Archive for the ‘Candid Corner Journal’ Category

A Few Kind Words…

October 3, 2011

Last week, a good friend of mine called one morning.

No particular reason except to say I was being thought of at the time.

My friend went on to give me one of the greatest gifts that day… words of encouragement and support for what I do as a mom and with the farm.

It wasn’t a long phone call – a few moments perhaps.  But moments that stayed with me the rest of the day and made me smile.

Those kind words lifted my spirits, gave me strength in decisions that had to be made, and best of all, let me know that I meant something to someone.

And what was the cost to my friend?

The breath to speak those words and the courage to act on what the heart was prompting.

Why is it we’re often afraid to say a few kind words to others?  Those kind words are a gift from the heart, wrapped in love.

And the ripple effect of those words is endless.

I know I spoke more kindly to my children, looked for opportunities to boost someone else’s spirits the way mine had been, and was grateful to have a friend who took the time to share kind words with me.

So unexpected, unpretentious, so heartfelt.

Since my children were small, I have worked with them on finding something good to say to others. We practice in the check out lines at stores.  I’ve told them, even if it’s just that you like their necklace, tell them so and watch…

A smile, eye contact, a kind word, and then – the transformation of the face behind the counter.

It’s fun and it costs us nothing but the breath with which to speak the words.

My mother in-law gave me this advice early on when my children were young…

“Cyndi, you’ll have to say ‘no’ so many times to children that you must constantly be on the look out for the opportunities to say ‘yes’.”

I took this to heart and worked at it, often turning a negative situation into a positive so I could say yes.

I try to take this same approach with others.  Why is it we find it easier to be critical instead of uplifting?  Instead of speaking something that would tear down a person, I try to find something positive to lift them up.

Yeah, it’s a little intimidating and makes me feel vulnerable but I like the results.

And if the kind words are scoffed or ridiculed, I know that person really needed them!

But that rarely happens…instead, there is a softening in the person’s countenance and a genuine smile lights up their face or a thank you is spoken.

All people, no matter the age or status, want to know that they matter…

And a few kind words can fulfill that wanting.

I know because my friend gave me the gift of encouraging, uplifting words and it made my day.

The cost of the gift?  The breath of life and a voice to speak…

What a difference those words made for me.

Thank you, my friend.

Candid Corner – It’s So Hard to Switch Tracks

September 14, 2011

I went out last night to check on Marbles, our goat.  She’s been sick for the last couple of days. Not really sure what’s wrong with her – a lot of educated guesses.

By symptoms and signs, the consensus  has been a urinary blockage or stone.  I’ve used all the conventional means:  a shot of antibiotic for fever, pain reliever to give her some comfort, this other stuff to hopefully break down the stone or blockage… and I’m still waiting.

Marbles has had no appetite for the feed we normally give – man made.

Last night, the girls and I attended our weekly Traditional Chinese Medicine class.  Dr. Liang talked about plants and their ability to heal and why.  I’ve known this and have believed it for some time, using almost solely herbs and minerals for the family.

But when it came to my animals, I hadn’t switched my thinking.  My first recourse has always been chemicals or conventional means.

I learned the hard way with my honeybees.  I was told to use a chemical to control mites or they would kill my colonies.  So I used the chemical and instead – it killed my colony.  There may have been some other factors involved but definitely, the chemical was one of the components for their demise.

I was at a loss last night regarding Marbles.  I stood in the pen with her  – it was a beautiful night with a full moon, bright stars, slight breeze.  I started to love on her, touching her, rubbing her ears.  As I ran my hand along her neck, I noticed she was really tight so I started to massage her neck…remembering that massage is often used for healing.  Pretty soon she relaxed and pushed her head into my leg.  I rubbed her face and ears and along her spine and sides.  The look in her eye calmed down.  I talked with her as I continued to rub her neck.  After a 1/2 hour  or so of this, I said goodnight and went in the house.

While I was out there with Marbles, I was thinking about our class and the plants.  I remembered what a FB friend said about dock root.  I determined that in the morning, I would pick plants for Marbles and see what she would do  with those.

This morning I went into her pen and she seemed better, a little perkier.  Rubber her neck some more… offered her some grain and she nibbled but not really interested.  I knew enough though, that she wanted something to eat.

Oh yeah,plants.

