Welcome to our blog. Stick around for awhile, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

How will they get there?

Today I received a phone call from the school that brings disabled riders to our Horsepower program. The conversation started with incomprehensibly fast talking, great enthusiasm and praise as to how much they appreciate our program, and how they are seeing great changes in the children who attend. Their excitement was overwhelming, appreciated, and yet, I began to wonder if they were wanting something... They proceeded to explain that they are closing school for the month of August, our winter holiday month, and even though they are not scheduled to have therapy sessions at A Future and a Hope during the school holiday, they were wondering if I could bring the horses to the school, an hour's drive away, so the children could have a week of therapy at the school as part of a winter camp type thing. Although this idea is not a bad one and hopefully will be a goal for the future, it was not thought through very well so I began to ask some questions:
 
ME:  How will I get my horses to your school?
THEM: ______.
(I assume they think we will walk them there and back the 62 km to the school (38 miles!))
 
ME:  If I manage to get them to the school, where will they sleep or stay when not in use?
THEM:  Ummm.... in the compound. (hearing my sigh that this was not adequate, they began fumbling for answers) We can set up a tent for them!
(I am thinking about the hazards of ropes getting wrapped around legs, tent pegs in hooves, this definitely not a good idea.)
 
ME:  Who will look after the horses during the night?
THEM:  _____.
 
ME:  What about feed?
THEM: More silence.
At this point, I am beginning to fill in the silence with guesses as to what they are thinking. "They don't eat grass alone?"
 
ME:  Do you have a budget for transporting the horses to your school? It'll cost about $264.00 (26,400 KES)*
THEM:  We hoped you'd volunteer!
 
At this point, the lack of knowledge from these teachers was getting frustrating. It was to be expected. They haven't interacted with horses a day in their life, let alone other pets or animals. Why would I expect them to think this through or to understand that horses require attention, money, and so much effort?
 
In my heart my thoughts were pumping with each pulse: I was thinking, "You realize I volunteer every week? I'm not paid by any one. I don't have the means to bring horses to town every day for a week, nor the logistics!" 
But instead of responding, it was my turn for silence. After a pause...
 
ME:  I'll call you back after I talk with my husband. 
 
DuncanJohnny and I met for lunch, and I told him what the school requested. We discussed it at length- he saying it is impossible to do, and me retorting that IS possible, we just need to figure out a way to do it in the FUTURE... because the reality is, we cannot afford $260 a day for transporting the horses, nor money for hiring someone to look after them, plus feeding them there, plus them not having a stable or anything... it just isn't feasible nor safe without better planning. If we owned a horse trailer, it might be more feasible in the future so it isn't something to just forget about. 
 
I called the school back and explained that the reality is this would be a fabulous idea for the future, putting on a 'therapy camp' for these kids, but unfortunately, we cannot do it at this time...
 
This is actually the SECOND time this conversation has happened. Another group wants me to bring horses to their project to help with disabled children. Again, they do not understand that I can't just fly the horses to their project which is literally 34 km away (21 miles).
 
20180503_100653The exciting thing is that Horsepower is in demand. More people are seeing the importance of how horses can help children with all sorts of needs as well as bond them with their parents or guardians, and this means they will continue to take the efforts to get them the physical and emotional therapy they need.
 
One of the issues we have in this beautiful country Kenya is that parents of a child with disabilities do not understand that the child needs physical therapy. To them, a doctor's checkup once a year or so is enough.  They lack understanding that therapy is an on going process that builds upon itself bringing the child to a higher level with each session.
 
This desire to see more equine therapy in the schools is promising. It means that they are learning and understanding the needs of the children.
 
Now if we can just get them to understand that even though I am not charging a fee, I can't just hire trucks or walk for hours on end to bring my horses wherever whenever they like. Horses need to be looked after properly just like children do!

Guest Writer Butterfly, age 15, writes her first blog article: Clumsy

This week has been difficult on so many levels. I asked my daughter Butterfly to type her 'lessons learned' from her accident prone horse, and this is what she came up with. I think you will enjoy the read even if horses aren't your thing:

 

Dedicated to my Opa, because Popaway is his as much as she is mine. Love you, Opa! I also love Popaway. I just don't love her clumsiness.

----

Popaway was aptly named. One thousand pounds of muscle, a slick chestnut mare, she won three of her races before retiring to play polo.

