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Posts Tagged ‘Homesteading’

Phew, this is embarrassing.  Yes it is been over two weeks since last I posted.   What I would consider typical JP behavior has reared it’s ugly head yet again.  This is what happens.  I let work and commitment overrun my life.  I suddenly find that if I am not working, I am thinking about work, homework, housework, whether or not a remembered to pay a bill, thank you notes that sit on my coffee table waiting to be written and sent.  I envision the fire and brimstone rising from the center of the earth, tipping the whole planet on it’s axis causing worldwide devastation and destruction because I didn’t get it all done…then, I realize that I have taking my ridiculousness to a whole new extreme.    Generally speaking when I get stuck in this refrigerator swamp of my own making I tend to lose sight of the things I love.  Cooking, reading, knitting, crafting and of course writing in my blog.   So what I do when I get this wound for sound?   Take some quiet time.  For the last 4 days I enjoyed time with my daughter.  Time outside.  I made cooked beans from scratch in my crock pot that became dinner on Saturday and were a great addition to yesterday’s pot o’chili.  I made gluten free cornbread from scratch.   I shredded about 3 tons of superfluous paper that were cluttering my filing cabinet and my soul.   I made a WW 1 point meringue based chocolate chip cookie recipe that was to die for.  I read about 6 back issues of Rachael, Martha, Oprah and Real Simple.   I knitted.   I played Mario Galaxy.   I slow cooked a teryaki  pork roast while Gfree bread baked in the machine.   I slept and I drank wine.   I helped my husband bury another girly who had been henpecked within an inch of her life.   I rubbed cornstarch into another girlies injured talon (not really as much fun as it sounds).     I watched the uninterrupted, directors cut of the The Abyss curled up in my bed.  And tonight, I write.  What I realized over the last 4 days is that I love my job, but to keep myself sane, I have to keep in touch with the things I love outside of the office.   I have to make time to be creative whether it be in the kitchen, in my writing or adopting my homesteading lifestyle.    So here I am back on the air, still wondering when I might get those coupons organized or thank you notes written, but no longer concerned that my desire to put me time before some of these other things will lead to world wide destruction.

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I had a grand post planned related to stockpiling and pantry stocking to make eating local and fresh easy and affordable, right up until my husband came into the house and shared with me and our daughter that one of our girlies had died in the night.  Of course my mind immediately went to weasel break-in, poison, disease, infection and for a split second I was certain he was going to tell me that we were on the verge of losing all 6 and our steady flow of eggs and I caught a glimpse of what farmers must go through when they fear that their entire livelihood could be at jeopardy.   On the contrary, however, he shared with us that he believes she was either smothered by her coop mates who all tried to huddle in a single box last night or suffered a heart attack or stroke.   Due to the extreme winds yesterday, she could have been literally scared to death.    Regardless of the cause, the other girlies appear to be fine thankfully.   Nonetheless, as someone new to livestock raising I had a twinge of sadness when I realized that one of ladies I had raised since she was a wee chick in my basement had been lost.  I also looked in my 4 year old daughter’s eyes as she processed the news that the chicken was not going to the doctor to get better and that she really was gone forever.   As we have always looked at these chickens as a food source both for eggs and for meat, our focus has always been to give them the best possible life and then a good clean death, so I decided that this despite the sadness of the moment, was an opportunity to help my child understand what was happening and what would eventually happen to all of the girlies one day.  Yes, I cannot tell a lie, this quickly became a bit of a Mufasa Circle of Life moment, but an important one nonetheless.   I have always felt strongly that whatever choice someone makes about the food they eat is there own.  Ours is to try and eat local humanely raised and slaughtered meat and locally grown produce.  We are far from perfect, but it’s what we strive for.    I hope that Amelia will grow up to make her own decisions about the food she eats, but while she is under our care, I want her to understand the food we eat and why now, and there is no better opportunity than the present to be honest about what his happening and what it means.  So, she stood there asking me why that girlie had to die.  She threw her arms around me and said that she loved that girlie and would miss feeding her grass and talking to her after school.   I felt the loss through the her preschooler eyes and it gave me pause to feel a new sense of grief myself.   So I told her it was ok to be sad and to miss that girlie, but that it was a part of life.  I told her to remember how much she loved giving that girlie grass and lettuce and how she should feel so good about giving her a good life.  I told her, that the important thing is not that girlie’s death but the life she had.   I told her we will always have animals we love and care for and that we will almost always have a point where we will need to say goodbye.   Sometimes, it will be like this, sad and unexpected and sometimes it will be part of the plan to say goodbye so that we might provide food for ourselves and others.   She was not very sure about the last part, but as she grows we can feel good that we were honest and gave her as much information as possible to make decisions for herself.   So tonight, as we put her to bed, she shared that she was still sad about the loss of a girlie, but that she was going to continue to love and care for the other 5 girlies.   She was still not clear on whether or not she wanted to eat chickens (keep in mind she hasn’t completely made the connection that her favorite dinner of chicken fries is the same as the girlies, but I am not going to push that light bulb right now), but she understood what it meant to give her animals a good life.  At the end of the day that’s all we can hope for as parents and a family wanting to raise our own animals for food.   So we keep calm, carry on and learn from our experiences with this group of girlies as we think about our plans for expansion in the future and teach our daughter the lessons and values we have surrounding our food sources.

