Friday, October 30, 2015

Harvest Festival at Quiet Valley

  'Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods'  
-- William Allingham

At sunrise today the trees beyond the barn were on fire with autumn colors; the fall leaves are stunning this year. A trip to the grocery store, a task I normally hate, becomes a visual delight and makes me feel blessed to have settled in such a beautiful part of the world.

Fall in my neighborhood.

We made several trips to the Lehigh Valley this week for doctors' appointments (one of the necessities of old age.) Each time we emerged from the Lehigh tunnel into our beloved Pocono Mountains I was overwhelmed by their magnificent beauty.

Leaving the Lehigh tunnel and entering the Poconos.

Even before the leaves peaked in color, the trees were beautiful in Quiet Valley. We visited the historical farm there for the 41st annual harvest festival earlier this month.

Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm


Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, just a few miles from our home, is a 19th century Pennsylvania German farm dedicated to the preservation and education of rural farm life. Period-dressed "family" members re-enact the life of the original Pennsylvania German family who lived on the farm from the 1760s to 1913. The theme of this year's harvest festival was 'Green is Our Valley -- Homesteading." In addition to demonstrations and displays dealing with the theme, there were plenty of traditional skills and heritage crafts to see such as spinning, weaving, broom making, scrapple making, apple butter making, basket making, and candle making.


Basket Weaving

I learned about the flax plant. Flax, one of the most important crops to early American farmers and to the economy of our emerging nation, was grown for linseed oil and for making linen. Incidentally, garden flax is a larval food source for the variegated fritillary butterfly.

The humble Flax plant Linum Usitatissimum
Making tow from flax to be turned into twine.

This year, the farm ladies were excited to dye their linen with cochineal, a red dye, that they hadn't used before. To make the fabric colorfast, they treated it with mordant, a mineral that helps dye adhere. They used indigo that they grew themselves to dye wool from the farm. Onion skins and marigolds produced yellow dye and madder root produced colors from orange through peach and red.

Drying newly dyed skeins of wool.
Beautiful colors.

They showcased vegetables and herbs for their home remedies, such as allium (onions and garlic) used to treat wounds, skin infections and insect bites.

We bumped into old friends, Janet and Larry. Janet was carrying a beautiful bouquet of the aromatic herb 'Sweet Annie.' There were herbs, dried flowers and wreaths for sale. I purchased a wreath for my potting shed and posted a picture of it last time.

Sweet Annie Artemisia
Next to the farmhouse we paused to listen to 18th century music.

The 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry re-enactors portrayed the everyday life of soldiers in the 19th century, while the New Jersey Frontier Guard showed French and Indian war soldiers trekking through the farm throughout the event.

We spent several hours at the farm, culminating in the enjoyment of homemade ice cream. As we drove the short distance home through the lovely PA countryside, H.H. and I agreed it was a perfect day.

'Brilliantly tinted foliage dances along outstretched branches ... made all the more gorgeous by glimpses of contrasting green in the grass beneath and roughly textured, lichened bark of adjoining trees.' 
-- Malcom Hillier
Soon after our visit to Quiet Valley we had our first killing frost in the mountains. Fortunately, with plenty of warning, I brought indoors some plants for overwintering, I took cuttings from tender perennials, and I picked the last blooms of the season.

Rescued from the first hard frost.

Where-ever you live in the world, I hope your current season is as beautiful as mine!
Pamela x

Working brick oven at Quiet Valley Farm

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. The colors of the linen rivaled the trees for glorious beauty. I never connected 'lin' seed with linen before. Thank you for the lesson.

  2. Wonderful autum colours Pam, and so interesting to see the Harvest Festival activities on that Historical Farm. Love the colours of the wool!

  3. when I see those colours I itch to knit again.

  4. The colors of autumn will always amaze me. Think I'd like to visit the farm. Husband is growing a variety of heirloom garlic for the first time...hoping come July we'll have many to try out. How the ladies were able to create dye so dark is impressive.

    1. Love for you to visit Quiet Valley Farm and our farm, too, Patsi.

  5. Great foliage colors and the dye colors are so bright! What a nice day you had and it looks as if the weather was on your side.
    I've also been enjoying the change of seasons but I think we had our frost much earlier than you. I feel a bit cheated!

    1. I don't think your frost was earlier, Frank. I think I'm just posting late. Although you are further north.

  6. You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area Pam. We don't get a lot of fall color down here. We do have a lot of German heritage here though, and also have a farm such as the one you visited, where traditional crafts are practiced. Enjoyed reading about your visit.

  7. Looks like you had a perfect fall day to spend in Quiet Valley! Lovely.

  8. What a wonderful place! I love those living history properties--they're great for all ages. And the foliage in your first few photos--stunning! I enlarged them so I could see them better. Believe it or not, I still haven't had a killing frost here in S. Wisconsin. Some people around here have, but not all of us. It's very strange. Must be El Nino.

  9. What a fabulous day out. I do love events such as these where you can see traditional crafts, it's so interesting to observe these skills. Your photos of the autumn colours are stunning, such a beautiful mix of shades.

  10. Wonderful experience in Quiet Valley. I was just telling other travelers all about the German heritage in PA. They really were aghast at scrapple though. I told them it is tasty if you don't know how it is made. Those musicians look familiar. I took a train ride in Kempton where they played on board in one car. It was fun.

  11. How beautiful it is there in the Poconos in fall! What a fun festival! I would be fascinated to learn how they make cloth out of such a humble plant. It looks like it would take quite a bit of work!

  12. I do love such trips! They are relaxing and inspiring.

  13. Pam you do live in such a wonderful spot from that magnificent foliage to the Festival and that farm....I would love that with the history, and all the wonderful ways from basket weaving to dying the wool....I love to see history in action. Thanks for sharing this amazing spot. Oh and I love the rescued flowers!