Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ode to cheese pizza

The journey of food allergies is one that is infused with fear, exclusion and abstinence. For the mother it means she can never let down her guard. She can never drop her child with anyone without a long list of instructions (in writing) and a handful of emergency medicines. This may include her own mother or husband as they may not be as militantly protective as she. They may not remember to ask all the questions or read the labels as thoroughly. They may ask the chef only once, politely, instead of the three times required to get the true ingredients. She can never let go of the worry that is there around the clock and invades her dreams. She can never be too tired to cook and stop in a cafĂ© to feed her child. She can never go to a restaurant without first cooking and packing all the food necessary to feed her child or calling the restaurant ahead of time to ask all the necessary ingredient questions. She must suffer the chatter of other mothers who may not understand the severity and believe she is neurotic and magnifying a situation that is probably fictitious.  

For the child it means sacrifice. Never having what the other kids are having. A child that is curious about what that highly decorated confection might taste like. A child that often can’t participate in routine school activities and events. A school that doesn’t completely yet understand how to manage. A child that is singled out and isolated even though she may not even realize she is. Often times the allergic child may have brought her own cupcake that might even look more alluring than what is being served creating a child that will hold off and hide her tasty cupcake and wolf it down in the car rather than eat it in front of the other children that might feel bad that they didn’t get it.  For the child it means frequent accidents, frequent doses of Benadryl. Frequent school days feeling tired because of Benadryl after a bit of egg white that was still in the yolk her mother washes for her so that she may eat  (almost)  an egg. For the child it could mean taunting by inquisitive children that are confused that may say accidentally or on purpose terrible threatening things making the child forever know that her life is in danger simply by ingesting the wrong bite of food. For the child it means less independence and a tighter bond with the person that knows all the questions to ask to keep her safe and the person that will have to fight to make sure she’s safe. The allergic child will not ever have a passive parent.

For eleven years, we’ve been on this journey. Her first birthday cake was made of millet and garbanzo bean flour, held together with carrots and applesauce. For, it could have no butter, eggs or milk and I wasn’t about to feed her sugar. It was the most beautiful cake in the world and was decorated with handmade sugared rabbits in mothers attempt to make up in beauty for what was lacking in substance. When served, the cake collapsed into a delicious pudding and was everything it needed to be and more.

The first three years of the journey meant no wheat, eggs, fish, soy, dairy, nuts, beans, oatmeal, lentils and I can’t even remember the rest.

From year three to eleven: no eggs, dairy, nuts, fish, sesame, kiwi or cat.

I’m not complaining. In fact, I’ve been secretly delighted because we have an unfailing excuse to eat a pure, organic diet. We've had a lifelong doctor's note to avoid anything processed. My girls have never had a Coke or any kind of pop. My 9 and 11 year old think McDonald’s is a clean bathroom on a road trip. Your hair will smell like french fries for hours but other than that, their bathroom is better than Exxon's. 

This is a blessing. My child chose me. I’ve been reading ingredient panels since I could read. I’ve been wondering what all those long words were on the Suave Strawberry shampoo bottle since I was old enough to shower by myself. In high school, I started reading nutrition almanacs. In college, I began a vegan and raw diet that was gluten free before the term was coined. I just knew that I didn’t feel well if I ate soy or wheat. I grew up with parents that juiced and read books about intestinal health because my father had liver cancer.

I was told three years ago that she would probably not outgrow her allergies so we’d accepted that to be the case and we’ve kept calm and carried on.  She's never known anything else so we were ok with that.  We happened to test again (because of our kitty) and she has started to outgrow dairy and eggs. We were given a green light to try cooked cheese. In a careful setting we attempted cheese pizza. I’d always told her that I create a substitute for everything she can’t have that is just as good as everything everyone else is eating…. with the exception of cheese. There is no substitute for cheese. Sorry, Daiya, we love you and you are the best but there is nothing like cheese pizza when you’ve never had it in your life and you are an 11 year old. This thanksgiving weekend we celebrated with tears because she actually ate cheese pizza and a real pumpkin pie. For her, it’s about being included and the taste of the food, and for me it means I can chip away ever so slightly at the nagging fear that grips my heart. The truth is I’m not even sure I can let go, or that we’ll change much about the way we eat, but I think this means we are on the journey out of this. We’ve learned what it means to be grateful for food and for life. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Godzilla's gone broody!

