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!



Why We Do What We Do…


“Apple Mess 2014” at Big Oak Ridge

Today was “apple mess” day at Big Oak Ridge. We processed 8 bushels of apples into 121 jars of applesauce and a roaster full of apple butter. Good Day’s Work!


Paula and I worked from 8:00 to 6:30 on this little project. Fortunately we like working together and it was actually pretty rewarding to spend an entire day together.

Paula was able to get this large project organized into “stations” which worked very well. I’ll try to get a video put together soon.

When the day was done I went out to gather eggs and saw this:


Beautiful ending to an enjoyable day!

Kitchen Chaos

The Kitchen at Big Oak Ridge takes a lot of abuse, as you can well imagine. Here is a “before” picture on a typical day:


Paula does an amazing job of keeping house, and she’s pretty efficient at it. This is what the kitchen looked like a couple hours later:


I’m thankful that my wife is a bit of a neat freak 🙂

New Deck on The Bowman House


One of the first things we had to do at The Bowman House was add a deck. This has needed done for some time, and getting the guest house ready was a good excuse to finally take action.

We hired an Amish crew – a dad and his two sons – to do the work. What a difference compared to some of the other contracting work we’ve had done! I went and picked them up to bring them to “work”, but that was a small price to pay. They built the deck, replaced the kitchen counter, repaired and painted a wall, all in two days, and the labor was very reasonable.

The results speak for themselves.


A Farmer’s work is never done

Today Paula canned tomato juice,and on three of the jars the Tattler lids popped off the jars in the canner. Bummer. She is experimenting with the reusable lids; We are learning there is a little more to using them than just slapping them on the jars.

Yesterday was Sunday, but we are eager to get the guest house done, so we worked on that most of the day.

The grass is ready to mow, the beans are going to seed, and I want to bring in our Coleas this year and try to “overwinter” them.

In a couple months baby goats will start arriving, so I have to get the barn ready. I have 3-6 gates to install, and a new garden to build.

I love this life, but it’s not easy!