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I’ve been off track on a few things in my life and today’s podcast is about getting back on track. No matter what activity or goal in which you are off track, there are ways to get it back together. Let’s talk about that.
Welcome new listeners and welcome back veteran homestead-loving regulars. I appreciate you all so much.
- Homestead Life Updates
- Getting Back on Track – a Recipe for Success
Homestead Life Updates
First item of note, I’m changing the podcast format. As you may have noticed, I do not publish nearly as many podcasts as when I started out. Life on the homestead is quite full and the podcast is what is nearly always pushed to the back burner when push comes to shove. Going forward I am changing the format to one that I can fit in to a very limited time frame. I still want to talk with you each week, but doing more than sharing my current thoughts and experiences on the homestead are about all I handle timewise.
The podcasts will be shorter in duration and focused on our traditional homestead life. I’m giving up on having a recipe each and every time. I may still throw in a few here and there, but it won’t be a regular feature. The topics each week will revolve around life on the homestead and no longer contain educational content in exactly the same form. The educational aspect will be me sharing my personal learning experiences as well as stories about how we do things on our homestead and why.
The preparation for the large middle section of the podcast is the sticking point that stopped me from doing the rest of the podcast. It is a daunting task to come up with that content when I have so much else to do. So many other things require my attention. Therefore, I’m eliminating that block to my success and moving forward with what will works better for me and the homestead life.
I hope it will still be entertaining and educational for you. If not, I understand and will miss you. We all have to do what works best for us. Now, on to what is going on at the homestead followed by a vivid dream that I had. It has helped me get back on track with my goals.
Claire had her calf on April the 8th. Yet another bull. We named him Wendell. He is beautiful and healthy. Remember Luna. That’s Cloud’s calf that was born in November last year. She was out of sequence with our breeding schedule. We hope to gain a better handle on breeding beginning this year. We are trying artificial insemination for the first time. Anyway, Luna and Wendell are sharing space with the sheep. More on that later.
Artificial insemination is our next big learning curve in regards to cow animal husbandry. Our goal there is to use sexed semen so we get heifers instead of so many bulls. The reasoning there has several points. Number one is that we are trying to improve our herd genetics. Using artificial insemination is a good way to do that because we can choose the genetic traits in the bull that we are looking to cultivate in our herd. Also, with the sexed semen, we will be able to grow the herd without purchasing from other farms. There are multiple problems purchasing from other farms with the biggest one being the closest Normande dairy stock is somewhere in Wisconsin or Missouri. Lovely places but a long way for us to go to get a cow. I’ll share some of those learning experiences as they come up.
So far, we have acquired the semen and the tank in which to store it. We’ve hooked up with a person who can recharge the nitrogen tank. That was one of Scott’s adventures. Again, living remotely and having a very small operation limits the availability of lots of services others can easily obtain. It took lots and lots of phone calls over weeks of time to get that set up. Next will be the hands-on learning how to do the artificial insemination ourselves. I’ll keep you posted on that. I think we are set up to start that process in June or perhaps July. Again, Scott’s arena. He’ll let me know as the date comes closer.
Sheep and Goats
So Luna and Wendell are sharing space with the sheep. They are all away from the main part of the herd. Luna and Wendell have been weaned from their moms. Wendell is on a bottle and Luna is old enough that Cloud would have started kicking her off soon anyway. She is dining on grass.
The sheep are due to starting lambing around May 6th. I like to keep them close until that time is up. Newborn lambs are the epitome of skin and bones. They grow and put on weight quickly, but there is nothing to them when they exit the womb. Goat kids too. The first week of their life is very important. Once they get past that first week, they have a great chance of making it all the way to adulthood.
A couple of years ago we started giving the sheep ewes and goat does a supplement just before their lambing and kidding dates. In this part of the country the soil is deficient in selenium. It’s an important nutrient for muscles. The goat kids were particularly susceptible to what is called white muscle disease. Sometime during the first week of their life, all of a sudden, they cannot get up. Their muscles simply don’t work. Goat kids are the greatest at hiding. They are nearly impossible to find when they have gone off to sleep somewhere. So you can see the problem. They can’t get up and nurse and we can’t find them. We noticed that each year in that first week of life, quite a few goat kids would go missing and we thought that predators were the problem. But no. It was nutrition.
