28 July 2012

A Busy Weekend

Yesterday, I made a bit of a bike ride.  I've been trying to do more of that, as the temperatures allow!  On this ride, I went nearly 28 miles, including this crossing of the new Interstate 69 construction a few miles west of our place.

I-69 heads north to Indianapolis (eventually)
I took a break in just about the only shade i could find, at this closed market stand.
 It has been a busy day today.  I ran some errands this morning and watered the tomatoes for a while.  A farmer friend called and said he could get up to our hayfield over in Martin County and bush hog it for me.  I've not mowed it for a couple of seasons, but can't stand to see it grow up after having put so much effort into keeping it open.  I met him over there and 'supervised' while he used his big bat-wing mower on the field.  The small persimmon and sassafras trees that were sprouted there are mowed back and it looks great now!  I have another neighbor that may want hay off of it next year.

Back here, a neighbor called this afternoon and asked for a ride to the neighborhood 'grocery store' to get some sugar for a batch of plum wine he was working on.  I obliged, picked him up and ran over to the store.  As we were leaving, we made a little jag over to a relative of his and got some more plums.  We got a lot of plums!  They weren't real big, but they are at the peak of ripeness.  The relatives who own the tree are tired of putting them up and happily let us do some picking.  We picked 15-20 pounds of the fruit and headed on back.  I kept enough for a small batch of wine, he kept the rest.  Now, I'm getting ready to put the fruit to soak once I wash them and remove the pits.  More on that a bit later.

 I also tweaked a couple of lamps I've been putting together.  As you can see from the photos, I have adapted a regular lamp base to a lid that fits on an ordinary fruit jar.  That gives a nice, full quart of burning capacity.  It's easy to replace if it gets broken, too.  One small problem was the wick. The ones that came with the burners were too short to reach the bottom of a quart jar, having been designed for a regular lamp.  These burners also use the narrower wick and I couldn't find them to buy by the inch (or foot).  So, I simply used an ordinary stapler and stapled two of them together.  That will make sure that every bit of fuel is available to be burned.

The burner screws into a special lid that fits a regular fruit jar.

I stapled two wicks together to give them plenty of length.

Ready for the storm.

26 July 2012

A Quick Post!

I've lagged here in getting things posted. 

But yesterday evening we got busy and got some things done.  First, I racked 5 gallons of wine and re-attached the air lock to let it work out any last fermentation.  Then, Patti and I canned about three more gallons of zesty salsa that she had made the evening before.  Once we had all that done, I readied the ingredients for a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream.  It's done and ripening in the freezer and will be ready for the weekend! 

Tonight, I ran over to some friends' house to drop off a couple of jars of salsa and a recipe that their daughter had asked for.  We had them all over for supper a weekend or so ago and she liked the chicken and rice casserole that Patti fixed.  Visited for an hour or so, sitting in the waning light and watching some lightning of a (hopefully) approaching rainstorm.

Please pray for rain.

18 July 2012

More Salsa!

We have now canned well over five gallons of salsa this year!!  We've used jelly jars, pint jars, and here you can see some "party size" quarts being canned.  We also do the canning on the back porch using the Coleman camp stove.  It helps keep the heat out of the kitchen. 

The camp stove does a great job for canning.

Here are some 'party size' jars of salsa coming to a boil.
As I took the tomato peels and other scraps out to the compost pile, I noticed that I'll probably be needing to pick tomatoes again tomorrow!

15 July 2012

Sunday Ramblings

Below are some shots of some young people beating the heat today.  I snapped the photos on the East Fork of White River in Martin County at Hindostan Falls.  The site is rich in history, but today, it was simply a place for these young folks to cool off!  I used to do this very thing back when I was young!

14 July 2012

A bit of rain!!

Wow! I awoke this morning to see a light rain falling!  It is sorely needed.  The forecast looks like we may get some throughout the next few days.  It isn't a good soaker, but at this point, any and all rainfall is appreciated!

