Search

The Intrepid Homestead

One Family's journey toward a simpler, sustainable, prepared homestead and life

Category

Health and Wellness

Reconsider your food budget

img_2503

We don’t budget for food. Gasp!

We are of the belief that “we are (quite literally), what we eat”. Why then would we want to be frugal or even worse – stingy – with what we place into our bodies?

We are all about wisely using the resources we have available to us. However, we often scratch our heads at the concept of trying to feed a family for as little as possible. That can be somewhat self-defeating. Americans have one of the lowest ratios of food cost to income in the entire world. We spend less on food that nearly every other country on planet earth! Yet, we still often want to spend even less!

Consider this… if someone can go through all the trouble to feed you and make a profit and you only spend $.99, how good can the quality be? What value can a “value meal” have in such a case? The only “value” is to the producer. The consumer may feel full but is not consuming quality.

We raise (among other things) pigs. We feed them non-GMO feed produced by a local small producer.They can’t produce feed for the cost of feed from the local mills typically. Because it costs us more, we couldn’t sell a pig for what others who feed less-premium feeds could. We simply couldn’t sell a pig fed on premium quality feed and beat $.99/lb prices found in the grocery store. Fortunately, we don’t aim to!

So as both producers (for ourselves) and consumers, we want the best quality foods possible. If those cannot be obtained inexpensively, we will spend more for food before we will eat lesser-quality food.

We once heard it said “You make your healthcare decisions at the grocery store. You make your sick care decisions at the doctor’s office.” We couldn’t agree more. We live in a culture that is conservative on food spending but liberal with “health” spending.  We’ll think nothing of spending $500-$1000 per month on health “insurance” but half that or less to feed our family. Folks, good food nourishes far beyond the best medicines.

Food and nutrition should be a high priority in the budget – perhaps the highest. For some, all that is needed is a shift – spend less on sick care and more on quality nutrition. Raise your insurance deductible and use the extra funds on a bigger grocery budget. When we did so, we found our doctors visits dramatically declined.

We get it – some folks have little to no choice with their budgets. Nevertheless, most of us, with a change in our thinking, can find resources for the things we value. Place yourself and your family at the top of your list, not your insurance company or Physician.

 

Don’t forget beauty on your homestead

One thing that has often bugged us with many homesteading approaches is what we would call a hyper-practical approach that many employ. We sometimes refer to this as ‘pallet homesteading’ because of the widespread practice among this crowd of fashioning damn-near everything out of pallets. Pallet buildings, fencing, furniture, etc. Now before you flame us as being anti-pallet, realize that we DO use them!

Here is a pallet chicken coop (before we finished it) on our own property…

 

img_2160
Our pallet chicken coop

 

Like many homesteaders, we enjoy resourcefulness, upcycling, etc. – however… we’re not into a homestead that looks straight out of the Great Depression, especially so we can feel like some sort of hero for having saved $10. If we were living during such a time, and that is the best we could do, fine, but for the moment, thankfully we aren’t. Look for a separate post or two from us regarding our thoughts on hyper-frugality.

One of our favorite authors, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms writes that farming and the production of food should be aesthetic pleasing, aromatic, sensual and even romantic pleasure. We would agree! We would summarize all those things as “beauty” and where possible aim to make our homestead as beautiful as possible. To some this is vain, for us, it’s about joy. We are here all the time and want to enjoy where we live. Investing in your home and property – even in what feels superficial, can be a very good and noble thing to do.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so for some, that may result in pallet homesteading, old tires for garden beds, and the like. If that’s your thing, go for it. Our point isn’t to discourage frugality or resourcefulness. Rather, our encouragement is: don’t forget beauty in the process of homesteading.

Hopefully, you’re going to be homesteading for a long time and live where you live for a long time. Someone will inherit your space after you. Don’t be stingy, invest in the beautiful on your homestead, even if it doesn’t directly result in food in the pantry or freezer. For many, this will be hard and may require revolutionizing your worldview, especially if you gravitate towards being stingy. In our experience, this can be harder for men than women. Men might want to give their gals a new casserole dish for a special occasion when their gal would much rather have flowers or an updated garden bed. Beauty is important!

