Down on the Farm

Rain, Rain, Go Away

by Gerald & Tina Carlin

Do you remember the old children’s tune, “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day?” That tune is being sung repetitively by farmers all across the United States. The unseasonably rainy weather is taking its toll. Farmers are not able to plant this year’s crops, because their fields are too wet, totally flooded, or they are planting very late.

According to RFD-TV News, farmers in the Midwest are packing up their household items and leaving the farms. If they stay on the farm, the bank will end up calling their notes because of lack of income from the farm families to pay off their debt. There is no flood relief available from the Government to help regain these losses. The losses are incredible when you think about it. Hundreds of thousands, if not close to a million cattle, mostly calves, have lost their lives because the farmers were not able to get them somewhere safe because the flood water came up so fast. Hundreds of thousands of acres of cropland lay unplanted when the flood water came so fast that it washed away the fertile top soil. It is hard to imagine how they are ever going to recover.

There seems to be no official concern, however; after all we are in a “global economy” so we can import our way out of a crisis if need be. If we lose more farmers, it’s no big deal. Many officials consider this “progress” and believe that we can always get more immigrant labor to do farm work – “work that Americans don’t want to do.”

Here in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, we are facing our own hardships. With all of the rain that our area has received the last couple of months we were delayed with planting our crops and getting on our hayfields. There was an old saying that corn should be “knee high by the 4th of July.” Some farmers will not even be able to plant their corn crop this year because the corn has a long growing time until maturity. Many acres of farmland lay bare because the ground was too wet. Now the weather pattern has changed. Will there be enough rain for the late crops to grow? This is the stark reality of farming.

What does this all mean for you the consumer? Most of the crops that are going unplanted are corn, wheat, oats, barley, millet, other grains, and even produce. These are very important for our food supply. High grain prices are likely this coming fall and winter. This will make it even more difficult for dairy farmers and livestock farmers, many of whom already have low-quality forage because of the wet spring and early summer.

How the weather-related crop challenges will affect supply and price in the grocery store remains to be seen. Some types of produce may be in short supply or, depending on the item, may be nonexistent. If we are lacking in supply, our multi-national corporations will just import the supply they need from other countries, raising the question, “What are their growing practices and what chemicals are they spraying their fields with?”

The best way to get the produce and meat you need is to visit your local farmers markets. There are several in most counties in our area. Get to know your farmer. Be understanding, realize that farmers who grow what they sell face many challenges from weather, pests, labor shortages, etc. Because of this, they may not have everything that is normally in season, all of the time. Be grateful for what they do offer. Support your local communities by buying local. It’s what good food should be.

We welcome your questions and comments.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Gerald & Tina Carlin are the owner/operators of Carlin Farm and the 4 Seasons Farm Market. The 4 Seasons Farm Market (located on the farm at 3064 SR 3005, Meshoppen, PA 18630) is open year-round. Call 570-833-4592 for hours & directions.

Antiques & Collectibles

Carousel Antiques

by Patrick K. Robinson

My journey has taken me to Southern PA (Lewisburg, Bucks County area) and into Delaware. This story again goes back to my early days of driving as a teenager but now traveling out further.

Why so far you ask? Since being a toy collector and collector of other children-related things like sports cards and comics, I really ended up liking certain carnival collectibles, circus-related items, and so forth. The larger carousel figures were right in line with all of these other items for me. I was traveling to these southern areas of PA on some hot leads to potentially see a couple carousel figures, meeting with a few buyers I worked with that I would broker items for – items that they purchased from entire estates or deaccession sales from different museums.

The deaccession sales were rather interesting because they would be officially removing listed holdings from museums, or an art gallery, typically to sell them in order to raise funds. So not only is it exciting to get to see all kinds of items from multi-million dollar estates, some ten million or more, but to again learn from some of these buyers. I will admit too that it was exciting to see some of these carousels that were totally carved with so much detail and hand painted in very beautiful colors.

From the golden age of carousels, this 1914 hand-carved, hand-painted carousel horse is from the
Herschell-Spillman carousel at Golden Gate Park (copywrite, Aaron Shepard, via carousel.org).

It, too, brought back some great memories of riding on these older carousel creations as a child. I remember how I felt as a young boy riding the carousels at Knoebels Park and also at Hansen’s Park at Harvey’s Lake, PA.