Patti managed to find enough tomatoes ripened in the garden to make a batch of salsa.  It is a favorite in our household and we never end up with any left over from year to year. She made the batch a night or two ago, then put it in the fridge.  After I got in from work, I set up the camp stove out on the back porch and set the canner to heating up.  After allowing it to process in the boiling water bath for 40 minutes. I shut off the heat.  Shortly afterwards, I plucked each jar from the boiling water bath and set them to cool, covering them with a towel to prevent them from cooling too fast and breaking.

Patti's first batch of salsa yielded 9 jars of the spicy stuff!
Now, if we could only figure out how to make and store enough crispy tortilla chips to last us the winter, we'd be all set!

Below is my wife's recipe for her notorious "911 Sauce" made using lots of fiery hot Thai peppers.  Beware!  This stuff is delightfully dangerous!  (If you have less fiery preferences, just substitute some jalapenos or other milder peppers for the thai peppers.  We didn't have Thai peppers this year, so that's what we did.  However you make it, I'm sure you'll like it.  Enjoy!

911 Salsa
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ c onions, chopped fine
½ c celery, minced
2 Tbsp red or green sweet peppers, minced
3 Tbsp Thai Hot peppers, minced
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
½ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp dried coriander
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp chili powder

In a large skillet, heat the oil.  Add the onions, celery, the sweet and hot peppers, and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the tomatoes, lemon juice, honey, basil, coriander, cumin seeds, and chili powder.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Makes about 5 half-pints.
Ladle the hot salsa into clean jars.  Wipe the rims and apply the lids, screwing them down snugly.  Process for 40 minutes in a boiling water bath.

As I looked at the garden this morning, I can see that our Celebrity tomatoes are starting to come on.  Those, along with the Viva Italia tomatoes and the Romas, will be picked on Monday evening and hopefully, we'll be making some more salsa and canning this week!

10 July 2012

A Homestead Firearm

(Adapted from “The Self-Reliant Homestead”)

           Not too many years ago, any writer penning a piece about self-sufficiency and homesteading would have run a precious few articles about firearms.  The fact is, that many of the former generation of back-to-the-landers, so to speak, were averse to firearms in general.  Today's social and political climate have changed attitudes and shaped philosophies considerably, however.  Most homesteaders, small farmers and rural landowners not only accept the idea of firearms ownership, they see them as an absolute necessity and another indispensable tool in maintaining their way of life.  Also, firearms are simply interesting.  Target shooting and plinking is fun.  Hunting can help put meat on the table.  The ability to defend ourselves and our homes is our responsibility.
            With all social and political commentary laid aside, I am going to address the subject of firearms selection.  Not everyone living on the land has developed a familiarity with firearms.  In fact, many have never held a firearm of any type in their hands.  Some have no desire to.  Some homesteaders develop an interest in owning a firearm as the need presents itself.  Others were raised where firearms were accepted and as commonplace as an ax, hoe, or other tool.
            When discussing firearms for use in and around the homestead, it is difficult for any writer to keep personal prejudices out of the discussion.  Favorite calibers, gauges, manufacturers, models, and other preferences inevitably enter into the discussion.  When these opinions and observations are based largely upon one's personal experience, such information can be helpful in selecting or recommending a good firearm for the homestead.  I am going to jump directly into this controversial topic and offer the following.
Having been around firearms both privately and professionally for about 50 years, I can offer a somewhat educated opinion.  I, too, am not without my personal preferences when it comes to firearms. However, I am going to offer thoughts on one particular type of firearm and this post will hopefully get you thinking in about firearms on your own place. 
If I were to have to settle on just one single firearm for use on the homestead, I would probably choose neither a rifle nor a handgun.  Given the "one gun" alternative, I would have to choose a shotgun.  More specifically, I would select a well-made popular model of a 12-gauge pump action shotgun.   

