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I am a Christian woman who loves her family and tries to live with a purpose. "I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Some Lessons Hurt

Today the grandchildren learned a hard and heartbreaking lesson.  Doing the normal outside chores, someone forgot to close the gate and one of the dogs got loose.  He ran right to the road and then we heard the bang.  In just that split second he was hit.  There was not any time to get him to the vet.  Grandchildren standing outside crying just as hard as they could.  Mommy and I got them in the house, while daddy and grandpa tended to Scooby.   We all talked and came to the conclusion Scooby was now in Heaven with Jesus and the baby goat we lost 2 days after she was born. 

Never knowing from day to day what life will bring we all have to face challenges.  Some may come with the loss of family or friends (including the 4 legged friends).  Some may come with illness or loss of a job.  But whatever the challenge you may face, please always remember you are never truly alone.  Though you may feel like you are, you aren't.  Jesus is always there just for the asking.

So today brought a hard lesson to young children who loved with all their hearts.  Maybe a reminder for all of us.  Even what may seem to be a very insignificant thing could have heartbreaking consequences. 

Have a safe and blessed day.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Life is Good

Today looks to be a beautiful day.  Animals are fed and its time to work on the plan for clearing a small piece of land to move nannies and their future kids.  It will be so nice to have goat milk again.  Some say its quite pungent and it can be.  The trick is to keep your bucks far from the does.  The closer the bucks the more pungent the milk. 

We also have to move the rabbits.  So, I know your thinking bunnies, awww adorable.  Not really, I don't care how adorable my dinner is.  Just as in gardening and wanting to know where the veggies I can come from, I want to know where the meat I eat comes from.  I know what it eats, how it was cared for and if they were given antibiotics or not.  So much is done to our food before we ever get it.  I firmly believe this is the reason we have so much more illness around us. 

So we'll have a day of rearranging the animals.  This may not sound like a lot of fun, but for me it is.  The real joy in working towards a self-sustaining life style, is progress.  The satisfying feeling when you've reached just one more level toward your goal and the peace of doing a good days work.

So many people are unemployed or under employed and wake each day without a sense of purpose.  Working towards a self-sustaining and or a self-sufficient life gives you that purpose.  Gives you a reason to get up and start the day with resolve.  People were never meant to sit around idly and do nothing.  Life may have dealt you a bad hand, so will you throw in the cards or reshuffle the deck for a new hand that's the choice you'll have to make.

Rabbits, goats, I live in the city.  All this sounds nice if you live in the country but I don't.  I can't do this.  Well maybe you can.  I've heard of some cities allowing goats as pets, as long as you name them.  Rabbits, yeah you can do that as well.  You know they breed like bunnies, hahaha.  How about chickens?  Some cities will allow you to have up to 5 hens (no roosters).  They really are very easy to care for and if you clean the coop on a regular basis there isn't an odor problem.  There are easy to build instructions for coops online or you can buy one already built.

So that's it for today.  Take 5 minutes and improve your lot.
Waking up every morning is a gift from GOD, so why waste it with negativity?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

How the Times have changed

As summer is coming to a close in just a few weeks, I often think how quickly the seasons seem to be passing.  For many Fall is a depressing time.  The end of the summer blooms, the shortening of the days and in many places cooler and wetter weather.  To me I find the coming of Fall to be one of my most favorite times of the year.  The beautiful colors in the changing of the leaves. A gentle breeze with just a slight chill in the air, while sitting on the patio in the early evening with a small fire in the pit and my favorite cup of tea.  The festivals celebrating the harvests of the year.  These truly are the things that make life good.

But summer isn't over yet and there is much left to do before it does end.  Putting in the fall garden is at the top of the list.  Root plants, squashes, spinach, lettuce, and many other good veggies.  I think of this time as finishing gathering fruits and veggies for the long winter to come.  It is truly a good feeling to know the pantry will be filled and long lines at the grocery stores are now a thing of the past.

We are also looking to expand the goat pen and anticipating the newest members of our flock.  They'll be joining us around the beginning of November.  It is always fun when the kids arrive but much to do before the blessed event.

Being self-sufficient means a long list of chores that seems to never end.  Our family has many hands to help and we are truly grateful for that.  My husband has health issues which stops him from doing a lot of the repairs and chores.  We are one of the many families now living with multiple generations in the same house.  Some think it shouldn't be that way but not living together is a fairly new occurrence. 

