Monthly Archives: May 2013

Praxis Building Fundraiser

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A young church called Praxis in Northern Michigan is trying to raise money for a community center to help residents in Oscoda County, the poorest rural county in Northern Michigan, where I happen to live. For years Oscoda county has been bleeding its population because of a lack of jobs and opportunities, the county has continued losing jobs as companies close down or move out. The people have been losing faith in their future, and losing their sense of community. Programs and events, such as the fair and 4-H programs have simply disappeared as hopeless people in the community have lost the interest or ability to support and participate. Severe and rampant drug and alcohol problems, wide-scale unemployment, battered women, child abuse, abandonment, homelessness, anger, depression, anxiety, extreme poverty, teenaged mothers… there are many, many problems that have been compounded by the hopelessness as business after business has closed down in the last ten to fifteen years. To the casual observer, the large number of residents who ride their bikes or their lawn tractors to get around may appear quaint, but the reality is that most of them do so because they are too poor to afford a car that runs or to put gas in it, or they’ve lost their license because of a DUI or DUID. But since the people of Praxis have come together, people in the community have begun to be the change they wanted to see. They’ve stopped complaining and started doing. And it is proving not just to be a good idea, but to really work.

Praxis has made the decision to offer any and all help they can to anyone and everyone in the community. Without conditions. Without limits. Without judgement. Praxis helps wherever they can – paying for people to attend drug rehab programs, giving money to help pay utility bills or buy food, providing a place for groups such as Mothers Against Meth or a local kids’ theater troupe to meet, teaching financial management classes and marriage classes, providing clothing, gifts of food, whatever kind of support is needed to whomever needs it. This support comes from people who refuse to judge those who need the help – and it may be the first time in some of these people’s lives that they have found that acceptance and help.

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This work is making a difference. Hope is welling up. We see it everywhere we go – positive changes all around us. People are overcoming challenges, big and small. New businesses are popping up, offering jobs and opportunities. The community is coming together more and more – forgetting old feuds, supporting community activities, encouraging educational programs in the schools that will increase economic opportunities for the kids there. People are working hard to stop the addictions, to empower the people to take charge of their own lives, helping them learn to provide for themselves. People are coming out of the woodwork to work together to restore hope and dignity to the county. The Economic Development Alliance, many of the area churches, the Sheriff’s Department, individuals, charities have been hard at work… and the people of Praxis have been integral to many of these changes.

While they have partnered with local organizations when possible to compound efforts to make positive changes, in a very low-income area it is difficult to raise funds to help out, and harder still to raise funds for a facility where all this can happen. For the last several years Praxis has been renting the only available, affordable, “finished” building in the county with enough space. But now their rental building has been sold and they’ve had to move out as of the middle of May.

Small Home Farm Radio is partnering with Sundog Shirts and a private blog called “Ask Jesus” to endeavor to raise money to help Praxis rehabilitate a warehouse in the middle of the county. It needs enough updates (sewer, bathrooms, safety…) to meet codes that will allow the building to be occupied and used for meetings and events that are sponsored by Praxis, but it will also be a facility that is open and available without charge to anyone in the county who needs the space for a function, project, meetings, or just some place to get together with others to hang out and support each other, and eventually, to provide free wi-fi to the many residents who can’t afford internet service.  In a remote rural area, wi-fi opens up possibilities for online education, resume services, job searches and other opportunities that are very difficult to access without it.

Small Home Farm Radio is committed to rural revitalization, we are proud to partner with Praxis church, and we’re committed to helping our local rural community. That’s why we are donating 100% of our t-shirt profits to the Praxis Building fundraiser. We’d love to have you join us in supporting these successful grassroots efforts. We recognize that some of you may prefer not to be part of our efforts. If you’d rather not participate in the fundraiser, but still want a t-shirt, feel free to go directly to Sundog shirts and order your shirt directly from them. Without the special code that is activated when you click on our link (from this website or from our Facebook page), Sundog Shirts will receive the profit instead of the money going toward the new facility. Thanks for considering sharing in our efforts to make a difference in the lives of individuals and families, and in the life of a whole community! And please, take a minute to think about how you might become the positive change you want to see in the community where you live. The people in Oscoda county are proving that each individual can make a difference.

To order your Small Home Farm Radio t-shirt and support the fundraiser, use this link to Sundog Shirts.  Additionally, any shirt ordered through this link will qualify to support the fundraiser as well.

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Family Resemblance

My nieces Cozy and Dagny, with their dog Micah.  Chillin’ on the stairs:

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My kids Danny and Cecily at a similar age.  Chillin’ on the stairs with Patch (R.I.P.).

Danny Sitting Like Patch

And here’s my niece Dagny chasing one of their hens.  It has nothing to do with family resemblance.  She’s just so darn cute!

According to her Mama, Dagny says, “I git you Shunshine!”

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Blooms and Blossoms

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We had a cold snap about ten days ago, with snow and winds.  I definitely lost some of the flower buds in my orchard, but I’m pleased to see some blossoms still well enough to open this week.  In fact, while most of the buds on my pear trees didn’t make it, some of them did, which is a thrill!  I haven’t had pear blossoms for several years, as my daughter we managed to kill some of the most mature branches on our pears when white-washing them (an overzealous attempt) to protect them from the winter sun.  It’s all a learning process!

Not nearly as many buds blossomed as were on the trees before the cold snap, but I'm so pleased that we did get some blooms!

Not nearly as many buds blossomed as were on the trees before the cold snap, but I’m so pleased that we did get some blooms!

I ran across an article about how to make your own flower essences – super easy, really.  Just place the flowers in pure water and steep in the sun as you would when making sun tea.  That’s it.  So I looked up some of my favorite flowers and some of the flowers I have available in my gardens, woods, and orchard and proceeded to steep a few jars.

Flower essences can be used as flavoring, in biscuits, baklava, on fresh strawberries, or in other foods.  They can be used as a light scent or for various properties, such as the toning quality in rose water, in homemade soaps and other beauty products.  If you’re a little more adventurous you can try adding a couple drops at a time to water and sip it throughout the day to take advantage of the individual healing properties of whichever flowers you’ve used.  For example, grape hyacinth essence restores balance after stressful situations, bringing new energy and hope.  And coneflower (echinacea) essence helps strengthen the body against colds and flu.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are some rather – for lack of a better word – different people out there who get into flower essences, and talk about them in terms of fairies, conversations with the flowers, and having goddesses visit them — rather other-worldly stuff.  Can’t say that’s really my thing, but I do appreciate the subtle balancing properties of various flower essences!   ‘Nuff said.

So this week I’m having fun choosing flowers and making flower essences for various uses around the home.  And as a bonus, they look pretty in their glass jars!

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Using Homeopathics with Horses (or Other Animals)

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Quick rundown on what homeopathics are:  Do you remember learning in chemistry class that molecules vibrate?  And that molecules are different from each other and they vibrate at different speeds from each other?  (Molecular frequency.)  That’s part of what makes up your body.  The tissue in your body vibrates differently than the molecules in the tomatoes growing in your garden.  Similarly, a rock’s molecules will vibrate differently than those in bee venom.  Slightly odd sounding, perhaps, but true nonetheless.  There are plenty of “skeptics” who think homeopathy is just goofy nonsense and who, using non-molecular vibration-related tests, try to debunk it as quackery, and fine if they feel that way.  But you don’t really have to understand how something works for it to actually work.  And my personal experience (along with hundreds of thousands of other people’s) has been that, when chosen correctly, homeopathics absolutely do work.  They correct a slight imbalance in the vibrations in your body, bringing about physical and/or mental balance and healing.  The problem I find with homeopathics is that it is not easy in many cases to choose the correct remedy.  Sometimes it’s a no-brainer.  You get stung, as my daughter did this week, and you take apis mellifica.  The vibrational resonance of bee venom.  And it acts on the homeopathic principle that “like cures like.”  That’s all I’ll tell you.  If you want to know more there are a lot of resources out there with more information.  And no, you can’t just rub bee venom on your sting or take bee venom internally.  It has to be homeopathically prepared.  In fact, some of these substances in pure form could really harm you or even kill you.  But the vibrational resonance that they give off can affect the balance of your mind and body without the negative consequences of the actual substance.

So that being out of the way, one set of homeopathics that I really do like and find easy to diagnose and use is the Bach Flower Remedies.  These flower remedies affect primarily mental symptoms.  If you are burned out and tired from overwork and overcare, such as when taking care of an ill loved one, you take Olive, several drops in a glass of water, all day long for a week or a month or even several months depending on the severity.  That’s one example.  Sometimes the flower remedies do also affect physical symptoms you may be having in a positive way, but primarily they are used for mental symptoms.

I’ve used them on myself – Centaury to help me learn, after some 38 years, that I don’t have to let people walk all over me, tell me what to do, or make me feel guilty.  I’ve used them on my children – Vine to take pushy, bossy characteristics and turn them into their positive form – great leadership!  Or Water Violet to help my once very aloof, independent, and private daughter to open up and let the rest of us into her private world.  I’ve used Willow on another child who tends to become very self-pitying from time to time and evades responsibility.  A few doses and he’s back to himself, accepting the blame for things he’s responsible for without feeling sorry for himself.  And on friends – a dear friend who lived in daily despair, wishing she could die and join her baby son who had died suddenly two years before tried Star of Bethlehem on my insistence (that’s what friends are for – to push you when you need a push, right?)  The flower remedy took hold and brought her back to the land of the living.  The change was so amazing and obvious in her that some of her teenaged children spent some of their own money to buy themselves flower remedies they thought would help with whatever aches and pains they had in their own hearts at the time.  And I’ve experimented with them as often as possible.  You can take half a dozen at time if needed, but by focusing on your top three complaints, you can get those out of the way and see if you really need any others or if you’re simply out of balance due to the few things that are bothering you the most.

My first introduction to using flower remedies with horses or other animals came last spring when we brought our haflinger Sophie home from Whispering Hope Ranch where she’d been staying for about a year and a half.  We had temporarily traded her for Betsy’s mare Lacy, as we did not want to keep five horses at the time – our facilities were only half the size we have now.  Lacy is one of the sweetest, best horses a little girl could have… patient, kind, totally calm.  Sophie, on the other hand, was anti-social, resistant to training and leadership, scared, and stubborn.  We hoped they could use Sophie as part of their string, but she was a little too bouncy for the older riders and too stubborn for the younger ones.  So finally they sent her back to us.  As I was thinking about how on earth I could help her to become more friendly and more malleable for training, it occurred to me I ought to give her some Walnut remedy in her water to help her adjust to the change of leaving the herd at the Ranch and returning to our home.  And as I thought about that, I realized I could give her other remedies as well, so I looked up which ones would help with her particular personality challenges.  Water Violet was a definite yes.  Most horses, being herd animals, need to be around other horses.  Not Sophie.  She wanted everyone – people and horses – to go away and leave her alone.  Being intolerant of her human handlers called for Beech, being resistent to training and learning new exercises called for Chestnut Bud, her resignation and apathy needed Wild Rose and Gentian would be for depression and discouragement.  Not being able to talk to her, obviously, I had to observe her behavior and guess that she was discouraged and depressed (she didn’t want to be around anyone – that was either Water Violet or Gentian, so I tried both since the wrong choice can’t harm you – it just won’t help.)  With animals it’s a bit of a guessing game sometimes, since we can’t ask them questions.  It’s much like working with children, actually, who may not be able to articulate what they are feeling.

The upshot of this Bach Remedy Cocktail was very, very positive!  I was thrilled to see Sophie settle into our home, and within a week she went from being her same morose self that she had been before we ever took her to The Ranch and after we brought her home to being almost a completely different horse.  She is still stubborn, which Danny absolutely loves (silly boy!), but she is friendly – always hanging out with Saxton and the first one to the stall door to get her face rubbed.  Yes, this is amazing to me.  She would walk away from us if we approached her before the remedies.  Now she wants treats and petting?  Wow!  She had no trouble adjusting to the change, is now what I would consider a “happy” personality instead of morose and discouraged, and while I would never consider her a fast learner, she can concentrate on her lessons and make progress now instead of just being a lunatic!  LOL!

I won’t give you every instance where I’ve used homeopathics with animals and people, though I’d love to.  It would become a little e-book and we just don’t want to go there!  LOL!  But our elderly mare Lacy was having such a hard time eating hay or grass because her teeth hurt.  It just hurt to chew.  She’s ancient.  My teeth would hurt, too!  So we give her constitutional doses of Calcarea Carbonica (calc. carb.) for “teeth problems” – which we’ve had great success with in our humans here, too, healing tooth abscesses (Who knew!) and helping new teeth come in and such.  So I thought it would work for her and it has.  She has no trouble eating hay or grass now.  Calc Carb is not a Bach remedy, by the way.

So on to my present-day adventure.  Saxton is my fabulous, gorgeous, amazing gelding.  He’s smart, he loves to learn new things (which is great because I love to teach him new stuff – tricks, useful exercises, groundwork, to work at liberty (meaning that he is essentially free and can come and go as he pleases, but he chooses to stay with me and do what I ask of him.)  When I first got him in 2009 he’d sat, unused, for four years.  So he bucked me off the first few times I asked him to work.  Reflecting on it, I think it was more that he was afraid than anything, but there was definitely an element of simply not wanting to do what I asked.  So I began putting him through Clinton Anderson’s “Groundwork for Respect” series, and I got hooked.  I love Anderson’s exercises, and I love teaching Saxton new things.  He enjoys it, too, and responds very well to learning new things.  But from that first year when he bucked me off repeatedly, I got to be very timid about riding.  Saxton is a spooky horse.  We go out on the trail and he is looking everywhere in an “I’m kinda freaked out – what is that noise” kind of way.  And it scares the bejeebers out of me.  I’m afraid he’s going to buck or bolt or do something stupid.  He hasn’t.  Not since he was new here, before the groundwork series.  He has, however, spooked.  I just expect him to spook once almost every time I ride.  He usually spooks in place, I lose my balance a little, then collect him and we move on.  But last year, if you remember, he spooked, and before I could regain my balance he spooked again.  And I fell off.  And hurt myself.  Badly.

I haven’t ridden since then because I’ve been afraid to.  Oh, I’ve taken Mimulus – the remedy for “fear of known things” but in spite of no longer being terrified, I just have this certain, peaceful knowledge that getting on that horse is a bad idea for me.  I’m not confident, I don’t have a good seat, and the older I get, the harder it is for me to recover from injury – which is no fun in the first place.   In fact, I had given Saxton the Mimulus remedy last year as well, hoping it would help him in the spooking department.  Nope.

I adore Lacy, who is a million years old, because I know that she wouldn’t spook or buck or take off in a million years.  But she’s also little and old and can’t carry my 125-pound carcass along with a 30-pound saddle.  So this spring I finally, reluctantly, sadly, put Saxton up for sale.  He’s a gaited Missouri Foxtrotter, which is an attractive feature, but he’s 19.  And whoever rides him would have to be totally confident and have a good seat, because when he spooks, they need to be able to keep their balance.  But I hate, hate, hate to lose him.  He’s perfect for me in every way except the spooky horse/timid rider combination.

Saxton:  Regal, gorgeous, smart, malleable, respectful ... and spooky!

Saxton: Regal, gorgeous, smart, malleable, respectful … and spooky!  (And slightly goofy looking wearing hay on his head – but Hey!  He loves his food!)

Then it occurred to me.  Mimulus had never been the right remedy for Saxton.  I was afraid of something I know.  Riding a spooky horse that could hurt me.  He is afraid of everything he doesn’t know.  Spooky noises, fluttery objects, movement in the trees, noises in the distance.  And he gets panicky when he gets afraid of all those things.  Aha!  That indicates Aspen for “fear of unknown things” and “Rock Rose” for terror.  So early this week I put an online order in at my favorite Bach Remedy supplier feelbach.com, where the remedies are inexpensive and their partner site bachflower.org has fantastic, pretty thorough descriptions of each of the 38 remedies to help me decide which is the right choice.

My two remedies arrived in the mail last night.  I realize that they may not work.  Horses are prey animals and are designed to flee from danger.  That’s their defense mechanism.  But some horses have a more highly attuned flight mechanism.  I may end up replacing Saxton with this little paint mare I’m looking at that belonged to a pre-teen and is a lot like our Lacy – calm, steady, dependable – but younger, stronger, and able to carry my weight just fine.  But with all the success I’ve had with Bach remedies in the past, I can’t let Saxton go to a new home without at least giving him a chance at finding the right remedy if it will help him.  And who’s to say that even if he does calm down and become steady and unafraid, that I won’t still be too timid to ride him?  But I won’t at least give him up without a fight!

Sometimes we take the long way around through training/education, trying physical remedies such as chiropractic and such, resort to allopathic drugs with potential negative side-effects, or just put up with undesirable characteristics.  It may be that sometimes taking a little time to look into an inexpensive, albeit alternative remedy that may not be as widely accepted as we are comfortable with, nor as familiar as other solutions may be – can be just the ticket to an easy, practically painless solution to whatever ails us – or our horses, dogs, cats, or other animals or loved ones.  If this sounds interesting or promising, I suggest you check out Philip M. Chancellor’s book “Illustrated Handbook of the Bach Flower Remedies” and the descriptions of each of the 38 Bach Remedies at bachflower.org.

It is important to note, however, that the Bach remedies are not a cure-all.  Sometimes other issues need to be addressed, such as poor saddle fit, the need for chiropractic adjustment, possible hoof imbalance issues, and so forth.  But they can be a valuable addition in even such instances, to a holistic approach to horse care.

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Guest Blog: Almond Flour Pancakes from The Canny Preserver

Almond flour pancakes with a strawberry puree and whipped cream topping.

Note from Aspendale Farm:  For those of you who aren’t following The Canny Preserver’s blog, you are missing out!  But be that as it may, I could not sleep well knowing I had let her most recent post go unnoticed by the Small Home Farm Radio crowd.  She sent me this recipe a few weeks ago before she published it.  I’m always game for a new recipe substituting almond flour for wheat flour (not to mention that most of the recipes she sends me are keepers!)  And – oh my!  These are *so* good.  So, so good!  I’ll let her tell you…

Almost Paleo Pancakes

Don’t shut down on me yet.  I know I said the “P” word!  And while paleo and gluten-free are certainly hot topics and very trendy today, I’m betting most of you are like me and when you hear those words (along with vegan or vegetarian) you think, “Uuuughh, groan, whine”.  I’m of the mindset that food is good, and I like to eat it.  I like to eat it ALL.

…Unless of course you *can’t* have something.  I had to give up dairy proteins in all forms for a few months when each of my girls were newborns because I was breastfeeding and the milk proteins I was eating gave them miserable colic.  THEN I was grateful for all the dairy-free recipes I was able to dig up.  And one time I got a bug in me to purchase a vegetarian cookbook because I was convicted that my family was centering ALL our meals around animal proteins.  (That book proved to be more helpful in the SIDE DISH department than with the main course.  We are just too carnivore-ish ;) )

There’s plenty of solid reasons for trying new lifestyle changes, though.  I have one friend who discovered, once she went completely vegetarian for a month, that her body does not handle animal proteins well.  Now she serves meat, poultry and fish as a treat instead of daily rations.  I have another friend who co-wrote with her husband a really great post on going mostly paleo/primal.

I actually enjoy a dietary challenge from time to time.  I think it opens the doors of culinary creativity, and almost always introduces me to new foods that I would not have thought to try – or new ways to use foods that I wouldn’t have tried on my own.

Right now my husband and I are nearly done with a detox/diet that we started at the end of March. We’re at the end of a 3-week phase where we can’t have starches or sugar.  It has not been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, largely due to several recipes I’ve tinkered with, some of which are now permanent additions to my culinary repertoire.

This particular recipe is one of those keepers.  Now, honestly, nothing beats good old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes slathered with butter and maple syrup.  But these grain-free pancakes are delightfully versatile as a breakfast food, a mid-day snack, or dessert!!  I haven’t tried them with syrup yet since we can’t have sugar for another 4 days (but who’s counting?) but that’s no matter.  They are really good with strawberry puree and whipped cream! I say these are “practically” paleo because I do use dairy, which is not part of the traditional paleo diet.  You can sub out the yogurt for applesauce and the milk for almond or coconut milk like the original recipe calls for, if you are trying to stick with true paleo.  And omit the whipped cream, of course.  (The first time I made these I used applesauce, and I will say they are sweeter, but much more prone to crumbling.)

One more note:  I think they are actually better the next day.  The last batch I made, I made on Saturday night so we could eat them Sunday morning.  Just re-heat them for 30 seconds or so in the microwave or in the oven for a few minutes.

Almost Paleo Pancakes (makes about 8-10 small cakes):

  • 1 1/2 cups Almond Flour (almond flour is simply almonds pureed in the food processor!)
  • 1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani 2%, but fat-free would work, too)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 cup Milk (I used raw whole milk.  Skim, low-fat, or almond/coconut milk would also be good!)
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Coconut (optional, but delicious!)
  • Coconut Oil for greasing the griddle

Topping:

  • 1 cup Strawberries and/or other fruits (pureed in blender or food processor)
  • Whipped Cream

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, except coconut oil.  Batter should be slightly runny.  If it’s still thick, add more milk until it resembles typical pancake batter.  Grease griddle or pan with oil.  Spoon batter onto hot griddle into 2-3″ rounds.  When sides begin to brown, flip pancakes.  Brown the other side, then serve warm!

Add pureed strawberries and whipped cream.  If strawberries aren’t super sweet, you may want to add a packet of stevia or a teaspoon of sugar while pureeing.  Typically they won’t need it, though.  Especially if they are in season!  Leftovers should keep in the fridge at least a week.

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One caveat.  If there are more than just one or two people eating these pancakes, you will never have an opportunity to see if they really taste better the next day.  There will be none left and you will all be fighting over the last one.  😉

Have a great week, and happy home farming!  (And cooking!)

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