Friday, October 18, 2013

Meet Heather: Mesothelioma Survivor!

Today I would like to share with you a story from one of my readers by the name of Heather.  She is a wife, mother, and a mesothelioma survivor. When her daughter was 3 ½ months old, she was diagnosed with this rare and deadly cancer, and given 15 months to live.  Her prognosis was grim, but she knew that she needed to beat the odds for her newborn daughter, Lily.  It’s been 7 years now and she feels that it is her duty to pay it forward and inspire others.

Her words: "I clung on to hope throughout my whole journey with mesothelioma. When you have hope, it makes the battle easier.  I want people to be inspired by me, I want to make them fight; give them something to hold on to when all else fails. That is why I do it.  If I inspire one person, I've done my job.

I'm using my personal story to help raise awareness of this little known cancer, and to provide a sense of hope for others facing life’s difficult challenges."

You can read more and watch a video of her telling her story here:

If you want more information about mesothelioma treatment, you can find it here:

For any of us who are struggling with mesothelioma, or any other health issue, I think we can take some inspiration from Heather's words at the end of the video: "Don't give up. Don't take a death sentence as a diagnosis. There is hope."

What an amazing outlook on life. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Heather!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hatching Chicks

Here's a glimpse of my day today--our chicks are hatching!
This batch is having a better hatch rate than the last batch we did in the spring.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Home-Grown Watermelon!

Well, the garden is a sorry sight this year, thanks to my being extra-busy this summer, our leaving for Colorado for over a week, and now the ragweed season keeping me inside. (I knew I shouldn't have said anything last week when it was going well...think I jinxed myself!)

But....this is the first year we have had a decent sized watermelon come out of our garden! Perhaps they love neglect?  I just popped these into the corner of the garden before our trip to CO, watered them, and haven't done much since! 

The pic above(thanks to my 8yo for taking the pic) was of our first one that we cut into last night. Could have probably gone a couple more days, but oh well!  Totally edible, though.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Not in Love with Ruth Stout's No-Till Garden Method

Maybe we didn't follow her instructions exactly. Maybe we had higher hopes than we should have. Maybe it's just a weird year (it is).  In any case, I don't think I am a fan of Ruth Stout's No-Till Garden Method, unless we make some changes.

I think our greatest error was not to have had the garden completely covered over the winter...It was mulched with grass clippings in part of it(which had disintegrated over the winter) and straw in others (which wasn't completely gone by spring), and that wasn't enough.

With the changes in my availability/ability to work a lot in the garden this summer, I sort of planted the garden on a wing and a prayer. Many things would not germinate well (but we have had a cool spring and summer) and we had more weeds break through the mulch and outgrow our veggies when we were away for 10 days. The okra never came up all three times I planted it (never had a problem before this year, and I tried three times).  And then in July we went on vacation(always a negative as far as the garden is concerned).      So it had a lot going against it.

We have had far more success with fully tilling the garden(even just once), pulling out any unwanted plant matter, making rows or hills, planting seeds, and then mulching heavily once seeds emerged.

I think we will be going back to our old way of doing things next year.

For this year, though, we do have a couple of healthy sized melons, cukes, green beans, a couple pepper plants, onions, chard(what the chickens don't eat), corn, and hopefully potatoes(if I can find them past the thistles).  The summer squash have succumbed to the squash bugs..not sure I will even try next year...maybe I will just plant later...

That will have to do for now.  Not much to "survive" on, if we had to, that's for sure.  Thankful we are not relying solely on the garden!

Until next time...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Adventures in Gardening, or Trying the Ruth Stout No-Digging Garden

With me working part time this year, I have much less time to spend in the garden. So, Randy and I decided to try the no-till, no-digging, lots of mulch method used by Ruth Stout, author of Gardening Without Work.

We have long been mulching our garden, for as long as we've lived on the farm.  We have plenty of grass/plants that we mow and this makes great material to lay in the garden alongside the plants, both to keep the weeds down and to help retain moisture.  This part of the system has worked fairly well for us, with the exception of around our squash---I pull the mulch away from the squash plants, because squash bugs like to hide in the mulch.

So, this year, we mowed and mowed and mulched the entire garden. We pulled the biggest weeds(thistles have been our bane), and a week or two later pulled the mulch away in the rows where we were going to plant, and planted our seeds.

That was about 4 weeks ago.  I had planted a variety of greens, peas, okra, cucumbers, squash, beans...oh, and potatoes on the back end...I'd also gotten some watermelons and peppers from the nursery and they aren't doing great either...though they ARE growing... Maybe I'm just too impatient.

So far, I am not impressed.  In fact, after I have seen others' gardens this year, I am downright ashamed of our garden!  The seeds are just not coming up well at all.  The soil is still uncovered by the mulch, so it's not that they are covered up too much.  I am thinking it's because the soil is too hard and with the cool weather, it has held onto too much moisture and the seeds haven't done well.  We do have a ton of rabbits, but surely they couldn't make it this bad....maybe, maybe not.

At any rate, at this point I am trying to determine whether to have Randy just till everything under and start over, or to simply replant where things haven't come up and hope they come up (finally) and they do well.

Has anyone else tried the no-till method for gardening and had better luck than we have?

Just for kicks, here is a pic of my last year's onions going to seed, and a volunteer sunflower: the most interesting part of my garden so far this year.

Friday, June 7, 2013

8 Little Chicks...

Sorry to not post yesterday--was away from the computer all day and  not able to blog!

As of this morning, we have 8 chicks. There is one more in the incubator whose shell is partially cracked, so we'll see...

