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 the darlings on our farm is sweet Clementine. This old girl is, well, just that…. the granny on our farm. You’ve got to start somewhere when you embark on any journey in life, and she pretty much represents when our raw milk story took the ginormous step from simple consumption to full throttle buy in.
Clementine was my birthday present more than 10 years ago, and our second milk cow. We were still ‘young’ in the learning about all things cow, handmilking, etc. Dairy cow husbandry is equal parts skill, art, instinct, commitment and passion. If you find you lack in any of these areas (as many do), your stint as a dairy cow guardian will likely be short lived. Mistakes, ignorance, or lack of commitment can easily cost a cow her life…. or at the very least, permanent damage to her udder.
In the beginning, I read books, watched videos, talked to everyone who knew anything about handmilking dairy cows. We ‘hired’ a teenage homeschooled young man to teach us hands on rudimentary skills and very basic knowledge of dairy cow care when we bought our first handmilked Jersey from his family. Bonnie (short for Mooey Bonita) was a pretty girl and, by cow standards, pretty patient with our ignorance. We learned much from her. (She was with us for several years before unexpectedly passing away in the middle of the night.)
Owning one dairy cow does not make you an expert. Heck, honestly, it was a few years before I felt like we had ranked up from beginner to novice. It was about that time that we decided to expand our herd of one. This time, we felt like we ‘knew what we were doing’ when we drove 4 hours south to buy a cow which was part of a herd of culled commercial dairy cows. The owner of this herd was a woman who likely recognized that we were blissfully ignorant when it comes to cow shopping (much like a used car salesman probably perceives a first time car buyer…. with a mixture of glee and predatory guile).
Clementine was huge! She is a big Jersey….. but I’m talking about her udder in this case. Not just large… but massive. We commented on how big her udder was, and our cow salesperson told us that the reason for that was because she was still in milk production.
“Notice the large and long teats (a good thing), and the placement of them (also a good thing)….. and only ‘probably’ 5 years old. ” ….. all important amenities of a handmilked cow.
We were told she would be an excellent source of bountiful and copious amounts of milk. Just look at her udder size. Clearly. The poor girl looked like a bovine version of Dolly Parton. Thinking we had just hit the white gold jackpot, we wrote our check, loaded her up, and headed home, really having no idea what we had just bought.
Despite our ignorance, Clementine turned out to be an enormous blessing, and our experience with her has allowed us to rank up from novice to advanced proficiency in all things ‘dairy cow’. An animal raised in a commercial farming industry (as she had been), does not usually receive daily rations of kindness and compassion. They are viewed as a commodity and either an asset or liability. If they fall below the line distinguishing those two, then they are typically sold or destroyed. There is no room for ‘slackers’ in the the factory farming business.
Clementine’s udder was her downfall, AND her saving grace. We found out much later that her enormous udder was a physical defect caused by laxity of the suspensory ligaments. What we thought was a goldmine (her udder) was, in actuality, the reason she was culled from the commercial dairy herd. It was actually a time bomb. The lower an udder hangs, the greater the odds of mastitis due to injury (kicking herself as she walks), and the harder it is for a calf to nurse. Had we not purchased her, she likely would have been sent to the processor.
Like bygone versions of Miss America pagents, dairy cows are given scores on their udders…. only the opposite is true. Bigger is not better, and will, in fact, get you culled. In her case, Clementine had maxed out the scale (a 5 is rated as the worst).
When we bought her (and her defective udder), we only saw a sweet faced cow that looked our way when the other cows in the herd wanted nothing to do with us. We saw a cow that was willing to learn to be handmilked if we were willing to give her a chance. True, we also thought we had a pretty darn special udder attached to that cow….. not knowing that it was ‘special’ in a totally different way.
I’m not even sure when I realized we had been duped, but it was probably a couple of years into our life with her. Just like women have different bra sizes, cow udders are…. well, ‘udderly’ different from one another. Bonnie was an average ‘B’ cup when not in milk, but Clementine…… her udder just seemed to stay ‘DDD’ regardless of the season. The internet is a wonderful thing, and sometimes you just don’t know what to look for until you start looking. Curiosity got the best of me on this topic, and that’s when I found out (and narrowly avoiding a few rounds of mastitis in the process) what her problem was. Secondly, she was also at least a few years older than we had been told at the time of sale.