Ahhhhh it's Spring! I love watching all the creatures building their nests and getting ready for Spring. We leave bits of wool roving for them in the trees as it must excite them to find colored decorating material. The humans start washing their windows, cleaning out closets, planting flowers and (to my utter dismay) spraying their  Round-Up instead of leaving the clover for the bees and the birds. (Deep breath, Diana.  I'm not going to get onto this topic of pesticides again.)

I've always heard people using the term 'gone broody' but I apparently never *really* knew what that meant. It's a very drastic event in the life of a hen.

We have chickens that we've had for almost a year and I find them fascinating. A week or so ago Godzilla (the dark ball of fluff on the left) stayed in her coop all day. She didn't come to me when I fed the others and she didn't come out to eat or drink at all. This is unusual as they are free range and are not even locked up at night. I thought she was sick and started worrying about the eggs we'd been eating. I checked on her the next day and her face was planted in the ground, her body flattened and her breathing so shallow it was undetectable. Sadly, I told my girls that Godzilla wasn't going to make it. I was sure she was just about completely dead.

The next day, I decided to get her up and see if she would eat. I wrapped my hands around her. She was very hot, and she growled at me. I lifted her up and she had 8 eggs under her- half which weren't even hers! You see, she's a Silkie and their eggs are half the size of regular eggs. They are like little fairy eggs. She was now sitting on everyone's eggs and hoping that she could hatch a baby chick. I tossed her out and she plopped on the ground as though half dead and didn't move. Her body was fiercely hot and she'd plucked half of the feathers off her chest. For a few seconds she didn't move. Then, to my surprise,  she ran off to eat!  It's like they are in a coma and have to be knocked out of it. As soon as she ate, she went back in the coop and crashed out. She's depressed and half dead.

So, now, what do I do? She could die because she will not get up to eat or drink without being forced. Do I let nature be and leave her alone? I've thought of this, but the fact they we don't have a rooster is unnatural. You can't have a rooster in the city here and I do not want a full chicken production going on. Broodiness begets broodiness and now Baby Silkie is also brooding right next to Godzilla (although she is up in the picture because I made her). This also means they stop laying eggs. Since they aren't eating, I now have the best fed certified organic squirrels in town.

My other option is that I could buy fertilized eggs and let her experience the greatest joy in the world of hatching a baby chick. I've read that you simply sneak a fertilized egg under her at night and when it hatches she will be so proud of herself! I have to tell you that I LOVE my chickens. I love them almost as much as our dog, in fact. Maybe as much as our cat and definitely more than our rabbits. They are so quirky and they talk to me and want to be carried around. I had no idea I could love a chicken. If you are considering chickens, please get a couple Silkies. They are like smart bunnies with a beak. Fluffy. I have a feeling I'm going with option 2. Anyway, happy Spring xoxoxo

Monday, January 21, 2013

hope is the thing with feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers 

That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune--without the words, 
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me.

—Emily Dickinson

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pesticides linked to food allergies and asthma

This article resonates deep with me as I have had two pregnancies with nothing but organic food and both were natural water births. Both my children have food allergies. The oldest was conceived and born in London where 2 out of 3 people have allergies and asthma. The second child was also conceived there but born in the USA. I LOVE London and am not blaming London or anything else, but pesticides make me crazy. It's a very simple, highly carcinogenic toxin that we could just stop using unnecessarily or choose organic alternatives. I have a neighbor (a pregnant one!) who professionally treats her lawn and my daughter gets asthma within hours of every application.

No one knows what causes food allergies—they're one of the great mysteries that science has yet to solve. But it's doubtful that any allergist had suspected that your lawn, or your tap water, could be the cause.

That could change, based on the findings of a new study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The authors found that a breakdown by-product of a pesticide used on genetically modified crops, lawns and golf courses, and of chlorine-treated drinking water, was associated with higher rates of food allergies.

