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Simple Treasures from the Past – Antiques & Primitive Goods Show

Walker Homestead will be hosting its 4th Simple Treasures from the Past – Antiques & Primitive Goods Show on Saturday, September 24, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 19 Martin Road, Brookfield, Massachusetts  01506.

Walker Homestead is set around a 1698 New England saltbox on 30 acres at the end of a country lane featuring a quilt shop, antiques & primitive shop & garden shop with heirloom gardens for you to stroll through.

For the show, our tavern room will be set up as the Homestead Tavern offering dining for the event catered by Haymaker’s Grill of West Brookfield, MA and there will be simpler fare out back at the chuck wagon.  The Podunk Ramblers will be playing live bluegrass music throughout the day, and there will be demonstrations in bookbinding by Paul A. McClintock of Whidbey Island, WA and basketry by 15 year old Dakota!

Scattered across our lawns and back fields you will find an amazing group of country antiques and  craftsmen of handmade primitives!  Truly an amazing display of wares and a wonderful group of people.

Parking is free in our front field and admission is $5 per person at the gate.  We sincerely hope you can make it!

Below are some photos from our June 2011 show… enjoy~

Mary Elliott of Pepperell, MA

Best Booth Winner June 2011 Show – Robin Rock & Milltown Primitives of North Stonington, CT

Pied Potter Hamelin & Kulina Folk Art of Warren, MA, photo by Bonnie Lucente

For more information and a list of our vendors for the September 2011 Simple Treasures from the Past – Antiques & Primitive Goods Show, visit our website www.walkerhomestead.com or call the shop 508-867-4466.  We look forward to seeing you!

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~ A Birthday Blast for Comstock, Ferre & Co. ~

We first heard about Comstock, Ferre & Co.‘s 200th Anniversary Birthday Bash when their seed catalog arrived in the mail way back in December… or was it January?

In any event, it was cold and there was lots and lots of snow…

the perfect time to start planning our gardens, devouring seed catalogs, making just the right choices to get us through the cold, bitter New England winter months…

the perfect time to make plans to visit the Comstock, Ferre & Co. in Wethersfield, Connecticut for their 200th Anniversary Birthday Bash!

Jere & Emilee Gettles, owners of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds of Mansfield, Missouri purchased the 200 year old seed company with the intention of restoring it to its former glory and continuing its heritage by carrying heirloom seeds to supply small gardeners and retail operations as well.

A dream come true.  The Gettles brought an Amish crew from Missouri to restore the historic buildings and barns and I can’t think of a better owner to understand the value of such a place and its heritage.

The day dawned clear and cool, a nip to the air, promise of a beautiful day to come… we headed out to Wethersfield (about an hour away from our Central MA home) with the excitement of a day out, surrounded by plants and history!  Nothing prepared us for such a lovely day… a lovely day indeed!

Here are some photos of our day… LOTS and LOTS of photos of the day, but it was hard, very HARD to eliminate them… we so enjoyed ourselves!

The Belden House at Comstock, Ferre & Co.

We arrived on Main Street, Wethersfield… parking was full, had to take a ride around the block in order to find a shady spot to park (the dogs joined us).

We arrive at Comstock, Ferre & Co.

Our first view of the festival… where to first???  Re-enactors in every corner… way too much fun!  A recent trip to Fort Frederick Market Fair had given us a taste for this, so excited to find more… AND so close to home!

A blacksmith selling his wares… and demonstrating in period costume!

Heating up the iron… a portable forge!

Working the iron…

… and getting the curve just right!

Just the right amount of twist!

Using the bellows to heat the coal…

This fine lady was demonstrating various needle crafts and her skilled weaving…

Tools of the trade… a lady would have had many of these implements attached to her waist (or girdle) holding her needles, scissors, thread and the like.

This little loom was for weaving cording.

Equivalent of a sweatshirt, back in the 1700’s… this shirt is a linen-cotton mix, hand-woven and hand-stitched by this fine lady who gave me instructions on how to make it without a pattern.  Can’t wait to give it a try!

Every seam was a “French seam” which covers up the raw edges and reinforces the stitching… at the shoulder seam, cotton twill tape was used for strength.

Triangular gussets were used where the shoulder meets the neck for additional strength… keeping the fabric from fraying or tearing.

Just LOVE this gusset at the bottom of the neck opening!

