A Thistle Feeder fulfilling its purpose in the world.
You may have seen our thistle feeders. They were the July product of the month and a brand new product for us here at Meadowbrooke Gourds! Since we offer various birdhouses we thought it would be nice to also offer a feeder. They’re colorful and pretty enough to want to have a couple around even if they weren’t at all practical. But it is. One of our customers sent us this picture. Those are goldfinches feasting on thistle seed at this feeder. To give you an idea of the scale of the bird and the feeder, look to our right. Those things are tiny. They’re not the smallest of the birds that are attracted to this kind of feeder. That would be the wren. They can weigh less than half an ounce. Half an ounce! That’s like a pat of butter or something.
A junco dereila.ca
Mourning doves, which have the distinction of being the most hunted bird in the area, are also very small birds that eat thistle seed, as does the pine siskin, which, when it cannot roost – as it can with our feeder – hangs upside down from the tips of pine trees to eat. Another bird you’re likely
Look how tiny this little wren is! hiltonpond.org
to see at our thistle feeder is the junco. Not only do many juncos live in the same place year ‘round, but in some areas, the arrival of them signal the beginning of the winter season. Weird, huh?
Since we’re on the topic of melons, did you know melons are in the gourd family? That’s right: Cucurbitaceae. Answers.com defines a melon as:
1) Any of several varieties of two related vines (Cucumis melo or Citrullus lanatus) widely cultivated for their edible fruit.
2) The fruit of any of these plants, having a hard rind and juicy flesh. So, that tells you the genuses, as well.
And it’s pretty easy to believe melons are gourds for a few reasons. One is,
well, look at them. Then look at our Wren Birdhouse. Or our Medium Casper Jack. Or Misfits Becky. Or any number of other members of our own little gourd family here at Meadowbrooke.
Also, part of the definition of a gourd is that it has a touch or thick skin, a juicy flesh, and a whole mess of seeds on the inside. (Okay, the definition does not say “a whole bunch of,” but just look at them.) And yes, what most of us think of as gourds do have a juicy flesh if harvested a particular point in their development.
When you look at the names of the genuses, you can probably guess cucumbers are gourds, too. But that’s another story for another time. For now, know that melon season is just past its peak, but there is still time to get some really good fruit. Watermelons are still juicy and sweet! Be sure to pick one up for that Labor Day recipe we shared in the last post.
Labor Day is coming up and we promised you a recipe for your barbeque (What? You’re not having a barbeque? Is that even legal?), and here it is. It’s Watermelon Cake! You can’t get too much more appropriate. It celebrates the end of summer, it’s perfect picnic food, and watermelon is a gourd!
Basically, this recipe uses watermelon instead of water, but there are some other interesting twists, too. And it’s very easy.
Here you go:
Watermelon Cake Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix
1 3oz. package gelatin, mixed fruit flavor
1-1/3 cups cubed watermelon, seedless (small cubes)
3 egg whites
1 T vegetable oil
Directions: It really couldn’t be too much simpler. Preheat the oven to 350ª, and grease and flour a bundt pan, or spray it with a non-stick cooking spray. Then, put all the ingredients in a bowl – the gelatin should probably be the last thing you add – and beat until you have a smooth batter. Pour it into the prepared bundt pan and bake about 35 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. That’s it. It’s so moist it doesn’t need icing. from: recipes.epicurean.com
Let us know how it works out for you!
You can create beautiful, ornate designs… (emptyeasel.com)
If you were around in the late 60’s, you might have a wood burning kit tucked away in a closet somewhere. They’re a perennial favorite, but it seemed back then, you just had to have one or you were not cool…or groovy. Well, you might want to dig yours out of that closet because there’s another way to use it.
You can wood burn a raw cleaned gourd exactly the way you do wood!
…or start with something simpler. (artinstructionblog.com)
It’s even easier with gourds for several reasons: One is they’re lighter, easier to deal with. For its weight, gourds are much lighter than wood. And while something like balsa wood might be just as light, or lighter, they do not have anywhere near the durability of gourds. Another advantage: You never have to deal with the grain of wood. Gourds don’t have any grain. And you never have to worry about hitting a knot. Boy, that can mess things up when you’re working with wood! But not a worry here.
Meadowbrooke Gourds offers raw, cleaned gourds at our retail store and online! Click here to view what’s available. We’ve got over 35 different ones, some partly crafted – a hole for a birdhouse, say, or the top cut off for a bowl. Most are just the whole gourd, though.
There are soooooo many ways to craft with gourds that we couldn’t begin to name even a fraction of them here, but we’ll discuss others regularly in this blog.
This can be a great family activity, especially if your kids are too young to be turned loose with a wood burning iron on their own.
As part of our blog, we will be featuring a spotlight on our employees! These people make everything at Meadowbrooke Gourds happen.
Meet our Retail Manager, Beth Moul!
Briefly explain what you do at Meadowbrooke Gourds: I am responsible for everything Retail: taking care of customers, planning and preparing for special events, scheduling tours, advertising and retail web orders.
What do you like most about your job? I enjoy meeting new folks that visit our store and sharing the Meadowbrooke story with them, and answering all their questions.