Food Allergy Costs Top $500 Million Annually

The authors used data collected from 2,548 people who had been tested for specific environmental and food allergies and for levels of these breakdown by-products, called dichlorophenols. Based on their analysis, the higher the levels of dichlorophenols in a person's urine, the more likely that person was to have an allergy to milk, eggs, peanuts, or shrimp. They didn't find the same relationship to environmental allergens, such as dogs, cats, ragweed, or grass.
Because the study simply found a relationship between the chemicals and food allergies, she says, it's difficult to say if one causes the other. But she says her results play into the "hygiene hypothesis" that we're scrubbing ourselves clean of good bacteria and, in doing so, are weakening our immune systems' ability to protect us against foreign substances.
Dichlorophenols have been found to kill bacteria, says lead author Elina Jerschow, MD, MSc, assistant professor in clinical research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, "and it's been found that anything that decreases the bacterial load in our environment is associated with more allergies."
Dichlorophenols are breakdown by-products of chemicals that contain chlorine. One of the biggest sources of those chlorinated chemicals in our environment is the herbicide 2,4-D, the second most widely used herbicide in the U.S., which degrades into 2,4-dichlorophenol in soil and water. It's one of the most commonly used lawn weed killers on the market today, but it's also used as an herbicide on wheat and it's frequently sprayed on farms between rows of asparagus, apples, peaches, almonds, pears, strawberries, cherries, cranberries and potatoes.
Dichlorophenols are also breakdown by-products of the chlorine compounds used to disinfect tap water, which is currently one of your major exposure sources. They can infiltrate your home's indoor air through mothballs and room deodorizers as well, both of which contain a compound called dichlorobenzene, and through chlorine bleach or other cleaning products that contain chlorine. "As long as you have chlorine in your environment, you might get exposure to these chemicals," says Dr. Jerschow.
What's more concerning is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is on the verge of making a decision that could expose Americans to extremely high levels of dichlorophenols in our food supply. The agency is expected to approve a new variety of genetically modified corn bred specifically to resist 2,4-D within the next few months and a 2,4-D-resistant soy not long after that. Those crops directly convert 2,4-D into 2,4-dichlorophenol, one of the dichlorophenols associated with food allergies in this study, and that would increase the public's exposure to the chemicals through food, says Bill Frees of the nonprofit Center for Food Safety. That group estimates that the approvals of both crops would increase the use of this potent herbicide from 27 million pounds a year to more than 100 million pounds.

The Biggest Food System Threat of 2012

What You Can Do
It might be difficult to eliminate all exposures to chlorine breakdown products in your home, but here are a few ways you can cut down on what's getting into your system:
• Demand organic. Not only will you be limiting your exposure to chlorinated pesticide residues, but you'll also be supporting farmers who don't plant genetically modified crops, which are banned under organic standards.
• Ban the bottle. It's hard to say whether typical household water filters will remove dichlorophenols from tap water, says Dr. Jerschow, because they dissolve so well in water. But don't assume that bottled water is any safer, she cautions. Roughly 50 percent of bottled waters on the market are simply filtered tap, so they too could contain dichlorophenols. A standard household filter will remove chlorine, and that will prevent chlorine breakdown products in your indoor air.
• Make your own cleaners. Rather than resorting to chlorinated commercial cleaners, make your own with white vinegar, which Consumer Reports recently declared was The Best Cleaner Ever. Need some ideas? Check out theseHomemade Cleaners that Really Work.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Chicken in the Waldorf Classroom

We brought our Polish Crested Top Hat Special to 2nd grade today for Show n Tell. Her name is Whoppi and she is hilarious. We have four chickens; two silkies named Godzilla and Baby Silky, an americana named Jemima and Whoppi.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Happy Birthday, Little Bird

Tonight, after reading The Enchanted Oranges from the Yellow Book of Fairy Tales to my little girls, I kissed them goodnight and said goodbye to nine years old (at least for one kid). Tomorrow, my firstborn child will turn 10.

Her story began in London where my husband was finishing his MFA. We lived two doors down from Abbey Road Studios and around the corner from St. John & Lizzie’s where I learned everything I was going to learn about birth. It is a tiny hospital for the elderly on the bottom floor and a few midwives in a birth centre on the top floor.  Should any complications arise you would have to be transported across town to a proper hospital. They had two pools for waterbirth that were built in, with one being much more grand than the other. I was due at the same time as the supermodel Kate Moss so spent much time worrying that she might get priority over little-nobody-me for the best birthing tub. Fortunately, she went a week or two before me and I got the pool, and the whole centre for that matter, all to myself.

I’d had a gorgeous pregnancy and felt like a goddess for the first time in my life. I had divine purpose. I am one of those women who adores being pregnant and wish I could bottle all of those glowy good feelings for my melancholic non-pregnant self. Most days I walked across town to Primrose Hill to do yoga and did prenatal classes that were more intense than any type of yoga I’ve ever done in my 20 years of yoga in the US. Hanging upside down by ropes at nearly full term, for example. God, that feels good. The UK has a beautiful view on birth and that is that it is presumably natural and the woman’s choice unless something goes awry. It is not an emergency medical event. Lucky for me, it didn't cross my mind that it would go any other way.