Let us encourage you with this… beauty feeds the soul, first and foremost, the souls living on your homestead – including your own! Secondly, it will feed the souls of those who will visit your homestead. Beauty creates warm, welcoming, and hospitable places to welcome the weary, including yourself. A beautiful homestead delights your soul and brings health to your bones. It’s nice to look with pleasure on your land after a long hard day of working in the garden or orchard. Invest in it!

 

Why your family should own a quality water filter

We’ve blogged plenty of times about water and the need to have access to good, clean, quality drinking water.

Something every family in the world should consider is this… Where and how do we get access to good, clean, healthy drinking water?

Many in the world cannot answer this question because they have nothing but unhealthy, compromised water to drink. That’s why our family supports organizations like World Vision. However, even those in well-developed countries such as the United States can have compromised drinking water. Most Americans and Europeans wrongly assume that they will always have access to good, clean, healthy drinking water. So let’s ask a follow-up question to the the above question.

Is there anything that could happen that would interrupt how and/or where we secure good, clean, healthy drinking water? Or how about this… What dependencies are there for us getting this water? Is a utility company responsible. Must electricity be present? Must we be able to drive to a store to get water?

Water is essential for life. Without it, most people can survive just around 3 days or so. Yet, for something so important, we invest very little thought, time, and resources into making sure we can continue to have access to such a necessary resource!

Most of us are utterly dependent on systems and variables beyond our control for our water and many other needs. Consider this… A utility could encounter a problem and need to shut off water. The power can be turned off. The store could run out of water. Bottled water companies could shut down. Truckers could go ons strike. A water main could break. The weather could prevent you from reaching the store. The well could break.

These are not extreme, apocalyptic scenarios. These are common events. These things WILL  happen – and they do all the time. Just ask anyone who has been without power for several days due to flooding, hurricanes, etc. All the victims of these events have quickly realized how delicate access to clean water and other necessities can be. A few gallons of water squirreled away in the closet is better than nothing, but it’s not good enough!

Our family has developed our own “Preparedness Pyramid” approach for planning for unexpected things like this. This process allows us to determine how we would meet any need for our short term, intermediate, and long term needs. You can read more about our planning strategy here.

It is our belief, that every family should have a water filter on hand. Not the water pitchers with carbon filters found at Stuff Mart, but a quality product built to make undrinkable water potable.  Yes, these will cost you money. However, the costs are very small and would be of no consequence when clean water is necessary for life to continue! Is your life or the life of your loved ones not worth $50, $100, $200?

My past experience consulting with those going on extended outdoor adventures gave me the opportunity to get an education on these matters, and also learn about some great vendors and products in this arena. Further my own experience backpacking, camping, and several extended trips to third-world countries have given me practical experience in with the tools and processes for making water potable (drinkable/useable) and, unfortunately – what happens when you don’t 😦

So it was without doubt or hesitation that we recently purchased the Katadyn TRK Gravidyn Drip Water Filter. Katadyn has been a world leader in water filtration for a looong time. We’ve been following and using their filters for about 20 years. This filter is perfect for a family of group of families looking to provide emergency fresh water. If you can have only one device for making water drinkable – get this one!

We like this filter because:

  1. It can provide for a family or reasonable-size group of people (1-6 people’s full-time needs) – this could be stretched to meet the needs of more in my opinion.
  2. It can be cleaned and used over and over again for an average of 150,000 litres of water. The cleaner you can make the water going in, the longer it will last.
  3. It’s gravity-fed, meaning it’s simple, passive – requires no pumping and has no moving parts
  4. It can serve functions on picnics, camping trips, and emergencies
  5. It’s robust enough to meet your families needs for weeks to months – long enough for normal systems to come online again or more permanent alternatives to be developed.
  6. It’s a Katadyn, duh!
We’d be happy to answer any questions about sustainable, emergency water source planning you might have. Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

T-Minus 37 Hours

Well, if you’ve read our blog, know us, or have heard crazy rumors about us elsewhere – you already know that we’re seriously interested in living a simpler, healthier, less-complicated life. We’re also big on “community”- not in the common sense of “being involved in lots of stuff close to our home”, but in the idea of community – more specifically, living in such a way that we are interdependent on others around us who wish to do the same.

