Excited to Plant!!

GE DIGITAL CAMERAHere is the finished product, ready for planting! We are SO excited to be at this point in the ‘game’! (and let the clean up begin!?!)

In 2010, we decided we wanted to extend our season of growing and played with the idea of a greenhouse. We talked with someone who is an experienced DIY’er (which we are not, in the grand scheme of things) and he came up with the plan. Over the past 4 years, we’ve had some major set backs, hurdles to over come, fits of frustration, regrets .. you name it .. but what prevailed was HOPE! We found an amazing builder who came in and saved the day for us and completed our 1,000 sq. ft. 4 season greenhouse which takes up most of our backyard!

GE DIGITAL CAMERAWe installed a climate battery, designed by Jerome Osentowski (Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute) and Michael Thompson (Eco Systems Design, Inc.) of Basalt, CO. The climate battery basically sucks air in through tubes, moves it under ground then pushes it back out on the opposite side of the structure from where it pulled it in. In the summer, this system will cool the house and in the winter, it will warm it.

So, now the fun begins!! We planted a good sized fig tree, some little citrus plus a banana and stuck some herbs in the ground that we tried to salvage last fall by bringing in the house. We’ll see if those make it! We also designated a whole bed to “old seeds” that I’ve saved over the past couple of years. And then – oh!! – perusing Turtle Tree Seeds website and ordering a little of this and a little of that .. yikes! Got a little crazy there but we’re so excited to get these seeds in the ground!

Things are lookin’ up!


Working With Animals that Provide Food ~ Where My Heart Lives!

In 2009, my husband started interning for a farm that milked dairy goats and provided fresh raw milk to their herd share owners each week. A herd share is a program that makes the acquisition and consumption of raw milk legal in Colorado. A farmer does the care and milking of the dairy animals and individuals can purchase a “share” of that animal and pay a weekly or monthly boarding fee to care for their animal. While she is lactating, they will be provided with milk! This farm where he was for 6 months had 16 goats that were to be hand milked each morning before being put out in their pen with their kids. My love for dairy animals began here as goats are curious, quirky, personality laden beings with funny voices and lovable personalities!

The following year we got involved with a start up dairy farmer who was currently in the grass fed beef business but was wanting to make cheese and sell it locally. He had purchased a handful of heritage breed dairy cows and was excited to get started but needed help. I was feeling a bit hesitant to delve into the arena of a cow dairy because I had never spent much time around cows, let alone had ever met one in person, but I told him we were interested, regardless!

Antonio and I worked together for almost a year, building a small herd share program, learning as much as we could and I found myself more than just liking these sweet maternal creatures – I fell in love with them! When Antonio left for 3 months for another chance-of-a-lifetime internship on a biodynamic farm in Costa Rica, I took over the dairy by myself and let all other interests fall to the back burner while I had live, lactating animals that needed my attention and care. When that Facebook question came across my newsfeed asking what book was closest to me, my answer was “Managing Dairy Cows Holistically” and “Homeopathy for the Herd”! I had lots to learn!

While the dairy was coming into form, the original notion of cheese making started to take the focus so I stepped away being that my love was working a raw milk herd share program. I still have the very fortunate opportunity to head to the farm once or twice a week to milk a couple of cows for my familys   weekly milk consumption (which is huge!) and dream of getting a program going again one day where we will lease some land for some dairy animals, be they goats or cows. In the meantime, I’ve heard from many folks who are looking for milk so I’m finding myself chomping at the bit, wanting something to pan out!

Raw milk is something my family has been consuming for about 11 years now. I truly believe in it’s health benefits and see them at work in my husband in particular! He was diagnosed lactose intolerant when he was 15 and was even hospitalized for a week back then, due to the horrible effects of the pasteurized, homogenized, hormone/antibiotic/GMO laden, far inferior product that most households consume. Seven years ago, he began consuming organic goat yogurt which was around the time when we were getting to know each other and several months later, at a Weston A. Price weekend seminar we both attended, he consumed every bit of raw dairy that was offered, be it in the form of straight milk, ice cream, butter, whipped cream, cheese or sour cream. He did more than fine – in fact, he has been healing himself with the stuff! In ’05 he was diagnosed with crohns disease which he has been managing without being on prescriptions, ever. It’s really very exciting! He consulted Dr. Thomas Cowan of San Fransisco via phone which was when his healing really got going.

