Back to Berks

I was in the vicinity of Fleetwood and Lyons in Berks County one Saturday and came across these scenes:

Grain silos near Lyons, PA.
A farm raising up some calves.
A peek through the trees at this lovely barn.
I love the stone barn here.
That actually looks delicious … for grass.
I took this photo because I liked the rooster weather vane.
Another lovely Berks County farm.

From Whitemarsh to Green Lane

Here’s a look at some of my Spring travels through Montgomery County.

An old barn near Evansburg State Park from the front …
,,, and the back.
One of the buildings of Casselberry Farm
This farm is near Dixon Meadow Preserve, where I once saw a very lost Rock Wren.
Red barn near Green Lane Park.

Sherman’s Valley: A Hidden Gem

Nestled between the mountain ridges in Perry County is Sherman’s Valley. The valley is traversed by Route 274, with its heart in Blain, PA. I came here in search of a couple of covered bridges on Sherman Creek. The narrow valley feels remote due to its situation between two ridge lines. However, it is not to far from Carlisle and Harrisburg.

It was, unfortunately, quite a gloomy morning when I was there. Here is a sampling of what I saw (and, or course, those covered bridges):

Farm house across the road – like my grandparent’s former farm.
The Mount Pleasant Covered Bridge.
Sherman Creek
The New Germantown Covered Bridge
I see these stars all over the place on homes and barns. This one has a twist with the flag motif.
Great red color on this barn.
Nestled against the backdrop of mountains.
I love how this house has been built around a log structure.
Another great red barn.

Pennsylvania’s Fruit Basket

Western Adams County, along the slopes of South Mountain, hosts a large number of orchards. I was on my way to Gettysburg from Pine Grove Furnace and happened on this area by chance. It was a nice surprise.

A look down a row of new trees.
A mature orchard,
I loved this farm peeking out from behind the pond.

I had to visit the Historic Round Barn and Farm Market in Biglerville, PA. The family-owned market has fresh fruits and vegetables, jams, jellies, honey, canned fruits and vegetables, snacks, candy, and gift items. It is well worth a visit if you are near Gettysburg.

A very interesting building and well-maintained.
A signature painted horse out front.
Some adorable residents.

A Quick Visit to Some State Parks

It is one of my goals to try to visit every state park in Pennsylvania. I’ve made pretty good progress so far, but I think some the parks in the western part of the state will be a challenge due to distance. This May I was able to stop by Colonel Denning State Park and Fowlers Hollow State Park.

Colonel Denning State Park in Newville, PA is named after a William Denning, a sergeant in the Continental Army, who made wrought iron cannon for the Army. He was never actually a Colonel. His namesake park hosts hiking, camping, boating, skating, cross country skiing and a swim beach and all the usual picnicking, fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.

The lake at Colonel Denning State Park.
A lovely pavilion next to the dam spillway.

I also made it to Fowlers Hollow State Park, a small state park in Blain, PA in the valley of Fowler Hollow Run. One can hike, fish, picnic, hunt, horseback ride, mountain bike, cross country ski and snowmobile at the park. There is also a small campground. Its trail system connects with the trails in the Tuscarora State Forest.

A nice, shady picnic area.
A group of equestrians was on the move.
A view of Fowler Hollow Run.
And finally, a view from Hemlocks Road in the Tuscarora State Forest.

A Little Bit of This and That

Sometimes you just encounter some fun or interesting stuff while out with your camera.

I believe this is a horse-drawn plow.
The White Rock Forge Covered Bridge
Right next door is …
You can’t make this stuff up. I wonder what the origin of the name is. Does the groundhog sleep in on February 2?
Amish schoolhouse
a really cool looking small shed
I loved the shrub in front of this home.

The Animals Are Just Chilling

While the world goes crazy around them, the animals of rural Pennsylvania seem to be doing just fine …

This cow couldn’t care less.
A horse taking Sunday off.
This looks like a great spot to relax.
Laying down on the job.
A little snack in the sunshine.

May Has Had a Split Personality

This month has certainly seen some wild changes in the weather. We recently went from sunny and low eighties to low thirties within a 24 hour period. It is a relief to get outdoors whenever one can. I took some time to go in search of a trumpeter swan on Octoraro Lake. I didn’t see the swan, but the farms around this area are some of my favorite to photograph.

