Category Archives: In The News

The Great Science Debate

KJV_BibleLast Tuesday we popped up some kettle corn and gathered round the computer for what’s being called “The Debate of the Century”. It was 2 hours and 45 minutes of Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis, and Bill Nye the Science Guy tackling the question, Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in Today’s Modern Scientific Era?

The disappointing thing about the debate was that they didn’t get very far on the topic specified, but still, we were euphoric by the end, because Ken Ham did a fantastic job of presenting the validity of the Young Earth Creationist viewpoint and how scientists have been using the Bible for centuries to make valid predictions in the field. He had an impressive line-up of video presentations, including live interview clips by Creation scientists (such as Dr. Raymond Damadian who revolutionized modern medical technology with the invention of the MRI scanner) to back up his data. Most of all, we were impressed with Ken’s humble, gracious attitude and his heart for truth. He unashamedly admitted many times that he takes the Creation account literally, and presented the gospel at least 3 times during the debate…with scripture.

Ken Ham also pointed out the two kinds of science, a differentiation widely ignored by mainstream science. That is, that there is a big difference between historical science dealing with origins, and observable or operational science. Mainstream science wants to claim that there is no difference, hence their claim that an evolutionary worldview is essential to proper scientific understanding and procedure…which is not true at all.

Our children are ages 16, 13 and 9, and we figured there would be some evidence from Bill Nye’s argument for evolution that we’d have to research and debunk. On the contrary…I can’t tell you how many times the kids hit the pause button and spouted off the real science behind the manipulated facts Nye presented as solid evidence. I guess all of those creation seminar dvds and Apologia textbooks have been worth the hours spent studying! If you watched the debate and have questions, the Answers in Genesis website put together an “Answers” page, that provides answers for everything Bill Nye brought up during the debate. We were also disappointed that Nye didn’t seem to take this discussion very seriously, nor did he address the questions Ken Ham had for him. He kept saying that if Creationists gave one piece of evidence for an out of place fossil (using the secularists’ own dating methods), he’d be so grateful, science would be so grateful.  Ken Ham gave him that evidence, and even a picture of it in his slideshow–45,000-year-old wood in 45-million-year-old rock! Bill Nye willingly ignored it. Now he is calling for Ken Ham to build an exact replica of Noah’s ark and see if it is seaworthy for over a year. The interesting thing about the ark, is how it affected early Naval architecture. I’ve linked to more info, if you are interested.

If you would like to watch the debate, I am not sure how much longer they will leave it up for public viewing, but the Answers in Genesis YouTube Channel still has the debate available, as well as the Post-Debate Commentary, which we also highly recommend watching.

Estimates are that at least 5 million people from 190 countries were tuned in at one point or another to this debate…that is amazing coverage. And the debate is bleeding over into conversation all over the internet. My take-away from that? This topic of creation vs evolution has been silent due to secular censorship for far too long—and people want to discuss it!

One last important note. There are many Christians that believe God created the world via the big bang or that evolution can be explained into the creation story. To this, Ken Ham asks…how could millions of years of animal death, disease, predation, extinction and other natural evils such earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, as evidenced in the fossil record, come before man’s sinful fall in the garden and God’s subsequent curse? There really is nothing about evolutionary origins that is compatible with the Biblical account.

And that’s my .02 cents about the big debate!

Please Pass the Organic Chicken Meat!

chicks09This news in! Organically fed chickens develop different and superior genes than conventionally fed chickens.

Why is this exciting to me? Well, our spring broilers arrived last Wednesday which means my freezer will be 25 chickens richer in about 7 weeks, Lord willing. Makes this organic, grass-fed effort to raise quality meat for my family much more satisfying.

Get this: Two groups of chickens from two generations were fed exactly the same things, except one group was fed organic feed, and the other, conventional feed. When all was said and done, scientists evaluated RNA (Ribonucleic acid–similar to DNA but different) samples from both groups’ intestines to check out their differences in gene expression. They were unprepared for the amazing results! For more info, check out this article at naturalnews.com: Organic Chickens are Genetically Different from Conventional Chickens.

My immediate thought is this: what does this say about us? If the different cultivation methods of chicken feeds can cause such changes in a chicken’s gene pool, then what does eating conventionally raised veggies and fruits as opposed to eating organically grown veggies and fruits cause in my own personal gene make-up?

Another thing–this study was done in the Netherlands. The conventionally fed chickens were NOT being fed feed containing genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), ie: “Frankenstien foods”, as they are known in Europe. Farmer John, my organic CSA farm neighbor, tells me that currently, most all corn grown commercially in the USA contains GMO’s, so it would be interesting frightening (!) to see a study comparing GMO grain fed chickens with their organically fed counterparts.

