Thursday, September 13, 2012

Our Former Home at Waldheim Park For Sale

If you are reading this post, it is likely you came here because of your interest/curiosity regarding the sale of our cottage at Waldheim, our full-time home for many years.
We are currently not putting a set price on it, but rather entertaining offers over a given period of time to gauge interest.  All reasonable offers will be considered, but if someone comes in with an offer we can't refuse, we'll be motivated to sell more quickly.
Cottages at Waldheim Park can be a bit difficult to assess the value of, as there is no established market.
You don't own the land, so technically its not real estate and there is no deed for the building.
Furthermore, there are residency and screening guidelines which narrow the number of prospective buyers.  Current park guidelines stipulate that year-round residents attend an EC affiliated church.
It's also very rare for cottages which have full year-round residency clearances to come up for sale, so they're truly worth what a buyer is willing to pay.  Also, we are not interested in  renting the cottage or financing it long term to the buyer.
So, in order for you to make an informed offer on our place we'll be posting a comprehensive history of the improvements that were made to it in the years we lived there.  We'll also be posting status updates.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

Recently, the Library of Congress released a rare collection of photographs from the 1930's and early 40's taken by the Farm Security Administration.  What makes this particular set of images so compelling, is that they were all photographed in color; giving us a rare glimpse into a pre-WWII country that we had previously thought of only in black and white.  This was small town America still in the grip of depression-era poverty.  I'll be sharing more of these very unique photographs over time.
2nd Hand Plumbing Store, Brockton Mass. December 1940
Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress
There's so much going on in this photograph:  The hand-lettered signs like "We Cut and Thread Pipe While Your Waiting"and"We Buy Sell or Exchange Anything"; the vivid color of the building itself; just the sheer accumulation of stuff, plenty of kitchen sinks; I'd love to pick that pile, is that a dog house on the roof?
I heard that this building is still standing...and the business at a different location.
This post is especially for my wife Melissa, and her dad, Fred Moyer.  Fred, Melissa, and her brothers own and operate Fred J. Moyer Plumbing, a third-generation family plumbing business, the oldest in the Lehigh Valley, founded in 1910.  Fred is recuperating at home from a hospital visit right now, and I knew he would enjoy the photograph.  Get Well, Dad.  Melissa, don't take any "drity copper".

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A New Jersey Chicken Update

Photo Courtesy Press of Atlantic City
If you remember a story I did back in October about a township in Cape May County, New Jersey that took up a fight with a 10 year old girl, Brianna Lyman, and an 80 year old woman, Claire Nagle, over raising chickens on their respective properties, I have an update:
Back in January, Lower Township's planning board voted against recommending any changes to the existing ordinance prohibiting the keeping of chickens on any property smaller than an acre. It was to go before a vote of the township council, but without the recommendation, there wasn't much of a chance of a change passing.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chicken Tintype

Rare mid-19th century tintype of a live(?) chicken.  I've seen lots of solo pets in period studio settings before...dogs, cats, etc...never a chicken.  It must have been a prize winner or a really proficient egg layer...  Sold on ebay for $115.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

101 Years of April Foolishness


One year ago today, on April 1st, 2011, YouTube posted this video on its site as an April Fool's prank to its users.  YouTube also backdated their logo for the day, and gave viewers a button which would sepia tone and give film artifacts to videos they watched along with adding a ragtime music soundtrack.
Like many of the viral videos it spoofed, the clip made a buzz for a day and was then all but forgotten the next as the next sensation replaced it.  As I was doing some web searching for today, I came across the clip and thought it would be fun to revisit it.  It may say something about the throwaway nature of much of today's media culture.  Or maybe not...I like it for its use of historical silent film footage interspersed with the silliness.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Happy Anniversary Heirloom Homestead!

