Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

Life is an Adventure for Jo Lucas Master Gardener of the Year 2018

 

Jo Turkey hunting 001

Turkey hunting has been a long time family tradition.

Everywhere she goes, Jo Lucas finds something to enjoy. For her, life is discovering new things on a daily basis. Part of this she credits to meeting the love of her life, Don Lucas, who had a spirit of adventure like no other.

   Their adventure began in Cody, Wyoming where they were married…with an elk hunt for a honeymoon. Since then hunting, fishing, gardening and many other activities filled their lives until just recently when Don died as a result of an accident.

   Their adventures could fill a book and have created many fond memories for her. They made friends wherever they went.

Jo with bear 001

Don and Jo with the bear she shot in New Hampshire.

   In New Hampshire, they both shot a bear and the bearskins still hang in her house today. She was sitting in a log yard when a bear appeared lumbering through the logs, getting closer and closer. She decided there was no choice but to shoot it and killed it with one shot.

   But bears aren’t the only thing on her hit list. Moose, elk, antelope, turkeys and other small game have all been part of her adventures from Maine to Alaska. She’s visited 49 of the 50 states with Hawaii still on her bucket list.

Jo Ice Fishing 001

Ice fishing in Maine was a very cold but fun experience.

   Ice fishing in Maine provided an unusual experience as temperatures were down to -20 and -30 degrees when they took a snowmobile out on the ice. Sometimes when they were ice fishing, they had a portable shanty to use as a windbreak. In Alaska, salmon fishing captured their attention.

Jo Cooking Tent 001

Their cooking tent is packed with supplies.

   Sometimes they used a camper, but most often tents. They had a special cook tent and then several sleeping tents a short distance away just in case an animal would decide to invade the cook tent overnight. Two dogs and a pistol kept her feeling a little safer wherever she happened to camp.

Jo Farmers Market

Jo sold her salsa and jams at the local Farmers’ Market.

   Back home in Guernsey County, Jo enjoyed large gardens and a fruit orchard. From these, she made delicious salsas and jams that she sold at the Farmers’ Market during the summer season.

   As a youngster, she grew up in the 4-H program in the Millersburg area, where horses were her passion and project. But on Thanksgiving, everyone went turkey hunting. It was a family tradition!

Jo salmon 001

Fishing for salmon in Alaska was a real success.

   Since Jo’s move to Guernsey County, she has been involved in the community in so many ways. Jo was the auxiliary president who brought back the idea for Wonderland of Trees at the hospital. That first year, there were six trees and six wreaths.

Jo fruit trees covered

Fruit trees are covered with parachutes to keep birds from eating the fruit.

   Other community organizations that are lucky to have her assistance are the Soil & Water Conservation Board (vice-chairman), Ohio Association of Garden Clubs (district treasurer), Mt. Herman Church (treasurer), Hopewell Homemakers, and Adair Ladies Bible Study at Antrim. Perhaps it should be mentioned that Jo has a degree in accounting.

Jo Raspberries 001

Her raspberry patch is used for jams, pies, or just a bowl of berries!

   In the last couple of years, she decided to go back to that early passion from 4-H of training and showing horses. These days she assists at Breaking Free Therapeutic Riding Center near Norwich. This facility helps the handicapped improve their physical, psychological and cognitive behaviors through association with a friendly horse. Veterans are always welcome.

   Working here has given Jo real pleasure as she volunteers as barn manager. She gets horses ready for riding by exercising them beforehand. Yes, sometimes she even rides herself.

Jo Tomatoes 001

Her delicious salsa was made possible through this large tomato patch.

   Jo Lucas loves the out-of-doors in so many ways but gardening is one of her favorites. She was recently named OSU Extension Guernsey County Master Gardener of 2018, a well-deserved honor. Jo was one of those original Guernsey County Master Gardeners.

   She remembers her days in 4-H and all the help the advisors gave, so felt it was her turn to “give back” to the community. She has shared her knowledge of gardening with hundreds of Guernsey County elementary school children.

Jo Cherry Tree Pruning

These trees were used to demonstrate proper pruning methods.

