Angelica Civil War Reenactment

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The biggest Civil War reenactment doesn’t necessarily make the best. While I’ve enjoyed attending the large and exciting sesquicentennial events the past couple of years, this weekend reminded me just how nice the smaller, local events can be too.

Mason, Addison, and I went to the Angelica Civil War reenactment hosted by the 136th NY. The first reenactment I ever participated in was actually this same event four years ago. It was special to be able to come to this event for the fourth time and camp in the exact same spot where my reenacting adventures began! Tenting next to us were also my good friend Emily, her sister Haley, and their friend Aidan.

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We were all very serious…
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…but not for long!
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This was Aidan’s first reenactment! (photo by Emily)

One of the reasons I enjoyed the smaller event size was it afforded better opportunities for interacting with the spectators. On Friday we helped run one of the education stations that local school groups toured. Our station was “Children’s Games and Toys of the 19th Century”. I gave a short talk explaining some the things children during the Civil War entertained themselves with and then we had various toys, including graces, hoop and stick, Jacob’s ladder, drafts, ball and cup, etc., for the kids to play with.

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Our educational station (photo by Emily)

We also ran the same station the next day for the Boy Scout troops that came. I was talking to one of the scouts later and was shocked to learn that they drive each year all the way from Massachusetts for this event!!

I brought the orphan kitten that I’m raising, Koda, to the event. She also had fun playing with the toys!

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(photo by Emily)

The combination of kitten and toys at our camp attracted several children, and Haley, Mason, and Aidan had a nice time playing with them all.

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Bobby was adorable in his accurate 19th century attire
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(photo by Emily)
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(photo by Emily)

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Mason hauling wood like a true 19th century gentleman (photo by Emily)
Mason hauling wood like a true 19th century gentleman (photo by Emily)
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I had a nice time discussing the Battle of Cold Harbor with one of our guys, Mr. John
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Civil War selfie 🙂

Another opportunity I had for sharing some of my knowledge of the period was Saturday afternoon. I was working on preparing a supper of chicken pot pie and a group of spectators stopped by to watch. I was able to have a very nice conversation with them about what I was doing, how my pie differed from an actual 19th century pie (not killing the chicken myself, for one thing), and food preservation during the 19th century. I love how smaller reenactments help you to get “up close and personal” with the public.

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Addie assisting with supper

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Part of supper cooking

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Made from scratch chicken pot pie ready to be baked in the dutch oven
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Baked to perfection

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Saturday evening we attended one of our favorite events, the dance! I had asked Addison to do a simpler style for my hair the previous days, but she insisted on making it fancy for the dance. She did a lovely job!

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I then did Addie’s hair. She has such a large amount of hair, that any style ends up looking epic!

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Sisters ready to dance their shoes off! (photo by Emily)

Every year the dance is held in the Grange building. The low levels of light, crowd of dancers, and wood floors make for the perfect 19th century atmosphere.

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The dance (photo by Emily)
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Cooking breakfast Sunday morning (photo by Emily)

Sunday after church I had a lovely time visiting my friends Allison and Stephen at their new sutlery (what the shops in tents at reenactments are called). Allison sold me a lovely belt buckle that perfectly suits my tastes, pretty and nice without being too flashy, and Stephen helped fulfill a dream of mine by selling me my own bound copy of Godey’s!! The book is from 1857 and contains all of the issues of Godey’s Ladies’ Book from that year. I can’t wait until I have some time to sit down and explore it thoroughly!

It was a lovely weekend, and a good reminder that smaller events can be fun too!

Many of the pictures in this post were taken by my friend Emily. Be sure to check out her blog post here about the weekend to see more of her beautiful pictures!

 

-Michaela “The Farming Daughter”

Last Days of Summer Dinner

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When summer’s end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.

From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.

The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.

So here’s an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer’s parting sighs,
And then the heart replies.

-Selection from A.E. Housman’s “When Summer’s End is Nighing”

Only one week until the Autumnal Equinox! Last night I decided to make a meal in honor of the end of summer with grilled kabobs, roasted sweet corn, and a skillet chocolate chip cookie. Everything turned out so delicious I thought I would share the recipes here.

Kabobs

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About eight hours before you want to cook you should start marinating the kabob meat. The marinade I used is a my own variation of the allrecipes.com marinade that you can find here. I used chicken, but any meat you prefer would probably work fine. This was enough marinade for about 4 chicken breasts.