I fell in love at first sight. Who wouldn't? When I met her she had just come from a ride, and she was sweating, breathing hard. She let me stroke her face. I thought to myself- she's the one. I might have been a little quick to the decision, and remembering past mistakes, I cautioned myself. Don't jump in before you spend more time with her! I thought to myself.

Emma rode her first, just down a dusty road and back. Then Popaway was brought to a large round pen for Mom and I to give her a go.

Dad, after hearing the price, said to Mom, "Do you really want to pay that much for a horse? What if she breaks a leg? Then all that money goes down the drain."

Popaway and kateBut I wasn't the only one in love. Mom had seen the beauty of Popaway, had looked into her gentle eyes, and thought as I did that we had to have her. Dad's warning was dismissed with ease.

We bought Popaway.

Allow me to introduce our friend Mrs. Mungatana, a neighbor of ours. Just before we bought the Shire, then known as 'The Land,' Mrs. Mungatana purchased a plot of her own just down the road. She had built a few greenhouses and was beginning to produce her own vegetables. She even had a pony of her own, and I had worked for her in the past, teaching her daughters how to ride and her employees how to handle horses.

On occasion, when the notion struck her busy mind, Mrs. Mungatana would pass by our farm with a great big sack of vegetables from her greenhouses. Over time, we had become quite familiar with each other. It was to the point that she would just open our gate, let herself in, and drop off her vegetables as a gift.

We had lodged Popaway for a week now. She behaved differently on our farm than she had at her previous home, more eccentric, alien to our inexperienced hands. She needed more than we knew how to give.

The move from one home to another is always difficult on horses, and Popaway took it especially hard. She wanted her old friends back. We only housed one other horse at the time, an old thoroughbred by the name of Roheryn, and although Popaway bonded to him with ease, she still wanted to return to her home.

Here's a fun fact about Kenyan culture- usually, you don't call ahead to let people know you're dropping in, especially if you don't plan to stay long. When Mrs. Mungatana decided it was about time to come along and deliver the most recent batch of tomatoes, she just drove up and opened the gate to let herself in.

The open gate was the opportunity of a lifetime to Popaway's homesick eyes. She bolted out onto the dirt road and paused for a fleeting moment, waiting for Roheryn to catch up and realize that they were making an escape, and then took off.

The next few hours were spent in a manic attempt to catch her and bring her back to the Shire. If not for Roheryn's old age and subsequent arthritis, I doubt Popaway would have ever stopped. She might have run twice around the world before she decided to take a breather.

Mrs. Mungatana was all apologies, and Mom wasn't too upset. Popaway was back on the Shire. She seemed fine, and so all was forgiven. We graciously accepted the tomatoes.

The next day, Popaway was limping, and there was swelling in her back leg, presumably from knocking it on something during her wild dash for freedom. Mom was seeing red. She called Mrs. Mungatana and spent a good thirty minutes 'explaining' to her that opening gates and leaving them open where livestock abide is not a good idea.

Needless to say, while we remain friends and neighbors, Mrs. Mungatana doesn't come over anymore.

I wasn't too upset about it at the time. It was just a small knock; it would heal, and I would have my time in the saddle again.

It did heal. It healed over a period of six months, slowly, frustratingly, every day spent trying to figure out how to handle an idle, injured, hot horse. We learned a lot about Popaway in those six months. When we first bought her, the words 'racehorse' and 'polo pony' didn't mean much to us. We had seen racehorses and polo ponies, and Popaway's gentle eyes and pleasant disposition set her aside from the wild, frantic horses that we knew. We thought we understood her.

Popaway showed a different side when she was kept to a stall and round pen. She raged that we dare keep her confined! She was fresh off the polo field, fit, hot, ready for action! In her previous home she worked intensely two hours a day with ease. Now, due to the first injury she'd experienced in her life, she couldn't do a thing.

When kept in a stall, she kicked. When we put her out in the round pen, she raised her voice to let us know how displeased she was. I learned to dodge her teeth when I brushed her. If you walked too close by her stall, she would bite at your shoulder to let you know just how annoyed she felt.

I didn't love her any less for these things. They seemed but small faults to me, hidden within her dazzling beauty. When she started to heal, both Mom and I worked cautiously to build up her strength. We rode her for short periods of time at first, until she was back to the old routine.

