Saturday, October 15, 2011

survive and thrive friday: making yogurt, podcasts, paleo diet, stacking wood

Survive and Thrive Friday is hereby and thus and whithertofore a new post series!!

It's so easy to start something new. Why, look. I just did it with the above sentence. Now then, ongoing maintenance of new projects and also punctuality aren't my strong suits, but, oh my, it's Saturday already. Well, how's about we all just concentrate on the fact that I'm here to introduce the pilot post to this new series? Yay!

By way of introduction...

Jason's and my conversations and dreams have for about a decade centered around or touched on the ideas of learning the old, basic skills necessary for self-reliance, self-sustainability (or more accurately, small community-reliance and sustainability), reducing our need for large entities whose people we're totally disconnected from (for food, clothing, shelter, electricity, etc.), and living more simply to have time for what we want to be doing each day. Any of you who we've spent more than a day with know we're dead set on "getting out" of mainstream culture someday soon and building a small community with like minded folks. Maybe every now and again I can pay Jason in shiny rocks and funky sticks to post a guest blog, but meanwhile I'll probably often say "we" as though I have multiple personalities; it's just the influence of Jason chiming in. On these subjects specifically, I don't know any more where my thoughts begin and his end. 

This series is about survival, yes, but also thrival, which is a made up word just for the sake of rhyming. We've been wondering a lot how much the dissatisfaction and disenchantment of our nation's inhabitants are because most people don't know how to do anything basic for themselves or their close communities any more. Total reliance on faceless entities can't be good for us, especially when we're not reciprocating to said faceless entities other than by handing over green, rectangular strips of paper. Know what I'm saying? There are so many steps between going to a job for The Man in the morning and then eating food around the table at night. So! I am excited to post the things we've been talking about and learning, as well as websites, books, friends' ideas, and other resources we're running across.

End of introduction. Beginning of cool stuff:

1. I've been making yogurt in the crock pot! Today I'm on my fourth batch, and so far I give it a huge thumb up. It is wildly simple to do, and I think it tastes better than any other plain yogurt I've had. We buy raw milk from a local farmer here, but you can make yogurt from store bought milk too, just not ultra-pasteurized milk. Here's the recipe I've been following.  How this falls under surviving and thriving is that yogurt is unbelievably great for the digestive system and thus working toward optimum health, and it has been valued as such by people as far back as four thousand years ago, if Wikipedia is to be believed. It's sustaining in the sense that you only need about 1/2 cup of store bought yogurt one time, or someone else's homemade yogurt, for a starter, and after that, you continue to use your own yogurt to make more (well, by adding it to milk). That's the beauty of housing weensy little fast-producing bugs in your own heated crockery. Side note: I myself have had to buy new yogurt starter 3 of the 4 times, because I neglected to set aside 1/2 cup of the homemade stuff, and a certain unnamed individual (but whose name spelled backwards is nosaJ) ate the last of it before I'd started a new batch.

2. Jason has been listening to podcasts by a guy named Jack Spirko over at, which covers an unbelievably diverse range of subjects, from permaculture to bee-keeping to nutrition to fuel-making to hunting to home security measures. Jack interviews folks in person or by telephone, anybody who has helpful, relevant material to offer to the community: doctors, gardeners, bloggers, hippies, militiamen. Last week on our road trip, we listened to a conversation he had with a blogger named Courtney Clay about the unschooling principles she raises her son with; it was great! As with every topic he covers, there are so many points of interconnectedness, and if you're listening with someone else, you may have to pause the broadcast several times to go down your own rabbit trails. Along with the interviews, Jack gives a fair amount of monologues with his loud, strong voice, and at first that took me some getting used to, because I am generally not a fan of rant-and-rave one-sided talk radio and thought he might fall into that category. But we've been impressed that his interviews are very respectful and open. I also get a kick out of his liberal use of the word "frickin.'"

3. We've been significantly cutting grains from our diet, and somewhat legumes, eating what is known as a Paleo diet. It isn't a "diet," per say, as it's known today, but rather a lifestyle whose food is close to what our pre-agriculture ancestors would've eaten. We've gone low or no wheat a couple of other times, and just as before, within a day or two, Jason's back and joints feel so much better. I think I sleep better too, though that's a little hard to judge in my particular life situation, having a baby, a toddler, and a husband whose ideas of proper waking times are all different from each other. And in case any of you are the smart alecks that my family members are, I'll go ahead and answer you now: sure, we"ll take boxes of pomegranates for Christmas in lieu of other presents, and yes, we intend to continue building fires and using the common wheel. Speaking of fire...

4. Family wood stacking is one of my favorite activities from childhood forward. I am not a work out at the gym type of girl, but I love incorporating exercise into whatever else I'm doing. Wood stacking is THE thing for getting exercise, being outside, and doing something useful all at once (as well as brushing up on Tetris skills). 