This week marks the 1-year anniversary of this blog, Heirloom Homestead.  After a four-month hiatus, what better time to launch the reboot, and offer a fresh start just in time for spring and the prime outdoor seasons.
So where have I been?  There've been some technical glitches along the way, a loss of the display capabilities of a computer, and some internet access issues that had to be worked out before I could really get back to posting.
I think all has been resolved, and I hope to begin blogging again on a regular basis.
Some things have changed which will influence the content of the blog, (more on that soon...) but I think I have come up with a theme which will be of interest to a growing number of readers, and help define myself for future endeavors.  I've hinted at that previously.  Look for it in the coming weeks...I'm excited!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks in 2011


Wishing all a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.
May it be filled with close friends and family.
I'll be back in the coming days with updates,
And a freshly revised blog theme.
Stay tuned in!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Junk O' Lantern Junkins

I often find something of interest over at  
This group remind me of what it would look like if you crossed The Scarecrow with the Tin Man from the Wizard of OZ.  Resembles my woodpile, too.
The pumpkin coach looks straight out of a Sanford & Son version of Cinderella
You can find more photos at the original slideshow here, at The Better Homes and Gardens website.
Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street always used to say his trashcan was featured in Better Homes and Garbage...
I'll be highlighting more from Steampunk Home, as we gather ideas for renovating our kitchen and bathroom.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Of Monsters and Men

Now for something completely different, that I know at least my wife will appreciate.
A band with an appropriate name as we approach Halloween--Of Monsters and Men
From a timely place, since they're forcasting snow on the pumpkin this year--Iceland
With a song--Little Talks 
That has been all over the radio I listen to for almost a year,
despite not having a cd (or official videos) available in the states.
Feel free to get up, dance and shout.

Studio Version

Live Living Room Version

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Township Takes on 80 year-old Woman & 10 year-old Girl over Chickens

At the same time that we were saying goodbye to our chickens, a single township--Lower, in Cape May County New Jersey forced both an an 80 year-old woman and 10 year old girl to give up their chickens, all in the span of one week, at the end of September 2011.
Photo courtesy Press of Atlantic City
Claire Nagle had been fighting Lower Township for nearly two months for the right to keep six Rhode Island Reds that she'd been raising since April.  Claire became interested in the locally-grown foods movement and wanted home-raised eggs for her table.  The chickens were just starting to produce eggs when she had to let them go.
Photo courtesy Press of Atlantic City
Brianna Lyman, a fifth grader, had been raising a Rhode Island Red and a Black Silkie for about two years as a 4H project. She hoped to show the chickens this year and possibly win a prize. Problems arose when the chickens got loose and a neighbor complained.
Township zoning doesn't allow any chickens on lots smaller than an acre.  Both family's properties are about a quarter acre or under.  Both were encouraged to seek a zoning variance but said court costs would be prohibitive.
Claire circulated a petition to amend their ordinance to mirror that of neighboring Middle Township that allows up to six chickens on a quarter acre and twelve on three quarters of an acre; as long as there are no roosters, the chickens are kept contained, and not raised for profit or breeding.  Over two hundred signatures were received and support garnered from as far away as the Netherlands.  The township council had refused to consider the proposed change in the ordinance, but the planning board agreed to discuss the issue at a November 10th, 2011 meeting.  We offer our support to these families in their quest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

(G.) Pigs @ Home

We've come up with our own names for the guinea pigs. The names given them by their former owner just didn't seem to fit them, sounding more like characters on the Jersey Shore. Because the black w/white pig's coloring reminds us of a skunk, we've named him Pepe, a la Pepe Le Pew.  A friend of ours suggested the name G. Piggy P.Guinea, so that name's stuck for the brown w/ white pig.
Oh, and township take note, guinea pigs are actually not related to pigs at all, and therefore not farm livestock.  They're actually rodents...
In the week that we've had the pigs, they've seemed to get acclimated to their new living space.  They especially enjoy eating fresh lettuce and celery snacks and racing around the cage on morning runs.
They definitely have individual personalities.  G. Piggy P.Guinea likes being held and stays calm most of the time.
Pepe, is quite the opposite, skittish and more hyper.  He squirms when being held, and cranes his neck out to catch a scent.
The cats' reactions to the pigs, demonstrates their specific character traits, as well. Chaz in particular, remain inquisitive as to the new creatures in Jake's room and moves in for a closer look.  Izzie, on the other hand likes to remain at a safe distant and make spooky, glowing, halloween cateyes at the camera.