We were glad to be back at it. We even got two new ponies, Abby and Jazzy, and hired a stable hand to help with the extra workload. His name was Solomon.

Solomon accepted the responsibilities that Mom and I found the most tedious. Since the grass in the paddocks had been worn down by the sun and the constant trampling of horses, we had to hand graze the horses in the garden, where the grass grew tall and lush. This job was despised by all who did it. It was hot and boring. It was also mostly what we had hired Solomon to do.

Unfortunately, it seemed that even though it was his only job, Solomon would somehow manage to mess it up. He tied Popaway's lead rope to a tree, with most of it lying slack on the ground, and left to go get some water and food, even though Mom had explicitly told him not to do exactly that. She said, "put the horse in before you go get lunch. Huwezi kumfunga farasi kama ng'ombe!"  You can't tie a horse up like a cow. (In case you didn't know, cows are typically tied by the leg to a tree during grazing in Kenya.)

Popaway managed to entangle herself in the rope, and began to panic when it constricted her movements. With no one around, it was a while before the situation was noticed, and she was freed. The rope had cut into her back leg from her struggles, a deep gash just above her hoof.

Mom was beyond angry with Solomon. She spent a good thirty minutes yelling at him. And then, she fired him. To this day, simply mentioning the man's name will inspire a rant.

Alas, our spirits were crushed. This wound was different from the last. We didn't know what to do, so Mom called a few of her friends and asked for advice. We learned how to clean and bandage wounds, and Popaway seen as 'mine' after the last incident, those responsibilities were passed on to me.

Once again, Popaway's movement was limited. Once again, she hated me for it.

This time, I hated her back. I silently fumed, a fire I didn't know I could have was lit in my gut, an anger that rested constantly on my chest. I don't get angry like my mother get's angry. I don't explode, or yell, or cry. I don't know what to do when I'm angry, so I let it sit in my heart and eat away at my insides. I didn't even know who I was angry at, or why I was, just that the anger was there and bubbling.

P1360108The love I felt for Popaway in the earlier days was not gone, just changed, twisted into something that I didn't (don't) understand. That change brought me closer to Popaway in a way that I might never have gotten if she hadn't been injured. We both held each other in contempt- and with that understanding came something like respect.

I stopped letting Popaway push me around. When she bit as I passed her stall, I would grab her by the face and push her back, away from the door. The method might have been unconventional, but she came to stop biting people, even though that wasn't my original intention when I started the habit of backing her up. Eventually, I could hold her head in my hands without fear.

Popaway stopped trying to push my limits, and I started to spend more time providing her comfort. I hand-grazed her (and never left her alone, not even for a moment) because she wasn't allowed to roam the paddocks free. I went out by her stall and read books aloud, feeling guilty that she was standing bored and alone in a box.

Eventually, Popaway healed. She is calmer, the long period of inactivity teaching her something almost like patience. I started to ride her again.

Riding took a different kind of understanding from the one we had developed. But we were working on it. We were growing and learning- together!

Then... somehow, unfathomably, Popaway injured herself again.

And again.

And again.

It took a long time for my spirit to recover from those blows. I learned how to keep Popaway from hurting herself through trial and error. We didn't let her out in the rain or mud, and when we let her out, we put brush boots on her front legs to keep her from knocking them. I found the hidden nooks of her personality (don't give her carrots- she'll bite your fingers off for more). I rode her off and on, depending on her soundness.

It wasn't until a few months ago that Popaway became sound, and stayed sound. I started to rebuild the old love I had for her, the love that was dazzled by her beauty. We even went to our first event together! We attended a riding clinic, and just after, a part of a show known as le trec, which consisted of a trail ride and a display of obedience. We won a third place ribbon! I couldn't have been happier.

Popaway and I could go anywhere, do anything.

More recently I was sitting in the lounge, reading a book and enjoying life. The lounge has the only glass windows in our house, which look out at the stables and the garden, and I often use the lounge to relax after a long day.

20180707_160105 20180707_160105And boy, it had been a long day! Mom, Dad and I had gone into town to pick Edith up from school. She was sick and had to stay at home for a few days to recover. On the way home, just before our gate, a tire went flat. Dad and I worked to change it and make it home before it was time to feed the horses their five o'clock meal.

