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Mostly for women who want to live rurally, tips and experiences

 
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Having been inspired by Pearl Sutton's efforts to educate and inspire women - I would like to start this forum.  A place to ask all sorts of questions about living rurally. I live in a rural area in the High Desert of California. I have lived many places.....Utah, Oregon, and Wyoming were my favorites.  But when I wanted to settle down and stop living in a tent in the wilderness, I chose here.  Why?  Because here is the best balance.  It neither gets too cold, or too hot.  The High Desert that I live in is at 3400'.  Today, for instance.....it is 45 degrees out with 20mph winds....but I sit inside with windows all facing the sun, and I am in shirt sleeves. The cabin (384s.f) warms up during the day and stays warm at night.  I have a small wood stove and have not used it in years. I retired 15 years ago and bought this property - 2-1/2 acres, in a tax sale for $6,000.

Why did I not choose to live off-grid? I will try to make this as short as possible.  As I said, I have lived in wilderness, and well, it is fun and wonderful but it isn't something I wanted to do forever.  So maybe I understood the challenges better than some who live in the city and dream romantically of living off the land without conveniences.  As I look at it, living at this time, unlike back in the 1800's (as an arbitrary timeframe), why not take advantage of all the wonderful conveniences we have now.....not be totally dependent on them, but etch out a way of living that is not primarily based on "conquering" life challenges, but living peacefully and happily within nature, and not running myself into the ground to prove i can overcome something that I frankly don't see as something important as a life goal.

I was born in 1948 and most of my life has been a time where women were not encouraged to do the things I have done. But I did them anyway. Odd things, seemingly unconnected experiences. Eclectic is saying it mildly.  I learned a little bit about everything.  I had a career that allowed me full autonomy over my life.  I often took a year or two off, or maybe a summer....living in wilderness.  At some point, around in my 50's, I was wondering if perhaps I had taken a wrong turn some where.  Every one seemed to have these well planned lives full of seemingly successful life choices that had garnered them careers that provided them with money to buy material goods.  Houses, cars, boats.....I asked myself whether I should have taken one path, instead of all these hundreds of paths.

But then when I started this little project living here, I realized that it was as if all those experiences were training, was schooling, for living here.  Learning a little about everything along my life path, Not having relationships that have categories such as friend or spouse, moulded me into a person that I had learned to trust when making decisions.  I had learned to move at my own pace, not someone else's.  I had learned living in the wilderness that only me was going to save me - LOL, so.......

This forum is for those, probably mostly women.....those who are dreaming what this life is like.....and learning from those of us who are doing this, what it is actually like.  Perhaps you are a mature woman, divorced or widowed and you wonder what it was that your husband did outside in the yard, in the garage, out in the garden or fields.  Perhaps you are waking up and seeing that life could be different but you don't know where to start.  Perhaps afraid, not confident that you can do this.

There are many many wonderful experiences to be had in living rurally.  You will have electricity, have water....and as you go along and you learn, and learn, and learn, you can have both....a place that provides comforts but you are ready when the power goes out, when the drought comes....There is nothing you have to prove to anyone.  Always remember that.  Your word is your word and you should be able to say those words, do those things, without being criticized.  Yes, you make mistakes along the way......but you learn sometimes, more from the mistakes, than the perceived failures.  I have learned that often when something went array it was because my beginning idea was a wrong concept....and the failure showed me a new path to success. So it wasn't really a failure was it.

Perhaps here, with those who join me, veterans of this life choice, you can begin to redefine what all these words mean that mankind has attached to them, make new definitions for yourself that will lead you onto only Victory.


 
Purity Lopez
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CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING WHERE TO LIVE, A PLACE TO CALL HOME.

Now, I am not married, and have no children, so all my posts are aimed toward those who are, as we say, unencumbered. Obviously a first consideration is are you working, and have to continue to work, maybe for awhile?  This is where living rurally, and not off grid, gives you greater latitude.  I live in an unincorporated area called Landers, in the High Desert of California.  An offshoot of a small town called Yucca Valley.  I am 30 minutes away from Yucca.  I live on a dirt road that is 3 miles off a small two lane road.  I have only one close neighbor, but he isn't close by city measurements. Its quiet here, no noise, no traffic, no streetlights, and few street signs....you aren't going to be able to find your way around here after dark if you aren't local. I can see 360 degrees in all directions.

