Tuesday, December 29, 2009

100th post!

I decided to devote my 100th post to my greatest passion... Bonnie! I know, I know, "You have a cow! Get over it ya weirdo!". Bonnie is a frequent subject for this blog but I've been very heavily involved in "cow stuff" lately so it's on my mind.

For those of you just tuning in to this saga, Bonnie is my Scottish Highland/Shorthorn cross, family cow. I bought her to be our beef/milk cow. She gives birth to the beef and provides the milk, in case you couldn't figure that out. This journey did not start with the purchase of my cow, it did not start with the Craigslist ad I placed, looking for a cow. It didn't even start the year before when Dad said I could have one if I could find one. This journey started when I was 3 or 4 when my parents started buying raw milk in Montrose, Colorado. I believe it's illegal now, but it wasn't then. I remember watching my mom skim the cream from yellow milk in a gallon, glass jar. It was the coolest thing. I remember not liking the taste of fresh butter since it tasted nothing like Country Crock. Margarine was our spread up until that time and I was not used to the creaminess and slight tang of real, fresh butter.
My Grandpa and Grandma Arndt always had horses, they still do in fact! I associate the barnyard smell with my grandparents. Not in a bad way either. That smell is the smell of my childhood. I loved being with the horses, not riding them necessarily, but just being there with them.
The first five years of my "adulthood" were sprinkled with failed diet after failed diet. I had spent many years learning to enjoy sweets and sugar highs and it was showing. Five years ago I first learned of the Real Food movement. I decided that nothing else was working, I might as well investigate this too. It was a revelation to me! Real food held the key to my out-of-control weight. I'm not blaming food for my issues, it is all about me and what I choose to put in my body. I had been breaking my own body down by not providing the nourishment that it needed. And something had to change!

Two years ago, a local ranch put a sign out, advertising raw milk for sale. Kathy jumped on it, in the hopes of helping her grandson and his wife with their autistic son. Unfortunately, Jadrik's digestive damage was too extensive and he was reacting to the milk. So... She gave it to us and a passion was born. I had converted my family to organic milk, from the store, some months earlier but that milk, fresh from the cow, was the elixir my starving body was craving. I didn't skim it for the first few months, as all of us needed the full compliment of fats, vitamins and minerals it had to offer. About this time I found the Weston A. Price Foundation and my passion for Real Food was renewed. But, six months after discovering the wonders of raw milk, the ranch dried their cows, in preparation for freshening and our raw milk was gone. This was a big blow to our health, as we went back to store bought milk. I went from a quart of milk a day to nothing. I can't stand the metallic taste of store bought milk anymore. I decided to do something about this situation. I asked my parents for a cow.
My mother is not an animal person. She did not grow up with anything but a family dog. No horses, no fish, no birds... nothing. She never has gotten into the farming thing and she never will. She was very reluctant to plunge into the time and expense of a cow. I did a spreadsheet, charting our dairy product usage and our beef usage. The expense of a cow, when lined up, was significantly cheaper. With my parents' grudging permission I turned to my main source of research, the Internet. I spent a year searching, comparing and researching the different types of cows. Almost immediately, the dairy breeds were out as well as the beef breeds. Jerseys, Guernseys, Holsteins and Ayrshires give way more milk than we need and it takes forever to beef up the steers to butcher size. Herefords and Angus are not milking animals, are enormous (Herefords are bigger than Angus) and that cancels them out as milk cows. I needed a dual purpose breed. I discovered a wealth of them too... Outside. I settled on the little-known Dexter. They seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I could not find a single one in the state of Alaska. I looked for almost a year before giving up on the idea of Dexters. It seemed as the the Lord was not in this plan so I was not going to keep pushing and get myself into something that He was not in. I almost gave up hope. I decided to give one more try to find something, anything that would work as a family cow. In stepped the Highland. I had never really considered them as I had always thought of them as a rare, beef breed. Remember, I didn't want a beef animal. I did a little more research and discovered that THEY were the animal that I was looking for.

Scottish Highland cattle are uniquely adapted to rugged climates. They were developed in the windswept, barren-ish Highlands of Scotland (duh) to be easy keepers, self-reliant and tough as nails. The shaggy hair provides weather-proof insulation as well as contributing to the fine marbling of the meat. Highland cattle do not put on a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, like other cattle. They have hair for that. Every breed of cattle needs more calories to survive when the temperatures reach 32 degrees. Highlands are the only breed that can hold out until -18 degrees. Only then do they need more and better feed. In fact, my Bonnie is so rugged that she loses body condition when her food is too good. She needs large quantities of average hay rather than good hay. Her body is so efficient at ringing the last vital nutrient from her feed that she can't eat enough good hay to keep her rumen working. Her brain shuts her down before she gets the quantity her ruminant system needs. This was one of the major selling points for getting an Highland. Average hay is much, much cheaper than the high quality "horse" hay.
Second, Highland milk, while not abundant, is very, very rich. Jersey milk, the most butterfat for the dairy breeds, is about 4%. Highland milk is 10% butterfat. That makes is just a tad lighter than half and half. I don't know about you, but that sounds so wonderful. Especially for my fat-starved body. I was concerned about the calf though. I don't want to feed commercial milk replacer as it contains huge amounts of soy and GMO ingredients. Those are two things that have no place on this property. My father, in attempting to dissuade me, and with an air of doom, kept reminding me that I HAD to milk twice a day, every day. First of all, so what! Second, no I don't! Many people only milk their cow once a day. Many other people leave the calf on the cow and only milk when they need to. Highlands give an average of a gallon a day. Three gallons a week is more than enough for us and even may be too much at times. I only need to milk Bonnie, provided the Shorthorn blood doesn't make itself known, three times a week. That's Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning! The rest of the time I can leave her baby with her. The baby will grow more and stronger, the maternal instincts of my Highland cow are fulfilled by being able to mother her baby and we still get her milk. If the Shorthorn blood comes through then she should have more milk. Shorthorn is a dual purpose breed. Some would say that there's two breeds of Shorthorn, milking and beef, but they are the same breed with the same genes so milk production it greater than the Highland. I'm kind of hoping for a little bit of Shorthorn break-through in the production department, though I'm not holding my breath.

My biggest reason for wanting a cow is the current administration. Our president is going to do his level best to destroy the hope of small farms and pave the way for the monopoly of agribusiness. I know he's saying the opposite but, as they say, actions speak louder than words. With his endorsement of NAIS, GMO's and big government the small farm is on it's way out. My cow is my rebellion against the system. She is my declaration that I know what's best for me and my family, not the government. I neither need, not want it's interference in MY farm. I refuse to pack up and move to the city so I can collect a welfare check. I can do it myself, thank you very much. It's harder to be self-sufficient in Alaska, admittedly, but I am going to do what I can to become less dependent on the grocery store.

Now the health benefits of milk, specifically raw milk. I know that the USDA claims pasteurization does not destroy any of the nutritional benefits of milk but I don't buy it. The USDA HAS to say that since the law is, you must pasteurize your milk. I choose to be skeptical of government claims of safety and I'll drink my milk raw, thank you very much. I know how pasteurized milk makes me feel and I know how raw milk makes me feel. Raw milk doesn't make me react the same way as pasteurized. I get nauseous and grumpy and sneezy when I drink store milk, even organic. My milk will be raw and my eggs are soy-free, free range. Woohoo!

When I bought her my mom was really unhappy about her being so young. She was nine months old. I had her bred when she was almost two years old. It's been a long year and a half but the culmination of this dream is due in three months. Everything seems to be going really good and she is bagging up quickly. Not really quickly, but her udder is bigger every day and her teats are getting longer, in preparation for nursing her tiny calf. Her calf, if it's not twins, should be between 50 and 70 pounds. That is a small calf, for those of you who don't know. A typical Holstein calf is between 80 and 100 pounds at birth. With a wide pelvis and a small calf she should have no difficulties birthing, even if the calf is breech. Hopefully, there won't be any problems and I am not borrowing trouble in thinking about it too much. I have the vet's number and I know how to tell when she's having trouble so I'm prepared as well as I can be.

I am completely in love with my cow and my arctic farm. I want to get a garden in, with vegetables that do well up here so I don't have to baby them so much. I hope you enjoyed my Bonnie post and if anybody has a question or two, I really do like comments from people!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


First and foremost I would like to say that Rishon is a very cute and content little boy... And that's all you get to hear about him. If anyone wants to know who I'm talking about, go to the Hoffmans blog, on the right sidebar.

I saw a new commercial today that made me hackle faster than anything I've seen lately. It is for Plan B Emergency Contraception. Or rather, Oops, Forgot That I Didn't Want A Baby Abortificent. You have 72 hours to take this particular product to prevent a pregnancy, not, prevent a baby from being conceived but making sure your womb is unfit for life. And that's not even the part that made me the maddest. The first "woman" that they showed, grinning from ear to ear as she steps up to get her prescription is sixteen if she's a day. First of all, that is NOT a message that young teens need to have. I trust I need not write a sarcastic, hypothetical conversation so you get the picture here? Second, if my trusty birth control had failed during my latest drunken "sleep-over", I would not be grinning at the pharmacist unless it was accompanied by slightly hysterical and panicked cackling. Third, IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET PREGNANT THEN KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON!!!!!!! Tried and true, 100% effective, and severly underrepresented in our society. I have no qualms telling anyone who wants to know that I use this particular brand of birth control (the latter, not the former), and so far I have yet to make a mad dash to the doctor for this prescription. I understand that assaults happen, but those women were not the target of this commercial and that is a whole 'nother can of worms that I don't have the time, tonight, to get into.
On a similar thread, I heard something that needs to make the headlines somewhere. In the state of Alaska, it is legal for girls as young as thirteen to have an abortion without parental notification. However, it is illegal for anyone under sixteen to engage in sexual intercourse. Huh?! Most of the people I know are currently working to get the first law changed though I'm not sure how successful it will be. We'll see.
Again, another similar thread... Bonnie is still doing great and I felt the calf move the other day. She was really agitated and I saw her right side rolling and flipping like crazy. It was like there was something alive in there! I put my hand on her side and the calf pushed against my hand, hard. Hopefully, it'll be that strong when it's born. I can't wait!!!
Okay, that's all my random stuff for this evening. Hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a happy (boozeless) New Year.


Monday, November 30, 2009

It's a boy!!!

Jason and Jo had their baby last night and it's a very large boy. I talked to one of the aunts this morning and I guess the midwife said he's over nine pounds. That makes sense, considering the size of his parents. (They are both tall, for those of you who have never met either of them). He was messing around with his cord and tied it in a knot so they had to take him by emergency c-section but he and Jo are fine today. Her mom is going to be here for two weeks I think and I would imagine the rest of her family, or most of it anyway, is going to be coming down soon. I thank the Lord that he safely delivered another baby to our extended family. He's not a replacement for our precious Raisa but he is a reminder that even with loss, great joy comes with the birth of a baby. That is something that my heart had forgotten. I was dreading them having a girl but I am glad they have a healthy baby in any case. They are using some of Raisa's paraphernalia and I wasn't ready to see a baby girl in the carseat the Raisa wasn't done with yet. I'll take pictures, lots of them and, for those of you that care, you can stare and drool to your hearts content.
In other news, I am back home now. Kathy made it back from Colorado on Friday and resumed residency of her home. I hadn't realized just how nasty my house had gotten! It's a shame that two grown adults can't keep four rooms clean for three months but there you go. My plans for renovating the upstairs are kind of in limbo until Mom decides if she wants to redo the whole house. She would like it to be ranch-style, instead of two story but that is a major renovation and will take some money and time. I'd like for her to be able to do it next fall and early winter but it might not happen that quickly. In any case, I don't want to put time and money into finishing the upstairs only to have it be torn down in six months... We'll see how things progress this year.
Bonnie is still pregnant, our Thanksgiving turkey was delicious, even if he infected my dad's finger and Mom's knee is healing still. I went to the dentist last Monday, to have an impacted wisdom tooth pulled and I still have a huge knot of... something, in my cheek, causing pain. I don't know if it's a blood clot, a bruise, unused Novocaine or what but with warm compresses, Ibuprofen out the wazoo and time it seems to be going down. The socket and my jaw are fine now but since the maniac who pulled it jammed a needle into the joint of my jaw and rotated it around without pulling it out I can't open my mouth very far yet. On the plus side, it's a great diet plan.
Dad has cellulitis in his right middle finger. He was gutting our turkey and he nicked his knuckle while inside the cavity. I swelled up and we pestered him into going to the ER. He's on a general antibiotic until they can identify exactly what is in his finger. If it's sensitive to the one he's on then they'll just leave him on that one. If it isn't sensitive then they have to switch them until they find one that is. He said that it's feeling better today so hopefully it's healing and he won't have any permanent damage. He's just amazed that he reacted that way since it's never happened before with elk or moose. I reminded him that we didn't slaughter this bird, he died from hypothermia and he was gutting him hours after it died. The bacteria load in this bird was decidedly higher than in a freshly killed animal. And don't lecture me about the dangers of eating such a bird. He was skinned, cooked very well, and none of us got sick, so there! And, he was delicious.
Charlie made it down for Thanksgiving this year. He's still at GCI, working tech support for wireless internet and loving every minute of it. He's kind of thinking about looking for a house. A buddy of his is willing to go in with him on a large parcel, build two houses, (or one if there's already one there), and subdivide later. It's what we did with Jim and Kathy. He's putting down roots in Wasilla. At least he's still in Alaska. He's four hours away from us but that's not too far that it's a major hurdle if we need him for something. Hopefully, he'll be able to help put up the barn this spring. I really, really, really, really, want a sheltered place for Bonnie to calve, now that I know for sure that she's pregnant. It was nice of her to start bagging up this early, just so I can stop wondering and hoping. The other day, Dad came in and told me to go check on her since there were a dozen ravens ringing the corral. Usually, there's something dead for that many to come. I grabbed my coat, just knowing in my heart that she's miscarried and my dreams for milk this year were dead. But, there was no calf and Bonnie was standing in the middle of her corral, gazing around at her new friends while they eyed the chunk of pig intestine that had brought them in. Nanook had laid it by the corral and they were trying to find a way to get Brandy to quit chewing on it so they could have it. I hung onto the fence for awhile, waiting for my heart to stop pounding before yelling at them and my dogs. Stupid critters anyway!!!
All the turkeys are together now. We have to pick a new breeder tom since we ate ours for Thanksgiving but I get to pick him this time and I want the dominant one. Like I wanted the first time, but was outvoted. We sold one of the older hens to some friends and I keep forgetting to ask them how it was. Now we just need to take care of a hen and a tom and our turkey killing will be done for the year. I might ask Uncle David to help with it when he gets here in January. I can't stand being part of the killing. I'll pluck and gut all day though, that doesn't bother me.
Okay, this is getting crazy long so I'm gonna tack a cute picture of Riley and Phaedra on the end and then call it a post.

They were watching Tony and my parents put the trusses on Kathy's porch

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wow, I'm really falling down on the blogging job. Sorry about that.
Nothing is really new here except the things that naturally happen when you live on an arctic farm. It's cold, finally snowy and the critters are wishing they lived in Florida. Honest! I saw the three breeding turkeys perusing a pamphlet for Disney World the other day. I think it came by airmail... get it?
We finally got some snow last week. It's not nearly enough to last the entire winter but at least it's something. It gets cloudy and snows a bit then clears off for a couple days then gets cloudy for a few hours and then clears off, etc. It's very weird.
Sped, our crippled piggy, meets the butcher in two days and the four butcher turkeys, I think, are getting butchered on Saturday. It's not too soon for Thanksgiving but they will have time to come out of rigor. I can't imagine trying to cook a turkey that is in full rigor. YUCK!!!
In happier, less gory news, I milked my cow tonight! No calf yet but she is bagging up. She's only half-way through her pregnancy but it's pretty common for first-calf heifers to bag up four months early. I was freaking out, imagining her going into labor around Christmas and trying to save this tiny, premature calf but I guess it's normal so I can quit panicking. As for the milking, I was checking to feel the progress of her bag, since I'd noticed that it was loosening up last week, and felt a hard, dried thing on one of her teats. It came right off and she was leaking a little so I squeezed and out came a drop of milk! Cool huh? She doesn't have any problem with me messing around with her udder, so long as she isn't eating. When she's got food in front of her then she wants to be left alone. So much for distracting her with grain or something while she's being milked. She even moves her leg back to make it easier. Hopefully, she'll be a great milk cow.
I've decided to move out, or up rather. We have two bedrooms and a bathroom, unfinished, upstairs and I've decided to turn them into a suite for me. Mom hates the idea of taking her sewing stuff upstairs and I can't fit in my room anymore, (hahahaha!!! I'm not that big, but I have a lot of stuff). It'll be nice to have a room for sleeping and a room for hanging out, doing crafts or goofing around on my laptop while Dad is watching tv downstairs. We already have a toilet, it's just not installed and a shower and vanity don't really cost that much. I can't wait to get started!! Mary Beth quit her job so I don't watch Kelley and Riley anymore but she is going to try to get hired on when WalMart opens in February. She stilll owes me a couple hundred and I think Bonnie is pretty much set for hay so, yahoo!!!!!!
I was going to post pictures of my mayonnaise making but the pictures are on my camera still... which is at Kathy's... down the driveway, sooooo, maybe next time.
Nothing new is going on with anybody else in the family so far as I am aware. Except, our van is paid off so Mom and Dad's medical bills are going to start getting paid off and when they are, Dad is going to get his shoulders looked at by the same guy that did Mom's knee. Dad doesn't realize it yet, but that's the plan. Mom's knee is still a little sore but healing great. Hopefully she can refrain from injuring herself further for awhile.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Countdown Begins

The pig and four of the turkeys are on their detox diet before they get butchered. We detox them to rid their bodies of the soy that's in the grower. We are getting the pig butchered by a professional but the turkeys are being done here. We've got one of the turkeys sold I'm pretty sure and if we can get some help with the butchering then I might pay the help with a turkey. If they can stomach it after the process that is. We'll see. We are keeping three of the turkeys, a tom and two hens for breeding stock. I'm pretty sure, in our political climate, that the fewer animals we have to buy the better. I'd just as soon "the man" not know how many food critters we have.
Bonnie is doing great. I think the calf is moving around a lot because she is constantly flicking her tail at her haunches and staring at her butt. I feel sorry for her, kind of, but I know she'll get used to it and might not be so confused next year, or the year after...
I managed to get some brome hay since she doesn't like timothy and alfalfa is ridiculously expensive. I think I have enough to see her through most of the winter now with the remnants of a round bale of timothy and 16 bales of brome. Dad built a feeder so it's not on the ground anymore, being stomped, peed and pooped on. Hopefully, the waste will be kept to a minimum this year.
Charlie is still in Wasilla.
Mom is stil at the district.
Dad is stil unemployed, but working on Kathy's house.
My work is fixing to be cut severly since one of my moms is quitting her job. Nov. 7 is her last day so I'm not sure what's going to happen there. They are trying to buy a house so I'm not sure if she's going to be looking for something else or if they are just going to tighten their belts and deal with it. At least, with the new custody agreement, I know the days when I have India and Phaedra, and it's pretty predictable.

The weather up here is being weird. It's frozen a couple of nights but when it clouds up, indicating snow, it usually warms up and rains. It's odd for October to be so close to over with nary a snowflake in sight. At least it's warm though, instead of really cold but just no clouds. Nothing says autumn like walking through the backyard, trees still clinging to the last few, yellow leaves, feet whooshing through the ones on the ground and having turkeys gobbling. I love this season, it's my favorite one.
Okay, that's all I've got for now. I'd post a really good picture I got of Baby Hoffman, but I need to get Jo's permission first since she was between Baby Hoffman and my camera. (If you don't know who I'm talking about then disregard the above monologue. If you do then pop on over to her blog and ask her if I can post it. Heehee)


Saturday, October 10, 2009

What a strange week!

So, strange things have been going on this week. It started when Tony and Kiki went to court for their final settlement conference and Tony got awarded visitation with India. They switch Phaedra every week and the week that Tony has her, he gets India for four days too. India's biological parents (specifically her mother) were trying to keep her away from Tony but she was really suffering from the lack of a dad's influence. Hopefully this will even things out for her a little.
Then, schedules are being changed and shifted and my life is very, very hectic of late.
Then, the kids have all been sick but I've managed to avoid the brunt of it, despite repeated and severe exposure. I chock it up to cod liver oil, oysters, kefir and kombucha in massive quantities. I have sore tonsils and a bit of extra mucus but that's about it. WooHoo!!!!!
And finally, I managed to give Riley a syrup shower the other morning. I was leaning over, giving the bone from his pocket to Dozer, so Riley could eat his french toast and I heard a very indignant, "PAM!". I looked at Riley and started laughing as the pool of syrup on his head started dripping down his face and onto the chair. All three of us (me, Phaedra and Riley) had a good laugh while I wiped most of it off so he could eat. He had a shower when he was finished and he was nice and clean when his mommy got home.
We had giant wind last night. It somehow shorted the power at Kathy's. Apparently, the transformer is bad so it's not gonna be a couple minutes to get it fixed. I was really grateful that my dad got the buildings bolted together. That trailer, perched on it's eensy, weensy blocks, would have hit the ground last night without that giant addition holding it steady. I'm thanking the Lord for keeping the trees upright and off all of the houses and critter. And I hope I never go through wind like that at night again. During the day is fine cause I'm aware, not laying in a bed, helpless to dodge crashing foliage.
So, all in all, a very strange week, but it had it's moments.

This is Turnagain Arm, in June.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

K, this is gonna have to be fast since it's late and I got Riley in the morning. I haven't found a website that documents the size of a calf the entire pregnancy but I did find one that says how big they are for the first six months. At this time her calf is between mouse and rat sized. I guess a disclaimer is needed here: She has not been palpated or pregnancy tested but she was in with Obi for three heat cycles and didn't cycle after the first week she was there. We know she cycled while she was in Talkeetna since Obi can tell the difference between a receptive and non-receptive cow and he was definitely interested for a week or so. Soooo, barring a positive pregnancy test, which are expensive and complicated (ever try and predict where a cow is going to pee?), I'm just going on Obi's instincts and assuming she is pregnant.


P.S. Bovine pregnancy tests actually use blood or milk, not pee but the joke wouldn't work that way.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bonnie is...

Almost home and pregnant. Tony's plan to bring her home next weekend, to give him time to put a roof on his addition, fell through when Bonnie got loose again. This time she ate everything in his garden, except the potatoes, and then refused to go back into the corral. He spent two days trying to catch her before calling in reinforcements. He got a lead rope on her but never could keep a handle on her long enough to get her tied back up to her tree. Last time I talked to him he said he was going to get some more hands to help and then tie her to the tractor and then it was into the trailer. I called last night and talked to his son who said they had caught her and nobody got hurt. I imagine Tony will be glad to be rid of her. I guess I've got some planning to do if I want to convince him to do this again next year. Or plan to have Obi down here next summer, either way, it's going to take some planning.
So, in honor of her first pregnancy I present a ticker to mark the days. Tony thinks he knows the day that she was bred so we're going by that, July 4th. Also, if I can find something, I'm going to post how big the calf is during her pregnancy. Stay tuned cause I'm still searching for such a thing.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Girl Videos

These are montages for India and Phaedra. There is music so crank up the music! Raisa's is in the April archives for those who missed it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Making Real Butter

So, for the past month or so that we've been getting our raw milk I've been shaking the cream back in. We needed the extra fat, in a readily assimilatable (check it out, I created a word!) form and I was just plain lazy. A few days ago I decided that it was time to start making butter instead. I skimmed last week's gallons (two) and got two pints of really nice, thick cream. Think about that, each gallon had a pint of cream on it! And one of them wasn't even a full gallon. I love those cows!
On a side note, butter from GRASS-FED cows is an excellent source of Vitamin A and it assists in the conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A in our own digestive tracts. The beta carotene from the grass is converted to vitamin A by the cow and excreted into the milk because babies cannot make vitamin A at all. Considering the diet of the typical American, y'all need more grass-fed dairy in your diets. Good stuff it is!
Anyway, here's my process for making butter. Actually, I sometimes make the kids do it by shaking jars but that's only when I want them to be busy for awhile. :-) We even have a song for it: "Shake Shake Shake
Shake Shake Shake
Shake Your Butter
Shake Your Butter!"
Sorry, got a bit sidetracked there. Now, on to MY butter-making:

This is the second pint. You can see the line of cream at the top of the milk.

Two pints, ready for butter-making. This is very close to the color of the cream. The pure white cream that you buy in the store isn't naturally how it should look. Yellow cream comes from the beta carotene in the grass that happy cows eat. But not necessarily in California.

Taking a whirl in the food processor. I used to use the blender but the cream gets too thick and makes a pocket above the blades, thus preventing the formation of butter. I like the food processor better cause it holds more and it's faster.

This is the butter and butermilk, separated. I haven't added any colorants to it and it really is this yellow. Again, the beta carotene does this to it.

separating the butter and the buttermilk. I might give the buttermilk to Carol so she can make me a buttermilk pie. Or I might make buttermilk pancakes or buttermilk waffles? The possibilities are endless! I let the butter drip for awhile and then went to my next step.

This is the butter, floating in a bowl of cold water. I work the butter while cold water, from the faucet, rinses the extra buttermilk away. I can't save it all! You work the butter in cold water so it doesn't melt and stick to your hands, and you have to knead all the buttermilk out so the butter doesn't develop a rancid flavor. I worked in some salt after this, in the food processor but I forgot to get a picture.

Finished butter, in a pint jar. I got almost a pint of butter and a pint of buttermilk. Not bad for a day's butter-making.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Creation of Real Food and hair pics

The pig roast was last Saturday and it was a smashing success! We had many more people this year than we did last year and not as many leftovers. I took Kelley and Riley (Kathy's grandkids and my newest charges) to it this year. The girls were not available for the pig roast so they missed out on the fun. Anyway, here's some pictures of the piggy experiment that my dad conducted. He knows that the method works, just maybe not on pigs...

Dad tried to skin him with air. He inserted an air nozzle just under the skin and pumped the piggy's skin full of air. The pig is no longer living for this! Unfortunately, it doesn't work on hogs. It just seemed to inflate his fat, rather than separate the skin from the fat. Oh well, lesson learned. He and Jeff (the ex-owner of Pastor and Anita's house) skinned him and Pastor roasted him Friday night/Saturday morning. He was delicious!

And now, on to the newest hair pictures...

This is India's hair. It's growing back from a big chop that I did about five months ago. She thinks she needs to have it cut again but really, she just needs to be taught how to take care of it.

Phaedra's beautiful, brown hair. Her hair is darker than this picture because of the flash but you can tell how long it is. It's naturally straight and these are the remnants of braidwaves. I believe, unbraided and brushed straight, her hair is down to her tailbone. She, unlike India, never wants to have her hair cut. Her dad trimmed the ends a few months ago but she has grown back those missing inches and a little bit more I believe. She needs to be taught how to take care of her hair too. But her Dad needs to learn as well since he lets her leave it down all the time so it gets tangled and dirty and damaged cause she's just 4 years old. Apparently, he CAN braid, but he just doesn't. I guess it's a short-haired guy thing.

Well, that's all I got for this post.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Well, hmm...

It seems Bonnie faked me out last month. According to Tony, she did not cycle when I thought she should. He thinks maybe she was just going into season when we got her down there and maybe she has already been bred. Obsidian was very interested in her, in a more-than-friends sort of way, for about a week. Tony saw some mounting behavior but not the actual deed itself. It's not surprising since a cow is in standing heat for a very brief period of time (standing heat is when she will stand still, in case you couldn't tell). He's got the twenty-first day of her visit marked on his calendar so he'll know to start watching her then. If she goes back into heat, as evidenced by Obi's behavior then he'll be able to tell and if she hasn't cycled again in that time then she was bred as soon as she got there. My cow might already be pregnant! I just got the coolest idea!!! It'll be the next post though, not this one. Forgive the randomness of the post, I am exhausted. Aren't I always?

Things continue along back at the ranch. Dad's deckhanding plans fell through so he's not sure what he's going to do for money this summer. This is especially bad cause we NEED to get a barn up before spring, and for that we NEED to get the concrete poured before it freezes and that's going to cost major coin. I don't think my piddly paychecks are gonna get that done but we'll see. Mom is still doing summerschool stuff for the district and starting to gear up for the start of regular school. Charlie is still keeping on in Wasilla, doing the same old stuff every day.

Well, I don't have any new hair pictures to post that aren't on Facebook and I think that anyone who's interested in that stuff is already on there so...

I'm gonna end this before my brain melts. Night!


Monday, July 6, 2009

Moodini, Part Three

All righty, this may come out a little garbled and delirious cause I'm really tired. But, I can't go to bed cause I'm waiting for Phaedra to get here cause she's going to her dad's house tomorrow cause her mom doesn't want to see the guy and it's just a crazy mixed up mess.

Here's the second part of the story that I'm sure you've all been just been on pins and needles for.

I called Tony (Asher is his last name, come to find out) on Sunday afternoon, just to check on my child. He said everything was going great, Bonnie and Obi have really gotten to be buddies. and he only wanted to skin her once! In twenty four hours she had already been threatened with her life!
Apparently, sometime Sunday, Tony was out in his driveway pulling logs down to his sawmill. He happened to glance up toward the house and saw this white cow in his garden, chomping on his cabbages! Since the only other cow on the place happens to be black, he knew immediately that Moodini had struck again! He grabbed a pail of grain and ran over there. When he got to here she realized her cabbage chomping fun was over and just waltzed right back into the corral with Obi. Upon closer inspection, Tony discovered that she had somehow unhooked the line from her halter!? Still can't figure that one out but she hasn't done it again.
I called him yesterday evening and she is staying tied up like a good girl now. He's going to start watching for signs that she's going into heat this week though. Hopefully Obi is better at detecting it than I am and she won't rebuff him. It'd be really nice if she takes the first time so Tony can bring her back at the end of the month, confident that Obi did his job. I'd keep my fingers crossed if I believed in that sort of thing.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Nonstop to Talkeetna"

For those of you who might not get the title inference, it's an almost quote from the movie "Snow Dogs". I have watched that movie a few times and it still gripes me but I guess you'd have to be an Alaskan to get why. Anywho, that's not the topic for this particular post. Dad and I drove my poor, unsuspecting heifer to Talkeetna yesterday. She made the acquaintance of the most magnificent beast, Obsidian. He's an Highland bull, in case you couldn't tell.
I had to drag her out of "bed" at 6 a.m., shove her unwilling body into a trailer and make her stand for six hours to get there. Okay, I didn't force her to stand, she was in a trailer and could have laid down if she wanted to. She didn't have to ride backwards either but that was what she chose to do. I kind of understand, "I know that I got in here through these things, now if I can just get them open somehow!" We stopped in Wasilla to see Charlie and have breakfast at IHOP. (I had an omelet, just so you know) and then moved on to Talkeetna. In actuality we turned off the road before we got all the way to Talkeetna but it's easier to say that we went there then try and explain the directions.
Tony's place is a lot like ours in that he's got his own thing going. His cow corral is right next to the house so that made me feel better since he can see everything that's going on out there. His corrals are really big but they are made from electric tape and barbed wire, neither of which are familiar to Bonnie. Which leads us to a really funny story and the entire reason for this post. And now...
"The Bonnie Saga or Moodini, Part Two"

It is a beautiful, sunny day as we roll into Talkeetna, towing our charge behind us. We could tell that she sensed something because our white, Explorer began to jerk and sway with the movements in the trailer. As we, uncertainly because I left the directions at home, turn down a twisty, dirt driveway my father looks at me and raises his eyebrows.
"I don't think this is it"
"It's the twisty one after the straight one and that 's what the directions say... I think. I'll call Mom and ask her to run home and read them to me if you want."
"No, if it's not then we'll ask directions or turn around and try another driveway."

As the SUV rounds the last bend a small, log cabin comes into view. Standing in front is a slight man, long bearded in Carhartt overalls. Through the trees I catch a glimpse of an immense, shaggy blackness. Butterflies erupt in my stomach as Dad hollers out the window that we're looking for Tony.
"That's me." Mr. Carhartt says and sticks out his hand. After Dad shakes it he introduces me and the chatting begins. As we slowly fall from the cab, it was a LONG ride after all, we run through the various pleasantries that perfect strangers seem to do. When I pop the side door on the trailer, to check my baby Tony comes around to check her out too. He notices right away that she is mixed blood but he doesn't seem to mind cause she is beautiful after all. Dad is unsure about how she will react to being in a strange place so he unloads her. Actually, he throws open the door and stands back as she flies from her confines. My sweet cow doesn't freak out though and I am able to lead her safely to the first corral. As Tony turns off the electric fence and pops the divider out I let Bonnie wander around and sniff things. It seems at times that she is a dog, with the incessant need to explore her world with her nose. She is incredibly interested in the small paddock that holds an eight week old heifer calf, the product of an illicit affair with the Black Angus bull down the road. As I lead her to the, now open, corral that houses her future baby-daddy she doesn't seem too nervous. I, on the other hand, can't help noticing the massive animal moving in our direction. He is GORGEOUS! All horn and hair and patient, rolling gait, getting closer and closer. I ask Tony if I could just turn her loose, he says sure and I reach for Bonnie's chin. Normally, this is her signal to bolt from me, kicking up her heels and playing but as she takes her first hop she finally notices that boy that is so close to her. Her jump seems to change in midair, from vertical to horizontal and she bolts away from him. Fortunately, she also bolts away from us. Tony has very nicely put a rope on Obsidian's halter so that occasionally he would step on it, slowing his progress and allowing his reluctant mistress to scamper away. As he moves past us I can't help but admire the sheer power of him. His horns are so perfectly formed and as he moves through the trees he tilts his massive head to accommodate them. Perfect!!!!!
Parched from the long ride, Bonnie stops at the water tank and is rewarded with an eager nose shoved into her... Well, that part doesn't need description, I think everyone gets the picture. As she moves around the tank, a persistent Obi follows her until she stands still long enough for him to get a decent sniff. While he curls his lip, testing her readiness with the organ in the roof of his mouth, she moves on to the enormous pile of hay, just laying there waiting for her. Of course, being a healthy male, Obi has to make sure she is absolutely, positively out of of heat before he can relax and they make several rounds of the corral before things calm down. But as Bonnie becomes less concerned about Obi, she becomes more curious about her new home. As we're standing there watching, she meanders over to the side and sticks her head between two hot wires and begins stripping a sapling on the other side. Panic ensues until the fence is restored to it's position and Bonnie's head is on the same side of the fence as her body.
"She's never been around electric fence before so she may not realize..." My sentence is halted by Bonnie's jerk as she touches her wet nose to another section of fence and is given a shock. Maybe she'll get it now and not stick her head through it again? HAHAHAHA!!!!! Not my Bonnie! Five minutes later, I must run out the gate, around the corral and grab her with my bare hands as she meanders around in the woods outside the corral! She had nonchalantly stepped through another section of fence while we all stood there and watched her and poor Obi, powerless to make his new female stay inside with him. As I start to pull her back to the fence she stops to pull a few weeds up and gazes at me with her big eyes as she chews. When she realizes that I intend to put her back with Obi she gladly goes back through the fence and canters to the other side. I realize that this could get old, chasing her though fences so I sidle up between them and grab her halter. Apparently, Obi takes this as his signal to throw his big shaggy head onto Bonnie's back, preparing to attack, er mount, her. Of course, since she is not receptive, Bonnie lunges away from him, crushing my right foot in the process. Okay, it's not crushed! Not even broken but it sure hurts real bad!
I allow Bonnie to drag me to the hay and stand there, foot throbbing as Obi ambles up behind and starts to get friendly again. I'm prepared this time and warn him off, pushing his nose to the side. He's not that tall and I'm wary of the horns but I've got control of her and it's my job to watch her back... and other rear parts. Tony comes to the rescue with a lead rope and a chain. Since Bonnie gets chained up all day, every day I tell him that it shouldn't be a problem having her tied beside the hay. He's leery since he had a cow that got tangled in a rope, panicked, fell and broke her back. I assure him that she is familiar with being tied and can untangle herself. So long as she can get her rear end away from Obi if she needs to then she'll be fine. And with Bonnie safely restrained in the corral, Obi standing protectively close, we saddle up and hit the road. It's been an eventful trip but I, for one, am eager to get home. Have a fun stay my Bonnie

The End

Stay tuned for the continuation of our story, or " Cow Among Tony's Cabbage"
In the meantime, here's some pictures so you can better appreciate the previous events.


This is the Highland/Angus heifer calf. She's coming home with Bonnie. But she's not gonna stay. The owner of our borrowed trailer wants her.

This is Obsidian, ambling through the trees, in pursuit of his latest lady.

Bonnie was approaching him this time and he turned to look at us. When we left she was trying to get him to play with her but he's too dignified for that.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Well, my cousin Andrea asked me about the sauerkraut a couple posts ago. I started to type a reply to that comment but realized that there was too much information for that method. A post seems the best way to convey all of the intricacies and the nuances of such an art.

Watch the tutorials on YouTube!

There, post finished.


Just kidding Andrea!

Okay, I made my sauerkraut using the salt-only method. This is the second batch I have made this way. I am considering using the "cheater" way but just haven't gotten around to it.

