Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blessed are they that own land!

Blessed are they that own land! It was the paramount reason our ancestors emigrated to this great nation. If you have the opportunity, I would advise you to get a few manageable acres. Something rural and able to farm on a small scale.
Before the Great Depression most of the United States was rural and agriculture was its way of life.Families commonly owned a cow , a few chickens and had large gardens to grow their own vegetables.That way of life has pretty much disappeared.We turned that responsibility over to big corporations .
Massive Supermarkets have strangled the life out of local streetcorner butchers .These shopowners are near extinction.Produce comes from third world countries with attached health risks we've all heard about.Mass production of meats & poultry can't hold a candle to home grown pork,chicken,turkey and beef.Or your own backyard free range eggs.
I'm amazed at how little land is required to raise your own food.Most of what I raise is accomplished within the confines of 2.5- 3 acres.That includes a pond full of fish,an orchard area of apple,peach,pear,plum & cherry trees,a garden 185 x185 ft ,a generous area for chickens & turkeys to browse about and the barn. Beyond that I have more land but its mostly wooded and the horse pasture where sheep & goats hang out.You don't need a heck of a lot of land if you're producing only for your own use.In fact, my garden area supports my household and is shared by my daughter & son in law's household.
It's a lot of work but I'm able to work full time and still manage it and have recreation time.You would be amazed at how much time we spend on foolishness.Having your own farmette provides you with the highest quality food, is invigorating, builds self esteem and is an absolute cure for insomnia.!
What about bad weather? Dress for it! The nordic people have a saying "there is no bad weather, just bad clothes!" It's true. I wore my snow pants I use for winter hunting when I had to feed the animals & deal with barn issues when cold temps bottomed out this winter.A hat and a hood keeps the head warm,my mucking boots had inner liners & I wore gloves. It was -15 F and I was warm as toast. "Phew ~ it's hot out there !" ,I said one night when I threw open the kitchen door with a frigid bluster of wind.I had just returned from evening outdoor chores ,closing up the barn and throwing down hay to the horses through the trap door from the upper level of my bank barn.
Outdoor activities keep you healthy.If I do get a cold it's gone within a week now.Maybe only 3 days.
There is a wealth of information out there both in books and the internet and a city-slicker can become quite skilled at country living within a short time.The best books I've found are:

"The Encyclopedia Of Country Living" by Carla Emery- Sasquatch Books

"Five Acres And Independance" by M.G.Kains A Handbook For Small Farm Management-Dover Books

"Farming For Self -Sufficiency" by John & Sally Seymour Independence On A Five Acre Farm- Schocken Books

The above website article is absolutely worth reading .Clicking onto the references is an enlightening experience.

Monday, March 30, 2009

As per the 1950 SUNDAY INDEPENDANT NEWS , of Luzerne County newspaper report above: " In the center photo,Mrs. Albert Verosky, Snyder street, points to the hole in the ceiling of the second floor by a boulder thrown with great violence by a stripping blast 1,000 feet away.
The force of the rock was sufficient to send it first through the roof and then through the ceiling.
At right Mrs. Verosky shows the size of the rock which did the damage and threatened life and limb. Despite its size it was tossed like a pebble by the explosion.
Police said some of the rocks weighed as much as 100 pounds."
This picture below is the lot next door to my grandmother's place.It was 1950 and I was an infant at the time.
The picture below that, of Jamie sitting on the red truck, shows the same area 23-24 years later.It was a grown in pasture area & my uncle made a 'race track' around it where he could exercise his horse Tangerine & later Robbie.
The houses affected in the newspaper clipping were Michael Vermeda & family (white house) and the dark colored house the Lutackas'.
It makes you think twice (and then some) of those companies having 'mining rights' ! Keep this in mind with the gas leases! Fortunately environmental laws have come a long way since 1950!
A Newspaper clipping from the Sunday Independant Newspaper in Luzerne County dated 1950:

"Larksville borough is having stripping troubles and real dangers from one end to the other.
It was one extreme at the western end of the borough, bzck of Plymouth, where huge power shovels were practically digging the foundations of homes right out from under them.
Then towards the east, near Courtdale, the people themselves were being threatened.Heavy blasts from the stripping operations there tossed big rocks long distances and with enough velocity to smash right through the roofs of houses.
The picture at the left, showing a power shovel rapidly digging its way into the front yards of two homes on Carver street,tells one story.
The street itself has already been dug through and its use as a thoroughfare eliminated.At far left a truck is shown going right under where the street used to be.

