Thursday, November 23, 2017

Our Big Fat Kitchen

We are big time fat lovers here on The Poor Farm. Bacon fat, coconut oil, lard or butter is included in most every meal.  And Keith and I feel better than we have in years. This is amazing to me since I was "raised" on the American Heat Associations line of hogwash (but not hog lard) that proclaimed all fat is bad.

Nurses are often given mega loads of misinformation. All part of the anything but, healthcare system. 

Organizations like Weight Watchers jumped aboard this ridiculous fat free train and convinced women that fat elimination and over dosage of fruits and vegetables would save their lives. Often hospitals paired up with WW and offered their classes within the hospital walls, collecting dues through payroll deduction. Women did lose weight, for awhile, but it all came back on. Mostly because these women were always hungry. Minimal fats, and tiny amounts of protein left them unsatisfied. In addition, so much, these WW type companies produced frozen and well preserved premade foods that were low fat, but high in sugar, especially corn syrup. 

They were also expensive. 

It's not fair to pick on one diet fad, I know, being  there are hundreds in this country alone, but they do all share one premise: make the consumer dependent on the company's doctrine rather than teach them the basics of good nutrition. 

I feel qualified to have a solid opinion on all this because I am...fat.

I was not a fat child or teen, far too little food to go around for that, but I lost all control when I got pregnant and gained 50 pounds with baby number one. When baby number two came along just 14 months later I packed on another 30 pounds. I clung to that weight another two decades and then in 2000 I jumped on my own fad train, the Atkins Diet.

It worked really well. I lost 100 pounds in one year and felt fantastic. I also blew out my gallbladder which is a common occurrence in women in their 30's and 40's who lost a large amount of weight. Eventually I tired of the low carb deal and I gained back 50 pounds.

I'm Irish, love my bread and potatoes.

Over the last 15 years I have remained steady at a luscious size 18. Nearing 60 I thought I would never feel motivated again to drop some of that extra load but a sister of mine took The Whole 30 challenge and she felt so much better, motivated to increase her exercise and eat less processed food,  it inspired me.  

So, I'm following her lead as are my other two sisters. We are all seeing results and feeling better. Whole 30 isn't a diet so much as a break from all the processed foods including all sugars and grains. I was not eating that much in the way of processed foods but I sure was eating my share of bread and taking way too much honey in my 8-10 cups of tea every day. 

You're not meant to be on The Whole 30 plan for more than thirty days, thus the name, as  the whole premise is eliminating those processed foods that may have caused you issues such as heartburn, inflammation, insomnia. You give your body break and take the time needed to learn which foods work for you and which clearly do not., then slowly and with reason, you add a little sugar, some grains back to your diet. Hopefully, being much more selective amount the types and amounts. 

What I love about Whole 30 is you don't pay membership fees or have to buy the book. There's always a book isn't there? You are encouraged to eat pasture raised meat, which I already did, and healthy animals fats, but the rest of your food needs to be prepared by yourself. 

Jars always on my counter filled with lard, bacon grease and coconut oil.
I also keep a bottle of olive oil on my stove and butter in various stages like Ghee.
Pig fat all chopped up and in the crockpot for lard making
Seems I am washing, cutting, prepping, cooking  food all the time, which is what a homesteader should be doing anyway, right?

Now, this quinquagenarian is down almost two sizes and up in energy  levels I haven't felt in decades. My main motivation was the addition of two new GK's last month. I want to be around for them, to be able to help their parents when needed, to have the ability to run after them, to play with them, to wrestle with them, to attend their school events and future weddings, to love them and their four older cousins, for a very long time.

I also don't want to wear out my pallbearers when they haul my carcass down to our family cemetery!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Our Family Cemetery is Open for Business (Free of Charge)

It's true, after a year of phone calls, regulation research, conversations with coroners and funeral home directors, our attorney and several meetings with our county officials--The O'Shaughnessy-Parrish Family Cemetery is a reality.

In our opinion, this "zoning variance" granted by the county, is a cause for celebration. It means that Keith and I and those related to us by blood or marriage, can be buried naturally in one of the 18 approved plots.  No embalming, no metal boxes, no expensive vaults. Wood caskets optional. If that is their desire of course.