A 2006 Consumer Reports study urges that chicken is among the top products to purchase organic. It does not contain the toxic hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides that conventionally raised poultry do. This report even suggests that low levels of artificial hormones can increase one’s risk of developing cancer. Traces of toxic heavy metals have even been uncovered in commercially grown chickens. For a list of more chemically laden foods to avoid, go here.

Not only that, when you raise your animals on pasture and feed them organic feeds, you reap a huge bang for your buck. Why? Omega-3 fatty acids are created in the leaves of green plants, where they are vital to photosynthesis. When my chickens graze fresh green grass every day, they are accumulating more of these essential fatty acids. When I eat my chicken, I’m eating its Omega-3’s–and that’s just one of many nutrient benefits.

So…how about that? We really are what we eat, or er…what our animals eat.

Let’s talk organic!

Okay, the bottom line is age related problems and diseases are widely thought to be caused by two things: consuming insufficient nutrients and adding on top of that, a lifetime truckload of toxic chemicals. This alone is a huge argument for eating organic food when possible–firstly because it is chock full of nutrients, antioxidants and Omega 3’s compared to your non-organic foods and secondly…it contains no toxic chemicals or heavy metals–while unorganic foods are saturated with them in various forms, thanks to fertilizers, pesticides, etc.

(Go read this article at Science Daily for just one example of how toxic chemicals found in pesticides cause things like Parkinson’s disease, and for more stats on just how much healthier organic foods are than their unorganic counterparts visit this article.)

Yet, very few people–at least in my experience here in the mid-west–want their family and friends to label them as organic fanatics! So here’s my disclaimer to all my family and friends: going all organic is my *someday* goal, but never to the point of “bringing my own snacks to parties” etc. Our family loves food, loves fellowship and we have plenty of unhealthy eating habits. That said…I have to write this post. It’s pretty important info in today’s McDonald’s “dumbed down” culture where kids are raised loving refined products made from white flours and sugars, where genetically modified foods abound, and grocery stores sell HFCS everything and milk-flavored drinking beverages. What has happened to real food??? And why aren’t more people demanding answers?

I’ll tell you what happened…this profit driven, fast-turnover, long shelf life agenda happened. Sadly, going “organic” has had a bad rep in past years, but as more people get educated about health, they’re seeing how valuable real food really is. Organic is simply the way people grew food before the chemical ways became the norm. Back when dirt was dirt, and honeybees weren’t dying from all the pesticides.

I recently viewed The Truth about Organic Food, a 75 minute 2007 DVD interview of David Getoff, a Traditional Naturopathic Doctor with a full time health and wellness practice in San Diego, California. Wonderful introduction and overview of what “organic” is, why it’s beneficial and necessary for a long, healthy life, and how to know which “organic” products are worth buying. For instance, grass fed, free range, cage free and natural all mean varying degrees of “good for you”…and certain organic beefs were only organic (hormone & antibiotic free) for their last 90 days on this earth, according to organic standards in labeling. Organic labeling can be tricky, and just because something is organic does not mean it is healthy. Sure an organic candy bar is probably more healthy for you than a normal one, but as David Getoff says, “Cobra venom is organic–mercury, arsenic, and lead get pulled out of the earth and they’re organic!” So do your research, or better yet, grow your own!

Interesting history regarding fertilizers…

Chemical fertilizers replaced “green manure crops” as a way to put minerals and nutrients back into the soil, more time and cost effectively. Farmers and scientists must have put their heads together to find a way to grab back those seasons spent raising rye grass or other “green manure” crops that would then be plowed under as a way to naturally replenish the soil of all the goodies that crops take in their making. Somebody did the research, and found that the top chemicals the soil needed were N, P, and K–the ones found on all the fertilizer bags you buy at the farm store: Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus. So they reasoned, let’s just pour this on, and get things back in the ground. Money talks, and this would be cheaper than growing a green manure crop, not to mention, you’d get those months back for growing a cash crop. Makes a lot of sense. Problem is, there are SO many minerals that our bodies need for health that are not contained in a bag of NPK fertilizer! For instance, one that Getoff shared in the DVD was Boron–Boron is a deficiency duly noted in osteoporosis patients. Selenium is another, if you don’t get enough Selenium, the cancer rate goes way up.

But on the outside, these plants grown with chemical fertilizers look great. They are cheaper for the farmer, but they are not giving the people what they need–trace minerals and nutrients, AND the foods don’t taste as good.