I happened to catch sight of one that was too weak to stand up. This was a few years ago. Maybe three years ago. I quickly scooped him up, caught mom up and set up some temporary housing for them. Then, I got out a few of the books we have and started looking for what could be the problem. Called the vet and got even more information there. After that phone call, I immediately began giving the doe a feed supplement that was fortified with selenium. That nutrition would pass through her milk to him. We kept mom and kid in a small dog cage so we didn’t lose track of that kid. I milked her out a little and fed him by hand at first. Within a day, he was better and within about 5 days he was back on his feet and growing rapidly. He was finally getting the nutrition he needed via his mom’s milk. After that learning experience, every year at kidding and lambing time, they get that same feed supplement. We are a grass-based operation for the most part, but are perfectly willing to use any scientific advancement as needed for the health of our animals.
Again, after the first week or so, those lambs and kids are good to go and we stop feeding the supplement. Moms go back to 100% grass-based nutrition. We have been very successful with out lambs and kids since making that change. All that long story to explain why those sheep are right outside my living room window where I can keep an eye out for when the babies are arriving. I can assist as needed and the view of those beautiful animals grazing is the highlight of my day during this time of year.
Once this isolation stuff is done with, we will be having on-farm tours. I hope to schedule them around the time these lovely little babies are being born and the first couple of months afterwards. You will never see a cuter site than a lamb jumping straight up and down. They only do it for a few months, but it is just delightful to watch. Just about dusk seems to be their cue to set that frolicking into motion. Looking forward to that in the next month or so.
Speaking of new babies, the quail eggs I saved a little while back went into what we call “lockdown”. I take out the automatic egg turner and lay the eggs on the bottom of the incubator in anticipation of the hatching within a day or two. I literally expect to hear peeping tomorrow morning. They will be shut up in there for 3 days from the time the first one hatches. We are waiting for the rest of the eggs to hatch and need to keep the lid closed. The temperature and humidity must remain constant during this critical time. We have 48 eggs in there. I’ll let you know how that goes in the next podcast.
Moving on to the garden. Scott has worked very diligently on getting the ground mulch put back in place. It washed out so badly during the winter. But the walking paths are now completely covered again in mulch. That keeps the weeds out of the paths.
The next new thing we are trying in the garden is using woven ground cover to keep the weed population under control. Good weed control is essential for healthy plants. Healthy plants are much more resistant to pests and diseases.
The bulk of the planting is still a couple of weeks away. I can start some things next week. Already I need to repot my tomato seedlings. I have 40 something plants that will get planted out in the garden sometimes around the middle to end of May. But right now, they are growing very well and need more soil and space. A task for another day. Not today.
I also have lots of peppers – both hot and sweet. Those need to be repotted as well. I’m growing celery and onion starts. Those move along much more slowly but they are both healthy and doing well.
A new garden adventure for me this year is growing lots of culinary herbs. I use lots of herbs in cooking but they are dried herbs for the most part unless I make a special trip to town to go to the grocery store. I’m looking forward to learning how to grow some of my favorites.
Right now, I have starts for sweet basil, cilantro, parsley, thyme, oregano, and mint. I’ve tried twice to sprout rosemary with no success so far. I may have to get a cutting of that to get started. Another bright idea I had was to make a grouping of these plants and sell them at the farmer’s market for your home herb gardens. That’s not going to happen this year. The farmer’s market is very limited in how they operate at the moment. And I think that when we do get back into full swing, the opportunity for those sales will be long past. Oh well, there is always next year.
Let’s talk about the creamery. We are into our fourth year of creating this building from the ground up. I say “we” but it is Scott that is doing it. He is so amazing.
He has taken a break from getting the roof on over the barn and milking parlor. Because we are in milk and I’m making lots of cheese, we need storage space. The small cooler is getting closer and closer to being ready to house some of that cheese. It will open up so many possibilities once I have more space.
Waxing cheeses has been the method of choice for aging up until this point. That’s mainly because I couldn’t control the humidity and the cheese would get too dry if I tried to grow a natural rind. That’s about to change. In a space created specifically for aging cheese, controlling humidity is part of the building design. I’m so excited to try some new things in the new cheese cave.
Once small caveat there. Scott has injured the thumb on his right hand and can’t really grip anything or wield a hammer. Cloud got a little upset a day or two ago and kicked him during milking. We are working with her to get her calmed back down. I’ll talk more about that next time. It’s just another challenge on the homestead. Anyway, Scott is now modifying what he can and cannot do. I’m getting more help around the house but I think he would rather be completing that project. I believe he said it might be a couple of weeks before his hand is healed enough to continue with construction. What will he do with himself?
Perhaps he will make cheese. He really likes to make cheese. Last year he was putting those block walls up and only made cheese three times. I know that because he makes the cheddar. And he makes a great cheddar. We had three, giant 25-pound cheddar wheels. I think we are on the second one. It is nearing a year of aging and OMG it is so good.
I’m making cheese at least once a week. Maybe Scott will make one each week as well. As soon as Buttercup and Butter have their calves we will be drowning in milk and making lots and lots of cheese. It’s a beautiful thing.
Pressure like that helps me get back on track if I’ve strayed from the goals. Additionally, I had this really great dream that came from a new process that I started a couple of weeks ago. It’s really working for me and I want to share it with you. Perhaps it will help you as well.
Getting Back on Track – a Recipe For Success
First let me tell the dream and then I’ll talk about my recent experiences that led to having the dream.
I went to visit a female friend. Friend was “off track”. I believe it was in regards to her diet. Not necessarily a weight loss diet. Simply her nutritional diet of choice which involves choosing some foods over others. She was not choosing according to her plan. I decided to help but didn’t know what I was going to do. I just decided and moved forward with my plan. My friend’s husband was there. I told him I was going to help her get back on track. He looked grateful. Looked at wife with supportive expression and said, “see you later. Have fun!” He had complete trust in me being able to make a difference in her life.
I still didn’t know what to do but I really wanted to help her. She was off her diet and couldn’t seem to get back on track. She was suffering from continuous beating herself up, berating herself and generally giving up. She was experiencing the “what’s the use” thought pattern. I told her we were going to walk through this together.
The dream switched to a room full of tables of food. We walked from table to table, looking and smelling food. At each luscious food dish, we would say together “maybe tomorrow, but not today.” This was the key. No restriction. The food was absolutely available as a choice. But the choice was deferred. “Maybe tomorrow, but not today.” She repeated it like a mantra.
That’s the end of the dream and it was pretty clear to me what it meant for me. You see, the problem is the restriction. I have found this to be true of all things that I am resisting. When someone tells me I can’t have something or can’t do something, immediately my mind goes into overdrive and incessant desire to have or do the thing that is forbidden. I know, pretty childish right? It is indeed childish. It is a learned behavior from childhood and this kind of deeply ingrained response can really interfere with daily adult life. It gets me off track.
For me, getting off track starts really, really small and then grows. Pretty quickly it grows exponentially. What I choose to eat is where I fall off the wagon most often. Well, that and exercise and household tasks and doing marketing for the business. Okay, it all snowballs together. I don’t know about you but I tend to berate myself as I make bad choices. I even watch myself leaning toward those bad choices, tell myself I know it’s a bad choice – – – and then I do it anyway. It can be a real downhill spiral from there. I am an awful person for knowing how to make a better choices and then not doing it. That reaffirms to me that I am an awful person. Awful people make awful choices so I’ll just do it again. I’m powerless against my own mind and on and on and on. The downward spiral will eventually get me to a place of hopelessness. I’m hopeless that I will ever be a good person and make good choices.
So, these are all character judgements by me about me. Perhaps you can relate to this. Maybe for you it is screwing up your really great job because you just can’t seem to get it together. Maybe it’s your relationship. You know what you need to do, but you just keep doing what you have been doing, all the while knowing it is the wrong thing to do. Or maybe you have set yourself a goal to pay off all your debts and save money to build your own homestead. But darn, you really want that new car and that fantastic outfit and a great trip to Europe and so on. You keep spending your money instead of saving it. Perhaps getting even more indebted. The complete opposite of what you say you want. You know the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
Actually, when the hopelessness enters the picture, you don’t really expect a different outcome. And in a way, it’s a great place to be. There is nowhere to go but up. And the way back up is similar to the way down. It will start with a very small choice, then a bigger choice, and a bigger choice and so on until you are roaring with strength and confidence.
But what starts the cycle? What is the driving force that compels you to make that first unproductive choice – and on the other end, the first productive choice? It’s freedom. It’s the freedom you give yourself to make that choice.
Let me explain a little. I’ll use binge eating as an example as that is my biggest issue. But the principle applies to many areas of my life. What happens to me is that I tell myself I can’t have certain things. Sweets, of course. Or bread. Or chips. And when I demand that kind of abstinence from myself, there is a childish backlash that begins to build. There is a small voice in the back of my head that says, “but I really, really want it.” That voice gets stronger and stronger until it finally takes gets me to take that first taste – just a taste mind you – of the forbidden fruit. Immediately, the weakness begins to step in. What I mean by that is the self-recrimination. It’s small at first. The “cheat” was small. But the next one is larger and the self-recrimination gets larger. And the larger it gets, the smaller the disciplined voice gets and the louder the voice of judgement gets. They feed on one another. The restriction gets harder and harder to maintain. The rebellion gets louder and louder until it breaks free. That’s what I mean about freedom.
Now what if I got to that same place without the judgement? What if I gave myself the freedom to eat absolutely anything I want at any time that I want? What would happen? The fear, of course, is that I would start eating everything in sight. However, if I follow my actions and not my thoughts, I begin to see that I am already there. I’m eating anything I desire as soon as the desire arises. And I haven’t given myself the freedom to do that. I’ve done it in rebellion against a perceived restriction.
Here’s what I am learning to do. Stop. Take a deep breath. Focus on the positive aspects of my nature. Starve the negative judgements. And I only have to do it for a second. Then I can have a rational conversation with myself. And it goes like this. “I could do that. Yes, I could. But not today. Maybe tomorrow. But not today.” And as above, small success is key. If I can stall myself for a few minutes, the urge passes. I didn’t restriction myself. I simply made a small choice to put it off for a day. I can look forward to doing the forbidden tomorrow. I’m not restricted from it. The next day, I can test myself again. And with each successful choice, I get stronger. I feel I am in control of my life. I’m okay that I can make really bad choices if I want. I’m no longer judging myself. It is the judgment that is the problem.
Trying to aggressively control everything inevitably leads to being out of control. Allowing all choices to be valid choices without judgement creates freedom. There is empowerment – being in charge of your life – even your own inner evil self cannot sabotage you.
Think of the times in your life where you have procrastinated or overindulged. Either of these actions is generally a response to restriction. Procrastination is a self-imposed restriction against doing something and overindulgence is a rebellion against a perceived outside restriction on doing something. In either case, the easiest way that I have found to get past it is to repeat to myself over and over, “maybe tomorrow, but not today”. Maybe tomorrow I’ll play video games on the computer, but not today. Today I have tasks that need to be completed. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have ice cream, but not today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take a day off from exercise, but not today. And so on.
This is a simple and easy mind trick technique that works for me. The hardest part of using this technique was, and still is, remembering to think it or say it out loud. By the way, saying it out loud is much stronger. Saying it out loud to another person is stronger yet.
Do you ever find yourself displaying this kind of childish stubbornness? This technique may work for you. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
I said the podcasts would be much shorter and now I’ve gone on and on. I could judge myself for that but instead I’m simply going to end it here. I have got to get some housecleaning done. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go for a recreational and peaceful walk instead of staring at a list of unpleasant tasks, but not today. Today the bathroom needs to be cleaned.
I hope you will enjoy the new format and continue to come along with my journey on the homestead life. There is always so much going on in my life and in my mind and I love sharing it with you. Living the traditional life is the best thing that I have ever created. The mental, emotional and physical challenges are still there in abundance. I can get tired of the daily slog and want to give it all up. Then I get up, dust myself off and get back on track. It’s what makes me happy and successful. No matter where you are in life, you can get back on track with your goals. Maybe tomorrow you can go back to being a child for a little while, but not today. Today you will fulfill your potential.
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Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.
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