   Ag school days, master gardener classes and workshops are a few of the ways that she has given back. Over the past few years, she has hosted three pruning workshops at her home.

Jo Lucas and Clif Little

Clif Little presents Jo with the Master Gardener of the Year Award.

   Local OSU Extension Educator, Clif Little, praised Jo by saying, “I can sum up her work as a Master Gardener volunteer as hard-working, energetic, friendly, generous and very interested in learning. She is the type of person that will always help when we offer gardening classes.” That says it all!

Jo Flowers 001

This flower bed contains crazy daisies, daylilies and iris.

But one place that Jo is a bit dangerous is in a plant nursery. She enjoys trying new plants and searches for them wherever she goes. Sometimes she comes home with almost too many.

   There are still a few places on her bucket list and both relate to ancestry. Her grandparents came from Austria and Ireland so those are two places she would enjoy exploring.

Bear Skin 2

This bearskin hanging on her wall at home makes her smile as she remembers her adventures.

   Of one thing you can be certain, Jo Lucas will not be sitting in a rocking chair watching the world go by. She’s always ready for an adventure as she strives to learn something new each day.

If you have interest in becoming a Master Gardener in Guernsey County, contact Clif Little in the Guernsey County Extension Office at 740-489-5300.

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Busy Season for Senecaville Fish Hatchery

Hatchery Welcome SignSenecaville State Fish Hatchery is among the nation’s best hatcheries. Each year, approximately 20 – 25 million fish are raised here by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. They supply lakes and reservoirs around Ohio, as well as six pools in the Ohio River and 10 pools in the Muskingum River.

   Since approximately 1.3 million people go fishing in Ohio each year, it has become necessary to assist with the natural propagation of fish in Ohio waters. ODNR operates six fish hatcheries throughout Ohio for this purpose.

 

Hatchery Overlook

The bridge over the dam makes a great place to get an overview of the hatchery.

   The Senecaville Fish Hatchery is located in southern Guernsey County just below the dam on beautiful Seneca Lake. Beginning as a federal hatchery in 1938, when they first raised striped bass to replenish dwindling fish supplies, the hatchery now has 37 ponds containing a total of 37 water acres. Water is supplied by Seneca Lake, which can deliver 2,000 gallons per minute.

 

Hatchery Egg Jar

Casey Goodpaster displays the incubator jar where eggs are kept until hatched.

   Fish hatchery technicians, Casey Goodpaster and Josh Binkley, have been there about fifteen years each. Both have gone to college and have degrees in Parks and Recreation, and Fish Management respectively. These men do much more than care for fish as they often become mechanics, painters, welders, and mowers at the facility. They enjoy the freedom of spending much of their time outside.

 

Getting eggs

Eggs are being stripped from a walleye into a large bowl at Mosquito Lake.

   This is the time of year when the fish hatchery at Seneca Lake is busiest of all. In early March, the fish hatchery collects about 300 quarts of walleye fish eggs from Mosquito Lake in the Youngstown area. This adds up to around 20–30 million eggs!

W alleye released to the lake

Once the eggs have been gathered from the fish, the walleye are placed back into the lake.

 

Hatchery net

Josh Binkley uses a net to gather the fingerlings from the collection tank.

   The eggs are then fertilized and about three quarts are put into each incubator tube. Water must move through the tubes constantly to keep the eggs from sticking together. It takes two to three weeks for them to hatch before moving up the tubes and into a holding tank.

  Walleye

saugeye

The saugeye is a combination of a female walleye pictured above and the male sauger below.

   Often they cross a female walleye with a male sauger to create saugeye. This is done with about fifty percent of the walleye eggs since the saugeye have a much higher survival rate. Saugeye are well suited for Ohio reservoirs and grow rapidly.

 

Fingerling

Fingerlings are very small but ready for the lake.

   The newly hatched fish is called a ‘fry’ and is about the length of half an eyelash, according to one technician. Finally, the last juvenile stage is that of a fingerling about 15 cm long. At this time, they can be placed directly into the lake.

catfish

Catfish are raised in June and July and kept in the hatchery ponds for about a year.