Up until WWII, generations did so to help share the workload and for lack of money in many cases.  Farmers who were as self-sufficient as any, had large families to keep the farm running.  WWII changed that with the returning of Veterans and the housing boom that came along with the VA Loan Program.  This was the beginning of the end in being self-sufficient.  Returning GI's moved to the suburbs and the birth of the nuclear family began.  No more working the family farm, the GI Bill now had people who would not have ever thought of college before going.  Thus began the idea that everyone had to go to college.  Realizing not everyone was meant for college, trade schools were a welcome opportunity for returning GI's to find work off the farm.  The nation prospered but was losing the character which had built this land.  Continuing into the 1950's, what was once vast farm land was now suburbs for the sprawling metropolises.  Fresh picked fruits and veggies were now in cans for convenience sake and meat in markets not smokehouses.

Something else also changed the character of the country, prayer.  Prayer was no longer allowed in schools.  What brought people across the mighty oceans (religious freedom) was in fact now being taken away.  Many are unfamiliar with this piece of history, but Congress commissioned the first Bible to be printed in the newly formed country called the United States.  The dedication was so school children could learn from it.  How far have we moved from that idea.

So back to being self-sufficient.  Due to a number of decisions over the years to relinquish liberties in the name of safety and security, we find ourselves with an inordinate amount of regulations constricting the ability to remain self-sufficient.  One example is bartering, it is considered a taxable income.  Not being able to give extra food from your garden to soup kitchens is another.  Fortunately folks are beginning to realize, old ways are not always antiquated in new times.  Meaning to get through the financial difficulties many find themselves in now, we have to become more self-sustaining and self-sufficient.

Friday, August 23, 2013

HWY 70E  WILLISTON NC  252-729-1842
Now when it comes to canning you may find you aren't able to have all the variety you're wanting.  So it may become necessary to purchase the additional fruits and vegetables.  Knowing where your food comes from helps to eliminate concerns.  Going back to the basics is easy and it helps with the family budget.  Now getting started you will find some extra expenses for jars, lids, jar lifter, canner (which can be any large pot, but make sure you put extra rings on the bottom so the jars don't make direct contact with the bottom of the pot) and a few odds and ends.  You can slowly build a supply of jars by adding a case or three each year to those you already have.  Some of the items you may find at yard sales and flea markets but I find it better to start out slow and build your supplies.  I have to warn you though, canning can become additive.  I have peaches and plums to can today and I'm already thinking of what to can after I've finished. 
Many of the people I know are now wanting to eliminate toxins and chemicals from their foods.  When you think about all the pesticides and growth hormones that are sprayed on fruit trees and vegetables and don't forget our livestock is eating grasses and grains that may have been sprayed.  Speaking of meat, the antibiotics they give the animals are actually causing resistant bacterial strains, that are affecting all of us.  Feeding your family from your own garden, a local nursery or farmers market can become less expensive and much safer in the long run.
There are so many ways to cut the family budget.  I haven't bought laundry detergent in years.  I make my own in one of those 5 gallon paint buckets.  This time you will need the lid to go on it.  The recipe is really easy.  All you need is;
1)   5 gallon bucket with lid
2)   one grater
3)   a long stirring spoon
4)   pot
5)   1 bar of Fels Naptha soap  (can be found in some grocery stores and local hardware stores)
6)   1/2 cup of Borax
7)   1 cup of Washing Soda  (not to be confused with baking soda)
8)   1 cup of vinegar
9)   water
10)  an old clean laundry bottle
11)  essential oil (optional)
In a pot grate the bar of Fels Naptha soap, add 4 cups of hot water.  Stir on low to med heat until soap is dissolved.  Pour into a 5 gallon bucket that is half full with hot tap water.  Add Borax, Washing Soda and Vinegar and stir until all the powder is dissolved.  Fill the rest of the way with hot water  and stir in essential oil if you like (I don't).  Let sit overnight.  In the morning stir well ( it becomes a gel) until it is a liquid form again.  Fill an old clean detergent bottle half full of soap mix and add water from the tap to finish filling the bottle.  Shake each time you use.  Use in a top loading machine 5/8 of a cup and in a front loading machine 1/4 cup.  You will have to stir the 5 gallon bucket each time you refill your laundry bottle.  It gets easier each time.
I also use a cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener.  It is a natural fabric softener and doesn't leave a scent.  There are recipes for fabric softeners, I have never used them.
Doing and making things for yourself always gives a great sense of accomplishment.  I remember days not feeling so well and coming home from work only to find we had run out of .... and had to go back out to the grocery store.  Now with planning and being more self sufficient those days are farther and fewer between.  With the start of school and the cold and flu season rapidly approaching there isn't a better feeling than knowing I don't have to be in the stores with people who maybe ill.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Facing Challenges

Since the beginning of our country, we have faced challenging times. Our families through the generations have found ways to overcome these challenges. We hope to look backward in order to move forward. Meaning, with unemployment and under-employment where it is now, many families are trying to balance the family budget with needs. We hope to look to our history in order to simplify our future.
One of the challenges many families are facing right now, is how to feed everyone a good and healthy meal. As parents we are always wanting to give our kids the best nutrition we can. But with limited income that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Prices in our local grocery stores are a lot of the time price prohibiting. So, what do we do? Hot dogs, that’s it, hot dogs. Oh yum, nitrates on a bun. Frozen boxed pizza; I don’t know if it still an ingredient because honestly I haven’t had frozen pizza in many many years, but glue was once an ingredient. I’d rather give the kids Elmer’s for school, not dinner.
So, what do we do? Garden, wait listen, I haven’t lost my mind. Yeah yeah I hear you, I live in the city or even worse an apartment. I can’t do that. Yeah, you really can. If you don’t have a lot of room in a yard or you live in an apartment you can still garden. Garden in containers. You heard me right, it doesn’t have to be a fancy container. I’m thinking the plainer the better. Try using a 5 gallon paint bucket. You can get them at most big box stores and local hardware stores. Then let the kids paint the outside of the container. Two reasons for letting the kids get involved. The more involved they are, the more ownership they have. The more ownership they have, the more they are likely to eat the food you’re going to grow. Make sure to drill drainage holes in the bucket. Good drainage, means good roots, means health and fruitful plants. I have personally grown, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in buckets. All you need is sunlight, water and good soil. Let us not forget lettuce. Ok not a good pun but lettuce can be grown in flower boxes. For those in an apartment a window with good sunlight and table works, if you don’t have even a small balcony. You can also use hanging baskets. Instead of an ivy plant try strawberries. Think how much the kids or even you would like to pick fresh strawberries for breakfast or even a snack for school or work.
Think upward; all gardens don’t have to be in the ground with straight rows, (if you want that it’s ok.) Go to yard sales and flea markets and think outside the box. Did you see that old ladder, you know the one you wouldn’t let your cat stand on. It’s only a dollar. I know you’re thinking that’s dollar wasted. As one of my favorite comedians would say, Oh nay nay. The ladder is now a tower for climbing plants such as pole beans. Fresh green beans that sounds good and don’t worry if you have more than you can eat. You can always freeze the extra, but I like to can. There is nothing better than eating food you grew yourself in the dead of winter.
Let me give you another reason for growing your own food. How many times have you gone to the grocery store only to come home and listen to the nightly news and hear of another food recall. I love knowing where my food came from and what was used on it. In my case I don’t use pesticides. My husband has some health issues and because of the medications he’s on I really want to know where our food comes from. I guess it really hit home when I was listening to the news and heard what some thought was the funniest thing they had ever heard, but it scared me. A field of watermelons blew up. Yeah I said blew up. The watermelons were over sprayed with growth hormones. Growth Hormones are not only for professional ball players it seems. They spray it on produce and feed it to our livestock.  Which means it is in the veggies, fruits, meat and yes milk our families eat and drink.  A few years ago I was talking to a doctor. I told him I had a conversation with another doctor about growth hormones being used in our food. I had said I thought the hormones remained in the food after it had been harvested or slaughtered. She had disagreed. But he didn’t. He told me he had been practicing medicine for many years. When he started young girls started their menstrual cycles around age 12. Now he was seeing young girls as early as 8 and 9 years old starting their cycles. Something’s changing he said and the use of growth hormones was at the top of his list.
Having said all that, I’ll conclude with this. Our grandparents and great grandparents fed large families with very little money. For them like many now, there wasn’t the opportunity for overtime. Money was used as sparingly as possible. Everything they ate, they grew. They harvested and preserved the food. Saved seeds from the food they harvested to plant in the future. Looking to the past can and will help us now and in the future. Should you decide to leave the local grocery store for your own yard, please remember to find seeds that have not been genetically modified. After your first harvest you can gather the seeds so you can continue gardening over and over.