Resources for Healthy Living, Part 1

Here is a list I started after a friend asked me for resources about superfoods, nutrition, and juicing.  It’s a short list, not heavy enough on the books.  Over time I will add more to this and repost it.  For now, this is plenty for getting started!

Superfoods, Nutrition, and Juicing

Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris
Eat For Health by Joel Fuhrman

Documentaries (Netflix):
Food Matters (nutrition and superfoods) and the Food Matters Mastery Program (my favorite)
Sick, Fat, and Nearly Dead (juicing, nutrition, weight loss – inspriational) (Keith’s favorite)
Hungry for Change (juicing, weight loss, and nutrition) (our 2nd favorite)
Forks over Knives (nutrition and health) (very good – for us, this movie takes us on from a starting
point with juice and raw foods to long-term lifestyle and diet improvements)
Fresh (nutrition and eating local)
King Corn (nutrition)
Food Inc. (nutrition and eating local)

The following I have not seen, but hope to watch soon:
Food Beware: The Organic French Revolution
Food Fight
Fast Food Nation
Earth Voice Food Choice
What’s On Your Plate?
Processed People
The Gerson Miracle
Dr. Andrew Weil: Healthy Aging
The Beautiful Truth
Fed Up!
Our Daily Bread
Deconstructing Supper
The Future of Food

Toxin-free Living

The Healthy Home

I’d love to hear about any you have seen that we can watch and add to this list!Lacy

The Food Journey Continues

Almost a year ago I was a much more enthusiastic blogger, making a somewhat regular appearance around here.  These last months have been so full in so many ways, blogging has taken a far back seat.  My thought is that this trend will probably continue for the mean time.  I have so many new responsibilities and new areas to learn about.  I am regularly researching, reading, and running to keep up with it all.  But today I had a request from a friend for information about what I’ve been learning about food and health, and so I began compiling the list of resources that have been great teaching tools in my journey.  My last post about my food journey was about my journey during 2011:  2011 brought me a long way – stepping towards organic, grass-fed, and whole foods was a IMG_0632huge step from where my food journey started.  But this year’s step has been as big as last year’s.  Maybe bigger.

2012 has brought its fair share of ups and downs.  We moved in March to a mobile home in the middle of a field of dirt.  There are no trees, no grass, and the wind comes sweeping down these plains at least 10 out of every 20 days.  We lived without a back porch or any kind of rear entrance to our house for… 6 months.  Keith had two super-intense farming seasons in 2012:  March-May he rebuilt a cotton planter and then planted cotton, and Sept-mid Dec he planted wheat.  Seriously, he was working LONG IMG_1548and HARD for those months, which takes a heavy toll on our whole family.  Thirdly, we raised more than 1500 chickens in 2012.  Neither of us could have done it single-handedly while also farming, homeschooling, and running 2 businesses, and I have never worked so hard iIMG_1267n my life.  Fourth, I surely underestimated the amount of work starting 2 businesses in one year would take.  I most certainly work at least half-time for our new enterprises, with most of my hours being put in between 8pm-1am.  We also raised a garden, and homeschooled the children.  So 182580_10150944489902701_439672118_nbetween moving, starting new businesses, house projects, raising children, chickens, veggies, cotton, and wheat, it was a super full year.

This summer I spent lots of time in the garden, and lots of time preserving and storing food.  The later is a bigger time commitment than I knew.  I read the book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” which chronicles one family’s year long journey of giving up their favorite imports in favor of eating   and raising much of their own fresh, local food.  This fall I hunkered down through cotton harvest, wheat planting, and homeschooling, and tried to simply not fall off the wagon too many times through that busy season.  Small victories felt large, such as 389170_10150963618247701_1027069010_nsometimes taking a salad when running errands instead of going through the drive-thru, continuing to buy lots of organic food on our monthly Food Coop/Whole Foods trip, and getting to the gym at least 5-6 times a month.  In my mind, I wanted to be there 3 times a week, but the busyness of the fall would not allow for that.  Neither would being sick for the entire month of October allow for that.  Nor would hand washing and selling 160 dozen eggs for two months in a row allow for that.  I was way too busy.  We were way to busy.

