The Monocacy Natural Resource Management Area (MNRMA)

Our family has come to the opinion that the state park land where our farm is located, is the most interesting Maryland State Park to hike and explore. As curators of the Mackintosh Farmhouse we felt that it was important that we find out the history of the Monocacy Natural Resource Management Area (MNRMA). We did not expect to find much. What we found is fascinating. The MNRMA is a treasure for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

By a casual observation of the property, it appears to be an undeveloped woodland in the Washington DC metropolitan region, that was saved from development by the park system. However, unlike most of the metropolitan area that is more developed today than any time in history, this area was much more densely populated 200+ years ago. It was a thriving community completely cleared of trees. At least five old roads dating back to the late 1700’s can still be seen in the woods on the east side of the Monocacy River. Most of the current trails follow some of these old roads. As you hike the old roads you realize that this land was touched by other human beings hundreds of years before. What was life like for them? What did the area look like then?

Monnockessy Indian Towne

In 1712, the Tuscarora Indians built a large town on the southern part of the Monocacy Natural Resource Management Area (MNRMA) south of Route 28. This is one of the few known Indian towns located in Maryland. The town was located on the west bank of the Monocacy river and spread 1 1/2 miles to the west. Most of the lodges in the village were round forms constructed of poles covered with birch bark and pine branches. Some of the Indians lived in wigwams. They planted lots of maize (corn) with some of the lodges having as much as 300 bushels at a time. The Tuscarora Indians were traders. They traded with other Indian tribes and traded the skins with white traders. There were often 3-5 white traders living in the village. By 1738, the Tuscarora Indians had moved out. Our family has not yet explored this area of the park.

Indian Camp Sites?

Hiking through the woods, not following any trail, we found what are possible old Indian campsites located along Furnace Creek which is on the opposite side of the Monocacy River from the Monnockessy Indian Towne. They are huge rock outcroppings near the creek.

Johnson Iron Furnace – Maryland Historical Trust site #F-7-9

The Johnson Iron Furnace site is located in the MNRMA close to the parking lot on Route 28. All that remains now are some holes in the ground and some terracing into the hillside. The Johnson Furnace was built in 1787 by the Johnson brothers who also owned the Catoctin Iron Furnace which is also part of the Catoctin State Park. The Johnson Furnace produced 12-15 tons of iron a week, and employed both free and slave blacks, and also white men. About one acre of woods was required per day to make charcoal to feed the furnace. The furnace continued operation until about 1822. By the time the furnace ceased operating, several thousand surrounding acres had been totally cleared of trees.

Old Roads

There are numerous old roads that can still be clearly seen in the woods that probably date back to the late 1700’s or before. Along some of these old roads, we found what appears to be old house sites. The same year that the Johnson Furnace started, 1787, the Amelung Glass factory, four miles north, also started production. The Amelung Glass factory employed 340+ workers, had several stores, a doctor, and a blacksmith. The Johnson Iron Furnace employed probably over 100 workers. This accounts for the numerous roads. The road that went from the Johnson Furnace to the Amelung Glass factory, went past the Mackintosh Farmhouse (our house). You can see the old road bed between our house and the red shed. It is over grown with brush and we would like to clear it out at some point.

Lime Kiln?

There is a stone structure that some call a lime kiln, others call it a furnace. It is in need of identification and preservation. To the best of our knowledge, it is not listed on the Maryland Historic Trust list of historic structures. The Lime Kiln is located some distance from the Johnson Iron Furnace.

Old School Site

The C.O. Titus map of 1873 shows a school located in the MNRMA. We found a stone wall in the woods located next to the old school site. There are no visible remains of the school.

There is also the remains of an old school at the end of Ed Sears Rd. across from our lane. It is located on private property about 100 feet from the road just outside the MNRMA. The presence of two schools located about a mile apart, shows that there was a much larger community that existed years ago.

Quarry for the Monocacy Aqueduct

There is a quarry site located in the MNRMA where stone was quarried to build the Monocacy Aqueduct on the C&O canal. You can still see channels cut into the rock where they drilled to blast the rock and cut it into big blocks.

One of the First Railroads In America

The site of one of the first railroads in America is located in the MNRMA. A railroad was built from the stone quarry to the Monocacy Aqueduct to transport the huge blocks of stone. It was a horse drawn railroad.

