The Bridge to the Other Side

A bridge has one purpose; a means to get you across a creek, river, ravine or vast expanse to the other side. Today Gene put a bridge across one of our small creeks so that the cows can have easier access to the pasture on the other side.  We are in the process of fencing our cattle out of the creeks so some changes had to be made in how the cattle can access certain fields.

Gene is a genius at repurposing old or unused “stuff” into something useful.  He had an old flatbed truck bed with a steel frame and floor that years ago he had put onto a wagon frame but now is no longer using. He saw the potential!  It could be a bridge! Like a cat with nine lives, the truck bed is now on it’s third life.

The wagon.

Using a torch to cut the front head board off.

Ready to go to the woods.

Pulling and pushing into place.


It works!

I went down later to check on the project. The “bridge” was anchored in place and the fence posts on each side are ready to be strung with wire. Two cows were checking it out.

I sat and watched to see what the cows would do. When they were done snooping, one went to the left and crossed the creek and the other went to the right, down a steep bank and jumped across! In a few days their old crossings will be fenced off and they will have to use the bridge.

Sometimes I get so frustrated with some of the old stuff sitting around and then Gene amazes me with what he does with it. Like they say, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” A worn out wagon once again has new life. And the cows, they have a bridge to the other side.

Cuisinart Ice-Cream Maker

My daddy has always loved chocolate and ice-cream and I think he gave the gene for both to most of us kids and grandkids. I remember as a child (way back in the late 50’s) my folks making homemade ice-cream on Saturday mornings in the basement. They would make one or two freezers so that we had enough to last us for the week. Flavors included peach, vanilla, chocolate and butterscotch. Daddy had rigged the freezer to make it electric-he had a knack for figuring out creative labor-saving tricks.  We lived on the farm and mother always fixed a hot sit-down meal for both lunch and supper, complete with dessert which was often ice-cream or a candy bar.

When I was in first grade I received a five cent allowance per week that I could spend on ice-cream at school.  With five cents I could only buy ice-cream once a week as that was the cost of a Dream-Sicle (Vanilla/Orange Serbet Popsicle) or an Eskimo Pie (A chocolate covered vanilla bar on a stick. The decision of which to buy was so hard as I loved them both equally. And believe me, we did not have this store-bought treat at home.

My next ice-cream memory was us kids going by ourselves to see our Aunt Doris Heatwole who lived in the tenant house across the road. Aunt Doris and Uncle Charles were newlyweds and one day she served us kids store-bought Hershey’s vanilla ice-cream.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I had never eaten anything so lusciously smooth and tasty. I can still remember how wonderfully delicious it was and am still very partial to the Hershey’s brand even though it is not easily available.

I remember one time when we were kids, I would guess I was around 8 or 9 years old, and we had worked extra hard one Saturday cleaning the chicken house and then harvested the potatoes out of the garden. Daddy and Mother treated us to a trip to Kline’s Ice-Cream. That was a reward better than money (which was precious) and it was so hard to decide which flavor to choose.

My next ice-cream memory would have been some years later when I was an adolescence or young teen. Our family still ate ice-cream, it was still the dessert of choice, but now my folks were purchasing it in the store!  Mother would buy multiple boxes of wonderful exotic Sealtest flavors; Butter Brickle, Peppermint, Butter Pecan, Chocolate Chip, Black Cherry, Chocolate Marshmallow, etc. every week.  I can remember going with mother to the grocery store when it was on sale and she had me go through another check-out lane with some of the tubs as she was embarrassed with how many she bought. My memory was 10 or 12 boxes though mother disagrees with me on the number!!!! But we’ll just let it be our little secret, I know I am right!!!!

By the time we were married, homemade ice-cream was back in vogue. Through the years I have made ice-cream for special occasions and we even hosted an annual church homemade ice-cream social at our home for many years.  Finally, last year one of my two freezers (6 quart) broke and I decided to downsize and replace it with the newfangled, state-of-the-art freezer that does not require ice or salt to freeze.

After doing some research, I settled on the Cuisinart 2-quart freezer from Bed, Bath and Beyond. This little freezer works like a charm. Instead of ice and salt, you freeze the thick-walled bowl for 5-6 hours and in 25-30 minutes you have homemade ice-cream to serve.

It is fun, easy to use, easy to clean, low mess, quiet, sits on your counter, and you don’t have to take it apart to add fruit or candy chips at the end, just pour it in the top. I also like that it makes a small quantity.  If you keep the tub in the freezer it is ready to use on a whim provided you have the whipping cream on hand!