A Good Place To Bring A Kid!

I felt bad for my baby girl, Jamie, all cooped up in the city back in 1973 .We lived in Bayonne, NJ then and a trip up to see Grandma and the rest of the family would do her good.I said, "Jamie, you shall now learn to drive a truck." Then, you shall learn to ride a billy goat.Here's Uncle Fritz saddling up the billygoat. Why does Little Chuckie look sad? Why is little Jamie trying to run away ?? look at me! A size 10 !! I'll never see that anymore!!

Uncle Charlie had a slew of ponies when we were kids.The one above is Little Charlie Keefe on one of them.Mine was Trigger,Paulie's was Thunder,Davy's was Daisey Mae, my cousin Christine had Dolly.He had other ponies but I forgot their names.Below is Robbie, Uncle Charlie's horse.I wish I had a picture of Tippy, my grandmother's collie and Sheppy my Aunt Annie's collie who looked like Lassie.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Outhouse Treasures

These are backyard pictures you'll rarely see again~ a string of backhouses,single seaters & double seaters.
Below is my cousin Gerry happily displaying his brother Bobby with the two family duplex outhouse as a backdrop.To the left was a single seater & to the right a double seater for my grandmother's side of the family.With 10 kids , two could be seated to keep lines to a minimum.Moms could also train their little ones by example! There was a plum tree that hovered over Grandma's backhouse.My brothers & I thought what a fine idea it would be climbing that tree & lounging on its' limbs eating plums all daylong. All evening we made mad dashes with bellies growling ~ one seater, two seater,who cares!!! move over I gotta go !!!
Backhouses were also great recreational toys for 3 year old cousins (Mark) who thought,"What will happen if I throw this yellow kitten down this hole?" Luckily for the kitten, it landed on a rock & clung to its' precipice mewing pathetically.Uncle Tom just happened to have a broom & quickly rescued the poor poopy cat clinging wild-eyed to its bristles while we kids all cheered as he was resurrected to the light of day.Grandma was ready with a pail of warm soapy water ,dropped the broom & stinky kitty in & quickly covered the top with a screen. Now the cat really had something to fear as Grandma tossed him back & forth & agitated him round & round.The kitten fianally took off running into the bushes ,once freed, and was never seen again.

Ye Old OutHouse

I don't know what it is about Outhouses up here in Pa, but they are a favorite backdrop for family pictures. You'll notice this one has a sign "Polish Night Club" .I don't know what I was thinking but it was the most natural thing in the world to stand there with my shotgun & turkey butt feathers. Outhouses are held in high esteem up here and endeared by college & high school young men.They race with them & Dushore,Pa in Sullivan county has yearly OutHouse Races where the entire county turns out to cheer them on. Teams have names like "Super Septic Suckers", "The Big House", and other turdy names that I forget just now.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our Roots~Carver St

