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Small Dairy Farms Are Squeezed by Big Producers By Gayle Morrow
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Volume 13 Issue 6
5 Mountain Home Takes the
By Michael Capuzzo
By Gayle Morrow
16 2018 PA State Laurel
Small dairy farms are squeezed by big producers.
Queen Candidates 18 Mother Earth By Gayle Morrow Chicken littles.
20 Getting Their Goats By Linda Roller
For Your Day as Divine
For years, a herd of happy grazers has called the Wayne Township Landfill home.
26 A Maker of Fine Art By Michael Capuzzo
Meet local artist BJ Maker at Wellsboro’s First Friday.
By Maggie Barnes The Flower Divas of Montour Falls make every bride a goddess.
28 Old, Borrowed, Blue? By Beth Williams
Steeped in Tradition
The new’s on you, but Ginger’s Attic Vintage Rentals has the rest covered.
By Mike Cutillo The VanVolkinburg family serves French-style pastries at 401 Espresso.
38 Duck Scoop
By David Milano
Ice cream cuisine goes quackers at the Spotted Duck in Penn Yan.
44 The Gourmet’s Garage By Cornelius O'Donnell
One man’s trash sets another man’s table.
50 Back of the Mountain
Catch ‘Em, Creel ‘Em, and Cook ‘Em
By Linda Stager
June and the amazing technicolor dreamsky.
Cover by Tucker Worthington, by Bernadette Chiaramonte; (from top) by Linda Stager; courtesy Lisa Kessler (pictured); by Mike Cutillo; courtesy Don Knaus.
By Don Knaus When fishing for summer brookies, there’s no better plan.
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w w w. m o u n ta i n h o m e m ag . co m Teresa Banik Capuzzo Michael Capuzzo Associate Publisher George Bochetto, Esq. Managing Editor Gayle Morrow Director of Operations Gwen Button Advertising Director Maia Mahosky Sales Representatives Robin Ingerick, Linda Roller, Richard Trotta Gallery Manager/ Circulation Director Michael Banik Accounting Amy Packard D e s i g n & P h o t o g r ap h y Tucker Worthington, Cover Design Contributing Writers Anne Lugg Alexander, Maggie Barnes, Melissa Bravo, Mike Cutillo, Alison Fromme, Carrie Hagen, Holly Howell, Roger Kingsley, Don Knaus, Nicole Landers, Janet McCue, Cindy Davis Meixel, David Milano, Cornelius O’Donnell, Brendan O’Meara, Linda Roller, Ruth Tonachel, Joyce M. Tice, Beth Williams, Dave Wonderlich C o n t r i b u t i n g P h o t o g r ap h e r s Mia Lisa Anderson, Deb Behm, Melissa Bravo, Bernadette Chiaramonte, Diane Cobourn, Bill Crowell, Bruce Dart, Ann Kamzelski, Jan Keck, Nigel P. Kent, Roger Kingsley, Jonathan Mack, Tim McBride, Heather Mee, Ken Meyer, Brian Oglesbee, Linda Stager, Curt Sweely, Tina Tolins, Sarah Wagaman, Christian Watson, Curt Weinhold D i s t r i b u t i o n T e am Layne Conrad, Grapevine Distribution, Gary Hill, Duane Meixel, Linda Roller The Beagle Cosmo (1996-2014) • Yogi (2004-2018) ABOUT US: Mountain Home is the award-winning regional magazine of PA and NY with more than 100,000 readers. The magazine has been published monthly, since 2005, by Beagle Media, LLC, 87-1/2 Main Street, Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, 16901, and online at www.mountainhomemag.com. Copyright © 2018 Beagle Media, LLC. All rights reserved. E-mail story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (570) 724-3838. TO ADVERTISE: E-mail email@example.com, or call us at (570) 7243838. AWARDS: Mountain Home has won over 85 international and statewide journalism awards from the International Regional Magazine Association and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association for excellence in writing, photography, and design. DISTRIBUTION: Mountain Home is available “Free as the Wind” at hundreds of locations in Tioga, Potter, Bradford, Lycoming, Union, and Clinton counties in PA and Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler, Yates, Seneca, Tioga, and Ontario counties in NY. SUBSCRIPTIONS: For a one-year subscription (12 issues), send $24.95, payable to Beagle Media LLC, 87-1/2 Main Street, Wellsboro, PA 16901 or visit www.mountainhomemag.com.
Bernadette Chiaramonte’s photograph, “You Looking at Me?” helps round out Mountain Home’s Keystone awards.
Mountain Home Takes the Prize By Michael Capuzzo
ugene Roberts, one of the great editors of our time at The Philadelphia Inquirer, the managing editor of The New York Times, and the Pulitzer Prizewinning historian of The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation, read Mountain Home magazine when he had me speak to his University of Maryland journalism class. “Thank you for brilliant journalism,” he said. Lee Kravitz, the editor-in-chief of Parade magazine who hired writers like Michael Crichton, Norman Mailer, Mitch Albom, and David Halberstam, said, “Nobody stands up for good writing like Mountain Home.” Who does the standing up? First, as anyone knows who wanders into the magazine headquarters at 87½ Main Street in Wellsboro, which doubles as the Mountain Home Art Gallery displaying our prizewinning photographers and local artists, is my wife, Teresa Banik Capuzzo. The former restaurant critic and food editor of Philadelphia magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer lead researcher on Pulitzer-Prize investigations, she is Mountain Home’s publisher, a brilliant editor, a partner with our readers and advertisers. Okay, I’m somewhat biased. Did I mention she is my wife? Since we founded Mountain Home in 2005, Teresa has led the magazine to more than 100,000 readers in the Twin Tiers and more
than ninety state and international journalism awards. Make that seven more Keystone Awards last month from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association in Harrisburg, including the Best Niche Publication in the state for the eighth consecutive year, beating Lancaster Farming, The Philadelphia Business Journal, The Philadelphia Weekly, et. al. (My wife reminds me we actually finished second twice). In 2006, I was approached by U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman and offered the job of writing The Katrina Report, a definitive examination of the hurricane, for the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. It involved three months working in a Washington, D.C. hotel suite with fifty lawyers. Teresa versus fifty lawyers? It was no contest. I stayed home, and with Mountain Home. I was also busy writing my bestselling book, The Murder Room, and the magazine needed me full-time then. Now Mountain Home has its own talented family tending it. Wander into the magazine office to browse some art, and you’ll see Gwen Button, our operations director. Gwen, of Knoxville, was just recognized for the second year in a row for one of the best Photo Story/Essays in the state, this time an Honorable Mention for “Winter Hues.” Next to her sits Gayle Morrow, our managing editor. Gayle, who
lives on a hilltop near Asaph, won Gayle Morrow a Sports/Outdoor Column First Place for her Mother Earth columns, and a Business or Consumer Story Second Place for her cover story on Wellsboro, “Main Brendan O'Meara Street, USA.” Now that’s versatility! On any given day, Gwen or Gayle will be on the phone with photographer Bernadette Chiaramonte, of Wellsboro, whose photo (above) “You Lookin’ at Me?” won a Feature Photo Honorable Mention. Or with Brendan O’Meara, now of Oregon, who won a Personality Profile Second Place for his cover story on WETM-TV chief meteorologist Chip Maxham. Bernadette and Brendan are both multiple award-winners. The magazine also was recognized for Headline Writing, including one on Maggie Barnes’ column on her miserable experience with hip-replacement rehab: Let me outa this joint. I couldn’t have put it better, if I was with fifty lawyers in a hotel suite.
