Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Farm Planning and 2019 goals...

Farm Planning and 2019 goals...

I know it is the end of January but since I only blog every other week and I devoted the last blog to Mark's 18th birthday, I am revisiting the yearly goals now...

Last year, I did make some goals for the farm.  You can visit the post HERE.  But here is a run down of the goals:

1. Fencing - not even started...but got the money saved up to begin!

2. Clean out barn - did clean out small things but LOTS of big items to discard still

3. Saving money for Mark's chicken business - COMPLETED!  This was for a match for money that we can get from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to start a self employment business...now to "Start Mark's egg business!"

4. Clean up dead trees - ongoing...I assume there will always be trees to clean up but I was hoping to really tackle a lot of the apple trees but it just did not happen.

5. Set up rain barrels - set up one made from a water tank but have lots more to add still.

So...I hope this doesn't sound lazy but we are just going to keep working on these goals and I am going to amend Goal 3 to be "Starting Mark's egg business!"   Mark and I had our first appointment with VR last week and have another appointment scheduled for this coming Friday.  We will probably call his business ReMARKable Eggs...

Now that we are working on starting Mark's business, I had to get serious about the farm planning and deciding where everything will go.

I used this video to help me draw a "to-scale" drawing of our property on a marker board.

Here is a pic of our farm planning white board.  I know it is probably a little hard to see...it is not listed on here where the chickens will go but it is in the area south of the house.  The map is oriented so that the top is north...
This past fall, I went out where we are going to place the chicken/duck coops and measured everything.  Now, I am going to start placing flags out where the coops will go.  This is kind of the next thing on my "To Do" list so I haven't got it completed yet. 

Then, once I figure out where everything is going, we will need to add a water line out to the area where the poultry will be.  We may not be able to proceed with the water line project until things thaw out this spring.  In the mean time, we will be working with VR to get partial funding for the coops. 

I also want to start working on making a small duck pond so this is another project that I will start in the spring. 

That is all...keeping this short and sweet.  Hopefully, we will soon have regular updates on getting the egg business going!


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Mark becomes an adult and we work on healthier eating...

Mark turned 18!

Yeah!  We have been preparing for this for months!  I am happy to report that we got everything in place for a smooth transition to adult services.  Last Friday, Mark and I went to get him an official identification card.  On Monday, we will go and open his checking account.  Also, I still need to call Social Security to get those benefits started.  I won't drone on anymore about all that.  Just happy that most everything went smoothly.

I had posted in November that Mark was having some health issues.  You can read more about that here.  The gist is that he was having some high blood pressure issues.  We had an ultrasound of his kidney performed and that was fine.  Then, he was referred to a cardiologist.  The cardiologist did an EKG of his heart and that was fine.  We bought a blood pressure cuff and started taking blood pressure readings every other day.

Then, we happened to be at the pediatrician office and I mentioned that Mark was having some "leaking".  Be forewarned, there is going to be some talk about poop.  The pediatrician sent us for an X-ray of his colon and it was determined that Mark was almost completely plugged up!  The doctor told us that people with elevated blood pressure may also have constipation. This is an association, not causation.

So, we started down the road of giving Mark copious amount of Miralax.  It didn't work and we went back to the doctor and was told to give him more Miralax.  Luckily, by this time it was Christmas break from school so we had the opportunity to pump Miralax to Mark every other hour of the day.  It was really challenging to get him to drink so much but finally in early January we had a (literal) breakthrough!  Unfortunately, we have determined that he still has an obstruction somewhere so we continue to work on this...

I had talked to the cardiologist about wanting to try changing our diet and getting more exercise before going on any type of medication for the high blood pressure.  Since Mark is so young, he said that was a good idea.  Here are some of the things we have been trying...

Eating more fiber:

They now make pasta with added fiber.  Barilla makes a pasta with "White Fiber" that has 3 times the fiber of regular pasta.  One serving is 24% of your recommended daily fiber intake.  Mark LOVES pasta so this is a huge help.

There are also all kinds of alternative pastas...chickpea or lentil pastas have fewer carbs, more protein and lots more fiber!  I end up mixing a few of the chickpea/lentil pastas in to the white fiber pasta.

We started buying some Fiber One cookies for snacks.

I am working on adding whole wheat flour back into my baking.  Whole wheat fiber has about 5 times more fiber than plain white flour.

Reducing fat:

We are not huge milk drinkers but we switched from drinking whole milk to 1%.

We were able to find 2% fat cheese sticks and shredded cheese (these were way harder to find than I thought it would be.  The low fat food craze is definitely over!)

Started buying the "slow churn" or "double church" ice cream.

Reducing sodium:

We are working to replace cheeseballs/cheetos with other snack choices.  These are Mark's favorite snacks.

Introduced Mark to Larabars (taken from Larabar website: delicious gluten-free blend of fruits, nuts, and spices (and sometimes chocolate chips), LÄRABAR includes only what's really good and absolutely necessary to help you eat clean, stay active and be present each and every day.)  He likes the apple pie bars and the peanut butter cookie ones.

Started offering sugar free jello as a snack.

Started buying microwave popcorn with lower sodium (I know microwave popcorn is not the healthiest thing to eat).  We also got a microwave popcorn popper that you use to make popcorn in the microwave.

Eating less calories and finding more ways to be active:

We started buying the "thin" sliced bread and more "natural" peanut butter (less sodium).

I love, love love the Eat This, Not That podcast!  I have gotten some good ideas from the podcast and the Eat This, Not That books.

Eat This, Not That! takes a fun and informative look at how Americans eat. Whether it’s what we eat for breakfast on the go, what we pack for lunch, or how we fill our shopping cart and stock our pantry, we make more than 300 food decisions every day. Together, we’ll learn how to make better choices and eat all of our favorite foods, guilt-free!

It is not always about food either...I just listened to a podcast about "No Sweat" Weight Loss Tips.

Eating more fruits and vegetables

This is going to be a challenge.  Mark will eat a good variety of fruit so I am just being more conscious about putting these out as offerings to eat for snacks.  He doesn't care for vegetables.  I found a way to sneak squash into a couple of things that he loves to eat...bread and macaroni and cheese.

We have started tracking blood pressure and weight every other day.  I love this app on my phone called Blood Pressure Companion.

It is hard to tell from this graph but the blood pressure is slowing going down.  His average blood pressure reading is 136/85.  This is still considered Stage 1 high blood pressure.  Normal blood pressure is below 120/80.

 We are making some good progress on the weight.  I would say his initial weight was 270.  (I know one day it was as high as 271 but I think that must have been some water weight because usually he was weighing in at 269.9 when we started.)
I would say Mark's current weight is 260 so we have lost 10 pounds since we started in mid-November.  My goal is to get another 60 pounds off so he is down around 200.  Obviously, this is a long term goal.  It is challenging to get out and walk when it is the middle of winter but we try to get out as much as we can.  Hopefully, this summer, his weight will be down enough that we can go out and ride our bike!  We did not get to take it out last summer because he was so heavy.  He loves to ride the bike so this will be motivation to keep up on our weight loss goals.

Mark was given a Fitbit for Christmas but he doesn't really like to wear it.  In fact, he tried to take it off and actually broke the band so I need to buy another one and get him used to wearing it.