Salt Method Of Making Sauerkraut:

One head of organic cabbage (I say organic cause it cancels a lot of the health benefits if you use cabbage that's been grown with synthetic fertilizer, insecticides and herbicides)
Unrefined Sea Salt (it still has the trace minerals in it that can only make you healthier)
A crock or glass jar (one head of cabbage filled a gallon jar)

Shred the cabbage very thinly. I mean THIN. You've all seen sauerkraut! Alternate layers of cabbage and salt in your container until the container is full. You don't have to completely cover each cabbage layer with salt though, just a teaspoon or so ought to do. Remember, salt is pretty powerful and you don't want your sauerkraut to be too salty.

After the container is full, use your fist or a mallet, or something equally blunt to crush the cabbage until juices are released. Try to get enough juice to cover the cabbage completely but if you can't then cover it with salt water. Try and shoot for juice coverage though so you don't get too much salt.

Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least two weeks. The warmer the ambient temperature the faster your kraut will ferment. I had to leave mine out for a month since I made it in January, in our chilly kitchen. Start tasting as soon as you want and when it's fermented to your tastes then put it somewhere cool so it'll last longer. This is how I made my first and second batch. The first batch had cabbage, beets, kale and beet greens in it so it was a really nice shade of pink but it was too salty. This batch is much better in that regard but it is purely cabbage. I tried to make pickles the same way but I really need to do it with gherkins instead of the slicing cucumbers you buy in the store.

Now, the "cheater" method and the easiest way to predict results and also the best way to ferment salsa and relish is to use a yogurt starter. Instead of layering the product with salt, just fill your container, crush and add starter that has been put in water. (1/4 cup water per packet of starter seems to be the consensus) . You can buy yogurt starter in most health food stores. I've been toying with the idea of making relishes and some salsa since the company that makes those products doesn't ship to Alaska for whatever retarded reason.

Now, the reason for the salt, in case you don't know. Salt kills bacteria, most of them anyway. Salt in your ferments will retard the growth of putrefying bacteria long enough for the lactobacilli to take over. Lactobacilli produce lactic acid, which pickles things. Using the starter simply adds the lactobacilli from the get go so there is no contest with the nasties and your product ferments faster, better and you're better able to predict the final result. There's the added bonus of not getting it too salty. I haven't done it so far cause I wanted to do it the "right" way. I wanted to make authentic sauerkraut, authentic kefir and authentic sourdough. I'm loosening up a bit and might give the starter method a try. I'll let you know how it goes. You can also use whey from making cream cheese to make your ferments. Just put some yogurt in a cloth, suspended over a bowl. The clearish liquid that drains out is whey and it is loaded with the same bacteria as the yogurt. The drained yogurt can be used as cream cheese and makes a really great, healthy spread for bagels and stuff!

Okay, now for the mini lecture cause you knew it was coming. The health benefits of fermented things have been known for centuries, but Western civilization has forgotten. And since it has been forgotten and phased out of the typical American menu, it's harder to get people to at least try a fermented product. Fermenting something increases the nutritional content, makes those increased nutrients more available for our bodies, makes food easier to digest, introduces probiotics to our systems and tastes down-right delicious. Digestive issues can often be resolved with the introduction of fermented food.
There are many, many, many things that have been or can be fermented if you are creative enough to try. Happy fermenting!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Life is so surreal sometimes. At times it seems like I'm fully in the moment, I'm fully aware of my life and what's been happening to me over the past three months and then I seem to fade back into this world of just existing. I often think of Raisa and what she meant... means to me. She is still a huge part of my life, just a huge missing part. Sometimes it's like she was just here yesterday and I know I'm going to see her tomorrow. I'm looking through pictures of her sisters, laughing at the funny ones, sighing at the sweet ones and absolutely falling apart when I realize that that sweet baby girl is in the background and I had never noticed her before. Some days are good, some days are bad and some days are so completely lost to me. I can spend an entire week, busy about my life and be brought to a standstill by the "sudden" realization that she is never coming back, that I don't get to hold her and breathe in that sweet smell that was so uniquely her and I end up on my knees, wracked with grief so raw that I can't breathe. It seems strange to others that I am so attached to her but she was like one of my own babies. I couldn't love her more if I had given birth to her and it still wrecks me to think of life without her. She was taken so suddenly and I never had the chance to see her or say goodbye. Her parents were there for her entire struggle. They were there to say goodbye when she took her last breath but I never got that chance and that hurts a lot. They split her ashes so she could be buried in Alaska, by her mother's family and in South Dakota, by her father's family but I have nothing. I have pictures and memories and some of the things that were used for her while she was here but I have nothing of HER. Not a lock of hair, not a handprint, not a footprint... Nothing but what I carry around inside of me and that will never be enough. I know my memories of her are already fading, being replaced by new ones of her sisters and the rest of life and it's like saying goodbye all over again when I can't remember things.
The pig roast is quickly approaching. What's that got to do with this post? Everything! The pig roast at Pastor and Anita's last year was where I got to parade her little eight week old self around and show her off. Everyone cooed and sighed and everyone held her. I know people just do that to babies but that day it was about Raisa, MY Raisa, not some anonimous baby that belonged to someone else. Angela took a picture of us that day and I cherish that picture. It reminds me always that she was here, that I touched her and held her and loved her. It reminds me that for one brief, golden year, my life was better because she was in it and even though, at times, it seems that grief has enveloped my entire being, I know that I'll see her again. I'll be able to touch her and hold her and love her in person again.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Somethin' freaky this way comes!

So, this year has been weird. We've had eighty degree temperatures, lupine like crazy and some of the strangest wildlife I have ever seen.
We saw a moose with three calves the other day, the first I've ever seen. One of the triplets was a lot smaller than the other two and it made me wonder if perhaps it wasn't a foster. That would be cool if it was and it makes it!

There was a really strange squirrel in the bird feeder.

And there's a giant mosquito hangin' around in the driveway. It took three strong men and a trailer to make it go away! Unfortunately, it polished off a couple of kids before it could be vanquished.


Monday, June 15, 2009

My favorite...

This is my favorite shelf in the entire refrigerator. Left to Right: Partially drunk gallon of raw milk, full gallon of raw milk with the cream risen, sourdough starter and lacto-fermented saurkraut.



Monday, June 8, 2009

Vacation Bible School 2009 was over on Thursday. We had a pretty good turnout. A couple kids from the neighborhood came but since "my" kids were out of the state or Daddy was home I didn't bring any. Bummer. But, the girls are back in the state, Anchorage and I should have them tomorrow. Kelley and Riley are coming over on Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat and Sun so my schedule is officially full. Dad is deckhanding again so my days should be full of children and empty of Father this summer. I can't say as I'm disappointed.

The Diamond M called today and we are getting raw milk again!!!!!!!!! I have missed it so much. Since we are at the bottom of the list I guess we get called when the supply gets to be more than the demand. We're getting our two gallons a week, $6 a gallon and Mom can swing by and get one on her way home, Wednesday and we can get the other when we go shopping on Saturday! I'm too excited can you tell?

Bonnie still has her date in Talkeetna at the end of the month. I guess the whole crew (Dad, Mom, Kathy, Me and Bonnie) are going. Mom has never been to Talkeetna, Kathy just wants to get away, I want Dad to go in case something breaks on the truck and to see the setup, maybe get some ideas from someone who farms in Alaska, and I have to go cause I'm footing the bill and cause it's my cow that's why! June 26th is when we're taking her up. I guess we're gonna get a room and spend the night so that Kathy doesn't have to ride all the way up and back in one day. Tony (the cow guy) and his kids will bring her back in August, after she's been bred. They are just gonna come down and go fishing or something. I guess this area is one of their favorite places to fish. I wonder why? I am too excited about that too, can you tell?