Milked Small Dairy Farms are Squeezed by Big Producers By Gayle Morrow
here are no other words than the overused “bucolic” and “pastoral” that come close to describing the Davis family farm. “We view it as a great place to grow kids (they raised five here) and as a way of life,” says Rick Davis. There is the requisite rambling farmhouse, with welcoming porches outside, and inside a kitchen table big enough to seat a dozen. When the sweet corn is ready, there is a stand in the front yard that works on the honor system—put your money in a box and take your corn home. Over in the well-ordered barn, the
cows are friendly and contented. They all have names—Heaven, at age twelve, is the oldest, and she still gets milked every day. The milk house is clean, the barn cats gambol up and down the aisles, and surrounding it all are the greening pastures and fields. Rick and his wife, Janelle, milk about seventy cows and grow hay and corn on this 600 acres between Keeneyville and Little Marsh. The original farm belonged to Rick’s parents; Rick recalls that in 1982, when he got out of the service and came home to work with his dad, farmers were getting $14.50/cwt (that’s per hundred
By Bernadette Chiaramonte
See Dairy on page 8
Dairy continued from page 6
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w w w. E l k l a n d C h e v y. c o m 8
pounds of liquid milk), and a bushel of seed corn, weighing about fifty-six pounds, was selling for thirty-five dollars. Today, Rick notes, the milk price is not much higher (Penn State Cooperative Extension predicts the Class III price for the first eleven months of the year to average $14.57/cwt). Seed corn is now sold by the unit—a unit of seed corn is about 80,000 kernels, weighs between thirty-four and sixty pounds, and costs an average of $300. These days, he notes, it is “difficult or impossible to save seed.” “My wife and I have worked hard to be (financially) disciplined but costs don’t go down, they go up,” Rick says. The big, corporate operations can buy wholesale, he states, but he can’t. No Place to Sell In early March, Dean Foods, a national milk processor, informed producers in some Pennsylvania counties and in five other states that, as of May 31, the company would no longer be buying their milk. That left dairy farmers in Franklin, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties, among others, scrambling to find outlets. To date, some have and some haven’t. The problem, in part and at the moment, is Walmart. The retail behemoth carries the Dean Foods label but has opted to build its own milk processing facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The company says going this route will help them reduce operating costs and enable them to pass savings on to customers. “The American consumer has never had to pay the true cost of food,” Rick says. “Everybody wants to go to Walmart and wants the cheapest price. We’ve got the necessities and the luxuries all mixed up. What’s good for the individual is not good for the industry. “We could get more dairies,” he adds, “but there is no place to go with the milk.” “We [dairy farmers] have done ourselves no service by becoming more efficient,” Janelle says. The Mailbox Price It’s called the mailbox price, and it’s the far-fromstraightforward way dairy farmers are paid every month. The amount of the check varies somewhat, obviously, with the amount of milk that’s been shipped, but it also varies with such things as milk components, revenue from federal orders, and market and government premiums. Then there are the producer price differentials, the volume premiums, the quality premiums, and the market over-order premiums. And the thing is, the guy or the gal milking the cows doesn’t know with any certainty from month to month what those variations will amount to. Or if the check will be large enough to cover what’s owed to the implement dealer, or the seed company (You can save the seed from the genetically modified corn you grew last year, but it won’t produce anything very useable this year, and it may be illegal in some cases to try. It’s a corporate rung on the vertical integration ladder.), the vet, the milk co-op, the hired help, or even yourself. It’s bad enough that a dairy cooperative in upstate New York/ New England included a list of suicide hotline numbers along with the milk pricing information it recently mailed to members. How can you run a business like that? How can you run your life like that? It ain’t easy.
Facts for Rumination The first regular shipment of milk by rail was in 1841, between Orange County, New York, and New York City. A little over 100 years later, in 1944, according to stats compiled by Cornell University, dairy cows in the United States produced 548 gallons of milk per year; in 2017 that amount was 2,429. There were 25.6 million cows in the country then; there were 9.2 million in 2017. Total milk production in 1944 was 14 billion gallons; in 2017 that number was 22 billion gallons. Fewer cows, more milk. A recent article from Hoard’s Dairyman, a dairy-focused journal that’s been around since 1885, relates that since 1992, when the number of licensed dairies was first published—there were 131,535 then—the total in this country has fallen by 68.2 percent, with the slowest regional decline in the northeast. Wisconsin, where Hoard’s Dairyman is published, lost the most—21,766 since 1992. Fewer dairies, more milk. Also noted in Hoard’s Dairyman: in 2017 dairy farmers got thirty cents for each dollar consumers spent on dairy products. In 2014, considered a banner year by those in the know, that amount peaked at thirty-eight cents for every dollar in consumer spending. Milk checks tanked in 2009, with producers getting just twentyfour cents for each dollar in consumer spending. Another variable in that monthly mailbox price amount is where the milk goes. Producers whose milk is marketed as fluid milk get the best return—right now about fifty-one cents for every consumer dollar spent. Ice cream requires more processing and non-dairy ingredients than cheese (cheese, by the way, was the star of the dairy show in 2017, with a return of thirty-two cents for each one dollar spent) and offered only a return of nineteen cents per dollar in sales. Buy High, Sell Low It was 1960, a presidential election year, and Senator John F. Kennedy was speaking at the National Plowing Contest in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As a Democrat, he, of course, did not have many positive things to say about his opponent, Richard Nixon, or about the farm policies of his opponent’s party (Mr. Nixon was scheduled to speak the next day, and so would have the opportunity to defend the Republican agriculture programs). But, aside from the politics of the day, it is interesting to realize that what were considered to be problems in the farming community then are still considered problems in the farming community now. One party promises higher incomes for farmers, yet farm incomes decline and costs of production continue to rise. “The farmer’s share of the consumer’s dollar has declined sharply since 1952,” Mr. Kennedy noted. One party disagrees with the other about where best to use food surpluses. There was a need for “a sound system of soil conservation which does not destroy entire farms and which is administered at the local levels by local farmers.” Increased productivity, while “a source of national power and strength…can be a disaster for the individual farmer.” The “so-called free market…mean[s] disaster for thousands of farmers who are trapped between rising costs and their own inability to control production.” Supply management, anathema to some, was considered by Mr. Kennedy to be essential if there was to be what See Dairy on page 10
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Reason to Ruminate: Rick Davis, pictured with Heaven, the oldest of the family’s herd, will continue to milk in the face of adversity. Dairy continued from page 9
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he called “parity of income,” as there cannot be “both good prices and unlimited production.” He defined parity of income as that which “gives average producers a return on their invested capital, labor, and management equal to that which similar, or comparable, resources earn in nonfarm employment.” Could there be a balance between supply and demand with as little government interference as possible? He thought it was possible. And it was here, in this speech, that JFK pronounced what is probably one of the most oft-repeated farming truisms. The farmer, he said, “is the only man in our economy who has to buy everything he buys at retail—sell everything he sells at wholesale— and pay the freight both ways.” And while he may or may not consider himself to be a Kennedy Democrat, JFK’s sentiment from 1960 rings true for Rick Davis today, fifty-eight years later. Is Bigger Better or Just More?
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Those big dairies—and by big we’re talking 1,000 cows or more—are set up to be operated by fewer people, and often those fewer people are immigrants who are willing to “milk cows for cheap,” in Rick Davis’s words. Those large dairies are under corporate control, and they have economies of scale on their side. “It’s harder to control a small group of farmers,” Rick says. With a 100-member milk co-op, such as the Middlebury Milk Co-Op, where the Davis family farm sells its milk and where
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Rick serves on the board, there are 100 different ideas about how things ought to be, but also a willingness to be a little flexible and accommodating to the individual. The Middlebury Co-Op, for instance, “is unique in that it’s willing to go out of its way to haul,” Rick notes, which might mean the difference for a dairy that is very small or off the main route. But in the extremely large-scale operations, whether it’s dairy or hogs or chickens, it’s typically the contractor or the corporate entity who owns the animals, with the management and day-to-day operation of the facility hired out. The feed shows up in a tractor trailer and the product leaves the same way. Rick adds that there are “guys putting up pig barns and chicken barns,” some locally, in an attempt to diversify their dairy operations and secure an additional income stream, but with the accompanying increase in taxes, debt load, other costs, and market uncertainties, that hoped-for improvement in finances may not materialize. In these cases, it is the property owner, the family, or the individual who went into debt to put up the facility, who takes the financial leap. “We take all the risks and then take the price they’re willing to give us,” Rick says. “You’re just a worker.” Think about it. It’s been less than a generation, two at the most, since most rural families lived on small farms and kept a few cows, a few sheep, some chickens and pigs. Until the 1850s, according to the American Dairy Association, nearly every American family had its own cow. It’s not your father’s diversification these days. See Allen on page 12 11
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Dairy continued from page 11
Drink More Milk “Dairy is suffering in the state—everyone knows that,” says Aaron de Long, who serves as the Delaware Valley Hub manager for the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. “Everyone is trying to figure out how to survive. At PASA we talk a lot about integrating grazing [into a dairy operation], and that can help, even if it’s only ten pounds of dry matter a day. But to access something like a 100 percent grass-fed market, you have to be a really good pasture manager in addition to a good cow manager.” The movement toward grass-fed is strong in dairy right now, Aaron says, and it’s not hard to see why. Feed is one farm input that can be tweaked. Grass-fed is also a label consumers are increasingly interested in purchasing. Craig Williams, Penn State Cooperative Extension agent for Tioga County, says that 50 percent of a dairy farm’s annual costs are for feeding the cows. Certainly more grass is an option, for those who have the land base, but putting better feed in the silo can help reduce costs, he notes. Extension has detailed charts and graphs and analytical tools that can help farmers figure farm expenses down to the penny per cow. Aaron says one trend he sees are dairy farmers trying to access direct markets in the same way as, say, vegetable farmers do, either through raw milk or other value-added products. “But marketing is another job, and that can really stretch a farmer,” he notes. “There are no easy solutions here.” “We are losing sales to other drinks,” says Craig Williams, citing the increase in non-dairy “milks” in the dairy case. “We need to increase consumption.” “There is plenty of research that shows whole milk doesn’t make kids fat,” Rick Davis comments. “The industry wants the fat [from whole milk] for cheese and other products.