This is the remains of our grandparents house before it was erased ,in 1974,from its' address on Carver St, Larksville PA, ~~but never from mine.The girl on the porch is my cousin Mark's wife, Pam.
The doorway to the right bore 13 McCue children,born in the upstairs middle bedroom.My mother, Elizabeth,was born there in 1925.She was the youngest of the 10 surviving children. 3 died as babies.
I have a greater affection for this home more than any that I ever lived in,except my present address( that's another story).I am so sad that this is the only front view pic we have.The windows are broken & it gives a dysfunctional appearance to what had a nobler stance.
My earliest memory of this house was when I was very very small, probably 3.My baby brother Paulie was sleeping in a car bed (carriage thing) on the floor in the middle bedroom .In the morning I tried to crawl in there & wake him up & I remember a rooster crowing up the hill by Castner's .At the top of the hill there were 2 stores, Castners & a little grocery store that later was turned into a private dwelling.That store had an outdoor light that shined down the street .It was during the Gene Autry reign on TV & seemed like a cowboy store to me.We arrived there during a rainy stormy night when a bridge was flooded out & a man, carrying a kerosene lantern & wearing raingear spoke with my father on the road (probably RT 22 in NJ near the Easton border).Black metal round balls with flames lined the road as flares to guide us. We arrived safely at night & a hanging bulb dimly lit the upstairs middle bedroom.My Aunt Annie hushed me & said I should "Go to sleep".There was a very characteristic scent to that house~~ the wood smell.The stairs were very steep in the morning when we tried to climb down.The whiff of urine was in the air~~ the CAN at the bottom of the stairs .No indoor toilet here! Stairwells were enclosed in the old days to preserve heat on the lower levels.No plumbing upstairs, so you didn't have to worry about pipes freezing.But the furniture was so lovely! Doilies covered everything and pretty nick-nacks ,wind-up-music dolls & ceramics decorated the dresser tops.Each bed had a decorative bedspread. Whatever they had,they took very good care of.Furniture was immaculate & always well polished.
My next memory was my brother Paulie , a toddler,& I walking past the grapevines on the back porch.My grammas side had shallow stairs.Next door, my Aunt Annie had steeper,harder to climb stairs & we knocked on the back door.The glass window had a contact-stick-on covering that was decorative but kept you from seeing inside. My Uncle Fritz came home from the mines,covered in coal dust,face blackened & only the whites of his eyes discernable.The galvenized metal tub was pulled off the back porch wall & filled with hot water from the coal stove in the kitchen.He scrubbed his back with a brush on a long stick, much like a toilet bowl brush but probably a back scratcher type brush. Ohhh, that stove! A beautiful cream colored enamel stove! Always with stew or soup simmering to warm your belly! Uncle Fritz 'settin' you down' with a piece of bread & butter to 'sop it up with.Of all my Uncles, Uncle Fritz is the pinnacle.The first I want to meet again in heaven.
When you're a child all these roots and foundations are taken for granted. Then one day , they're gone.Oh, how I miss them~ my loved ones and the wonderful memories they blessed me with.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Curing Bacon

I knew you were wondering today,"How would I go about curing my own bacon "".I heard you and now here's how ~( 1.)Each pig will give you 2 big slabs of bacon like this picture below.(2)Buy a bag of Morton's Tenderquick.Use 1 Tb / pound of bacon.Rub it into the meat on both sides.Place in food quality plastic bag.(I rolled one bacon slab & left the other flat ,like this picture.The rolled bacon came out a little nicer,I thought. ) Press out excess air ,close off bag & refrigerate 36-40F. degrees for 7 days per inch of the slab of meat.(3) After the curing process, rinse off excess salt & immerse the slab in lukewarm water to withdraw excess salt.Drain the water &I repeat this process once more.(4)Pat dry and cut into four sections.Then place in freezer until stiff & partially frozen.

(5)Partially frozen slabs cut perfectly on the meat slicer.Adjust to thin or thick slices.

(6) I place mine in quart size ziplock freezerbags which comes out to a perfect pound.I immerse the bag in warm water just below the ziplock & press out all air.This works great & shrink wraps it just fine.Then freeze

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beautiful Draft Horses!

