Beef Jerky Montana Style

Last year, Larry bought a kit at Cabellas for making his own beef jerky. He spent an afternoon making some pretty tasty jerky for our hikes out in Montana. We eagerly looked forward to a family reunion. Our son, Aaron, rented a newly built rustic cabin tucked away in the woods and surrounded by rivers, hiking trails and the Crazy mountain range beckoning us to adventure. The spacious Bennett Cabin outside of Clyde Park in Montana is a work of art. Its sturdy 80 year old logs are accented with green cedar shingles. It’s very reasonable to rent since it’s devoid of plumbing.

Aaron and his wife Lynelle climbed out of their van with our three energetic grandsons August, Jasper, Isaac and their chocolate lab, Gracie. Family fun would now begin. But it didn’t take long for Gracie to discover a strange substance she enjoyed chewing. She also rolled into some foul smelling pond and only a bath in the nearby stream could get rid of the stench.

We shared Larry’s delicious beef jerky with the family while hiking along the stream. But after a half hour or so we were stopped by fallen trees that were the result of a June tornado that swept through the area.

That evening, we came across the journal where visitors describe their time at the cabin. We were told to look for a fantastic view of the stars, a visiting owl and an occasional bear sighting. But what caught our attention the most was an entry from the previous week. It went something like this.

Entry 7/8. We were sitting around enjoying coffee and conversation when a very polite forest service man informed us that our serene time was coming to an end. A downed tree caused by a tornado killed a cow and now they, meaning the forest service, were going to have to deal with it. Yes, they were waiting for an expert to arrive from Bozeman who would help them with the situation as a resident bear had discovered the beast which made it unsafe for cabin residents like us.

More trucks began to arrive— some seven or eight of them donned with helmets and chain saws as they cut through the tree. They then covered our cabin windows with plywood and asked us to park the cars behind the cabin suggesting we take a hike. We went toward Target rock over fallen trees not knowing what to expect.

Soon an explosion ripped across the mountain—-an earth shattering and auditory resound of military impact. What we were hearing was the sound of an exploding cow. An exploding cow! It took a legend to blow up one single cow. There was enough gusto to take down a herd of cows. Any resident bears must have fled completely out of the Crazies for good——with need of therapy.

We went back to our cabin and were greeted by a considerate and good humored forest service employee informing us that the danger was now over. I felt it was my duty to walk to the gate where the deed was done to investigate. The dirt road was strewn with clumps of red meat the size of salmon servings and flies were swarming in mass. The smell was pre-historic. I was witness to something that looks simple, but is complex. Now little critters will nibble the bits. As for bears—the therapy continues.

Now we understood why Gracie was having such a feast. The mysterious substance was nothing other than—Montana beef jerky. Her last treat resembled a cow’s ear—Yuk! Coming from Illinois and chewing our own beef jerky, we knew we were witness to the aftershocks of an event done only Montana.

Larry and Sue Schuerr

Larry and Sue Schuerr Photo Courtesy Sue Schuerr

 

Stades Farm Cattle Car Maze Game McHenry Illinois

Our McHenry County Visitor Bureau sponsored tour stopped at Stade’s Farm and Market in McHenry, McHenry County, Illinois. Due to popular demand, we are posting our adventure as three full sized adults attempt to maneuver through a slippery, metal, two story cattle car converted into a children’s maze. Vern Stade says school kids love the maze and often there are 50 children running through at once.

Stade's Cattle Car Maze Game

Stade's Cattle Car Maze Game

Kris Cain lead the charge and was through before we started. Our videographer, Noel F. Williams decided to “roll tape” while Noel, Jim Webster and I tackled the maze designed for the three foot tall or less set. The morning rain made the metal inside of the car slick.

Notice how calmly Jim handles the phone call he gets from a client during our adventure.

Think of it as “Stade’s Maze meets Blair Witch Project”. Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

You can read more about our adventures at Stade’s Farm and Market in McHenry County.

Stade’s Farm and Market
3709 W Miller Road
McHenry , Il 60051
815-675-6396



Stades Farm and Farmers Market McHenry Illinois

Our McHenry County Visitor Bureau sponsored tour stopped at Stade’s Farm and Market in McHenry, McHenry County, Illinois. Vern Stade began his business with a couple of produce stands, expanded to u-pick pumpkins and now runs a popular agra-tourism destination.

The season starts with asparagus and u-pick strawberries and runs through Halloween with various produce and events.

The farm grows all the produce sold in their market except apples and blueberries. Sweet corn, tomatoes and strawberries are the biggest sellers. Mounds of zucchini, beets, cantaloupe and gourds are attractively displayed in the large farmer’s market.

Specialty items also available in the market include salsa, honey, and cookbooks. We browsed the variety of quilted items.

Quilts at Stades Farm and Farmers Market McHenry Illinois

Quilts at Stades Farm and Farmers Market McHenry Illinois

Stade’s bakery makes their own shortcake for strawberry shortcakes. Donuts, pies and zucchini bread are baked daily. Don’t miss these sweet tweets.

The market is just the beginning! Children can spend an entire afternoon with the farm activities. Shoot down the Slide Mountain. Take a spin around the farm on this barrel train pulled by an orange tractor. Walk among the llama, goats, cows and other critters and feed them in the petting zoo. Ride the ponies or the pedal cars around the two tracks.