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Precarious Independence: Faced with buying farm necessities at retail and selling their milk at wholesale, the Davis family farm, like other small dairies, perseveres.
“Dairy in Tioga County is challenging,” he continues. “This region is set up for small. Cows grazing on hillsides—that’s what we’re best suited for. But there’s the economics. How do you compete with a 5,000-cow dairy?”
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What Now? “Someday we’ll be farming out in the desert,” Rick predicts, then notes as an afterthought, “which we already are. We’re turning the best farmland in the northeast into housing. There is a huge loss of value and respect for our farmland, and we’re going to regret it.” “We’re so far removed from the family farm of years ago,” he adds. Well, yes and no. Here in the Davis barn, the morning chores are finished and the family is ready to head to the house for breakfast. Spring was cool and the pastures are just now starting to grow and dry up enough for the cows to be turned out. “These poor girls are so ready to be outside,” says Laureen Wolgemuth of the patient Holsteins. Laureen is one of Rick and Janelle’s two daughters; she and her husband, Drew, both studied music in college and graduated a few years ago. Drew, a trombonist, laughs a little when he says that trying to get started in a career as a performing musician is kind of like trying to start a dairy. Laureen agrees with her dad that consumer education about farming and dairy is critical to helping families like theirs stay in business. At any rate, they’re back on the farm for a while, saying they “are here to help,” as is Luke, a part-time employee. “My wife and I are overloaded when we do this alone,” Rick admits. But, “who wants to manage cows for some contractor?” he muses. “Not me.”
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CALENDAR GIRLS. Based on the popular film, British matrons create a unique calendar. May 18, 19, 20, 25, 26. Warehouse Theatre, 3 Central Avenue, Wellsboro Watch for auditions on FB and our website - Co-sponsored by Drs. Tina Tolins and Grady Gafford & Dr. Richard & Kate Black. SPRING CONCERT. All four HG Children and Youth Choirs. May 13. Steadman Theatre, Mansfield University. Sponsored by Ward Manufacturing. SUMMER THEATRE ARTS CAMP – The Wizard of Oz! June 11 - 24. This time it’s a musical like our winter camps! Watch for details on FB and our website! Sponsored by Deerfield Charitable Trust HG RADIO. Four weekends of different themed radio shows. Warehouse Theatre, Central Avenue, July 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21& August 10, 11. Sponsored in Part by Rick & Karen Doganiero
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JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. Roald Dahl’s story set to music for the whole family. July 27, 28, 29 August 3, 4 Coolidge Theatre, Main Street, Deane Center. Co-sponsored by Elite Therapy and Drs. Maria Cruz & Edgar Wong
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Chicken Littles By Gayle Morrow
ur morning coffee routine has recently come to include free entertainment of the two-legged, two-winged, fuzzy kind. We had enjoyed, as always, watching a variety of feathered friends at the outside feeders all winter, but it’s a different kind of pleasure to have chicks inside to oohh and aahh over (yeah, and clean up after…). If you’ve shared your time and your space with youngsters of any species, you know first-hand that some babies require a lot more care than others. Chickens, for all that they, and we, may question their road-crossing decisions, come out of the egg as remarkably self-reliant little creatures, their avian instincts already telling them what they need to know about food, water, warmth, danger (real and perceived—they don’t know that a particular cat who likes to sit and watch them is really harmless). From day one these tiny bits of fluff can eat
and drink by themselves. Nobody has to tell them how to walk, how to peck at things, or how to preen the fuzz that covers them. If your backyard flock includes a virile rooster and a broody hen or two, you may not have the opportunity to enjoy watching chicks up close, at least not until they’re big enough to come out from under Mama Chicken’s protective wings. When you get chicks through the mail or from Rockwell’s, though, you might, like some of us do, keep the little ones in a container in the house for a few weeks. You discover that their initial vocalizations, while almost constant, are pint-sized, like themselves, but that as they mature so do their vocal cords and their repertoire (hearing a young rooster learning to crow is fairly amusing, however). You are amazed at how quickly they grow, how selfimportant they act the first time they hop up on a perch and look condescendingly down at the others (Where do you think mean girls
learned it? From mean chicks!). You laugh when, after ten or fifteen minutes of frantic activity, they all collapse in a pile under the heat lamp for a communal nap. Some of them look dead—they’re flat out, their miniscule wings spread, their tiny, twiggy legs straight behind them. More than once I’ve crouched down close enough to assure myself that everybody was still breathing. I was at the post office recently, trying hard to stay focused on what I was there to do, but I kept hearing this noise. It was a kind of familiar, white noise that didn’t completely register with my conscious brain until I had gotten my package all ready to go and had the luxury of standing in line with nothing to do but wait. Then I realized what I was hearing: peeps! Somebody had ordered chicks and the little ones were back there behind the counter, cheep, cheep, cheeping up a storm. Somebody is in for some entertainment.
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Home on the Range: Since 2004, a herd of goats has captured local affection with their presence on Pine Mountain Road.