There is only one problem…. because it is so easy to use, combined with that little ice-cream gene that begs to be fed, I want to make it more often that I should!  I have a recipe I really like to use that came from my friend Mary Long that is gelatin based instead of custard based. That helps with ease of making and the calories count!  Someday I am sure that nutritionists will make a special spot for ice-cream on the food chart as one of the essential food groups.

“Dairy Queen Ice-Cream” (for 2 quart freezer)

  • 1 envelope plain Knox gelatin, soaked in 1/4 cup cold water for several minutes

Add and refrigerate several hours:

  • 1-1/2 cup milk (I like to use whole or 4%-can use 2%)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • For chocolate ice-cream add 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Just before pouring into your freezer bowl/tub add 2 cups whipping cream (can substitute evaporated milk) and stir until well blended.

It takes 25-30 minutes for it to set up nice and firm.  Between 20-25 minutes add chopped fresh fruit or candy pieces if you desire.

Yield: 15-16 ice-cream scoop servings- 1/2 cup each.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup


  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup: add 3 packages (1 cup) of chopped peanut butter cups to chocolate ice-cream at the end.
  • Butterfinger or Kit Kat Ice-Cream: Add 1 c. chopped butterfinger or Kit Kat candy bars to vanilla ice-cream at the end.
  • Cookies n Creme: Add 1 cup crushed oreos to vanilla ice-cream at the end.
  • Heath Bit: Add 1 cup Heath Bits (Baking Bits) to vanilla ice-cream at the end.
  • Fruit Flavors: Add 1 cup crushed fruit to vanilla ice-cream at the end.

Note: One downside to homemade ice-cream is how rock hard the leftover ice-cream freezes when put in the freezer.  I have discovered that this gelatin based is different and you can actually dip it right out just like the store bought ice-cream.






3rd Annual Local Hertzler Gathering-2018

For the last three years the local Hertzlers have been getting together. This represents different family lines but if you have Hertzler DNA and you want to come, you are invited. This year was a little smaller group but we really had a wonderful time at the lovely home of our hosts, Joe and Norma Hertzler in Cumberland.

First cousins, Joe Hertzler, Howard Wenger, Bob Hertzler and Gene Hertzler.

Growing up, all four of their families (the above cousins) lived in Denbigh (Newport News), Virginia, and their families were close. Howard now lives south of Roanoke in Pilot, VA but when he heard about the party, he decided to come. Joe announced that Howard was his FAVORITE cousin. Gene immediately piped up, “Well, Bob is MY favorite”. That became the joke of the evening.  So there they are, four, good-natured, crazy Hertzler boys sitting by their favorite cousin!!! Oh the stories they can tell! Joe and Howard were born four days apart and they really were best buds growing up.

The younger generation having a good time.

Bobby Hertzler and Gerald Hochstetler.

Sister-in-laws, Michelle Hertzler and Lucy Miller.

Lucy Miller, Helen Hertzler and Michelle Hertzler.

A game of volleyball.

Some of Norma’s beautiful Cock’s Comb.

Rhubarb Cherry Pie made by Helen Hertzler.

Grilled pork chops and chicken.

Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.

Plenty of good food.

It was a perfect, peaceful and lovely evening sitting around the fire pit visiting, singing and listening to the music.


A family tree showing how we are all related.

Note: I wish I had gotten a few more pictures of the people who were there.  Sorry Tom, I missed getting your picture and one of the happy young couple who told us that as of that day, they were engaged. Congratulations Ryan Hertzler (Bobby Hertzler’s son) and Jennalee Zlotknowski.

Any Hertzler, doesn’t matter the family line, who would like to come next year, reply in the comments or send me a note ( and I will be sure you are invited.

A Staggering Tale

Early Sunday morning Gene got up to go to the bathroom. He was so “dizzy” he could hardly walk. He staggered there holding on to furniture and the walls. He felt ok: he wasn’t flushed or upset on his stomach.  He didn’t have a headache. He thought maybe he had vertigo but he wasn’t really light-headed as in dizzy.

By the time I was up, he was feeling some better but still not right. He had to be careful how he stood up and wasn’t sure what or if he wanted to eat.

