Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Hunterdon County’

Some time ago – can it really be back in 2014 I wrote that post? – I featured the last home I lived in, a beautiful stone farmhouse, the oldest part of which was 1724. The bulk of the house was built in 1810, and then the homeowner who lovingly restored the property added a modern kitchen and bath about 40 or so years ago. I’d promised to share the house I’d lived in prior to that, an 1870 home, technically Victorian I guess, but not of the gingerbread style as the community was more farm oriented than fancy.

As mentioned in that earlier post, all my life after college, including where I live now, has been in homes or apartment buildings from 1810 – 1920. I have enjoyed 9′ ceilings as my standard, deep porches on all the homes, stunning hardwood floors, and more “wildlife” than modern homes allow by sheer dint of better mechanics, technology and sealing. It was usually a small price to pay.

Above you see the first house I lived in when I moved to the western side of New Jersey in a tiny rural town called Pattenburg, once a center of basket-making and peach growing. These were all taken to market on the trains that ran the (still active) tracks at the far back of my property. The land itself was 1/2 acre and an absolute marvel to this girl who’d been living in an (albeit huge) apartment. The property was on the narrow side and quite deep with 14 deciduous trees, and I sure got my exercise raking each fall and mowing.

There you see an aging apple tree which was a major attraction in the fall. It was not unusual to look outside and see deer, rabbits, and groundhogs all together enjoying what had fallen to the ground. As the ancient tree had not been well-cared for, the apples were not really edible or pie-worthy, but few went wasted. At the right, the ubiquitous outhouse, an often-rescued fixture on every property on Main Street.

And this is Main Street, photographed from the road in front of my house. When I first moved here, people were always talking about “downtown”. Needless to say, I was curious as to where that might be, so I asked. I was told,  “You’re standing in it!” This was a far different life than I had ever known, for sure.

Every time I was out walking the dogs total strangers driving by would wave at me. At first, taken a bit aback, my hand would flail lightly at my side reaching in an upward direction. I’d never lived anywhere where strangers just waved at you. But it didn’t take me long to catch on – people were just downright friendly. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have landed here.

The backyard in snow. And this only shows a portion of it. There’s another third of the land beyond that farthest point you can see. Plus this doesn’t give a hint of the lush blossoming of endless perennial plants, shrubs and trees that were on this property. I have so many photos of the flowers all about – small areas of blossoming beauty – that I’d be here for days just trying to find and scan photos of the riot of color that abounded in spring and summer.

I don’t have a lot of photographs of the interior of the house. It had original hardwood – walnut, I believe – floors and stairs. The kitchen’s wide planks had already been painted, so  once settled in, I gave it a new high-gloss paint job. Out the kitchen door was a patio.

Another photo in the kitchen. Here was my old girl, Chloe, then nearing 15 years – the most lovable, trustworthy and phenomenally stubborn dog one could ever hope to own. (Yes, she’s on the drop cloth.) Behind her was a complete wall of original wood cabinets and drawers, any kitchen-lover’s dream. The original wainscoting was also intact, unpainted. Throughout the house there were chair rails with beautifully coordinated colonial colors and petite flowered wallpaper above the rail. There were also closed-over fireplaces in the living and dining rooms and the master bedroom. Again, just as well for one with no knowledge of building or watching over fires.

And here’s what qualified our little stretch of maybe 24 houses and an old red schoolhouse as a downtown – we had a church and an antique store which was once Pattenburg’s general store. I was soon surprised at how many people visited the shop filled with antiques and collectibles. It turns out the owner had cleverly gotten her store listed on an “antiques trail” where people would drive about following a map for fabulous finds in and around the county.

The house at Christmas, my tree in the dining room at right, not visible in this photo. I decorated the garland with white lights, gold bows and small pink roses to complement the house. It always looked wonderful. At the holidays, our little Main Street was all aglow, looking for all it was worth like a slice of another time with beautifully lit houses, and neighbors happier still, all of us waving at one another, wishing each a warm Merry Christmas. Life was good.

p.s. For another insight into this country life, take a peek at this post about the train trestle at the far end of Main Street.

Read Full Post »

The morning skies were overcast, and the roads were fairly quiet. So I brought along my camera on my trip to the supermarket. The photos below were taken on an approximate 5 minute stretch of my 20-25 minute return trip from food shopping.

SR-Farm2

Fields have been tilled and planted. Set far back
from the road, a horse farm.

When I first moved out to this beautiful side of the state, I learned from my neighbors/soon-to-be-friends that we “transplants” were not always welcome here. Of course I asked why. I was shocked by their answer. “Because,” they told me, “no sooner do people move out here than they want a supermarket down the road and a 7-11 on the corner, a MacDonald’s in walking distance, etc. etc., just like they had back in the burbs.”

