Category Archives: Farm Life

Raw Milk For Life

Raw milk, you guys! It’s God’s gift to mankind AND one of agriculture’s best kept secrets. Seriously, a disclaimer if you will, I am a huge proponent of real, unadulterated, unpasteurized, pasture fed, raw milk from healthy, disease free cows and a farmer you trust. I’m not only a proponent, I’m a producer and have been for over 7 years, and a consumer for a year prior to that. We began drinking raw milk for the health benefits and then our dairy farmer decided to take the winter off! Horrors! We just couldn’t live without milk (pasteurized milk is not something we would put in our bodies these days!), so when he decided to quit dairying, we made the huge decision to buy cows and a milking machine and have never regretted it!

People everywhere go to extreme lengths to get raw milk. They drive almost an hour each way to the farm. They pay what seems like exorbitant prices per gallon because raw milk farmers have to be self-sustainable, no government handouts here, and quality grass fed cows on minimum grain produce fewer gallons per day than their industry counterparts and are more expensive to feed, since in our case, we feed certified organic grain at milking time. Why are people convinced that getting raw milk is worth the expense?

For one thing, people are willing to spend a little more on food to save a lot at the doctor’s. If you could hear the amazing health testimonials we hear. People have had their IBS cured. Arthritis, eczema, thyroid issues, asthma, allergies, autistic symptoms greatly relieved and in some cases, disappearing completely. You see, raw milk is a living superfood. It contains hundreds of proteins, enzymes, probiotics, healthy fats, vitamins and calcium completely bioavailable to your body. Conversely, those same benefits are denatured, altered and destroyed by the high heat of pasteurization, which actually renders them not only useless, but in some people, harmful as the body mounts a histamine defense against all the dead bacteria killed in pasteurization. One of the enzymes raw milk contains is alkaline phosphatase, which inhibits inflammation in the body. Raw cream contains the Wulzen Factor the anti-arthritic nutrient which protects against arthritis, and is said to relieve pain, swelling and stiffness. It’s worth repeating: Pasteurizing milk destroys the Wulzen Factor and denatures the proteins, and destroys the enzymes and other life giving, immune boosting qualities found in raw milk. Pasteurized milk is processed milk, “fortified” with many add-ins as a result. And pasteurized whole milk is more processed than skim. Many raw milk advocates truly believe that pasteurized milk is the most allergenic product on the market today. (Raw milk consumption is not recommended by the FDA, do your own research before taking my word for it!)

Some history regarding pasteurization of milk. Louis Pasteur developed the pasteurization process for wine. Raw milk had never been a common agent for illness until the end of the 19th century when distillery dairies were introduced to urban areas as the answer to sudden population growth, as well as a convenient way to dispose of the unwanted byproduct of making alcohol. People wanted milk, but lived too far from farms with healthy cows where they could get quality milk. Dairy cows were crowded into feedlots near the cities and fed distillery waste that acidified their rumens and made the cows sick and diseased. This poor environment and diet combined with bad sanitation practices introduced a time when raw milk was unsafe and pasteurizing it seemed to be the answer. Today’s pasteurized milk also needs a long shelf life. It comes from innumerable cows from large confinement dairies all over the country and has to be freighted to stores before finally being consumed–this kind of milk from large confinement operations should be pasteurized both for safety and long shelf life. Ironically, in the case of UHT milk (ultra high-temperature pasteurization) this “dead milk” doesn’t even need refrigerated. Alternatively, producing safe, clean raw milk is possible these days, thanks to stainless steel equipment, refrigeration, testing, and a better understanding of germs, sanitary dairy practices and bovine health. And even if the fresh taste of your raw milk lasts only 8-10 days, when raw milk turns sour, it is still good for so many uses so we don’t waste it!