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I just read this on a blog I just started following!! This is an AMAZING commercial! All my feelings on the farming industry summed up in 2 minutes. Check it out!! Back to the Start –

Back to the Start

Two Barn Farm

I’m not one to post back-to-back entries, I’m usually good for one a week but if you didn’t see the new ad for Chiptotle, take a couple of minutes and watch it. This is Chipotle’s first tv ad and wow! They nailed it, amazing. Smart campaign to target a “Back to Basics” farming approach in this short animated commercial featuring Willie Nelson covering Coldplay…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMfSGt6rHos

It reminds me of Pixar’s “Up” when they were able to convey so much emotion in the first ten minutes (when she was unable to have children) completely through nonverbal means. I’m not saying go to Chipotle’s (owned by McDonald’s) but I am saying what they made here is gold and will hopefully force change in the industrial agricultural factory farming community.

Baby steps, right?

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So if you have not yet discovered National Geographic Channel’s new show , Doomsday Preppers you are missing a true guilty pleasure. While I don’t expect that I will be living in a shipping container or fueling my home with my own pooh, I do find it somewhat comforting to be self sufficient and be able to weather any storm or devastating world disaster or zombie attack. Special note Zombies can’t climb stairs so if you don’t have a second story, well, good luck. Regardless of what the “event” maybe I can sort of see where these folks are coming from. It’s secretly why I was drawn to a house with a wood-stove and a big part of the reason why I would like to go solar ( besides the environment and such). It’s what makes me want to be an extreme couponer stockpiler and why I love the idea of growing my own food and prepping it for long term storage. Secretly, I have always been a what-if kind of person. What if a bad guy breaks in. What if everyone gets Purple Blue fever. What if Zombies really do attack? Regardless of the crisis or desire to never leave your home, there is something super comforting and extraordinarily peaceful about knowing you are prepared to carry on. Even though, in the event of total meltdown, I may suffer from complete digital meltdown, I know that upon recovery I will be thankful for what I have. So, I will continue (secretly of course, which is clearly why I am blogging about it) prepping for Doomsday.

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So when I think about what I want for my family and how I want our home, farm and business to run when we get to that point…this is a pretty good starting point.   Given that we have proven that we can successfully raise chickens without total failure, we maybe jumping onto this bandwagon sooner rather than later.   🙂   Regardless of your eggtrapreneur plans, this is a great article.  Thanks Flying T!!

 

The Egg Business – Progress Report.

