Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Thoughts--Donald

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
~ Galatians 5:22-23 ~

No, we are not Catholic, but I was greatly blessed by a very sweet, grandfatherly, toll-booth man during my last rotation. I always hated paying my tolls, not being accustomed to it from living in Ohio for so long. One day he commented on how much he liked my smile as I paid my toll. Politely, I thanked him and continued on my way. When he saw me again, he said, "There's that smile again! Don't ever lose that!" After a few days of this, I decided to ask him his name--from then on we were friends and took about 20 seconds each day (trying not to hold up our line too badly) chatting. One day when I left work early from not feeling well, he told me he'd be praying for me as he showed me his icon of Mary. As my rotation neared a close, I sadly mentioned that this was my last week. On the last day that he worked when I was passing through, he looked at me sadly and said, "Well, this is the last time I'm going to see you I guess. Here, take this (handing me the charm above)," pressing it into my hand and saying, "it's already been blessed."

Donald was a very sweet man and reminded me to slow down and enjoy life. Had I not taken the moment to ask him his name, I never would have made a friend or had that blessing in my life. Also, it completely changed my attitude about paying my tolls. Rather than sulking and whining about it, it became the highlight of my day.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Paige's Highlights

1. Cold Remedies. With all the sniffling and sneezing going on this year, and my increased exposure to all those germs, I've certainly been looking for as many ways to nip my sore throats and coughs in the bud. As practically all of these ailments are caused by viruses (for which we have little medicinal help other than making the symptoms less miserable), I am certainly open to alternative therapy choices. Here's an article from Mother Earth News on some herbal supplements in addition to the health-promoting efforts such as keeping hydrated and rested.

2. Less common nut choices. After some of my entries (here and here) on the nut wizard, Dan and I got to talking about other kinds of nuts. We remembered reading about eating acorns in Back to Basics, but when this article came out, I realized just how many nuts we aren't using.
Just two this week....hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! (And, no, I haven't forgotten about my promised entry on raw milk!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever
~ Psalm 107:1 ~

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

14Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Hebrews 12:14-15 (NIV)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Paige's Highlights

No post this week--it's been busy with my 12 hour, 850 mile trek to Ohio, starting a new rotation, surgeries, and c-sections. However, next week be ready--I'm going to have a blog on "Cow Share" programs and other ways to be able to provide healthy, home-raised meat and dairy products! I've done a bit of research into the concept and been in correspondence with a few people on it! Can't wait to have something to share! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Raging Against the Machine

Although I have been inundated with rock and heavy metal this most recent rotation (my preceptor is something of an aficionado--how's that for office music!), my recognition of songs really stops at whatever made it onto the Guitar Hero album. However, the title of this rock band has something to do with the semi-revolution going on in the feeding business. People are beginning to get tired of eating flavorless, unhealthy, factory produced foods and are instead moving back towards the way that our grandparent's did things. Granted, no one was a millionaire, but there was a simple richness that came out of an honest day's work and working with your own two hands. There's got to be a reason that "grandma's home-cooking" is still held up in a place of honored respect--even despite the fact that in these modern days we have the finest of chefs. A lot of this has got to be in the quality and simple goodness in the stuff Grandma was cooking with.

Hence the back-yard farming, poultry producing, egg, and occasionally meat movement of today. However, I'm seeing where we're having some problems with even that source. How can we assume to be self sufficient if we're still dependent on the feed store getting their shipments of grain in? Is there anyway to grow comparable, pesticide-free foodstuffs for our own animals without mortgaging the house to buy acres of land an an army of machinery? How is it that our grandparents fed their animals without the combines of today? As a side note, when was the last time you did a focused analysis of your food down to an exact percentage of protein vs. carbs vs. fats? Make sure you have a starch, a couple of fruits and veggies, a dairy, and a meat--and variety is king is more the diet mantra I've heard over the years....why not apply it to our chickens?

Well, I've been on a bit of a quest the past few days as to what exactly does a chicken need. (To be entirely honest right now, I'm not sure that you could feed a larger animal very practically this way unless you only had one or two animals and they were obtaining a LARGE portion of their foodstuffs from pasture. Hence the need to carefully select pasture-friendly livestock..but I digress.) Getting back to the chickens, every place that I've read raves about the wonders of pasture--but around that raving, the feeding of bagged grains still occurs, albeit at a much slower pace, but outside food source, nonetheless. I've been scouring the web for information on feeding chickens and figuring out what exactly they need. Basically, it boils down to:
  • Pasture--as much as they'll eat
  • Carbohydrates--in the form of starches and sugars
  • Proteins and fats
  • Miscellaneous minerals, vitamins, and calcium
From the guidance from The Modern Homestead, Grit, this informative database from the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, and random gleanings from the web (clearly presented information on just nutritional value of "common" feeds were surprisingly hard to find!), I've found a variety of "substitutes" for the more mainstream grain choices--which are likely to be the most labor-intensive portion of this whole project.

Pasture--no brainer. Let your chickens roam free, or put them in movable chicken tractors.