A little later in the year in June and July, the hatchery will be raising channel catfish. They lay their eggs in a spawn inside a can placed in the ponds. These layers of eggs are then gently moved inside to hatch in five to seven days. After being fed fish meal for about a week, they quadruple their size and are then placed in the ponds for up to a year before stocking them in lakes and streams.

 

Hatchery ODNR sign

ODNR took over operations at the hatchery in 1987.

   When fishermen purchase rods, reels, fishing tackles, fish finders and motorboat fuel, they pay an excise tax. The federal government collects these taxes and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service distributes the funds to state fish and wildlife agencies. These funds acquire the habitat, stock the fish, provide education and develop boat accesses.

 

Seneca Lake Fish Hatchery

This airplane view captures the entire hatchery complex at Senecaville.

    At the Senecaville Fish Hatchery, there are four full-time employees and one part-time in the summer. Employees receive annual training through workshops regarding many topics from chain saw cutting to herbicides, fish and more.

 

Hatchery Stocking Truck

Their stocking truck carries oxygen and a water pump to keep the water moving.

    Senecaville Fish Hatchery is open to the public Monday – Friday from 10:00-3:00. This is also a great place for a group tour, especially school children, to see how the facility operates and learn more about the varieties of fish. Watch for special times when youngsters can fish at the hatchery.

   The best times to view the hatchery in operation are from April through June. They will begin to get eggs in the hatchery during the month of March. A visit to the Senecaville Fish Hatchery would be a great family experience.

Senecaville Fish Hatchery is located on beautiful Seneca Lake in Guernsey County with easy access from I-77 exit 37. Take OH 313 east about six miles and turn right on OH 574. The hatchery is on the right-hand side.

Family Memories of Guernsey County’s Annie Oakley

Emma Thompson Feeds

This old metal sign from 1913 stirred up family memories of their great-aunt, Emma Sherby.

Memories awaken when a picture or object appears that opens doors to the past. Recently, an original Thompson Feed Company sign brought back memories to the family of Emma Sherby as it stated: No Hunting Without Permission.

 

Emma Thompson Feed 001

This popular feed mill was located at 125 N. 7th Street, where the Genealogical Society is located today.

   In 1913, Ohio decided that hunters needed to have a license. Young Emma at the age of 17 purchased one of those early licenses for the fee of ONE DOLLAR in Cambridge at the Guernsey County Clerk of Courts. She was a very slim girl as the license listed her at 5’9” and 120 pounds with light hair and blue eyes.

 

Emma's Hunting License

Emma was the first woman to have a hunting license in Guernsey County, and perhaps in the state of Ohio.

   Since the law went into effect on November 12 and Emma purchased her license on November 15, she definitely was one of the first to purchase a license and also the first licensed female hunter in Guernsey County.

   Word of this early license spread quickly and an article titled “Girl Hunter Bags Rabbits for Tables of Mining Settlement” was written in the Cleveland Press on November 29, 1913. Hank Sherby still has that original article as well as the cloth hunting license issued to his great-aunt Emma.

 

Emma Cleveland Press

An article about Emma appeared in the Cleveland Press in November, 1913.

   Using a W. Richards Double Barrel Shotgun, her hunting ability was well known in the area as she liked to explore the out-of-doors and often bagged wildlife not only for her own family but for the neighbors as well. Some even called her Guernsey County’s Annie Oakley.

   Back in 1896, Dr. Robbins came to the farm’s log cabin on horseback to deliver baby Emma. A large ledger contains this information about the day she was born: “May 8, 1896, Emma born Friday at 4 o’clock on the farm in the afternoon.” Two months later they moved to the house where Emma lived the rest of her life.

 

Emma's house

She spent her entire life in this house on Cherry Hill Road.

   Her parents, Michael and Josephine Sherby, had four children: Elvin, Emma and twins Ella and Emanuel. Michael was a headhunter recruiting miners for Cambridge Collieries and rented houses on Buffalo Mine Road to miners. Later he worked for Byesville State Bank.

