Homesteading and Livestock
Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


In Defense of Banjo Jokes

BanjoPorch

Hey friend, how late does the band play? Oh, about half a beat behind the banjo player.

Recently a prominent artist, a really good fellow and a brilliant musician, a true leader in the exploration of the banjo … expressed a very sincere opinion about his dislike for jokes about the banjo. I get it and I understand it, but I want to present a polite alternate opinion.

Jokes about the banjo are great. I don’t feel they are negative, I think they make the banjo more appealing and accessible to the public at large. It makes the banjo seem fun and approachable.

It’s not my impression that jokes about the banjo somehow dishonor the instrument or the brilliant players that it attracts. It actually elevates the banjo above most other instruments because, well, it makes folks talk about it. It makes folks aware of it. Jokes about the banjo create a mystery about the instrument that we can learn from.

We live in a very serious world with very serious things happening that are creating very serious consequences. The front porch spirit of America is needed more than ever and the music of the front porch is needed more than ever. That’s where fiddles and mandolins and, yes, banjos are part of the revitalization of the front porch spirit.

Two musicians were walking down the street,

one of them played banjo and the other didn’t have any money either.

Part of that spirit is good old-fashioned rural humor. Banjo jokes are the epitome of that simple, innocent, stress relieving humor that started in the days even before the Grand Ole Opry. Stringbean to Uncle Dave Macon to Grandpa Jones to Steve Martin filled stages with the laughter of all kinds of humor including jokes about that amazing, wonderful instrument in their hands.

To me, the elimination of a good old fashion banjo joke creates the impression the instrument is beyond the reach of the average player, a “hard to reach” level.

It makes it less happy.

I love the skill level of my friend, and certainly respect his feelings that the banjo is an expressive, adventurous instrument. Yes, it’s more than a joke. But it’s also part of the fabric of America and America needs to laugh a little.

A banjo is like an artillery shell,

by the time you hear it, it's too late.

As Steve Martin says in one of his comedy routines, “nobody can be angry when they’re playing a banjo.”

 The artist in this case wasn’t angry, simply expressing a very sincere opinion about his view of joking about something that he has devoted his life to. I get it and I can understand why he feels it is a serious issue. Joking about a banjo might feel like joking about his life, his heart, his years of effort work in practice, his love, his very life. But the reality is the banjo is one of the most enjoyable, fun family instruments in the world. And yes, folks joke about it because they love it, it means something to them, it attracts them, it makes them well, happy.

What do you call a beautiful woman on the arm of a banjo player? A tattoo.

So pick up a banjo, maybe from Deering Banjos, they have great instruments and affordable. Learn a good old front porch song, tell a good old banjo joke… And laugh a little. Let’s give ourselves the freedom and permission to have fun.

Michael Johnathon is a folk singer, songwriter, and homesteader based in Kentucky. He is the founder, producer and host of WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, a radio and television program featuring Americana, folk and other American roots music. He wrote the play Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau, which has been performed in more than 8,900 colleges, community theaters and schools in nine countries. His latest book WoodSongs IV and album Dazed & Confuzed are being released in 2019.  Connect with Michael on his website and read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here


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Small Steps

 

Howdy, Everyone! 

I'd like to welcome each and every one of you who are reading this and thank you for joining me on this restart of our journey to self-sufficiency!  In my last blog, I talked about some of the failures we have experienced over the years and how we were going to learn from them.  So, what are you going to do when you don't have a whole lot of resources and it's winter time. Where do you even begin to restart this journey?     

