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Entries from February 2016

Fresh Look

Kate and I have given the blog a going over and changed the design. This new layout and design is supposed to be able to adapt to any screen. Though I have not yet had a chance to check it out on a portable device, it does look nice on the laptop.

Right now we are waiting for the rainy season to begin so we can fill up our water tanks. Last year we were able to expand our water storage to just over 100,000 liters. (That would be 26417.205 gallons.) As we wait for the life giving water the grass has dried up and we have to water a few newly planted trees. Thankfully we have not yet run out of water. I checked yesterday and we have a little more than 12,000 liters left. (3170.0646 gallons.) It did cloud up today and cool off a bit, but still waiting for the rains.

This planting season we hope to plant and harvest enough food to share with the hungry in Nakuru. One of the goals for The Shire (our farm) is to produce relief food. Not only for orphans in the community but for disaster relief as well. You know to help someone out whose house burned, mom died, lost a job, or just made a stupid mistake. We want to be there with healthy organic food for them. Plus growing food and raising animals is kind of fun, and provides jobs for our community.


Our menu for the last two weeks

My daughter Makena is holding 1 month old Starlette so I can type while the sour dough bread is baking in the oven.

I have just a few minutes, and I thought it might be fun to give you our menu for the last two weeks.

We do not have refrigeration and the only canned goods we buy are tuna, mushrooms, and sweet corn. Living without refrigeration, baking with fire, and cooking every meal from scratch is time consuming, but it is healthy and worth the effort. Here are some ideas of meals we make here on The Shire.

Breakfast usually is home made sour dough so my day starts with one question, 'Am I baking tomorrow?' If so I must prepare my sour dough for the next day and ask Johnny to make sure we have enough firewood available.

With that in mind, I will skip our breakfast details since it usually consists of one of these things, sour dough, raisin bread, Sweet potatoes, bananas and peanut butter, home made oatmeal, boiled eggs, or buttermilk biscuits (scones). Toppings for those items are usually real butter, home made jam from local ladies, honey, or natural peanut butter (no sugar). We drink weak chai or decaf coffee using fresh milk from our cow.

Snacks are fresh fruits, raw veggies, or peanuts. My kids LOVE raw cabbage, raw carrots, broccoli, bananas, passion fruits, pineapple, avocados, tree tomatoes, papaya, watermelons, honeydew, kiwi, pomegranate, mangoes, apples, and grapes.

Meals we have cooked in the last two weeks:

  1. Chicken pot pie (no cans, no store bought pastries, no frozen veggies. Every thing is fresh!)
  2. Tuna Sandwiches (using fresh home made bread and natural yogurt instead of mayonnaise, as well as farm fresh boiled eggs)
  3. Chili dogs (Johnny makes awesome chili starting with boiling and peeling 40 fresh tomatoes and using my own chili powder mix- no packets!)
  4. Leftover chili-cheese-noodle casserole (home made mozzarella cheese from our cow's milk)
  5. Hamburgers (again, home made buns, home made mayonnaise, home made pickles, etc... Plus a trip to town to grab the meat because we don't have a fridge. The good news is cows in Kenya are all grass fed and graze around even in town!)
  6. Burritos (home made tortillas [I had help with these!], and boiled pinto beans blended with spices, plus guacamole and salsa) We use natural yogurt instead of sour cream, plus we have amazing avocados in Kenya!
  7. Veggie soup and biscuits (this was made of all the odd veggies we had around: aborigine, bell pepper, carrots, etc...)
  8. Kale and ugali
  9. Grilled local Lamb and veggies
  10. Rabbit stew (our own rabbits stewed with peas, carrots, green bananas (plantains), onions, in a creamy sauce
  11. Leftover rabbit stew. It was fine sitting overnight. (You'd be surprised how things keep with no fridge.)
  12. Grilled chicken and veggies (3 whole chickens to feed our family!)
  13. Pan cooked fish filets with potatoes au gratin
  14. pancakes and home made syrup
  15. Baked potato wedges and roasted garlic (let me add our potatoes come filthy! It takes a lot of work to get the skins clean, but I like leaving them on since they are good for everyone.)
  16. Pizza. (Home Made sauce takes 60 tomatoes, and the crusts I put fresh herbs in from the garden!)
  17. Ramen noodles and sour dough bread (that was my, 'I'm tired of cooking' day.)
  18. Spaghetti and fresh garlic bread
  19. Mashed potatoes and gravy
  20. Pork ribs, potatoes, and sweet corn on the cob
  21. Omlettes with potatoes and salsa
  22. Chicken pot pie (thanks goes to those who donated my stone casserole pans!)
  23. Spinach and mushroom quiche
  24. chili on fresh home made buns (our version of sloppy joes)
  25. Tuna sandwiches on sour dough with bean sprouts and boiled eggs
  26. Roasted piglet from our farm
  27. Sausage and home made sauerkraut

So these were our yummy, healthy meals here at a Future and a Hope. I hope they give you some ideas of what you can cook for your family, too!