There’s so much more to the raw vs. pasteurized debate. I haven’t even mentioned the A1/A2 milk, how different breeds, like Holsteins (the industry standard because they produce huge amounts of milk) are more likely to produce the harder-to-digest A1 milk while Guernseys and Jerseys are more likely to produce the health promoting A2 milk. Raw milk from our Guernsey and Jersey cows TASTES amazing. Fresh and wholesome, not “cooked” as so many describe pasteurized milk. It has a nice 3-4 inch band of cream per gallon which is absolutely delicious in coffee and tea. Ours has an 8-10 day shelf life but the great thing about raw milk is that even when it starts to taste a little sour, it can still be incredibly useful and good for you. All those good bacteria have gone crazy–at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Real Milk website they even share that science has shown that raw milk is anti-pathogenic! Cultured milk in the form of kefir, or clabbered milk (unpasteurized milk left on the counter to sour) are staples in homes all over the world. Sour milk makes great pancakes, smoothies, cottage cheese, and the sour cream at the top is delicious by the spoonful.

This is a ton of information, I know. But you will be hearing more and more about raw milk as it gains in popularity and continues to be legalized in more and more of the United States. Currently, it is legal in 43 U.S. states to buy raw milk straight from the farm, or as part of a cowshare/herdshare agreement, or labeled as pet milk. Whether you agree that drinking raw milk is a good thing or not, we should all be able to agree that food freedom is important. Do we really need governmental control of what goes into our mouths? Am I wrong or is this a fundamental right, something so basic as what we choose to eat, especially when it concerns a product like milk, that has been around since the beginning of humanity and is known for providing life-giving nutrition from birth. As rational thinking adults, look at the research, talk to raw milk drinkers, see the proof firsthand and pursue health as you see fit. As for me and mine, we’ll be drinking raw milk for life!


Spring flooding

What do country farmgirls do when it floods and the fields become swimming holes? They make a big splash!

We are in day #2 of being flooded in. It’s kind of a spring tradition but one we skipped last year and got a drought instead. Our home and animals are safely uphill so there’s no inherent danger from rising water for us, but the roads in and out of the valley below our home place are impassable when the river and creeks get out. Pictured above left is my youngest daughter, choosing adventure over common sense and safety. No snakes, snapping turtles, deep currents, etc were encountered on this particular escapade. And no, she’s not on her knees in the water. In all fairness, the girls and I always went puddle stomping after the rain…too many years ago now to count. The second picture is the road home that my eldest daughter chose to wade after parking her car on the other side. Her dad was on his way to escort her home in our ATV, but she walked it knee deep in her Nikes and loved every second.

I got caught up in the adventure myself, and forgot to do all the preventative things a farm gal is supposed to automatically *do* when this happens. Like fill up a ton of buckets and pans and water pitchers for drinking, washing hands and flushing. Oops. And so the brown water coming out of our faucets today smacked me in the forehead. I knew better! On the bright side, by some miracle, dishes and laundry are done, and chili is in the crockpot for supper. Most importantly the teakettle is half full of clean water and I have some water bottles stashed in the basement if we have to resort to drastic measures. Don’t you agree that having the capacity to brew a cuppa tea is a necessity when disaster strikes?

One thing bothers me. I am perilously low on sugar-free chocolate.

Anyone else flooded in today? Isaiah 43:2, ” When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

Spring Adventures

Watering canIt’s feeling a lot like spring outside! And it’s been a long while coming, hasn’t it? I had my hands in garden dirt today, helping our local CSA farm plant 1,000 broccoli and cauliflower plants–perfect afternoon project for four families to tackle, made easier by many hands and a nifty transplanter implement new to the farm. I think I may have gotten a wee bit of a sunburn today–and some good ole-fashioned Vitamin D, while I was at it!

Baby chicks moved in last week–37 of them to be exact. The morning they arrived, we also had our 4 calves escape their pen, and a baby goat that needed warmed by our fire and bottle fed every 2 hours for a couple of days. Yep, spring has sprung.

Last night we offloaded 400 cattle from 4 semi trucks, and then herded them by horseback to a neighboring pasture…at dusk. My husband and I, our 3 daughters, and 3 cattle dogs. By the time we headed back to the horse trailer we could barely see each other on our bay and roan horses. We’ve ridden in the dark before, to the tune of 3:30 A.M. but never at night–we can’t wait till next time! Oh, and the chocolate rice krispy treats my oldest made for the truck ride over to this adventure rounded out the fun, not to mention how the girls baled onto the pick-up bed for the ride home. Happy!

Got my pansies planted just now, homemade noodles ready to roll out for supper…should I pop open a quart jar of home-canned turkey or beef to add in with gravy? Hmmm.