And yet. Thank God we picked Clementine and her defective udder. She has been the advanced training guide we needed …. life isn’t simple or easy when it comes to cows, and Bonnie had been both of those. We had no issues, and didn’t really have any concept of what warning signs, symptoms, and dysfunction might look like. Experience is a powerful educator. I’ve honed my holistic animal husbandry skills considerably in the last decade (thank goodness for Young Living oils and Animal Scents Ointment!). But in addition to the considerable education that sharing our lives with Clementine has granted us, she has proven to be a remarkable ‘spokescow’ for the family milk cow world. She is beautiful, photogenic, paintably cute, Miss Congeniality, and…. above all else….. kind. She has been a tremendous mother and auntie to calves, and is quite the greeter on our farm.
Last year, it became obvious that her udder simply could not take another pregnancy. One the scale of 1-5, her udder was a 9. By our calculations, her estimated age is around 18 (the average lifespan of a commercial dairy cow is 5-7yrs.)
I’ve posted about the realities of farm life on my blog, but there are times when emotions defy logic and financial prudence. No worries ya’ll…… Clementine is here to stay. She is one of our mascots……. Still ‘aunt-ing’ calves, still greeting, and ready to photobomb whenever she can. We are making her retirement as comfortable as possible for her. A discussion with a vet at Texas A&M rejected the possibility of an ‘udder reduction’ surgery (way too risky). Her udder is pendulous,perilous, and ultimately, it probably will cost her her life someday.
Awhile back, one of our friends jokingly sent me an article on ‘cow cuddling‘, apparently the newest thing in psychotherapy. Believe me, I think there’s merit to it. Clementine, among others, are probably what keep me sane some days! Heck, at an average going rate of $300/ 90minute session (according to the article), maybe she’d be interested in a late in life career change?!?!? It’s never too late to teach an old cow new tricks!
Hugs and Love, Liz (and Clementine)
*Kudos to Kim Guthrie Art for our artwork. (Doesn’t she do amazing custom work?)
Yesterday, while at work in the pharmacy, we got official word of a voluntary recall on several brands of valsartan containing medications. A voluntary recall means that the drug company requests that products be pulled from the pharmacy shelves, and selling of that product cease immediately until new product is issued. It does not extend to the consumer level. You can read more about the recall itself here.
Recalls like this happen every so often in pharmacy, and are not usually call for alarm unless it happens to be one that extends to the customer level (not the case this time). That said, media caught wind of it and began reporting on the recall, causing fear and worry amongst customers who are on this particular blood pressure medication. I began and ended my pharmacy day yesterday fielding these many calls from customers who were fearful of continuing their medication even one more day, now that this information was known.
Once you know something, you can’t un-know it.
The cause of the recall? It became known that one of the ingredients used in this particular medication is a ‘probable’ cancer causing agent. (Ironically, one of the people I spoke to was a smoker. SMH!) Now, before you start calling your pharmacy wondering what you are supposed to do if you are on valsartan, let’s take a look at the facts:
Visit the American Cancer Society website, you’ll see a list of these ‘probable (and known) cancer causing agents’ that people unwittingly use and allow into their lives.
Once you know something, you can’t un-know it.
I would advise stopping reading now if you want to remain blissfully unaware, because I’m about to give you the lowdown on just a few items on the FDA/EPA list.
Seriously. Stop now.
Here are just a few offenders from the long list:
Giving you examples of known and probable carcinogens could easily consume my day, because this list just goes on and on and on.…… and ultimately I will bore you to tears (or wake you up to what you likely have in your home).
I’m hoping by now you see my frustration in yesterday’s moment of media hyped hysteria over the valsartan recall. Of course it should have been recalled, but friends…… we have much larger fish to fry if we are going to worry about this.
I would venture to guess that each person I spoke to about the recall yesterday has more than 100+ known carcinogenic products in their home and garage that they willingly (but perhaps unwittingly) choose to expose themselves to on a daily basis.
If you didn’t listen to me, and read this post to completion, you’ve got some decisions to make. What you can’t choose tho, is to now ‘un-know what you now know‘. Knowing gives you personal responsibility for the skin in the game (your own) and begs the next question….. what are you going to do about it?
Reality is this: It’s not possible to avoid every carcinogenic or body damaging product out there, but there IS so much we CAN do to avoid the majority of them within our own home. There are also many ways to encourage detoxification of the body cheaply, effectively, and holistically.
If this post has you thinking that maybe it is time to wake up and clean up, I’d encourage you to start small in big ways. Get the ‘standard’ household cleaners out of your home…. one by one. When you run out of a product, don’t buy that junk again. Consider switching to Thieves Cleaner (a completely healthy way to clean).
