Part 2: 25 Lessons I’ve Learned from 25 Years of Homeschooling by Amy Young Miller

Amy Young Miller’s guest blog continues today with part two, and it starts off on my favorite lesson. Teaching to the test is my biggest pet peeve. You can catch up on part one here. I’m still amazed by 25 years of homeschooling!

13. Teach to the delight, not to the test. I really feel for the parents who are teaching with test scores in mind. This is what I remember from my testing days in public school: the day after the test (and I did well in school, grade-wise) I forgot everything as quickly as possible. Why not? I only needed to retain it for the test. So what’s the point, really, of learning it in the first place?

Does this sound radical? So be it.

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14. Don’t try to make your home school a public school at home.
It’s tempting, especially when you feel like somebody is watching you (somebody will be, no kidding) but don’t try to do this. It’ll frustrate you and waste a lot of time. Do at home, what works best at home.

15. Don’t let anybody discourage you.
It’s tempting to listen to family and friends (who love you, and also want what’s best for your children) when they voice their concerns about your teaching style or content, but you know and love your children more than anybody else does. Trust your gut. Besides, it’s really nobody else’s business. I had very little support when we started homeschooling. Mostly I had lots of anxiety and furrowed brows over our decision to teach our children at home. It was hard. But I’m so, so glad that I never let it get to me, to the point where I considered giving it up. The same folks who doubted us in the early days are the most ardent supporters of our home schooling now. :)

It’s nice when that happens.

16. Be flexible. And savor every day.
Trust me. It all goes a lot faster than you can even imagine. :( Be there in the moment. Be grateful for this opportunity.

25 years of homeschooling

Fetching the mail in his robe, Mack considers comfort more important than fashion. :)

17. Have stern limits on screen use. Is our family alone in struggling with addiction to the screen? I don’t think so. There are so many screens in our lives–phones, ipads, laptops, t.v.s, oh my!–and there is something intriguing at any time of day or night on each and every one of them. Staring at the screen is not always the best use of your time, and your child needs to learn many things which can’t be learned from the internet: How to talk politely with people. How to draw nature. How to function (for pete’s sake) without the screen! How to love the neighbors. How to get along with a sister, grow a garden, balance a checkbook, scoop the snow off the walk, make a pan of brownies for Mom ;) and so on. Don’t allow your children to waste their childhood staring at a screen.

18. Feed your students well. Focus on easy-to-grab whole foods: fruit, vegetables, whole grains, good sources of protein. Ditch the sugar and the junk food. Your kids are growing fast, and it’s vitally important that they be well-nourished to grow and learn well. Good snacks are a must during the school day! I can’t concentrate when I’m hungry, why would I expect my kids to be able to?

19. Teaching “life skills” is just as important (if not more so) as “book-learning.” Teach your children how to weed a garden. How to balance a checkbook. How to make bread. How to can tomatoes. How to keep their rooms clean. If you haven’t figured this out yet, then learn it yourself and then teach your children.

25 years of homeschooling

20. Kindness needs to be taught, too. And patience. And goodness. Some of my children, the “pleasers” didn’t really need to be taught these character traits. And then there were a couple who really needed daily teaching of these basic things.

21. Memorize scripture together. And poetry. And songs. And anything else that delights you and your children.

22. See the world. Or at least your little corner of it. When you travel, take the time to learn about and see the areas you travel through. The world is a fascinating place, and is full of learning opportunities! You’re only limited by your imagination and your initiative. Many, many wonderful educational sites are free to the public.

25 years of homeschooling

This shot was taken by Amalia, in the Old Court House in St. Louis.

23. Kids need friends. So do you. I have had to remind myself of this fact over and over again through the years. I try to be a great mom and a terrific teacher, but my kids need friends, also, and we’ve gone to great lengths to make sure that they have time and ability to forge friendships with great kids.

25 years of homeschooling

Amalia and two of her treasured friends, Olivia and Hannah, at drama practice.