The Mossberg 500 comes in several variations.  This one has a short, maneuverable barrel and bead sights.

The Remington 870 is a popular shotgun.  This one has an extended magazine that holds a couple of extra shotshells.
  For hunting, protection of livestock & crops from predators (two or four legged) or varmints (two or four legged), a shotgun covers the spectrum well.  For hunting, shotguns are adaptable for taking any species of game.   Loads for the shotgun range from fine shot for taking small gamebirds, such as dove or quail, to single slugs heavy enough to kill a grizzly bear.  They are widely used for hunting squirrel and other small game.  Those of us who did not cut our hunting teeth on taking squirrels with a single shot .22 rifle, probably used an old single shot, break action shotgun. They are effective weapons against farmyard predators and fearsome home defense weapons.
            When talking about shotguns, something should be said about choke.  Choke is the term given to the amount of restriction placed on the end of the shotgun barrel to determine the amount of spread the shot pattern will create.  Generally, three variations are available:  full, modified and improved cylinder. 
            In the middle, and probably of most use, is the modified choke.  It is a good general-purpose choke and is probably what I would recommend to a first time shotgun buyer.  Obviously, since this choke lies between the tightest and widest patterns, you can expect it to perform somewhere between the two.  It does just that, providing good coverage of the target with shot, but not so much as to overkill at normal moderate ranges.  From all this, a good solid pump-action 12 gauge shotgun in modified choke should provide decades of dependable and versatile service to the buyer. 
            I also emphasize this fact:  If you are a new or inexperienced shooter, be absolutely sure you receive good instruction in the safe and proper operation and shooting of your weapon.  It is your responsibility.
            For information on places to shoot or where to attend firearms classes, check out a local gun club or shooting range.  Firearms dealers can also often help you find a place where you can learn about and become comfortable with your firearm.  Your local Fish and Wildlife Officer can likely provide information on Hunter Education classes in your area.  Just remember, safe use of the firearm is your responsibility.

08 July 2012

Country Artists

There are a few artists that I particularly enjoy in their depictions of Americana, Country Art, and Western art.  Please indulge me as I list them and a few of their works.

First, Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) is right at the top of the list.  He is as American as apple pie, known for his countless depictions of American life.  His work has appeared just about everywhere, including on hundreds of covers of the Saturday Evening Post.  I simply cannot pick a favorite Norman Rockwell painting, there are too many!  Below is a good representation of his work:

This Rockwell painting typifies his depictions of American life.  He often painted himself into his works.  Look in the lower right corner.

This next photo depicts the local County Agricultural Agent visiting a farm to check up on a 4-H cow being raised for the County Fair by a young farm girl.

A visit from the County Agent.

Next on my list is another artist of Americana, Eric Sloane (1905-1985).  He not only painted and drew hundreds of accurate illustrations of colonial and early American life, he wrote volumes of text to go along with it.  He did much to preserve information that would otherwise likely have been lost.

Sloane's accurate illustrations came from his own exhaustive research and have preserved the details of many parts of early American life.

Sloane was particularly fond of old tools, their identification and uses.

Another favorite is western artist Frank C. McCarthy (1924-2002).  I first noticed his work on the covers of Western Horseman magazine many years ago.  I enjoy his realistic recreation of the natural world and landscape of the American West and of the early cowboys, mountain men, and Indians.  McCarthy's paintings put you in the middle of things, whether it was a lightning storm on the high plains, or an Indian attack.  Good stuff.  Here is an example of a Frank C. McCarthy work:

"Spooked" by Frank C. McCarthy

The fourth artist is one that I 'discovered' a couple of years ago.  Robert Duncan (born in 1952) paints country life with a western touch, in a way that is realistic and unexaggerated.  His detailed paintings depict daily country life that many of us would like to emulate.  Here is a representative sample of his work:

Isn't this a fun and peaceful painting?
I hope these samples might pique your interest in artists of our country and in their works.  You can find all kinds of information about any of these painters on the web.  Let me know which you like best and which are your favorite paintings.

