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The End!

January 31, 2015

Well, when we started the Whole30 (which turned into the Whole31 for us due to a cheat on the part of 6 year-old member of our family whom we shall not name here…we all got a day added to our challenge because we are a team) I planned to blog all our meals. Many others have done the same, and it is so helpful to look through those ideas when you are attempting to come up with meals outside your norm. However, all five kids had the stomach flu two weeks ago, followed by bad colds, and then this weekend we got round two of the stomach flu…only this time it did not spare the adults. So, we are just rising from the ashes of that small trial, and oh how I wanted a piece of toast or some rice during those moments. But we had broth, and chicken soup, and my mother-in-law brought us some carbonated water and juice, which hit the spot! But pictures and updates of food- ain’t nobody got time for that when you have the flu.

However, being sick so much during the month of January- the only time in our lives when we didn’t eat a lick of processed foods- certainly got us thinking about food and why we eat the way we do. It isn’t for the sake of long life; God already has our days numbered and we can’t add or take away from that. It IS for the purpose of being more productive for the Kingdom, which would hint at a better quality of life on a day-to-day basis. If I ate whatever I wanted it would leave me incapable of taking care of my family or doing any work for the Kingdom. I’d be on the couch 24/7 (when I wasn’t eating ice cream and bread) zoned out. If I fed two of my children in particular whatever they wanted, they would be sick all the time and probably completely out of control; sugar and wheat make one daughter turn into a raving madwoman (madgirl?). All this thinking reminded me of this sweet post I read a while back from Kimi Harris of the Nourishing Gourmet, after her mother-in-law, Sono Harris died of colon cancer.

Most of the foods we craved this last month weren’t actually BAD foods. That isn’t shocking, since we already ate a largely whole foods diet anyway (but there were so many “exceptions” that it was starting to get out of hand). We wanted butter, and cream, and rice and oats. And the boys dreamed about bread. 🙂 So that was heartening, because unless we figure out that any of those particular foods are a problem for us, we will add them back in. This next week is a “re-entry” week where we will introduce a food group, and then rest for a day, then introduce a new food group, and rest. We will do that all week and note (times seven of us!) if anything is causing problems…bowel, stomach, headaches, congestion, etc. I do think that both the boys had more energy and complained less about being tired, but I didn’t notice a surge of energy like I had hoped (and like most report). I think having so much sickness running around may have played a part in that. One small benefit: one of our girls has had a nosebleed at least once a week for the last nine months. They lasted a long time and she was becoming anemic due to the loss of blood. She didn’t have one nosebleed all month, so I’m watching to see if we introduce a food back and we notice those pesky nosebleeds return.

Two days ago (before the flu hit) I made the kids get on the scale and everyone was pretty much at the same weight…which was good- some of my kids are already skinny and losing weight would be bad. Thomas lost 1/2 pound, and I lost two pounds. We learned the importance of eating lots of fat- so valuable if you don’t want to be hungry an hour after a meal!- and as Adeline said, “We’ve eaten more vegetables and meat in one week than we used to eat in a whole month!” It’s true…when I went to the store my cart was pretty much just veggies (since we have eggs and meat here).

We had some other goals during this time: Scripture memory, which we mostly accomplished memorizing Ephesians chapter 4 as a family, but fizzled out these last few days, and we totally remodeled a bathroom in preparation for putting our house on the market.


So, would I do it again? I hope there’s no need to! This time around we needed to give everyone’s gut a “break” from all the irritating foods, and one of my kids did a candida cleanse to help with a yeast issue. I am VERY thankful to Warren for leading us in this. I would have given up about halfway through. We needed to do it, and it DID break us from the habit of eating some foods I’d like to ditch permanently (cereal, crackers, pretzels, etc.). It also helped us to create new patterns of snacking and redefine “treats.” My kids took turns picking a special fruit each week for date night, and they really enjoyed it. We enjoyed our fruit a lot more, too (although not as much as chocolate truffles…just being honest). IMG_7792-001

After this next week of evaluating is over, we will probably stick to eating sugar-free and processed food-free as a way of life, with the exception of Sundays, which are feast days and we love to celebrate. 🙂 But if we truly don’t have that stuff the rest of the week, I think one out of seven is a great compromise.

