Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Winter in the Hills

Looks like winter made its official entrance yesterday; woke up to lots of blowing snow. I heard we may have as much as 8 inches. The boys spent yesterday afternoon attempting to get our 1970's vintage snowm0bile to start -- with no positive results. Maybe it feels as sluggish as I do, with all the snow and cold.

Canning is almost done. I would like to try canning a few potatoes, squash and pumpkin, but it's on hold until I have more time to experiment. I am spending the week helping out with a midwife conference that will run until Friday afternoon. I have no expertise in that area, so I am helping with cooking lunches and suppers. Having recently turned the half century mark, I feel like a grandma to all the young girls that are learning this valuable art. What a blessing to see so many homeschooled young women eager to learn all they can about midwifery.

Hope all is well for you, in your neck of the woods!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Trying to Keep Up

It's heading toward the end of October, and I am still canning! We have an interesting time trying to figure out where to store all the jars of produce. We've used up all the good spaces, and now it's time to get creative. I think we plan to build up our bed and use the newly created space for storage of boxes of canned goods. I think I better detail on paper just where we have stored the various fruits and vegetables so I can find them when we need them!

Our son Jonathan and I decided we should try to write a book entitled, "Improvisational Homesteading." Maybe we could tell others what we have done -- due to a lack of materials, finances and knowledge -- with the hope that it would help others to not repeat our mistakes!

One thing I would recommend is if you plan to have a big garden and want to attempt to grow enough produce to last your family for a year: first construct a root cellar! We grew approximately 1200 lbs. of potatoes, and they are now sitting in a friend's root cellar. However, that cellar was constructed of railroad ties which are saturated with creosote, so hopefully they will be okay. We also are working on processing 3 barrels of carrots, and Jim worked hard to rig up something in our semi trailer that will keep them warm enough until we either eat or can them. I have a feeling they won't survive a night of -30 weather, so we'll have to do something to help us out for next year's harvest. I have to keep in mind that we not only processed food from a large garden but also roughed in our house this harvest season, so hopefully we will never have another fall that would be quite as hectic.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Praying for the Fuller Family

Brian and Christina Fuller have a farm in Kansas, and Christina has a blog called "KS Milkmaid". They are in need of prayer right now, and I wanted to share some information so you could help pray with us.

This is Christina's entry from October 10:

Our battle with cancer explained
Posted October 10, 2006 @ 7:57 am

'Dear Friends,

Many of you are aware that we are facing a great battle here on our farmstead. Just when our dream of having a dairy barn is coming to fruition, we learned that my husband has pancreatic cancer. I have been reluctant to address this issue directly on this blog because we have been sorting through all of the information, assessing our options, and trying to figure out how to share this information with loved ones. In the past few weeks, we have been sorely challenged, and drop-kicked out of our comfort zone in so many ways.

His pancreatic cancer is a level IV cancer with a high mortality rate (only 5-20 percent surviving). Often, by the time the medical doctors find the cancer, it is so far advanced that it is nearly untreatable. The cancer has additionally directed itself to Brian’s liver and right kidney. We were led to an alternative practitioner in Oklahoma who is well-known for treating people with cancer with using herbs. After a thorough work up, he shared that he has hopes that Brian can win the battle with cancer. Brian is on 42 different daily herbal supplements to treat the cancer, and build his immune system.

Many of you have gathered in prayer already on our behalf. Thank you so much for your fervent prayers. This is a devastating situation, but one that did not take us by surprise. Brian has been sick for the past year with chronic pain, sudden weight loss, headaches, and stomachaches (all chronic). We knew he was facing something serious. The first medical doctor he saw sent him home with a clean bill of health, saying his only problem was borderline anemia. This doctor said Brian was very healthy. This “very healthy” man spent the next few days in bed, unable to go to work because the chronic pain was so severe. We located an alternative practitioner with the help of a customer, and learned the severity of what we were facing. We chose to go the alternative route because it was less risky to our family and our farmstead business. The medical field admits a very poor survival rate with this kind of cancer. Of course, a medical doctor would insist on chemotherapy and radiation, which would debilitate my husband. His off-the-farm job would be at risk; likewise, our farm would be at risk. Using alternative approaches to healing allows Brian to continue to function with mild side effects in comparison to standard cancer treatment.

Brian has been taking this course of treatment for almost three weeks. He has noticed changes in his health already. For example, the dentist noted that Brian’s tongue was exceedingly brown during his last appointment. It was a hoot, and rather encouraging, seeing him show me that his tongue had regained a normal pink color after only two weeks of supplements. He has also regained five pounds. In addition, Brian has dealt with a severe dry skin condition for over thirty years. It is so severe that his feet crack and bleed. I was suspicious of a fungal infection that invaded the first and second layer of the skin. I sent him to the doctor, who ignored my armchair assessments. The good ole doc gave him a prescription for fancy lotion to keep him comfortable. In essence, he was told he would live with the dry, cracked, bleeding feet the rest of his life. After two weeks of taking yeast and fungal detox supplements, his feet are healing. While these are all very hopeful signs, we still have a long road ahead of us. For every good day Brian has, he has a few bad days. There have been enough ups and downs to cause this milkmaid to feel a bit psychotic. Sadly, today was one of the bad days. Despite being ill, Brian still works his day job, and works here on the farm, refusing to let his illness prevent him from normal activities most of the time. Today, he is home in a great deal of discomfort.
In the past three weeks, I have learned so much about cancer, alternative treatments, the power of prayerful saints, and so much more. I hope to share some of the conclusions of my findings in future articles. The following quote has encouraged me to be an active advocate for my husband’s health. Further, it has taught me that prayer and discernment are vitally needed in this kind of battle.

"Do not let either the medical authorities or the politicians mislead you. Find out what the facts are, and make your own decisions about how to live a happy life and how to work for a better world." Linus Pauling, two time Nobel laureate (Chemistry and Peace)

There are many well-intentioned people practicing a wide gamete of healing. Walking with the spirit helps sort through the chaff so we can claim the kernel of wheat. I pray as you walk through this journey with us you will not feel sorry for us, but join us in seeing an amazing display of God’s love for his people. Yes, God’s majesty can be displayed even if the outcome we dread comes to pass. God bless you this beautiful day! '

Thanks for praying.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Finishing Up the Harvest

Well, fall feels like it left, and winter is in the air. This photo was taken a couple of days ago, and after a night with 40 mph gusts of wind, there are now hardly any leaves left on the trees. I think the prediction was for a high today in the low 50's.

It would be a good day for walking in the woods and crunching leaves, but it's a little bit chilly outside for me! Guess I haven't adjusted yet to the major weather change. Yesterday we were walking around in short sleeved shirts.

Just before our first frost, our friend Steve helped us by covering the rebar and remaking our hoop house. We used it to store our produce that I haven't had time to process. Notice the tomatoes; I have lots of work to do yet!

I've never worked with hubbard squash before, and these are monsters! I will need some boy power to help me with these. The pumpkins are sugar pumpkins, and I am told they make great pie filling. We also have acorn and butternut squash to process.

Here's another crop that came in yesterday. Andrew and David harvested our sunflower seeds, and they were sure covered with a very sticky residue. Looks like we need to buy some Goo Gone.

Looking forward to snacking on those sunflower seeds!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

My New House

Our house is all wrapped up!

Jim has been trying to help me post some photos of the "finished product", but Blogger won't allow more. Anyway, the house is all wrapped up for winter! We will do more on the inside, weather and finances permitting. We are so thankful for everyone that gave of themselves to help us get to this point. As I write I am listening to 40 mph winds blowing around the house, and I have a feeling we'll have to do something tomorrow to better secure one piece of house wrap.

Guess we need to find something for a makeshift door, or we may have some furry visitors. Jim plans to store our firewood up top for the winter, so we won't need to make a woodshed out of haybales to keep the logs dry.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Unexpected Visitors to the Construction Site

One morning when my construction workers climbed to the roof (before the shingles were in place and just after the tarpaper was rolled onto the roof) they noticed there was a lot of residue from birds up there. We caught them in the act! The boys have had to chase our Bourbon Red turkeys off the scaffolding on a regular basis -- and they don't give up easily. I've never seen such a curious gang of birds in my life!

Unfortunately, they also leave a "residue" on scaffolding as well!

This is a photo of the completed roof -- hooray! Today they added more house wrap, and are finishing up the sides with sheathing (I hope I have the correct name for the siding). I'm hoping before they are finished for the season (we will be doing insulation, etc. inside as time and finances allow) they will add a door of some type, because our curious turkeys also enjoy coming in for a visit.

This photo of our cat Squeaky kind of snuck into my blog. He was a wild as a kitten, and our sons captured him with a live trap and tamed him. He is definitely a farm cat; very tough and yet friendly to our family. He reminds us all of a lynx, as he has black tips on his ears, with dark tufts of hair there as well.