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Our group of full sized adults took on the double decker Bovine Befuddlement and survived. I recommend this attraction for those under four feet tall. School groups have a great time in here.

Watch the video of the adults struggling through the two story corn maze game.

Stade's Cattle Car Maze Game

Stade's Cattle Car Maze Game

While you navigate the two acre corn maze, take the Stade challenge answering the 15 educational questions in the maze correctly and you can take home a free mini pumpkin. This year Stade’s offers a one price wristband, including admission to all attractions.

Kids can play in 500 bushels of corn in this box. This is Kris Cain showing us the little kid inside her.
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I tested out the corn cob shooter and came darn close to the hitting the targets. The biggest and loudest attraction at the farm is the pumpkin cannon. Watch video to see how the homemade artillery shoots out pumpkins at 300 feet per second. We hear the pumpkins can do serious damage to autos targeted for demolition.

Come hungry and try out the food choices at the fall harvest Shades of Autumn. The stage features local music acts you can watch or listen to while browsing the craft show and swap meet.

Stade’s celebrates a different theme each weekend with special events and discounts September through October.

  • Annual Tractors for Charity Antique Tractors, Trucks, & Construction Equipment Show
  • Pick Your Own Pumpkin Begins
  • Grandparents Weekend
  • Columbus Day Weekend
  • Sweetest Day Weekend
  • Family Fun Weekend
  • Halloween Weekend

Each Sunday morning 150 people gather at the farm for Christian worship. Several local churches hold outdoors services based on a rotating schedule.

Stade’s provides fresh produce for Northern Illinois families in need through Gleaners for the Lord, a non-profit volunteer organization which picks leftovers from the harvest.

Clickon the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Stade’s Farm and Market
3709 W Miller Road
McHenry , Il 60051
815-675-6396

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Stade’s Farm and Market.

Royal Oak Farm Orchard Harvard McHenry County Illinois

Our McHenry County trip visits Royal Oak Farm Orchard in Harvard, Illinois where apples rule. We found crisp fresh apples, apple pie, apple slices, caramel apples, apple donuts and apple cider. This third generation Harvard, Illinois farm is family friendly. As you cruise the scenic driveway, notice the namesake oak trees lining the road.

The orchard began with a few trees planted on Grandpa’s retirement homestead. The sprinkling of saplings grew into 13,000 apple trees in 29 varieties. U-pick apples are available July through November each year. Check with the farm for current crops as each variety matures at different times of the season.

Our tractor pulled wagon ride took us through the orchards where Justin Bell explained the history of the farm and how they create new trees through grafting. Each year 1000 new trees are planted. As we continued our ride, we passed u-pick raspberry and blackberry bushes. Choose your own pumpkins and gourds. The farm has their own bee hives and their Apple Blossom honey is sold in the gift store.

Royal Oak Farm Orchard Market produce

A bounty of produce at Royal Oak Farm Orchard Market

Stop by the market to stock up on farm fresh produce, bakery items and gifts.

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Try the blackberry pie at Royal Oak Farm County Restaurant

The Royal Oak Farm Country Restaurant is a popular comfort food lunch stop. Breakfast is available on Saturday mornings. I recommend the blackberry raspberry pie with ice cream.

Click on the picture below to watch a video of our visit.

Kids will keep busy in the entertainment area. Feed and pet the animals in the petting zoo, ride the carousel or the “Royal Oak Express” trackless train.

Connect with Royal Oak Farm Orchard on Twitter and Facebook for updates. Corporate groups, family reunions, birthday parties, weddings, receptions and large groups welcome.

ROYAL OAK FARM ORCHARD
15908 Hebron Road
Harvard, Illinois 60033
815-658-4141
www.royaloakfarmorchard.com

Royal Oak Farm is open for apple picking July through November. Hours and prices vary. Check their website for PumpkinFest and AppleFest special events.

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Royal Oak Farm Orchard.

Royal Oak Farm Country Kitchen Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Winterfest Lake Snow Scuplting in Geneva Wisconsin

Today we hopped across the state line for the 15th annual Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Winterfest. The event includes helicopter rides, ice fishing derby, food, drink and shopping at local merchants. On frozen Lake Geneva cars, ice fishermen, cars, ATVs and motorcycles, skaters, walkers and dogs intermixed. A few swans patrolled the only unfrozen section of the lake.

The big draw for us is the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championships. This year 15 teams from across the country competed for the title. Earlier in the week I watched as they prepared the first snow mold. A 6 foot wide by 9 foot tall cylinder is packed with snow. Rumor has it that this snow is gathered from the Rockford Airport runway as they clear the path for airplanes. Once the cylinder is partially filled with snow, people stomp on the snow till it is packed solid. These steps are repeated until the cylinder is full. The sculptors use hand tools to create their artwork.

Take a look at a few of the statues and the scene at the festival. Check out the hog on the Harley motorcycle. Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Watch Out for the Hawk at Volo Bog Winter Fest

Watch out for the bird I said to Noel F. Williams. We were at the Volo Bog in Volo, Illinois enjoying Winter Fest. Lake Shore Vibe rocked the place with four sets during the afternoon. Visitors went on hikes in the snow to see nature at work and the photo contest brought the outdoors inside.

Noel F. Williams vs the Hawk Volo Bog Park

Noel F. Williams vs the Hawk Volo Bog Park

Here’s Noel about to be captured by a Red Tail Hawk. We see these birds of prey in our yard at times.

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