Almost Spring!

buriedangelThe weather on the Ridge is finally starting to break. Even though the angel in the front yard is still buried and yardstick on the deck shows  15 inches of snow. We’re seeing some signs of green. The pathway to the barn and the driveway have a few patches and up against the front of the house, I see some bulbs beginning to poke out of the ground.
thawpathtobarnflowerscoming up

Lots of Babies!!

We’ve had a few weeks of wickedly frigid temperatures and tons of snow. The yardstick on my back deck measures 25 inches of snow.
In the midst of the severe weather, we had baby goats…on February 21st, Ariat had triplets and Daffodil had twins. It was a bit crazy walking into the barn for evening chores and finding five kids…especially since Daffodil was not caring for her kids and we had to perform some serious warming techniques to bring them back from the brink of death.
Ariat’s kids were all around eight pounds and lively.
AriatsTripsPaulaTripletsOver the weekend  we worked with Daffodil and twins, attempting to get them to nurse and her to care for them. Monday night the temperatures dropped to minus 28 degrees and she crowded them out from under the heat lamp and we lost them….we were devastated. I especially felt bad that I did not bring them inside. 🙁 It was a hard day.

On Wednesday, Kenton went for noon barn check and discovered that Lucky was birthing. I was able to be there just as baby #2 arrived and helped assist baby #3 when he was born breech. Two sets of triplets!!

LuckyTripletsLuckyTripsWe have  three new bucks and three new does and some different colors in our herd. These babies are growing and doing very well. Lucky and Ariat are great Moms. Stay tuned for progress reports.

Buried in Snow

The snow just keeps coming!! Last night we had an additional 3-4 inches. But we have sure had some beautiful moments…sunrises, moonsets and sparkles that cannot be captured on camera. We take each day as it comes and are thankful for health and a warm home and a chance to enjoy all of the wonders of God’s creation.


entryinsnowburied insnow

Full Moon

Last night was the full was beautiful rising over the pasture just at sunset. But by bedtime, the sky had clouded up and we got 3-4 more inches of snow overnight. Lucky apparently is not phased by the full moon or the freezing temperatures. She will take her own sweet time.


It Won’t Be long Now!

We’ve been saying this for weeks…
Last year we were gone for a month and Basil was locked in his stall for the safety of our animal caregivers. When we returned home, we felt sorry for him and just let him run with his girls for the summer. In October, he was returned to his stall for the winter. Two weeks later, Anemone kidded. We have been waiting and waiting expecting that someone else would kid shortly afterwards…no such luck. Anemone’s boys are now three months old and still the others are waiting. Lucky and Ariat seem to be due any day but so far…nothing.
This year we will complete Basil’s outdoor run and next year we will not play this guessing game. Until then, we wait!!

Finally , some common sense about vaccines

jack-wolfsonDr. Jack Wolfson is a board certified cardiologist; he is in a position to know something about health and health trends. So when he says the argument over vaccines is wrong, I am willing to listen.

Don’t get me wrong, my children were all vaccinated and I understand the contribution that vaccinations have made to the quality of life. We no longer see iron lungs and children in braces, however, I do think that modern vaccinations or at least the way we administer them is very dangerous.

When my children received their vaccinations in the early 80’s, they started at two months and got a DPT shot and oral polio only. One shot and some drops covering four diseases…now the CDC recommendations start at birth and by two months, a child will have a total of eight injections covering 10 diseases, more than twice what my children received just 30 years ago. By age two, a child in the United States will have at  20-22 injections in the first two years of life.

Conversely, in 1975 Japanese law changed and children were not required to start immunizations until age two-interestingly, the infant mortality rate decreased until Japan became the best in the world. In 2002, Japan changed their laws again and children began receiving immunizations between three and six months of age; they are now fourth in the world for infant mortality, but still far ahead of the United States at number 34. In addition, although the starting age for immunizations was lowered, immunizations are still much more conservative in Japan than in the U.S. By age two, a child in Japan has gotten a mere nine injections compared the the 20-22 (some vaccines are combined into a single injection) a child in the U.S. receives. By age five, the child in Japan has had a mere 11 injections versus the 36 required for a child in the U.S. to start school.

So if we are so interested in “protecting” our children, why then does the U.S. rank 34th in the world for infant mortality and 1 of 68 children are diagnosed with autism? Japan ranks 4th in infant mortality rate and their autism rate is 1 in 475.

And why has the decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate become such a litmus test of “community responsibility?” If your child is vaccinated, and you have “faith” in the vaccine, then my unvaccinated child is no threat to you, right? At its worst Chicken Pox killed 100 people per YEAR; The Mumps and Measles virus are not fatal, contrary to what you may have heard; and the flu shot, heralded as the greatest thing since the polio vaccine, has been dismally ineffective at warding off  influenza; and may actually be encouraging more virulent and deadly new strains of the virus to develop. In contrast the number of people that die annually from correctly used prescription drugs is in the thousands. The number of children that die every year in automobile crashes and swimming pool accidents far exceeds the number who die from childhood illnesses. The way that issues turn into “hot buttons” is more a function of media hype and collective (and often erroneous) risk/benefit analysis than actual social welfare or increased health and longevity.

I won’t even go into all of the environmental  factors surrounding the poisoning of our children and the rise of autism rates…just check out another article about that here.

o your own research, make your own choices, do not just drift along allowing others to make your decisions for you. But realize many of the “facts and figures”, and much of the information surrounding issues such as this, is erroneous, or designed to appeal to emotions rather than engender thoughtful discussion. You have rights, and you have choices; not vaccinating your child, or deferring vaccination to a later age, is an important decision that deserves your informed consideration.

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,