Get the candles and formaldehyde laced air fresheners out of your home, and replace them with healthy diffusers. I promise…. you’ll sleep better, be happier, have fewer headaches, and….. if you diffuse the right oils, you’ll even boost your immune system and provide positive emotional support. This trumps possible and probable carcinogenic loaded products any day. Science backs this ya’ll….. as a pharmacist, I wouldn’t be here if it didn’t.
The cosmetic industry is rife with concerning chemicals. Use up what you have, but as you get close to needing more, consider ‘clean’ skin care and makeup. Yes, it does exist. I’d love to send you a few samples of whatever you’d like to see or try that is not only beautiful, but also loaded with health promoting ingredients. Ever heard of Savvy Minerals? If not, you are missing out.
This is one of the (many) things I love about Young Living. They stand in the gap for us where other companies do not. Scouring labels for toxins was time consuming and the print is small and fine (purposefully I think). I know I am taken care of safely with whatever I purchase for my family and our farm, and that we are taking personal responsibility for us….. because clearly, the governmental entities, are not doing enough of it.
If you’d like to learn more about living a more carcinogenic free life, please feel free to private message me.
I am not perfect in my walk, but I’ve done it now for much of my adult life and would be happy to walk with you as you begin your journey. It’s never too late to start.
Hugs and love ~ Liz
(You can reach me privately thru this link)
I love the long days of summer! I can get so much done outside because of the length of daylight we’ve got here in the south. However, long days of daylight eventually begin to wreak havoc on my hours spent sleeping…. and that eventually begins to take its toll on me.
I know several of you suffer from chronically deprived sleep patterns that may be caused by attempting to utilize every last drop of daylight….. but many are sleep deprived for other reasons …. and frequently those are health related. If you struggle with sleep, pop in all next week…. (beginning Saturday actually), and I’ll uncover some facts that may surprise you, along with tips that may help you reclaim your ZZZZZZ.
See you soon!
Have you ever felt like you were at a crossroads in your life? I’m not talking about a midlife crisis, but rather something bigger and more profound.
About 3 years ago, we took a pretty long road trip to pick up a bull in a remote (VERY REMOTE) area in West Texas. I mean…… drive to the very edge of civilization and then head 3 hours further…..the kind of remote that requires a physical map instead of cell phone/ GPS service. Without a map or good navigational tools, you’re sunk kind of remote. As you might guess, we confidently drove down the road….. in the wrong direction because we thought we knew where we were going. It cost us about 3 extra hours that day. We were reminded the value of an old school map and a dose of intuition!
This kind of parallels the last 15+ years of my life. I have been a pharmacist since 1991. I graduated, and like most health professionals…. upon graduation…… was pretty sure I had a really good grasp of the profession. I’m not saying I was God’s gift to pharmacy (hardly!), but I certainly thought I knew enough to make a difference in people’s lives. I toodled along in pharmacy doing the absolute best job I could do (because that’s my nature….. never tackle anything halfway).
When I was in my 30’s I thought we were living the dream. Charlie and I both had good jobs, had bought our farm, and had begun building our home (by hand, ourselves…. because that’s how we do things…. with all our heart and soul). We worked super hard…. 40-60 hrs a week at our respective jobs and then swung hammers and wielded paint brushes on nights and weekends for about 3 years before completing our home. It was somewhere during that time that I broke my wrist, was subsequently diagnosed with osteopenia , and both Charlie and I were diagnosed with high cholesterol. In hindsight, that broken wrist was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I won’t go into great detail (you can read more about that journey here and the second half here), but it was a big fat hairy road sign to stop and assess what I thought I knew.
That broken wrist reopened a different avenue of education for me…. only this time, it was not subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry and there was some skin in the game…. my own. When you are a pharmacist, you’re in the business of knowing side effects of meds. The good news is…. you know the potential side effects. The bad news is…. you know the potential side effects. I wasn’t willing to go down that road given the med options they were dangling in front of me. My gut said no way, and once my research started it changed my life forever. It all began with raw milk. From there, my research extended into finding access to truly healthy and healing foods. Each time I thought I knew enough, I found that more pieces to health puzzles were MIA…. not just my puzzle, but everyone else’s too.
About the same time, I went to work at a pharmacy that specialized in rare diseases, oncology, auto-immune disorders, and infertility (which frequently has an auto-immune component). Sadly, this pharmacy represented the outcome of people living in toxin filled environments. Silly me. I still thought I was helping people. I guess I was. Kindness matters, especially when you are dealing with life altering body dysfunctions….. but kindness and pharmaceuticals don’t dissolve the problems these patients face every day.