I’d been told that with urinary problems, they needed acidic feed.  We’d been giving her apple cider vinegar which she hated.  So I went to get some oak leaves – they’re acidic.  She ate them right away.

I walked around the yard and picked a little of this and that.  I knew some of the medicinal properties of some of the plants.  Found Feverfew and the dock.  It looked like a bouquet when I took it into Marbles!  I offered her the dock and she ate it right away – the most enthusiastic I’d seen her in several days.  I offered her the Feverfew and she ate that right away.  Some of the other plants, not interested.  I figured she knew what she needed.

I guess what I learned this morning is, I’ve been trained under the conventional medicine for animals and I need to explore the natural remedies with them also.  There’s not much info out there for this kind of medical treatment.

I need to remember that I’m not always smarter than the animals when it comes to figuring out what they need.  Marbles is penned up – how could she get what she needs if it’s not available to her?

I don’t have answers, just sharing my musings with you this morning.  It’s difficult to switch my train of thought when it’s always been a certain way and “this is how it’s always done.”

I’ll continue to explore the use of plants and herbs with my animals because I know it can work for humans so why wouldn’t it work for them?

They’re even closer to the earth than I am in what they eat 🙂

Candid Corner: But I just don’t wanna…

August 24, 2011

The prep work is finished, the weather is good, the deadline is closing in, and if I procrastinate any longer – the window of opportunity will be shut.

I know all this…

but I just don’t wanna do the rest of the work today.

Ever have days like this?

I find with farming, I run into these kind of days more often than not.  So much that happens on the farm is season and time sensitive.

Take for instance my dairy goats.  The optimum time for breeding is Sept – Jan.  Five month gestation.  That means, if I want babies to hit the ground in February, I need to have my girls bred in October.  I’m working on the prep work right now because if I miss this window, I won’t have babies in February which means I won’t have does in milk, which means I can’t make cheese, which means I won’t have extra milk to raise a calf, which means in 18 months I won’t have meat for my family.

See what I mean?

My “but I don’t wanna” has far reaching repercussions that go beyond my emotional state at this moment.

Today I need to split my hives.  I’m trying a new theory.  If I don’t split today, my window of opportunity will slam shut and I won’t have bees to sell in the spring.  Nor will I be able to test out my theory until next year – a whole year!

That’s the other nugget of truth I’ve found recently.  Some of the “new” ideas I come up with really aren’t that new.  It’s just sometimes I’m willing to do the work that others didn’t want to do to make the idea a reality.  There’s a lot of really terrific ideas floating around out there – I hear friends talking about them all the time.

The time and work it takes to make an idea a reality – now that’s where the difference is.

In these economic times, some of those ideas could really come in handy – another source of income.  I could use that.

Ahhh – but it requires that I quit talking about it and do it!

…Even when I just don’t wanna.

So thank you for sitting with me while I convinced myself to get off my bum and get outside and do the work.

I know I’ll be glad when the work is complete and that sense of satisfaction supersedes the emotional “dragging of the feet” right now.

And in the spring, when I have nucs to sell, I’ll really be grateful I got the work done today 🙂

Candid Corner – It’s Just One of Those Days…

August 16, 2011

Every now and then I have a day when I question why in the world I homestead.

It’s hard work…

and continuous, day in and day out, 7 days a week, 12 months a year.

Logically and philosophically I can give you point after point as to why I homestead, why I grow my own food, why I learn self-sufficiency skills, why I use herbal plants for medicinal purposes, why I go the extra mile to make sure my animals are well taken care of,  why I teach my children at home, why I believe so strongly in this lifestyle.


when it’s an emotionally tough day and I’m feeling lonely and overwhelmed by the workload, that soapbox can be easily pushed aside…

and sat upon.

I was talking with a girlfriend of mine who is also a farmer and has a full time job off the farm.  I was whining a bit to her about how I was feeling today.

We both agreed there are days when you feel like selling all the animals and the land and moving into a subdivision somewhere with manicured lawns and a pool that someone else maintains; the convenience of stores and groceries right down the road.  No tractors to fix, no sick animals to worry over, no anxiety about rainfall, no need to get dirty or work in the heat and cold.   It sounds so idyllic.

And then we talked about politics – but only for a moment cuz I don’t do politics.  We talked about environmental decisions that have been made, the instability and uncertainty of our future.