Now if our milk cows would only calve soon, we’d be in milk again. The laying hens are giving me 15-20 eggs a day. I’m telling you, THIS is living. Fresh air and SUNSHINE, greening grass and trees, flowers, loamy dirt to fill with veggie transplants, baby critters, girls on horseback, real food at the end of a long day’s work. I’m thinking I don’t deserve to have it so good. Thank you, Lord, for your abundant blessings!

How’s your spring shaping up?

 

Miracle on New Year’s Eve 2012

My husband and I were up at the barn milking the cows when it happened. Screams, distant enough that I shoved my hood back and strained to distinguish whether or not they were in fun or in terror. I’d just been watering the livestock at the back of the dairy barn, humming “Let it Snow,” thinking what a gorgeous adventure I was having, helping the love of my life milk ye old cows, tromping through 3 inches of white stuff, and just loving the calm still of a snowflaked world on New Year’s Eve. Inside the house, a table piled with our favorite finger foods awaited us, special movies hand picked for bringing in the New Year, and a roaring fire in the fire place. Life just didn’t get better than this.

Until my heart stilled at the sounds of all three of my girls screaming for help. My husband jumped away from Gertie, our Jersey-Guernsey cow that he was finishing up, and asked me if something was wrong out there. I was still in denial, hoping there wasn’t.

“I think they are just playing…I shut the chickens in early tonight, so they let Guiney out to romp in the snow a bit.” I hurried through the barn, heading for the door that was nearest the commotion.  Guiney is our female Australian Shepherd, my 12 year old’s special pet, a great dog…but one with an affinity for eating my laying hens. We dare not let them out at the same time.

When I reached the big sliding south door of our dairy barn, all doubt as to the seriousness of the situation vanished. My 8 year old was hysterical, hardly able to talk she was wailing so loudly. “Mommy! Daddy!” her screams were punctuated with chest-shuddering sobs, “Guiney’s head is caught in a trap, she’s going to die, come quick!”

My husband took off running, I’ve never seen him fly over the snow so fast. Later we looked at his boot prints…all a good four feet apart. Down the long hill, past our horse pens, around the fledgling fruit trees we planted last year, and across the small pasture where we keep our broiler pens…I prayed he’d make it in time. Adrenaline pumping, I hurried to free the dairy cows from their stanchions and turned them back into their part of the barn where they could munch alfalfa and not get into trouble. I hurried to my youngest, still wailing as if her heart had broken into a million pieces, bent over in the snow, rocking and praying to God to please please save Guiney.

My own emotions were threatening to pull me under. This couldn’t be happening. If only the girls had asked before letting Guiney out. But how could they know that there was a trap set down by the field pens, set to catch the elusive critter that’s been after the chickens here of late? I hugged my youngest close and we prayed together, loud desperate pleas to the only One who could work the miracle needed a quarter mile away.

Youngest didn’t want to go near the scene, she just knew Guiney was dead, and couldn’t bear to have it confirmed. I sent my delirious little sweetheart trudging forlornly to the house, and headed down to the rest of my family. When I got within view, my hubby was heading back this way…I hollered down to him, thinking he might need something and I could save him some steps. He gestured with his hands in a way that I thought meant, “She’s gone. She died. It’s over.” The tears I’d been fighting rushed out, my rip-tide of emotions finally collapsing when all hope was gone. But then I saw Guiney, up and walking around, a ghost of a dog…as if nothing had happened. What?

I immediately thought of my little one, who had just gone into the back porch. I turned back and hollered, “She’s alive!” I had to yell it several times.

She stumbled out, in disbelief, a little nymph all bundled up in coveralls and her red “rooster” ski hood that covered her face with eye-and-mouth holes. “She’s alive?”

We were both so broken up with relief, and tears flowing, that we could hardly communicate. We hugged, our first thought after the relief was that God had graciously answered our fervent pleas. Then we headed down the snow-capped driveway to the rest of the family and Guiney-the-wonder-dog met us. Has any dog ever been so lavished with love as this precious blue-merle Aussie? I hugged and hugged my second-born daughter, Guiney’s owner, and we thanked God over and over for saving her doggie.

