2012.01.24 Experimental, Sustainable, Reproducible

You may not have noticed, but we’ve updated our header and our motto. Paula had to explain to me what we were doing, and then we had to get the words in the right order:

  • Experimental: we try things.
  • Sustainable: it worked the first time, and we can do it again. We can keep it going.
  • Reproducible: We can do this, and we can teach other people how to do it, too.

Paula has been spending a lot of time researching the needs of Big Oak Ridge. This is always the pattern with us – I get some big idea, and Paula (bless her heart) does the work of coming up with a plan to make the dream a reality.

Of course, sometimes Paula has to get a “vision” of her own. I mentioned that while we were on vacation at the beginning of the year we discussed where we were at and where we were headed. Paula has trouble wrapping her head around some of the grandiose ideas I come up with, but she can handle the smaller tasks that lead up to a bigger outcome.

The result of Paula’s work already this year:

  • We are getting raw milk.
  • We’ve filmed three little educational videos in the “Big Oak Ridge Kitchen Series.”
  • We purchased and/or watched the videos “Fresh” and “Food, Inc.”
  • We launched into the “100 mile diet“challenge.
  • We avoided WalMart for a solid month (just as a matter of personal discipline.)

We are already thick into prepping for the New Year; soon we’ll be making out seed orders and perhaps even building a second planting rack. We’re discussing chickens, goats, Turkeys, and cows – what they’re doing now, what they need, what we want to do about them.

We have some guests coming to spend a Sunday afternoon with us and learn about our vision and our plans.

It’s going to be a very busy year at Big Oak Ridge.

2012.01.23: Published!

Paula was published in a local newspaper, The Galena Signal. Her column, “Ramblings from the Ridge” will run weekly.

You can get a subscription to the Galena Signal, and follow us in print, by calling 814-437-1711. Hope this little newspaper grow! Heaven knows our news sources for Venango County could use a little healthy competition!

Congratulations Paula, our resident author!

Winter Harvest

Paula and I are reading another book (more of Paula’s research.) This one is The Winter Harvest Handook by Eliot Coleman. Eliot is a “market gardener” from New England who extends his growing season nearly year round with his innovative gardening methods. Simple, sustainable, low tech, low impact. Just the way we like it! Some of the ideas from The Winter Harvest Handbook are making their way onto our “to do” list, hopefully for this year.

2012.01.22 Home Group and More Ice Cream!

As it turns out, the vanilla home made ice cream was a success.. it was just slower than the strawberry. We ate the vanilla today for lunch and it was pretty good. The recipe suggested stirring the ice cream every 40 minutes for four hours for increased smoothness; we did not do this, and the consistency of our ice cream was more like gelato. But it was still good!

Home group was good also. We are enjoying the fellowship and we appreciate everyone giving up their Sunday afternoon to be with us, break bread with us, and hopefully grow closer to God together.

I thought I knew a lot about prayer. What I’m finding out is that it’s good to “review” periodically, take stock of where you’re at, and never take the goodness of God, His mercies and His gifts (including prayer) for granted.


2012.01.21 Ice Cream from Scratch

Well, today’s experiment is ice cream. We made two flavors – Strawberry and Vanilla. The strawberry used a food processor, the vanilla used a mixer. We won’t know how they turned out until we go to eat them, since they have to freeze for a while.

2012.01.20 Milk Day!

We were going to get milk last night but we had a bit of a blizzard so we waited until tonight. The place where we’re getting our raw milk is licensed and listed on the USDA web site so they said it was OK if we shared their location:

Roger and Dianna Hersman
3469 Georgetown Road

Tomorrow: ice cream!

2012.01.19 Big Oak Ridge Kitchen Series: Speedy Rolls

Paula shows you how to make oh so good Speedy Rolls – “the only bread you’ll ever need!”


Make the best tasting rolls ever in about an hour.
‎2 cups warm water
3 pkg of yeast (about 4 Tablespoons)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs- beaten
1/2 cup melted shortening (I use canola oil)
7 cups flour
Mix and let rest for 20 minutes. Form into rolls and let rise. Bake 12-15 minutes @ 375 degrees.
It makes a bunch…2-3 dozen depending on size and takes about one hour. Also makes great cinnamon rolls.

2012.01.18 Sign up now for the cheese making seminar!

Deadline to sign up for the cheese seminar is Saturday, January 21. Call Paula at 814-437-1920 or email kent@bigoakridge.org. see our seminars page for more information.

2012.01.17 Yogurt Making with Paula

The latest installment of the “Big Oak Ridge Kitchen” series!


2012.01.16 Getting Excited…

Things are really ramping up here on the ridge…I wrote my first article for the Galena Signal last night….I still need to proof and submit it, but I’m on my way to being published!!

Today I ordered, aprons and polos for our seminars and a sign for the end of the driveway. I also talked to a man with 35 years of fruit tree experience…he is willing to come and show us how to prune and care for our trees. He is also willing to show a few folks who would like to join us…this would be a spur of the moment seminar as it is dependent on weather and his schedule in our area. We may only have a FEW days notice…so watch here closely if this interests you.