When December 1 arrived, the end of the busy fall tunnel was in sight.  The eggs slowed down, we began finishing our home school units for that semester, the chickens were all in the freezer, the garden was ready for the winter, and the end of planting season was only days away.  And I was ready for a change.  I was reading a book about healthy living called “The Healthy Home“.  I really enjoyed it, and only begrudgingly returned it to the library after its third renewal.  Then I came upon a documentary film called “Food Matters“.

MV5BMTkxOTQyNjEwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDE1ODc4Mw@@._V1._SY317_CR6,0,214,317_Hippocrates said it best when he said, “Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine, And Thy Medicine Be Thy Food.” But in western culture, we want anything but our food to be our medicine.  We cling dearly to our food-like substances, justifying them with any and every excuse we can come up with.  From “everything in moderation”, to “anything in the name of convenience”, from “I just don’t have the self-control”, to “it’s too expensive”.  Even to the more social and emotional ties, “I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy”, and “If it’s my time to go I’m ready, but until then I’m going to be happy eating whatever I want”.  These are all bogus reasons.  Perhaps I’ll write a post responding to each of these ideas.  Even when compelling evidence of the health benefits of a plant-based diet come up, we have a card deck full of reasons why we are unwilling to listen, let alone give it a try.  Myself is included in this “we”.

But after watching “Food Matters”, and then signing up for their Food Matters Mastery Course, my thoughts towards plants began to soften.  Do I really want steak more than long life?  Do I really prefer sugar and cream over pain-free living?  Do I really enjoy carrying around this extra 30-40 lbs?  Wouldn’t it be great to eat the best food ever, and to be healthier than ever doing it?  I was ready for a change.  A plant-based, superfoods diet offers countless health benefits from disease prevention to pain relief, from weight loss to curing headaches.  I’ve got my own list of health struggles, and I would love to see improvement in my health, both now, and as I continue through the coming decades.  I started with breakfast, replacing grains and animal proteins with a raw superfood shake.  Here’s the basic recipe I got from the Food Matters Recipe Book:

2 cups of organic milk of choice (I use almond milk – available at Wal-Mart & health food stores)
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder (available online and in many health food stores

1 tbsp organic coconut oil

1⁄2 tsp natural vanilla extract (alcohol-free tastes best)

Pinch of unrefined sea salt

2 tbsp pure raw honey

6 ice cubes

fatsicknearlydeadThis is the original recipe I started with, and now I also add 2-3 Tbsp Hemp Protein Powder, 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds, 1 Tbsp Goji Berries, or any other superfoods I am in the mood for that day.  Blend everything in your blender until well combined and frothy. Enjoy straight away.  For the kids, I change out the cacao powder for organic strawberries and a banana, and add a bit of pomegranate juice.  I’m not sure why they prefer the fruit over the chocolate shake, because it’s absolutely amazing.  Both are great though, because we are fueling up our bodies with power-packed superfoods to start the day!

Then came our trip to Minnesota.  While there, my sister-in-law Amy said she had read some of my facebook posts about eating raw, and asked if I had seen “Sick, Fat, and Nearly Dead“.  I had not, but a few nights later Keith and I both watched it.  As we were watching a couple of guys transform their lives JuiceVeggiesand their bodies with juice fasting, Keith said to me, “I could do that.”  That was a few weeks ago, and as of today, Keith has lost 12 lbs in 7 days on his first ever juice fast.  Woohoooo!  Way to go Keith!  At first, I thought I would do it with him, but since we have small children at home and one of us has to feed them, I decided that I would have to make my roll mainly that of facilitating Keith’s juice fast right now, by trying to keep tantalizing food smells out of the house as much as possible, feeding the children, and helping keep the fridge stocked with lots of organic produce to juice.  He’s done a fabulous job, an inspiration to us all!

I continue learning about eating raw foods and superfoods, as well as wrestling with being the main shopper and chef for our family.  It’s a big responsibility to fill up our kitchen each week – whatever I bring in here is what we eat.  Whatever I prepare for dinner is what we will fuel our bodies with.  It is largely I who will determine whether my children grow up already “a cheeseburger away from a heart-attack”, “a soda away from diabetes”, or if they become self-controlled, well-educated young people who know how to make their food be their medicine rather than letting their stomachs be their gods.