Another personal puzzle piece fell into place after I was diagnosed with something called interstitial cystitis and discovered (after 9 years of no REM sleep and frequent trips to the bathroom), that it could be managed well with a fresh and healthy, but limited, diet. Expensive medication and daily catheterization are the common treatments. Ummm, no thank you. I would later learn that IC is part of the autoimmune disorder family. Not surprisingly, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the USA are card carrying autoimmune disorder patients. I had been given my card.
Eight years ago, my dad was diagnosed with dementia. It made no sense to me and we had no family history of dementia. I backtracked the onset to a statin drug (commonly prescribed for high cholesterol). In the finest of the fine print of this class of drugs you will find information alluding to possible memory loss with these drugs. Dig deeply and you’ll find it. I thank God for leading me to raw milk to lower my cholesterol instead of that which stole my dad’s memory. I don’t blame the pharmaceutical industry for burying the whole ‘memory loss’ side effect in the fine print. I mean, would you want to take a drug that could potentially rob you of your memory as a side effect? Ummmm, no thank you.
By now, I’ve truly begun second guessing pharmaceuticals. I began educating myself on everything I could get my hands on that gave honest and documented proof that maybe what I knew wasn’t EVERYTHING…… that perhaps there were some gaps in my education and knowledge base. I dug deep deep deep into gut health and discovered the link to most autoimmune disorders. I studied sleep patterns, herbs, thyroid and hormones. I picked up yoga and began healing my posture and my stress level. That led to my recent certification (7 years later) as a Christian yoga instructor.
I had a life changing accident 3 years ago this week, and (eventually… after a 3 month recovery) walked out of it when I should have been an amputee. Last week I walked a 37 minute 5K with many close friends. Thank God. Despite the severity of my injury, I have no pain day to day and am not on any medication. I’ve got oils, supplements and a little thing called Dolphin MPS that rocked my recovery world so much so that I decided to begin taking classes so that I could help others as I was helped…. another tool in my toolbox that wasn’t related to pharmacy.
The last 18 years, by serendipity or Divine design (I believe the latter), I have been gathering tools to help people (myself included) heal physically and emotionally. What had started out as a mission to care for myself and my family gradually extended to include friends and strangers who have become dear friends. The more truth in healing I gleaned, the more uncomfortable I became in my white lab coat. Back in the day, we took an oath to do no harm (that oath has been changed and no longer includes that phrase).
Once you know something, you can’t unknow it.
I have grown uncomfortable in my pharmacist skin (and coat)….. able to speak only truths that are approved talking points regulated by the pharmaceutical industry.
Once I found that there are better, safer, more life sustainable ways to heal, it became harder and harder to deny people access to these opportunities in wellness……. because they exist for the taking.
Every day, people make unconscious choices that affect their health….. making poor food choices, drinking chemically treated water, watching too much media and not exercising enough…. taking meds without researching them thoroughly first. They think a pill will solve their ills. I’m here to tell you that medications are simply adding to the already hefty toxin load within all of us. The heavier the load, the sicker the individual.
I’ve had several people in the last many months call me a healer. I don’t claim that moniker. I feel more like a shepherd, leading those who are thirsty to a safe place to drink, eat, and rest. It gives me great peace, and it makes my heart sing a song it’s never sung before.
I have straddled both worlds now for many years, and being true to myself is becoming increasingly difficult despite the six figure income that comes with the white coat. I fill prescriptions for people I have grown to love in the community, knowing that they can be helped in other ways that actually heal. I respect my duty as a pharmacist and do not step outside that boundary……but I feel God’s hand firmly on my back telling me to Go. Do. Become. Shepherd those I send your way.
And so I prayed. “Lord, if it is your will, send me those who need me.” I began praying this daily about 5 months ago. God has a sense of humor. I’m sure of it. About a month ago, I had to alter my prayer a tiny bit. ” Lord, if it is your will, can I have a little breather so I can adequately help those you sent so far? ” God is so very good.
I would have never in a million years guessed that I would step away from pharmacy more than halfway thru my career. Pharmacy has taught me so much. Perhaps most importantly, it has given me the gift of scientific discernment: the ability to understand fact from fiction or skewed data.
When I was a young pup out of pharmacy school, I thought my life was set on auto pilot. I couldn’t have been more wrong. God took me down a completely different path, guiding me and giving me tools along the way: pharmacy, nutrition, exercise, yoga, health coaching, scientific based knowledge of essential oils, supplements, and herbs, Dolphin MPS, and most importantly the empathy acquired from personal experiences.
God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.
Here’s to the journey! I can’t wait to see what the second half of my life holds.
Hugs and love, Liz
PS: I am not completely stepping away from the pharmacy just yet. You will still see me in a white coat one or two days a week.
Well. This morning started off with a bang. Literally. I was not sure whether to name this post “Family First”, “Farm Life Reality Part II” or the above title.
About 6:30am I heard a very specific series of barks. For those of you who are well tuned in to your dog(s), you know exactly what each bark means. Our dogs have some very specific ones:
As soon as I heard it, I flew out of the house wondering which enemy it was. When I rounded the corner on the back side of the property I knew we had a situation that wasn’t going to end well. Lily, our livestock guard dog, had backed a coyote into a corner (between fences), and no way was she going to stand down. Lily is an Akbash, a dog very similar to a Great Pyrenees, but in my mind, a far superior LGD for many reasons (another post for another day). These dogs are not fighters, although pressed to do so, they will defend themselves and will kill if necessary. No, their instinctive drive is to protect their family at all costs using intimidation first, and force as a backup if necessary.
We do not kill predators for the sport of it, but if we have one threatening our farm family, we will not hesitate. It is a rare day that we pull out a gun and use it for this purpose, but this morning, it was necessary. We have shot sick skunks and poisonous snakes. Coyotes, although they live all around us, generally stay off our property thanks to the dogs. This one had gotten brave, and that’s not good. A brave coyote will find a food source and then our farm becomes Luby’s cafeteria for she and her friends. This means that our chickens, our cats and kittens, and even our calves and smaller dogs become potential meals…… not to mention vet bills that start rolling in as our LGD’s have to sometimes engage the enemy in battle.
Today did not end well for this coyote, and it was stressful for Lily too. She would not back down even tho she is terrified of guns. She held the coyote at bay, and Charlie shot it. Lily scrambled back to the porch, shaking…… not because of the coyote, but because of the gunshot.
Lily prefers to spend her time outdoors guarding her farm-ily……unless there is thunder, fireworks, or gunfire in our area. Any of those, and she’s at the door begging to be let in (which we do). This said, I was concerned about her response to gunfire literally that close to her.
Young Living has an oil that is well used and loved by those who know it: Stress Away. I would venture to say that several million bottles of this relaxing blend have been used and relied upon over the years. It is one of my favorite oils, and for a very good reason too…. it is my ‘go to’ in times of stress. Consequently, I keep a bottle in my purse, and one in my lab coat at work, as well as one on my desk at home. It is literally like letting out a gentle sigh of relief simply by applying it to the neck and wrists.
Now, this morning, while the situation was an elevated one, it was not as stressful for me as say….. driving in Dallas traffic during rush hour…… or working in an intensely busy pharmacy with not enough help (Frankly, that’s waaay more stressful than the previous scenario!). Poor Lily, however, WAS stressed… not from the coyote, but from the gunfire.
So, after all was said and done, I slathered our hard working girl up with Stress Away and gave her some extra special loving for the good job she had done. Young Living oils are amazing for many reasons, not the least of which is that they work just as well (if not even better) on animals as they do on humans. I believe this is because animals have no preconceived notions about what therapeutic oils can and cannot do. They either work, or they don’t for our four legged friends…. but in my experience, they nearly always do.
I am happy to report, that after about 30 minutes, Lily had a very spoiled breakfast (with treats), AND she had no interest in coming inside to recover from the gunfire. In fact, she spent the rest of the morning laying in the midst of the chickens, guarding her peeps. I’d say both she and Stress Away did their jobs well this morning!
Hugs and love from the farm y'all…. Life goes on. ~ liz
A couple of weeks ago, I left a post on my Wellness Prepper’s Facebook page that is really the ‘middle’ of this story of mine. If you know me, you know that I am a lover of animals… I connect with them in ways that most people do not. That said, the evolution of my life (and my thought processes) will likely not make much sense without an explanation. Explanations can answer questions, open a can of worms, or do both. I don’t dread talking about this topic one on one, but writing to the masses who have no idea how much heart I put into caring for my animals is a scary thing indeed. So, that said, I ask you to read onward with a thoughtful mind.
I believe in doing the right thing and living my life transparently. I am what you see and strive to be the same person in all situations. There is no ‘work personality’, ‘farm personality’, ‘church personality’ etc. One of my strongest traits is that of a protector. If I see a wrong, I work towards making it right….. ESPECIALLY if I realize I may have inadvertantly been part of the problem thru lifestyle, ignorance, or social design. (This post is not about my ‘pharm’ life, but this trait has been the driving force behind my personal growth in holistic well care as kind of kismetic gift to those in my world who have struggled with health solutions because they were led to belive that only western medicine philosophy held the right answers).
Nope. This post is about my farm life, and all that it represents. We do a large amount of animal rescue, and have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars caring for those animals who otherwise would not be given a chance. We have foregone so much ‘free time’ that I can’t even imagine what it would be like NOT to have the beautiful responsibility of caring for all the unique lives God entrusted us. I cry (believe me, I CRY) every time we lose a life around here… my heart breaks. God patches it with His presence, and I move on. In farming, when an animal is involved, there is going to be death. Sometimes it is a natural death (common within our poultry flock…. we lose one every so often to natural causes), and sometimes it is a pre-ordained destiny. This is the case with the male offspring of our dairy cows.
Before you throw me under the bus (or tractor), please hear me out. I refuse to be an intentional hypocrit in my life, and strive to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. As a world, we cannot avoid meat products and byproducts. Unless you are the most concientious vegan on the planet, your daily life likely incorporates multiple beef byproducts in it:
So you see, some of these are daily use items we simply cannot avoid. Yes, I agree… there should be a vegan solution for all of them, and in some cases there are… but in many cases, there is not. I certainly respect those who live a vegan lifestyle, but the reality is….. nobody on this planet is fully vegan.
The second part of the equation is this…. if you are a carnivore, are you an educated one? Unless you are eating humanely raised meat, do you have any idea of the quality of life an animal leads from birth to death? For the vast majority, life is uncomfortable, unnatural, stressful, and without kindness. It is easier to block this from your mind, and so most people do. They prefer to pick up their packaged meat and blind themselves as to how it arrived at the store. Feedlot raised animals and Factory Farming are abhorrent practices that should be outlawed…. but they’re not.
I once was blind, but now I see.
I challenge you to click on the link above to learn the facts, and I believe you will understand the message I am trying to convey here. The vast majority of farm animals are treated as objects. Their lives have no value in the eyes of the beholder (unless you are talking about $/lb hanging weight). There is no appreciation for the life that is sacrificed so that the consumer can eat a hamburger or steak, and certainly not for the lesser things…. the glue, binder, ointments, etc.
This is NOT the case on our farm.
We can be part of the problem, and turn a blind eye, or we can be part of the solution, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. For in our discomfort, we are compassionate.
When a bull calf is born, we celebrate his healthy birth, but with a bit of sadness. One of the byproducts of our liquid gold (raw milk) sometimes is a bull calf. That bull calf will eventually be old enough, after living a well loved life, grazing without fear in our pasture, with no stress, plenty of space, and with a small herd. He will have plenty of natural forage to eat, fresh water to drink, and shelter from the elements. He will be able to enjoy the sunshine, and will play with his peers. Life will be good. Believe it or not, I begin praying for him and thanking God for his healthy birth, and for the sacrifice he will be made so that some of our friends can have healthy and safe meat (grass fed, nonGMO, hormone free, antibiotic free, chemical free). We have hand chosen the processor we use. He is one of the few animal welfare approved processsors in this area of Texas. The end comes without stress for him. As for me, I drive them myself. It is a rough trip, and I cannot say it is stress free for me, because still…. my heart breaks. I say prayers of thanksgiving the entire 140 miles round trip. Do I enjoy this aspect of farming? Heck no. But this is reality… not just for us, but for everyone. We don’t condone what Factory Farming does, so we provide a better way for a small handful of cattle over our lifetime. Like the starfish principle…. we are making a difference to the ones we raise this way.
People have asked me how we can do this, and I respond…. how could we not? We could put our heads in the sand and sell the calves and pretend we don’t know what happens to them. For the record, most dairy calves end up at the sale barn unless they are replacement heifers. They also end up in veal cages (the worst case scenario for a calf). Our calves stay with their mama’s and are dam raised (as opposed to removed from their mama and given powdered milk replacer instead of the good stuff….. another common practice). They stay with them for several months before they are weaned.
The average dairy cow lives a life of about 5 years before being culled (that’s a nice way of saying killed). Our granny cow (retired) Clementine is somewhere around the age of 15. We have two more that are 7+ years old, with a long life in front of them. They have time to recover from each birth and milking season before repeating the process.
Walking the talk is not easy, but it is the right thing to do. It has given me the true meaning of praying over our meals, and the sacrifices it took to get it there. Mealtime prayers frequently get overlooked or understated. Rote. Not in our home.
I doubt this process will ever get easy for me, and I honestly, I hope it never does. Discomfort ensures compassion and gratitude, something we all need more of.
Hugs and Love, liz
Years ago, we discovered guineas as a pest control option. Initially, we got them because grasshoppers can be such an issue around here that gardening can be a challenge. We later discovered that they are also an incredible resource for controlling fleas and ticks. Both of these parasites can be the nemesis to anyone with furry pets, and if you live in the country, they can be especially problematic.
It has been years since I’ve even considered ticks as an issue because we’ve managed our property so well with these birds. Enter Daisy….. our dog we acquired thru adoption last year. No fence will hold Daisy in; she flies over a 5 foot fence with relative ease. Because of her genetic predisposition (she is a border collie / great Pyr cross) she has a strong drive to guard. The perimeter she has chosen includes high grass areas not patrolled by our tick eating fowl. Consequently, ticks have become an issue as we work to protect her (and us) from this disease-laden parasite.
I’ve heard from other sources that this is a particularly bad year in our area for ticks…….the vector to blame for transmitting several diseases, including Lyme disease, and (the new kid on the block)… a tick bite that can make you allergic to red meat. Treatment with antibiotics (for Lyme) is generally effective if caught quickly, but frequently, people get diagnosed much later after the initial tick bite…. and this can lead to lifelong health problems. You can read more about Lyme Disease here, or the tick bite induced meat allergy here.
Everyone’s situation is different, but I thought I’d give some practical tips on protecting yourself and your pets from these little vampires.
*If you live in the country, consider getting some guineas (If you are nearby, I’ve got plenty of adult birds right now, and will donate to your cause).
*Keep your property mowed. If you are like us, it’s not always possible to have your entire property mowed because of the size or terrain involved.
*Keep your pets clean, and consider adding some Cedarwood essential oil to their shampoo as a natural deterrent.
*In tick prone areas, make sure you are wearing long sleeves, long pants, and tucked in clothing. Wear a ball cap/hat to prevent ticks from dropping onto your head (they do fall from trees too).
*If you are an avid outdoor guy/gal, grab some safe bug repellent (one without toxins). Young Living makes a fantastic insect repellent that is incredibly effective. I have found that a quarter sized amount placed strategically on the neck, wrists, and ankles does a stellar job of warding off biting pests. Benefits include:
*Watch for ticks throughout the day, but especially before bathing… being sure to check all nooks and crannies! If you’ve been in a tick infested area, put clothing directly into the washing machine. After washing, dry on high heat for at least 60 minutes to ensure death of any wee little hitchhiking varmints.
If you find that you have been bitten by a tick…. do not panic! Simply remove the tick. Use a pair of tweezers and pull gently, making sure you also remove the biting part of the tick. I’ve read many discussions on using a drop of essential oil directly on the tick to force tick to back out. It is a firestorm discussion with opinions on both sides. I would feel comfortable using this removal technique, but please do your own research!
Once you’ve removed the tick, you’ve got a few options….. but DO NOT DESTROY THE EVIDENCE! Tick testing is ‘a thing’ now…. so you can always send it off, but testing sites do not claim 100% accuracy and it’s about 50$ per tick. If you choose to hang on to the little offender instead of sending its carcass off, put it in a baggie or small jar and throw it in the freezer for safekeeping….. just in case you have some weird symptoms that show up weeks/months later. That tick might come in handy for a proper diagnosis…. after all, these critters can give you a loading dose of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa… the likes of which we do NOT want. This brings me to the last point….. immune support.
Whenever I know that I am entering an environment loaded with ick, I always back up my immune system. Examples: flu season at work, every time I hop on a plane (1 out of every 5 people get off a plane with a new ‘souvenir’ they’ve acquired from recycled airplane air), or times when I am under abnormal stress/lack of sleep. I would list a tick bite as a time when immune support should occur….. after all, there is a lot of potential ‘ick’ in tick.
My two ‘go to’ products for immune support are Inner Defense, and Immupro. I use Immupro for daily immune support (taken at night before bed), and then reserve the big guns…. Inner Defense….when I feel I need to kick it up a notch. (Helpful hint: be sure to have some fatty food in your stomach when you take an Inner Defense… it does not do well on an empty stomach).
Truly tho, the best defense is a good offense….. which brings me back to my guineas, and the fact that I need to rehome some of my prolific pest patrollers…. Any of my local peeps want some? I’m your (farm)girl!
Hugs and love, Liz
Good morning friends! This is the time of year where things are fast and furious around here…. garden planting time, berry vineyard maintenance, etc…… all on top of our general busy lives.
Contrary to what you might think, my oasis of busy-ness is milking. The slow repitition is very ‘zen’. I use that time to pray, think, ponder, and enjoy the peace of it all. Honey (Elsa’s mama) has turned out to be an incredible mother and milk cow. I need to write about her story at some point. She and I really got thrown a curve ball when Elsa was born, and she truly rose to the challenge and has become a very special cow to me.
Hand milking is relaxing (it’s also a skill and requires a certain set of muscles most people don’t use). The sound of a cow quietly chewing her cud, and kittens playing. When the weather is right, it’s a perfect ‘bottle the moment’ time for me.
Our diverse animal family are cross species friends, and that makes for some amazing moments. I was able to catch some particular cuteness last week between our retired granny cow Clementine and Velcro (one of our two kittens). Velcro had started chasing Clementine’s tail, and Clementine let her do it….. in fact, even seemed to be encouraging her. The next thing I knew, Velcro had climbed up on top of Clementine….
(I had to stop milking to watch how this was going to play out). Once he got up there, I think Velcro suddenly realized he had a very comfortable perch. I was more concerned about Clementine getting up and accidentally stepping on Velcro in the process. Not to worry tho!…. her response was the sweetest thing to watch.
Velcro decided he was going to take some time to give himself a little spit bath.
Then he decided he was just going to hang out and enjoy the view for a bit. After a bit, he got down and continued to play all around Clementine. Clementine seemed to enjoy the attention, and when he ventured off, she actually stretched her neck out as far as it would go, low to the ground, in his direction, trying to get him to come back (he did).
They sat like this for quite awhile, and then I watched them do what I could only call an inter-species hug. Clementine very gently lowered her head and kind of hugged Velcro with her neck. Velcro, in response, put his little paw up and hugged her back. It was a completely adorable moment (and these pics do not even begin to do it justice). I wouldn’t trade moments like these for anything.
So if you need some cuteness to get you thru your Friday…. here ya go :)! Enjoy your day, and look for the beauty in life wherever you go. It’s everywhere!
Hugs and Love, liz
I am constantly amazed by God and all He has given us. He has given us everything we need from day ONE….. it was all there in the Garden…. and much he did with a little bit of humor and a wink. (I love that about Him…. he has a wry sense of humor at times!)
Pharmacy school has an elective class or two in something called Pharmacognosy: “A branch of knowledge concerned with medicinal drugs obtained from plants or other natural sources.”
This has fascinated me well before I ever even thought about going to pharmacy school (I did a term paper on herbal medicine when I was a Freshman). The list is terribly long, but here are some examples….
Foxglove = Digoxin (heart)
Poppy = Codeine (pain)
Autumn Crocus = Colchicine (gout)
Tobacco = Nicotine (insecticide/ anti-helminthic.. who knew!?!)
Valerian = Sedative
In Biblical times, ‘superbugs’ and diabetes likely didn’t even exist except in the rarest of occasions. The prevalence today of these are the result of man messing with things we shouldn’t have. Go back and research the incidence of bacterial resistance and diabetes in ancient times. Neither one existed with any regularity, yet today, they are both epidemic. An oddity (back in the day) deserves an oddity treatment…. don’t you think? Here’s a few more…..
Gila Monster spit = diabetes
Yesterday, I saw this… Platypus milk! ….. one of my most favorite animals may hold the key to this superbug crisis we currently have. I feel like God created odd creatures as a clue to man (back in the day)…. odd creatures for odd diseases.
God gives us clues to ourselves and His future plans for us ( Jeremiah 29:11). I marvel at how He put events, people, and opportunities in my life (even 30+ years ago), knowing that I would need these things later for what He has planned for me now.
Keep your eyes, ears, and heart (and even your gut) open. God speaks to us all daily. He nudges us in the direction he wishes us to go. It’s up to us to follow or ignore that nudge.
How has He used something in your past to prepare you for what’s going on in your life today?
Hugs and Love, Liz
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!