My oldest told me the story. She’d seen the killer trap snap around Guiney’s neck. Guiney died in her arms, having first passed out from lack of oxygen. When my husband got there, he pried open the trap with his bare hands, usually not possible. Part of the miracle. He confirmed that Guiney was dead. But not one to give up easily, he decided to breathe into her nose and work on her heart. Minutes crept by. He kept breathing for her, but her eyes were rolled back, and she should have gulped in air the minute he’d gotten the trap off. He sat her up against his chest and moved her around, hoping to stimulate things. The girls were standing a little ways away, praying, hoping against hope, and hearing their daddy pray out loud  in between breathing for our dog. He was about to call it quits, when Guiney’s eyes moved slightly.

The girls were just sure it was all over. All they knew was that their daddy had gotten quiet. But when they heard him say, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord!” they looked at each other in amazement. Could it be possible? Guiney moved a bit gingerly, but soon was up walking around. By the time youngest and I got mid-way down the driveway, Guiney was jogging to us, as if nothing was wrong. Not a dot of blood even smeared her lovely white collar.

Tonight we have much to be thankful for…we’ll always remember the miracle on New Year’s Eve 2012, when God raised our dog from the dead. This is the kind of faith lesson that will loom over all of us in future hard times, a monument to a mighty God who sees each sparrow, and dog, that falls, and who holds all of our lives in His hands.

Things that make me happy!

I am having an uncomplicated day at home for the first time in several weeks. Big deep purr of contentment here. We’ve had back-to-back farmer’s markets in our community, to maximize on various tourism events, and we’re all just feeling plumb worn out. In between all of that, we’ve been processing chickens, keeping up with our big garden, and helping my hubby get ready for hay harvest. Oh, yeah, and milking two cows twice a day really uses up about 3 hours a day when you add in bottle feeding 3 calves, washing and sanitizing all the milking equipment, buckets, bottles, dairy floor…quite the job!

So today I was fixing myself a cup of tea for the first “me time” I’ve had in, well, I can’t remember when, unless you count the time last week when one of my good friends stopped by and helped me peel apples for pies for the market. Now that was pure loveliness, and I’d just been spoiled the day before when another friend came over to share stove duties and helped make pumpkin spice mini loaves. God is so good to me. When is the last time you thanked him for giving you a strong back, the ability to *see* this gorgeous world and participate in LIFE with a healthy body and a family that loves you?

Things that make me happy!

  • White Honeysuckle Tea by Shang, with added goji berries and sweetened with honey–Mmm! (Sipping as I type this…)
  • Seeing a full jar of said honey, and knowing it’s the real deal, honest-to-goodness unadulterated raw, organic honey…and daydreaming about our beekeeping venture panning out…hopefully soon!
  • Time, sweet time, to take deep breaths and snuggle with pup Liz while I watch my girls play with her 5 week old littermates
  • Listening to my girls giggle as they jump on the trampoline with the water hose blasting their every move…
  • My long row of colorful rainbow swiss chard out in the garden–so purty, its oranges, hot pinks, yellows, pale greens and pinks!
  • Garden tomatoes and cukes in my CSA share this week! WOW!
  • Hymns played by my 11 year old on her harmonica–she takes it wherever we go, we rarely listen to the radio in the vehicle anymore…
  • Fresh cream on fresh blackberries with a teensy bit of sugar!
  • Murmuring lovingly to my Jersey cow, ’cause she’s so good to us and gives such amazing milk!
  • Farmer’s Markets–such a fantastic sense of community…
  • Great Bible teaching–which we’re so blessed to get three times a week, praise God!

Wow, I think I could go on indefinitely, but my tea is getting cold and I’m overdue for some time in the Bible today…

What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear about them!

Blessings,
Mary

Farm Happenings

Well, a whole lot has been going on at our little homestead since I last had time to write! For starters, the girls and I have been preparing for our local farmer’s market for around two months, canning jellies and jams, making homemade cold process soaps and lip balms, crocheting doll dresses and dishcloths and potscrubbers, and trying out specialty cookie recipes such as “Nutter Betters” and “M’Oreos”, Marbled Chocolate Caramel Bars and Graham Crackers.

