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December 16, 2011

Fatty gets her freak on!

The battle of the bulge(s) reaches a new level.
I am not nor have ever been clinically obese, but I have suffered from chronic pudge and the resulting altered self image. I can pinpoint too  many times in life when harsh or snide comments were made about my weight, and because they were from people I trusted, I believed them and accepted their judgments of me into my psyche.

This is a grave mistake, that I hope none of you have made. You see, these negative comments add up and (for me) become a self-fulfilling prophesy, so that those negative people (who are invariably in one's life) will continue to have fodder for their snide-ness. A very nasty cycle. I made the conscious decision some time ago to not accept other people's judgments of me, however I have only recently realized how deep I tucked those judgments away so that I was no longer believing other people, I was believing my own negativeness about myself. Ouch.

So, I have attacked the negative psyche part, and gained much ground (woohoo!). But what to do about the actual bulge? Well, I will break it down in very simple steps (for anyone fighting this battle):
1. Eat less
2. Move more
3. Stick to it!

Ok, that is over-simplified. However, it is true that less input + more output = k-cal loss. There are several ways to go about this.
1. Eat less. Feeling drastic? Cut all portions in half (forever). Or, actually weigh and measure and LOG how many calories you are taking in. Knowledge is power. This can also be aided by an appetite control measure (medication, exercise, hypnosis). Find what works for you and stick to it.

2. Move more. Yes, you need to move your body. You do not need weights or special equipment, you can use your own body weight as resistance (crunches, yoga, stretching, push ups, karate, etc). Move at your own pace, and take steps to monitor that pace and weekly upgrade it. 5-10 minutes a day or 30 minutes three times a week, whatever works for you-- find it and stick to it!

3. Stick to it! Yes, plateaus are going to happen, and yes disappointments will happen. Do Not let one disappointment lead to a week of backsliding on steps one and two! It will all work out if you stick to it! Do Not let negative people, societal pressure or your own baggage hold you back---those are all things you have power and control over--use your power over your own mind to believe positive comments, realistic goals and the absolute number one truth-- YOU ARE UNIQUE, YOU ARE VALUABLE, YOU CANNOT BE REPLACED! (judgments, negativity and weight can be changed/replaced by no one other than you!)

I am half-way to my goal (have lost 20 lbs in the last 7 weeks), and here is some info that may help anyone else fighting the bulge:
*Indulgences: I allow myself (because they help me stick to it) include one taste of dark chocolate, (almost every day) and wine or an adult beverage when I feel like it. I also drink all the raw, whole milk I want to.

*Things I choose to do without: ALL DIET FOODS and ALL fake fats (artificial food is poison, and I refuse to lose weight by eating zero calorie things that are in the end poisoning me). I have successfully kicked the diet coke habit, the "blue packet sweetener" habit, and am working on the gum addiction. I also have given up nearly all carbs. This is a grand move for me, former carb-aholic. Once my perception of portion size and my stomach size decreased I find that a bite here or there of homemade bread, cellulose free pasta or a half tortilla is more than enough. I also do not eat fast food, fried food or processed foods except on the very rare occasion (these things are all poison too and I feel so much better without them!).

*I Cook! Any of you that follow me on FB know that I cook as often as I can, and I cook really good food (according to Dave anyway)! I cook from scratch so I know where nearly every ingredient comes from, I do not skimp on fat (it is vital to nearly every metabolic process in the body and synthetic fats are poison), the only thing I skimp on is portion size (see #1 above)! Cook your own food and know what goes into it, you won't be disappointed with the quality and taste!

*Know Thine-self: Only you can figure out what works for you, what you need and what your markers of success are. Do not allow others to impose their  little life-movie on you. I personally like doing squats, riding a bike, the elliptical and dancing like a nut--this may not work for you so find what does. You also need to know when to get outside help. I needed a boost to my thyroid production and appetite control, so I got it. Get what you need to make your dreams a reality!

Whew! I hope this helps someone that reads it, and if any of you need a cheerleader let me know, I will gladly cheer you on to your success!

Below: enchiladas I cooked last night

December 13, 2011

Where have I been?

Well, well, I have neglected the blogging side of my brain for awhile!

Life has just been going along at a nice even keel.
Work is good, home/farm is good, cows are good, kids are good.
Char will be home in 6 days!
Dave and I have been on some fun dates, we play Canasta every chance we get and mostly our schedule has been the same so we are off work at the same time. (very nice indeed)

The holidays feel like the are bearing down at avalanche speed, though in terms of readiness I am ready, just a few little odds and ends to pick up. The house is decorated and of course there is some baking to do. I am looking forward to spending time with family and having the Eve and the Day off, together!

I wish you all a very Happy Holidays!

October 28, 2011

Yeah!! Milking again!

Louise calved last night, a precious tiny bull calf!
He weighs about 40 pounds and is the smallest calf I think we have ever had. Remember Lizzie's calf that was 85 pounds? She was a horse compared to this wee fella! He doesn't have a name yet, though it will start with "L" (for Louise).
Dave was home and caught the calf on his way to the ground (she delivered standing up), got him dried and texted me pictures until I could get home from work. The birth and post-birthing were uncomplicated.
The calf nursed before we went to bed Thursday night, and this morning he was springing around the pen when I went out to milk. He continued to flit around the pen making Louise nervous, which made her "low" to him a lot. It is such a sweet sound, her lowing and his little peeps in response. In a week or so their language will be regular moos, and the baby talk will be over.
Louise was good in the stanchion, especially good for a first milking after calving. The first two weeks after calving (due to hormones and new routine) are always a crap shoot, but she made it easy by not lifting a hoof or being obstinate! One episode of poop and one of pee (always keep the bucket handy!), and a few swipes across the face with a bloody/mucusy/wet tail, but still no fight and no kicking. I consider it a great milking.
I suppose we will offer him for sale for the next month as a potential herd sire since he can be registered; after that he will be castrated and raised for meat. (He will be fully vaccinated and disbudded, and dam raised only).

I am excited for the milk to begin flowing again! We have not milked for 3 weeks and we have been rationing our last few bottles of fresh milk to drink. The routine is welcome and the fresh milk is of course such a lifeline, it feeds so many families and so many residents of our farm! I really believe a cow on a farm is the glue that binds it all together.
We are accepting applications for our herd share program, if you are interested drop me a line here or on FB. Current members and new members are eligible for the referral program (when a friend joins, the referring member receives one month free).

Party has stayed right by Louise's side (outside the birthing pen), and I am sure she will be glad when Louise and "L" are let out to the pasture so she can lick him in earnest! We really have the sweetest, most personable cows. Maybe I am just extra attached after all the change and um, growth in the last 2 years, but these two cows are really really special to me. They also bring a new life to our farm with their genetics, testing and potential for output! We are very thankful.

Here is Party yesterday, she was trying to convince me that she really did need to lick my arms and face some more.

October 26, 2011

Great Causes to Consider

There are a few causes going on lately that are close to my heart and in truth they are all inter-related. If one touches you I hope you will help them out in any small way you can, even to share their story.

Landreth Seed Company:

"Landreth Seed Company is America's oldest seed house. It has been around since 1784 and is the most historically important small business that is still operating! It is the only American company, still operating daily, that existed when this country became a nation. Its founders were
honorable men who helped establish and guide the agricultural and horticultural industries of this country in the 1700s, the 1800s and the 1900s. Landreth exemplifies American business and the ethics and integrity that built this nation.

On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, the Company’s accounts were frozen by a garnishment order initiated by a Baltimore law firm. If this garnishment order is not satisfied within the next 30 days, Landreth will cease to exist and a part of America’s history will be lost forever. I need to sell 1 million 2012 catalogs to satisfy this garnishment and the cascade of other indebtedness which this order has now initiated.

If you want to help save this piece of America, if you love gardening and heirloom seeds, if you care about righting the injustices of a legal system badly in need of repair, then please help Landreth. Please purchase a Landreth catalog, and if you can afford it, purchase several for your friends. Please send this link to everyone you know, One million catalogs is a big number, but with the internet it is achievable. Please help us to save Landreth."

Landreth is asking that people buy a catalog, or store items and share their story with others.

Michael Schmidt's Hunger Strike:

(from his website: )

A message from Mr. Schmidt:

"UPDATE, Oct. 9, 2011: Because in Canada one can only buy pasteurized milk, those of us who believe in the nourishing value of raw milk from grass-fed cows go to great lengths to access to this food. The BC government promised to leave our cow share alone until we got through our constitutional challenge, but a couple of weeks ago they broke that promise and charged our agister, Michael Schmidt, and one of the cow share members with contempt of court again.
Furthermore, Michael’s case that he had won in Ontario was overturned on appeal, so now Michael has been charged in two Provinces. He is appealing the Ontario case again, and is currently on a hunger strike, only drinking one glass of raw milk a day." (Continued at website above).
Michael is as of this writing on day 26 of his hunger strike. His only wish is to be able to speak with the Canadian Premier Dalton McGuinty and to bring public attention to the plight of raw milk drinkers and producers.
One of many articles:

Michael Schmidt lives and farms in Canada, however this issue is raging in the US as well. 
 "But in the Wisconsin case, Judge Fiedler ruled that humans:
  • “Do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;”
  • “Do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;”
  • “Do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer;”
  • “Do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice;” and
  • Cannot enter into private contracts “outside the scope of the State’s police power.”
This case begs for competent legal counsel who can get the outrageous decision overturned."

Ruling against raw milk forces consumers to drink genetically modified, antibiotic-laden milk from cows fed an unnatural diet of pesticide-loaded feed.  No doubt that makes Monsanto a major fan of Patrick Fiedler.  His decision was rendered on Sept. 9 and he stepped down from the bench on Sept. 30.
If we as American citizens want the freedom to choose our own food, we all need to be aware of the issues and take appropriate action to preserve that right. 

Heifer International:
And, on a similar note, I feel we should all do our part to feed the hungry, not junky processed food but real, whole, nutritious food. This is a concept that Heifer International has taken to heart and accomplishes very well.
"Each animal in our catalog represents an opportunity for self-reliance for a family living in poverty."
"Heifer has a proven approach--more than 65 years in the making--to empowering families around the world to become self-reliant through our sustainable development projects."
Check them out and see if you agree!
Thank you for allowing me to share the causes and needs of the world that are on my heart, 

October 16, 2011

Garden News

First of all---I have been accepted into the Texas Master Gardener Program for 2012!! This is held by each county statewide, and I am so thankful to live in a county with a very busy and active Master Gardener group! Coursework starts in January (7 weeks), and then the volunteer/hands on hours begin. I am extremely excited to be a part of the program and the group!!

Secondly, our weather is really odd this year and the plants have noticed. After the drought and 100 degree temps broke, the pasture has turned green again and all sorts of springtime bloomers are blooming now. Dogwood, Crepe Myrtle, Bulbs, Roses, Tomatoes....they have awoken form a drought to bring much color to the farm and I am thankful! We still hope for more rain to make the pastures lush, and to grow the rye seed that needs to be spread.

The bushy things left in the garden are herbs (on the left) and the sweet potato vines on the right (to be harvested after a frost or when all the leaves turn brown). There may be some weeds........

Wishing everyone a great week and happy gardening, whatever that entails!!

October 9, 2011

October arrived!

Finally, October has arrived and with it much cooler temperatures. We are so very thankful to not have to mentally or physically deal with 90-100's in the forecast. Not much rain to speak of, 3/4" in September which brings our total since March to about 3.5". There is little in farming as disappointing or frustrating as watching the pastures, trees, all greenery shrivel and die. I am more than willing to deal with mud!
I apologize in advance if the following format is tedious, I have to have help organizing my thoughts or the blog post would all be one long run on paragraph!

Charlye is having a great time and settling in very well at college. In a recent phone conversation "I've got this Mom!" She is on the Ultimate Frisbee team, is a representative for her dorm, on a couple of committees and is getting the syllabus ~ scheduling ~ expectations down pat.
Josh is enjoying his senior year (though would love for the football team to win more often!). He has been voted in as a Junior Firefighter on a local VFD, he is really jazzed about that. ROTC and applying to colleges is going well, West Point is still his first choice.

I am so proud of both of them!

We are getting a few bell peppers and herbs, and handfuls of grape tomatoes---we have high hopes now that the temperatures are dropping at night the big tomatoes may actually put on fruit!

Cow News:
A friend and I traveled to Mississippi in early September to pick up Louise, she is a dream boat cow! Sweet, beautiful and a joy to have on the farm. Party was glad to see her arrive too, it meant a pasture mate for her! Louise is due to calve Oct 24-27th. Party is expecting too-- the last AI attempt was successful and she is due to calve in May!
Lizzie has gone to a new family with a beef herd and some milking experience in their past. We thank her for all she gave for us and being such a good girl, I'm sure she will be great for them too!
Unknown cow--we have consigned to buy a bred heifer from the recent World Expo Guernsey sale, as soon as she has some testing done and shipping can be arranged she will be headed to Texas.

Piggly Wiggly:
We bought a young gilt from a friend that raises Red Wattle pigs, and within a week of being here Rudy has bred both Spotty and the new girl "Curly-Q". This means in about 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days we should have some piglets!

Hens and ducks are all well, we have added a few more young ducks to the flock. I actually prefer cooking with and eating the duck eggs over the chicken eggs.

Foodie Fun:
I have used the new pressure cooker a few times and really like it! I have made ghee a couple of times, though I don't think I am doing it completely right. It wants to solidify after it cools. Is this normal? Some of the instructions and information I have seen online state it should stay liquid. Otherwise I am always on the hunt for a great recipe so if you have one send it!

Have a great week!

September 4, 2011

No, not abandoned...just overloaded!

No, I have not abandoned the blog! It has been a very busy month and well I just simply got behind!

Farm News from our Shareholder August Newsletter:

 Firstly, the calves grew very well on their mother’s milk and were to be sold this month at weaning time. The prospective buyers requested testing be done prior to the sale and lo, to our astonishment one of them tested positive as having antibodies to the BLV virus. We then proceeded to test the rest of the herd. Vera and Lizzie tested out as carriers of this virus. We do not believe there is any concern with the milk, however we have made the decision to cull them because the virus is contagious to other cows, will be passed on to their calves via the placenta, and we believe the virus leaves the cow with a compromised immunity which will only court problems later. So, the calves were sold at auction, the cows will be sold or butchered and the next milk string (Party and Louise) are both tested negative. Party is sequestered away from Vera and Lizzie, and Louise arrives in September from Alabama. In all the testing we also drew blood to re-verify Party’s pregnancy status; she came back as negative, so she will not calve in January as we thought, but hopefully in May. (She is being re-bred this week).  The long and the short of this is that now that the calves are gone there is plenty of extra milk if anyone wants to get extra shares for a month or two; Vera and Lizzie will only be milked a few more months, but we hope to avoid a dry period. We plan to eventually get a third cow, but only time and circumstance will tell when or whom that will be.
Since that mailing, the calves and Vera have been sold and the farm is a little quiet with only 2 cows. Lizzie had a heat, so she will need to be bred again, and Party was AI'd (waiting until the next heat to determine if we need to draw blood or breed again).
Lizzie is absolutely perfect in the milk stand, sweet but not overtly affectionate with people and I desperately hope we can find a home for her in October.

The drought and heat wave (30 something days over 100'F) has caused the loss of several big oak trees, much pasture and basically all of our meat birds. The tiny little sprinkler that we run on the pasture actually is making a huge difference in the areas we can run it. The temperatures this week are improving--highs in the 90's and the lows a few times in the 60's--this is a huge difference! Several times we have gotten clouds over and no rain, but just the cloud cover helps with the scorching heat. Hay is difficult to purchase (many scalpers out there), and short in supply. The first opportunity we have we will be filling the barn, but we do not have a guarantee from any growers yet. 

Louise does indeed arrive soon--next weekend I am going to meet her owner in Mississippi for the hand off. I am absolutely thrilled to be adding her to our herd! She is due to calve October 24th!
Pictures of Louise: (we have a new collar and bell awaiting her arrival)

Family News:
Josh started his senior year, oh my goodness the baby is all grown up! The obligatory First Day of School picture below. He is excited about this year. He is Battalion Commander, running track, serving on the yearbook team and taking a bunch of AP classes....he is applying to West Point, VMA, and The Citadel. We are extremely proud of him!

Speaking of babies! Here is a picture of Josh (3 mos) and Charlye (15 mos) from the days of diapers and naps! I apologize that I can't figure out how to get it right side up!

Speaking of Charlye.....last week was "move to college" week! It is a wonderful campus, in a beautiful New England town, highly rated women's college and she is moved in getting adjusted to college life! It is all bittersweet for me; so happy for her but miss her terribly. Pictures from our trip:

Northampton, MA settled 1654

view of Main Street

Charlye and her friend Jess in front of their dorm, Cushing House

Ugh! How do we organize this?

Cushing House (Char is on 4th floor)

Original Smith Building

Public Library across the street

I will try to stay up to date, especially with Louise coming! We wish you all a wonderful, safe and rainy holiday weekend!

July 6, 2011

Un-slumping and goals

Do you all get in a slump with cooking?
I do. I have to consciously decide in the morning or the day before what I'm fixing for dinner, and I have to admit sometimes I fail at planning and even getting dinner on the table.
Part of the problem is that I let myself get busy and lack of planning results in leftovers ("again??"), and another part of it I realize is a lack of setting down and following specific goals. I can't say "I want my family to eat the best food possible", and then drop the ball (anymore).
So, in an effort to formalize my goals here goes:
*We need to intentionally have variety every week (beef, poultry, lamb, seafood, pork), with enough leftovers so that when working the kids get really good food (and we get good stuff in our lunch bags).
*I need to use fermented foods more often, which of course means learning to prepare more of them.
*I need to change up and learn a few more recipes: prevent burnout and slump.
*I need to perfect a few dairy recipes so there is no temptation to buy store-bought (cream cheese, sliced sandwich cheese).
*I need to dig deeper to find a local source of produce to supplement what we can't/don't grow (mushrooms are one item located an hour away, but I have never been to the farm).
*Buy quality ingredients in bulk, and prepare (bread, pasta) in bulk so I don't have to bake weekly or give in and buy store items (not baking at all right now because of the heat, but will in a few months).

What do you do to un-slump your kitchen/nutrition routines?
I will be researching recipes and welcome your input. I will try to post a couple of new favorites each week. Ah, yes, that would be another goal--blogging with intent and purpose to stay connected to this great community!
I have accomplished a few things this summer like cleaning out some cabinets and the computer room...much more to do on that front but it feels good to get some done.

Things on the farm are going well! The garden appreciates the extra watering and we are now harvesting a few tomatoes a day. Three times in the last week we have gotten a little shower, wonderful respite! The fall garden is in the planning stages. My planning it does not make fall come any sooner I have noticed.
The cows are being synchronized for Artificial Insemination (AI), Vera this week and Lizzie next week. The calves are being prepared for their new homes--vaccines, blood tests, intermittent halter training. I will miss their spunk and sweetness (you know which is which)! We are bartering a future dairy heifer for a beef steer, he arrived this morning. His weight is 880#, so he needs a few more months to finish out before freezer camp.

The hens have adjusted well to the portable pens, and have started laying again. Next week we anticipate the arrival of the new peeps (35 meat birds and 15 little layers). New peeps are so much fun! The brooder is all set up and waiting. The ducks have carried us through the egg slump, some days the 3 hens have produced 4 eggs. There is peace in poultry land now that each group has their own area and the number of dominant males has been decreased. We won't be ordering any turkeys after all, time and space have have limits so we will try and find one to buy for the holiday dinner, and will make do with chicken and duck.

Our precious granddaughter Rylee was here for 3 weeks, oh the adventures! We are already looking forward  to her next visit, hopefully it will be sooner than next summer.

Wishing you all a great week!

June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

Is the longest day of the year......many are celebrating the official beginning of summer, as for me I am celebrating the fact that this is the longest day of the year and from here until 12/21 they get shorter. I hope that means they will get a little less hot--soon! The drought is bad. No pasture and a daily battle to water the garden enough so that it will thrive. Two things I love, our cows and our garden are under stress and under attack. Please pray, light a candle or whatever your faith tradition leads you to do--for rain in Texas! Two of our favorite wineries and a friends house have all been threatened by wild fires in the last week.

On to more positive news (and no more whining):
I am amazed that I have not updated since graduation on 5/31, shame on me!

Dave drove to Iowa in the first week of June to pick up our beautiful grand daughter Rylee. She is 6 years old and so much fun! The teens are adjusting to having a little one in the house--a little one that has more needs than they do! HA! She is our constant companion, loves the animals, helping with projects or cleaning and her favorite activities so far seem to be swimming in the cold tub (aka hot tub with the heater turned off), and swinging on the tire swing. We are enjoying her like crazy!

Dave, Josh and Rylee went to visit our good friends the LeBlanc's so they could all go to the camp down at the Atchafalaya basin. Dave had 2 flat tires on the way (2 of 4 trailer tires), the boat motor quit on the way to the camp, and they all got a little crispy, but--they had a blast and caught tons of fish! Steph's grand kids Savannah and JP who are close in age to Rylee went along, I hear they got along famously and were fast friends.
Heading out:

Rest stop in LA

Savannah and Rylee

Rylee, JP, Savannah

Steph and kids fishing:

Gator visitor:

Kids on the dock:

Josh at cleaning station:

Steph and Rylee fishing:


Steph and Josh

Charlye and I stayed home, did girl things and took care of the farm. The cows are all well, and the calves were just a little sassy a few times about coming in at night. I guess they are hitting their independent stage.

The pigs have a new sprinkler system: a piece of pvc with holes drilled in it attached to the top of a fence, they are loving it.

Lots of excitement in the hen house this week: I butchered a rooster and a drake on my own start to finish (they were constantly fighting with each other and being mean to the hens); we got some young Ameracauna pullets from a friend; and I found 4 adult Speckled Sussex on Craig's List (one immediately escaped never to be seen again); we built two chicken tractors, and the chick brooder is now set up and ready for the new chicks that are on order.

In other news I finish my BSN Bachelor's of Science in Nursing this week! It has been an amazing journey of continuing my education (earned my Associate Degree 19 years ago). I am undecided about earning my Master's, mainly because I just can't imagine starting another program right now. I will be applying for a different Master program in September--the Master Gardener program at our local Ag Extension Office! THAT I am looking forward to!

Food news for foodies: All the fish Dave and Josh brought home is now on the smoker (hickory wood), it smells so good!
I have been getting creative about cooking without using the oven (house is just too hot for that right now). So, apple crisp, enchilada casserole, pulled pork, ham roast were on the menu this last week--all these were cooked in the crock pot, well except for the roast veggies that I pre-cooked in the saute pan. Dave brought back the biggest most flavorful asparagus from Iowa, that made a couple of lunches too.

Wishing you all a great and flavorful week!