Something was not right, but what was it.  It was worrying him. I took his blood pressure, it was normal. He had not eaten anything unusual or different on Saturday. He had not changed, omitted or doubled up any medications that he knew of. He had removed a tick several days before but that had left only a small red spot. He checked out some things on the web, but nothing resonated.  By the time we went to church he was better, but still not totally right.

Saturday morning he had worked around the farm and then we went to see Sight and Sound’s “Moses” movie in the afternoon. He had only done one thing different……

A new, just opened brewery in the village had given him the discard waste from making moonshine to feed his cows.  It was a corn mash slurry with a lot of water.

He and Tim had worked with it trying to figure out the best way to feed it.  They tried to drain the water off so he could feed just the mash. It didn’t work. He remember that had his hands in the stuff a little and began to wonder if that could possibly be what affected him?

Gene and Tim

Tim stirring the brew!

Yesterday evening he had a chance to talk to Tim and asked him if he had any side effects. Tim said Saturday evening when he tried to watch a game on TV he couldn’t focus.

I went to my friend “google”, and searched “can the fumes of moonshine make you drunk”? The result….

When alcohol vapor is inhaled, it goes straight from the lungs to the brain and bloodstream, getting the individual drunk very quickly. Because the alcohol bypasses the stomach and liver, it isn’t metabolized, and the alcohol doesn’t lose any of its potency.

Folks, my hubby, who has never taken one sip of alcohol of any kind, had gotten drunk on the fumes from the moonshine!!!  Moonshine!

Let me tell you, we do not drink and getting drunk is not one bit funny, but Summer and I rolled with laughter.  This “staggering” tale is just too good to keep so now you know. It makes me wonder what a breathalyzer test would have showed. Fortunately, he wasn’t drunk-drunk, just drunk enough to stagger.  Now I sure wish I had seen the early morning “stagger” show!!!

Remnants of Florence Passing Through

5:30 p.m.

We are getting hammered right now in Powhatan County (Central Virginia)  with rain. We are having heavy bands of rain and it was eerily dark all day. This evening there is a lot of thunder and lightning with storm clouds boiling.  Within the last hour a funnel cloud was spotted at Flatrock-2 miles east of us and one hit a farm on Petersburg Rd. about 10 miles away.  The Bowlin farm lost a number of trees and a hay barn was damaged. In Chesterfield a tornado hit in the shopping area off 360 and as the reporter was broadcasting live the roof blew off a business as if a bomb went off. It was amazing to watch. They are saying one person was killed.

Just a few pictures of our very minor flooding here on the farm this evening.

View out my front door. Rivers running across the pastures.

The cows were out grazing and paying no attention to the rain.


The driveway is a river.

The ditches are full.

Front horse pasture.

7 p.m.

A little bit ago the sun broke through while it was still pouring rain. A huge, beautiful rainbow circled the eastern sky behind the house but it was too faint to get a good picture. One end looked as if it was touching the ground on this side of the woods.

To the south the fog is rising and storm clouds are still floating by.

To the west the sky is clearing and the remaining dark clouds are lined with the brilliant glory of the setting sun.

(This picture doesn’t do justice to the beauty).

After the world-wide flood in the time of Noah, God made a covenant with him and said, “Never shall all flesh be destroyed again by the waters of a flood, neither shall a flood destroy the whole earth again. I am setting my bow (rainbow) in the sky as a reminder of this covenant…..when I see the bow, I will remember.” Genesis 9:11-16

But today is nothing compared to what the residents of North Carolina are experiencing. Today we had 4.2 inches plus the 1.3 inches we had Saturday and Sunday. I don’t want to even imagine what 20-30 plus inches would be like. We are on a ridge and there are no rivers close by. We are blessed. In a few hours life will be back to normal and Florence will have waved good-bye as she hustles north.

Powhatan County Labor Day Parade-2018

The Powhatan County Labor Day Parade….Powhatan patriotism and community unity at its best.

11 a.m. sharp….Siren’s wail announces the start of the parade.

Honks blowing, sirens shrieking, motors reviving,  cycle rumblings, bands marching, hands waving, neighbors chatting and candy throwing…. Powhatan County spirit in full display….the modern, the antique, the young and the older!

A few pictures….

These guys had a blast doing doughnut circles all over the road.

Powhatan Mennonite Church float featured Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes. Our church is the drop-off location for Powhatan County. It is almost time to start think about filling shoe boxes again. You may get instructions on how to participate at the Samaritans Purse website or call the church (804-598-3365) to pickup empty shoe boxes and labels. Information will also be on our church website ( very soon. Collection week will be November 12-19, 2018.

