Category Archives: Sarah’s Farm Adventures

How we’re doing & how we’re doing it…

Disclaimer: I am not (in any way) a medical professional. Please seek out your own medical advice – this is simply sharing our own experience.  

Whew.  It’s been a weird sort of year. A roller coaster and pretty wild at times. Moments of fright, too. Yup, a roller coaster.

God made it abundantly clear we were to NOT do any expansion or real active homestead projects. We were pretty certain by April.  I pulled back from going to Haiti, too.

How We're Doing

I was diagnosed with Hypermobility Syndrome in December, which is a connective tissue disorder. Many people with this have it congenitally due to a gene mutation and I have gobs of reasons to believe this is the case for me. This disorder is not arthritis OR inflammation-based; it’s a mechanical issue with my muscular-skeletal system. Now, the mechanical issues might cause inflammation and makes me predisposed to arthritic pain, but inflammation and arthritis didn’t come first.  It’s important that I explain this FIRST, before I go into what we’re doing on our own because when people hear chronic pain their first response is to assume it must be inflammation or autoimmune in the real-food/natural community.  Treating those issues is just bandaiding it… not actually helping me get better. Long-term, I will manage it by avoiding injury, not holding hypermobile positions/movements, and attempting to strengthen ligaments and tendons (which is trickier than we thought when my muscles are so used to the job of compensating for them!).

My dear, rock-solid, healthy husband in the midst of my chronic pain was diagnosed with acute Lyme disease.  We are so thankful to have had a quick-thinking doctor — even though it didn’t present itself as typical Lyme disease after a tick-bite, he made a lot of good calls very early that I am certain saved my mate from unnecessary pain.  BUT. Long-term antibiotic use is no small thing.  The medical community is becoming aware that this destroys your gut flora, therefore making the rest of your immune system susceptible to other infections.  Basically, treating him for acute Lyme disease is going to crash his immune system.  He had to make the decision to not go to Haiti, either.

Now.  Aren’t we glad we didn’t throw chickens into this and intensive gardening/farming? Haha.

And of course, in the midst of that, there’s financial dilemmas, relational angst, ministry obligations … and then our oldest daughter fell and got a pretty serious concussion.  I’m looking back on these six months, thinking… it hasn’t been a whole year of 2017, yet?!

SO. Aside from getting medical advice, and being under the care of various doctors and physical therapists… here’s where we landed on this:

1.) LET’S TAKE CARE OF OUR GUT.

We are pleased to have a primary care doctor prescribe my husband a probiotic. (We would’ve done it anyway, but it was a treat to have a doctor come out on the side of gut flora!) In looking at our diet, we’ve been slacking. I suppose by many standards it’s still relatively healthy- not much prepackaged items, low GMOs, low processed sugar. But it’s still very high in carbs and low on vegetables. There’s virtually no fermented foods in our diet any longer (I used to make yogurt like it was going out of style!). Aside from probiotics, our research said you’ve got to fix these things, too, in order to recover from long-term antibiotic use.   This is the probiotic we’ve been taking here.

I found that I really love kefir more than yogurt- it’s sooo lazy. Aside from the temperature control at the beginning, you just let it sit on your counter and grow. Once it’s fermented, you refrigerate. When we want to drink it, I dump some homemade jam in it, shake it, and call it a win. No straining whey or trying to make it the “right” consistency of yogurt.

If you on to do your probiotic hunt, please read this post by fellow blogger Mommypotamus. Probiotics are not created equally, and not all strains can withstand the heat of your stomach. So if you’re not careful, you could buy into a system that never actually makes it to your intestines. Please do your research and make sure your strain stood up to testing!

We have decided to take a multifaceted approach by taking probiotics (via capsule) but also increasing naturally fermented items (yogurt and kefir… we’re not big sauerkraut fans!)… the way we see it is you’re giving yourself a wide variety of bacteria versus just one source. I read once that not every person needs every bacterium. I have no idea if this is true, and the information out there can be overwhelming… so our way of handling this issue is variety.

2.) TAKE CARE OF YOUR JOINTS.

This, too, is trickier than we thought.  The information out there is overwhelming.  However, since I am apt to cause inflammation/arthritis in my joints (and surrounding areas), and Lyme disease may cause long-term issues with my husband’s joints, we knew we needed to really amp this up.