Detail of the turned under edge along the neck opening.

Jere Gettles talking with a few visitors.  Both Jere and Emilee were wandering in and out of the crowd, talking with visitors and taking photos… I wished I had more time to try and chat with them!  Jere’s recent interview with Zan Asha for The Renegade Farmer was so interesting and gives you a feel for what they are all about!

These guys were fun to talk to!  Great information on this replica cannon (casting of an original untouched 1750 cannon given by the British to us, hidden away and recently discovered)… so cool!

Officer’s field desk, with everything an officer would need…

This nasty little weapon was pretty neat… no mater how you throw it, it always ends with a point up… imagine the damage this baby could do to a hoof or soldier’s foot???  Evidently, they were used up to the Vietnam war.

Paul discussing the cannon with its owner…

I absolutely loved the wheels!

The type of shot which would have been fired from this cannon.

… and a close up of the cannon itself.

This fellow was displaying 18th century tools that were found on his family’s farm in Windsor, CT…

…a great collection, used by his family for generations!

So cool!

Ice saw and tongs used for harvesting ice which was stored in sawdust in the ice house for summer use!

Blueberries… yum!!!

LOVED this arbor/trellis… new project for Paul to add to the side of my new arbor!

It’s the little things that get me excited!  Can you believe they were selling plants like this???   CHEROKEE GREEN TOMATO… awesome!!!

Inside, there were lots of vendors, seeds and great things to buy!  Here are Baker Creek cups, t-shirts and hats!

A great selection of books relating to heirloom gardening…

… honey and beeswax products…

… natural fertilizers and insecticides…

… and SEEDS…

… great displays, vintage design cards…

… and candles…

… birdhouses…

… and all sorts of gardening gadgets, supplies and information!  LOVED the twine holder!

Old seed boxes and crates were everywhere… so cool!

Looks like old seed packets, but they’re packaged for 2011!!!

Walls of old file cabinets, bins and equipment!

Great twine!

You wouldn’t believe how wonderful these Swedish natural bristle brushes were!  They had vegetable brushes, nail brushes… you name it!

Pysanky eggs!  I hardly ever see them out and about… we’ve made them, a lot of work, but so worth the effort!

There were beans in jars, lots of beans as well as all these lovely drieds… so sweet!

Catholic Charities immigration assistance had an area where they were selling these gorgeous rugs and knits!

… and SEEDS!

I just LOVE the packaging!

Samples of bread dipping mixes… mmmmmmmmm, so good!

… and more SEEDS!

A view across the main floor.

… and more SEEDS!

Paul checking out the amaranth seeds…

… now tell me, where can you find amaranth seeds… not one variety, not two varieties, but 5 VARIETIES!!!  So awesome, great seed selection!

How about this variety of eggplant… couldn’t get myself to try it this year, but maybe next year’s garden???

PURPLE TOMATOES, PINK TOMATOES, GREEN TOMATOES… whatever color your heart desires… they’re here!

Heirloom Gardener magazine!  The current issue and many back issues… we carry this back at our shop, it’s awesome!  Jere & Emilee Gettles do a great job with it!

Old signs…

… and antiques!

A view of the front yard festivities!

LOVED these old drug store bottles!


Cases of old seed catalogues, packages and related memorabilia!

Not sure if these were measures or scoops or both, but they were AWESOME!


.. old crates…

… machinery used in the seed industry…

LOVED this machine… I have no idea what it was used for, though!

Here is another unknown beauty!  Look at that old paint!

Emilee & Sasha Gettles at the Farmer’s Cow ice cream booth…

… it was so GOOD!!!

One of the back buildings used for speakers… Jere Gettles on the left, talking with a customer.  There were food vendors, plants and more set up out back… great stuff!

Back out front, re-enactors were set up.  Here is a basketmaker’s display…

… this lady was showing visitors how people had to write…

… and this lady was spinning naturally dyed wool…

… all naturally dyed wool yarn, the red is from cochineal (a bug which was imported in the 18th century for red dyes), the brighter orange is from cosmos!

This young family looked so sweet!

Writing samples…

… and wares.

This lady’s needlework was AWESOME!!!

She showed me this great book with photos from Winterthur Museum and look what I found!!!  I have a sampler very similar to this that my great, great, great, great, grandmother’s sister made… same era, also from the Lexington Concord area!

LOVED this guy’s coat!