07 July 2012

Another Hot One!

I think we've recorded a record high temperature for our place here.  It was hot when we got up this morning...and humid.  As the temps rose this morning, some of the humidity burned off, but it was still hot!  The pic below shows our thermometer monitor this afternoon...even it was panting!

I'm glad we got the hay put up before noon and while it was still in the 100-102 degree range!

Stay cool and pray for rain.

06 July 2012

Yeah, I know...

...I was complaining about the heat.  But a friend called, and instead of wanting to go to Dinky's (the local weekly sale barn), he decided that this evening would be the time to bale the last of his oats as hay.  He and his son-in-law had cut the patch earlier in the week.  Now, with that impending 40 percent chance of rain looming, he felt like he'd better get it all baled.

So, braving the heat and humidity (about 106 and 65 percent humidity) we commenced to baling.  Well, the son in law did the baling and I followed along tossing bales as they came off so the horses wouldn't stomp them the next time around.  I also went along and tossed any missed parts of the windrow over into the next one.  Oats have rather smooth stems, and the baler missed a bit here and there.  Right now, every bit of hay is needed and is worth baling.  Below are a couple of shots of the afternoon.  Once the horses were tired out, we pulled the plug and headed in.  The horses were watered and fed, then we were.  Supper was great, with everything fresh from the place, except the hamburgers and noodles!  We had slaw and tomatoes, new fried potatoes, sweet onion slices, tomato slices, peaches and strawberries...all washed down with big glasses of sweet tea.

In the morning, we'll load all the bales onto the hay wagon and haul them in to the barn.

Despite their huge size, the heat really sapped the six draft horses.

Hot and dusty.  The team of six plod along, pulling the baler.

The next photo shows a couple of things.  First, it depicts one way the Amish adapt to some modern equipment.  You can see the steel wheels inside the rubber tractor tire treads.  The rubber is bolted to the steel rims.  This is permitted among the Amish, as the tires do not contain air.

This photo shows the unique arrangement for the wheels as well as the PTO drive.
The next thing to note is the power drive for the baler.  It consists of a used two-speed truck rearend.  The business end of the differential points rearward and not forward as it would if in use in a vehicle.  That point where the universal joint would normally be located has a pulley attached.  That, in turn, connects via a chain to a power take off (PTO) point.  You can see the two connected pulleys and the universal joint from the baler attached to the PTO.  This type of set up allows the user to operate most any PTO driven implement.

The drought continues...

Temperatures are still hitting 104-105 degrees.  That was bearable a couple of weeks ago when it began.  Then, the relative humidity was around 25-35 percent.  Now, the humidity is creeping back up to typical Midwestern standards, that is to say, around 80 percent give or take 10 percent.  At those humidity levels, it really becomes 'air you can wear'.  We are hoping that the forecast of 85 degree temps holds true.  With that 'cold snap' (a twenty degree drop in the temp) comes a whopping 40 percent chance of rain!!  Come one, rain!

I'm attaching a couple of photos showing the sorry corn crop in our area.  This is corn that should be about seven feet tall, already pollinated with good ears showing.  Instead, it ranges from knee high to shoulder high, trying to tassle--with little success, and already beginning to dry, as if it's time for harvest.


The three shots above show the dismal corn crop in our area.
  Another photo shows a farmer cutting his losses, and his corn crop, and chopping silage.  Another tidbit of information I've learned is that under federal law, the first 5 billion or so bushels of corn must be used to make ethanol.  This comes as a result of the Renewable Fuel Standard, a law passed in 2005.  That law required our country to produce 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel by this year.  The standard was changed in 2007 to gradually increase the requirement to 36 billion gallons by the year 2022.  That spells higher costs for hog and cattle producers and higher costs for the average consumer.  Since the law went into effect, corn prices have tripled.  It will be interesting to see how this harvest season goes.