Cube your meat into chunks about 1.5 x 1.5″ square. For the marinade you need:

1 cup oil (I used 1/2 cup canola oil and 1/2 cup cilantro and roasted onion infused EVOO)

3/4 cup soy sauce (I used Bragg Liquid Aminos)

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup southwest spicy mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon seasoning salt

4 cloves minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together. Put the cubed meat into a gallon sized Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over top (make sure that all the meat is covered). Seal the Ziploc bag and place in a glass container (in case the bag accidentally leaks). Marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours.

When you are ready to cook the kabobs cut up some of your favorite grilling veggies (I used onions and sweet peppers). Alternate threading a veggie and a piece of meat onto your skewers. Cook on the grill using medium heat. Halfway through cooking flip the kabobs over so both sides get a nice sear.

Roasted Sweet Corn

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About eight hours before you want to start cooking you need to start soaking your ears of corn. Leave all of the husks on and put the corn in a waterproof container (I used a large, plastic Rubbermaid tote). Fill the container with enough water to cover the corn. The corn will float, so you’ll need to put a heavy weight on top to keep it under the water. A cinder block did the trick for me.

If you’re having trouble finding fresh sweet corn at the grocery store this late in the season try looking for a roadside stand that sells it. Most commercial sweet corn growers plant their sweet corn under rows of plastic and use irrigation to have it ready as early in the year as possible. This also means that the sweet corn is done sooner. If you can find someone local who just grows a little bit of sweet corn in their backyard you might be able to find it this late in the year.

At least two hours before you’re ready to cook the sweet corn start building your fire. Your object is to get a bed of nice hot coals to cook the corn over. Roast the corn on a grate over your bed of coals, turning it once with a pair of tongs to make sure both sides of the corn are evenly cooked. When ready to eat, husk the corn and serve with butter.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

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The recipe for the cookie is just the original Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I’ll put it in so all of the recipes are together.

1 cup of butter (2 sticks)

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 package (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread the dough in a greased 10″ cast iron skillet. Bake in a 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. You wan the edges of the cookie to be golden brown. It’s OK if the center is still slightly gooey because the cast iron retains heat for a while and will continue to “cook” the cookie even after you take it out of the oven. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

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-Michaela “The Farming Daughter”

 

Full Circle

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I went backpacking for the first time about eight years ago. Some friends of our family, the Maybrays, kindly offered to take me along with them on a trip and I enthusiastically accepted.

Looking at photos from that trip I see a lanky, twelve year old version of me smiling a mouthful of braces. I didn’t have hiking boots (still don’t, actually) so I wore a pair of sneakers. My outfit consisted of a pink synthetic shirt and a pair of jogging pants found at Target. My pack was an old external frame thrift store find and didn’t even have a hip belt, so we jerry-rigged a fanny pack and piece of nylon webbing to go around my waist. We didn’t see any animals more exciting than a chipmunk and probably hiked less than five miles, but you know what? I had a blast. And ever since that trip, I’ve been hooked on backpacking.

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Me on my first backpacking trip

I’ve gone on several more trips with the Maybrays, and last year my brother Marcus was able to come along too.

Last week I had the opportunity to bring three of my siblings on a short overnight backpacking trip. This was Mason’s first overnight hike, and just like I was, he is only twelve years old.

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Marcus (14 yrs.), Mason (12 yrs.), and Addison (16 yrs.)

As I was reflecting on the trip I realized that my backpacking adventures have come “full circle”. I started out as the inexperienced novice, hungrily soaking up information. Then, I was knowledgeable enough to give some gear and packing advice to my brother for his first trip. And now, I was able to do what the Maybrays did for me, take an excited twelve year old on their first backpacking trek! It felt wonderful, and a great tribute to what the Maybrays did for me, to take what they had taught me and “pay it forward”. Maybe someday Mason will be able to use what he’s learned from me and introduce another person to backpacking!

We hiked a section of the North Country Trail/Finger Lakes Trail that winds through the Stevenson Forest Preserve, Rieman Woods, and Robert H. Treman State Park. The terrain was fairly easy, with some steep ascents that were moderately challenging. Our biggest obstacle to overcome was the heat that soared into the nineties!