Looking back, I should have expected it. The day had been full of misfortune. Still, sitting in the lounge, reading my book, I thought the day was over.

A small commotion outside drew my attention. It was the usual sounds of the horses messing around, but I had become paranoid after the many injuries, so I looked out the windows, prepared to settle back down again without incident.

20180707_170007As I watched, the front of Moonshadow's stall seemed to just collapse with a great crash. A flash of coppery chestnut in the destruction had me on my feet before I could even think, my mind flashing with alarm bells. Popaway!

I didn't even realize I'd said her name out loud. I just darted outside, fear and adrenaline welling in my throat. Colic was my first thought. Popaway was lying in the midst of the rubble, struggling to get to her feet, and for a brief moment I thought she wouldn't be able to.

Abby leapt out of the stall, eyes wide in surprise, nostrils flaring, and Popaway finally surged upright. I was still only half-way there. My relief at her ability to walk away was immense. She darted into her stall, her safe place, and stayed there, breathing hard as she waited for me to approach.

Mom was coming out of the house asking what happened. I'm not sure if I answered her. My heart was pounding, my hands shaking, my feet planted squarely on the ground.

I was livid.

I shut Popaway's stall and went to get my boots. I needed to check her for injury. There was no doubt in my mind that she had hurt herself.

I knew then what had happened, the pieces falling together in my mind like a puzzle. Abby and Popaway had both been in the stall, and, as horses are liable to do, they squabbled. Popaway tripped and fell against the wall, huge and clumsy as she is.

When I went back outside the rest of my family was clustered about, staring at the destruction. I looked at the post that had snapped before moving on to Popaway's stall. Termites had hollowed out the wood.


20180711_082907I was right- Popaway had a number of puncture wounds from the nails that had been holding the wall together. I breathed carefully to contain my sudden wash of emotions and got her halter, ready to take her out and get to work cleaning her wounds.

The fright of the situation and the sudden pain had made Popaway more mellow than usual. She put her head in my arms and snorted quietly. "Moron," I told her, because there was no one else to be angry with. "Moron, moron, moron."

Mom spoke to me about what I was to do. I already knew the drill. I went to get the antiseptic and cotton swabs and antibacterial cream.

I've never been one to cry, so I didn't.

 

~Written by Butterfly Brooks


Who really cares?

I remember the first time I heard about Facebook...

Over nine years ago, Johnny came home, when we still lived in Nakuru town, and said to me, "Kate, I heard about this social media platform called Facebook. It sounds pretty cool. I signed up and made my first post. I posted, 'I am drinking tea at Guava."

I can remember staring at him thinking, "Who on EARTH cares? Seriously, why would any one care that you are drinking a tea in the Guava restaurant? That's just silly." Facebook seemed like a terribly ridiculous idea to me...

Waiting with star in javaWell, I think if you know me on Facebook now, you know that I share a LOT about our Kenyan life on Facebook. In fact, I am practically a reality show on there. I guess, living in Kenya where life can seem backwards to my childhood culture, and living up on a hill in the middle of nowhere with few interactions with people who are not my children, I find Facebook to be a window into my past, tying me to my present, and carrying me through your support and encouragement to my future. So I grew to love Facebook, and if you haven't started following us there, you might want to. Because maybe, just maybe, you DO care. You will definitely get a better glimpse into our day to day life.

Here is my personal page: www.facebook.com/kate34

and our A Future and a Hope page: www.facebook.com/afutureandahope


How to Donate

Kate has been busy writing posts for the blog over the past couple of weeks. Her topics range from parenting, horse therapy, to more general updates about our lives. Some really good stuff you should check out. 

This post is just a reminder of all the ways one could donate to what we are doing here in Kenya. Remember that we are two individuals who decided to pursue God outside of organized religion. We no longer have any of our own money and must raise the budget each month to continue on.

So here are the various ways one could make a donation:

Make a check out to A Future and a Hope and mail it here:

A Future and a Hope
c/o Bob Humphrey
7909 Walerga Rd STE 112-141
Antelope, CA 95843

Bob banks the checks and sends us the money without taking a cut for himself. 