The two big food groups we wrestle with right now are animal protein products and grain products.  If we want to cut back on one of these, we will most likely need to lean more heavily on the other to round out vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  As we learn and research, the coming year will tell which way we lean:  gluten-free or meat/dairy free.  The research for avoiding both of these food groups has real substance.  We have friends and family in both camps.  Either way, we are moving towards a more plant-based diet, where vegetables and fruit are the big players in our meals all day everyday.  I think that once we establish a new routine at home over a few months, the biggest challenge will be taking it on the road.  Where do vegans eat while traveling?   Where do gluten-free’ers eat on the road, without relying on even more awful things like french fries or non-organic salads (did you know that conventional lettuce can have over 50 different chemicals?!!)?

So as of January 5, 2013, this is where I am on my food journey.  And so thankful to be here, loving every minute of it, and thanking God for His wisdom, knowledge, and grace to become better care-takers of these bodies He has given us.  I will post after this a list of books and documentaries that have helped us in our journey lately.

Here’s to your health!


Enjoying THIS Season

The seasons of gardening are enjoyable.  First the planning and dreaming before the ground has thawed.  Then the first dirt on my hands when I  start my seeds indoors, and week after week of watering and watching the miracle of sprouting take place.  Soon preparing the beds and planting the cool weather crops take center stage, and slowly the masses of seedlings near the east and south facing windows begin to find their way outside.  For a while, watering and mulching and hopefully only a little weeding keep time in the garden to a minimum.

Then I discover the first fruit on the vine.  The lettuce is bright with the green of spring.  The broccoli forms baby heads, and the carrots grow unseen beneath the soil.  It seems as though the harvest will trickle in.

The first days of preserving the harvest finally come, canning carrots and then freezing broccoli.  After a while the tomatoes finally arrive on the scene!  At first I try to eat them all, each red fruit a treasure to be savored.  Then I realize I could never eat them all before they rot, and I am canning tomatoes, canning peaches, canning pickles.  The counter tops are covered with zucchini, the freezer is full of frozen cantaloupe, and the fridge always boasts sweet watermelon ready for feasting.

This week I began planning for next year’s garden.  I saved some seeds!  Next year we shall hope to have cantaloupe, watermelon, and brandywine tomatoes as wonderful as we have this year, for their seeds will lie in wait all winter long for the warm earth to bring life from a dormant seed to bear the delicious and life-giving fruit again next year.  I can hardly wait to start all over again.

Life truly does come in seasons.  Amazingly, the transition from one season to the next comes gradually and we often do not know when a season has ended, nor when another has begun.  Like the harvest, it seems it will be a long time coming, but then it is suddenly upon us, and we wonder where the time went.  Today I stood in my garden and soaked in THIS season.  My daughter stood atop a woodchip pile and sang spontaneous worship songs that must have commanded the attention of all heaven.  I know Jesus was listening and beaming.  The water fell on my garden plants and on my soul as I realized how blessed I was today.  How blessed this season is.  And I want to enjoy it deeply, as many moments as I can, never knowing when another season may make this season only a memory.  Surely each season has many things to be thankful for, and today, let us give thanks for the bounty in our kitchens, and the bounty in our lives.


Preserving the Harvest – Canning!

So I wanted a garden this spring.  Not just a few plants out behind the house, but a real garden with beds and significant plantings of vegetables and fruits.  And though it’s no acre garden, it’s pretty big for a first year gardener.  I have enjoyed planting the seeds, watching them grow, keeping them watered, and now we enjoy the harvest.

However, though I may have slightly underestimated the time input needed to get the garden going this spring, I really didn’t know how much time it would take to preserve the food this summer.  I’ve been canning about once a week this month.  Canning is one of those things that by the directions seems like it should only take about 2 hours.  Usually it takes me the better part of an evening, maybe the late afternoon as well.  So far I have a good batch of carrots, a batch of sweet pickles, and a batch of dill pickles.  If I could can cantaloupe, I’d have a ton of that.  Is there ANY way to preserve cantaloupe?  It’s all ripening at once! I’m about ready to do a batch of tomatoes, but really need to see a bunch of them ripen at one time

Sweet Pickles

to get many jars of them, they cook down so much.  I also blanched and froze 10 heads of broccoli, shredded and froze 6 zucchini, and made another 6 into 3 loaves of zucchini bread.  Also, we are grinding our own grain this month with the addition of a grain grinder attachment for the Kitchenaid.  The flour and the bread it makes are amazing!  My zucchini bread was made with organic freshly ground locally sourced white winter wheat, home grown organic zucchini, home grown free range chicken eggs, and locally sourced honey.  It is gooood stuff, and good for you!

