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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 2014 Update

Well, October is here and we are finally beginning to feel like it is fall. I just hope it stays fall for a little while and we don't just hop right into winter. Healthwise, I am about the same. So I won't go deeply into that subject. I feel like I have complained enough already. The good news is that most of the wood to get us through the winter is put up and ready to go. We probably need another half cord put in to make sure we get through and then we will be putting up next year's wood. We were very fortunate to lose two very large oak trees last year and they will last us quite some time for firewood. We are very happy about having the wood almost finished since it is usually the thing that we are really behind on and wind up having to split more wood in January to finish out the winter. Splitting wood when you can't feel your hands is really no fun. On a sad note we have decided that it is time to put our old stallion down. He is 29, almost 30 and he just won't keep weight on anymore. He also has developed episodes of diarrhea for no reason. He is parasite free and no changes in feed have been made. His body is just shutting down and putting him through another winter would be cruel. No matter what he eats or how much he loses weight. He won't be able to stay warm enough. We are very sad about it since we have had him almost 20 years now. It has been an especially hard thing for my husband to wrap his mind around even though we knew this day was coming. He and that old stallion have a special bond. Thunder can be really opinionated about things, but my husband could "talk" him into cooperating when no one else could.

We made a huge freebie score this week, and I love freebies. A friend of ours had a trailer that she rented out. Well, she decided she didn't want to fool with tenants anymore and the last one really trashed the trailer. So she sold the trailer. She told me that the guy who bought it didn't want anything in it so we got a propane wall heater (we really needed another one for the back of the house), and loads of books! I couldn't believe all the books in that place and I had a field day collecting books while my poor hubby was stuck removing the heater. The books are outside on the porch right now because I need to figure out how to disinfect them. Yes, the inside of that trailer was that bad. I also need to go through some of our books and get rid of them. We read a lot of books, so people give us books, and we wind up with loads of "read once" kind of books. I have decided to sell some of them on amazon. Usually we don't get much trade in on them at the trading bookstore and we don't know anyone who reads as much as we do. I have tried to give them to other people and they might take 1 out of a whole box. We could use the money even if it is only a little. I am also back working on writing my books. I am almost finished with a book about colony raising rabbits. These are books that will be published as e-books on amazon. I am excited about it.

Our biggest focus around here has been schoolwork. Petunia is a junior and we are working on scholarships and colleges/photography schools for her along with finishing up her coursework. our little one is a little behind with her reading skills, but she is improving and we are really seeing progress now. I am really excited about that. Reading has been a really BIG struggle for her and now she is seeing her progress and getting excited about reading. She told me the other day that she wants to read Black Beauty all by herself. So that is our goal. Not an immediate goal...Frog and Toad are what we can handle at this moment...but a goal. 6 months ago she was ready to give up, so for her to have a goal to keep reading is amazing!

Fall chores are a little behind around here, but I guess not of them are really that pressing. We will get them done in due time and what doesn't get done before it is too cold to work outside will just have to wait until spring. We don't have too many big projects to do anymore since we are pretty set where we want to be. We do have some fence work to do, especially around the garden. Our pallet fence has lasted for about 3-4 years. Much longer than we expected. So, it is a little worn and we really should replace it. I think that will definitely be a spring project. I am trying to keep going with things around here, but I am slow. Things that would have taken me a couple of days to complete might take me a week or a little more now. It is what it is and I just have to take it slow for now. I am still holding out hope that life will get better for me and I will feel better at some point.