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I told Mom we should take a group picture before we headed out and she thought it was a good idea. “Plus,” I said, “then you can use the photo for identification purposes in case we get lost and don’t come back!” (Note: not the best thing to tell your mother.)

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Mason

We ate a lunch of cheese sticks, beef jerky, crackers, trail mix, and peanut butter cookies in the Rieman Woods camping area. Backpackers can bivouac in this spot, but there is no water nearby.

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About 2.6 miles into our hike we came upon this sign:

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Just take note that if you’re hiking this trail the detour adds almost a mile onto the hike. 

The detour also forced us to walk off the trail and along the roadside more, but since we were out of the woods we also saw some better views:

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While hiking past Hines Road we crossed a field with a beautiful historic barn that has been renovated into an event center known as the Treman Center. (For more info click here.)
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Anybody know what kind of flower this is?

We had to cross Fish Kill Creek, so we stopped for a short break to allow me to soak my still-recovering sprained ankle in the cold water. Marcus entertained himself in the meantime with taking funny pictures on my phone 🙂

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Mason and Marcus

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“Bridge Unsafe”
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Ya’ think?! 😀

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Photo by Addie

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This was my first time using my new Osprey Ariel 65 pack. After I use it some more to thoroughly test it out I’ll do a review post, but so far I’m really loving it 🙂
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Cooking dinner, on a cat food can stove no less.
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Pack explosion while making dinner.
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Me and the boys
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Since it was just one night we left he tents at home and stayed at the Sierra Shelter.

Trail hiked: North Country Trail/Finger Lakes Trail from Stevenson Forest Preserve to Robert H. Treman State Park

Miles hiked: 10

Temperature: 90° F

Maps used: Finger Lakes Trail Conference Map 16 (liked the actual map in this), CNY Hiking trail description (liked the land mark descriptions in this)

Information:

CNY Hiking FLT – Free topo maps of the trail and land mark descriptions

Finger Lakes Trail Conference – They have standard maps for purchase, as well as instant downloads. The one you want is Map 16.

 

-Michaela “The Farming Daughter”

Jurassic World

The Farming Daughter: Jurassic World movie review (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/06/30/jurassic-world/)

As administrator of Jurassic World, Claire Dearing has a lot on her plate. Maintaining a 90% approval rating for a park of twenty thousand people isn’t easy, especially when T. Rexs just aren’t wowing the crowds like they used to. And, of course, we don’t want an incident like “the last time”. Not to worry though, the park’s newest attraction, a lab created dino hybrid, is sure to scare the kids…and their parents.

When Zach and Gray come to visit, Claire is a little too preoccupied to have quality auntie/nephew bonding time. Besides, it’s not like she hasn’t seen them in seven years. Oh wait, she hasn’t. Ah well, with VIP passes and Claire’s English assistant to act as nanny, the boys should be fine, even if Zach tends to be rather overbearing to his enthusiastic little brother.

Everything does seem to be going well, until Indominus Rex decides she isn’t content to simply sit back and attract the tourists. The dino begins displaying attributes and intelligence far beyond what her creators ever imagined, and is soon running rampant through the park, with the expected ensuing destruction and chaos. It’s then up to Claire, Zach, Gray, and raptor-handler and former Navy man Owen, to stop I. Rex before it’s too late.

My granny took Addie, Mason, and I to see Jurassic World and we really did enjoy the classic Jurassic experience of chills and thrills. The movie also makes some good points about family and priorities. Self assured Claire is completely consumed with her job, leaving little time or respect for others (on Claire and Owen’s first, and only, date, Claire wrote an itinerary for them to follow). As dinosaurs begin to rampage, however, she learns the importance of depending on and accepting help from others. Likewise, Zach is churlish and impatient with his exuberant younger sibling. It’s only until his and Gray’s lives are at stake that he realizes how much he loves his little brother and begins to defend and comfort Gray.

I also appreciated the parts that pondered the ethics of creating such a fearsome creature as Indominus Rex. When Claire is hesitant to use real bullets on the berserk dinosaur, saying she doesn’t want to turn the park into a war zone, Owen points out, “You already have.”

 Of course the movie has its share of issues, not least of which is the amount of violence subjected to the audience. A film whose basic plot is a dinosaur running amok in an amusement park is bound to contain destruction and mayhem, but Jurassic World seems to delight in showing us every possible way a human can be killed by a dino. People are crushed, tossed, smashed, clawed, and eaten at a frightening rate, many of them unprotected park goers. And while I’m sure the young man sitting next to us appreciated the excuse to wrap his girlfriend with a reassuring arm, it left me thinking.