Starlette's Birth

The year of 2015 was full of milestones. We celebrated 10 years of living in Kenya, 20 years of marriage, and on my 40th birthday, we conceived our newest family member who was due to arrive on Christmas Eve but chose to kick off our new year by arriving just as the sun was coming up on New Year's Day, 2016!

For those who may or may not know, I believe that birth is a natural phenomenon that gets muddle up with doctors and obstetrics. If an elephant can give birth to such a huge creature in the wild, why couldn't I birth my child unassisted by a hospital and doctors? I could go into many reasons for my choice to have each of my 6 babies at home, but that is a different post all together. Let's just say, I feel much safer at home, and I am not 'brave' for doing it that way.

Deborah Rhodes, my new friend and midwife flew in from England with her son Max December 11th. The bumpy dirt trails we drive on were horribly difficult for me as baby dropped lower and lower in to my pelvis the last few weeks. I felt like I was near baby's arrival for weeks before real labor actually started.

Having guests in our house, celebrating Christmas for a month with advent activities and loads of cooking, caring for Fien who is injured and lives far away, and preparing for a new baby was quite taxing. Christmas Eve came (due date), Christmas Day, we spent the day helping Fien... My due date came and went. At some point, I even managed to climb our big hillside and rode our horse during the last week of pregnancy, trying to move things along. New Year's Eve we did loads of walking and shopping in town, and I was 41 weeks (1 week past due). We came home, had food, a Bon fire, s'mores, and then I went to bed at 9pm.


Debs slept on the floor with Max in the house because he didn't want to go to the hut that night. At 10:30pm my water broke in my sleep all over my bed. I filled 3 or 4 diapers with water. Debs cleaned off my bed, put fresh sheets, cleaned the floor, and then I went back to sleep thinking I had a good 12 hours to wait before things got started.

Midnight on the dot, bringing in 2016, my contractions started. By 2:am they were 3 minutes apart and felt like I was in transition for hours. I had a difficult time fumbling in the dark without any electricity, having to find matches to light candles so I could get to the toilet every few minutes feeling like I needed to pee with each contraction. (Eventually, Debs put a bucket in the corner of the lounge for me to pee in so I wouldn't have to walk so far.)

I was cold, shaky, and baby was in a full on posterior position with the hard part of baby's head pushing on nerves in my spine. I finally woke up Debs because I was having a difficult time stepping over her mattress which in the walkway on the floor every time I needed to pass.

The contractions were intense, and I was cold so Debs made a fire. I found I couldn't sit on the floor nor in a chair, I ended up spending 5 hours on my knees (our floor, grateful to have it, is HARD) in front of the fire place with Debs putting pressure on my back. Johnny was snoozing through it all, and I didn't have the heart to wake him. Labor was so intense, i didin't even get a chance to tell ANYONE about it.

As dawn started approaching, I remember looking up at Venus shining brightly in the dark morning sky and seeing many other stars shining through my star shaped windows. I was hopeful baby was a girl so I could name her Starlette.

As the sun was coming up in the lounge, I started feeling 'exposed'. I lost my cozy dark space, and my thoughts were 'I better start pushing because the kids will be waking up soon!'

I started pushing, and I could tell baby was still not turned. I pushed more intensely than I have with any other baby. It took quite an effort to get her out. I was standing and couldn't get on my knees at this point. Debs was in front helping catch. Baby literally turned AS I pushed. I couldn't quite catch baby myself, but my hands were on baby's head as she was securly passed into my arms. It was the first time I have given birth while standing! It was a unique experience! I checked to see if baby was a boy or girl, as the children flooded into the room hearing her first cries... and then we named her...

Starlette Sky was born at 7:08 am New Year's Day. We left her cord attached for 3 hours so that her blood would drain thoroughly into her body. Eventually, we tied it with a soft braided string and cut the placenta off her cord. Debs made me a fruit smoorthy with 1 inch of her placenta.

Starlette was covered in vernix which melted away and absorbed into her skin beautifully. No bath, no lotions, just a fresh baby... We didn't dress her in clothes but wore her skin to skin for a week. I didn't take her out of the house until her cord fell off, and we planted a gardenia tree on her placenta.