Well that is about it for now. Have a great October and I will be back soon. Blessings from the farm, Kat

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 2014 update

Well, the health issue isn't much better. However, my thyroid numbers are now so bad that the endocrinologist finally agreed that I have a problem. My thyroid has grown in size and I will be having another ultrasound in the next month or so. She put me on synthetic thyroid and I am not tolerating it well. About an hour or so after I take it I then have a headache that lasts all day. I also tend to have some nausea, but not sure if that is the medication or the headache. We will see how things go with my next appointment as to whether she will remain my doctor. Most likely not because she is a TSH only doc. I am still trying to keep things together around here. I had been making some pretty decent progress on the before winter to do list, but now I am considerably much slower. There is a lot to do. The problem is that I have so little energy, my heart rate increases easily leading to heart palpitations which make me dizzy, I run out of breath very quickly, and then there are the headaches. Just feeding the livestock can be very difficult and wipe me out for about an hour or so. So, in this post I thought I would put a few thoughts on how to cope when you simply don't see how you can keep coping. Like I have said before the best thing I ever did while I was well was to make things pretty efficient. Even so, I now see some ways that I can improve on that. For instance, previously all the hay was put into one barn and this meant that twice a day I had to move hay from one side of the farm to the other. So, we have put a pallet in each rabbit colony so that the rabbit can use the floor space under the pallet and the hay is stacked on top. They actually seem to like this and it means that all that needs doing is to pull from the loose square bale on the top of the stack. We are also going to get small metal trashcans and put the feed for the rabbits that are in the middle colony in the middle colony with them. We have put more hay racks in the goat barn so that if I am having a bad day then I only have to put hay out once a day. I am really weak these days and my balance is really off, so the less I have to be mobbed by goats shoving and pushing the safer it will be for me. We are trying to come up with some way that I can pour their grain from the feed room. The problem is that they either knock over their feed trough or knock buckets down. This means that I have to go into the barn and pick all of that up with crazy goats running around and knocking me over. The garden is slowly being closed up for the winter. I won't have a winter garden this year. I am tired of hunting for eggs so we are adding onto the chicken coop and will put a metal trashcan in there to store feed. We have it so that we can water from outside the coop as well. Then the chickens will be locked up at least most of the day and let out in the afternoon to free range. I just have no energy to go looking for eggs everyday. As soon as I find a place the hens get tired of me taking their stash so then they go find another place and the hunt is on again. The goats will be dry lotted this winter so that I don't have to move them around or chase them down. Everybody will be deep bedded. Flylady was a blessing. Most of the excess junk is gone from the house which makes it easier to keep tidy. The children keep their own rooms and bathroom clean. Even though I can't keep to the deep clean schedule that she has right now, I can manage to get at least 2 rooms a month deep cleaned and keep everything else on a normal cleaning schedule. Like I said we are still looking for some other ways to make things a little easier on me right now so that I can keep things somewhat going. I have faith that things will get better for me and I don't want to just give up what we have worked so hard to build up. However, the struggle to keep it going is really tough. There are days that just the morning feeding chores has me in tears. So my best advice at this time is to take the time to do some organization and streamlining around your home and homestead because you never know when chronic illness might raise its ugly head and render you unable to do what you do now. A year ago, I was building fences, taking care of the house and livestock, making cheese, canning, taking care of the garden, and splitting wood for winter. Now, I do good to feed the livestock and my family and do schoolwork with the children. Hopefully, I will have better news! Blessings, Kat

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 2014

Well, it has been a nightmare of a summer. We have been in and out of the hospital with my mom since May. She has Stage IV COPD and we were going in and out of respiratory failure all summer long. To make matters worse I am having thyroid issues again and again am having to battle doctors to get the right diagnosis and treatment. Still not there and still battling doctors. I am off all thyroid hormone while we run test after test after test. Right now things point to autoimmune or cancer. I have another doctor appt. next week so we will see if I can get her to run a more comprehensive panel for a more clear picture of what is going on. Needless to say life right now is a struggle. Each day I am able to function just a little less. I am beginning to think we might need to start thinking about getting rid of the livestock because I am simply unable to take care of the farm chores like I used to. We are waiting to see what the doctors will say and do about my thyroid issue. I haven't done any canning as that is so time consuming and just takes more energy than I have. I have put a lot in the freezer and even dehydrated some. The summer produce has done pretty well despite the fact that I have been home so very little this summer. It has been tough on Petunia since she has basically had to take my place and run the house and farm as best she can. She has done a wonderful job and I am so proud of her. The little one Pooter has made sure to give her a hard time about everything. The one thing I am thankful for is the amount of organization that I have done for everything over the past year. The house is on a schedule and when that schedule is followed it makes it pretty easy for it to be kept up. The farm chores are on a schedule and makes it easier for Petunia to step in and help. The schedule allows me to function despite the brain fog. Routine is absolutely necessary for me these days as my brain simply can't think. I am just barely making it from day to day. I pray that I will be able to get a doctor to help. My old ENT that removed half my thyroid 11 years ago is the one that said there is a problem. He referred me to an endo who ran only a partial panel and said there is no problem. I am headed back to my GP with the results of both those lab tests and hopefully she will see the problem that I see and my ENT saw. If not then I am headed out of town to another ENT that mine recommended. His words were if I couldn't get results here then I needed to go see this other ENT because he is brilliant with thyroid problems. He fixes what other doctors miss. He is 2 hours away though and hard to get an appt. to see. I have one in September, depending on what my GP says next week. If there is any advice I can give to anyone on this homesteading journey is to have everything as organized and scheduled and efficient as possible because you simply don't know what life might throw at you. Like I said, each day I am a little less able to function and just getting out of bed is a real chore. I have a good couple of hours in the morning when I feel ok and then the rest of the day goes downhill from there. Having things on schedule and organized means that I can easily tell the kids and hubby what they can do to help and when I am not here they can look at the schedule and see what needs to be done. Even though Mom is out of the hospital she still requires a good deal of my time, so I have to dedicate some of my energy to taking care of her. So that is what life is like right now here around the farm. Not much going on as right now we are struggling to just maintain some semblance of normal. I can't decide yet whether I will plant a fall garden. We are still getting some stuff out of the summer garden and to tell you the truth I just don't have much energy for gardening. However, we need the food more than ever because of the extra expenses of doctors and lab tests. So I am still trying to decide what to do about that. Hope you all have had a great summer. Please keep our family in your prayers as we struggle through this difficult time. Blessings, Kat

Friday, April 25, 2014

April 2014 Update

I think I have decided to do a once a month update since there simply is not much to write about on a regular basis. The garden is going ok. The cool weather greens have not done very well. With the extreme cool downs and warm ups it seems to have stunted the growth of many of them. Summer crops are going in the ground now, so hopefully they will do better. I am repairing the wattle fence in the garden this year, which makes good use of all those tree limbs and twigs from the fallen trees. We are still working on some small repairs here and there around the farm. Nothing really big or exciting. The rabbits are doing well and babies are hopping around like gangbusters. It is a good thing because it is looking like no goats are pregnant....not good at all. We have a replacement buck, but he has been really young this year. I think, however, that it is time to put Buck in the freezer. I am going to hate that. We have had him for so long and he is such a sweet boy. It will be really hard to do. I need pregnant or milking goats though...not a lot of pets. The house is under control and takes very little time as long as a little is done daily. I still have things I am getting rid of, but no major cleanouts. These are mostly things that I put aside to see if they would actually be used or needed and now that they haven't been it is time for them to go. I have cleaned out some schooling materials that I have hung onto, but didn't really need and we have moved past. We had a major water leak this past week. It took us several days to get it fixed. The leak was difficult to find (under a tree) and then we had to re-route the water line because of the tree. We took showers at my mom's house. All I can say is thank goodness for rain barrels to flush toilets. We managed, but I sure wouldn't want to haul water on a regular basis. There are many things that I enjoy doing the old fashioned way, but I really enjoy washing machines, dishwashers, air condition and a few other modern conveniences. As I said before the chickens are doing well and now two of them are sitting on nests. Hopefully we will have more hens than roosters this year. We got quite a few roosters last year. They make the absolute best broth though. The rains seem to have slowed down to a normal speed. Maybe the ground can dry up just a bit. It would be nice because the horse barn is a disaster. The more it rains the more we have to dig out the mud which makes the barn lower and lower and the more we try to build up the inside the more it rains and the more mud we have. I am glad the weather is nice now and the horses can go outside and be fed outside. The feed is still in the barn though and so are the rabbits. They are on concrete thank goodness otherwise we would have a mess. Well, I suppose that is about it for this month. Like I said things are pretty quiet and routine around here. Hope spring is going well for everyone out there. Blessings, Kat

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Not Much Happening around Here

Well, there really isn't much happening around here and I guess that is why I haven't posted in awhile. Winter has been a long one and according to the weather man it isn't over yet. We are supposed to get a freeze later this week. I hope my seedlings in the garden will be ok. The garden got started later than usual because of the cold and wet. We have only had a few days in which it was nice enough to open the windows and air out the house. I do love it when I can leave them open all the time. There is no better sleeping than when you are breathing the cool night air. It is very refreshing. I have mended some fences this past week and put more compost in the garden for the warm season plantings. I usually have cleaned out all the deep beddings from the barns, but have waited because of the weather. The rabbits are finally producing babies again, so hopefully we will have rabbit meat soon. We had problems with a cat getting in the colonies and killing babies just for the fun of killing. I had 13 babies in one colony that were just about ready to move to the grow out pens and the cat killed them. I went in one morning to 13 dead bodies with a cat sitting in the middle of the carnage. Needless to say I was not happy. I have since double fortified the colonies so maybe that won't happen again. I am hoping that my goats are pregnant, but I haven't had a chance to pull blood samples for preg testing so I don't really know for sure. I really need some good milk and some babies on the ground. The chickens are laying like crazy right now so we have plenty of eggs. I am putting up the extras so that I don't have to do without this next winter when they stop laying or we only get one or two eggs a day. I am working on my first e-book as well, but I have to admit that I haven't had much time lately to work on it. Living wheat free has been going well for our family and I must say that I enjoy food more now than I ever have. I have lost more weight and most of my pain is gone. It makes life much more tolerable. We are still battling fruit flies in the house. They have been terrible and I have tried every natural remedy there is to get rid of them. I even resorted to bug bombing the house, which I don't like to do. It got rid of them for a few days and then we started seeing them again. Now we are back to a cloud of them in the kitchen and another cloud roaming the house. I have a ban on fresh fruit coming in the house that can't be kept in the refrigerator. I am so tired of these fruit flies. It is hard to even make a meal because the little buggers are everywhere. I even has fly strips hanging all over the kitchen and only eliminated half of them. I don't have any idea where they are coming from as there is nowhere for them to breed, but they are breeding somewhere because they are in here by the droves. We went to a wedding this month which was nice, even though it was a whirlwind trip. It is tough to find someone to stay here at the farm with the animals. We did find someone though and it was nice for us all to get away together for a few days. Right now about the only thing on our plate is getting all these trees from this past winter that came down cut up and put to use or burned. I guess it is nice to say that is our major project for this spring. We have been doing so much for so long that it is nice to basically not have to do so much. We have little projects and of course there are always repairs and such, but that is minor and easy compared to having a large new project to handle what we are doing or want to do. Like I said not much exciting going on around here. Blessings, Kat

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pecan Pineapple Snacks

This is an easy recipe that I got out of The 30 minute Wheat Belly Cookbook. This is one of the best snack recipes ever. It is so easy and so quick and makes a good amount that lasts in the fridge for a couple of days provided the kids don't inhale them. Anyway here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
2 cups ground pecans
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. drained crushed pineapple
1 tbls. xylitol
6 tbls. butter

Melt the butter and mix with the pecans. Mix in the xylitol. Then in a separate bowl mix the cream cheese and the pineapple. Use a large spoon, dip in the pecans and then mush the spoonful together while it is still on the spoon. This will pack it together solidly. Place on a cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with wax paper. Then place a spoonful of pineapple mix on top. Top with a whole pecan. When you have them all done, place in the refrigerator to chill. We had some for dessert after supper and then the rest were stored in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator for the next day. Like I said the kids loved them and they didn't last long after that. I adjusted this recipe just a bit from the cookbook to suit our tastes and to make the amounts come out a little more evenly. The first time I made these according to the cookbook I had a lot more pineapple mix than pecan bottoms. The first batch was also too sweet for us. If you want it to taste sweeter just add more xylitol. Blessings, Kat

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Keeping Wheat Free Affordable

One of the many things I hear or read about the Wheat free lifestyle is that it is expensive. It may seem that way at first, but I have found that I spend about the same amount of money. I just spend it differently. Right now I have no goats in milk and we have used all of our homegrown meat in the freezer. So everything we eat is being purchased, except for vegetables and some fruit that we put up over the summer. So, how is it that our grocery bill is not skyrocketing? Here's how I keep everything within budget.

1. Baking is a treat, not a staple. Almond meal, coconut meal and the like are expensive. I highly recommend buying them in bulk from Amazon because they are much cheaper than being purchased locally. However, they are still expensive. So, now any kind of baked good is a treat. Not a staple. The exception to that rule is the muffins that I make a couple days a week for breakfast because the recipe uses so little.

2. Buy produce in season. This goes for any budget. Right now I can buy fresh broccoli and cauliflower cheap, usually 2 heads for the price of one.

3. Organic meat is best, but if you can't afford it you can't afford it. It really won't kill you to eat non organic for a small portion of your life. It is the consistent exposure, year after year for years and years that will do the damage. So, if you can't get organic, great. If not, don't sweat it.

4. Typically, you can find manager specials early in the morning. These are meats that must be sold or thrown out that day because they have reached their sell by date. There is nothing wrong with this meat, the store just has to move it out. So they mark it down...oftentimes way down. I bought several skirt steaks a couple of weeks ago for 1.50 each. I bought every one that was marked down. It doesn't matter if there is a cut I have never used before, because I can either learn via the internet how to use it or I can grind it up and use it in a ground meat recipe. I also lucked out last week and got grass fed, organic lamb chops marked down. Not nearly as cheap as the skirt steak, but within my budget range and they were huge gorgeous lamb chops. I bought every package of those too. Purchasing the extra gives me some to put in the freezer so that when nothing is on sale at a good price I still have something to eat and I can stay within my budget.

5. I used to go through a lot of flour, which translated to a good portion of our budget. I have eliminated flour and greatly reduced sugar, tea, coffee.

6. We actually consume less food. This means that I cook less food. So those meals that used to be one meal are now two meals. The children don't feel the need to snack as much and aren't always hungry, so that translates into less food going farther for the week. So even though nuts are expensive, a small handful is a serving and satisfies a craving while keeping them feeling satisfied longer than a handful of crackers. Sunflower seeds are really big in our house, we love them. I buy them in buckets containing small packs and they last us a long time. One small serving packet will be a snack all day for us. Whereas before the kids could eat an entire box of cheezits and still be looking for something else to snack on. A 50 cent pack of sunflower seeds or a 3.50 box of cheezits. Hmmmmm....I think the sunflower seeds win in the cost department even though they seem more expensive to begin with.

7. Of course this goes with any budget, wheat free or not, but this summer hit those farmer's markets and u-pick farms and put upall the vegetables and fruit that you can put up cheap. Invest in a big freezer or canner or whatever and put up everything you can. It will save you money in the long run.

I have to admit that when I embarked on this, I was worried. Our food budget is tight, especially when we are still feeding livestock at the moment and getting nothing from them. I couldn't afford a huge increase in groceries. I have found though that with a little planning and maybe a different time schedule (those early morning grocery trips to get those specials)we haven't had that much of an increase, just a little bit. And if needed then I can cut back on the cheese recipes or absolutely no baked treats. It can be adjusted to fit into the budget. Blessings, Kat

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