A New Home for “The Claiming Liberty Blog”

This past weekend, I transitioned my blog to its new home — http://claimingliberty.com.  I know.  I should have started at Host Gator back in July when I started my blog, but I was worried that their interface wouldn’t be accessible to me.  Turns out, as I discovered this weekend, their interface is accessible, and I’ll have a lot more flexibility over there as I pay for my own hosting.

The export went great, but I haven’t figured out how to carry subscriptions from the WordPress.com blog to ClaimingLiberty.com.  So if you enjoy my blog, please come join us at our new home! Great things are coming!

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Homestead Chicken Coop Project — Part 0.1

On Wednesday, we received the chicken coop that we purchased from an eBay store.  We were so excited, and I think most of the people close to us were excited too.  A dear friend of ours offered to come down and help Fred assemble the coop, and although we’re getting more daylight each day, we figured Saturday would be an ideal project day.

Our kids couldn’t contain their enthusiasm.  Our 6-year-old wanted to use his tools to help his daddy.  I think our 9-year-old thought she was big enough to single-handedly assemble the entire coop.  And our 4-year-old just wanted to do what everyone else was doing.  They all woke up early, and it was almost like Christmas.  “Can we set up the chicken coop now?” “Is it time to set up the chicken coop now?” “Can we please start on the chicken coop now?”

After the usual Saturday morning chores, my husband wrestled the two massive boxes that contained the coop parts into the driveway.  He’d planned to use that area as the work space.  He opened the two boxes and went digging for the instructions.  He found a single sheet of paper that our 9-year-old thought looked like LEGO City instructions.  After some inspection, it turned out that we had the wrong chicken coop!

At first, I was thinking that we could make it work (if it had the same capacity as the one we’d ordered.) It turns out though that the coop we received can only accommodate two to four hens, and it retailed for $140 less than we paid for the larger coop.  Obviously, that’s not acceptable.

I contacted the eBay seller immediately.  I have yet to receive a response.  I gave the seller the benefit of the doubt, assuming that it was an accident that resulted in us getting the wrong coop.  The bottom line though is that the coop we received is essentially useless to us, and I don’t want to have to eat a shipping bill for a 125-pound package that’s destined for California!

So I called this blog post “Part 0.1″ because “Part 1″ will come when we assemble the coop that we actually bought.  We won’t lose any money in the end; our purchase is protected through PayPal.  It’s not the money that we’re worried about though.  We just want to assemble our chicken coop!

More updates to come, I’m sure!

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Liberty Alert: Protecting Preschoolers By Feeding Chicken Nuggets?

clipart lunch box imageA couple of years ago, I thought I’d seen it all when I read about children being forbade from bringing home-packed lunches to school.  Boy, was I wrong though.  This little jewel of government-sanctioned insanity has to take the blue ribbon!

The short article explains that a girl’s home-packed lunch was supplemented with a school lunch when a state agent decided the child’s meal didn’t meet USDA guidelines.

This story angers me on so many levels.  I don’t even know where to start.  It’s no secret that I blame the government — and especially the USDA — for this country’s obesity epidemic.  Big Ag lobbying and self-serving politicians have determined what’s “healthy” for us — not objective scientists.  The moment the government started making food recommendations that read like the label on a bag of hog feed, Americans got progressively fatter and sicker.  So the idea that a government agent was offering to swap one form of slop for another seems downright ludicrous to me.

It’s no secret that I wouldn’t consider this preschooler’s lunch — a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, chips, and apple juice — an ideal choice.  But I’m confused by the government agent’s determination that the girl’s lunch was lacking.  What? Did they want the girl to suck down a carton of sugar-laden chocolate milk too? Were the chips a problem because they weren’t “whole grain”? (For the record, my children are offered corn chips at lunch when they get “taco in a bag”.)

Despite the fact that I wouldn’t go to the effort of sending that kind of lunch to school with my children, I still respect the mother’s right feed her child the way she sees fit.  The child wasn’t being poisoned; she wasn’t being starved.  While I’d love to see everyone eating real, Paleo-type foods the majority of the time, insisting that I know better (even when I do) sets a dangerous precedent.  It scares me, and I’m angry for this mother who had to pay $1.25 so that her daughter could eat three chicken nuggets.

The pink-slime-filled, meat glued, refined, pesticide-drenched slop that passes for food in our kids’ schools is frightening.  What’s more frightening though is the fact that it’s now being shoved down their throats with no regard to a parent’s wishes.  The slippery slope absolutely applies here.  The issue goes so much deeper than a kid being fed chicken nuggets when she brought her lunch to school.  It’s scary, scary stuff, and we have to remain vigilant.

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Spring Equals Chickens at the Homestead

free public domain image of brown eggsAlthough spring is still more than a month away, we’re gearing up for some new additions to the homestead this year — chickens!

