New Year, New Ideas

We just got back from vacation. While we were gone we discussed the future of Big Oak Ridge, where we’d like to go next, and where we’d like to end up. Watch this space for new information, new ideas, and new developments in the New Year!

apples, apples, everywhere!

One of the things we did this year was apples. A friend of ours lives on an old farm. The orchard for this farm has gone “wild” over the years, resulting in a virtual forest of apple trees. The apples are not particularly large or attractive, but they were relatively bug and worm free and usable. we were able to fill the entire bed of our pickup truck in just a couple of hours; we made lots of apple sauce, some apple jelly, and we put some in the freezer for pies and cobbler. Yum!

Hay in, Chickens going, Weather changing

Yesterday and today were beautiful, but we know the weather is soon going to change. I was thankful to be working from home and able to take a walk with my wife and the daycare kids the last two days.

The meat chickens are scheduled to go to the butchers next week. They are eating 30 lbs of feed per day. We lost a couple but the hatchery had included a couple extra when they shipped so we still have the 50 we planned for.

Ryan got another load of hay over the weekend so our hay “loft” is full. The three remaining goats seem to be holding their own although we have no babies yet and we’re beginning to think maybe we’re not going to have any.

We continue to be thankful for God’s grace and provision in these tough times.

Campaign to save the D. Landreth Seed Company

Purchase a catalog for $5 and help save the oldest seed company in the U.S. Just when we are ramping up to use heirloom and open pollinated seeds for our produce, one of the few companies that offers open such seeds is in trouble. The overuse of hybrid and genetically modified seeds is dangerous for the environment and for our health. D. Landreth Seed Company, seller of heirloom seeds, is the fifth oldest continuously run company in this country. It was founded in 1784 in New Freedom, Pennsylvania. George Washington bought his seeds there! Barbara and Peter Melera bought the company in 2003 in an effort to reclaim it as a viable business and to support a worthy cause. She borrowed capital and unfortunately, her creditor recently called in her loan for $250,000. This is not a good time for small businesses. In order to keep this historic business from bankruptcy, the company is asking folks to pay $5 for their next catalog, which they are having printed in the US (instead of China which would cost 1/4 of the price). They will be printing only the amount of catalogs ordered in this campaign. To order a catalog and help this company through a rough spot – click here To make a contribution (scroll down to ChipIn) – click here

Community Discussion

We are still interested in the idea of Community, but it is much harder in reality than in theory.

One of the things I struggle with is how to incorporate “free market economics” into a community.

I recently heard of one community that uses an exhange system based on “credits.” It costs x number of credits to stay in the community each month. Jobs that need done in the community are posted on a board, along with an assigned credit value. If no one takes the job at the initial value, the credit value is increased until someone agrees to do the job.

Interesting concept. We’ve discussed doing the same thing with “real” money – charge “rent” for living at the community, and then pay “wages” for doing jobs that need done. I think I like the credit idea better though, since no money would exchange hands – it’s more like barter.

Perhaps if an individual started having credit “debt” (they weren’t doing enough work to pay their monthly fee0 then a dollar amount could be assigned to the value of their credit and they could be given a month to pay, or leave the community…

Fall stuff



We are getting prepared for winter. Got some chicks that will be big enough for freezer by snow fall. We put in a bunch of free apples.

Mom has put some stuff in the garden to try growing it before frost.

Locavoria, Locavorious – food for the locavorian thoughtful.

Locavores eat local.An omnivore is said to be “omnivorous.” A Carnivore is “carnivorous”, an herbivore is “herbivorous” etc. So it seems to me we need some more forms of the word “locavore.”

As anyone who follows this site knows, a “locavore” is a subclass of “omnivore”. Locavores are omnivorous creatures who only feed on items whose source is within 100 miles of their principle dwelling place.

I thought about using the same exact syntax as the other words to convert “locavore” from a noun to an adjective, but “locavorous” doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue very well… is it pronounced LOCavoruous or locAVorous?

 I decided I like Locavorious better. It rhymes with “glorious.” But maybe that’s not an option… we want to be grammatically correct, after all.

