Friday, January 31, 2014


I am on my way out to do some erranding in town this morning, and one of my tasks is to find a new candy thermometer to use in my jam-making.  My old one wore out and then finally broke.  First, the numbers wore off so I couldn't tell what the temperature was.  Then the casing around the thermometer itself broke, to a point where using it was dangerous (mercury in your marmalade is never a good food additive, IMO).

One of the hallmarks of homesteaders, though, is that we try and choose products that will last a long time, recognizing that cheaply-made metal or plastic tools simply result in more "fill" in the local landfill.  But that can be a challenge, given the mass-production of most goods on the market these days.

So how do you decide what to buy when choosing kitchen or yard tools, furniture, or even building materials for your home?  Because, so often, eco-friendly (or just built-to-last) also means prohibitively expensive.  And USA-made is also often more expensive than imported.

My solution is to be aware of these things and do let them guide your choices to some extent, but not to let it ruin your day if you can't. Pay more when you can, if its obvious something is of better quality.  But if its not in your budget, there's no sense in going into debt or racking yourself with guilt over it.

In general, antique store finds last longer than today's store bought goods, simply because they were made better....unless it's electronic, in which case "older" can also equate to "fire hazard."

I have a manual hand mixer from 1934, plates from the 1950's (sans lead) and wooden utensils of all kinds -- spoons, spatulas and potato mashers, all because I figure if those things have lasted a half-century, they'll last for me, too.  But things like candy thermometers.....well, you just have to take what you can get.  Not too many 50 year-old candy thermometers out there.

The one thing I do know is that you can sit up nights, losing sleep, because you're worried about the eco-friendliness of your choices. A couple of years ago I had to choose flooring for the house, and I went with laminate over bamboo because of cost.  And now I find out that my friend who does have bamboo floors is replacing them because they scratch too easily and already look ruined.  So how eco-friendly did that turn out to be? 

Sometimes it's between the devil and the deep blue sea....the laminate that will last, versus the bamboo that is eco-friendly but will show scratches like crazy. Or using 50 gallons of precious drinking water to clean an empty jar of peanut butter before throwing it into the recycling, versus just throwing the dirty jar into the trash and leaving it at that.  Which is better?  You got me.

 I just know that you have to make the best choice based on what's available and then live with it.

Over the years I have learned that one thing that often comes with eco-mindness is eco-guilt.  and eco-guilt is usually a double edged sword, good only for cutting yourself up and feeling bad.  

As they used to say when we took tests in grade school, just do your best.  Who can ask anything more?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From Where I Am

Once you begin homesteading, it's easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of your tasks that you forget just how cool it is to be doing what you're doing.  This morning I was down the hill pulling up some old onions to add to a stew I am making for tonight's dinner, and I realized just how far this life is from the one I lived in my 20's and 30's. 

So I'll say this to you.  If you're homesteading in any way whatsoever -- canning, growing, off-the-grid, or just the regular customer of a good farmer's market -- take a moment today and look back on how far you've come since you began doing whatever it is you are doing now, homestead-wise.  And do something nice for yourself. You deserve it.

That's right, because in case you've forgotten amidst the busyness of your day-to-day life, homesteading is one of the nicest things you can do for the planet.  When what you eat, wear, or burn for fuel has to travel less miles to reach you, you're making a huge difference in the health of Planet Earth.  When you're conscious of what goes into your soil, your animals and your water, you are not only helping your community stay healthy, you are also helping yourselves.

Appreciate yourself, because so often with humans, what was once the thrill of a new lifestyle grows routine, often to a point where we don't fully appreciate how much we've changed from who we were before.  People who are new to an activity often approach it with an almost religious fervor.  They do things consciously, reverently.  But then the routine and inevitable boredom sets in, and they move on to the next shiny, trendy thing.  Their gardens grow fallow, their animals become barnyard pets instead of useful manure-makers (for the defunct garden), and when the next flight of fancy calls, these people go following after it, never to be seen again.

