Archive for the ‘Reflective Thoughts’ Category

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

 

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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.

~Lacy

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.   

~Lacy

Confessions of an Introvert Homeschool Mom

I had an hour alone in the garden today, and other than the fact that I was huffing and puffing and hurrying to get my project done before my time was up, I was enjoying being alone.  I had time to think, which seems rare these days.

With longer daylight hours upon us, the kids’ bedtime has been pushed back usually nearing 9 pm.  Spring is heavy upon us at the farm, with the constant push to get more done than humanly possible before the next rain, which is every few days.  The farmer feels the burden of a first year farm’s worth of work to do, Mt. Everest before him.  He has little time to give the introvert homeschool mom her usual breaks.  Things I usually do alone I have done together lately – grocery shopping, sometimes meal preparation, or a night out with a friend.  To put it concisely, I have less time to myself these days.  Certainly there will be chatter in the room before I finish this blog.

Self-awareness is a good thing.  Not self-centeredness or self-absorbtion, but self-awareness.  What is my nature, what makes me tick, when do I thrive, how to I relate, where are my strengths, where are my weaknesses? One thing I have more completely understood about myself the last few years is how much of an introvert I am than I previously thought.  I have also gained a clearer understanding about what an introvert is.  Being introverted is not the same as being shy.  Introverts do not necessarily have any fear of social judgement that would cause shyness.  Rather, introverts find too much socializing (or interaction) exhausting and would rather in be alone or in the company of a select few people.  Introverts have a great ability to focus for long periods of time, giving them the ability to learn skills well, listen thoroughly, consider and weigh the risks and benefits of a given situation, as well as other strengths.  Also introverts prefer to avoid excessive amounts of stimulation.  A peaceful evening reading a great book may be preferred over a social gathering, and the “M” on the mute button is usually worn off on an introvert’s remote control, or perhaps the remote may even be lost (or hidden).

So with my new understanding of what being an introvert is, I find that it describes me almost completely.  I prefer quiet and dim places.  I will often move to a different table if one is too loud or too bright.  I have also been known to unscrew the light bulb from a light fixture that hangs just above the table.  For each house I have lived in, the thing I disliked the most about each one of them was the noises in or outside of the house.  Those who had the quietest nature brought me the most comfort.  I am easily overstimulated, and will usually find a quiet place to escape during gatherings for a bit of decompression before reentering the social setting.  I have even been known to chunk perfectly good noisy toys in the trash.  I have always preferred to have only a few close friends, and rarely enjoy being with acquaintances.  I have always (since early childhood) enjoyed spending time alone doing quiet activities such as reading, writing, scrapbooking, sewing, gardening, even baking and cooking.  3-4 hours can fly by when I am alone after everyone else has gone to bed, as my focus is allowed to run its course until sleep takes over.  I have a few extroverted tendencies – I willingly participate in class discussions, I will express my thoughts and ideas confidently, and I am willing to take charge if I must.  Nonetheless, all of this to say – I am an introvert, and proud of it.  

So embracing my introvert self, I realize that it is okay to enjoy time alone.  I have at times felt guilty for wanting to be alone (translated “without my kids”).  There have actually been seasons when I truly did savor our long days together, enjoying being with my beloved children, and smiling on them as we shared hour after hour and day after day together.  I do love them immensely.  But as an introvert, I do not express my love to anyone by wanting to be with them 24/7 without any breaks.  Yes, I want to be with my children.  It is my choice to be a stay-at-home mom and to homeschool, it is not forced upon me.  But that does not mean that I do not also want to be alone.  I want to be alone.  Lately, with the great demands of building a new farm from scratch, the long process of moving and finishing house projects, all the extra that must be done these days has left me tired, in need of alone time as much as ever, and yet I have had less time alone than usual.  I have found that a struggle, and I am doing what I can to enjoy those moments that I do have alone.