And then there’s “Locavoria.” I would define “Locavoria” as “the body of knowledge and skills required to live a Locavorious lifestyle.”

Here at Big Oak Ridge we are working on collecting Locavoria. By its very nature, Locavoria is, and will be, well…local. After all, what grows within a 100 mile radius of my house may not grow within a 100 mile radius of your house. My growing season may not match your growing season.  I suppose, then, that the place where locavoria is collected becomes, de facto, a “Locavorium.”

There are, as we are discovering, many reasons to “go locavore.” At first we were looking for the health benefits, and they are many.

But we are only now beginning to understand that being locavorious really is (or is becoming) a matter of survival. Increasingly, a combination of bad consumer choices, disasterous government policies and regulations, and unscrupulous business practices is affecting our food supply. Monocultures have rendered our food supply vulnerable; the diversion of crucial food crops to failed energy policies has diminished the “supply” side of our food chain economics; and the questionable business practices of a few giant companies (six, I believe, to be exact) have led to the loss of profitability for farming as we once knew it. Today the family farm is all but gone, a nearly forgotten relic of a bygone era. The farm has been replaced by the agribusiness complexes, where animals are bred, born, raised and slaughtered in the most unnatural and often hellish conditions; where the very genetic material of plants is twisted and distorted in ways that leave the ancestor unrecognizable in the progeny – or lead toProgeny no longer resemble ancestry progeny with no real ancestery at all.

 We have built for ourselves and our offspring a food culture house of cards, and we may yet see the day when that house of cards collapses. Our hope here at Big Oak Ridge is that, when and if that day ever comes, there will be enough of us who have recovered and developed the skills and knowledge necessary to produce, store, and prepare our own food that we can quickly mobilize resources that will restore our natural food supply and prevent starvation, at least for our immediate environs.

I pray that scenario, and the incumbent needs will never develop, and they may well not; that does not render locavoria any less useful. Our secondary aim at Big Oak Ridge is to truly understand how to best feed the masses – not necessarily those who are content with their Big Macs and Olive Garden dinners, but those who for whatever reason may not have as many options in the world of sustaining themselves. Locavoria can help there, too.

If the omnivore has a dilemma, the locavore has the solution. The Locavorium may not be devoted to food supply alone – in our case, we hope that our locavorium may one day encompass food, water, energy, housing, and hygiene – all the things necessary to a productive and sustained lifestyle.

It is also a way to “put our money where our mouth is.” We have long been suspicious of the way food is produced, processed, transported, and regulated in this country. Locavoria will help us “disconnect” ourselves from big agribusiness and support our local economy.

¡Viva el suministro local de alimentos!

Es lebe die lokale Nahrungsmittelversorgung!

Да здравствует местного продовольственного снабжения!

The jars are filling up, the door is going up and the chickens are growing up,

It has been a bit crazy around here lately and none of us have had much of a chance to post. The guys have been busy on the barn project: digging a footer, pouring concrete, setting posts and framing to install the roll up door. Shelli and I have been busy in the kitchen doing beans and tomatoes. Last week we all went apple picking. The apples are very plentiful this year and we filled the back of our truck with 12-15 bushels. For three solid days, Shelli and I cooked and whirled and canned….the final tally: 191 jars of sauce and 23 jars of apple butter. We have a bushel left to peel and core for pie apples and a gallon of juice for jelly. Meanwhile, the beans decided to rebloom and produce again… I finally gave up and called in reinforcements…Harry came yesterday and picked over a bushel…baby Nia LOVES green beans.
The Buff Brahmas are getting really big…they’re about 17-18 weeks old and we should be expecting eggs any day now.
It will soon be time to put the garden to bed but not before we pull beets and carrots and dig potatoes…the fun never ends on a farm.

Goats may be improving

The goats may be improving. After 2 wormings, 2 treatments for Coccidiosis, daily nutritional drenches, and the loss of four out of the original seven goats, the ones that are left are beginning to look better.

Lost another goat

Well, we lost another goat. This has been a miserable experience, and an expensive lesson. Hopefully we can get the rest of the herd nursed back to health and start getting them “settled in” right. One of them is possibly due to kid any day now; hope that goes well.