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="" 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=""><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???


Crazy Fall continues-October

October began without much change…while Nia spent the night, KC traveled again for work. I started the final garden clean up by pulling up the last of the tomatoes and green beans. I also pulled up two beds of Great Northern beans for soup and spent many hours shelling and processing them. All of the mold and garden dust took its toll and I began  three weeks of snot and coughing. A good chance to practice using the essential oils I bought at the Mother Earth News Fair.
Our weekends were filled with preparations for winter…cleaning the barn and the chicken coop, doing final garden harvest: celery, sweet poatoes and squash-plus saving some flower seeds. We also planted garlic for the first time…we’ll see how that goes.
As a reward for all of the hard work, we took a bike ride at Moraine State Park…an awesome 14 miles along beautiful Lake Arthur. Fall biking is my favorite: with the leaves crunching under your tires and the crisp fall air, there is nothing finer to end a busy week.
Week three was another trip for KC and a chance for me to get some cleaning and paperwork done. I managed to sneak in a 36 hour respite when I had two unexpected days off…I spent an entire afternoon at our friends’ pond and caught 33 fish…that was fun.
Weekend number three was more winter preparations. We butchered the extra roosters and the wether. We also gave the goats vaccinations and worming as well as trimming their hooves. Our break this week was trip to Red Lobster to use a gift card then on to Tractor Supply for wood chips, winter gear and a pasture gate. Sunday was Farm Exchange group…always a great discussion time. Afterwards we finished cutting and grinding the goat meat. Whew!
We have more fun scheduled for the rest of the month…maybe I can keep you posted a little sooner…stay tuned!

Whew…Crazy Fall is winding down-September

Septemer blew by in a haze of activity – there is never enough time for much writing so I end up with massive epistles to try to catch up…sorry.
We started the month with a trip to our friends’ old orchard…the apples aren’t beautful but they are not sprayed and plentiful. Great for applesauce. After picking 6-8 bushels, we went on to their camp site at Canadohta Lake for a boat ride and awesome time of food and fellowship.
During the week I picked, shelled and processed 47 pints of pinto beans. We also started picking peas…such crazy weather we have had this year that peas were JUST beginning to produce. Tomatoes were also in full swing. Always something to pick, clean or process.
We declared the first weekend of the month, AppleMess and had an all-day apple processing extravaganza. KC and I made 121 jars fo applesauce and 9 pints of apple butter in about 8 hours.
KC traveled for work the following week while I stayed home to continue the harvest..more tomatoes and peas.
On Frdiay we left for our annual get away to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs…always a fun time seeing new products and listening to many great speakers. We always learn something new at the Fair. This year we had the added blessing of having some friends to hang out with for dinner and fellowship.
Our third weekend was equally busy with a nine hour pistol course on Saturday and our Farm Co-op meeting on Sunday.
During the month we were also working hard to complete the renovations on The Bowman House. We had our first guests the fourth weekend. We also squeezed in a dinner with Harry, Amelia and Nia on Friday evening. Plus a raised bed seminar AFTER the Tea Party Patriots monthly meeting on Saturday. We escaped to Geneva Marsh on Sunday for a bit of a break and a gorgeous Fall kayak ride.
KC traveled another week and spent a night/day in Pittsburgh with his brother who was having a cornea transplant.
Add in taking the truck to the garage, an eye appointment, a couple of family dinners, an overnight visit from Nia and a couple of funerals 🙁 …it was a crazy month!!

The Produce rolls in at Big Oak Ridge

Just a sample of this year’s produce at Big Oak Ridge.


Every year some things do well, some not so well it seems. This year we got almost no fruit due to a late frost and cold, wet spring; but the root crops are doing well, and last year we got a good fruit harvest so we have enough to carry us through.

Our Adventure in the Swamp

So, we went to the Geneva Marsh with the kayaks last weekend – probably our last kayak outing  this year. Definitely different than anything else we’ve done with the kayaks. [hover over each image to read the caption.]

We entered the marsh based on some internet directions we reviewed – directions clearly meant to let you “view” the marsh, rather than launch a kayak into it! We had to make our way through a small hole in the vegetation to launch our kayaks, then paddle about 20 yards before we actually reached open water.

Once on the water we passed under a very low bridge, then made our way to the I-79 bridges. I probably ruined some young kid’s plans… when we paddled under the I-79 bridges we realized there was a nice boat launch there. I paddled up to the launch just as an old pickup approached. I walked up to the truck to ask how he got down in there; in the truck were a teenage boy and girl. It didn’t take much to figure out why they were there, and it was kind of funny because the kid “couldn’t tell me” how he got there.

After we got off the marsh we went for a little drive and figured out the route to the boat launch. We wrote down directions, which I offer here for anyone interested (adults, not necessarily amorous teenagers):

SR 322 to Cochranton.

SR 173 toward Meadville.

Right onto PA 285.

Right onto 19 North.

Right onto Rung Road.

Right onto Shaffer Road.

Boat Launch will be on your right. There is a sign, but you have to watch for it. We had great difficulty finding any directions to this launch on the web, so hopefully this will help someone else!