It's sad that if we just stay committed to something -- a garden, a skill, even a marriage -- long enough to become competent, far too often we simply begin to take it for granted.  Of course the morning begins with letting the chickens out to range and waking our husband up so he can get to the ranch on time.  Of course we're going to go down to the lower pasture to harvest some stray onions for our stew. Yawn. No biggie.

But no -- it really is a big thing. So just for today, pat yourself on the back for whatever it is you're doing.  Because, most assuredly, if you've stayed the course, it's a far cry from whatever you were doing ___ years ago, when you lived largely ignorant of this way of life.

Just for today, celebrate those chickens, that herb garden, your friends at the farmer's market or those onions down in the field.  They are proof that you're the real deal.  You're in it for the long haul, and your skill set is increasing, as is your knowledge and your commitment.

As the Aussies say, good on ya, mate.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lemon Curd

Oh ya.  That's what I'm talkin' about. Should I make a song about lemon curd?  I could you know.  OK, maybe I'll skip it just for today.

Those fresh eggs have bright orange yolks, which in turn gives the curd such a bright color!

Let the end of the world, fire, floods, drought or earthquakes approach.  If anyone needs me, I will be eating lemon pies until then.

Green in the midst of drought

As any Californian can tell you, right now we are in the midst of an extreme and historic drought.  We've had a few years that have been light on rain, and the last 12 months have been bone dry, with less than an inch of rain falling.  

But in the midst of all this brown, I've had something of a green revelation:  In drought conditions, eating a more vegetarian diet is a great thing to do.  Raising plants uses less water than raising a large supply of animals, since animals require those same plants plus more water to drink, to keep their living spaces clean, etc.

My solution is not going to go completely vegetarian, but rather mostly vegetarian for the foreseeable future.  We still plan on raising two hogs (split between another couple and ourselves) for our chest freezer this spring, but with the right kind of planning, that one hog could provide the bulk of our meat for an entire year, and since it's not factory-farmed or butchered, we can use water more wisely while raising them than you could on a larger scale. Our other source of animal protein will be our laying hens, since their water use is negligible, and they provide such a delicious product -- eggs!

And in the meantime, searching for that vegan chocolate mousse I made for our dinner party the other night has led me to several lovely vegan and vegetarian websites, chock full of yummy recipes, which has me excited to begin to eat more vegetarian meals. I think we could easily make do eating meat just once or twice a week, and there's no question that not only our bodies, but also our geographic region, would be the better for having a less water-intensive diet. 

In the midst of drought, bring on the green, I say.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

So Imagine

Sometimes when I'm laying in bed at night, I think about stuff like this:

Imagine our universe as it currently is, filled to capacity with other suns and planets bearing at least some kinds of life. Billions and billions of suns, and probably billions of planets. Rachet the number down to millions that have life, and possibly tens of thousands where life actually evolves into sentient beings.

The scenario is probably the same on each world:  The smartest beings evolve, their intelligence leads them to make improvements in feeding and sheltering themselves. Populations increase, due to increased survival rates.  As the population increases, demands on resources become strained and entire ecosystems are changed. Wars are possible, if fighting over resources is an option, but that's a story for another day.  If they survive the fighting, then comes an inevitable reckoning.

Surely this has happened elsewhere, probably more times than you can number.  
Terraformed Mars

So what's next?  The choice at some point becomes either limiting the population, or finding an off-world home for a significant portion of it.  We, for example, have the capability of terraforming Mars into a habitable world over a period of about 1,000 years, planting greenery that will spread and, as it spreads, converts carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen and modifying the temperatures as it does. 

But we can only seed it with human beings, not transport half the world's population there.  We just won't have that capability in time to save everyone, given the way things are going.

And even if we could, so what?  What happens when Mars gets crowded and resources run low there? There's no other decent planet in our solar system capable of supporting a big population of humans.  And the distance to other stars is so, so great, that we have the same problem:  We can, possibly, seed ourselves in other places, but not save all the creatures caught in the current over-population epidemic.

In other words, we are stuck, pretty much, right here.  And so, I'll bet, are the other life-forms in this universe, far across the parsecs, grappling with similar issues.  If only we could find a way to share information. It would be so much more useful than actually trying to get out there and conquer, as is our way.


Anyway, if I'm right, this probably means there are no cigar-shaped UFOs.  No swamp gas, bearing silver spacecraft that rise from the mists.  Whoever they are, our fellow Galacticans, they are probably as stuck as we are, and at some point they were faced with matching their populations to their resources and possibly, even stepping back from technology that was draining their planet dry of something they needed.  

My guess is that there is life all over this big universe of ours.  And that it's not filled with spaceships capable of making the jump to lightspeed or boldly going where no one has gone before.

My guess is that the most successful civilizations are the ones that have learned to manage their resources and control their populations.  It's filled with farmers.  And conservationists.  And people who learned to use their resources wisely, and do without anything that was non-renewable. 

Because the only other option is to perish.  And, sadly, my guess is that for every population that succeeded out there beyond the Oort Clouds, there are a million that didn't, due to the exact problems we're facing now.

So we will see what happens here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Deer Repelling Water Blast

So my friend was at her cabin the other day and texting her daughter, discussing the new deer repelling device she'd bought and set up in the front yard.  She had bought one of these (below), and had also set up a remote yard camera to document how well it was working.  My friend is just getting the hang of the YouTube/Twitter/Instagram universe, but I think things are looking promising:

Motion Activated Power Water Sprayer

The conversation apparently, went something like this:

Mom:  So if I posted a YouTube video of the water gun spraying the deer, would that be funny?
Daughter:  No, Mom, that would not be funny.

About two hours later:

Mom:  So if I posted a YouTube video water gun spraying the Lowe's delivery man, would that be funny?
Daughter:  Yes, Mom, that would be funny.

Well, you know. These things happen.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Yorkshire Puddings

Here is my family's recipe for Yorkshire Puddings.  Since I am a first-generation American (my mum and her family all come from London, and she still lives there) you can rest assured this recipe has been made in the "Old Country" for many, many years. 

Very simple and virtually foolproof...and very delicious!

Gannon's Yorkshire Puddings

1 cup milk
4 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2.  Mix flour and salt together in a bowl
2.  Mix milk and egg together in another bowl.
3.  Add the egg/milk liquid to the flour mix, adding a little at a time, stirring until it has a batter-like consistency.
4.  In a muffin tin, add a small pat (probably 1/2 teaspoon, no more) of bacon fat, butter, or oil of your choice to the bottom of each tin, and place tin in the oven.  
5.  Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, remove from oven and add some batter to each tin.  Should be no more than halfway full, as it will rise when it cooks.
5.  Cook for about 20 minutes.
6.  Remove and enjoy! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


The dinner party for 10 last night went off without a hitch, which was no mean feat, considering my relative inexperience hosting large groups for sit-down dinners and wine tastings.

At each place setting were wine analysis sheets, rating the wines' appearance, bouquet, and taste/texture.  We do our wine tasting first, and then share a meal, and since the theme for this tasting was "Big Reds," I served a Prime Rib with Yorkshire Puddings, mapled yams, a large salad, and chocolate mousse for dessert.

One of my neighbors is an enologist for a westside winery, and since he's in our winery's Wine Club, I invited him and his partner to join us for the festivities.  There were some interesting discussions on corks, winemaking, and Old World vs. New World wines, which I found fascinating. The great thing about wine is that, when the conversation turns to "industry talk, " it's still always happy and enjoyable conversation, filled with laughter and learning.

In order to keep strong smells out of the house (essential when doing sensory analysis of wine) I used the propane barbecue outside to cook the prime rib, and luckily was about to get it to a steady 325 degrees and cook it perfectly.  The Yorkshire Puddings were the big hit of the night, I think mainly because people were pleasantly surprised to learn they were not going to be forced to eat actual pudding at dinner.

An the chocolate mousses were devoured as well, including the vegan ones I made for my guests with dietary restrictions (who bought an incredible grains and mushroom casserole as their main course, which was absolutely delicious -- I snuck a bite!).  I actually enjoyed the vegan mousse as well, especially with the coconut milk whipped cream I used as a topping.

And the big wine winner for the night was this beauty:

Unbelievably soft and full-bodied, full of lovely fruit notes but with enough tannins to perfectly balance the wine.  I am not exaggerating when I say this is absolutely, hands-down, the best Pinot I've ever had the pleasure to taste.  Ever.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Food desert

"Food Desert"

It looks as if our nation has lost its collective mind.  Check out this snippet from a San Joaquin Valley, CA newspaper article today. Keep in mind that Stratford is in the sunny, temperate heart of California's agricultural belt, which grows approximately half of the produce the United States consumes:

STRATFORD — What if you had to pay about $30 a month just to be able to go grocery shopping?
For Stratford resident Christina Johnson, this is the everyday life. With no grocery stores in the community and only one convenience store, Johnson and many others in Stratford must travel 10 miles or more to Lemoore or Hanford in order to buy fresh produce.
“The travel doesn’t bother me, but I do have to spend extra money on gas,” she said. “I go shopping at Save Mart in Hanford twice a week, so it can really add up.”
Johnson said she tries to make the most of her visits, doing other errands to make each trip more worthwhile. However, she said she counts herself as one of the lucky residents of Stratford because she has a car.
“It’s a big task for people here that don’t work and don’t have a vehicle,” she said. “They either have to get rides from someone or ride the bus, which would be a hassle.”
Stratford is just one of hundreds of communities across the country to be considered a “food desert,” areas that offer limited access to supermarkets. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 2.2 percent of U.S. households are more than a mile from a grocery store.

No food here!
Isn't one of the lovely advantages of living in a rural area that you can actually grow your own produce?  Most of the time, within unincorporated county islands, the rules for farming and animal-keeping are looser than they are in the city, meaning you could also keep a few chickens and maybe even a milk goat, too.  

None here either.

A hundred years ago, a much larger percentage of our population lived more than a mile from the local grocery store.  They bought their staples there and grew their fresh produce at home.  Nowadays, living more than a mile from a grocery store means you are techinically in a "food desert," because we've literally forgotten how to feed ourselves in any way other than harvesting items off a shelf in an air-conditioned food warehouse with muzak playing in the background.

So many wanna-be homesteaders (and please know I use the term "wanna-be" in the most positive way in this case) living in the cities loathe the fact that they don't have yards where they can grow food, but here you have people with not only yards, but possibly even an acre or ten outside their back door who are starving to death because they can't get to the supermarket.

Something's wrong here, people.

Eureka!  Found the food!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dinner for Ten

Dinner party and blind tasting here at the homestead on Tuesday night for ten friends, including one vegan and one lactose-intolerant guest.

The dessert solution?  Vegan chocolate mousse, using.....wait for it.....avocadoes.

I will let you know how it comes out.  This recipe calls for Stevia, but I am going to use sugar instead. So sue me.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients (serves 1-2):
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup raw cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk
  • 2 tsp stevia (or other natural sweetener)
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • Optional extras: toasted sliced almonds, chia seeds, frozen mixed berries, almond butter, cocoa nibs, coconut oil
Purée the avocado until smooth.
Mix together the cocoa powder and milk until combined and add to the avocado.
Stir in the stevia, vanilla extract, and any extra ingredients (toasted almonds add a lovely crunch, and frozen berries give the mousse a great fruity twang!) and mix well.
Transfer the mousse to individual bowls and store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Spring Animal Plans

Right now we're in conversation with the couple down the road, David and Ray, to raise a few hogs and possibly some chickens together.  They have an ideal, flat-ground pasture with stables that were on the property when they bought the house.  So we are thinking between the four of us we think we can handle feeding and cleaning without it taking up too much of any one person's time, since we all work off-property at least a few days a week.