Pre-parade…ready to roll.

Here we come!

Chick-Fil-A mascot





Beef Brisket-Smoked and Crockpot Style

Quite a few years ago Gene wanted me to cook a brisket. I had never cooked one and it seemed like a big deal and I just never got around to doing it. One weekend while I was away, he went online, looked at recipes and cooked one in the crockpot. He was so happy with the way it turned out-it really was delicious and very moist.  I was very proud of him. I discovered it wasn’t hard at all!!! We worked on the recipe a little more and the following recipe is what we came up with. I cooked it at our local farmers market for a number of years and it has also been a hit when I have cooked it for some of our store events. It is great when cooking for a large group and it freezes well. You can make it weeks ahead of time.

Beef Brisket in a Crockpot.

I have a 22-quart Hamilton Beach electric roaster oven that I use. It will hold about  24 lbs of raw meat. The following recipe is for a 3-4 lb. brisket. In ( ) is for 24-36 lbs. of meat.

Barbecue Sauce: mix together and pour over meat.

  • 1 cup water (12 cup)
  • 3/4 cup ketchup (9 cups or 7 lb. 2 oz tub or 114 oz.)  (Note 64 oz bottle =7 cups)
  • 2 T. brown sugar (1-1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. Chili powder (6 tsp)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (4 T.)
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt (6 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (1-1/2 stp)
  • 1/c cup chopped onion  (6 cups)
  • 1/4 c. Worcestershire Sauce (3 c.) (Note: 1 bottle is approx 2 cups)
  • 1 T. Apple Cider Vinegar (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard (6 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper (Hot Pete or Cayene powder) (3 tsp)
  • 1 T. Liquid Smoke (1/2 cup) Found in grocery store where Worcestershire Sauce is.
  • 1 tsp. Paprika (4 T.)
  • 1 tsp salt (4 T.)

I use the highest heat setting until it is cooking well and then turn it down to about 350. Cook until fall apart tender. The large batch takes 4-6 hours. Take a fork and knife and pull the meat apart. It should fall apart if it is done. Long shreds of meat I cut into smaller pieces.

This is a very juicy. Serve on hamburger buns and delicious with sauteed fresh onions and peppers.


The other way to cook brisket is to smoke it.

Smoked Beef Brisket

This will do a 12 lb. brisket. To prepare your meat remove any excess fat and silver skin. Rub all sides with the following rub.


  • 2 T. salt
  • 2 T. ground black pepper
  • 2 T. garlic powder

Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees. I use Hickory or Apple wood chips. Soak a handful in water several minutes. After you put them in your chip tray in the smoker, start soaking another handful. Mine last about 1 hour in the smoker.  Lay the brisket in the smoker on one of the racks and smoke for 4-5 hours.

Remove the brisket from the smoker and wrap in tin foil, sealing all edges. Continue cooking in the smoker (or oven) until the meat thermometer reads 200 degrees in the thickest portion of the meat. Depending on the size of your brisket this will take another 4-6 hours. Remove from the heat and allow the meat to rest (unwrapped) for 1 hour. Slice very thin with a sharp knife or meat slicer.

I like a ketchup based barbecue sauce with smoked brisket.

Barbecue Sauce: 

Saute: several minutes

  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions

Add and cook 15-20 minutes until thickened.

  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (or vinegar)
  • 1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Prepared mustard

Yield: 2 cups.  This will store for several weeks in the refrigerator.


If you feel industrious, here a link to my homemade hamburger bun recipe.


Pulled Pork Barbecue

I have been wanting a smoker for quite awhile and finally this summer I purchased a Masterbuilt smoker. I am no pro, but I have been having a good time perfecting the art of smoking.

First of all, I’ll tell you a little bit about the smoker I chose and then I will share with you the recipe I am using. I chose a Masterbuilt electric. I liked the front door opening and three easily accessible racks. It’s not too big but big enough.  it is easy to regulate, has a moisturizer pan and a wood chip tray. The only thing I wish was different would be for the wood chip tray to be accessible to refill without having to open the door. It has a nice size drip runoff hole in the bottom. I saved a few dollars and did not chose the glass door front because this is a smoker and the glass would be smoked up in one use and you wouldn’t be able to see in it. I am very happy with my choice. I would rate it a 4.75 star and the only reason for not the 5 would be the wood chip tray. But seriously, it really is not a big deal.


