4/15/2013 1:14:01 PM

I don’t know about you but I was ready for spring to get here weeks ago, so I planned my first camp out for this weekend no matter what the weather was like.  Well it was cold and or windy most of the weekend, however I enjoyed myself immensely (and I like to think my family did too!)

 For our first camp out of the year, we went to Watkins Mill State Park and Historic Site.  We’ve camped here before, and always like to come back for the wooded campsites and the well kempt walking trails and historic sites.  Most of the campsites are gravel (there are a few concrete), with both 30 and 50 amp electrical sites available; sewer is not available, but the dump site is easily accessible.  All of the campsites have ample trees and several have trees on two or three sides so you have a very private area if you wish. 


I think the biggest draw to Watkins Mill is the lake and walking and biking trails.  The trail around the lake is accessible from the campsites and is a 3.75 miles trail for walking and biking.  Even though there was a chill in the air there were plenty of people and pets enjoying them.  The trail is paved all the way around; there are streams and bridges, some rough patches, but otherwise smooth.    There are some shorter trails near the Mt. Vernon Church and the Franklin School as well as near the visitors’ center, leading out to the mill.  All the trails are pet friendly except for the one leading to the mill.IMG_0598.JPG


The area around the mill itself is accessed through the Visitor Center.  Inside the center are examples of fabrics made inside the mill, findings from archeological digs in the area, the history of the mill and other odds and ends related to Watkins Mill and the family who ran it. 


From the visitors center you can catch a tour of the house and mill (for a fee) or you can take yourself on a tour (which was my option).   The trails leading to the house and mill are pea gravel, and to get to the house you cross a tree lined lawn that simply takes you back in time.  You can see a historical outdoor kitchen, chickens and turkeys, bee hives, as well as an heirloom garden.  All of the plants in the garden were available in the 19th century, so there are some varieties that aren’t seen very often anymore.  I must admit, the garden is my favorite part, and I wish that is what my garden looked like.  A little further down is the mill, with original equipment and a barn showing common farming machinery from the time period. Oh and sheep, because you can’t have a woolen mill without sheep. 



This Saturday (April 20th) they are hosting Spring on the Farm (I apparently went a week too early, stinks for me, great for you).  You will be able to enjoy sheep shearing, a livestock display, heirloom garden planting, toy making, woodstove cooking, rag doll making, blacksmithing and more. The event is free of charge and both the Franklin School and Mt. Vernon Church will be open (normally you can only look in the windows).

 Weekends from May 25th – August 11th Watkins Mill hosts a Living History Program with costumed interpreters presenting period activities of the late 19th century: gardening, woodstove cooking, laundry, weaving and children’s games. 

 I always seem to camp at Watkins Mill in the early spring or late fall – I think this year I need to make it again when they are in season.


For more information on Watkins Mill State Park and Historic Site:




I plan on visiting several different local campsites this year, where is your favorite place to camp nearby?

-Samantha Derryberry



Posted: 4/15/2013 1:14:01 PM by Linda Casey | with 0 comments

2/27/2013 10:58:01 AM
I know, I know.  It is still winter and blowing snow outside - so why am I talking about bug bites now! Well no matter what the weather, it is always a good time to brush up on our knowledge of bug bites, how to identify them and how to treat them.  It just may come in handy!

The red imported fire ant was accidentally introduced to the United States by a South American cargo ship that docked in Mobile, Alabama in the 1930s. It is now a common pest found primarily in the southern and southwestern parts of the United States.
  A fire ant can both bite and sting. The bites or stings will have a red center that is surrounded by lighter colored rings, and there can even be tendrils of redness coming off the main area of the bite. Its primary symptom, however, is pain. People who are bitten or stung by fire ants can also experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, nausea, fatigue, and body aches. 

As their name implies, bed bugs are tiny insects that often live in bedding. Their infestation rates in human dwellings has increased worldwide in recent years, and many people are even avoiding traveling or staying in hotels because they fear these pests will hitch a ride home with them on luggage or clothing.  Bed bugs leave large circles of bites in orderly rows. These "bite wheels" cause itching, skin redness, localized swelling, and even blisters on the bites.These wheels eventually turn to small red bumps and fade after a few days. The bites are not dangerous, though infections can result from scratching the bites.

Flea bites often start as an itchy rash of tiny, sometimes bleeding, bumps in the armpits or the crease of a joint. The itching may be localized at first, but it can spread and become very severe, especially in people who are sensitive to flea bites. The area around these bites may swell, and touching them will cause them to turn white.

As most people know, mosquito bites itch severely. Scratching them causes the bites to swell to red bumps or welts because this action irritates the bite sites. This can also lead to infection in the bites. Wearing insect repellant is important because mosquitos can carry diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, Dengue fever, and yellow fever.

Chiggers aren't actually insects, but are rather the juvenile form of a type of mite. They can be found in forests and grasslands, along lakes and streams, or even in parks, lawns, and golf courses.  Chigger bites are painless,  but they produce itchy, raised red lesions on the skin that are similar to the skin reaction that results from exposure to poison ivy or oak. Scratching the bites can cause them to spread and appear as a rash. Skin infections can result from scratching the bites, especially among people who are very sensitive to them.

Humans usually pick up a tick from grass or other plants. The tick will then attach itself to the warm areas of head, armpit, or groin and feed on blood, passing on any illnesses it carries in the process. Ticks carry a number of diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, and Q fever.  Early removal of the tick body and head, followed by thorough cleaning, can help prevent infection in this single bite. Watch for such symptoms as muscle aches, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and headache in the weeks following a tick bite, since these can be signs of tick-related diseases. 

Like ticks, black flies live off the blood of other animals, and they can deliver painful bites! They also carry diseases and are a general nuisance to humans. Many U.S. states now have programs to control black fly populations.  In addition to hurting immediately, black fly bites remain painful, and they also itch and can become infected with scratching. Some people have allergic reactions to these bites such as hives or wheezing.  

When it comes to spider bites on humans, two kinds of spiders--the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow--are typically to blame.    Black Widows live in tree stumps, wood piles, and even campground portable toilets, and they are easy to identify by the reddish "hourglass" on their bellies. The spider's bite causes shooting pain and appears as two "dots" made by the fangs at the bite site. Nausea, increased blood pressure, and vomiting occur soon after and require immediate medical attention. 
 The Brown Recluse (shown at left) lives in closets and attics in the South and Midwest in the United States. Their bite is painless, but the wounds they cause are serious. The bites are often red, then white, and have blisters in the shape of a bullseye. These bites also require immediate medical attention.

We hope this has been useful!

A big thank you to HealthCentral for providing this great info on identifying bug bites!

Posted: 2/27/2013 10:58:01 AM by Linda Casey | with 0 comments

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