I managed to make a tiny, little infinity bun today. It feels cooler than it looks. I'm excited to be doing neat things with my hair. It makes me feel justified for having long hair, as if I need it. And again, I'm excited. Can you tell?

Well, I've run out of very exciting news so I'm leaving now, can you tell?


Monday, June 1, 2009


Vacation Bible School started today!!! Yay!!!!!! We didn't have the turnout that we were expecting tonight but we have three more days yet. I helped Miss I-Can't-Do-Crafts-To-Save-My-Life-Jaime do the... crafts. The kids made bookmarks to put in their Bibles, or a favorite book. Hopefully more kids will show up tomorrow. I'm sure having an evening VBS makes it hard for some parents but we are only a small church and evenings are the only times we can all be there. At least some kids get to come! It'll be great fun irregardless.

We moved the turkey poults outside today. I can't remember if I posted about them or not and I don't feel like searching so y'all get to read about them again, maybe. Dad and Uncle Dave went to Nikiski and picked up a pig about two weeks ago. It was the last one he had and it's back feet are malformed. Actually, they are straightening out nicely now but they were very malformed. The guy also had a lot of Standard Bronze turkey poults for $6.50 each. We got six of them. Standard Bronze turkeys combine the size of the Broad-Breasted Bronze with the ability to mate and raise their own young. A large Bronze tom can stand close to four feet tall and weigh 30 pounds or more. The largest tome of the six we had last year was at least 50 pounds, live. I have to carry the carcass with two arms cause it's so heavy. I love the size, so nothing will mess with them, and the natural brooding. One of the poults died about four days after we got them but the other five moved outside today. Dad, Mom and I built a steel "tractor" yesterday. It's fifteen feet in diameter and about three and a half feet tall. It's covered with concrete reinforcing mesh, then wire over the top of that. We put it in the corral because Bonnie leaves bug traps all over the place and she never eats the grass. It can be chest high and she'll turn up her nose and eat the hay. Stange cow! This way, the turkeys can eat the bugs that are attracted to her "offerings" and the grass but be protected somewhat better with her in there. I just hope she doesn't shove it around and end up squishing them. She's outside grazing all day so nighttime is the only dangerous time for them but she's sleeping then anyway. Hopefully, we'll have a bird yard built before winter so the turkeys can go to their own place over the winter. We're gonna wait until next spring to decide which turkey's to butcher so we can get a pair.
Okay, that's all the news I have for this post. If I think of anything else it'll just have to wait!


P.S. Jaime got her hair cut! It is a lot shorter than she thought it would be. The hairdresser (Mrs. Lambert) told her it would be two inches shorter but since Jaime has had long hair for years she was unprepared for how short it is. She's glad the damage is gone, but kinda bummed about the lost length. I feel for her! Maybe we could have a "hair party"! Sounds fun!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Okay, how many of you have ever heard of sealing teeth? I have never heard of this and I can't imagine that it's been around that long. Anyway, here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Dental sealants
are a dental treatment consisting of applying a plastic material to one or more teeth, for the intended purpose of preventing dental caries (cavities) or other forms of tooth decay.
Since the 1970s, in the United States, the incidence of tooth decay on the smooth surfaces of teeth has declined, in part because of fluoridation becoming widespread in public water supplies as well as improved dental hygiene among the public. However, because the teeth in the back of the mouth (molars and premolars) have numerous pits and fissures on their biting surfaces, certain areas of these teeth are often difficult to clean even with vigorous tooth-brushing. To remedy this, research into dental sealants began in the 1960s and by the early 1970s, the first generation of sealants became available and were approved by the FDA.

Dental sealants are usually applied in a dentist's office. The dentist, dental hygienist or assistant first cleans and dries the tooth to be treated, then paints a thin layer of liquid plastic material on the pits and fissures of the tooth. After application of the plastic liquid, blue spectrum natural light is shone on the applied material for a few seconds to cure the plastic. Alternatively, some brands of sealants self-cure via a chemical process.

After curing, the plastic becomes a hard, thin layer covering the treated portions of the tooth. Despite the incredible pressures effected on teeth during chewing each day, dental sealants may remain effective for five years or longer, although sealants do wear naturally and may become damaged over time. Bacteria and food particles may eventually become entrapped under the dental sealants, and can thus cause decay in the very teeth intended to be protected.

Okay, so they've been around for thirty years and I am just now hearing about them? Perhaps I've just not been paying attention but boy I am now. Just think, to reduce the hassle of making sure your children eat healthy food and nagging them to brush their teeth you can just take them to your dentist and have their teeth coated with plastic! Isn't technology wonderful?
I'm not intending to attack anyone's parenting decisions but who in their right mind thinks that this is the superior dental hygiene choice?
It's been demonstrated over and over and over that teeth do remineralize. And it's been demonstrated over and over that by never starting your children on refined flour and sugar products you can prevent cavities. Despite what the dentists and the FDA would have you believe, dental caries are NOT caused by leaving food on your teeth. Many "primitive" peoples never brushed their teeth, let alone set foot in a dental office and yet their incidences of dental caries is remarkably low. I found a copy of Dr. Weston Price's book, "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" online and I've been relishing reading it.
This article also mentions that cavities are going down due to the widespread fluoridation of water sources but that's not true. I don't have all my information on fluoride right here so y'all will have to investigate that for yourself.

Bottom line: Feed your children the right food. Instead of an Oreo, go for an organic, soaked oatmeal cookie. They taste way better than nasty Oreo's and they won't drain your child's body of the minerals it needs to develop properly. Instead of Mac and Cheese from a box, make it from scratch with organic, brown rice pasta. My girls get so excited when I make "cheese noodles" from scratch. Instead of sugary soda, make kefir soda. No GMO's, no sugar and probiotics all rolled into one tasty package.
Making parenting decisions that sacrifice the health and safety of your children for your own convenience is not the right way to parent. I can only hope that when the time comes for me to start making nutrition choices for my children that I'll make the right ones and not take the easy way out.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sourdough Success!

My first Real Food Wednesday post!
Anyone else struggle with making an authentic sourdough loaf of bread? I mean real sourdough, not yeast bread, flavored with something sour. I made an authentic Alaskan sourdough starter last year and have managed to make maybe six loaves with it. My biggest struggle is with making a high loaf without the incredibly tangy flavor. The longer you leave sourdough to rise, the more sour it is. Well, the best loaf I ever managed, in terms of height, was after a 48 hour rise and it was nearly inedible. We ate it with soup the day I made it but it would be worthless as a sandwich bread and was sour enough to cause a pucker. Well, I believe I've stumbled upon a good compromise loaf. The recipe is for a soaked flour bread, (to reduce phytic acid) but I can use my sourdough starter as the soaking medium. I diluted the starter as the recipe called for and left it in the bread machine to soak overnight. When I got ready to put the rest of it together this morning I discovered that it had risen a little while not getting very sour at all. Don't get me wrong, I love sourdough bread, just not so sour that you pucker when you eat it. I figure, a twelve hour rise is the most that I want and if I can get the phytic acid reduced before hand and then use yeast to assist the wild yeasts I'm gonna go for it. I'm not sure how I can get the true sourdough that I want but in the meantime this is a good compromise.

I started with fresh ground wheat (hard red):

I didn't manage to get a picture of the mess I made when I forgot the grinder was running and it overflowed.

Next, I mixed my starter, the flour, maple syrup and water in the bread machine:

This takes a lot of the work out of it.The recipe uses a Bosch. I think I'll talk my husband into getting me one for my birthday... As soon as I get a husband that is, since I'll never finagle one out of my parents.

