Grit Blogs >

Remnants of the Past

Hay Days

Laura EverlyI’m not sure why, but there was a part of me that enjoyed putting up square bales of hay on my grandparent's farm when I was younger.  I think it was because it was a feeling of togetherness as a family.  My aunt, my mom, a couple of my male cousins and I worked together with my grandpa in the hay fields.  My dad helped when he wasn’t working and my brother usually worked when the neighbors were the only ones available. 

My first memories of helping with the hay was when I was seven or eight years old.  At the time I wasn’t strong enough to work in the barn stacking the bales so I assisted my grandpa with putting the bales on the elevator.  My job was to climb to the top of the stack of hay on the wagon and push the bales off the stack one by one.  My grandpa would put them on the elevator.  As we got closer to the bottom of the stack, I would knock a bale off the small stack and then carry the bale, most of the time I pushed it, to my grandpa by the elevator.  Even as I got older, I usually stayed on the wagon with my grandpa.  We seemed to make a good team.  I liked staying out of the barn.  It was really hot up there.

square hay bales in field
Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

Speaking of hot, one of my least favorite things about putting up square bales was what was appropriate clothing for this job.  To keep the hay from scratching arms and legs really bad, we had to wear long sleeve shirts, pants and gloves.  In the hay fields, it felt like it was 120 degrees.  I’m really not exaggerating, it was HOT!  What was nice was out in the fields, when we almost had a wagon full of hay, I would sit on the top of the stacks and could feel a nice breeze.

As I got older and could handle the bales better, it was usually just one of my older male cousins and myself that helped my grandpa put up hay.  Now that’s a full day of hard work.

When my grandpa had a lot of hay down in the fields, my mom and my aunt would help.  I could never understand it, but every time my aunt and mom would help one wagon of hay they had stacked would get dumped and they would have to load it again.  Recently, my aunt explained to me that my mom and her weren’t as strong as the guys, but they tried to stack as high as the men.  Unfortunately, their stacks weren’t stacked as tight as the guys were. When the wagon bounced around, my mom and aunt’s stacks of hay would fall off the wagon.

When I look out into the fields today, I have to smile, because once again this farm still brings back great family memories.

Natural Dyes to Liven Up Your Wardrobe

Laura EverlyThe Native Indians learned to use their natural surroundings without wasting anything.  TheH Native American women learned to cultivate the grasses, trees, roots and fruits to use in their every day living.  As our great country extended across the United States, pioneers learned from the Indians and used their own cultivation ideas’  Needless to say, using fruits and roots to dye fabric has been used for a very, very long time.

This blog contains a list of different fruits, vegetables and plants that can create unique colored dyes that can be used to brighten your wardrobe.  Only one type of fruit, vegetable or plant is used to make the dye, but I thought I would list a variety in case there wasn’t access to a product that produced the desired color.

Strawberries, cherries, and raspberries will make variant shades of pink.  Beets and dandelion roots are good produce to make hues of red.  Of course, blueberries dye clothes blue. Red cabbage, grapes and elderberries will also make blue dye.

If wanting to create a green tint use grass, spinach, snapdragons or peppermint leaves.  For a yellow color the sunflowers, marigolds and dandelions work well.  If you are looking for a gold hue use red clover. 

powdered dye
Photo by Aaron Thomas on Unsplash

There are many more natural, fresh foods we can harvest and use as a dye.

Here are the directions for making dyes using fruits, vegetables or plants.

First chop your plant, vegetable or fruit into very small pieces.  Then place in an old pan that is holding twice as much water as chosen product.  Bring water and produce to the boiling point.  Remove from heat to allow produce soak in water.  Depending on the dye color desired let natural product set in water for an hour or overnight. Then strain to separate dye from the solid produce.  Discard solids.

It has been suggested to use cotton, silk or wool textile.  The fabric that is chosen should be placed in a salt solution or a vinegar solution.  If using a berry dye soak the material in a salt solution.  Dissolve one half cup salt in eight cups water.  The fabric used for all other plant dyes should by soaked in a vinegar mixture.  Combine one cup vinegar to four cups water.  Once fabric has soaked in either solution for an hour rinse textile in cold water.