This is a mild discomfort compared to great and strenuous trials, but I want to trust the Lord to sustain me through this time, to provide what I need personally and emotionally, and to conform me to the image of His Son.  Most surely He has created me and knows me and will walk with Me hand in hand, through all seasons of life be they short or long.  I am thankful I know where my Help comes from, and to Him I look.  And, I also look forward to 9pm.  🙂

Can any of you introvert homeschool moms relate?  Have you felt guilty for wishing for time alone, feeling inadequate that you don’t have what your children need every minute of every day?

Yep… one of them is showing me how long her arm is right now and chattering away as I finish this sentence.  *sigh*

A Breath of Fresh Air for the Homeschool Heart

I am reading an ebook called “Simply Homeschool: Having Less Clutter and More Joy in Your Homeschool” by Karen DeBeus.  I have found quite a few nuggets of gold in Ms. DeBeus’ ebook, which feels sort of like sitting down at her kitchen table over hot tea, and sharing heart to heart about our homeschool journeys together.  Oh that the blog world were like that… that tomorrow I could call up Karen and invite her over.  Nonetheless, I have been encouraged by her writing in my own homeschool life and wanted to share a few tid-bits with you.  Read these as if straight from my own pen:

HOMEschool Means Being Home

Another area where homeschoolers are trying to ‘fill up’ is outside activities. Deep down I wonder if this is because we feel a need to measure up to what everyone else is doing. It seems these days everyone is running around. The more scheduled activities, the better. The more classes, sports, and activities your child is signed up for the more “well-rounded” your child is. Ah! Let my child not be “well-rounded” then! (Exactly my thoughts!  I get this all the time!)

I feel that kids need to be kids. Let their afternoons be filled with exploring {especially outdoors.} They need time to be by themselves, even if that means being bored sometimes. They need to have that down time to find what they enjoy doing, to actually be alone.

We do outside activities, but we limit them. We have one full day where we are outside of the house for a fine arts program. There is another evening we are out for church activities. But the other days we really try to be home and focused on what we need to do at home.  (We do outside activities, and also limit them.  On Monday evenings Keith and Jeremiah go to Cub Scouts, and sometimes on Thursday we go to homeschool social time at McDonald’s.  We go to church and the one per quarter homeschool co-op activity such as Monday’s Valentine’s party.  By the time you add into that a field trip once a month and playdates with our homeschooling cousins, I already find it a challenge to spend most of our time at home.  So I maintain a grip on the reigns and anytime I feel we are spending too much time running around, I simply pull back a bit.  It has worked well for us so far this year.  I think it will be come more difficult as the kids get older.  Next year Jeremiah could join band.  We are also considering joining a Classical Conversations Tuesday weekly group.  So are we going to do Scouts Monday, CC Tuesday, cousins Wednesday, McDonald’s Thursday?  Needless to say, that is too much running around and leaves too little time to be HOME… where live happens, where family grows, where character is instilled, where joy is savored.)

So limit the outside actitivites as best as you can. Again, remeber: focus on filling up on Him. Not just filling up time.  (Good stuff, Karen!)

Ms. DeBeus also had some great ideas about simplifying homeschool “stuff”, remembering why I homeschool, and not falling into the comparison trap and feeling inadequate compared to what others are doing.  I really appreciate her authentic and heart-felt writing – and this is just 3 chapters into it.  😉  Maybe I’ll post more about it another time.  Either way, I highly recommend Karen DeBeus’ ebook, “Simply Homeschool: Having Less Clutter and More Joy in Your Homeschool” .  Enjoy!

