More Veggies and Fruit

good-food

I  have talked many times before about the whole the Bountiful Baskets Co-op.   We started  months ago, and months later I would have to say it has been one of those things we have done that have really made our lifestyle a little more healthy.  Who would have ever imagined that buying a basket of produce every other week, sight unseen would work.   You pay money and get what you get.   It is almost un-American.   We have all that fresh produce in the refrigerator and it is a challenge to eat it all before it goes to waste.  We eat things we would never have bought at the grocery.

We have incorporated more veggies into every meal we eat.   It has become easy and second nature.  We manage to eat nearly all the veggies that we get in each basket before  the time for our next one arrives.    We have never been fruit eaters and we have made huge strides in that area as well.   We are not yet eating all our fruit yet, but we our progress is more remarkable than we have done with veggies.

Bountiful Baskets works for us because we are open to trying new things.   We are willing to eat anything once, maybe twice.   We also like to try new recipes.  New and more fresh ingredients feed that creative part for both my husband and I.  If you are not open to trying new things that you could end up with baskets full of veggies you may be unwilling to eat and disappointed. I have always managed to be on the wrong week to get Brussel sprouts which I love and husband hates.   Likewise I have always wanted to try fennel and was on the wrong week for that too. But I have learned about collard greens, pomelo, fresh papaya, things I wasn’t willing to spend money on, for a chance.

On top of making us healthier it has also made our pocketbook healthier.   Last Saturday we stopped at the grocery after we picked up our basket as we needed milk.  We decided to do a price check on our our basket.    It was $15 + $1.50 fee=$16.50 total out of pocket.    Out cost at the local grocery for the same items would have been $34.   Boy didn’t we feel good?

New Treadmill-Yeah!

I happy to report that I found a replacement for my treadmill.   I had been watching Craig’s List since my last one lost its mind.   I got my last one for under $50, and it was clear that I wasn’t going to get one this time for such a deal.   Saturday I got lucky, and found one that I felt was discounted enough from the original price, and the amount they were asking was something I could live with.

It is now home and I am happy to report that on those days when I can drag myself out into the wind and cold I now have a treadmill to fill in for my daily fitness requirement.  It is quieter than the last one and the numbers on the electronic panel are large enough I can see my progress without glasses.      No more excuses.

Shipping Chicks & Packing Peanuts

Rooster-postNow that my bunch of chicks is ordered I need to start thinking about when they will arrive.   It won’t be long.   I had picked a shipping time that I thought would work good for us, unfortunately it made my chick ship date in the middle of “Easter Rush”   My hatchery likes to avoid sending small orders of chicks out during the busiest time as they tend to to not travel as well during the busy weeks.  It means my chicks will be shipping March 6th!

For those of you unfamiliar with mail order chicks, the general rules are you order 100 chicks!  That has been the magical number for aeons. They found out years ago that 100 shipped well for the arrival of healthy chicks. Shipping boxes were design for this size and worked well in the US Mail. Those 100 chick boxes stack well, yet provide adequate ventilation.  The chicks have enough room to move around but not so much to be like marbles shaking around in the box.   They keep each other warm for the trip as chick down has no real warmth for the little critters.

I on the other hand order 8-12 chicks.   Boxes are different for small batches of chicks, called quarter boxes.   They are specially configured to do all the same things that the larger 100 chick boxes do, but also understand their small size makes them prone to be not being so easily recognized as having live chicks inside.  When you do a small box, you are required to use a airmail/priority postage to minimize the shipping time.   You can also expect to find in your box not only the chicks you ordered but something else…packing peanuts.   Not the Styrofoam kind, but the living kind. In order to ensure safe healthy chicks they hatchery will include other chicks in your box to make it a full quarter box….you will get 25 chicks even if you did not order them.  No before you, you non-chick people start on the “way cool” hold your horses.   The packing peanut chicks will be the highly undesirable chickens…roosters!

