Winner of the Fiskars PowerGear® tools and, now a contest for So Much Sky

Hi everyone. According to the random number generator, Linda Belcher won the power tools. I’m excited for Linda, and I hope she enjoys her new tools.

Cover shot taken by Graham Jimerson

Now, I have another giveaway. So Much Sky, written my friend and former editor, Karen Weir-Jimerson, is a series of essays about living in the country, a topic near and dear to my heart. Karen is as witty and humorous in her book as she is in life, and she blogs at Cat Crossing Farm. Many of the essays were originally published in Karen’s “Slow Lane” column in Country Home magazine between 2003 and 2009. She currently writes the same column for Country Gardens magazine so you may be familiar with her. The book is warm and friendly as a speckled pup, and I think you’ll like it. Karen lives with her family on three acres in rural Iowa where they raise vegetables, flowers, sheep and chickens plus a whole menagerie of animals. Like me, she was once a town girl before she moved the country, and we both renovated our homes so we’ve both done the remodel happy dance when finished. Although, you’re never truly finished are you?

Karen's horse, Yukon, taken by her husband, Doug Jimerson

I have a signed copy of this delightful book to give to one lucky winner.  Comment below to enter once, and then if you tweet, share on facebook, or any other social media, please let me know with additional comments below. Winners will be chosen by a random number generator because I hate choosing. Contest ends next Wednesday, and I’ll have an additional contest for some Proven Winners® plants after that.

One of their chickens taken by Doug Jimerson

It’s a contest marathon at RDR. Be sure to join in.

Fresh faces and cheerful hearts at the OK Food Co-op’s annual meeting

Did you ever want to buy and eat local, but just didn’t know how? Were you too busy or too intimidated to ask?

I’m not sure what I expected to find when I drove to south-side Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma Food Co-op’s annual meeting. They were having an open house, and all members and the public were invited. Together, we shared food and fellowship, and it felt as though the years of the world wide web were far, far away.

The owner of Snider Farms where you can get peanuts and homemade peanut butter. The young man is from Crosstimbers. He and his mother make goat's milk soap.

You can join the co-op for $35.00 a year, a small price to pay to reach at least eighty different made-in-Oklahoma producers. Nearly everything you could want is offered from soap (lavender and/or goat’s milk), meat (lamb, beef, bison and goat), poultry (chicken, turkey and eggs), dairy (butter, buttermilk, cheese, etc.) I’ve ordered two months now, and everything I received was of the best quality. It was a joy to actually meet the producers.You can also buy jewelry, wool, along with laundry soap and so many other things. The list is enormous, and the first time you order, a bit confusing.

If overwhelmed, head over to the producer notes where the farmers, ranchers and gardeners tell of their lives and products; or, head over to the Co-op’s YouTube channel and listen to the board members and producers. I especially enjoyed the show with Cattle Tracks. You not only know it’s fresh from the farm, but whether it’s an Angus or a Charolais Cross calf, a Berkshire hog or a Cornish Rock or Cornish Cross hen.

The ladies from Cocina San Pasqual

At the annual meeting, I met everyone I’d corresponded with by email like the lovely ladies of Cocina San Pasqual, who make tamales of all kinds including vegan, enchiladas, brownies, their own New Mexican sauces and a fantastic pink cactus jelly. They were so kind when they said to simply write in my product description for no cheese on my enchiladas, and they would prepare it that way. Although they were busy, they patiently explained sauce ingredients checking to be sure I could eat their foods. In fact, everyone I spoke to understood about food allergies and cross-contamination which was such a relief.

Kindness was the watchword at the open house. Members and the public went from booth to booth to sample different products.I had the best chicken salad I’ve had in a long time from Jerri Parker at G-J All Natural Beef (located in Okemah). Her son, Calvin, sells eggs from his flock of Rhode Island Reds. When I remarked that it was the best chicken salad I’d had in forever, Jerri said, “Oh, I’m not really a cook. It’s the chickens. They’re free range and fed a special supplemental diet so they have real flavor.”

Jerri from G-J All Natural Beef (and chicken)

You can even buy beef and lamb from the Monks at Clear Creek Monastery helping them with their mission while eating the best nature has to offer.

At another booth, a woman spun carded wool from her own sheep, alpacas and llamas into yarn. Shepherd’s Cross farm is owned by Diane Dickinson and her husband, Peter. An agri-tourism site, Shepherd’s Cross has a full curriculum including tours of the bible garden stocked full of plants named in the Bible. The softness of the wool made me think of scarves and hats so I bought two roving braids of dark and sandy brown wool. I am making a scarf, and the wool is so lovely to knit.

Diane Dickinson spinning wool.

As I watched people coming and going, it evoked a simpler time of neighbors meeting to share the best their farms had to offer, but while this co-operative has roots in the past, it isn’t stuck there. Its use of the Internet to reach customers is a great step in the right direction. Where else can you get cheese from Hardesty, meat from Broken Arrow and eggs from Tryon all from the comfort of your living room and only a keystroke away? Ordering opens the first of each month and continues until Midnight the second Thursday. Once your order is finalized, you then pay with PayPal, or write a check on the pickup day which is the third Thursday of the month. See how easy it is?

You can pick up your purchases from one of the dropoff locations across our fair state, or for an additional fee,your food is delivered to your home or business.

All of this couldn’t be done without a legion of volunteers, and I am amazed at their generosity.

Buy fresh and eat local Oklahoma. Together, we can save our family farms and Oklahoma ingenuity one click at a time.