Schoharie Valley Farm - Autumn Destinations, Part II

Sunday, September 21, 2014
Welcome back for Autumn Destinations, Part II.  Today we'll again travel west to Schoharie County and visit another of my favorite stops - Schoharie Valley Farms.  Some of you locals might know it as the "Carrot Barn" - another of my grandmother's favorites.

Driving down Route 30 in Schoharie, you might be inclined to just drive past the big green barns that house the Carrot Barn at Schoharie Valley Farms.  You certainly can't tell from it's simple, utilitarian exterior that there's anything but vegetables inside these walls,  Here's is a prime example of the adage, "you can't judge a book by its cover."  What you see the moment you enter is anything but a food warehouse!
According to their own website:
"In the early 1700s, German and Dutch immigrants arrived in the Valley to work some of the richest soils of America. Their first crop of wheat was sown and produced a substantial yield. A few decades later, the Schoharie Valley’s wheat fed George Washington’s troops and earned the Valley the title of “Breadbasket of the American Revolution.”
Through the years, this warm and durable land was adapted to flax, broom corn and other important crops. By the mid-1800s, the cultivation of hops had become the Schoharie Valley’s most famous agricultural industry. Today, we who live in this special place proudly till the same soil and enjoy a quality of life built on our agricultural heritage.
We’re dedicated to growing only top-quality produce, to preserving this historic resource, and to continuing our agricultural heritage for generations to come.
Richard Ball, whose family owns and operates Schoharie Valley Farm, is the current commissioner of NYS Agriculture & MarketsMr. Ball served as chairman of Schoharie Recovery, Inc., a nonprofit formed to help the region rebound from the devastating 2011 flooding caused by tropical storms Irene and Lee.  Like most of the surrounding area, Schoharie Valley Farm suffered as a result of Irene.  Although the devastation that occurred in this region is no longer visibly evident when driving through Schoharie, the financial scars from Irene are still healing.
"Everyday Menu"
In addition to fresh produce, the store also sells local meats and cheeses, honey, gourmet jams, jellies, mustard and maple syrup, in addition to various collectibles and seasonal items, with the focus being on Schoharie Valley and NY products.
There's no question the Carrot Barn sells some of the most beautiful and delicious produce I've ever seen - in one of the prettiest produce shops around, but maybe even better than the produce is the scrumptious lunch they serve in their cafe.   In addition to the many options always on the menu (pictured here), the cafe also features weekly specials!  Everything is made fresh and at a very reasonable price.
Hawaiian Carrot Cupcake!
Chocolate Raspberry!
Warning - save room for dessert. 
Oh my, their baked goods are ahhhmazing!

Spring prevails in the greenhouse!
This is just a peek at what awaits you inside the simple looking "carrot barn" nestled in the beautiful Schoharie Valley.  Every one of your senses will be brought to life, whether you visit in the spring, summer or fall. (The farm closes for a short time during the winter.)   Once you visit, I know you'll go back time and time again.  So don't delay.   Just a 40 minutes from Albany, I-88 is breathtaking and serene.  Step out of the cities and suburbs and breathe in a little country!  Just remember to bring along your appetite.  The Farm is open daily from 9:00a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

To view the photos in a slide show format - click on any photo.  Once you are at the show, just click the pics along the bottom of the page to move from photo to photo.   

After 36 years of Marriage, I think I've found a new Soulmate

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Ok, so I know I promised you autumn destination blogs.........and they're coming, honest!  But today John and I took a little drive to pay a visit to our friends at Dakota Ridge Farm to say hi to Katrina and Gary Capasso and their family of llamas.  Yes....I blogged about Dakota Ridge earlier and judging by the number of reads that post got, I'm not the only llama lover around.  If you haven't read that blog....don't miss it.  I'll leave the link at the end of today's post.

