Happy Groundhog Day!

2015.02.02BucketSnow2This morning is a beautiful snowy morning on the Ridge. I highly doubt we will see any groundhogs as the snow is four feet deep in some places. No climate controlled den and handlers here…we have the real deal and they are deep under the snow and most likely sound asleep. Either way, it’s the beginning of February and Spring is not far away. Happy Groundhog Day!2015.02.02KentonSnow


Making Jerky

Winter on the Ridge is usually time to try new things. This year we decided to try jerky. One of my Day Care dads always brings me homemade jerky and it is so yummy. When I asked him what his secret was, he told me he used a “jerky gun.”  My reply was, “a what???” He told me to imagine a caulking gun that shoots meat. 🙂 Interesting.

I did a bit of checking on Amazon and read some reviews before purchasing a jerky gun for hubby for his December birthday. Since he was in the hospital over his birthday and then we rolled into the holidays and the hectic new year, we haven’t had time to test the latest gadget

Yesterday our friends came to spend the evening, so hubby decided it would be a good time to try out the jerky gun. It was pretty easy, mix packets of spices with a pound of hamburger and shoot onto cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. We opted for using the oven  set on low, instead of the dehydrator. Since it was not done when we went to bed, we agreed to check it when we got up through the night to use the bathroom-that happens when you get older. I checked it twice before deciding at 3:00 a.m. that it was done enough to turn off. It took about 7 hours on low to dry the jerky.

The results? One pound of goat burger netted a quart bag of jerky with minimal effort. The directions said to add some cayenne pepper if you wanted spicier jerky…we didn’t do that and our end product was a bit bland. In retrospect, I would have added the cayenne pepper.

Have you ever made jerky?



Greetings from Big Oak Ridge…we are now entering our third year as locavores. Growing and processing 85-90% of our our own food is sometimes challenging but always worth the work. When my daughter came home for the holidays, she remarked how easy it was to prepare a meal when  all of the food was before her eyes on the canning shelves. We have to agree, the hard work of summer pays off when the snow is flying and you don’t have to travel more than a few feet for your groceries But some days there is still work to be done.
Since we do not have a root cellar yet, the things we keep in our garage start to wither just after the holidays. The down time in January gives us an opportunity to  check our storage crops and process them if necessary.
On Saturday, I sent hubby to bring up a squash so that I could make butternut chili…he returned with the remaining eight squashes, declaring that they needed attention. At least it wasn’t several bushel like last year. 🙂 I was able to  take care of the squash quickly- I just steam and puree them and package the puree in zip bags.
Yesterday I checked on the sweet potatoes…there were about 15 pounds in the bin and they were just ever so slightly starting to wither…so….I filled the stock pot with potatoes and boiled them for a few minutes and slipped off their skins. We had company for dinner last evening so I candied a large bowl of sweet potatoes and put the rest in the freezer. Today I am working on the second pot.
There were about 10 pounds of red potatoes left so I just brought them upstairs to the kitchen bin. It seems very early for the bins to be empty but our freezers are full of butternut and spaghetti squash which we like to use as a potato substitute. It’s all about eating what you grow.
I did a bit of digging and rearranging in the freezers too…always good to find out what’s down in the bottom and pull it to the top.
We’re still waiting on Lucky and Ariat to have their babies…it could be any day now.
Until next time,

Crazy Winter!! Happy New ? Year!!

Winter is usually our down time…we spend the days doing paperwork, rearranging photos, poring over seed catalogs and planning our projects for the next year. This year has been a bit crazy.

It started the end of November with Hubby having an unexpected medical event that involved 18 days in the hospital and several trips to Pittsburgh (90 miles away) and looking like some on-going monitoring for the next several months…that really messed up the holidays and put us a bit behind for the New Year.BigOak

The weather has been typical for Northwest Pennsylvania…rain and snow and sleet and hail…the postman’s dilemma. 🙂 We’ve had a few snowstorms and some 60 degree weather, all in the same week…that’s Pennsylvania!sunrise

I am now in the throes of tax preparation. I’m also doing some preliminary garden mapping, checking my seed supply and thinking about fresh greens. We’re also waiting on baby goats…due any time now.

lightpole2January is the season of family birthdays too. Our eldest turned 36 this year…that makes us feel old. Last year at this time, we were awaiting the birth of grand-baby #10…hard to believe wee Maggie is going to be one next week. Eli, #4 will be 10, Tristian, #5 will be 8 and Armour, #6 will be 6…CRAZY!!IMGP3716IMGP3616IMGP3628IMGP3652ArmourPuzzle

Until next time,



Big Foot Spotted today on the Ridge!!

This morning’s blizzard brought some big excitement to the Ridge…Big Foot was spotted going down the driveway!!bigfoot

Merry Christmas from Big Oak Ridge!

The Bowman House is Available for the Holidays

If you have last minute guests coming to the area for the holidays, or just need some extra room for the “overflow”, The Bowman House is available for the holidays. Click here to make your reservation today!


10 Banned Foods

These are not new, but as we enter the holiday season when folks are eating more things they don’t “usually” eat, I thought it would be worth a reminder.

10 Banned Foods to Avoid

Are you eating food that’s already banned in other countries but is still allowed to poison and kill Americans? Learn these pernicious ingredients and common foods through this infographic. Use the embed code to share it on your website.

<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/banned-foods-infographic.jpg" alt="10 Banned Foods to Avoid" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Are you eating <a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/10-banned-foods.htm"><strong>"food that's already banned"</strong></a> in other countries but is still allowed to poison and kill Americans? Learn these pernicious ingredients and common foods through this infographic. Use the embed code to share it on your website.</p>

Another “gift” from Our Father

God is good – ALL THE TIME!!!

