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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sandwich Bags and Yogurt

Hero Glad.
Originally uploaded by hfabulous

I have been working on improving the lunches I send with my girls to school. We used to use hot lunch only, but I got fed up with the low quality of the food, all those preservatives, lots of salt, fat and HFCS. Now they make their own sandwiches with homemade whole wheat, local cheese and deli meat (or PB&J). I round out their lunches with different things: apple slices, string cheese, trail mix, or raisins for variety. We also use alot of yogurt in lunches (kids AND parents!). We started with Yoplait-in the little containers, more dessert than anything else. I have been sneakily switching to the fruit on the bottom stuff-trying to get all of our tastebuds accustomed to something closer to real yogurt. (As an aside the other cool thing about the yogurt is we freeze them and they double as an ice pack for the lunch!). In conjunction with the Real Food Challenge, today I am going to make homemade yogurt in the crock pot. Then add a bit of frozen strawberries (or strawberry freezer jam), and put the yogurt into individual glass jars (4oz Ball canning jars) for our lunches. Bye, bye HFCS and plastic container. Now I just hope the yogurt turns out and that everyone finds it tastey!

Oh yeah, the funny story...instead of ziplock sandwich bags, I bought the fold-top kind. Apparently these are dinosaurs from another age (like me ;D ). My kids were mystified. 'Where is the closey thing? How will the sandwich stay in? Mom, how do these work?' I had to give them a lesson on How To Use A Fold-Top Sandwich Bag. First the typewriter, then the walkman, now sandwich bags...

Friday, February 26, 2010

They Are Gone

They have left.
The house is quiet.
I am alone.
What a relief.
I love my husband and children dearly, but I so need this time.
A weight lifts, responsibility receeds.
Without this time I become someone not myself.

Originally uploaded by subsetsum

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Giveaway Time's free stuff. At Homemakers Who Work we are giving away a prize! Many of our authors have contributed prize items in return for feedback. We would like to know what we can do to improve our site. What can we do to improve the content or the layout to make it a must-read for YOU. Entries close at 5pm on Feb 28th.
My conribution is a homemade wooden sign 'Live Simply' on one side and 'Kindness Matters' on the other.
I feel a little strange about being a part of this group-I am not a foodie, or a super-woman, or even a very good house-keeper (ssshh-don't tell). I learn as much as I contribute there.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Real Food Safety

(Just a random-real food picture. I've got summer on the brain)

We watched Food, Inc this weekend. I have to say I was not that impressed. For someone who has read a couple of Salatin's books and Micheal Pollin's work-it was all old hat. Intersting that it was rated R. My Dad and sister were concerned that I was allowing my 11 and 7 year old to watch-but the old R stuff was what happens inside the meat processing plants. I don't consider that R rated-just real life.

A more moving video was Life According to Monsanto. It literally blew me away. If Monsanto is half as evil as this producer make them out to be...first it made me want to cry and then made me so mad-mad at multinationals who place profit above humanity, mad at our government who is supposed to be there for US but is instead placing the fox in charge of the hen-house. 90% of our soybeans are now GMO 'round-up ready' and 70% of the processed food in your grocery store contains GMO food ingrediants-with no labeling and no real safety testing. I am seeing red just thinking about it.

In other fun news, we helped my DH's gandfather celebrate his 100th birthday today. His kids threw him a big party. He is amazing; still living in his own home, cooking for himself, doing his own laundry, no walker or wheelchair. Happy birthday grandpa Carl!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'd Like To Scream

We have the contract and title insurance in hand and today I met with an attorney who specializes in land contracts. It turns out Mr Nice Farmer failed to mention that he does owe quite a bit of money to the bank on this piece of land, there were all sorts of verbal promises made about upkeep of the driveway which did not make it into the written contract. So now I get to call him back and ask him WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?.

Join the Food Revolution

Another post today at Homemakers Who Work about food! Reject the commercial slop passed off as food, you deserve so much more.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Grass Works Family Farm

Begin with the end in mind...I don't know exactly where this will END but within the next 5-7 years we would like to be living a very different lifestyle. This will be the home of our retirement, the homestead which we will bequeath to our children.

What are we hoping to find in the country? The first is space -both physical and emotional. To get away from such close proximity to the consumer rush, to watch the sun rise and set on land in our stewardship. Personally it is also a test; a way to gauge and build my grit and gumption. I have always been the smart one, good at reading, comprehending and taking tests. This has gotten me far in my life, but I wonder, do I have what it takes to thrive and persevere when things get tough? Take me out of the office- can I cut it? A measure of self sufficiency is important to us-food as well as power. That will certainly not happen in this home, we are too comfortable here with the status quo.

We plan to create the Grass Works Family Farm as a small business this spring. Admittedly the first years will be significantly in the red but that is part of the plan-the losses will help negate some of the (taxable) profits from my small business. We plan to market pasture raised meat chickens (Freedom Rangers). The first summer we will only be able to raise one run for immediate family; but by 2011 we should have some kinks worked out and be able to direct market (we have some ideas for that too).

We have been reading alot about rotational grazing this winter and it is our goal to stay within a permaculture model. Allow chickens to be chickens and cows to be cows, let them do the work! To get by with the least amount of physical struggle and capital investment. Instead of bullying the earth with equipment to use our minds and our creativity to achieve our desired outcome. Hence to farm name: Grass Works.

Nineteen acres of beautiful productive grass pasture for pastured meat and layer chickens, a dairy goat or two, the Norwegian Fjord horse. Field rows of native oak, crab apple and other food and cover for wildlife. A large garden from which we can feed ourselves, a garden for medicinal and culinary herbs. The orchard and small fruits, such as grapes and blueberries. All very idyllic, no? What about jobs, property taxes, health insurance, college saving for the kids, and let's not forget the 5 months of winter in wonderful Wisconsin!

For this story-book ending to happen we need to do a couple of things. In the next year or two one of us needs to stop working outside the home(stead). We are both pretty well paid professionals, we have a nice income but also alot of debt (student loans, loan for purchase of business). We need to pay down our debt to allow one of us to devote time to the farm business. If this is to be more than a hobby farm one of us will need to not be working outside the home. If worked full time I would have the higher income but DH has the health insurance. Is is a good problem to have in these times. We have so much to learn about food storage, gardening, livestock, real cooking, and oh how I could go on... it is exciting and a more than a little daunting, but it is REAL now, no longer a dream.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hello Old Friends

I can feel the sunshine flowing through my veins, waking up my sleepy brain. I uderestimate the effects of the long dark winter on my psyche. My focus turns inward, to the bare necessities, and just placing one foot in front of the other. I am sitting in the east bay window letting the morning sun pour over my face, ahh, warmth and awakening.

Things are becoming REAL on the future farm front, we had a successful soil test performed last fall-for a mound septic system, the land was surveyed and the stacks of old ginseng rafters disposed of. The purchase contract is in the mail to us as I type.

We are buying 4 acres plus a 800' x 33' driveway easement for $3,000 an acre. This is a little higher than the $2,000 to 2,500 which seems to be average for farm land in this area-but it is adjacent to dad's 40 acres and that was important to us. We will also have a land contract for the remaining 15 acres of farmfield at the same price at 3% interest for 10 years, with the option to pay off early.

This is a little convoluted but the bank assessed the property at $2,000 an acre which meant to get a bank loan we would have needed to place %15 percent down PLUS the $19,000 dollar difference between assessed value and purchase price. We decided to buy the building site and driveway outright to make the bank happy when we do the construction loan and final mortgage, and Mr. Nice Farmer will finance the remaining 15 acres at a very NICE interest rate while allowing us full use of the acerage. Now all we have to do is live in our camper while the house is built, sell our current house and start the girls in a new school!

(Picture from last fall-view towards the south-the house will go about 100 feet down this south facing slope with a view of Dad's woods-to the left of this shot- and slough.)

More tomorrow about my ideas for the farm!