  Dependable seems a proper word to describe Emma. She worked hard all her life. Emma never married but cared for her family by working the farm to pay bills, raising a large garden, canning chickens for winter food, and was a beekeeper to keep honey on the table. Hank describes her as “a hunter/trapper/fisherwoman..a true country girl.” Sounds more and more like Annie Oakley!

 

Emma with fish from their farm pond

Their farm pond supplied fish for the family and also water for the miners’ homes.

 Sometimes when money was scarce during the Depression, Emma would take feathers from the chickens and ducks and barter them for goods at the general store. People enjoyed having the feathers for their pillows and comforters.

  Hank and his brother, Robert, fondly remember bringing in a bucket of blackberries to Emma in the summertime. She would then fire up the wood stove and bake them a blackberry pie in a small tin. Still sounds delicious! It was no secret that Emma had a sweet tooth as well.

 

Emma's traps

These traps were used by Emma to capture animals for fur.

   Although she had the important hunting license, Emma never cared to get a driver’s license. In fact, it is said that Emma never left Guernsey County in her life except when she had to register for Social Security.

   She worked so hard that one wonders what she did for relaxation. Every day the flowers she grew gave her pleasure, but on Sundays, she could often be found riding her white horse on a trail ride in the vicinity of Cherry Hill.

 

Emma's gun with Hank

Hank Sherby feels lucky to still have his great-aunt’s gun.

   Having grown up in the Depression, Emma saved everything and some would say she was a hoarder. In their barn, she had saved a pile of cherry boards that she always said would be used for something special. When Emma died at the age of 93, they made her casket from these cherry boards and had the funeral at the farm where she lived her entire life.

   This lady lived from 1896 – 1983 so would have seen many changes in our world. After living through the Great Depression, it’s easy to understand why Emma saved everything. She didn’t want to have to do without again. Imagine her excitement at seeing those first automobiles, telephones, television, and even a man landing on the moon. Family remembers that Emma kept up with the news and they received four newspapers in their house.

 

Emma gun

Emma hunted with a W. Richards double-barrel shotgun, a gift from her dad.

   Annie Oakley expressed her feelings when she said, “Any woman who does not thoroughly enjoy tramping across the country on a clear frosty morning with a good gun and a pair of dogs does not know how to enjoy life.” Have a feeling that Emma would have agreed.

   Liberated women have been with us throughout history. That’s nothing new. Emma certainly depicted that image from a very early age and continued to do things throughout her life that people today would label as ‘liberated’. Emma Sherby was just ahead of her time.

Field of Corn Pays Tribute to Agricultural Heritage

Field of Corn Overview 2

109 ears of concrete corn form this unusual memorial to farmers.

One Field of Corn in Dublin will NOT be harvested this autumn. This field is rather unique as it has ears of corn taller than the stalks we usually find in farmers’ fields. However, they are made of concrete!

Frantz Farm Aerial view

This photo shows the original farm of Sam Frantz on this site.

   Years ago from 1935 to 1963, this was an actual cornfield farmed by Sam Frantz, who worked with Ohio State University on creating several species of hybrid corn. When his farming days were over, he donated this land, now called the Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park.

Frantz Certified Seed Sign

Sam Frantz posted this sign for his Certified Corn Seed at his farm.

     The concrete ears of corn were placed there to honor Frantz and Ohio’s farmers. In 1850 Ohio was the leading producer of corn in the nation. Even today they still remain in the top ten.

Corn Visitors

These young ladies from New Albany and Cleveland wanted to have a unique experience.

   Field of Corn with Osage Oranges was commissioned by the Dublin Arts Council and finished in 1994. There are 109 six-foot white ears of concrete corn sprouting right out of the ground.

Field of Corn Malcolm Cochran

Sculptor Malcolm Cochran, OSU professor, designed this Field of Corn.

   Artist Malcolm Cochran, professor of sculpture at OSU, designed the concrete cornfield. Molds were made from three original sculptures and these were used to cast ears which were rotated to produce a variety of angles. In that way, each ear of corn looks different to the observer.

Field of Corn Malcolm 001

Sculptor Cochran works on one of the prototypes from which the ears were made.

