Welcome! You've found my first official blog post on the updated website! This has been a work in progress for the past several months, and.... not being exactly technically savvy (give me science or farming any other day!), I've had to call in some excellent tech help to assist in the upgrade. You can finally find ALL you need right here in one place!
The move to the new website put blogging on a little hiatus until we could get everything matched up properly. I think you'll find this venue MUCH easier to navigate. Growing means learning, expanding, and exploring new options, right?
Speaking of growing.... She's now 10 months old, and it's well past time for an Elsa update! Sweet girl shows up on Facebook with some regularity, but I need to update here.... this is kind of her 'baby book' after all. For all my love of animals, I never thought I'd love a cow as much as I love this heifer. I guess that's what might happen when one lives in your bathtub for a few weeks, and syringe feeding around the clock takes control of your life! The cards were certainly stacked against her. Birth during 20 degree weather (which cost her parts of both ears), failure to thrive (because she couldn't suck properly), trips to the vet (because we didn't know any better.. couldn't see the internal cleft palate... and subsequently also missed by the vet).... it did not look good for Elsa. If you scroll back thru my early 2018 posts, you'll find her history scattered throughout.
Nonetheless, she prevailed.
Her story hasn't been without a little work and some modifications in her/our life. Elsa is a permanent mascot on our farm. She is a greeter, social maven, photo bomber, and so much more. As she's grown, we've adapted and risen to the challenge.
Her cleft palate is not easily repairable. According to a couple of vets I've consulted at Texas A&M Veterinary College, the surgery would not be easy on her. Cow mouths do not open very wide, and any repair of this nature would only be manageable by entering thru the side of her face...effectively eliminating the possibility of surgery unless absolutely necessary.
Elsa eats well (albeit messily!), and does not seem to be hindered much by her birth defect. Fairly early on, we discovered that she is also moderately tongue tied, and is only able to stick her tongue out of the right side of her mouth. This really doesn't seem to affect her much, so I'm torn between getting it fixed surgically (rather, putting her thru that surgery), and just letting her carry on as she has been. She doesn't know any differently, and so it seems more like the surgery would be for us moreso than for her.
Cleft palates in calves are not as rare as you'd think. Unfortunately, most calves are birthed fairly unattended, and if they go without nursing for long, they die. As in the case of Elsa, if the cleft palate is undetectable externally, the rancher usually assumes the calf simply died of natural causes. Cleft palate in calves is not a genetic anomaly...it's caused by eating the wrong plant during the first trimester of pregnancy (a similar thing can happen in people if certain medications or products are consumed during the first trimester too). In Honey's case (Elsa's mama)..... she apparently got ahold of a select few plants in the lupine family..... the most common culprit for bovine cleft palates. Honestly, we're blessed. Her deformity could have been much much worse, and her personality more than makes up for the bit of added work that is required for her health and safety.
Just like all babies, Elsa has had her milestones.
Lessons from raising a Cleft Palate Calf
Stay tuned.... Elsa will always be making an appearance here. She's one of us..... part of the 'farmily'.
Thanks for visiting and celebrating our imperfectly perfect life on the farm.
Hugs and Love - Liz
One of my passions in life is pursuing all manners of sustainability. I believe that whatever you are passionate about overflows into all areas of your life.
I was sitting in an airport back in June watching people. Summer is a huge family vacation time. Vacation should be synonymous with Happy, right? And yet…. the vast majority did not appear to be all that happy. Granted, flying isn’t necessarily fun anymore, but still… where was the joy in the journey? During the flight, I had a growing conviction that I needed to do more in life to spread Joy and Happiness to others. I started researching and found that I am not alone in this. Did you know that there are actually college classes now on finding happiness? Seriously. Are we that bankrupt on happiness and joy as a country that college classes are needed to find it?
This month, with the help of some friends, we’ve got a Facebook event called Project Joy and Happiness! If you’d like to join us, feel free to do so. Our goal is to spread holiday cheer this December, and hopefully teach others how to spread both where ever they go year round. Let’s make Joy and Happiness contagious emotions! We’ve got science, psychology, posts that bring a smile to your face, and even weekly giveaways.