In about 37 hours we’ll be attending an auction where we’ll likely be bidding on a piece of real estate that could further our efforts and journey to live a simpler life.

We’re joined by three other families in this pursuit – “our community” of sorts. No, we’re not looking to start a commune or anything of the sort. We’re not the type to sit around the sweat lodge in our hemp shirts singing Kumbaya and howling at the moon. We just value friendships and working together. We are interested in being in closer physical proximity in order to make the process of living a simple life shared among others a bit easier. And so, we bid…

We have goals… Big goals.

We want to be out of debt… All of us.

We want to grow healthy, organic food… Lots of it.

We want to give food away… For free.

We want to bless people in our community… Anyone who needs it.

We want to restore to ourselves and our families, a sense of community.

We believe this land would allow us to do these things we’re already doing in part, but better and more effectively. There are many, many impossible challenges to getting this land but we’re going to go and bid regardless. We have no idea what will happen, but we don’t need to. Our hope isn’t pinned on getting this land and we’ll press on regardless. Nevertheless, if you’re the praying sort, we’d covet your prayers for success and the means to make this happen. Please leave a comment and let us know you’re with us.

Juice Fast – Day 8-10

Day 8!  Two more days and counting!  The biggest struggle for me (Laura) right now is that every juice tastes similar.  The vegetable (Mean Green) tastes like ginger and celery and the fruit juices taste sweet.  The fruit juice is made yummier by blending it with a banana.  So I find myself just sucking it down as fast as I can, to be rid of the taste.  We had a treat yesterday, Iced Coffee (decaf) made with Hemp Milk.  Utterly different than normal, but remarkably tasty.  We have both had some minor health changes, but nothing radical (like the folks in the movie “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead“.)

Right now I am wondering what it will be like to “eat” again.  Will my mouth feel weird?  Will my guts?  I am in utter awe that people really do this for 30-60 days!  “Good on them!” as our mate from down under would say.  We have decided that on Tuesday, we will follow a 15-day plan for eating all fruits & veggies.  These are actual meals, so we plan to feed our children in the same way.  To an extent of course.  The plan reccommends no dairy or bread, of course the baby still needs her bottles.  And since she kept handing me the veggies out of her tortellini stir-fry, today, she will probably still get her mini-sandwiches.

Andrew: We’ll see about making the baby sweet on veggies. That’s my goal at least. I started reading a book “Disease Proof your Child” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD. In it, he makes the case for early nutrition (or lack thereof) being the biggest contributor for predicting disease later in life. It’s really got me thinking about how we feed our children.For certain, we do feed them healthy foods, but perhaps still desperately short on fresh produce. This book explains what is needed, why supplements are not adequate and how to change. So far, good reading (though I don’t care for the occasional reference to Humans being another of the animal world).

As Laura said, we’ll be following another “Reboot” program (with some modifications) starting Tuesday. We’ll be doing this for fifteen days and hopefully will use this as a way to get our start in eating a diet of 60%+ fruits and vegetables (most Americans eat 5%). I’m excited about this. We’re not going to stop eating other things we love – just smaller quantities or less frequently. We believe the long-term health of our children and ourselves will be influenced by doing these things. More on that another time.

Juicing is getting old. Or rather, not eating is getting old. My mouth just needs to feel food in it again – plain and simple. I’m not craving much of anything, and not really anything unhealthy either. That’s one benefit of doing this – dealing with cravings and getting to their root. When I’m truly nourished, I don’t need/want the other stuff. Lots of stuff sounds good to me, but I have no plans to gorge myself on unhealthy stuff when this is done. What I do have a hankering for is beans and legumes, stuff like that. Something with some hearty flavor. It’s hard to stomach such flavors in juice – though I have tried!

In the beginning, I thought I might go 3o or more days on this. I’m not giving up, I’ve just learned more about what I need. According to the Reboot “Needs Assessment“, all I really needed was this fifteen day program – not really a juice fast. The juice fast would be better for folks with health problems or a lot of weight to lose. Since neither of this really need such, we don’t get much benefit from juice fasting. So, why continue fasting when we can get the same benefits from the fifteen day program? Nevertheless, I might do this 2-4 times a year just to center my mind and give the insides a break.