The temperature gauge is on the front of the door.

After talking to other smoker owners, browsed recipes online and experimented, I have finally come up with a recipe we really like. Everyone is different, but we prefer the vinegar-based style from North Carolina over the ketchup based.

Now for my recipe….

Rub for pork butt: This will do a 4-5 lb. I double it for an 8-10 lb. Rub on all sides of the butt and let set (refrigerate) several hours or overnight before smoking.

  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp fine black pepper
  • 2 tsp. onion powder


Moisturizer for smoker: This goes in my pan in the smoker. (double for 8-10 lb)

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 T. “Better than Bouillon” (ham flavored)
  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

Preheat the smoker to 210-225 degrees. I lay the pork butt on the rack in my smoker and use the moisturizer in the pan and Hickory chips in the smoker box.  Presoak the chips in water a few minutes. I soak a handful and when I use them, then I start soaking another handful. It takes about 2 lbs. altogether.

Smoke 4-5 hours. I remove the butt from the smoker and lay  on a foil line pan, drizzle with the unevaporated moisturizer from the smoker over the meat and wrap tightly with foil.

Insert a meat thermometer into the middle of the butt but don’t hit the bone, I poke it through the foil. Bake (250 degrees) in the smoker (or you can use the oven) for several more hours until the thermometer reads 200 degrees. Remove from smoker and let the wrapped meat “rest” for at least 15-30 mins. Can do longer-several hours. I started this 8 lb. butt at 7 a.m. this morning, smoked it until 12 and then finished cooking in the smoker at 3 p.m.

I used my Kitchen Aide mixer with the paddle to shred my meat. It works like a charm, shreds it beautifully and only takes a minute. I do half of the meat at a time.  I pour any juices left in the pan on the shredded meat and then add salt to taste.


My favorite smoking tool are my “Bear Claws”. They are great for handling the big hunk of meat cold or hot. The cooked meat doesn’t fall apart using them and it is also great for picking up the shredded meat. I ordered mine online.

I have worked on a homemade hamburger buns to eat with the pork.  You want to talk about a good meal…….!!!

Link to Hamburger Bun recipe.

Additional sauce if desired to serve:

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes-if you like it spicey

This will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade Hamburger Buns

I took this recipe from It make 8 buns. (which is 254 calories per bun). The recipe is really good but I prefer to make 12 buns from it. They end up being the same size but lighter which we like better. The good news is, it also decreases the calories to 171. Every cook does things a little different and I adapted this a little.

Mix together and let set until the yeast starts to bubble

  • 1 T. instant active yeast (or one pkg)
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1/2 cup bread flour

Add using my Kitchen Aide mixer with the paddle beater (I prefer the paddle over dough hooks):

  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 T. melted butter
  • 2 cups bread flour

Beat on high for several minutes. You will see the dough become shiny and elastic.

Gradually add and continue beating until well mixed:

  • 1 more cup bread flour

Dough will be sticky. Empty bowl onto lightly floured surface. Form into smooth, round shape and put in a 3 quart bowl and oil the top with Canola oil. Cover with a cloth and let rise until double in size. (1 to 1-1/2 hours). I divided the dough in half.

Then in half and each quarter into three pieces for a total of 12.

I formed each piece into a ball and flatten onto a greased 11″X15″ baking sheet and flatten.

. Let the buns rise until double in size. (30-45 mins.). Lightly brush the tops with 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 T. milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

LBake at 325 degrees for 25 mins or until tops are lightly brown. Let cool before slicing the buns. They freeze well.

Calories: 171 per bun.



Summer 2018

A glimpse of my summer through the lens of my camera.

Onions that went to seed.


Day Lilies

Fresh blackberries from my garden.

Queen Anne’s Lace (Wildflower)

Just chillin’ on a hot day. It is called bearding.

Hundreds of humming, buzzing bees sitting on their porch!

Evening Primrose

A frequent visitor to my bird feeder.

I love when my hostas bloom.



Rose of Sharon

Baby wrens.

Buzzard in a dead tree. Settling in for the night.

Wild turkeys

Storm Clouds

Huge mushroom from all the wet weather.

Wild Canadian geese grazing in the pasture.


Homemade rolls almost ready to bake.

Coral Star peaches from the Shenandoah Valley.

Full moon


“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth.

You have set your glory above the heavens.

Psalms 8:1


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