Monday, September 10, 2012

Free And Yummy !

It's a member of the cabbage family and related to garden cress and radish ( you can see the patches of it in the creek bed above).  It's semi-aquatic.  It's a perennial plant and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans.  And the creek beds around our new home are FULL of it!  What is it?  WATERCRESS!!

I've read that early immigrants to our country reportedly combed the hillsides every spring for the first signs of it.  The taste, to me, is similar to a radish if not picked early enough. Many find it free on their property growing in and around water.  And some grow it on a large scale.  It is well-suited to hydroponics but that process wouldn't be free, so I'm so glad watercress grows here on its own.

Watercress doesn't keep, once picked, for very long.  So pick only as needed.  Also, it contains iron, folic acid, calcium, and vitamins A and C.

According to Wikipedia, New Market, Alabama was known as the "Watercress Capital of the World" in the 1940's...I didn't know that!  Wikipedia also tells of an English surgeon, by the name of John Woodall, who suggested using watercress as a remedy for scurvy (because of Vitamin C content).  And did you know it is also high in iodine and many health benefits are claimed?  But best of all, it can be grown at home and many may find it growing prolifically around their wet areas for free:)  Or perhaps you could introduce some to your property??

We've gathered basket fulls since early spring and sauteed it in butter and added garlic, just as we cook kale.  We sometimes add a bit of parmasean cheese, and we've been experimenting with using watercress as we would frozen spinach in our lasagna.  It's also good when used as a salad green, but the sooner picked the better it is.

Another good thing about watercress is that the more you harvest it the more it grows back (thanks for telling me, Vicki).  Anything we can get off the grocery list is exciting, so we'll definitely be experimenting with this wonderful green again and again.

And do you know who else really enjoys it around here?  Judson's Duck Duck and Goose Goose!  They're often seen foraging around the property, and watercress seems to be one of their favorite green things (as well as green tomatoes).   I'm just glad they aren't aware of the more plentiful patches located on the homeplace!  Have you any favorite recipes using watercress or other naturally growing free foods?




Friday, September 7, 2012

Sunday Sayin's And Thoughts

"No stars gleam as brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky. No water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand. And no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God's strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through." ~ Spurgeon

The storm left scattered evidence of a life- lived all over the yard and pastures of our former dwelling place and even some pictures and such in other states. So for the past several weeks, our family has been going through the remaining boxes of items lovingly collected from amongst the rubble. As you can imagine, going through such things and anticipating the lovely crisp fall days (fall was his very favorite season) has us thinking about Tom. A lot.

As I told a friend recently, papers are found and his handwriting is instantly recognized and so reminds us of the man... letters so straight and tall and neat and in order, and we remember. His clothes are found, and we remember. His style. His shoes, and we remember. His boots sit in my room and next to the bed. The boots he wore when he breathed his last prayer, and we remember.

In fact, we've been taking time to rejoice in knowing where he is and to thank God for the time we breathe, and we remember.

Do we miss him? Absolutely! It's good to miss, and it's good to be missed. If we could, would we bring him back? Absolutely not! We believe and rest and trust in God's sovereignty and plan for our lives.

But memories are stirred as we go through familiar items....and we miss...only our Lord knows what all. We can't really put our finger on it all. Our loved one? Our friends and family? The familiar? Everything has changed. Is it a place? Things? Sameness? All of the above?

What we do believe, and what we are reminded of daily, is that we all crave security and sometimes expect to find it in people, places, things, and the familiar. While people, places, things, and the familiar are good gifts from the Lord, our security is not to be found there, but rather in a PERSON. And that Person is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

As I also shared with my friend, we are so very thankful for the wonderful people God has placed in our lives and that we belong to and are loved by HIM. C.S. Lewis said, "When pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all."

So many of you experience hurts or losses greater than our family can even fathom, but we know the One who can. Our prayer is that, whatever the storms in our lives, big or small, whatever the changes or unknowns we may be facing, and we all face changes and unknowns...daily, our trust will be in the Lord, and we will offer our circumstances to God. May He cause them to bear fruit...and may we remember and find comfort in His unfailing grace.