I finally said – you know what makes homesteading so difficult sometimes?   We don’t HAVE TO do all this.  Every convenience and need can be met if we drive to a store and allow ourselves to be dependent on someone else to make decisions for us.  It’s not like we live in a 3rd world country where there is no choice about food.  Where, if you don’t grow it, you don’t eat; if you don’t milk it, you don’t have milk; if you don’t take care of it, you have no meat; if you don’t work in the hot or cold, you have nothing.  No one is there to bail you out.

Homesteading is a choice.

It’s a choice to be independent and self-sufficient.

It’s a choice to take control of the future for both me and my family.

It’s a choice to be a good farmer and steward of the land.

It’s a choice I am not forced to choose…not now anyway.

So on these days when my emotions don’t quite line up with logic and philosophical views, I may choose to sit on my soap box for a few moments…

and in the quiet and beauty of the land around me, basking in the privacy and freedom of homesteading,

I realize my emotions are fickle and oft change with the wind.

But my choices and beliefs,

those will keep me on track to stay the course.

And what do I choose to do when those emotions of doubt begin to wash over me?

I feed the chickens, and the goats, and the pigs…

and I smile.

Candid Corner – Day 5 and 6 of Juice Fast

August 13, 2011

Today is the beginning of Day 7 but since I’m not sure how it will go, I’ll journal about Day 5 and 6.

Day 5-

This day was by far my roughest.  I was ready on Day 3 to struggle because that’s what everyone had said.

I had several errands I had to run, unexpectedly.  I’d planned on staying home all day but instead I was up and out the door.  I also didn’t walk on this day.  I’ve been wanting to do some sort of exercise every day so I figured I would work outside on the farm for my exercise later in the day.

It was too hot and I never did get outside to work other than regular chores.

When I got home from errands, I was really hungry.  I think that’s the part I don’t like – my stomach growling.  I will admit that as soon as I drink a juice, I’m fine and feel full and then my mind can go back to other things.  But when my stomach growls, food is all I can think of at the moment.

I walked in the door from errands and one of the kids had left some scrambled eggs on their plate and a piece of turkey bacon.  I poured some juice and drank it but it just wasn’t working.

Pretty soon, I’d eaten a few spoonfuls of eggs…and then the bacon.

OMW- it tasted so good!

We have a rice cooker and it had been used the night before.  There was still rice in it…

One spoonful, two spoonfuls.  Then I left the kitchen.

Here’s where I get into trouble.  I figure I’d blown it.  Not just that moment but the whole day.  That makes eating throughout the day easier.

I really didn’t have that much but I picked throughout the day.  Couple more spoonfuls of rice with some green salsa (I know it’s weird but I love it!)

Couple bites of a pickle, taste of Dave’s leftover Chinese chicken from his lunch, one forkful of pasta and a couple of spoonfuls of hamburger with a sauce at dinner time.

Not a whole lot but enough to make me feel sick to my stomach.  The morning food didn’t stay long in my system at all.

The rest of the food, especially the items closer to the evening, hit like lead in my stomach and I was so bloated.  Looked like I was about 4 months pregnant, and trust me, after 6 kids, I know what 4 months looks like!  I felt sluggish and had no energy.

My stomach wasn’t growling but I didn’t feel so hot either.

I felt guilty for eating what I had eaten until I made myself look at what I’d learned.  There is never a failure if you learn something from the experience 🙂

I went to bed with a stomach ache and a determination to start over again in the morning.  By the way, that morning I was down 5 lbs from my beginning weight.

Day 6

I awoke very sluggish, stomach ache and my sinuses were full.  There was not the mental clarity that I’ve felt the other days on this juice fast.  I got up early and did chores around the house and walked at 6 am for 2 miles.  My sinuses were running the whole time and I had a slight headache but I did feel better afterwards.

I juiced for breakfast and still felt better but not where I’d been.

Oh, I weighed myself when I first got up and I had gained back 3 pounds!  I hadn’t eaten 3 lbs of food but that’s what the scale said.  Typically that would have been enough to make me stay off the juice fast except that I was so keenly aware of how I felt overall.

So my mission now is to figure out what I’ll be eating when I’m finished on Wednesday.  I’ve realized that carbs, especially processed carbs, do a number on my system.  I’m not a huge meat eater but I really like eggs and fish and hamburger.  Veggies and fruit seem to do best with my system and it’s been more apparent on this fast.

Dave asked me if I was going to become a vegetarian.  No, but I do realize that veggies and fruit need to be the majority of my diet.

Here’s where it gets tricky – not so much now but come winter.  It’s easy to find a lot of fresh veggies and fruit in season now and I can grow quite a bit but winter is tougher.

I did buy seeds the other day for kale, collards, and mustard.  I love greens!

This weekend I’ll be hitting the cookbooks for recipes so I can start planning ahead.  If any of you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

I like feeling this way.  I awoke this morning feeling great.  No stomach ache, no sluggishness, no foggy head, and no joint ache.  All symptoms lead me to believe what I’m doing is having a good effect .  But I know that I can’t juice forever, I need a plan that sticks close to an all veggie/ fruit diet.

Interestingly, it wasn’t difficult yesterday to stay on the juice fast.  Admittedly, I considered for a moment running a couple of homemade slices of pizza through the machine but figured it would mess up the juicer 🙂

This morning, I’m down 2 lbs.  The weight’s not coming off as fast as I’d hoped but it’s okay.

I did this fast to clean out my system and to learn.  I want to know what’s best for my body and how it responds to foods and everyday I’m getting more answers.

At this point, feeling good is more important than the weight.  I figure the weight will come off if I’m eating correctly and have more energy to exercise, right?

It’s almost 6 am and I need to put all my stuff together for the farmers market this morning.  I know what I’ll be buying today – lots of fresh local produce 🙂

Candid Corner- Accountants

August 10, 2011

I don’t know how many of you run your own business but it can be daunting at times.

Today Dave and I are headed to the accountants to talk business and taxes and forms and licenses and whew, starts to make my head hurt.

Here’s my dilemma.  The farm is currently under the umbrella of Ball Family Ventures as a DBA.  I would like for it to be it’s own entity which sounds simple but it’s not.  There are taxes and write-offs and more to be considered.

We’re also looking at a non-profit status for the educational part of the farm.  Really, there’s a lot to consider here too and it all affects the future of the farm.

I love to learn but I’m not so inclined toward accounting stuff – hurts my head after a while.

And yet this is a big deal and I can’t blow it off or hand it off if I want to run a successful agribusiness.  I need to understand how this all works.

In the great process of streamlining my life and focusing on what I believe I’m called to do, I’m talking with a friend about doing my books on a monthly basis.  Easy enough, but I still have to know how the system works in order to give her the proper info.

I love running an educational homestead.  I had no idea when I started what it takes to run an efficient successful educational homestead.  And by successful, I don’t mean making lots of money – I mean paying the bills and trying to stay in the black.

So I’m off to the accountants this morning to listen and learn and hopefully ask intelligent questions which will further my understanding!

BTW- the juice fast is going very well.  Yesterday was supposed to be the rough day but it wasn’t for me.  I was home all day so maybe that helped.  What i’ve noticed is that some joint pain that I was beginning to notice is gone.  I walked down the stairs today like I’d been up all day.  Typically I’m a little stiff first thing in the morning.  Biggest thing is remembering to drink enough water throughout the day.

Total loss: 3.9 pounds

Candid Corner

August 8, 2011


Day 2 of the juice fast:  today is easier than the yesterday.  Yesterday I was hungry after drinking  the bottled juice (thank you Mary 🙂 )

I made a real juice with an apple, nectarine, banana, carrots, and watermelon.  I took the pulp and mixed it back into the juice and drank the whole thing.

It was great!  I was full right away and stayed full for a long time.  The real juice was much better than the bottled juice and much more satisfying.

Only craving I really had was for salt.  We didn’t have any celery and I know that would have helped.

Slept great last night and awoke right away.  Usually I feel like I’m coming out of a fog a bit in the morning but not this morning – weird as it sounds, my body felt cleaner when I got up.

Went down to weigh myself first thing.  I know you’re not supposed to weigh in every day but I will for the first week or so to see what’s happening.

Weight today: 178.2     Loss: 3.4 pounds.  I’m okay with that!

Walked at 6 am with a friend.  She doesn’t live close by so we talk on the phone while we walk two miles.  I love having the accountability and talking makes the time go faster.

Fed the turkeys and the goats on my return and went to the garden to collect items for breakfast.  Kale and parsley.  I juiced carrots, an apple, kale, parsley and watermelon.  I took the pulp, which was very dry, and mixed it with the juice in the Magic Bullet.  The juice was thick and interestingly, the pulp rehydrated making the juice really thick like a smoothy.  I couldn’t drink it all and for lunch will juice some fruit and add it to the “green” mixture.

Had to be out of the house by 8:30 to meet with Dr. Deleplane to talk bees and some ideas I have for the farm Beekeeping Series.  Great meeting.

I’m building new bridges and walking in new territory with some of the ideas I have but it’s fun, challenging, and it stretches me.  I like it.

Now there will be days in this journal where I will question why I even thought I could step into that territory, so keep me on task and remind me that it’s not about me at all, it’s about others.  When I become “me” focused, that’s when work becomes a drain.  But when the vision of people is put before, the task is easier.

Something I constantly try to teach my kids.  If you’re starting to get depressed or down, do something for someone else.  Works every time!


So I told my kids that we’re working this afternoon to prepare the house and their rooms for school.  We/they start tomorrow.

Not everyone of course, just Michael, Megan, and Ali – but that’s the majority and today, they rule 🙂

When we enrolled them in Master’s Academy last year, I had to work through the guilt of “failing” as a homeschool mom because I was sending them to someone else to be taught.  But then I realized I was expanding their horizon.  I had given them their foundation, values, and core teaching.  It’s okay to allow someone else to embellish the masterpiece that was begun here at home.  They’re still here 4 out of the 5 days….and truthfully, after 17 years of homeschooling, I really enjoy the fact that I’m not responsible for their curriculum.  I also enjoy that block of time to work on stuff for the farm or whatever else I need to focus on for those few hours.  No guilt anymore!

Okay – kids are waiting for instructions and the window of focus is small so I’m off to hand out the chore list.

Thanks for joining me under the arbor this afternoon.

Candid Corner – Juice fast

August 7, 2011

I’ve made a decision.  Not so unusual for me, I make them all day long!  Sometimes too quickly and I regret them later but not this time.

I need to journal more about real stuff.  The stuff that really matters to me – the real ups and downs of family and homesteading and homeschooling and friends and, well, you get the idea.

The hospital stay in May kinda did a number on my outlook for my remaining years – however many that may be.

So in these past couple of months I’ve been asking myself the hard question:

what do I want my life to count for in the end.

Pretty heady stuff.

The answers don’t come easily and I’m forcing myself not to make decisions quickly.

I’m thinking I may not be the only one who thinks about these things.

I wanted a place where we could share together…a corner where we could  be very candid with one another.

I envision a huge get together somewhere… and way over in the corner of  the garden under the arbor, I’m with my close friends who share life with me.

Together we talk about issues that really matter.

The issues you don’t just share with anyone…only those who have made it a point to let you know – you really matter to them and they won’t judge you or ridicule, even when they don’t agree.

They’ll hold your hand and listen in the tough times;

and they’ll laugh out loud and genuinely share in the celebration of the good times.

Journal entry:

Today I’m starting a juice fast for 10 days.  Reason?  I need to get serious about my weight and my health.  I’m on blood pressure medication and I don’t like it.  Now, if I do everything I’m able to and still need the medication to keep my BP under control, I’m okay with that and will be grateful for the meds.  But I haven’t done everything I can.

Today I start with a detox to rid my body of toxins.  While I’m on my juice fast, I intend to research the next step to maintaining a healthy diet.  It’s not that I don’t have access to good food – we grow a lot of it.  It’s all the “extras” that get purchased and brought into the house.  I believe in moderation too, that an occasional processed item is okay.  My problem is, I give into myself too often and because of that, I have a weight problem.  “you play, you pay”   It’s time I seriously look at the consequences of those choices.

So today I had my last cup of coffee for 10 days.  And so far, this is what I’ve had for breakfast and lunch –

Now I’m drinking lots of water to help flush my system.

The kicker in all of this will be the self-discipline to follow through…

This morning Tori and Nathan went out and bought 2 dozen Dunkin Donuts for a breakfast celebration of Lauren’s return 🙂

The moment of real vulnerability – beginning weight: 181.6   (agh!!  I can’t believe I actually put that in here!)