Anyone who chooses to spend on average of $7,000 to $10,0000 for a traditional visitation, funeral service and large cemetery burial with all the bells and whistles of velvet draped funeral homes, fancy caskets with silk pillows, and concrete vaults that do nothing to preserve our bodies no matter how much moola is invested, is welcome to follow that route, but they'll have to do it elsewhere.

For family members who would rather leave their money to loved ones or deserving agencies, instead of burying it in the ground, we can now legally offer them a less expensive alternative. Sorry, we can't accept deposits as there will be no charge for this end-of-the-line vacation resort, nor will we take reservations.

It's strictly first come first serve.

I myself have my eye on Plot Number 1 because it's the farthest from the road, but if someone beats me to it, I'll be mature enough to step aside.

All in all the process was only mildly painful, but would've been less time consuming if I'd run across even one informed state individual who could've walk me through it step by step.  Or at least pointed me in the right direction. I was often given inaccurate information or sent to the wrong offices for info gathering. Additionally this was the first Family Cemetery request our county board could even remember and they too were unschooled in the specific requirements. The state rules and regulations were disjointed, duplicative and scattered about the internet in the form of outdated applications, instructions, and phone numbers.  When I finally tracked down the right people in the right offices, those  representatives knew nothing of the county or federal requirements.

Some of the standards I had to familiarize myself with during this process included but were not limited to:

      The Cemetery Oversight Act of Illinois
      The Cemetery Care Act of Illinois
      The Cemetery Protection Act of Illinois
      Transportation and Disposition of Dead Human Bodies
      Burial of Dead Bodies Act
      Illinois Department of  Financial and Professional Regulation
      Illinois State Comptrollers Office

There were no specific county requirements thus the reason we had to request a variance permit and present our case at three separate county meetings.  The "variance" being we wanted to use land zoned for agriculture ( a small portion of our property which was 2500 square feet or approximately 1/17th of an acre) for a different use, i.e. a Family Cemetery.

The neighbor who protested at the first two county meetings insisting we would lower the property values, didn't bother to show up for the last meeting so perhaps she's gotten used to the idea. Anyways, it's all good and next time friend Jay comes to visit we're going to move the four foot tall Celtic Cross he gifted to us last year, down to the center of our cemetery. He's a bricklayer by trade so we'll have him build a short pedestal for the cross.

Now to find some antique wrought iron fencing for the perimeter. In the spring we plan to plant lilac bushes there as well. Maybe carve out some benches from the Oak trees we felled to make room for  the barn. A fountain of some sort. Maybe even a hot dog stand! Kidding...Or am I ?

So excited, I can hardly stand it!!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Half Walls and a Half Roof Make Almost Half a Barn

The barn, our eclectic creation of recycled wood and metal,  continues to inch towards completion.

Completion being a flexible term. For us it means a good enough shelter for our animals this winter. Future completion would include the walling in of Keith's shop as well as the  storage room within the barn which will house our meat freezers, extra refrigerator, well pump and vacuum pump for milking our cow.

Later in the future

All in good time my pretty, all in good time.

Two weekends ago friend Jay came again and with son Jason's help the roof was half completed. Without any fancy (i.e. expensive)  man lifts or rented scaffolding, we slid the long steel panels up the ladder where Jay grabbed on and pulled them up the rest of the way. Kneeling up high (prayers are always appreciated) he screwed in each panel. After that he and Keith would move the wood kneeling boards back another three feet, and we would repeat the process.

The weather was perfect.

Later this week it turned rainy and cold which slowed down both the barn build and the final leg (breast and thighs)  of our chicken butchering plans. Oh well. Next week  the weather will warm a bit, if weather predictions are correct.  Usually they are meaningless, but we look anyway. Hope allows us to plan the outdoor tasks we need to complete, not to mention about three loads of laundry I am behind.

A couple of days ago the concrete guys came and dug out the areas for Keith's shop and our storage room. These rooms are two different levels due to the slope of our land. A trench was dug  for the foam insulation boards and the concrete footings and then they filled the area with limestone. If the weather cooperates they plan is to pour the concrete then.

Keith standing in his shop area

Inch by inch and dollar by dollar, we pay as we go rather than use credit, the barn becomes a reality.