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Fall Festivals

‘Tis the season. October. When everyone decides to host a fall festival. My favorite. Which is attended by hundreds of kindred spirits in Howard County.

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The one at the Howard County Conservancy this Sunday the 2nd of October. It’s $10 a car. A bargain for all you get to experience. It mixes history with agriculture with children’s activities with good food, and so much more. 11-3. The weather should clear up before Sunday. Come out and have a relaxing fun Sunday afternoon.

Standing Room Only

I love it when the free programs out at the Conservancy far exceed our expectations. Like today.

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Fifty two people. Ten of them little ones. For Frank Marsden’s talk and walk about finding wildlife in winter.

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Frank told us everything we always wanted to know about scat, but were afraid to ask. Like determining the diet from the color, texture and “ingredients” found. Like how grey fox and red fox are different. How we never see grey fox as they sleep in trees.

We went out for a ninety minute hike, looking for signs of wildlife. We did find deer tracks.

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We also found out that our former ground hog habitat, a large number of interconnected holes up in the meadow, have been abandoned by the ground hogs, and are now inhabited by fox. How do we know that? The smell of fox urine, a sure sign that fox have moved in and are marking their territory.

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We had a lovely day out there, even if it was a bit windy.

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The meadows are lovely this time of year, and by taking a leisurely hike, you can find many signs of the wildlife living here. Take a hike some day. There are four miles of marked trails, and with no leaves on the trees, you can see far across the ridges to neighboring towns.

Twilight Hiking for the Family

Out on the Howard County Conservancy trails at Mt. Pleasant. Friday night, 5-7 pm.

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This is the description from the web site.

“Walk through the meadow and along the stream to the woodland campfire ring. Listen to the birds singing at dusk. Gather around the crackling fire and hear legend-stories about the Equinox, sing old-time songs, roast marshmallows, and enjoy s’mores. Hike back in time to watch the sun set over horizon –exactly due west – and hear other interesting astronomical facts about the Fall Equinox.”

You can look for milkweed.

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Or maybe check out all the walnuts that have fallen from the trees along the trail.

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Pre-register if you can, so we know how much food to buy and how many volunteers we may need.

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Loving the fact that we are well into my favorite season around here.

Ethanol Free

We finally gave up and had to find an ethanol free gas station. I swear that ethanol is doing us more harm than high fructose corn syrup. Neither one of them is good for us.

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The closest place for us to buy it is in Littlestown PA. Full serve. In the rain today we drove up to fill up the gas cans for the snow blower, the lawn mower and the leaf vacuum. So far, in the past year, the string trimmer, snow blower and lawn mower all had carburetor work, because of the E10 gas gumming them up.

Other than the Eastern shore of MD, where the marinas are located, there are few choices near us. Charles Town WV. Front Royal VA. The one above in Littlestown. All on our short list are sources when we go on other trips in those areas.

We were really careful with our small engine equipment, draining when not in use. Using the additives. This has been the year we had major issues, including losing the lawn mower for 10 days while it was fixed. Thankfully, the tractor is diesel powered.

So, on a rainy Monday we drove 40 miles to get gas. Decided to stop on the way back at Baughers in Westminster to get a few items. Like my husbands favorite ice cream. Pumpkin.

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The last quart in the case. Perfect for his birthday dinner this week.

As for Littlestown, it is just up Rte. 97 a few miles north of the Mason Dixon Line. On the way to Gettysburg.

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Downtown is already decorated for Christmas. It reminds us so much of my husband’s home town in PA.

As for finding ethanol free gas, here is a great website.

And if you aren’t using ethanol free gas in your 2 cycle engines, it’s only a matter of time before it bites you too. Now, back to our regularly scheduled leaf removal.

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Three Years Old

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My blogaversary is today. Three years ago, I started it to record my retirement journey. I took a few CSA pictures and started posting, inspired by a couple of local bloggers who recorded what they got from their Breezy Willow CSAs. I added my fall CSA bounty into that mix.

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Kitchen Scribble and Allura. Kat at Kitchen Scribble still blogs, but Allura is no longer active.

Between howchow, the biggest local food blog, and the hocoblogs pages, I pretty much learned what was interesting to others, to get them to read my blog, and to find topics to keep it going.

And, somewhere between the Old “Dark Days” challenge, where I began that locavore journey in earnest, and today, I turned my focus from unconscious consumer of whatever was on sale or looked good, to a proponent of small businesses/farms/local purveyors and much more. I honestly think I became that advocate because of the blogging. I didn’t start out to write a food blog. More like a “here is what interests me where I live” blog.

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What interests me the most these days is my community. Which includes most of Central Maryland. Still a pretty decent place to live. Even when the weather is awful. I haven’t tired of exploring it. Or of writing about it.

Stay tuned for a winter of exploration. Going to places brand new to us, rediscovering some old haunts that we haven’t visited in a long time. Winter isn’t a time for hibernation.

It’s also a time to really enjoy the outdoors. Want to join us for a hike this coming Saturday? A family hike out at the Mt. Pleasant site of the Howard County Conservancy. Groups of different ages, and paces, who will explore the grasslands and woodlands with volunteer naturalists leading the way. Free. 10am, November 8. The long term weather forecast looks good.

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The pot people are waiting to greet us.

Sunday Drives

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It’s the height of leaf peeping season here in Central Maryland. That cool couple of nights really made a difference in the depth of the colors. Sunday drives will be rewarded with stunning views like these.

