Oven Temperature Testing

Oven Baked Sweet Bread

Back in the old days great-grandma didn’t have a reliable temperature gauge on her oven. She wasn’t as dependent upon an exact oven temperature the way that today’s modern cooks and bakers are. Great-grandma was a wiz in the kitchen  and even though she cooked on wood or coal fired stoves she managed to turn…

Candlemas Day Proverb

“Half your wood and half your hay you must have on Candlemas Day.” The above is a bit of folk wisdom that’s spot-on. For traditional agrarian people, February 2nd, marks the mid-point of winter in terms of weather. Today is exactly the half-way point from the winter solstice to the first day of spring. For…

Old -Time Pennsylvania German Homestead Superstitions

Holstein Calf

Every once in a while I’ll run across a Pennsylvania folk belief that is taken as more than just a custom or superstition. The two that I hear most often are:   Keep a smelly Billy goat with your cows and they’ll never get sick.   Cure a scouring calf by feeding it a whole…

Forced Branches

Forsythia Branches That Have Been Forced

Every season I try to have a little bit of nature indoors. During the snowy winter months my favorite bits of the outside world are flowering branches that lie dormant. Forsythia, apple, peach and pussy willow are in my garden and orchard so those are the branches I use for forcing. The flower buds on…

Pick The Best Day For Hatching Eggs

Hatched Chick

I’m a great believer in agricultural traditions and folk wisdom. That’s because much of what I learned about homesteading was passed onto me by the two generations of garden farmers that came before me. Heeding their advice enabled much success and fewer homesteading failures. One bit of advice that was given to me by those…