We’ve also been preparing for the arrival of two family cows! We were able to acquire an older Jersey cow named “Phyllis”–we call her “Philly”, and a 5 year old Ayreshire named “Missy”. They have been a wonderful addition to our livestock family. And on the evening of the first farmer’s market, Philly gave birth to a bouncing baby bull calf! They are both doing great, and yes, I’m so far surviving the early morning milkings. It’s the many buckets and containers that need washed and sterilized that’s killing me over here!  We are huge fans of raw milk, and having our own milk cows is a dream come true, a long time coming! Missy is due to calve sometime around the end of May.

We’re raising baby chicks again, some for laying and some for the freezer. Our garden is double the size it was last year, we have a good stand of lettuce, onions, broccoli, cabbage, rainbow swiss chard, beets and about 60 or more tomatoes–I lost count. Green beans are coming up nicely, and I need to get out there and plant cukes and melons ASAP! Always plenty to do these days, as we finish up our school year, and work on labels for our market goodies.

The first farmer’s market was last week, and it exceeded our expectations and then some. We are trying to figure out how to make more baked goods while maximizing our efficiency. Oh for another stove! My 14 year old is the one baking the specialty cookies, which are very time consuming, but amazingly delicious, and big draws for the public. All of our baked goods are 100% made from freshly ground whole wheat berries…from our butter cookie pie crusts to our M’Oreo cookies.

Hope you enjoy the pics of our little farmstead!

Happy Spring to you!

Thoughts from my Garden

There’s no better time or place for pondering than the garden in the morning. Before the heat starts bearing down, while the cool damp air wafts the scent of fresh cilantro my way as I’m watering the herbs…ahhh, nothing compares! This morning I spent an hour or more just watering and cooing to my lush green tomato plants, and ridding the pathways of stray weeds. They love me! (the tomatoes, not the weeds!)

I saw the telltale signs of hornworm action on two of the tomato plants. Grrr. The hunt began. It always scares me how well those large green worms blend in on a tomato vine. The damage they do is very obvious–they eat the end leaves off of the tomato plants, leaving an empty nub–but the worm itself is good at “making like a vine” and camouflaging itself till your nose is inches away and you suddenly see the thing. Ugh.

Isn’t that the way it is with life? Sometimes you see the effects of sin in your life…perhaps cutting you off from bearing fruit for Christ, or having fruitful relationships with others. Sometimes you have to trace that sin down and deal with it. Maybe it’s plainer to others than it is to you. Whatever the case, if you let it go, it will destroy you and the consequences will spread to those around you…if it’s a hornworm, pluck it off and smash it; if it is a weed, uproot it and throw it in the burn pile before it takes over your life.

Gardening with children is a great way to teach discernment. Last week we were weeding the onions. We have a long row and a half of onions, and it is a wide row, so there are three onions across, then four, then three, alternating in a foot wide raised bed. Lots of training opportunities while weeding with kiddos. Onion tops are green, so are most weed tops. The good and the bad grow side by side, close comparison helps one to discern what to leave and what to pull.

Side by side comparison in real life is helpful as well. Whether it be in the garden, or when choosing the best Bible translation, there is no better way to gain discernment than comparing the good and the bad side by side for their differences.

In creation and in spiritual things, discernment is critical. Take wild edibles for instance. With wild edibles, poisonous plants and medicinal plants often look alike. Do you know how many campers have dined on what they thought was wild carrots, when in fact it was a poisonous look-alike, poison hemlock? Deadly mistake. Sometimes close inspection is necessary for survival. Whether it be physical or spiritual.

Another parallel to this consideration would be Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares. A tare in the field looks exactly like the wheat, but at harvest time, the wheat produces fruit, and tares do not. 2 Timothy 2:19 tells us that “the Lord knoweth them that are his”…We’re also told a few verses earlier, in 2 Timothy 2:15, that we’re to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Discernment is key if you are Christian living in today’s world. It’s easy to be confused by counterfeits.

Just some thoughts from my garden.

1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”

Our May 2011

As I write, my keyboard taps are accompanied by the thunder rumbles and smacking raindrops asserting their world domination via my wide open living room windows.  I’m guessing my apple mint sun tea on the deck might not be the ticket on a day like today. But no matter, I have a steaming cup of chai by my side, and two of my girls are in the kitchen cutting up strawberries we picked ourselves and baking shortcake and banana bread.  And we got 43 chickens processed before the rain let loose!