So there you have it…the Whole30 x7 in a nutshell.

The Whole30- No, we haven’t quit

January 8, 2015

No blogging does not equal quitting. We had a cold/fever thing running around, and with my mom’s visit there was just more to attend to (and less- she was a huge help!).

Eating this way is not for the faint of heart, although it may point out how we are just a tiny little bit spoiled in the variety of foods we usually enjoy. We really have no lack of variety, and I think even though we are “limited” in one sense, we are being forced to enjoy foods we typically just don’t have room for… like ants on a log. My kids said their celery with sunbutter and raisins was “really good after you haven’t had the real stuff for a while.” Real stuff being peanut butter and pretzels. In “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” you can read more about how our culture has altered the meaning of real. Good book.

I’ve planned a dessert for each Sunday this month, and our first attempt was a real winner. We had Fried Apples with Bacon and Pecans, from the Well Fed cookbook (which, if you’re keeping track, we are basically cooking our way through this month). Best investment EVER. The link above has a sampler from the book…it’s not only a tasty cookbook, but very practical when it comes to food prep. But the dessert- I even served it to some guests on Tuesday and I think it went over well- no one knew/cared it was Paleo.

On to the meals:

Sunday we had roast beef, carrots, potatoes, and salad for lunch.

Sunday evening snacks were trickier because we were with extended family and my kids had to Just Say No to all kind of things. There were lovely platters of veggies and fruit though, and we made sausage balls and had some leftover roast beef thrown in the mix.

Monday we had Mexican Chicken soup, which was just my old recipe sans the masa to thicken it, or the beans (or the beer). Oh, and we also didn’t have sour cream or cheese on top. But this isn’t supposed to be about what we didn’t eat. We barely missed it! Okay, that’s a lie, but it was good. I also fudged a bit and made almond flour crackers because one of my kids was begging for some crunch. Not technically Whole30, but all the ingredients are fine, so I’m good with it.

Tuesday breakfast we made Meat and Spinach muffins, which were a huge hit. I served them with leftover sweet potato hash browns,which only the baby loves. You win some, you lose some.

Lunch was lettuce “burritos” with chicken, ranch dressing, avocado, and coleslaw mix for crunch. The adults thought it was a treat, and the kids tolerated it. They really are good sports!

Dinner was leftovers, and that was a nice break from the kitchen. (!!)


Wednesday- Dinner was pork carnitas (one of our all-time favorite meals, also from Well Fed), which we usually serve over rice, but I tried “cauli-rice” for the first time and it really was just as good. (Too bad fresh cauliflower is $3.99 a head.) But we will keep that in our back pockets as a good substitute when rice would really complete a meal.  I served it with a little coleslaw mix, cilantro, and lime wedges. It takes several hours to make, but most of that is just simmering on the stove in copious amounts of lemon/lime juice. Ahhh, so good.


I recommend an adorable helper for this recipe


Tonight we are having burgers (sans buns) with toppings like homemade mayo, lettuce, tomato, & onions, roasted potatoes, and salad. My kids are good salad eaters, so thankfully that  doesn’t seem super weird to them.


I’m out of time, but soon I want to share our huge parental failure earlier this week. Just to keep it real.

Whole30- why no potatoes? Or can we?

January 3, 2015

This is day 3- 10% of the way through! Today had me researching the question, “So why CAN’T we eat potatoes?” I mean, I don’t even buy into the Paleo idea- we are Christians and believe men and women cultivated from the very beginning, so let’s eat all those cultivated foods, okay? (I’m pretty sure someone cultivates dark chocolate truffles somewhere…)

DAY 2: Date night dinner. We had citrus/fennel salmon and cumin roasted carrots with salad. The kids had tuna with homemade mayo, carrots, peppers, corn (not whole30 approved, but mama approved) and honeydew.

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However, I did a little reading before I popped the spuds in the oven to go with our beef tonight, and it turns out there is a reason for some people to avoid them. Part of the reason we are doing this 30-day challenge is because several in our family have leaky gut problems, resulting in a variety of digestive issues. The Whole30 is an elimination diet of sorts- it gives your system a break from common inflammatory foods, and then later on we will start adding things back and we will have a much better idea of what is causing the problems. (That’s a super-simplistic explanation- Google “why can’t I eat potatoes on a paleo diet” for more info.) WHOA– THIS JUST IN…POTATOES OKAY ON THE NEW WHOLE30 program. Why didn’t I see this before?? And who wouldn’t want to do “the new” Whole30 program vs. the old one??