Proteins--a little vermiculture, like Harvey Ussery, left-overs kitchen scraps, excess eggs, or the whey after making cheese are all good, cheap sources. That free ranging also allows your birds to find insect pests in your yard--ridding yourself of the nuisance and cutting down on the feed bill simultaneously.

Fats and all the minerals and vitamins tend to take care of themselves when the birds are given a good diet of everything mentioned and free range.

The carbs is where there seems to be lacking information as to viable alternatives to the traditional--and labor-intensive!--corn, wheat, and oats. From what I can find, cowpeas (black-eye peas) are a wonderful, high protein substitute that is relatively easy to thresh. Mangel beets, pumpkins, squash, sunflower seeds, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and buckwheat are all also good options. I was unable to find clear information on all of those feed options, but here's a little document that I put together of a selection of plants that I knew I could grown and harvest relatively easily without too much hard labor--and that happened to have information somewhat readily available. Sweet potatoes, comfrey, bounty from trees, and mangel beets were hard to come by and I think that their use doesn't have very good information available.

As with everything, I'd say a well-balanced diet with a variety of feed will keep everyone happy. Personally, I'd get entirely disgusted tending half and acre of mangel beets alone to feed my chickens. Now, a sizable patch of mangel beets, and extra large bed of potatoes and sweet potatoes for me with the culls for the birds, a good stand of comfrey, some worm bins, a swath or two of blackeye peas, field peas, buckwheat, and sprouts--I'd be a happy camper. A lot of those are foods for me, too. Just feed extras to the birds. Then an area for the birds to pick clean, scratch through, turn my compost, and till a new section of garden. Now, that's what I call a symbiotic relationship.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Efficient Building

A listing of resources for DIY projects to make your home more self-sufficient from outside sources of heating, cooling, and power and/or ways to decrease your need of power at all!

Solar Power
Waste Management Options
Water, Water Everywhere
Heating Options
Wind Power
Other Energy Efficient Ideas

Keep checking back--I add to these "master lists" periodically as I find sites that I want to earmark for future use! :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Paige's Highlights

1. Meat Chickens. Over the years, I've heard negative things about the Cornish X chickens. Unrivaled for sheer meat production, but at the expense of flavor, ease of raising, and compatibility with mostly pastured husbandry, these aren't necessarily the best option for the homestead production. They require heavy grain inputs and are notoriously lazy compared to other heirloom breeds. However, this article from the Backyard Poultry Magazine talks about some hybrids from the 60s specifically with pasture raising in mind. Here they are from J.M. Hatchery who carries several varieties of the Colored Range/Freedom Ranger chickens.

2. Backyard Poultry Magazine. Another one of those magazines with considerable information presented on-line. A good resource for heritage breeds and homestead raising of all sorts of poultry.

3. Stevia. I have always been very anti-artificial sweeteners. Not only do they leave a funny after-taste and have been linked with random health complaints, they're expensive! For a while I had heard about stevia plants, but never really looked into them. From a sweetening perspective, they'd be a good substitute for sugar; however, I have yet to find information as to how they work in baking. I know that they almost certainly won't work for breads. The yeasts need the calories in regular sugar to work, and stevia's claim to fame is that it sweetens without these calories. A natural plant, easy to grow outdoors as an annual or over-wintered in a greenhouse or similar, it can be a short-lived perennial. The leaves are what has the sweet flavor, and these are easy to dry and crush into powder--yet another use for the solar dryer I want Dan to build me! Here's an article by Mother Earth News on Stevia and another growing and using the herb. And here's a site for recipes using Stevia. (They also have instructions for making your own stevia extract in the FAQ section.)

4. Plant Finder by Mother Earth News. As part of their article on stevia, Mother Earth News mentioned their plant and seed finder. Definitely a great resource for finding those elusive plants that have fallen by the wayside, but prove very useful for the homesteader. Comfrey, stevia, heirloom tree varieties all come to mind...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On the road again.... *sigh*

Ug, oh how I hate rotations. Once again, I'm about to begin yet another trek across country--by myself, living out of my suitcase for the next three months. I cannot express how much I dislike and loathe this year and all the time that it keeps from away from home and Dan. This will be yet another 3 month stint. I'll be in Ohio, Dan will be in Western NY for part of it (which isn't so bad), but for the entirety of the second half of that three months, he'll be back in Maine.

850 miles away.

I am not happy.

Looking back, I'm not 100% sure that I'd be going to UNE if this is exactly what I knew I was getting myself into. This is school, not an enlistment. And I'm paying a TON for this, not being paid. I just keep telling myself that it'll all be over in about 6 months and then we can choose to not ever ever ever do anything like this again.

Maybe I'll be changing my tune in about 7 months, when we arrive in KY and spend the next year in a travel trailer, paying off all these loans and getting ourselves debt-free....A little space might be nice. ;) Just kidding, haha. I love hanging out with my Dan!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies from Jody Dimit

These are something that always remind me of my old boss and "college mom," Jody Dimit. She made these on multiple occasions in the office and gave me her recipe. Mmmmm-mmm. :)

1/2 c. butter (softened)
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar (packed)
1 egg

1 1/4c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Hershey kisses (about 36) (removed from foil)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix together the first 5 ingredients. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in with the wet ingredients.
2. Roll the dough into small balls, about 3/4 of a teaspoon. They will spread out while baking! Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just beginning to brown.
3. Immediately upon removing from oven, place a kiss in the middle of each cookie and allow to cool. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Paige's Highlights

1. Apple Sauce in Baking. This article in Mother Earth News reminded me of baking with applesauce instead of oil. Growing up, we normally would only do this in a pinch, but as Dan and I work towards growing more of our own foods, making the switch would nearly cut buying all oil out of our diet (other than olive oil, which we both love). We'd likely be replacing what cooking oil we needed with our home-grown butter--which has more good vitamins and less cholesterol as it would be from nearly completely grass-fed dairy cows. Also, I had some other posts about the benefits of home-raised lard from pigs--and that's even BETTER for you than the butter. I love the options. :)

2. Whizbang Applesauce With all this replacement of oils for home-made, healthier applesauce, we'll need an efficient way of making it. Mr. Kimball has recently been trying some experiments on using his Whizbang Apple Grinder to make apple sauce as well. He chronicles his experiences on his blog, here. I've talked with him some and we've discussed using his apple cider-making apparatus to make other sauces, chutneys, and juices. Certainly meritous of some experimentation. (Those are his jars of applesauce.) Check out his blog--The Deliberate Agrarian!

3. The Dinner Garden. Know someone who's struggling feeding their family? This website offers free seeds and gardening advice to American families who would like to do something to improve their lot in life. I love this idea because it fosters a work-ethic and puts people back into control of their lives, their finances, and their food. A little self-sufficiency goes a long way.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
~ Chinese proverb

4. The Modern Homestead. Last week, I mentioned some interesting article by this writer about providing food for your flock yourself--again a matter of self-sufficiency. Let's just say that I took some more time to look around the site and I was very impressed and excited. Dan and I are hoping to have a well-planned, coordinated farm and home. Our gardens and livestock was one area that I knew could potentially prove to have some tedious and difficult jobs--manure clean-up, and composting turning. Those are both things that I HATED doing as a kid, as much as I knew it was good for my garden. Harvey and Ellen have some wonderful ideas for better living for their chickens and allowing them to do the heavy work of clearing land, killing weeds, turning compost, and encouraging their wintering plants to flourish--and the chickens LOVE doing it! I highly recommend their writings on chickens, gardening, and vermiculture. They are wonderfully integrated and I'm excited to incorporate a chicken area in our green house. (Our more "tropical" green house for peppers, tomatoes, and tender fruits will be attached to the house.) This will save us from the added expense of another building for the chickens and we will likely not need a water heater as it would be in the green house. Additionally, they will be close to the source of winter greens and worms, cutting down on work. The large animals will keep our worms well fed, our worms will keep our chickens well fed, and our chickens will do the work of keeping our garden and us well fed! Now, to figure out good manure management for the big animals. Hmmm...

5. GRIT. This is the sister publication from Mother Earth News. For a while there, I thought that this was a magazine that they kept promoting, so I paid it little attention and didn't investigate-I'm so sad I didn't until now! This is a great resource on the nitty gritty (note the pun, haha) of actually doing the farming. Mother Earth News is a good basic resource to get your feet wet, but this one is chock full of article on everything homestead, natural, organic, integrated farming, and has links to TONS of blogs. Definitely check it out! (The other thing I enjoy is that they focus on the doing and leave some of the politicking out. Sometimes I like a break from everything and just enjoy hearing about the living the good life part. :) )

Friday, November 6, 2009

Let there be light!

For quite some time, Dan and I have been making do with one light in our kitchen. The one over my sink was having issues for quite some time and required a "special touch" to get it to come on. And even when it did work, only half of the lights functioned. It did finally, however, bite the dust a while back and with the long days of summer, it just didn't get attended to. However, with winter coming quickly and dark arriving at about 5 p.m. I was finding it unacceptable to have half of my kitchen lit. In the end, we talked with our land-lord. He's going to reimburse us for the materials and Dan's labor to fix it.

Here's my dready, dark kitchen before Dan got ahold of it... Most of that lighting is actually coming from a light I moved in there temporarily so we could see to work. It was bad. :(

And after! SOOOO much nicer. The only bad part is that I can see the ugly minty green colored walls too well, haha. Oh well, I'll take it for some light! :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


This is one of my family's favorites, compliments of a lady we lived with when I was a kid--Hazel Grigg (I always thought she had the coolest name.) Dan loves this and drinks at least a batch or two himself during the fall.
Hazel Grigg's Wassail

1 gallon Apple Cider (Make your own!)
4 c. orange juice
3 1/2 c. pineapple juice (usually, I just put half a can in so it's even between two batches)
1 1/2 c. lemon juice
1 c. sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp. whole cloves.

Mix together all the ingredients in a large crock pot or stew pot on the stove. Simmer together. Serve hot or cold.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

A house is built by wisdom, and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.

Proverbs 24:3-4 (NLT)