In Yucca is a Walmart, a Home Depot, Staters, Von's, Grocery Outlet, a few fast food restaurants, a 99 cents store, a Petco and a Marshalls (which I have never been in - LOL), a small medical center (which I also have never been to), and feed stores. Little mom and pop businesses. By definition still a small town.  Business for the most part are on one main street and run for about maybe 5 miles max. Population is I think about 15,000 but that covers a pretty big area. An hours drive away, which isn't a big deal here because its a straight shot, no street lights kind of thing, is Palm Springs, where all things city and five star are.  So where I live is for the most part, ideal.  I am away from them, if you stand in my yard, you have no idea all those things exist.  No lights, no noise, no outer signs of civilization.

So for someone who has to work but still wants to live this kind of life, a place like this is ideal.  I have two 2500 Dodge Ram diesel trucks.  One is a 4x4.  And you'd be surprised but it is needed out here from time to time.  Several years ago, we got 3' of snow, and I was the only one who for a week, could get out.  Late last year, of all things, we had a flood. It channeled all around the property but I had swales and gullies and it went that way instead of thru my property.  Some were not so blessed.  Many of the roads were out for months, and as we are unincorporated, well, road maintenance happens to a certain degree, we pay for it on our taxes.....but when something like a flood comes it is at the pleasure of the government that repairs are made or not made.  So many had to form groups who live a little ways from me by the crow flies, to repair their roads.  No mail delivery here, or UPS or Fed Ex.  We have post boxes but mine is at the end of the 3 mile dirt road.  All the common carriers deliver to our teeny tiny local post office, 15 minutes away.  Post office is only open from 8-10 and 1-3.

You can see then, we still get the thrills and chills of off-grid living with less of a do it or die kind of experience.

My taxes?  Now we all know California is a high dollar kind of place to live.  But I pay a whopping $400 a year in taxes. It is a laid back place to live.  So much so that I have been toying with the idea of getting a pony trained barefoot, and a wagon to go to town in the summer.  Well, to be honest, I wanted camels.  The man who lives a few miles from me has camels. And camels are a love of mine from previous lives - LOL.  Although you can get a camel for next to nothing if you happen to live in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, camels are about $10,000 a piece and up here, so pony had to be my choice.  

Careers.  They are a bane of existence aren't they?  I think its safe to say, it is not really possible to live here in the U.S. and not need money.  And let's face it, without it, it can be a very hard, difficult life.  We do not have the culture that we had in the 1800's, and it isn't going to come back....trust me on this...that is why I worked for a period in my life, 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, so I could live like this now.

But what job?  What career?  Trust me also that you are not going to be able to have a money source you can rely on if you want to dream about making jewelry, or pottery, or all those wonderful but not really needful commodities to the ones you want to sell to.  I have a lot of work skills.  I have had jobs where I made the big money.  In the long run, I had to jump thru too many of other people's hoops, did not feel valued and it was quite honestly, depressing...not a way I wanted to call life.  So I started some "inner" seeking....what could I do in this area...what was needed, that would remain a need?

I mentioned to you that I live an hour drive from Palm Spring.  Where all the richies live.  What do they all have in common?    Big houses that need to be cleaned. HA!  Well, I am sort of a perfectionist anyway; perfect job for me. So I placed an ad in their paper down there, $25hour, cash.  To make a long story very short....I did it for 20 years, I had wonderful wonderful clients who considered me family and treated me as valuable, and I made a lot of money. No one was ever home while I cleaned, most of them didn't realize they owned kitchens, let alone use them.....life was grand and I had a visually beautiful place to work.

So think outside the box.  The Chinese know about this.....it is called the law of supply and demand.  Find a need and fill it.  You aren't going to make much money selling eggs, or veggies.  If you are going to invest in yourself as a commodity that can be a going concern, look with eagle eyes....for the need....and fill it.

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pollinator
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This is a great idea. I love it.
I hope I can be of help to someone.
I have struggled and enjoyed/ enjoyed and struggled (whichever way one chooses to see it is fine with me )  life on a homestead for more than ten years now.
 
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My husband and I lived in the high desert for 6 years, near China Lake. I’d love to retire there, but if I do, it will be without him, as he’s allergic to the dust.

