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Sunday, December 28, 2008


I think I am finally recovering from Christmas. I feel sort of worn thin. I'm mostly an introvert and i am beginning to honor my need for quiet alone time to function. Work has been busy ( thank god ), but man am i burned out on work and people in general. I am dreaming of a whole weekend to be 'off duty'. I did play hooky today anyway, DH was gone and i was on call for work, so the 'chicks' and I watched Lord of the Rings trilogy ALL day. A good fantasy escape!

I am so inspired by all these great homesteading blogs, I really don't think I can take another year here in town. Yes I know we could 'homestead' in the current house-but I feel we need a bigger change. I need space from my job-I'm hoping physical distance will help with emotional distance as well ( to cut back hours and sell my share of the business or just cut back hours and retain ownership-that's another post!). Logically the next step for us is to list our house early spring, with the market the way it is, the house has to sell first. I am so stuck on what happens BEFORE we list. All those projects! You know -emptying closets, clearing the junk out of our finished but not used basement, fixing that dripping faucet and bathtub drain! Wishing isn't going to make anything happen. We just need to start somewhere! Kris

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A couple more 'chicks'

I can't wait to get my girls out of the suburbs! E is 10 and she was my inspiration for my 'screen name' HickChick! She is a hick and proud of it! She is a voracious reader-currently reading the Return of the King - she wanted to re-read the series before we rent the DVD's again! (Lord of the Rings is one of my all time favorites-thanks Dad for reading them to me when i was little). She is artistic, introverted, and a complete animal nut -basically a mini-ME. I picked up a Foxfire book at the library the other day, but didn't get to it before E did. I found her reading about dressing hogs, then she took the book with her to school to read on the bus! How cute is that?

L is 6, she is the baby of the family, a drama queen-- no make that princess. She is our instigator, our little dynamo, our talking a mile a minute-never still kid. She is also an animal nut-and can't wait to have a barn cat and a pony! (I'm sorry honey-you knew all about this when you married me!) She is not as bookish as E but has this amazing spark of curiosity.

They are far from perfect-stubborn as mules at times- that must be their fathers genes :)
I wanted to introduce them, because I have invited them to post here-hickchicks -plural.

Off to go shovel again...winter serves to make spring sweeter.


Sunday, December 21, 2008


After reading Sharon's article on the giant ponzi
scheme which is our economy-robbing the future to pay for the present and then looking at the black hole which is my December budget (free financial software is wonderful but has left me squirming uncomfortably about our spending habits) I have realized that some big changes need to be made. I will be the change I wish to see in the world. I have been THINKING about voluntary simplicity but not DOING. So typical for me.

If the future I picture for our family is to have a chance, we need to significantly reduce our spending, period, exclamation point! We need to have one parent who can be working on the homestead for the family and not for profit. Right now I am the parent with the desire to garden and milk goats, that may change in the years to come, but I need to figure out how to do without 1/2 my income. If I can put that income into savings this winter and into spring-we would be in a much better position to sell our home and move.

The compact: to not buy anything new with certain exceptions for toiletries, kids shoes, and underwear! There is much more discussion about what is acceptable and some other details, but ultimately each family has to do what is right for them. This is my doing not thinking challenge, its a biggie but so worth while! If DH or I purchase something new I will post it here, otherwise things which are truly needed will be borrowed, bought used (craigslist or resale shopped), or freecycled.

Once I have the rest of the (not) budget for December, DH and I (are you reading today honey?) will look at the numbers TOGETHER and TOGETHER decide what we can do without and give ourselves assignments-can we get cheaper car insurance, phone, etc with a little effort? I will report back on our finding there as well.

On another front my fitness efforts are paying off well! I have to say this loosing weight stuff is much harder when you are looking at 40 instead of 30. But over the past 5 weeks I have lost 7 lbs and 6 1/2 inches ( 2 from the chest!). It is not a stunning amount but my clothes are loose and I feel great! I keep telling myself I need to do this so I can put up fences all day or scythe hay. K

Friday, December 19, 2008

Feral People?