A Chinese proverb states that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".  I knew that first step was going to be small and that we needed to start with something that we already had, but I had to take it. That first step is so critical and without it, you won't even begin and have absolutely NO chance of achieving your goals!  Once you get started, then you have to keep moving with small steps and giant leaps alike.  Once you stop, you lose all momentum and you're done for!  There will be those times like the ones I wrote about earlier, where we'll get shoved backward or even get knocked down, However, if you want any chance of success, you have to get back up and keep going forward! It's like driving a vehicle on a sloppy, muddy road.  The tires have to keep moving because once they stop, you're stuck and there's no chance of getting out without some help!  Even though it didn't have much to do with homesteading directly, the first step that I made was to get my weight under control.  Keeping my weight under control will help me get into good physical shape which, in turn, will help me to be able to do more chores around the home and not get worn out near as easy.  I have started this goal by watching what I eat and how much I eat.  I've also started exercising.  Man, it's amazing how quickly you can get out of shape and not even realize it!   

Keeping with the theme of small steps and starting with resources you already have, the next thing was to burn wood.  We use wood for heat to help cut down our propane usage (Sorry Chris!) and heating costs.  Now don't get me wrong, I love propane but burning wood in the fireplace is one of my favorite sources of heat and one of my favorite things to do in the winter.  It has many advantages over propane, natural gas, kerosene, or any other heating oil,  For starters, the wood warms you up before it ever goes into the fireplace by cutting, splitting, loading, unloading, and stacking it. Then you get to carry it inside.  Once it's in the fireplace and lit, it starts putting off a warm romantic glow that you can just lay down and relax to, forgetting all about that day's trials.  As you are forgetting the trials, that unbeatable wood heat surrounds you and relaxes you so there are no worries whatsoever. Plus, if you happen to go outside while it's burning the aroma is way beyond delightful!  The next morning you will have the ashes to deal with, but that's just one more of the many advantages of wood.  Those ashes can be used elsewhere and we'll talk about that in the next paragraph!

The third and final small step that I'm going to talk about is prepping the garden.  The spots themselves are already tilled but not much else has been done to them since last Fall.  I have raked up a lot of the leaves in the yard and scattered them throughout the garden spots adding much needed all natural nutrients into the soil.  Remember those ashes we talked about in the last paragraph?  I've also scattered them over the garden, especially, where the soil needs to be more acidic for things like tomatoes, corn, carrots, and cucumbers to name a few.  When the soil is dry and we get a nice day, I'll go ahead and till the ashes and leaves into the ground, helping the nutrients get absorbed that much faster and be ready for planting.  

In closing, I hope this blog and my experiences are helpful and you continue with us on this journey.  I'd love to have you come along for the whole trip!  Also, please feel free to comment at the bottom and share.  Maybe there will be some others who would benefit from this and we could help them out together!

Jeremy Obermeyer owns and operates Obermeyer Heritage Farms with his family in Gypsum, Kansas. Obermeyer Heritage Farms is an all-natural farming and gardening operation using organic techniques to grow only heirloom vegetables and raise only heritage breeds of livestock. Connect with Jeremy on Facebook, and read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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Homesteading Mistakes and Lessons Learned: Part 1

 

We totally did this and although we don’t completely regret it, we would never do it again!  

For years my husband and I had been talking about moving to a bigger piece of land and homesteading on a larger scale. Our little homestead back east just wasn’t what we’d call prime homesteading land. We were renting a small home on just a quarter of an acre, right smack in the middle of a subdivision. Chickens, goats, pigs, cows, big gardens, and all the other goodies that come with homesteading, were not very welcome in our subdivision. Being able to provide our family with food that we had raised and grown ourselves was extremely important to my husband and me. We also wanted to be able to teach our children all the skills that come along with a self-sufficient lifestyle.  

We had all the big dreams that come with a big homestead too. Lots of land, lots of animals, a huge garden, all the equipment we needed, and a home that needed some work. We always said that if a property ever came available that we could afford, we would jump on the opportunity — and we did just that.  

We had dreams, but we had no practical plan

During the late winter of 2017, an old abandon home had come available through one of the leasing companies we had been talking with. It was situated in the Ozarks on just nine acres of land and it was perfect! We knew, or at least we thought we knew, this was our opportunity and we better jump on it. We immediately began planning for our family of nine minus one (our oldest son was not ready to make the move with us yet), to make the 1,100- mile move across country. We downsized just about everything we owned except for the necessities and some homesteading essentials and loaded everything into a 10' x 12' trailer. We loaded everyone and the dog up in our SUV and headed off to Southwestern Missouri....totally sight unseen.  