So, it’s a bit of a time commitment to preserve the harvest this summer, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.  In fact I have 25 lbs of peaches coming next week from the Oklahoma Food Coop, as well as bushels of pears about to ripen on my sister’s 3 huge pear trees.  Should be a delicious fall and winter we have after all this laying by!

Enjoy the fresh fruit and vegetables of summer, and take a few Saturdays to preserve some of it for the fall.  You’ll be glad you did!












Is it July yet?

Life around the Haugan farmstead has been all but normal lately.  May was a crazy month.  We paired fixing up an old planter, planting cotton, brooding baby chickens, and feeding more than 1000 chickens together, and life became a count-down to when the pace would slow down.  June was supposed to be that slow down.

We were supposed to be feeding chickens in the morning for an hour or two, and doing that same thing again in the evening for a few hours.  That would make the rest of our days pretty relaxed, right?  I wish.

The owl doing his dastardly deed.  Night cam is cool.

An owl doing his dastardly deed. Night cam is cool.

First we had an owl preying on our chickens, one each night.  He stopped after a week or so.  Then we started our weekly journey to the processor 2 1/2 hours north of here.  All Monday evenings have been spent chasing 200 chickens to put into transport cages.  Keith leaves at 4 am Tuesday to be there on time.  We were hanging in there with that routine, making a recovery the second half of the week.  Then a few weeks ago a big storm blew through here, sending us fleeing from our mobile home at 2 am.  3 hoop houses blew hundreds of yards away, and were flattened like pancakes, leaving hundreds of chickens without shelter.  The next 2 or 3 days were spent moving chickens into various makeshift shelters.  Three days later we took another 200 chickens to the processor, leaving 3 shelters empty, so we moved the chickens again into those shelters.  Have I mentioned that chasing and moving chickens is exhausting?

Having sort of recovered from the storm and making it through another week of catching chickens and taking them to the processor, our first month selling chicken on the Oklahoma Food Coop began.  Learning how to list products, write descriptions, figure out inventory and product weights, packaging, labeling, and delivering the chicken to the Coop in Oklahoma City took a good deal of effort that week.  We enjoyed the trip to the Coop though.  It was great to meet other farmers who raise local food, and to see first hand how the distribution system works for delivering local food all over the state of Oklahoma.

It was just days after that when the heat wave began to gather steam. Yesterday was the worst so far – we reached 105F.  Sadly we will reach 108 today and tomorrow, being over 100F for the entire 10 day forecast.  Two days ago we lost 10 chickens to the heat, and yesterday we lost more than 40.  We spent both days filling the 10+ water buckets every few hours, buying and putting bags of ice into the chicken cages to try anything to cool them down, spraying them with water, and putting fans near their cages.  Last night we gave them a few hours after sunset to de-stress and go to sleep before putting them in their transport pens.  Catching chickens in the dark at 11pm last night, after a full day/week/month of craziness… well, let’s just say it wasn’t a fun time.  Thankfully we had the help of my son, brother-in-law, and nephew.  Jeremiah and I made it to 11:30pm, and the three others finished the last shelter of chickens until 12:30 or 1am.  Keith was gone on his way to the processor by 7:30am this morning.

Needless to say, we are exhausted and weary.  I wish we had been able to take all the chickens in this week, but some of them were just too small to pay for processing them.  We will have to water and ice and spray and fan and feed these hot chickens for another week or two.  Then we’ll go on vacation.

We have learned a lot this year, just as one does the first year of any big new venture.  We have a list going of improvements that will greatly help in the coming broiler seasons.  We are still tinkering with the best chicken shelter design for our situation (high winds, big heat), and next year we will shoot to be finished by June 15 (hopefully before the intense heat).