These 2 beauties are Roan Percherons.Oh, how I would love to have a pair of Percherons! I love the smell and feel of the velvety muzzle of a horse, especially the big drafts.If you want to see the draft horses plowing Amish fields, now's the time!! They don't plow in the summer when the corn is growing! They are plowing NOW.
This is the life for me! Forget ATV's & tractors .This Amish woman is plowing her field with 8 big Belgians. Plodding along quietly, contentedly on this cold March spring day she watches off to the right that the furrows are directed straight.The fields in Lancaster County are heavy with the odours of fertilzers.I'd much rather sniff horse or cow manure~~ ANYDAY! Chemical fertilizers STINK!
I have saved up close to enough for harnessing for my Belgian, Patriot.Hopefully I'll soon be able to buy what's needed for him, then set him to work. I'll get that manure skid constructed , learn to drive him and then CLEAN BARN-HERE WE COME!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Incubator Turkey Peeps

It's a nice thing to watch these little guys peck their way out of a shell. Egg shells are porous and chicks are heard chirping & peeping as they start pecking away fron the inside out.
Something nice to know~ turkey eggs taste exactly like chicken eggs but are SUPER JUMBO in size & then some !
An alternative is to incubate , hatch & raise turkey peeps yourself.If you buy them they will cost a minimum of $4.00/peep.As fragile as they are you can lose a lot.Last year I lost 60+ baby turkeys . Probably to Coccidiosis,a very common poultry ailment, enteric, that wipes them out.So, I prefer to incubate my own eggs from my own turks.Not all incubators are a good buy, in fact, the ones you DON'T want are the most commonly found incubators on the shelves. The best have a little fan inside,wells on the flooring to hold water for humidity,an automatic thermostat & you must purchase an egg turner seperately for a 24/7 slow turn of the eggs. All poultry mamas know about turning their eggs.God has placed that instinct in them.
Here is a Bourbon Red peep .Sweet little thing.Most turkey heritage breeds were near extinction 30 years ago.This year I will raise them on wire flooring so their poopsies falls thru the floor and doesn't accumulate around their feet and little bottoms.

What is this crack in this egg? Can it be~~~ SATAN ??? No~ I stuck around instead of running away & looked again -- it was a baby turkey.A Bourbon Red turkey peep~cedar red colored in adulthood but yellow peep downe now. Turkeys are not the most intelligent mamas.Last year my Bourbon Red turkey hen hatched her little clutch of 3 peeps & tended to them beautifully~ until nightfall.It was time to roost~ so, she roosted 15 feet up in the barn rafters.I happened to be checking the barn people when I heard her peeps chirping loudly.They were alone on the ground.I scooped them up and placed them quickly in the brooder with the chicken peeps but they died within a few days.

The Beginning of the Farm~Patriot

This is Patriot, my Belgian. He is one big boy! He was the first addition to the farm after we moved here.
Strange story this farm has.It was built in 1935 and was a parcel seperated & bought off the original 700 + acre farm that has been in the hands of the same family for the past 190 years!It was a family that came over with William Penn & eventually made their way to this village area.The original barn burnt down but was never used for anything in particular, it appears.Then in the 1970's, the current barn was rebuilt, then added onto.The previous owners had horses & breeding mares & did a beautiful job of adding onto the stalls and lower barn for the horses & pasture.The upper level is a hay barn~~ BEE-UUUU--TEE--FULLLL HAY!! A great place to pack a picnic lunch & read your book- up high on the mountain of haybales! Peaceful, quiet, only the sounds of horses chomping on hay with chickens cooing & making their contented groaning sounds below.
In October 2004 I sat on the porch and wondered 'what was not right here' ? We had not moved in yet, the house was empty & immaculate, the barn was empty- no hay ,the tack room clean as a whistle, no cobwebs,no sounds.THAT was it!! No SOUNDS belonging to a farm. A beautiful but empty barn, with the exception of the 11 barncats that ran wild, caught mice & avoided eye contact and touch. No petting these guys!
Strangely enough,there were not even birds congregating in the trees! The trees are HUGE!! I wondered why? I think now because since the previous owners moved out, there was no longer loose grain scattered in feeding areas.Not a single songbird or chirp!
Patriot & his sweetheart, Sophie ( a grey QH) joined us in November.From then on we have had regular additions as I learned how to manage chickens, turkeys,pigs,ducks,sheep,newborn lambs,goats,incubator chicks,kittens, and grandchildren.
Patriot is still a young drafthorse & I have plans for him.I'm hoping to purchase harnessing for him soon & build a skid so that we can keep this barn free of manure.Drafthorses need a job to do . Belgians are a very proud breed and will go down to their knees to pull a heavy load for you when other draft breeds will call it quits.
He is my most affectionate horse & loves to be groomed. I love the smell of him.We'll probably grow old together!The above picture of him was when he was quite young (6) & trim. He is significantly heavier & 4 yrs older.
Birds have returned to the immense trees on the front lawn by the thousands! They lift off the branches & blacken the sky.Circle around ,touch base, lift off again & circle and eventually snuggle into the great arms of the grandfather tree for the night.They stop talking & chirping all at once. "We're Home !" ~~~~and I am HOME ! I desire no other vacation area, except an occasional fishing date with the ocean.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St.Patty's Day Special! Baby Lamb born!