Until recently, Big Ag and I were buying shares of my nephew's FFA hogs, but he's graduated now and is out of the program, so if we still want a freezer full of pork we're going to have to raise it ourselves.  And we were buying store-bought organic, free-range chicken, until we discovered even organic chicken has the same bacterial loads of salmonella as factory-farmed birds do, which is not encouraging.  So meat birds are a definite possibility.  One of the chefs at the winery even offered to do all the butchering of the birds if we give him a few to take home with him!

I feel lucky to be going into this proposition with not only Big Ag, but also two other strong men, who will be strong enough to wrangle the hogs once they get large and potentially unruly.  I am hoping we can do all this animal raising before the heat comes, since hot animals are stressed, and I don't want to have to worry about their well-being when it's over 100 degrees.

It will be a lot of work, but I know I will truly appreciate the bacon, chops and sausage in the freezer come summertime.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Our state bird!

The California Quail.  We see them a lot in the yard, along with roadrunners.  And they love running in between the rows of the vineyards at work, popping in and out of our line of sight and delighting our customers with their scurrying antics.  But of course I love seeing them at home more, because there I can just relax and enjoy watching them for as long as they want to hang out in the yard.

Cute, huh!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wolf Moon Nights, Working Days

The last two mornings I've slept well and woken up early, unusual because generally on the nights when the moon is full our room is so bright I often have trouble sleeping. January's Wolf Moon has been good to me, though, and I'm currently very well-rested.

 The weather has been freakishly warm -- 82 degrees was our record-breaking high temperature yesterday -- so the mornings are also warmer than usual (44 right now).  It seems strange to stand outside on a January morning in a t-shirt and not freeze, but I'm not complaining. It seems stranger still to be working at the winery and have to throw open all the doors at 2 p.m. because it's actually hot and we need a breeze, but again, I'm not complaining -- the warm weather and breezes feel sooo nice.

The one specter looming on the horizon is our lack of precipitation.  We've had absolutely no rainfall since before Thanksgiving, and are already in a drought situation.  everyone in our area relies on some sort of well water, but it has a high mineral content, so rainfall is necessary to wash away the salts and accumulated mineral build-up from the ground to keep the crops healthy.  Without rain, we're looking at reduced crops here on the homestead as well as out in the area vineyards.

This week I worked three days in a row, so other than hanging wash and putting some water on my winter crops (the lettuces are tasting lovely right now, carrots are growing strong and onions are still getting started) I haven't been outside checking the property much.  I pretty much do what I have to do then start getting ready to go down to the winery.  We are bottling white wines right now, so the tasting room is a hub of activity...bottling volunteers (mostly from our wine club) coming in and out, the usual lunch-and-tasting crowd, then a big meal and wine outside on the sunny veranda for the volunteers late in the afternoon, once the work is done. 

These days are lovely, filled with sunshine, nice people, good food and of course plenty of great wine.  It makes me appreciate living here all the more.  I just hope we get some rain soon.

This next week I will be back, on-property, full-time, so pens will get cleaned (including the one we live in lol).  And we're in discussion with our neighbors about doing a pig share, and getting a couple of hogs raised and butchered before summer's heat sets in.  The chest freezer is alarmingly empty at this point, and my sister-in-law is taking a break from hog-raising now that her kids are done with FFA.

Not sure we can live without chops and bacon.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Off-farm Day

In order to keep your sanity in rural life, I think everyone needs a few off-farm days a month.  Not too many, heaven knows this lifestyle requires we be on-site to water crops and tend to animals pretty regularly, but the occasional vacation, weekend trip, or just a day away is important.  You need to realize your farm is not the center of the universe, and mingle and mix with all sorts of different types of people.

That's because rural life can be isolating, and if the only voices you hear are the ones from television or the ones you read on the internet, and the only sights you see are the ones within a few miles of home, it seems like your perspective on life and other people will grow smaller as well.  Sure, living in the country brings you peace and quiet, but I'm convinced there are times you need to get out there and see how the rest of the world is doing.