The band played on!

… and we reluctantly said our farewells!

A fabulous time, wish we had more time to stay and visit with everyone, shop and enjoy… SOOOOOO… if you ever happen to be near Wethersfield, CT, be sure to stop in at Comstock, Ferre & Co. – you won’t regret it!


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Simple Treasures from the Past – Antiques & Primitive Goods Show ~ SPRING 2011 ~

Well, we’re at it again… SHOW MODE!!!

Our 2nd Annual



Saturday, June 18th, 2011

10 – 4      Admission $5

is almost here!!!

Things are happenin’ around Walker Homestead

Lawns are gettin’ mowed, fields cleaned up from the winter, gardens weeded, new gardens established, plants and seeds are all on their way into the wonderful rich soil.

Final touches are in the works…

This season we are having YOU, the CUSTOMER VOTE for


You will receive a ticket at the admissions booth, fill out your name and choice of best booth, drop it off at the Chuck Wagon and you will be eligible to win a prize!!!  You must be present at the drawing (noon & 1:00 p.m.) to win either a Garden Gift Basket or a Wooden Crow on a pitchfork!

WE ARE… s00000000…        E – X – C – I – T – E – D!!!

The PODUNK RAMBLERS will grace us with their bluegrass music throughout the day… these guys are awesome!!!


American Country Rugs – Pawlet, VT
Lucille Festa, Proprietor

Angel House Designs – Brookfield, MA
Valentin J. Dzelzitis, Proprietor

Baskets by Dakota – Enfield, CT
Dakota, Proprietor

Blackstone Antiques – Primitives & Candles – Douglas, MA
Kate Foynes, Proprietor

Bowl Barn Antiques – Douglas, MA
Louise Villa, Proprietor

Country Plus – Hopkinton, MA
Judy Coffey, Proprietor

Dater House Antiques – Troy, NY
Cindy Johnson & Leann Breer, Proprietors

Dianne Sandman – East Brookfield, MA
Dianne Sandman, Proprietor

Dirk Dishop, Proprietor

Haley’s Gatherings – East Chatham, NY
Donna M. Russell, Proprietor

Hands of Time Antiques – Palmyra, PA
Connie Gleed, Proprietor

Hearts and Homespun – Leyden, MA
Jo-Ann Helbig, Proprietor

Henhouse Primitives – Oxford, PA
Cecilia Taylor, Proprietor

Hometown Antiques – West Brookfield, MA
Cindy & Joe Shepard, Proprietors

Kulina Folk Art – Warren, MA
Gariné Arakelian, Proprietor

Log Cabin Country Primitives – Colchester, CT
Nancy Bryer, Proprietor

Magpie Primitives – Canaan, NY
Mark & Chastity Stephenson, Proprietor

Mary Elliott Antiques – Pepperell, MA
Mary Elliott, Proprietor

Mill River Primitives – Springfield, MA
Tammy, Proprietor
Milltown Primitives – North Stonington, CT
Robin Rock, Proprietor

Newgate Designs – East Granby, CT
Theresa Case, Proprietor

Olde Country Store – Brockport, NY
Dottie Miller, Proprietor

Orphan Annie’s Antiques – Barre, MA
Ann McDonald, Proprietor

Painted Duck Antiques – Niantic, CT
Bill Phaneuf, Proprietor

Pied Potter Hamelin – Warren, MA
Rick Hamelin, Proprietor

Pine Patch Primitives – Spencer, MA
Eva Ramsey, Proprietor

The Pleasure of “Yore” Company – West Brookfield, MA
Patti White, Proprietor

Primitives by Maria – Brookline, NH
Maria Cardillo, Proprietor

Primitive Crafts – West Springfield, MA
Victoria Amato, Proprietor

Richard Fuller Antiques – South Royalton, VT
Rick Fuller, Proprietor

Richmond House Antiques – Ashford, CT
Karan & Edd Oberg, Proprietors

Sassafras Hill Primitives – Enfield, CT
Denise Davis, Proprietor

Susan H. Wirth – Union CT
Sue Wirth, Proprietor

Tinkertown Antiques – Douglas, MA
Molly Garland, Proprietor

Turnpike Antiques – Madison, NY
Jack & Dirinda Houghton, Proprietors

Village Weaver – Bristol, ME
Phyllis Leck, Proprietor

Waters Tavern Antiques – West Sutton, MA
Cheryl Bonin, Proprietor

Wigwam Hill Antiques – Wilbraham, MA
Doug & Linda Burr, Proprietors

Winterberry Primitives – South Mashpee, MA
Lana Testa, Proprietor
Join us for the experience of a lifetime!
Some of the finest dealers in country antiques & handmade primitive goods from all over New England, New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio get together FOR YOU!!!