It is known that many teachers quit after the first year of teaching.  I can sympathize with their struggle – a classroom full of other people’s children is not an easy work environment to face everyday.  Being a teacher for the long haul takes fortitude.  I would venture to say that if a new farmer can make it through the first year, and then not quit, they too will join a group of very few who make it for the long haul.  It’s been a rough few months.  The end of our first broiler season is coming, and things should be looking up.

Here’s to the seasons.



150 lbs of chicken feed this evening, one scoop at a time…


This past winter during cotton harvest I wrote a poem called The Farmer and The Farmer’s Wife.  I will share it below, and then share my reason for sharing it.  It seems today that perhaps it needs to be updated just a bit.

The hazy crescent moon heralds the harvest of fall crops and a familiar rhythm of life apart and yet together. 

The farmer labors in his fields, building the family’s way, walking the steps of his father, looking to the sky with thanks, and fullness of heart and weariness.

The farmer’s wife labors at her kitchen sink, building the family’s way, walking in the steps of her mother, looking to the sky with thanks and fullness of heart and weariness. 

They steal a warm hug every morning and send with each other words of strength.

He smiles when he sees her nearing the field with warm food, made just to his liking. 

She smiles when he opens the lid and heartily enjoys the work of her hands. 

He walks back to his machine proud of his work and holds his chest just a bit higher with his wife’s gaze upon him, her wave and smile are strength for the evening. 

When the work is done and the ground lays bare waiting and resting from its great toil, the farmer and the farmer’s wife sit outside and rest together, looking to the sky with thanks and fullness of heart and hope for the spring to come

when dirt shall be turned and seeds shall be spread across this great land and they shall smile together again

and share a plate together again in the fields with thanks and fullness of heart,

with her admiring his great labor and him finding strength in her smile and her gaze

and in the One who makes the soil and the seed and the water, somehow transforming them into food and cloth,

the family’s way, and a depth of meaning in life that far exceeds a simple square of seeds and the sweat on his brow and the food and cloth they make.

The haze of the crescent moon and the fog on the morning crops somehow transforms the seeds and the soil

and the farmer and the farmer’s wife

all together.                                                           ~Lacy Haugan, harvest 2011


So that was my poetic outpouring one full of heart harvest eve.  It’s true, there are many days and evenings like the ones described in this poem.  But this poem was written during the winter, when so far on our farm, all other things have come to a close.  No garden.  No broilers.  No brooder full of baby chicks.  Just cotton, quietly sitting in the field, waiting patiently to be gathered in the harvest.  For the farmer’s wife, the rest of life seems to slow down as the weather cools.  Children come indoors, yards take care of themselves, gardens sleep, and the farmer’s wife enjoys baking corn bread and a pot full of hot beef stew to take to the farmer.

Baby chicks must be monitored throughout the day. Not too cold, not too hot, adequate feed and water, all tucked in nice and cozy in the brooder.

But, during spring, oh during spring… how can I describe my first spring as a farmer’s wife who has a farmyard full of animals?

I don’t think that I have the inspiration tonight to bring that peaceful touch to it like I did for the harvest time poem.  Where as harvest rings more of waiting for the farmer to come home, the greatest extra chore being taking out the meal to the field, during spring planting time there is no waiting for the farmer to come home.  I’m too tired to wait.  I don’t know when he’s going to come home, and it doesn’t matter too much because I’m too tired to talk, and so is he.  When the farmer is gone during the spring, my day feels a lot less like buttery corn bread and hot beef stew, and a lot more like…

-driving the truck and trailer to the feed mill or farm store to pick up tons of feed and supplies routinely throughout the spring
-checking and filling empty animal water buckets up during the day
-moving chickens from brooder to field pens every week – the most exhausting job on the farm so far
-making dinner and taking it to the farmer in the field

My new ride quite a few times each week.