On a sad note, I found out my sweet father had liver cancer three days after I found out I was pregnant and his last chapter paralleled that of my growing belly. He held on long enough to hold her in his arms and to allow me to care for him for the last two months of his life. Partly because of this immense sadness and the fear of being unable to fly if I needed to come home, I began having Braxton Hicks at about 22 weeks and the midwife asked me to slow down. I remember her asking me how much walking I was doing during the day and I quickly calculated my answer: about 10 hours? Come on, I was delighted to be living in London and was exploring every inch of the city, every day. The only time I’ve had a super hard ass in my life was when I was pregnant walking all over the place and living on the fourth floor with a  lift that was inevitably always broken. The doctor-should-I-need-to-wake-him -up later recommended that I drink two glasses of organic red wine every night and I had to laugh as I am a one drink girl on a good day. The British pregnancy books recommend diluting your alcohol as they quite frankly know not many ladies are going to quit full stop. ; )

When I was three days overdue, we went on the prowl for spicy food. We stopped at our favorite thai restaurant and I made some hand signals to my belly and was delivered the magic dish: green papaya salad. The papaya contains enzymes that can trigger uterine contractions. That and a little after dinner action and voila the labor started.

 I labored at home for 20+ hours before walking to the birth centre. I had four contractions on the way and two of them were in the middle of the road on the famous Beatles Abbey Road crossing walk. I simply stopped traffic and clung onto my husband and breathed through two full contractions. In retrospect, had she been my second kid and I, a tad bit more bold,  would’ve squatted on the crosswalk and popped her out right there. “Baby born on the Abbey Road album cover!” Instead, we carried on into John  & Lizzie’s where I was told I was handling it too well and I should go back home to sleep! At this point, I almost cried and said I had not the strength to go home so she checked me and I was almost fully dilated! I don’t remember because they don’t get all hung up on things like checking you every minute, ultrasounds, weight etc. She said I was at 9 and I better get in. No one even took the time to change out the Carpenter's record that was on repeat.  I jumped in the warm pool where the labor intensified greatly. I’m now at 22 hours labor with zero food or drink because the labor would blow me away if I took a sip of water. But, by golly,  I’m in England, so the whole labor ladies are bringing me tea with toast and jam on silver serving trays and insisting politely that I eat!

No one believes me that I didn’t push out my babies, but they pushed ME. The best way I can describe it is that I felt as though I was on a wild ride, as though I was spiraling down the rabbit hole and struggling to keep my life. I felt as though if I let go, I would pass away. I have very intense mind control and concentration.  No one was allowed to poke or prod me or talk to me or they would break my focus. I am like a cat hiding in a dark corner and not to be messed with when I am in labor. Just rub my back, keep the lights off and keep quiet, please.  I was on my knees in the pool and had my forehead pressed against the rim of the pool on top of my hands, face hidden, absolutely intensely focused. 

My birth was not painful, as I don't think waterbirth typically is, but was the most exhausting experience I’ve ever known, no question.  I remember looking down to see the top of her head as she crowned and she had dark hair that was billowing softly in the water like seaweed in the ocean. She was born at 3 am on the dot on Guy Fawkes Day which is the British version of 4th of July in honor of a bloke that made an unsuccessful attempt to blow up Parliament. All the while I thought all of those fireworks were for my baby on the way! With much fanfare, Little Bird emerged smiling, I kid you not, and she peacefully turned her gaze to the one candle that was burning in the dark room. The bit of light in the room was the only awareness to her that she'd left the comfort of her warm womb.

I held her in my arms and nursed her in the water for the first time feeling utter exhaustion. My husband petted her between the eyes like a kitty and said he loved her and I remember feeling like what is he talking about? I just did the biggest marathon of my life and am almost dead. It will be another minute before I feel love. No mother ever verbalizes this, but it’s true. I mean, whew. It’s all you can do to just get that baby out.

