Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wellness Wednesday


I'm trying to get back into my regular blogging routine. Today I'm sharing a link to a Mother Earth Living article about the healing powers of culinary herbs. Herbs are usually easy to grow, make food taste great, and have many health benefits. Check out the article here.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Quote for the Day

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.” 
~Milan Kundera

Friday, July 24, 2015

Farm Friday - R.I.P. Ginny

It has been the saddest week on the farm. Yesterday we said goodbye to our dear sweet, loyal, brave, beautiful Lady Virginia "Ginny." She had been quite ill last fall but I was able to get her into remission after changing her diet and giving her a variety of herbal and homeopathic medications. Since she had been so ill, I knew each day with her was a gift. A few weeks back her health started to deteriorate again. This time around diet and other treatment didn't work.All the time she was ill, I treated her as I would want to be treated in a similar situation.Once I knew her quality of life was poor, it was time.  It was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make. We will miss this amazing girl.

Ginny as a puppy

Happy Ginny

Ginny developed a habit of getting a stick to remind us it was time to walk

Our cat Zelda loved Ginny (although the feeling wasn't mutual)

One of my favorite pics of Ginny
Lady Virginia "Ginny"
June 2003-July 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Morning Amusement

This old joke came to mind when I had to give our cat a couple of pills. Fortunately, I discovered "pill pockets," which made the process painless.
How to Give a Pill to a Cat
  1. Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
  2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
  3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.
  4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.
  5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.
  6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.
  7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered Doulton figurines from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
  8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.
  9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.
  10. Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.
  11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.
  12. Call fire department to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil-wrap.
  13. Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed, force cat's mouth open with small wrench. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of filet mignon. Hold head vertically and pour 1/2 litre of water down throat to wash pill down.
  14. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture store on way home to order new table.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Quote for the Day

"With every true friendship we build more firmly the foundation on which the peace of the whole world rests. Thought by thought and act by act, with every breath we build more firmly the kingdom of non-violence that is the true home of the spirit of humanity."
~Mohanda K. Gandhi

Friday, July 17, 2015

Farm Friday

Last weekend we went out of town to the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina, to speak at a session (our topic was "Peacemaking through Sustainable Living"), as well as to enjoy the event and see friends we only get to see once a year. This was our fifth year as attendees (we were there for the first one) and third as presenters. In the past, we were on a panel; this year we had our own hour long session.

Days after the Festival, I always continue thinking about people we heard and talked to. Some of attendees are friends we've made over the years and sometimes only see that one weekend each year. The theme for the weekend was peacemaking (hence the topic we spoke on) and many of the speakers and panels focused on racial and gender issues. Recent events made the Confederate flag central to many of the discussions. And of course the recent Supreme Court ruling was another current event that was on everyone's mind. Lots of progress being made and issues to ponder. 

We attended a session presented by a Mennonite group called PeaceMakers. It was a church service during which a blacksmith started turning a weapon into a farm tool (from a Bible verse that talks about turning swords into plowshares). The gun used in the service we attended was donated by a man whose father committed suicide with the gun. For another service, they used a gun from Nazi Germany. Those who wished were allowed to hammer on the weapon as it was being formed into the tool. The service also commemorated those who were senselessly killed in Charleston. Powerful stuff.

It's always good to get away to the Festival - both to have some down time and to see there is hope in this crazy world.

Meanwhile, we're back to homesteading and farming. 
Bread fresh from the oven

Processing squash

Making yogurt from scratch

Enjoying the garden bounty along with flowers from the garden
A few highlights from the week:

  • Participated in the grand opening of a new mid-week farmers' market.
  • Baked four loaves of bread - experimented with it a little bit this week
  • Made yogurt from scratch using a starter
  • Processed squash and zucchini to freeze for winter use
  • Made some new recipes - a cucumber salad, a vegetarian cabbage lasagna, staghorn sumac tea, and a squash/zucchini casserole (and I'll be trying more next week)
  • Harvested some millet seed heads and hung them to dry
  • Planning to makes some squash pickles and zucchini salsa
Have a great week!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Quote for the Day

"Our dilemma in agriculture now is that the industrial methods that have so spectacularly solved some of the problems of food production have been accompanied by ‘side effects’ so damaging as to threaten the survival of farming."
~Wendell Berry

Thursday, July 9, 2015


I'm taking a brief break from blogging but will be back next week.

Have a great week!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Morning Amazement

Listen and then read the story:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Quote for the Day

"Whatever a man trusts in, that he makes his God, whether it is gold or silver, or the honors and pleasures of this world; if he trusts in these things, he makes them his God."
~ Stephen Crisp

Friday, July 3, 2015

Farm Friday

At the market last Saturday
Where has the time gone? This week was more of a typical week - busy but nothing unusual. Here's another quick summary:

  • Squash and zucchini are coming in good.
  • Bill harvested the garlic.
  • We've seen the end of English peas (green peas), onions (we're keeping the rest for ourselves), and most of the greens.
  • Deer ate the tops of our tomato plants so that harvest will be delayed. As my daughter says about things, "It's the forever struggle."
  • We saved the potatoes from the Colorado potato beetles and we'll start harvesting them soon.
  • Sold copies of the cookbook at the market, to delivery customers,and online. I hope customers are happy with it! Next I'll be working on the Kindle version.
  • Our new organic skin salve ("Go Ahead...Bite Me") was a popular item.
  • This is our second week selling aerated worm tea plant food (made from worm castings) and we've sold a few bottles. Bill did research on "worm tea" and discovered that it needs to be aerated to feed the microbes that make it effective.
  • Our dog Ginny is having acid reflux problems again. I'm pureeing most of her food now and feeding her smaller meals. I've also broken down and am trying some of the over-the-counter medicines. I'll be picking up my Azure Standard order tomorrow and it includes a bottle of aloe juice that I'll mix in her food.
  • We have a speaking engagement we need to get ready for. I've drafted my portion and will work with Bill on the final. The topic is "Peacemaking through Sustainable Living."
Have a great week!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Cost of Institutional Education

Good published an interesting article highlighting the work of photographer Brittany M. Powell. Ms. Powell chose to photograph average Americans who are struggling with debt and to share their stories, putting faces with the statistics.

Reading through the article, I saw a common thread for most of the individuals who are struggling under the burden of debt - college. It seems that being a full-time college student puts you in more debt than you are able to pay with the job you get once you graduate.

I went to college and even grad school. But I wasn't the traditional student. For part of my college career, I worked full-time and attended school part time. Later, I stayed home to raise my children and took classes when I was able. I didn't get my undergraduate degree until I was 40. My diploma looks like any other graduate's diploma. You can't tell that I did it part time. The only difference, which you can't see, is that I did it debt free.

I was able to go to school and not incur any debt because I went on what I call the "pay as you go" plan. Unfortunately, there's a stigma to doing it this way. Those who have the privilege of going full time tend to look down on part-time students as "less than." It seems that the "best" way to do it is to live on campus, immerse yourself full-time in studies, and then party with your friends when you're not in class or working on assignments. 

This inferior attitude was reinforced by a professor I had at my community college. He said we shouldn't have community colleges as they aren't "real" colleges. As he said that, I sat in my desk stunned. It was an evening class and I looked around at my classmates. I was sure that every single one of them had worked hard all day and were tired. Yet they took the time (time they could be home with their families, engaging in hobbies, watching television, spending time with friends) to grab a quick dinner and drive to the college where they would spend three hours sitting in an uncomfortable desk chair so that they could better themselves. They weren't doing it because their parents said they had to and I doubt any of them were borrowing thousands of dollars for the privilege. (And what was the professor saying about himself since he had to teach at an "substandard" institution?)

As I hear about young people borrowing thousands of dollars in order to live up to our society's expectations, it makes me sad - and angry. While I value education, I feel that young people are being duped into believing they must borrow money and go to college, because anything else makes them less valuable as human beings.

While it would have been nice to have gotten my college education done in four years, as a young adult I knew I couldn't afford it. And fortunately for me the idea of borrowing money to go to school never occurred to me. I just knew if I was to realize my dream of getting a college degree that it would be a long road and that I would have to make personal sacrifices to do so. 

It seems that it is now the norm for high school students to be taken by the hand and led through the maze of financial "assistance" which typically boils down to them taking out loans that will crush them for many years after they graduate. Questions about how much debt they will ultimately incur or whether they will realistically be able to pay it off rarely come up. They're just told they need to go to college to get a good job and this is the way those who are not wealthy (or aren't eligible for a full scholarship) must do it. Even those who get full scholarships often end up in debt because they still need money on which to live for those four (or more) years.

Again, I'm not saying I don't value education - I do. If I didn't, I wouldn't have spent 22 years of my life seeking it. What I am saying is that we need to stop making part-time college students seem as if they and their experience is substandard. And maybe we need to actually encourage students to get their degrees on a part-time basis and eschew the whole student loan experience. In fact, I've come to believe that getting a college degree the way I did can actually make one value the degree and the experience more than someone who simply signs on the dotted line and heads off for full time college experience. It's certainly a whole lot easier on your pocketbook.