So it is springtime, once again. Almost summer even. Most of us have wrapped up schooldays, and are busy juggling in yard and garden chores to our already busy lives. I have to say, May sped by. Here are some highlights of our month o’ May days!

We traveled to the midwest’s largest Bible museum, to check out their special 400th anniversary display of King James Version Bibles. Incredible to see ancient tables of stone with scripture carved upon them, dating back to Ur…yes, Abraham’s Ur! What a special field trip, taken with friends, including not only this museum visit, but also a chapel service in a quaint English chapel built of stones from an authentic “Middle Ages” chapel, which were shipped from England to the USA in the mid-1800’s and then reconstructed. We also visited a famous battleground, hiked the woodsy trails there, and picnicked beneath a grape arbor.

I have to say, I really watched the skies in May, not that any man can know the day or the hour, but because May 2011 took in the 400th anniversary of the KJV, as well as the 63rd anniversary of Israel becoming a state. What’s the big deal about 400 year intervals in the Bible? Check out the Exodus and the 400 years of silence between Old and New Testaments, just for a couple of examples. And Israel’s 63rd anniversary? Well, if the church is raptured in 2011, followed by 7 years of tribulation, then Jesus’ return at Armageddon would coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. “70” is a number associated with prophecy in the Bible. Just interesting to think about. For more on why 2011 might be “the year”, check out this website post and scroll down to the portion titled, “Wondering When Jesus Will Come and Take Us Home…” I’ve enjoyed this guy’s writing overall, and in this particular segment of a prayer letter, he shares political reasons as to why 2011 might be, as is every day of every year, a year to be ready for Christ’s return!

Also in May, we had two foals born, both bay colts. We’ve gentled them to where they now let us walk right up to them and give them a good scratching. So sweet. And springtime at our place wouldn’t be complete without hundreds of baby chicks. This year’s layer hen of choice is the Light Brahma. Going with a different breed each year gives us some variety, but more importantly, helps us keep track of the ages of our birds so we know which layers are ready for the stewing pot. I know, sounds harsh doesn’ t it? We give them a good life, free ranging from morning till night on plenty of green grass and organic grain. These Light Brahmas are adorable with feathered legs and feet, don’t you think?

Let’s see, I didn’t really cover Homeschool Presentation Night, also in May…suffice it to say my eldest shared some poetry she’d written, my middle daughter played the trumpet, and youngest sang with gusto, “Look and Live”, an old favorite hymn. Also in May we drove 2.5 hours away to a U-pick farm and helped pick 75 quarts of organic strawberries–delicious! So we’ve made a dozen pints of freezer jam, homemade strawberry ice cream, and have many more in the freezer for future delicacies! We’ve enjoyed many outdoor Sunday morning services with our Christian fellowship now that the weather is so gorgeous, and  finished up the month helping at a nearby town devastated by tornadoes.

Oh, and I finished reading a really amazing book on dispensations, about which I will soon be blogging! In that vein, please check out my current poll on the sidebar, and let me know where you stand on this interesting way of “dividing the word of truth”.

What was your highlight in May? I’d love to hear about it!

The True Joy of Spring

In a corral with two mares and their foals, one can coax for thirty minutes before the long-legged little colts’ curiosity brings them your way. But when they are nuzzling you and chewing on your fingers, that wait is so worth it!

We’re loving springtime, and the births and firstfruits (like rhubarb and asparagus!) that accompany it. Besides the two foals, we also have six kids (of the goat variety!), and around 160-something chicks. And a Border Collie Mama-to-be that is so big we think she must have about 20 pups in the making! This spring we also got started in the “worm” business. Yes, that’s right. My basement is housing a mini-worm farm, for composting purposes here at home. Worm castings are an incredible source of organic, non-toxic fertilizer for boosting the nutrient health of your seedlings, transplants, and for later side-dressing of veggies. It’s been INTERESTING, to say the least! :O) My hubby says that beekeeping is on our horizon as well! Sweet! 