24. Do something bold. I dare you. Nearly fifteen years ago, our kids were interested in theatre and there was no homeschool theatre group in our area, so we took a big breath and started one ourselves. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, but my husband and I felt that our kids needed it (see point 23 above) and we’ve been rewarded many times over for our time and effort. It was a bold thing to do.

25 years of homeschooling

25. Don’t push outside activities to the point where quality family time is nonexistent. We were lucky in the years when all the kids were at home: we had very little money. Well–I wouldn’t have minded it if we had had a bit more at the time, but we really couldn’t afford to participate in many extracurricular activities. But that meant lots of time at home together, which I now consider a plus. When our income rose and we could do more activities away from the home, our family life together was harder to come by.

That’s it! Those are the 25 things that I’ve learned that I will share with you today. It has been a gift and a pleasure to teach our children at home. Are you curious about what they are doing today?

Matthew is working on his phD in St. Louis, is married to Rachel and daddy to Emmett and new baby Wesley. Andrew is a graphic designer and is building his own business, and is living in Ohio with his wife Sonia and princess-daughter Anya and they are working as house parents to needy kiddos. Bethany will complete her theatre bachelor’s degree later this year, and married Saia this summer. Timothy went straight from high school into a job writing code and designing websites with a firm here in Nebraska. This fall he is taking a sabbatical from work to travel and work at small organic farms around the world. Amalia has two more years of home school and hopes to build her own business. She has co-authored a recipe book that she released on her 16th birthday, and is working part time at a book store. :) Malachi, God bless him, is 9, is a great reader, loves science and nature and is very good at drawing. He tries to be patient with his parents, who aren’t getting any younger. ;)

Author Amy Young Miller writes a blog at http://vomitingchicken.com, chronicling adventures with her kids, her chickens, and her garden.

25 Lessons I’ve Learned from 25 Years of Homeschooling by Amy Young Miller

25 Lessons I’ve Learned from 25 Years of Homeschooling by Amy Young Miller

A few months ago I guest blogged with Amy at Vomiting chicken. Amy is awesome. She has a million things going on and keeps it all straight. She’s been homeschooling for 25 years. TWENTY-FIVE years. Isn’t that fantastic? She’s here to share 25 lessons she’s learned from 25 years of homeschooling. This is part one. Part two will be live tomorrow.

Here’s Amy:

I realized with a *gulp* and a gasp! the other day that I’d been homeschooling my children now for nearly a quarter of a decade! 25 years! How is that possible? If the year of beginning to teach my children formally at home were a wedding, this August would be our family’s silver homeschooling anniversary!

(We really oughta celebrate, kids!)

And in view of that auspicious, gulp-and gasp!-producing fact, I decided to write down 25 things that I have learned from the experience. I think I can come up with 25. (Kidding!)

Here’s what I came up with, in no particular order, and I’ll remind you that these are my opinions only, pondered up over a quarter of a century’s worth of homeschooling my kiddos.

homeschooling

My last two students at home: Amalia and little Mack. Handfuls, both. ;)

1. Generally, kids learn quickly and easily, when they are engaged.

Anecdote: The first time I took my children to take standardized tests, I was more nervous than they were. (My kids, the day of the test: “La-de-da, can we go to McDonald’s for lunch afterwards?” and me: white-knuckle-breathless with dread and fear. I don’t think I took a deep breath the entire time they were taking their tests.) Sure, I knew my kids were smart, but I didn’t know how smart my teaching had been.

Honestly I felt like it was more of a test of my teaching skills than of their learning. Several nervous weeks passed; the results came; they were very high. My fears were relieved. But. Something was wrong. The kids’ science scores in particular were off the charts! The problem? I wasn’t even teaching science at the time. Did you catch that? We weren’t studying science formally in our home school, and that’s the subject they all scored highest in.

How did this happen? I can only attribute it to the fact that we had a lot of Usborne science books (full of bright colors, cartoons, graphics, and science!) lying around the house, because I was toying with the idea at the time of becoming an Usborne consultant. Lesson. Learned.