Roosters are uses as packing peanuts because  are more roosters than anyone can ever sell.  There are a whole host of reasons for this

  • A flock of egg layers needs NO rooster to produce eggs.   If you want roosters will only need one or two.  Any more than that and your hens will loose all their feathers as they get gang banged by more boys than they can handle.
  • Roosters can be protective which can be good for free rangers.   They keep watch and will go to bat for their flock when predators come calling.     We had a rooster who hated our dog, who was completely indifferent to the chickens.  Randy the Rooster was raise from a chick with our dog.  He was always “gunning” for the dog and came running looking for him every time we opened the door.  This protection instinct can even carry over to attaching their human owners and chasing children.    Roosters can inflict serious damage on predators, dogs, and people.
  • Too many roosters will fight amongst themselves  as well;  boys will be boys.
  • The testosterone running through their body makes for sinewy muscle tissue.  All but the youngest roosters can be chewy and stringy.

Usually when I get packing peanuts I put them down immediately and don’t go with the hassle of all those boys.   This year I am feeling brave or extremely thrifty and plan to raise a flock of packing peanuts until maybe 8-12 weeks.   Some may be as small as quail or game hens when we butcher them and others may be like three or four pounds tops.   I am not sure what to expect out of this all this year, but will keep you posted as we go down a new road on this chicken raising thing.

An Afternoon on Skis

Jan-ski-webSaturday night we got a great snow storm and ended up with about six new inches of snow.   Because we had had so much warm weather the week before we did not have much snow cover left, and it was very welcome.  Sunday morning my husband and I  strapped on our cross skis and head out onto the ranch land behind us for quick excursion.

It was a great ski, but also challenging as the land is full of rolling hills.   It meant that I would be challenged to climb and to navigate skiing downhill on skinny skis.   We also would be forced to negotiate bunch grasses, sage and hidden rocks as we traveled.    It wasn’t long before the morning clouds broke up and the sun was shining.   In spite of subfreezing temps the  sun was starting to change the snow and it was starting to change and cake up on my skis.

I sure enjoyed myself, and the vistas that I was able to see as I skied along the tops of hills.   Oh what fun!

Us Vs. Them

WA_EverWastedThis last week I read  an article about folks who where make it an issue with neighbors who plant gardens in their front yard.   I looked at the pictures and said yes it surely would not meet my definition of a neat and tidy lawn.   I would not be thrilled with a neighbor with a lawn like that next to me initially, but a well kept garden is just as deserving as some green grass mono-culture that sucks water like there is no shortage of clean fresh water.

I shared it with a friend at work and we talked about we have become a society intolerant of others who don’t meet our personal belief system.  I am not sure if this is true or we have such a loud group of folks who are ready to share their intolerant attitude of others who they see as “wrong.”  I think it is lots of big talk and very little respect for others.

I think this verbal intolerance  started with our politics.   I’ve been reading lots of people complaining about the president and the government.   I get it.  I am not happy either with the state of affairs in our country either.  In many ways for me it is quite disturbing because I feel we, the grassroots people, have allowed the corrupt political system to make so many of us think “us vs. them.”  Either you are like me or you are an idiot.   What is even worse, is that all most people are willing to do is talk about it. Talking is never going to change anything, look at what is happening in Washington DC and you will see what I mean.   Lots of with” us or against us” thinkers.  Lots of verbal bashing, that makes us even less likely to see the value in others who don’t think or live like we do.

I am old enough to remember a lot of presidents, some I considered complete idiots;  their names are not important here.  Just because I thought the public representative was an idiot, did not mean that my neighbors, friends and  co-workers who supported them were idiots.   It meant their life journey had given them a different perspective than me.   Maybe I agreed with the end desired result or maybe not, but it did not make them or their point of view any less valuable than mine.   Sometimes I could listen and see how they looked at things that way and other times no matter what they said I didn’t get it.  No matter what, many of them I had choose for friends and the fact that we would not agree on everything was not a reason to throw them away.   I would not demean their opinion if they loved orange and I hated it, or hated cats and I loved them.  How can we have friends if we don’t respect their opinion?  We don’t have to agree with it.    When we say others who hold the same opinion as our friend are stupid, by any reasonable thinking we have just said the same of our friends.  Name calling is easy.  Stepping back and saying honestly don’t get it, but chose you for a friend so are going to respectfully disagree.   It doesn’t mean I am not going to share my on thoughts on things  or ask you about yours.   What it does mean is that I am not going to devalue yours, and I ask that you not devalue mine.