But I have to say, that the best thing about life these days, is the joy of waking up each day with a heart so full of bride-like love for my Maker and the new found hunger for His word that just leaves me in awe every minute of the day. I’ve been passionate about many things and people in my life…from family and friends to writing, homeschooling, homesteading, “Christianity,” etc. But nothing compares to the light of His word, that the Holy Spirit has fanned from a flicker to a flame in my personal life this past year. Nothing else has come with such a price tag, costing me on many counts as God prunes the unnecessary from my life, replacing what I once held dear with things of greater eternal significance. Regrets in this process? No way, except that I wish it had happened earlier! This is the relationship with my Heavenly Father that I’ve always longed for, and wondered how people of old could gladly suffer and die for…

Ephesians 5:14,

“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”

2 Corinthians 4:6,

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Like a little foal that doesn’t know what’s good for him till he’s brave enough to leave what’s comfortable and respond to the draw of his long-suffering and patient owner crouched in the corner of the corral, we’re so silly sometimes about putting God off for a rainy day. Why not seek Him now, with your whole heart, casting off any preconceived notions and just letting Him speak to you through His word?

Psalm 119:130 says,

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”

My friend, there is light in abundance there, for both your darkness and mine, and an eternity more while we’re at it.

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Eggs

Why You Don’t Want to Buy Organic Eggs at the Grocery Store was the title of an article recently delivered to my inbox. Basically, the article revealed industry requirements in readying eggs for market. Specifically washing eggs in chlorine baths, or other harsh chemicals, and then coating them with mineral oil.eggs

One of the first things I learned from the resident farm-pro down the road, is that washing eggs opens them wide up for contamination, which is why commercial producers have to coat their eggs with mineral oil. With 7,500 pores or openings in the eggshell, it’s best to leave intact the protective bloom, or waxy coating that God intended to protect the egg from harmful bacteria.

Spot-washing here and there is how I’ve always dealt with unwanted, errm…*smears*…but come to find out, the best way according to the above article, is to wash those spots off with warm water (20 degrees warmer than the egg) that’s been mixed in a 3:1 ratio with vinegar. Just like my grandma used to do it! (Read the above article to find out why)

We have 39 organic laying hens, and we sell about 10 dozen eggs a week–very small scale. But what you see is what you get. Our chickens free-range from early in the morning till dark, from their chicken “barn” with its two doors flung open wide. We supplement their free-ranging with organic feed that’s been mixed with Fertrell’s Nutri-balancer. This organic supplement contains 10-20% more nutrients than what the USDA requires, plus kelp meal, probiotics, chelated minerals (makes the minerals more bio-available), and phosphate, which enhances the layer’s absorption of calcium for  strong shells.

With organic eggs at the store costing anywhere from $4/dozen in our area, you might want to find a local farmer near you who does things the common sense way. Query him to know exactly what you are buying.

For more on how good free-range eggs are for you compared to your typical grocery store variety, visit Mother Earth’s Chicken and Egg page. I like to print this off and share it with my new egg customers. Most people can’t believe that pastured (free-range) poultry eggs can boast of the following when compared to their grocery store counterparts:

• 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

Happy News for the Kiddos: Did you know that out of the 69 billion eggs produced annually, only 2.3 million of them are contaminated with salmonella. That’s .003 %, or 1 in 30,000 eggs. Go ahead and enjoy that raw cookie dough! Salmonella infections are typically found in commercially raised hens. Sick chickens lay salmonella contaminated eggs. So buy high quality, cage free, organic eggs from a local producer and your risk of salmonella disappears!

One more thing before I sign off…yesterday we butchered around 60 chickens with the neighbors, along with another family’s help. This other family had helped friends of theirs process chickens just a week or two prior.

(This chicken killing thing is catching on…)

Anyway…the point is, this family told us how two families brought their birds to be processed, one family had fed their broilers organic feed, the other family hadn’t. The organically fed birds had more fat and healthier livers than the non-organic birds. Believe me, if you have ever butchered chickens, the liver tells the whole story. They should be dark and smooth, not spotted, green, enlarged, etc.

I’m telling you, God created us and our environments, and man keeps messing with a good thing! No antibiotics or GMO feeds for my birdies!

Get thyselves educated! We ARE what we EAT.