First up… I am SUCH  a huge believer in gelatin/collagen.  My hair and nails grow CRAZY better when I ingest it (powder form, in my coffee) daily.  But guess what this girlfriend stopped doing over the last 6-9 months? YUP. I just stopped buying it. I’m not really sure it was an active decision, probably more laziness than anything. (Just bein’ real.) I can’t seem to find any medical trials or tests on this, but hypermobility (in its congenital form) is a genetic mutation/malformation of collagen… so doesn’t it make sense that consuming it regularly would help? My body would say YES. This is the collagen I’ve been consuming.

We have started taking glucosamine like clockwork.  One of the issues with Lyme disease is the potential (later) of knee arthritis, and glucosamine is known for treating this specific arthritis.  We’re trying to get ahead of the curve, y’all!  For me, glucosamine should assist with cartilage building. Because my joints are not held together in the right way, I can tell you FIRST HAND that I’m messing the cartilage up big time. This should help.
This is the glucosamine we’ve been taking here.

The last big thing we’re doing for our joints and pain level is actually in the next point…

3.) TAKE CARE OF OVERALL HEALTH WITH MAGNESIUM.

Anyone that’s done a little bit of reading knows that magnesium will help you sleep better and also assist with digestion consistency ;-)  However, did you know that it’s estimated much of America is magnesium deficient, it helps in a BIG way with chronic pain, and it even helps your body properly process carbohydrates? I read it several times over, but it was probably Danelle and Weed ‘Em and Reap (blog) who pointed first to magnesium when diagnosing chronic back pain (check out the great post here).

Last little tidbit that I have to point out is that it’s even related to proper insulin balance. (Huge news for me as PCOS sufferer!) I don’t want to necessarily oversell magnesium, but when you research what all this mineral does for you, it’s incredible all the organ systems it touches; consequently, it’s not hard to see a deficiency in this area would make you feel like you were dying. No joke.

So, we’re doing leafy greens to up our natural consumption, and I am in the midst of recipe testing breakfast cookies that include loads of inflammation-busting foods as well as magnesium. But I am also taking a supplement (in conjunction with vitamin D – but not at the same time as calcium – read why here by Food Renegade).  I have also begun regular magnesium baths (epsom salts!) with essential oils known for helping with nerve pain and inflammation (I pinch nerves like it’s going out of style). This (link here) is the capsule I’ve been taking for magnesium.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST:

Where I am I buying this stuff? I am an amazon affiliate, so the links above for specific items will link you back according to the specific items I’m using via amazon.  I don’t recommend anything I haven’t personally used.  I make a tiny commission off of any purchases made above.

ALTHOUGH – I have GOT to point out Thrive Market.  I am an affiliate there, too – but often, their prices beat out amazon (no kidding, do a little cross-comparing!) – but I do not get any payouts unless you are satisfied with your free trial and become a member.  And I don’t make any money on your purchases, so it’s really not a huge deal here.  If you sign up, you get 15% off your first order, and it’s free for 30 days.  My membership costs paid itself back in less than two orders.  I live in a very rural area, so I do not have regular access to many health food stores so online ordering is IT for me… although I’ve heard that even if you did live in a metropolitan area with access to a variety of sources, Thrive Market would still beat them out.  You can sign up with this link! —> http://thrv.me/foodiesgonereal

BY ALL MEANS I am a thrifty person FIRST so go where it best suits you!

SOURCES: (but not limited to!)

6 Probiotic Myths Everyone Should Know (Mommypotamus): https://www.mommypotamus.com/probiotic-myths/

Glucosamine Supplement (WebMD): http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/supplement-guide-glucosamine

Magnesium Deficiency (Wikipedia): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnesium_deficiency_(medicine)

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms (Food Renegade): http://www.foodrenegade.com/magnesium-deficieny-symptoms/

Magnesium in Diet (Medline): https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002423.htm

Natural Relief for Back Discomfort (Weed ‘Em and Reap): https://www.weedemandreap.com/natural-relief-back-discomfort/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$. 

 

 

Christmas on the Homesteadish

Christmas on the homestead. Ish.

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Am I allowed to call what we do a homestead?  I’m not sure.  Right now I don’t feel like we’re doing anything active.  And what defines a homestead anyway?  Alas, I digress.

I attempted a cleaned-up version of fudge today.  It was ok.  Honestly, we all will enjoy it, and my fellow real-foodies will, too, but for those not accustomed to coconut oil and its flavor… it’ll overwhelm.  I’ll still gift it as planned… but more likely to people who are used to that kind of thing.  I’m going to keep trying this week.  Next up is a maple walnut and a chocolate peppermint.  I have hope. ;-)

There are no presents under the Christmas tree.  20161220_064213

Fear not, I haven’t turned into a grinch… I just can’t put them there for keeping because my fierce protector Izzie thinks they are toys.  She actually got ahold of one present, completely ripped off the wrapping paper, and buried it in her blankets in her crate.  She’s a smart cookie.

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Needless to say, the tree feels naked and my room doesn’t feel complete.  It’s probably the biggest reason I’m excited… my girls have no idea how much they’re going to have their socks knocked off.

Not that it’s all about presents.  I mean, we all know that.  But y’all, I have no guilt or shame in saying I love giving gifts.  Gift-giving is my love language.  This is my season.  This is my TIME. I wish I could afford or excuse constant shopping for others, but since I can’t, this is it.  I’m going to go big or go home.

We have more surprises in store for them than just presents.  But that’s another post for another time….

We are thinking forward.  We’ve got a bulk of the supplies necessary for doing our own maple syrup.  The little corner of our garage is gathering speed this last month. We did dabble in it last year, but this year we have the pans, the stove… the real deal.  There’s a part of me that feels a little in the twilight zone when we get stuff together like this.  I can’t believe that we’re actually DOING this.  Doing this crazy DIY, make your own/know your food thing.

Which of course brings us to the other burning question… chickens.  No, butchering my own chickens and processing them did not scare me off from doing this again. The bigger concerns are improvements to our current system, the cost of those improvements… and just that the right cash is there when we need it for the annual costs.  I reaaaalllly want to do layers, but that’s even more complicated.  The landscape of our property is tricky and we’re near a major road (while the speed limit is 55, I’m certain most are going 60-70 mph).  I want them to free range, I need to be able to get to them in the winter. I’d like electricity out there for the negative temp days and keeping the waterer thawed.

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But the other underlying issue with the chickens is that a large part of these projects are MINE.  We’re still in process with diagnosis and how to fix my medical predicament.  And as we weigh what types of lifestyle changes we may have to make in the next year, will we have the upfront costs available? And depending on the treatment and how long it takes me to find a new normal, will I have the time and energy to manage them? I am so vehemently against randomly taking on animals without counting the cost.  I am not going to take them on and then find out I can’t care for them and have to give them away. Or sell them. Or whatever.  I firmly believe God gave us a huge and humbling responsibility when He asked us to care for creation, and not being wise and responsible without having the intent to care for them well is a sin. (#sorrynotsorry  … lack of stewardship is a problem. Knowing the right thing to do and not doing it is just as much a problem as knowing the wrong thing to do and doing it regardless.) (Another parantheses… just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with knowing when it’s time to rehome an animal.  Sometimes, that’s just as wise and responsible.  But taking them on willy-nilly is not cool.  We’ve been here before, and lots of lessons learned.)

So as it pains me – no really, it does – I am aware there is a strong possibility I may not being doing any chickens this year.  I cannot take care of all of these things and my family if I’m not taking care of me.  Think of that airplane mask thing… put the mask first on yourself.  And that’s for good reason – you can’t care for others if you’re starving for oxygen.  And mama can’t care for chickens and cook dinner and love her children the way they deserve if she’s so pained she can’t move.

These are my Christmas thoughts… because Christmas is going to come steam-rolling in and we’ll be in the new year and thinking and praying and deciding these kinds of heavy things. (By the way, pray for us, ok? We need loads of wisdom!)

It’s like a blank canvas. Christmas speaks hope and joy. A time when God does something new.  It’s appropriate that it falls during our darkest literal days, and right before we begin a new calendar year.

God’s got something new.

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(P.S. – obviously taken before the onslaught of snow :) )

 

Hard Stuff & Freedom

This year was HARD.

We raised meat chickens (butchered them ourselves). Settled into a home. Fundraised and WENT to Haiti for a week. Struggled with high drama in several relationships.  Oh, and at work, I consistently put in 50-60 hours. Per week. For months.

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So yeah…. hard.

Call it disease, call it stress… it almost doesn’t matter… my body has been on a slow decline for the last year. We’re in the process of figuring out a plan on how to deal with these medical issues, but for now… I’ve had to slow down. Which again… is hard. (Did you read the list of hard stuff? No room for slowin’ down there.)

I went gluten-free to deal with one issue, and in some ways – along with medical intervention – that one specific issue has improved.  But it didn’t eliminate any migraines or any other ailments.  In fact… it all just continued slowly to get worse.

I’m going to be honest, it’s incredibly frustrating.  As someone who doesn’t even let soy come into her home, as someone who has sanitized GMOs from her family’s diet… I feel a wee bit cheated.  I feel like I did the right thing by our diets, and I’ve had new issues creep up instead.

I didn’t want to come here and write about all the success I’ve had in the kitchen.  Well, because I HAVEN’T. Aside from my enthusiasm and proselytizing about healthy food being reduced, I positively didn’t have the energy. My kids have eaten so many sandwiches it’s ridiculous.  I gave up making bread.  I just COULDN’T anymore.  My body didn’t have it in me.  It’s a struggle to muster up the energy to do anything but the bare minimum… and I’m talking also about cleaning toilets and washing clothes. And this isn’t even touching on writing.

I felt as if I couldn’t come here and talk about these things because a) it wasn’t food related and part of the whole “eat-better” message I’ve been so intent on and b) it wasn’t encouraging.  One of my biggest gripes about social internet presence is those that use it just to complain and garner pity. This wasn’t going to be what the blog was about.  So, instead… I just chose not to write.

I miss it, though.  I miss putting all my thoughts together into one space. Woven into all my past posts was my heart.  Things I was enjoying.  Things I was doing.  The problem of course is that I just wasn’t cooking as much in the last several months (almost a year) and I didn’t know how to relate my writing to the mission of encouraging those around me to eat well.

So, this blog is going to change.  I’m not going to delete it and undo anything.  But I feel it needs to be relabeled, and to include a mission and title that’s more about me, my heart, and not so specific on food.  (Don’t worry, as much as the energy level has decreased, I still LOVE to eat!! So food’s still up there.)  I also have other things beating in my heart… I often end up writing tiny blurbs on my personal facebook page, but I think it makes more sense to combine this all in a blog.  And Foodies Gone Real doesn’t necessarily fit.

I want to do what God’s called me to do well.  I have never doubted He’s called me to write encouragement.  Things will change because I want freedom – freedom to write as God calls, and not just bound up on what type of diet encouragement.

And don’t we all want freedom?

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Summer Lovin’

Why I love summer:

Praise THE LORD school’s almost out.  I know there are lots of people that are anxious (or flat-out don’t like) summer vacation because they have to occupy their kids… or so they think… I’m a proponent of teaching them to self-occupy, but that’s another blog post for another day!  I miss my girl SO MUCH when she’s gone.  Her sister does, too.

That, and it means NO MORE PACKING LUNCHES.  I really hate doing it.  But I hate what they serve in the cafeteria more (and how much it costs!) so packing it is.  That, and I feel that I can convince her to eat well and a more diversified plate if she’s home.  She’s my texture-aversion kid, and for those of you who don’t know, part of getting them to conquer this anxiety is consistency, lots of affirmation, lots of experimenting… in other words, impossible to do for that middle meal for a whole 9 months. I have to give her whatever she’ll eat that whole time. I have to save up the work of coping with the fear for the evening meal, which can make for some stressful times. In other words… I would like to have another meal or time of day to deal with this! Looking forward to it!

The other thing I’m greatly looking forward to – my schedule permitting (I hate that I have to say that!) – is strawberry picking.  I’m looking for jelly/jam/preserve recipes for which I don’t have to use white sugar, and my hope is between strawberry and blueberry season I can manage to put up enough for a year! (And believe it or not, I think it can be done between the two seasons!)

His Mercies - Foodies Gone Real

If you follow on instagram, you might have seen our chickens were moved to the tractor up in the orchard.  (For the record, this agriculture/homesteading venture is joint with family… so if you ever think this stuff seems so huge for one family to bite off, you’re RIGHT! We all have certain responsibilities, and most of us work another job… which is why we’re doing it together).  I think my unofficial job title is the animal husband-er.  I’m raising the chickens, and have plans for layers… and have my hopes on a pig, goat, sheep, dairy cow…. and the list goes on.

I’m ready “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver and I A-D-O-R-E it.  All locavores, or real foodies, or homesteaders should be required to read it.  Her chapter on her daughter’s chickens was spot on.  I agree with her, when she says she’s so glad that baby poultry don’t stay looking like this:

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They would be impossible to cull! Instead, they turn into moody teenagers, then into brutes that attack each other.  I am so humbled and thankful I get this experience of knowing where my food comes from.  These chickens are getting an incredible life (compared to the chickens raised commercially) and maybe it’ll all just be in my head, but I just KNOW the experience of eating them will be hands-down better.

Also on instagram, I excitedly presented some of my early carrot seedlings.  Gardening I can do, (no black thumb) but I’m still cautious and learning ALOT.  My mother-in-law’s thumb is so effortlessly green I think she just has to wave it around dirt and things magically sprout!  Needless to say, my little carrot seedlings I am so proud of!  Carrots take a long time to germinate, and you have to direct sow (no transplanting), which in my humble opinion, gives lots of room for things to go wrong.  At least when you start seeds indoors, you can pick which ones get transplanted, and get them established before you let the bunnies and deer anywhere near them.

I’m desperately trying to raise green beans again – which I LOVED growing last year, but the bunnies are killing me, here.  My mother-in-law has the right idea on her property: they installed a fabulous hoop house.  Duly noted, duly noted. I’m not sure my beans are going to make it unless I figure out a way to fence it all in.

Green Beans Introduced to Bacon - Foodies Gone Real

(Two years ago green beans!)

On top of raising our own food, we do buy into a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture). (We don’t yet produce enough to be entirely self-reliant.) Basically, a farmer sells shares of his/her produce.  I bought a share, so every week I get 1 share’s worth of vegetables, and a little bit of fruit.  This is worth EVERY penny.  Aside from the locavore aspect – supporting a farmer in the community – this was the BEST way I learned to try new foods, and it felt risk-free since I already paid for the share.  It almost feels free. (It’s not, but it feels that way because you go to pick up your food every week and don’t leave any money behind!) My first “found” veggie – that I just had NO idea what it was, or what it tasted like – was garlic scapes.  I wrote up an explanation and recipe on it two years ago here.  I CAN HARDLY WAIT FOR MY SCAPES!

Bag of scapes!

I hope what you hear here is EXCITEMENT.  Anticipation.  Never in my whole life did I enjoy summer until we started our homesteading venture.  This land explodes new life, new life which God allowed me to participate in growing.  The farmer plants the seeds, but God makes them grow.

To return.

I’m back. I’m back in the kitchen, recovered from life, and ready to take this kitchen head-on.

Agrarian - Foodies Gone Real

It was a hard year.  And not that the hardness is over, but I’m moving forward again.  I was pretty stuck.  Financially, emotionally, spiritually. Hardly exercised, barely meal-planned, struggled to spend quiet times in the morning with my God. As with all things, there are lots of components to being stuck in a pit.  And while those things that put me there are still kinda hanging around, God’s gently raised my chin to Him and said, “Enough. I can get you out of this, but staring at the floor of the pit and complaining will do nothing to ease this up.”

I managed to keep the facebook page going in all of this – even if just for myself to remind myself that this was still here.  This thing I was called to was still here.  God didn’t tell me to stop, I just got tired.

I miss cooking.  I cooked a ginormous meal of homemade Korean dumplings with Einkorn Flour (courtesy of the new cookbook from Jovial … it’s really the best).  I cooked the entire thing from scratch. Took me nearly two hours. It was cathartic.  I felt at home again. I need to cook, need to create.

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So here I come.  I’m sick of this pit.  January – a fresh start reminded me of how much I was sick of sitting like this.  February, the second month, the second chance is here and I mean business. God’s got this.

 

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