-putting the fussy youngest child to bed early after a long drive back from the field
-racing the sun to get the animals fed before dark
-groaning when I realize there is no more feed left in the bin
-driving down to the barn to lug 50 lb bags of feed into my minivan (I might or might not need a truck.  Inside I still want a prius.  🙂
-scooping out 150 lbs of feed one scoop at a time into 30 different feeders
-swatting the gnats, mosquitoes, and flies from my beaten up shins over and over, wishing I had taken the time to put jeans on
-looking to the sky and thanking God for the help of my 8 year old son, who is filling the 13+ water buckets one at a time
-rushing to duck tape the brooder tarp window flaps closed before the rain comes tonight
-checking each water bucket and feeder one last time before heading back inside, the sun has beaten us and it is already dark
-cleaning up dinner and kissing my son on the head as he reads before bed
-putting away the big batch of fresh bread loaves I made before dinner, some to the freezer
-changing out of my covered in dirt and grime clothes and into some clean comfies

Then I soak my aching muscles in some couch salve, and treat my mind to the art of reading and writing.  Today I wanted to plant zucchini plants and pumpkin plants, I wanted to water my garden and spend some time staking my tomatoes.  It was cool outside today, and the heat will be pressing down on us again in just a few days.  I never made it to the garden, but maybe I will tomorrow.  I have set out an easy meal to cut down on meal prep tomorrow.

I guess all of this to say that though I do at times during the day have somewhat of a semblance of normal, (thankfully the farmer is still doing morning chore time), the afternoons and evenings have taken on a form of their own with the farmer completely otherwise engaged (on the tractor planting).   My oldest child has risen to the occasion and for the most part is really helping me bare the burden of taking care of the home and farmyard on our own.  My youngest has her good moments, but on the whole does not much enjoy mommy being unavailable during the evening.  I am not sure yet how I am doing with it.  At moments I feel like my oldest, proud to have taken care of the farmyard on our own.  Other times I feel more like my youngest, irritated that I am committed to giving my evening hours to these animals when I have other needs that are waiting on me (my children, the kitchen, and simply my desire to slow down after dinner instead of rev up for chores).  I am sure that my thoughts and emotions here are simply part of the process of becoming not the farmer’s wife whojust takes dinner to the farmer, but instead, the farmer’s wife who takes on the chores of the farmer when he is away.  It’s a big job, and I don’t think I was quite ready for it.  But hey, the end of planting season is in sight, and I have almost made it through.  And then the end of chicken season will come into view and life will slow down for a while as we ease into fall.  Seasons are the fabric of life on the farm, and this season is SPRING.  No mistaking it.

~the farmer’s wife


Trash In, Trash Out

Did you know that there is a trash dump the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean?  That’s right, it’s called The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  It’s located in the North Pacific Gyre, and an estimated 80% of the trash comes from land.  THAT is crazy.  The thought usually doesn’t even cross our minds that trash IS an issue.  Perhaps we should NOT be producing mountains and mountains of waste and burying it, or letting it ride the ocean current to the garbage patch.  Perhaps a few hundred years of that kind of living will produce an earth that is kind of like walking around in a… garbage dump.  I’m not sure that’s how God would like for His beautiful creation to be taken care of.  In fact, I’m pretty sure He would not want us to create such ugly things as Texas sized marine garbage dumps, oceans full of waste, and precious soil packed full of nasty trash.  So how about it.

I did an experiment with our trash this week.  On average, our family has about 4-6 bags of trash per week.  We feel like we are taking it out all the time.  I decided to see how much trash we would have if we recycled our paper, cardboard, plastic, and aluminum, and fed our food scraps to the chickens (Perhaps to city dwellers who have recycling service this may seem a no-brainer.  But out here in small town/country life, we have to haul our own recycling to the station some 15 miles away).  My son emptied the recycling bins twice this week into larger containers outside.  It’s been a week… and I still haven’t filled one trash bag yet!  Amazing, right?!  A family of four without even one bag of trash in a whole week?  It’s getting close to full, but I took this picture yesterday and will probably make it until tomorrow before I need to take it out.  We will have made it 8 days with only one bag of trash.  That’s a good change.

One, it’s less trash to take out.  Two, it’s less trash to dump into the mysterious land fill.  Where is that land fill anyway?  Where does all my trash go?  Where is the trash that our parents took out 30 years ago when we were kids?  Perhaps it’s under your yard, or under my yard, or leaking dead battery lead into the water supply somewhere?  Who knows where all that trash goes from decades of waste.  But this week, there is less of it.  Hopefully this experiment will turn into a habit for us, going to the recycling station every few weeks when we’re in town.

