A Year to be Thankful

The past year has been the most whirlwind, the most inspirational and the most difficult year I have experienced. There have been so, so many blessings and quite a few heartbreaks, but we have made it through, and it sure feels good on this other side! My online presence has been severely lacking. Even though I have had so much to say, it kept seeming to me that I had to work it all out in my head and understand my experiences for myself before I went spouting about them online. Everything I *thought* I knew has mostly been thrown out the window, and I now approach life (especially as a mother and a farmer) almost through the eyes of a child–a humble beginner.

And so in the spirit of the upcoming New Year, I resolve to return to my presence online where I hope to relate some of what has gone on around here (the good and the bad).

But in the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving, I leave you here with a list of all of the things we have been thankful for over the past year.

kisses from my boy
brussels sprouts
home grown chicken dinners
high speed internet
childrens peaceful sleeping faces
strawberries freshly picked still warm from the sun
baby bunnies
cozy warm beds
a barn full of hay
a large home garden
shelves full of canned goods
a husband who is always willing to wear his farmers hat
3 family meals each day
Jared’s new office with a heated floor
5 freezers full of nourishing food
owning property free and clear
owning our farm officially!
new fencing
soft, slippery mohair
baby animals
our cozy wood stove
calla lillies
a remodeled playroom
our trusty little car
the Carlton house sale
fresh cheese curds
Community Plate
raw milk
2 happy cows
Jerry Ripp
reclaimed wood floors
my knitting
farm tours
feeding Corey and Armen
food from other farmers
bead board
new babies
buckets full of blueberries
our trusty tractor
Thanksgiving dinner
family and friends

Sunday June 19 and Monday June 20, 2011

Busy, busy lots to do.  I’m trying to write every day, but it can be so hard because of all the projects I have going on.  I was determined to get some projects done this “summer.”  Well, the spring has really only started, and tomorrow is the first day of summer.  Of course, it is also the solstice, which means that though it will be the longest day of the year, it also marks the six month decent into darkness and rain… and less light and ambition to get some work done around the farm.  All in all, we haven’t even been at this property for a year, and the improvements are wonderful, so who am I to complain?

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I decided to tear apart the playroom and see what I could do for some restoration.  Behind the horrible 1970’s paneling, I discovered some beautiful wood plank boards.  The ceiling, the walls and the floor were all this beautiful wood.  I know what I want to do with the room now, but it involves getting the ceiling done first.  I had to remove 4 layers of wallpaper from the whole ceiling, which was a nightmare.  It involved steaming and boiling water and scraping paper off the walls at 4 am while the kids were asleep.  I was glad when that was done.  Next came sanding, and that was just as bad.  I like to sand, but not really up over my head.  It took about 5 hours to sand the ceiling,  But boy was it worth it.  That ceiling looked amazing sanded down and loved.

Enter milk paint.  I’ve known about milk paint for a while, but I’ve recently fallen in love with it.  I have plenty of milk around, and plenty of lime.  It is so easy to make.  It is also non-toxic, so when the kids want to help paint and they all but roll in it, there is no harm.  In fact, they could eat the stuff and be just fine.  It is also the most durable paint in the history of man, yep, really.  I hear that if you want to change the color of something painted with milk paint that you actually have to sand the top layer of the wood off.  Luckily, I went to Europe and studied art and painting and pigments, so making my own colored paint wasn’t so hard on me.  The first coat of the ceiling is red.  Oh man, is it a beautiful red.  I almost swoon every time I walk into the room.  And though I am going to paint over the red with something less dramatic in the future, I am enjoying the red for now.  In fact, I might just clean up the room and let it become a playroom for another few weeks while I admire the best paint job anyone has done anywhere.  It is THAT good, I mean it.

I had made a gallon and a half of milk paint for the ceiling.  I didn’t want to run out in the middle and have the color change on my slightly.  Well, it was way too much paint.  As I was contemplating what to do with it, i.e. where to dump it, it occurred to me that the red chicken coop in the barn could use another paint job.  And so, off the kids and I went to work on yet another project.  Painting the chicken coop was so far down my to do list that it hadn’t even made it on the list yet, but I must say that it makes our place look pretty darn spiffy.  It is a nice, dark, deep, rich red.  I like it.  I do have to coat it with a sealant, but I won’t mind looking at that color for the next 40 years of my life.

Today, Monday, I headed over to Julie’s house to eat breakfast out, just for fun.  MMMMMM, poached eggs and scones.  We then headed to check out the nitty gritty details of another friend’s new house that she just moved into.  it was built in 1920, and it is cute.  I love looking at old houses.

We then went on a hunt for a place to pick strawberries that did not spray fungicide this year.  The berries we picked first this season were sprayed.  The berries are so porous that the chemical can’t be washed off, and the berries actually taste like chemicals to me.  I picked another 30 pounds of berries for the freezer.  I think I’ll be done in two more picks this year.  Lots of work, but we will have lots of berries.

I was feeling overwhelmed with all that I had to do when I got home to make dinner tonight.  I then checked my email and saw that we are well on our way to turn the farm’s lease into an actual purchase.  In fact, a little bird says we may get to sign the paperwork this week.  This put it in perspective for me.  This truly is our little spot of Heaven, right here.  I’m so happy and honored to live here that I could burst with wonderful joy.

One of Those Days

It’s been one of those days.  You know, one of the, fire won’t start, rabbit scratches, flooded barn, raining like mad, slip in the chicken manure, wet pants, screaming children kind of days.  And, somehow, yet I have managed to make it through.  The chores got done, the house is slowly limping along getting warmer and there is a nice big pot of soup I like to call “Leftovers from the Fridge Soup.”  We are all alive, and though we are slightly grumpy and a little wet, we’ve managed to make it through.  I like to think that I’ve taken this slump a little more graciously than at other times.

The water level in the barn creeped up another inch while I was out doing chores, but at least this time the hay is sitting on a pallet, so though it is annoying, it’s not the end of everything.

I’m told this endless winter will morph into Spring this next week with sun and temperatures in the mid 60s  oh… and no rain predicted!

Until then, I’m going to sit by the fire, do puzzles and enjoy the wonderfulness that is my offspring.

Sometimes it Takes Cookies

Sometimes, I am in the place to blog and write a lot and other times I am not.  I must admit that it has been a big struggle for me over this past winter to share my projects and my reflections here or anywhere.  So much has happened and so much has changed that in many cases, I don’t even know where I stand on certain topics.

When we moved, we left a house vacant behind us.  Despite the fact that we didn’t live there, we still had to pay the mortgage on the place, and as of this month, it is has been on the market for 10 months.  It has been a long journey, but it’s been VERY stressful.  Jared and I have had many conversations about our position on the house and what to do.  Luckily, we’ve had an offer on the house, and it looks like it will close this week!

Additionally, though we have a pretty clear understanding where our projects are headed, things don’t always go as desired, ESPECIALLY during an unexpectedly long winter.  The winter has dragged on and on and with it the problems have perpetuated.  It has been hard for me at times to accept and assimilate where things went wrong, and it’s not always to share because it often shows my own beginner oversights, not something I’m proud of.  Though I have been around farming and livestock my entire life, that doesn’t mean that I know everything or even anything, nope, not by a long shot.  Ask my sister, she gets several phone calls a day with requests for advice.

And so, today, in the height of frustration about our vacant house, a pile of laundry, dishes approaching sky high, a rabbit that abandoned her kits, a goat that got loose and screaming kids, I gave in and decided to make cookies.  The kids and I got out the ingredients, and let me tell you, it worked like magic.  Everyone seemed to get happy again, and right as I was devouring a nice warm plate with my fresh, raw milk, I got a phone call that the house was in fact going to close this week.  Perhaps the happiness that comes with just giving in and baking cookies with the kids can counteract anything bad.  Somehow, I didn’t even mind the typical blustery spring weather.  We combated the wind and rain by building a nice warm fire in the wood stove and devouring cookies.

Of course, I’m hoping that things get easier and my desire to communicate to the world at large increases.  Maybe I won’t have to carry so much on my mind.  Until then, I’ll be eating cookies and trying to enjoy the company of my two little people and my farm.

The Long Winter

We’ve started on a lot of new projects since we moved in October.  October is the time of year when the last vestiges of the warmth from the summer fades into fall.  The breezes are cool, the nights are cold, the rain starts to fall and winter is near.

I usually don’t mind the winter so much.  Snow is fun, rain is tolerable, and the grey skies usually entertain me.  I tend not to do too much complaining about what winter has to bring.  Try as I might, I have not been able to refrain this year from wondering why the bloody hell is winter dragging on so long?!?

In the past, I have been really good about posting on my blogs.  In fact, I have been continually blogging since 2004.  This winter has driven me to thought and contemplation and little about sharing.  We have been through SO much this winter.  First of all, we moved, which is a crazy thing in and of itself.  Immediately after moving, we had work to do on the house.  For the first two weeks we lived in our new house, we had contractors coming and going non stop.  The doors were left open and the dirt on the floor was plentiful.  We even made a giant mess outside because we had to dig a new well.  With all of that over, we started to realize that to keep the livestock in, we were going to need to do some work outside.  I went to work repairing the barn and we had to get some fencing put up.  It all started to come together, certainly, but it was exhausting work.

Jared and I recently watched an old Kary Grant movie called “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.”  It was a great movie about this couple that moves to an old farmhouse but there are SO many problems with the house.  Living in an older house definitely has it’s quirks for sure.  Jared and I have taken them all in stride, often with a laugh.  Our hot water heater doesn’t have enough water for two showers in a 3 hour period or one of them will be cold.  Many of our outlets are not grounded and are only two prong plugs.  The water pressure in the shower is somewhat like trying to take a shower in a light drizzle.  We even have a very mysterious problem where the light bulbs blow out within a months time.  We have been through about 8 boxes of bulbs since moving!  Many little things like that and learning how to heat a house with a wood stove have definitely kept us on our toes all winter.

Then, there are the problems with the livestock.  When it rains, it POURS!  No need to get into gory or sad details here, but suffice it to say, I’ve had my FAIR share of bad luck.  I could go for another 5 years with no bad luck and still have gotten more than my fair share.  Unfortunately, I think that bad luck is really just my own stupidity.  Call it learning or bad luck or what have you but it’s been downright sad around here.  We’ve lost lambs, goat kids, kits, etc.  Each time I tell myself that it is going to get better, but the problems keep persisting.  It all came to a head when I headed outside to discover one of my adult goats had dropped dead with no explanation.  She was not ill the day before, in fact, she was my fattest, happiest, healthiest goat.  I was shocked and devastated.  But, the truth is that these things happen and what is done is done and the only thing I can do is work to improve everything that I can right now to reduce any more bad luck.

Then, suddenly on Thursday, the sun was shining and it was like a MIRACLE had happened.  The farm was a completely different place.  That one sixty degree day did a lot to restore my spirit.  I got out and groomed my Angora goats and trimmed their feet.  I even got them washed down.  They had recently been shorn and they had come with a bad case of lice.  I was actually able to wash the lice away and treat them to prevent any more.  They went from looking like sorry overwintered goats covered in mud to gracious, beautiful animals that are going to give me a beautiful fleece come September!

I got to do a whole bunch of other work as well.  I cleaned all the muck out of the barn and put it in the garden that I am about to plant.  I even picked up all the loose straw and hay all over the barn floor and took it out with some rock and some scrap fleece to reduce the mud in the goat pen.  And what do you know.  Not only is the goat pen free of mud now but the green grass is actually starting to grow and they look like happy goats.  I even put another nice layer of straw down in the shed for them so they are living in luxury!

I even got to head on over to the bee hive to check out what was going on.  The bees were very busy.  We’ve got two flowering plum trees in full bloom right now and they are working away collecting nectar.  I can only imagine what the apple trees are going to give to us this year with the bees buzzing around the orchard helping them out.

Things are definitely starting to look up around here.  I was convinced that if I wanted to be a farmer that I would be slogging around in the mud and the cold and the lice.  It turns out that that is the case only half the time.  The other half of the time it’s sunny and warm and the kids run around naked blowing bubbles followed around by jumping and leaping goat kids.  Dare I say that spring as sprung?

And That’s Life

If nothing else, farming has taught me better how to accept the ups and downs of life.  Farming, especially with livestock has so many surprises, good and bad.  It is so nice to ride a high and enjoy all the wonderful things that can come from this life, but there are also some hard times.

I’d love to stamp my feet and scream and roll around on the ground and make a general big fuss of things when something doesn’t go my way.  That would be so mature, wouldn’t it?  It seems to work for my kids, but since I tell them all the time that they need to grow up and learn to deal with the blows in life, I too have to grow up, toughen up, learn from my mistakes and march forward.

But that can be SO hard sometimes.  Here’s today’s example.

I noticed a few weeks ago, that my calendar was saying that the lambing window was starting soon.  This went right along with me noticing that two of the ewes in particular were starting to really bag up.  Looks like we could have another round of babies here on the farm.

For the past week, I have expected to walk out every morning to some lambs from my moorit ewe, but alas, nothing was happening.  This morning after doing chores and finding no babies, I sat down and looked at the dates again and found that she wasn’t supposed to lamb until Thursday, so I decided to leave her be and stop worrying.

Of course, that meant that she was going to lamb immediately.  I walked out this afternoon to do chores and she had just dropped the second lamb.  The first was laying in the straw not cleaned off at all, and I was suspicious.  The second the second lamb was out mama bolted off and clearly was going to have nothing to do with them.

I rushed over to discover that lamb #1 had been neglected and was not alive anymore but I had walked in at just the right moment to save #2.  I got the slime off it’s nose, tickled it, held it upside down and got it’s airway clear.  I then rushed it into the house, got an old towel and started to work on it very vigorously.  He (yes, a ram) immediately started right up!  Hooray.

I managed to get him dried off and I took him back to mama.  She’s a first timer, and she wanted nothing to do with him.  She was not interested in him at all.  I decided to take him in again and get him warmed up before trying to nurse again.  As soon as he was standing up trying, I took him out to nurse, but he was much smaller than the other lamb, and he was needing some help.  Mama who was not interested in being a mama wanted to eat her alfalfa, and she didn’t really want to take care of the lamb.

I decided to milk the colostrum out for now and bottle feed it to make sure he gets some then see if he perks up to nurse.  This seems to be doing the trick.

Now, the fact that I saved him is good news, and I am so exciting to have lambs around for me and the kids to enjoy.  I’m incredibly bummed that I lost a lamb though.  I set up my breeding program to get a variety of different colored lambs, but I was MOST wanting a black ewe to use as foundation breeding stock for the future.  I bought a really nice ram with a fantastic fleece this year.  He had some black in his background, and I was hoping that my girls would give me some black.

BUT, of course, my very first BLACK EWE had to be the one that I lost.  I am beyond bummed about this.  This makes me feel like I want to dance around stomping my feet and complaining about the rough hand of cards that I’ve been dealt, but I’m trying very hard to act like an adult here.  These things happen in farming, that’s just life, and no matter how big of a fit I throw, it isn’t going to change the fact that I lost her and she’s gone, and the only way to move on is to focus on the future and the other four ewes that are going to throw me some very lovely lambs very soon.

The bright side is that I now have a little black ram dubbed Snuffles downstairs in a laundry basket calling for my attention.  He’s here and he’s got the will to live, and I think I’m just going to bury the bad and run with the good I’ve been dealt today.

When Enough is Enough

Let me just state that the very worst time or year to get seriously into farming is the dead of winter.  We’ve been working toward having a working farm operation for the past several years.  When all the things started to align for us to move and make it happen, we were excited.  As the Farmer, I was intensely interested in many different projects, and I made the decision that I was going to start many projects off and see which ones we liked, which ones pay, etc.

It turns out that farming isn’t easy, and keeping livestock happy through winter is challenging, especially when I’m also trying to be a wife and a mother.  I started to feel like all areas of my life were suffering.  My small kids don’t like to be outside in uncomfortable weather, but that’s when the livestock need me the most.  The end result is that I leave the kids inside while I rush out to do my chores.  The chores ALWAYS takes longer than I plan because when I do make it out into the weather, I make absolutely sure that I do everything I need to do before returning back to the warm retreat of the house.  This usually results in dinner being late, my husband being hungry and a very grumpy household.  Everyone usually gets sorted out and sent off to bed while I head out to do yet more chores.

I immensely enjoy every part of my life.  I love my kids, I love my husband and I love my livestock, but this past week when the sheep got sheared and they were naked and looking a little thin, I started to think that maybe it was time to cut back.

Today, I got to chat with my very helpful, very knowledgeable and very supportive sister.  We talked about the tough questions, like what farming I like to do, what is too hard and what will pay the bills.  I realized that I really do like all the projects we have going on.  Milking cows and goats is my dream job.  I love being a dairy maid providing milk to local families and having a wide range of dairy products in my own home (milk, cream, butter, cheese, etc.).  The sheep, rabbits and the goats provide quality fiber to a known fiber junkie.  The excess fiber can be sold, and each of these animals can be harvested at market weight for the freezer.  That leaves me with the market animals we have going on, pigs and chickens.  Both of these projects are challenging, but they are the most worthwhile.

It then dawned on me that it’s not what I have going now that is the problem, it’s the ideas I have coming up around the future.  It takes TIME and ENERGY and MONEY to grow and expand.  Having property is like taking care of another entity, it is a living entity that grows and needs care and attention.  It is NOT something that can happen overnight or even over the course of a year.

It sounds like that to be successful I need to slow down, take a step back and enjoy what I’m working on now.  Even though it would be fun to start 10 more bee hives this winter or milk 6 more cows, it is expensive, and it takes a lot of time, work and energy.  Perhaps the smart thing would be to enjoy the projects we have going, get really good at them and then look at slowly expanding into new projects as the years roll on.  After all, I plan to live and farm this bit of land for the rest of my life.  If I work on and finish all the projects this year, what on earth am I going to work on for the rest of my time here?

I’m working on putting together a “master plan” for now and for the future so we know where we are going and how to get there.  However, I think the most important thing is that I take one day at a time and enjoy the sweet beauty that comes from working with the land and animals to create our Cast Iron Farm.

Free The Animals!

Life is never dull, that is for sure!

They started developing the road and the properties that are adjacent to our house.  This has resulted in a lot more people coming around our property.

One morning, I went out to milk, and I was startled when three fat pigs jumped out at my in the dark!  They weren’t in their pen.  I was baffled how it happened because both the gates were closed to the pig pen and there were no holes or breaks in or under the fence.  I put them in and chalked it up to weirdness.

Two days later, the pigs were out.  Jared and I managed to get them in and then they ran out the other gate.  Somehow, the back gate to the pen was open!  Jared and I were even more baffled.  Neither of us had opened the gate.  The kids can’t reach and there is no possible way the pigs could get up and pull up the latch that opens the gate to swing out.  I tried jiggling and shaking it and there is no way the pigs could have gotten it open.

Fast forward to the end of the week, and this has happened a total of four times.

My only conclusion at this point is that someone is coming up onto our property and opening the gates to our animals and “setting them free.”

It’s an interesting prank to be sure, maybe even funny once or twice,  Pigs cause a lot of trouble when they are loose, especially when they are reaching the 200 pound mark.  They got in and ate 50 dollars worth of chicken feed, they tore up the hay, etc.

I finally broke down and came to the conclusion that I need to file a police report and I went and spent a pretty penny on padlocks for all our gates and animal pens, but come on, REALLY!?!?

Life and Death

When people come out to the farm, it looks like so much fun.  Usually the sun is shining and all the animals are at their charming best.  I love to show people around and enjoy our beautiful farm.  Lots of people have that as the idea of what farming is like.  They don’t consider having to get up before the sun and go out to milk the cow in 16 degree weather.  Or having to go out and move several tons of hay to keep it from getting wet.  Or the devastation of when the pigs get out and find something to eat that they should not.  And especially, illness or the death of an animal is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind, even if the death is a purposeful harvest.

This past week, I had a 6 month old goat kid get injured to the point that it looked like he was not going to recover.  I made the hard decision that we were going to butcher him here on the farm.  The backlash that I got from this decision was quite surprising.  Almost everyone that heard about it had a shocked reaction as though I was doing something inhumane, vile and disgusting.  It surprises me over and over again that people react in this way.

I did the correct thing.  The goat was not going to recover, we put it down and we made use of the animal.  I do no like to waste life.  To me, that is the highest form of respect that I could give to an animal that is giving it’s life for me and my family.

This just shows the lack of connection that exists between the general population and their food.  Meat comes wrapped up in nice little packages at the grocery store.  Most people don’t even know that the meat was a living breathing animal.  Nor do they realize what part of the animal what they are buying comes from, much less which animal.

I assure you that an animal killed and processed on my property is killed as humanely and with as much respect as can be given.  I can also assure you that that is not the case in the big-time packing plants.  The meat we eat comes from animals that were once living and have given their lives to nourish us.

Death is an inevitable part of life for all of us.  As livestock farmers, death visits more frequently than some of us would like, but I for one spend a great deal of time ensuring that life is not wasted.

Grocery Store Ban

January starts a new year, and since it falls in the dead of winter, it gives me an awful lot of time to think about how I can challenge myself to grow.  I make it a point every year to sit down and find a way to come up with something special and exciting that I can do to improve myself or my world.  I think it is human nature for us to like the idea of a new year being a new start, a chance to right all our wrongs and move on in a better light.

This year, I was led in an unexpected direction.  I decided that I no longer want to depend on the grocery store for my source of food.  Yes, I could just decide to “only go to the store when I absolutely need it” but that is just the kind of wording that would have me a month later saying that of course the chocolate I so desperately want qualifies as necessary.

I decided that we were going to try banning visits to the grocery store for the month of January.  This also means no bakery, no Saturday market, no eating out, no outside food provisions allowed at all, period (ok, except for the CSA from our local organic vegetable farmers).

I considered the idea impossible and crazy until I really started to look at it and think about it, and it suddenly seemed to be an interesting and exciting challenge.  The effects have been very interesting and very positive so far.

Money- Our grocery food budget is one of the largest items in our family budget.  As a family of four, there is nothing wrong with that, but what if we could find a way to eat well and reduce our food costs at the same time.

Time- I usually go to the grocery store two times a week, that’s eight times a month.  Since I’m the primary care taker for our two children, that means I would have to bring the kids with me.  We’d have to buckle and unbuckle two kids from the car, fight over who goes where in the shopping cart, explain why we are not buying candy, stop the baby from stepping on the food, etc.  All of this is gone.  The time I used to spend fighting to shop, buy and bag our food is now time I’m spending doing a fun activity with the kids.

Eating down the pantry- I make a LOT of food from scratch, which means that we have a pretty considerable dry food storage.  In many cases, we have 25-50 pounds of different grains, beans etc.  These are the raw foods that start almost every meal.  A little bit goes a long way, and as I was looking at these foods, I was realizing that we could and should eat through our current stores  so that they can be replaced with the fresh beans and grains of the upcoming year.

Our freezer was full to the brim, even overflowing at the beginning of January.  There was home-grown chicken, rabbit, beef and venison (shot on our property).  I used to try to “save” the meat for a special time and it would never get eaten.  Now, we’ve been eating down our stores so that we can fill our freezer again with the upcoming animal harvests.

I also spent a considerable amount of time canning fruits and vegetables during the fall harvest.  The truth is that we have been happily eating like kings from the stores that we have.

Some people care a lot about buying organic, locally grown ingredients for their pantries.  I’ve realized that it is just a natural part of my life.  I’d venture to say that about 90% of the foods we are eating have been harvested within a 20 mile radius of my house.  Even more so, 80% of that food was either raised or picked and processed by the kids an I.

I must also say that having a cow in milk is also very helpful.  We are rolling in milk, cream, butter, cheese, whey, etc.  There is nothing like a bit of raw dairy product to add richness to a meal.

Being creative in the kitchen- This project has led me in some interesting directions in the kitchen.  Since I am not able to bring in new provisions, this has required me to make some thing I would never consider making.  I wanted to get around to using some of the miso we had in the fridge.  I started craving miso soup, but we didn’t have any tofu.  Rather that decide to try to make something else or do without, I got out my organic soybeans and my computer and I learned how to make tofu.  You know what, I am so proud of myself for doing it too.  That’s just the kind of growing I’ve been talking about.  I will never buy tofu again.

Being thankful- The month is quickly drawing to a close, it sounds like it has been easy.  Well, there have been some drawbacks.  I ran out of coca powder on about day 2, and well, you can imagine the torture that has been.  Jared is graciously living without raisins and we’ve got no honey in the house for my tea.  I also ran out of butter at some point and had to figure out how to live without until I could get the cream together to make more.  I do have a list of provisions that we need to stock up on eventually.

I’m learning to navigate around the little bumps along the way and to do without in some cases.  During the times that I find I am really missing something, I just consider myself lucky.  We live in country where we have what we need at our fingertips, and there is assistance if we are unfortunate enough to not be able to pay.  There are so many people in this world that do no have the same access to the beautiful foods that I get to cook and experience every day, and I’m just so darned thankful, that I think I just might make it the rest of the month without coca powder.

I hope that this little experiment makes me a better chef, mother, farmer and homesteader.  I’m more determined to produce more of the food products that our family needs.  I’m also resolved to buy the products that I can’t make myself from another farmer like me who cares, who has a relationship with their plants and animals and who puts my health over making a profit.  Win-Win-WIN!