Here's little Patty~ born on St Patty's Day! He's nuzzling his mama, Sweetpea, getting his first doses of Colostrum, wagging his tail wildly as she cleans his little butt.
Little Patty needs frequent naps.I check his mouth for warmth.That sign lets me know he's getting enough milk to eat & fuel for warmth.

Happy Family! Alfalfa is the proud daddy. Baby lambs are the best! Happy Easter!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fightin' Irish Turkey!

Yesterday I had one of my turkeys 'done'. It was his time.He dressed out at 50 LBS!!!! That's right~~ 50 LBS!! and full of fightin' bruises! He was from the McCue side of the family- a bunch of fightin' Irish!I brought him home from the Old Order Mennoite butcher,the best~~ (and worth the hour drive).He couldn't fit the turkey in the turkey cone to butcher him. He had trouble fitting such a big boy. A lady, who had just had her chickens butchered,pulled her husband out of the pickup truck and yelled,"Get in here & look at this turkey!! It's the biggest friggin' turkey I've ever seen!!" So,this fellow sees a huge turkey balancing over the top of the turkey cone (where they chop off the turkey's head- flip & it's done).He said" Holy smoke!!. Then, we all waited for the turkey to be defeathered & he sailed down the stainless steel table ready for the finishing touches.The chicken husband said"Wow!! I never seen such a big turkey!! What'ja feed him?" ~ the answer was simple & obvious.I said" PIZZA!" When I took this fellow home, we had him cut in half lengthwise. 25 lbs each half! I soaked each half in salt water then bagged it up for cooling. Each half filled a roastpan.Jammed packed!
Now, this was no ordinary boy! He had bruises from fighting on his chest and wings.You would not want to get hit with one of these wings! You'd get tossed to the curb!
I wanted to let him live.Hang out on the farm~ but I knew it wasn't meant to be. Broadbreasted whites & bronzes are ill-fated to an early end. If they live to be a year old, they're VERY lucky! They are hybrids and grow faster than nature intended.So, they either are killed by other livestock or self-smother .Their chest meat is so huge they easily compress their lungs and smother.But, I would have liked to keep him around.Snow white feathers & a powder blue head~~ such a pretty boy! May I see you in heaven,Alfred!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lambing Time !

This is Alfalfa & Sweetpea nibbling away at hay in their stall in the barn.The picture is from last year.Sweetpea is expecting and should bring forth twins, I suspect, very soon.If you raise sheep, I would recommend 2 wonderful books: 1) RAISING SHEEP THE MODERN WAY~Paula Simmons (2)MANAGING YOUR EWE and her newborn lamb ~Laura Lawson. Two terrific books .If you have never raised sheep but think you might like to try it, I highly recommend it. They will mow your lawn for you and will not be as destructive as goats (although I love my 2 Nubian goats!) ( Goats will eat your weeds)Here's how it all started. Two years ago I went to the Fair alone~~ without my husband (always a mistake to be on my own!) I love the agricultural buildings and went to visit the lambs & goats.IRRESISTABLE!! I got into a long & wonderful conversation with a 'sheepster & lambster' and decided my husband needed a NEW lawn mower that didn't require gasoline. One that would refertilize the fields.One that would give us wooly sweaters & socks & hats.The investment didn't stop there.I bought carding brushes for their wool management,then a Border Collie (he's a WHOLE other story!) that I thought was a must in sheep management! (haha!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

To make your own grapejuice~~ Place 2 handsfull of CONCORD grapes into a clean quart canning jar.( Don't use other grapes. The taste is not as rich- unless you're making wine.In that case-OK. ) Then add 1/4 cup sugar to each jar then add boiling water to the neck of the jar leaving 1/2 " space. Seal & can according to the Ball handbook for canning.Here's what I do- I always use my pressure canner- As soon as the pounds hit 5#, I shut off the stove & let it come down naturally.It works out just right.Give it 3 mos to set then it's good juice.Enjoy!

Making Grape Juice

SOOOO! Another time I stopped in the little farmer's market to pick up some milk,lettuce, a few things.The owner says,"Ya want some grapes?" I said, "I dunno, how much you got?" "40 lbs"~ he says (!!!!!) ~~(What the heck am I gonna do with 40 lbs of grapes? I'm from Bayonne~ we're not up on that kinda stuff!) ~~~~ So he says, "Don't you make your own grapejuice?? EVERYBODY UP HERE MAKES THEIR OWN GRAPEJUICE !!" ~~ WELL!! I am not your typical FLATLANDER!! I got as much mud on my boots up here as any mountain woman .Sooooo~~ I said , OK, how do you make your own grapejuice? And they proceeded to let me in on the secret~~ I now give it to YOU!! The next year I planted 20 grapevines.Maybe this year I'll get a grape or two.

How Many Cabbages ?

A few years ago, i walked into the little market where I buy almost anything I need~ from the local newspaper or a gallon of milk to baloney skins for stuffing, 50# bags of carrots ,canning jar lids,a wooden ladder (name the size~we got it!),local eggs,a side of beef or whole steer,an entire butchered pig,hog casings to stuff my sausage,Christmas trees & wreaths,flowers for mothers day,a child's desk from the 1930's,lard presses,kerosene lamps,wheel cheeses,enough seed to sow 5 acres of corn,bushels of apples, tomatoes,red beets,corn on the cob,pears,peaches~~~~ all to be found in a village store the size of a 2 car garage!
One day I stopped in there to get some cider & a few other things. I said, "Yeah, maybe I'll get some cabbage too". The owner said, "How many do you want- ten?" I was shocked! "TEN?? !!", I said "What would I do with ten?" The cabbages were the size of beachballs!.. He said "Don't you make your own sauerkraut?? EVERYBODY up here makes their own sauerkraut!!" Well~~ this FLATLANDER has just as much mud on her boots as any mountain woman up here, so I said "SURE!!! GIMME TEN!!" and I proceeded to get the recipe for "HOW TO MAKE SAUERKRAUT" that I gave you below. Consider yourself lucky!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Making Sauerkraut

The best time to make sauerkraut is after the FIRST FROST, according to the oldtimers up here.So, I plant a later cabbage that's ready for pickin' in the fall. They say making kraut in the summer "Don't turn out right".
A meat cleaver chops up your cabbage great & quickly into workable chunks. I soak these chunks in a very well cleaned sink filled with cold water.Pick out the bad spots & put aside for livestock pail.Then I stick it in a vegetable chopper .The leaves are wet & dripping with cold water & makes the kraut processing moister.Layer about 4 qts chopped cabbage at a time. Sprinkle kosher salt ( not iodized-it will discolor your cabbage) over the top layer & tamp it down well. I use a wooden hammer to press it down.Then you're ready for the next layer.Repeat the process- each of my layers is 2 vegetable processor bowls, then more salt 1/4 c. maybe a little less.Tamp down & repeat till your out of cabbage.Cover with a layer of cheesecloth .Fill a fairly heavy duty plastic bag with a few qts or gallons of water( depending of the size container you're using).Tie it well & place on top of cabbage to keep air out.THAT WORKED THE BEST OF ALL!! Cover with plate or lid.If you see mold or gunge accumulating on the top layer, skim it off & toss it, but don't worry about it being bad. The batch beneath is fine & fermenting.It will take 4-6 weeks.I keep mine in the kitchen so I don't forget it. When it's ready, peel off the layer of cheesecloth & throw it away. A few inches of kraut may need to be tossed because of discoloration or mold. Keep what's below it. It's great! Can it or freeze it. I can mine.These pics were taken with a batch I made using the outer dark green leaves as well.My husband liked it better when I tossed the dark green leaves to the livestock or used it for pigs in the blanket.So, I don't use those outer leaves anymore.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Queen of Grandma's

