Thursday, July 31, 2014

Zucchini Casserole - Delish!

Zucchini Casserole

The end product - ridiculously good


1/3 cup uncooked long grain white rice
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cubed
1 cup sliced green onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cups of your choice of cheese (we used feta and cheddar)


Combine the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, until rice is tender.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a shallow 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
Heat the oil/butter in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the zucchini, green onions, and garlic 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with garlic salt, basil, paprika, and oregano. Mix in the cooked rice, tomatoes, and 1 cup cheese (Feta). Continue to cook and stir until heated through. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese (Mozz).
Bake uncovered 20/30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

(Modify into a Non-Veggie dish - which I did at the same time as this one - by organic or local chicken pre baked with skin and in butter - shredded and mixed in before baking into casserole)

Tons of Veggies Soup!

Our "Tons of" Veggies Soup - this was what I put in the pot last night for today - it is really just pretty to look out and out of this world to eat if you're a veggie lover and love variety 

4 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1-2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
16 plus cups water
2 cans organic veggie broth
1 (15 ounce) can Organic diced tomatoes
3 Chopped whole tomatoes
6 red potatoes, diced
1 can organic cannellini beans - do not drain
1 can organic kidney beans - do not drain
2 cups of corn - fresh or frozen organic
3 whole diced organic carrots
4 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 Bay leaves
1/2 cup parsley
salt and pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot; cook the onion, carrots and garlic until soft. Stir in the kale and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the all other ingredients. Simmer soup on medium heat for 30-45 minutes minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.

The Farm Weight Loss program

Updated on 10/16

At the end of January 2013, I had really gotten quite out of control. 

I had always been a relatively thin gal, even after my first son was born in 2001, I was thinner after than before. But after a too many devastating losses from 2007-2009, then two pregnancies (6 months between the end of one and the start the next) where I gained 60 plus lbs with each, only lossing a bit after each, I'd fell off the bandwagon hard.

But that wasn't who I was. . . I'm not saying that weight defines a person, but I didn't recognize "me," anymore.

I'm 5'8'' and was about 180lbs in the left photo. I know many people struggle with greater issues with weight, but it boils down to WHAT YOU KNOW is healthy for you. That was not a healthy or happy place for me. I didn't appreciate carrying that extra weight to the barn on the mountain behind my house twice a day, needing to be on small rescue horses nearing the end of rehab to evaluate at that size or knowing with an enlarged Aortic root valve on the verge of needing replaced and insane blood pressure, that I wasn't adding years to my life.

People talk about self esteem and weight, but honestly, for me (and those who knows me best, know this). . .I have that. I have it from within. It has never been based on weight. At 220lbs expecting the 3rd son, I had the same self confidence I have at 140lbs now. Heck, I had self esteem at age 10 with a permed mullet when I was the least popular kid in the school. This isn't about what looks better - it is about what actually IS BETTER FOR ME and knowing I had lost all self control was the upsetting part, and knowing it reflected a sadness within was difficult, as well.

And it took some time to find it within myself to change, and somehow be happy and care about what this meant to a heart that wasn't perfect and blood pressure that was out of control. I love food. I had learned to love it even more over that period of time because it was comforting, fact is. I even found a way to liked the overfull feeling where you need to have someone to cart you around in a wheel barrow after.

I knew I had to break that cycle.

I gave up bread.


All bread that comes with a meal, table bread and sandwiches. Gone. I can't control bread - one piece leads to 12 to 24 and then I needed rolled around in a cart for 2 hours after in a bread coma.

I eat all the whole fat dairy I want. Tons, really. I cook in butter and olive or coconut oil. I use TONS of cream in my coffee. I drink NO SWEET BEVERAGES EVER. I drink coffee, unsweet tea or Water. I avoid refined sugar most of the time - I will have a desert sometimes, like a pie or creme brulee (because I still love food). I TRY to avoid a lot of heavily processed food. I eat as much real, whole food as I want. Tons of nuts, dairy and VERY occasionally, some fish. I have been a 18 plus year vegetarian . . .I added fish back to my diet in 2013 now and again. I do pasta sometimes, lots of soups and if I could be a meat eater, I'd adding real meats, as desired, would be factored in.

I Avoid ALL DIET AND unnaturally low fat foods or drinks as much as I can. Seriously, never touch diet soda (or soda)

Use WHOLE fats and whole foods.

Break the cycle where you want to eat until you pass out . . .haha. I've been there. Loved it.

The key is real food and really thinking of wheat as something to seriously limit and refined sugars as something to avoid, especially in drink form.

This is hardly novel. It is compromised of normal, real changes you can make. . . no gimmicks. Your gimmicks do not work. . .or if they do, not to the betterment of your body, and they usually fail in year.

They DO not work for long or in the right manner. You need REAL food in your body - no strange pseudo-science concoctions.

You do not need them, and the gimmick processes you go through set you up for failure as you're subjecting your body to something that isn't natural. Give your mind and body some credit. The body wants to thrive, and to do that, it has get the right foods - weird shakes, patches, package diet foods. ..FAIL. You may lose some weight, but you've not done it in the right way and it will end up coming back. If not, heaven knows what is happening inside your body.

I've truly needed to lose weight once in my life. This was it. 2 1/2 years later, I can tell you it wasn't hard. It was simply finding my way to the right way to eat.

Why is this on a farm page? I think it connects very clearly. . .whole, real food. . .that is the way, and homesteaders certainly will feel better going about our labor if feel better. Lord knows, I do.

That extra 40lbs made the trips up the mountain to the barn a heck of a lot harder!

By the way, this is 100% diet change related - I changed NOT ONE thing in terms of being more active and never work out more than dealing with the farm and horses. . .which, to be fair, can be a lot, but it is the same amount of activity in the before and the after.

So this is a photo collage from back in Oct 12, Oct 13, Oct 14 and Oct 15 and Oct 16th only a few days apart. Minus 40lbs. . . I've maintained the loss roughly the same without any issue since reaching the weight I was aiming for in July 2013. . . I'll admit I've added a bit too much "bread" the last 6 months, so the October '16 shot is a tad heavier than the others, but I'm trying to get back on the wagon. HAHA!

Cow Glory

For the Love of a Family Cow

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Farm Dog

The Farm Dog

Those who own dogs or are owned by dogs (ha) as pets "only" often have a hard time understanding the role of the farm dog.

Farmers are sometimes accused of not caring properly for our farm dogs because they aren't indoors or inside traditional dog type fences.

While I disagree, I understand that many pets owners do not understand the difference in a working dog role and a pet role.

Dogs can be neglected if living inside or living outside. Where they live is NOT the determining factor.

My farm dogs work. They generally work outside in summer and winter.

I respect them. I love them. They serve a purpose and receive a wage, too.

Our two farm dogs patrol our home yard and barn yard all night. We have never lost a goat or a calf to a predator, and we have only rarely missed a chicken. We know the moment anyone considers coming up our drive.

I respect these dogs.

They work and serve a great purpose here for us. In return, they get all the food they wish, health care, pats, scratches, love, several porches and a barn to rest in.

Yes, sometimes they barge in and jump on the couch, but they work, and they always want back out to protect their entire home when the sun goes down.

Sure, if you show up - they may jump on you as muddy messes and be carrying a deer leg they found in the woods. . .and that idea may make you cringe, but I assure you. . .they are quite happy.

Yes, their purpose is more defined than the lazy dogs that live inside all day and all night with climate control. I have those, too.

But you know what, they seem to take great pride in their labor. They take it very seriously.

And I take it seriously, as well. Do not limit them by assuming they can only be companions. Do not limit my affection because I allow them to fill a needed role. My farm dogs can do so much more than live as lap dogs. They protect my horses, chickens, goats and home. Their job is honorable and so needed.

And I remember that:

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" John 15:13

We know these dogs take their job to that extent across the county.

For me, those who wish their purpose was smaller, more sheltered devalue their true worth.

They are honorable working dogs.

I am reminded of it now as Maggie is in a precarious place after defending this place against a predator.

My little Rescue girl. . . a farm dog. . .not a lap dog, not a leisurely couch pup. . .she is an honorable working dog.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Maggie: A Loyal Farm Dog

Say a prayer for our fierce warrior dog, Maggie.

She was never intended to be ours when she came. She was bottle raised with siblings when her stray mother was hit and killed in Logan county, WV.

We took her as an older pup nearly two years ago to find her a home through rescue.

Days, weeks and months passed. . .no one replied to her listing on petfinder. It seemed no one in the world wanted her.

Months went on, and I said it was a shame to leave her posted waiting on a home that was never coming when she might as well have one here with us. . .after all, as time went on, she'd grown up
here and believed we were her people and this was her home.

Sure, as a pup. . .she did dispatch a few chickens, it is true, but she turned into a watch dog extraordinaire and a wonderful family farm dog with time.

Sadly, a stray attacked her at the base of our driveway midweek. It was a brutal attack. One that I wish our Pyr, Bandit, had caught happening. . . instead of our neighbour as he would have defended Maggie and won the war. So as it stands, our little gal took a heck of a beating keeping a likely non-livestock or child friendly dog from coming to our yard.

She is on antibiotics and pain medication.

We've not seen the stray since, but any dog that would have done what was done here is not safe - this was not a scuffle. It was a blood bath.

It makes me very thankful to have a much larger Guard dog on site. . . but my little one surely tried her best

Monday, July 21, 2014

How I fell or chased after a life on a homestead

My father was born to a homesteader. A real one. Not one by choice. Not one who did so part time. He had no choice. He was born in 1923 in the blackness of the poverty found in Appalachia. . .where the Great Depression was just every day life. Where babies perished of the "Bloody Flux" often and were buried in the mountains and children ate by going out with sling shots and sacks on foot to find squirrels, rabbits, berries and roots.

You only ate if you worked for your food, made provisions, and you were thankful for the sacrifice of the animals that made that life possible. Weather and months had meaning beyond what I can even fathom now. Life and Death.

He came from a time where Apples and Oranges were a blessing, a Christmas gift he waited for each year

I came along in the 80's

Everything was fast, cheap and endlessly available then. We were never without. He worked hard, worked smart and made a life to support the children of his old age where we lacked for nothing.

Life had changed for everyone by then. . .but his mindset never did. Growing and rigging and animals and food. . .the way he raised me to feel and think and act was very unlike the upbringing most American children had in 1982.

And so I was different. I am different. I am the same as everyone else, as well.

I like modern convenient things, yet what his upbringing conveyed to me makes me conscious and thankful almost hourly. It also made me want to be a person willing to frame a life around a homestead, animals and knowing where everything comes from.

So here I am on 23 acres in West Virginia. Not enough to farm, really, but it is enough to give me endless work, endless learning.

As a creature of the night, I can't keep farmer's hours. I stay up
most of the night working on photos, blogs, posts, videos, answering emails, editing websites - my day ends at 3am. It rarely begins before 10am.

We have over 20 dairy goats, 1 dairy cow, 40 chickens, 15 meat rabbits, both rescue and personal horses, 2 donkeys, 5 dogs and a stray guinea fowl.

I milk at 11 and 11 or 12 and 12. The animals have learned to bear with me on this.

We pick up our round bales locally 3 times a week and our feed daily as storage is limited.

I hand milk the goat herd and take about 3 months off yearly for the does and cow to gestate and birth again. We have no tractor, so we deal with 1,200 lb round bales by hand. We carry water all over this land. The barn sits on a hillside way up behind the house, so a hundred pound of grains gets carried up on our backs daily, many days much much, and 30-40 pounds of milk gets carried in two or three pails back down twice a day in a precarious manner, especially in winter. Between 6-15 bottles are prepared 2-4 times a day and fed to the goat kids for 1/2 of the year by my house. Eggs are incubated and chicks raised in the kitchen about 4 months out of 12. Fences go down, animals get out, animals are born and die. . .

For us, it is not an income, though there are areas we break even and some areas we make a small profit if you pretend time is without value, but the reward is carving out a life where you feel very much alive every single day.

For that, there is no numerical value you can assign for it's worth.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How Hard a Plight This Can Be

“I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.” 
― Abraham Lincoln 

Dairy animals.

Sigh. Still sad over the loss of our lovely little doe kid, excited yet over the trip to see the best of the best Dairy goats in the Nation tomorrow. . .

We have now been milking a cow (Elsie then Ellie) with a month's break for 1.5 years. I've been handmilking a herd of dairy goats for full or near lactation cycles for 5 years now. . .once without a break for over 2 years.

Dairy animals are hardcore. They are the make, break and shake you. They are the one livestock you really have to deeply consider before you step into, jump or dive into. Mull them over and over and over again.

No other animal you bring to your farm will tax you so much in time, money or heart.

Most people in dairy goats or cows last under 3 years. There is a reason. . .

I want to throw the towel in with goats and cows monthly, weekly or daily - depending on the time of year.

Nothing makes one work harder and fail harder.

“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
― Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho



Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens

- Proverbs 27:23-27

"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."

- George Washington