 

You could use PayPal. Send to afutureandahope@gmail.com or use this button:

 

 

There is an app called Wave which you could use to send us money. Here in Kenya we have this service called MPESA which is a mobile banking app on our phones. Using Wave you could send money within minutes directly to our phone. Pretty cool. (Use this number 0723743212)

 

Of course, you could use MoneyGram or WesternUnion. Send to Johnny Brooks in Nakuru.


Why disabled kids?

P1360152Do you have any idea what life is like for a disabled child in a country such as Kenya? Can you even begin to imagine? Not only do we not have adequate programs for the elderly, or orphans... we don't have anywhere near enough programs for children with disabilities. Lack of education about disabilities still prevail, although Kenyans are becoming more understanding in how people with disabilities fit into society. Still, in the villages and even in many towns, many folks believe in curses and witchcraft... to the point that they still think that some people have the power to actually 'kill' or damage children by cursing them.

Many pregnant women do not share their pregnancies because of fear someone will curse their unborn child.

In Kenya, disabled children are considered the lowest of the low. This is not my sentiment, obviously! I am just sharing what I know and have experienced over the last 13 1/2 years in Kenya. 

Over the years of working in the communities, we have found disabled children locked in closets never seeing the light of day, parents being too embarrassed to claim the child as their own because they will be viewed as unfavoured by God or 'cursed.'  Once you see these children who are not understood, being denied food because,

"He doesn't have the brain capacity to know how to eat," his parents explained, you just want to cry and reach out and find ways to help.

 As a mother, I cannot imagine not trying to do something. 

Over the years, we were faced with desperate parents asking us to help their disabled children. At the time, our focus was on orphans, and we had to send these precious people away with the knowledge that they at least had a parent looking after them. We took in parentless children into our family so they could live a life with a family to call their own. This was our focus and took every bit of our finances, energy, and time. It was and is difficult having so many needs out there, but I believe it is our responsibility to do what we can, even if it is small.

Now that our orphans-no-more are growing up, don't forget we still have a few still in our care, I feel as if we can begin to do more to help the needs and cries of those who have no voice. Did you know that most of our disabled riders have non-verbal autism? They may look 'normal' on the outside, but the reality is, they cannot verbally tell us how they feel apart from crying, laughing, and squealing. We do have a few who say a few words and a few who have other disabilities. With that said, our Horsepower sessions are bringing a connection between these children and their parents/carers. They are learning to communicate together through the games; and the parents and teachers of these specific children are seeing a difference. Horses don't talk, but they appear to reflect what we feel. They seem like mirrors. They also communicate and bring comfort to these children. 

I still believe orphans need help, but I feel as if I am doing what I can with those who are in my path. I would love to use our horse therapy program to connect orphaned children to their guardians as well, or to just bring hope to them. We are in the beginning stages of Horsepower. We are going to expand and grow and work with more and more children.

We are not paid to help. We do this because we choose to. As a mother, how can I not? How can I not continue to bring joy, hope, healing, and happiness to as many mothers, fathers, and needy children I meet?

 


This smile is a miracle.

Felix. Aptly named.

P1340934 (2)Felix has been coming to A Future and a Hope for equine assisted therapy regularly now for several months.

He has complete non-verbal autism, and the most beautiful face on the planet; yet, I have never seen him smile.

The first time we put him on a horse, he cried and cried. He was terrified. He held on to his mother's arm and my arm for dear life.

Usually, I stand in the middle of the arena to be the voice for the sessions, explaining games and telling folks where to go and what to do next, but when Felix joined in, I had to let him hold tightly to my arm. I didn't resist. I stood by him and guided the session from his side.

 

 

P1350018During the next week's session, the same response. He complained when we lifted him up onto the horse but a little less intensely. While riding, he still grimaced and held tightly to his mum, but he allowed a volunteer to be his sidewalker and assistant this time.

The wonderful thing is that Felix's mother comes with him to our Horsepower sessions, and she is consistent. She volunteers by his side to encourage him, and even though her son cannot talk at all, she is bonding with him and communicating with him as they learn together.

The next session, I came up with the idea of using a Frisbee as a steering wheel to get Felix to 'let go' of his mum. It worked.

Every session, however, he still was afraid. He did not relax to the idea of being on horseback as quickly as the others. Usually by the end of ONE session, our new, reluctant riders are smiling and not wanting to go home. This didn't happen with Felix. He stayed unsure for months until...