Getting Their Goats
For Years, a Herd of Happy Grazers Has Called the Wayne Township Landfill Home By Linda Roller
hen it comes to a difference of opinion between a herd of goats and mere humans, the cosmic odds-makers bet on the goats every time. They are no fools. Travelers along any highway in rural Pennsylvania certainly see all kinds of farm animals grazing as they pass by the rolling farmland. But the goats that graze on the Wayne Township landfill in McElhattan have always drawn their share of stares, comments, and attention. After all, there must be a great story about how the goats got there. And that’s only fair, for McElhattan is the hometown of Henry Shoemaker, a collector of Pennsylvania history, first state historian, author, editor, and a teller of tales without equal. It all started with the Bowman farm, near the landfill on Pine Mountain Road. 20
Jeff Bowman was a neighbor to the landfill as it grew, and his goats always ended up grazing on the landfill property. But in 2004, Bowman needed to move, and the goats were without a home. As they liked the landfill property, Jay Alexander, general manager of the Wayne Township Landfill, proposed that the goats move to their “other home.” That created a problem. The landfill was zoned industrial—no goats allowed. And the township’s zoning board raised the issue and told the landfill that the goats had to be removed. But the goats had been going to the landfill for years. People were used to it, and enjoyed seeing the herd grazing there. The public was not happy to hear that they were being barred from their favorite spot. The zoning board was discussing holding firm to the ordinance,
but, as the Lock Haven Express reported, a voice from the back of the room stated at the end of the meeting, “This isn’t over with yet!” Indeed not. The interest and the pressure from the public did not go away. It wasn’t long before the goats and the public won a new home for the landfill goats. By the end of 2004, the herd was officially transferred to the landfill. According to Thresa Lingenfelter, environmental coordinator for the facility and one of the goats’ caregivers, twenty goats arrived from the farm, with Walter as head goat in the herd. Walter was in charge for several years, and today his mounted head still keeps watch over his domain. The herd wandered over the entire landfill, grazing. “Goats are preferential grazers,” says Thresa. “They eat their favorite plants first, See Goats on page 22
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Goats continued from page 20
then the others. They did a lot of trimming, and reached areas that we couldn’t.” Thresa also debunked a few myths. The goats do not eat cans or garbage, but do eat grass, berries, and shrubs. The goats were not “super friendly”—they did not bother visitors at the landfill, though they did have favorite employees. And although they were out all summer, the entire herd was brought under shelter for the winter. It seemed the goats had selected a fine home, so they did what goats do—increased the herd. There were as many as thirty babies a year—most given away to raise as 4-H projects. Having the goats inside during the late winter/early spring birthing season increased a little one’s chances, since not all goats are good mothers. In the wild many kids are deserted, or just lost. Some little goats needed special care, whether they arrived too early, or were just too small to stay in the goat shed. For them, it was residency in Thresa’s office, and handfeeding by her and some of the landfill staff. Before long, the herd was about forty to fifty goats, grazing all 300 acres. Through 4-H, it was an educational project, but it was also good public relations for the landfill. After all, the traditional perception of a landfill was a dirty, smelly, garbage-filled place. The herd presented the public with possibilities, as more ecologically sound practices allowed the landfill to become pasture again. And people were always interested in the goat herd. Thresa would be stopped by strangers in the mall to ask how they were. Goats were part of the public face at Wayne Township, and a mainstay at the landfill. Not that they were angels—they were known for some trouble. Many of the scrapes they got into were because of usual goat behavior. Goats love to climb, whether it’s a hill, a car, or even large equipment used at the landfill. And they are nosy animals—they want to know what has moved into their pasture, and what folks were doing to their property. One of the most extreme examples of this was the day a goat climbed up the incline under the Route 220 overpass that cuts the landfill in two. From the top of the inside support, the goat found a way to get higher than any other goat, which is a win in the game “King Goat on the Mountain.” This goat climbed up to the lower support beam of the actual road over the property! But from there, the goat couldn’t get down. A cherry picker was used to rescue the goat from the beam under the bridge. A major renovation at the landfill was scheduled in 2014, destroying too much of the established pasture to maintain the herd. The goats were relocated to Jay Alexander’s farm in Pennsdale. There Jay, the general manager of the landfill, would care for them and they would live out their days. At least, that was the plan. But a few of the goats had another idea. As they were rounded up for transport, four jumped the fence and could not be caught. Today, there are three goats left to watch over the landfill, keep tabs on the people and equipment, and just be the goats of Wayne Township’s landfill. Mountain Home contributor Linda Roller is a bookseller, appraiser, and writer in Avis, Pennsylvania.
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A Maker of Fine Art
Meet Local Artist BJ Maker at Wellsboro’s First Friday By Michael Capuzzo
icasso lived to be ninety-one, grown old and wise enough to know his biggest challenge. “Every child is an artist,” he said. “The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” BJ Maker (above) is eighty years old and has figured that out. BJ—”it’s Betty Jane, two words, but everyone knows me as BJ”—walks with a cane, but her eyes glitter with a child’s joy. Her oil canvases shimmer with the summer morning blue of the Long Island Sound; the sunlit red of a Pennsylvania farmhouse on a distant hill. Local folks can’t get enough of the extraordinary vison of the entirely selftaught Milton, Pennsylvania, artist.
She has exhibited at the Susquehanna Art Society show in Sunbury, the Fero Winery in Lewisburg, and also at the public library in that college town. Recently she exhibited at the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center in Wellsboro after she was discovered by curator Anna Wales Rogers. Visitors were so wowed they bought seven of her paintings right out of the museum, more than one of every ten. Starting on June 1, First Friday in Wellsboro, BJ’s paintings will be exhibited in the Mountain Home Art Gallery, 87½ Main Street. Her work—a dusty country lane cutting through green fields; a couple of cows as natural and beautiful as the
tree and big sky beyond them; the wine grapes of summer; a head of wild garlic as handsome as a king’s portrait—will be in the gallery all of June and into July. BJ will be on hand at the First Friday celebration. Look for a woman with a handsome, square-jawed face, eyes shining with the fine energy of an artist who has figured out how to be a child for eight decades now. It was hard-won knowledge. BJ doesn’t mince words. She paints from photographs snapped with her “cheap little Canon camera.” She paints from memory, like Break in the Bar, the glistening view of the Long Island Sound two blocks from where she grew up in Locust Valley. She paints See Artist on page 34
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© Cassie Ann Images, cassieann.zenfolio.com
acob and Jennie Wren celebrated their wedding on a beautiful fall afternoon. The couple said “I do” at the Historic Toganenwood Estate just north of Seneca Lake, accompanied by their son Jameson, family, and close friends. This sprawling estate includes a waterfront barn venue, gazebos, and acres of immaculate scenery. The rustic fieldstone barn holds up to 175 people.
Courtesy Ginger’s Attic An eclectic collection: Sisters Sharon O’Shea and Rebecca Yablonski scour the countryside for unique antiques to grace party tables.
Old, Borrowed, Blue?
The New’s On You, But Ginger’s Attic Vintage Rentals Has The Rest Covered By Beth Williams
or an entire year, Sharon O’Shea and her sister, Rebecca Yablonski, scoured the flea markets, estate sales, yard sales, and thrift stores between Wellsboro and Bloomsburg, along with online auctions, Craig’s List, you name it, all in search of vintage items to make Sharon’s daughter Erin’s wedding and wedding reception uniquely beautiful. It turns out they really enjoyed doing it, and that is how Ginger’s Attic Vintage Rentals came to be. At her lovely farm outside of Wellsboro, Sharon described her childhood living in a large old Victorian house with her sister and her mother, whose nickname is Ginger. Ginger would go out regularly looking for inexpensive treasures that she could buy, clean up, and use to decorate their home. Sharon told me she and her sister came about their love for vintage pieces “honestly” because of their mother’s knack for finding things and turning them into
beautiful pieces for their home. Sharon and Rebecca currently have enough vintage place settings for at least 230 people, and their inventory is always growing. “We can do color themes if that is what someone wants and we also have a large set of white place settings, which is popular for weddings,” Sharon says. Ginger’s Attic is home to an array of many other unique items to create a one-of-a-kind themed event. The sisters have galvanized washtubs and milk containers to create a nostalgic atmosphere, maple syrup pails, a gold camel back couch from the 1920s, an ice cream parlor bistro set, a large farm table, grand entrance doors for celebrants to pass through, and a large vintage white wedding arch. They have acquired a number of lovely and lacey linens, and have pretty much anything a bride could think of that will create the look and feel of a vintage gathering, down to the last detail. See Attic on page 30
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And, if there is something you want for your event, wedding or otherwise, and it isn’t in their inventory, Sharon and Rebecca will happily find it for you. “That part is fun!” Sharon says with a big smile. Sharon and Rebecca both work full-time as nurses. Sharon is the school nurse at Wellsboro Area High School and Rock L. Butler Middle School while Rebecca, who lives in Bloomsburg, is a nurse at Geisinger Medical Center. Sharon does have the advantage of summers off with her job, but for the most part, weekends are when the pair hit likely places to find treasures to add to their stock. “Sometimes we go together and sometimes we go on our own,” Sharon says. If Rebecca finds something she will send a picture to Sharon to see what she thinks, and Sharon will do the same. Sharon hopes to have a space sometime soon to display their inventory, but currently most everything is in well-labeled boxes. The bulk of it all is at Sharon’s farm because she has more space; they hope that her large barn will be renovated to use as a showroom of sorts in the near future. Treasure Trove: Sharon and Rebecca offer clients two different ways to use Ginger’s Attic their old-fashioned finds. The sisters are more than willing to Vintage Rentals doturns all offorgotten the set-up and take-down. However, they also offer the option of do-it-yourself events. People can either come to Sharon into festive. and take what they want for their gathering and then return it, or Attic continued from page 28
F R O M E L E G A N C E TO E N T E RTA I N M E N T. . . ALL IN ONE PLACE
Sharon can deliver and pick up when the event is over. There is no delivery cost if the venue is less than thirty miles away (there is a mileage fee for travel over that). How long it would take for the sisters to set up an event for, say, 200 people? Assuming the tables were up and ready, just two or three hours to set the places with dinner plates, salad plates, dessert plates, water goblets, tea cup and saucer, and champagne or wine glasses. Since much of the inventory involves glass and china, Sharon says they use a lot of bubble wrap for glasses and stemware, and padded sleeves for plates. As for breakage, there has been very little, amazingly enough. “I think the only things that have broken are things we took out while taking inventory,” Sharon laughs. If a one-of-a-kind event is what you’re hoping for, Ginger’s Attic Vintage Rentals is with you, ready to offer a different take for all kinds of gatherings. In addition to weddings and wedding receptions, Sharon says they want to market their business for bridal and baby showers, anniversary parties, birthdays, garden parties, holidays, and more. Helping celebrants of all sorts create their perfect celebration is what Ginger’s Attic Vintage Rentals is all about. For now, the best way to contact Ginger’s Attic Vintage Rentals is through their Facebook page. Just send them a message and you will be sure to get a response quickly. Find them at www. facebook.com/pg/gingerschina or call them at (570) 724-2232.