Making A Permanent Lifestyle Change

So I know that a blog is supposed to be my own writing.  But when I read something that really hits the mark, something I find helpful, reposting another’s writing is a big compliment.  Amy over at Homestead Revival has a really great mission statement:

Return to the basics

Live closer to the land

Strengthen the family through homemaking

Embrace being a keeper of the home

Encourage the next generation in homesteading skills

Build community through sharing

It is as if she wrote my mission statement for me, but I would add to that:

Raise up my children to be faithful followers of God

It seems to me that she implies that, as the verse listed on her blog is “so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:4-5)  I love that verse, almost a mission statement in and of itself.  Amy is a few years ahead of me in life and in homesteading, and I can really glean from her wisdom and experience.  Her post on making a permanent lifestyle change can apply to a wide variety of areas, and is helpful to consider.  How do we really make a change in our lives?  How do we get rid of old habits that really do die hard?  Simply considering the issue is a good start.  Amy gives us some good points on how to make a change – for good.

Making A Permanent Lifestyle Change

When it comes to homesteading, sometimes it can be hard to make lasting changes. It’s easy to do something once or twice, but to make a new skill a part of your life on a daily basis, to be characterized by something you didn’t grow up doing, and to not go back to the way you did it before… well, it can be down right brutal!

How do I make those changes? Not over night, I can assure you. But I have begun to notice a process that seems to work for me…

1. Read and study about the new skill to be learned. Gain as much knowledge as I can before I start. That includes talking to friends and others who do it regularly.

2. Make a plan and schedule a day to try it on the calendar – a day when I’m not overwhelmed with other chores or have to go out for any reason.

3. Gather any supplies that might be necessary.

4. Do it and evaluate how it went. Think about what didn’t go well and how I would do it differently next time. I might even do some more research at this point.

5. Usually some time has passed between step 4 and this step, but eventually I try it again and maybe even a third time. I begin to get more comfortable with it.

6. At some point – and this is the crucial step that I want to discuss today – I cut all ties to the old way and it’s either sink or swim; fish or cut bait. No going back.
When I wanted to mill my own grains and make my own breads, I sailed through the first 5 steps and enjoyed it a lot, but I noticed that when I got busy or tired (or dare I say lazy), I would grab a loaf of bread at the store. Soon it became much too easy and convenient to do this. But I wasn’t becoming proficient at making bread and I wasn’t meeting the goal I had set for my family – to provide the most nutritious option available.

I remember one particular day, clearly realizing that summer was upon us and I had the perfect opportunity to make a clean break from store bought bread. In my mind I made a commitment that I intended to keep – no more excuses and no more store bought bread. Period.

And then came the day about a week later when we were out of bread and we needed lunch. I realized I had to fish or cut bait – and fish I did! I got creative for that meal and made something else and then I got after making bread! And I kept working at it until one day, my loaves started improving significantly. (My husband was a very patient man!). From there, I began to remember the steps and do them without so much thinking (you should have seen how marked up my recipe was with all my notes!). And eventually, I was able to teach my oldest daughter who makes most of our bread right now. In the last 2 years, I would say we’ve only bought about 4 loaves of bread with the exception of sourdough for special occasions because I haven’t learned that skill – yet!

Recently, Kendra at New Life On A Homestead, shared how she cut ties with her dryer. She’d been wanting to line dry all her clothes, but kept putting it off. But when she redecorated and organized her laundry room, she pulled it out and set up a clothes drying rack. The break was made and victory attained!

Some of you may remember my post on Dinner Napkins last year. I grew up using paper napkins (didn’t you?), but I wanted to eliminate this purchase from my shopping list. So I made up a few and tried to commit to using them at least once a week. This worked pretty well for a while, but again, we slipped back into using the paper napkins. So about a month ago, I did what needed to be done and made a clean break from the paper altogether. When the last paper napkin was purchased, I refused to buy more. Since then, we’ve used only cloth napkins and it’s worked out fine. I thought it would require a lot of extra washing, but since we only use one a day per person, I just add them to something I’m already washing. And my 8 year old gets a chance to finally iron – she loves it! Isn’t that sweet!

Over the years, some other things I’ve made a clean break with include purchased laundry soap, white sugar, air conditioning (I live where it’s just not that necessary, but if I was in the south, this would not get cut!) my living room heater (switched entirely to the wood stove), commercial deodorant, hair coloring, TV in summer, and store bought eggs. There’s more, but this gives you an idea.