Weston A. Price Foundation is where I learned about all the health benefits of raw milk. I kind of chuckle at how I used to pour my jars of milk into a container with a spout on the bottom and syphon off the milk, leaving the cream on top to either toss out or turn into butter if I got around to it before it started to taste bitter. *face/palm* Yep – I was bought into the notion that saturated fats were bad for us. *sigh* But here is info from WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) that explains why I was incorrect in my thinking and why raw milk is, in our opinion, a temperate climates “superfood”!

OH! And as for the safety of the milk my herd share members were consuming ~ we had the milk tested weekly so each batch that went out was proven more than safe. My numbers were in the “superior” category for safety and cleanliness. I was told that pasteurized dairies only hope to get in at threshold, meaning their counts of acceptable bacteria present were as high as legally acceptable. We had some oversights from time to time when the bulk tank was not properly disassembled for cleaning and our tests would point that out, making us (the people who were then helping out on the farm) skip that weeks delivery and pay closer attention to details. Healthy heritage breed cows, clean collection, fresh grass = an incredibly healthy delicious superfood!

Not All Raw Milk is Produced Equally

Written by Mark McAffee, Chairman of the Board, Raw Milk Institute
To: American Academy of Pediatrics

Re: Raw Milk policy position statement

December 20, 2013

Dear AAP Journal Editor,

I write to you in my capacity as chairman of the board of directors of the Raw Milk Institute ( RAWMI, rawmilkinstitute.org ).

RAWMI is a nonprofit, raw milk standards, food safety, produce- training-and-research organization. We find it our obligation to reach out to you to share data and research that perhaps you and the authors of the recent  American Academy of Pediatrics anti-raw milk policy position statement may not know or be aware of.

Your widely publicized position against any raw milk consumption is something we find oddly out of trend, out of sync,  and in near complete conflict with the most up-to-date research and the peer reviewed and internationally published research and  findings:

1. The UC Davis  IMGC “International Milk Genomics Consortium” research,
2. The widely distributed UC Davis “Splash News Letter,“ which distributes and publishes the most recent  findings on raw milk both here and internationally.
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21875744,  known as the “GABRIELA study,” which onfirmed the dramatic decrease in allergies and asthma in 7000 children who drink raw milk.
4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17456213, known as the “PARSIFAL study,” which showed that 14900 kids who drank raw milk were then protected from allergies and asthma.
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22846753, known as the “PASTURE cohort” study, which showed the beneficial immunoglobulin effects of drinking raw milk when pregnant and suggested that the raw whey protein may play an essential role in the immunologic protection.
6. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/new-study-amish-prove-raw-milk-promotes-health-children, known as the AMISH study, which showed that Amish children had less asthma when they drank raw milk.
7. Multiple high quality QMRA risk assessment studies performed in the EU classify raw milk that is produced as intended for human consumption as a “low risk food.”
a.  Escherichia coli 0157 and Campylobacter jejuni related to consumption of raw milk in a province in Northern Italy. J Food Prot. 75:2031-2038. (Giacometti et al 2011)
b.  Quantitative risk assessment of listeriosis due to consumption of raw milk. J Food Prot. 74:1268-1281. (Latoree et al 2011) (This study replaced a previous, flawed US government assessment.)
c. Quantitative microbial risk assessment for S. aureus and Staphylococcus enterotoxin in raw milk. J Food Prot. 88:1219-1221. (Heidinger et al 2009)
d. As yet, no high-quality QMRAs for Salmonella spp. and raw milk

8. The CDC data, which reveals zero deaths from raw milk in their databases since 1972, when the databases were established. The two CDC raw milk cases associated with deaths were  illegally imported Mexican “bath tub” cheeses and not fluid raw milk from a US origin.
9. The CDC databases, which show at least 70 deaths from pasteurized dairy products, mostly from Listeria Monocytogenes. These include 49 deaths in 1985 and at least 9 deaths from pasteurized milk and cheeses between 2007 and 2013.
10. California Department of Food and Agriculture Grade A raw milk market standards and testing.
11. Raw Milk Institute standards and testing results as published at http://www.rawmilkinstitute.org, which show that raw milk produced under “grass-to-glass” food safety plans and testing is a very low-risk food.
12. All RAWMI LISTED raw milk producing dairies ( US & Internationally ) have a perfect food safety history with zero reported illnesses since being LISTED  by RAWMI. All food safety RAMP plans and testing data are published and available at http://www.rawmilkinstitute.org
13. In California, 625 stores carry state-inspected, intensively tested retail raw milk. It is a thriving market. Moms and families experience immune system recovery from all sorts of gut-based and immune illnesses.
14. We must all remember that breast milk is raw milk. We must all remember what UC Davis researcher and founder of the International Milk Genomics Consortium Dr. Bruce German said about pasteurization: “Pasteurization is an 18th century solution to an 18th century problem. . . we must and can do better.” Breast milk is not sterile and has at least 700 kinds of bacteria that help with the babies’ immunity!
15. Remember that pasteurized milk is the single MOST allergenic food in America as listed at the FDA website. Pediatricians tell patients not to consume (processed) dairy products because of this serious and known threat of allergic reaction. Eight children have died because of anaphylactic reactions since 1998 secondary to pasteurized dairy products. Why would any mother give her child with the most allergenic food in America when tested, non allergenic, safe raw milk helps children recover from asthma with its consumption?
16. According to the CDC, nine people per day die from asthma, many of them children, when treated by western medicine. . . no children have died since 1972 on raw fluid milk.
17. There have been zero incidences of TB in any raw milk because legal raw milk requires that the cows are tested annually to be TB free.  This concern is 100 years old and unfounded.
18. By design and evolution, raw milks contain a low level population of bio-diverse bacteria, active enzymes, active proteins, amino-acids, special purpose oligosaccharide sugars, and other whole intact vital living elements. The UC Davis IMGC research says that breast milk contains at least 700 kinds of bacteria including on occasion some human pathogens.  The NIH Human Genome and Human Biome studies explain why this is such an essential part of the immune system and health of normal healthy mammals and humans. Without the resident colonies of bacteria that reside in the gut, the health of the human is in serious jeopardy. At least 80 percent of the human immune system is based on the biodiversity of bacteria that thrive in the gut. Modern medicine, antibiotics, sterilized long shelf-life, processed foods and other modern conveniences have reduced gut biodiversity and dramatically suppressed the immune status of Americans, and especially our children. Doctors must know this because doctors are committed to healing and health.
19. Many California-based pediatricians DO prescribe legal, state-inspected raw milk to children because it is so effective in building immune strength, and  controlling and preventing allergies and asthma.
20. Raw milk kefir has also been shown to rapidly heal Crohns. See http://www.crohnsbabe.com for a very compelling story of a young women who chose raw milk over a colostomy bag and now no longer suffers Crohns. Many other ex-Crohns raw milk consumers have made this easy choice as well. I would ask. . . what doctor would choose a colostomy surgery for their patient before suggesting consumption of raw milk kefir? “Do no harm” with the least invasive approaches would definitely apply here.  I cannot think of any logical, ethical, moral, or even cost effective medical argument that would prevail when comparing a colostomy bag over consumption of a raw milk kefir?  This is the level of passion that drives this compelling discussion!

It is a truly an American experience that “official professional policy lags demonstrated pioneering efforts” by many years. It is clear that the AAP policy position is in this “lagging policy” category.  In California, 625 stores carry raw milk, which has been demonstrated to be low risk. It is consumed by about 80,000 delighted people and children every week. Other markets in the US have demonstrated this same growth and relative safety. It would be disingenuous and misleading to characterize this “low risk raw milk” as the same raw milk that is produced as intended to be pasteurized, or raw milk that existed in certain dairies 100 years ago, or even raw milk that comes from questionable or illegal untested sources today. It is absolutely imperative that AAP differentiate between the types and qualities of raw milks. Not all raw milk is produced equally.

A blanket policy statement that all raw milk is the same is a policy error and completely unfounded and untrue.  Different standards, inspections, conditions and testing result in different levels of risk.

Breast milk is raw milk and doctors know that “breast is best!” for many compelling reasons.  Children thrive on raw milk because it is complete as intended for the immature digestive tract. Pasteurized milk is very difficult to digest and for this reason cannot be given to infants.

The FDA website identifies processed milk as the most allergenic food in America. Pasteurized milk is a product made from milk. . . it is no longer milk. It is designed for Shelf Life and not Gut Life.  In fact, properly informed pediatricians counsel their patients away from pasteurized dairy products if allergies are suspected. Yet the Academy strongly recommends pasteurized milk and claims that there is no difference between raw milk and pasteurized milk nutritionally. The research says otherwise. According to Dr. Bruce German at UC Davis, the foremost researcher on raw milk in the world, store bought processed milk does not provide the same digestibility or benefits for asthma and allergies as raw milk does. He also has said “Pasteurization is an 18th century solution to an 18th century problem and we have the technology and standards to  do much better.” Researcher Dr. Von Mutius confirms Dr. German’s findings with her own EU-based raw milk research and confirms that raw milk is effective for treating asthma and allergies.

We no longer have the problems associated with TB, filth, Typhoid fever and or poor water quality that was suffered in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. We also no longer have the problems with raw milk that were experienced during that same time when that raw milk is produced under rigorous standards and testing.  This is the 21st century and we need pediatricians to operate with a full tool box and training in all available methods to address the needs of their children and their immune systems.

We ask that the American Academy of Pediatrics take the lead and consider adopting a  scientifically grounded  and  appropriate raw milk policy. An example might be:

Not all raw milk is produced equally.  Raw milk is a low risk food for human consumption where it is produced and inspected  under rigorous, transparent standards and testing. Raw milk has been shown to be easily digested and provide immune benefits to patients with asthma and allergies. However, raw milk that is produced as intended for pasteurization can be a high risk food if consumed raw and should be pasteurized prior to consumption.

We all know that pioneering new practices and use of new technologies mean that official policies will lag behind. If you can publish this commentary in your Journal, it would go far to bridge some very wide ideological gaps that divide the last hundred years of raw milk history and medical experience.

More and more families go to their pediatricians to report excellent growth, fewer colds and flu, freedom from cavities, few or no ear infections, relief of eczema  and thriving children, only to add “with trepidation” that the family drinks raw milk. The pediatricians then reprimand families for their neglect and the dangerous choices being made for their beloved children. It is time that families and their doctors “become one with their children’s welfare” with immune and nutritional health status as their highest priority. A change in this blanket ban on raw milk AAP policy position would go far to help both children and their doctors.

Nine people die each day from asthma, many of them children. None have died from raw milk since the CDC started their databases in 1972. We do not claim that raw milk or any food is perfect and yes there have been some illnesses, but in balance, the benefits far outweigh the risks, especially when considering the very high standards that legal retail inspected and tested raw milk must pass. Please publish this statement in your Journal. Our country’s caring pediatricians need this additional information to more fully inform their opinions and effectively and more appropriately treat their precious little growing patients.”

Most kind regards,

Mark McAfee, Chairman of the Board
Raw Milk Institute
7221 South Jameson
Fresno, California  93706



Beautiful photos of what looks like wonderful farm life!


Beautiful pictures today. I said to Our John through coughs and snorts and much blowing of the nose, (the best rags for a cold are chopped up old cotton nighties or T shirts. Very soft on the nose. I have a very diverse rag bag just for these kinds of things.)anyway I was saying to him that some times I can go a full month without one decent calendar- worthy shot. Today there are at least two. Can you guess which ones?

Marmalades kittens are eating very well ..


So I am keeping Marmalade outside for longer periods of time so we don’t get this..(see below)  they are just too big and she is so small.. kittens nursing

Though I get this at the door…

mad cat

But it has to be done.  They are old enough.  And this little Mama is going in on Monday to have her tubes tied. I only planned…

View original post 127 more words

Surprise Visitor ~ A Yearling Bull!

I have the blessed fortune of being able to drive 12 miles north of town to a very scenic area here in Routt County to milk a couple of cows for my family’s weekly milk and yogurt consumption. These sweet mamas still have their calves with them, being that they are not milked daily and the calves are about 4 or 5 months old and still nursing. They are separated the day prior to milking so that the milk collection is worth the effort however, the cows will halt progress – they’ve got some sort of internal shut off valve! In order to keep the milk flowing, I bring their calf into the parlor and give them one teat while the machine is on the other three. This works really well and everyone is happy! (And by the way, the calves consume lots of grass hay and milk is not their only source of food at this age.) This week, I guess I didn’t latch the barn door properly because a curious and perhaps thirsty yearling bull let himself in and surprised me while I was “guarding” the suction cups from being knocked off the udder by the calf who was nursing! I got him to leave the barn without too much protesting however, he did want to come back in!

Who’s a Chicken? I’m Not and I’ll Raise Them to Prove it!

A couple of years ago I was asked to write a short article for Steamboat Magazine about raising chickens in backyards of downtown Steamboat Springs, CO. This is an edited version of what my contribution was:

Backyard chickens bring homegrown food right into Steamboat Springs’ yards. Raising fowl is an endeavor with deliciously good results on many levels.

I always wanted chickens in my yard. There is something strangely romantic about having clucking hens nibbling around the grass, scratching, eating, fertilizing and ultimately, providing nutritionally dense, school-bus-orange yolks in their beautiful, colorful eggs.

Inside Steamboat’s city limits, we’re allowed five hens – no roosters.

My initial quest for backyard chickens started when I was going through chemo in 2003 and tried to soothe my fears and woes by compulsively shopping eBay at wee hours of the morning, purchasing way more vintage feeders than a yard of chickens could ever use. It was years later before I realized my dream to become a small backyard farmer.

Chickens first arrived at the little downtown “urban” farm, where my fiancé, Antonio, and I live, in the summer of 2011. The flock of five hens consisted of older birds, some still giving an egg a day, others giving one egg every other day. They moved into a little pen in our greenhouse structure and right off the bat we learned about the “shrinkability” of skunks. A wee one squeezed in through a 3” slot in the fencing, and the chickens, at 2 a.m., began screaming, bringing us out of our bed to the rescue. Luckily no one was harmed but one chicken did acquire her name that night – Stinky.

The next day, the pen was buttoned up from floor to ceiling with chicken wire. Skunks, along with dogs, foxes, raccoons and bears, are a threat to your chickens. Some critters will burrow under the fencing, so digging about a foot down to bury more fencing is highly recommended. You’ll acquire a sweet affinity for your birds and you’ll rest comfortably if you know they’re closed in safely from dusk to dawn.

There are many ways, from simple to elaborate, to keep chickens happy and safe in your yard. You can buy or build a mobile hen house with an attached “run” on wheels that can be moved about your yard. These are referred to as “chicken tractors.” The advantage is that the birds will have access to all flat areas of your yard, acting as a continual form of fertilizer. There are also portable electric fences that can be moved around your yard which is what we do and are liking it very much.

Chicken housing does not need to be very big, but does need to have a perch where the chickens can roost overnight. Several nesting boxes are also needed so they can lay their eggs during the day. The nesting boxes only need to be as big as the hen herself and you can use your imagination as to what she can nest in – straw, grass clippings, wood shavings. Placing your nesting boxes directly under the roost and painting the top with a high gloss low/no VOC paint makes for easy removal of the poop that accumulates overnight. We have placed a “fake egg” in the nesting box to give the hens the idea of what is to happen there and also has a double purpose. Chickens will sometimes peck at the eggs and break them so when they peck this fake egg and experience the vibration of pecking something unbreakable, they don’t like it and can learn to stop pecking eggs.

If the run is not enclosed with a roof, you might want to clip some of the long under-feathers on one of their wings to keep them from flying over the fence. This is called “wing clipping” and many videos on YouTube can walk you through the process. If you live in an area where there are overhead predators (hawks, eagles etc), you will need to protect them with a roof of sorts.

A local source for chicks is Elk River Pet and Ranch where, in the spring, you can purchase a handful that will begin laying eggs at around six months of age. The store will help you get set up for raising your chicks, but you’ll need to have a designated space with a heat lamp and room to safely run around. You can also order chicks online and have them mailed to you. We went with a friend of ours who raises her hens with her roosters and doesn’t keep the breeds separate from each other and winds up with “mutts” for chicks. She selects for strong survival skills ~ she allows those hens who naturally brood (sit on/hatch a clutch of eggs) as not all hens will do this, and hens who teach their chicks to forage for their food around the yard. She also selects roosters who have a more friendly disposition being that they can be quite nasty. The nasty birds and the ones who do not have strong survival skills are ones that get harvested as stew birds.

Chickens need fresh water daily and scraps from your kitchen are greatly appreciated, however they will forage for much of what they need in your yard. We also supplement with an organic feed, which is free of genetically engineered corn and soy.

Choosing a variety of breeds will get you a variety of colors in the eggs they produce. And have fun with names. I know of a family that let their preschooler name their chickens after his favorite things – Rock Climbing and Bathtub. As for our “mutts”, whom we are very enamored with, they don’t have names! Perhaps one day we’ll get around to that!


No Idling Signs Make an Improvement in Our Mountain Towns Air

In January of 2008, my husband, Antonio, wrote the following for our local paper, Steamboat Pilot and Today. The good news is, many businesses have posted “No Idling” signs to encourage people to turn off their vehicles! Here is his article:

On Jan. 1 as I sat eating lunch at my favorite local eatery along the Yampa while reading Mike McCollum’s Steamboat Today article “Keeping county air clean,” I found myself wondering how serious the city and county are about Yampa Valley air quality. Then, I seemed to have my answer.

In the span of time it takes to consume a modest lunch, I witnessed no less than three cars parked within my view; all unoccupied, all idling.

In light of the article’s attempts to raise awareness of the clean air issue, I took note of the amount of time these drivers left their polluting cars running. The shortest was eight minutes. A car left running more than one or two minutes spews significantly more CO2 and uses more gasoline than restarting the engine, and diesel exhaust adds particulate toxins that interfere with the lungs’ ability to transport oxygen.

I wish I could report these careless drivers were an anomaly, but sadly, it’s quite the contrary. If I could pedal my roughly one-mile daily commute without seeing at least one idling vehicle, then that would be an anomaly – summer or winter. Yet I see no effort on behalf of either the city or county to regulate tailpipe emissions in this valley (where, incidentally, mitigating air quality becomes even more challenging).

Then, in our community leaders’ insistence on 1950s solutions to 21st-century challenges, I read about sprawling housing developments, which irrefutable evidence shows worsen traffic congestion, and spending taxpayer money on frivolous things like sidewalks instead of bike paths (useful to both cyclists and pedestrians).

Maintained for cross-country skiing, a bike path network would provide a solution for many in-town residents for winter commuting. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me they are too scared to commute by bicycle in the winter but would be thrilled to ski around Ski Town USA. To run a snowplow over the Core Trail just for me and the other nine or so hardcore, crazy winter-bike commuters seems illogical, especially considering most of us would willingly trade the bike for skis – a more fitting tool for winter transport. The result for valley residents would be less traffic congestion on our limited roadways, healthier citizens and cleaner air.

OK, I’ll admit to being more acutely aware of my cardio-respiratory system than most folks, but I think we can all agree we’d prefer our lungs remain capable of transporting oxygen to the alternative. If you’re still skeptical, then I suggest you go find someone dying from emphysema and ask them if they have any regrets.

The time is now Steamboat, before all we’re left with are regrets.

 **Photo credit ~ YVSC.org : The team at Backdoor Sports, including owner Peter VanDeCarr (left) and staff member John Fairbairn, is one of 13 current local sponsors or partners for the Spare the Air community-wide non-idling  education campaign.

To get one of these $12 signs in your airspace, please contact Suzie Romig at 367-1950 or suziecr@q.com ” http://www.yvsc.org/programs/spare-the-air/

Blogging? Us? Really? Ok! We’ll do it!

So here I sit, fingers a bit stiff and feeling wary about what in the world I might write! Blogging – huh! Who in the world wants to hear from me? I don’t have any fancy letters after my name, my husband doesn’t either for that matter – yet we’ve been encouraged many times to share our story and our passion with … soil! I was going to say “with local food” or “health” or “gardening” or “cooking nutrient dense foods, Weston A. Price style” but truly, it all stems back to soil. Soil which is rich with life, with 6 billion microorganisms in just a handful – 70-80% which are yet unknown! Healthy bodies, healthy brains, healthy moods, healthy ecosystems, healthy economies, healthy climate ~> soil.

Was this something I was interested in as a high school or college student or as a 20 or 30 something? Not especially. At age 24 I did become aware of factory farming which turned my stomach so I guess this is when my awareness began. When I began bringing children into the world, my curiosity for what the Earth can do for our wellness started kicking in more than it had when I was younger and since battling stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma when my kiddos were 2 and 5 (11 years ago in ’03, just as I was turning 40), I really got a hankering to get more clean with diet, my day to day surroundings, healing and wellness remedies and even bought an old junky camper I dreamed of converting into a chicken coop. Growing my own food sounded so wonderful – so wholesome and nurturing, something my life was desperately needing!

My husbands awakening started way before mine, when he was a teen and was learning the hard way what food issues were all about. At 15, he was diagnosed “lactose intolerant” (which only applies to pasteurized dairy, we now know). This was his first week long stay in a hospital. In his 20’s and 30’s, he focused on his adeptness with athletics and delved into inline skate racing, heading to Europe to give his skills a whirl. With the ever pervasive gut issues he was having, he turned to veganism which gave him relief for a while. After stubbornly sticking with the diet for 7 years, he finally gave it up as he was experiencing extreme fatigue, dental and nail issues and felt he was starving himself of the nutrients his body was screaming out for, regardless of how much research and diligence he devoted to making sure his vegan diet gave him all the sustenance he required. He needed more. His 2nd week long hospital stay happened after scrapping it out on a nordic skate ski marathon race course at 9000 ft. above sea level in ’05 to win 2nd place. He collapsed on the finish line, was rushed to the hospital and was subsequently diagnosed with crohns disease and almost lost his colon.

He and I knew each other from afar in this small town we live in but really became acquainted when we found ourselves part of a group of passionate, enthusiastic people who wanted to know where local food could be found around here in Steamboat Springs, CO. Steamboat is located in the Northwest area of Colorado, at least 3 to 4 hours away from any real food production, aside from ranching and sheep grazing. This group became something called Deep Roots and our mission was this: “Deep Roots is dedicated to cultivating awareness as to the benefits of local food, educating the community about how to do it yourself and facilitating connections between local producers and local consumers.” What we have since realized is the statement lacked the word “heritage” ~ going back to how the great grandparents of local folk in this region produced food and the focus got a bit “watery”. Needless to say – it brought us to our marriage (yay and tra la la for that!), it encouraged my hubby to immerse himself in learning about biodynamics by interning for 6 months on a farm in Longmont, CO followed by another 3 month biodynamic internship at Finca Luna Nueva in Costa Rica. Meanwhile, I stepped up my game in the kitchen, producing farm fresh, local as possible, foods for our family and also managing a raw milk diary for a couple of years which stole my heart! I finally learned “what I want to be when I grow up” in my mid 40’s!!

We bought an adorable little house in the Old Town area of our ski town, put an ad in the paper stating that anyone with access to a sod cutter could take our beautiful lawn away (you wouldn’t believe all the calls we got and within a day, the grass was gone!), double dug 5 big garden beds (thank you my buff strong man!) and consulted with a DIY renegade kinda man about building a greenhouse in our backyard which began being built in the fall of 2010. Fast forward to almost Christmas 2014 and it’s finally closed in – the insulation was just blown in on the north wall yesterday! LOTS of hurdles had to be overcome to get us on a straight course where bringing on an architect and engineer and new builder who has saved this structure from being torn down due to dismay and dwindling finances. New breath of hope and vision have done a world of good and that light at the end of the tunnel is finally in sight!

So, that’s a bit about us and what we’ve been up to! Looking forward to sharing more about our ventures here at Pura Vida Gardens!

Downtown, home gardening, using biodynamic and permaculture methods to produce as much of our own food at 6600 ft. in the Rocky Mountains as possible, then preparing it Weston A. Price style, leaning toward Paleo!

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Goldenrod Homestead

Permaculture and Market Gardening

Permaculture Hamilton

Theresa McCuaig's Urban Permaculture News Aggregation & Commentary


Where Freedom Grows

Homestead Redhead

The adventures of homesteading, screw it-do it live, lovebirds

Small House Big Sky Homestead

Senior Homesteaders w/Spirit


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Homesteading 101

Homesteading Wherever You Are


Thoughts on international relations, environment, society and self with Benjamin Habib, PhD