I've been the opposite of a sheeople a feral person?? There must be some middle ground! A sheep follows blindly-going where the herd goes, doing what the herd does. A feral animal trusts no one and has no socialization skills. to undomesticate ones self??
K :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Woody!

The story starts like this: I was on call last weekend and I get a call from a very concerned pet 'dad'. It seems his german wirehair is walking bowlegged, is very painful and has bloody stuff' dripping from 'you know where'-no he couldn't name the anatomy-I mean come, on it's a penis say it with me! This combination doesn't sound good so i agree to meet him at the office. So of course he sends his wife with the dog. The prepuce does look very swollen and hard, so I sedate him for a better look inside. The poor guy had a chunk of wood stuck up there approx 1 inch x 3 inches long along with a laceration on the penis. I fix him up and she just looked at me with a smirk and said 'I'll just tell him that his dog had a WOODY'. I'm still laughing about this! How is this for dinner table conversation Phelan? K

Monday, December 15, 2008


This weekend I actually got to TALK with my husband! It was the coolest thing :) So often we share the house and sleep next to each other without really connecting. Usually if I have the time/inclination to share with him, he is as crabby as a bear OR vice versa (usually vice versa!). I guess the stars were right for us this weekend. Ha ha, how sad. He has some very cool ideas and is a great 'out of the box' thinker. It was really great to just share ideas and realize we are still on the same page.
I also owe him a formal apology! He has been reading my blog and some of the blogs i follow, he came across my post to Gina about mother-in-laws. Oops. Just for the record my husband does ALOT of stuff around the house-he does ALL the laundry (eventually ;o ) and alot of the cooking, he will even do grocery shopping if things get too bare! So honey I am very sorry and I really do appreciate all the thing you do for our family!
I am sliding big time on working-out! We made cookies this weekend and it's like putting an alcoholic in charge of the bar! I can't keep my fingers out of them. Sigh! One day at a time! K

Friday, December 12, 2008

Deliberate Life

I did it again, overboard on buying kids gifts-at least it feels that way right now. They have so much STUFF already, their rooms are overflowing with stuff not played with. So why do I need to buy more stuff for them. Because I can? Because it proves I love them? So I don't feel guilty about the things I'm not giving them--namely my time?? I guess right now we have more money than time so I give money. Well, live and learn and box up the unplayed with things and give to salvation army or goodwill. Since the little one no longer believes in Santa perhaps next year we can take a little trip instead of buying toys.

What is the difference between a deliberate life and homesteading? I am not living either right now. I am working hard on personal responsibility right now--ie being responsible for my health, and where I am psychologically. My next step is to be responsible for my financial fitness. We are upper middle class both earning good incomes, we could be doing a much better job saving money right now. This is the deliberate part-planning for where we want to go and taking the responsibility to make it happen. K

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Catch up time

It has been a long time since my last post! There have been alot of things going on--mostly between my ears :) I have been working out 5-6 days a week and it is both depressing and empowering. Depressing because at one point in my life I had lost nearly 50 lb and was lifting weights like a fiend-to the point where I was considering entering an amateur body-building contest. Now here i am again-nearly 40 with 50+ lbs to loose-but now with 2 kids, a business and a husband to care for ( he thinks he is self sufficient but he is not --haha). Empowering because I AM doing it. It is very hard to care for myself before others but I am getting the hang of it.

Working out has really helped me to stay in the moment, I suffer from anxiety attacks sometimes-when every thing seems so out of control. I have come to realize that these episodes of anxiety are the result of getting out of the moment-obsessing about next weeks or months work schedule, or thinking about ALL the things I should do around the house-instead of thinking about what I need to do TODAY. It really takes a concentrated effort to pull back once the anxiety cycle starts but a good session on the treadmill helps alot, its a walking (and running) meditation.

We had let the land search cool off and I think some time was what we really needed. Looking at some of these pieces of land helped us to define what it is we are looking for. I think we will wait for spring and offer to buy the property next to my Dad's place-it is not for sale now but it sounds like she is considering a move. I would like to be close to my family and DH is good with that as well. We would be able to help each other-him with kids getting off the bus and we can help him as he gets older. This is a significant departure from our original ideal of building an off grid home, but instead we can consider a remodel and it has a large barn and several outbuildings !! I am at peace with this idea -it feels right.

We are taking delivery of 1/2 grass fed beef in a week or two --i am excited about beef! Sorry Dad-we love your chickens but now we are ready to mix it up a little! We also have our garage as weatherproofed as we can get it and DH is wood working again-it is good to see him happy and not bored in front of the tube! The home made christmas gift workshop is up and running again! I'll post a few pictures after christmas -sorry family no peeking!

On a sad note my worms have passed on to the big bin in the sky! We had hundreds of fruit flies in our house and they were breeding in the bins-so the bins were put outside to freeze. Maybe the worm eggs will survive until spring. ??

Thanks for reading and stay warm out there! K

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I am so sore, I can not sit down with out my quads screaming at me, I am sweating and exhausted but I have never felt so good! This is the first week of working out with a trainer and following a high protein-eat every 3 hours-oh no, not more chicken-diet. My sugar cravings are almost non-existent which is huge for me-really huge! Even better than the lack of cravings, the prospect of loosing weight and being in better shape is what this has done for my mind. I am calm and centered and HAPPY. Endorphins are a wonderful thing. Last week I was so far in an emotional hole, no- PIT-that I was having a hard time seeing my way out. But I'm back now!

This calm centered state of mind is helping me to re-assess where we are with our search for land, or maybe I should say search for a simpler lifestyle. Yes we need to make some changes to our way of living-but do we need to have 40 (or more) acres in the middle of nowhere to accomplish this? Maybe the roadblocks we have reached are a way of fate/higher power/karma telling us this is not our path?

Our goals for this family: 1) spend more high quality time with the girls

2)Hmmm, I am stuck for what come next-the girls are the key!

3) Not being completely dependant on the industrial agricultural machine

4) Not completely dependant on oil/coal for our energy needs

5) Buying stuff does not equal happiness.

I can do all of those thing right here!

I will let go of the forty in the woods for now. The things I CAN and NEED to focus my energy on now are financial and personal fitness, not beating myself up because I do not knit my own socks, homeschool my kids or make sauerkraut! :p (But kudos to those of you who do!)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Just a thought...perhaps SAD is a coping mechanism for the winter. My heritage is northern european, where the winters are long an unrelenting. My theory is Seasonal Affective Disorder is a trait which was selected for in the far North. How better to survive 6 months of winter than to withdraw and sleep alot. Evolution at its best! Instead of thinking 'what is wrong with me' go with it (up to a point- I realize that SAD can be very severe in some folks). Be sure to get plenty of outdoor exercise and don't totally withdraw, but what is wrong with sleeping a little more??
I am curious how many of you'all are affected by SAD (on a scale of 1(best)-10 (worst)) and what is your genetic background?
We looked as some more land yesterday...had two really nice walks in the woods at least. It seems that we can find land which is wooded and beautiful or land which is in crops but nothing which has a little of each! One of us will have to settle and as Tom points out it takes longer to grow a forest than to clear a field, (I guess that depends on who is pulling the stumps ;}). I am leaning towards the woods which is landlocked-it will be less expensive and then we are 100% comitted to being off the grid. Hmmm I seem to be drawn to the remote and inaccessable, what does that say abotu me?? K

