What’s a Swale?

Many of our guests have been interested in how we practice permaculture on our property. WeNewly dug permaculture Swales frequently give tours after breakfast to show how permaculture works and to help guests get an idea of how they can use permaculture principles on their own property to have a more earth-friendly sustainable landscape. We will talk about permaculture swales.

One permaculture element that is readily apparent when entering the property at Cedar House Inn & Yurts is the ditches that seem to be everywhere. Some guests have wondered what are they for? They are permaculture swales.

We began digging our swales several years ago. After strong rains we noted where the rain water travelled on the property and that helped us determine where we should locate our swales.

Why have swales you ask?swalewithwater

Permaculture swales take rainwater that would normally run off the property and send the water into the ditch to be stored for later use. The water in the ditch is slowly released underground after a rain and also helps the mycorrhizal fungi that lives in the soil. Why help the fungi? The fungi attach to the root nodules on the many fruit and berry plants we have planted and help the plants in the uptake of water and soil nutrients.

Our permaculture swales are dug on contour to catch water traveling downhill after the rain. The swales are 1 – 2 feet deep and 1 -2 feet wide. The dirt taken from the ditch is used to make a berm on the lower side of the slope that is used for planting fruit and berries as well as nurse plants. In the future we will talk about nurse plants.

Bottom line is that we think permaculture swales are swell and encourage others to add them to their landscapes. You will have happier soil and plants.

For more information on using permaculture principles in your landscape visit our bed and breakfast inn permaculture page.

Dahlonega Thanksgiving

Dahlonega Thanksgiving

In 2018 we decided to open the inn for guests to enjoy a Dahlonega thanksgiving.  Prior years we would receive calls from parties seeking a place to stay during thisthanksgiving dinner holiday. Some had plans with families living in the area but wanted the privacy away from their local families after they completed their daily visits. They all had thanksgiving dinner with their local relatives. We know how they felt since we often book a bed and breakfast when visiting families just to have a break on our own.

Others like to come to Dahlonega during the Thanksgiving holidays because the busy Fall season is over and the town, trails and attractions are not crowded. Guests still enjoy Mary Beth’s organic breakfasts before heading out for the daily activities that are planned or sometimes not planned. Many of the downtown shops and the area wineries may be closed Thanksgiving day but there is so much more to do- enjoy nature and the North Georgia mountains.

As mentioned previously we normally close for Thanksgiving Day to spend time with our family. Our two sons live in the area and the youngest is now married. His wife prepares a great Thanksgiving dinner at their house.

We normally head to their house around noon after breakfast has been served to inn guests. The only difference for new guests arriving on Thanksgiving Day is that check in is moved from the usual 4:00pm to 9:00 pm to 6:00pm to 9:00pm.

If you wish to stay with us during this holiday first check the availability box on this site to make sure we are open and have availability. Also please note that a 2 night minimum is required.

If you want to enjoy Thanksgiving in the North Georgia mountains please consider staying with us. If you are wanting to have dinner please read further.

Check our Inn Web Site  and availability calendar for what we have available.

Where to eat Thanksgiving Dinner in Dahlonega?

Normally the three options that are shown below will be open. Call them to make sure. We will be adding additional places for Thanksgiving Dinner when they become available to us. Check out our Facebook page for future additions.

  • The Smith House offers Thanksgiving Dinner each year.  Call 706-867-7000 for more information. They do not take reservations.
  • Yahoola Creek Grill is also having Thanksgiving Dinner– For Information and reservations call 706-482-2200. They fill up fast.
  •  Montaluce Winery is offering Thanksgiving Dinner this year. Visit http://montaluce.com/ for reservations.

Not All Eggs Are Created Equal

Like most people you may buy your eggs at the grocery store. Not all eggs are created equal and you do not always get what you get what you think you are paying for. We opt for pasture raised eggs.

pasture raised eggs

Years ago we were like most consumers purchasing our eggs at the grocery store. We would just grab a dozen and place them in the grocery cart without giving any thought where they came from.

Then grocers started offering standard eggs, premium eggs, organic eggs, cage-free eggs, free range eggs and, occasionally, pasture raised eggs. Prices varied greatly between the various choices but did we really know the differences and were the prices justifiable?

For years we purchased cage-free eggs when we learned that regular eggs were being produced by hens in very small cages called battery cages. We weren’t necessarily looking at healthier eggs for us to consume but more concerned about the welfare of the hens that were laying the eggs. We also purchased organic cage-free eggs that we thought would be healthier for us.

Then we found out that the term cage-free was basically a good marketing ploy for people like us who were concerned about animal welfare. We were shocked when we learned that those cage-free hens never see the light of day and never go outside for sunshine or to scratch in the dirt, eat insects and other things happy chickens do. Yes, they are not confined to tiny cages but commercial egg production centers (aka hen houses) hold thousands of chickens at a time so the chickens have very little room to run around. This certainly is not ideal.

So we started buying free range eggs and felt better because we thought the hens got to range freely about the farm. We later learned that in large commercial egg farms they are still in the henhouse with thousands of other hens (like cage-free) but they are provided a small door to go outside to see the sunshine. This outside area in many cases is a small fenced patio and most chickens do not know that they can outside. Since there are so many free range chickens in the henhouse there is not enough room for many of them to go outside even if they wanted to. These outdoor areas are small fenced concrete patios in some cases so the chickens cannot naturally scratch in the dirt or eat insects which they love to do. We wrote an earlier blog post in June 2010 about the difference between free range and pasture raised eggs.

Since running the inn we have learned about pasture raised eggs and that is all we now purchase. Our eggs come for a farm up the road and the chickens have a house to go into at night or during bad weather for protection. During the day the are roaming outside around the farm scratching in the dirt and small gravel and enjoying the bugs and grasshoppers they like to eat adding to their healthy diet. These chickens are not confined in a henhouse with thousands of other chickens (like factory farms) so they tend to be healthier and do not require all the antibiotics of factory farmed hens. We visit the farm and can attest that our eggs come from happy chickens.

If you can purchase eggs from a pasture raised source, go for it!  You will get fresher eggs (ours are usually gathered the day we buy them), healthier for you eggs (check out those bright orange nutrient filled yolks) and know that you are getting them from happy hens.

For more information about the organic breakfasts we serve at our inn visit inn organic breakfast.