Needless to say, this made no sense to me either. Why would you move out to the country and want to change it? I very soon adopted their attitude. Don’t like it here? Go back to where you came from. Because here … is gorgeous. As is.

SR-TallTrees2

There are plenty of woodsy roads to be found.

I was enamored of this county the moment I moved out here. The more I drove around and saw, the more I loved it. It is truly the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived.

SR-ToCowFarm2

Approaching the upcoming curve, I always get excited for what’s to come.

Driving the backroads – passing farms and wide open land, seeing horses, cows, goats and sheep living the life they deserve, through densely forested areas, over burbling creeks, watching crops grow – I just can’t wipe this idiot grin off my face.

SR-BeltieFarm2

It’s a huge farm with Beltie, (and some Hereford), cattle/cows.

With no one else behind me, I pulled over and took a few shots of the farm across the road, always one of the highlights of my ride. There are numerous large pastures and upon them graze what are known as “Belties” – officially, Belted Galloways.

SR-Belties2

Belted Galloways are a heritage breed of beef cattle originating from Galloway in southwestern Scotland. They are known
to be a very hardy breed, originating from the 1700’s.

When I first saw these cows, maybe 15 years ago, I nearly went off the road.  I was utterly transfixed by their markings. It’s no surprise that people, including breeders, sometimes refer to them as Oreo-cookie cows.

SR-YoungBeltie2

A young Beltie. “I can get that itch if I just stretch far enough.”

At some point, I would like to contact the farm owner and ask if I might go out into the fields with the cows and really do an expansive photo shoot. Cows are such wonderful, sweet and curious animals. However, the bulls out there might not take kindly to me among them, farmer-escorted or not. (Not to mention this might be a major inconvenience for the farmer.) But I can assure you I would be in heaven, just hanging out in their midst and photographing them.

SR-DownTheHill2

It’s still spring, and the foliage you see is actually just beginning to bloom.

The next leg of the ride on this particular road has multiple sharp curves heading downhill, banks of trees ascending steeply on either side, until you are essentially in a gorge, but alas, there’s no opportunity to stop for a photograph. When summer is full blown, it’s a riot of dense green – trees, foliage and lots of moss. It reminds me of the parts of New Zealand where they filmed Lord of the Rings.

If I can see such beauty as this in just a tiny part of my ride home from the supermarket, why would I want one on the corner?

Don’t like it here? Let me help you pack!

Read Full Post »

Driving backroads out my way, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog, is a visual feast, but more than that, it is something else. For me, it is nourishment for the soul.

Califon-Fields2

The views I find along my travels feed a part of me that treasures the beauty and peacefulness, and the best part about it is that wherever I go, there they are. The changing of the seasons only adds to the richness of it all.

Califon-Treeline2

I wonder, to a fresh set of eyes, do these views appear boring? In our electronic age, where everything moves at the pace of a nanosecond, do they seem stilted or irrelevant? While I commit some of the images to my camera, I am snapping far many more and recording them in my memory. These simple views offset the pace and insistence of the many electronic communications and devices that make up the day.

Califon-Church2

The wildness of nature or the orderliness of a farmer’s fields … it doesn’t matter … either conspires to awaken in me the knowing that whatever might be happening in life, there is still beauty in my surroundings. It’s in all our surroundings; we only need to stop and look, and take in the view.

Read Full Post »

I have really had a hankering in recent months to do something/see something different. I am in love with the beautiful county where I live, but I’ve also wanted to just see something new, local or otherwise. So when a friend mentioned going to a buffalo watch, which would most likely offer some good photo ops, I thought it a great idea. And off we went. The day was overcast, but for me, that doesn’t detract at all from the lovely views.

Buffalo-FarmView2

This is a photo of the Readington River Buffalo Farm from a distance. My friend and I decided to take the tour, which is a bunch of us in a hay wagon pulled around the farm by a John Deere. The farm is 200+ acres, and also stables a number of polo ponies. There is a store on the premises which sells a variety of cuts of buffalo meat, which, of course, I did not go in. I am well aware why they’re raising the buffalo; I wanted to simply enjoy the animals.

Buffalo-LanceOnTractor2

This is Lance, who drove the tractor. Our “tour guide” on the hay wagon is a member of the nearby Whitehouse Station Rescue Squad which benefitted from the small fee for the tour. He provided us with a lot of information about the economics of raising buffalo, the farm, the animals and how the owner came to raise them. I love that a woman runs this entire operation and that the whole farm is solar powered!

Buffalo-BreederBull2

This is one of the two prize breeding bulls. I honestly wanted to get out and give him a kiss, but who knows how he would have felt about that even if it were allowed? Not to mention, if I could smooch a buffalo, EVERYONE would want to get out and smooch a buffalo!!