Monday, October 24, 2011

(G.) Pigs Come to the Homestead

Ever since we had to give the chickens away, Jacob has been pestering for more pets.  He surfed the internet researching animals that enjoyed being held and that he could keep in his room.  Animals like hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs.  He settled on g. pigs because they seemed the most even tempered and cuddly.
Melissa and I then made him do further study on a suitable habitat, diet and living arrangements, (like how do they get along with cats...)
We found out a pair of pigs the same age and sex would be the most content.  Rather than buy them from a pet store, we agreed to adopt adult pigs that were no longer wanted.
Jacob built his own two story cage, complete with liners and ramp.  Constructed from modular shelving, the cage is much more spacious than those found in stores; he found the plans on fan sites.  Before it was even finished, he had bought the food, bedding and toys. 
Jake couldn't wait for us to find him a pair; he started forwarding us listings on craigslist of ones he had found.
Last week, he managed to find two boys nearby that were less than a year old and came with additional supplies.  Melissa and I decided to surprise Jake and pick them up while he was as soccer practice and put them in place for when he got home.  Emma assisted us in the plan.
The operation was a complete success.  It was a total surprise, Jacob suspected nothing, and was thrilled when he found a black w/ white pig and a brown w/white pig waiting for him in his room.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Water's Gone (for Good?)

Early this week, the rain stopped long enough for the neighbor to pump out the water in our backyard.  With the over half inch of rain we had mid week, I thought the pond might be back.  It did leave some large puddles, but nowhere near what was there before the operation.  Maybe it will have a chance to dry out, we'll see.  Had it not been for the bugs, I think it actually looked better while the water was there.  Now its just a whole lot of dark mud and muck.
I don't mind the pond being gone, although the role it played in the loss of our chickens is still unclear.  I'm kind of tired talking about it; I'm looking forward to shifting gears a bit, bringing up some new topics, and talking about some current happenings and trends, now that I've gotten pretty much caught up on the events of this past summer.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Chickens Fly the Coop

So the township made it clear that the other four hens had to go, in addition to Pat the Rooster and the initial hen who had just left.
It hit us hard, particularly Melissa, who have formed the closest bond with the birds.  Being their daily provider, protector and nurturer, it was like being told that you had to give away your own children. The kids were heart broken, as well.  Over the last six months, we had spent a substantial amount of time and expense raising them from chicks and seeing them mature into beautiful, productive birds.  Now we had to let them go.
We were told we could apply for a zoning variance, but again there would be considerable time and expense involved.  Even if we were to budget the money, we would have to find a place for the girls in the meantime.
We weren't sure if Dawn Lichtenwalner would be willing to take another four hens, but we gave her a call.  If she couldn't take them, we hoped it would be easier finding a home for healthy laying hens than for a single rooster.  Fortunately, Dawn had the resources to take the rest of the chickens.  She even came out quickly on a dark and stormy night so the goodbyes could stay brief.  Dawn told us that we could visit them at any time and that if we ever got clearance, we could certainly have them back.  We are grateful to Dawn, her family and animal sanctuary for their generosity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just Short

We were pretty confident that finding a home for Pat the Rooster and one of the hens would bring us into compliance with the township's zoning ordinance.  We now had 1."NO MORE THAN FOUR (POULTRY MAINTAINED AS HOUSHOLD [sic] PETS) AT ANY ONE TIME" and we had always had 2."THE PET MUST BE MAINTAINED WITHIN A FENCED AREA SET BACK AT LEAST TWENTY FIVE FEET FROM ALL PROPERTY BOUNDRIES [sic]."  The language of the closing highlighted line "IF ANY OF THE ABOVE REQUIREMENTS ARE NOT MET THE CHICKENS MUST BE REMOVED" seemed to seal the deal in our minds, that it was possible for us to meet the requirements.  Otherwise, we reasoned, if it was in fact, impossible for us to meet the requirements, the township would have just said the chickens have to go.
We anxiously awaited a reply from the township, and promptly received a message on our phone, but it wasn't the answer we were looking for or expecting.  What they should have initially told us was, that the requirements could not be met, at least not without buying additional property from a neighbor, because the section of the ordinance they were scrutinizing was a third stipulation "THE PARCEL MUST BE AN ACRE OF LAND OR MORE".
We knew that the homestead was a fraction under an acre, but we didn't really know the number.  Growing up, my family always described it as "just" under any acre and it was a convenient way to envision that size piece of property.  It turns out that our property is 8/10ths of an acre,  or 1/5th short.  Because the word acre was always used in conversations we had about the homestead, it never occurred to us that that fraction would get us into trouble. We never even considered it when we made our initial inquiry to the township before getting the chickens.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Response to the Township's Notice