Stone Silo

At the end of Dr. Belt Road on another curatorship property owned by the park system is a unique stone silo. It has a ring of holes two thirds of the way up the silo. Holes in a silo will cause the silage to rot. Therefore these holes are not there because it is a silo. It appears to have been built as a lookout/fort during the civil war. It is located on a high spot overlooking the Potomac River and into Virginia. It would have had a clear view for quite a distance up and down the Potomac River.

There is much more to research and to find out. Unfortunately, the history of the Monocacy Natural Resource Area has not been documented with signs for anyone hiking in the park. Most people probably hike through not realizing what all is there. But then it also means that this is a place to explore and discover its hidden history. For pictures of the structures and old roads we found, you can visit the photo gallery on our farm website.

Trail maps can be found on the following web pages: http://www.localhikes.com/Hikes/MonocacyNRA_8872.asp and http://www.localhikes.com/Hikes/MonocacyLongTrail_8872.asp

The history of the MNRMA is not the only only reason that we think that this is a very interesting park to hike and explore. As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of different kinds of birds, especially in the area surrounding our farm. We never had this many birds at our other farm. Most of the trails are fairly easy to hike. Very few people know about this park and the trails here, so it is a great place to get alone and enjoy the woods, the wildflowers, wildlife, etc. and many times never see another human being. All this, so close to Washington DC.

What is the Difference?

Jehovah-Jireh Farm Chicken Grocery Store Free-range Organic Chicken
True free-range, pasture raised

Large confinement factory farm chicken house with limited or no access to the out of doors.

No Vaccinations Many vaccinations
Practically no ammonia smell in shelter Lots of ammonia vapor in the chicken house
Normal day lighting Artificial lighting 23 hours a day
Small groups (350 or less) Huge groups (10,000 or more)
Low stress in small groups High stress in large groups
Clean air Air hazy with fecal particles and ammonia
Fresh air and sunshine Limited or no access to sunshine
Plenty of exercise Limited exercise
Fresh daily salad bar (pasture) Basically no greens
Local Trucked in from out of state
Promotes family farming Promotes large corporations
Rural revitalization Promotes urban expansion
Consumer/producer relationship Consumer/producer alienation
Environmentally friendly

Same environmental impact as conventional confinement chicken houses

The difference between the two is much more than the "free-range" grocery store label implies. The "free-range" grocery store chicken is not much different from conventional chicken, except it receives organic feed and does not receive antibiotics, or arsenic (fed as a growth stimulator!). A door may be open to let a few broilers out to scratch in the dirt.

Meat is much more than a combination of nutrients that we eat. All meat is not the same. We have been conditioned to believe that all meat is the same and that the main difference is the price. That is not true. Even though the nutrients in a downed cow and the nutrients in a healthy beef may analyze in the lab basically the same, the true nutrition is NOT the same! The same is true in the way chickens are raised. Just as we need sunshine, sunshine is important for chickens too. Just as fresh green vegetables are important in our diet, so fresh green vegetables (grass, clover, etc.) are important in a chicken’s diet. It is important that we get exercise to be healthy. So it is important that the meat we eat had the proper amount of exercise to be healthy as well. It is important that we get plenty of fresh air. In the same way it is important that the chicken meat we eat was not raised in an environment where the air was hazy with with manure dust and ammonia. We are what we eat. The way that the meat that we eat was raised is important. It has an effect on our bodies. That is why we, at Jehovah-Jireh Farm, go to the extra work to produce a product that is raised in the best way possible.

Chicken Salad

This is a great way to use leftover chicken.

(All measurements are approximate.)

1 chicken, cooked and deboned and cut up
1/2 c.mayonnaise
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tablespoon dill weed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons tamari sauce
1 tablespoon minced onion or 1 teaspoon onion powder
One stalk celery, cut up fine, optional
Unrefined sea salt, to taste

Mix all ingredients.

To be honest, I never measure the ingredients and I don’t follow a recipe. I just mix it together until it tastes like I want it. For variation, you can add some dried cranberries and/or chopped walnuts. Or add grape halves and some tarragon. Or put in a little curry powder and some frozen peas, thawed. For an oriental flare, add a little ginger and toasted sesame oil. In addition to the usual sandwich, you can serve the chicken salad in pita bread or rolled up in a tortilla. Or use it for the filling of your breakfast omelet. Or add some sliced hardboiled eggs, top it with buttered bread cubes and bake it in the oven. Have fun being creative! The best rule to remember is to start with a little of this and a little of that. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out.