Organic growers have found a wealth of minerals still in the ocean and use soil amendments such as kelp meal, crabshell meal, fish meal to put the minerals and life back into nutrient robbed soil. Visit www.groworganic.com for more info. For even more info, check out the book: Worms Eat My Garbage.

Interesting thoughts regarding pesticides…

Okay, so in the beginning, somebody wanted to keep the bugs from eating plants. As in a lot of things, no one seems to have put a lot of thought into the far-reaching effects of dumping chemicals in the ground. How would insectisides affect beneficial insects, birds, bees and pollination…the soil itself? It is interesting to note, that on big organic farms, pests aren’t a terrible problem. It almost seems as if the pests are attracted to the wilting, unhealthy plants, leaving the others alone. However, if today’s conventional farmer were to give up using his pesticides after years of use, all the insects in the world would demolish his crop. David Getoff likens it to the way a shark is attracted to a dying fish. I know personally, if I remember to put newspaper collars on my tomato seedlings, I never have cutworms. Good-bye Seven’s dust forever…now if only there were an easier remedy for squash bugs than squashing…

Avoid unorganic fats because of pesticide saturation

Another biggie that I took away from watching this DVD was the fact that pesticides are fat soluble. This means that the pesticide residue on our fruits and veggies (which by the way, is not easily washed or soaked off) binds to our fat cells. Fat soluble, NOT water soluble…these buggars are not going to be eliminated via sweat or urination. And so many people are on low-fat diets, that these toxins are going to sit around in their fat cells indefinitely. The good news, is that you can let go of these old fats by eating new, organic ones. And it’s a pretty important step to take in the organic process…switching to organic fats. Because so many toxic chemicals bind to fats, David Getoff recommends definitely switching to using EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), organic butter, and buying organic eggs for the high-fat content in egg yolks, and organic pastured poultry meat for the good fats found in the skin. Same thing with nuts, since they are very high fat. Buy organic.

To sum up, make changes where you can. Our family has been taking small steps as we’ve found the avenues to support this way of eating. Okay, maybe butchering my own chickens hasn’t been that “small” of a step, but it sure didn’t happen overnight! Switching to organic fats (EVOO, Coconut oil and butter), organic free range eggs and raw milk are things we definitely all should look into, as these things contain more toxic residue that sits around in our bodies causing trouble.

Yes, organic costs more. So put less money into the less important things. Do you really need that new car? Good health is more important. Organically grown foods have more vitamins, no toxins, and thousands of percents more minerals. There are ways around the cost, one of which is to grow your own foods without pesticides, etc. Or find a CSA farm in your area and see if they’ll let you work off part of a season’s food share. Find a food co-op at which you can purchase all your favorite health store goodies at wholesale prices, and so much more!

Finally, if you aren’t yet convinced, a Rutgers University study compared commercially- vs. organically-grown fruits and vegetables. They were astounded at how organic produce whopped the competition!

Commercially grown fruits and vegetables are less expensive, are prettier to look at, contain approximately 10-50% of the nutrients found in organic produce, are often depleted in enzymes, and are contaminated with a variety of herbicides, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.

In comparing organically and commercially grown wheat, researchers found the organic wheat contained 20-80% less metal residues (aluminum, cadmium, cobalt, lead, mercury), and contained 25-1300% more of specific nutrients (calcium, chromium, copper, iodine, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur, and zinc).

Why should we buy organic? Why indeed…

Continue the Ban on Chicken from China!

Go here to sign a petition to Congress, requesting that they continue the ban keeping chickens processed in China out of the U.S.A.

Why the big deal? Read this–and start raising your own chickens, or buying them from a local source you can trust, like me. Or Farmer John!

In 2009, over 600 shipments of food from China were blocked from coming into the U.S., including fish, cookies, candy, crackers, juice, tea, canned and dried vegetables, and spices.  The reasons for rejection weren’t reassuring: contamination with melamine or banned chemicals; pesticide residues and unsafe additives; and conditions inspectors described as “poisonous” and “filthy.” Recently the Chinese government announced that food poisoning cases in China were up 40 percent from last year.

Are You Worried About What the Future Holds?

We in the USA are all wondering “what next?” Financial experts are riding the pendulum, some reassuring us that things will quiet down soon on Wall Street, others predicting huge inflations and urging us to stock up on rice, beans and wheat while we can still afford them…

Optimistically, I could see this crisis as being good for Americans. We’re grossly overspending, both individually and nationally. No one seems to be able to live within their means, admittedly, even my family. I say this because anyone with any debt other than a mortgage is probably not living within their means. Medical bills don’t count, as none of us would choose to go into debt over our health, but many of us are due to the rising costs of both health care and insurance coverage.