Mary More McTague ! A finer woman you'll never meet.Her homeland was either County Cork or County Downs Ireland.(That's where our family was from.Who was from which I don't know).She is my Great-great grandmother on my mother's side.The beginning of a steady stream of nurses that fill our family tree. Geisinger has certainly benefitted from her bloodline !!She made a dent in Larksville & Plymouth,Pa because of her fine character and kindness she showed to immigrants coming to this country.She accompanied the town doctor , delivering babies & she also helped maintain a sick house for the poor in Larksville that were stricken with Typhoid & other contagious illnesses that swept the area.
My grandmother,Margareat McCue, had a picture, a large print in a gilded frame in her parlor of a girl praying, sitting on a couch & looking toward the ceiling. It was a lovely picture.She inherited it from Mary Moore McTague, her grandmother who received it from an Irish immigrant to whom she showed kindness.He wrote back that her name was known as far west as Montana by immigrants who said "You could always count on a meal at her back gate".It was she and her husband( I don't know his name) who adopted my mother's father (Patrick McCue) after his parents Hugh & Margareat McCue died.Patrick was born in Phillipsburg, NJ, then came to Larksville with his family. Younger brothers were adopted by Sweeneys and others. Older brothers were not. His older brother 'John' or 'Charles' traveled out west looking for work & a life, but was killed by a freight train.I think he was trying to 'hop' the train & fell under it.My Uncle Charlie (my mother's brother) had his picture in his kitchen.
Many of these relatives are buried in St Vincent's Cemetry up behind Larksville Mt.

Friday, March 6, 2009

This is a picture of my maternal great grandparents~ Peter & Rosemary (McTague) Burns of Larksville( or Plymouth) Pa. During the 1900 census they lived at 61 Eno St., Plymouth,Pa. They lived on 22 West Railroad St. later when the 1910 census was taken.Peter Burns was from Ireland and stated in the 1900/1910/1920 Census that he came to the US in 1869/1865/1870. Often these dates are at the hands of an enumerator and usually the earliest census date is the most accurate.
Rosemary was born in March 1860 in Pennsylvania .Peter was born in Nov.1847 and came over from Ireland in 1869 .(He was a cobbler & if you've ever been thru the Holland Tunnel on Canal St, down by the Battery in NYC, he was part of the crew that laid the grey brickwork on the road there.It sure lasted a heck of a lot longer than any blacktop I've driven over.Peter Burns was Scotch Irish & a cousin to Robert Burns , "Bobby",the poet. Grandpap Burns had an Uncle who owned a shipyard back in Ireland (or maybe Scotland??) & he became part inheritor after the uncle died, having no children of his own. Grandpap said ,"No!", to the inheritance.He had no part in the building or labour of it, therefore he would accept no inheritance from it. You don't see that kind of character around anymore.'What can I get for nothin' ?" is the character of far too many in the general population today, but then, always has been.The prisons are filled with people that arrived there because they wanted something that was not theirs.