We all arrive at this old factory-type building and you could just smell the old parks that you’ve been to, all stored and shut up inside this place, and off in the corner I could see the image of a covered-up horse. I again thought of Hansen’s Park and trying to grab the brass ring in order to get a free ride. If you grabbed a plastic one it didn’t count, although there never seemed to be a loser as the guy operating this chain-driven carousel always had candy for the plastic ring holders.

After uncovering the horse, I right away saw this one was a little more of a folk art piece, as it was less detailed in its carving, and was a brown painted piece with some color but not a lot, but I will have to say, still very cool. Just being in this building with all this history was cool!

You will notice a picture in this article of a folk art-style brown horse and this was kind of similar to the one I brokered all those years ago, being 17 or 18 years old at the time. The simpler type horse like the brown one was actually made with these parallel legs that were made to come apart easier as to travel them from county fair to fair or to a carnival.

Produced for Armitage Herschell, this simple brown carousel horse is a 1912 C.W. Parker county fair carousel from Fireman’s Park in Brenham, Texas (copywrite, Rebecca Nance, via carousels.org).

The brownish more simple horse in the photo is a 1912 C.W. Parker county fair carousel at Fireman’s Park in Brenham, Texas. It was produced for Armitage Herschell and was probably on a track machine (copywrite, Rebecca Nance, via carousels.org). The other carousel horse is certainly one I would dream of brokering. It is from the golden age of carousels (roughly 1890 to 1920’s), was hand carved in great detail and hand painted. Dated 1914, it is from the Herschell-Spillman carousel at Golden Gate Park (copywrite, Aaron Shepard, via carousel.org).

All being said, the folk art style horse still brought thousands, just not five figures like the more detailed golden age example. The one I had discovered was more from the 1940s or 1950’s, but still desirable because in the 1980’s carousel figures of all kinds were a hot commodity. The other interesting point while on this trip, I met a couple of very wealthy buyers that were on the hunt to buy an entire carousel set up to restore and save from being separated and sold as individual pieces. Here we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A little more interesting information for you, the name carousel derives from carosello, an Italian word meaning little war. Little war was said to be a medieval game Turkish soldiers would play on horseback. At some point it is said that English and German soldiers used to train the same way to practice spearing with their lances. Remember earlier in this article that I mentioned the fun we had grabbing the brass ring on the carousel at Hansen’s Park? Well that came from young boys training with spearing techniques by practicing spearing through brass rings as target practice.

To continue with the deal I was brokering in Southern PA: I arranged for the sale and delivery of the Southern PA carousel folk art style horse to a buyer in New England, and all went well. Both parties were happy and I had the pleasure of closing another deal and able to relive the feelings of these great creations in carousel history and, most importantly, the great energy of saving a piece of history. I certainly dream of the day I get to broker a true Golden Age carousel figure from the 1800’s for five figures.

I was motivated to share this story because, along with this, we at Kitson Arts Alliance have the honor of working with one of our member artists, Jennifer Sause Brennan, who sculpts carousel figures that are mounted on poles just like a figure on a carousel, and the pole is put into a beautiful wood base that comes from her own property. The materials she sculpts with are made up of natural fibers for strength as well as a clay slip kind of material along with other ingredients, all natural, and then mixed in a mixer. What comes next is true artisan creativity as you can see by the pictures of her horse, tiger and even Dumbo!

Jennifer forms these amazing works of art all by hand and then skillfully hand paints each one. I will say each one is different from the next, so when you get one, you will never see the same one anywhere else. If you’d like to purchase one, they are currently on display and for sale at the Kitson Gallery in Tunkhannock, PA. The cost is $110.00 each, and they are roughly 16 inches tall. The Kitson Gallery is open from 11am to 7pm on Saturdays and Fourth Fridays all year round from 3pm to 8pm. You may also call me at 570-499-5484 for an appointment anytime.

You will also get to see not only carousel figures but many other awesome forms and creations of Jennifer’s ranging from $20.00 all the way up to the previously-mentioned $110.00 and every price in between, so owning your own piece of great art doesn’t have to be costly.

The Kitson Gallery will also have Jennifer Sause Brennan’s creations during the North Branch Art Trail’s Route 6 Open House Gallery Tour on November 8, 9, and 10 from 11 am to 7 pm each day.

Thank you for spending this time with me and I wish you happy art, antique, collectible and rarity hunting. I would also love to hear your story of collecting. You know the how, what, when, where, and why of your collection. Please email your information to me at rgroup@emcs.net. Thank you again.