When I hear forecasts of doom and gloom, I do tend to wonder. What could be the worst thing to happen to us? Sure a whole lot of hardships could stack up, such as having to sell or give away our horses and Border Collies (if you can’t feed your family, how will you feed the pets?) but in my heart of hearts, the scariest financial bust to me would be losing our home.

Some things you just take for granted. That you’ll be able to always find work. And have gas available to get you to and from places. That eventually you’ll make that final payment, and that America will always be the land of the free, the land of opportunity.

But you know what? God says not to worry about tomorrow, because each day has enough trouble on its own. And worrying about it won’t change anything. In fact, worrying is a sin, it doesn’t glorify God…in fact, it questions His ability to see us through the hard times. Yes, He could allow all of us here in America some real hardships, but “all discipline is for our good”, right?

I’m not getting panicked, and I hope you aren’t either. Meanwhile, I am thinking twice about any extra purchases. I’m thinking we’ll pare down a bit this Christmas and plant a huge garden next spring…I’ve got an extra cupboard that I wouldn’t mind filling with staples, etc.

How do you find inner peace when faced with uncertainty? The same way you do when tragedy strikes out of nowhere. Take refuge in God.

Psalm 46 is an awesome passage that begins with, “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.”

I recommend that you read the whole chapter, which you can simply do by clicking on the highlighted link above. But I’m going to skip ahead and go to verses 10-11,

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

The King James Version says, “Be still and know that I am God” rather than “Cease striving.” Can’t you hear God looking down at us like a mother to a fussing little one and saying, “Be still. Cease striving. Relax. Don’t you know I am with you?”

No matter what happens, keep this in mind: God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble. But you’ve got to leave all the turmoil in His hands and relax. Not our first instinct, is it?

I find this passage so reassuring! What more can we ask for than the kind of refuge God offers?

There’s a gospel song called Ahead, sung by Charles Johnson and the Revivers, and a line in it sticks with me…

“I’m not worried about what the future holds, because I know who’s leading, His name is Jesus, and He’s holding my hand…”

May something very good come out of this crisis, amen?

Homeschool Teachers, Get Free Coffee at Starbucks on Monday

That’s right! I received this in my inbox today, all you need is proof that you are a homeschooler. I says, would having school aged children in tow during school hours be proof enough? 😉 Probably not!

Thank you, Starbucks! Unfortunately for me, I won’t be near a Starbucks on Monday, unless I can plan a school day in the “city” with friends there…hint, hint anyone??? And for those of you about to remind me that I gave up coffee almost two years ago…I still indulge once in a long while…

Pass this news along to all your teacher friends!

This coming Monday, September 29, homeschool parents will be able to
pick up a complimentary tall size (12 fl. oz.) cup of Pike Place Roast
from Starbucks.

This promotion is part of Starbucks “Great Start for Great Teachers”
promotion, and is now open to all teachers.

HSLDA intervened when we were alerted that homeschool parents were not
included in the promotion.

We are pleased that Starbucks is recognizing the contribution of
homeschool parents by extending their program to us.

In order to pick up your free cup of Pike Place Roast you will need to
present evidence that you are a homeschooler.

Any one item on the following list should be accepted by Starbucks:

  • Home School Legal Defense Association membership card.
  • Membership card from a state homeschooling organization.
  • Notification from a school district or state government recognizing compliance with compulsory attendance.
  • Paperwork submitted showing intent to establish a homeschool program.
  • Paperwork showing the establishment of a private school.

If you don’t have one of the items on this list be creative and try to
provide other proof of homeschooling.

Please note: the final decision about whether to accept proof of homeschooling resides with Starbucks.

Subway Sandwich Contest Excludes Homeschoolers

Thanks go to my pastor for the head’s up on this latest offense against home educators. Check out the World Net Daily article, Subway sandwich contest: Homeschoolers not wanted.

Subway Sandwiches has teamed up with Scholastic Books in offering a writing contest open to all school aged students, grades preK-6, except for homeschooled children. One could assume that this exclusion is based on the $5,000 worth of athletic equipment being awarded to the contest winner’s school of choice. However, as noted at the blog, Capturing Today, this money prize could make a difference even in the hands of a homeschooled student.

“Excuse me, but there are MILLIONS of homeschool students in this nation and this is just discrimination. A homeschool student could easily donate the athletic equipment to their homeschool athletic association, local park, athletic center, neighborhood center or the like. I realize they are doing this to have a mass marketing effect, but they could have just as great a media response from a charitable homeschool student donating the prize.”