Fortunately, there are dead trees around the property that need cleaned up. Jason says,
"This time of year, you tend to look around the forest for death to take advantage of."

making a quick, sturdy, wood shed

Okay, that wraps it up for today. Hope to hear YOUR thoughts on these things and more. 

Rah rah rah!


Rena said...

I love these posts that give us a snapshot and word picture of your day to day lives! Great pictures! I have to admit that I'm more of a gym girl than a wood-stacking girl because I don't like having chunks of splintery stuff thrown wildly at me. But I'm feeling very much in tune with the tone of your post because as I was reading I heard the stupid rooster crowing and I looked out the window in time to see him hop off a hen while he continued announcing his conquest. (He's brand new at this stuff.) She puffed her feathers and shook herself off, then calmly went back to pecking at the ground. I think you need to add some chickens to your self-sustainability ☺

Rachel Clear @ Clearly Speaking said...

First of all, yes, mom, you are a total "gym girl".

(wait for it)


And go Rooster!

Moving on.

Lori, this was such a great post. Although I already knew it all from talking to you on the phone and skype, it was much more fun to read it because of your funny writing ways, and also because you focused more on the subject without going on looong rabbit trails. Not that you do that.

Man, what is my deal? I've made fun of both you and mom in the same comment. It must be something in the weather change...

Those photos of the wood-chopping are GREAT. First, I was gonna say the first photo of Zor was the best. But then I saw the second photo of Zor and realized that IT was the best. Then I saw the photo of Jason with Ziah and thought that it was great, but one of the ones of Zor was still the best. Then I saw the one of you with your rockin' little bod throwing wood and I thought THAT was the best photo of you.

Great pilot post. I can't wait to read the next one in this series sometime in mid-2012. :)

melissa said...

Impressive!! A wood shed with a baby on his back! Wow. You are awesome.

Have you read Arms Wide Open? It's about a hippie midwife. I just read it and your endeavors sound similar to hers....

I LOVE this, to get back closer to a more sustainable, small community type of living situation; especially knowing where your 'stuff' comes from. I've learned a ton about that concept in the past five or so years, and am learning more always.

Knitting and crochet come to mind; kind of nice to fabricate your own stuff, from scarves to toys. I dunno if I can really get down with knit socks, though. Store bought are so much more comfy....

You're my hero. You need to move to Canada right now so I can be your actual neighbor.

melissa said...

p.s. #1, your mom is hysterical. And you already tried the chickens, remember? I think your take on that was done it once. MIght not do it again.


p.s. #2, my first attempt to really get closer to where my food comes from was making my own soup stock from a roasted chicken leftover carcass. I almost died when I scooped up a vertebra in my soup the next day, but I got used to the idea of bones in my soup.... and better at scooping out all of them....

This was my first time really looking at where soup stock comes from, and it grossed me out, and I had to really examine why. It didn't make me vegetarian, and it didn't scare me away from making scratch soups again; au contraire. But it was an interesting thing to observe myself undergoing. Staring at a vertebra in my spoon and thinking OMG this chicken soup really came from an actual recognizable CHICKEN.

lori said...

Melissa - no, I haven't read Arms Wide Open. Just the title sounds great! Yes, I agree that knitting and all that are such great skills. I have tried to learn a couple times, but probably didn't apply myself very heartily. Maybe this winter would be a good time to try again. And the chickens we would totally raise again and keep for eggs, but the whole butchering a bunch at once sort of turned Jason off to chicken. Plus, with our mistakes, we could've bought the most expensive free range chickens from the grocery store and been better off. :o/

Shana said...

I definitely love the pictures, favorite is the 2nd one of Zoralee-she looks so "full of purpose and on a mission".

And, yogurt! Great idea. Adam eats fat free greek yogurt with granola and fruit EVERY morning. And it is EXPENSIVE! I see on her post where she talks about how she made it greek and making it fat free so I am excited to give this a whirl. We are also working on home-made granola-that can be pricey, too!

lori said...

Go for it, Shana, and let me know how your yogurt turns out! I'll be curious. You probably caught this, but she said in that recipe that a person should start out with whole milk until they get the hang of making yogurt. But on the subject of fat, you guys should totally google the Paleo Diet, and see what they have to say about eating fats. They say dairy is generally something to go without if you're going to be a purist, but if you must have it (and we must), try to only eat butters, creams, etc.!! That's a whole 'nother subject I would love your input on, being in the medical field. The Paleo ideas go pretty hard against the mainstream nutrition grain.

Shana said...

We do know now that some fats are definitely good for us! The problem I have is with Adam's cholesterol. There is a TON of heart disease in his family and his numbers are always "borderline" so one thing I try to do is as much "light" as possible in his dairy intake and we only eat red meat from Bob-the grass fed, organic cow we bought so we know it is more lean, too...