So recycling is a good option.  Turn something used into something new and useful again.  Repurpose.  Redesign.   Reducing our disposable consumption altogether is also worth considering.  What items that fill our trash bin could be not purchased in the first place?  There are quite a few to consider.  Some are easier to break the habit, though it still takes some determination – paper plates, paper towels, bottled water, disposable grocery bags.  Others are more difficult to forgo:  cereal boxes, aluminum cans from canned vegetables, plastic bags from frozen vegetables.  Some are almost impossible to purge:  meat packaging, dairy containers and wrappers, household supply boxes and bottles (if I had a cow I could ditch the dairy containers and use glass jars, and perhaps I could use butcher paper to have our beef packaged in if we bought it in bulk? – one of these is more likely than the other for us in the near future – I’ll let you guess which one).

While we may not be inclined to stop purchasing all things that produce mounds of trash waste from our homes, recycling a few kinds of items such as the ones listed above, will reduce our trash, and cutting back on disposables when we can is a worthwhile effort.  Perhaps I will contribute a bit less to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the local county dump as well this year.  Anyone want to join me?


Wal-Mart… closed?!

Today the kids and I went to town to accomplish 3 things.  1) deposit check at the bank.  2) get building supplies at lowes to complete new chicken tractors.  3) get needed home supplies at Wal-Mart.  #1, check.  #2, check.  #3… no can do.

There was no storm anywhere in the tri-state area, the temperature was a beautiful 75 F (no heat/overuse grid problem), but for some reason Wal-Mart had NO ELECTRICITY today where I live.  It was out for quite a while.  There was no shopping to be done.  In fact, to make sure everything ran smoothly during the outage, police were on sight.

It was very strange.  People were coming out of the store empty handed saying, “no power”, or talking animatedly with each other.  A few cars kept trickling into the parking lot (power worked in the surrounding businesses), but there was a long line to get out of the parking lot.  We had all come to get what our families needed, but we had returned home empty-handed.  This does not happen very often, and I contemplated such an experience throughout the rest of my day.

What would happen if I went to buy what my family needed, and it just plain wasn’t available?  There was simply no way to buy it right now.  It could happen.  Power outages, grid overloads and blackouts, natural disasters, world events, and other occurrences are not some unheard of fairytale that only happens to other people.  It happens, here in America, and it could happen in my home town.  Now I don’t want to live in a state of fear or panic – the Lord will provide and take care of us.  But if you consider how people have lived for all of civilization (up until the last 60-80 years), preparing for unexpected times was historically normal living.  Only the last few generations have relied completely upon 24/7 availability at a retail store.  And realistically, there are times and will continue to be times when that is not possible.

What would my family need should Wal-Mart and the other stores power not resume to normal after a few hours?  Or a few days or weeks?  Would we have the food and medicine and water that we need?  Would we have the household supplies to take care of ourselves should our power go out?  There have been times when an ice storm has kept the power off for more than a week even here in the southern state of Oklahoma.  Would I have what we need to take care of our family for a while without power, without Wal-Mart?

It’s worth considering.


My Homeschool Day: Success or Failure?

As homeschool moms we are tempted to compare our daily lives and, our children’s lives, with others, and may be naggingly tugged to feel guilty about it, or even a twinge of failure every now and then.

Take today for example.  Or, this week even.  We are winding down after a long 9-10 months in school, and trying to finish up the last things.  The last math unit, the last spelling units, the last grammar concepts… and it’s like pulling teeth!  Has anyone else noticed that it is beautiful outside?!!   Does anyone else remember that soon after these beautiful days called spring, that we will be brave to step outside for more than 5 minutes any time after 10 am because of the stifling heat?  I remember.  And when I look out my backdoor and see my children playing to their heart’s content, lapping up God’s creation, joining with Him in creative play… I can’t bring myself to strap them to the chair and pin their nose to a workbook.  Call me crazy, I just can’t do it.

Today my children helped with family chores – feeding and watering chickens and rabbits.  They rode their bikes and showed me how fast they could go.  They accompanied me on a farm supply trip and my son proved his manhood by loading heavy bags of wood-chips into the car.  My daughter beat all the odds and strengthened her emotional stability in the stores, holding it together when she wanted to fall apart.  They sat down together with both mother and father for a wholesome lunch of beans and cornbread.  After lunch, they descended upon the sandbox, where they played in harmony and lost track of time.  When it came time for Judah’s nap, Jeremiah finished up a while in the sandbox, then took a break to make some homemade fresh squeezed lemonade.  He brought me out a sample twice while I watered the garden.  He then put 3 cookies into a baggie and rode his bike across the field, along the “secret pathway“, to Nini’s house.  They shared the cookies (1 for papa, too), and hashed over the day’s events.  Then she invited him to ride over to my sister’s garden to fix a piece of tubing for their irrigation.  They hopped in the car, and in a while he’ll be back here, content and full from his day of unhurried, uncontrolled, non-structured learning.