   There’s a deeper meaning to this display than first meets the eye. The field of corn resembles the regimented grave markers of a military cemetery to represent the death and rebirth of individuals and society. Cochran was designing a tribute to a way of life no longer present in this area, which has been taken over by offices and housing developments.

   Casting was then done by Cooke & Ingle, Co, in Dalton, Georgia. Each cob weighed 1500 lb. requiring four trucks to transport the complete load. The foundation for each cob is concrete at a depth of three feet.

Field of Corn Osage Orange Trees

Two rows of Osage Orange trees with benches for viewing form the west boundary.

   A row of old Osage Orange Trees grows along the west side of the field, and a second row was recently planted. Here you will find brass plaques describing the history of corn from the Native American days until the present.

DSC02572

Clusters of Osage Oranges hung from tree branches.

   Osage Indians used the orange wood from these trees to make bows and tomahawks. Early farmers in Ohio planted it along boundary lines as its thick, thorny branches made a secure border. The fruit of the tree is chartreuse in color and is a natural repellant for pesky insects.

Corn Orsage Orange Fruit

An osage orange fell on this brass plaque, which tells the history of the orange.

   The sculptures look like the Corn Belt Dent variety, but many locals thought it wrong to spend tax dollars to honor food farmers with statues of inedible food.

Field of Corn in Snow

It’s a great place to play Fox and Geese in the snow.

   Today that field of concrete ears is a local icon and locals are using it for many purposes. Weddings are held in the field, office workers play in the snow in the wintertime, children play hide and seek, and families think it’s a great place for pictures.

Field of Corn Family

Families enjoy exploring and taking pictures among the ears of corn.

   Field of Corn has received “Best of Columbus” honors by readers of Columbus Monthly magazine. It’s been voted #1 four times as the best public artwork in central Ohio. 

   If you ever happen to be in the Dublin area, it’s worth a side trip to view this unusual tribute to our farmers. Field of Corn with Osage Oranges is Dublin’s light-hearted way of honoring the community’s past while shaping its future. While there, take some corny pictures!

Find this unusual attraction off I-270 at the Tuttle Crossing Exit. Field of Corn with Osage Oranges is located at 4995 Rings Road at the corner of Frantz Road. 

The Basket Farmer – Howard Peller at Rosehill Farm

Howard w Baskets

This showroom contains baskets that Howard weaves from the willows.

Willow Baskets and Pottery. Those are the two main features at the Rosehill Farm in Roseville where Howard Peller and Maddy Fraioli ignite their creative flames.

   Howard enjoys working with things of nature. “I value homemade objects created from materials that are closely related to the natural environment from which they are grown.” That’s the main reason he surrounds himself with a willow grove on his farm in Roseville.

Howard Garden

Even the garden has naturally grown willow fences and a beautiful willow archway.

    His goal is to use the willows he grows to make useful and practical products that people can use every day. You’ll be surprised at the things that can be woven from the willow reeds.

   From his willow grove, he wants visitors to see the connection between the willow farmer and the artisan who creates finely crafted baskets as well as live willow structures. He appreciates the value of simple hard work.


Howard Bees

Beehives are important for pollination of his orchard and gardens.

   Howard is no stranger to the creative process as has designed artisan made tabletops, home decor, and personal accessory products.  He co-founded a national ceramic tableware company Fioriware Pottery with his partner, Maddy Fraioli. As Longaberger VP, he founded their Design Center to develop new concepts in weaving.

Howard Beaver Dam

Take a walk around the farm and discover a beaver dam that Howard dug himself.

   During his time in Europe, Howard studied with master weavers and learned how to weave with willows. In Lichtenfels, Germany, he attended a basket school where he developed an appreciation of the natural properties of the traditional willow basket.

   He spent time in Haiti and Jamaica where he could easily walk out of the village and gather bamboo. Eventually, he put all these ideas together and came up with his own techniques.

Howard Willow Workshop

It appears everyone is welcome at Howard’s office door.

 On his 140-acre farm, he has a willow grove of 5000 willow plants in 100 different varieties. He enjoys watching them develop with their beautiful colors, texture, tensile strength, smell and their magical property of intensive growth.