Ergo . . .

2. Great books are vitally important to a good education. Fancy curriculum is fine, neat tools are nice, but in my opinion really good books are the most important thing to spend your money on. And how very, very handy that . . .

3. Good books are cheap-even free!–if you know where to look: we built up our absurdly-large collection at used book stores, yard sales, library book sales, and so on. We live in a time, sadly, when great books (among a large part of the populace) are not particularly valued. Score for us. Not sure how to tell which are “good” books and which are mediocre? This book was invaluable to me in the early days: Honey For a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt.

There are a lot of bad books out there, by the way. Trust me on this. (Hint: Pass on any book with a vampire playing the hero.)

homeschooling

4. Don’t buy “abridged” or “abridged for children” copies of anything. I made this mistake in the early years, thinking that I was doing my kids a favor, introducing them to great classic literature at a young age. I realized later that these abridgements reveal the story and give away the ending, without the beautiful language and writing that makes them so wonderful in the first place. Fail, Mom! Focus on reading the excellent age-appropriate books together–there are so many!–and then when your kids are old enough for Treasure Island and Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, introduce those jewels in their glorious, full-length versions (sorry, Matthew, for this).

5. A kid who reads well will learn well. I always am taken aback when I hear this about a child: “Oh, he’s just not a reader.” Teach your child to read well, to love good books, to savor a beautifully-written line, a thrilling plot, and he’ll do much of the teaching himself. Score! :)

(Best–kept–secret–of–all!)

6. Read together every day. It’s relaxing. It’s a bonding experience. It’s great fun, to boot. It’s a great excuse to put your feet up and stop working for a bit, for Pete’s sake. :)

homeschooling7. Don’t try to push square pegs into round holes. To use an over-used cliché (sorry): don’t try to make your artsy kid into an athlete, if the natural skill and desire is not there. Don’t try to make your athletic child into a musician, unless he really wants to be one. Not that one child can’t excel at many things, but let each one do what he does best, and cheer him on wildly, of course.

Along that same vein . . .

8. Observe, learn, and go with each child’s learning style. If your child learns best by standing on his head on the couch next to you during lessons, by all means, let him stand on his head on the couch next to you. Permit him to do flips between equations. Whatever. Works. The learning is the important thing, not the method of learning. (And we did have one who could not sit still for lessons, to save his life. We learned this, eventually.)

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9. Don’t forget art. Children tend to create freely and happily until they are about 7 or 8, and then they start looking around at what others are doing. Comparison is the enemy of creativity. If their work falls short in their eyes, they may stop creating altogether, and that is a very sad thing, indeed. The kids and I draw together every day, as a start to our school day, so all my children have learned how to draw. The more artistically-inclined ones go on from the drawing to painting or printmaking or whatever.

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homeschooling

10. Musical training will develop your kids’ brains and give them something joyful in their lives. But you know that, right? Brain development–joy–not sure which one is more vital to life. Both, equally, perhaps?

11. Kids learn second languages a whole lot quicker than adults do. We’ve studied French in our home school. And Greek. And Latin. We haven’t mastered any of them, not yet, anyway. Studying another language makes English grammar and vocabulary (if that is your first language) easier to understand. And it broadens your worldview, among other things.

12. Establish traditions, just for the fun of it. The kids remember the “fun” things we did a whole lot more than the “textbook school” things we did. Getting homemade salsa and chips every day to snack on while we studied history together; making a huge solar system from hanging various sizes of balls on our sun porch; taking breaks (often!) to run outside and study and draw a moth, or a nest of baby birds, or to play in the puddles of a spring shower; learning how to play cricket together; ditching the books for the day to take advantage of good weather and going on a long bike ride; all these things are remembered long after the list of Presidents that we memorized are foggy in the memory.

molan

Author Amy Young Miller writes a blog at http://vomitingchicken.com, chronicling adventures with her kids, her chickens, and her garden.

Robin: Part two starts off at favorite lesson. It’s one that absolutely drives me up the wall!

The No Bear Bear Hunting Season – Again

The No Bear Bear Hunting Season – Again

Bear hunting season 2015 feels like 2013 all over again. I struck out on my own that year, set up a bait on a friend’s land, and tended that bait daily for seven and a half weeks until the first bear, this small one below, showed up. He sniffed the skunk essence on the end of the log, looked in the barrel, and wandered off never to be seen again. A night or two later a bigger bear came in, sniffed, and wandered off never to be seen again. bear hunting seasonMaine black bear, bear hunting season, bear baiting, Save Maine's Bear Hunt

I was over confident this year. There were so many bears at Steve’s bait last  year that I was in no rush to get it set up this year. They showed up within days last year. Fooled me. I was there today. I walked through water half way to my knee deep, through raspberry and blackberry canes, and looked through the brush at the barrel. Untouched.

bear hunting season, bear baiting, maine bear hunting

I harvested last year’s bear at this site.

The chokecherry trees are so heavy with fruit they’re bending over. The cherries are bigger than I’ve ever seen and the trees are loaded. Sarsaparilla is thick, there are blackberries, a few raspberries left, and more apples than I’ve ever seen. We have trees with branches sprawled on the ground because there are so many apples. With all this natural food there should be signs of bears, but there aren’t.

There isn’t any scat, not a track to be seen (not that they’re easily seen anyway), no trampled canes, no snapped trees. We have three baits out and not one has been touched by even a squirrel. Not even a squirrel. It’s discouraging. I don’t lug heavy bait with me to the baits that are a half mile off the road anymore. I leave it in the Jeep or truck and take just scent sprays, molasses or maple syrup with me.

We knew there were two sows with five cubs and one single bear within a half mile of our house year. We’ve seen one of last year’s cubs this year so we know one survived our 200 plus inches of snow last winter. Did the rest survive? Suffocate? Starve to death? They should have been fat enough going into winter because we had a heavy apple year last year. I expected nuisance bears this spring but it didn’t happen.

Outside this part of the state, where the snow wasn’t as deep, there are plenty of bears. If I come home empty handed from women’s bear camp I’ll be calling friends who are guides to see if anyone has space open for me. My plan was to tag out in the first week (next week) because, you know, so many bears. Bear hunting season is challenging in many ways. It’s a lot of work for little return but I’ll won’t quit trying.

This is why we call it hunting instead of tagging.

Gone to Weeds

Gone to Weeds

It’s like a toddler, that garden. I can’t turn my back for a second. The garden has gotten into the weeds – or more like the weeds have taken over the garden. It’s producing though, and we are going to have a lot of homegrown vegetables this winter. The garden has gone to weeds but that’s okay. I can pick my way around them and soon, they’ll become green manure.

Green Manure

Green manure? ewwww! But not really. Green manure is a plant crop (let’s pretend I planted the weeds for this purpose) that’s grown to be turned into the soil. The plants feed the microherd, and the soil is improved. Some green manure crops prevent weeds, and that’s what I’ll be planting this fall or next spring.

gone to weeds, Little Prince eggplant, renee's gardenThe onions are done. They’ve fallen over, been pulled, dried, and are ready to be put into mesh bags and hung for storage. When I get my freelance work for the week finished I’m going to pull most of the leeks. I’ll saute them in a little olive oil and freeze them. Leeks store well in a cold cellar but that’s best left for leeks that mature after autumn weather moves in. These leeks were planted earlier than normal thanks to the high tunnel and have been holding well. I noticed one plant starting to go to seed yesterday so it’s time to get them put up.

I’m loving Little Prince eggplant from Renee’s Garden. It’s perfect for container growing and it’s doing well in the ground in the high tunnel. There are so many single-serving sized eggplant that the plants are falling over.

The last carrot of the first seeding and the first carrots of the last seeding were pulled yesterday. We’ll have them for supper with salmon tonight. The tomatoes are producing like crazy but that’s going to come to a screeching halt soon. The plants are diseased and the disease is spreading through the tunnel. The only plants untouched so far are the younger ones that are volunteers. And speaking of volunteer tomatoes, if anyone tells you they don’t produce, show them this photo. They’re all volunteers!
gone to weeds, volunteer tomatoesI have a gallon of fresh and two gallons of frozen tomatillos to turn into Salsa Verde. sweet banana pepper

There are a lot of Sweet Banana Peppers Notice the little bit of damage to leaves? I haven’t used a single pesticide this year. Aphids are being farmed by ants. Wild birds fly in and out as they please and eat some of the insects. The chickens and ducklings all but wiped out the grasshoppers that were out of control in the spring. There are striped cucumber beetles on the tomatillos but not on the cucumbers. Go figure. gone to weeds, Ministro cucumber

I picked Ministro cucumbers early in the morning, as the sun was rising, and sent them to work with Steve. We didn’t need six plants but there never seems to be too many cucumbers. I’m going to slice some up to make Bread ‘n Butter pickles. The vines are wearing themselves out. They’ve grown up and over the ten foot purlin and are on their way back down. For now, I’m using the ladder to pick most cucumbers. If you look closely you’ll see weeds in the back ground. We’ll uncover the tunnel when the plants are done. The snow and rain will wash the soil. In the spring we’ll replace the poly and cover the soil with poly to kill weed seeds. By late spring I’ll be planting again.

I thought the green beans were done. The soil was getting dry from a lack of rain, a first for the summer of 2015, but then, as it has all summer, the rain came. The beans grew. I will pick enough for a few more meals. I’ve ordered a bush of beans from a market farmer friend. I lost control of the weeds in one row of beans, and I really needed them.

To get a grip on the weeds in the regular garden, I’ve ordered 10 pounds of Dutch White clover seeds. I’ll rototill in everything but the beets, carrots, turnip and cabbage, and heavily plant clover. We’ll be able to rototill rows in the clover for vegetables and mow the rest. We’ve done this before with excellent results. I wish I hadn’t stopped.

What’s growing in your garden this late in the summer? Will you have fall vegetables?

how to make coleslaw, coleslaw recipe

5 Ingredient Coleslaw Recipe – Honest Kitchen

5 Ingredient Coleslaw Recipe – Honest Kitchen

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin and Erin often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Come cook with all of us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

I pulled carrots and cut a red cabbage to make this week’s Honest Kitchen recipe. Coleslaw needs only five ingredients: cabbage, carrots, mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. I’m going to base this on one cup of mayo to keep it simple. Adjust to make as much or little sauce as you need. If you make too much you can store the extra in the fridge for a few days.

Tip: One part mayo, 1/2 part sugar, 1/4 part vinegar.

5 Ingredient Coleslaw Recipe - Honest Kitchen
 
Prep time
Total time
 
All you need is a knife, a spoon, a vegetable peeler, and a bowl to make this coleslaw.
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ of a large cabbage
  • 4-5 carrots
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅛ cup cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Slice the cabbage into thin slices. If the cabbage is wet, let it sit in a strainer for several hours.
  2. Peel and shred the carrots. I don't think it's worth getting the food processor out for a few carrots so I shred them with the vegetable peeler.
  3. Mix the mayonnaise, sugar and cider vinegar together.
  4. Mix the cabbage and carrots together with the sauce. Ready to serve, or keep in the refrigerator.

Coleslaw ingredients, coleslaw recipe

The white carrot is the last from the first seeding. The orange carrots are the first from the last seeding, and were pulled to thin the row.Coleslaw ingredients, coleslaw recipeColeslaw ingredients, coleslaw recipecoleslaw recipe, coleslaw saucecoleslaw recipe

Fresh potatoes, salmon and coleslaw – all from Maine!

loon chick, spednic lake, loon with chick, loon family, loons with chick

Loons on Spednic Lake

Family of Loons on Spednic Lake

Spending a lot of time actively involved in the outdoors means getting to see and do some pretty great things. This year we’ve been able to observe a family of loons on Spednic Lake. We first saw them on July 12. The chick was a week or two old then. Look in the bill of the loon on the right.

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August’s edition comes out this week!

The loons see us before we see them, and we usually hear them before seeing them. We heard them hoot to the chick while we were fishing on the back side of an island. That’s enough for me to put down my rod and look for the birds. They’re seldom ever close and that day was no exception. I maxed out the zoom to get marginal photos to share.loons on spednic lake, Loon with fish for chick, feeding loon chick, loon chick, spednic lake, loon with chickThe parent has a small fish for the chick. He or she carried the fish for the entire time we watched them. loon chick, spednic lake, loon with chick, loons on spednic lake

loon chick, loon family, spednic lake, gavia immer

They stayed busy for the 20 minutes we watched them and paid little attention to us. The loon on the left dove, then surfaced 150 feet away. The loon on the right dove, turned under water, and swam 100 feet away. And there sat the chick, alone and unprotected on the water. Now, I’m not a loon but as a mom, I know it’s not alright to leave your baby unprotected while you go off for a swim…unless you’re a loon. loons on spednic lake

The loons on Spednic Lake probably fall prey to the growing population of American Bald Eagles. The chick was just fine. It didn’t make a sound as it paddled its way to the loon on the left.

loon chick, spednic lake
We saw the family again in late July, and then on August 16. The chick has grown so much I almost didn’t recognize it as the chick. I didn’t have time to get the camera as I watched it run across the water away from us, wings extended and neck out straight. It’s growing stronger and will soon learn to fly. They’ll leave Spednic in October or perhaps November, and by then the chick will be ready to fly to the ocean for the winter.

The water is very low and Spednic is full of boulders we don’t know. I’ve never seen the water as low as it is now. I hope to be back next weekend or soon after. I want to keep tabs on the family a while longer. loons on spednic lake

A Little Story about a Rude Woman

I was standing at the counter at Blue Seal in Bangor, minding my own business, writing the check. I’d just asked for a bag of Bear Snax. A woman behind me whisper yelled to her husband. “That’s terrible. That dumb bitch baits bears. That’s just terrible.”

bear bait barrel

This food dispenser looks different than the ones used for pigs, cows, turkeys and chickens. If your meat comes from the grocery store someone fed it artificial food in order to kill it and eat it.

Now, some of you know I can have a bit of an Irish temper but I hold onto it most of the time. When it comes to hunting and my way of life, I do not get excited (well, thanks to the ladies I vent to). I explain. I will discuss. I will answer questions. However. She called me a dumb bitch and she obviously has no personal experience in baiting.

I closed my check book, turned around and smiled at her. “We bait chickens when we keep them in closed up barns and put artificial food in front of them. We bait pigs the same way. We bait cows. We bait them all, we kill them, and we eat them. You ma’am, are no better or worse than me. The only difference most likely is that I do it myself and you pay someone to do it for you.”

I smiled again and walked away. She said, “Well…she has a point.”

And then she flipped me off in the parking lot.

clean eating

Clean Eating Isn’t Complicated

Clean Eating

Clean eating isn’t some sort of deep, difficult task. It’s not a “diet” and it’s not about eating all organic or all any one thing. So what is this clean eating thing?

Clean eating is a combination of whole foods that were grown, raised, harvest and prepared humanely and healthily. It’s that simple.

Why? In this day of boxes, packages, wraps and artificial eating that’s so damned convenient, why would anyone bother with clean eating? I’ll speak for myself only. Please add your thoughts to the comment section (no registration required).

This is my personal take on clean eating. It’s by no means THE guide to clean eating.

These tips should help you clean up your eating habits. It might seem overwhelming in the beginning. Don’t try to do it all at once, you’ll drive yourself nuts. Take one step at a time but be sure to keep moving along. It’s easy to fall back into old habits.

Avoid most packaged food

Packaged food is usually processed, and sometimes highly processed. If you open a box, cook the ingredients, and then add a package of flavoring, you need to drop that item from your menu.

For me, clean eating isn’t just about food. Boxes, plastic wrap, shrink wrap, Styrofoam and other packaging is clean. It’s wasteful, takes up room in landfills, and adds nothing to the nutrition of its contents.

Eat whole grains

There’s nothing wrong with whole grain as long as you aren’t allergic or otherwise intolerant. Whole grain includes all of the grain. It’s a great source of fiber (bran). It’s filling. Whole grain – yes. Processed white stuff – no.

If your whole grain food is highly processed and contains additives that are “good for you,” look for something better. You have to process grains to make them into flour. Fresh ground whole grain flour is good.

potato nutrition, clean eatingEat a potato

Choose a small potato. Don’t load your potato with margarine, artificially colored bright orange shredded “cheese product,” and soy bacon bits (people are still eating soy as replacements; do we need a tofurkey post at Thanksgiving? I’m not being sarcastic.). Add some chives, a dallop of homemade sour cream, or some shredded cheese from a block of raw, whole milk real cheese, or whole milk or raw or whatever it is you like. A pat of real butter and a sprinkle of sea salt goes a long way on a small potato.

If you’re missing out on a potato but you’re you’re snacking on ice cream or other carb loaded foods, you’re doing it wrong. Compare nutrition.

Combine healthy carbs, healthy protein, and healthy fat in each meal. You’ll have energy to keep your body and mind going, protein to maintain and build muscles, and a little fat to keep you satiated (satisfied, not hungry too soon).

Drink water

Drink enough water. Not bottled water unless the water from your tap is unhealthy. I’m fortunate to have pristine water from a 70 foot deep well. We have it tested now and then to be sure it’s clean and healthy. If you’re “hungry” all the time you’re probably dehydrated. Drink up! Add a slice of lemon or lime to give a bit of flavor.

I am NOT perfect when it comes to clean eating. I had a Drumstick ice cream the other night. I sometimes add Mio to my water. I drink G2 when I’ve let myself get dehydrated. Staying hydrated is a challenge with my tiny stomach (sleeve gastrectomy, ask if you have questions). Sometimes I need a boost from something like G2. I wish they’d all drop the artificial colors. I know better than to use artificial sweeteners. I sometimes do it anyway because I get sick of plain water.

On bottled water – see my thoughts on packaging above.

Avoid pesticides

Avoid pesticides when possible. This has been a great year for brassicas. The flea beetles are almost non-existent and there are few cabbage worms. I haven’t used a pesticide of any kind this year. Some years I have to resort to the safest pesticide possible. If I lose my garden to pests because I didn’t use a pesticide I’m going to have to find alternatives for my food.

Pesticides aren’t just bug killers; they include weed killers. Not all organic pesticides are safe because after all, they are deadly. Ask questions at farmers market and road side stands. Talk to produce managers in grocery stores.

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Meat should come from well raised, respectfully slaughtered animals

I have no problem eating animals, obviously. I’m a hunter. I raise or have raised chickens, ducks, turkeys, cattle and pigs for meat. I don’t understand a vegan’s position that animals shouldn’t be eaten. If we didn’t eat the animals I raise those animals would be denied life. I firmly, deeply believe that it’s better to have a bird raised on pasture, under the open sky, sheltered from bad weather, eating insects, plants, amphibians, mice and everything else they naturally eat, and die a quick, painless death than for the bird to never live. The same goes for four footers. From the time I pick a chicken up, carrying it to the block, and kill it instantly, only 60 seconds have passed. Ten weeks of a great life shouldn’t be dismissed.

If you aren’t raising your own meat, know your farmer or get references from someone you trust who knows their farmer. Set your standards high enough to make finding the animals you eat a bit of a challenge. Clean eating does not happen at the grocery store meat counter where factory farmed and factory slaughtered animals are sold.

Raising meat doesn’t mean you have to slaughter and butcher. It’s perfectly fine to hire someone to do that work for you. If you’re unskilled you can make a mess. Take the time to learn if you plan to do the job yourself.

Grow some food

You can learn a lot about food by doing a little container gardening. It doesn’t have to be a big garden. Grow some herbs on a sunny window sill. Plant tomatoes in a pretty bucket on the back porch. String a cucumber vine on a piece of twine on the back porch. When you’ve grown the ingredients of your salad you know everything about it; where did it grow, how was it fertilized, what pesticides were used.

Everyone can grow something. Buy a book on container gardening or gardening in small spaces. You’ll probably be surprised at how much food you can grow.

What can you add about clean eating? Let’s share our ideas and thoughts as a means of helping and encouraging each other.

Fresh Food 2015

Fresh Food 2015

It’s a lot about fresh food here on the homestead. Hunt, fish, garden, gather, cook. We provide most of our food for ourselves. Fresh food is a large part of our lifestyle. I’ve stepped back from the garden a lot this year. I planted 85 day pumpkins that are just now forming tiny pumpkins, and we’ll have frost in about a month. I’m going to buy winter squash locally this year. I still have a lot of vegetables to put up, meat to hunt and fish, and jams and jellies to make. We have 33 meat chickens and a couple of ducks to butcher in October. And this week, we’ll pick up 100 pounds of pastured beef from friends.

I’ll talk about why we do this soon. It’s not to save money or time. It’s time consuming. In the beginning it’s expensive but the cost evens out over the years.

I’ll buy locally grown yellow eye beans for baked beans and visit farmers market to stock up on vegetables we didn’t grow this year.

Duck

12 meals from four Khaki Campbell drakes. Steve doesn’t like duck so one duck is three meals for me – two legs is a meal and one-half breast are meal-size for me (each side is a half). fresh food 2015

There are two young drakes in the pen now, two new hens, and five ducklings that are still fluffy. I’m up in the air about hoping for drakes to eat or hens for eggs. Both are protein sources. Drakes are a one and done thing. Hens lay a lot of eggs that we can eat and also sell.

Fresh Water Fish

20 pounds of bass, salmon and trout.

apples on a tree, fresh food 2015Fruit

10# strawberries
2 quarts raspberries
1 pint cherries

I don’t know if I’m going to bother with strawberries again. They don’t like our soil. I’m thinking about it.

It’s another heavy apple year. Like last year, I thought spring was too cold and wet for the bees to do a good job pollinating, but they did it. Branches are touching the ground under the weight of the apples and there are weeks left to grow. I’ll put up a lot of applesauce and pie filling and still leave plenty for the wildlife.

Mushrooms

5# lobster
10# Chanterelles
4# boletes

corn on the cob, corn growing, corn silk, fresh food 2015Garden

6# peas
75 cucumbers
60 pints of bush beans
10# tomatoes
12 leeks
30# tomatoes
50# zucchini
10# onions
25# beets
25# turnip
50# beet greens
1# pepper
12 meals of broccoli
12 meals of cauliflower
2# cabbage
1# eggplant
2# tomatilloes
10# kale
25# lettuce
25# spinach
20# Swiss chard
12.5# radish

Eggs

I haven’t been counting eggs this year. For ducks, three runners started laying in late spring. They’re older birds so were late starting. Two Khaki Campbells started laying in late winter. The chickens have done well. Nine Silkies (bantams) lay non-stop except to set on a clutch of duck eggs for me. We have on Rhode Island Red chicken that lays one huge egg four or five days a week. I think I’ll probably butcher all of the roosters. I don’t need more chickens. As long as we have a few chickens for eggs for Steve, that’s plenty. I’ll offer a hen/rooster pair locally before I start dropping the ax.
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