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Meet the Worms

They have been talking chickens at the back forty and; while I have no chickens right now, I do have livestock of a different sort. They are very low maintenance, they do not bother the neighbors, they do eat my childrens homework (and my junk mail), and all they ever give me is S**T! They are my red worms of course! They started as a dozen worms brought home from the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair ( two years ago by my then 5 year old. Last winter most of our food scraps went into the bin, then they moved outside for the summer and turned a large pile of last years used up 'potting soil' into great growing material again. Now the worms are back in the house in TWO bins. We are experimenting with using them to recycle waste paper in addition to waste food (anything but meat or fat). Any paper not brightly colored or shiney goes through the cross cut shredder and into the bins. We are using the resulting compost for flowers/ornamentals-not for food-so I am not so worried about the heavy metals, etc from the ink. Now instead of hanging on to EVERY piece of schoolwork the girls bring home (and they bring home ALOT) they love to shred the work and feed it to the worms-of course the 'masterpieces are saved for posterity! So far the only problem I am having is fruit flies! I had read that freezing the food scraps prior to placing in the bin would prevent the fly eggs from hatching, but it does not seem to be working. I loved Harvey's idea for worm bins in the greenhouse and worms fed to the chickens on the modern homestead site-K

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Maybe it's the weather. As up and positive as I was last week, today i am just flat... It may also be that i feel work is trying to take over my life! One of our veterinarians has been put out of commission and is on manditory bed rest, she will be out until February on maternity leave(damn kids ;) ). We knew this was coming and have someone to help us out-but she isn't ready to start yet. i was starting to find my groove-working less and seeing life outside of work. My knee jerk reaction is to put my tail between my legs and go back to work, but I won't do it this time. It will take me a few days to adjust to the new schedule but I will not go back to the old ways. I did tell the trainer that I will start the intense personal training NEXT week, otherwise I was just setting up unrealistic expectations. Two steps forward, one step back. Kris

Friday, November 7, 2008

As I am 'waking', my creative side has been begging for an outlet. I think it started last winter and has been building from that point. My husband and I have joined forces and he is building bird houses and squirrel feeders with 'scrap' lumber from his work and I get to stain/paint/etc-it is good to have a joint project! K

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Invest in Yourself- always outperform the market!

I took a plunge today- no i didn't quit my job or sell the business. But I am investing in myself! I just pluncked some $ down for 28 days of intensive training with a personal trainer, along with a strict diet, measurements each week, yadda, yadda. Going to the gym these past few weeks on a regular basis has been a self imposed test of sorts. I am so good at good intentions and big plans-but short on follow through! So I joined the gym for just a 1 month contract, then worked out regularly for 2 weeks, now set up personal training sessions. 20# in 28 days is the 'hook'. It is not a sustainable diet, but short term and will get me started on my total goal of 50# which is more like a 9 month goal, and way to big of a challenge for me now! Small steps! He is really more interested in inches than #. I am really excited to do this, and a little nervous--I mean I really like BREAD and carbs and there is very little of that in my near future. I am such a tightwad about money so this is a is a big step for me. I start next week so I'll keep you all posted! Look forward to some pictures of our wood crafts and the watercolor/charcoal drawings I (finally) got framed-maybe friday i will have a chance to post them. Happy Happy KRIS

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Hi my name is Kris and suffer from affluenza. The first step is to admit you have a problem, right? I am a upper middle class, small business owner, overachieving, people pleasing, yes girl and it is killing me (really). I feel I have been awakening by degrees, but now I find myself here, awake and freaking out. This is not who I am, but it is. I have allowed this to become my life. No one is responsible but ME. So ME is responsible for moving in the direction my heart feels is right. There is a quote which I thought was sappy, dumb 'Be the change you wish to see in the world' . Well it is starting to make more sense to me now.

So do I do this in degrees? or take a polar plunge? Don't worry Mom and Dad :) I am not going to throw all this education away. I love being a veterinarian, it is what I was meant to do, it is my way of helping people and I am very good at it. But a business owner -no way-it is killing me! I cannot say no, and put work before family, self, EVERYTHING.

This is so very frightening -- to give up a business which is thriving and growing. It is my whole identity! (that is so sad). To give up this financial security -or at least the illusion of security in these times. Who am I to reject the 'american dream'?