Just when I think the deed is done, the midwife puts her book down, stands up from the corner of the room and starts telling me something about a placenta and taunting me with her Aussie accent that she will pull the plug in the pool if I don’t start pushing it out. I was too tired to move and I ignored her. The bitch pulled the plug! She actually started draining the pool to incentivize me to get that placenta out. She was brilliant, it worked and that was that. They filled it up again with warm water and allowed some family time in the pool before checking the baby out.  Oh, and sewing me the hell up. That baby came flying out and yeah, ripped me open. That was the worst part because the doctor was at home sleeping and fell back asleep while I was waiting for the stitches. They had to call him a second time.

A craniosacral treatment for mom and baby was first on the list. It’s just par for the course. She had an apgar of 10, a job well done when a mother is left to do what her body does best. Happy Birthday, Little Bird, I’m so glad you’re here!

Friday, November 02, 2012

The value of stillness

Stillness. I took a trip last summer that changed my life. The very next day after school got out, I took my two girls off the grid to live in a 100 year old tobacco barn on a biodynamic farm 2 hours from my house. We were so remote that my phone reception failed 30 minutes before reaching the farm and I was unplugged for three beautiful weeks. The barn was romantic and dilapidated and airy, with wide gaps in the boards and critters large and small roaming its crevices during the night. The barn is used for storage and we slept on the floor on an old mattress, with our sleeping bags and a mosquito net to ward off spiders. I brought with us a solar powered globe that I would charge in the sun and bring into our ‘room’ at night, to do tick checks and find our way to the ‘bathroom’ during the night. The first night we arrived late, and I didn’t have the opportunity to charge the globe and wasn’t yet familiar with which rooms of the barn had no walls. We were sleeping on the second floor and there were many areas of the barn that were wide open and you could step off the edge if you weren’t paying attention. That first night was restless and wild with screaming owls and the night was so black that you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. I had to pee and I’ll tell you that I made it as far as I could to where I imagined the drop-off to be, and then just had to squat right there and pee on the floorboards. This was only the first layer of inhibition that was to be shed on this journey. Peeing like a toddler was liberating but I was certain to make charging my light a priority the next day. To be fair, the ‘bathroom’ was merely a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat and compost so it’s not like peeing on the floor was that crazy.

We slept in a barn, pooped in a bucket and went to bed with the moon (that means 8pm!) and woke with the sun. The resident little boy was delighted with the new barn occupants and would race to the boards under which we were sleeping and would pretend he was a rooster or a wolf and howl out a wake up call luring his little ladies to come and gather duck eggs and begin their chores. My girls would literally fly out of bed in their pajamas like bats out of hell at 4:30 in the morning, grab their coats and race at full speed down the barn steps to run after Ira and let out the chickens and ducks and gather their eggs.

My intentions for the trip were many but to name a few: to give my children an experience they would never forget and to expound on the gardening block offered in the 3rd grade Waldorf curriculum, to take a hiatus from the internet and all things electronic, to help the farm family with their three children so they could focus on the garden and each other and to see how long my armpit hair could grow.

 My days were spent mostly in the kitchen, but standing barefoot in an outdoor kitchen pavilion cooking freshly picked organic vegetables for a mass of children is pretty much my idea of bliss. The baby hung out with me in the kitchen most of the time. She is two years old and was the most content child I have ever experienced. A duckling died and she wrapped it in a bit of purple cloth and played with it as though it were a doll. Nobody told her to wash her hands, nobody said put that down it’s yucky. It was so beautiful in that purple cloth and her complete immersion in self play that I felt pangs of guilt for every moment that I interrupted my girls’ play to do what I wanted to do when they were little. In the kitchen, I would shoo the hens that would stand on the table and chase after the ducks that would eat every scrap I happened to drop. In the afternoons I would do yoga in the grass for so long that the ducks would form a circle around my body watching me curiously. Every night, we would walk to the top of the gardens and pick blackberries and blueberries. I would marvel at how symbolic a blackberry is to just about everything in life. You absolutely would not find a ripe juicy one until you reached through wasps and thorns and your hand was bleeding. The kids would then grind wheat and corn with a hand grinder and I would make pies with the fresh berries. My girls would spend their days doing whatever they wished. They would take journals and a camera and disappear for 4 hours at a time looking for fox dens and baby deer and catching fish. I allowed them to roam freely with the exception of the creek and to stay with Ira at all times. I had to let go of the hovering mother and embrace their journeys of excursion and discovery. If I had any questions about safety I would just ask Ira. Ira never wears shoes and can run on shards of stones as though it is velvet and Ira knows everything.

