Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring Break 2010: farms, fires, eggs, and eggs

Our Spring Break trip this year took us through the Pennsylvania countryside with stops in Gettysburg (confirmed that Abe Lincoln really is the hero I've always known him to be), Hershey (confirmed that one CAN have too much chocolate), and the Amish country (confirmed it IS that beautiful). Here are some photos and facts I thought you might enjoy...

These first few photos were taken at Rocky Acre B&B in Mt. Joy, PA. A couple days on the farm replenishes the soul of a wannabe farmer... - and the kids who did everything from gather eggs, feed a goat, ride a horse, learn how to milk cows, and play with about 20 cats enjoying just about the cushiest life I've ever seen. In front of my daughter wearing the Cafe Chocolate shirt (an awesome cafe with the nicest staff in the adorable little town of Lititz), is Oreo the goat (you can't see Oreo). Oreo follows his miniature pony friend Cookie where ever he goes.

We learned that silos are pretty much obsolete. These silos are empty as farmers tend to use a system of trenches now. The trenches make it easier and faster for farmers to store and access their grain. This B&B is a working dairy farm.

For those with natural fertilizer envy - check out the blue tank. A working dairy farm produces much manure - into the tank it goes for storage until ready for use in the fields.

In Lititz, we twisted pretzels at Julius Sturgis, the oldest pretzel bakery in America. After this, we visited the Ephrata Cloister just about 20 minutes away - worth the visit if you're in the area. It was fascinating - and one of the lessons is this - celibacy among an entire community, sort of dooms your community to failure...

One of our day trips brought us to a coal mine tour in Ashland, PA. The neighboring town of Centralia is home to literally a handful of residents. An underground mine fire has been burning since 1962, and all buildings have been condemned. This photo below is pretty interesting for many reasons. If you look to the right of the center of the photo, you'll see smoke from the burning underbelly of the ghost town. A little creepy if you ask me!

On to things more pleasant - salty, fried, addictive goodness. This super cool tour of the Herr's factory was a feast for all the senses. Can you imagine snacking on a handful of warm potato chips just 8 minutes out of the kettle? I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the factory, and quality control is pretty tight. I was also pleased to know that there is very little waste. The cardboard shipping boxes are reused until they fall apart, and drivers are paid an incentive to bring the cardboard boxes back. There is a system that captures the heat and energy produced by the cooking process which is then used to heat the building. Oh, the coolest part - there is a very high-tech scanning process that the potato chips pass over, and when the sensors detect any green or brown chips, a very accurate puff of air shoots the reject out of the mix - it's literally ejected, and then fed to the nearby farm animals.

Are these babies cute or what? They're about 10 days old, and living happily in Bird-in-Hand, PA.

I am so fascinated by the lifestyle and culture of the Amish people. Though I tried not to ogle them and take photos of the Amish people like they're some sort of spectacle, I did take this photo of an Amish home as we passed by on our buggy. The neat row of seedlings in the window caught my eye. Many homes had perfect-sized gardens newly planted for spring or with milk jug cloches out. Our driver said that most Old Order Amish use these dark shades rather than curtains or blinds. I have mixed feelings about the tourism in this area. Apparently the Amish and Mennonites in this area have similar mixed feelings.

Happy Easter if you're celebrating! Here's a little project we did in Hershey. You make this by dipping a small balloon in chocolate. Add color to the bowl of chocolate for a second coat to make this artful little tulip-shaped bowl. Pop your balloon after chilling in the fridge and voila!

And because I've taught my child well, as she's playing on the swing, "Mom, I'm weeding"!


  1. What a wonderful trip you are having. I thought the photo of the old burning mine site with the windmills in the background was an interesting juxtapositioning.

  2. Hi Wendy, what a varied trip. I like the photo of the defunct coal mine with wind turbines in the background! The Amish are still living like Lincoln! Thanks for sharing these experiences, I am unlikely to be seeing these things directly so through your camera and words is the next best thing. cheers, catmint

  3. Hi Wendy~~ It looks like you had an educational as well as enjoyable vacation.

    Since 1962? I wonder how fast it's burning and if it will ever extinguish itself. It must be getting oxygen from above... Yes it is creepy.

    The only things cuter than the baby animals are your daughters. I think you should keep the weeding photo handy and when she hits her teen years you can remind her how much she loves weeding.

    The chocolate cup looks yummy.

  4. Your daughters are lucky to have a mom who knows how to make learning fun!

  5. Your daughters are lucky to have a mom who knows how to make learning FUN!

  6. What a wonderful refreshing trip you & your family had.
    Would like to wish you & your family a blessed Easter. Hope all you have great fun.

  7. Ohh we did a trip kind of like that when I was twelve - Amish, Gettysburg, Hershey, etc. That's one trip I'd love to go back and do again. So glad to see that you're having a fabulous time with your family!

  8. It's always good to take a trip into the countryside. Great for unwinding and to enjoy the pure beauty of simplicity. That blue container looks huge to keep the manure for fertilizer!

  9. Those kids are too cute. Yours are, too. ;) Especially loved your little girl weeding while swinging. That is one smart child!

  10. Wendy, sounds like you had a wonderful trip. I did a similar one when I was a child. The only thinkgs I remember was the Amish and of course, Hershey (the highlight of my young life, lol).

  11. baby goats and kids...adorable! You made my mouth water talking about tato chips. Mmmm....

  12. THanks for visiting, everyone!!

    I'm glad to hear about people taking these trips when they were young. Hopefully my kids will remember these little trips we take! :)

  13. Hello Wendy! It's great to see how your family and yourself spent the holiday. I just spent my Easter by dinniing with friends and shopping. Btw, love that chocolate tulip you made... cool method and pretty!

    The countryside and farm is breathtaking - big land! And yes, that fertiliser house (not just a tank!) gosh... super! ha ha...

    Have a wonderful day!

  14. Looks like you and family had a wonderful time during the hols. So nice to get a glimpse of your enjoyable trip with family members here, such fun moments and beautiful countryside scenery.

  15. LOVE the picture of your daughter on the swing. And the caption!

  16. I just love that chocolate bowl. And the one of your daughter weeding! Priceless. Sounds like you had an amazing trip.


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