Here's a pic of the little critters. Of course, one of them put their head down, so you can only see 7 of their faces! Oh well!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

4 Little Chickie Birds.... so far!

Just like kids, they almost all looked away when I opened the lid a bit to take a picture...

 And I got a pic of this little one and closed the lid (don't want them to get cold!).

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hatching Day: Light Sussex Chicks: Take 2

It took the little bugger all day to get out of the egg, but it finally made it out just before 6pm.  I think all the noise of the kids and I helped to encourage him/her to get out all the way. :)

We've got some more starting.......waiting....waiting.....

Here's a pic of the first chick just after he got himself out of the egg--don't worry, he's righted himself now. :)

My daughter is in there, whistling to the chicks. Sweet.

Hatching Day: Light Sussex Chicks: Take 1

Hubby had his doubts this morning, as he peered into the incubator and nary a chick was hatching.

Hours later, our oldest son got up and checked the egg status.  He heard a chirp and then discovered one of the eggs in the process of hatching:

Be back later with an update! :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On your mark.....get set....GO!

On Your Mark...

Get Set.....


As you can see, we are incubating eggs. These are from our Light Sussex chickens that we raised from eggs last year. We are curious to see how it turns out, what the hatching rate will be, and whether we will have chicks with neck issues like last year.  Last year's eggs were mail-ordered and we aren't sure how much of last year's results were due to the eggs going through the mail.

We'll see in 21 days or so (about June 4)! :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Short Chicken Video

For your enjoyment...

They didn't want to go in when I was ready, so I eventually had to herd them in.  They are loving the green grass!  We're getting 5-7 eggs a day, which isn't bad for having 7 hens!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I found a cookbook! Wow! This is Allergy Free and Sugarfree

First off---we've had a day or two of really warm weather and our lilac bushes have budding leaves!

My husband and I went to Lehman's General Store last weekend, as we are accustomed to doing about this time most years.

While I was there, I picked up a book that I had regretted not picking up last year: a spiral bound cookbook with the title Wow! This is Allergy Free and Sugarfree by Mary Yoder and Deborah Steiner.  From the looks of the family picture on the back of the book, I'd guess the authors are Mennonite or Amish. 

When I first picked this book up, I was skeptical. I've been eating Gluten-free (with a cheat here and there) for a couple years now, and truly did not expect to find anything non-wheaty as far as cookbooks go in an Amish store.  The fact that it was about allergies surprised me as well.  I may go into my lunch-and-dinner ventures in Amish country in a different post...

This book is based on the use of a "Four Day Rotation Diet", something that I have read about a lot in my allergy journey, but  have not embraced.  Part of the reason I have not taken to the four day rotation of foods was that, in the past, I did not have a wide enough variety of foods I could eat to break them up into eating once every four days.  Another reason was that I couldn't figure out how to do it; how to sub properly. I didn't have reliable recipes to use--it would have meant more hours scouring the internet for usable recipes.

I feel like I've been regressing a bit with my health/allergies lately.  I am sure part of it is stress with adding a paying job to my schedule and trying(and failing) to balance everything, part of it is that spring allergy season is gearing up, and part of it is because I have been eating more junk (read: Easter candy, chips, etc) and not so healthy meals due to a real lack of time to cook said meals when I am at work during the dinner-prep hour.  The family only wants so much roast and veggies or stew...

So....I am thinking about incorporating some of these recipes into my repertoire.  I'm not sure I want to do it completely, one reason being that I would have to give up my ritual of tea drinking in the morning.... I love my tea...I did pick up some different flours from the health food store and hopefully that will give me a good start.

I like the fact that the authors are at least aware of the corn allergy issue and the gluten issue, and I can adapt the days they have gluten-containing ingredients with the other alternative non-gluten ingredients.  I like that, when they use a "gum" in breads, it is guar gum and not (corn-derived) xanthan gum.  That, to me, is promising.  And I didn't see a whole lot of "gums", which I prefer as well.

So, we'll see how it goes, once I get a handle on it and try some of the recipes out!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Much Needed Update

I know I have been absent for a few months. Life has gotten busier and I've not had the time to write here. Sorry!

I've been writing for an online prepping site and have taken a part-time job at the local library. These things, on top of the otherwise normal things that need doing around here, have swallowed up most of my time.  We are still adjusting to the changes from my being a SAHM since our first child was born, to my working outside the home these days.

Being a librarian's assistant, I have found many books to read.  Unfortunately, I now have far less time to read them!  Here's my current stack:

My husband, Randy, has also been busy working his usual printing job, writing, and last weekend decided to take on the task of cutting down the eyesore of our broken pine tree from the big storm we had last summer. Bonus: a bit of firewood. :)

Here is my hubby and our daughter, trying to cut it using the old saw (our oldest boy ran off when the camera came out, lol):

He left the stump at that height, and I think this spring/summer I will use it as a platform to feed the birds and maybe later put a heavy pot of trailing plants on it.  I'm going to have to make sure it's good and heavy, because I don't want any coons climbing up and knocking it off!

As far as gardening, I haven't gotten very far. We are still in freezing temps here and I feel it's too early to plant even peas.  Maybe in a week or two...  I have purchased some seeds but have yet to write out my gardening plan for this year. It's on the list...

Allergy-wise, I feel I've been struggling again.  Not horribly, itchy skin mostly.  We've been dealing with strep in the household, so it could be I am fighting something and my immune system is just taxed... Trying to eat simply and get through it.

That's all for now! If you're still reading, I thank you for that!