   The amazing willow plant has qualities you wouldn’t expect. It’s a medical source for salicin, which was used before aspirin. Therefore, the bark of the willow can be used to make tea, which is good for headaches, fevers, arthritis, and even a great mouthwash.

Howard Drying Willows

Willow rods are stored in a cooling unit where they can be used for living landscapes.

   Each year the plants are cut at the proper season near their base so they can regenerate. Then the willow reeds are dried for two years downstairs in the barn. Bundles of willows are sent around the world for baskets and furniture. The sturdy willow was even used for building ancient boats.

Howard Willow Fence

Willow rods can be used as a natural living fence or divider.

   Home gardeners will find many uses for the willow reed. This living plant can be erected for backdrops, walkthroughs, around gazebos and even made into furniture. One interesting quality is that it can be trimmed, morphed and enjoyed for multiple seasons.

Howard Shelter 2

Workshops are held in this shelter on the hill.

   Howard gives workshops at the farm or they can be arranged for your organization so you can learn to put these ideas to practical use at your home or business.

Howard Willow Dome

Willow domes have been included in living playscapes that he has created.

  The possibilities for their use seem endless. Howard creates beautiful baskets, handbags, bird feeders, and even room dividers. He has also created natural playgrounds using the willow for tunnels, domes, and walkways.

Howard Tag

Their willow baskets all carry the Willow Farmer Basket Maker tag.

   Styles of the baskets alone are amazing and too numerous to list them all. Some that caught my eye were: large shoulder bags, bread baskets, deep bowl baskets and fruit baskets.

Howard Showroom

Howard and Maddy have many creative outlets.

   His basketmaking creates a relationship between the field crop and the hands of the maker, who transforms the willow reeds into products to be used in the home or to collect and transport objects. Or they might just be used to create beauty and happiness in everyday life.

   Rosehill Farm takes you back to a time when everything was natural. Stroll down their trails to see the beauty of the willows, their gardens and flowers, and enjoy being in touch with nature.

   They will be having an Open House this fall where you can enjoy all this beauty. Check out their website at www.basketfarmer.com for further information.

Howard Maddy

His wife, Maddy, makes beautiful pottery on their farm near Roseville.

   Howard and Maddy bring new possibilities into people’s lives with their willow and pottery creations as they honor the Appalachian history of the region.

The Basket Farmer can be found at 7680 Rose Hill Road, Roseville, Ohio, From I-77, take exit 141. Then there are several turns, so hopefully you have a GPS system to guide you over the back roads to the willow farm. It’s worth the country drive.

Find a Taste of Fall at Hillcrest Orchard of Walnut Creek

Hillcrest applesSurely the apple is the noblest of fruits.

~Henry David Thoreau~

Apple cider becomes a favorite drink during autumn, and apples are ranked number one in the top ten healthiest foods. So harvest time felt perfect for a trip to Hillcrest Orchard of Walnut Creek to get fresh apples and cider. Rain or shine, this is a bustling place in the fall.

Hillcrest front

   With over 20,000 bushels of apples this year, they have over twenty varieties from which to choose. Two customer favorites are Golden Delicious and Honey Crisp, my personal choice. Their newest variety is now available – Evercrisp, a combination of Honey Crisp and Fuji.

   Hillcrest Orchard has been in the family since 1968. Today Merle and Lela Hershberger own and operate the orchard with help from their children. Their grandfather, Jacob Hershberger, still helps out as often as possible.

Hillcrest view from overlook

An overview features their orchard and beautiful Mud Valley.

   With over 75 acres of apple trees and 5 acres of peach trees, the Hershberger family works all year round. When the new year begins in January, it’s time to trim trees and remove a block of old trees.

   Then in April, it’s planting time each year for approximately 4,000 dwarf trees – most of them being apple. Luckily, they have a tree transplanter, which is pulled behind a tractor. They can sit on the transplanter and drop in the new trees three feet apart. With this method, they can plant over 1,500 trees in one day.