Buffalo-2ndBreederBull2

This is the second breeding bull. Here are a few things I learned about buffalo: they have 7 layers of skin and 4 stomachs; males and females both have horns, but the males’ horns are bigger; the bulls weigh 1,800 pounds! and did I mention they’re damn cute?

Buffalo-RoadHome2

This is a shot on the road leaving the property. So often I want to take photos when I drive the beautiful backroads of Hunterdon County and share them here. The problem is, almost all roads are 2 lane blacktops with a double line and no shoulder. Very rarely is there anyplace to pull over, (without being in a ditch), to photograph the countryside. But today on the farm’s road, I could get out and do so.

Buffalo-NearbyFarm2

And another shot of a farm set back from the same road.
Thanks for coming along, and I hope you enjoyed the (short) tour!

Read Full Post »

Perhaps one of the most notable landmarks in Hunterdon County, NJ – if not the most notable – is Clinton’s Red Mill. It is rich in history, the museum grounds host all type of events including historical reenactments and music festivals, and annually, the museum itself  offers one of the best known and most frightening Halloween hauntings for miles around. It is also one of the most photographed landmarks. Meeting a friend in Clinton over the weekend, I took the opportunity of photographing it myself from a few angles.

From the Leigh St. bridge

From the banks of the South Branch of the Raritan River, on which the mill sits

From a small park along the river further north

Should you visit Clinton, it will be hard to miss the Red Mill, but if you check their web site, you can time your visit with one of many events either at the mill or in the lovely town of Clinton. (I see  the museum is showing Hugo outdoors on August 3!)

Note: All photos/drawings/art/images throughout this blog are  © Jeanne Balsam and may not be reproduced without written permission. Thank you! 

Read Full Post »

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandi

It sometimes strikes me how often we complain about one thing or another or see behavior we can easily criticize. The world is rapidly changing, and with more and more people involved with texting and their iPhones, etc., it sometimes seems like a less and less friendly world. Certainly, it can seem like a less considerate one.

But really, this is just the current manifestation of what sometimes looks like the breakdown of civilized society. It’s taken on many different faces over the years.

About 16+ years ago, I moved out to this side of the state of New Jersey to a far kinder and gentler life. My county is highly agricultural. There’s still lots of open space, both fields and woods, and it’s inhabited by a lot of people who still have a connection to the land and to nature. It’s a very different mindset than the bustling city, cool as that was when I lived there, or even towns in the suburbs, which still have a very active lifestyle, as did mine.

In my little newfound town in Western NJ was something that, to me,  epitomized the gentler mentality out here … a one way railroad trestle underpass. The trestle is over a well-traveled two-lane blacktop connecting the areas south of it to the very busy Route 78, a mile to the north, which runs across the state, just about into the Hudson River and NYC. What I so loved about this spot was that everyone took turns when they were coming or going under this little one way underpass. “After you.”  “Go ahead,” they waved. Civilization at its best.

Then they started building the McMansions.  With them came a whole lot of people in a big hurry to get to Rt. 78 and their hellish commute to points East. And there went the civility. The motto of these people was “I’m going to get me mine.” And they pushed through, ten cars at a time, if needs be, to make sure they did. But the good thing?

We “locals”, as I suppose we are, didn’t go that route. We kept on waving the next car through the narrow passageway.  If we didn’t get to pass for a few cars, so be it. And I still do that every time I get to that train trestle. Some of the oncoming drivers look surprised. Most wave thanks, just as we all always have. Do those of us who support this small kindness make a difference?There’s no way of knowing. But I still see lots of people taking turns.

What is true, is that by joining the ranks of the inconsiderate and rude, nothing will change for the better. So we can be the change we wish to see in the world, or add to the problem. I believe that whatever we do positive in this world does make a difference. So feel free to wave me on when you get to the underpass, and I’ll do the same for you.

Today, Memorial Day, we can all be a change we’d like to see and it just takes a second and a show of appreciation.  Thank a vet.

Read Full Post »

JEANNE BALSAM GRAPHICS

BRINGING YOUR DREAMS TO LIFE

Harvesting Hecate

Thoughts on life, writing, creativity and magic

Salmon Brook Farms

Official Home of Lavinia and Rick Ross

Ron Writes Stuff

Textbook Libra, potentially snarky, always writing.

Cynthia Reyes - Author

The blog of author Cynthia Reyes

Marie Lamba, author

Some thoughts from author and agent Marie Lamba

Professions for Peace

Affirmations. Declarations. Statements.

47whitebuffalo's Blog

exploring connections among all things

A Leaf in Springtime

"Be a dew to the soil of the human heart."

home, garden, life

home, garden, life ~ sharing a sustainable lifestyle

%d bloggers like this: