Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Five Gallon Bucket of Lard

I spent a couple days this week rendering lard. We had a 1/2 beef coming and I had to make room in my deep freeze. I had accumulated a pretty good supply of pig fat so rendering it was no small task. When it was all said and done I ended up with six gallons of lard!

So I now have this five gallon bucket of lard sitting in my kitchen. As I look at it I can't help but remember the big 5 gallon bucket of lard that was sitting in my mom's kitchen when I was little. We lived in an old, PINK farm house. Has anyone else reading this lived in a PINK house? The kitchen was the main room of the house. From it there was a doorway leading to the living room, another leading to my brothers' bedroom, and yet another leading to the front porch. Also, there were two closed doors: one leading downstairs to the basement and the other leading upstairs where my sister and I slept. I very distinctly remember mom having a 5 gallon bucket of lard sitting in front of the basement door. Now that I'm older I've figured out that there were probably TWO reasons for mom having that bucket of lard sitting there. First, it was likely convenient just to have it sitting nearby to use in cooking. Secondly, it was a heavy barrier that kept us children from opening up the basement door! That thought had never crossed my mind until I sat looking at (and lifting!) my own bucket of lard.

Angie, do you remember mom's bucket of lard? I wonder if mom even remembers that bucket sitting there in the kitchen floor. I'm sure a bucket of rendered pig fat was insignificant in mom's mind.

I can't help but wonder, what objects in our family's home will my own daughter remember as an adult? What items do I consider insignificant that Sarah will look back on as a memorable part of her childhood?

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Lost Tooth & Another Sam Update (10 months on GAPS Intro)

Not too long ago I received a comment on another post:

Erin said...
I was wondering if you could do an update on Sam's autism. I'm assuming he's still improving. I've shown the videos to some people, and for some reason people don't want to believe it. One lady said, "Any kid will differ from day to day..."

Erin, thank you for your question. Yes..Sam continues to improve! The healing is extremely slow, but that's not surprising. Dr. McBride's book is very up-front about the fact that this is a lengthy healing process. I guess, to some extent, the comment that you overheard is true. Yes, any kid will differ from day to day and that holds true for Sam. There are still some days that he hums and claps more than others. There are still some days that he recites passages from books. HOWEVER, Sam's worst day now is so much better than his best day before the diet.

A couple weeks ago we invited our property's previous owners out to visit. Mr. G commented, "You know, you all are doing a great job with Sam. When we first met him two years ago it was obvious that something wasn't right. Now I don't know if most people would even realize that there's something different about him." Those kinds of comments just make my day!

Last night Sam lost his 3rd tooth. Here's a video of him explaining what happened. He doesn't make eye contact all the time, but he is very capable of answering my questions. He's keeping up with our conversation. He's able to tell what his FEELINGS were. That right there is huge! He used to have such a difficult time identifying people's feelings, even his own.

There are still certain times when Sam struggles to control himself. If we are away from home I can tell that he still gets a little overstimulated. Even if it's a place that he's accustomed to I will notice a slight difference in behavior compared to when we're home. Of course, if we're somewhere out of the ordinary, the difference in his behavior is even more noticeable. I've also noticed that he gets overstimulated anytime he watches electronic media. We have no TV service in our home and we've even stopped watching movies. However, we do still allow the children to watch some YouTube videos from time to time. I've noticed that Sam has more difficulty controlling himself after watching those videos.

However, having said all the above, I want to stress again that when you compare his behavior now to his behavior pre-GAPS (or even early post-GAPS) there is obvious improvement. His worst behavior now after watching a YouTube video is dramatically better than his best behavior a year ago.

I get really frustrated when people make comments like the one you overheard. In my experience, those comments are usually made by people that are looking for an excuse not to make dietary changes. They are from people that are so devoted to their processed food and fast food drive-thru convenience that they'll look for any reason to quickly dismiss the diet. I know that parent's don't actually say this, but this is what I hear when they quickly dismiss a dietary change:

"I choose Twinkies over my child's health."
"I choose birthday parties over my child's health."
"I choose convenient fast food over my child's health."
"I'm too busy to devote the time it takes to recover my child."

I cannot wrap my mind around this way of thinking. Prior to starting the GAPS diet, Sam's behavior was so out of control that I was willing to try almost anything. I was worn down and exhausted (both physically and emotionally) from constantly arguing and disciplining my son. I didn't care if a dietary change only gave us one HOUR of peace a day. Even if it gave us the most minimal improvement, then it was worth it. I actually have a lot more respect for someone that dismisses the diet by saying, "I'm glad it's working for them and I'll keep it in mind for us later, but I think we're going to try something different right now."

I don't know if what I'm about to say is right or wrong, but it's how I feel:

I don't have the time or the patience to go out and "convert" everyone. I am more than willing and happy to spend time helping someone recover their child from autism...IF they are truly interested in doing what it takes to recover their child. For all the others, I simply try to shake the dust from my feet and walk away. So Erin, based on my own experience my advice would be to: Move on and make yourself accessible to those that are interested in listening and then acting.

If there's anyone out there that I can help by sharing our family's experiences, then PLEASE don't hesitate to contact me at

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Affording the GAPS Diet Grocery Bill

Today I received this comment on my post about Sam's Autism Improvement on Video:

Anonymous said...
Hi Janice.

I have just seen this link posted on a Facebook page. I'm really curious about how this works.

My son is 6 and he has Aspergers. I have tried homeopathy but it didn't work.

He has a good diet but due to his condition I am unable to work, and we live on just my partners wage, therefore don't have money to buy organic etc foods...

I'd love some advice on how to get started xx

I figured I would just put my answer in its own blog post since it's likely to get a little lengthy!

First of all, like yours, our family is a one-income family. So, I hope that our family's experience will be useful to you.

I know this is obvious, but I'm going to point it out anyway. The first thing our family did to free up funds for increased food costs was to look at other areas of our budget. We had to figure out what areas could be decreased so that our grocery budget could increase. For instance, we do not pay for any TV service whatsoever. Doing without a cable/satellite bill and other things like trash service have freed up money that can now go towards good quality foods. So, first of all I'd look to find other areas of your budget that can be reassigned.

After analyzing and making changes to the budget, we had to go through and define our priorities. While I would love to eat only all organic fruits and vegetables and only pastured meat and only grass-fed dairy and only local raw honey get the idea. Realistically I purchase my fruits and vegetables SOME organic and SOME conventional. For our meat I purchase SOME pastured and SOME conventional. I have to make some concessions because we just can't afford to do everything perfect. So, I would suggest that your family decide what is your highest priority and make decisions accordingly.

Here's were I currently acquire our foods:

I purchase chicken in bulk once a year from a farm that raises pastured poultry. I buy one year's worth all at once because there's a huge cost savings by buying in bulk.

I purchase conventionally-raised local pork from a local butcher. I buy 1/2 a pig at a time, again for the cost savings. (Would love to have pastured pork, but it's very hard to find and also very expensive. Priorities..)

I purchase hormone/antibiotic free beef that is grass/hay fed (no grain) from a friend. I purchase 1/2 a cow at a time, again for the cost savings.

We raise our own rabbits and butcher them ourselves for meat.

My husband will be deer hunting this year and will (Lord willing) get one or two deer.

Whenever we purchase our beef and pork, I always ask to be given the fat from the animal. Then I render the fat myself in order to get a lot of good lard and tallow. The processors that I use don't charge any extra for providing the fat.

I purchase my pure olive oil and extra virgin olive oil from Sam's Club. It's not organic, but it's what we can afford. (Obviously, this is lower on my list of priorities.)

I bought my coconut oil in bulk from Nutiva. I think I purchased something like 10 or 12 gallons last time in order to get the best discounts and free shipping.

Finally, whenever I cook any meats, I always save the fats. We make burger patties and I save the fat to add to mashed cauliflower. We cook bacon and I save the fat to season green beans. We bake a pork loin roast and I save the fat to scramble eggs in the next morning. I roast a chicken and I save the fat to add into soups. Nothing gets wasted.

Fruits and Vegetables
Oh, there's so many sources for these foods. Of course we grow some of our own in our garden and orchard. However, we don't yet come anywhere near providing all of our own fruits and vegetables. I still purchase a lot.

I purchase non-organic avocados ($0.69 each), lemons ($0.25 each), and cauliflower ($1.99 each) from Aldi. They have great, low prices on their conventionally grown produce.

I purchase organic carrots from Kroger. I can get 5 pounds for $4.99 usually, but this week they were on sale for $3.99! I haven't found anyone else that beats their prices on organic carrots.

I purchase non-organic brussel sprouts ($4.97 for 2 pounds) and mushrooms ($3.98 for 24 ounces) from Sam's Club. I also get organic baby carrots ($3.98 for 3 pounds) and organic spinach ($3.97 for 1 pound) from Sam's Club.

Each month I place an order with Azure Standard. Having them deliver locally has been a huge blessing for our family. Every month I purchase all of my organic frozen green beans, broccoli, and peas in bulk. I also get organic onions and organic miniature pickling cucumbers for all the fermented pickles we consume. This next month they have a great deal on butternut squash. It's not perfect quality so it's sold at a discounted rate. I don't care if my squash looks pretty or not, so I'm stocking up by buying 40 pounds. Keeping an eye out on those good deals and stocking up then really does save our family quite a bit of money.

I also utilize our local Farmer's Market. This summer I was able to purchase a lot of organic green peppers. It's so difficult to find organic green peppers in stores, so I snatched up whatever I could find at the Farmer's Market. Then I dehydrated the green peppers. I now have enough organic green peppers to last our family until next year's growing season.

I know there are other foods that I haven't listed, but you get the idea. Basically, I make a point to keep track of food prices so I can recognize a good deal. Whenever I run across a good deal, I stock up. Yes, it costs more one time, but then you don't have to buy any more for quite a while. Also, our family has found that buying good quality food motivates us to learn to provide it for ourselves. I see how much money I spend each month on produce and it spurs me on to produce a larger, more successful garden.

It also takes time to research and find new sources for good quality foods. You may have to settle for conventionally-raised beef until you can find a source for good quality beef. Networking with other like-minded families can be beneficial. I've come across many resources this way that I wouldn't have discovered myself. It's great when friends contact me to let me know that they've found a good sale. Oftentimes, a group of friends can make a bulk purchase together in order to receive a discount and then divide everything up amongst themselves.

Ultimately, I think the best thing is just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Small, continuous improvements will eventually get you somewhere. At least you're moving in the right direction.

Anyway...Anonymous, I hope that helps get you started. If I can help in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me.

(This post is proud to be part of Real Food Wednesday.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shawn's New "Farm" Truck

I have a happy husband today. After two years living on our homestead, Shawn finally has a farm truck. Up until this point he has hauled hay bales, chickens, rabbits, and every other farm-related item in the back of his Ford Explorer.

We purchased the truck from a young man in town. Besides being useful, it's also all decked out with pretty chrome extras and big, bad tires that my brothers would describe as "beefy." The previous owner even added stereo speakers behind the seats. I've teased Shawn that he must be going through a mid-life crisis. He just turned 40 and now has the truck of a 20-something year old.

I think he's secretly excited to go to the local lumber store. The workers there have been teasing him for two years saying, "WHEN are you going to get a truck?!?"

The only reason we were able to get this truck now was because Shawn's mom sent an unexpected check to, Colette THANK YOU for helping us out with this!