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No Kin to Me August 29, 2008

Posted by Laura in Uncategorized.

“Mama, can we turn up the fire?”


“We’re freezing!” exclaim the children huddling in front of the pilot light on the propane logs.

“No!  It’s August!  The thermostat is set on 79, I’m cooking dinner, and I’m 7 months pregnant!  You canNOT turn up the fire!  Go do some work!”

These same children pile blankets on themselves while they do their schoolwork and I sweat profusely.  Apparently, my side of the family left no mark on them.


Eating Well: Some Background August 28, 2008

Posted by Laura in Uncategorized.

Some of the strongest evidence supporting the idea that it is modern processed food that is causing our health problems was presented by Weston Price, DDS.  He became interested in the link between diet and dental health back in the early 1900’s.  He spent time living with many tribes and groups of people who still existed entirely on traditional diets of local foods.  What he found astounded him.  No matter the cultural heritage, the environment, the amount of saturated animal fat they consumed, or even number of calories eaten, they were extremely healthy.  Despite the fact that many had absolutely no dental care or even toothbrushes, they rarely had any dental health issues.  He found they had excellent bone structure and almost no cancer or other serious illnesses to speak of either.  The women easily birthed healthy babies and fertility among them was quite high.

The really telling part of his research though, came when he tracked their health on a “modern diet.”  Occasionally, some group members would take jobs outside their homeland or move to “civilization” for some reason.  The change in the members’ health when they adopted a modern diet of processed foods, high in trans fats and sugars, was drastic.  They began to exhibit atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, cancer and all the other health problems so common today.  Their health only improved again if they returned to a traditional diet and swore off commercialized “food.”

I think that is fascinating and so telling.  The traditional diets of the various groups were quite diverse.  The Eskimos existed almost entirely on raw food from the ocean.  Some African tribesmen drank up to 7 quarts of fermented raw milk a day.   Some peoples ate huge amounts of red meat and animal fat.  And so on and so on.  The unifying factor in all their diverse diets though, was the absence of processed food.

To me, that begs the question of why we get got away from food that actually tasted good and kept us healthy and adopted the processed foods that make us sick.  Why indeed?

Eating Well August 27, 2008

Posted by Laura in Faith, Family, Farm.

Over the past year, I have become really curious about the topics of nutrition and traditional foods. I have read countless books addressing those topics and have learned some really fascinating things about modern-day food and health myths and the wisdom our ancestors had that has been discarded.

I’ve long suspected that God in His infinite wisdom created an Earth that had everything we could need if we had cared for it and used good sense in appreciating and using it. Being self-important humans though, we have considered ourselves to be so bright that we could “improve” on what He gave us through our own ingenuity and not worry about the consequences of our fiddling. This reveals itself in lots of controversial moral issues, but right now I am just talking about food.

But how complicated could that get, right? Food is just food. Well, not anymore.

A hundred years ago, our great-grandparents likely had a lot fewer choices about what to eat, but better overall health- fewer allergies, diabetes, unexplained chronic illnesses, and the like. Today the offerings in the typical grocery store number in the thousands, but most would be quite foreign to Grandma. Snack cakes with Kreme filling? Aluminum foil pouches filled with colored corn syrup? “Complete meals in a box” with an unpronounceable ingredient list woefully short on actual meat and vegetables? And this is an improvement?!

With increased commercialization of our food supply comes lots more processing. Each step seems to remove more nutrients and add more chemistry. God made our bodies with the ability to produce natural enzymes to digest the foods He provided, but maybe not these man-made pseudofoods. And what if our bodies don’t always recognize the alien “food” so it can be speedily eliminated? If our well-meaning systems begin to replace true nutrients with these artificial ingredients in every level down to the cell, why should we be surprised to see sky-rocketing rates of cancer?

Our family is trying to return to a diet more like our relatives in bygone days would have consumed. And lest you think that means we are suffering from taste deprivation or that we long for fast-food, I assure you that hasn’t been the case. Traditional natural foods have so much MORE flavor than the bland offerings of cookie-cutter processed foods. When you begin to taste all the flavors out there that have been abandoned in favor of MSG and other “food science” wizardry, you won’t miss the pseudofood that has become the American staple. I also think that you will feel so much better that you won’t be tempted to go back.

In upcoming posts, I plan to share some of the things we have been learning and our experiences as we’ve cleared out the junk food and searched out the good stuff.

Chilly in August August 26, 2008

Posted by Laura in Family, Homeschooling.

We belong to a couple of wonderful homeschool groups that get together for field trips, “presentation days” (opportunities to give book reports, recite memorized Scripture, etc. in front of an audience of peers), fine arts, and so on.  This last Friday, we met up with about 30 other people to go ice skating.  It felt wonderful to go from the 95 degree parking lot to the 45 degree rink.

Benjamin and Rachel had a great time zipping around the ice while Lydia and I watched from the bleachers and visited with other moms and toddlers.   The picture quality is terrible since I was having to photograph through the plexiglass wall, but here are a few shots anyway.

Benjamin began with a few more layers on, but quickly worked up a sweat.  You can see that he wisely brought kneepads along to cushion his falls and insulate his knees from the ice.

Rachel made great strides this time.  Last time she barely let go of the wall, but this time she was off and running.

Lydia spent most of her time practicing her bleacher climbing and taking her boots off (and then fussing to have me put them back on so she could do it again).  This child has a thing with shoes.  If they’re hers, she wants nothing to do with them, but if they belong to someone else (she thought the boots were Rachel’s), then she NEEDS them.  The more ill-fitting, the better.

We had a good time and hope to go again this year.  It’s nice to have opportunities to do something fun while fellowshipping with other Christian homeschoolers.

A Close Call August 13, 2008

Posted by Laura in Farm.

We had a scare last night- one that made me realize I’m a little more attached to these silly bovines than I realized.

We have several apple trees that run along the fence line where the cows and donkeys are now.  As the apples began to ripen, some fell into the paddock and were quickly eaten.  We have been feeding the ones on the ground in the yard to the animals through the fence, working them gradually up to about a 30 lb ration a day for the 7 of them (the 2 new calves, 2 heifers, 1 borrowed bull, and 2 donkeys), much to their delight.

Yesterday afternoon, I was out collecting apples to make applesauce.  Ones with too many soft spots, I rolled into the paddock.  The “good ones” I put into my bucket.  About the time I had a full bucket, I heard a strange sound from one of the heifers.  She had just eaten an apple and had apparently tried to swallow it whole.  It lodged in her throat.  Fortunately it was not blocking her windpipe, but she was making awful sounds trying to get the apple out.  Much head slinging and foamy slobber followed and I was powerless to help her.  It went on and on for hours.

She lay down.  She got up.  She put her head down low, swung it back and forth, and made chewing motions.  She wandered off away from the others.  She couldn’t eat or drink.  By dark last night, she had bloated.  That was bad.

When an animal bloats, gases build up in the rumen and distend its sides, usually unevenly.  It is very dangerous because the pressure squeezes the lungs and heart and can cause death.  Bloat is usually caused by over eating something the gut is not yet accustomed to digesting in such quantities, like early spring clover or grain.  All dietary changes must be made gradually- that is why we had taken care to work the animals up to such a generous apple ration.

Cows also burp a lot to get rid of the gas as it’s produced.  Lacey’s problem was that she couldn’t burp effectively.  By the time we were ready to go to bed last night, Lacey was in pretty bad shape and we were concerned.

We don’t yet have a “headcatcher”- a device that safely confines an animal for veterinary care.  That was a problem.  But even if we already had one, the usual solution for bloat probably wouldn’t work in this case.  An 8-10 foot hose is fed down the nose or mouth into the gut to release the pressure-  angle the end of the hose AWAY from you before it hits the rumen or take a nasty spray in the face!.  We weren’t even sure we could do that for Lacey since she had an obstruction.  The other solution is drastic and only for when you know it’s life or death- pierce the rumen with a knife from the outside.

We went to bed anxious about her condition, though neither of us slept well.  I dozed and woke often, considering whether I should go outside and check on her with a flashlight.  I decided not to since I still couldn’t do anything for her but worry uselessly.  I prayed that the building pressure would blow the apple out of her esophagus instead of press in on her lungs.

Joe was up and outside checking on Lacey at first light.  He came in and reported that she looked downright skinny compared to last night!   We both said prayers of thanksgiving for her recovery.

While this blocked esophagus problem would probably never happen again, we instituted a new rule:  all apples must be split in half before feeding to animals.  Benjamin and Rachel have already come up with a clever way to do this- they press the soft spots against the T-posts and the apples usually split right open.  Necessity is the “child” of invention!