Today we sat down and went over finances etc. in preparation for some things we need to do here at the Ridge.

One of the pressing needs was a new dining table. We moved our old table to The Bowman House, knowing we would need to have a new one sooner rather than later with the holidays coming up.

We had some friends that got an amazing table from the Amish, and we knew that’s what we wanted. But we also knew we had some very specific criteria.

I wanted a pedestal table, but Paula wanted one with legs (we had looked at a couple of pedestal tables that just seemed a little “tippy”, and the feet of the pedestal protruded so far it made it hard to find a place for your feet under the table.)

We wanted the table to be wide enough to seat two people comfortably on each end. We measured our old table, which is “almost” wide enough for two people on the end at 35 inches. So we felt we needed just  a few more inches of width. I also wanted the ends gently rounded because I think that makes it more comfortable for the folks on the end, and I DON’T like sharp corners on a table (I bruise easily, and I’m rather prone to  running into things, especially in the dark.)

I wanted to be able to seat 16 people at our new table, but I also wanted it to fold up smaller when we weren’t doing one of our “banquets.” We figured out the space needed, and how much our current dining room could actually hold, etc. – and we came up with a length of 12 feet [BIG TABLE.]

So, after a lot of careful planning and praying, we set off for the Amish Furniture store. The day was absolutely gorgeous and we drove through some amazing countryside. We figured the “road trip” was totally worth it just for that!

45 minutes later we arrived at Byler’s Oak Furniture. It turns out they have a fairly large showroom, which we did not expect. We spent quite a bit of time just looking around in the shop.

Finally we spoke to the proprieters about what we were looking for. As we were explaining our needs we were standing next to a beautiful table in the showroom that looked like it would seat 8 people. I looked at the table and said “This is beautiful. This is pretty much what I was picturing.” The woman who was talking to us said, “That was a special order table, and when we got it the customer decided she didn’t want it because she didn’t like the legs. We just brought this out to the showroom.” “How many leaves does it have?” “8 – the woman who ordered it wanted to be able to seat her whole family around the table. It opens up to 12 feet.” We measured the width – 42 inches.

SERIOUSLY – WHAT ARE THE CHANCES??? The table is a pedestal table, but because of the extra width the pedestals don’t get in the way. (Paula sat at it to try it out, and agreed that the feet were “out of the way” enough to make it work.)  It seats 8 when it is all closed up, seats 16 when fully opened – AND WE GOT TO BRING IT HOME WITH US!!! How cool is THAT?? With 4 leaves in, it fits fine in our existing dining room. With all of the leaves in it extends into our living room – for now (more on that later.)

We did have to order the chairs, but I will save that for another post, too.)

As if that wasn’t enough blessing for one day, on the way home we stopped and had practically the best lunch EVER at Grantham’s Landing Restaurant. (I love that place!)

SO… successful shopping trip, great date day with my wife, and a NEW TABLE just in time for Liberty Farm Exchange tomorrow.

I love my Abba-Father.

Its good to know your friends, better to know your enemies

I occasionally wander out into the darkness of liberalism on purpose, just to see what the enemy is up to.

Recently my wandering revealed this editorial in the uber liberal Washington Post.

Here are the credentials of the authors:

“Mark Bittman, an opinion columnist and food writer for the New York Times, is the author of “How to Cook Everything Fast.” Michael Pollan, who teaches journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, is the author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Ricardo Salvador is a senior scientist and director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Olivier De Schutter, a professor of international human rights law at the Catholic University of Louvain, was the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food from 2008 to 2014.”

 So, essentially, we’re talking the “Joel Salatins” of the Food Wars on the ultra-liberal side; the side that thinks the only way to solve anything is with more government.

Interestingly, the authors get many things “right” in their op-ed piece:

“The food system and the diet it’s created have caused incalculable damage to the health of our people and our land, water and air.” – none of us would disagree with that!

“Because of unhealthy diets, 100 years of progress in improving public health and extending lifespan has been reversed.” Exactly what we’ve been saying all along.

“The government subsidizes soda with one hand, while the other writes checks to pay for insulin pumps. This is not policy; this is insanity.” Joel Salatin himself could not have said it better.

So, what’s my beef with the op-ed piece? Simply this: After reciting a litany of failed government policies and bureaucracies, the authors come to the conclusion that there is only one way to fix this problem: More and bigger government.


Their suggested fix is a “National Food Policy.” The government needs to start controlling how many calories people can consume, how many of those calories can be sugar, how many must come from fruits and vegetables, etc. etc.

Of course, the government wouldn’t come right out and do this; rather, the “goal” would be achieved through the use of taxes, subsidies, and penalties – the same tools that have gotten us into the mess we face.


Here’s an alternative proposal: How about if the government just gets out of food and agriculture altogether? What if we just let Free Market Economics win the food wars, and let the consumers decide what they want to eat?

If subsidies for corn, wheat, and soybeans were eliminated, our food culture would be forced to diversify. If tax dollars were no longer pumped into the agri-industrial complex, smaller, local producers would be able to compete on a more level playing field. If consumers saw the real cost of the food they purchased on the price tags in WalMart and Wegmans, suddenly the local farmer’s market might look a little more attractive. People would “self correct” their diet, the government would save a bundle of money, and we’d all be better off.

And that’s the goal, isn’t it? … wait, isn’t it???