Stroll through the heirloom gardens, visit with the farm animals, listen to the music, dine in the Homestead Tavern or out back for simpler fare at the Chuck Wagon… and SHOP, SHOP, SHOP!!!

For additional information, visit our website.
While you are in town, you  may want to visit our friends at the Salem Cross Inn for their
Drover’s Roast on Sunday, June 19th… for more information visit their website.


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The Herbal

Today was a perfectly normal day.

I moved along my usual course of business throughout the day, stopped at the office, put out a couple of fires, ran some errands and finally arrived back home.

Absolutely nothing prepared me for what was to come next.  I should have had an idea that something was up, my DH had a hint of a grin hovering about his mouth from the moment I walked in the door.

A Package!A package was sitting quietly on one of the tavern tables, just waiting for me.








Slowly, I started to open it, savoring the moment.

The anticipation rose, each item more enticing than the last~


A sweet note from the past, properly sealed…

No words can express my excitement as I opened this delicious package… from quill to sealing wax, proper wrapping and accoutrement… just PERFECT.








BUT, it gets better.







and B E T T E R ! ! !





A true work of art, in every way…

I’m feeling very stingy right at this moment, but I’ll share a few glimpses with you…





and a few more…











I leave you tonight to go spend time with my new treasure, made by a master at his trade.  I thank you, Master McClintock, for your fine work!  This Herbal will be treasured

~F O R E V E R~


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The Dooryard Garden

The kitchen window.

The kitchen window.

A comment from one of our Facebook fans the other day led me to consider my dooryard garden, which I usually take for granted.  It’s always there… I walk through it at least 50 times a day.  Every now and then, we need to stop and enjoy… to savor the wonderful beauty of nature around us; the sights, smells and sounds which bring us such pleasure.

The Keeping Room door.

The Keeping Room door.

My dooryard garden evolved over the last 26 years, first as a border along the house, then as a border on both sides of the walkway, then as a completely fenced garden with walkways… planned on paper first, then laid out with slate and stones, each plant chosen for scent, color and seasonal beauty.

Along the house, outside the kitchen door is my culinary herb garden, perfectly situated so we can run out while cooking and snip an herb or two at a moment’s notice with thyme and pennyroyal at it’s edges so you catch a whiff each time you walk through, then the mint garden (it used to be all hollyhocks, but the mint overtook it, it smells nice and is useful, so it stayed).  Outside the keeping room door I planted some of my favorites, so that when you walk out the door you get subtle scents of salvias (Indigo Spires, guaranitica and Maraschino), scented geraniums (Apple Blossom Rosebud, rose, peppermint), stocks and pennyroyal.

Dooryard garden, June delphinium

The Dooryard Garden in June with delphinium.

During the various seasons the garden evolves with fine displays of baptisia australis (false indigo), Seven Sisters and heirloom roses, delphinium, monarda citriodora (a less-cultivated, lemony bee balm), foxglove, hollyhocks, dame’s rocket and so on.  The hot summer weather brings on the spectacular color of annuals including State Fair zinnias, Bright Lights cosmos, Violet Queen cleome and multiple varieties of nasturtiums.  My garden would not be complete without southernwood, sweet annie, petrovskia (russian sage), annual poppies and sunflowers!

Salvia Indigo Spires

Salvia Indigo Spires outside the keeping room door.

I am so grateful for the wonderful bounty nature has bestowed upon us, the beautiful flowers, scents and that warm sweet feeling of the garden.  Take a break from your busy life and stop and smell the flowers, savor and listen.  You’ll be glad you did!

Peanut in kitchen doorway

Peanut in kitchen doorway.


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My Little Friend

Fidel & FrancoNot so many months ago, my son discovered he was no longer allergic to cats after 21 years of absolute misery in a cat loving family.  A trip to the local feed and grain store resulted in him bringing home two sweet little kittens, brothers… much to my dismay.  We already had 5 cats, a stray had recently arrived on our doorstep and we certainly didn’t need any extra mouths to feed!  He named them Fidel  and Franco (a bit of humor on his part) and promised to care for them, pay for their expenses and moved out shortly thereafter, leaving the kittens in my care… what a surprise.

