Other stuff about the farm and your's truly!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Comfort Zones? I am breaking out of mine.

I'm in the big city for a conference. The conference has been held at the same place, the Red Lion at Jantzen Beach, since I got hired. This is my third trip. Each drive has been a bit hairy. Picture rush hour, ever time. Lot's of drivers who are used to the hustle and bustle, know the route and are very competent drivers. Next picture me, in a much beloved, beat up, rusty, running on it's last legs Subaru. It will take a couple of days to get the "rumble" out of my ears and then I have to drive the 6 hours home. This trip I noticed something. I wasn't in my usual "rush" to get to the end point. I took my time and was relaxed. My hands weren't cramped on the steering wheel, even though it took me 45 minutes to drive 10 miles. It's day two of the conference and I just went to start the car and it won't start. LOL I have Triple A so I'll call them the day I need to head home. No need to panic now.

I don't mind going to these out-of-town trainings for a few different reasons. I learn new things that will help me do a better job, I get to meet people face-to-face that are "me" in other counties, my middle gets to come visit and we spend a couple of nights together. It's a momma's dream. One-on-one time with an adult child. Last night we went to dinner and to Target, today we went to Trader Joe's. I really enjoyed going to Trader Joe's. I've only been a couple times (country-girl, remember). I watched the people shopping. There were "hippies", yuppies, young singles and older people. I cracked up seeing "Lumbersexuals" who would never be able to use a saw in the woods. The items for sale are actually reasonably priced (I used to sell my home-grown eggs for more than their organic eggs). I normally would have felt out of place there. I mean, my boots have actually walked in cow poop.

I watch people at the conference as well. It's interesting to note that people don't get out of their comfort zone very much. They talk with the people they know, sit with their co-workers at meals and don't want to mingle. I'm not like that. I'll talk with just about anybody. I am not afraid to raise my hand and speak in front of people. I didn't used to be like that, it's just happened over time.

I guess I'm learning to let my walls down. I don't stress about stuff as much and it's a good feeling.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Don't giveaway your trash

We have a few “thrift stores” in our small community. Along with the stores where you can donate your stuff, there are a couple of consignment-type stores, for lack of a better description.  These little shops open and close fairly often. There simply aren’t enough people with enough money to buy used things, especially with the ease of one-click shopping online. I used to browse these stores, picking up items that I thought I needed or might need in the future. Of course I also prided myself on getting rid of things by dropping boxes or bags full of stuff that I no longer wanted, often times things I had purchased at the very same store. Oh how I wish I had every dollar I spent on something used that I no longer have in my house.  I sure wouldn’t be in tight financial straits right now.

As you may know (if you’ve followed this blog or Hope, Joy and Faith Farm on facebook) I’ve been turning my life into a minimalist journey. I won’t call it a destination as I will be walking the path for the rest of my life. I’ve been giving things away, throwing stuff away, selling some stuff and donating bags and boxes of stuff. I felt pretty good about what I’ve been donating until this weekend. On Saturday I drove out to one of the “thrift stores” that is closing. The person who owns the property took the “managers”  to court to evict them. They are giving everything out there away. Hubby wanted to look for fencing materials and I have been looking for spare silverware for the overnight camp put on by the 4-H office where I work. I knew it was probably bad out there but I was not prepared in any way for what I saw.  I would've taken photos but it somehow didn't feel right. But think about an episode of the tv show Hoarders.

It seems like people have been using that location as a “trash drop-off”. There was everything from metal to tires to old toilets and couch cushions all over the place outside. The people who were running it were also living there and stuff was just being piled. They seemed to have accepted everything that anyone offered, from non-running vehicles to old couches to washer and dryers. Add to that old clothing, old kitchenware, books, records, etc.  It looks like what has happened is that people have been taking everything and anything that they no longer want and off-loading it at this location.  From old college textbooks to grandma’s china closet to clothes that belonged to great-grandpa and no one has the guts to throw it away. Or they figure why pay a dump fee when you can “donate” it at no cost and you don’t have to deal with it. 

Reality is that no one else wants it either, so these stores continue to accumulate junk. Then no one can get in and see what’s in there because there is no room. And the piling continues. There’s no prices written on anything and the people in charge seem to think everything is worth its weight in gold. So if you go in and find something you do want or need, often times the price is more than you are willing to spend because you know it’s not really worth that much. And so the “stuff” stays there, with more and more being added on a daily basis. And maybe it’s not even put on the shelf but piled up in boxes or bags, overflowing until there is no way to see what’s really there.

Why do we feel it’s okay to “donate” stuff we no longer want? Are we feeling guilty because maybe we paid for it and we feel better by giving it to a supposed organization that needs our help? Maybe it was your mom and dad’s first bedroom set from when they got married and it’s still in amazing condition because back then things were actually made to last. You don’t want it because you either already have one or you don’t like the style, so you give it away to a non-profit and get a tax-deduction. All the wine glasses and brandy snifters from great-grandma’s hutch along with the china that great-grandpa brought back from overseas that you hardly ever remember even seeing being used. There’s no way you can just toss that stuff out, right? Because that would be disrespectful of the memories and the life that your ancestors struggled to make better. It wouldn’t be right to just throw away all the cut glass vases and “vintage” carnival glass that were won when a dime landed into them just right at the county fair. 
But wait, you can sell it, right? Or can you. A few years back I actually made some decent money through e-bay sales. Things like cookbooks, glassware and self-reliance magazines actually made me a nice chunk of change. So I’m not going to lie to you. I kind of hoarded some of those things. A huge stack of magazines, some vintage stoneware that I didn’t want anymore and Hallmark ornaments that I felt pretty sure would raise some extra cash. Now that I’m heading down the minimalism path and I’m ready to off-load it, the reality is that none of it seems to be selling online, at least not on E-bay or Amazon. 

So are there other options? I mean, for all of it to go to the dump is really sad, especially if someone can use it. Here's my advice: offer it for free. Contact your local homeless shelters and find out if someone is actually in the process of moving into a home. Chances are they can't afford to buy new stuff. Post it on facebook or craigslist as "free".  Do be cautious, don't welcome strangers into your home.

Follow these tips:

And if a "thrift store" is your last resort, ask them. Don't try to force your stuff on them and PLEASE DO NOT DUMP YOUR GARBAGE ON THEM!!!

There's an app for that... it's called your local dump/transfer facility and if you have to pay for it, that's okay.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Minimalist 30 Day Challenge.

So when I first started testing the waters of minimalism 3 or 4 years ago, it seemed like a strange concept. Items, to me, meant some form of success. The more I had of something, the better prepared I was for what life might throw at me.  Add to that belief the fact that I was and still am a "prepper" (I really, really hate that term) and the thought of getting rid of things I "might need later" was really scary. We also have a small farm and there are things that you need... rakes, shovels, water buckets and so on.  It was silly to get rid of something that might "break" and then I'd have to get a replacement in the middle of a project.

But I started anyway, because I hadn't felt happy in my surroundings in a very long time.  About 8 years ago my older sister had a stroke (at age 49, but that's another post).  We knew before she even left the hospital that she wouldn't be able to return to her home or live on her own again.  She was (and still is) a hoarder. About half of the items in her 3 bedroom house and 2 car garage got delivered to my 2 car garage and filled it wall to wall, top to bottom.  It took years to slowly sort through it, give what I could to her daughters, sell what I could and give her the money and throw away what needed tossed.  Because she had things like 20 black tank tops, calendars (from the same years) full of notes, stuff she had bought at thrift stores that she was planning on selling (yet never did) and just too much stuff to describe. It was frustrating because I'm pretty sure that there were family treasures that were kept by her in-laws, but again, another story.

That was a huge wake-up call for me, especially when I realized a few years ago that I had 4-5 black tank tops.  Nope, not happening. So I slowly started exploring the concept of minimalism.  I read books, blogs and talked to a friend who was looking into tiny homes and simple living.

I started boxing stuff up to sell, donating to our local thrift store and throwing away things that were trash. I started noticing when I went into a store or stopped at a yard sale that I no longer felt a "call" to buy something. Fast forward to Christmas, 2016.  My youngest daughter made a comment that she couldn't buy me a present because I'd only sell it in a few months.  My two other daughters agreed with her.  I was oddly pleased about that.  My husband is panicking a bit, I think.  I promised I wouldn't get rid of any of his stuff.

A group of local folks gathered together and started The Minimalist's Game

It's been very easy in some ways as I've lost a lot of attachments to things.  In other ways, because I've been doing it so long, it's hard to find things that are "obvious". So the other day, during a somewhat intense conversation re: being tied down, I thought about my chickens.  I'd already gotten rid of over half my flock in January.  I was down to 6 hens and a rooster.  Every night and every morning, someone has to go out and open the coop door to keep them safe. I used to feel very "competent" by having chickens.  Look how well I provided for my family.  The kids used to love collecting eggs and so did all the youngsters that visited the farm. Now it's just a chore except for the far-and-few occasions where a child is here and it's the right time of day.  So I made this decision to get rid of them, well, most of them. I kept Aslan (the youngest named her) who was hatched on the farm in May of 2011, I'm serious, we've had her forever) and her daughter, Connor Dane Eccleston (guess who named her-yep, my nephew) for a companion. Aslan still lays a green-tinted egg every 5-6 days.  Sadly, when she sits on the rooster at night, I can hear her wheezing. Once she "passes" her daughter will go to the home where the others went.  It's one less chore on the farm, my neighbor has lots of chickens so if we ever need to survive, I'm pretty sure we can work out a trade for eggs and I feel freer.  We've only had two hens and one  with names that stuck in all the years we've had chickens. The hens, as I said, were Aslan and Connor and the rooster was George Washington, who came to the farm from a 4-H member.  He was the patriarch of all the chicks ever hatched here.  So in a way, it's sad to see them go but realistically, I'm not gonna miss them.

Aslan is the little white check in the back.

Aslan and Connor Dane Eccleston all alone in the chicken run.

For me, minimalizing is about reducing my stress.  And I may just keep playing the minimalist game for a long while to come.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Stress and food

It's been a rough week for me...

Not giving anyone the dirty details, but let's say I'm not very proud of myself right now. Just because I'm in recovery doesn't mean I don't tread a slippery slope and old behaviors don't try to sneak in.  But I'm gonna overcome it. I'm choosing to focus on what I need to do and not worry about what others think of me.

In the meantime, I do what I always seem to do when I'm troubled.  I purge cupboards and closets, clean things and COOK!

Homemade turkey noodle soup with carrots, onions, garlic, homemade noodles and homemade chicken stock.
Homemade bread (two kinds)

Instead of letting the onions from the garden go soft and spoil, I dehydrated them.

Homemade waffles with the best blueberry syrup from one of my bestest friends.

Homemade Snickerdoodles, hubby's favorite, though I don't really care for them.

My "go-to" cookbook.  I love this.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


I can't tell you what triggers my stress.  I wish I could, because then it wouldn't take me forever to discover I'm stressed. And for the record, what I'm experiencing isn't what most people think of when they are stressed.

Here's what I realize is happening, usually after I've had a slap upside the head in some manner...

When I stress, I talk, a lot, like way too much. Seriously, my mind won't shut down and I can't seem to keep it from coming out of my mouth. I start getting nervous that people don't like me, like I'm "less than".  I end up making stupid statements that are either "competitive" or have no bearing on the current conversation. Interestingly enough, the one I'm currently going through seems to have started during the holidays...with family...and that whole thing.  I also notice an overwhelming desire to go to bed early, hibernate, be alone.  Even though I talk a lot when I'm in the middle of this sometimes other's talking seems to just piss me off. Explain that one to me, please...

So in the middle of my afternoon, I got that slap upside the head I mentioned earlier. And all of a sudden, it came together.

I've been in a really nasty mood, talking a lot about stupid stuff (and telling myself to shut up internally) so I need to apologize to my co-workers and husband and daughters. I've been going to bed early, losing focus and getting frustrated and eating poorly.  It's probably a combination of depression, stress, anxiety and who knows what.  I have also had a really irritating rash on my chest and itching on my scalp and arms throughout the day over the last month or so. I thought it was because of my new blood pressure medication, so I went to the doctor last week and got a new Rx. The rash is still there and if anything, it's worse today.

So, time to slow down, take a breath or three and unwind.  And by that I don't mean "relax". I mean that I need to listen to my body a bit. If I'm feeling tense and "chattering" more than normal, I need to ask myself what is happening to cause that.  Is it real or imagined (knowing myself, it's imagined)? What can I do to correct the problem (not control, but fix it)? And is there really anything I need to do? I overthink things just a bit.

It took me a long time after going to inpatient for my alcoholism accept that I have trouble handling stress. Who knew that even when life is going good I can have stress. Ugh! No one warned me about that. One of the best things is that even though I have 17 some odd years sober I can still learn things about myself.

I guess what I want to say is that it's okay to say you're struggling.  And roll with it...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Foggy, slippery surfaces

I don't mean the roads, either... which actually do apply to the title of this post because our roads here in the southern Oregon coast are icy, slippery and foggy thanks to the very rare snowfall we had yesterday.  It's pretty, but brrrrr and yikes, scary to travel on.

My brain is feeling the same today.  I can't seem to focus on anything.  I don't like that feeling. I have tried writing a list, putting things in piles to complete, etc. It reminds me of early sobriety and that really scares me.

I know how to fix it though and that's a good thing.  We have dinner with friends tonight, so once that is over I'll go home and start a task and finish it, then start another and finish it, then so on, until I decide it's time to stop and relax.  I've been multi-tasking lately and usually I'm pretty good at it.  But this time of year especially, seems to lead me astray.

What about you? Does multi-tasking work all the time, once in a while or never?

Monday, January 2, 2017

The simple things...

Mondays need to be simple, just for the simple fact it's Monday.  It doesn't matter if it's the first day of your work week, if it's your day off, if you have the day off as a holiday, or even if you're retired.  It reminds me of the word "mundane" which means lacking interest or excitement. Rather than going for the opposite of that, I chose to just keep it simple.   By the way, one of my favorite recovery acronyms is KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).  So today will be some simple pictures (see the captions for description).

Snow at the farm, pretty unusual for this area.

The dogs are not pleased with the white stuff.
 Youngest put on her second annual hot cocoa party.  Last year we had it on Christmas Eve, this year it was New Year's Eve.  Lots of good food, fun and friends.

Trying out some roasted chickpeas (in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast.  I'll keep you updated on how it turned out.

Not gonna lie, super excited about the snow.  Now it's melting.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 is what we make of it.

Happy New Year...

I know many of you say that 2016 was absolutely horrible and that you believe that 2017 will be just as bad. Seriously, that makes me so sad.

I don't judge how bad or good my life is by who got elected, by what celebrities died this year or anything that happens in our society. My life is what I make of it. As you read this (at least maybe one person will read it) please take time to click on the links. I deliberately didn't post pictures so that you have to read.

Here's my 2016 in a nutshell: We had two healthy baby Miniature Herefords born on the farm, I bought a horse that I plan on learning with, I got to spend lots of time with the funnest little grandson ever, went to 4 "Home Free" concerts (and got a pair of jeans from the bass singer), hung out with some awesome friends, new and old (wish I could tag everyone here), weathered open-heart surgery with my husband who has had an amazing recovery and too many absolutely amazing things to list. Did anything bad or sad happen? Of course it did.  It's part of life. Some wonderful people passed away, finances were a pain in the rear (aren't they always), I had stress in my life, a high blood pressure scare and a lot more.

I started really focusing on living a simpler, minimalist lifestyle.  Check out www.theminimalists.com Pretty sure my family thinks I'm nuts. And I might think I'm nuts also. We live on a farm, so I can't get rid off too much stuff because realistically there is stuff we might need. But I can tell you it's made me feel happier and like I have more time to relax and have fun. I have actually spent an afternoon (or maybe two) sitting on the couch watching documentaries. I'm letting stuff go, though I'm still not perfect at it. Christmas eve and Christmas day I went overboard feeling like I needed to make all of the traditional goodies. Let's just say that there is a lot left that are getting tossed to the chickens. That's not happening ever again. On a good note, youngest and I volunteered at a community Christmas Feast on Christmas day and it was so fun. I was scared of the thought of living with less at first. I've lived my life with stuff. It was hard to realize that the high from getting something new (even just new to me) was short-lived. Now I get joy out of going into a store with a specific need and not spending money on extras. I find support through friends or social media pages (Surviving and Thriving on Life, The Minimalists, becoming minimalist  and others).   One thing I've noticed is how I am grateful for small things.  Quick example: Today is New Years Day.  I slept in, we moved our cows to their new pasture and that was about it for accomplishments.  Oh, I did make some 4 ingredient homemade bread. Otherwise, I've played card games with hubby, ate goodies, drank sparkling cider, binge watched some TV and switched out a load of laundry. Last year I was going crazy cleaning up and "organizing" the house. Now that I have less stuff, there is less to do. And the Christmas Tree is still up. And I'm not freaking out. I'm actually relaxing and not feeling panicked about it.

So please, before you say 2016 was awful or that you know 2017 will be horrible, take a minute and think about it. Did you have good things happen to you? Are you choosing to let what the media, politicians and others dictate how you feel or how you live your life?  Because if so, I think I'll be a little harsh here.  You need to GROW UP! Please take a minute and read the following blog entry written by Jon Katz, who I've followed for a few years.

My Happy New Year: What I Make Of It. No One Can Take It From Me.

I am choosing to be full of Hope, Joy and Faith on this first day of 2017 and I will Try Everything