Going Keto: Update for 08/24/18 (Week 50)

My week of determination and focus has paid off so far.  I’m getting back into the keto swing of things, and the scale has moved in the right direction!

This morning, the scale was at 245.2 pounds.  That means I’m down 42.4 pounds in 50 weeks, and I can live with that.  I won’t get complacent again though.  Seeing the scale move so quickly has helped motivate me even though I have struggled this week.

It’s hard to get back to being a fat burner.  Cravings, blood sugar swings, and other physical symptoms are no fun.  This’ll all help remind me though that I’ll think long and hard about getting sidetracked.

I think I’m getting really close to a new pant size.  When I got back on track last September, I was wearing 26s that had probably been stretched out to 28s.  Now, my Civil Air Patrol uniform pants are getting too big, and they’re a 22 that I bought in June.  I guess it stands to reason since it looks like I’ve lost at least 8 inches off my hips and 5 inches off my waist.  Wow! I can’t believe that my hips were almost as big around as I am tall!

This week has been a good week, and I’m excited about what’s to come.  I can do this!

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Save with Sarah — Don’t Pay Fees

hand holding a money bagIt seems like common sense.  Don’t pay “fees” and you’ll keep more of your own money in your pocket.  What does this concept look like in the real world though? It’s not as simple as you might think.

Not too long ago, I was listening to my friend Nicole’s podcast over at Living Free in Tennessee.  She was talking about the things that she’d done to support her “independence fund”, and she had mentioned that things hadn’t worked out quite the way she’d planned because she was recovering from pneumonia.  Then, almost as an aside, she mentioned how she was going to have to pay a late fee on a bill, and it got me to thinking.  If I’m paying fees because of cash flow problems or utter forgetfulness, how could I change that to support my family’s independence?

Once I started thinking about it, I felt ashamed.  Sometimes cash flow problems can’t be avoided, but losing money to fees because you were forgetful or irresponsible with your money is a hard pill to swallow, especially when you think about how quickly that money adds up.

Here’s the thing though.  Feeling shame about things you’ve done in the past doesn’t really help you move forward, does it? Sometimes, that shame and frustration keeps you treading water, and as I’ve said before, if you’re not moving forward in life, you’re being left behind by life.

Learning from past mistakes, making a plan, and then working that plan seems like a much more productive way to move forward, doesn’t it? So here’s what that looks like in my case.

First, I came to grips with the fact that the amount of money we’ve spent in various fees is much higher than I wish it were.  Then I asked myself, “Self, why are we paying all these fees? Is there anything we can do to make it better?” And shockingly enough, “Self” had some really good ideas.

  • I must be more diligent about keeping the budget updated.  I use a spreadsheet to plan and track household expenses, but over the last couple months, for reasons that I still haven’t identified, I got lax about updating the spreadsheet with what we were spending.  This meant that I paid some overdraft fees, and that hasn’t happened in ages.  At $36 a pop, that hurts!
  • I set up auto pay on all my bills that weren’t already set up that way.  With the little bit of credit card debt we have in particular, this can go a long way toward preventing fees when you miss a payment date because often times, the late fee costs more than the minimum payment.  The “late” payments weren’t impacting credit because they weren’t more than 30 days past due, but they were accruing fees that add up over time.
  • I also examined my bills to see if there was a way to avoid service fees by changing the payment method I used to pay a particular bill.  For example, some of my kids’ fees related to school (like meals and activities) have service charges related to their payment if I use a credit or debit card.  If I use an electronic funds transfer from my checking account though, those charges are less or they’re waived altogether!

Of course, there are a myriad of other ways to increase my family’s financial freedom, but with this post, I wanted to share some “low-hanging fruit” in case there are folks out there hadn’t thought this way in their own journeys.  I didn’t want to make the mistake of assuming that everyone thinks the way I do; assuming gets us into trouble!

What we do matters!

 

 

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Non-GMO Pasture-Raised Turkeys for Sale

turkeySince we’re about halfway through the homestead turkeys project, it’s time to start selling some turkeys! After all, who doesn’t want a delicious, locally grown, non-GMO fed, pastured raised turkey? Are you hungry yet?

What Makes Our Turkeys Special?

  • The Food — From day one, the birds were fed non-GMO feed from a top-notch central Indiana feed producer.  The feed is made from grain and beans produced by growers who’re using “organic” practices but haven’t yet received the USDA organic certification.  The birds also forage on pasture as they’re moved through our property.
  • The Habitat — Our birds our housed in a secure pasture pen so they’re safe from predators but they still live on pasture with access to forage, sunlight, and fresh air.

When Will They Be Ready?

The birds will be processed at a USDA inspected facility in early November.  They will be fresh when they arrive at the homestead, and they will be sold on a first come, first serve basis.

Non-Refundable Deposits

Feeding quality transition feed is expensive, and turkeys eat a LOT.  By collecting a non-refundable deposit from folks who want an amazing bird for the holiday table, cash flow works better on our end.  And since your deposit helps us, we’re happy to offer a $.50/lb discount on your bird!

Pricing

Our turkeys will sell for $5.49/lb.  If you pay a non-refundable $30 deposit though, the price drops to $4.99/lb.

How Do I Get a Turkey?

We’re only taking deposits on 15 birds, and they’re going to go FAST! Use the contact form below to reserve your turkey TODAY!

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Going Keto: The Struggle Is Real

bacon and eggsIn about three weeks, a year will have passed since I recommitted to a keto eating plan.  I have reached some fantastic milestones in that time, but for several months now, I haven’t prioritized my health and my eating plan.  That changes TODAY!

In May of 2017, I weighed 290.2 pounds.  At the end of July in 2018, I saw a number on the scale that started with a two and a three — 238.8.  When I stepped on the scale this morning though, I weighed 250.4 pounds, and I thought I had said goodbye to the 250s back in March.

So what happened? I can directly attribute my struggles to three things — lack of focus, an unwillingness to prioritize my health, and allowing myself to get comfortable.  These are “me problems” that I control; I just have to decide when enough is enough!

Let’s take these struggles one at a time.  First, let’s discuss my lack of focus.  At the end of April, I went to a fantastic homesteading workshop in middle Tennessee.  I prepared some items for barter that are not on my food plan, but I didn’t view that as a problem because I’d done that many times before without issue.  When I went to Tennessee though, I started giving myself permission here and there to eat off plan, and I always had a good justification for my choices.  “It’s easier to eat chicken nuggets in the car than burgers without buns, and it’ll just be while we’re on the road,”, or, “I can have a few caramels because I’m not eating bread.” The problem for me was though, without that pinpoint focus that said, “No, Sarah, it’s not worth it!”, things started getting sloppy.

Then, after my focus started to fade, I decided that a failure to prioritize my health was OK because I’d come so far already.  I started telling myself things like, “I’ve proved I can do it.  I’ve come so far, and I have plenty of time!” Once I started that internal dialog, it became even easier to procrastinate, and before I knew it, I had more off plan days than on plan days.

And that brings me to the last piece of the puzzle — being comfortable with where I was in my journey.  Because I had lost focus and because I was giving myself permission to put off getting my poop in a group, it was easy to settle.  “I’m still in the 240s.  I haven’t given up entirely.  It’ll be OK because I know what I need to do.” The thing is though, I was growing less physically comfortable while I had decided to be emotionally comfortable, and as I’ve said to so many folks, nobody can do it for me.  If I want it, it’s up to me to choose.

When I recommitted to a ketogenic lifestyle last year, I said that this was the last time I was going to lose weight and gain health.  Failing to focus, being complacent, and failing to prioritize could ruin that for me in short order though, and it’s up to me to accept responsibility for that and change it.

My hope is that I can inspire others to make positive changes in their lives even when they haven’t always gotten it right in the past.  I’ve always been honest with folks because I believe that sharing the struggles are just as important as sharing the successes.  A journey with no challenges isn’t realistic as far as I’m concerned, and if I can learn from mine, hopefully other folks can too.

In the end, remember that what we do matters, and if we’re not actively moving forward in our life journey, we’re being left behind by life.  I know it sounds cliché, but these simple truths have really helped to guide me along the path to a better life for myself and the folks I care about.

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Turkey Tales: 9 Weeks Old Now

Time flies when you’re having fun as a homestead turkey farmer! It seems like it was just yesterday that we went to the post office to retrieve our 25 turkey poults! So much has happened over these last nine weeks though.  I’m so glad we decided to try our hand at turkeys this year.

Before the babies arrived at the homestead, we went to our favorite feed mill and purchased 600 pounds of 26% turkey feed.  I thought it’d last, expecting to mix some lower protein feed into it when the birds hit 8 weeks of age, but nope! 600 pounds was enough feed to get 43 birds (24 turkeys, 9 guineas, and 10 chickens) to the 9 week mark, so that meant another trip to the mill.

Yesterday, we snagged 550 pounds of a lower protein ration, and I’m guessing we’ll have to go back in another three weeks.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to take the trailer then so we aren’t limited by the weight that we’re willing to put in the passenger compartment.

pastured turkeys, chickens, and guineas eating at a Brower reel feederI’ve learned so much over the past nine weeks.  I’ve learned that I love the sound that turkeys make.  I’ve also learned that turkeys are harder on the ground than I expected, and they’re DIRTY! I don’t understand that part since a lot of them like to sleep in the front of the pen so they can get rained on..

And lastly, I’ve learned that our brooder success this time around meant that I need either larger pens or fewer birds.  Everyone kept saying, “Turkeys are stupid.  You’ll have losses.” We lost one out of 25 birds, and we have no idea what happened.  At around five or so weeks, we came out to the pen for chores and we found a dead bird with no indications as to how it died.  Everyone else has thrived though, so now I’m having to think about how I can free up pen space.

I realize that I still have seven to eleven weeks until graduation day, and I still have so much to learn, but halfway through, things seem pretty promising.

And as an interesting aside, I’m really loving the guineas that we’ve raised with the turkeys.  I haven’t decided when we’ll turn them loose yet, but I’m sure that time will be sooner rather than later.

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More News About Glyphosate in Food

bowl of oatmeal My husband shared an article with me yesterday from our local ABC affiliate.  The article claimed that “unsafe” levels of a common weed killer, glyphosate, were found in a number of oat products like cereals, granola bars, and oatmeal.  (You can read the article here.)

While the basic gist of the article may not be surprising to those of us who’ve had our eye on the whole Roundup (glyphosate) issue, some interesting things jumped out at me immediately when I read through the piece.  First, and probably most shocking to me personally was the detectable amounts of Roundup that were found in “organic” products.  Tests were performed on 16 “organic” products, and 5 of them came back with Roundup contamination! How did this happen?

Most of us know about “Roundup-ready” corn and soybeans.  These are crops that are genetically engineered to grow despite being sprayed with glyphosate.  A number of folks don’t know, however, about Roundup’s use with non-GMO cereal crops.  Crops like wheat (and apparently barley and oats) are sprayed with Roundup just prior to harvest so that the plants die and dry at the same time.  This allows farmers to harvest their crops quicker thus earning more money over a growing season.

My assumption was, however, that “organic” foods should be free of glyphosate.  After all, organic practices don’t allow farmers to spray their crops with the stuff.  That isn’t how it has worked out in reality though apparently.  With so many farmers using Roundup, it is apparently pretty tough to avoid cross-contamination at processing plants, and since crops are grown in nature, we can’t eliminate the risk of Roundup being carried by the wind.

What does this mean for us? Well, it means that when we’re talking about cereal grains, buying organic doesn’t mean we’re buying glyphosate-free products.  So folks who think they’re being “healthy” by eating their oatmeal every day are getting a nice dose of weed killer with their food.  YUM!

Another part of the discussion involved glyphosate and cancer risk.  Personally, as much as I’d like to hate on Monsanto and Roundup, I haven’t decided what I think about glyphosate and cancer.  What I have decided is that it’s not good for me, and I don’t want to be eating it on a routine basis.  I’ve seen studies that link it to gut permeability issues, and that’s enough to give me concerns about something that’s supposedly safe enough to drink and eat.

Something else that also surprised me was the fact that the FDA has been testing foods for glyphosate levels for two years now, but they haven’t wanted to share the results.  Even when requests were made through the Freedom of Information Act, the most we got from the FDA was acknowledgement that “a fair amount” of glyphosate was found in their testing.  So helpful, right?

This article has definitely given me a reason to think about a few things though.  While I believe that grains of all kinds aren’t meant to be human food, this doesn’t change the fact that I need to buy grain.  I feed it to my livestock, and I pay a premium for transition grains from my feed mill.  This means that I’m buying grains that are farmed with “organic” practices, but they can’t yet be certified as organic because of waiting periods and the like.  Avoiding glyphosate is the number one reason that I’ve opted for the transition grains, but is that really what’s happening here? It’s hard to say.

Now, I won’t get all excited about glyphosate amounts that are 20 or 30 parts per billion because of cross-contamination, but I don’t like it, and it’d be nice if there were a way around it that wasn’t prohibitively expensive.  For now though, I’m just keeping in mind that knowledge is power, and hopefully there’ll be a point where my children can get food that isn’t contaminated by weed killer.

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Get Rid of Poison Ivy Naturally

If I told you that I knew how to get rid of poison ivy without spraying or digging, would you be interested? Would you believe that it really is as simple as giving the plant a “vinegar IV”? How’s that for “natural”? And it couldn’t be easier to do!

Last year, we had some wicked poison ivy growing on the north side of our house.  It had climbed the siding to the roof, and it had also managed to grow inside our enclosed front porch.  Yes, that’s right, we had poison ivy growing INSIDE!

My husband is pretty allergic to the stuff, and the prospect of manual removal wasn’t something he wanted to face.  And since this plant was so vast, we didn’t think spraying it would work, so he hatched an idea.  He decided to give the entire plant a vinegar IV.

He grabbed a 32-oz sports drink bottle and he drilled two holes in the lid.  Then he filled it with vinegar, put the cap back on, and took it outside.  After looking at the poison ivy for a minute or two, he cut the plant near the ground.  He shoved the root side stem end into one of the holes in the lid, and he shoved the plant end stem in the other hole.  Then, he used some low temp hot glue to seal around the holes in the lid, and he inverted the bottle.  It really was that simple!

Now, some folks might wonder why he worried about the part of the plant that he had severed from the root system.  Yes, it probably would have died on its own, but because we’re not very experienced with plants, we weren’t sure if new plant would propagate from the plant matter that had climbed our house and grown into the gutter and enclosed porch.  And since it didn’t really hurt anything to make that second hole, Fred figured he was giving us a little extra insurance.

In the end though, his idea was pure genius because over the next couple days, the entire plant died and it never came back!

The beauty of Fred’s idea was that we didn’t have to mix gallons of product to apply to the entirety of the plant with the hope that it might knock it back enough to kill it.  Obviously, we didn’t want to have to spray anything on the plant that was growing inside our porch, and past experience with natural sprays or big Big Ag herbicides proved mostly ineffective over the long haul.  Using the vinegar IV had no unintended consequences though as we directly targeted the plant that needed to go bye-bye.  It really was a beautiful thing!

Granted, this was an N=1 experiment.  We haven’t had the chance to try it on other plants around the property.  But its simplicity means that if we have a situation like that again, we can give the vinegar IV another try to collect more data points.  For that one plant though, Fred’s strategy worked where nothing else had.

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Product Review: K&H Poultry Waterer

The K&H 2.5 Gallon Poultry Waterer is definitely the best poultry waterer we’ve used to date here at the homestead! So far, it’s working beautifully in the brooder, and I predict many seasons of use from this product.

We’ve used a lot of poultry watering solutions on the homestead since we started keeping chickens back in 2012 or so.  We’ve used bowls, buckets, poultry fountains, nipples, and cups, and they’ve all worked to varying degrees of success.  This year though, we seem to have hit the jackpot when it comes to a watering solution for a lot of birds who seem bent on killing themselves in one way or another.

This is our first year raising guineas and turkeys.  I’d heard stories about guinea keets being fragile and turkey poults trying to kill themselves, but I thought I could stay ahead of their suicidal tendencies.

We started with some guinea keets and some chickens in the brooder.  The idea was to have some birds around that could teach the poults how to live.  We started with your standard poultry fountain waterer, and that seemed to work well.  When we added the turkey poults to the brooder though, disaster was unleashed! Within hours of those birds going into the brooder, we found ourselves drying birds who were trying to swim in the waterer.  Clearly, that wasn’t going to work for their long-term survival.

We had some pea gravel on hand, so we added that to the waterer and that solved our problem temporarily, but then I got to thinking.  How on Earth were we going to change out the water with all that gravel in there?

Fortunately, the small birds didn’t empty the waterer that first day, so I sent Fred to our local Rural King to grab some K&H Chick Saver Blocks and the waterer with which they were meant to be used.  I figured the chick saver blocks were going to make our life much easier, but I didn’t realize how awesome the waterer was too!

It was the chick saver blocks that drew me to the waterer in the first place.  They’re specially cut foam pieces that fit in the waterer so baby birds can’t try to go swimming in the waterer.  They serve the same purpose as the gravel, but my thinking was that they’d be a lot easier to remove.  Little did I know until Fred came home with the waterer though how easy it would truly be.

My favorite feature of the K&H poultry waterer is the removable ring that makes cleaning a breeze! The waterer features a ring that sits in the water trough.  If the messy little babies get bedding in the waterer, you simply lift the ring out of the trough, discard the bedding, and replace the ring.  You don’t have to try and scoop nasty bedding and poo out of the waterer, or even worse, you don’t have to waste water by dumping the entire contents so you can clean it.

Another feature that I love is the removable water tank.  The 2.5-gallon tank works like those bottles that folks use with water coolers.  It has a cap on the bottom that is water tight until you install the tank on the base.  It also means that minimal water is lost if you’re removing the tank for some reason while there’s water still inside it.

Even better, the top is designed with what they call a “no roost” top, and it appears to be working because there are no signs of either the chickens or the guineas roosting on it.

I haven’t dreaded dealing with watering chores, and what’s more, I’m looking forward to winter because K&H also makes a heated model — the K&H Thermo-Poultry Waterer.

There are a couple downsides worth mentioning.  I will likely have to get more waterers as the turkeys get bigger to ensure that the birds have sufficient water.  Also, this product works amazingly well in our homemade brooder, but it definitely takes up more space than most chick waterers.  I’m fine with that considering the heartache it saved me when the turkeys were trying to drown themselves, but it might be an issue for some folks.

Overall though, we’re extremely happy with our purchase and I look forward to using more of these around the homestead.

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The Best Cold Brew Coffee EVER!

I’ve been drinking coffee from my friend Nicole over at Holler Roast Coffee for months now, and it’s fantastic any way you fix it! Cold brew has been my preparation method of choice lately though, so I thought I’d do a quick blog post about it.

Cold brew coffee has been popular for a while now, and I can see why.  It’s less acidic, and to me, the flavor profile is more rounded without bitter or flat notes.  Now, if you’re starting with a fantastic coffee like Holler Roast, you wouldn’t think that you could make it better, but trust me, you can.

cold brew coffee steeping with a cup ready to enjoySo how do I make it? First, I gather my supplies.  I brew mine in a half-gallon Ball jar with a special filter that fits down inside the jar.  (Mine came from Aliexpress, so I don’t have an Amazon link for one with which I have experience.)

Next, I add one cup (about three ounces) of medium ground Holler Roast, and I fill the jar to the top with filtered water.  Then I put the lid on my jar, I put the jar on the counter, and I wait.

How long does it take to make good cold brew coffee? Well, I’ve had cold brew that I’ve consumed after about twelve hours of steeping, and I’ve had cold brew that’s steeped for closer to twenty-four hours.  The shorter you steep your coffee, the less concentrated the end product will be.  Personally, I usually let mine go for twenty to twenty-four hours, and that seems to be the sweet spot for us.

After the coffee is done steeping, I pull the filter out of the jar and stick the coffee in the fridge.  When I want some, I pour it over a cup of ice and I enjoy every last sip!

I love drinking my cold brew black.  Sometimes I’ll add a dash of sugar-free flavored syrup, and this morning, I tried it with a fresh sprig of chocolate mint from my “pot garden”.

Yes, you have to wait to try it the first time, but if you have two jars, you can have one jar steeping while you’re drinking the other jar.

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Going Keto: Update for 06/22/18

I’m guessing that those of you following my keto journey thought I’d fallen off the face of the planet — or fallen off the wagon at the very least. Admittedly, I have been struggling, but I’m not out of the fight.

Today marks 41 weeks since recommitting to a low-carb keto way of eating. The last two months or so have been a struggle, and I did it to myself. I know that. By sharing my experiences though, I’m hoping that I can help others or at least encourage folks.

At the end of April, I was preparing foods to take to a workshop in Tennessee. I made cinnamon rolls and homemade caramels. Neither of these items had been an issue for me previously in my keto journey, but this time, things were different. I managed to stay clear of the cinnamon rolls, but I ate a few caramels over the week of the workshop. Then, those caramels allowed me to justify other foods, and before I knew it, I was eating off plan at least once a week.

What made things worse was the fact that I was losing weight. I was so close to the 240 mark that I could taste it, so it was easy for me to allow myself to be less strict. I ate pizza, fried ice cream, nachos, and a few sandwiches with bread. For some, it might not sound like that big of a deal, but for me, it became a real problem. Over the last two weeks, I found myself having trouble making it through the day without eating at least one food that was off plan.

So this morning, I got back on the scale. In two weeks, I had gained over seven pounds, and I was dancing dangerously close to the 250 mark again. I haven’t been in the 250s since March, and because it is so hard for me to make the scale move down, I had a stern talk with myself.

This seems to be a pattern for me. When I get to the point where I’ve lost 40 to 50 pounds, I hit a plateau and I get discouraged. Then I start tweaking things and I usually start to make bad choices. It always starts out as, “Just this once. I’ve lost 45 pounds and my blood work is amazing, so…” In the end though, it never goes well. And since I’m bound and determined for this to be the last time that I lose this weight, I have to get a handle on things posthaste.

For me, I guess it’s more of a psychological game than anything else. It’s a matter of setting boundaries and not going past them. I know what to do with my food; I just have to wrap my head around making those choices for the rest of my life. I can do this. I will do this. What I do matters!

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