Once I got passed the grammar of the township's letter about the chickens, I sat down to study the notice.  Really, its arrival came as no great surprise.  We were concerned that it was only a matter of time before someone would complain about Pat's crowing, and we were pretty sure we knew who had sent the written complaint.
We had been trying to find a home just for Pat the Rooster for weeks.  From the way the letter read, it sounded as if they were looking to strictly enforce the number of "non-pet" animals we were allowed to have at four, so it was urgent to find a home for one of the hens, as well.  In the response I wrote back to the township, I gave a brief history of the homestead and our roots in the community and outlined how we came into this situation and the actions we took to remedy it:
Dear Lower Macungie code enforcement,
We are writing to the township in response to the letter we received on September 12th, 2011, regarding the code issue in the keeping of six chickens.
It was not our intention to be in violation of zoning; we checked with the township offices before obtaining the chicks back in March, and this section of the code was submitted to us.  Tractor Supply, where we purchased them, has a minimum purchase of six, but not being sure if all would survive, we went ahead.
One concern which we could not take into account was getting a rooster in the bunch.  The breeds we bought were listed as white leghorns and red comets, all were sold as hens, we did not need or want a rooster.  Red comets are a crossbreed that are supposed to be color-sexed, in that there should no question as to the sex of a chick because they are color coded male and female.  It's a bit complicated procedure, which we had to research as one of our reds grew up to not look like the others hens. 
This process was all detailed in my blog at heirloomhomestead.com, which I hope to get back to soon.
We believe our neighbor, understandably, has a problem with the rooster and his morning crowing.  Ever since he really started to get vocal, for over a month now, we have been trying to find a suitable home for him.  We have contacted 4H; Penn State's Agricultural Extension, the Agricultural Society who run the poultry barn at the Allentown Fair, regional chicken raising forums on the internet, local people we know with chickens, etc. We even put a listing on Craigslist for a free rooster.  All the connections that far have turned up nothing.
On Monday, we began to pursue other leads: A feed store in Mertztown with an active bulletin board; farms affiliated with Rodale and reposted our ad to Craigslist, this time offering a hen along with the rooster to fully comply with the code. (We mistakenly remembered the number allowed being five instead of four from the township's original reply.)
On Wednesday, Dawn Lichtenwalner from an animal sanctuary in Kempton responded to our ad and picked up the rooster and a hen.
Had our neighbor come over to meet us and voice his concerns, we would have been happy to discuss with him our efforts to remedy the situation, and share a few fresh eggs.

As a descendant of the Charles Lichtenwalner family myself, my roots in the township run deep.  Maggie Lichtenwalner was my great-grandmother.  She and Charles Buss, my great grandfather, purchased the lot and built our home when they married in 1909.  It was the only home my grandmother, Pearl Schaffer knew.  From the beginning, our property functioned much like a microfarm, with much of the land dedicated to growing food.  My great uncles built pens with running water from a dedicated cistern underneath our "horseless-carriage" house to keep animals, and my uncle continued to use this area to raise chickens for 4H into the 1960s.  This history is also outlined on my blog.
In a township which prides itself on its agricultural heritage, at a time when there is an American movement toward sustainability and self-sufficiency through local food and urban/backyard farming, I urge the township at some time to revisit their regulations in regards to the minimum lot size and number permitted , particularly in the case of animals that do not require large amounts of space.
Thank you for this consideration.

