Whole foods got me pregnant

I bet that title made you look!

Seriously…I want to share a little story with you from about 6 years ago.  After a couple of years of diet, exercise and eating less (but not always better), I had found myself in far better shape than I had been in years.  I was leaner, stronger and happier.  Enter in Sheldon with his wily smile and cooking prowess and fast forward a year or two,  I had gained a ton of weight back.  I was in that happy phase of love where it’s ok if everyone has a big butt…you have a big butt together.  At least that is what we tell ourselves, right?

Well, I decided to do something about it.  I think without realizing it, I had decided to take my first steps towards an ultimately more healthful life when I decided to give up processed food for a month.  You know how hard it is to give up processed food?  I am a child of the 70’s.  For years, my idea of food nirvana was a diet coke, a box of twinkies and a pile of magazines with nothing else to do but snack and read.

This picture of the world's ultimate non-whole food courtesy of wikipedia

This picture of the world’s ultimate non-whole food courtesy of wikipedia

But, I knew I needed to make a change and I was unwilling to try yet another program diet.  It just made sense to me that to eat more like our ancestors had to be the trick.

So, how did I do it?  Well, we had not yet started our city home backyard garden, so it was thrice weekly trips to Whole Foods and Healthy Approach Markets.  The farmers market in Dallas at that time had few organic vendors if you can believe it.  And I wanted to be as close to nature as possible.  I wanted to only eat whole foods and as much as possible, I avoided foods that had been processed.  Which meant no pink stuff (I lost the taste for it that month and never got it back thank goodness) for my coffee, only sugar and whole cream.  I gave up bread entirely which was not a bad deal.  Most cereals were out.  Prepackaged snack foods like crackers and chips, adios.  I ate lots of balanced meals without mystery ingredients.  What started off as no processed foods evolved a bit into focusing on limiting processed foods, but also no foods with mystery ingredients.  Was I ok with granola with several ingredients?  Sure.  Did I pick granola that had been made off shore with polydifardnesnelsud (ok, I made that word up, but you know what I mean)…nope.  That wasn’t happening.  For lunch, I ate out almost daily enjoying as many simple foods as location allowed.  Some cultures seem to lend themselves well to this type of cooking, and for me, Mexican (or more accurately Tex Mex) was a winner.  I eschewed my weight watchers crackers, diet soda and processed low fat/low cal foods.  I feasted on fruit, veggies, meats, certain cheeses, yogurts and simple desserts.  I remember enjoying what I ate so much, not watching my caloric intake at all and yet still dropping 20 lbs in a month.  And you still want to tell me how diet foods are for good for us????  Yeah, not so much, huh?

And at the end of that month, I failed to realize that another odd change had occured for me.  See, I had been told many many moons ago that children would not be an option for me.  And I had never felt the call to challenge that diagnosis.  However, as my body started to feel weird and different (as it only can when you have a wee alien living inside of you), I began to realize that perhaps all of the junk I was putting into my body was also stopping God’s natural process.  For me, not only did I lose weight and feel great, but I got a Blueberry to boot.

Now, this is not to say that healthy eating is the only thing you need to do to fix infertility problems.  Come on-it’s not that easy as any couple with baby fever can tell you.  However, all I’m sharing is my real story of how I went from highly processed to a mom within just a couple of months.  I still have miles to go before my family has eradicated all of our reliance on grocery store “junk”, not to mention the junk in our proverbial trunks, but that month opened…no, reopened the door to the wonder of God’s bounty to me and reminded me that it’s just not nice to fool with mother nature.  Happy eating!

A day in my life…or why I don’t return your calls

I feel like I have been dropping the ball a lot in the friend department.  I’m not returning calls very fast (if at all) and I swear, if texting didn’t exist, I don’t know that I would communicate with anyone outside of my house.  I’m sure a lot of homesteaders feel this way.  It’s hard to connect with your city friends whose lifestyle can often be so different.  Not that ours is more or less busy-it’s just typically that the schedules are so diverse it’s hard to make a connection.  And definitely, I’m not saying that my particular slice of life is more hectic than anyone else’s life (in fact, I spent several bucolic moments in a rocker on my front porch yesterday, so no complaints)…but in the event I fail to call you back today, this week, heck-this month, I want you to know it’s not personal.   Here is a little peek into a recent day:

5:30 Wake up

5:40 Convince Blueberry to stop poking me in the back and go back to bed

6:00 Actually get up, fix coffee, feed inside felines, assess mess left by Sheldon from last night’s emergency chicken whacking, think nice thoughts about Sheldon’s anal kitchen cleaning abilities

6:10  Get Sheldon up, make lunch for Blueberry, make breakfast for Blueberry, pack bag for Blueberry

6:30  Get dressed and begin taking care of 30 (33 if you count the wild Bantams who have adopted us) outside animals

7:00 Give Kya and Buddy some “born free” time before feeding everyone else

7:20 Argue with Blueberry that a t-shirt and tights are not a complete outfit, get her dressed, move Sheldon’s work pants from certain inside feline doom and go back to the animal salt mines outside

7:30 Feed dogs, feed cats, feed chicks and Lana the chicken

7:35 Get Blueberry buckled in for drive to school, get her gear in, discuss why she can’t play with dogs in the mud

7:45 Wave bye-bye for what feels like 20 minutes, come in and check work email

8:00-9:00 Handle personal business, update this blog, think about updating other blog, check stats, read an article on Joe Davis

9:00-11:00 Conduct status calls with 5-7 job seekers, return work email, realize I had forgotten to put appt on my calendar, apologize profusely and conduct call, work on drafting training program for new and revised LinkedIn workshop, return calls, work network for 2 leads for job seekers, wonder why Lana insists on roosting in the car port, build Lana a temporary roost box while chicks have invaded her space, have a slice of chocolate cake I made yesterday (but was too ill to eat), think nice chocolately thoughts, prep beans for dinner tonight

11:00-12:00 Dust mop upstairs, clean litter boxes, do dishes, do load of laundry, clean bathroom, finish putting dinner in crock pot for tonight

12:00-1:00 Conduct intake call with new job seeker, follow-up with 2 other job seekers

1:00-2:00 Realize I have forgotten to shower, shower, let dogs have afternoon “born free” time, check on chicks, reinforce coop door (again), put out feed for Lana, the Bantams and the wild birds, leave cats in charge

2:00-3:00 Drive into town to pick up Blueberry from school

3:00-4:00 Obtain one reluctant to leave child from school, drive to karate, make deals about what snacks are acceptable from snack machine, answer no less than 27 questions at a collegiate level asked by a 4-year-old, put on karate uniform, wash hands a lot

4:00-5:00 Watch karate, sometimes in abject horror at child’s behavior.  Wish that instructors found her less cute and more deserving of ninja attack to improve discipline.  Feel overwhelming joy and pride when she gives her best effort.  Frustration when that doesn’t happen.  Work on resume gratis for friend, send it for feedback

5:00-5:30 Drive home

5:30-6:00 Feed outside animals, check on chicks, convince Lana to get back in her coop, get bitten in the butt at least twice by Kya, sigh copiously

6:00-6:50 Eat dinner, commence child bathing routine

6:50-7:20 Get child clean, in pj’s and read to.  In theory, child in bed by 7:30.  In reality, closer to 8:00

7:30-8:30 Conduct new client intake call, follow-up on earlier emails, try to reach other job seeker who won’t talk during day, wrap up paid work day

8:30-10:00 Attempt to appear awake to entertain Sheldon and our houseguest, wonder if I remembered to brush my teeth today

10:00-?  Sleep and then start it all over again tomorrow

How to finance your homesteading dream with a j-o-b

This post was originally posted on Modern Homesteaders: http://modernhomesteaders.net/2013/03/04/how-to-finance-your-homesteading-dream-with-a-j-o-b/  When you have a second, please go check them out.  They are chock full of interesting stuff!

I saw this question recently come in via the Modern Homesteaders Facebook page and as a professional career coach by day and budding homesteader by day/night/every moment in between, I thought it would be a good thing to address:

Question from fan Adam Kinsman: Hi, I’ve got a question that I wonder if the fans can help me with. I would like to move to the north shore in MN. But there are too few jobs out there to be able to support my family of 5. My question, does anyone know of businesses, services, or trades that can be done from home? I would need to make a minimum of 4k/month to pay bills and provide for my family. Any help/ advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks -Adam @Everyday Survival