Next have fun creating new and vibrant clothing.


Fruit And Vegetable Plant Dyes: How To Make Natural Dyes From Food

Which Plants and Vegetables Make the Best Dyes

New Explorations: Old Hotels Part 2

Laura EverlyWelcome back to New Explorations: Old Hotels.  This blog is going to feature more unusual, historic hotels.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina is home to the Green Park Inn.  This inn was built in 1891.  It is the second oldest resort in North Carolina.  The Green Park Inn was the home to the first Post Office in the United States.  A portion of this post office is housed in the history room of this inn.

What is really neat about the Green Park Inn is where it was built.  To be more specific, the town Blowing Rock, North Carolina and the Catawba/Cherokee Native American legend behind it. It is believed that a Catawba woman fell in love with a Cherokee man.  The man heard about a battle he would have to fight in.  He was so upset he jumped to his death.  The Catawba women was saddened by his death so she prayed to the Great Spirit.  The Great Spirit answered her prayer by creating a strong wind that pushed the man back up to the rock he had leaped from and back to his love.  To this day, Blowing Rock, North Carolina is known for being a part of its high country, beautiful scenery and its vertical winds.

The Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone Park, was built in 1903.  It is considered an unusual hotel not only because it was built out of logs, but because it is seven stories high.  Today, this historic hotel is known as the world’s largest log hotel in the world.  It is also one of the few remaining hotels made out of logs in the United States.

Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park
Photo by Daniel Mayer on Wikimedia Commons

The lobby of The Old Faithful Inn features a handmade clock made of wood, copper and wrought iron and a huge fireplace.  It has 327 rooms. The Old Faithful Geyser and Geyser Basin are near this inn.  An unusual fact about The Old Faithful Inn and Yellowstone Park is Christmas is held in August here every year.  On August 25th, staff and visitors decorate a Christmas tree on the west side of Yellowstone Park and then they go to the Old Faithful Inn for Christmas dinner.  This tradition started in the 1930’s when a rare winter storm that occurred on August twenty-fifth snowed in both employees and guests.

The Lafayette Hotel can be found alongside the Ohio River in the oldest town in Ohio.  Marietta, Ohio was established in 1788 and is the first permanent settlement in the northeast territory.  The Lafayette Hotel was built in 1918. It is a uniquely and beautifully curved brick hotel with balconies outside the rooms that overlook the Ohio River.  There is also a beautiful fountain that sets in a courtyard near the Lafayette Hotel.

This blog was to explore our past and learn more about the backbone of our great country.  Sometimes talking with staff and residents of towns we visit, we almost feel like the walls of the establishment are talking, especially in old hotels.


Green Park Inn
CNN: Best U.S. Historical Hotels 2015
Trip Advisor
Prophets and Moguls, Rangers and Rogues, Bison and Bears by Heather Hansen
U.S. Park Lodging

New Explorations: Old Hotels

Laura EverlyExploration and adventure…we all have different reasons why we love to travel.  Learning something new about the old is what this blog is about.  To be more specific, this blog features unique historic hotels throughout the United States.

Mackinac Island in Michigan became known as America’s retreat in 1886.  The Mackinac Island Grand Hotel was built in 1887.  This hotel became a home away from home for many who traveled across America by train or steam engines on the waterways.  In 1887, it cost $3 to $5 to stay one night at this popular hotel.

In the 1800’s and early 1900’s, many enjoyed a night of dancing at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.  In 1947, a portion of the film Time for Keeps was filmed at this favorite retreat.  Esther Williams, Jimmie Durante and Johnnie Johnson were the stars in this movie.