Beth Williams lives in the wilds of Steuben County, New York, works in the wonders of the library at Mansfield University, and is perpetually writing a novel.
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(5) Courtesy Lisa Kessler Crowning achievements: Flower divas Lisa Kessler (right) and Tina Scriven create magic for brides, including gemstone crowns (pictured at left in front of the Shequaga Falls).
For Your Day as Divine
The Flower Divas of Montour Falls Make Every Bride a Goddess By Maggie Barnes
t’s all about the energy, you know, the vibrations.” Not a statement you usually get from your wedding
florist. But the brides who work with the ladies at Flower Divas of Montour Falls get some extra special treatment from Lisa Kessler and her co-owner Tina Scriven. In a small, delightfully cluttered shop at 314 West Main Street in the village, Tina uses her talents to help couples plan for their big day. The Divas handle flowers, centerpieces, and bouquets, all of the normal nuptial arrangements. The store is full of the traditional, and the decidedly different, including fairy ornaments, dream catchers, and embossed wine glasses. But the essence of the special experience for the Divas’ brides lies in the headpieces Lisa creates for them. That crowning piece is important beyond the fact that it will appear in all the photos of the lady of the day. “About 10 percent of brides go with
the traditional idea of a wedding. But, every bride has a personal style, a theme,” Lisa explains, while straightening a silk flower arrangement. “She’s bohemian or romantic or eclectic. That style needs to be with her on her wedding day. It needs to be conveyed in how she looks.” She lifts a tiara-style headpiece, adorned with pale lavender stones and crystals. “But more importantly, everything she wears needs to make her feel however she wants to feel.” That’s where the gemstones come in. That lavender stone is amethyst and, according to Lisa and her research, it imbibes the wearer with a feeling of angelic love from others. These are genuine gemstones, custom cut for the products the Flower Divas create. “The stones have metaphysical properties, and each type gives off different vibrations,” Lisa explains. “Once I know about a person and what she wants to feel
on her wedding day, I can often craft a headpiece to channel those vibrations.” “How she feels is even more important than how she looks,” she adds. Moonstone speaks to the goddess within every woman. Quartz amplifies love and support from relatives who have passed on. Rose quartz speaks to unconditional love and forgiveness. The amber stones are about self-esteem and confidence. Tell Lisa how you want to feel and she will recommend the right thing to wear. Lisa learned of the connection between natural elements and the human spirit as a kid, and the concept has always made sense to her. She felt it firsthand as an adult, stuck in a job that did not allow her to speak her mind or express herself. “What do I wind up with? Thyroid cancer. Based right in my throat. I knew it was the negativity of my work situation.” Once healthy again, Lisa knew she See Divas on page 48
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Artist continued from page 24
bringing history alive. Take a walk through time and discover treasures from the past through interpretive exhibitions, education programs, and publications that tell the county’s history.
Highlighting the Civil War and Mark Twain, the museum regularly changes gallery exhibits and programs throughout the year. Open Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 415 E. Water St., Elmira, NY 14901 • (607) 734-4167 www.ChemungValleyMuseum.org 34
now and then from pure imagination, such as an impressionistic landscape of a field with purple wildflowers. It’s as if Van Gogh were a woman who lived alone in a central Pennsylvania mobile home and was a lot a more sensible. But BJ won’t paint outside. “I can’t stand the heat or the bugs or carrying stuff to paint outside,” she says. “Plus, if it rains, how am I going to paint?” She paints in her kitchen, “the only room big enough in my home to set up in.” Her art draws on ample life experiences. She’s been married twice and has four sons. She ran a small bed-and-breakfast in New York. She says she’s been a teaching assistant, sold Avon, worked in plant nurseries, loved designing gardens and raising plants, and was a boutique sales lady for custom clothing. She loves to cook. During a rough spell in the 1990s, “my mother said, ‘Why don’t you paint?’” BJ winced. Her mother painted china, exquisite fired porcelain designs of fruits and flowers. Her father, who had his own boat yard, longed to be a draftsman, but had bad eyes. “I told her I can’t draw a line with a ruler. ‘Why don’t you paint?’ my mother said again. ‘Why don’t you paint?’ I was quite annoyed. But she gave me oils for Christmas, and that was the beginning. She was right.” The art “flows out.” Paintings take an hour or two, she says, “or a couple weeks. I walk by them a couple weeks later and spend another ten minutes. I call it my walk-by phase. I’m quite passionate about color and nature and gardening, and fruit and vegetables, and I just try to create that feeling of joy when I put the color on the canvas,” she says. “Sometimes it’s quite accurate, sometimes it’s not accurate at all. But it’s an awful lot of fun.”
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Steeped in Tradition
The VanVolkinburg Family Serves French-Style Pastries at 401 Espresso By Mike Cutillo
or a man who spends most of his waking hours baking—anything from savory artisan breads and simple rolls to flaky croissants and airy yet rich mousse cakes—it’s no surprise that Frank VanVolkinburg did what he did on a first date four decades ago. He baked bread. However, with forty years of hindsight and life experiences now tucked securely under his chef ’s coat, the man who is making world-class pastries out of the sleepy Schuyler County, New York, village of Montour Falls has another way to look at it: “What kind of nerd makes bread on a first date?” he says with a quiet chuckle. “I baked a loaf of white bread thinking that would be really impressive,” he continues. “It’s like, maybe I should have taken her out to dinner in a fancy car or something. That would have been impressive. I don’t even remember how it came out. I remember we ate it.” True to form, though, just like a lot of
the treats that Frank pulls out of the oven these days, it obviously came out lovely. That “bread date” was with Joyce, the woman to whom he has now been married to for forty years. VanVolkinburg was recounting the story recently while looking back on his career over a cup of hot, freshly-ground dark roast coffee at 401 Espresso, his café and pastry shop at 401 W. Main Street. He opened it in October 2017 just across the street from the Village Bakery, which he opened in 2012 (and which their daughter Emily now runs). Frank and Joyce also have a son, Daniel, who is an electronics engineer in Syracuse. “I always wanted to bake,” says Frank, who graduated from Charles O. Dickerson High School in Trumansburg but whose path has taken more twists and twirls than a gooey cinnamon roll, with stops in Elmira and Hector in New York, Atlanta and Brunswick in Georgia, Detroit, Skaneateles, and then Syracuse before ending up in
Montour Falls to be closer to Joyce’s family. He was working in development for the oil and gas company BP in Atlanta and learning about baking and food service through night classes via Clayton State University. After BP laid him off, he spotted an ad for a baking position at Grateful Bread in Smyrna, Georgia. It was January 2, 2006. “I went and talked to the owner,” Frank says. “I had to talk my way in there because I didn’t really have any experience, but I got the job. I said, ‘I’m familiar with all this stuff, I’ve just not done it. But I’m here, I’ve got hands, and I’m ready to work.’” The company employed mostly Mexicans, as Frank recalls, and he used those hands of his to assist in the production of all kinds of breads—rolls, hamburger buns, Kaiser rolls, torpedo and sub rolls, and bagels. “They were really good bakers and really great people, so I learned a lot there,” he remembers fondly. “They were very fast and they took a lot of pride in what they
GAFFER did, so I had to catch up.” His next stop was at a huge bakehouse for the supermarket chain Whole Foods in Roswell, Georgia, that had separate bread, cake, and pastry departments, and a whopping eighty-five bakers. “It was quite a place, the best place I ever worked,” says Frank, remembering one stretch when he was in charge making pumpkin pie filling and only pumpkin pie filling—churning out seven tons of the stuff. Armed with that background and more, when he and Joyce landed in Montour Falls, he opened first the Village Bakery, and now 401 Espresso. “This place was vacant last summer and the landlord wanted somebody in here to make this work. He approached us and said, ‘Hey, are you interested?’ I don’t know if it was impulsive or not, but we said yes, and decided we’d like to put our pastries over here while getting a deli going out of the front over there (at the Village Bakery).” A self-professed non-savvy marketer, Frank says it is his daughter who makes sure the social media is up to date for their off-the-beaten-path enterprises, primarily the Facebook page and Instagram. She also came up with the name 401 Espresso. “I’m not that clever, but I really liked it when she first said it,” he says. Part of the café’s allure, too, is that it is in the historic, 164-year-old Montour House, built with locally made brick originally as a hotel for canal and migrant workers, settlers, and would-be blacksmiths. A bagel’s throw from the 165-foot Shequaga Falls, it also has housed a bank, a post office, and a social club. The back room of 401 Espresso—an elegant parlor, really—is anchored on the far end by a fireplace between lofty windows. Stylishly appointed with a half dozen tables and upholstered chairs and local art on the walls, it has already hosted several parties and business events, including a tiny wedding and a couple of receptions. Frank fills the coffee shop each day with made-from-scratch delicacies, all baked in ovens across the street, that include his personal favorite—croissants—to all kinds of fruit tarts, tea cakes, Danish, those mousse cakes, sweet rolls, and more. And speaking of being located in a quiet village of about 1,700, Frank says, “Really what we have to be is a destination. Montour Falls is out of the way. We’re not exactly on the wine trail. You have to really provide a reason for people to come, so if there’s coffee everywhere, you have to make sure that your coffee, your espresso, is excellent, not just good. “We have this little tag line. We’d like you to come here and have your moment of perfect indulgence. Have that espresso drink with a croissant, take twenty minutes and sit on the patio and look at the falls. Watch the world go by, just for a few minutes, and treat yourself. I mean, everybody deserves that.” Touché. And not at all bad coming from a man who’s a little bit marketing challenged and even something of a selfproclaimed nerd.