I feel we have allowed this easy verbal bashing of others in politics  has carried over to intolerance in so many other things.   Some people feel quite passionate about like their religion, others seem quite nitpicky like the fight over gardens in the front yard.  We tend to classify large groups of people together as we see them and give them our names.   We call them Evangelical Christians, greenies, NRA’ers, commies, tree-huggers, Republic, Democrat, Tea-party, transplanted Californians…and the list goes on.  I am sure we have all done it unfortunately.   This generalized naming has done more to separate us than join us.  We are better than that.

I am not Pollyanna and thinking the we are all going to ever agree, nor should we.  It is only with disagreement that change can come.      Nor am I saying I am ever going to understand why some folks think the way they do.   What I am saying is others may be pulled in to this demeaning name calling of those who they don’t understand, but I don’t want to be part of it.  I don’t want to be the only woman in a group of men and be declared the one logical woman and rest are emotional idiots.    I don’t want to be your one friend isn’t the same religion as you.  I don’t expect you to embrace what I think, but when you call others who think the same way as I do unAmerican, idiots, hell bound, pick your word , I have to wonder what you really think of me.

Changing Roll of the Phone.

Now that I am home again I have once again relegated my cell phone and all the services it provides back to office hours.    It reminds me of the changing roll of the phone.

Growing up my family had only one line and one phone.   It was in the living room.   No phones in teens bedrooms.   We were not allowed to answer the phone when the family was eating dinner.   As a teenager it was torturous as my teen years were pre-answering machine.   But those were the house rules and looking back they worked just fine. 

Last week I was on the road and I was available via cell phone and text all week.   I must say it was nice, as folks could reach me with cancellations, and other updates on attendance.   Though I was out of my office, I wasn’t.  Not all my work at home was piling up.     In the old days  many of the callers would have been no shows for the conference we were holding.   My cell phone also allowed me while working the conference registration office to easily reach my boss who was out working the conference floor.    Cell phones also allowed folks to easily reach one another rather depend on me to  be message central for all the attendees many of whom I did not know.

Driving up to the conference we had an accident and ended up  in the ditch.   Almost instantly we were in contact with 911 and the insurance agent.   Another example of what good things can come of cell phones everywhere.

On the flip side is the changes in the feeling that we have to be available to the phone at all times. Today at work I found myself with on one phone, with call waiting telling me another person was trying to reach me and the president of my organization calling me on the cell line.  I found myself distracted from the person I was talking with as I looked at caller ID to see who else was wanting my attention.    We will answer the cell phone in the middle of a conversation with people we are with.   We will go out to dinner with folks and spend time texting and talking on our phones.   It seems like idiocy to spend all that money to eat in a restaurant with our friends and yet not really be there.   I recently hear of folks stacking their phones in the middle of a table when at restaurants and the first person to “have to” use their phone picks up the tab.  Sounds good to me.

In my quest for a more balanced lifestyle I am vowing to not answer the phone once we sit down for meals. I am not going to answer my cell when I am in a conversation with others; I might even turn it off when we eat out to remove that temptation.   We all need downtime and being tethered to our phones is not  necessary or good.   I plan to be in control of my phone use and not let my phone control me.

Food Orgy

Last Thursday night we end our annual conference.   We had packed up all our things in the trailer and were ready to leave the next morning.   That night those of us left in Great Falls wanted a meal that came from somewhere other than our hotel where we had been eating all week.  It was the beginning of the problem trying to find single place that we could all find things that each of us  were looking for.  Enter the Tummy Taxi, aka Cafe Courier.   It solved all our problems.   This service worked with multiple local restaurants to deliver their menu items for a fee.   Those of us who were looking for something more exotic ordered a sampler platter from a Greek restaurant, and those with a less adventuresome palate were looking for a “regular fare” ordered their food from a different  restaurant.

Less than an hour later our taxi had picked up food from two different restaurants   The Greek food eaters were having an aroma orgy as we opened the boxes and inhaled the smells.   Soon we were enjoying fare that is quite out of the box for those in Montana. I savored each bite and tasted a little of everything that we got.     Overall it was quite nice, though the moussaka was one of kind, a bizarre Montana version that no one would ever recognize.   It had elbow macaroni!   I am not sure how they got something so wrong and the rest was so nicely done.  Some of the best Greek I had had since moving to Big Sky Country.

I never thought about enjoying food so much, but the standard fare eaters  had lots of fun watching my face as I ate this menu treat.   My face said my mouth was having a taste orgy.