Eleven Wonderful Years August 9, 2008

Posted by Laura in Faith, Family, Farm.

Today, Joe and I have been married eleven years. And the romance is still alive. In keeping with tradition, we are giving each other gifts that really say “love.” For our anniversary, with all the mushy sentiment that accompanies it, we have given each other cows.

According to Emily Post, for your first anniversary the appropriate gift is made of paper. The second year, you should give cotton. It’s a little known fact that for the eleventh year, you give cattle.

These fine new young ladies come from the herd of a good friend we know through church. They have been so docile and quick to adjust to their new home. The girls don’t have names yet, but I’m sure Benjamin and Rachel will think of some soon.

Here are some pictures of our fine gifts.


and Hers

But in seriousness, I want to say that God has truly blessed me with a husband beyond what I could have asked for or what I deserve. He is the kindest, most considerate and loving man I know. He is an excellent father, too. I am so very grateful to have him.

In this day and age, it’s getting to be an oddity to stay happily married. But it can be done. If both people will put God in the center of their marriage and be willing to die to self daily in accordance with God’s guidelines, He will surely bless your union. He has blessed us immeasurably. I don’t mean He’s made us rich in material things (though He has certainly provided for all our needs). But in all circumstances, if we were willing, He has strengthened us and brought good.

I look forward to many, many more years together with this wonderful man God has given me.

Well, It’s Finally Happened… August 8, 2008

Posted by Laura in Family.

For the first time this pregnancy, a total stranger asked me if I was having twins.

We needed a few things from a store, so the whole family ran in together. The greeter at the door (with whom I have never had a personal conversation before) asked me the usual twins question.

I smiled and said, “No.”

She said, “Just a really big one soon?”

I smiled again and said, “One big one, but not for 3 more months.”

She laughed out loud and said, “No, there’s just one behind the other in there and they couldn’t see them both, but that’s twins!”

I just smiled.

My dear husband tried to make it better. He said, “But isn’t she adorable?”

He’s a keeper. Bless him, he really does mean it.

This outfit is kinder to me than the one I was wearing that day. I may get rid of that other one! 🙂

Three blinks August 4, 2008

Posted by Joe in Family.

Many years ago when I turned 21, my dad took me aside and told me to cherish the days and not to wish them away looking too forward to the future. He told me that I before I blinked three times I would be 40, married, and have kids of my own that were growing up too fast.

I remember thinking to myself that Christmas and my birthday couldn’t come quickly enough each year, not to mention the end of each semester of college! What is true for my father, I thought, is not necessarily true for me.

But I must have blinked three times somewhere along the way. This year I turned 40. I am very happily married to a wonderful and Godly woman. I have 3 great kids that I haven’t been able to convince to stay 5 years old forever. And I have another child on the way. Did I ever blink!

What got me thinking of all this was something innocuous enough. For three years now, Benjamin has wanted to help mow the yard. Of course, he would want to help. What boy wouldn’t want to learn to drive a lawn tractor?


But to his great disappointment, he hasn’t been able. The mower has a kill switch underneath the seat so that if you get (or fall) off, the engine stops. Benjamin hasn’t been heavy enough to keep the pressure switch depressed.

But it hasn’t been for a lack of trying. He’s asked to try it again every few weeks for the past three summers, hoping that this time may be the time when he’s finally able to keep the mower running. Each time, he got off the mower dejected.

That is, until this week. Saturday afternoon, we had our regular “Can I try today?” conversation. You should have seen his face when the mower didn’t turn off as he pressed the accelerator. Pure joy was in his eyes!

I was happy for him. Finally something he’s been wanting so badly for so long has come to pass. Plus, Laura and I get a little help mowing the yard!

But at the same time, I’m a little…saddened, I guess, by yet another milestone that has flown by. Another blink.

And I know that it’ll only be another blink or two and I’ll be warning him on his 21st birthday not to blink.

Yet, like I did at his age, he’s eagerly looking to future. And who can blame him?


School’s back August 2, 2008

Posted by Joe in Family, Homeschooling.

Yesterday, Laura and the kids started back to school. Not to be outdone, Lydia grabbed her multi-purpose stool/desk combo and started doing her own version of schoolwork.