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Mike Cutillo has been a journalist covering the Finger Lakes region for more than thirty years. As his last name suggests, he enjoys espresso, especially with a twist of lemon peel and a nice homemade pastry.
Courtesy Spotted Duck The Crack Team: Daniel and Elizabeth Hoover and their fine feathered friends bring roadside ice cream to new heights.
Ice Cream Cuisine Goes Quackers at the Spotted Duck in Penn Yan By David Milano “Forget art. Put your trust in ice cream.” ~ Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love “Holy moly, it was like the duck gave me hollandaise sauce in a shell.” ~ Diane Henley Waldrop, When Life Gives You Duck Eggs
n the west side of Seneca Lake, just where the southern hills begin to soften and the farmland becomes exquisite, sits an unassuming ice cream stand, owned and operated by a modest young family, that serves up the best ice cream you will find anywhere. Anywhere. Beautifully prepared ice cream, beautifully (yet unpretentiously) presented. The ice cream, if I am to be as painstaking in describing it as Daniel and Elizabeth Hoover, owners of Spotted Duck (we’ll get to the name later) are in producing it, is actually frozen custard, a subset of ice cream—a not-so-subtle
technicality that Daniel and Elizabeth will be happy to elucidate, if you ask. And ask you should, because they have thought a lot about ice cream, and are well prepared to unpack all the finer artistic and technical details behind making this most revered of treats richer, smoother, and more flavorful than anything you have likely tasted before. I drove out to the Spotted Duck on a bluebird Finger Lakes Saturday morning, the sun bright and promising, the hills breaking out in blossoms and spring green. Pulling in I was greeted with a smile and wave by the Hoover’s helper, Zeke, sweeping up out front. Soon appeared Elizabeth and their four children, led by three-year-old Jack, the natural family ambassador, affable and wide open, cowboy boots on the wrong feet, full of genial energy and eager to engage. Smiles all around. This ice cream stand may have gone gourmet, but it surely isn’t pompous. One feels instinctively at home here.
Inspiration for taking roadside ice cream into the luxury food arena (it’s tempting to call their ice cream cuisine) came partially from the Hoovers noticing that while restaurants cover a huge range of styles and attitudes—corner diner to Michelin-rated—ice cream is generally, well, just ice cream. Why not take a cue from the fancy restaurants and give ice cream customers something really special? There’s a goal all right, but how exactly to reach it? Job number one was to upgrade the product. For two folks who grew up on organic farms and learned about good food literally from the ground up, the first steps were obvious: use natural, organic, locally sourced ingredients, and abstain altogether from additives and industrialtype ingredients like artificial colors and flavors, guar gum, corn syrup, and the like. That alone gets you on the road to making a pretty good ice cream, but why See Ducks on page 40
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Courtesy Spotted Duck Courtesy Spotted Duck
Just Ducky: (top to bottom) Anconas, the stars of the show; one day’s take; a flight of frozen custard, the cure for indecision.
Ducks continued from page 38
not step up again and instead make frozen custard—denser, richer, and smoother than even the best ice cream? That move pushed the needle way over, yet there was one more element in the process that would shoot their quality up in ways even the Hoovers did not expect. They discovered that substituting duck eggs for chicken eggs did something wonderful to the custard. Mere “rich” suddenly became unambiguously lavish; “smooth” morphed into delicate silkiness. Duck eggs’ plush yokes, high albumin content, and superior omega-3 profile brought their frozen custard to near perfection. There was no turning back. But duck eggs, especially organic duck eggs, simply cannot be purchased in commercial quantities. No problem. Daniel and Elizabeth became duck farmers. Right behind the ice cream stand, available to the public for viewing (and hand-feeding) live somewhere between 150 and 175 domestic ducks, daily producing 80 to 100 world-class eggs. Most of the ducks are Anconas, an attractive, spotted breed that Elizabeth and Daniel acknowledge are the stars of their ice cream show. Naming their ice cream stand Spotted Duck seemed only right. Of course there’s more. There’s the Hoover’s garden where Elizabeth tends her mint, a variety brought from Lancaster by Daniel’s mother, used to flavor their cranberry-mint ice cream (which finds its way onto the menu as soon as the mint is harvestable, and comes off the menu as soon as the mint begins to turn bitter later in the season). And their backyard cherry tree, and their homemade cookies, and I mustn’t forget to mention the serving glassware and stainless flatware—no throwaway paper cups here for those eating in. Maybe you will find it as difficult as I did to choose a flavor or two for your homemade waffle cone, but no problem there either. Order a flight of four, or even twelve flavors, served on a custom made wooden tray, along with as many spoons as you and your friends and family require. The Hoovers have made ice cream a gateway to expressing their passions about family, food, and community. They’re serving up some of the best the good ground has to offer, and as Elizabeth says, “We’ve made a place where families can come and comfortably enjoy a bit of the farm experience,” no little thing in an age when food is more often manufactured than grown, and one can easily live a lifetime without connecting with the source of one’s food. The Hoovers wanted to do something about that, and in their small way, have succeeded masterfully. There are challenges of course, mostly in regard to efficiency. Producing ingredients and managing a tangle of small-scale ingredient sources is far more work than making a single call to a food service company. And there are long hours, and the multitude of jack-of-alltrades necessities inherent in micro-business. Daniel and Elizabeth seem to be conquering their challenges, maintaining an unreserved focus on quality. Perhaps the best evidence is that their operation thrives while genuinely visible—under continual, intimate scrutiny from customers who often visit precisely because they want retail relationships that keep them close in, able to explore and inspect and analyze unfettered by geography, bureaucracy, or layers of personnel. That, it so happens, is exactly what helps the Spotted Duck flourish. Check out the Spotted Duck at www.spottedduckflx.com. Better yet, visit soon with family and friends. You’ll find the Hoovers and their flock at 999 State Rt. 54 in Penn Yan. IRMA Award-winning writer David Milano is a frequent contributor to Mountain Home.