Does the movie really need that much brutality and bloodshed? I know it’s an action/adventure dinosaur film, but the makers seemed to delight in showing us gratuitous violence. “It’s just a movie,” some people might say, and they’re right. But the things we feed our minds will shape who we are. Maybe watching an overly violent film isn’t going to hurt us, but what happens when violence in films becomes accepted and even expected? Aren’t we in danger of being left desensitized and calloused?

Claire explained how people were no longer satisfied with normal dinosaurs. Consumers want them “bigger, louder, with more teeth”, she says. Maybe we’ve become the same with our movies. But when will we say enough is enough? And will it be before we get consumed?

-The Farming Daughter

Fire on the Fourth!

The Farming Daughter: Fire on the Fourth (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/07/04/fire-on-the-fourth/)

35 years ago today marks a Fourth of July my family will never forget. While other families were enjoying the usual Independence Day festivities, my family was experiencing fireworks of a different sort.

The day before, July 3rd, had been good weather, and my dad, Grandpa, Grandma, and Uncle Chuck were busy making hay. By day’s end, they had finished filling the barn hay mow completely full. This is what the farm looked like then:

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An aerial photograph of our farm before the fire

The next day started like normal, with everyone helping to do morning chores and milking together. Back then we milked our cows in stanchions, which meant that each cow stood in her own stall and the milking machine was brought to her. At 7:30 am the first group of cows had finished being milked and had been let out to pasture.  Just before the second group of cows was let into the milking stalls, someone, either Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Chuck, or Dad, noticed a red glow radiating from the hay mow chute. With a sinking feeling, they all realized what it was. It was one of the worst things a farm can every experience…fire!

Our farm would look idyllic, if it wasn't for the cloud of smoke pouring from our barn
Our farm would look idyllic, if it wasn’t for the cloud of smoke pouring from the barn.

The first thing a farmer thinks of in a situation like that is his cows. The men immediately shooed all of the milking cows out of the barn, and as many of the heifers as they could. Grandma, in the urgency of the situation, forgot there was a telephone in the barn, and dashed to the house to call 911.

I asked my grandparents how long it took for the fire trucks to arrive and they told me it felt like an eternity. The actual time was probably 15-20 minutes, and soon eight fire companies were working hard to put out the blaze.

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The fire trucks pumped water from our pond to put out the flames:

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My dad was 15 years old at the time of the fire and I asked him if he was scared. He said there was too much to do to have time to be afraid.

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Thankfully, all of the milking cows made it out of the barn and all but 4 of the heifers. While it’s heartbreaking that we lost those 4 girls, in truth we were very blessed to have lost so few.

The cows stand in the pasture, completely unaffected by the drama happening behind them.
The cows stand in the pasture,  unaffected by the drama happening behind them.

Whenever I hear the story of the fire what stands out the most to me is the number of people that showed up. Dad tells me how literally hundreds of people came to help. In this photo you can see the barn burning and the dozens of cars lining our road and stretching around the corner:

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At 1:30 pm, while the barn was still burning, bulldozers and pay loaders began tearing down the wreckage and loading it into dump trucks. The rubble was hauled down the road and dumped behind a generous neighbor’s barn in a pile. A fire truck had to be stationed by the pile to hose the smoking debris so it wouldn’t start on fire again.

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Not only is it sad for me to see the destroyed barn, but also the piles of burned hay that had just been stacked in the mow the day before.

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Of course just because the barn was on fire didn’t mean the cows didn’t need milked anymore. Don Beck, Inc. came and started putting in a new milking pipeline in an undamaged part of the barn, while the rest of the barn was still burning and and being hauled away. By 7 pm half of the cows were taken to a neighbor’s farm and the other half were being milked in our barn. In the midst of a fire we were milking cows again, without having missed a single milking.

Bec's equipment vans showed up to put in a new milk pipeline
Beck’s equipment vans showed up to put in a new milk pipeline

We never found out for sure what caused the fire. Some speculate a “hot spot” in the new hay or a spark from the hay conveyor could have been the cause. In one day we lost an entire barn, a mow full of hay, 61 stalls, a milk pipeline, and 4 animals. 3 months later the barn was completely built back.

