The Frugality of Farmers

November 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Frugality:  noun / the practice of acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal.

Fencing, potting shed, a sofa . . . A family member asked me what I wanted for Christmas and these were the items that jumped into my head.  Tires for the truck and a kumquat tree followed close behind.  Funny how desires change over time.  But actually, other than my fiber and book addictions (and I have plenty of each to ride out the end of time), I really don’t need much – nor want much.  And everything that I do want or need, seems I’m able to acquire in a fairly resourceful way.  Goat fencing – just two weeks ago friends helped us harvest bamboo for a potential goat corral.  And I’m still looking at the strawberry guava tree as a good source for portable fence panels.  No cost just some sweat equity and no doubt a few colorful metaphors before completion.  Potting shed – just a few boards really.  Found a piece of metal roof in the banana patch – that would work.    Don’t underestimate what you find in the banana patch.  My current kitchen sink came from the same patch.  And a sofa – plenty of wood under the house – two beautiful cotton and wool futons can be reconfigured to serve as a cushion – and I’ve got feather pillows everywhere.  Add an old sign that we found on the property for a top to a bookshelf and place it against the boards as a back and you have a fairly good-looking sofa.  Picture on the blog is pending.  Right now the design is in my head but I think Santa Tim might just cross this one off my Christmas list this year.

I think the best lesson I’ve learned from farming these past three years is living with less.  It hasn’t been a sacrifice; rather, a change of perspective.  Affluence defined in my “other” life was growing less satisfying.  And as a farmer, I can now move toward a more secure, sustainable way of life.  In fact, anyone can.  You just simply need to be more frugal.  The origin of the word, frugality, in Latin means useful or worthy and fruitful or productive.  It has only been recently that the term has come to mean an absence of luxury.  But as I look out at the amazing sunset over the Pacific Ocean this evening, I think, “My life feels luxurious at times.”  This Thanksgiving, I wish all of you a time of frugality – of sharing, simple living, and peace in knowing that you are rich in what you have.

A hui hou!


Making sense of scents

November 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

I started my own skin care line – Luana Naturals.  It’s a bit scary taking on a business venture when you have little knowledge of business ventures.  However, a leap of faith can prove to be life changing and I’m optimistic about the future.  I enjoy making beautiful scrubs and moisturizers from natural ingredients from my farm and the island.  I enjoy growing the herbs, developing my own scents, and talking with people at local farm markets and via the web.  One topic that comes up often is the question of artificial fragrances in beauty products.  Are they a threat to your body and the environment?  I think it’s important that one be smart about the chemicals that permeate one’s life.  The “clean” smell of deodorizers or body wash might seduce us into thinking our homes and bodies are really clean.  But what is in that “clean” scent?  An estimated 3,000+ chemicals are used in artificial fragrances.  At times it seems like a “toxic soup.”  My suggestion is to read labels and look for alternatives.  You can select products that are fragrance-free.  However, even if something claims to be “unscented” or “fragrance-free” doesn’t mean they really are.  Pick up a box of “unscented” baby wipes and you find fragrance listed in the ingredients.  Or you can select products that use essential oils – the true essence of the plants.  They will be more expensive but real things cost more.  And not only will essential oils awaken your nose but many herbs are so beneficial to your skin.  For my skin care line, I’m learning that the natural world provides us with what we desire and what is beautiful for our body.

A hui hou!


The ladies who lunch

November 8, 2010 § 1 Comment

As I mentioned last week, I am very attached to my chickens. My girls keep me company when I’m working on the farm – helping to till and fertilize the soil – eating the centipede that surprised me under the lava rock I just moved – and making me smile when they run as fast as their little legs can carry them when called. Someone asked me at the Green Market yesterday what I fed my “girls.” Well, they mostly eat what they find which is plenty on a 10 acre farm. They are not caged and roam the land for bugs, seeds, dropped fruit, and grass and weeds. I supplement with macnut pieces that might have gone to the compost pile, bananas with too many spots for even banana bread; they love bananas. And I also give them kelp granules in cooked quinoa. They need protein – especially when they are molting. So much energy goes into their new feather production that they usually stop laying eggs, which is happening now. How I covet a three egg veggie omelet at the moment. We feed our dogs fresh, raw, grass-fed beef and the chickens love it too. Remember, chickens’ ancestors were the dinosaurs and so they definitely have a carnivore side to them. No chicken for the chickens . . . doesn’t seem right. But they love raw or cooked eggs. Scrambled eggs cut into little pieces is perfect food for new chicks. No GMO corn laying mash on this farm. I don’t want it in the eggs I eat – the farm’s soil – or my girl’s bodies. No matter where you stand on the chemical question – manipulated food is not the answer. I do make a mean “chicken candy.” They will come far and wide when they hear, “Chickie, Chickie” because they know that an organic mixture of winter wheat berry, quinoa, oatmeal, 9 grain cereal, sesame seeds, flax seeds, kelp granules, sea salt, and nutritional yeast wait for them. I fed this mixture to them as a mainstay of their diet, but it can be expensive. So now we feed them small amounts just because they love it and we can move them anywhere we want on the farm if they know we have “candy” with us. Lots of fresh water and you’ll have happy, healthy chickens. If you can keep chickens at your home, I highly recommend having at least two. They make wonderful pets – create fertilizer for your garden – and the eggs from non-GMO corn-fed chickens are fantastic! I can always tell if hens are getting laying mash by the color of their egg’s yolk – deep orange and not pale yellow is the sign that the chicken has an excellent diet. Realize, what they eat becomes what you eat. Not that Miss Tweety is going ever to be on a plate but her eggs are each week!

A hui hou!


Life with Chickens

November 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

I did not realize that chickens have personalities. Each one in our small flock of 11 has a mind of her own – albeit a small mind of her own. Zigger lived to tell the tale of having a mongoose bite her leg. Ever since then, she has “flown the coop” in order to sleep in a nearby tree each night – a lesson in adaptability. Donghia survived being in a Pitbull’s mouth after Grandmama walloped the dog with several shoes. We nursed her back to health despite the large hole under her wing – a lesson in resilience. Sweet Chicken Girl is a wild chicken who found our farm and as the newcomer, she is tolerated by the flock and spends her days enjoying the sun and bugs – a lesson that while change can be difficult it can also bring you home. Resilience and survival – enjoying the good life and understanding the challenges – are common themes with our chickens and with our life in Hawaii. Farming is hard work. Yet the fruits of our labor are evident every day. I love to pull the fresh eggs from the nesting boxes outside our kitchen window. (We keep them close – note mongoose at the beginning of this entry.) Because I know that each egg represents the possibilities of the new day – good food for my family – and a happy chicken who teaches us to take each day as it comes.

A hui hou!

Karenthe chicken with attitude

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