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Courtesy Don Knaus Brookie time: the author makes another catch.
Catch ’Em, Creel ’Em, and Cook ’Em When Fishing for Summer Brookies, There’s No Better Plan By Don Knaus
he trail I trudged was the remnants of a long-abandoned railroad bed that once bore the rattle and clatter of a log train towing virgin timber down valley to the mill downstream. The northern woods of Pennsylvania harbor these old rail beds in nearly every hollow, vale, and dale in the forest. The brook beckoned. I snuck off the trail toward the stream. I cautiously crept toward a likely spot using the thick trunk of a towering hemlock to hide my motion from wary, skittish trout. Evergreen branches drooped over the clear water, shading the brook. The tree’s roots, washed by woodland waters for a century,
were scrubbed and scoured. The brook made a sharp turn at the tree and cut deep, forming a deep hole around the bare roots. I pulled a worm from my bait can and pricked a number six hook through the wriggler’s mating band. A quick turn of the worm and I buried the barb into the tail, leaving two inches dangling from the point of the hook. I swung the bait upstream and let the rush of the run wash the bait into the roots. A brook trout darted out from its hidden lair, seized the offering and scampered back to the security of the depths. In one motion, I set the hook and lifted the trout, swinging it to my chest.
I grasped it with my free hand, calming the wiggling and squirming while I held it to a rule. A quick measure of the brookie indicated seven and a half inches. I stared for a few seconds at the fish. Orange and red and gold highlighted the pattern of the trout. It had met the length standard and it was a legal trout. I slid the trout into my creel, fished a worm from the bait box and rebaited, not moving a step. I finessed another tempting trout treat above the roots guarding the pool beneath the bank. The creeled trout had a big brother and it screamed out to inhale the bait in the open water, racing back under the roots to dine.
I set the hook and carefully maneuvered the trout clear and lifted it out, swinging it to my chest again. It was a nice nine-incher... a really nice wild brookie for this small rill in the deep woods. I decided that was enough from one trout hole. I smiled as I remembered Granddad, sixty years ago, say, “We gotta leave some fer seed.” As I moved upstream, my mouth watered at the thought of crisp-fried brook trout. The calendar read July 1. That’s my secret. While most folks who fish for brook trout assail the small streams in April, most are finished fishing for brookies by mid-May. I wait until late June before I concentrate on our state fish. And there are a number of reasons. First, the little trout have had all of May and June to gorge and grow—to legal size. Second, the streams are at a lower level and the trout are concentrated in the larger pools. Next, the trout will eagerly attack any presentation. Lest some purists take offense, I’ll explain. I play catch-andrelease with rainbows and brown trout. They’re all stocked for fun. They’re put and take trout. Besides, they taste pasty and bland. But brookies? They are delicious. I love the pink, tasty flesh of wild native brook trout. With brookies, I’m in the catch ’em, creel ’em, and cook ’em class. They’re lots of fun to catch, but the proof is in the eating. I’ll confess. The last time my wife and I had brookies for supper, we ate twenty of them. And don’t sniff at the worms. I’ve used just about everything imaginable to catch brook trout. For years, I was exclusively a minnow fisherman. Once in awhile, when the time was right, I used grasshoppers. I flailed flies at the brookies. Once, when my worm can was empty, I stripped the hackle off a wet fly to get a bare hook so that I could impale a cricket I found under a rock. And I caught and creeled a nice one. I fish worms now because of the memories they kindle in this old codger’s cranium. I started with worms more than sixty years ago. But I also have a “secret” dry fly that trout suck in with abandon. Bear in mind that a “nice one” for a native brook trout ranges from eight to ten inches. If you hook one that hefts several pounds and stretches out to a foot, you’ve got a trophy. Brookie anglers probably catch and release a dozen small trout before they can keep a legal-sized fish. I can usually pull the bait away from small ones. Once in a while, a four-incher stubbornly holds onto the worm thrashing left and right until it breaks off a bite and plops back to water. But it is July. Many of the smaller ones have grown to legal size by late June and I get to wade through acres of beech fern and enjoy the laurel in bloom. And that’s part of the fun. Brookie fishing is constant action in beautiful country. You’ll find brook trout water in the mountain freestone streams and brooks throughout the Twin Tiers. Where do I go? As any brookie fisherman knows, brook trout are caught on “secret streams.” But just about any running water from two feet wide to twenty feet across will hold brookies. I’ve even caught them from sluice pipes under forestry roads. It’s great fun. I get to see awesome scenery, and the eatin’ is a gourmet’s delight. I can’t wait until brookie time.
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Retired teacher, principal, coach, and life-long sportsman Don Knaus is an award-winning outdoor writer and author of Of Woods and Wild Things, a collection of short stories on hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. 43
Courtesy Cornelius O’Donnell
The Gourmet’s Garage One Man’s Trash Sets Another Man’s Table By Cornelius O'Donnell
ave you done your garage clean/ glean-out yet? I may be assuming a lot; perhaps your place doesn’t need a cleaning or a gleaning. I use that word, which means to separate things with the idea of keeping what you need, or what is relevant, and tossing the rest of it. I am adding “weening” to that list. I learned, when I looked it up, that means to expect or hope. In my case I hope and expect to clean and glean, to be able to rid my life (and shelves) of books and magazines that I’ll never read again, especially since I’ve realized I can now get information so easily on the Internet. All this brings me to Gourmet magazine, the late and lamented (by me) monthly filled with beautiful photographs of food and recipes for dishes you may never make,
but, never the less, great fun to read. Over the years I did make many of the dishes, and some I worked into what the home economists called rotation, meaning food that you make regularly, often at the urging of spouses or kids. I’ve often boasted about collecting all but two or three of Gourmet’s issues since its inception in the early ‘40s, those war years when food was rationed. In those days the magazine was oriented toward liquor stores and was on the rack in those outlets. Earle MacAusland was the founder and publisher and the very talented Jane Montant was executive editor. I kept the issues neatly separated by years, and loved to read the recipes as well as the ads and travel columns. Oh, to visit exotic places like Istanbul, Scotland, or Lisbon! I eventually did, but by
the time I could afford the time and plane tickets, the information about restaurants and markets was sadly out of date. When I moved to a smaller space, some things had to go—among them boxes of Gourmet and the mid-century shelving that held them. I thought they were all goners, but a lone box turned up when we finally weeded out the new place’s garage where we had stashed things to sort out later. When I opened the box, there on top of the pile was the January 1971 issue. As the French say, quelle joie! Pictured on the cover was a product near and dear to my heart: a clear glass Pyrex storage container. And in said vessel was a dish I had made over and over and over. “An Assortment of Sausages” was the article, and it was written in the all-paragraph, noSee Chicken on page 46
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Chicken continued from page 44
separate-ingredients listing the magazine favored back then. I can’t resist passing it along as fare for picnic season or lazy afternoons in the backyard. You can make it days ahead and serve it whenever hunger or drop-in tourists strike. Pickled Knockwurst For the marinade: 2½ cups water (use bottled water if your source tastes off) 1¾ cups white vinegar 2 Tbsp. sugar 11/2 tsp. salt 20 peppercorns, slightly crushed with the side of your knife 16 whole allspice (ditto on the slight crush) 2 bay leaves In a non-reactive saucepan combine all the marinade ingredients and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heating surface and let the mixture cool to lukewarm. Then you need: 11/2 lbs. fully cooked knockwurst, cut in ½-inch slices 1 Bermuda or other sweet onion (I use organic red onions), cut into thin slices and separated into rings Arrange alternate layers of the sausage and onion rings in a 2-quart jar. Pour in the marinade, cover the jar, and refrigerate it for 3 days. The pickled knockwurst will keep refrigerated for several weeks, though not in my house—it is too good and handy as a snack for me or for company. Chicken Bombay Istanbul Hilton
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There must have been a very good chef at this Hilton, and talk about international! Turkey meets India. Why not come along for the ride? This dish will do it. Note there are some flames involved, so take my advice and turn off your over-the-stove exhaust fan. And if you wear a feathered poncho or something fringed with long sleeves, remove it and roll up some other, simpler (read less flame-prone) sleeves. I’m giving you this in that Gourmet paragraph style I just wrote about. Buy 2 large and skinned whole chicken breasts. (That’s 4 chicken breast halves...duh.) Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In a skillet gently sauté the chicken, covered, in ¼ cup butter for 3 minutes on each side. Cut the chicken into thick slices and keep them warm. Stir 3 to 4 teaspoons curry powder (I prefer Madras) into the fat in the pan. Heat 3 tablespoons brandy or Cognac until you can feel it is warmed, then pour it into the curry mixture, ignite it (use a long fireplace match or one of those “flame-guns”), swirling the pan until the flames go out. Stir ½ cup each heavy cream and chicken broth and 11/2 tablespoons chopped chutney and cook the sauce for about 5 minutes, or until it is thickened. Add the chicken and let it just heat through. Serve the chicken with condiment dishes of toasted almonds, raisins, grated coconut (unsweetened), and fried bananas. This is said to serve two but, heavens, I’ve served four using rice as the starch. The flames impress the guests, so make sure they are in the kitchen when the match meets the pan. Chef, teacher, author, and award-winning columnist Cornelius O’Donnell lives in Horseheads, New York.