Yesterday Big Ag and I did a road trip to the coast (about 20 minutes west of us, as the crow flies) and took a four mile hike along the headlands.

It certainly puts things into perspective, walking along the edge of the continent, along the ocean which was here before you showed up and will be here long after you're gone.  

The four-mile hike worked up an appetite, plus it was kind of chilly up on the headlands, so we stopped at our favorite beach hang-out and ate outdoors, in the warm sunshine.  If there is not a place in Heaven that looks kind of like this one, I am not sure I want to go lol.

And, as if my Gardenburger and fries were not enough to replace the calories we'd burned hiking, our next stop was for pie.

Mmmm.  Pie. Perspective restored. Back to farm life.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

January Tasks

With the new year often comes a renewed sense of organization, routine, and normalcy, which I'm always thankful for after Holiday Craziness. I've spent the last couple of days cleaning out closets, getting rid of things we don't need, thereby making more room to consolidate and put in order what we do have.

January is also the perfect time to get back to canning, taking advantage of fall and winter's bounty to replenish your stored goods.

This month, for instance, is when I usually put up orange marmalade and lemon curd.  Both are useful in a wide variety of dishes and desserts, and both have a place in my pantry.  Well, the marmalade goes to the pantry, the lemon curd goes to the freezer because it keeps better there.

There used to be four.  I have no willpower.

This morning, I used the last of 2012's lemon curd to make some lemon pies.  Don't they look good?  

While we're on the subject of citrus, this is also a great month to start some Limoncello, using fresh lemons.  The recipe I like to use is here: Tramie's Kitchen -- Limoncello

I am currently also dealing with the last of fall's pumpkins.  We've had soup and pumpkin spice bread since December and are all about bloody well sick of it about now, so I will puree our remaining pumpkins, plop the puree into a Mason Jar and then forget about it in the bottom of my freezer use it later. 

Someday it will look good to me again.

While I don't anticipate any more calls for pumpkin pie, we may get a wild-hair urge to have some pumpkin bread come October or so, before next year's gourds are ready, so this is a perfect solution.

Tiny Lions

Some people have decorative stone lions sitting at either side of the entry way to their homes.  I have real ones.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


At the end of my shift at the winery last night, my neighbors David and Ray stopped in for some drinks and to drop off presents for me.  I had watched their chickens and cats while they were away for the holidays so they brought me,among other things, a box of divine chocolates from Amsterdam, where one member of their family had been traveling.

Of course I protested the box of chocolates, saying it was the New Year and, oh my, I didn't need the calories.  Once I got home however, I will tell you that within four hours, the top layer of chocolates in the box was gone, and I was probably the biggest consumer of it.  And they were delicious.

Likewise, I gave them a cookie tin last month for Christmas, filled with chocolate toffee bars and maple cookies.  At the time they protested, but told me yesterday that they polished the whole tin off within a day as well.

Bottom line is this:  We are all enablers.  And, most of the time, that's OK.

But there is a serious side to this, too.  Friends, family and even people you don't know can often be the worst influences in our lives. Sometimes, like with the chocolates and the Christmas cookies, it's a fairly harmless thing (well, except for your waistline).  But in the world of your acquaintances or internet friends, enablers can be your cheerleaders, causing you to think bad ideas are good and destructive tendencies are healthy.  They can cheer you on to make the most horrible decisions, merely because where there's no accountability, there's often no morality.

Want to see if you can survive for a year eating only McDonald's?  Bet you'd get plenty of "likes" for that if you created a website documenting it. Want to quit your job and live in the city park?  Someone will want to see you do it.  They may even send you money to help encourage you to go for it.

But really, the only true enabler is yourself.  The old adage your mother used to say, of, "if your friends told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?" is true.  If that is the basis upon which you make decisions, you will make crappy decision after crappy decision.  Other people cannot always be relied upon to tell you what is best for you. Only you can do that. 

