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Faithful Homesteader

My 30-Day Paleo Challenge

Faithful HomesteaderI never thought that I would go on a Paleo diet. When I read about it, I found it to be way too restrictive for my taste. However, now I have become convinced that it is worth a try.

For as long as I can remember, I have had major digestive issues with daily bloating. I read that a Paleo diet is a good anti-inflammatory diet. It is also a good elimination diet, since so many things have to be excluded.

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I have needed to do an elimination diet for at least 20 years. I did do a diet that eliminated bread, dairy, nuts, and sugar in the past. I didn’t feel so great on it that I continued with it, and while I did lose some weight on it, I easily found it again. Now I am giving up bread, grains, sugar, dairy, and legumes.

The basic premise of Paleo seems to be going back to the diet of the cavemen. It is about eating what they could readily find for food. Eating real and unprocessed food is an important aspect of the plan. I am not so convinced that I will give up all these things forever, but I hope to be able to get a better handle on what is causing my digestive issues. If certain foods really are causing my problems, it will be good to know which ones.

So far, I have been on the plan for nine days. I don’t feel better at this point, but people say it takes time. I have lost five pounds, and that is enough motivation to stick with it at least for the 30 days that I have committed to doing. I will assess things at the end and possibly add back certain foods one food at a time.

For now, I am trying not to focus on what I cannot have, but focus on eating good food. This is a good time for me to experiment with different things. I have discovered that I like plantains. I found a recipe to make bread from them, and it is yummy. The recipe can be found at http://purelytwins.com/2014/06/04/5-ingredient-almond-butter-no-sugar-jelly-sandwich-paleo/.

For a long time I have wanted to try cauliflower rice and finally did. I liked it. I just cut it up and put it into my food processor, and it came out great. Next, I sautéed the rice with onions and peppers. I used Coco Aminos in place of soy sauce. It worked well. I like that it has much less sodium than even the lower sodium soy sauce.

I tried using Portobello mushrooms in place of hamburger buns. I still need to experiment more with that, but it wasn’t bad if I used a knife and a fork. I am finding it difficult to eat out if I want to be strict during the 30 days. I have wanted to eat out less, so that actually works out except for when I want to be social.

I like that I am eating more whole foods. I am definitely eating more fruits and vegetables. I even got my husband to try spaghetti squash, finally. It is a good thing that I have plenty of asparagus from the garden to help me with the veggie intake. I sure hope that after the 30 days I really do feel better and have more energy.

My First MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fair

Faithful HomesteaderThis year I attended my first MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fair in Belton, Texas. I went with my husband and a few friends. It was definitely a different experience for me, but a good one. It sure fits in with my new learning mindset. I am always up for gaining new knowledge!

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Because I am a blogger for GRIT, I was able to receive two free passes. That certainly helped this frugal person make the decision to go. My husband was also a big reason, because when he looked at the schedule he saw many classes that piqued his interest. He would have even gone without me.

I didn’t realize that this was only the second time that the fair has been in Texas. Since it was about three hours from where I live, we left home very early on Saturday and stayed just one night before driving back Sunday evening. It was certainly a full and exhausting weekend, but it was fun.

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I was excited to see the magazine that had my published article in it.

I liked the setup for the fair. There were hourly classes on a variety of subjects. Plenty of vendors and yummy food were on hand. I attended some classes on chickens and poultry, of course. I also attended classes that had to do with health and pain management. Those classes gave me the push I needed finally to go on a strict, anti-inflammatory/elimination diet. I have now started a 30-day Paleo program with the intention of adding back foods one at a time at the end of the 30 days. I think it was worth going for that alone.

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I found that I didn’t always want to be sitting through a class. It was nice sometimes just to walk around and take in everything. I spent much time hanging out with the animals; I just couldn’t stay away from all the critters.

I found it interesting to see that there was a variety of people at the fair. Liberals and conservatives were able to come together at one event where common ground could be found.  There were also people of different faiths.

Overall, it was a fun adventure. My husband and I had not done anything like that together. We went to different classes, so we doubled our learning. He was certainly motivated about things that he wants to do for our humble homestead. My friends enjoyed it as well. I definitely would recommend attending a MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fair if you get the chance!

Celebrating the Year of the Rooster

Faithful HomesteaderBeing a chicken mama, I thought it only fitting to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Rooster. I was excited to find that there was a large celebration in Dallas. I have never attended such an event, so I was looking forward to a new adventure.

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The festival attracted a wide variety of people both young and old. There were plenty of events for the children and many food trucks — food is always important. They had a stage with a variety of presentations, from a lion dance to a fashion show to a Tai chi and Kung Fu demonstration. I thought these were interesting, but what excited me most were the interactive classes.

I attended a Tai chi session. I do Tai chi, but this was a different style, so all the movements were new to me. I also went to a Kung Fu class. There were mostly children in the class, but that did not dissuade me. The last interactive class was a class on Qigong (pronounced chee-gong). We mostly focused on breathing. All were interesting.

I couldn’t resist getting a face painting of a rooster. I liked it so much that I kept it on for an extra day, much to my husband’s chagrin. I was reminded that, according to the Chinese zodiac, I am married to a man born in the year of the rat. Maybe this explains his attitude...

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One of the best things of the day was the chance to meet some roosters rescued from cockfighting. They all seemed so sweet. I went back to the roosters more than once. As I petted them and looked into their eyes, I just felt as if I could feel their pain. I hate to think about what those poor roosters endured. I am glad that they were rescued from such a life.

I feel bad for roosters in general since they seem to be far less wanted than hens. If I was in a different situation, I do feel like would want a rooster. They fascinate me, and they can be so beautiful.

Overall, I enjoyed the festival. It was a different experience for me. The only thing that may have made it better was if I had been able to go with somebody.

I am excited that it is the Year of the Rooster!

Aquarium to Terrarium

Faithful HomesteaderEvery winter we start our peppers and tomatoes indoors. About two months before the last expected freeze in North Texas, we start prepping our seeds. In the past, we would lay out the seeds on our dining room table and use heat lamps. This year, we have turned an old aquarium into a terrarium. I like this setup better, although we are still using our dining room table.

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We re-hydrated the tomato seeds before planting them in their temporary home.

We are growing Flamenco tomatoes and wild tomatoes. The wild tomatoes will produce even in 100-degree weather. Both types have produced well and have good flavor. We have also started Redskin and Purple bell peppers. I gave some Purple bell peppers away last year, and they were well received. For seed starting medium, we use one part potting soil, one part native soil, and one part compost.

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We put the seeds into a used, 55-gallon aquarium. These can often times be found for free on Craigslist. We put foil around three sides of it to help reflect heat and light. We put 15-watt florescent grow lights inside. I definitely like everything being contained inside the aquarium. I am less concerned about fire hazards this way; I worried before that my cat might knock things over, but now I things should be safe from her.

For now we are keeping the lights on all the time, and later we will start putting the seeds outside a little at a time to begin to acclimate the plants to the outdoors. We start out with just a couple of hours at a time and then gradually increase the time. When we are confident that there will be no more freezes, we transplant the seeds into the ground. We usually use a cover crop around them to help retain moisture. We have found that it reduces the need for watering and keeps the temperature of the soil lower.

Learning on the Homestead

Faithful HomesteaderIn the past, I was fairly content to just stick to my normal routine. I worked in an office; I was a couch potato and a gamer. Living a homesteading lifestyle was certainly far from my mind. However, things change, and now I am more open to trying new things and seeing learning as a great adventure.

In the past five years, I have learned about wild birds, chickens, and horses. I have learned some about gardening and various soil types. I have even planted some seeds! I can appreciate the importance of learning self-reliance; I am hungry for knowledge.

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There is so much I can learn from these books that I received from GRIT.

I read an article about dealing with stress, and it talked about having a "learner’s mindset." That phrase stuck with me. In the case of the article, it seemed to be speaking of learning from stressful situations. However, for me it is a new way of looking at my life. There is so much that I want to know.

I would like to learn sign language, Chinese, and martial arts. I think it would be great to make my own soap and lip balm. I would love to have ducks and start learning about them. I know learning is good for brain health, and I want my brain to be as healthy as possible. My mind already isn’t as sharp as it used to be, but I will continue to exercise it the best that I can.

I will continue looking for that next great adventure and learning more about the homesteading lifestyle. I only know a small fraction of what there is to learn. I am motivated, and I am always looking for something new to write about concerning my homestead journey and just life in general.

Attending My First Horse Show

Faithful HomesteaderI have been volunteering at a horse therapy ranch for around nine months, but I just now went to my first horse show. I attended the Chisholm Challenge Horse Show in Ft. Worth. It is held every year in January the week before the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. It is a horse show for equestrians with disabilities and has three days of competition. I heard it referenced as the unofficial start of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

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Seeing all of the different therapy centers represented was interesting. I didn’t know that there were so many of them — 13 in the area! I still have so much to learn, so as I was watching I often didn’t know what I was seeing. However, I know that it is a big deal for these riders and their families. It makes things worthwhile for the volunteers to see everything come together. I wasn’t there for the whole thing, but I was there long enough to see that a lot of work goes on behind the scenes and there is a lot of waiting around.

During my time there, I was grooming horses and preparing and carrying props. I did sit and watch some of the competition, but mostly stayed with the horses and other volunteers. I saw multiple stories on the news about the competition; they highlighted various riders with autism and other disabilities. It is inspiring to see people have the connections with the horses that they do, and to see them able to overcome difficulties.

When I watched the news stories, I felt a sense of pride to have played a small role in the show. It was good to see how everything comes together outside of the classes. Now I have a better idea of what the students are training for week after week. It will probably give me a different outlook when I go back to the ranch next time.

New Year on the Homestead

Faithful HomesteaderFor the most part, 2016 on the homestead was low-key. I am looking forward to a more interesting year in 2017. Last year, we had moderate success in the garden, but mockingbirds seemed to enjoy much of it. I hope we will enjoy more of the fruits of our labor this year.

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Our chickens survived the year. The biggest drama was when our little hen, Buster, had a prolapsed vent. I guess she was just too productive. It was a banner year for her. She has quit laying for the season, but I am nervous that she will have problems again in the spring. I sure hope not.

My husband always likes to try new gardening techniques, and I'll be sharing them once he shares them with me, no doubt. Last year we started using garden frames, and we plan to add more. Plus this year, as we start our seeds inside, he will be using a fish tank as part of the setup. Every year our dining room table becomes ground zero for the garden, and the fish tank is already partially assembled.

For the last few years we have talked about painting our house. This is the year that it needs to happen for real. I am looking for us to be more productive on the homestead in general. One priority for me is more home-cooked meals. We had way too few of them last year, so I am looking forward to more variety in our diet.

I want to continue embracing the homestead life and learning the skills of self-sufficiency. I don’t want to have to rely on someone else to provide for my basic needs. I fear so much of that is becoming lost with each new generation.

I am not so much about making resolutions, but I am always seeking to live a good and productive life. I want to be the best version of myself that I can be. I am always looking to learn new things. Last year, I started volunteering at a horse therapy ranch, and that has been a different experience. I hope that I can find something new for this year, too.