P1360206This weekend, we tried to put Felix on Moonshadow, but he threw his body to the side screaming letting us know that he was not happy with riding Moon. He wanted our smaller pony Aby and only Aby. So he had to wait for the first session to finish because someone else was on Aby. He sat watching patiently with his helmet on ready for his turn. His dark eyes seemingly knowing more than men who are wise followed the horses and took in everything.

When it was his turn, with his permission, we lifted him up on Aby. He gripped his mum's arm in fear. He looked her in the eye with confusion and frustration, but as the session went on, he began to relax. He let go of his mum and began to ride with confidence. He started playing the games and touching his forehead in the most elegant way that only Felix can do.

I even asked him to trot. I wasn't sure if bouncing around at a trot would scare him and put him off, but...

FINALLY. 

P1360311For the FIRST time ever, I saw this boy smile. I nearly cried. My heart just exploded. I could see the real Felix shining, happy, confident, and with a smile that looks like my aunt's. 

I could just look at his beautiful face all day with that smile. 

This. This is what we do. We build confidence, and we make kids smile.

He cried again.

This time it was when we tried getting him to dismount. He cried, not because he was scared but because he just didn't want his time on his horse to end.

Felix, my darling boy, you may not speak, but today, you spoke volumes to me. You filled my heart with hope, and I am here to serve you with joy and passion.

 

 

 

 


I love what I do

 I love what I do. (My family helps, too, but I feel I should write in first person)

P1350813

I am not sure if these kids know how much I love them! The joy they bring when they come for our Horsepower sessions takes my breath away! 

As seen in the photo, I get LOADS of hugs and greetings from the children, most of whom do not speak.

It is not just about the kids, either. I know the struggle of being a parent to children who may not relate to you or connect with you. You can read some of those struggles in our three part blog here.

I do this for the parents, too, and the teachers. 

When you have a child with a disability, every milestone, every learning experience is a refreshing miracle. 

Sure 'normal' kids learn to walk and talk at certain ages, but for these kids, these milestones take much longer to develop, if ever. And when they do happen, they are that much sweeter!

P1350901I do this for them. I do this because in Kenya there are no programs like this. I do this because they are ignored, misunderstood, and scrutinized. They are considered cursed and unimportant, but to me, they are my world. They have value. They are learning and crossing milestones, and the parents and teachers are seeing these little 'miracles.'

And they keep coming. They keep adding more and more riders... At the moment we have more riders than we can accommodate. More on that in an up coming article!

 


One in a Million

I am told that equine assisted learning is common in the West, but in Kenya, we are one in a million. 

Children with disabilities in Kenya have little or no access to programs to help them physically and mentally. Parents struggle to help their children. In fact, many disabled children are abandoned and abused due to lack of knowledge and education about what ails them. Have a look at the joy we are able to bring to these precious kiddos! 

 


No Internet...

This morning, I have run out of internet. I am not sure how internet services work for those of you who read our blog, but here in Kenya, we buy 'bundles.'
For example, if I need internet, I must first buy airtime for my phone. The cool thing is that putting credit/money on our phones is easy! Many Kenyans do banking on their phones instead if in banks. In fact, we have a couple of friends who donate directly to our phones through an app called wave. It literally comes instantly, and it sits in an app waiting for me to decide what to do with it. I can grocery shop with it in town, and even dine out and pay using my phone. It is called mpesa, and it basically acts like a wallet on your phone. It is used everywhere in Kenya, even in the most remote village, and I can almost live a 'cashless' life!
 
Now on to internet... If I need internet, I have to make sure I have airtime. If I don't, I can use the money I have in mpesa to buy airtime. It is just a click of a few buttons. Then, I type in a code and a menu comes up with 'bundle' options. I can get 12 GB that are available for a month for $30, or if I want 1GB of data for $1, I can select that option, but it only lasts 24 hours. Another option is a seven day bundle for $10 that gives me 10 GB. After seven days, you lose whatever you don't use. So basically, we can get different packages that work for what we need.
 
We have a hot spot device, my cell phone, Johnny's cell phone, Makena, Butterfly, Emma, and Eowyn's cell phones. We use our phones as 'hotspots' in the house. My phone gets used most. We do home education online part of the day (not all), and in the end, we can spend probably $80-$150 on internet and airtime in a month. The nice thing is that our phones are OURS. We do not have cell phone 'plans' or contracts. We prepay as we go along and get credit when we can afford to. 
 