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Divas continued from page 32
had to find the career that aligned with her spirit. In October of last year she and Tina became the owners of the Flower Divas shop. But back to the brides. Beyond this somewhat unique approach to the use of natural stones as energy sources, Lisa offers some other philosophies that brides have benefitted from during the high stress of wedding planning. “You know, you put the word wedding in front of any service and the price of it doubles. It doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t believe in that,” Lisa says. “I can work with any budget and make it look great. And I have been painfully honest with my brides about what their budgets can and cannot do.” One of the brides who appreciated that approach is Jessie Thatcher, who married wife Alexis last summer in Elmira. “Lisa did such a good job incorporating our taste and style within our budget,” Jessie says. “She was also very thoughtful in the way that she helped us plan the wedding and reception spaces so that we were using our resources effectively. We ended up with really elegant, but eclectic, pieces that tied the whole event together. I still get comments on how great my bouquet was!” Jessie says that Lisa picked right up on her personal style and managed to convey it. Part designer, part seamstress (she made the bridal gown for a Renaissance-themed wedding), part fairy godmother, Lisa takes her role in wedding planning to a new level. “My brides will call when they are having a meltdown over an issue with their bridesmaids or their mother. I’ve talked a few of them through rough waters. It’s part of the deal,” Lisa laughs. Does the fairy godmother sometimes have to use her wand to bonk someone on the head and restore her perspective? “Absolutely!” Lisa laughs heartily. She loves natural materials and works with things beyond flowers and stones. Seashells and feathers abound in the shop, including a bouquet bursting with autumnal colors and bird feathers. You can already see the lovely bride in a shower of golden leaves as she walks the aisle on one of the scenic hillsides around Seneca Lake. “The Finger Lakes are a wedding destination,” Lisa says. “People who have visited or vacationed here choose it as the location for their celebration. This shop is becoming part of that destination idea.” Even so, the local population frequents the Flower Divas as well, so Lisa and Tina work hard to keep the inventory and displays fresh to encourage repeat visits. You can find them at www.flowerdivasofmontourfalls.com or call them at (607) 5352083. A good florist shop is like a barometer of what happens in a community. Lisa knows that her business is a part of many major events in the life of a family. “We celebrate the births, worry with the illnesses, and sympathize with the grieving,” she says. “No matter the occasion, there is a place for flowers and gifts, and we take it very seriously that we represent our clients to the people they love.” Now that’s a good vibration. Maggie Barnes has won an IRMA and two Keystone Press Awards for her columns in Mountain Home. She lives in Waverly, New York.
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Driveways • Basements • Septic Systems Retaining Walls • Patios Stone • Gravel
114 E. High St., Painted Post, NY Ph: 607-937-5438 • Fax: 607-962-3536 email@example.com
Westfield Pa WWW.BESTEXCAVATING.COM
Morris Chair Shop
Prescriptions In-Town Delivery 570-297-2848 14 Elmira Street Troy, PA 16947
54 Windsor Ln., Morris, PA 16938 (570) 353-2735 www.MorrisChairShop.com
Ziggy’s Gun Shop
Fun for Grads, Dads and Everyone
WE SELL BUY AND TRADE GUNS FFL Transfers • Female Friendly Shop • Ammo Reloading & Shooting Accessories
Now Carrying Fishing Supplies! Come as a customer, stay as a Friend
27 Watrous St • Gaines, PA 16921 814-435-6590 Hours: T-F 10-5; Sat 9-1; Closed Sun. & Mon.
A Family Restaurant 3 Main Street • Wellsboro
Mon-Sat 10:30am—10pm Closed Sunday & Holidays
25 Main St. Wellsboro, PA • 570-723-4263 www.popscultureshoppe.com
7988 C.R. 16, Bath, NY REDUCED $94,900 35 ACRES,barn, 3 car garage & double wide, 3 bdrms, 2 full baths, kitchen, living room. New electric service, full basement...........C-1 LAND 989 Addison Rd., Addison, NY—Land only w/ 2 separate deeds. 1.28 ACRES & 50.98 ACRES. ........VL-1 $67,900. Smith Hill Rd., Painted Post, NY—Two 4 ACRE lots available .......................................................... $19,900 each.
12461 Route 6 • Wellsboro, PA
(570) 724-2661 www.allwheelsdrivenpa.com
THE BEST LOCAL COVERAGE. THE BEST REGIONAL PHOTOS.
Hauber ’s Jewelry • Diamonds & Quality Jewelry • Bulova & Seiko Watches and Clocks • Fenton, Charms, Trophies and Engraving “We do watch batteries!”
THE BEST WRITING, PERIOD.
Autism Fantasy Fiction
by Paul Nelson
pro ved hi Ve cle Lis tin
Matthews Motor Company is a family owned and operated full service car dealership. We have an on-site NAPA Service Center and a AAA Approved Body Shop. We also have the largest Car Rental Fleet in Tioga County. County.
Visit our Website at
Inspired by his autistic son Michael
FISHER’S AUTISM TRILOGY
Available at Amazon & Bookstores
1-Year Subscription $ 24.95 Name: _________________________ _______________________________ Date: __________________________ Address: _______________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ Email: _________________________ Phone: _________________________ Send Payment Payable to: Beagle Media, LLC, 87-1/2 Main Street, Wellsboro, PA 16901. Call 570-724-3838 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org
B A C K O F T H E M O U N TA I N
June and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamsky By Linda Stager
riving toward Whitneyville early one June morning the fog and the sunrise created this fantastic scene. In my eyes, the barn and flowers just cap off its perfection.
Open All Four Seasons! Each of our unique and beautiful lodges offers the privacy and serenity you need for a relaxing stay. 131 MAIN STREET LODGE offers the convenience of Wellsboro’s downtown shops and restaurants as well as the charm that only a circa 1860 home can offer. BEAR MOUNTAIN LODGE casual elegance and romantic rooms offer the perfect getaway while still being convenient to downtown Wellsboro. BEAR MEADOWS LODGE provides elegant comfort after a long day of adventure. Guests may hike, raft, bird or cross country ski the forests near Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon.
“Compassionate cancer care means clear, open communication.” JOSEPH KAPLAN, MD Medical Director Soldiers + Sailors Cancer Center “Learning you have cancer is overwhelming. That’s why it’s important my patients understand how we plan to manage their diagnosis. At UPMC Susquehanna, I am fortunate to have the ability to collaborate with a network of highly respected oncologists with access to the best practices and cutting-edge resources for cancer care.” UPMC Susquehanna Soldiers + Sailors Cancer Center in Wellsboro specializes in patient-focused evaluations and offers the latest cancer treatments and procedures in northcentral Pennsylvania. We welcome new patients.
570-723-2855 UPMCSusquehanna.org/Cancer 52
Soldiers + Sailors
"Milked" by Gayle Morrow. Small dairy farms are squeezed by big producers. This issue also features Spotted Ducks, Landfill Goats, and Indul...
Published on May 14, 2018
"Milked" by Gayle Morrow. Small dairy farms are squeezed by big producers. This issue also features Spotted Ducks, Landfill Goats, and Indul...