So, what’s on the line to be axed in the future? Well, looks like the dishwasher is getting the boot this week. It’s been a pain for a while and I think we’ll give it a rest except on special occasions and hand wash the rest of the time. And I think one day the TV will get cut off permanently.

But I’m most anxious to switch to my own yogurt and other cultured dairy foods (I’m taking Wardeh’s class right now). I’ve made yogurt in the past, but I keep going back to the store to buy more. What’s with that when I know how? The simple truth is… I don’t practice it enough to make it routine. But if I do it over and over again, that’s when the real breakthrough occurs. While these things may seem foreign to us in our modern society, they aren’t really hard things to do, just different. And because it’s different it requires practice.

For most of us, a significant aspect of homesteading today is embracing a new lifestyle change. You choose the things you will adopt and make your own, but in doing so, you must leave behind the former ways and take hold of the “new” old ways of doing things. We’re setting the example for our sons and daughters. Let’s make ’em proud!

What’s the hardest thing you’re leaving behind and embracing?

If I were to answer Amy’s parting question, I would say that the hardest thing for me to leave behind is convenience.  One of the main expressions of that in my life is fast food.  Life can at times be unpredictable.  And even if it is predictable, grabbing a drive through is often tastier, quicker, and sometimes even cheaper than planning and packing a lunch to take with us when we’re going to be out around lunch time.  We swing through the drive through too many times each week.  I’m gonna have to evaluate that habit in light of this article and see what becomes of it.  How about you?  Anything you’ve already decided to leave behind?  Something you want to leave behind?

Lacy

I have a long way to go…

I posted on facebook earlier today a quote about homesteading that connected me with the reason why it interests me at all.  “Homesteading is about producing more of what I truly need on a daily basis, and consuming less of what doesn’t really bring any real satisfaction anyway.”  That quote, from themorristribe.com, gets straight to the heart of homesteading for me.  Western life has become so deeply entrenched in the art of over-consumption and careless wastefulness.  We must be the least skilled people in the history of mankind.  Very few of us know how to make our own anything – we just buy it off the shelf.  From bread and jam to soap and cleaners, we are ignorant of how to make a little go a long way.  Many people would even question the need to do such a thing – make a little go a long way.  Such a thought further demonstrates my point – Western life is so centered on consumerism and convenience, with no thought being given to conserving what we have or becoming skilled in producing what we truly need.

I am excited about what the coming year holds for me.  I have many skills to learn, and many ideals to confront in myself, each one will bring new satisfaction and independence.  Independence from a way of life that demands money to pay for overpriced unnecessary items.  Independence from reliance on the seemingly unfailing stocked store shelf.  Independence from valuing ease and convenience over healthy choices and taking time for what’s truly important.  There are many levels of independence to reach in becoming a more skilled and content person when it comes to producing what I need to live, and consuming less.  But I have a long way to go.  A real long way. 

I’ve been doing some reading this week, mainly in the form of blogs and websites.  I  discovered themorristribe.com and was deeply inspired by the author’s life journey.  One post she titled “What Can I Live Without” challenged me to consider the items I use everyday, and what would be a suitable substitute for those items.  Her item was a hairdryer.  My dryer has to be replaced every year or so for about $20.  Though $20 doesn’t seem like that much money, in the pursuit of simplicity and self-reliance, could I do without it?  I think during the summer I could do without it.  I never caught the Texas big-hair bug and often sport a conservative pony tail.  But during the winter I would find it difficult to do without a hair dryer.  Who likes to freeze their ears and neck off going outside with wet hair when it’s 15 F outside? Not washing my hair every other day at least, is not really an option for me.

Miracle Powder?