So was today a homeschool success of failure? 

If you’re looking from a purely academic stand point, there may be room for growth; however when the entire year of academic and developmental learning is considered, I am certain that even with days like today, they have learned and grown an entire year’s worth of growth.  And there will be other days for spelling words and math problems – probably when the oppressive heat locks us in our home.  That’s what we did last summer.

I think that this homeschool day – popcorn at the farm store, lemonade in the garden, cookies with Nini, and unhurried creative play… can’t be beat.  I’d be willing to wager that they grew and learned more from today than they would have if I had cracked open the books.    And for that reason, I love homeschool.   


An Ugly Day in the Garden

Tomorrow is 9 weeks that we have lived in our new home here at the Haugan rancho.  And today I have reached my limit on clutter.  CLUTTER!!!  Piles here, piles there, piles everywhere.  Okay, not everywhere – but I am really ready for some order around here.  So, I wrote out a list, room by room, of the things I’d like to finish or reorganize.  There are about 30 things to do on the list, some of them small and some of them large.  I bet most of the small ones get done first.  But even if they do, if I do just one thing per day I will be much more settled in here just a month from now.  Knowing myself better than that, I bet it won’t take quite that long.  But seeing it on the page makes it feel much more doable if I just pace myself, one thing at a time.  Tonight I unpacked the children’s medicine into a bin and organized it, and gave it a new home in a cabinet.  I also threw out a few unneeded or old items.  That’s the beauty of organizing – in the process you also simplify.  Less is more.

In other news, the wheat crop in the field around us is gorgeous this year.  It is tall and strong and waves like the ocean when the wind blows.  We are just weeks away from harvesting it and I think I will miss the pretty green wheat.  For a while it will be yellow stubble, and then the 20 acres around us will be put into grass for pasture, and the rest of the field will be sesame!  A brand new crop for us this year, we’re trying a few fields of sesame.  I’ve never seen a sesame, so I am looking forward to watching it grow.

It was bound to happen – I do live in a field.  You guessed it, I found a snake.  Not the farmer, but I found it.  I was happily shoveling away in my wood chips pile, mulching my newly planted strawberries.  And without warning, there the ugly black thing was in the pile.  Of course, I ran and screamed for the farmer.  Luckily, he was home.  He came out and dug through the pile until he found it and did what had to be done with any such enemy.  Luckily I was out of town for a few days after that.  It sort of gave me time to air out after such an incident in my garden.  With that ugly incident, bug trouble in the garden, and the new elephant mosquitoes that are attacking me in the cool of the evening, I am about to lose my desire to be in the garden.  A sad sad thing.  So tonight I got back on the proverbial horse and dug my shovel into the wood chips again, hoed some weeds from the raspberry plants, and mulched away.  No ugly sightings this time, though I did finally go inside after the mosquitoes got larger than quarters.  Not sure I will have the brevity to mulch when the farmer isn’t home anytime soon.  I used up my small pile tonight and will have to have a new pile dumped over by my garden.  It will be a few feet deep at least.  Eeeekkkk…..  The farmer really loves mulching, I’m just sure he’s been wishing I’d let him help me with that. 

I haven’t posted many pictures of my garden, and the truth is that I am such a novice at this that I probably won’t unless I have some great successes.  In early spring the seedlings sprouting and growing are always exciting and such a miracle to enjoy.  But then the hard work of fighting off a sky full of hungry bugs begins, and I, unwilling to use chemicals, feel so helpless.  I’m going to try Neem, maybe order some lacewings or ladybugs – but I don’t feel to hopeful.  It seems no matter how exciting reading gardening books is in March, horticulture is a science that will take much perseverance to learn.

Here’s to the death of every offending bug and snake in the surrounding 20 mile area.