Another couple of pictures I'm including today are of low-tech solar clothes dryers.  These high-flying clotheslines are located a few miles from our place.  The idea is that the large pulley near the pole allows the user to hoist the wet clothes up, out of the way, out of the dust, and up where the air will circulate better.  This type of line is not uncommon in our area.  You can see them every here and there.

These two photos show low-tech solar clothes dryers at work.

Pray for rain, please!

04 July 2012

From the Garden

The garden is suffering from the prolonged, extreme heat and lack of rain.  Any storms that have popped up have skirted around us to the north or south.  As a result, the garden is gasping.  I went out this morning and picked a mess of greenbeans, but even those are below average quality and quantity.  The tomatoes are trying to bear but are also suffering the effects of the drought.  I was able to pick some nice green peppers and pulled a few baseball-sized onions.  Patti mixed some of the peppers, onions, and some tomatoes together with some vinegar, oil, sugar and herbs and made a great salad for our lunch.  Fresh and nutritious!

While in the garden, I also pulled the few weeds I found and cut the broccoli back, in hopes of getting a few more florets before the heat bedraggled plants give out.

We are expected to experience a few more days of 102-104 degree temperatures before it 'moderates' and drops into the mid to upper 90s!  To make it worse, the humidity is creeping upwards, creating more normal July-in-southern-Indiana-like weather!  The word 'sweltering' comes to mind!  But, it could be worse...at least we are not without electrical power like the hundreds of thousands in the East.

Happy Independence Day!

This is a great day in American history!  America's Birthday!  Please bear with me as I once again digress from homesteading topics to another post about our great country's history.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit an actual Revolutionary War site, right here in SW Indiana!  Yep, on 05 February of 1779, Col. George Rogers Clark led a band of 170 frontier-tough soldiers from Ft. Kaskaskia on the Mississippi River in Illinois.  The campaign was undertaken to secure the Old Northwest Territory (based and governed from Vincennes, Indiana) from the English and put it in American control.  Fort Sackville, at Vincennes, was under the charge of Lt. Governor and General Henry "Hairbuyer" Hamilton.

The trek took Clark and his men wading through freezing weather and the winter-flooded bottomlands of Illinois and into Indiana.  They crossed at least two rivers, the Embarras and the Wabash, and some accounts note that during the cold, wet march, some of the troops awoke in the mornings to find their buckskins frozen to the ground.  They wound up crossing the flooded Wabash River into Indiana in groups by using two canoes.  On 21 February, they arrived on Indiana soil at the site pictured below, known as "Clark's Advance".

The marker along the gravel road noting the site where Col. George Rogers Clark arrived with his troops on Indiana Soil.

On the high ground at Clark's Advance.  I felt I was standing on hallowed ground.

Two days later, guards captured five Frenchmen who gave them information and agreed to guide them to Vincennes.  Clark realized that his men would have to cross an area of neck-high water to reach their next camp.  To inspire them, he blackened his face with gunpowder, gave a war whoop, and headed into the water.  Stunned by the display of commitment and leadership, his men followed.  Clark ordered singing, all joined in, and the men went, as Clark wrote, "chearfully."

The French sided with the Americans and one of the returning Frenchmen reported that 1,000 Americans were camped outside of town and more were coming.  After a series of dramatic events and a refused opportunity to surrender, Hamilton finally did just that and on the morning of 25 February 1779, he and his men marched out of the fort to find only Clark's small and ragged band of frontiersmen and not the army of a thousand soldiers as he had expected.  Stunned, the vanquished officer reportedly asked: "Colonel Clark, where is your army?"

General Henry "Hairbuyer" Hamilton surrenders to Colonel George Rogers Clark and his ragged army of 170 tough frontiersmen at Ft. Sackville.
Note:  For a very good accounting of George Rogers Clark, including this important campaign, read "Long Knife" by James Alexander Thom.  It is a great book.