The shocking bit of truth and I had a lot of time to think about this, is that Ira at age 8 has MORE SURVIVAL SKILLS THAN ANY adult that I know. Ira can grow any kind of plant from seed. The seed he knows to save that is not genetically-modified. He can grow vegetables, he can identify every tree in the forest, every snake, every bug and bird. He would laugh when I would mistake a box elm for poison ivy. He can kill a fish with a slingshot and a stone. He can build a fire and he can find his way in the total darkness through 250 acres of forest. If he had to forage his food, he knows what nuts and plants and berries he could eat and which would kill him.

Ira is the Bird Boy and though only 8 years old has $900 in a cigar box that he sleeps with. He’s earned every penny by selling eggs at the farmer’s market and knows everything there is to know about chickens and ducks. His companions are two little ducklings; one with only one leg called ‘one-legged’ that followed us everywhere we went. We took our baths with the ducklings in the crystal clear creek and cooled off every afternoon with a swim. I had hours on end to sit on the creek bed and stare at the rocks below. After hours had passed, the rocks would take the shape of crayfish and I would begin to notice life tucked within the rocks that I would not have noticed in the first hour or two. I started realizing that I had been missing many of the details of life and that I was beginning to truly see myself. I was beginning to experience stillness for what was probably the first time in my life since I was a child. I’ve always been on the fast track and was never one to waste time.

 My husband stayed behind to work but visited on the weekends. Upon arrival, he walked past a field of cosmos flowers and stopped and commented on the brightness of these flowers. He must’ve stood there for 15 solid minutes soaking in the neon orange of these flowers and I realized in that moment that he is my perfect match. I learned to be grateful for him when he used to drive me crazy that he didn’t multitask the way that I did.

Around the second week, I started feeling hungry. The family drinks a lot of raw milk for protein but I have been off dairy for a few years. We have always used raw dairy at home (for the child that doesn’t have a dairy allergy) but I felt the preciousness of food and didn’t feel it right to take too much. Before leaving home, I told myself that I would not bring my usual stashes of food that I travel with everywhere being the mother of two children with food allergies. I told myself we would only eat what we pulled from the ground that day. What a detox this trip was! We were there prior to the peak of summer so dinner often consisted of sweet potatoes stored from last fall and perhaps breakfast was leftover rice or oats. I normally eat a ton of protein so quickly found myself almost fixated on food and I started to sneak nuts out of the jars reserved for the farm interns. When the food was put on the table it was devoured in minutes with not a scrap left over. The two year old’s leftovers were the dog’s ONLY source of food. I had to teach my girls to elbow their way in and get something to eat or it was all gone before they realized it was their turn to grab a scoop. They are used to chatting and dancing around the table recounting every detail of the day and only eat when prompted. They learned to be grateful and to finish their food on this trip.

My hunger turned into an obsession and it was to KILL. (Note: I was very strictly vegan my whole adult life until I became pregnant. For 15 years I did not eat anything animal) The first time I was aware of the desire to kill, I was walking along the path to the creek and saw a toad and thought to myself that I could fry it in coconut oil. During the next few days I started thinking that if I am going to eat chicken, for example, I should earn the right to eat it, not only by observing the death of a chicken, but by actually doing it with my own hands. I started asking questions about how to do it, how brutal it is, could I handle it but most of all WHEN would they let me kill a chicken? Oh my god, I was hungry. I have Jamie Oliver’s fantastic roasted chicken recipe committed to my memory, access to fields of sage and raw cow’s butter that I could slide up under that skin and salt it and roast it to perfection if only I could get my hands on a chicken! Surely, they will let me sacrifice just ONE on this visit! They have hundreds up on the top of the hill. I was not only ready to do it but insisting like a kid in the backseat of the car asking ‘are we there yet?’ every five minutes.

Sigh… I didn’t get to do it because Calfy Calf was having a calf and the calf was stuck so she was in labor for days with the farmer looking after her. Sadly, she delivered stillborn and I never got to kill my chicken. Gratefully, I no longer feel hungry enough to remember wanting so badly to kill a chicken and I’m sorry to all the vegetarians out there for writing this (our products are cruelty-free!). But, I learned to be truly grateful for what I have, the food and family that I have and that material possessions not only do not matter but are a burden. I would joyfully sacrifice my phone and go back and live there forever if my city husband would have it. It is the most beautiful life one can ever live…. And I am forever changed for the better because of it.