I had forgotten how funny kittens are, hopping about, chasing anything in their Fidelpaths, even attacking the dogs who are 10 times their size!  They quickly won my heart… Franco is the purr-ball, sweet and lovable and Fidel is the quiet one, more of a challenge and now my little charmer… a Momma’s boy!

If I am home and working about the gardens or in the Garden Shop, the boys are usually underfoot.  If I’m picking raspberries, all of a sudden I feel someone Fidelclimbing up my legs!  Today I was working in the shop, up on a ladder, hanging herbs from the rafters… the next thing I knew, little Fidel was in my face, had climbed various pieces of furniture and jumped up on top of the ladder to get closer to his mom.  Of course, a cuddling break was in order which totally pooped him out… and I left him sprawled out on the doorstep as I went on to other garden chores.

I guess, the lesson here is appreciate what you have, you never know when life is going to give you little gifts… a sweet moment, an overwhelming sense of love and well-being.  Stop and smell the roses, enjoy life and those little special moments.


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Strewing Herbs

LavenderA friend mentioned strewing herbs to me recently and sparked an interest in this wonderful old tradition.  After researching the subject a bit, and taking cuttings of the various herbs from the garden, it seems to me a wonderful tradition has become almost extinct.  The sweet scent of these lovely plants and their reason for being here, their powers of soothing and protecting us is so strong…

Strewing Herbs were commonly used in early homes to keep down the odors of everyday life.  People and animals often shared the same space and cleanliness was not the item of the day.  Floors were not swept on a regular basis and washed??? Most likely not.

Strewing Herbs served the purpose of masking unpleasant odors, repelling insects and insulation from the cold.  Floors were swept a couple of times a year, most likely it would be similar to mucking out a stall.  Once the floor is bare, reeds, rushes, straw and/or sweet flag would be scattered about for basic bedding and then the herbs would be added.

Basil – sweet scent

Lemon Balm – sweet lemon scent, seems to inhibit bacteria and viruses

Chamomile – aromatic, sweet apple-like scent and insect repellent

Costmary (Bible Leaf) – lovely, soothing, wintergreen-like scent, folklore has it with slight caffeine-like benefits it was used in church to help keep a person awake during lengthy sermons

Cowsleps – magical plant

Sweet Fennel – sweet scent, folklore is that it prevented witches from entering a house

Germander – antiseptic, sweet scent

Hyssop – helps prevent the spread of infection, fragrant, used for its biblical Hyssopreference to cleanliness (“Purge me with Hyssop and I shall be clean.” Psalm 51)

Lady’s Bedstraw – kills fleas and was used to stuff mattresses

Lavender – sweet scent, also used in mattresses and pillows, moth and fly repellent as well as having antibacterial and antiseptic properties

Lavender Cotton (Santolina) – insect repellent, sweet scent

Marjoram – sweet scent

Meadowsweet – aromatic, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I and King James II

Mint – antibacterial and antiseptic properties as well as an insect repellent, folklore is that it prevented people from the evil eye

Pennyroyal – kills fleas and mosquitoes, sometimes called fleabane

Roses – sweet scent, antibacterial and antiseptic properties, a favorite strewing herb of Cleopatra

Rosemary – helps repell moths and insects, antibacterial, pleasant scent, folklore is that it prevented faeries from stealing infants

FennelRue – believed to help prevent the plague or jail fever, often used in public places to repel pests, folklore that it repelled evil spirits

Sage – rodent repellent, antiseptic properties, scented, folklore is that it had the power to cure all diseases

Southernwood – sweet scent, used to ward off “jail fever”, sometimes called “guard robe” as its insect repellent powers are so effective

Sweet Woodruff – sweet scent, also used in mattresses

Tansy – flea repellent, sweet scent

Winter Savory – insect repellent, sweet scent

Wormwood – insect repellent, sweet scent

It seems to me that this old tradition has been dormant for too long.  My great old floor boards would welcome the scents of these delightful herbs.  Their powers certainly would be a blessing, too!  So, don’t be surprised the next time you stop by to find a sprinkling of herbs on the floor… they are there for a reason!


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