   There’s always work to be done. After planting trees, the trunks are hand wrapped with wire to keep them straight. Trellises, holding two wires that go through the trees, keep the branches from hanging to the ground. During the summer months, the apples need to be thinned on each tree. An apple tree cannot be too full of apples for best production.

Hillcrest Apple sorter

Matt Hershberger often runs the apple sorter.

   In the fall when picking begins, some extra help is needed from young people in the community. All the apples are hand-picked from ladders. That is one of the reasons they switched to dwarf apple trees so they could more easily be reached.

Hillcrest Cidermill

Mark Hershberger and his son, Adam, explain the cider press.

   Fresh pressed apple cider is made at their business operation every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. During October they make 4,000 gallons each week. One Friday/Saturday last year they sold 2,250 gallons.

Hillcrest Sample

A free sample of fresh apple cider tasted refreshing.

   Their cider is unpasteurized so it’s placed immediately in a cooling tank. That also means that it’s only good for about two weeks. Be sure to get a free sample while visiting.

Hillcrest Vinegar

There are many uses for apple cider vinegar.

   Whatever cider isn’t sold is placed into wooden barrels for one year. There it becomes apple cider vinegar, which is also available at their store.

Hillcrest Apple butter

Their fresh apple butter was a popular item.

   However, apples and their products aren’t the only things on hand. Hillcrest Orchard’s the perfect place to find organic fruits and vegetables while in season. Their products look picture perfect. You can also buy pumpkins, mums, baled hay or straw. You’ll be surprised at all the treats available.

Hillcrest Kettle Corn

In the parking lot, Hostetler Kettle Corn provides an extra treat.

   Outside during the fall months, you’ll enjoy the flavor of Hostetler Kettle Corn. Freshly popped in the lot, the smell draws you to their tent. Pick up a bag to munch on while driving home through beautiful Amish country.

   The children and grandchildren feel part of the business as they have grown up in the orchard and store. Hopefully, those youngsters will someday continue providing apples and peaches for all to enjoy.

Hillcrest Welcome

Bags of fresh apples greet you – The First Taste of Fall.

   Merle’s son, Mark, lists pressing cider and picking apples as his favorite chores. When asked what he’d like to do in the future, his answer, “Plant more trees.” What do these hard-working young men like to do for fun? Deer hunt! There’s evidence of that around their store with several deer head mounts.

Hillcrest Cider Sign   Hillcrest Orchard is open from July through April. It has even become a requested stop for tour buses. Many people make an annual visit there in the fall and some stop by often to pick up fresh produce. One man said he took the cider home and froze it in small containers so he could have fresh tasting cider for months to come.

Hillcrest Check out

Area young people help out during their busiest season – September and October.

   Stop by the orchard and pick up some apples straight from the tree. Apples can be enjoyed in so many different ways: apple pie, applesauce, apple butter, apple crisp, dipped in caramel, or just take a bite of a fresh, juicy one. However you decide to use the apples, they will taste delicious.

   Remember, apples are also healthy, so that old adage of ‘an apple a day’ is a good rule to follow. Stop at Hillcrest Orchard of Walnut Creek on your next trip to Amish Country and experience the fresh taste of fall.

Hillcrest Orchard of Walnut Creek can be reached off I-77 at Exit 83. Go left on OH 39W until you reach 515. Turn right at the light, then go straight back about a half mile to the Orchard on the right. 

Five Generations on Robinson Family Farm

Robinson farm 001

The Robinson Family Farm is located in Noble County.

Farming requires hard work and dedication as there’s no time clock to punch. Farmers work until the job is finished. Having lived on a farm all my life, it seems important to me to share stories of our local farmers from time to time.

   One special farm family comes from the Noble County area. For over a hundred years, the Robinson Farm has been in their family. Today Jerry Robinson lives there and keeps the family working together. He recalls many stories of the farm over the years.

Jerry and family 001

Jerry is surrounded by his family. Front row: Mom and Dad; Row 2: Jerry and his late wife, Julia; Row 3: his three sons, Dinty, David, and Jerry II.