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This was Larriland, but today I want to recommend heading farther afield. So to speak. Like to Sugarloaf Mountain, to visit the winery, maybe hike a few of the trails and check out the artisans in the Dickerson area.

Wineries have tremendous views in the fall, when the vines turn color to match the scenery.

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Some grape leaves on the vines turn red. Others yellow or orange.

If you want other close options that include time spent driving on back roads filled with color. Consider Black Ankle, just out Liberty Road. Or maybe Breaux just south of Harpers Ferry. Breaux now sits on a road with at least a half dozen other wineries. We haven’t tried any of them yet, except for Notaviva. We may have to plan a trip soon. Besides, Harpers Ferry alone is worth the drive.

If you want a new place to find pumpkins and apples, check out Baughers in Westminster.

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Besides the farm, just west of the city off of Rte. 140, the restaurant near McDaniels College has some of the best ice cream, and lots more at the farm stand.

This is also the last weekend for the Fall Festival at Gaver Farm, outside of Mt. Airy.

Any of these local farms have their final weekend events, too. Like Larriland for their straw maze for the little ones, Sharps, Mullinix, for those maze enthusiasts and apple/pumpkin pickers.

Who needs to drive all the way to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, when there are all sorts of events in Howard, Carroll and Frederick Counties.

Before autumn leaves us, it’s a great weekend to enjoy the local colors. All of them.

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Fall Festivals

It’s festival season. The changing of the seasons and the leaves brings out the best of this area. The best weather and views in Howard County.

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The leaves are already starting to turn color. The month of October is full of festivals, and mazes, and pumpkin picking, and more.

My favorite, of course. The fall festival at the Howard County Conservancy.

Hay rides. Pony rides. Crafts. Animals. Story telling. Basket weaving. And so much more.

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Definitely something to do this coming Sunday.

As for other festivals. There are certainly many of them out there. Highland Days. The corn maze at Sharp’s Farm. Pumpkin picking and more at Larriland.

I am certainly looking forward to many fun days out and about. Enjoying the weather and the colorful leaves.

Soup’s On!

It is soup weather.

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The maple is screaming fall!

I have been making soup left and right. Today a revisit to one from a while back. Apple, turnip, Jerusalem artichoke.

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A completely vegan creamy soup. Made with CSA veggies and Larriland apples.

Recipe here.

I did modify it a bit. I used my roasted garlic. And, I added an extra apple. And, some spice. Nutmeg, cinnamon, garam masala. A generous pinch of each.

I had some for lunch today and saved the rest to have for dinner tomorrow. Drizzled with a little lemon infused olive oil.

Soups are one of the best things you can make to use up leftover CSA veggies. And, so are stir fry recipes. I made one of those tonight, and yes, I know it isn’t soup. But, it was really very good.

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Shrimp stir fry to use up the Napa cabbage from the CSA.

The ingredients.

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Toss it all in a wok or a stir fry pan. Scallions first, and thicker parts of the Napa cabbage. In oil. Add mushrooms and water chestnuts. Add sesame oil and soy sauce. Ginger and garlic powder.

Bean thread that was softened in boiling water goes in last.

Some hot peppers.

I can’t believe how my cooking has changed. All those CSA veggies are influencing me. Soups and stir fry. Warm, comforting foods to chase the chill.

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One Hot Commodity

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Dry leaves and pine needles. “Who’da thunk it?”

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We certainly have enough of both of them.

When I wrote my leaf raking post a few weeks back, I didn’t expect to find out my pine needles and dry leaves were such sought after items.

Two friends asked to be included in the distribution. One, we could easily handle. The other, we may be able to work into the rotation.

Currently, we put some yard waste on our own pile of composting material, but we haven’t gotten serious about it. We have two Rake and Take partners. One permanent, the other a fill in when our first partner isn’t around.

A good friend wants dry leaves for their chicken coop enclosure. The chickens love to scratch and peck at what they can find in that treasure trove of leaves. They also have blueberry bushes. One of the types of plants that loves pine needles as mulch.

We use some of our pine needles for our azaleas and rhododendron. The Master Gardeners that take our pine needles use them for the same acid loving plants. Azaleas, berry bushes, do well with that covering of needles.

Another friend just started composting, and doesn’t have adequate “brown” material, so is also interested in leaves. We hope to have enough around later to help them out.

What does all this mean? It means with just a little effort, you too can provide material to help a friend or neighbor.

Rake and Take is here.

Don’t put your yard waste in a trash bag and let it go to “waste”. Lots of people out there would be happy to take it from you.

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Leaf Peeping Weekend

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This has been the best week when it comes to the fall colors around here. We headed out with friends for a leaf peeping trip through the back roads of VA.

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I think most of the DC area also had the same idea. On our way through Front Royal the traffic was crazy. Skyline Drive was absolutely lovely above us as we sat outside at Glen Manor Vineyards.

we also took them to Linden to have some cheese, sausage and baguette while sipping some 2009 Avenius red.

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The colors of the vines in the vineyard brought back memories of our trip years ago to Sonoma and Napa in November. Those same deep red vines.

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All in all, we had one relaxing sunny afternoon. The clouds seemed to come and go, revealing shadows, highlights and patterns across the Shenandoah mountains.

Around here, we still have lots of leaves to come down. We can see some similar sights just up the road. We really need to head out for a lunch or maybe a picnic at Black Ankle. After all, it is just up the road west of us.

Or, we can hang out on the porch. Maryland is certainly showing our colors of fall.

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Want to enjoy the colors on a leisurely hike. Come join us at the Conservancy Saturday morning to hike to the Patapsco River. More on that tomorrow.

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