I think this is a wonderful thread you started, thank you!  I am certainly interested in learning more skills and fostering less dependency.
 
Purity Lopez
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ARE YOU ABLE TO SEPARATE WHAT IS A NEED AND WHAT IS A DESIRE

One of the most important skills you can learn is to prioritize.  It requires mastering the emotions, not letting them rule you, but you learning to control them.  In some areas of this category, buying "things", and particularly if I am feeling a little vulnerable on a particular day, and oddly, mostly at the end of a long day, I will browse on the internet, looking for material solutions to a problem I am having on the property.  I call my property The Ark.  This name holds many beautiful concepts for me.  Sometimes I often have consecutive days in a row that are fraught with challenges of the nature that if I do not make the extra effort to stay balanced emotionally, to take the time and still myself, then it gathers momentum; and although it seems I have "handled" the vulnerability....it pops up at the end of the day when sitting in front of the computer I veer toward finding a solution that money can solve. Clearly not remembering the concepts of Ark......I should be looking within for the solution, not outwardly.

Almost without fail, I have found these purchases to be money ill-spent and cost me time that I could have better spent by stilling the emotions so I could see the correct answer to the problem.  This is where we learn, over time, to discern what was an actual need, and what was just a emotional reflex to outside circumstances.  In other words, we are also learning to discriminate whether we are actually looking for a solution to a problem with something needing physical addressing on the farm, or are we responding to an emotional need for instant comfort; which for many is buying something. Eating too much food is another way we can respond to anxiousness.

I will give you an example.  I had a challenging summer last year.  I am in the process of breeding out my own seasonal vegetables.  Common sense says that me buying seeds from a geographical region that is opposite of mine is going to create problems.  This is why I became so interested in the land-race concept (a later post).  No matter how grand a seed catalog looks - I mean we see nothing but perfect plants with perfect fruit, perfect everything right?  Do we really think they have no problems with disease, with pestilence?  We'd like to think that buying that seed will guarantee a gen-u-wine fairy tale jack in the beanstalk.  IT DOES NOT!  For a long time I tried to keep believing that if I bought new seed, instead of saving my seeds, well......how could I go wrong.  So I was not perceiving correctly a need from an emotional desire.

Perfect anything does not happen over night. I knew that but I just wanted to BELIEVE - LOL.  It takes a lot of Love, a lot of Patience.  Decades upon decades.  Luther Burbank went thru 100,000, yes 100,000 trials to come up with the spineless cactus. Hmmm. No technique is going to save you no matter what anyone says.  It is the Love, the Patience, the Kindness that you show to the land that will reap you the rewards and really, with few exceptions, no wondrous doo-dad is going to miraculously create a Garden of Eden.  It is you that is the cornerstone.  Not the seed, not the perfect technique, not the fertilizer.  You.

So....I just couldn't get a handle on this, I had successes then failures.  Even this year. After all this time.  I spent $300 on a vortex worm castings maker. What a joke.  What was I thinking?  I ended up dismantling it and using the different parts to create actual useful things.  It was an emotional response to the pestilence problem I had with seeds from a company that I should not have ever bought.  See how it can run away from you?  If we don't get a good mastery of this skill, we will always be chasing our tail.

My answer to this problem was to admit that I haven't quite mastered this skill yet.  I still have those days from time to time, and those lapses cost me money I could have spent wisely elsewhere.  I need new potable water hoses.  I could have bought 3 new hoses for what that darn vortex cost me.

One method that can help you master this skill is to wait.  I have a rule with myself, wait one week.  If I still think I need it, I reassess, then I probably will buy it. I broke my own rule with the vortex.  It was late at night and I bought into the PR of the the guy selling it.  Why is it something seems so convincing late at night that we wouldn't have considered in the noon day sun - LOL.  I know myself pretty well.  I actually do know when I should not be buying something I don't need. It is there, in my solar plexus....that anxious feeling...I hear it, I feel it, DON'T it is saying.  And sometimes I am not brave; I give in. I want an answer NOW. Buying this will solve the problem.....then I won't be anxious (laughing at myself)