I’ve been looking at ways to reuse glass jars from grocery store bought foods.  Also, how to make my own liquid laundry detergent – currently saving up jugs to try it out.  I saw some reuseable cloth snack bags today at WalMart that were $7 for 3 of them.  I wonder if I could make them for 1/2 that price?  Certainly not if I buy some cute fabric online for $10/yard.  But maybe if I used something I already have.  I read somewhere that baking soda dusted on the armpits with a powder puff works nicely in place of deodorant ???  I’m unsure about that, but I’m willing to give it a try.  The same person also has forgone dishsoap and uses baking soda to wash her dishes with.  I ordered a “glass straw” today.  Since having some dental work done on my front tooth earlier this year, I have to drink everything out of a straw to avoid tooth pain (annoying, right?).  I’ve been through my fair share of plastic straws this year.  Amazingly, the glass straw comes with a lifetime guarantee.  Interesting, huh?

So I’m looking at how to make my own health, beauty, and household products.  I’m pursuing producing some of my family’s food this coming year through raising animals and a garden, and by eating less convenience and fast food.  I’m hoping to decrease my use of plastics even further, and to increase my skill level in reusing items that I have.  I’ve given up bottled water and carry my own water bottle where ever I go.  I use green cleaners and soaps, but have yet to come around on expensive organic shampoo and conditioner (good alternative anyone?).  I buy thrift 75% of the time when it comes to my clothes and my children’s clothes, and my wardrobe is very simple at that.  I took a canning class and a bread baking class this year, and have done both of those in the months since then a number of times.  I have weaned myself off of many convenience foods and unhealthy foods and opt for many whole foods in my kitchen.  I usually always take my cloth bags when grocery shopping, and actually prefer them over plastic.

Galvanized Lanterns

Lehmans.com.... a dangerous place to surf. I want these lanterns!

But I have so far to go.  I still use paper plates almost daily.  I have no dishwasher and somehow feel justified in my paper plate usage because of that.  I prefer my clothes dryer over outdoor line drying even when it’s nice outside.  I am highly allergic to trees and grass and the last thing I need is for my clothes to be covered in tree pollen before I even put them on.  I am very attached to air-conditioning for the same reason.  Open windows doesn’t usually last too long for me.  I buy very little bulk food.  The nearest bulk bins are over an hours from my home, and very little grocery shopping gets done that far from home on a regular basis.  I have good intentions about gardening, but have yet to raise a garden that produces a large amount of food for my family.  There’s next year of course, and I can see that big beautiful garden in my mind already.  Sites like lehmans.com make me want to spend $500 in one order.  Though these tools are a good investment in the long term, part of the goal here is to be content with less, and that means spending less money.  However, if you haven’t seen that website and you like homesteading at all, you must stroll on over.

chicks

Gonna raise me some chickens!

The good news is that my first batch of baby chicks arrive this week.  A few months from now we will produced our own organic chicken for our family to eat throughout the winter.  We also have 2 pigs being processed soon which Keith helped raise when we were at World Hunger Relief Inc, and Nathan Fair has finished raising for us.  I hope to get some laying hens soon, as the intense heat is going to end soon.  I hope to raise some fall garden crops – lettuce, spinach, peas, and broccoli.  That will be the extent of our food production for 2011.  But 2012 has much more promise.

Off the grid, baby!

We have also been looking into alternative energy sources (besides public utlities) for the home we will move into after moving out of this rent house.  Right now we are looking at getting a mobile home in the country.  We learned that for the most part, solar panels take a long time to pay off and only provide a small percentage of a household’s energy needs.  We live in a very windy area, so we are considering getting a residential sized windmill to help produce our electricity.  The land we’ll live on has a natural gas well on it (family owned), so between the gas and the windmill, we’d be an energy independent household. That sounds great to me.  I may have even talked my dad into getting a windmill for his house and barn.  It pays itself off in 2-3 years, giving us free electricity from then on.  Anyone else interested?  http://www.windenergy.com/

So this is one journey I am on that I guess I have more adequately shared about here on the blog finally.  There are a few other journeys I am on… but this entry is too long already – if you made it this far.  🙂

Leave your comments below.  You know I love to read them.

Lacy