Taking the Extremism out of Veganism

What is the first thing you think of when you think of the word vegan?  I think of craziness.  I think of mobs of people pushing their way into health food stores yelling.  I think of anger.  I am vegan.  But the word vegan makes me nervous.

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Just like any group, there will be those that have to force their ideas on others in order to create what they feel is right, whether that be religion or lifestyle or opinion.  I understand it.  I just think there are better ways.  Because veganism is really a peaceful, beautiful thing.  My husband said that when I posted on Instagram and then on my farm facebook page the other day that we are vegan and opening a sanctuary we would lose followers.  We did.  The word vegan makes people nervous.

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Others have changed the term to plant based diet.  A benign term that means lots of delicious plants and denotes more of a health food approach then a save the cow message.  I told the teller at my bank that I was plant based and she looked at me very confused.  “I’m vegan,” I corrected.  “Oooh,” she answered, “what do you eat?”

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My friend is in the trenches.  She and a group of dedicated, emotional, loving people go out to cities all over the country.  They stand on street corners with masks on, wearing all black, holding televisions that display the atrocious way that animals become meat.  Blood, fear, and reality fills the screen.  Videos of these events show people walking briskly by.  Does empathy enter any of the bystanders?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  They go out to factory farms and create an unnerving presence.  They rescued a hundred turkeys before Thanksgiving.  The thing is, that when I see my friend, the violence and the plight has so greatly affected her.  Her emotional wellbeing.  Her eyes.  I worry that it is slowly destroying her.

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I have been on both sides.  So, I know that anything anyone told me while I had my blinders on when I was farming would not have changed my mind.  Only I can change my mind.  I taught herbalism for many years and a plant based diet was a central part of my teachings because you can only heal symptoms for so long before you have to look at diet and lifestyle.  I am surprised still how many of those students became vegan.  At least one or two a class.  Including the aforementioned friend.  Friends have sanctuaries now.  My writings whisper and inspire.  My friends know I am vegan.  I make amazing food.  They make amazing food for me.  No one is being forced to do anything.  Most people do not want to harm animals.  They can only eat meat because they can’t see the suffering, the crying, the blood.  They don’t see families, they see packages.  But sometimes people want to see what this is all about.

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So if you want to try veganism, keep these things in mind:

1- You don’t have to tell anyone.  You can just do your thing.  I didn’t want to cause harm.  I know there are cow parts in my tires and I still drive.  I know there is no way to completely avoid it all but I can be vegan.  My anxiety has notched down to near nothing.  Depression is not an issue.  Karmically I feel better.  I love animals.  Why would I want to consume them?  I smell like death when I eat them.  Plants create vibrancy.  But I don’t have to wear a PETA shirt to the grocery store.  I can inspire in my own way.

2- Don’t go out and buy new leather shoes, but the old boots you been wearing, keep wearing them.  Throwing them in a landfill doesn’t bring that cow back.  Be reasonable but be mindful moving forward.

3- Just peek at the labels of cleaning, beauty and bath products and make sure they are vegan and didn’t test on animals.  Goodness knows, no one wants dogs and rabbits to be stabbed and tortured in the name of good eyelashes.

4- You don’t have to go no-oil, no sugar, no gluten, only whole foods vegan.  The health benefits of giving up animal products is huge.  Knowing that you saved one more animal.  One more animal.  That is enough. You can use veggie meat along with your veggies and fresh bread and glass of wine.  There are no rules.  The meat and cheese substitutes out there are awesome.  No better time to be vegan.

5- Follow farm sanctuaries on Instagram or facebook.  The animals speak for themselves.  Know that you are saving hundreds of animals in your lifetime from pain and slaughter.  Watch some documentaries if you don’t know what goes on.  Don’t be tricked by the term “humane meat.” There is no such thing.  You are also helping the environment, your health, and so much more just by one simple, light decision.

Let’s take the craziness out of veganism and replace it with compassion.  I am Animal Friendly!

 

Hope and Nino

Some things have been going on over here that have been raising red flags and I can only hope that we do not have to move again.  I must learn to take one day at a time and not try to foresee the future, jump to conclusions, or panic.  Today.

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We sat down to dinner last night and bowed our heads to say grace.  We thanked the Lord for our meal, prayed that everything would work out alright, and for hope.  Doug went out to milk and came running back in to get me outside.  Elsa was in labor!  Our first time mama was having her baby a week earlier than we expected.  A little boy came out fairly easily.  One baby for Isabelle, one for Elsa.  Odd that there were no multiples.  But, we are thankful for a healthy and quick labor and delivery.  An adorable baby boy with red hair came into the world.  He looks like his mom, a Saanen, the waddles under his chin, but with red hair.  He loves to snuggle and is so cute!  Hope is all around us.

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Doug named him Nino Bonito for beautiful boy but also he was born in what seemed like El Nino!  A horrible storm raged on outside the lean to.

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The Kitchen Counter Cheese Cave

I was pleasantly surprised last year that not only did I enjoy making cheese, it also turned out amazing.  I usually do not enjoy tedious tasks that take a long time, but I rather enjoyed the process and definitely the result!  The problem is finding a place to store the wheels of cheese where they can properly age and develop flavors without being eaten by mice or molding.

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The proper temperature for aging cheese is 55 degrees with a bit of humidity.  I thought our old coal chute in the basement in the last house would be good but it was very dusty, had mice, and was sixty-five degrees all summer. I read that one could use a mini-fridge and I borrowed my friend’s.  The problem was that by keeping it on the highest setting to attain fifty-five degrees, the small freezer part kept leaking on the cheese.

I found a refrigerator on Craigslist that was cheap because it didn’t cool any lower than fifty degrees.  Jack pot!  After placing a bowl of water in there with the cheese I created quite a nice environment.  Then we moved.  The jostling of the fridge on the trailer made it begin to work!  It froze the cheese.  When it defrosted,  it began to mold something awful and the chickens were gifted wheels of really stinky cheese.

We tried a cooler with an ice pack.  We tried the back guest room.  No where was quite right.

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I thought about it all winter.  Fifty-five degrees.  What keeps its temperature at fifty-five degrees?  And then I recalled the wine fridge that sat atop the counter at our friends’ house.  Fifty-five degrees for good red wine.  Holy smokes, I was excited.  Wine and cheese at the ready all summer.

We found one at the hardware store on sale, no less.  I am borrowing another cheese press this summer to make more cheese.  I’ll have two going at a at time.  Manchego, a light Italian cheese, Parmesan, sharp Cheddar….oh my.  I’ve missed my own cheese.  Purchasing it in the store is sadly lacking.  The girls are due in four weeks!  Fresh milk is on the way!

Seeking Farm Interns

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There are many fabulous lifestyles out there but I am so grateful that Doug and I live the one we have.  We prayed, worked, and planned out this life and we were gifted the life of a farmer.  There are others out there who are enamored by this lifestyle as well.  Young or old, city or country, there are people out there who would like to be homesteaders.  Or at least see if it is the life for them.

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Last year I was surprised when an email came across my screen from a young man in New York.  He and his girlfriend wanted to come across the country in their RV and intern with us.  At first I didn’t think there would be much to do.  I mean, we pretty well have a routine, but as I started to look around I realized I had so much to teach them!  Farming, canning, herbalism, farmer’s markets, animal care, cheese making, anything they wanted to learn before embarking on their own farm adventure could be taught in my small kitchen and plot of land.  The thought was sound, the timing was lousy.

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I had just lost one of my best friends as well as a handful of other friends and beloved animals.  We were in limbo not knowing if we had to move.  They were struggling in their relationship and wondering what they should do.  We were all watching every penny.  They were distracted, I was distraught.  We fought like new roommates.  But, what I did love was when we got into a groove and were able to just work and talk and enjoy each other’s company.  Movie nights in the living room trading off meal making and enjoying a bottle of wine.  We will be in touch with them forever, I am sure.  A moment in time that we shared our lives together.

My littlest intern!
My littlest intern!

I think it is important to share our lives, our skills, our passions.  Let folks try it out before they cancel cable television and spend their paycheck on seeds!  Give them free classes in exchange for help.  We are only two people.  Our daughter, Emily, and her daughter, Maryjane will come to stay here every Thursday and help me get ready for the market Friday.  We will get our medicines filled and harvests ready to take to market bright and early Friday morning in Woodland Park.  Doug will be doing the Thursday market in Colorado Springs by himself because one of us has to be here to milk in the morning.  We’ll milk early Saturdays and do that market in Elizabeth together.  I have classes planned for all day Sundays.  Doug works at the coffee shop Monday and Tuesday.  We have a large farm to care for this year and more animals along with our bustling Apothecary and all the preserving we do.  Our little dairy is growing too.

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I suppose if anyone wants to intern and learn to live this way, I will welcome them with open arms and a bottle of wine!

Get Your Goat! (a love story)

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Remember near the beginning of this blog when we were kind of afraid to get goats?  We loved goats after meeting one at a petting zoo while we still lived in the city.  After being butted and bruised and bullied by our friend’s goats while pet sitting we questioned whether we still wanted goats.  Her goats were rescues, males, had horns, and were not neutered.  We looked like good candidates for wresting, apparently.  So, we thought maybe all big goats were like that and wanted as small as ones as we could find.

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We met babies at Nancy’s for the first time and fell in love.  Then we were directed to Jill who had the smallest, most adorable baby goats.  They were Nigerian Dwarves.  We gave in to our long time hopes for goats.

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She gave us two goats that were half Dwarf.  They were a huge hit at the farmer’s market.  An adorable addition to our farm, but they were little escape artists and loved to prance under the storming feet of the horses in the fairgrounds, or nose around our neighbor’s garage for spilt chemicals.  We sadly gave them back to Jill before they could get hurt.

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Then she gave us two more dwarves, each pregnant, the younger one was the sweetest animal you can imagine.  The older one had her baby, who we sold to our friends, and then the mom went to live with a family in Colorado Springs because she liked them better than us.  The younger one died in child birth and broke our hearts.

Do you have anything to eat?

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Jill, in her unending generosity gave me yet another goat.  Elsa Maria, who went to schools with me when I spoke, went to the library, the coffee shop, and Walmart.  Who loved to snuggle and sit on my lap (I think she would still like that, but now it would be like a Rottweiler sitting on me!  But more wiggly.) and brightened our home.  Jill had to move and gave me Elsa’s mother, Isabelle, who patiently let us learn to milk her and was a great companion to Elsa.

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We boarded four goats.  We have visited countless caprines and I must say, we are definitely goat people.

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Now we just have Isabelle and Elsa (who are Saanens, one of the largest breeds), who are each expecting and will increase our little herd by trading one of their doelings for a newborn Nubien that our friend is expecting.  We loved having goat milk shares available, making our own cheese, and having these sweet, gentle creatures as companions.  Goats do make a farm.

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Five Reasons to Get Your Goat

1. Farm Pets- These animals are like having an outdoor puppy all the time.  Any time you can give is most welcome for snuggling, petting, getting them wound up and watching them hop around, and for treats.  You could pull up a lawn chair and watch the comedy show if you liked.  Goats are ever the comedians.  You can add a little happiness to the farm.  Goats are becoming more and more welcome across the country.  Big cities, including Denver and Colorado Springs, welcome small breeds of goats.  Many places with HOA’s don’t.  Don’t move there, folks.  It’s not worth it.

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Farm Products– In the spirit of everyone must pull their weight, goats are excellent at doing so.  There are fiber goats that can give the farmer lovely threads, dairy goats that produce delicious milk (and cheese, yogurt, ice cream…), and, well, here on this little farm we have no meat animals, but let it be said that there are goats bred for meat too.  Male goats can be used for breeding, or wethers can be used for companionship or protection of the herd.  Babies can be used in place of Prozac.

Farm money can be made from selling said fibers, milk, dairy products, or babies.

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3. Easy to Care For– Goats don’t require too much in the way of care.  They like a couple flakes of hay a day, some minerals and baking soda in a dish, and sweet feed during milking.  Fresh water and bedding.  A good fence.  The adage goes though, “If a goat isn’t happy, nothing will keep it in.”  So, keep your girls happy and they should stay put but a good field fence is wise.  They need their toenails trimmed and some good herbal medicines at the ready if needed but outside of that, they require not much more than a few hugs.

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4. Lawn Mowers– Goats do love a good bite to eat (don’t we all?) and they would like to eat whatever you place them on.  They will not eat everything as the rumors would say but they like grasses and weeds.  Oh, and trees.  Don’t let them near the trees you want to keep unless it is large and quite established!  They will mow down an area so that you don’t have to.

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5. Shock and Smile Factor– Have you ever walked down the street with a goat on a leash?  No?!  Oh my, you don’t know what you are missing.  Traffic slows or stops, people point, take second looks, question slowly if it is a dog, and it brings countless smiles to stranger’s faces.

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Goats=Happiness