Sitting at a Bend in the River

The area around the French Azilum historic site is lovely. It is just one more reason to visit the area. I think these pictures speak for themselves, so I will leave this as a picture blog.

A barn adjacent to French Azilum.
Also adjacent to the historic site, this must have been a cool place to live at one time.
Old farm machinery near French Azilum.
This lovely house sits next to …
this fantastic barn.
The goldenrod was out in force.
The red barn theme contiues.
I think someone forgot these hay bales.

Berks Perks

Berks County is the home to a few covered bridges and some very picturesque spots. Greisemer Covered Bridge is one of few I have seen with a hex sign. The oak design is one of my favorite hex signs. Here are a few views of the bridge. You will note the common Burr arch truss design.

A lovely church property stands between the two bridges featured in this blog. This is Salem United Church of Christ in Oley and its churchyard. The view toward the hills beyond is really lovely.

A nice view with the farm in back.
These cows were across the road from the church.
The Pleasantville Covered Bridge

The Pleasantville Covered Bridge is on more busy stretch of the appropriately named Covered Bridge Road and more difficult to photograph. As a white bridge, it provides a nice contrast with the red Greisemer Bridge. It is interesting that, although I see barn stars everywhere, I tend to see hex signs more often in Berks County.

Headed home, I came across this fantastic barn with hex signs.
Looks like soybean at this farm.

A Northern Visitor

The presence of a snowy owl in the area causes great excitement. Even the local news take notice. A bird in eastern Lancaster County recently created the expected onslaught of birders. I set out one Saturday to have a look as well. Note to self: don’t go looking for an owl without your “good” camera.

The bird was close to the road but not in front of the most photogenic backdrop. The online consensus is that it is a “she,” but I’m not sure how you tell juveniles from females.

On a porch roof.
Grainy close up courtesy of phone camera.
Is the bird thinking “There are so many, but are they edible?”
One of the benefits of an owl on your porch roof is that everyone can see your laundry drying.
The farm across the road.
The area is full of lovely farms.
The hay obsession continues. This is quite a pile.
Horses had clearly been using this hitching post at Hayloft Ice Cream.
The Willows Covered Bridge along busy Route 30. Probably one of the saddest covered bridges in the state.

It’s Still Fall, Folks!

The Autumn color seemed to arrive late this year, even extending well into November in the southern tier of Pennsylvania. Valley Forge National Historical Park was still wearing its Autumn color when I visited. The Park had recently cut back some its extensive meadows. Valley Forge has one of the most extensive meadow habitats along the Northeast Corridor. In additional to occasional mowing, the Park also uses prescribed burns to rejuvenate the habitat from time to time. Let’s let Christmas wait a few more weeks.

Red and orange …
and yellow.
Some of the expansive meadows ready for winter.
Pop of color against the evergreens.
The mowing lines are clearly visible here on the hill.
One of the workhorses responsible with part of its haul.

Summer at Middle Creek

I don’t make it to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster and Lebanon counties all that often during the Summer. Here are a few shots from around the property.

A lovely tiger swallowtail decided to hang out.
Geese can be found at Middle Creek almost any time of year.
The corn is looking good.
Farming is done at Middle Creek. The fields provide habitat and food for some species.
Pennsylvania farm country in a nutshell.
I never really noticed the hills around this area as much as on this trip.
Much to do here other than wildlife viewing.
A glamorous egret interloper with the geese.
Purple wildflowers along this pond.
Lots of wildflowers everywhere ….

More Chester and Lancaster County Farms

Driving around locally usually produces more images of farms, even if I am mainly looking for covered bridges. The farms in Chester and Lancaster County are really visually interesting and varied, so I can’t help myself.

This one is in Lancaster County.
As is this one …
Back to Chester County …
I love the distressed paint and stone fence here.
This is nice looking complex of buildings.
Interesting grain silos.
Sunset over the cornfields.

Plenty more covered bridge photos are upcoming, too.

The Historic Pawling Farm

The Pawling Farm is part of Valley Forge National Historical Park and sits on the Perkiomen Peninsula, which is created by a bend in the Schuylkill River near its confluence with the Perkiomen Creek. This area played a critical role in the winter encampment of George Washington’s troops in 1777-78. It was a strategically important avenue of approach from the north to the encampment on the south side of the river and also served as the site of a commissary function that saved the troops from starvation. The National Park Service brochure on the area can be found here.