I will tell you one more story, then its off to fix oatmeal.  I live on a mesa, the winds are often 30mph with 50mph gusts.  We actually, yep, here in the desert, had a tornado here a couple years back. Not just a wind whirly masquerading but an actual 90mph tornado.  So....a couple of weeks ago the wind ripped a 3x3 foot piece of roofing off one of my grow houses where I grow summer vegetables under lights in the winter.  Tropical fruit tree starts for the greenhouse.  I became very very anxious.  How will I fix this, oh my.  I am 5'4", 110 pounds, I will NEVER be able to get a roll of tarpaper and a roll of roll roofing up there by myself.  Fret. worry.  My knee jerk answer was to immediately spend $50 on a 12 mil tarp, thinking to myself, well, I don't want to deal with this, I'll just cover the hole with a tarp.

Okay, I know, what WAS I thinking? That the wind wasn't going to do the same thing to the tarp?  I am a very spiritual person...my life is governed in all ways by this spiritual commitment. I was having these visions of water deluge, leaking thru the roof, ruining the ceiling, well....you get the idea. Letting my emotions rule instead of knowing that this challenge had a perfect answer just like every other challenge that has come to me for the last 30 years.  So I calmed myself.  Had to return the tarp.  Still, no answer. I waited.  My emotions kept saying "its going to rain, everything will be ruined".  I told them to shut up.  THEN....the inner direction.  I was led to a product on Amazon that is a rubber roof sealant that you paint on.  I have used it on my RVs (storage) I have here but that stuff called Liquid Roof, can not be used on asphalt roofing. But Lo and Behold, they do make it for asphalt roofing.  Now, of course this is a temporary fix.  But then I got more direction.  I could now build the double roof system which is so popular in the Middle East.  And yes, I CAN carry up sheets of galvanized roofing.  See?  We can do this girls, we can.
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Jennie Little
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When we lived n the high desert, I bought some seeds from native seed/search. You can find them at native seed dot org.
 
Nina Jay
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ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR HEART, EVEN IF IT FEELS "SILLY" INITIALLY

But do make sure, just like Purity suggested, that it really is your heart and your soul doing the talking Momentary emotions can be anything. They are just messengers. They are shouting: look at this! Here's something you need to take notice of! But what are they really saying? What's behind the noise? What is the real issue? Maybe it isn't really even an issue Maybe it is.

All I'm trying to say is don't let anyone tell you (including yourself) to not follow your heart. Not for any reason.

Reasoning can come afterwards The brain is a good servant, but it is sometimes not-so-good a master. It plays all kinds of junk and old tapes, too. Not all of the stuff going around in my head is worth listening to
 
Nina Jay
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IT'S OKAY TO MAKE MISTAKES

Mistakes are not "wrong". They are just mistakes. Experience may be the most expensive teacher, but sometimes it's the only teacher available
 
Purity Lopez
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Jennie Little wrote:My husband and I lived in the high desert for 6 years, near China Lake. I’d love to retire there, but if I do, it will be without him, as he’s allergic to the dust.

I think this is a wonderful thread you started, thank you!  I am certainly interested in learning more skills and fostering less dependency.



Hi Jennie, and well-come!  I am very familiar with that area, it is even more rural than here.  I used to be a whitewater rafting guide and I spent a lot of time on the Kern.  And yes, sometimes we move on.  I have done a lot of moving on in my life.  Some were painful separations, but needful ones.  Myself, I was meant to be in this life without relationship encumbrances. I fought that for a long time when I was younger.  

Now, I am sort of reading between the lines of your post, so if I have trespassed, I apologize.  What we wanted when we were younger, if we expand our horizons and the significant other doesn't feel like expanding, or is expanding in other directions we are not interested in.....we have to make hard decisions.  There is an old adage, make a list.....if you have more negatives than positives as to co-creating with the significant other....then perhaps it is a time for contemplation.

Someone said something to me a very long time ago and it made perfect sense to me.  If something isn't working; set it free.  When something isn't working that is a sign we are out of balance, no matter what the problem. When the emotions get working we want to debunk that saying.  There is also guilt.  Our society teaches us here in the U.S. that wanting something for ourselves is wrong.  That CAN be true, and then again not.  There is a complete day and night difference between completing a life plan and selfishness.  

