Sunday, September 2, 2012

All about me

I know my title sounds narcissistic, but I really don't write about myself that much.  In fact, even though this post is about me, I won't post one single picture of myself!  I might, if I had a flattering one, but...

So, as some of you know, I quit my fulltime job, and now work only occasionally.  I've worked nightshift for at least seven years, and had been running on empty for awhile.  My brain feels like an agile antelope now (comparatively) after resting and sleeping full nights for several months.  Now I have some time and brainpower to chase down those interests I've had, but couldn't indulge.  Everyone who knows me knows that I've always got some new thing going, and it may actually be some version of some old thing, but with a new twist.

For my summer vacation, I: 

didn't have to go camping, not even once, because the resort where we always go had a storm with power outages to the whole county.  Yay for me!  Boo for them, 'cuz that's how they make their living.  (I do have a heart, you know!)

found a juicer at a yard sale, and juiced up a bunch of apples for cider.  Too bad they were transparents, which are the original non-sweet apple, and the cider was sour only.

researched everything I could find about fermenting vegetables, built a still (sort of) with the help of my son, and made my own sauerkraut, which was amazingly delicious, with all kinds of wonderful bacteria that increase the nutritional value of the veggies, and some pickled vegetables, which were disappointing.  Edible, but that's all.  The dill pickles got dumped, because they didn't cooperate.  Using my newfound knowledge, I made some apple cider vinegar from my sour cider, and it was pretty darned good!

got a cold frame.  Built it in the hottest part of the summer, so it was sweltering inside!  This particular experience taught me something about myself.  I'm the one who comes up with all the ideas, and my poor husband is the one who always ends up trying to implement them.  Well, he is the one with all the tools.  And the knowledge.  Anyway, I also realized that I'm greedy, and between that, and being married to a cross between Tim the Toolman and Rube Goldberg, well, let's just say that big ideas get bigger while being brought to life, maybe too big, and then often don't get finished, or end up disappointing us.  We gave ourselves a limit of finishing this project and one other, which was the next thing:

got a fence around the entire property.  This is a big deal, as it's something that we'd wanted from the first day we moved here, twenty years ago.  It took a big need to make it happen, and that big need was Little Boy, and his absolute refusal to recognize our right to establish boundaries.  Well, we showed him!  How is this about me?  Simple.  I now have peace, no adrenaline rush everytime I realize that he's out of sight yet again, and I can breathe easy.  What is this worth?  No way to put a price on it.

got really into raw milk.  I've been trying to heal my skin naturally, with diet, for many years, because the constant handwashing with harsh soaps has been relentless, and I've struggled with contact dermatitis all this time.  I haven't wanted to get steroid shots, but it was to the point that the steroid cream didn't help anymore.  I recently read that Omega 6 fatty acids increase inflammatory response, and that we should attempt to get more Omega 3 fatty acids into our diets.  I was ready to jump right in, until I discovered just how hard that actually is.  Omega 3's are present in fish and fish oil, but you have to be careful of mercury in ocean caught fish, and farm fish doesn't really have much Omega 3, because of their diets.  Same goes for beef and chicken, which have a lot of Omega 3's if they're pasture fed, and Omega 6's if they're grain-fed.  Same with milk.  Soy, peanut butter, canola oil, are all high in Omega 6's, and soy is hard for me, because it's in a ton of stuff I eat.  Anyway, I've been trying to eat more ocean fish, but not too much, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and less of the prepared foods which are high in Omega 6's.  The bad news is that my skin isn't any better after all of this.  I do feel like a million bucks, though, which could just be the sleep!

experimented with pastured poultry.  All the rage, because of Joel Salatin.  We've had chickens forever, but they've always been in a coop with a small outdoor run, and we fed them layer mash and kitchen scraps.  They've always been super healthy, but our new chickens are living a different, better life!  Now that the yard is fenced, they can run around the property all day, eating grass, insects, and whatever else they find.  They love it, and won't go back in the coop or run except at night or to lay their eggs.  And what eggs they are!  Very thick, hard shells, even with no oyster shell offered, and the yolks are a deep orange color.  The whole egg holds together very strongly, and it's a little work to whip them up for scrambled eggs, and when you pour them into the pan, it looks like you poured mustard in instead!  It takes a little bit to get used to the flourescent yellow color.  There's some good nutrition in those babies!  They taste better, too.

started making my own butter.  I use raw cream from the same dairy as the raw milk, and it's the yellowest butter, even with no food coloring.  It has a very strong taste, though, which is hard to adjust to.  When we were in Eastern Europe, to adopt the kids, we bought milk and butter, which tasted strange to me, but my husband thought they tasted wonderful, and not strange at all.  I wouldn't eat it, though, so we had to search around a little to find some that tasted like American milk and butter.  I decided that they must have a different breed of dairy cow, since I knew American dairies mostly have holsteins.  Now I know that most raw milk dairies have jerseys, with their higher butterfat content, so I think that's probably the difference.  My teens won't eat it, and my daughter says it tastes like she licked a cow's udder.  I'm surprised that she knows what a cow's udder tastes like...!  No problem getting the munchkins to eat it.  They know good stuff when they taste it.

learned a lot about pasture, and grass fed animals.  I needed to know for the poultry, and have gotten interested in maybe getting a cow for milk, and a calf or lamb to raise on grass for meat.  We would have to get a mini cow, because we have a mini property.  To increase the fertility of our soil, I planted a bunch of clover with the grass.  We still have lots of weeds, but that's okay.  Here's a patch of my pretty "pasture."