I am the change I wish to see in this world-that is who I am. K

Friday, October 31, 2008


I had the most wonderful dream last night... no not that! It was better than that ;D ...LOL. In my dream I was running and it was so beautiful, so free and graceful. I felt so powerful, like I could go forever, sigh. In real life my extra 50lbs are weighing on me very heavily, my joints hurt and I walk funny for a few steps after getting up. I have been working out 5 days a week for the past week and a half, lifting weights too and my whole body aches in places I'd forgotten I have ! I believe one of my legs is shorter than the other-when I walk on the treadmill I make the most horrible racket; step, CLOMP, step, CLOMP... I have to turn up the ipod or I can't stand it. It's hell getting old. My running days are behind me so I choose to believe the dream is a vision from the future-a metaphor for my life rather than a lament for what used to be. Happy Halloween. K

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bread not Weapons

Finally, my bread turned out. Okay so
I am using a bread maker but I was
turning out these incredibly dense 2 lb blocks of bread and I couldn't figure it out-checked water temp, added vital gluten. My children were eating it and pretending they liked it. My dear and horribly funny husband remarked that it was bread like this that won wars because it provided sustanance in addition to being used as a weapon! It was the yeast-dead, dead, dead. Another small victory!

Sorry squirrels, sorry worm bin -no more bread for you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday Mornings

The bread is baking, the kids are on the bus, 4 hours before I need to go to work; I love Wednesdays! I will do what I have to do first (groceries and errands) then what I want to do (workout and woodwork). I tried to make 'witch fingers' for daughters Halloween party at school--who would have thought that a recipe made with so much butter would just spread into huge blobs ;/ Now I know! So I improvised and cut strips out of the blobs and viola! Fingers! Sigh I'll just buy candy next time (not). Tomorow the whole family is off and we will rake leaves to bag them up for dad at Arkworks Farm. He will use them for chicken bedding or to mulch the carrots still in the ground. K

Sunday, October 26, 2008


As I am typing I can smell the chicken roasting in the oven. It is a whole chicken with the body cavity stuffed with a cut-up lemon, garlic cloves and fresh rosemary. The skin overlying the breast was loosened and a mix of rosemary, salt and olive oil rubbed on the breast meat. The smell is AMAZING. It is even more amazing that this is a chicken who was raised by a family member (dad) not more than 30 miles from here. The meat birds are a commercial Cornish cross. I am increasingly having a hard time with grocery shopping and feeding my family. A summer of eating fresh stuff and reading the Omnivores Dilema has left me disgusted with our current food supply but not in a place to do alot about it. Now wait-- that's not true! I may not be able to grow our family's own food but there are still alot of things I can change. We will further reduce our fast food stops. I will continue to bake our bread. I will shop at local bulk foods and 'natural foods' stores. I will order that grass finished beef that I have been procrastinating about. Meals can be planned to use all leftovers and frozen veggies from the summer. (I have not learned to can yet) There are many small steps to take in this journey. K

The longest journey begins with a single step.


We have been searching for land to build our new life. It has been an eye-opening process. We started by looking at homes/farms with acreage, but realized that these homes really were no different from our older ranch home in town- if the power went out for more than a day we would be really screwed! Non-reliance on fossil fuels and the power grid is important to we will need to build our own!

So now we are looking at just land, but where? We have drawn a mental circle around our current jobs; approx 30 minutes commute. Which school district? The girls are both in a really great elementary school program and I would love for them to stay. However, land within the district is becoming very expensive and it is really not a farm community. I feel like we would not have enough mental distance from our current lives. It just feels too close. I am also not crazy about the large number of kids in this school. The graduating class will be close to 500 kids. So now we are looking at more outlying areas. I have compared school graduation rates, ACT scores, etc and visited the school in the area we like. Again it just felt right.

We have found a piece of property which fits our needs and wants and is affordable. Wow. Now is the hard part, waiting. There are some right of way issues and we need some co-operation from a neighboring landowner before we can put in an offer. So now it is out of my hands. I have to wait for the town board. Winter is closing in around us and I really need to have something tangible to feed my homesteading dreams. I will have faith and know that it is beyond my control (and develop a back-up plan!). K