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The old barn and the new

To me the story of our barn fire illustrates some of the core values of the farming community: the courage of the firefighters that risked their lives to save the rest of our barns and our house, the neighbors that came from miles to lend a helping hand, the generosity of fellow farmers offering their barns and equipment, and the indomitable spirit of my uncle, grandparents, and father when they chose not to accept defeat, but to pick up the pieces and rebuild.

The Fourth of July barn fire is just a small part of my family’s story, but the lessons it taught are not. What have you learned from your family history?

 

-The Farming Daughter

Valentine Flats

Far have I traveled and much have I seen,

Dark distant mountains with valleys of green.

“Mull of Kintyre” by Paul McCartney

Dear me! I’m rather far behind posting about some of the adventures I’ve been having. I think I’ve just been too busy having the adventures (and working on the farm, and being a big sister, etc.) to post about them. I’ll attempt to post about what I’ve been up to, starting today with a day hike I did in April.

I went hiking, together with two of my brothers (Marcus and Mason), my cousin Christopher, and our family friend Professor Allan, to Valentine Flats, a part of the 3,014 acre Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area. I had never been there before, but after seeing the steep cliffs, waterfalls, and the creek I absolutely plan on going back.

After meeting up with the rest of our group, we hiked down the steep trail leading into the gorge. Sixty years ago there used to be a farm on the flat land in the valley, and this trail was the former access road to the farm. It was amazing to see how thick and tangled the trees were in an area that had not long ago been cleared farm land. All that remained was the stone foundation of the farm house and a bit of the barn foundation. It reminds me of a verse from Ecclesiastes that says, “A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.”

The abandoned house foundation.
The abandoned house foundation.

After the farmhouse ruins, we hiked through the woods and flat flood plain to the Cattaraugus Creek. Near the upper end of the flats we saw a plain tombstone marked “Thomas Dutton”. In the fall of 1826, Thomas Dutton was traveling near the creek on his way to Ashford and was, presumably, drowned. His body was found washed ashore the next spring about 1600 feet downstream. It was impossible for the coroner, Ahaz Allen, to determine, but it was reputed that since the $400 and silver watch Thomas had been carrying were never found he had been killed by a thief.

Thomas Dutton's tombstone
Thomas Dutton’s tombstone

The area of the creek that we saw was at the confluence of the south and main branches of Cattaraugus Creek.

Valentine Flats: Cattaraugus Creek (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/06/13/valentine-flats/)

Mason, Christopher, and Marcus
Mason, Christopher, and Marcus
Christopher and Mason
Christopher and Mason
The boys and I
The boys and I

This was the second hike that I used my new Columbia Vixen day pack. I am in love with it and hope to do a review post soon.

Valentine Flats: New day pack (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/06/13/valentine-flats/)

The cliffs
Some of the cliffs in Zoar Valley are over 400 feet tall.

Marcus is going on a week long backpacking trip in July so he wore his new Jansport Klamath pack to test it out. Mr. Allan decided to try it on for size too.

Marcus and Professor Allan
Marcus and Professor Allan

While we were down at the creek we saw a group of white water rafters float past. It looked exciting and fun; I hope to do it some day!

Valentine Flats:  White Water Rafters in Cattaraugus Creek (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/06/13/valentine-flats/)

Valentine Flats: Posing near the cliffs (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/06/13/valentine-flats/)

Valentine Flats: Cattaraugus Creek (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/06/13/valentine-flats/)

While we were hiking Mr. Allan, ever the instructive professor, amused and engrossed me by expounding on the difficulties the first settlers faced when journeying through these dense woods. He had me imagine what it would be like to be a pioneer wife traveling with my husband and several young children, with all of our scanty possessions in one wagon. It was much easier to envision myself struggling through this arduous terrain when I was actually walking in it myself.

How would one get a wagon and ox team down this hill?
How would you get a wagon and ox team down this hill?!

I also noticed these Red Trillium and Coltsfoot blooming. It was so nice to see flowers again finally!

Red Trillium
Red Trillium
Coltsfoot
Coltsfoot (Tuissilago farfara)

Valentine Flats: Hiking https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/06/13/valentine-flats/

I had a great time at Valentine Flats and would definitely recommend the trail to others!

-The Farming Daughter