Then I left it to soak overnight and in the morning, this was what I found:

I activated the yeast in a small bowl with water and honey:

I had to knead the yeast mixture, the ascorbic acid (dough enhancer) and the salt in by hand since the bread machine just couldn't break through the gluten cloak that had already formed. This was what it looked like when I put it in the machine to rise again before I baked it:

I can't get a good picture of what it looked like before I baked so y'all will have to use your imaginations!

A nice, fresh, loaf of bread!:
I went to the neighbor's for an hour and a half so it got a little dark.

I'm really impressed with this brand of yeast. It's made by Rapunzel, the same company that makes Rapadura, unrefined sugar. I like that it's organic, so no GMOs and they put a lot of it in the packet because they can't supercharge it in the laboratory. It's $1.50 a packet so it's not a great deal and I'm going to keep working on making a pure sourdough loaf. In the meantime it's a great way to make sure my family has healthy bread to eat.

We cut into the loaf as soon as we could cause I was a little late getting dinner on the table. It is wonderfully light (for wheat sourdough) and has that marvelous sour tang but it's not so overwhelming, even after 12 hours. The bread machine is awesome cause I can turn on the bake cycle for ten seconds or so and then turn it off to make it warmer in the machine. It took about three hours for the bread to rise as high as it did and I might have let it go a little more if I'd been home. For those of you who want the recipe here it is:

In you bread machine start with-

1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups water
5 1/2 cups of ground flour (you can replace 1 or 2 cups with unbleached white flour for a lighter end result)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup coconut oil, butter or palm oil, melted

Work it together using the dough setting then cover the "pan" with plastic wrap, close the lid and let it sit for 12-24 hours.

After soaking, activate the yeast by combining:

1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp honey
1 packet organic yeast

After activating the yeast, combine it with the soaked flour and add the remaining ingredients:

3/4 Tbsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ascorbic acid (I used homeopathic vitamin c tablets)
1 cup unbleached white flour, if necessary (usually not necessary and wasn't for me)
Sunflower seeds, if desired

I had to knead for about ten minutes to get everything mixed into the dough. When it was done I rolled it into a ball and put it back in the machine. Turn the machine to 'bake' for about ten seconds. Don't walk away and forget it or you'll end up with a brick!! Let the dough rise until double then turn the machine on to bake and walk away. I had to cover the dough while it was soaking and rising with plastic wrap because the machine doesn't seal. The bread can't rise if there's a crust on top. Slather on a thick layer of organic (cause I can't get grass-fed right now) butter and munch away!!


Friday, May 15, 2009


I've been meaning to do a post for Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays Blog Carnival for some time and I finally know exactly what I want to post about.
Last year our supply of raw milk dried up and I don't believe they have cows anymore so I had to improvise. Her name is Bonnie and her first attempt at calf-making will be in July so hopefully, we'll have our own supply of milk around April 2010.

Our turkey's were not pastured, technically, but they were not sheltered from the elements, bugs or grass either. Having spent the last six weeks of his life on a soy-free diet, this bad boy was delicious. I am working on building a one acre bird yard so they can truly be pastured.

The pigs are being temporarily housed with us but it is a wonderful learning opportunity and I have asked for the lard when they are slaughtered. We are going to do pigs later, when we have a large parcel that we can let them roam around on.

The eggs ($3 a doz.) are soy free, and summer pastured, laid about 40 miles from us. I think it's worth it! And during the winter the yolks were as orange and tall as they ever were in the summer so I know those hens have access to lots of good quality hay. Can you spot the Aracauna egg?

This journey has been a long one, full of pit-falls and setbacks but I truly believe I'm on the right track of optimal nutrition for my family. I am learning to avoid sounding preachy while still getting my message across to those I care about. And the best lesson I have learned, as my pastor always says, is always demand proof! Never take someone else's word for things without doing the research yourself. You can't convince a group of people without being sure of your position.
Best of all I revel in my newfound identity as a FOOD RENEGADE!!!!!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Last service

Raisa Rea was laid to rest on Wednesday afternoon at the Spruce Grove Cemetery in Kasilof. It was a really poignant scene and would have been much less emotional if they hadn't invoked the protection and blessing of Elohim, the god of Kolab. Being as almost all of Kiki's family is mormon, it was perfectly natural for them to have "Aunt Linda" ask "god" to bless the service. Kiki's sister read some things about Raisa since not everybody in the family had even met her (it's a huge family). At the end she said she couldn't wait to be reunited with Raisa, "as we all will". At that point my heart cried out since I know for a fact that if anyone there is trusting in the mormon gospel then they are never going to see her again! But, then was not the time to say anything and hopefully, I can recognize witness opportunities as the Lord presents them. Anyway, here's some pictures from the service and what her burial site looks like now. Jaime, Ariana and I went to the cemetery after church to see it when nobody else was around.
Mom, signing the guestbook

A duty that no parent should have to perform.

This was Wednesday night with Jaime and Ariana

There was condensation on the inside of the glass and I'm kind of worried about the glass as the temperature fluctuates over the year because they sealed it with silicone. Hopefully, it'll be fine for many, many decades.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

For my Raisa

In a hospital bed, a child lays dying. Her parents beside her are huddled and afraid. Their confidence waning, they feel the end near and hug their baby close, hearts torn and souls aching.

Round her bed sight unseen, an army stands guard, angels of God sent to escort her Home.

Filling the room the enemy waits and watches as another young soul is snatched from their grasp.

“Forget her” he says “others are despairing. Get to it imps, there’s fear to sow and anger to reap .”

As the phalanx grows tighter, the imps melt away and the angels know her time draws near.

Her small chest rises and falls but does not rise once again and her young soul rises up, loosed from her coil.

As her parents realize their baby is gone, alive and whole she is taken by the hand.

Able to talk for the first time, she asks, “Where are we going? Is it someplace bad?”

“Never fear child, the Father awaits your arrival in Heaven.”

Her guardian steps forward, holding tight to her hand and all together they leave, for realms beyond.

Now I have no way to know what happened after she left us. I can only speculate, based on my faith in God’s word.

As she approached the Lord’s throne she looked to her right and saw a being of beauty, shining so bright.

When she stopped before the King, her guard left her side and she stood alone, so small in God’s sight.

The Adversary stepped up, opened his book with a smile, placed his finger inside and searched for her name.

As his finger moved down, his smile faded and he glared, her innocence sealed.

“I have nothing for her. You took her too soon. But I know of others, her family you see.

They’ll hate you, you know, for taking their baby. I’ll be there to feed it, with lies and deceit. They’ll never accept the sacrifice of your Son, I’ll see to it.”

“How soon you forget Lucifer that I have a witness down there. A whole group of people are my ambassadors to her family.

My peace I give them, their faith shines through.

In time they’ll see it and yearn for it too.

Try as you might, my children stand strong.

They’ll tell of my love and my faithfulness too and when they are ready her parents will join me.

It’s hard on a family when a young one comes Home but I’m still there with them, and I want them here too.”

The girl stood agape, her mind so expanded as she knew where she was, and to whom she’d been handed.

As her knees hit the floor, from her lips burst forth praises, she knew she was in Heaven before the Father and Jesus.

From his throne Christ stood and reached out His hand.

As she took it and stood, he smiled so kind and said those words, I yearn to find,

“Welcome Home ”

Blog Archive

About Me

We're a family that came to Alaska in shifts. We've been here since 1995 and don't plan to leave any time soon.

For Jaime

Comment from a SMART President

" The government that is big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have."

Thomas Jefferson President 1801-1809
Died on JULY 4th, 1826



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