Currently the property’s main buildings include an old barn, a small home (which currently appears to be in use), a privy building, and the remains of the old mansion. The mansion was lost to fire in 1967 and is now a ruin. There are hiking trails which connect to the rest of the Valley Forge system and a mix of habitats including meadow, forest, wetlands, and vernal ponds.

The old barn is an impressive structure.
A view of the house and barn. You can see here that the barn is a bank barn like the one in Sugartown in my previous post.
The house that remains on the property, apparently the only building still in use.
The area immediately around the buildings is meadow which is cut for hay.
More hay bales, just because I like hay bales.
According to my research, this building was used as a privy.
The privy with the remains of another building behind it.

Here are some overview shots and other views of the farm.

The Remains of Ardrossan Farms

Adrossan Farms and the Ardrossan Estate were once part of a 800 plus acre estate in Radnor Township, Delaware County. The estate was built by banker Robert Leaming Montgomery and features 50 room Georgian revival mansion designed by architect Horace Trombauer in 1911. Parts of Ardrossan have been subdivided over the years, and now the bulk of the estate is in the process of succumbing to this fate. The play and film The Philadelphia Story was inspired by the stories of the Montgomerys.

Part of the estate was, and still is for now, a working farm with cattle and hay and corn fields. The farm was also was set this section of Radnor Township apart from surrounding suburbia. It made travel along Darby Paoli Road a treat, rather than a chore.

One of the barns on the property.
Still harvesting hay.
“Progress”
Afternoon light on harvested hay.
A woodpile left to dry.
A pair of redtail hawks enjoys the view.
A small shed nestled against the woods.
Very traditional looking farm equipment.
Corn not yet harvested in November.
Cattle call along Darby Paoli Road.
Grazing peacefully.
Sunset glow on the cattle.
This is a beautiful little pond.

What You Need to Know About the Pennsylvania Farm Bill

Pennsylvania’s first ever Farm Bill was recently signed into law and provides $24 million in funds to support the agricultural industry. It is designed to increase opportunities in areas such as dairy, hemp and organics and remove barriers for young farmers’ entry into the profession. The bill also decreases some regulatory burdens on farmers. 

The bill is comprehensive, so I thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the areas that might be of most interest or immediately helpful. Here are some of the most interesting parts of the bill:

  • Funding for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center to serve as a resource to help  farmers create a business plan, transition plan, or succession plan. 
  • A realty transfer tax exemption for any transfer of preserved farmland to a qualified beginning farmer will be available. 
  • Funding for the dairy industry in the form of  research and development, organic transition assistance, value-added processing, and marketing grants.
  • Center for Animal Agriculture Excellence funding to support the animal agriculture industry by expanding processing capacity, technical assistance, providing resources for food safety compliance, and assisting with the establishment of hemp as an approved animal feed.  
  • A program to reimburse federal meat inspection costs and subsidize the first-time purchase of equipment needed for federal compliance to access to new and expanded markets for small or new producers will be established.
  • Agriculture linked investment program to re-establish this low interest loan program for the implementation of best management practices.
  • Resource enhancement and protection tax credits to increase the lifetime cap and increase availability.
  • Expansion of the allowable width for the use of implements of husbandry on roads, such as farm tractors and combines, from 16 feet to 18 feet. 
  • Farm Bill amends the Ag Area Security Act to allow for subdivision of preserved farms.
  • Funding for agricultural and youth organizations.
  • Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account to allow for a quick response to agricultural disasters, including utilizing animal or plant health officials to contain an outbreak or threat, or providing an immediate response to a food borne illness.
  • Increasing market opportunities through funding of the PA Preferred Organic Initiative to make Pennsylvania the nation’s leading organic state, the PA Preferred Program to support the overall program and to bolster enrollment in the Homegrown by Heroes Program, and the State-level Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to invest in and encourage farming of high-priority horticultural crops like hemp, hops, and hardwoods. 

There is a lot to take in with this bill, and we will see what the future brings in terms of implementation. In the meantime, more information can be found here:

Governor Wolf’s statement on the PA Farm Bill https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/021319-farm-bill.pdf

Information from the PA Department of Agriculturehttps://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Pages/PA-Farm-Bill.aspx