There is still a wealth of information to learn about carousel antiques, so we recommend you go check out carousel.org.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Patrick K. Robinson is a life-long collector (since the ripe old age of nine), antiques specialist, and kid-at-heart entrepreneur who is passionate about hearing YOUR stories about the items YOU collect, the cherished antique YOU’VE acquired, the family heirloom YOU’D like to know more about. Co-founder & Creative Director of the Kitson Arts Alliance and owner of Robinson Group International (offering great collectibles online at HotGavel.com) and Tunkhannock’s Kitson Gallery at Pen Corners, Patrick invites kids of all ages (7 to 77 and beyond) to share your story by contacting him at rgroup@emcs.net or by visiting his Facebook page, Kitson Gallery.

Hops & Vines

Laura’s Little Corner at Hops & Vine

by Laura Yale

As I set forth on my latest adventure, the crispness of the air, the crunch of the grass below my feet, and the blustery north wind are all tell-tale signs that fall is upon us and soon will be beckoning the call of old man winter. Just as seasons change and the leaves become more vibrant with hues of yellow, red, and orange, the local hops have all been harvested and our local wineries and breweries have been busy developing innovative blends and entertainment that will extend keeping us warm and cozy throughout the chillier months.

Enjoy your holidays and plan to stop for all the wonderful get-togethers our local wine and beer purveyors offer. Always a fabulous time! Here’s me headed to one of their Christmas sweater contests.

Infusions of pumpkin spice, apple, and cranberry are back to center stage this time of year with our regional wine and beer purveyors. Bonfires on site and wine tastings off premises are popping up, and festivals offering sampling of the ingenious local libations are in full swing. Not to mention mulled concoctions that round out their selections that not only tantalize our taste buds but our senses with their spectacular aromas.

All of these wonderful additions give consumers even more variety than ever before. The colder months also give the producers a chance to reap some of the harvest. All their hard work and perseverance can pay off with the start of industry award competitions and by the increase in sales of the holidays.

This is a time that the both brewers and wineries can add to their forte by showcasing special festive blends that capture the spirit of the season. They offer guests some pizzazz with indoor activities such as trivia and ugly sweater Christmas parties, and many play host to gala events featuring local entertainment that give folks a chance to kick back and relax a wee bit from all the hustle and bustle and pick up some wonderful gifts. Truly a winning combination of buyer and seller!

My driveway view as I start out on the wine and brewery trail to visit my friends. As the saying goes, “The road to a friend’s is never long” and I surely enjoy heading out to an adventure!

Just because the grape leaves are wilting and they and the hops are going dormant, there is still a lot going on behind the scenes. Production is still full steam ahead and like the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither are wine and beer. While we are worrying about what gifts to give, what sweaters to wear, and what holiday meals to prep, the vintners and brewers are busy not only making their regular selections but calculating what the next big taste in the industry will be and how to create it – figuring in the fermentation process and getting it to the market while it is still trending. Not an easy task with combating issues and the ever-changing palates of consumers.

All of this keeps those in the industry on their toes so to speak. One of the crucial and combative issues that I have come across in my journey visiting local wineries and breweries is the talk of the spotted lantern fly. This pesky bug is a plant hopper that is indigenous to China, Vietnam, and Eastern Asia and has been in our state as of 2014. First discovered in Berks County, most likely by an egg sac coming over attached to pallet or packing material, this insect is an insatiable feeder on such economically-important crops as grapevines, hops, fruit trees, ornamentals, and hardwoods and deadens them by feeding, excreting, and causing molding so they die.

Just like the emerald ash bore, it is spread by people moving wood, stones, or outdoor items that the spotted lantern flies’ eggs are on. Its containment and eradication are a main priority so much so that even this month Penn State University acquired a $7.3 million dollar four-year grant from the USDA to do extensive research and learn more facts about the habits of the insect and to help in the fight. As the war is raged on the spotted lantern fly, our local grape and hops growers remain vigil to protect their crops. It is definitely a serious key element which unfortunately be part of our conversations for years to come.

On a lighter note, as I return to my little corner at Hops and Vine, I will leave you all with an original Irish quote of my own. “May the chill in the air bring more warmth to your heart and generosity to your soul.” Wishing you all the best on your personal adventures on our local wine and brewery trails. Until we meet again, Cheers my friends!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Yale and her husband, Dan, are the long-time owners of The Fireplace Restaurant, 6157 US-6, Tunkhannock, PA 18657. The restaurant proudly features a variety of local wines & beers, the artwork of local artists throughout, and locally-sourced foods as much as possible. The Fireplace Restaurant is open 11am-10pm daily, until 11pm Fridays and Saturdays.