On another note… we made the best-tasting fruit juice to date. Papaya, Pineapple, Mango, Kiwi and Green Apple. Wow – it was like something I’d expect to be served in glass with an umbrella on a resort in the tropics. Totally delicious!

So today is it… the last day (shwew!). Tomorrow morning we’ll be eating solid foods once again. Should be an interesting time! We’ll do another post with some final summary thoughts once we’ve made the transition. Thanks for following along on our journey. Best wishes if you go on your own! Please drop us a note/comment if you’re on, or are planning something like this. We’d love to hear about it!

Juice Fast – Day 5 and 6

Welp… both of us had a pretty decent fifth day of juice fasting. My (Andrew) teeth still felt and continue to feel funny and Laura just doesn’t feel anything other than normal – which is kind of a disappointment to her after so many rave reviews from others doing this sort of thing. I suppose if we were coming off diets of processed foods, soda, etc it would be quite a boost to juice raw veggies and fruit exclusively. But because we eat pretty well already, I imagine our results are less stellar than others.

I don’t feel incredibly different either although I have not had ANY pulsatile tinnitus (hearing my heartbeat in my left ear) since we started this fast. That  is quite amazing to me since nothing I have ever done has helped with this. Makes me wonder if my pulsatile tinnitus hasn’t been either blood pressure of blood sugar related? Also, I’ve not had any migraines during this time either. I would not necessarily have them otherwise, but usually I get them around the beginning  week of the month (hey, maybe guys have hormones too 😉 ). Nonetheless, I’m happy to not have had one during this time.

We’re both a small amount trimmer now. I think we’ve each lost about 5-6 pounds. For Laura, that’s a bigger percentage to lose than I and she really doesn’t have room to lose weight. I wouldn’t mind more weight loss for myself, but I tend to think longer, smaller, sustained weight loss is a better indication of making life-enhancing, permanent changes than just getting down a few pounds quickly. There’s still quite a bit of calories in fruit juice (even though we usually only drink fruit juice 1-2 times a day), so it’s not like we’re radically reducing calories as one would in a water fast.

Laura has been struggling today with hunger. I think this is again related to her being very lean to begin with. I think this might be because she fuels herself from dietary fats and carbs normally – both of which would be very lacking during a juice fast. I on the other hand have enough “reserves” to fuel my body without eating additional fats and carbs (keep your head nods to yourself 😉 ). I’ve not really experienced physical hunger any more than normal during these six days. It’s just as manageable as normal life in my opinion. So the lesson to anyone contemplating this… if you at all overweight, you’ll likely not suffer from feeling too much physical hunger. If you’re lean… well then, be prepared for being hungry here and there!

The mental hunger is a different story. Though difficult in the beginning, once I resigned myself to the fact that I am just not going to eat until this is over, it’s been easier to handle cravings. I’ve come to realize how much of my normal eating habits are not physical, but just trying to pacify boredom, stress, etc. In this regard, this juice fasting has been very liberating and eye-opening. Even if I don’t feel any earth-shattering differences, I know that this is causing some great mental and spiritual growth. I suspect these will result in better physical well being in time. I believe our minds must change before we can change our bodies.

We did pickup another juicer – the Breville Juice Fountain Elite. This is a VERY NICE juicer. It’s very sturdy and well-made, is very easy to cleanup, and has a really large opening for stuffing in fruits and veggies which allows for much faster juice making. There’s a less expensive version, the Breville Juice Fountain Plus that is about half the price. This was back-ordered until October, so we decided to get the one we did. It appears to be less expensive because of an 850w vs 1000w motor and also because of plastic chute and juice basin vs. the metal on the Elite version. Still a very nice juicer!

We already had the Omega J8005 Juicer. It’s an awesome juicer too, but is too slow for us to use for two of us juicing at such a constant rate. The processing and cleanup time was too much. For one person, it would be fine. It’s still the best juicer we have because it can juice more foods (ie, wheatgrass) that centrifugal juicers cannot and also does more than most juicers (ie. makes pasta, sauce, etc), but it’s not so efficient for supporting two adults on a simultaneous juice fast. Also, we wanted to get a second juicer so that we could loan one to others who would like to try a juice fast but lack the resources to do so. I hope we can pickup more of the Breville juicers in time to help more people.

Some might say “whoa… $150-$300 for a juicer?!”. Yes, that’s right, they’re expensive. Fresh produce is expensive too. However, none of these things are as expensive as poor health or premature death. Leaving behind a family because of heart-disease , diabetes, or cancer is much, much more expensive than eating well! Don’t value your life or the life of your loved on as being less than the cost of good health! Resist the tyranny of such thinking.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more regarding our progress!

Juice Fast – Day 4

Laura: I love to eat!  This may not come as a surprise to some, but for me I’ve definitely been thrown for a loop by such a realization.  Most of my growing up years my mother would say to me, “you’re the type of person that eats to live, not lives to eat.”   And I have believed it!  Granted, when I am hungry, I am hungry and please stand back until I get something in my belly, thank you very much.  But, I have never viewed myself as someone who loves to eat.  For the last three days my husband has said often, “I am not physically hungry, but I am mentally hungry.”  While I would say I am famished!  This juice is not cutting it!  My belly is hungry!

But today, Day 4 of the juice fast, I awoke feeling fine.  I was not unusually hungry.  We made a yummy breakfast juice – carrots, plum, apple, orange, lime, cherry and mango.  We each had about 20 ounces.  And where as the last three days I was again famished a short while later – today, I was able to wait until our midday “dinner” juice of Mean Green – kale, celery, kiwi, ginger, apple, cucumber and lemon, and feel just fine.  Proving, I think, that my body is “getting used” to this juice fast.  And I was actually able to make my children a nice dinner of spaghetti and salad and not feel that weird thing in my throat that was saying “feed me please”.

The epiphany is that I am mentally hungry, just as my husband had said.  I want to eat!!!  I took our son to the dentist office this afternoon.  The hygienist had cooking shows on the TV.  Talk about cruel and unusual punishment!  So this journey, which I thought was simply about physical health is teaching me so much more.  A greater level of compassion is what I am getting today.  Much greater compassion for those who have little or nothing by way of food.  And a sense of compassion for those who are addicted to food, which honestly, before this I had little if any sympathy towards.

Andrew: Like Laura, I too love to eat – the process of eating, the tastes, textures, etc. It’s really been an eye opener to see how much of life revolves around the next meal. This isn’t necessarily bad, but I am getting a better focus now that my meals are not something to look forward to with great excitement as they were before.

I’m not physically hungry much – here and there at most. I can overcome the mental hunger as well. The thing I am struggling with the most is the repetition of getting the juicer out, and making one of a few types of juice. It’s not that some aren’t tasty, but imagine if all you get to consume for the day is one of several juices that are more or less made from the same dozen or so ingredients! It’s like Groundhog Day around here.

I am finding that this can be helped by drinking some lemon and honey in hot water (yes, that’s okay on a juice fast) and Laura has had herbal tea. Tonight I bought some similar things to try to add some drinkable variety to our otherwise bland-beverage-based menu. Again, it’s not the veggies don’t taste great, but in a world of fat, salt, and sugar, it takes a while to retrain one’s tastebuds to appreciate the more subtle shades of dirt-like taste that are green veggies – and I love veggies! I feel so sorry for the poor saps who try this who hate veggies – man, oh man!

I’m also trying to adjust to the increase in carbs. Yes, increase! I am a protein-metabolism kind-of-guy. I love fruit, but the amount we juice in the AM is a sweetness shock for me. I hope to experiment with mixing fruit and veggies more to even things out. Thing is.. it’s hard to get my head around the idea of mixing some fruits with some veggies. And sometimes, the resulting color is between dark purple and brown  – not very appetizing!

So aside from that, I am missing my daily dose of dark chocolate, good coffee, and lastly, the feeling of food in my mouth. That’s perhaps the weirdest thing. I noticed my mouth feels strange and for some reason, I am clenching my teeth – maybe my teeth are just eager to tear into something?

Every day I have more and more respect and awe for the suckers – err… brilliant men and women… who have done this for sixty days! Wow, that’s a heroic achievement! Lord willing, we’ll make it to at least ten and perhaps more. Stay tuned!