Plant a Garden This Year

We encourage you to consider raising some of your own vegetables this year. You cannot eat more local than out of your own back yard or patio.The food you eat is important to your health. When we buy food in the grocery store, even organic food, we do not know the health of the soil was that it was raised in. It is difficult to be healthier than the health of the soil that our food was grown in. Supplements can help, but eating "garbage" and then taking some vitamin and supplement pills is not a good recipe for health. 

We have been learning a lot the last six months about raising nutrient dense food. Nutrient dense food is being encouraged by the Weston A. Price Foundation and others. The key is to have the proper amount of trace minerals and biological activity in the soil. You can test the plant, fruit, or vegetable with a refractometer to find the brix (sugar and mineral content) reading. The refractometer can be purchased for $35 – $50 and is very simple to use. We are realizing that what we had in the past considered to be good food, is not as good as it can be.  An example of excellent nutrient dense produce is the following excerpt from an email that was on the BrixTalk Yahoo Group recently. Imagine having tomatoes that you could keep all winter without canning them, and they wouldn’t rot! It would save a lot of time preserving them and the nutrient dense food would be much better for us.

"Last year, we decided to use lime, rock phosphate, gypsum and iron sulfate (for pH modification to 6.4) in our tubs in addition to the fertilizers we had been using in the past. We could grow tomatoes where we could get good brix levels and about 50-60 large sized tomatoes per plant in the past. The additional nutrients we added last year on ten tomato plants produced an average brix of 10 for the large sized tomatoes, but the yields per plant went to about 400 tomatoes per plant in three pickings. We found that the tomatoes in the final picking that were green, ripened at room temperature in two to three weeks. We also found that we have been able to store these tomatoes at room temperature for 5 months and the vast majority of them didn’t spoil. They do shrivel up a bit as water comes out of the tomatoes. Most of the stored tomatoes are not shriveled and have remained quite sweet. For quantities of fertilizers, I followed a book written by Dr A.F. Beddoe, one of Dr. Ream’s students.

"A couple of years ago we were able to get Yukon Gold potatoes up as high as 2 lbs. in weight with many at 1.5 lbs. The normal number of tubers per plant is about 7. We were able to get 19 per plant. We averaged about 11 lbs. of Yukon Gold potatoes from two plants in a tub. That year we were harvesting tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, and yellow crook nick squash a little under 30 days after transplanting the plants. Best Regards, Thomas Giannou"

Thomas has further information on his website:
http://www.tandjenterprises.com/tandj_container_gardening.htm 
Some other good websites are http://www.highbrixgardens.com/ and http://www.crossroads.ws/brixbook/BBook.htm
The book referenced, written by Dr. A.F. Beddoe, is titled Nourishment Home Grown, the 2004 edition. The 2004 edition is only available from Dr. Beddoe at http://www.advancedideals.org/016_book_ordering.html

OK, here is one more reason to consider planting a garden this year. Yesterday, March 9, 2008 the New York Times ran the article: A Global Need For Grain That Farms Can’t Fill. It tells how the global demand for food is greater than the supply. We have been used to an abundant supply of cheap food in the grocery stores, but it may not always be that way. This is one of several articles we have seen about a global food shortage. Some are predicting that the next big crisis will be a food shortage. No one knows what will happen. We can’t grow our own gasoline, but we can grow our own food. There is a learning curve in learning how to grow vegetables successfully. By raising vegetables now, we can learn how to do it successfully and productively rather than waiting until things get more serious. And if nothing serious develops, we still have that satisfied feeling as we eat the delicious, nutritious produce that we grew ourselves. Here is the link to the NY Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/business/worldbusiness/09crop.html?_r=1&em&ex=1205380800&en=edc992e29863088d&ei=5087%0A

Happy gardening!

Turkey Recipes

My favorite way to roast a turkey:

Sprinkle salt all over the turkey. Lay into roaster breast side down. Add 2 inches of water. Cover. Roast turkey at 400 degrees for one hour. Turn the heat to 250 degrees and bake till it falls off the bone. I do a large turkey all night. The turkey is so tender and full of flavor. The breast which is drier is moist. You will need to carve the turkey and put the meat slices on a platter. It is not a picture perfect whole browned turkey, but the flavor is tops!

