Sunday, July 21, 2013

Setbacks and Dreams

Posted by Paulette

This last week has been a hard one. We lost one of our ducks to a hunting accident. 

 This is Jackie. Isn't she adorable? This is the third time we've watched  her and she's been a little angel in the past. But she has a history of killing cats, and so was relocated from the country to the city. She's great and patient with the kids. 
Thursday she got into our duck pen and killed our little drake.
I got the call while at a church activity. Christopher was heart broken and while sobbing into the phone, told me that, "Jackie killed Rory." I had warned the kids to keep Jackie on a leash while in the back yard, but she slipped out the door, and made her way into the duck pen. After some strengthening of the entrance, I thought that the pen was safe. Saturday, she jumped the wall and attacked the two remaining birds. One of my hens has some superficial flesh wounds and will probably be okay, but I decided to board the ducks with my friend at her farm until Jackie gets picked up on Tuesday..

Strawberries are a really good price this week, 3 lbs for a $1. So I decided to try my hand at making jam again,  this time using pectin. I burnt the jam. So much for multitasking. I was making muffins at the same time. They were a disappointment too. I need to learn what my limitations are. 
So now I am dreaming about gardening. We have lived in Mesa, Arizona for 10 years. When we first moved here, I had expected to be able to garden the same way I had in New Mexico. There's a big difference between high desert and here. The soils are completely different. There it's decomposed granite and here it's clay. Do you know what happens if you add sand to clay? It makes cement. So there's lots to learn on that front. I am expecting that we will have to either do raised bed gardening, or dig out the existing soil and amend it. The good news is that there's more than one growing season here, and once we get the hang of when  to plant what, we should have a thriving garden. 
I'm pinning and reading like crazy. If you'd like to follow my board it's here.

A sample of some of the things I've pinned:
Upright potato digging and save on space

7 tips for growing mad giant basil plants


Tomatoes need calcium to achieve their full flavor potential, and calcium is often greatly lacking in our soils. 95% of a dry eggshell is calcium carbonate. When planting your tomato plants crush up (to powder) about 4 or 5 egg shells and put them in the bottom of the hole. Then plant your tomato on top. They'll provide calcium and prevent blossom end rot.


So this week I plan, and wait until I have more money to put my plans into effect. The kids start school in about two weeks and so far I've spent about $300 on school clothes. Most of that was from Goodwill's half off day. I have yet to buy the school supplies. That will probably be another $250. Having kids is expensive!

Hopefully this week will be better.










Tuesday, July 16, 2013


 Posted by Paulette

We got ducks this weekend. Why, you ask? Because I felt we needed to. When I think about how much chicken we eat, and how much junk is in that chicken, it makes me feel sick. Have you ever seen pictures of a poultry factory? It's inhumane the way the birds are treated. And to keep them alive, they are pumped with antibiotics and growth hormones. Guess where that stuff goes when you eat it. Yep. In your body. 

In an effort to clean up my family's food sources, I decided that we needed to get some poultry. Chickens are normally the choice for back yard farmers, but after counseling with a friend, we decided that our first birds would be ducks. We have a pretty large feral cat population in this neighborhood. So I worried about chicks being eaten. 

It's funny how I've fallen in love with these ducks. I go outside in the morning and take them the scraps from the night before. Then I turn on  the sprinkler and watch them take a shower and root around in the mud puddles for insects. And you know what? They don't quack. Did you know there are quackless ducks?  They're called Muscovy Ducks. They love to eat mosquitoes and flies. BONUS! In about 3 months we'll be able to collect their eggs, and since I got 2 hens and a drake, we'll also get some chicks.

Having pets you may eat some day is a tricky subject to take up with the kids. I've explained how chickens on a poultry plant spend their days, in a box, with all those nasty chemilcals. Our birds wander a grassy back yard and get lovely scraps from the kitchen and bugs to eat. They get to play with other ducks. And when we do kill them to eat them, it will be done in the most humane way possible, after they have stopped producing eggs, or if more drakes are born, they will be allowed to grow to maturity before being killed. 

Not surprisingly, We've been eating a lot less meat, and more beans lately, which is a good thing all around.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

GMOs Allergies and Asthma---My Story

Posted by Paulette

My story: In 2001 I was pregnant with my second son. I developed a nagging cough that wouldn't go away. When I asked my doctor about it, and informed him that my family had some history with asthma and seasonal allergens, He put me on an inhaled steroid. My symptoms went away after the pregnancy, and then returned with my 3rd pregnancy. Again I went on the inhaled steroid with occasional breathing treatments.The mysterious symptoms disappeared after having the baby. 2006 and pregnant with child number 4. Now I had symptoms that weren't helped much by the inhaled steroid, and was put on frequent breathing treatments. I also developed hives all over my body. I visited my mother in FL. By this time hives were just a part of my day. Cool baths helped, but nothing else gave relief. She suggested that I may be allergic to wheat. I was devastated. I was grinding my own wheat and making everything from scratch. I went on a gluten free diet for one day and saw a disappearance of the hives. 
I began a gluten free diet from then on. Soon after this I was introduced to some literature about allergies that suggested that after I cleansed my body, I would be able to eat wheat again. I started taking a digestive enzyme, while steering clear of anything that had gluten in it. I got really good at making gluten free baked products. My asthma symptoms went away all together. When I reported to my doctor that I was taking a digestive enzyme and not taking any of my medications, he was amazed. He told me he'd notify my insurance company that I didn't have asthma. I began eating wheat again with no allergies.
My pregnancy with my fifth child was perfect. No allergies, no asthma.
Two years later I started working out with a trainer and lost 50 lbs. I was eating a healthy diet of lots of vegetables, and a variety of grains. All of a sudden I developed hives and the asthmatic symptoms again. I went on a gluten free diet, and they only got worse. The inflammation in my body was so bad that my bones hurt. I thought I had bone cancer or something. One night while eating walnuts, my chest hurt so badly that I was afraid my airway was being cut off and went to the emergency room.
I made an appointment with an allergist and had a scratch test done. I was allergic to almost everything! I asked him in desperation, "what do I eat now?"
I learned how to make a no tomato marinara sauce. Cream sauces were okay, as long as I used goat's milk. I started drinking soy milk. I wasn't allergic to corn, so it became a large part of my diet, either as cornstarch, or as tortillas. I gained back 30 lbs. I was so depressed!
My mother put me in contact with a friend of hers that was interested in going on a gluten free diet. We became facebook friends. Jennifer was my savior. She was doing the research to try to avoid poisoning her daughter was so much more sensitive to foods than I was. 
My mother urged me to watch a video about GMOs (genetically modified organisms). I panicked. How could people do this to us. We were being poisoned! I began a GMO free diet, getting rid of first the canola oil, the corn tortillas, corn meal, masa, and later anything that contained corn in any of it's forms from our pantry. 
Two weeks later, I experimented at a party and had an egg roll, which of course is made with wheat flour. I had absolutely no reaction! 
I am now sort of a purist. I read all labels before I buy anything. I educate my kids why GMOs are poison to is, and urge them to make good decisions when they are away from home. I know I can't eat GMO free ALL the time. But I try to make good choices when we go out to eat. Trader Joes has become my go to place for snacks. And I eat a lot more raw unprepared foods. I can even have a sandwich occasionally. I do so with my own homemade bread, made from King Arthur flour and my own ground wheat flour. I've only lost 5 lbs of the 30 that I put back on, but I am working with a trainer once a week and have gone down a dress size. I'm on track and healthy. I feel great, and have implemented other healthy things into my life, like taking good quality vitamins and minerals.
And I continue to do research about GMOs, and educate my friends about their dangers, and the corruptness of our government to allow them.