Winter Weather Safety

Always dress for the weather. It’s about layers, layers, layers. Cover your head, face and hands as frostbite can occur very quickly. The most susceptible areas are you fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of your nose. Some symptoms of frostbite include:

Sensory: pins and needles, reduced sensation of touch, skin burning sensation, or stinging sensation

Skin: blue skin from poor circulation or redness. skin gets very cold, then numb, hard, and pale

Also common: blistering, feeling cold, or waxy skin


Careful not to over-exert when shoveling. It is best to push snow to the side rather than lift. Especially if it is a wet snow it can be very heavy. If you must lift remember to bend your knees so your muscles in your legs do the work. Some useful hacks include: rubbing vegetable oil, paraffin wax, or spraying cooking spray on your shovel helps keep the snow from sticking and allows you to shovel more quickly and easier. Be sure to take breaks while shoveling snow. It is a WORKOUT! Lastly, drink in moderation and stay hydrated.


Baby steps. Caution is the key. An old axiom to keep in mind is when it is cold and icy the path is dicey. Be sure to take it slow, keep your toes pointed out and your hands outside of your pockets. This tip is helpful if you feel like you’re going to lose your balance, then you will be able to brace yourself.


Salt is more than just a seasoning. After a snowfall, be sure to use salt, ice melt or sand as these will help to increase traction on driveways and sidewalks. Additional traction can be a deciding factor in whether you slip and fall.


Winter in the Midwest can be beautiful as well as dangerous. Protect yourself by keeping these winter safety tips in mind. Stay warm and stay safe!

January's Outdoor Column


January, the coldest, longest month of the year as far as I’m concerned, and it doesn’t appear it will get much better.

The arctic blasts through the Midwest have been extremely bitter this time of the year and the damage to wildlife I’m sure will be apparent as time goes on. The one good thing these frigid temperatures have given us is ice. Ice that we can use to fish on and your local Big R Stores have everything you need to have a great day ice fishing.

I’ve ice fished most all my life and there are some things a novice or even a veteran should know before venturing out on the ice. Never put your life at risk because you don’t know the ice. The difference between good ice and bad ice is generally easy to tell if you scrape the snow off the top and drill a hole.

Good ice is clear and hard like a block of ice we used to get from an ice dealer to put in one of the old refrigerators called an ice box. Bad ice is much more like a snow cone; full of pores (tiny holes) and not tightly compacted together. You can’t get a good look at the ice from above; a snow may have fallen on the ice and then melted turning the top layer into a cloudy, milky looking layer. Once you drill through this top layer you will find some good solid ice particularly now.

Milky rotten ice occurs when the temperatures warm and slush develops on top and refreezes at night. When water comes through your ice hole; when the ice is milky and porous, it’s time to stay off. During a cold winter this usually occurs in mid to late February. During a warm winter it can happen anytime, especially if temperatures reach into the forty’s or fifty’s.
Fish light line tests such as 2, 4, and 6-pound tests if you are after bluegill or crappie; higher if you are after game fish. Use small bobber’s as well!

It is safe for one person to fish on 4 inches of ice, more if the ice is clear and hard. Four inches is iffy if the ice is rotten. Never risk your life for a fish! We hear this all the time yet, inevitably someone drowns every year and we must wonder why? It is simple, they chose to challenge nature and they lost.
Don’t be a statistic this ice fishing season. Learn to read the ice and use good common sense and live to enjoy ice fishing next season. I hope to see you on the ice!

Winter boots from Big R covered in snow

Big R’s Guide to Buying Winter Boots

Winter boots from Big R covered in snow


As the streets begin to line with snow and the temperature drops to single digits, there’s one thing that needs to be done: dig through your hallway closet for the boots that make your feet feel twice as big and warm all over. But let’s be honest, these are the same ol’ winter boots you’ve been wearing since the dawn of time. So maybe this is the season to treat yourself by replacing those old winter boots with a pair of brand new ones! Read more

4 Fun Gifts That Won't Fit Under The Tree

4 Christmas Gifts That Won’t Fit Under The Tree

4 Fun Gifts That Won't Fit Under The Tree

Tis the season…the lights shine brightly on houses, the tree is up and Santa is ready for photos in the mall. It’s Christmas time once again. And that nagging voice in the back of your head is back, you know – the one telling you that you should really start shopping for gifts soon. Yes, that definitely means Christmas is just around the corner!


If you’re stumped on what to give to someone you love, how about thinking outside the box  or outside the tree? Here are 4 fun gifts to give someone who deserves a gift so big that it won’t fit under the tree.


A Canoe

Canoes are a fantastic gift not only for your loved one, but for everyone around them! Imagine all the fun you can have with a personal canoe to enjoy any time you want. That kind of fun is priceless! Luckily at Big R, we have all you need for the perfect canoeing gift: the majestic canoe, the necessary paddles/oars, and life vests. This is the ultimate canoe pack for a water sports fan. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is wrapping it up!


A Lawn Mower

Once winter passes, spring will be blooming…and that means it’s time for lawn care season. What better way to ring in that new season with a brand new lawn mower for the yard fanatic in your life? The perfect gift for them would be the Cub Cadet Self-Propelled Lawn Mower. This sleek mower is great with its front wheel drive system and signature cutting system. This top of the line lawn mower will make it easy to get rid of the old, rusty and used mower in the shed. The receiver of this gift won’t know how to thank you enough for one of the best mowers on the market.


Your Services

For some people, big gifts aren’t necessary… but what might be necessary is a service that they need and you can provide. Offering someone a helping a hand this season is sometimes more valuable than any gift you could give – even if it won’t fit under the tree. Extend a handy hand to the person who needs their plumbing fixed, a room repainted, the oil changed, and anything in between. Give them the priceless gift of home or auto improvement from someone they trust. If you’re missing a few parts, stop by our all parts store for what you need. Sometimes the best gift is just getting your hands dirty!


A Big R Gift Card

If extravagant gift giving isn’t your thing, then give the most foolproof gift known to mankind: a Big R gift card! By giving them a Big R gift card you are literally giving them everything they could want and need. The choice is theirs! From home decor to children’s toys to pet care they can get everything on their list all in one place – all thanks to your knock-out gift.


We hope this list inspired you to think of gifts bigger than the tree for the most memorable and thoughtful Christmas gifts to date. The best place to get all these gifts is, of course, Big R. We’ve got a gift for everyone on your list. So come in today and load up on all your Christmas gifts to help Santa spread the Christmas cheer.

Two Boys Sledding

The Best Winter Toys for Kids

Two Boys Sledding


It’s cold with ice on the ground and more snow on the way. Winter is in full swing! We know that these chilly months tend to take a toll on your body and mind – and the same goes for your kiddos. They’re bouncing off the walls indoors trying to entertain themselves, yelling “Mommy!” every 5 minutes and maybe you feel like you’ll never get anything done! Keep them busy, lively, and imaginative with Big R’s top list for toys this winter.



Want to keep your child active and get them outside on a snow day? We have the perfect solution. Get your child outside to enjoy the great outdoors and that white, fluffy snow to burn off some energy.  Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean they have to be cooped up indoors all day long. Bundle them up and send them outside to have some old fashioned fun with a sled from Big R! Whether it be a disc, a 2 rider sled, or an inflatable snowman sled, your child will have a blast as they imagine they are conquering Mount Everest in your backyard. And don’t forget – just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun. Pick up a family fun toboggan and get the whole family outside!


Ultimate Snow Fun Kit

Unleash your kids’ imaginations and love for all things snow with the ultimate snow day kit. Playing in the snow is made easy for your kids – and for you. This kit comes equipped with a snowman making kit, a snow ball maker, and snow markers. The snowman kit provides you with everything you’ll need to make the most amazing snowman. With a top hat, carrot or button nose option, the hardest part about building your snowman will be choosing a name. The second must-have toy for any ultimate snow day kit is the snow ball maker. This easy-to-use maker is made of durable plastic that allows your children to make ammo fast enough for any snowball war they may find themselves in. The final addition to your children’s kit needs to be sno-markers. Sno-markers allow your children to decorate the white canvas that is snow with all their favorite colors. Combining these three items into a snow day kit is sure to build lasting winter memories!


Game Room Additions

Even though playing in the snow every day sounds great to your kids, we know it’s not always possible. For the days and evenings where you’re stuck inside, having a fully stocked game room with new games, boards, and puzzles can be just as fun as a day outside! So heed our advice and stock up on fun game room additions before the winter storm hits. The perfect addition is a Pool Table Tabletop Billiards. This mini game of billiards fits onto any table and provides hours of entertainment for all ages. You can also select any popular board game on the market right now as well as an entertaining puzzle that’ll keep the whole family busy. All these items will make for a great addition to your game collection.


Winter Arts and Crafts

Another great way to entertain your children in the winter time is a good ‘ole arts and crafts kit. These can be personalized to each of your children’s personalities and preferences. Does your child love to draw? The the Super Art Studio with over 250 pieces of oil pastels, markers, and drawing pencils is the way to go! How about baking? Edible Sweet Art Sweetpops is the ideal gift to give your little chef! What about molding and working with their hands? The Glow Sand Play Set would be perfect for his/her creative mind to thrive!


Elf on a Shelf

Looking to start a new family tradition with your young children? Elf on the Shelf provides entertainment for both the parents and the children. Unleash your creative and sneaky side with this one. It’s an interactive holiday hide and seek you can play with your children that includes Santa’s “scout elf” and an illustrated storybook. Tell your children the “scout elf” reports back to Santa who is being naughty and who is being nice. They’ll be on their best behavior while the “scout elf” is on the job.


Whether you’re starting a new tradition or adding a game to your collection, your little ones will be excited to stay busy this winter (and you’ll be able to keep your sanity, too). Turn those winter blues into winter fun!

December's Outdoor Column

December’s Outdoor Column

December's Outdoor Column

December marks the beginning of winter for most of us even though we have a few weeks to go before winter officially begins. This also begins the cold period of the year and it won’t be long and here comes Christmas.

If you have an outdoors person in your family and you are considering getting him or her something for Christmas you might want to consider a gift card as a way of gift giving. Being an outdoorsman all my life I am very particular about what gun or fishing rod I buy, what boots I wear along with a few other things. Many outdoors people are the same way; they are particular about what they like and surprising them with a gift may end up in a Christmas return.

The one thing every outdoors person wants in winter is to keep warm. Whether you person is a waterfowl hunter, a deer hunter, an ice angler or a hiker, keeping warm and keeping dry are of utmost importance. Remember that when you go out to buy!

Hint around or ask an outdoor companion what your person might want or need and don’t be surprised if you find out they like to pick out their own things for Christmas.

My wife learned a long time ago not to shop for me. Instead she gives me a Big R Gift Card every Christmas because I have taken so many “I bought this for you” gifts back.

I do have some personal suggestions. I was a trapper for most of my life spending my trapping hours in a swamp-like setting and working primarily at night. I also hunt, ice fish, bass fish, and cut firewood as well as work in the outdoors.

I like to layer myself with T-shirt, thermal shirt, sweatshirt, and then cover this all up with a hooded sweatshirt during the real cold times. Your Big R Stores have great selections of all these items. A pair of warm gloves and warm socks will always be welcome at Christmas.

I personally love the disposable hand warmers and foot warmers and usually go through two or three bags each year. These make great stocking stuffers.

Whatever you decide to give as a gift to your outdoors person you need to check out the great selection at your local Big R Store.

Delicious Crockpot Meal

6 Hearty Crock-Pot Meals After a Day on the Farm

Delicious Crockpot Meal

Every day on the farm is an adventure. There’s a lot of hard work and sweat involved. But there’s also a lot of good memories being made, especially when you’re on the farm with family. After the crops have been tended, the animals have been taken care of and the chores are done – it’s time to call it a day. What’s the best reward for making it through the busy day? A big meal that leaves everyone very satisfied and ready for what tomorrow brings. Make it easy on yourself by using a Crock-Pot. Here are 6 tasty Crock-Pot recipes that are perfect after a long day on the farm:


  1. Pulled Pork

Pulled pork sandwiches are a classic, and can be easily made in a Crock-Pot. After a long day, there’s nothing better than walking into a house to smell home-cooked BBQ still hot in the pot.


  1. Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Taquitos

Cut juicy pieces of chicken and mix it into a creamy concoction of smoky cheddar cheese, cream cheese, jalapeños, red peppers, onions, and other savory spices. With a side of flour or corn tortillas, you’ve got a hearty meal that everyone in your family can enjoy!


Make sure that your cutting board can handle sharp knives as they slice through fresh veggies and protein. Check out this tough board from LEM:


  1. Chili

This 5 star chili recipe is filled with protein-rich kidney beans, thick tomato paste, onions, and ground beef. Eat the chili on its own or with chips on the side for a satisfying crunch; your family won’t resist digging in!


  1. Hearty Salmon Chowder

Nothing makes you feel more like a wilderness expert than cooking fish you caught. If you caught salmon, why not use it for this delicious chowder recipe? This recipe pairs salmon with fresh herbs, onions, celery, potatoes and chicken broth. The heavy soup is a meal in itself that warms the heart in even the coldest winter nights.

  1. Mediterranean Roasted Turkey Breast

Craving turkey? Make it exciting by adding fresh, mediterranean flavors with this recipe. Sun-dried tomatoes, Greek seasoning, and Kalamata Olives help to make this slow-cooked turkey mouth-watering and unique.


  1. Best Ever Beef Stew

This Crock-Pot beef stew is the ultimate comfort food with big flavors of garlic, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, vegetables, and tender, fresh-cut pieces of beef. This recipe, rich and warming, will quickly become a favorite in the family.


If your family manages to not gobble down every last bite, the leftovers will make for another great meal. Grab some freezer bags to store the food. 


If you don’t already have a Crock-Pot, it’s time to get one! A Crock-Pot saves you time and effort as you make delicious, comforting food for your big group of hungry farmhands. Go to your local Big R to get your own or find yours online: Here