Consumption of chocolate and Christmas goodies are places where allowing yourself to be enabled can be OK.  As long as you know where to draw the boundaries.  Because, bottom line, all enabling begins at home.  You are, really, the one holding the scepter, king or queen of your world, making the final decision for how your life is managed.  Rule wisely.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Removing oil from boots

Tried a home remedy for removing oil (olive oil in this case) from distressed western boots, and it worked extremely well!  Of course you have to start by actually spilling the oil on your boots in the first place, so my instructions will begin there:

1.  Help with clean up after a work event, and lift several plates off a table with a olive oil-filled ramekin atop it.

2.  Have ramekin slip and spill said olive oil-filled ramekin on nearby customer, getting it all over their shirt and one large drop on your boots.

3.  Apologize profusely to customer, wipe them up as best you can and comp their meal. (He was very nice about it; I was mortified.)

4.  Come home at day's end and put a large blob of cornstarch on the spot on the boot.  Leave overnight.

5.  The next morning, brush off cornstarch; the spot will be barely noticeable, definitely not the black spot it was before.

(If you do this at home, you might want to get the cornstarch on sooner, and I'm thinking that would be even better.

You know me. ...Always willing to share helpful hints with other homesteaders, especially klutzy ones like myself.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sleep -- Nature's First Homeopathic Remedy

So on New Year's Eve, I started feeling puny about 10 pm or so., while driving home from a party we'd gone to at a coworker's house.  Thinking it was something I ate, I went to bed and suffered from an upset stomach all night, which left me tossing and turning until morning, at which point I felt even worse than before.

So needless to say, New Year's Day was not fun for me.  And realizing that, I took to my bed -- first from 11 am until about 1 pm that day, and then again at 7 :30 pm until 8:30 am the following day.  For those of you keeping track, that means I slept approximately 15 hours within a 24 hour period.  And, not surprisingly, I awoke yesterday feeling like the walking wounded -- still not 100 percent, but leagues better than I had been the day before.  I was even able to go into work, and found my energy had returned to about 100 percent of normal by noon.

In our modern society, where we are always going, going, going, we lament illnesses not so much as alarming physical symptoms that mean the wonderful machine known as our body is fighting off some kind of microscopic invader, but rather as inconveniences, impediments from going to work, from accomplishing, and from doing ever more.

And because of that, we miss out on nature's most powerful restorative, that of sleep.  Sleep, where the body quiets and our immune system can fight, unhindered by stress.  Sleep, where damaged cells are rejuvenated, and where the body lies still enough to heal.

We don't like sleep much in our society, in fact, get a group of hard workers together and it often turns into a brag-fest about how little sleep each one thinks they need each night.  But, ultimately, I think lack of sleep results in nothing but illness, both short and long-term.  And especially when we're ill, I think the worst thing we can do is take some kind of pill to enable ourselves to keep going when our body is telling us, in clear and simple language, that we just need to STOP.

So my advice to my homesteading friends who are going to suffer from colds or flu this year is this:  Get your farm chores done (or better yet, have someone do them for you), go inside the house, tuck yourself into bed and sleep.  Just sleep.  Let your body manage your healing the way it best knows how to do.

Because somewhere deep down inside you, as you snuggle under the covers and fall into the exhausted sleep we only get when we're truly ill, your body will fight the good fight and you will awake,  weak but healing, slightly drained but on the path to restoration.  

Sleep is the best medicine, and is truly the first homeopathic remedy, used for as long as mankind has been mankind.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Slept for 13 hours last night.  Symptoms:  General feeling of malaise, fussy stomach, chills.  It started New Year's Eve, which I attributed to something I ate during our dinner out at a local Italian place.  Now I'm not so sure the tiramisu was to blame.  I may just be fighting off a bug of some sort -- the same one that has waylaid several of my co-workers recently.  I'm not well enough that I feel good, but not really sick enough that I can definitely say I've got something.  It's weird.

But either way, blech.