From Melissa Hartwig “Recommended consumption depends entirely on your individual psychological and physical context. If you are active, healthy, and lean, you may include potatoes every day in some form or another, to ensure you are getting adequate carbohydrates to support your activity level. If you’re sedentary, overweight, and otherwise metabolically challenge, you’ll probably eat none during your program (or very few, in very limited amounts).”

Potatoes can be inflammatory, so we will watch for that. And we will not eat them daily, but add them several times a week because we grew HUNDREDS of organic potatoes this year, and it’s rough to go down to the basement to get sweet potatoes and squash and see those other eyes begging me to add them to the menu.

On other notes,  I’m having some withdrawal symptoms, too. I know that 3pm “I should have something sweet” urge has been rough. And the guys have worked really hard outside several days this week; keeping everyone full has been a challenge. Not because we don’t have enough food, but I think my mentality has been “cut out the bad stuff” without majorly increasing the meat and veggies. We’ve had our usual portions of good food and we need more. So I’ll be working on that. And also searching for more one-pot stews and soups (without potatoes, of course- just kidding).

Lunch for Day 3: Leftover “fried” chicken salad with bacon, olives, and yellow peppers & Leftover “fotato soup”. The kids had leftovers of all kinds.

Day 3 dinner: steak, a big salad, and POTATOES!


Day 1- Whole30 Challenge

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! We had a small get-together here at home with a couple guys Warren works with. We ended out the year with a huge pizza and icecream…so much for a smooth transition from real life to the Whole30. I totally forgot to gorge myself on truffles until 11:30pm, and at that point I wasn’t willing to be up all night just for one last fling. That’s what I get for waiting.


Last night I made Cracklin’ Chicken from (since I can’t do pizza, at least not without a lot of trouble) and it was totally amazing. Since we raise our own chickens and tend to freeze them whole, I don’t have bags of chicken thighs stashed away, but I will make this recipe anytime I can! It was just so good.

This morning we got up late and had a brunch, so we started off with eggs, sausage, onions and spinach, and sweet potato hash browns. I think those hash browns are going to be a good “go-to” food for the baby. They stick together well and I think she can use them as a snack or a take-along food. It’s hard to find grain-free snack foods for babies.


I’m sure I had a hashbrown recipe at one point, but it’s basically 1 egg, 1 cup shredded sweet potato, 2 T. almond flour, and salt and pepper. I fried ours in bacon grease, but lard or ghee works great too.

Lunch was Fotato Soup (a THM recipe) sans any dairy… topped with bacon and green onion. The kids had apples, and we all had homemade ranch dressing with veggies and I have to say that so many generous people have shared recipes with the world to make this way of eating easier! It’s great to have a whole day to be together and we are enjoying it in a restful way, mostly in my pjs. My Mom arrived today from FL (she made a quick run to Chick-fil-A before arriving…this Whole30 thing might be a stretch for her) and we feel very spoiled to have her here for a full week!


New Year’s dinner is traditionally fried chicken and black eyed peas and cornbread. No Whole30 subs for that great southern meal, but I’m making this paleo fried chicken from Everyday Maven. Peas and roasted veggies will round it out.

I will say that the one concession we’ve made on this journey is potatoes, most likely for the kids. None of us are doing this for weight loss, but blood sugar is a big concern, so we’ll just have to see how the addition of potatoes makes us feel. I’m thinking there’s a reason they are left off the plan. 🙂

Here’s to a great first day of the year!

Fresh Start

December 31, 2014

A long lost hello from our family, to yours. As most know, we scaled WAY back this year, farming mostly for ourselves with a little excess for family and friends. Initially we cut back because we were seeing areas of neglect in our family, and we know these years with our children are fleeting. As time when on, we also realized part of the “run down” feelings we were experiencing had a lot to do with Lyme disease in our family, so it was a sweet providence that we had already scaled back. It’s been a good year of focusing on our family and church family, and working to get back to 100% (or 90%…let’s be realistic).