On my travels, I’ve noticed a lot of fallow fields and newly plowed fields in mid-May. This seems late to me for planting. Is it the weather, or something else?

Here is a sampling of the photographs.

There seems to be one picture perfect farm after another.
A peek down an Amish driveway.
A really nice, rustic bank barn. I’m seeing barns of this style all over the place now I know what they are.
Well, hello there.
Here’s a look at the whole barn.
A vert cozy looking farm.
I love the gray grasses in the foreground.
White really seems to be the color of choice for barns around here.
A few more …
for good measure.

Just a Little Snow

I took a drive through Berks County recently after a recent snowstorm. The snowfall turned out to be lighter than expected, so by the time I arrived the next day, not much was left. This is a pretty part of Pennsylvania, and I will have to return sometime this year to take some more photos.

A farm near Plowville.
I really loved the look of this red barn.
The obsession with Christmas tree farms continues at Plow Farms.

We’ve been a little light on snow this Winter. I count this as mostly a good thing. Snow does make for pretty photographs, though.

Good News about Milk

It is well recognized that milk is a great source of protein, calcium, and Vitamin D, potassium and other essential nutrients that can aid in bone growth, heart health, building muscle and warding off cancer. Recent research highlights some additional benefits of milk you may not be aware of.

In a recent paper published by researchers at Scotland’s Saint Andrews University, skim milk topped a list of common beverages when it came to providing oral hydration. Milk beat out water, sports drinks and oral rehydration solutions like Pedialyte. Electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, contribute to better hydration. Calories in beverages result in slower gastric emptying and, therefore, slower release of urination, resulting in better hydration. The thirteen beverages tested, listed in order of hydration, were skim milk, oral rehydration solutions (like Pedialyte), full fat milk, orange juice, cola, diet cola, cold tea, tea, sports drinks, still water, sparkling water, lager and coffee.  While coffee ranks lowest for hydration, adding milk to the coffee may counter some of coffee’s diuretic effects.

The reason why milk is so effective compared to water is because of its combination of sugar lactose, protein, and tiny fat percentage. These substances slow down the rate at which fluids are emptied from the stomach which provides longer-lasting hydration. Moreover, milk contains electrolytes like sodium and potassium which helps your body retain the fluids in your bloodstream for a longer period of time rather than quickly processing it into urine.

This information may be especially important for individuals who dehydrate rapidly, such as athletes and those doing strenuous labor. The body relies on hydration to fight infections, carry nutrients throughout the body and lubricate joints. It appears hydration should be added to the list of the superpowers of milk.

Chocolate milk also received a special notice for its role in helping high school athletes outperform peers who did not drink chocolate milk in a study done by the University of Texas at Austin. Researchers in that study highlighted chocolate milk’s carbohydrate to protein ratio compared to beverages such as sports drinks. The research was conducted in 2018 and published in the 2019 Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. It showed that, in strength tests, high school athletes drinking chocolate milk lifted 3.5% more than before the study while the adolescents drinking a commercial sports drink lifted 3.2% less than before.

Drinking chocolate milk within 30 minutes after a workout rehydrates, repairs and replenishes the body. The naturally occurring electrolytes and 90% water content rehydrate, while the 8 grams of protein helps repair muscles. The carbohydrate to protein ratio in chocolate milk was shown to be more beneficial than carbohydrate only sports drinks in improving athlete performance as part of a strength and speed training at a high school level. Previous studies all looked at adults, but never at before at high school athlete for whom nutrition is especially critical.

Chocolate milk contains carbohydrates, proteins, and fat, as well as water and electrolytes, which may be ideal for post-exercise recovery. The evidence regarding the efficacy of chocolate milk compared to either water or other “sport drinks” on post-exercise recovery markers was also reviewed by researchers in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition who conducted an analysis of twelve different studies on it effects. They concluded that “chocolate milk provides either similar or superior results when compared to placebo or other recovery drinks. Overall, the evidence is limited and high-quality clinical trials with more well-controlled methodology and larger sample sizes are warranted.”

So it seems we have even more reason to drink up.