When we purchased our homestead back in 2009, I knew we’d have chickens eventually, but now that it’s actually happening, we couldn’t be more excited! As recently as two weeks ago, we were questioning whether or not we’d be able to pull it off this year, but after finding a decent, portable chicken coop for a fair price, we’re one step closer to fresh eggs from range-fed hens.

Because of some other have-to jobs on the homestead, we opted to buy our first chicken coop.  It’s a portable house/run that will provide shelter for the girls at night and protected range access during the day.  If it weren’t for my German Shepherd, Layla, who’d likely eat hens as soon as look at them, I’d probably free-range the birds during the day, but we’re doubting that’ll be possible.

We’ve done a lot of research, and we’ve gotten so much great feedback from some very knowledgable folks, but we know we’re going to mess things up.  We’re determined to try out best though, and we’ll certainly document our experiences along the way.

Right now, we expect the coop to arrive next Wednesday, but we probably won’t be assembling it until the weekend.  After we have a home for hens, we’ll make a final decision about whether we’ll buy chicks or older birds that are already producing.  My inclination is to get older birds if I can find them for a fair price, but we’ll have to see what happens.

I’m excited about the prospect of inexpensive, delicious eggs.  My kids are excited about the prospect new pets at the homestead.  My husband is excited about the prospect of getting chickens without having to take the time to build a home for them from scratch.  If there weren’t other projects that had to take precedence here, we’d absolutely build something ourselves, but that isn’t how things are going to work this year.

As a child growing up, I never thought I’d long to be a farm girl.  I’m constantly dreaming about all the options we have on our little homestead though, and what’s most exciting to me is that we’re finally getting to do one of the things that was at the top of my list.  Wish us luck!

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Transformation Day 2012: Update for 01/30/12

public domain image of a butterflyWeek 27 of my Transformation Day 2012 challenge brought about some more good progress.  Not only did I drop some more weight, but I found a good source for some great local meat and dairy.

After week 27, I’m down to 247.6 pounds.  That’s 31.2 pounds lost in 27 weeks, although I did see a low of 245.8 on Saturday.  I keep saying I’m going to get my husband to take a “during” picture since I never had him take a “before” picture, but I actually need to have him DO it! I was so ashamed of how I looked at almost 279 pounds that I didn’t really want it memorialized in photo form, but of course now that I’ve made some good progress, I’m wishing I had a “before” picture.  I think a “during” picture will suffice though since I still have such a long way to go.

I totally dropped the ball with exercise last week.  I was getting over a horrible cold, and I thought that stressing my body with the exercise on top of healing duty might not be the smartest idea.  I did notice when we went grocery shopping this weekend though that I had better endurance trying to keep up with my husband.  (He’s almost 6’1″ and I’m 5’3.75″ with very short legs, so I’m always running to keep up with him.) I think that tonight, I’ll go back to a nice, easy Leslie Sansone video and see how I do.

On a seemingly unrelated note, we picked up a bag of potting mix on Saturday.  Today marks 12 weeks before the last average spring frost date for my zip code.  According to GrowGuide, I should start broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, head lettuce, onion seed, and parsley this week.  Now, to be honest, I won’t be starting all those plants, but I love the guidance that comes from the info on GrowGuide tables.  It’s so helpful for complete gardening novices like me who’ve never grown a thing in the ground before.  I’ll post photos and updated when I get them going.

This upcoming week promises to be a good one.  I can’t wait to meet you all back here next Monday as I claim my own personal liberty through healthy living and prepping!

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Local, REAL Food

Last week, I was thinking about my grocery list.  With payday being yesterday, I wanted to have everything in order once the check hit our account so we could resupply the fresh foods that we consume in mass quantities.

As I started to prepare said list, I got to thinking about the summer.  We’re going to start some chickens this year, and we want to get a real garden in the ground this year.  While this’ll help some with our monthly food bills, I still found myself pondering a CSA.  We have a couple farm markets near us, but the food isn’t always local, so I was curious about our options.

After a Google search, I happened upon Going Local: Indiana Local Food Guide.  I thought I was going to dance right out of my seat! While I didn’t seem to find much of an answer when it came to fresh, local produce, I DID find a company that isn’t too far from me, and their items looked promising.  I fired an e-mail off to the company’s e-mail contact, and within short order, I received a detailed and courteous reply

The farm, Vogel Certified Organics, sells grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured pork and chickens, eggs from pastured chickens and a large selection of dairy products made from raw, “organic” grass-fed milk.  There’s only one catch (if you want to call it a catch).  In Indiana, we’re not allowed to buy raw milk for human consumption.  Our state in it’s infinite wisdom doesn’t seem to think that we consumers can make important choices about the foods we eat, so they “protect” us by making the sale of raw milk illegal (when it’s intended for human consumption.)

Vogel Certified Organics does a very fine job of holding to the letter of the law.  When my dear friend went on a shopping trip for me yesterday, she purchased:

  • 3+ pounds organic, pastured pork
  • 2+ pounds breakfast sausage made from said pork
  • 1+ pound of real lard from said pork, not the hydrogenated garbage you get in the baking aisle at the store
  • 5 dozen eggs (from their pastured hens)
  • 1+ pound of sharp cheddar cheese made from raw, grass-fed “organic” milk (which is allowed in Indiana because it’s been aged for more than 90 days)

But most impressively:

  • 1/2 gallon raw “pet milk”
  • 1 quart “pet” heavy whipping cream
  • 2 pounds “pet” yogurt (which, amusingly enough, says “For dogs or cats or both” on the label)

Now, I have dogs, and I have cats, but I certainly wouldn’t find myself concerned if the milk “accidentally” ended up in my kids’ cereal or the cream “accidentally” ended up in my coffee.  I’m the one making the choice, right? (I can tell you though that it does taste a lot better than the dog food I tried eating as a kid.)

I can’t wait to try some of the other items that came from the farm, and I’m so thrilled to know that I have another source for beef when my grass-fed quarter runs out.  Eating that kind of food is EXPENSIVE, but it’s SO worth it for us, even when money is sometimes at a premium.  I feel so blessed that I’m in a position where I can make those kinds of choices.  And I couldn’t be more thrilled that we found a good farm that’s close enough to us to make it worth our while.  (While we don’t drive to Franklin much, my dear friends live in Franklin and visit us often.  I plan to contact the folks at the farm though and see if they’d be willing to let us bring our kids for an educational visit.)

Real food gets real people real freedom!

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Transformation Day 2012: Update for 01/23/12

public domain image of a butterflyWith week 26 under my belt, I couldn’t be more pleased with my progress! Despite the fact that I’m battling a cold, so many things fell into line last week, and I want to build on those successes and keep it going!

First off though, I’ll share my stats for the week.  This morning, I weighed 250 pounds on the nose.  That means I’ve lost 28.8 pounds in 26 weeks, and I lost 2.8 pounds last week alone.

Last week also saw me consistent with exercise.  I don’t want to exercise.  Who does? But I know I have to exercise to get healthy, so I think I’ve come up with a program that works for me.  For six out of seven days last week, I exercised, and despite my fears about being “wired”, I did my workouts in the evening after my dinner (to encourage lower blood sugars the next morning.) I did body weight exercises three of those six days, and I did the Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds Power Mile three out of those six days.  Already, I’m feeling stronger, and it really amazes me.  I can’t wait to see what this week brings on the exercise front.

I’m also making some impressive progress with my food.  I haven’t had dairy in 9 or 10 days, and I’m so proud of myself.  Now, it’s getting almost easy.  I’ve also gotten used to drinking my coffee with no sweetener (stevia), and instead of cream or half and half, I added coconut milk to the two cups of coffee I had last week.  (I usually only drink coffee on the weekends — 1 big cup each day.)  The only non-Paleo items I’ve had over the past week have been (more than my fair share of) processed meat like bacon and sausage along with some stevia in some baked goods that I made for my family.

I’m really getting into the groove, and I love the freedom that comes with just making good food choices and not worrying about quantities or ratios.  Once that quits working for me, I’ll try something else, but for right now, it’s working well, and it’s making it easier to focus on other changes (like exercise and the like.)

I also got some good news when I went to the doctor for a checkup.  (I was supposed to see him after I’d been on blood pressure meds for 3 months.) He told me I could stop the meds, but if my blood pressure started running over 130/80, I’d need to start taking a half dose.  While this was great news, it seems like I still need the med because my bottom number is consistently running over 80.  That’s frustrating because I’m eating well and I’m exercising, but there may be other issues going on that are affecting my blood pressure.  I’ll just have to keep an eye on it.

Otherwise though, I couldn’t have asked for a better week! Hopefully next week, I’ll be able to report reaching a new decade with my weight!

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Why Birth Control Makes Me Sad

While cruising my Facebook news feed today, I came across an article entitled Obama Administration Announces New Decision On Birth Control, To Chagrin Of Religious Groups.  For the most part, my assumptions about what I’d find in the article were correct, however, what I didn’t expect was the gut reaction the article invoked for me.  It just made me sad.

Of course, as a conservative Catholic, I have religious objections to the use of birth control.  But those objections had absolutely nothing to do with my reaction, surprisingly enough.  My overwhelming feeling of sadness came about because I know that there are millions of women out there taking birth control for medical reasons that have little if anything to do with contraception, and they don’t understand how far-reaching the effects of that choice can be.

Sure, women are told not to smoke.  Women are told about the increased risk of blood clots and cancer.  Women are not told, however, about the damage these pills do to the endocrine system, the immune system, and our overall well-being.  What’s worse, millions of women taking birth control think the risks are worth it because of the perceived benefit to their health that these hormone bombs are supposed to provide.

Even more disheartening to me is the fact that thousands upon thousands of women could be, for all intents and purposes, “cured” of the medical conditions for which they’re taking these pills if they’d simply make dietary changes that would positively impact so many facets of their lives.

Now, for those who might say that I don’t understand because I haven’t “been there”, I can say, without getting too personal, that I have dealt with medical issues for which birth control pills are often prescribed.  While the pills seemed to help my “issues” when I took them, they caused a whole new set of issues for which I was not prepared.  Had I known that I was risking my health in more ways than the standard song and dance that one finds on the package insert, and had I been more grounded in my faith at the time, I never would have taken the darned things.

No, I don’t have some birth control horror story to share.  I was lucky.  I’ve met plenty of folks (in real life and online) who weren’t so lucky though.  And to be honest, not all of these ladies actually realize what’s happening to them.  It makes me so sad.

Most Americans want to be healthy.  They don’t want to hurt; they don’t want to be miserable.  The problem is, Americans are also impatient.  Most of us tend to expect instant gratification, so if we have some sort of problem, we’re much more likely to take the quick “fix” even if it’s not really a fix at all.  For instance, a guy might take some pain reliever for his splitting headache rather than go to the ER to allow a doctor to fix his gaping head wound that’s causing the pain.  (OK, I’m being ridiculous here, but I think I’m illustrating my point.  People often want to treat the symptoms as opposed to the causes when it comes to the various maladies that plague us.)

I can’t stand to see people suffer.  I can’t stand to see people, especially those I care about, doing things that make them sicker rather than better.  I know that in the end, we have to decide for ourselves when we’ve had enough, but by the same token, I wish someone would have shared life-changing information with me (like Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution) years ago.  When we’re ignorant about our options, we can have a hard time effectively helping ourselves, and although some folks are just wired to walk the hard road, I hate to see it happen.

It’s hard not to evangelize, but there are certain topics that trigger that need within me.  When I see people suffering needlessly, even if they don’t even realize they’re suffering, it compels me to want to help.  I just can’t help it sometimes.  Like I said earlier, I wish someone would have done that for me.  The fact that some folks are unable or unwilling to open their minds to the fact that an aspirin isn’t going to help nearly as much as treating the brain tumor makes it tough for me.  And while I have to learn to disconnect from that kind of attitude, I’m still deeply troubled by it.

I am absolutely convinced that almost all the modern diseases from which we suffer are rooted in our diet.  The computer scientist in some of you might appreciate “garbage in, garbage out”.  The problem is, we all have a very different view about what constitutes “garbage”.  To me, “garbage” means foods that are manipulated at the genetic level by viruses.  “Garbage” means fats that you can’t get from nature by walking up to the food and squeezing it.  “Garbage” means foods that, by virtue of their built-in protective mechanisms were never meant for consumption by mammals.  And the list goes on.

If we can quit poisoning our bodies with garbage, if we can make a choice to take the harder road which gets us much further down the line when it comes to our health, then that’s when we stop needing all the drug companies and their miracle cures.  Of course, there’s no money in telling someone, “Eat nutrient-dense, REAL food that isn’t poisonous or pro-inflammatory,”, doesn’t sell any drugs.

I know my views make me seem conspiratorial, but honestly, who wants to help people get better when getting them better loses you money? Compassion, in wanting what’s best for our fellow man, just doesn’t make much money!

While this topic is pretty disheartening to me, I’ll never lose hope.  I’ll never become jaded.  I’ll always remember that what I do matters.

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Today’s Menu (01/20/12)

I’m really feeling under the weather today, but I’m getting my stuff done.  It’ll definitely be an early night.

Breakfast:

  • scrambled eggs with bacon, mushrooms, red onion, and olive oil

Lunch:

  • leftovers from breakfast
  • blackberries

Dinner:

  • chicken breast cooked in coconut oil with red onion, mushrooms, and bacon
  • coconut macaroons (coconut flour, coconut oil, unsweetened coconut, vanilla, stevia, eggs)

Exercise:

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Today’s Menu (01/19/12)

Factory meat at every meal, I know, but it is what it is.  Still, I’m happy to have another day under my belt with no dairy!

I don’t seem to be getting any sicker from the cold that I’m fighting.  I’m trying to give my body what it needs to get better though.

Breakfast:

  • sausage links
  • blackberries

Lunch:

  • chicken scramble with chicken breast, mushrooms, red onion, bacon, eggs, olive oil, and coconut oil
  • blackberries

Dinner:

  • leftovers from lunch
  • ruby red grapefruit
  • red grapes

Exercise:

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