This story does not seem connected but it is if we look deeper.  There is a Master Gardener on Permies that posted quite a few comments on working with others.  He said that for him, working with others was counter-productive.  That he was spending time talking with the other person(s) so he was actually spending double the time on a project than if he did it by himself.  He also mentioned that if he asks another guy to come and help fell 6 trees, then he is going to have to share those felled tree with him, so it wasn't really a bonus, having someone else work with him, because he is still only getting 3 trees for his use, which is what would have happened if he just did it by himself.

This is a conundrum that we often do not consider when choosing relationships of any kind.  Is having someone else with us REALLY adding?  Or is it lack of faith in ourselves that keeps us in relationships that have out-grown their usefulness?  It seems that if you are dreaming, you have a vision of China Lake, that that is an answer in itself.  Only you can determine whether this vision is a Need, or a desire.  

I would like this particular forum to be one of complete transparency.  Let us all try to take off the mask we might have learned to wear in the outside world and engage in true sisterhood....being honest, being open, knowing that here, in this forum there is no judging, no criticism, just open arms and listening ears.
 
Nina Jay
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Purity Lopez wrote:

Now, I am sort of reading between the lines of your post, so if I have trespassed, I apologize.  What we wanted when we were younger, if we expand our horizons and the significant other doesn't feel like expanding, or is expanding in other directions we are not interested in.....we have to make hard decisions.  There is an old adage, make a list.....if you have more negatives than positives as to co-creating with the significant other....then perhaps it is a time for contemplation.

Someone said something to me a very long time ago and it made perfect sense to me.  If something isn't working; set it free.  When something isn't working that is a sign we are out of balance, no matter what the problem. When the emotions get working we want to debunk that saying.  There is also guilt.  Our society teaches us here in the U.S. that wanting something for ourselves is wrong.  That CAN be true, and then again not.  There is a complete day and night difference between completing a life plan and selfishness.  



I obviously don't know about Jennie, but what you wrote resonates perfectly with me. So thank you
 
Purity Lopez
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Jennie Little wrote:When we lived n the high desert, I bought some seeds from native seed/search. You can find them at native seed dot org.



Yes, I have some of their seeds.  I love their Hopi watermelon. But still all in all, I feel the calling to have everything here born here.  The idea, the concept, the vision, born here.  Just like a child if you will, a good analogy.  I want to conceive, bear, and nurture into being concepts of agriculture that I do not see as having a valuable place in the world consciousness.  And honestly, not really considered.  Everyone wants it now. The whole concept we have of growing, of working co-creatively with Nature, has become perverted.  For example, grafted trees.  Almost without exception, everything is grafted now, even vegetables.  All this is is a knee jerk response to growing Nature out of balance and wanting a quick fix.  You are mixing two different vibrations, this is not going to work long run.  

Is there evidence of this imbalance? Yes.  Look at apple crops.  All manner of pestilence and disease.  Even organic farms use up to 19 different kinds of pesticide in a single season, on a single tree.  Hybrid grafted trees are short lived.  I know a man, Tom Brown, down in the South whose mission is finding ancient apple trees on farms and bringing them back into production.  Some of these trees are a hundred years old.  Name me a grafted tree that lives anywhere near that long.

So one of my mission objectives here is "grow trees from seed". Own root trees, that is my objective.  I have what I call natural dwarf trees here.  I prune them that way, talk to them, let them know what the goal is.  After a while they get the idea and massive pruning is not necessary. In many cases I make them into bushes which is a better idea than a tree in countless ways.
 
Jennie Little
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Actually, I was trying hard not to be judgmental re relationships as well as being honest.

My relationship has lasted 42 years now, and I'm happy in it. I grew up in SoCal and wound up at China Lake, working for the DoD, which wasn't as good a fit as the relationship. We headed east and ended up staying here.

I still want and need to be more independent and less dependent. I'm still interested in promoting that behavior!  

DH broke his leg a while back and I found it really frustrating that I didn't know how to do things or didn't have the brute strength to do them, even if I could. Splitting wood for one. We have an electric splitter, which works. But I can't do more than a minimum load because of my health issues. (I threw my back out, badly, trying to.) Fortunately, we didn't need the wood until later and I'd learned to pace myself by then. Before the electric splitter, I couldn't have split the wood at all. So, I'd definitely recommend one.

But no, I'm not living alone. I'm just a woman who was raised by men and expects herself to carry as much of the load, or all of it, if need be. Even when I don't "have" to.
 