That was our mistake. We had never even visited Southwestern Missouri and didn’t really know anyone there. We had no idea what we were getting into and how much of a change it really was going to be for our family. Sure, we had the skills, we had been building them and improving them our entire lives. What we didn’t have was the experience of living in a rural community of less than 200 people and town being more than 40 miles away. We didn’t have the experience of not having electricity and needing to run off a contractor’s box for more than three months. We didn’t have the equipment needed to clear more than nine acres of land that had been untouched for over 30 years.  

And then there was the house

It was beautiful and it had a ton of potential, but eight people living in a one bedroom just was not going to work. We “thought” we would be able to convert the attic into two bedrooms, however, with the cost of the other major projects that needed to be done first — staying in a hotel for nine days due to no electricity at the house, daily trips for almost a month between the homestead and town that was over 40 miles away, running new electric lines, a new holding tank, the contractor’s box so we could run temporary electric for the house and well, cleaning supplies, tools and other equipment, food because we didn’t move our freezer stock from back east — there were no funds to even think about converting the attic. With living so far from town, D had a difficult time finding a job that paid well enough to supply enough gas in the Tahoe to make it worth it. In the end, we were putting out more of his salary for gas to get to work than we were to pay our mortgage payment.   It just was not worth it, and we were all ready to pack it up and go back to living in town, which none of us really wanted to do.  

In the late summer, my husband went to work for the leasing company we were buying our home through. He explained much of our situation and asked if there were any other homes available that maybe were better suited for us. Fortunately, there was and this time, we didn't make the move blind. We loaded everyone up into our Tahoe and made the one and half hour trip to see the house.

The new property had less land, only about 3 ½ acres, but we could maintain it and we could absolutely do the work that needed to be done on the land, if we chose to ever start homesteading again. The home was a three bedroom (possibly four) and it had so much charm and potential to it. Sadly, I was very discouraged and felt like a failure, so I wasn’t seeing the potential at the time. I was extremely negative about the entire thing and although we did eventually move to the new homestead, I put off even talking about homesteading again for a full year.  

Thankfully, much has changed, and we are back on track with a vision for our homestead and a plan in place. This time we aren’t only motivated by dreams, but by the reality of what living on a homestead really costs — financially and emotionally. We’ve learned that going in blind can often be a costly mistake, but more importantly, we’ve learned that discouragement, what seems like failure, and allowing ourselves to be defeated just isn’t a possibility if we really want to live self-sufficiently. 

We’ve learned a lot over the last year and we hope that you’ll join us through this series.  

Becca was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania where she learned to home-preserve foods and cook from scratch. She now lives on her 3 ½ acre homestead with her husband and six of their seven children. After a huge set back, she is back to growing and raising and preserving food for her family. More Places To Find Becca On The Web: Blog: The Faith, Family, and Homesteading; Facebook: Faith, Family, and Homesteading; Pinterest: Faith, Family, and Homesteading


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Adding Goats to the Homestead

 

If you farm and have livestock, then you probably think that goats can't be that much different from say, chickens, sheep or cows.  You may be in for a surprise.  Goats can be fun livestock to keep, but they can also be a headache if you aren't prepared.  If you don't have livestock and you're thinking about starting with goats, then you certainly want to do your homework first before you get goats. 

I don't want to scare you away from getting goats, but I don't want you to go into goat farming blindfolded, either.  Ever heard the phrase 'better safe than sorry'?  That definitely applies when it comes to raising goats.  If you're well-prepared then goat farming can be quite fun.  So let's talk about what you need to know before you get started with goats.

Goats will climb... everything

I'm sure you've seen mountain goats teetering on tiny ledges on the side of cliffs.  Mountain goats are not-so-distant relatives of domestic goats.  Domestic goats love to climb and will climb anything that they physically can.  They will stand up on your fence to look over the other side, so make sure that your fence is prepared to handle that.  They can climb up fence supports and corner braces, so it's best to have those on the outside of the fence. 

Goats will also try to climb sheds.  Some producers don't want them on the sheds and make their sheds goat proof.  Some producers make the sheds climbable so that the goats have a safe place to climb (other than their fence).  I've also seen producers make jungle gyms or small tree houses for their goats.  If you let your goats loose, be prepared for them to climb on cars.  They will try, they will get on them and more than likely, they will scratch the paint.

Goats explore everything with their mouth

Goats have a split upper lip that they use to explore the world around them.  That's where the saying 'goats will eat everything' comes from.  They won't actually eat everything, but they will explore everything with their mouths.  From your shirt buttons, fingers, buckets and even gate latches, it's all game to go in their mouths, at least for a moment.

This can pose problems as goats can injure themselves or get themselves into trouble.  If you are considering goats, make sure that their pastures are cleaned up and free of rusty metal or sharp objects.  You don't want them checking things out and cutting their mouths open.

Remember when I said they will explore gate latches?  Gate latches that are easily opened can accidentally be opened by a goat exploring a latch in their mouth.  If they accidentally open a latch and escape, they'll remember how to do it in the future.  It's a good idea to have gate latches on the outside of the gate, out of the reach of exploring mouths.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

Make sure that fences are goat proof.  Goats are escape artists and constantly search for ways to get out, especially if all of their needs aren't met inside of their fence.  Check your fences daily and repair any fencing that needs it promptly.  You don't want to be trying to round up a herd of goats that has escaped once they are loose. 

Goat fencing needs to be four feet tall, five feet for larger and more energetic breeds.  You can purchase goat fencing and use that to fence your pastures.  If you have an existing fence that you want to goat proof, add a wire or two of electrical wire fencing to the inside of the existing fence to deter them.

Goat diets are different than other livestock

Many people tend to think that goats can be raised on pasture, like horses or cows.  That's not true.  Goats aren't grazers like cattle or horses and cannot survive on fresh grass alone.  Think of their nutritional needs more like deer.  They are browsers (like deer) and require more than just grass.  Goats that are kept on pasture will need 2-4 lbs of hay per day to meet their needs.

Goats naturally will choose to consume woodier plants rather than grass.  This means if you have wooded areas that aren't suitable for other livestock, you can put goats on it.  They'll clean the wooded areas up for you and meet their nutritional needs at the same time.  Just make sure that they always have plenty to eat.

Goats offer many ways of productivity

There are numerous things that you can do with goats.  Most livestock species are limited to their uses, but not goats.  They can be very profitable as meat animals.  Goat meat demands currently aren't met in the U.S. each year and goat meat has to be imported, so it brings far more per pound than beef cattle. 

If you don't want to raise meat goats, there are many breeds of dairy goats as well.  Goat milk is easier to digest and can be safely consumed by babies and people that are lactose intolerant.  Not to mention all of the things you can do with goat milk, like making soaps, lotions and cheese.  Goats don't produce as much milk as a cow, so you won't be overwhelmed with too much milk.

Goats can also be used to clear brush commercially.  Goats are often used in the western U.S. to clear brush as a wildfire prevention.  They will quickly clean up wooded or overgrown areas.  They fertilize at the same time, which is beneficial to the soil. Many land owners prefer the look that goats leave behind over conventional clearing with heavy equipment.

Goats can be both rewarding and profitable, if you do your homework ahead of time.


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Artificial Insemination Sires and Online Dating

 

“Lincoln”, a Rotokawa 243 son bred and owned by Spas Farm in Ashville, NY. He represents an ideal grass sire.  

James Coffelt, owner of Ohio Land and Cattle, believes that breeding is simple. “Use the absolute best bulls you can find, and cull the heck out of the cows!” Artificial insemination (AI) is an increasingly popular way for beef producers to access “the best bulls.” However, AI sire selection should involve much more than just flipping through a catalog in search of the best EPDs. Ranchers sometimes don’t exercise the same diligence when choosing semen as they do when buying a live bull.

I have been experimenting with online dating lately, and I see a lot of parallels between that and picking AI sires. A dating website is a good “catalog” to start with, where you can search through profiles, find someone who looks interesting, and chat with them electronically. However, you won’t have any real idea whether or not this person is a good match for you until your first date. You can’t observe their mannerisms or their interaction with you and others over the Internet. Often they’re much different from what you expected, either for better or worse. 

AI sire selection to me should be the same way: start with the catalog, but don’t commit to using a sire without meeting him in real life. If you’re unable to visit the bull, try to contact the person who owns or takes care of him every day. A sire catalog will tell you nothing about the following traits, all of which must be part of your selection criteria if you ever want to breed up from “average” cattle to “excellent” cattle.

Hormonal Health

Endocrine function is the root of every economically important trait in livestock, including but not limited to feed efficiency, disease resistance and fertility. According to Gearld Fry and James Drayson, visually observable haircoat and testicle characteristics reveal all you need to know about a bull’s hormonal status. You can’t conduct any inspection of these traits using a catalog picture. (For more information, contact Acres USA for Fry’s and Drayson’s books.) It’s also impossible to evaluate libido, breeding behavior and temperament in a bull that is kept penned up at a stud farm. Therefore, I recommend looking for sires that are turned out with a real cowherd. If a bull is not a tireless and efficient breeder, especially at a young age, hormonal status is likely subpar. The status-quo folks are so obsessed with selection for gain alone that they have bred the endocrine system right out of cattle. You don’t want to perpetuate this genetic inferiority in your calves.

Structural Soundness/Movement

Watch bulls walk and check for skeletal correctness. You need to see the entire hooves on concrete, gravel or bare ground, without grass, manure or bedding covering the toes. Check for correct pastern angle, toe shape, size and symmetry, long and wide stride, full range of joint motion, and any evidence of injury.

Management Supplier

Get an idea of how close the bull’s diet and living conditions are to those that his calves will be born into on your operation. This helps you figure out whether good EPDs are due to exceptional genetics, or simply expensive feed and pampering. PCC sets a great example for seedstock producers by being transparent about all aspects of their business. They welcome questions about how their bulls are raised, and strive to help ranchers better themselves through educational programs like the bull workdays and e-mail publications. Choose semen suppliers who fit this mold.

Semen Tests Results

Have your veterinarian evaluate sperm count, motility, and morphology. Even a small percentage of abnormal sperm cells can impede a bull’s ability to settle cows. Make sure test results are less than a year old. Malnutrition, illness and increasing age can render a once-potent bull subfertile.

Progeny Production Records

Balance EPDs with actual production records from a bull’s offspring whenever possible. Look for semen suppliers with complete herd records that tie calves’ performance back to their sires and dams.

If you want to be a leading seedstock producer or create significant improvement in your herd, attention to every detail is imperative. Research how an AI sire lives and works in the real world before you commit to him. Integrate production records and semen test results with visual observations. After all, you’re choosing a significant other for your cows. A bull may look really cool in his catalog pictures, but you won’t know if he’s “The One” until that first date!

Photo by Meg Grzeskiewicz


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How I Chose a Border Collie as a Working Dog Breed, Part 4: Accounting for Training

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 5 in this series.

Having a working dog requires constant training and daily working sessions, even if it is in the form of a walk. The key to this is time.

All dogs, regardless of breed or lack of breed, need time with their owner. Dogs are wired to please their human, so any time you spend with the dog is a reward to them and if you add some type of work or lesson for them, you are icing on the cake, to your dog.

As my border collie, Allie, and my relationship grew into a wonderful working partnership, people started taking notice of my freckled-faced dog.

“How did you get her trained so well?” they asked. When I replied that she came by her abilities naturally, they were amazed and wanted a puppy out of her. I refused these requests for a while — I will update you with the decision making in a future post.

Allie continued to amaze me with how she was able to communicate with me. We moved a herd of wild cows by ourselves, and she managed to keep up to get the cows into the next pasture. On our way back to the trailer, I looked down from my horse to see a very tired dog.

“Do you want to ride with me?” I asked. Allie lay down on her side and I took it as, Yes! Please! Before we had ridden a quarter of a mile, she was asleep in the saddle, with me holding her, to keep from slipping off.

 We moved to Oregon for a while, and I found some people who used Border Collies, to move sheep and cattle. When I watched what their dogs could do with real training, I realized just how little Allie and I knew about the real world of Border Collies.

I started to read up about training Border Collies and we tried to work on little commands, and I failed Allie. She was better with me giving her hand signals. All I had to do was point and she did what she needed to do — the verbal commands only confused her.  Once again, she taught me what was best for her.

When we returned to Kansas, Allie was getting more attention from other people and my refusal to breed her was slowly waning as I realized that I would one day need another dog, to take up where Allie would eventually begin to slow down.

For the time being, we continued to work and play together. It all takes time.

Mary Powell is a goat rental-business owner and agricultural educator with more than 27 years’ experience working on ranches, farms and feedyards. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Kansas State University with an emphasis in Livestock Production Management. Follow Mary and her many misadventures with the goats on Facebook at Barnyard Weed Warriors and Ash Grove Goat Ranch or on her BarnyardWeedWarriors.com website.  If you have questions for her about her goats or Border Collies, email Mary at barnyardweedwarriors@yahoo.com.


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A Farm Built from Illness

How it all began

September 2014 was a time in my life when I learned one of life’s hardest lessons of my life. This lesson came with consequences that I continue to live with even to this very day. I woke up one fall morning with a horrendous sore throat plaguing me. I quickly called my physician to setup an appointment to rule out strep throat, which I typically caught a few times a year. The test was gratefully negative but the Doctor decided it was tonsillitis and required a prescription for Amoxicillin. Oh - If I only knew then what I know now, I would have done things so differently.

Within three days of beginning on those antibiotics, my life changed forever. Antibiotics changed my life? Yes, they did! We live in a society where we expect easy fast solutions to just about everything. A sore throat that likely only required a few days of rest and maybe the addition of some soup, popsicles, and Advil was instead treated with Dexamethasone and Amoxicillin. My stomach began to ache on day three of the 10-day course. By day five I could no longer keep food in, within seconds of eating, the food and it’s nutrition was lost down the drain. As day seven rolled around I stopped taking the prescription, I could not take it anymore! Now everything should have gotten better right? Not even close!

Round One

a little something

I downed Imodium (anti-diarrhea medication) as if it were candy, taking the maximum allowed dosage for weeks, hoping my body would return to normal. Leaving the house was no longer an option, a five-minute trip to town could end in embarrassment and anguish. After a month of dealing with the extreme diarrhea it was time to call in the cavalry. It took only one phone call to the doctor to prompt a bit of panic. I left a message for the doctor who quickly returned my call instructing me to do a fecal sample that day. She had a bit of urgency in her voice, which scared me a little. She stated the results would be back within forty-eight hours. The sample was taken to the hospital on Friday at four and I received a call Saturday at nine in the morning. The nice doctor on the other end explained she was the on-call emergency doctor for the weekend and she needed me to listen very well. That I had contracted C-diff (Clostridium difficile) and was terribly infectious…..what?I had never heard of C-diff up until this point. She called in some medications and nicely told me to stay home and follow up with my family doctor Monday morning. Ok let me get this right, an illness brought on by antibiotics required more antibiotics?

Round Two

This should have been the end of it right? Take fourteen days of antibiotics and all would be quickly healed? Nope not even close! I finished the first round and within three days of completion all the signs began to comeback. Are you kidding me? With another call to the doctor another sample was taken in. This one came back clear? Ok, it must all be in my head? After a month with no resolution to be spoken of, I called an old-friend who worked for a gastroenterologist. With her connection I was able to see the specialist in just a few weeks. We were well into November at this point, Thanksgiving was right around the corner. The appointment was quick and another sample was ordered. In less than 12 hours that dreaded phone call came once again. C-diff Positive-ugghhhh, I just wanted my life back. This time 30 days of the terrible antibiotics. By day15 the antibiotic treatment began to leave me sad, depressed, even a little suicidal at times. I survived round two! But by this point I was becoming frail and lifeless.

Round Three

garden

Life was finally back to normal, well so I thought. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the diarrhea returned. Once again, another sample was done and came back clear. I was now down around 20 pounds but looked bloated and heavier than ever. I hid how bad I really felt from everyone; placing a smile on my face and going about life. The house was cleaned, dinner was prepared, and laundry folded and neatly put away each day. When weeks once again passed and no resolve came I called up the specialist once again. Test number four and it was positive again. More antibiotics and for even longer this time. I truly wanted to die at points through this round. I laid upon the couch contemplating life almost daily. The house a mess, dinner uncooked, and laundry piled up, my amazing husband stepped up. He knew I was tired and losing hope, my stomach hurt so bad for so long, I began to forget what normal felt like.

This time my husband changed up the regiment. He did research and added probiotics, kefir, prebiotics, herbs, teas, essential oils, anything he thought may help. I took it all everything he could throw at me. I became gluten intolerant, dairy intolerant, and pretty much food intolerant throughout the C-diff debacle. Everything gave me diarrhea even the antibiotics that were supposed to be making me feel better. After the third round of treatment nothing had changed. I was taken in for a colonoscopy to see what was going on. The C-diff was finally gone! However, the extensive battle had left my insides irreparably damaged. My life was at home unable to even make it grocery store most weeks. We began to raise our own vegetables, eggs, and meat in hopes that removing the unnatural food components would help. While it helped it did not heal all the damage.

Where am I now in recovery?

Not as far as I hoped. However, a few months ago my gallbladder had to be removed, “gallstones”, which set off a whole new furry of diarrhea. After tons of research I asked my doctor to prescribe me Cholestyramine Powder it showed promise with diarrhea caused by gallbladder removal. You know what? I can now leave the house 80% of the time! It did not just fix the new problem it kicked the old problems ass too! While I still have bad days and food is challenging, I am getting stronger each day. Throughout the adventure we realized while I could no longer tolerate cow’s milk yet I could easily digest goat’s milk. So, we got some goats, and some more, and then a few more. We had so much milk we began to produce a natural goat milk bath and body line, which is doing great. My writing career also started on the back of the C-diff monster, unable to leave the house for years it left me craving an outlet to the “real world”.

men fair

Lessons learned

Something else huge came out of this situation. I have not taken an antibiotic since the C-diff fiasco was over. My body’s immune system has fought off every virus, cold, and infection all on its own. I use natural products and solutions to help fight against all the bad germs and I wash my hands A LOT! I take hot showers as soon as I arrive home from being out with the public. I no longer depend on anti-bacterial soaps or hand sanitizers. C. difficile spores can survive routine cleaning products that do not contain bleach or chlorine, for months. At the first sign of a cold I use my homemade Vapor Rub Cream, teas, and herbs to fight it off. After almost five years of this battle I feel strong for the first time, my strength both mentally and physically have returned. I am a better person for it! It showed me to slow down and enjoy the little things. And through it all, an amazing writing career bloomed and a farm full of incredible animals arrived. Milking and other chores kept me busy when I was feeling so lost. The daily routine brought peace to my chaotic world. And I can share the amazing goat milk products that took my husband a lot of time to perfect. While I know someday I may have the need for antibiotics again there better be “A LOT” of proof there is no other options.

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