Juice Fasting – Day 3

This is Day 3 and this juice fast is HARD!!  We made a yummy juice this morning – carrot, apple, orange, lime, blackberry and blended it with banana.  I (Laura) had saved some for a mid-morning snack. Then we had to make dinner for our children.  One of our favorite chicken dishes with oven-fried potatoes and steamed green beans, fresh from the garden.  It was painful!!!  Seeing them eat this yummy (and healthy) food while we sipped our green juice – kale, spinach, celery, beet, ginger, carrot.  Hard I tell you!!!    I (Laura) had about 20 ounces, but by 3pm I was HUNGRY! and wondering if this is worth it.  Then we thought back to all of the other hard things in life – natural childbirth, completing a marathon, homeschooling, etc., made a pick-me-up juice – carrot, plum, kiwi, apple, and watermelon and decided to persevere!

Ran across a recent interview with Phil (from “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”)  and he said stick it out to at least day 4. Past this day most of the toxins have  gotten out your body and you start to feel so much better you feel like you could juice forever.

Where would we be without the promise of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  We are going to need to it!!!

What does juicing have to do with simple living?

Even though we’re just today starting our 10-30 day  juice fast, we’ve been juicing for quite a while now. We’ve never really blogged about it before but thought it would be fun to document our juice fast journey as we’re going along.

One might ask “what does juicing have to do with living simply?

Good question! To answer, we must look at the big picture of life, health, and wellness. It’s easily understood from anecdotal and probably statistical information that the health of the average American is in decline. True, we might be living longer, but that’s likely due to advances in pharmaceuticals and technologies that extend life for those in poor health. I don’t believe people are living longer because they’re healthier – in fact, quite the contrary.

Part of our philosophy of living simply is a desire to live with as little dependency as possible on practices, systems, and technologies that have not been present from the beginning of humanity. That doesn’t mean we do so in every case – but where we can, we do. The way our current culture obtains and uses food is one such system we are eager to reduce our dependency upon. We’ve gotten removed from some basic wisdom regarding what we eat and how we get it. We believe this has caused a massive up swing in chronic illness, disease, and prescription drug dependency. So eating poorly from a broken, industrialized food system has, in our opinion, caused a massive and expensive dependency on another industrialized medical/pharmaceutical system. Interestingly enough, there are some corporations that control both food and medicine. These large corporations are killing us for profit.

We resist these things by eating as healthy as we can. We’re not rabbits and don’t eat like them! Healthy does not mean vegetarian or vegan in our book, but eating foods that have experienced no to minimal processing and transportation. We don’t do this completely or thoroughly but have still experienced much benefit. As a biproduct of changing our diet, we’ve seen a massive decrease in our sick visits to the doctor (3 or so visits among 6 of us in the last 3+ years). So just by eating differently, we’ve reduced our dependency on the medical and pharmaceutical establishments. This has allowed us to live simpler and less expensively. For certain, our grocery bill has gone up, but ask yourself “would I rather spend money on healthy, delicious food, or expensive, perhaps harmful medicine?”.

Welp… juicing is perhaps the simplest and affordable way to “reboot” or “jumpstart” one’s health. We’re juicing and particularly juice fasting at the moment to promote health and wellness in ourselves as a way to simply maintain our health. Can you see the connection? There’s no point in trying to be simple in every other area of life if we’re slaves to drugs or ongoing medical intervention. What happens if/when those systems are not available? From what we’ve seen, nearly every course taken by those who have beat terminal illness has included juicing. We believe there’s something to this. We’ve also seen in movies like “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” that others have benefited greatly from juice fasting. So, we’re giving it a shot.

Simple living starts with the individual. First they change their mind, then their body, spirit, soul. Then that individual can go on to change their family, their friends, and their community. That’s our goal – to restore ourselves and others to simpler, healthier, and gratifying lifestyles.

If you’d like to join us, or have additional questions, please let us know! We’ll be posting another post later on today that lists what kind of juicer(s) we use and where you can get them. We’ll also start to share our “recipes” for juicing and maybe even some before and after pictures (if we get comfortable with the idea of those being on the internet!).

Happy juicing!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