Another favorite way to roast turkey:

Cut off the leg quarters,breast pieces and wings. (Save the carcass for a delicious soup.) Sprinkle the undersides of each piece with salt. Lay in roaster or pan. Pour 1/2 cup butter over all. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 degrees till tender. This is super delicious! The butter gives the turkey a wonderfully rich flavor.

Recipes for November – Big Breakfast Ideas

Eggs must be one of the easiest foods to fix. We eat them almost every morning. So, of course, my family likes some variation on how they are cooked.

Eggs With Salsa

Melt some butter in your skillet. Crack your eggs into the skillet as you would to fry them. Spoon salsa over the eggs and let them cook for one to two minutes. Flip the eggs and cook till they are done as you like them. If you desire, top with some shredded cheese.

Flipped Omelet

8 eggs
1 Tbsp mustard
1/4 tsp. salt

Toppings such as cheese, leftover meat, chopped onion and bell pepper, shredded zucchini, mushrooms, avocado slices, etc.

Beat the eggs, mustard and salt together. In a medium-sized skillet on medium heat, melt 2 tsp. butter. Add 1/4 of the eggs. Immediately add desired toppings. When the underside is deliciously browned, flip the omelet. It will immediately puff. Finish cooking to your liking. Repeat with remaining eggs. Makes 4 servings. Keep your eyes on these eggs. They cook quickly.

Panfried Potates

4 large potatoes
2 tbsp. butter
salt to taste

Wash or peel the potatoes. Slice them thinly. Melt the butter in your skillet. Add the raw potatoes. Stir to distribute the butter. Sprinkle with salt. Cover. When the undersides are browned, turn the potatoes. Cover. Continue this until the potatoes are soft. Because these potatoes are covered, they not only fry, but they also steam. This causes them to soften quickly, even though they’re raw. Our family loves these.

Beef Sausage

1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sage
A pinch of thyme, garlic powder and cloves
(Or add whatever spices you want)
1/2 cup water

Mix together. Shape into 8 small patties and fry. Makes 4 servings.

MSG is Being Sprayed on our Fruits and Vegetables!

    I (Myron) was shocked when I found out that free glutamic acid, the main ingredient in MSG, is being sprayed on some fruit and vegetable crops to make bigger and more attractive produce. It is also used as a pesticide. My father had problems with pain in his shoulders, and the doctor tested him and found that he had a lot of MSG in his body. My parents were surprised, because they have been careful to not use MSG in their food. What we found is that MSG is being used in food and listed under many different names other than MSG. It is in almost all processed foods. In addition, it is being sprayed on some crops such as grapes, celery, cucumbers, navy and pinto beans, green beans, peppers, Iceberg lettuce, Romaine and Butter Leaf lettuce, tomatoes and watermelons, as well as many others.

    Another thing that I found is that "organic" does not mean no MSG.  Autolyzed yeast, natural flavoring and hydrolyzed protein in organic products contain just as much processed free glutamic acid (MSG) as conventional products. Products sold, or labeled as 100 percent organic have to be 100% organic. However, products sold or labeled as organic must contain at least 95% organic material. As much as 5% of an organic product can be non-organic ingredients (most of the flavorings, etc)!

    It is thought to be cheaper or at least easier to buy our fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. However, this is one more reason why it’s time to start growing your own food or to at least purchase it from a trusted source where you know how it was raised. In addition, as more and more of our food is being imported from countries that do not have the regulations on chemical usage that we have here in the US, we become even more vulnerable in the chemical contamination of our food supply.

You may find some of these articles on MSG being sprayed on our crops interesting:

http://www.relfe.com/07/glutamic_acid_glutamate_msg.html

http://www.truthinlabeling.com/organicP.html

http://www.westonaprice.org/MSG-Updates/

The following is from Dr. Jordan Rubin’s recent newsletter:

How to Get Sick: Eat Grocery Store Produce and Processed Foods

"What a mouthful—literally! Pesticides and herbicides are among the world’s most deadly chemical compounds. If a pesticide or herbicide kills one thing, it will probably kill, mutate, or seriously damage a whole host of other things. The problem with these compounds is that they tend to stay on the fruit, vegetable, or plant they were applied to. Toxins from our water, air, food, and buildings only make things worse."