 

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Notice from the Township

When Lower Macungie came by to monitor our flooded pond, they were also there to investigate something else. On September 12th  we received this certified letter from them:

Dear Property Owner,
THE ABOVE-LISTED PROPERTY HAS BEEN FOUND IN VIOLATION OF THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF LOWER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP.  THIS ENFORCEMENT NOTICE CONSTITUTES AN ORDER OF THE TOWNSHIP DEMANDING THAT YOU STOP ALL ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES UPON THIS PROPERTY .  FAILURE TO RESPOND TO THIS NOTICE WITHIN THE TIME PERIODS LISTED BELOW WILL RESULT IN FINES ISSUED AGAINST YOU.
A WRITTEN COMPLAINT SENT TO MY OFFICE AND A FOLLOW UP INVESTIGATION found that an illegal activity was occurring on your property.  CHICKENS IN A RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD.
This illegal activity violates the following Section of the Lower Macungie Township Zoning Ordinance (herein after the "Ordinance"), which was enacted by the Township as Ordinance 1998-11, as amend
ARTICLE 2  DEFINITIONS HOUSEHOLD PETS DOMESTIC ANNIMALS [sic] NORMALLY CONSIDERED TO BE KEPT IN OR IN CONJUNCTION WITH A DWELLING UNIT FOR THE PLEASURE OF THE RESIDENT FAMILY AND SHALL INCLUDE ANNIMALS [sic] SUCH AS DOGS, CATS, GERBILS, AND OTHER SIMULAR [sic] PETS NORMALLY SOLD BY RETAIL PET STORES.
THE TERM HOUSHOLD [sic] PETS SHALL NOT INCLUDE ANY DANGEROUS OR ENDANGERED SPECIES.  LIVESTOCK OR POULTRY MAY BE MAINTAINED AS HOUSEHOLD PETS PROVIDED THAT 1.  NO MORE THEN [sic] FOUR MAY BE MAINTAINED AT ANY ONE TIME.  2.  THE PARCEL MUST BE AN ACRE OF LAND OR MORE.  3.  THE PET MUST BE MAINTAINED WITHIN A FENCED AREA SET BACK AT LEAST TWENTY FIVE FEET FROM ALL PROPERTY BOUNDRIES [sic].
IF ANY OF THE ABOVE REQUIREMENTS ARE NOT MET THE CHICKENS MUST BE REMOVED.
Pursuant to Section 2310 of the Ordinance, you are hereby notified to correct this violation.
Within TEN DAYS of receipt of this Notice you must submit a letter to the undersigned describing any and all corrective action you intend to pursue.  You must begin this corrective action immediately and bring this violation into compliance with the Ordinance within THIRTY DAYS of receipt of this Notice.
You may file an appeal from [sic] this Notice to the Lower Macungie Township Zoning Hearing Board.
Pursuant to Section 914.1(b) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, you must file this appeal within THIRTY DAYS of the issuance of this Notice.  The cost for filing this appeal is FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS.
Failure to comply with this Enforcement Notice within the time specified, unless extended by an appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board, constitutes a violation of this Notice and the Ordinance .
Any person who violates any provision of the Ordinance shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS plus all court costs and attorneys fees incurred by the Township.  Each day,or portion thereof, a violation continues uncorrected constitutes a separate violation for which the above-listed fines, costs, and fees may be sought.  All judgements, costs, and fees collected for the violation of this Ordinance shall be paid over to the Township.
In addition, violations of the Ordinance may be prosecuted by the Township through an equity action filed with the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas.
Respectively [sic] Yours,

The first thing that struck me about the notice was the number of grammatical errors. The letter is transcribed here as written; its layout, punctuation, and capitalization all intact.  The boldface type was highlighted in the letter.  I didn't major in English, but many of the mistakes were obvious and could have been easily avoided using spell check.
For over a decade, I was the recording secretary for the non-profit Waldheim Park Association in Salisbury Township.  I also served as president.  One of my responsibilities in those roles was to write correspondence for the organization.  Even though they were voluntary positions, I knew that in order for my communication to be taken seriously, it had to be well written and free of errors.
Likewise, if you want to be respected in what has become the most educated community in the Lehigh Valley, and one of the smartest in the state, official documents need to be proofread.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Waters Begin to Subside