Fort Boonesborough And Living History Museums

Back in late April of this year, my children and I took my father on a trip to Kentucky in order to spend some time with him and in order to visit the place of his birth and early growing up years (more on that later).  While making our way home, we decided to stop by and visit Fort Boonesborough Living History and State Park.
Some of our fondest memories of trips taken while my husband was alive were of the friends we visited and of the occasional stop to visit any living history museum we could find in the area.  The Interpreters were always so knowledgeable and much was learned from them as to how people of that particular time period lived.  We always learned something which could be taken home and applied to what we were trying to do farm-wise. Also, besides visiting because of our love of history, we were all encouraged by evidence that skills, many of which we no longer know and use, were used daily in and about the homes and communities of  our forefathers; skills we'd very much like to learn ourselves!
You may remember that Daniel Boone was chosen to lead a group of thirty one axe men to clear a path through the Cumberland Gap and ending at Otter Creek of the Kentucky River.  There were incredible difficulties encountered by those men as the route was to narrow for a wagon and had to be cleared using axes and tomahawks.  The Wilderness Trail was considered the roughest on the continent, but was a major factor in opening the middle west to being settled.  Fort Boonesborough was built by Daniel and his men in 1775.  They reached the southern bank of the Kentucky River on April 1st, 1775.
You may also remember that it was while living at this fort, and while leaving with a group of twenty seven men to obtain a supply of salt, that Daniel and his men were captured and the twenty seven were surrendered for ransom.  Daniel was taken to the renowned Shawnee chief and adopted into his family.  He escaped after learning of a plan to attack Fort Boonesborough in order to warn his family and friends.
We visited one day during the week, but there are many opportunities for re-enactors, for those who enjoy music and arts festivals.  There are Tinsmiths and Coppersmiths, 18th Century trade fairs, information about the women on the frontier.  There are even Boone's Trace Tours - An overnight tour which includes leaving the fort and traveling The Boone Trace with a guide/historian.  Wow!
There are Fireside Chats, Frontier Christmas, and workshops/classes, such as, spinning, weaving, woodworking, blacksmithing, candle making, hearth cooking, painted floor cloths, and block printing.  Or you may attend an overnight, hand-on "Frontier Life" program. 
We really enjoyed all the shops, and the Interpreters were all so very friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to take the time to answer our questions.
I think my younger children were most amused by learning that the people there at the fort could seldom take a bath.  Apparently, many would get sick because animals and such were frequently in the same water, but they thought the actual bath caused their sickness. I also have to wonder whether it would have been safe to leave the fort, at least at times??  Also, we were told that they really couldn't make much soap while confined at the fort because every bit of fat was needed for human consumption rather than for making soap.  It was a bit difficult getting supplies and such to the area?!, and they could do more once they were able to leave and settle on their own homestead.
We watched a history video when we first arrived, and we also enjoyed visiting the 18th Century Transylvania Store.  Many historical re-print documents and beautiful 18th Century type items were available for purchase.  And ideas for drying peas, parched corn, and blocks of dried tea and dried maple sugar did not go unnoticed by our family members.:)  We're going to try some soon, and the various dried animal jerkeys were incredibly yummy.

The cabins were of various sizes.  Some were *starters* but all were pretty small and consisted of one room.
I especially enjoyed visiting with the weaver who explained much about how they made their clothes and how a newly arrived settler (weaver or spinner) might have to wait a while before being able to save money for equipment.  Also, the equipment took up quite a bit of space in their small cabin, AND it was very important that they get the wool and the cloth right, for if they did not, the sheep could not be sheered again until the next year, and that is a long time to wait for a piece of much needed clothing to be made.:)
When entering the store, I couldn't help thinking of Cinncinatis.  He was the storekeeper on the old television show about Daniel Boone (Fes Parker).  That show played every afternoon when I was growing up.:)
Someone spent a lot of time on that hide.:)
We very much enjoyed our time with my dad and our time spent visiting Fort Boonesborough.  The Fort is located near Lexington and they have a very informative website and schedule of events. If you simply enjoy history or want to take your children on a field trip, or perhaps wish to learn more about homesteading and skills used more in the past, there's probably a museum somewhere near you.  I have a book for history-minded travelers which lists many a fine destination.  It is A Traveler's Guide - America's Living History by Suzanne and Craig Sheumaker.  Much can also be found for free online.  Happy learning from the past and present!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Sayin's

"Worry is putting question marks where God has put periods." - Preacher John R. Rice

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and do not lean on your own understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.   - Proverbs 3:5