Now the fun stuff…
Name on thing that not many people know about you: I have a red-footed tortoise that I have raised since she was a hatchling.
Where is your favorite place in the world? Home
What is your favorite movie? Footloose
If you could meet anyone (dead or alive) who would it be? My great grandparents
What music is playing in your car right now? Country – Red radio
What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten? Something from a Chinese buffet that I couldn’t identify
What do you do when you’re not at work? Spend time with my three children and husband
Favorite ice cream flavor: Do not eat ice cream
What is your favorite gourd? Sawyer
Be sure to say hi to Beth next time you visit our retail store in Carlisle!
Raw, 6" bottle gourd
We met Bones the Skeleton the other day. Bones is made from a penguin gourd and a bottle gourd for his head. The bottle gourd is so named because that is one of it’s purposes: To serve as a bowl, cup, or (you guessed it) bottle. In other parts of the world, it is known as calabash, lauki, doodhi, ghia, kaddu, tarkari, or 葫蘆. Got that? It is a very important symbol in the East, representing as it does both Heaven and Earth, or the entire universe. This link gives a very interesting picture of the meaning this fruit has to Asians.
Here’s something interesting as we slog through the dog days of late summer: The flesh has a cooling influence on the body. The juice is sometimes used in Ayuvedic medicine to treat high blood pressure and heart problems, as well as other issues.
Various gourd shapes make up our MBGourd birdhouses
Native Americans grew bottle gourds for use as birdhouses, specifically for purple martins. They’d put the birdhouses in fields near crops because the birds eat insects, including mosquitos, which they catch “on the wing.” They won’t eat them off the ground. (Not sanitary?) They also scare away crows and other small animals that tend to ruin crops.
And they make great skeletons, too!
Our Own Doris Risser
As you can see, there are many ways to make gourds into beautiful centerpieces, statuettes, birdhouses, butterfly houses, bowls, etc., etc., etc. We will help you with that, too. Doris Risser is one of our artists offering classes at our farm in Carlisle, PA. We’re also happy help you out if you’re trying it on your own. Take a look at our site for more ideas or stay tuned to our blog!
- from hawaiigourdsociety.com
There is another way that was used in ancient Hawaii that was lost to us for most of our history. Dr. Bruce Ka’imiloa Chrisman recovered the art basically by trial and error, using gourds – ipu (ee-poo) in Hawaiian – in museums as his guide. What he discovered was that they used a technique similar to wax techniques used on pottery today – you paint wax where you don’t want the glaze or dye to stick to. The skin of the gourd took the place of wax.
When the gourd is thoroughly dried, the remaining skin is scraped off to
- from hawaiigourdsociety.com
reveal the darker pattern left by the dye. There is a little finishing work that can be done then – sanding, polishing, sealing – and you end up with a finished product that looks as organic as the gourd itself. It’s just one more way to create beautiful art from gourds, and we’re lucky Dr. Chrisman was determined to learn the ancients’ secrets.
Bones The Skeleton
Meet Mr. Bones! Bones, to his friends, Bones the Skeleton. He is out August Product of the Month since we’re gearing up for fall. After the heat we’ve been experiencing theses past few weeks in Central PA, the coming of fall will be a welcomed change. We just can’t wait to see pumpkins and fall decorations popping up!
Our cheerful and not at all scary skeleton stands a proud 11” tall and a sturdy 5” in diameter as he smiles his ghoulish though still not at all scary smile. And look: He’s lit up! A lot of his friends in our Fall collection are lit up, too, like jack-o-lanterns, witches, scarecrows and lots more. And you know how so many toys say “batteries not included”? Well the light mechanism and the bulb are included.
So, visit to our web site and take a better look at our August Product of the Month, Mr. Bones, and all his friends.
As far as we can tell, gourds have been around at least as long as we have. They’ve served as everything from plates, bowls, and cooking pots and utensils to musical instruments to medicine to a replacement for part of the skull in Neolithic brain surgery (Can you believe it! They did brain surgery back then! And evidence suggest that a good many of the patients survived it).
Gourds first appeared somewhere in Asia, but they long ago spread to every corner of the globe. In fact, they’re one of the only – possibly the only – plant to have done so. Gourds are in the pumpkin family. Fun Fact: The pumpkin is the largest fruit in the world. Yep, it’s a fruit, the seeds are inside the flesh of the plant. They are not used for food much anymore in Western civilization, but we have fallen back in love with them, mostly as a decoration or art form. They come in about a zillion shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be carved and crafted like wood, but lighter and without a grain to worry about. They can be quite decorative all on their own.
At Meadowbrooke Gourds, we grow, dry, clean, cut, and decorate all our own gourds, and we’re happy to show you every step of the process, and even give you a hand if you’d like to try it yourself. We’ll sometimes have posts dedicated to it, and you can always find some helpful information on our web site. You may even find fun activities for the kids so you can make it a family affair. We’re very big on family here, since our whole Meadowbrooke team sort of operates like one. Sometimes we’ll have Fun Facts and interesting historical tidbits on this blog and a lot of other things, too, maybe even recipes. Just stay tuned. You can tell us what you want to see here! We will do what we can to accommodate your requests. So, we’ll be talking to you soon.