Jacob got the inflatable raft that he wanted in the spring, and when the waters were freshly fallen, he paddled out blissfully into the pond, taking his sister along for the ride.
But as the water's remained and stagnated, it's become more of a nuisance and liability.
Our neighbor to the back, where the pond sits closer to his house, has been plagued with mosquitoes, although I haven't noticed them when I've been outside.  His concern has probably been amplified by the fact that he's in the process of trying to show/sell his house.  That, in turn may have motivated him to call the township about the water.
We weren't really surprised that he didn't first come to us.  In the years that we've lived here, he's never made any effort to meet us, and I've never had any contact with him. 
Apparently, the township then started to come over regularly and monitor the pond.  We found this out when this he finally broached the property line and stopped by to talk with Melissa.  Basically, the neighbor told us:
-The township has no money to alleviate the problem,
-The volunteer fire company is unwilling to risk damage to their equipment to pump out the water.
(And if they did it for us, they'd have to do it for countless other flooded private property owners.) 
-The township did give the OK for the water to be pumped into a nearby storm sewer drain.
The Penn State Extension has also come by to take samples and put insecticide in the water.
There have been reported cases of West Nile in this region of Pennsylvania, hence their concern, but "our" mosquitoes tested negative for the virus.
When the rains finally let up for a few days, and the nights turned cooler, the water really started to subside and the bugs became less active.  We were going to let nature run its course and not do anything further, but the neighbor offered to rent a pump and run the hose to the sewer so we obliged.  Once he was ready to do it, it's rained everyday since...

Friday, October 14, 2011

It's a Boy!

Originally posted by Melissa on July 19th, 2011 at The Adventures of Primginger


The kids love to play with the chickens, and the rooster, yeah, we have Pat, the unknown bird that is now known...we will fatten Pat up and then....say goodbye...I don't want to upset my neighbors with a rooster...
-Yes, by mid July when the fenced-in run was completed and the birds began laying it was obvious that we had a rooster on our hands, along with the five girls.
By that time there was no mistaking him for a female, from his proud male appearance to his increasingly vocal early morning serenades as he found his voice.  It didn't take long for us to know that he couldn't stay.  He crowed all day long, starting at first light.   We were concerned that once our neighbor's air conditioners were turned off and the windows opened, not everyone would appreciate his vocal stylings. 
Pat also grew very protective of his girls, and aggressive with any perceived challenges from other males, namely Jacob and I.  Pat would be fine with Melissa, and other females, but whenever we would approach, Pat would stalk us up and down the fence line.
If we would even try to enter, he would scratch and peck at our feet.
Even with his nastiness, we had raised Pat from a chick, just like the hens, and he had grown to be such a beautiful bird, that we really didn't have the heart to send him to the country butcher, so through the rest of the summer we searched for a suitable home for Pat.  It was then, at the close of the season that outside forces came to be reckoned with and where we pick up our present story...
-Scott
 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's Time For Eggs!

Originally posted by Melissa on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at The Adventures of Primginger
The time has finally come where our girls are starting to lay eggs. I went out this morning and found evidence of three possible eggs that were laid, most likely overnight, but the eggs are still not strong enough to form an egg. One of the photos you can obviously see that there was an egg but it was paper thin, the other photo is totally scrambled.....just wish it was scrambled in my frying pan.....
The girls were so proud of what they tried to do, when I took the lid off the coop they all hopped in, were talking up a storm and crowding around me as if to say "Mom, did you see what we did?"
It's an exciting time here on our homestead!
-Although you wouldn't know it by these unappetizing photos, it wasn't long after, maybe a week or so, before the girls were providing us with big, beautiful, nutritious, eggs.  Brown ones from the red hens and white ones from the white.  Once they got proficient it was nearly an egg a day from each hen. Boy, did those eggs taste good too, with rich orange yolks and so much flavor.
-Scott

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Where Do I Start?

Originally posted by Melissa on July 19th, 2011 at The Adventures of Primginger
...The Chicken Coop is done, for the most part, with many kudos to my Dad for lending his expertise and tools, and my nephew Noah and my son Jake, they helped on Saturdays to get this job done and we are so happy it's done...
-We were also pretty proud of what we had accomplished, and it was just in time too.  The chickens were getting crowded in the lower area of their coop, and we were anxious to move them into an enclosure where they could run around, get exercise and scratch to their heart's content.  We hadn't really envisioned something this spacious when we started out but quickly realized that in order to thrive, the chickens were going to need some room.
As you may be able to tell from the picture, the space is ideally located in the center of our land, not close to any neighbor and shielded from adjoining properties by tree and shrub lines.  
-Scott