Who is Esther Williams?  She was a great swimmer in the 1930’s and 1940’s, who romanticized swimming with her talent as an Olympic swimmer and an American actress.  The films she was in helped synchronized swimming become popular.  She became known as “The American Mermaid.” Since part of Time for Keeps was filmed at the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel, the hotel’s swimming pool was named the Esther Williams swimming pool.

Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel are still popular travel destination.  Mackinac Island is a great retreat vacation spot because no cars are allowed on this island.  Transportation is provided by horse and carriage, bicycling or walking.

historic eliza thompson house
Photo by Elisa.rolle on Wikimedia Commons

The Eliza Thompson House in Savannah, Georgia was built in 1847.  This residence was the first to be built on the Jones Street in this historical city.  The owners of this house were Joseph and Eliza Thompson.  Joseph Thompson was a successful businessman who bought and sold cotton.  He also served as a board member of several banks.  He passed away in in 1855.  His wife, Eliza not only raised their seven children in this house, but also successfully continued her husband’s financial endeavors that built their home.

In the 1980’s renovations were made to the Eliza Thompson House.  The house is now a twelve-room inn that has a beautiful private courtyard.  A carriage house was built so more rooms could house visitors.

Savannah, Georgia is a beautiful, historical southern city.

The Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming, has many remnants of the Old West.  Butch Cassidy, The Hole in the Wall Gang, Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill stayed in this hotel.  The Occidental Saloon still has the “twenty-three bullet holes” that could have been put in the wall by any one of the outlaws mentioned.  Owen Wisler wrote his novel The Virginian while he was staying at this hotel.

This blog only mentions a few of the historic and unique hotels that can be found throughout the United States.  My next blog will continue to share a few more interesting hotels that bring our past into the present.


Grand Hotel
Eliza Thompson House
Occidental Wyoming

America's Favorite Pastime in Full Swing

Laura EverlyPeanuts!  Get your Peanuts Here! Baseball, America’s favorite pastime is in full swing. Just for fun, I thought I would share some of the different terms used in base ball in the early years.  No, base ball wasn’t a typo, that is how it was spelled in the 1850’s.  Hurrah!

Base ball players were called ballist.  Before 1860, a batter was called striker or batsman.  The bats were known as ash, hickory or timber.  Pitchers threw the ball underhand.  The ballist would call the outs rather than the umpire.  If a ballist did question a call the umpire made the player would say judgement and an appeal was made.  When the player disagreed with the appeal it was called chafing.

worn baseball on grass
Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

In the 1850’s and 1860’s, the batsman would show the pitcher where he wanted the ball.  The striker had three choices of where he wanted the pitch to be: waist high, shoulder high or knee high. A corker was a hard-hit ball. In the 1850’s and early 1860’s, if the ball bounced once and then was caught by a ballist in the playing field, it was an out.

New York City claims the honor of being the home of base ball.  The New York Knickerbockers were the first organized club.  The top nine players, the starting nine players of each club were called artists.  The players that didn’t make the second team, but were still a part of the club were called muffins.

In 1857, the National Association of Base Ball Players was formed.  Fifteen teams were part of the National Association of Base Ball players.

Who was the first baseball star?  Now we’ll leave that to the discretion of each baseball fan, but here are a few early stars to consider.  It is documented that Jim Creighton’s slight of hand pitching style created the first fastball.  Jim Creighton would then counter with a slow ball or dewdrop.

Paul Hines should be coined the first iron horse in baseball.  During 19 consecutive seasons of baseball, 1872-1891, Paul Hines played in 1,659 games.  Paul Hines baseball career began in 1852.  His last year of play was 1935, Two other baseball iron horses in the history of baseball were Lou Gehrig who played 2,130 games straight for the New York Yankees and Cal Ripkin Jr. who played in 2,632 successive games for the Baltimore Orioles.  We can’t leave out Babe Ruth.  Not only was he an unbelievable slugger, but he added so much flair, excitement and even controversy on and off the diamond we have to love his spirit.

Baseball fans know what the great Jackie Robinson did for professional baseball; he was an inspiration and icon.  However, he was not the first Afro-American to play baseball.  Bud Fowler was the first to play professional baseball in 1878.

