Friday, May 10, 2013

Homesteading is often a roller coaster

I have had some great luck with the 3 litters of kits that have been born in the last 2 months. I was hoping to have 2 more litters born this week.  Sadly so far no kindling from Rowan or Fearn and on top of that, one of Holly's babies (same age as Chubby Butt) was dead when I got home this morning... I have no idea why...was fine this morning is plump and looks healthy. *sigh*

In other news, I got a bit of gardening done tonight. I planted another 2 rows of field peas for the featherheads. The first 3 rows are doing great. I planted 2 rows of sugar daddy peas for me since the ones I planted before didn't do so well.  I also got a row of zucchini planted and a row of spaghetti squash.  I weeded and made the herb garden a bit neater and planted white yarrow, winter thyme, sage, roman chamomile, garlic chives and mammoth dill.  I don't have a lot of luck with herbs fromm seed so I am crossing my fingers and saying a little prayer!  I give thanks for what is growing so far. Hail the landvaettir!

And, I had the very last of the winter squash for dinner sad, I do love my squash.  I baked it with sage from the garden.
my oregeno

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Beauty as well as bread...

Okay, here is the post that I said I would write after the Living with Intention post. Living with intention and feeding your body is important.  However, there are other things that I think are just as important... how you treat that body and what you do with it and your mind are important too. There has been a lot of emphasis on diet and exercise and there are many different ways to do that. Many valid ways... these are just a few thoughts I have on "moving my body" and nature.

As a homesteader, I do get exercise outside, hauling feed bags, moving things around, cleaning coops and rabbit poo, weeding, hoeing, etc. I don't really like the idea of going to a gym which I can't afford anyway. I honestly wouldn't have the time anyway....not with all the work to be done on the homestead plus still being in school and working a full time job. So, my exercise is not consistent and it is generally need based...I may be a bit chubby, but I know I eat healthy food and I move my body a good amount more than the average person. (I just happen to like my bread and hate treadmills in a building filled with tons of other folks - although a pool that was accessible would be nice)

I also feel the need to be outdoors. My philosophy of life and how I live it, in what I want as my career and with my homesteading, is all about living in harmony with the natural world. As an environmentalist and a pagan, I want my footprint to be light but I also want to enjoy the world around me. I really enjoy hiking and kayaking, fishing and hunting...feeling a part of nature. This is also where I feel the gods the closest.  I talk to the landvaettir as I work the homestead but I feel closest to the gods on the water or in the woods. Spiritually I believe part of my purpose in re-enchanting the world is to help others see the value in living close to the land, the Mother that supports us all. I believe that you can't value something you don't spend time enjoying in some capacity.  A recent article I read reminded me of the healing powers of nature too...and it is true, when I need peace, healing of body or more often, of mind and spirit, I need time just to be with nature.

As John Muir says:

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
-- Our National Parks, 1901, page 56.
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.

- The Yosemite (1912), page 256.

I truly believe that to be a part of this world...truly a part of it, we need to live with intention and to walk and see and play within it... not in concrete buildings and asphalt parks. There are advantages to cities and I have lived in and loved them at times in my life. Culture and art are also a great part of being human but for me to truly live, I need to be a part of nature, to see the art in a simple stream or bud of a leaf, the connections that make it all possible. I have always know that everything is connected, but with my studies I learn in more detail of how and it is truly amazing.... biogeochemistry, the way that everything is connected...we couldn't have designed it better.

So, in order to not be all work and no play, I try to find the time to play in nature and just experience. In the winter, that is hunting and walking trails. There is something amazing about sitting in a tree stand on a crisp and clear cold winter's morning as the sun rises, listening to the birds wake up and watching the light change from a dim glow to full daylight. I experience something similar when I take time to fish at sunset at Trap Pond. I rarely catch anything but listening to the inhabitants settling in for the night and the frogs waking up as the light moves to that magickal twilight is just so peaceful. I try to take time to walk the trails in the parks around me and to kayak on nice days. I spent a lot of time last year kayaking places like the Pocomoke River in my Viking kayak and exploring the swamps in my sit on top kayak, my favorite places being the local Trap Pond with the Cypress swamps and down in North Carolina, Merchants Millpond with the Cypress and Tupelos draped with Spanish Moss.

So, this Spring, I am hoping to do a lot more and making a concerted effort to spend that time in is too easy for me to sometimes just say that I have too much to do and skip the "play time". I am hoping to do Delaware's Trail Challenge (a selection of trails around the state) along with other trails in the neighboring area. Of course, I will be back in my kayak soon, as well, the weather has just been a bit chilly and windy lately. I will be documenting the trails on land and water at my site on

I truly believe that we need the beauty as well as the bread to live a whole life.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The choice of natural medicine

This is an article written by a woman on one of the blogs I follow, a homesteader like me.  I couldn't have said it better so I am just going to paste it here.

By Jill at the Prairie Homestead:

Last night I was flipping through a magazine and came across one of those run-of-the-mill pharmaceutical ads.
You know the ones– they are usually about four-pages long and a serious annoyance when you are right in the middle of a good article.
Usually I can’t flip past them fast enough to get to the good stuff, but for some reason, I was compelled to read through this one in particular.
It was for a prescription inhaler, and while the first page had uplifting-looking photos and touted the benefits of the drug, the next three pages included massive lists of side effects and warnings for everything from severe allergic reactions and pneumonia, to respiratory tract infections and bronchitis. (Uh, I thought an inhaler was supposed to help your lungs?)
I initially shook my head in disgust, and then proceeded with the rest of the magazine.
But it popped into my mind again today, and the more I thought about it, the more mad I became. Yes, mad.
I’ve been pondering this whole idea a lot lately, especially after reading this recent article about essential oils. The article itself was fairly innocuous, but it left the reader with the impression that essential oils are fairly dangerous with a variety of risks. The comment section was even worse, with many folks mocking those who dare to choose essential oils over conventional drugs.
Now, let me clarify– essential oils should be used with common sense. For example, I certainly wouldn’t recommend slathering yourself in undiluted oregano or cinnamon oil…
But I guarantee they aren’t near as “dangerous” or “toxic” as many of the conventional pharmaceuticals that doctors are prescribing left and right. (Like the diabetes medication I saw advertised the other day… There is a big bold warning at the top of the ad that says it may cause thyroid cancer in humans like it has in rats… Um hello?)
Since when did it become “normal” and acceptable in our society to happily and willingly accept all these drugs without ever questioning the consequences?
How come the same people who would never, ever question the long-term side effects of their prescriptions meds, are the same ones who question and criticize our choice of a natural lifestyle and insinuate that we are “living on the edge.”
Sure, I’ll fully admit that there is a time and place for conventional medicine. If I’m in a car accident, you can bet I’ll be thrilled to be in the hospital. However, if I have natural options available to me to treat other issues, why not at least explore those?
As many of you know, my husband received a substantial dog bite wound on his hand about a month ago. We were very proactive and decided to treat the wound ourselves using natural remedies and essential oils. The results were spectacular, and it healed more quickly that I could have ever imagined.
But I’ll be honest– I was scared to death to tell anyone what we were doing until AFTER the fact. Although I was confident that we were taking the necessary precautions and that it would be just fine, I didn’t feel like dealing with the raised eyebrows or people shaking their finger at us for being too “risky.”
It’s a common perception in our society that a doctor and multiple prescriptions are an absolute requirement for any and all medical “issues,” whether it be a common cold or a small wound.
But unfortunately, the backwards nature of our culture doesn’t end there…

Why do we think it’s normal to chow down on every manner of false, processed, pseudo-food we can get our hands on, yet consider it so unsafe and ”risky” to drink raw milk like people have been doing for thousands of years?
Why do we think it’s normal to happily take any prescription that the doctor gives us without question, yet raise our eyebrows and scoff at using essential oils or other natural, time-honored treatments?
Why do we think it’s normal to eat pale-colored eggs from chickens living in horrible conditions, yet get squeamish when the “farm fresh” eggs we get have a speck of sawdust on the shell, or a meat spot inside.
Why do we think it’s normal to spend countless hours and dollars mowing, watering, and fertilizing our strangely un-natural patches of perfectly manicured green grass, yet think putting the time into growing things you can actually eat is too much work and inconvenience?
Why do we think it’s normal to get upset over a child putting a piece of grass in his mouth, yet obediently inject that same child with multiple vaccines at the same time without ever questioning the repercussions?
Why do we think it’s normal for that one pound of hamburger you buy at the grocery store to be the product of hundreds of different cows and ”puffed” with ammonia hydroxide (their words, not mine…), but so many people get nauseous at the thought of cutting up their own meat?
Why do we think it’s normal for foods that have been genetically modified and sprayed with chemicals to require no labeling, yet if a farmer wants to go the organic route, he or she must jump through all manner of hoops and paperwork to have the “privilege” of placing that little “organic” sticker on their products?
Why do we think it’s normal for people to go from their garage, to a parking garage, to their place of work without ever feeling the wind on their face or having their shoes touch anything but asphalt for weeks and weeks at a time?
photo credit
To answer the question posed in the title of this post– No– I do not think that natural choices are inherently more dangerous.
Most aspects of life involve some element of risk, and I encourage you to take the time and research the choices in front of you and your family.
I don’t have all the answers, but I firmly believe that I am placing my family at far less risk choosing to live a naturally-minded lifestyle, than I would be making conventional choices like the rest of society.
And if you are facing the same sort of raised-eyebrows that I do sometimes– take heart and remember this: I guarantee you aren’t alone in your natural choices, even though it might feel like it at the time. People have been doing things like using essential oils and drinking raw milk for thousands of years– Long before Big Pharma ever told us not to… 
Have you ever been questioned for choosing the natural/homesteading lifestyle? What was your response?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Salmon and broccoli with lemon parsley butter / pumpkin scone

Salmon and Broccoli with Lemon Parsley butter, Caesar salad and Pumpkin Scone

Tonight's dinner was very simple tonight with dessert that was left over from breakfast I made for my co-workers this morning.

Salmon and Broccoli:

I sauteed the salmon in a little olive oil.  I cut broccoli from the garden and steamed it very slightly.  I topped them both with the Lemon Parsley Butter - simply some melted butter with fresh lemon juice and fresh parsley.

Caesar Salad:

Fresh lemon juice, parmesan, garlic, anchovies and olive oil.

The dessert was not primal, of course, but is good real food for a treat. I made it for my co-workers this morning from pumpkin I baked last night.

Pumpkin Scones - one of the best moist recipes I have found: (this recipe I got from one of the online homesteading forums, I forget which one. It originally called for a sugary glaze that I eliminated)

(all organic)
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger (plus more to top the scones)
6 Tbs cold butter
1/2 cup fresh pumpkin
3 Tbs milk
1 egg ( used a small turkey egg)

- combine dry ingredients
- combine wet ingredients
- mix together
- form into a round disk shape on a baking sheet cut into triangles and sprinkled with spices
- bake at 425 F for 15 min

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Living with intention (food)

The other night at our discussion group we talked about "Is the body sacred".  The talk came around to living with intention, eating with intention... really just thinking about how we treat our bodies.  One thing that struck me was "if you would be embarrassed to put it on an altar to the gods, why would you put it in your body".  It has definitely been something I have thought about for quite awhile. I think this will be the first part of a series. This one is about the food we eat.

I didn't always put it together with my spirituality but what I eat has been a concern since I was very young.  (That doesn't mean that I was always good about not eating junk).  When I was 18 I stopped eating meat because of the industry and animal rights.... even back then I knew how horrible CAFO's were.  Over the years my thoughts on animal rights have not really changed but have matured. After working in, and burning out of, the animal rescue field I knew where my beliefs were but getting there was not something I was sure how it was going to work out.  My thoughts on animal rights/pets/shelters is a topic for another discussion, lets just say I understand why "no kill shelters" won't work until people's attitudes and sense of responsibility changes and in my darkest days of animal rescue I had/have doubts of it ever happening, faith in humans is hard sometimes when you see what they can do to animals.

Anyway, for me, I realized, that I was not against humans eating is natural.  What I was against was the treatment of those animals that became our food and the blinders that people wear.  Not until the last couple generations have people started to eat meat they did not know where it came from or even what it was.  The concept of going to the grocery store and picking out a package of meat and not wanting or caring to know its source is just plain wrong, in my view.  I dealt with people with blinders a lot in the animal rescue field and I found that the amount of blinders people purposely wear about where their food comes from is unbelievable.  My thoughts were that if I couldn't have the courage and honor to kill it, I couldn't eat it.  The very least is people (kids) should learn where their food comes from. Chicken is not a square in is an animal with a life, though sadly a very short miserable one usually.

My concern was at first and mainly for where meat came from and for that I was a vegetarian, with occasionally eating seafood, for about 20 years.  But then I started to learn about what monoculture farming is doing to the land and realized that it is as much of a concern as CAFO's.  The monoculture farming requires an unbelievable amount of fertilizer and that fertilizer not only taints the food but is one of the major reasons for pollution in our waterways.

So I started homesteading and buying primarily local.  The only meat I put in my body is raised by me, hunted by me or someone I know or is from a local farm.  The vegetables are from my garden or local farms and the CSA I belong to...all organic or very close to it.  All my fruit is from a local orchard except for the bit of avocado, mango, banana and citrus - if I still lived in Florida I would grow all this myself but even though the zones are shifting we aren't there yet.

I have really been concentrating on eating whole foods, meaning "real food", real milk (raw), real butter, nothing boxed or canned.  I have learned to can and I have been doing more and more each year.  This next year I hope to double my garden and start providing even more food for the animals I raise here.

The next part of living with intention is (moving my body)...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Weekend and Tuesday foods

I am a bit behind on the food for the weekend and tonight is Primal Tuesday. Dinner was not totally primal but it was still good real food.

Blackeyed Peas with cornbread
Cornbread in milk
Applecider donuts
Lentils with tomatoes and smoked ham

So, dinner Friday was Black eyed peas cooked with a ham hock and real southern corn bread (no sugar!) This was the first full dinner I made after the new year...and since it is a traditional new year dish I decided i should try it.  It came out really good.

Black Eyed Peas Soup:
1 lb dried blackeyed peas
Ham hock
3 cups home made chicken stock
3 cups water
couple cloves garlic

let cook in crockpot all day - saute ham hock slices in cast iron pan and sprinkle on top of soup.

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour (organic white)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (local organic, of course)
2/3 cup melted butter
1 cup buttermilk (or whole milk if don't have, I used raw that was just starting to sour)
baking grease for pan

put cast iron pan with baking grease in it in an oven set to 425 degrees.  Mix ingredients and pur in hot pan and put back in oven for 20 minutes.

Saturday morning breakfast:

Cornbread in a glass of milk with pepper.

Apple Cider Donuts
Sunday morning was definitely not paleo but I made apple cider donuts, baked and with a bit Vietnamese cinnamon.  Not primal but still real food.

2 cups flour (I used organic white this time but want to try with other flours)
3/4 cups sugar (organic cane sugar...want to try honey net time)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt (I use pink Himalayan that I use for bread)
1/4 tsp each nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon (I used Vietnamese which is strong)
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup applesauce (I used my own unsweetened)
2 eggs (from my hens of course)
1 tsp vanilla (I used some that I made, it is pretty strong)

And tonight: (sorry no pic) Lentils with tomatoes that I canned and ham left over from making the black eyed peas along with caesar salad and naan from the Indian store (I haven't learned how to make them yet).

I used the crock pot, added about 3/4 lb lentils, 4 cups water, a quart of canned tomatoes, bit of chili powder, ginger, garlic and fresh cut onion then just let it cook all day.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A very cool little story

I got this from, a great homesteading forum.  It kind of puts things in perspective for me.


One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, 'How was the trip?'
'It was great, Dad.'
'Did you see how poor people live?' the father asked.
'Oh yeah,' said the son.
'So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?' asked the father.
The son answered:
'I saw that we have one dog and they had four.
We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.'
The boy's father was speechless.
Then his son added, 'Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.'
Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have.
Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends!