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December 26, 2012

Garden Update

Pictures form the barn roof on Thanksgiving weekend:

The garden is, as always changing and evolving. At this time of year we are putting fruit trees in the orchard, growing a few little spots of cool weather veggies (broccoli, carrots, radish), everything else that is covered will have a short season to recover and rejuvenate for spring. 

The garden porn catalogs have started rolling in, which in another month I have no doubt, will have me feverish wanting to plant seeds!

Planting starts in late February, though the last frost can be quite a bit later than that.
For now, we concentrate on building the compost, building the soil, and making repairs. Other fun things we do this time of year: sharpen, clean, oil tools; organize seeds (test for germination), plan additions to the garden space, plan areas to plant in (rotating crops), and dream about spring and warm sunshine!

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season and a Happy 2013!

September 7, 2012

August Aerial View of Garden

Here they are, pics taken on the 30th of August. We have not had any rain to speak of this month, but had so much in June and July that the garden and pastures are still green. The tomatoes won't set fruit until it gets below 100 degrees, so we are working to keep them alive and happy to hopefully have more harvest.

July 19, 2012

Personal health quest

First, the weight. Yes, it is awesome being 42 lbs lighter, and going from size 14 to 6 in jeans. I haven't lost in several weeks, though I am working out more so perhaps it is muscle or perhaps I am on a plateau, time will tell.

For anyone looking down the weight loss road, here are my simple suggestions:
1. make it all yours (don't think you have to do exactly as I or anyone else does--you have to find the right combination for you, and yes you will see dramatic results when that happens)!
2. It takes time to gain 10 lbs, it will take time to lose it too, just keep on keeping on.
3. Eat less. Simple as that. However you need to do it, you need to consume less in calories than what you burn to lose weight. I personally do not care how you do it---willpower, drugs, surgery--just do it!
4. Decrease (or eliminate) grain-based carbs, increase veggie-based carbs and protein.
5. Drink the water, really. Half your weight (in ounces daily). I weight 135, I need 67.5 ounces a day to maintain normal hydration, this time of year it should be doubled.
6. No processed food, no diet food, no fake food. They all have chemicals in them that trick your metabolism and actually make you hungry, not to mention all the other things they do. Avoid them all like the plague they are. You can cook, if not, it is time to learn, or eat raw food. "Low Fat" "Diet" "Lo Calorie" are all catch phrases for "eat our wonderful, patented chemicals"!
7. Since you are eating less, make the food count--real, whole, extremely nutritious food. Make sure you are getting dairy and fats, they are vital for hormonal and digestive functions.
8. Supplement as you need to: I daily take magnesium (transdermally), B12 (1000mg), Iodine (Tri-Iodine 12.5). I do not take Vitamin D, not at this time of year, I get plenty of sun, but if you don't or have bone issues you should consider it.
9. Move your muscles more tomorrow than you did yesterday. Figuratively and literally. The simple fact is a body has to have more output than input to lose fat.

The other thing that has been turning around in my mind, is the result of an article I read about living a non-toxic life. Primarily the article was based on things we put on our body. The article had this picture:

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I just had never made the connection. We put phenergan lotion or benedryl lotion or others on our kids when they needed a medication but were unable to swallow---and we medicate ourselves with whatever is on our cosmetics day after day!

Needless to say that sent me off on one heck of an internet search (after about 30 seconds of self-evaluation and decision making: "Can I give up the old favorites? .... YES!"). Here is where I am with that journey several weeks later:

I have a kit to make my own face powder, eye shadow, blush.
I purchased and love Totally Natural Mascara and their lipstick, lip gloss, and lip balm too!
I am using rubbing alcohol in a little spritz bottle for deodorant, it works like a charm (kills the odor causing bacteria, no carcinogens or artificial fragrances, no getting on clothing, no residue).
I am using natural shampoo, homemade soap (not by me!), natural hair conditioner, natural body lotion (aloe based), natural facial cleanser, natural toothpaste---I am  absolutely tickled with all of it! I will probably change the shampoo when I need a replacement because this one has a little too much tea tree for me.

The primary source for all the products I am using is Vitacost, though I do not use them exclusively. If you have an Amazon Prime account, many of the same products can be found there, with no shipping. I will also say every single product as a replacement for what I was using before, in equal quantity, is at least half the cost. This just doesn't get any better!

The only downfall was the natural nail polish, I had my toes done but the salon couldn't use it because it won't take a top coat, so next time I will either do without the top coat, find a natural compatible one, or quit going for pedicures and do it myself with products I want to use.

Naturally (ha, pun) that journey got me started on a tangential one---the house products! I have changed things there too:
Dish soap (hand washing and dishwasher) recipes are available online--use them--they have ingredients that actually work and get the dishes clean without superfluous chemicals in them!
Rinse agent for the dishwasher--just use plain vinegar, it is the shizzle and costs pennies.
Laundry--again many recipes online, I will say the liquid soap I am using is doing a fantastic job.
Anti-static/softener--plain vinegar, if you want a scent add one ml of essential oil to a pint of vinegar, use 1 TBS in your load of laundry.
Egg Wash!! Mix 1/4 tsp citric acid (yes, like for making cheese), in a quart of water--spritz your eggs or add a tablespoon of the solution to their soak water (soak in cool water for 5-10 minutes), scrub gently and rinse. 

I hope this helps anyone thinking about the same issues or wondering about more natural living!
Have a really fresh, clean, chemical free day!!

June Garden pics

I missed the June roof top pic (promise to get it for July), but here are some other shots!

Dog Days of Summer

The dogs days of summer, when it is so hot and miserable outside that we either force ourselves to keep on with farm chores or we celebrate giving in to the AC and a siesta. It was during one of these siestas lately that it occurred to me I have not updated in a very long time, my apologies!

June saw the garden go absolutely bonkers! Day after day we brought in 20-30 lbs of tomatoes. It was a challenge on days we worked off the farm, for all that produce must be dealt with. I gave our share members a good portion, took some to work and canned, dehydrated or froze the rest. I feel so grateful for all that we were able to grow this year. Towards the end of June the daily temperatures started reaching 100+ degrees, at which point the tomatoes will not set fruit. So, the plants were pruned and now we wait to see if we can get a fall harvest from them.

July has been so uncharacteristic for this area, though there are no complaints after the drought we experienced last year. An year like 2011 will make a person giggle when they have nothing but mud! And that is exactly what we have, it rained 10" in 24 hours one day last week, and I think the monthly total is somewhere around 15". TOTALLY unheard of! The rains have brought the temperatures down too, so I am once again on the lookout for tomatoes, though the peppers and flowers are all happy. It is a soggy boggy mess with an overgrowth of weeds, but no worries, the weeds will eventually get pulled and things set to right again. We have not had to water (a 2-3 hour chore) for at least 2 weeks, another sweet silver lining. I'll post the June garden pics in a separate post.

The cows, pigs, chicks and ducks are thriving. The little peepers we got in May are about ready for their own tractor and pasture bug catching. The ducks have been joined by 6 more ladies. Peace and harmony in the hen house where the ducks and young pullets live, with the exception of one young cockerel who can no longer blend in. He is a strong candidate for the stew pot once he is bigger.

The cows are doing well, Party is consistently giving 4 gallons a day and the share members remark on the exceptional taste of the cream. I personally think it is the grass, but am perfectly ok if others think she is super wonderful!

Louise has been in dry off for a month or so, originally we had her calf Lennie with her (wearing a weaning ring), but he figured out a way around it and was caught in the act of nursing. He is now pastured with Party and Phineas, all of whom are doing well. Louise was AI'd and is due in February.