We’ve blogged about this very topic on Blueberry Acres Farm site before because let’s face it, unless you are one of the lucky ones who has inherited your farm/homestead, chances are-you are going to have to work to either purchase that homestead or improve/sustain that homestead.   But yet balancing that need to work with the desire to live in less populated areas can be a real challenge.  It’s pretty simple math: fewer people typically equals fewer jobs.  Sheldon and I always thought that the nature of our careers would keep us in the city, but of course, God guided us into making some decisions that ultimately allowed us to move from the city to the country without sacrificing careers too much.  We have been very fortunate indeed.  But not everyone is going to come into this situation.  So how can you explore making your own situation of finding that work/life balance that gets you to the homestead?  Well, a couple of things that I would recommend:

Explore a portfolio career.  You may not be able to find one job that pays your needed rate, but can you cobble together a full-time job and a part-time job to make the ends meet?  If you work full-time can your spouse/significant other also work full-time?  If not, part-time?  What about contract or as needed?

Check out Government jobs.  While we all probably have deep opinions about our government, the reality is that the Federal and State government is still often the employer of choice.  Check out sites aimed at helping you explore these jobs but also check with your local city and counties as well.

Open your own business.  There are numerous resources available to help you start a new job.  Do you have gunsmithing skills?  Can you sew like a madwoman?  Are you the world’s best cookie baker?  Would you make a great community handyman?  Well, stop giving that skill away for free and charge for it!  There are great organizations that give you coaching and expertise (for free!!!) and they can help you explore small business ownership.  Check out Score and the SBA to start with.

Retrain for a different career. Sure, there are careers that will lend themselves better to larger cities.  But then there are careers that will translate in any locale be it medicine, small engine repair or fry cook.  Granted, it may not make sense for you to go back and become an MD, but perhaps you can pick up new training in a trade in 12-18 months.  It doesn’t get you to the country life immediately, but it certainly puts you on the path to being more self-reliant with a skill that will be in demand in multiple markets, including rural markets.  Not sure what to explore?  Check out the O*Net, the DOL’s occupational database.  Not only can this site help you assess where your interests lie, but it will also give you employment outlook for particular functions.

Do a combination of the above.  As a family, we are working on diversity in our working lives so that we can ultimately become more self-sufficient financially.  This doesn’t happen overnight, but it will involve traditional corporate work, consulting work and a revenue producing farm.  It’s not going to be easy, but we are confident that it will be worth it.  If your family longs to make that move, you need to start laying the groundwork professionally soon.  If I were to offer up some hard truth gleaned over years of career coaching, it would be this: if you are looking for a job magic bullet, it doesn’t exist.  If there were perfect careers that paid well, allowed you to work anywhere and enabled you to live your dreams, we would all do it.  Sometimes you have to pave your own way…but hopefully we have given you some ideas to begin that process.  Managing your career to the benefit of your family is a journey-not a destination.

Good luck, keep the faith and happy homesteading!

Shellie

Contributing Writer, Modern Homesteaders

Journey with us at Blueberry Acres Farm

Learn more about Career Management

Looking forward to trying these!

ByzantineFlowers

One Million Gardens can change the world

Start a Garden… why is the garden so important? It teaches us all in what we can do Now! Break free from the dependency from Big Agra, and take out the guest work of knowing that the food you grow will be safe to eat! An organic garden also helps restore and repopulate the bee colonies. In this video noted physicist & recipient of The Right Livelihood Award, Dr. V. Shiva simplifies what we’re all trying to do.

Extensive List of Organic Pest Control Remedies

List compiled by Australian Organic Gardening Posted on Wake Up World

ORGANIC BUG SPRAY FROM ONION SCRAPS

You can make your own organic bug spray from kitchen leftovers! Simply save your onion skins, peels and ends then refrigerate in an empty margarine-sized tub or ziplock bag until the container is full. Once you have enough, place the onion…

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Slow Foods Ark of Taste: Is real food becoming extinct?

For those of us who are actively making a conscious effort to eat food closer to how God originally created it, I think the slow food movement is less of a movement and just more of a way of life.  But what is the slow food movement you cheesie pouf eating readers may ask?  Well, in a very small nutshell, it’s a movement that was started to help consumers realize just how much genetically modified, engineered and just plain wrong food hits their plates every day.  What I really like about the ideas that they espouse is the concept that the best foods shouldn’t be reserved for the rich…that is, those people who can afford to go to Whole Foods and Sprouts every day picking up the best organic produce that the market has to offer.  No.  Slow food is about making this food available at all income levels in every store so that we all are getting the best of God’s bounty-not just what Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta want us to have.

badge courtesy of slow food usa

badge courtesy of slow food usa

To that end, enter in their US Ark of Taste.  The Ark of Taste is a listing of 200 foods who are in danger of becoming extinct.  Many of these are regional specialties, but I think it’s a national imperative that we stop and think about what we are putting on our plates.  When is the last time you stopped and thought about the variety of produce you were putting into your cart at your local mega mart?  For some of us, probably not too often.  But, there are plenty of little changes even the non-homesteader can do in the grocery store.  Instead of reaching for that same bag of brown potatoes, try the reds, golds or better yet, the purple potatoes!  See those long white radishes next to the round red ones?  Try those instead!  Armenian cucumbers instead of “regular” cucumbers?  Yes please!  Another great way to ensure biodiversity and the inherent values behind the Slow Food movement is to frequent roadside stands and/or farmers markets.  Yes, some of the produce available at these events is going to be GMO and loaded with chemicals, but in other cases you are going to find small scale farmers who are doing everything in their power to produce heirloom produce without the use of harmful chemicals even if they can’t jump through the hoops from the USDA to become “certified organic.”  And speaking of heirloom produce, for those of you who are backyard gardening, farming or homesteading, think about picking up some heirloom, non-GMO seeds to produce in your garden/henhouse/pasture.  I don’t know about you, but when I start looking at seeds that produce fruit and veg in abundant, wild colors with incredible taste descriptions, I ask myself why have I been buying the same mealy produce year after year at the mega mart?  The answer may not be easy to find, but the solution certainly is…biodiversity.  Let’s all embrace it and bring some interest back to our plates!  Happy eating!

Check out some great new posts every Monday at the Homestead Barn Hop!  http://newlifeonahomestead.com

Check out some great new posts every Monday at the Homestead Barn Hop!
http://newlifeonahomestead.com

 

 

 

The Buddy report: Crate training an older dog

We have had our new farm dog Buddy for a few days now and he is fantastic!  While he still shows far too much interest in the barn cats, he is responding to commands (that his previous family claimed that he didn’t know that sneaky little devil), understanding his limits and just generally being a joyous dog.  Until bedtime.  Then the fun really begins.

At this stage in our farm evolution, we have all of the outside service animals (aka dogs and cats) sleeping together in a heated outbuilding that we refer to as the garage (not that we get to park anything in it..sigh.)  In this building, everyone has a safe, soft and warm bed while being protected from the elements.  For this situation to work, we crate the dogs just to ensure that no mayhem ensues at night.  It has worked like a charm for Kya the farm puppy, but Buddy…well.  He ain’t havin it.

Now, I’ve never crated a dog before Kya.  Frankly, I always thought it was a little cruel.  Snickerdoodle, my much beloved Aussie/Catahoula mix used to sleep under the covers of my bed next to my leg.  That was kind of a turn off for some guys during my single days, but I always had my priorities right: 1) dog 2) guys.  Thank goodness Sheldon understood the pecking order!  Anyway, my previous dogs came and go where and when they pleased in my house.  By “came and go”, I unfortunately really mean poop and tear stuff up.  It was a chore that I was constantly managing.  So, when the opportunity came up with Kya, we decided without hesitation that these dogs (and all dogs moving forward) would be crated at night at least in the beginning.

wire_dog_crate

Apparently Buddy’s old family never explored crate training-at least that is what his behavior is showing us.  They were very candid in telling us that they had not worked with him like they should, and frankly it shows.  So much of we are working on is amending Buddy to our training for his safety and the safety of our other animals.  To help introduce him to the crate, we’re trying to make it a positive experience.  He has his bed in there from his old family.  It’s sized right for him so he can stand up and turn around.  We’re putting in Kya right next to him in her crate with lots of very vocal praise so he can see that it’s ok.  When we are putting him in, we’re using praise and treats to make it desirable.  And while he is very much enjoying the treats, he is still hesitant to sleep in there.  I know that it’s just going to take some time.  When I woke up the other morning around 5, I could hear him barking incessantly.  I’m sure all of the other animals are ready to vote him off the island.  But this morning…it’s 6:15 and all I hear is silence.  Either the cats have tied Buddy up and duct taped his mouth…or we have had some improvement.  When the weather gets a bit warmer, the dogs will move to their permanent home in the new barn without the crates, but for now-we’re going to keep at it-we’re in this with him for the long haul!