Eating Healthy Once Again

Today I go to see my cardiologist.  I will be in his office in about four hours from now.  I had a conversation with my wife this morning regarding that visit and how I envisioned it would go.  Sadly, I do not think that my cardiologist really has my health as a top priority of his.  It is definitely not nearly important to him as it is to me.  I need to determine my best interests myself and not be mindfully captivated by what this so-called cardiology expert’s opinion of my health really is.

I have set down to determine what I should be doing, how I should be doing it, and when I will be doing it.  This mostly involves my lifestyle choices, primarily what I choose to eat.  Let me stress that just a little bit differently since it really is a life and death issue for me.  This mostly involves what food I put in my mouth.  My gut instinct is that our nutrition and eating habits are the number one most important factor in determining the state of our health.

As I contemplate this choice that we have, I have realized slowly but surely that our healthcare system, our food production system, and yes, even my cardiologist, have their own well-being as their primary concern in their lives.  I shouldn’t be so upset about this but I am somehow.  Follow along with me as we make the changes necessary to take control of our own lives in every way that we can.  This will primarily concern our health, but you will learn that I have discovered that everything in the universe of universes works together as an orchestration to make you who you are.

 

 

“Blind and unforeseen accidents do not occur in the cosmos. Neither do the celestial beings assist the lower being who refuses to act upon his light of truth.”

Blood pressure, pulse, weight, and an EKG were completed rather quickly.  Everything looked good although I did not have my bloodwork completed.  This means no one really knows what my triglyceride levels are right now but they were really, REALLY bad when I had them done in May.

I had a brief conversation with my cardiologist.  He is a good doctor and a sweet man but as I stated, he ultimately is not interested in my health the way I am or the way I should be.  Everyone slips once in a while and eats something they shouldn’t although others are reckless and just don’t care.  I am more of the former.  Watch what happens now.

I am going to take control of my own well-being and personal health.  My life will be the way that I design it.  I will share with others the knowledge I learn about healthy eating, lifestyle, and general health.  I have new empowering beliefs.  I will accomplish any task that I decide to undertake.  I determine my own destiny by my decisions and my actions.

Peace, Love, and Farming.

 

Becoming Simple

This past weekend was the first weekend where we had a chance to slow the pace down and relax a bit after all the chaos we have recently experienced.  I was able to get a number of small things done that had been bothering me only slightly.  For instance, the front driveway light on the lamppost was not working.  After trying three different bulbs, I determined I must have hit the electric line with the weed whacker.  Simple ten minute fix once I determined what the issue was. (More on this important topic here.)

I moved on to completing an important task of clearing off a storage rack and then moving it out of the way so I could fit the Mahindra tractor into the garage for winter storage.  I was originally concerned that I would not have enough room to maneuver around it once it was in there but I was pleasantly surprised once it was that I had ample room to navigate around the tool benches.

As we get to the time of year where we can slow down a bit I tend to read more and spend only slightly more time indoors depending on the weather.  I have been reading a book by Eliot Coleman The Winter Harvest Handbook.  This is a very insightful publication for anyone who is interested in farming or making their farming better.  While reading this book I had somewhat of an epiphany.  Over the course of my adult life I have had the habit of making tasks more complicated and difficult than they need to be.  I also have thought that someone would always be there to scrutinize my work and tell me that it was wrong or not good enough.  More on that at a later time.

Yesterday as I took inventory of my available seed stock I realized I had more than I needed on hand and didn’t need to order as much as I initially thought.  As I sat and pondered if the seed was still viable I also thought I will just put it in the starting process and see if it germinates.  If it does, that’s great. If it doesn’t, I will get some more.  How simpler could it be?

Child Tying Shoe

I have now become determined to simplify as many aspects of my life as possible.  Can’t get water to the greenhouse?  Put some water in a can or container and carry it to the greenhouse.  How simple is that?  All our plans don’t have to be 12 month plans, but they can be 21 day plans as that is the maturity to harvest with the radish seeds I have.

We have a tendency to get caught up in our own devices and always or almost always make tasks much more difficult as they need to be.  I have determined that 2017 will be the year of simplification for me and we shall do the most with the little that we have.

Leave a comment and let us know what you can do more of with less.

 

The Minute Details of Farming

Recent trends indicate that more younger people want to get into farming or become farmers but might be discouraged by initial capital outlay, lack of resources, or a bevy of other challenges.  FiveDollarFarm started with an older couple that just flat out wanted to do something different and make a change in their own lives.  Purchasing the land to farm was not so much an issue as the knowledge of how to farm which seemed to be wanting.  By sheer determination we decided to reclaim the knowledge that almost everyone in the world before us had known and utilized.  And what we couldn’t we would learn by trial and error.

One of the first important lessons we learned was about timing and we still don’t have it down completely but are much better off than we were originally.  It is obvious to most people that there are certain seasons when food can be grown and when it cannot.  By most don’t know how long the “shoulder” seasons are and variety of crops that can be grown within them.  Crops such as cabbage, carrots, lettuces, beets, Brussels sprouts, and others can be grown the weather doesn’t instinctively seem conducive to do so.  In our opinion, many of these crops taste better having been grown in a colder season that includes a frost or two.

 

A Winter Garden

 

We are attempting to manage our timing for planting and harvesting as well as caring for our crops with the use of technology through calendars and such, a benefit our grandparents never had.  They also did not have the distractions of answering phone calls and texts messages either.  We do utilize hand written notes and notebooks for records but use the Google calendar mostly for remainders of upcoming events.

Another issue we have had to deal with is quantity.  I have a tendency to plant a much greater quantity of each vegetable than we will ever consume or sell as seedlings.  For example, this year many plants were discarded because we did not have the field space to put them in once the seedlings were ready to be transplanted.  We are utilizing spreadsheets to plan quantities more effectively so that we are not nearly as wasteful.  An added benefit is that this process helps us to manage our space in the greenhouse better.  As an aside, it was a personal growth experience for me as I realized I had issue from my youth on wasting resources that was anathema to me.  I determined I had to let this go and instead made a neuro-association to observe all the abundance that God has given us.  We also attempt to charitably contribute any excess we generate to local organizations or our church.  Thank you Tony Robbins for the guidance.  You can read about him here.

At some times during this fall we had counters full of tomatoes that we had difficulty consuming or finding the time to process by canning.  We did end up putting aside a significant amount of tomatoes and sauces from home canning.  We did not get a chance to make pickles as we normally do but we expect to be able to do that next year.

 

Canning Tomatoes

 

So as you see there are many challenges to be a new farmer.  That does not stop us here at FiveDollarFarm.  We are determined to provide for ourselves and our family and be able to assist those in need in our community.  If you a new to farming or live a rural lifestyle and have some advice for anyone, please leave a message below.  We would love to hear what you think.

Fall on a Farm

So many things happen when autumn arrives on a farm even a small one like ours.  We have been blessed to learn so many new and improved concepts this growing season.  Our tomatoes have been outstanding this year and we have made a great quantity of sauces by canning tomatoes.  We have had to deal with some tomato pests such as the tomato hornworm also known as the big green caterpillar.  We kept to our self-made promise to not use any chemical sprays on or near the food we intend to consume.

 

Fall on A Farm

 

The children had a fun summer that included swimming almost every day.  Some days we had a difficult time getting them out of the pool for supper.  I have a great relief that the children can swim and I won’t feel uneasy about them being around or in the water.  I spent quite a bit of time with them myself in the pool.

We did not get away for vacation this year as we have decided previously that we would stay here and prepare for our wedding celebration on the farm in October.  Friends and family will arrive mid-month to help us celebrate John and Michelle’s matrimony on a special fall day.  We are also having a gathering the next day following the reception before our families leave to head home.  It will be a nice fall time on the farm.

 

Pumpkins

 

The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are going lower at night but still get quite warm in the middle of the day.  Plants put in the last great effort to store energy for winter dormancy.  It is a transition time that we love and stop to reflect on what we have accomplished and how to make constant and never-ending improvements in our farm and live personally.

Enjoy the Fall.

 

Information on Tomato Hornworm

New page with information on the tomato hornworm also lovingly refereed to as the big green caterpillar or tomato worms.

 

See it here;

Tomato Hornworm

 

Also for a picture of what the perfect tomatoes look like, click here:

 

The Perfect Tomato

 

 

 

As Farming Goes …

Right near the end of April as we attempted to employ our assertive poultry plan for the year, we were faced with the realities of nature and farming.  An animal of some nature, more than likely, a family of raccoons discovered our tasty, tender, chicken buffet in the back field.  Needless to say, we lost a significant number of birds over the course of three weeks.

Upon discovery of the massacre I was disheartened about what we were trying to accomplish here on our farm.  It was a tremendous setback.  There were differences of opinion of how we should proceed and whether we should proceed at all.  As I stated in my video documentation, “I refuse to give up.”

It was me.
It was me.

Finally I decided I would need to take measures to secure the birds so that this would not happen again. Once the raccoon found the pen it returned night after night.  After futile attempts to secure the pen that was built last summer,  I rebuilt the pen completely starting from scratch with all new lumber and construction methods to thwart the troublesome meddler.  Only the tufftex corrugated plastic cover panels were reused.

This morning as I approached the pen hopeful of sighting no mischief, I pondered what I would do had I met an unexpected sight of misfortune for the meatbirds we were caring for.  Sighting none I said a quick prayer of thanks to the owner of all who allows me to care for his creation.

Chicken Tractor

The associated problems this created by not getting the birds onto the field when they should have been were numerous.  They remained in an enclosed brooder that was really not adequate for their size; they were not getting fresh grass and bug, or sunlight.  They smell like chicken poop.  We won’t sell this first batch because of these quality issues.

We have been disrupted from our original plan but are hopeful that we can get back on track with the planned outcome we had hoped for.  As farming goes, these are the challenges that we must meet and deal with on an almost daily basis.  To be adaptable to your surroundings and problem solve on a moment’s notice is essential to being a farmer.  Note that I did not say a “successful” farmer.  I believe you are either a farmer or you are not.

The farmers of old employed these same characteristics but we today enjoy the benefit of near instantaneous information at our fingertips.  The problem this creates is that the feedback loop has not changed much for our participatory nature.  No matter how hard you try, your tomato plant will not produce a fruit for you in the first week.  For me, this has curtailed my need for instant gratification.  Ironically, I can now experience moments when I feel as if I can almost slow time only because comparing it to our hurried technological lifestyles makes it so.

This has also helped me greatly manage my expectations which over time had come to be almost dubitable.  We have an inclination to not realize the power of a small task done repetitively on our thinking and thus our beliefs.  After a while, some might call this superstition but acknowledging this mechanism and harnessing its power can be life a life altering occurrence. Oh that the chicken should have such thoughts.

So the pen seems to be secure, the lower back pain is subsiding, and the notes for the next project for the farm are right in front of me and will be reviewed shortly.  I envy Curtis when he states that he has shifted from setup mode to production as I have not.  We will get there eventually.

We will review our expectations for this year’s poultry plan and make the necessary adjustments as required.  Hope which is confident expectation looms large at FiveDollarFarm.

Making Soil Blocks

Since spring is here and this is one of the busiest times of year at FiveDollarFarm we are focusing on basic areas that will become habit once you start implementing them.  One of these areas is planting your own seeds in soil for the plants that you want to grow.  Whether those plants are part of a healthy diet or perennial plants or flowers for your landscape, you can save money by planting the seeds yourself.

You could go down to the local “China mart” store and buy your standard run-of-the-mill seed starter trays and bag of starting soil.  We have done that in the past but no longer.  A few years ago we began saving our small plastic 8 ounce yogurt cups.  These were great for us when we were just trying to feed our own family because we generally only planted about a dozen of each plant we wanted like cucumbers, tomatoes, and the like.  I still use them when I am experimenting with seed germination rates or when I find some old seeds that I am not sure if they will germinate.  Our goal has been to use what we have instead of buying everything we need.  Reuse where you can to save some money and the planet.

One new thing we have tried this year to take our sustainability to a new level is the soil block maker that we purchased from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  We actually bought two block makers and the plug attachment for the larger one but generally we are only using the larger one.  The basic idea for these is to mix up some good seed starting soil and use the block maker to compress the soil into its own container for seed planting.  Brilliant!  Also, 50 soil blocks fit perfectly into a 1020 flat tray which is a standard plant tray.

 

Soil block makers from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

 

We also began using Johnny’s Selected Seeds almost exclusively for two important reasons.  First, they offer most of their seeds in a pelleted version which I found works nicely with the soil blocks as you can drop one pelleted seed into the dimple.  Secondly, I found that they generally have a higher germination rate that most other seed companies out there.

Another mistake we had made in the past was to plant multiple items into the same tray.  We didn’t know what some of them were when they began to germinate.  That could be quite confusing.  However, in the spirit of our own personal renaissance, we are challenging all rules that we know or were taught that limit our creativity or thinking.  In this spirit, I will sometimes happily surprise myself by intentionally NOT labeling a tray to discover something incredibly delightful when it spouts.

 

Flower Seeds
Seeds from Burpee found in the supermarket.

 

This post has a video associated with it so you can see the soil block maker in action.  If you have any questions about the block maker or suggestions that everyone can use please feel free to share them.  All comments are welcome.

Baby Chicks in the Ohio Brooder

 

On Wednesday, we put 61 Cornish Giant X meat birds into our newly built Ohio Brooder.  It was very cold last night and I was worried that they would be warm enough.  They seem to all be okay after five days.  As it shows in the video the chicks are very active.  They will stay in this brooder for approximately three weeks and then they will move out to the field in our pastured poultry chicken tractor.  When they are seven to eight weeks old we will begin the processing and make them available to our customers.

Stay tuned as we make more videos showing how we are raising our delicious pastured poultry for our clients.

 

Check out the video.

 

 

 

 

What Are We Lacking?

An interesting thought occurred to me recently.  As I was in a bookstore while  travelling, I noticed near the entrance of the store a table of books that were obviously placed there to grab customers attention and hoped to be purchased.  All the books related to health; eating, exercising, weight loss, etc.  Why is this such a popular topic?  I was told by a high school English teacher that books are written about subjects that currently popular.

There are books to chose from.
There are books to chose from.

I began to ponder why this was such a popular subject.  Are Americans dissatisfied with their appearance or their weight, and their diets?  I think they are.  Not only is it diet or health but also our careers, marriages, families, and many other areas of our lives that need so much help.

FiveDollarFarm will explore these topics more in-depth in the coming months.  We strive to grow go food for local people.  We want to teach others to do the same.  We want everyone to have a healthy, wealthy, happy lifestyle.  Stick with us as we get full swing into the spring season and begin eating in season foods.  You won’t regret it.

 

Building an Ohio Brooder

This past week was difficult as all but one of us was taken down by the flu.  It was disappointing as the children were to sing on Easter Sunday morning service and missed all the holy week practices.  We regained our strength enough to have a quiet Easter weekend at home to catch-up on some much needed spring farm work.  One of those chores was to build the new brooder.

I went to the local building supply store and purchased the materials I needed from the plan I devised.  Much to my delight customers were hardly to be found.  I also purchased additional lumber for the boxes that my honey wanted to use as raised beds.

Building the Ohio brooder went much faster and smoother that I had imagined and I worked on the task joyously as I reflected on what specifically the meaning of the day was for me.  Earlier my brother had stopped by to retrieve some items he left from a prior visit and our brief discussion involved some deep spiritual learning we had both undertaken.

So what is and Ohio Brooder?  As any corporate senior director would respond, “That’s a very good question.”  Searching on all the known sources does not reveal much information as to where the brooder originated by if I had to guess, I would say Ohio. I am now ready to be promoted in the corporate world to the highest level of my incompetence.

Anyway, the basic idea of an Ohio Brooder is a box with four corner legs that keep it slightly off the ground so that chicks can run underneath and gain access to the heat source inside the box.  The heat source is usually a brooding lamp with the heat being retained inside the box.  I built mine with some hinges to access the inside of the box for cleaning and light bulb changes if necessary.  Nothing fancy, just need to have a place where the chicks can stay warm.  The idea is self-regulating.  they run outside to get food and water and run back under the box to keep warm.

And that’s it. With our production schedule of meat birds this season, I may build another one just like it but need to decide where to place it as a draft free area is hard to find for us right now.  The one recently build is inside the garage.

So until next time, do something for your farm or farm business everyday.

Peace, love, and farming.