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Calling On Melissa and The Adventures of Primginger

With my blog taking an unintended hiatus for much of the summer, there's a lot of ground to cover to catch up with current events at the Homestead.
To help in that process, I'm going to enlist the skills of Melissa.  She's a talented blogger in her own right, although she doesn't have the time that I now do, to post frequently.  I've mentioned previously her "mom's perspective" blog on the Lower Macungie edition of Patch.com of which I'm quite proud of.  She also is on Blogspot @, The Adventures of Primginger.  Over the next few days, I'm going to be reposting here a few of her entries from over the summer, along with some updates.
Thanks Lissa!  Take It Away!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Victory Garden Ends in Defeat

Not that a flooded garden would have mattered much this year...
Besides some potatoes and onions, our harvest was nearly a total loss this year.
From the start, things didn't go well when the plants in cups didn't thrive from seed.
We had to resort to buying a number of potted plants and transferred them into the garden late in the spring.
We kept it simple and bought a few varieties of each: cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes, the veggies we can use the most of that were available at our local Supercenter.  I really don't like shopping there to begin with, but we were already in their garden department, so we figured we might as well pick some up and get them in the ground, what have we got to lose.
Even though we bought them there last minute, we did stay somewhat true to our name and bought mostly heirloom varieties.
All of this may have contributed to the garden's downfall, along with not using the miracle fertilizer we used in the past, we can't really tell where we went so wrong.
Through the summer, the plants had plenty of water and sunshine, and grew robust, but yielded very little fruit.
For our expense and efforts we got a grand total of a few cucumbers, a pepper and three tomatoes that didn't turn red until days after we brought them inside.  Its good we weren't depending on the garden to feed us, it would have been good for maybe a meal or two.
Looking toward next season we found out about a Mennonite-owned garden center just a short drive away that has good prices and a nice selection.  This year we might have lost the battle, but we're not ready to concede defeat.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Who Will Stop The Rain?

Like the Creedance Clearwater Revival song, from the view we have from our kitchen window into the backyard, no one has to tell us the last two months have been the wettest on record.  During that time, just as it was in the spring, the series of heavy rainfalls has kept the lower third of the yard underwater for the entire period.  The water line ebbs and flows with the waves of storms but hasn't fallen below a few feet at its deepest point, for the last two months.  Its also flowed over to our immediate neighbors properties to the north and east.
At its height, from the remnants of tropical storm Lee back in September the waters reached the edge of the garden, higher than I've ever seen them.  With the ground so saturated, this is the slowest I've seen the waters recede, and the longest period of time the grounds have been constantly underwater since we've moved here.
With less groundwater, the flooding in the Spring, while almost as widespread, dissipated much faster.
Growing up, I don't remember Nana's garden ever being underwater, although occasionally there was some water nearby in the wintertime when the ground was frozen.  Had our garden been the same size as hers, it surely would have been this year.

Friday, September 30, 2011

So Where Have I Been?

Well, it's been two months since my last post; and I never intended it to be that long.  My initial goal when starting this blog was to submit something interesting every day.  My daily schedule this summer with the kids home from school was pretty hectic, and I have been putting in some long weeks at the job this year--300+ hours of overtime thus far in 2011.
It may have been a bit of writers' block, although there were, (and still are) tons of topics I want to cover.
The "experts" do say that blogs do tend to falter after the first couple of months as bloggers run out of their initial topic ideas and look for fresh material.  Much has happened over the summer, so there's lots that's new, but on the other hand, much of what's occurred since the end of July will warrant a slight change in direction in the theme of this blog, as subsequent posts will show.  That's all for now, I'll get you caught up in the next few days.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

