing on rocks. A lichen is a composite of fungus and algae.

Sweet Fern - named for its aromatic leaves. Sweet Fern is nitrogen fixing allowing it to grow in infertile soil.

Wild Rosa Rogusa - a beautiful surprise among the rocks.

Since this wasn't in bloom, I'm unsure if it's Solomon's Seal, or False Solomon's Seal. The plants are closely related.

Hickory Nuts - I think. Do Hickory Nuts trees have catkins?

Can you help? I'm inclined to say this is Wild Radish.

Rodale Institute

Rain water from the gutter runs down a chain and into a rain barrel.

J.I. Rodale is considered the father of the organic farming movement in the U.S. I’ve read Organic Gardening Magazine for many years and many Rodale Press books are included in my library. But I had never visited the Rodale Institute until recently, despite the fact that it is only an hour and a half away in Kutztown, PA. While there, Mike and I took a 2 hour workshop on growing apples organically. And we spent several hours roaming the apple orchards, fields, and gardens. Despite the fact that spring has not yet arrived, we found the farm to be interesting and inspiring.

All the "black gold" a girl could ever dream of!

For over 60 years, the Rodale Institute has been researching the best practices of organic agriculture. A thirty year “Farming Systems Trial” compared conventional, chemical agriculture with organic methods and found that organic farming yields match conventional methods. And in years of drought, organic farming outperforms conventional methods since organic methods build, rather than deplete the soil. This is encouraging news, as I often hear that “organic farming cannot feed the world”. I do not believe this to be true, and research is now supporting that. In addition, the trial showed that organic systems are more profitable than conventional systems!