But wait, aren’t Joy and Happiness the same thing? Uh….no. Happiness is an emotion reserved for moments in time. Joy is the sustainable emotion…. once you choose Joy, it stays with you as long as you continue to choose it. (You’ll learn all about the nuances of Joy vs Happiness in the Facebook event).
Yesterday, I saw the greatest testimony to the difference between Joy and Happiness. It came in the form of a funeral.
You see, a friend within our Young Living family lost their daughter Layla last month to childhood cancer. Her parents, Bryan & Sara, held her celebration of life service yesterday. It was a true celebration, with balloons, snow cones, fun for the kids that attended, bright colors and happy music.
No, this was not a happy event. Happy is not a word that describes a funeral. Ever. And yet….. the service was filled with smiles, laughter, and many many tears. Tears that were joy filled and sadness filled simultaneously. This is the difference between Happiness and Joy. You can’t be happy and sad simultaneously, but you CAN be joyful and sad simultaneously.
Biblically speaking, deep within Psalm 30 you see the words “….Joy comes with the morning”. Joy also comes TO the mourning when a child of God meets Jesus face to face. I believe that celebrating the beautiful life of a beautiful girl who is now sitting on the lap of Jesus is worthy of Joy. Nobody is happy that she is gone, but thousands of her friends are filled with Joy that she is now in the presence of her heavenly Father and is healed.
I can think of no better example of Joy than this.
In all my researching these last 6 months, I found that one of the things that boosts your happy and joy quotient is giving without respect to what you might receive in return. If you’d like to help Stamp Out Childhood Cancer (a 501c3 nonprofit), please consider donating in memory of Layla Stamp (nothing would bring her parents greater Joy than that). Please visit LaylaStrongFoundation.org for more information. I am 100% in favor of practicing what I teach….. so when donating to LaylaStrongFoundation, please reference The Wellness Prepper (in the message section of your paypal donation), and we (Charlie and I) will match donations up to a cumulative amount of $1000.
Find your Joy today my friends, and celebrate! Joy lasts a lifetime. Happiness comes and goes depending on the situation.
Hugs and Love, Liz
My partner in crime, love of my life, bff, and hubby of 25+ years and I love to give. Over the years we’ve found various organizations that have pulled at our hearts. We’ve also been duped on more than one occasion. (It’s amazing how many organizations and individuals are out there who either improperly manage funds and/or who just want your money so they don’t have to work quite so hard.) Sad but true. We have gotten fairly good at vetting what and who we choose to give our money and our time to…. thank goodness! After all, we have extraordinarily busy lives with jobs, a farm, and a passion that combines all of the above. Ain’t got no time for nonsense, right?
This season is generally a time where hearts grow and giving flows, and I thought I’d give a shout out to one of our favorite international organizations, Reach Out Honduras. ROH was/is the vision of dear friends, Alex & Laura Waits. Not everyone listens when God speaks, and even fewer act on what is being spoken to the heart. You see, Alex and Laura lived the typical American dream….. great jobs, comfortable life in the country, a couple of kids and pets. All was well in their world.
God asked, and Alex and Laura said yes. You can see the result of their ‘yes’ here.
Charlie and I have been closely tied to Reach Out Honduras since day one. You see, Alex and Laura lived in our community and attended our tiny church. We watched their vision grow from a thought to an action and then a movement. We have both been on their Board of Directors (I have since ‘retired’) since day 1. Charlie spends countless hours in the spring each year putting together a benefit golf tournament that raises money to build school buildings. The buildings you see in the video are the result of combined donations of ‘average joe’ people. Ya’ll, this is a grassroots organization with no corporate backing, no one church denomination, no political affiliation. It’s just the result of good people doing good things with the gifts God gave them.
Getting to Puerto Lempira, Honduras is no easy feat. It is in one of the most remote parts of Honduras…. there are no roads to get there, so small plane or small boat is it. Travel generally takes two days to get there.
Charlie and I went down last summer for a week of work projects, and got to meet the kids and teachers at Reach Out Honduras’s school, Vida Abundante. Ya’ll, this region of Honduras is the poorest of the poor. Going to school beyond 6th grade requires payment to the government with money that most don’t have.
No money = No Education = No chance for betterment = The poverty continues.
The vision that God gave Alex is changing all of that. In less than 10 years, the poverty cycle is beginning to show signs of change. We have kids in college who want to come back to their remote home and make a difference for others. There are income producing jobs at the school for those who had none, and there is a spirit of hope that is literally tangible within the gates of the property.
Vida Abundante has become a place of self pride and hope in a region where there was very little of either.
Last weekend ROH had its second fund raising event of the year, the annual banquet. It is humbling to be in a room full of those who are there to give abundantly to a worthy cause expecting nothing in return. Most of the people will never meet the kids they sponsor, and yet they give anyway. They may never step foot in Honduras, and they give anyway. This is love, generosity, and hope’s hands and feet.
While ROH is a Christian based ministry, this organization is supported by all walks of life regardless of politics and religious beliefs, because we all believe in a common thing:
…… and the greatest of these, is Love. (1 Cor 13:13)
If you are looking for an organization to donate to this holiday season, there are over 240 living breathing hope filled individuals who have aspirations in life, and are praying for the opportunity. Please consider showing a little love and making Reach Out Honduras one of your charities of choice!
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReachOutHonduras/
Walking in Faith, Liz
When we began seriously weeding out chemicals from our lives and our farm, one of the largest looming threats was grasshoppers. Grasshoppers are a serious issue for farms and gardens in this part of Texas. They will literally eat you out of house and home some years…..and their abundant presence makes it virtually impossible to grow anything.
We first attempted gardening about 15 years ago…. one of the same years that grasshoppers were exceptionally abundant. The garden failed. More pointedly, it never even got started. The following year, we used a ‘safe’ control ( Nosema locustae ) that supposedly kills grasshoppers in the nymph stage. While there might have been a slight decline in population, it wasn’t enough to make gardening a successful endeavor. An elderly lady who had grown up on a farm suggested guineas to me as a viable solution…. and that first set of guineas started my appreciation of this odd looking poultry species.
Guineas are indigenous to Africa, and they are odd fowl. Most people have never heard of them and they are hard to describe…. they look like a cross between a turkey, a teradactyl, and a football (yes, their body is shaped like one). There are two types of people when it comes to guineas… those that love them and those that don’t.
Let’s just get the dirt out on ’em now:
All that to say, I am in the league of lovers when it comes to these birds. In my book, their assets outweigh their issues. Guineas are by far the best pest control for larger farmsteads. Yes, they may roam if they need food (they are great foragers), so they may not be ideal for a 1-2 acre farmstead…. but for larger acreage, they generally don’t travel more than 5 acres or so. Since we’ve had ours, we’ve had nearly zero issues with grasshoppers. We also came to realize that they do a magnificent job of eliminating and controlling ticks, fleas, and snakes. Copperheads, a poisonous snake found in this part of Texas, are especially common here. Since the addition of Guineas to our farm, we have had no issues with snakes (barring the occasional large rat or chicken snake). Ultimately, we estimate that they save us roughly 1200$ per year on pest control, without the use of harmful chemicals…. not to mention preventing the garden vegetation devastation from the hoppers.
Secondly, they are pretty remarkable watch dogs. Although they are a dull bunch of crayons in the knowledge box, I’d have to give them an A+ for being observant. They warn the free roaming chickens when a bird of prey is nearby, and the chatter can get pretty raucous if there is a new person or a new dog on the property. They are blind as bats at night, so most attrition occurs thru night time predation. During they day, they are actually quite good about banding together and making their cumulative appearance look (and sound) large and menacing. I once saw a group of them chase a coyote off with his tail between his legs! I can’t imagine a flock of chickens doing the same thing.
I can’t really say much about the bullying. In my book, they really aren’t much worse than some chickens and roosters are. Our guineas have been raised in the presence of chickens, so there really appears to be a symbiotic relationship between the two species. Last year, I actually had a rooster RAISE a handful of guinea keets (the babies). It was truly remarkable… especially watching how kind he was to them (note in the picture: the teen guinea keet sleeping on his back at night).
Guineas are prolific egg layers. They lay eggs until the nest is overflowing with 40-60 eggs… at which point they commence to sitting on them. Unless they get scared off, a guinea will sit for about 25-28 days on her pile of progeny. She is quite protective unless she fears for her life. Usually, about 30-40 babies hatch, and here is where some of the trouble starts. God clearly knew what he was doing…. giving them that many babies… because it takes that many to get just a handful of survivors. Apparently, guineas cannot count, and for the first few weeks post nesting time….. little feathered popcorn sized keets get left everywhere to die. It’s tragic… especially to my tender heart. So, whenever I find a nest (they are ground nesters, and do a pretty darn good job of camouflaging), I watch it closely and mark the days til the estimated hatching occurs. Once that happens, I herd them all (or catch them up) into a safe pen for a few weeks until they are both big enough and strong enough to survive. Despite my best efforts, only a small percentage ever reach adulthood. The parents are an odd mix of aggressively protective and negligently passive. This year and last year, I think the inbreeding of our guinea clan has actually led to either an increase in IQ or better parenting skills. Regardless, we are heavy in the guinea inventory…… real heavy. In past years, we have averaged 8-14 adult guineas at any one time. Today…. well, I’m just not sure exactly how many we have, but it’s over 30 for sure. Guineas are tree roosters at night, and as winter approaches, so usually do the bobcats and owls. Our livestock guard dogs do an excellent job of keeping ground predators away, but nighttime arboreal predators are a harder thing to manage. I still doubt we will lose that many to natural attrition. Next spring, I feel certain that I’m going to be looking for homes for the new batches of keets that will start hatching in June. As much as I love having them around, too much of a good thing is, well….. too much.
I hardly know where to begin. I am so far behind on all the wildly magical things going on in our life that this Summer has somehow morphed into Fall. I can hardly recall a year that has gone so quickly in my adult life.
I’ve always said I could be a professional student if only I was independently wealthy. Well, We’re still not independently wealthy, but we have somehow begun building a life that is allowing me to explore my passions and get paid. I pinch myself occasionally. Is this really me, getting to do this?
Pharmacy has been good to me ya’ll, but it’s no walk in the park. There is a reason it’s listed among the Top 10 Professions most likely to commit suicide. It’s a high stress job with long hours and demands 100% perfection. No surprise that the burnout rate is also remarkable. I am tremendously blessed with a husband who enjoys his job and has encouraged me to pursue what pulls at my heart. It is a gift he has given me this year… and a timely one at that!
At the end of September, I was fortunate enough to attend The 2017 Farm & Food Leadership Conference. Blessedly, this national event was held in nearby McKinney, Texas.
FARFA…. Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance is a national organization supporting independent family farmers. It works to protect a healthy and productive food supply for American consumers. FARFA is an advocate for independent farmers, ranchers, livestock owners, and homesteaders, as well as the consumers who support them.
Ya’ll, you’d hardly think this organization would be necessary. We all need food and farmers. Shouldn’t it be easy to farm enough nutritious food to feed our huddled masses? Let these statistics sink in:
This AMAZING Conference covered so many facets of Farm to Table Education. There were so many education opportunities, but not nearly enough time to attend each session. I settled on those that pertained directly to our farm and the direction we are headed.
I almost forgot… the most amazing Farm to Table dinner too. This was our first, but it won’t be our last. Dinner for about 150 people at Pure Land Organic Farm , catered by the incredible sustainably (and locally) sourced ingredient restaurant in McKinney: Harvest .
Connecting people with a common bond. Farmers, Ranchers, Nutritionists, Chefs, Sociologists and Anthropologists, Beekeepers, Backyard gardeners with a vision, Inner City gardeners with a plan for their community. This event paid no heed to political affiliation, ethnicity, age, or religious beliefs. Our goal is the same. To learn. To provide sustainable nutritious food for the body, mind, and soul to all walks of life. Breaking bread together never tasted so good.
In early winter I start itching to get my paws on the latest edition of The Whole Seed Catalog. It’s crack for the organic gardener. Truly. I’m not sure how many times I thumb thru the catalog highlighting, circling, and dogear-ing pages before I make my final selections. I feel like Imelda Marcos in a shoe store. Rareseeds.com is my ‘go to’ source for seeds simply because I trust them and I respect their ethical stance on heirloom seed preservation. Their seeds aren’t just heirloom, they are also organic.
We are organic gardeners, and that includes our seed choices. I am frequently asked why seed choice is so important. Oh ho ho. Seed choice is VERY important any time you are asking something of a plant ( it’s one of the things that really sealed the deal for me on my essential oil company of choice ).
Organic heirloom seeds are better for a multitude of reasons:
My seeds arrived last week and I’m itching to plant. It’s still a little early for most things. I prefer to plant directly into the soil, but will prestart a few that take longer to germinate in my greenhouse.
Cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, lettuce, kale, onions, zucchini, butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, beans, beans, and more beans…. and so much more! I’m even making an attempt at growing loofah sponges this year!
Come on spring! We’re ready!
Ya’ll have a great weekend! It’s been 80+ degrees here this week…. cray cray weather, even for north Texas in February. It’s been a record breaking warm winter and I’m sure hoping there isn’t one more freeze…. my fruit trees are starting to bloom! #oilyfarmsquirrel #prayingmakeslifebetter #henrithesquirrel
As you’ve probably already noticed, I have a strong belief in the importance of personal and family preparedness. I’ve been in the place where there was none and it was almost disastrous. It sounds strange, but the prospect of homelessness and starvation changes people…I know! Go figure. Now, in my home, we are prepared to […]
via Food Storage and Emergency Prep — Realistic Sustainability, Ltd.
“When is comes to being prepared, there is a place between fanatical and nothing, and that is the place where Realistic Sustainability lives. Realistic Sustainability is a concept that provides a m…
Prepping. The word connotes to many the idea that we (preppers) are a bit like Chicken Little (you know… The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling). It used to be if you ‘prepped’ for something like the SAT, or a big dinner party, that was a good thing and the action was smiled upon. So how did it happen that we exchanged the “d” for an “r”, and suddenly those who prepare for the unknown are thought by many to be a few Fruit Loops short of a full box? Just something to think about.
In the meantime, I’d like to introduce you to one of our farm mascots and the ULTIMATE prepper…. Henri! Henri was hand raised after falling out of a tree onto an unsuspecting friend (who may or may not have screamed like a girl). Her mother was nowhere to be found, and she had no interest in returning to her nest despite attempts to place her there. I’ve worked with animals all my life, even having had a short career as a zoo keeper, and this is not my first rodeo squirrel raising experience. She was still young enough to need milk replacer, but was becoming of age to move on to more varied foods. She really thrived on a product called Ningxia Red, as well as other food supplements that baby squirrels need.
Today, she is about 7 months old, and is quite the #oilyfarmsquirrel / farm mascot. We have 6 very large dogs, and not only is she friends with them, she has also become part of their pack, and considers herself one of their own. See friends, …. animals have this down…. no matter their differences, ideologies, and predator vs prey status, it is possible to work out a friendship. Seems like since we have bigger brains than both squirrel or dog, our world ought to spin with a little more friendship and handshakes if we bypassed prejudices like we do out here on the farm :).
Henri was raised and released once she was old enough. She has chosen to live alongside us, and we are happy to accommodate her. Her presence has gifted us with additional smiles and quiet peace. She reminds us as only squirrels can:
We might have bigger brains and opposable thumbs, but we can still learn a lot from our four legged friends!
Henri the squirrel video, Enjoy your day!
Hey there....thanks for stopping by! This is me (Liz James)... an eclectic mixture of holistic (and organic) farmgirl meets pharmacist. It's a synergy that works well as I speak truths and dissect fact from fiction. If you're looking for healthier living options, you've come to the right place!