I'm not going to tell you too much about Dakota Ridge since I did a pretty lengthy story in my earlier post, but suffice to say, I'm totally over-the-moon smitten with llamas.  These animals are like big dogs!  They come to the fence to greet you, they love being pet, they look you square in the eyes and can you NOT love them.   You can't!!!!    Today I was particularly enamored with "Down Under Thunder".  At first he was just chilling, laying by the fence, making these sort of moaning, whiny sounds.  I thought maybe he was annoyed by our presence.  When I asked Gary about it, he explained that this guy has a little 'attitude' and whines to have the fan turned on.  Too funny!  Eventually my friend got up and strolled over to say hello and let me just say, it was love at first sight!
Clearly he was smitten with me too - look at that 'look'

Obviously, you can see why anyone would fall in love with this handsome beast!!!
 Take a very close look into this eye - just in case I might be thinking of ditching my husband, here he is in Down Under Thunder's pupil along with Gary.  I'll tell ya .... I love this llama!
But I can't be biased because there's several more - all as beautiful as this one!  See for yourself.....

This fella was very interested in the paparazzi!

Spice (the kitty) is THE most loveable cat I've ever met.  When she's not lovin' on visitors, she's saying hi to the llamas or loving on Gary!  While we were there, a visitor arrived and Spice ran behind her car all the way up the driveway! I learned that Spice knows this visitor always brings kitty treats!

Now you understand my infatuation, don't you?  I will not be held responsible for any reader who feels compelled to own a llama.  But I will encourage  you to make an appointment to check out Dakota Ridge Farm sometime soon.  For a very small fee you will be given a tour and get to meet the 50+ llamas and their warm and wonderful owners, Katrina and Gary Capasso.  I promise you will love them and their llamas - every one of them, but remember - Down Under Thunder is mine ;)   Below is the link to my original blog, also filled with lots of photos of these adorable creatures.  Thanks again to Gary & Katrina for your hospitality and for sharing your family with us! 

Autumn 1777 - The Battle of Saratoga

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
While it's easy for most of us to live a peaceful existence without fear for our day-to-day safety, fact is, that is not the case for certain parts of our world.  Those of you with family members in the military know full well of that fact as your sons and daughters fight everyday for our freedom and safety.  For most of us, except for 9/11, war and its damage and casualties are a concept that we associate with 'stuff that happens in other countries'.   But the truth is, war once occurred right here in our own backyards.  I don't know about you, but this truth often escapes my everyday consciousness.  I was reminded of it yesterday when John and I visited the Saratoga Battlefield.

I've been there before, a handful of times in fact.  I've read the placards and monuments and seen the canons.  Maybe I was too young to appreciate its significance before, or maybe yesterday it was because of all the recent unrest our country has been involved in.   Whatever the reason, yesterday's visit made me realize that not so long ago, battles happened right here in Saratoga County, my neck of the woods.  Of course it wasn't just here, it was all around us.  I have already blogged about the Palatine Lutheran Church which was spared during this same war.  But think about it for a devastating as 9/11 was killing thousands in an instant......imagine a ground war in your neighborhood!!  That's a pretty scary thought and one I think most of us ignore, if only for the purpose of being able to sleep at night and live a life not motivated by fear.  So, if you're like me and know your history but go about life taking our safety and freedom a little for granted, assuming that wars take place in other countries, take a moment to enjoy the peaceful countryside where the Battle of Saratoga took place not so long ago.  I'm sure it looked much different back then.  Take a moment to think of the significance of this battle.  As their website says, "Because of the incredible impact caused by the American victory in the Battles of Saratoga, they are known as the "Turning Point of the American Revolution", and are considered by many historians to be among the top 15 battles in world history."

Deer in the park were plentiful and relatively unimpressed by our presence.

 I am sure that these photos do little to depict a war fought, or freedom won.  In fact to me, they represent peace and tranquility - a peace that our ancestors fought to win for us.  So today I ask you this...when you look around at the beauty that surrounds where you live, when you feel the sense of peace and safety that we often feel in our own country, remember the wars that were fought here on our land, in our backyards so many years ago.  Remember those who fought, many of whom gave their lives to protect us and provide the safety and peace we sometimes take for granted.  And remember and thank the servicemen and women who are fighting to keep us safe and keep wars from happening on our soil, in our backyards.  It wasn't so long ago that we faced that and I pray that we never see it again.   

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