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Alpaca

Image by James Preston via Flickr

So when I envision my life as a full fledged farmgirl I picture rolling hills filled with pasture raised sheep and alpacas (they are just so darn cute who doesn’t want an alpaca, especially when they sneeze), perhaps a cow and some pigs.  A few chickens, ducks and maybe a turkey a two.    I imagine a porch swing with hand squeezed lemonade in the summer and warm fires with home baked bread in the winter.  Then I think about winter some more and think of long drives to everywhere:   The grocery store (when the TP’s out, it’s out.  They used leaves 200 years ago, why can’t we?).  Dance Class.  Work.  School.  Daycare.   Well perhaps I will home school and run a CSA.  I make pretty decent Jams, Jellies and Relishes and Alpaca hair can be sold for a decent amount.  After all,  who needs a grocery store when you have your own cows for milk and beef and poultry for eggs?   Our children can learn how to weave and spin.  What kid doesn’t want to learn that?  I can knit and will eventually sew.   I could make all of our clothes.  We could get solar power and live off the grid…Yes, yes it’s a perfect dream, right up until I get tired of using leaves and drive in a blizzard to get real TP and get stranded in town overnight.  While I am gone my kids decide to invite all of their Facebook friends over for a raging party, raid the liquor cabinet to act out their frustration because I have ruined thier lives by turning them into miniature Laura Ingalls’  thus they have Facebook friends named Skunk and Popcorn who come by and next thing you know the porch swing is in the wood-stove, the alpacas all have mohawks, the sheep seem to have been tagged like abandoned train cars and the cow has moved into a neighboring farm just to escape the madness.    As I investigate the damage, I realize that I still forgot the TP and drive another 90 minutes round trip to get it.   Then I wake up, and find myself securely planted in my suburban home with one dog, one cat and 6 chickens, within 5 miles of two major grocery store and I breathe a sigh of momentary relief.   Then I think, OMG (yes, I have gotten to the point where my inner thought bubbles are written in text format), how will I ever make it on a farm?  Then I remember, the dream isn’t all about porch swings and lemonade, but rather creating a better quality of life for my whole family and I can do that now here in Vermont suburbia. Finding and moving too our dream rural farm is a commitment.  A commitment to being far away from the things we take for granted today.  A commitment to  being  totally invested in our home, land and any subsequent animals we decide to raise. A commitment to making sure that we have the resources to do this the way we want too.  So  we will plan and we will execute when the time is right we will have our dream home and farm.  In the meantime, I will perfect the  things I know I can do in this location and give our family the best life we can in the here and now.   We will get the rolling hills and alpacas, but until then, homesteading will be a state of mind and a daily practice.  Whether my children learn how to spin and weave remains to be seen, but either way, we will make sure to keep the liquor in a fire proof safe and place a ban on spray paint.  Happy Homesteading to all and to all a good night!!!

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I lead an interesting life. Not in a I am more interesting than you kind of way, just interesting, blessed, and full. I traveled the world when I was young and got to see places through the eyes of a kid with little responsibility and full of idealistic hope and big dreams. I have been in love, had my heart broken, and met the person who I cannot imagine life without. I have a big family that have helped shape the person who I am today and who continue to play a major rule in my life. I have had a variety of jobs in the food industry, in healthcare and education all of which have introduced me to some of the most interesting characters in the world. I can say I have worked at a dude ranch and a refugee camp. I was even the bomb pop girl at a fun park. Yup, BOMB POP GIRL. I have dined with doctors and chefs and even call many of them friends. I have been smacked in the face with series crisis’ that I thought I would never overcome, and yet emerged all the better for it. I now live by the motto God will never give you more than you can handle. Even on the days when I firmly believe that curling up in my flannel jammies, with a bottle of wine and a good book should be my career, I recite that motto and find a way through. I have changed my personal definition of family. I have friends who are really my sisters even though we may not talk as often as we should or see each other as often as we could. Yes, Bridget and Kate I am referring to you. Just knowing you are there makes me a better person because you are amazing women who I am so blessed to know and love. And yes I need to call and visit more. I have great friends doing amazing things all around the world and great friends doing amazing things right down the road. My home has served as a rally point for victims of fire and my fire as served as the rally point for friends and family in celebration. Our spare bedroom has served as a home to friends and loved ones in need. My daughter has an extended group of people she knows to be part of her family and who in the event of an emergency she could go to and I would know she would be safe. As I look at the Amish culture who just add on to their homes to make room for the extended family ( fear not I love pants, buttons and pop culture to much to adopt that lifestyle) or the age of Little House on the Prairie when big and even extended families cozied up into a one room house I think I understand the real heart of homesteading. It’s about surrounding yourself with people you love and filling your home and hearth with love and laughter and wholesome delicious food. As a approach the next chapter of my life as a wife, mother, Localvore in training who wants to be a physicians assistant, farmer, writer and politician, my home and hearth will always be open, coffee will always be on, an extra bed will always be ready and our family will always have room for one more.

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