The pig chapter is coming to a close. We have/are selling all the breeding stock, the pair of GOS are going to a friend with a barter agreement for future piglets. That way we can raise up weanlings for the freezer without having had to feed the parents, siblings, etc for such an extended period. They also do not eat grass, (which is an abundance this year) but, we would prefer the pastures have cow access (would have been a great place to put a calf that needs to wean!). The feeder piglets we have now will be going to freezer camp next week. We just picked up 3 lambs grown by friends from a butcher we have not used before--we will be taking the pigs there. It is a very nice place, and they have a meat counter to sell retail! Their pepper crusted bacon is fab, as is the jalapeno & cheese sausage. 

We have a few new barn kittens, good golly we had forgotten just how entertaining kittens are! One evening I asked Dave if he wanted to go in and play cards, "No! We have Kitten TV out here!". They are great fun.

Another thing that has been going around my brain lately is related to personal health, look for that in another post.

We wish you a wonderful summer, and trust me, if the dog days are too hot and making your head swim, just go inside! Peace!

May 31, 2012

May Garden Update

Yes! The garden is growing and producing great guns!
No rain to speak of this month which means daily watering, we hope to get some free watering soon.
The two biggest pests this year are the caterpillars (decimated the zinnia bed, one of the strawberry beds and have been seen everywhere else--despite the BT), and the nut sedge. Crazy wicked bad weed. Causes me great frustration. The only upside to both of these is that literally every gardener I have talked to has had the exact same challenges this season. I am convinced the horrid drought summer combined with the extra mild winter conspired to make the perfect conditions for both.

Ok, so here are the pic! (Go back to April Garden Update for a comparison, link here:
April Bird's Eye View )

The areas covered with clear plastic are being solarized to kill nematodes, nut sedge (I hope), and any viruses or fungi that may be present. At least one of the beds will have sweet potatoes.

Happy Gardening!!

May 28, 2012


I haven't updated on my weight lately, so today seems like a good time. I finally got past a plateau and hit the 40 lb mark today! This is more than 1/4 my original weight!!!
(I weigh once a week, mainly to keep myself from getting nutty about
I think 10 more, or whenever my body says the time is right. I started as a size 14, and am now a 6!!! Needless to say I feel great and want to encourage anyone out there with the same goal to keep trying to find what works for you, when you do, it will work, it won't be as difficult as other attempts---just keep trying, it is so worth it!!!
Thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement along the way! Even when people say things like "you can't weigh less than I do" (in reference to the final goal), just smile and let them feel clever, you will win your battle and you will not always have to be their "heavy", "chunky", "full-figure" friend!

April 13, 2012

Bird's eye view of the garden 4.13.12

Pics taken from the barn roof!

Everything that can be planted is planted. I have no idea what will be planted as individual harvests come, but we have a little while to figure that out.

Happy Gardening to all!

April 4, 2012

Cat is out of the bag....

I now have a second blog, expressly for journaling and sharing my adventure into becoming more creative.
I am following Noah Scalin's book A Daily Creativity Journal to stretch and grow both sides of my brain. (grin)
Here is the address:

Hope to see you there--or even better I hope to hear about your creative moments!

PS, a plug for my sister's blog:

She is the one that has inspired me to take part and believe that I can be creative and I can grow!
(love you Sam)

March 26, 2012

Gardening and such!

The garden is coming along nicely! I think it is the prettiest, best garden we have ever had at this point. Gradually all the grass pathways are being covered with cardboard and pine needles (or hay or leaves), depending on what we have to work with.
I am a bit disappointed with the seed company I chose this year, seeds were ordered in February and are still not shipped. The peas, squash, corn, and many others are due to go in the ground now! Grrr.

The cows are doing well. They stopped eating their hay a few weeks ago so we have stopped offering it--there is so much grass that they would rather have. Woohoo! Lots of rain so far this spring, we are all hoping it continues well into the summer. Lenny is 5 months old now, and quite the determined milk thief. Louise is no help either, she will stand at the fence line or gate and let him stick his head through to nurse. It takes creativity to keep them apart, and in the near future more fencing will be in place to ensure he has to wait.

The kids are great, Char spent Spring Break traveling with the Frisbee Team to VA, GA and DC for tournaments and R/R. Josh spent the first half of Spring Break in MA with Char, I think they had a blast! His senior pics are in, oh my goodness he is a grown young man!

The piglets leave this weekend, what a relief! They are so rowdy and snouty anytime we go into the pasture it is a battle to get back out with shoes and belongings intact! Spotty ended up losing all her piglets (rolled over on the last 2), but she should be re-bred and she gets another chance at mothering. The next litters are due sometime in July (an estimation).

More peepers arrive in May, this batch were selected for their ability to lay a longer time and egg color. Thanks to Kay who gifted us with 2 working brooder boxes!

Wishing you all a wonderful Spring!

February 5, 2012

Que Pasa?

What's up you ask?
Well, at the farm and in life, lots of things!
At the risk of getting long winded and losing you along the way I am going to compile it all in one blog (I know, it would be so much better if I had kept up along the way with individual posts), my apologies.

Kids--thriving! Josh is beginning to get Senioritis and count down to graduation. His applications for West Point and A&M are in, just waiting to hear now. Char is doing well at college and now in her second semester is settled and excelling. I am feeling ambivalent about the empty nest. Some days I miss them chattering and the business of kids that aren't independent, other days I enjoy the quiet house. So, I guess time will tell on how I handle it all, but I think we will be fine (if we can ever figure out all the remotes and electronics)!

Farm--Lenny the calf is 3 months old and growing like a weed! I need to get recent pics of him, he looks completely different now (turning very dark and his ears have gone black!). Shhh, don't tell him he may be weaning in a couple of months.
Curly the Red Wattle pig had her piglets--six of the cutest babies ever seen! They are all spotted and they all have wattles. Four females and two males, all of which I hope have a future home by weaning time! They are absolutely adorable and getting very personable (2 weeks old now), but they are also getting mischievous and going through the fence at will. Grrr! 
Hens and ducks are thriving, the egg count is up and this week we got a green egg! I had forgotten we have a couple of the Americaunas out there. I will be glad when they are back out on pasture eating more greens and bugs. We were gifted 2 brooders, so this spring we will be buying peeps, I am leaning toward the Freedom Ranger breed (dual breed, meat + eggs).

The Girls--Louise is clicking along at a great production, and Party is due to calve this Spring, if anyone local is interested in becoming a farm share member send me an email or message me on Facebook! Farm Sahre members receive at least one dozen eggs a month, garden produce once a month (when in production) and first refusal at any other farm goods such as firewood, honey, etc. We may also offer manure and worm castings in the future. 

Garden-- the Master Gardener's class is a blast! After the first week I had so many plans and ideas down on paper I thought I was going  to bust with excitement. (Dave did not take the news of  all my ideas quite the same way.) We visited a worm farm and now we have two worm bins and are enjoying vermiculture! I have 5 more garden beds planned, a greenhouse, a gazebo, and an orchard to occupy the front yard--which has been planted. Modifying the soil and getting really serious about composting are the things that will take time and really show in a year or so. 

Work--I have been promoted to Facility Manager for one of our new locations (Kingwood)! I am looking forward to the challenge and I am thankful for the opportunity!

Weight--Today I hit the 25 lb mark--WOOHOO! I will just keep on doing what has worked for me so far: to try to eat only real food, limit carbs, eat real fats, exercise for tone, flexibility and strength, and portion control. I made a mistake when I posted about it last, I had actually only lost 17 lbs---tried to do the math in my head. Ugh. Anyway, the weight continues to come off and I am really excited about swim suit shopping this year! I hope any of you working on weight are encouraged to just keep it up and know you can do it!

So, now you know what's up with us! I hope all is well with you and yours, and I wish you a great week!