Obviously, in our case, since we rely upon donations from folks like you, we must have access to internet. Otherwise, we cannot communicate with our friends and family!
 
1836_0So this morning, I am up early, still in my PJ's, typing on my laptop using Evernote while sitting by the fire, listening to birds chirp outside. It is amazing what apps do NOT work without internet access! WOW! My computer is almost useless without it. I miss 'plug n play.' Do you guys remember those days? Back in the 90's, I think, windows had drivers in its programming so that you just had to plug your new device such as a printer into your computer and voila! It would automatically set up the drivers for it. Now, one must have connections to the internet. It is not always a possibility in our house, like now. 
 
Well, my fire is almost burned out in the fireplace, and the sun has finally risen enough that I can blow out my candles. 
 
Good morning from The Shire. This will get posted after I find a way to buy more internet credit!

What is the most important tool in your kitchen?

Just the other day, I was chatting with my kids about how much we have minimalised our lives since moving to The Shire. We did this out of necessity because we didn't have the electrical power to power the normal appliances in an average kitchen.

I can remember back in the day when we lived 'on the grid,' and we had an electric mixer, stick mixer, blender, refrigerator, food processor, sandwich toaster, electric tea kettle, waffle iron, microwave, electric oven, all in our Kenyan kitchen. Our electric bill was atrocious. Back in the States, we had even MORE items. We owned a toaster, too! These are only KITCHEN items, not to mention household. Iron, washer, dryer, hot water heaters, what else? Oh, I know, dish washer, curling iron, hair straightener, rollers, to name a few... I can't even REMEMBER what all we had that sucked power from the grid.

There were times I felt as if my kitchen was crowed. I had TOO many things in there that didn't get used often enough. Am I alone in this issue? I thought that you might find it interesting what we ended up keeping out of all of our downsizing... and what we miss, too...

We actually own VERY FEW electric appliances now. In fact, in our kitchen, there are only TWO. The most life changing one is our freezer that runs on solar power. It should be obvious as to why it is important. Before last year, we had NO way of keeping things beyond a few hours. (FYI, I can write a whole other article on items that actually keep longer than you think outside of the fridge and freezer). With this said, we don't have a fridge, YET. So we must eat fresh food. Moving on to item number TWO that we use...

A blender. Yes. THIS is THE ONE item that has been spared the purge. I use a blender for so many things: blending cream until it is whipped or turned into butter, blending bananas into smoothies, blending pizza sauce made from fresh tomatoes, blending herbs in oil for pesto, blending hot sauce, chilies into oil, blending cooked beans into refried beans, cooked pumpkin in to soup. These are just off of the top of my head that I can list...

So a blender has served us to be the most useful tool in our kitchen.

We use a hand crank whisk for whipping things, and our hands for kneading doughs, but I admit, I do miss a stand mixer on occasion. I use a wooden spoon and man power to beat butter and sugar together... But I don't have much clutter in my kitchen, which is nice.

I must say that we do miss a fridge, but that is mostly because we have no way of keeping leftovers for a few days. Freezing them is tedious because if we want to eat them the next day or two, then frozen is time consuming to defrost.

I don't miss a microwave except when I want only ONE cup of coffee. I do miss a toaster from time to time. 

This was kitchen focused, but we also don't have a hair dryer or a vacuum. We don't have a curling ir0n or a washing machine... So you get the idea... There are many items we do without. I miss a hair dryer, honestly, because my hair is wavy and annoying. Still, I have learned to braid it while wet and get waves, at least. I have children and a husband who help significantly in the dish washing department, so I don't really need an appliance for that.

So there ya go! If you wanna throw out all of your kitchen appliances, a blender is the one I'd keep!

Blender breakAnd as life would have it, I actually BROKE mine yesterday and found out it is no longer on the market so a replacement is not possible. So we are down to ONE appliance in our kitchen-- a solar freezer, and it is an awesome freezer at that.

Go hug your fridge, people. Blow dry your hair with a smile. Iron some clothes with a smile and be glad you don't have to press them under the weight of your mattress. Toast some bread and grin and think of me... ok?

 

Love you all, my peeps!!

Kate