Purity Lopez
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Although I mentioned that this forum is geared more for single women without children, I ran across this today and thought I might post it.  It is a link to the Female Farmer Project and deals with being a mother.  Very interesting and I loved their photos.  So pass this on if you know someone who might enjoy it.
http://www.femalefarmerproject.org/ask-a-farmer-series
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Nina Jay
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Some readers might also be interested in this:

Single Mom Crushing It As An Urban Farmer


At some point in my life, I watched a lot of Curtis Stone videos, for the practical tips and inspiration, even though I'm not an urban farmer. The can-do attitude flowing from these videos is what saved me in many ways from depression.

Of course, I did not take all of CS's tips. He is becoming more "permie" as years go by, but in his first videos he suggests a lot of products that may not be so necessary for a home-steader so don't buy everything he suggests ;-)

Perhaps the best thing about his videos for me personally is that I learned the language. Not only English (that we learn in school in Finland) but also the language called "how to talk to people who might be against your ideas initially" and also "how to not give a damn about all of the people who might be against you following your dreams"
 
master pollinator
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Purity, thanks for starting the discussion. Lots of good thoughts for me to mull over and ponder. You see, I'm about your same age. I took a different path in life because I had been trained to accept it. But in 2001 things changed for me. I broke away from the rat race, moved rural, and pursued my life along desire. Hubby still has some difficulty accepting that I'm no longer the codependent wife he had for 30 years. But we're still together, sharing life, but just doing it differently than before.

I choose Hawaii as my base, basically for the climate. I choose a rural area, because that was what I always wanted. I'm not as remote as I had hoped, but it's a good compromise.

You mentioning about making money struck a chord. The young "back to the land" people around here try to earn their living money by making jewelry, ceramics, fake stained glass, pottery, paintings, etc. It just doesn't work, even with the fact that Hawaii has tourists. Housecleaning brings a helluva lot more stready money in. And there's a demand for house cleaners.

I'm looking forward to discussing more things with you.
 
Purity Lopez
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Here is my email:  expressionsoftheheart777@gmail.com.   My vision is that we form working friendships, not only on Permies, but away from.  Helping each other with solutions to Challenges.  Although we do not want to give too much power to a concept that we are different from men, our Challenges as woman ARE different.  This is not duality. We are women, we have the ability to Create life (children) that we can channel into becoming Mothers of Nature.  We are Nurturers by Nature. We have Challenges of physical strength but so far, about 95% of the time for me.....leverage has solved those Challenges. And seeking tools that address that issue.  Learning the art of leverage is our strength.....and that can be used to solve these kinds of situations.

I was thinking about starting two groups on Facebook (Edit:  I am not a fan of FB, so I am creating a Blog today instead).  Blog address:  https://expressionsoftheheartfarm.blogspot.com/>;
There will be a category for cooking right off from the get go.  I am vegan and cook without garlic and onions.  I am a different kind of vegan than you might have heard of before. I can't be called a vegetarian for I eat no thing that is derived of flesh.

I do not feel it is wrong to partake of milk, or milk based products, or eggs......IF and that is the big IF, we raise those animals, those ducks or chickens ourselves; AND we raise them with Love and Nurturing care. Giving life, rather than taking life. For is this not a mother's Nature?. I have goats and I have Runner Ducks.  They eat organic. Veggies, fruit and grains.  A lot of it comes from what I grow here. I buy bulk organic grains and mix them together, providing a good balance of nutrition for them.  My ducks are 8 years old and still laying. They have a lot of room to roam. They have five ponds and large mulberry trees to sit under in the summer.  What could be wrong with that concept?

I have 30 years of recipes that are geared toward cooking amounts of food for a single person. If we, as single women, do not eat properly, we cannot do our jobs properly.  If the food is Nourishing, cooked with Love and Care, we do not get tired of it, no matter how many times a week we eat it. I have so many recipes that there is a lot of variety.  A lot of recipes from different cultures......changed to reflect the way I eat.  I am not here to convert anyone to being a vegan.  That is a choice that comes with a change in consciousness as a mother, wanting to nurture all life. You cannot, I do not feel...change people's thoughts on these kind of subjects...it is something they have to come to on their own.
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