Fall activities abound for young families

veronica-matthew

In this piece for the Chester County Independent, I give some fun ideas for autumn activities with your family:

It is that magical time between summer and winter when the sky is the color of a robin’s egg and leaves range in shades of orange, brown, red and crimson. Darkness comes early and nights have a nip in the air—but days remain sunny and somewhat warm. During this brief season, plan time for family activities. Use these suggestions for building family relationships and making memories for your clan.

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Bates Turkey Farm: A tradition at Thanksgiving and year-round

Bates Turkey Farm

Turkeys at the Bates farms are raised as free-range birds, which the family believes produces a higher-quality product. (Michael Cornelison)

Here’s my Alabama Living feature on Greenville, Alabama, mainstay Bates Turkey Farm:

After flying countless bombing missions in Europe during World War II, Bill Bates returned home and declared, “I never plan to stand in another line or ask anyone for a job.” Instead, he had one purpose in mind: To produce the finest turkeys ever to grace a table.

Many Alabamians are familiar with how the turkey farm business was started by Bill’s parents. In 1923, W.C. and Helen Hudson Bates, Bill’s mom and dad, received nine turkey eggs from his Aunt Mamie Bates as a wedding present. In 1935, with the Great Depression taking its toll on small farmers, this small gift became the source that saved the farm as the bank allowed the turkeys to be used as collateral. When Bill returned from the war, his parents needed help with the growing industry. He stayed, and the turkey business has grown significantly from those original eggs.

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Bader Farms: Just Peachy

Bader Peaches

Bader Peaches

Check out an excerpt from my profile of Bader Farms from Missouri Life:

Missourians take pride in many things. There are the beautiful Ozark hills that gradually fade into the distance; clean, sparkling rivers that weave through the countryside like a ribbon fluttering in the wind; and rustic old mills that tell of a lifestyle generations ago. And then there are Bader peaches.

Growing up in the northwest edge of the Bootheel, Bill Bader stared working in the peach orchards as a high school student in 1970 to earn money to buy his school clothes. This part-time job changed his life.

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Cuba’s Orchid Garden

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Here’s my piece on the Orchid Gardens of Soroa in Cuba, as it appeared in the Chester County Independent :

On a summer afternoon with temperatures in the high 90s and extreme humidity our group of 13 educators climbed approximately 206 meters (1 meter equals 3.28 feet) to Cuba’s Orchid Park in Soroa. Orchids and other tropical plants thrive in this micro-climate that includes abundant rains and an average annual temperature of 74 degrees.

The Orchid Gardens of Soroa were developed due to a great sadness of the owner. In 1942 Tomás Felipe Camacho, a successful lawyer and native of the Canary Islands, purchased a tract of land in an area of Soroa. Filled with lush native vegetation, he wanted to share this beautiful site with others. At first, he thought of building a resort on the land, but a turn of events changed his plans. His beloved daughter died while giving birth. Shortly after, his grieving wife passed away. From that day forward, Don Tomás devoted himself totally to honoring his deceased loved ones. Thus, he developed a captivating interest in growing orchids.  Continue reading

Horse Motel is Keeping the Barn Door Open

Bud Sikes checks on one of his Arabian stallions at the Southern Star Horse Hotel in Jackson, Tennessee.

Bud Sikes checks on one of his Arabian stallions at the Southern Star Horse Hotel in Jackson, Tennessee.

I’m extremely excited to have the cover story for the Winter 2015-2016 edition of Tennessee Home & Farm. Here’s an excerpt from the piece, which focuses on a “horse motel” in Madison County:

A well-known motel has the slogan: “We’ll keep the lights on for you.” For Bud and Lelia Sikes, owners of Southern Star Farms in Madison County, it’s more along the lines of: “We’ll keep the barn door open for you.”

Like a layover station for the Pony Express, the Volunteer State is becoming an area where owners and drivers look for overnight lodging before leaving home. Fortunately, they won’t be disappointed. One website lists 48 overnight stables sites and another 65. However, some of those listed are places to ride or train. With the Interstate 40 corridor connecting the eastern and western U.S., equestrians choose this route when transporting horses.  Continue reading

Nature’s Beauties: Homeowners can bring butterflies back to gardens

Butterfly on buddleia bush.

Butterfly on buddleia bush.

Here’s an excerpt from my Alabama Living article “Nature’s Beauties” :

Driving down an off-the-beaten path in north Alabama, a driver swerved and stopped immediately in front of me. After hitting my brakes, I realized it was my fault. I should have read her bumper sticker, which stated: I BRAKE FOR BUTTERFLIES.

Ranging in colors from yellow, black, blue, and shades in between, you see them on country roads, in suburban gardens and sunny nature centers. Often, I see them near the small towns of Tuscumbia and Muscle Shoals. Driving on the back roads, butterflies (Lepidoptera) flutter above Queen Anne’s lace, black-eyed Susan and purple coneflowers that grow along the roadside. Regardless of how often they appear, one never tires of their beauty. These marvels of nature fly by day and rest with their wings erect. Continue reading

Dement Tree Service: Satisfaction Guaranteed

Tree Services Magazine

My profile of Dement Tree Service, as it appeared in Tree Services Magazine:

Dement Tree Service makes customer approval a top priority.

One man’s dream became a reality in 2011 when Joe Dement purchased an established tree company. He restored and improved the company’s services, added to the practices already in place and rebranded the new business as Dement Tree Service. The now thriving company, based in Medina, Tennessee, provides removal, trimming and pruning, cabling and bracing, stump grinding, chipping, hazardous tree assessment, storm damage cleanup and 24-hour emergency tree service.

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