Exactly!

Here are some links that may be of help or interest:

Subway Contest Rules

For the scoop on the contest, their four story starters and an online entry submission form, check out the above link. My oldest loves to write and is working on a story to enter. We’ll let Subway sort it all out. I’m not suggesting that the millions of homeschoolers out there swamp their contest.  Really.

Contact Subway

And when you do, please don’t be rude. We don’t need to take the malicious road here, though they do need reminded that technically, every homeschooling family out there is a “private school” entity. And we do eat at their restaurants, and just might be among Scholastic’s biggest customer bases.

The link for the online submission form to boycott Subway

Whether or not you choose to take it to this level is up to you. Boycotts do effect change. As Christians, we can turn the other cheek and show them grace, but I can’t help but see this as a purposed dig at my choice on how to educate my children. Home education is already under fire in California and other places. Some issues are important, others aren’t. My freedom to view homeschooling as a viable choice for my children’s education is being challenged here.  So here’s what I think: If my children’s essays aren’t welcome in this contest, then as a home educator, I really don’t feel welcome in their restaurant.

Subway is perhaps our favorite fast food restaurant…and we have only three or four to choose from in our small hometown. Come on, Subway! What were you thinking?

Any thoughts on this?

The Horse Dilemma

Last fall we had a horse trader stop by our place and offer us a pittance for two of our horses. He proceeded to tell us how many people are being forced out of the horse business due to the doubling and tripling prices of hay, and the shortage of grains here in the USA. Of course we knew this already, but at the time we weren’t ready to give in and pare down our herd. This guy told us that he has people pull up to his place, unload a trailer full of horses and say, “Just send me whatever you think they’re worth, I can’t afford to keep them.”

This article at cbsnews.com says that people are dropping their horses off on government land and at city parks. And the higher hay prices couldn’t have come at a worse time. When you consider that hundreds of thousands of unwanted American horses were slaughtered every year…prior to April of 2007 when it became illegal in the USA…it’s no wonder that there’s a surplus of people with horses that no one wants, much less can afford to feed.

I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of selling horses for dog food or for human consumption (yes, it’s a delicacy in certain countries), please understand that. Yet there have been times in our married life when we dropped a horse off at a sale not knowing what it would sell for, but not really caring because the horse had proven itself to be a danger to my husband or just a downright mean horse. Plus, you can’t keep them all. Now there is absolutely no money in horses, there’s so many free for the taking. So what used to pay for itself has now become a huge drain on our family budget. I can hardly joke about it anymore, but for a couple years now I’ve maintained that our horses eat better than we do. It’s ridiculous.

Sobering stuff we heard from this horse trader, yet at the time, we couldn’t bear to let the two horses he was interested in go for the couple hundred he was wanting to offer. Hubby has always raised horses…he bought his first one with money earned weeding farm crops at age ten. We’ve had as many as twenty at one time in our married life. We’d keep a couple of colts each summer and sell the rest to pay for pasture rent. Now we’re down to owning two Shetland ponies (for our girls) and six mares and geldings.

Sunday morning my dh loaded up the paint mare* that my father-in-law gave me 14 years ago. He took her and her two year old to a sale, dropped them off and made it back in time for church. We’re just hoping they made enough at the auction to pay the sale barn’s commission. And before you blame him for taking my horses to a sale, let me assure you that I insisted. They are special, but sentimental doesn’t pay the bills. At least the other horses we still have are all great bloodlines, kid-friendly and assets at hubby’s job. My horse was always too high-spirited to trust very far.

If we owned our own pasture, or had a way to raise our own hay crop, things would be different.

A “chicken in every pot” and a “horse in every yard”. Not for the majority in America. Maybe not for long at our place either.

*Topaz, pictured above on a drizzly afternoon last week, picture credit goes to my friend Amy

Our Icy Wonderland

Here are some pictures I took yesterday of our glittering ice encased yard…horsebarn.jpg

This first one is out the back porch door, looking up toward our horse barn…horses.jpg

This one is also taken from near my back porch door, with me standing behind our Suburban…beyond the hay bale you’ll see our horses.

Down oudriveway.jpgr driveway, which by the way, is awesome for sledding when icy…frontyard.jpg

Out across our front yard, note the hydrant icicle…

icedover.jpg

And last, a picture taken out behind our property…can’t believe that ice!

So many families in our community are without power that a temporary shelter has been made available for their use. Just the other night my husband and I took our generator out to my older sister’s. Otherwise, they’d be without power till at least December 22! And when you’re reliant on well water, that means no water either!

Counting our blessings!