In the end, the capture of Ft. Sackville and the Northwest Territories was an important chapter in the Revolutionary War.  The gaining of control of the region would prevent the British and their Indian allies from attacking the colonies from the west and would also help protect the young settlements that Virginia had established in Kentucky.  Clark's capture of Fort Sackville enabled the Americans to control the Northwest Territory and affected the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

From here in Revolutionary Indiana...Happy Independence Day!  God Bless America!

01 July 2012

As We Near Independence Day

In my opinion, Independence Day is one of the most important holidays that we celebrate.  All too often, it is celebrated only as a time for fireworks, picnics, and parades.  As this year's holiday approaches, please take some time to study and reflect on just who we are as a country and how we came to be.

Below is a brief timeline of the monumental events leading to our declaration of independence from Great Britain.

Timeline of Events Leading to the Declaration of Independence

Sugar Act, 05 Apr 1764—Put a three-cent tax on foreign refined sugar and increased taxes on coffee, indigo, and certain kinds of wine. It banned importation of rum and French wines. These taxes affected only a certain part of the population, but the affected merchants were very vocal. Besides, the taxes were enacted (or raised) without the consent of the colonists. This was one of the first instances in which colonists wanted a say in how much they were taxed.

Patrick Henry's "If this be treason" speech, 29 May 1765—He was an outspoken critic of the Stamp Act and introduced seven resolutions against it to the Virginia House of Burgesses. He was the first governor of Virginia and led the fight for the adoption of the Bill of Rights. He was best known for his "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech.

Stamp Act, 09 Nov 1765—First direct British tax on American colonists. Instituted in November, 1765. Every newspaper, pamphlet, and other public and legal document had to have a Stamp, or British seal, on it.

Boston Tea Party, 16 Dec 1773—American colonists calling themselves the Sons of Liberty and disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded three British ships (the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver) and dumped 342 whole crates of British tea into Boston harbor.

First Continental Congress, 05 Sep 1774—Two groups of people from all over the 13 Colonies who came together to discuss liberty. The First Continental Congress was a group of 56 delegates from 12 colonies (all except Georgia) who met in Philadelphia in September of 1774. They came together to act together in response to the Intolerable Acts.

The rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes, 18 Apr 1775—Famous silversmith who rode through the countryside to warn the American colonists that the British were coming. He didn't actually make his destination because he was captured by British "Redcoats," but one of his companions, Dr. Samuel Prescott, got the message through. When the British arrived, the Americans were ready.

Lexington and Concord, 19 Apr 1775—First shots fired between American and British troops, on April 19, 1775. The British chose to march to Concord because it was an arms depot where the Americans had stockpiled weapons. British troops had occupied Boston and were marching on Concord as they passed through Lexington.
The Battle at Concord Bridge
Note:  For an outstanding study of the people and events leading up to and surrounding the Battle of Lexington and Concord, consider reading "Paul Revere's Ride" by David Hackett Fischer.

Capturing of Fort Ticonderoga, 10 May 1775—New York fort on the western shore of Lake Champlain that was originally a French fort, called Carillion, that was seized by the British in the French and Indian War. The fort was later captured by the Americans in their first "official" victory of the Revolutionary War.

Second Continental Congress, 10 May 1775—The Second Continental Congress met in 1775, when the Revolutionary war had started. Things were going badly, and the armed forces were disorganized. The Continental Congress created the Continental Army and named George Washington as commander-in-chief. The Congress continued through the summer. Out of the discussions came the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Marines Corps.

Washington named Commander and Chief, 15 Jun 1775—First president of the United States, he also fought (for the British) in the French and Indian War and was the commanding officer of the victorious American forces in the Revolutionary War. He was named president of the Constitutional Convention. He served two terms as president, during which he invented the Presidential Cabinet and tried to calm the bickering between the two new political parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans.