American Sister Pickers

I've loved the show American Pickers since its debut; a dream job for me would be traveling the countryside in search of rustic treasures.  I'll admit, I'd initially be a little uncomfortable approaching complete strangers about parting with their treasured heirlooms.  
Granted, some pickers have earned rather questionable reputations based on the shady techniques they employ, particularly with the elderly.  After my grandfather passed away, Nana was visited by a picker in search of antiques who tried to pressure her to show him around.  Fortunately at the time, she was still strong of mind and will and was able to shoo him away.
On the other hand, I would have no problem sifting through the wares at auctions and sales and dealing with willing and aware sellers.
On the heels of the popularity of American Pickers, a new show debuts next Tuesday, August 2nd at 10pm on the Lifetime Network.  Called Sister Pickers, it features two designer friends, Tracy Hutson and Tanya McQueen.  Both alumni of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Tracy & Tanya are opening a new LA home decor pop-up shop, and scouring the rest of the country in order to find repurposable goods to stock it.
I wasn't sure how girly this show was going to be, based on the attire of this screen shot:

(There have been allegations that American Pickers has become redundant, all grease monkey, man stuff,) but who really uses a cordless drill, much less picks through one man's trash, in a skirt, particularly one that short...not that I really mind...
I was rest assured regarding the show's overall girliness once I watched the promo and saw them unearth an old urinal, destined for some use.  A shoutout to my wife and the plumbers in the family, this show could get interesting...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Grandmother's Earth News

I can't believe how fast the summer has been flying by; it's been over two weeks since I last posted, and I have a lot to share.  I'm back to working a lot of overtime after a week of vacation, so hopefully I can get back to regular posting.
Now that we are sweltering in the depths of the dog days of summer, sweating through the hottest heat wave in memory, it's hard to find motivation to do things outdoors except tend to the chickens, (who seem to be managing the heat OK thus far, more on that in a future post,) and take the kids to pop-pop's pool.
Receiving the August/September copy of Mother Earth News in the mail was a welcome respite for poolside perusing. Reading the cover article titles, it seemed as if a writer of Heirloom Homestead was on the editorial staff:  Start a Self-Sufficient One-Acre Homestead; Food Independence on a 1930's Farm; My Grandpa's Path to Simplicity; and more...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Patriotic Celebration Inspiration

While searching for an old Independence Day image to use on the 4th, I came across this photo which caught my attention:
The link led me to Marcie's Blog, for more inspiring pictures of true Americana at its best: A WWII-era, patriotic-themed celebration honoring The Greatest Generation.
The nostalgic color palette coordinated with the selected items of age makes for a winning combination. Marcie borrowed the heirlooms from friends and found them around her own home.  It goes to show that sometimes the best decor can already be found around one's home.
And I'm sure my wife Melissa will love the fondant on these weathered flag cookies made by Marilyn of Whatever Whimsy:
You can see more photos of the event at Marcie's Celebrating the Moments.
If you enjoyed this post, I'm thinking of taking this blog ultimately into more of an "heirloom event ideas" direction, as I plan to coordinate it with my upcoming business blog site.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

What could be more American than Uncle Sam setting off fireworks on the 4th?
Ah, I just noticed...a boy shooting off a firearm into the air...maybe it's an airsoft gun...:)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Heirloom Homestead--Now Appearing (Occasionally?) on Patch

Last week, a link to my Spring Plantin' and Paintin'  post appeared on our Lower Macungie edition of Patch, under their Local Voices, Around the Web heading.  I'm not sure how often the blog will be featured on Patch, as a subsequent follow-up post about our visit to The Log Haus  has not appeared, but I'm appreciative of any coverage we get, nonetheless, as I know it brought a few readers to this site.
So for those of you who may not be familiar, what is Patch?
When Melissa first started talking about something she read on Patch.com, the only thing I could think of was the phrase, laying a patch: an alternate term from my youth for burning rubber, or doing a burnout, which is of course, slang for spinning and smoking one's wheels by riding the clutch in a drag race in order to accelerate rapidly.
Then I went on to the Patch website, saw the grassy lawn icon and I put it together. The "Patch" is our own little patch of real estate, our own piece of community.  Patch is an online source for locally-based news and information, split up into regions as specific as a zip code.
Melissa was approached about writing a blog from a "mom's perspective" , exclusive to Patch, so now as often as she finds something worthwhile to write about, you can find her viewpoint on the Lower Macungie Patch.
Subsequently, I reflected back on my initial interpretation of Patch, to a more familiar idiom of the same action--where the rubber meets the road.  I anticipate that Patch will also serve to be a forum for neighborhood dialog on the the local topics that affect us most.
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