Monday, January 4, 2010

Journey to Homesteading

Our journey to become homesteaders didn't start with a desire to "do it all on our own", but rather a discovery that perhaps my sleep issues are dietary related.  A trip to a new chiropractor last January revealed that perhaps I had adrenal fatigue.  What?  Never heard of it, what's that?  What causes it and what do I do about it?  Do I NEED to do anything about it?

I came home and searched for info online and found a couple of sites that explained it in more detail and revealed that yes, I probably do suffer from adrenal fatigue (AF).  Every health issue I've ever had can be traced to overworked, undersupported adrenal glands.  There's a test on the site listed above and it was quite interesting (OK, I like to take tests).  I ordered the nutritional supplements and found a book at the library.  The book went into more detail and I found myself nodding in agreement at what I was reading.  I had lots of "aha" moments that made all the puzzle pieces fall together.  The fat around my waist, the irritability, constantly feeling like I need a nap, sugar cravings, EVERYTHING that could be said was "wrong" with me could be linked with overworked adrenal glands.  Great, now that I know what's wrong, how do I fix it?

I shared the site and info with my friends, as it is one of those things that most of us as women suffer with unknowingly.  If I could help some one else get healthier I wanted to do that.  One of those friends said she just finished reading a book that mentioned AF, but wasn't really about that.  It's Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr Mary Enig and Sally Fallon.  Not a book I would choose to read without a recommendation.  I don't follow fad diets.  I picked that up at the library too and started reading.  WOW!  What an eye opener!  Everything we've been taught to believe about healthy foods is WRONG.  Misinterpreted data and the quest for wealth have caused the wrong information to be widely publicized, keeping us reliant upon pharmeceutical companies for our "health".  I don't like to take aspirin when I have a headache, I certainly don't want to depend on a daily cocktail of pills to take care of what ails me!

So based on info in the Eat Fat book I started looking for raw dairy products, farm fresh eggs, coconut oil, pasture fed beef and various other whole, raw foods that would give my body the nutrients it needs to re-establish good health.  Sticker shock quickly set in and while I wrestled with the "how much is good health worth" dilema I realized that I had the means to provide these foods for me and my family without going broke. 

We bought 4 baby chicks at the feed store so that we'd have fresh eggs as soon as they got old enough to lay.  Then we found a family of goats that needed a new home, 2 does that were first time fresheners, along with their new kids.  Alright, but I want raw cow milk and products too.  A trip to a chain health food store revealed that a gallon of raw cow milk was $14.69!  I'd been reading more farm books and knew that a family cow could provide at least a gallon of milk per day.  At that rate it wouldn't take long for an investment in a cow to pay off.  I'd only need 41 gallons to see a return on my purchase price.  We have 2 acres of pasture, so during the grass season there'd be no feed expense.  We rented that pasture to two horse owners and actually had an income in those months that exceeds what we're paying for feed in the winter.  Elsie is due to calf anytime in the next two weeks and then we'll have more raw milk than we have refrigerator space to store it!

Along the way we also acquired already laying hens and a few turkeys.  We've lost 5 chickens and 1 turkey to local predators, but cooked one of the turkeys for Thanksgiving.  The white meat was so moist I couldn't believe it was white meat!  We've had fresh eggs since last April, and have been using raw goat's milk since June.  Tony buys milk to have at work, but beyond that we haven't bought milk for 6 months.

I bought a case of coconut oil and have tried to follow the recommended guidelines for consumption.  I should take a tablespoon 3 times daily, 20 minutes before each meal.  I have been consistent in drinking it in my morning beverage, but haven't succeeded at getting 3 servings every day.  It's a goal I'm still working on.

I've also stopped buying anything with high fructose corn syrup and any form of hydrogenated fat.  The hardest part for me is soda.  I LOVE the bubbles.  I've switched to Hansen's, that doesn't have the HFCS, but when we're out, I don't have that choice.  We still eat out (not as much as we used to) and I'm sure my choices there include these things.  I can't say that I've noticed a huge difference yet, but then I'm not doing everything that I should.  I have noticed two things that can be traced to the coconut oil though.  The sugar cravings in the afternoon have diminished.  I still have the habit, and so go searching, but nothing sounds good and if I do take a bite of some sweet, it's not enjoyable.  The other is an improvement in my dental health.  My first cleaning of 2009 revealed many 3's and 4's in the periodontal exam, with several 5's and a couple of 6's.  The goal is 0 or 1.  My second trip showed mostly 2's and 3's, with no 6's and I think there was one 5.  So my gums are healthier.

Life happens, things distract me, and before I know it, months have passed without any progress on the dietary goals.  I'm refocused again and want to see great gains in my health this year.  That's how we began our journey to homestead.  Right now it's mostly supplying some of our own food so that we know what went into it and what we can expect out of it.  If I decide to leave this as one long post, the next will be about this year's goals.  If you have and questions about AF, I'd like to help you!