Battle of Bunker Hill, 16 Jun 1775—Two-day engagement between British forces under the command of General William Howe and American forces under Colonel William Prescott. The Americans had occupied Breed's Hill in Charlestown on June 16, 1775, in order to protect the shipyard of nearby Boston.

Thomas Payne writes "Common Sense", 15 Jan 1776—Thomas Paine began work on Common Sense in late 1775 under the working title of Plain Truth. With the help of Benjamin Rush, who suggested the title Common Sense and helped edit and publish, Paine developed his ideas into a forty-eight page pamphlet. Paine published Common Sense anonymously because of its treasonous content. Printed and sold by R. Bell, Third Street, Philadelphia, it sold as many as 120,000 copies in the first three months, 500,000 in the first year, and went through twenty-five printings.

Declaration of Independence is adopted, 4 Jul 1776—Document declaring the 13 American Colonies independent from Great Britain. Written by Thomas Jefferson and declared in effect by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Many prominent Americans signed it, including John Hancock, John Adams, and Samuel Adams. Great Britain's response was to continue the war.
The famous painting by John Trumbull depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Our founding document.

 "Went to church and fasted all day."--George Washington, 01 June 1774, diary entry, after hearing of a blockade at Boston Harbor

Later, he would write:

"The Citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condition, as the sole Lords and Proprietors of a vast Tract of Continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the World, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life, are now by the late satisfactory pacification, acknowledged to be possessed of absolute freedom and Independency; They are, from this period, to be considered as the Actors on a most conspicuous Theatre, which seems to be peculiarly designated by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity; Here, they are not only surrounded with every thing which can contribute to the completion of private and domestic enjoyment, but Heaven has crowned all its other blessings, by giving a fairer opportunity for political happiness, than any other Nation has ever been favored with. Nothing can illustrate these observations more forcibly, than a recollection of the happy conjuncture of times and circumstances, under which our Republic assumed its rank among the Nations." - George Washington, Circular to the States, 8 June 1783

God Bless America!

A Bit of a Break

Patti and I took off yesterday for one of the places we like to visit, New Harmony, Indiana.  The little town began back in the early 1800's as a 'utopian community'.  The folks who lived there were called Rappites.  I haven't studied much about them beyond that.  I know that the town was later a base for 'artists and writers' and more or less cater to that philosophy to date.  There are many buildings still there from the early days--log cabins, old brick structures, etc. 

We went there with the idea of doing some kayaking on the Wabash River.  Normally, the Wabash River isn't too inviting a place for kayaking, but the absence of rain and resulting low water levels made for an interesting trip.  Down there, in the 'toe' of the state, the river is wide and sandy.  There are lots of sandbars, but few trees right along the river.  We braved the 105-degree temperatures as long as we could, then paddled back down to the boat ramp, loaded our gear, and headed up into town.

This old iron bridge across the Wabash River is a privately owned toll bridge.  It was just recently closed until repairs can be made to it.

Patti on the Wabash River

A mussel shell found near one of the sandbars.

On a sandbar along the Wabash River.  Technically, I am standing in Illinois.

I enjoy seeing gardens.  These shots are of demonstration gardens in the village area.

Here grow pole beans, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, and other vegetables.

Another view of the garden beds

These are some half-runner beans.  The poles are only about four or five feet tall.

A handmade table in one of the shops.
This table is made from pallet lumber, old barrel staves, and sawmill offbear.  The asking price does not reflect its humble origins.  It does offer some ideas for home craftsmen and potential home businesses.

After we re-loaded the kayaks, we drove the few blocks up into town with the idea of looking at some of the old houses and gardens, then having lunch and stopping in some of the little shops.  Typical of these types of places, I found the prices in the shops a couple of economic planes higher than mine.  So we did a lot of looking, but no buying!  We did have really nice lunch at a place we like, not too pricey and very good food.  All in all, it was a very good day.