My Irish Ancestry

Today a friend sent a copy of the 1930 census gathered on my maternal grandparents' street.His family & my family lived there, so we have some common interests.The picture of my 17 yr old 'Gramma' below is with my grandpap who was 11 yrs older than she.The baby on his lap was the firstborn, John, and the first of 13 children.He was a coalminer in Larksville, PA.I had to laugh at the census info~ their rent was $9.00/month!HAHAHA! But, all things are relative.They always had a hard life.My grandfather died long before I was born , when my mom was only 17.But I remember Gramma! These were hard working Irish.I can remember her washing clothes in the wringer washer in the cold water kitchen .Water had to be heated on the stove first before use.Her hands were red & shiny from the hot water & strong soap and the veins of her hands were puffy and distinctive. More than once her fingers were caught and dragged through the wringer.
Their first 3 sons also became coalminers at the tender age of 9 .Breaker boys or mule boys (James).My Grandfather Patrick,below ,was orphaned and adopted my Mary Moore McTague,his future wife's maternal grandmother.I suppose that's how they met.He married Margareat when she was 16.(The dress she is wearing in the picture below was her wedding dress.)He also hit the mines at age 9 and continued in that dangerous vocation until he retired .

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The night sky is beautiful up here.I am forunate not to have the invasive lights of parking lots & shopping malls competeing with my stargazing.The sky is pitch black & silent.I don't even have planes & commercial jets interrupting the patterns of the constellations. I can guess that that bright star over there is really a satellite or a planet. A 'cheap date' for my husband & I is dragging the 2-seater swing to the middle of the lawn away from the trees & count shooting stars.ORION is very prominent now just north of my barn.It is called "The Mighty Hunter".Four years ago, on the night before the start of bow-season, I took a walk in the yard & WOW!! There was ORION bigger than life! Bigger than I'd ever seen it before right between the pond & the barn in the sky.I could see the bow~ I could pick out EVERYTHING! NUTS! Tomorrow starts bow season ~ 'it's gotta be a sign!' and I'm WORKING!!
There's beauty in the treachery of winter.White snowshoe hares, a white fox, snowy owls,a pack of white arctic wolves

Monday, March 2, 2009


This is the Sombrero Galaxy http://hubblesite.org/gallery/ It ignites fresh new thoughts about how GREAT God is and how little we know about Him."A spiritual and saving knowledge of God is the greatest need of every human creature".Arthur W. Pink He is not aloof from us and He throws wide open the Door for us to "Aquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace:thereby good shall come unto thee".(Job 22:21) So~~ God Himself extends an invitation to us
and challenges us ,"Thus sayeth the LORD,let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,neither let the mighty glory in his might,let not the rich glory in his riches:But let him that glorieth glory in this,that he understandeth ,and knoweth ME , that I am the LORD".(Jeremiah 9:23,24)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Heritage turkeys: Blue Slates & Bourbon Reds

Heritage Turkeys were almost extinct only a very few years ago.Interested people incubated & raised their kinds but believe it or not, their 'saving grace' was "How Good Do They Taste?" Yes, my friends, marketing them for the table has created a profound market for their flavor.They are slower growing than the usual Purdue & Tyson broadbreasted hybrids.Broadbreasted whites are a rival tough to beat! I know, I raise them.All other turkeys take twice as long to grow & fill out. Do they taste better? I don't know yet.I love my turkeys . I haven't eaten any yet, except for the broadbreasted whites.And~~~ they are good !

This is Tommy, my Bourbon Red Gobbler.Turkeys come in a variety of colors & breeds. The turks behind him are Blue Slates (actually grey with white trim).We usually associate Thanksgiving turkeys as Bronze turkeys.That tradition is gone. Actually,supermarket turkeys are snow white turkeys.Their pin feathers do not leave dark markings in the skin, as do colored feathered turkeys. These guys are knocking on my door. They want breakfast. Or Brunch.Tommy was my 'Watch Turkey'. He would patrol the neighborhood.If I was outside working in my garden, he would stand guard next to me while I picked spinach.He would not let me pet him, but he would stand between me & other people that would come by to talk to me.Dogs were forbidden to be petted.My neighbor was not allowed to get out of her car in her own driveway. Tommy said it was 'Against the law'. Cars could not pass down our street.That, too, was "Against The Law" My neighbor left a nasty message on answering machine.Tommy flapped his wings & spurred her while she was hanging clothes on her line.I miss Tommy. Wondering where he went?