Speaking of the favorite pastime, thank you Harry Caray for “Take Me Out to The Ball Game.”


Dirigo Vintage Baseball Club

19 C Baseball19C Baseball

Baseball Almanac

Front Porch Swing

Laura EverlyAhhh sipping iced tea or lemonade, rocking back and forth on a porch swing, who doesn’t love it?  The front porch on my grandparent’s farm seemed to be everybody’s favorite spot, especially in the summer.  On the warm summer evenings my grandparents would sit in the swing after a hard day of work on the farm.  My grandpa would watch for those pesky groundhogs that seemed to masterfully place their homes always in the wrong places in the hay fields.  My grandma would watch the cars go past their farm house. 

I enjoyed sitting on the steps listening and watching them swing.  I learned a lot on those evenings.  Sometimes when the green beans and peas had been picked, my grandma and I would sit in the swing and string the green beans and shell peas.

rustic porch swing
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

After my grandpa passed away, my grandma still enjoyed sitting on the front porch swing watching the cars go past the farm house.  Her devoted companion now was a small dog named Spice.  Spice adored my grandma and my grandma dearly loved this little dog.  Spice would sit in the porch swing with my grandma.  He didn’t mind the motion of the swing at all.  I’m pretty sure he enjoyed spending time with my grandma as much as we did.

Although both my grandparents have now passed away, members of the family still enjoy sitting on the front porch swing when we gather at the farm Labor Day weekend.  At different times in the day, I’m pretty sure all of our family sits in the porch swing and on the porch steps catching up on what we’ve been doing and reminiscing about our special times on the farm.

An Adopted Lamb: Sparky

Laura EverlyMost country folk think of baby farms animals, especially calves and lambs, as the first sign of Spring, right? Well, this country girl does.  I love watching the newborn calves and lambs bouncing around the fields.

What farmer hasn’t told at least one story about bringing a newborn calf or lamb into their kitchen to keep warm during the first couple of weeks or to give the little darlings a bottle of milk? The sobering fact of farming when this happens is usually because the cow or ewe didn’t accept her baby.

Here is an unusual, but true story about a little lamb we adopted from farmers.   This little lamb was a triplet.  He was the smallest of the three lambs.  During his fight to survive he broke his leg. Of course, it broke my mom’s heart when she heard about the little lamb.  What mom who had grown up on a farm wouldn’t be touched?

I didn’t know we had adopted a lamb until I called home while I was on vacation.  To my surprise while I was talking to my mom, I heard a loud baa…baa in the background.  When I asked why was I was hearing a sheep in the house, Mom happily informed me that there was a lamb in our bath tub.  Completely normal?  I had to think about this one. Once my mom told me Sparky’s story, really did make sense.

sparky the lamb

When I got home after my vacation, Sparky tried to run up to me.  I knew instantly why his name was Sparky.  He was so cute.

Sparky was now living in a large box in our kitchen.  He had a soft teddy bear in his box to keep him company. loved this bear. 

Sparky was an unusual lamb because he loved to ride in my vehicle.  My boss and co-workers agreed to me bringing Sparky to work.  I would place him in a card board box in the back where he was safe on the floor behind the driver’s seat.  Sparky was so relaxed and comfortable in my vehicle; he was usually sound asleep by the time I got to work.  He loved going to work with me, mainly because he loved the attention he received.    

Of course, as Sparky got bigger, he was moved outside.  He wasn’t happy about that.  Lambs are supposed to live inside and ride in the backseat of vehicles, right?  He finally accepted the fact that he was going to be living outside or so we thought.  When our dog Max was outside, Sparky followed him everywhere. When Max thought he had been outside too long, he would gently, bump the door.  Sparky also learned how to “knock” on the door.  His pawing at the door was not quite as gently as Max’s.

Our Sparky grew up to be a very rambunctious ram.  We sadly had to sell him when he was three.  Memories of Sparky still make me smile.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters