Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

Milk Container
One of the most important things you can do for your health is to keep up to date on food issues; specifically, know what is in your food or what is done to your food.  A great (if that is the right word) example  is the nanotechnology that has been unleashed in the food industry.  Nano particles are often put into our foods for purely cosmetic reasons.   According to this article in Mother Jones, nano particles of titanium dioxide are being put into things like yogurt, soy milk, and rice milk to make them look whiter.  Just because we have the science to make pretty doesn't mean we understand how our bodies will react to the changes.  The scariest part about these new additives is that they are not labeled.  Unfortunately, cooking from scratch doesn't keep you safe as some of these foods are basic ingredients for recipes.  Again, the most important thing is education.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Handy Guide for Cooks

I don't know about you, but I often have a hard time remembering how many cups are in a pint, how many quarts are in a gallon, etc.  Here's a great chart to keep in your kitchen:

Monday, May 26, 2014

No More War

As a Quaker, days like Memorial Day are difficult to process, what with all the jingoism and nationalism that tends to result.  We should not glorify war nor demonize those of other nationalities, races, or religions.  This morning Bill shared a Bible verse on facebook and I think it's an appropriate response:

They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

~Isaiah 2:4

Friday, May 23, 2014

Farm Friday

A quick post before I head out this morning.  Today is a delivery day, plus I have errands to run as Friday is my main day to run errands.  Since fuel is so precious, I try to get all of my errands done in conjunction with a delivery day plus all in one trip.

Earlier this week, I found this little fella burrowed in my basil starts:

This past week was another busy week with market day and a goat sale both falling on Saturday.  We had to load the goats early in the morning, prior to getting the produce organized to take to market.  Bill went off in one direction to the goat sale, I went in the other to the market.

We sold several of our goats because we're trying to get our herd size down in order to improve the health of the whole.  While technically our pastures are the right size for our herd, when you have bad winters, the experts prove wrong and the goats suffer.  Spring brings it's own challenges as this is the time goats are most likely to pick up deadly parasites.  I've put together a "goat health" chart so that we can monitor the parasite load and other health concerns in each individual.  We're also spreading out our goats between two pastures which should help improve their health after the long, tough winter.

Although Saturday was a "slow" day at the market, we noted that a slow moment at that market is a busy day at the market we went to last year.  This market is much more established and in a better location that gets foot traffic as well as drive ups.  Since I spent several years going to that market, mainly as a crafter but also as a produce vendor, I know many of the other vendors and have reconnected with past customers.

We had a bumper crop of radishes because Bill had extra seed leftover from last year that he sowed in an empty area.  They came in strong and were'e a popular item at the market, so I had to get creative.  I didn't think I liked radishes until I tried fresh-from-the-garden radishes.  So far I've made a modified version of this slaw recipe and also this pickled recipe.  Yesterday, I processed this radish green pesto and will try it tonight.  Two more plans for radishes are glazed radishes and roasted radishes.  Seasonal eating is an adventure!

I spent some time this week making my concoctions (i.e., window cleaner and all-purpose cleaner).  I also picked some plantain that I'm infusing in olive oil so I can make salve with it.  I've become addicted to herbal teas, both in the a.m. and p.m., so I'm looking into buying the basic ingredients to make my own.  For everything we can wild-craft, grow, or make for ourselves, the less money we have to spend - meaning the less money we need to make!  Not only is it better for our pocketbooks, it's better for our health and well being. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

When people discover that I'm a vegetarian who often aspires to veganism, they usually ask two questions.  The first one is:  Where do you get your protein?  Here's one possible response, although I usually just point out that there is protein in everything:

Actually, we don't have a protein deficiency in this country - we have an excess of protein in our diets.  Want to see a protein deficiency?  Go to a place like Haiti, where you see skeletal children with reddish hair and distended stomachs.  That's a protein deficiency; it's called kwashiorkor.

The other question is:  How do you get your calcium?  Here's a chart of vegetables, including several that are high in calcium:

Any questions?   Now go out and eat some leafy greens - along with some other great produce.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Morning Amazement

Watch what this cat does:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Quote for the Day

"I believe Gandhi is the only person who knew about real democracy - not democracy as the right to go and buy what you want, but democracy as the responsibility to be accountable to everyone around you.  Democracy begins with freedom from hunger, freedom from unemployment, freedom from fear, and freedom from hatred.  To me, those are the real freedoms on the basis of which good human societies are based."
~Vandana Shiva

Friday, May 16, 2014

Farm Friday

My chives are thriving
This week has been a great week for the farm.  We sold almost all of our produce at the farmers' market on Saturday and our customer base is growing.  Right now, baby lettuce mix and asparagus are our two best sellers.  

Yesterday, we resumed deliveries to Altavista, a town about 40 minutes north of us.  The owner of Vital Edge Nutritional Center graciously allows us to use her store as a drop point.  Last year we tried setting up a produce stand outside the store on Saturday afternoon but we didn't get many sales, so now we only do pre-orders.

For Mother's Day, I wanted to go to the grand opening of a new business in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, about an hour and a half from us.  The Honeysuckle Tea House offers a variety of teas, both hot and cold, kombucha from Asheville, handcrafted chocolate, gluten-free baked goods, and vegan soups.  For the grand opening, they gave a tour of their gardens and presented an elderberry bush to every mother. Now I just need to find a place for my new plant. 

I've been planting trays of herbs, along with a few flowers.  In one tray, I planted a variety of 4-packs and, since the basil was coming up so good, I decided to plant a whole flat of it.  I'll transplant it to one of my raised beds, plus I might sell some at the market.

We have a goose living in the pasture behind our house.  We're pretty sure she must have a nest somewhere out there and is furiously defending it.  We even saw her chasing a curious goat!

I've been pretty innovative this week.  My first light bulb moment came when we were trying to decide how to keep some of the baby lettuce mix chilled overnight.  The refrigerator in our basement was packed and our portable coolers are too small.  I came up with the idea of plugging in an empty chest freezer for a few minutes, putting some bags of ice that we had on hand in the bottom, turning it off, and then putting the bagged lettuce in baskets in the freezer.  It kept the lettuce at the perfect temperature overnight.

My second idea was to mix up a few batches of the dry ingredients for my version of Mark Bittman's no knead bread.  That way, when I want to mix up some dough the night before, all I need do is pour it into a bowl, mix in the appropriate amount of water, and cover it overnight.  That way it will be ready to go the next morning.  Here's a video explaining one way the bread is made:

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

Although I haven't seen the movie (nor will I be able to any time soon since it's not showing nearby), from the trailer it looks like this is a must-see for anyone concerned about the health crisis in the US:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Decisions Decisions

Since I recently resigned from my position directing the missions program for Danita's Children, I've been looking into nonprofit jobs in my "area" (area meaning within about an hour's drive from my home).  As I searched various job boards and websites, and also put the word out among friends and acquaintances, I had this feeling deep down inside that I wasn't doing the right thing.  So yesterday I made a decision that I shared with my husband.  As scary as it is, I'm going to put my job search on hold until January 2015 and instead focus on building our farm business and broadening my homesteading knowledge base, or what Wendy Jehanara Tremayne calls "mad skills."

It's scary because as one ages, especially a woman, it becomes increasingly difficult to find meaningful employment.  Also, the longer one goes without a "real" job, the harder it is to find one.  However, I also know that the work we're doing here is important, both farming using organically and living sustainably.  By making and doing more for yourself and within your community and only purchasing necessities (with small treats here and there), you have less need for outside employment.  

When January rolls around, after 2 1/2 years of full-time farming and homesteading, we will be in a better position to evaluate whether or not outside employment makes sense for me - or both of us.  In the meantime, I'm stepping back from most of my philanthropic work (paid and unpaid) and stepping up to sharpen my homesteading and family business skills.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all women who nurture others!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Week in Review

Since I spent yesterday running errands, making deliveries, and getting ready for today's farmers' market, I wasn't able to put up a "Farm Friday" post.  So here's a wrap up of some of what went on around the farm this past week:

*In keeping with our homesteading/sustainable living ethic, I replenished some of our homemade toiletries this week by making toothpaste, face wash, and face oil.  I also made a loaf of no-knead bread.

*I had to go to Greensboro for my annual thermascan (a radiation-free alternative to mammograms), I stopped by Earth Fare, a health food store, and stocked up on some bulk and organic ingredients that aren't available in our community.  I also bought some new teas to try.

*I'm continuing my "90 Things in 90 Days" decluttering project and gave away several boxes of books, mainly books our son left behind after he got married and also books from my husband's seminary classes.  I'm well ahead of my 90 things.

*We switched our mid-week delivery times/days around and I think it will work out well both for us and for our customers.

*Spring is definitely here, although it appears to be brief as temperatures are starting to soar.  I watched the goldfinches at the bird feeder one morning - love those birds!  The bumblebees are also back and it's always interesting to watch them as they establish and defend their territories.

*A bird decided to build a nest in my front door wreath (not the first time this has happened) but it appears it has realized that is not the best or safest place for eggs and so has abandoned it.

*We had another successful day at the farmers' market, selling out almost all of our produce.  Although it was a difficult decision to switch markets this year, we think it was the right choice.  As I was a regular vendor there several years ago, it is good to see old faces, as well as new ones.  

*One of our hens went broody last month and ended up hatching nine chicks.  Here's the mama and a few of the babies - aren't they cute?!
Photo: A few of the 9 new chicks one of our hens hatched yesterday.  Don't forget to come see us at the farmers' market this morning.
We have another hen that has decided to sit, as well, and I suggested to Bill that we take some of the eggs from our pure-breed Dominique flock (a heritage breed that almost became extinct) and put them under her to hatch.  We put her in the "brooder" coop last night so she can have some privacy and she took to the nest of eggs right away.  In about 20 days, we should have a new batch of chicks, helping to bring back this old breed.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

Although we treat it as a noun, health is a verb.  Health doesn't exist as a thing, rather as a reflection of lifestyle.  What we do, eat, drink, and breathe has consequences for our health.  We be proactive and do what we know supports our bodies or we can be passive and indulge in habits that cause harm.  

Nutrition / Trans Fat Panel
One important way to ensure healthful living is to read labels - and to know what those labels mean.  A good example is a prepackaged food I recently purchased:  dry roasted peanuts.  You would assume that this would be a pretty healthy snack.  However, I was surprised when I actually read the label one day when my husband and I were snacking on them.  I had naively thought that dry roasted peanuts would have two ingredients:  peanuts and salt - but I was wrong.  There were several other ingredients on the label and the one that really stood out for me was MSG.  I was stunned.  Needless to say, I won't be buying that particular brand anymore AND I am much more careful about reading labels - no assumptions anymore.

As you go about your day, keep in mind that health is not some static attribute - like having brown eyes - but is a fluid condition that you can influence through your lifestyle choices.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Taste of Tuesday

It has been a while since I shared a recipe, but now with asparagus coming in strong, I thought I'd share this new and easy way to use the harvest:
Asparagus Isolated On White Background
Pasta with Asparagus

1/2 pound penne, ziti, or similarly shaped pasta
5 garlic cloves, minced 
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2-3 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook pasta according to directions, drain, and set aside.  In a skillet, cook garlic, red pepper flakes, and hot pepper sauce in heated oil and butter for 2-3 minutes.  Add asparagus, salt, and pepper.  Saute until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 8 minutes.  Add Parmesan cheese and mix well.  Pour over hot pasta and toss to coat.  (Source:
Bon appetit!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday Morning Amusement

Happy Monday!  I can never resist a funny animal video - enjoy!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Quote for the Day

Sunrise Tree
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined."
~Henry David Thoreau

Quote for the Day

Walt Whitman: this is what You shall do.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Social Justice Saturday: Fair Trade

Below is an example (found on Elephant Journal) of why it is so important to support companies that pay a living wage.  While this shirt costs consumers $14 and gives the retailer over $8 in profit, the person who actually made the shirt was paid 12 cents.  This is even less than what the agent made.  While I often hear complaints about everything being made overseas, I rarely hear any thoughts on the workers who literally slave away to give us cheap products (because we demand them) and help large corporations make even more money.  Even doubling a worker's wages would make a significant impact on his or her life while having virtually no impact on the retailer's bottom line.  What person in the developed world would want to make a shirt and be paid 12 cents?


Friday, May 2, 2014

Farm Friday

Whew!  A crazy week.  And despite my best intentions, I neglected my blog.  Here's a few highlights from the week:

We had a successful open house on Saturday, with about 40 people attending.  It was a beautiful day.  We couldn't have asked for better weather, especially since the day was sandwiched between two bouts of bad weather.  

Visitors learned about our shiiitake mushrooms
A discussion on raised bed gardening was part of the program
Hay ride!

Squeaky waiting for his fans

We had to wean Squeaky this week since he's now 3 months old.  Kind of breaks your heart when you hear him calling - screaming, actually - and expecting his bottle.  

Tomorrow is opening day at the farmers' market so we've been busy all day, picking and washing produce, cutting herbs, baking granola, and doing all sorts of things to get ready.  

On a side note, I attending a meeting held by local organization for nonprofit professionals.  Now that I've resigned from my position with Danita's Children, I'm looking for something closer to home and was told that getting involved with this organization would help me make good connections.

Have a great weekend!