   Back in 1909, Perley and Rachel Robinson decided to purchase eighty acres in Noble County for $400. They had been renting a farm and wanted a place of their own. Nothing but brush grew on the land and only enough grass for two cows and two horses.

   Three small coal mines were dug into the banks to provide heating for their home and perhaps they sold a little to help with expenses. These small mines even had tracks and coal cars.

   This great-grandfather built a sturdy home there of oak 2x4s. That home still stands today and provided a place for the second generation, Ralph’s family, to live.

Jerry and brothers 001

Jerry, in the middle, and his brothers gather with their dad on the porch of their farmhouse.

   Ralph and his wife, Bonnie, had six children, four boys and two girls. All four boys, Jerry included, were born at home while the two girls came later in life and were born at Caldwell Hospital. One of the boys was placed in the oven of a wood burner to keep him warm.

Jerry's first dog

Jerry’s friendly dog, Tippy, followed him wherever he went.

   When Jerry was four years old, he had an accident while trying to wire something to his wagon. The wire flew into his eye and he’s been blind in his right eye ever since. But that’s no excuse for not working!

   From the beginning, the Robinsons chose to raise Hereford cattle, and still do today. They rented 1500 acres of pasture from the coal company, and more from neighbors for pasture and hay.

Jerry's Dad 001

Perley Robinson with his favorite Ford tractor.

   Jerry still remembers that when he was five years old they had two horses, Doc and Bell, that pulled their farm equipment before their first tractor, which was purchased in 1949. Like most farmers, tractors are special to Jerry and he even has an extensive Ford and New Holland model tractor collection.

Jerry on first tractor

Jerry still has his first tractor – a 1962 Ford diesel.

   He’s lived on this same farm all his life and helped his dad with farm-work in the evenings after school. This never seemed a chore, as it was just something he liked doing.

   Being on his tractor and tending his beef cattle give him enjoyment. Night calls to the barn to help bring a new calf into the world are nothing new to him. Over the years, he worked for the highway department, but farming has always been in his blood.

Robinson's new calf

Welcoming a new calf at the barn is a family affair with Jerry, his son and grandsons.

   Jerry’s son, Dinty, loves the farm as much as his dad. The grandsons, that fifth generation, are great workers and eager helpers. Most days, someone is working from 6-6, and often later during haying season. They might work until three in the morning if rain is predicted and hay needs to be brought in.

Robinson horse show 002

Grandsons: Lane, Colin and Dolan take great pride in showing their horses.

   His grandsons play an important role on the farm. Dolan, Colin and Lane spend hours each day practicing their sport, which is riding horses. Dolan got his first horse at the age of six and was in a horse show that same day.

   These rare young men would rather be outside riding, hunting, and trapping instead of watching television or playing video games. Whatever they do in the future, these modern cowboys won’t sit behind a desk.

   Lane keeps track of all cattle birth dates, and even names each calf. An unusual happening, on the farm recently, involved a heifer that was having trouble delivering her calf. She was taken to OSU by trailer and they performed a C-section there. Mother and calf are doing fine. Lane named this new calf Lucky.

Motorcycle

In the summer, you might find Jerry and his wife, Ellen, delivering sweet corn to friends and family on their Can-Am Spyder.

   Once in a while Jerry and his wife vacation and as you might imagine, especially enjoy being in the open country. Jerry likes the open space of the west and has been to Alaska, parts of Canada, and Hawaii. This summer, Nova Scotia was their destination for several weeks of summer exploration.

   There have been many changes Jerry remembers from those early years on the farm. The equipment is bigger and easier to use. Now the tractor has a cab with heat, AC and even music. Coyotes and bobcats are new to the scene, so newborn calves are kept in the barn for a few days.

Jerry's New Holland

Jerry treated himself to a 2017 New Holland tractor last year.

   Squirrel hunting is the only kind of hunting Jerry likes to do. He doesn’t want to kill something unless it can be eaten. An ideal dinner would be fried squirrel with sweet potatoes and squirrel gravy.

   Bush-hogging keeps him busy in the summer months as he likes to have things looking neat at Robinson Farm. Many say, “It’s the cleanest farm in Noble County.”

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