In an effort to push the reset button on our bodies, so to speak, we are embarking on The Whole30 program starting tomorrow. For reals! I’ve been wheat-free and mostly sugar free for a few years, and had an allergy panel done earlier in the year revealing some egg and dairy sensitivities (I don’t buy into the fact that they are true “allergies” just gut imbalances that need to be healed…another post for another time). Those are major swaths of food groups, friends! However, there are people dedicating most of their time and energy into creating delicious meals that fall into those categories so I can just cook and eat! It’s a good time to have food sensitivities. 🙂

I am not kidding myself- these chocolate truffles have been my downfall over the last two months and will be calling out to me from under the stairs where we stashed all our non-Whole30 approved foods. All five boxes of non-approved foods! And this from a family who thought they were eating a “whole foods” diet. Warren is totally on board and his support is going to carry us through (no pressure, sweetheart!).

photoThat’s a low quality ipod picture of our food to stash…who knew?

On the other hand, I am SUPER excited about the fact that for the first time in four years, our whole family will be eating the exact same thing at every meal! My life just got so much easier! I have a whole month off from trying to make regular pancakes, and figuring out a way to make comparable gluten free versions for the two youngest girls and myself. And when I went grocery shopping it was fast and easy- mostly just produce and a few canned items. I figure we should start off with the positives to get ourselves psyched up.

January is going to be a month of self-control for our family, and eating is probably the most visable area, but we also have some Scripture memory goals and other spiritual disciplines we are planning to incorporate as a family. We know that what we do together will be more bearable than working on these things individually, so here’s to family unity (although at least one of my kids might call it “family suffering!”).

So, I am returning to this blog for at least a month for accountability, a little outlet (you may hear some ranting as Warren detoxes from his Christmas sugar-overload), and to pass on the amazing recipes we run across. Most of my meal ideas came from a cookbook I already had: Well Fed. It’s totally worth buying if you have need/desire to eat less carbs and more protein. Spice is everything when your food options are limited, and this cookbook has mastered spice!

The end of the season

September 21, 2013

Just a quick note of reflection as we get ready to fall into bed after a very good but long day. Our last chicken processing day of the year was quick and efficient- despite our very large batch of over 215 birds- thanks to so many of our friends and patrons who came out to to help. I think we had 15 people here at 6:30am (!!!) and we were beginning clean-up by 10am. Everything went smoothly, and in spite of the blood and guts, it really is a time of camaraderie as everyone works together toward a common goal of producing good food. Many MANY thanks to all who helped us throughout the year.

I also want to take a moment to thank Warren, who continues to sacrifice hours of sleep, leisure, and the freedom to spend his time however he pleases in order to move those chickens every day, milk our cow, feed the pigs, and oversee the egg birds. It is a full-time job, but it is not his full-time job and has to squeeze it in during the early hours or the morning and between 6-10pm. He somehow manages to do it with a good attitude and always has a smile for the kids and myself as he heads out to do chores. He does not grumble about the work, because he knows he is doing it first and foremost to provide quality food- first for us, and also for others. I am so proud to be his wife, and I don’t take our food for granted. Even if we don’t farm forever, I am grateful for the experience of knowing how much work goes into producing what we eat.

I’m sure he would not want me to post all this praise, but he will get over it. 🙂

The end of the season is near, with just the pigs to process in the next 4-8 weeks. Then it will be a winter respite for us (except for the part about adding a new baby). But a change is as good as a break, right?

Roosters and layers

September 18, 2013

Happy free ranging chickens

Our last processing day of the year is THIS SATURDAY, September 21, 2013. We are culling some of our laying flock, and if you are interested in layers or roosters they will be available for $2/lb. These flavorful birds have significantly less meat than the cornish cross meat birds we sell, but are great for stewing or the crockpot. We make a lot of bbq out of these!! Email or message us with your orders ASAP.

Haelen Farm Presents

July 3, 2013

The Virginia Homesteader:  Lessons in Doing it Yourself

Haelen Farm is pleased to present a short series of DIY homesteading workshops.  Each of the selected courses represents an area of demonstrated expertise and experience.  You, like me, may have read countless books and articles about one or more of the areas listed below, but may feel that it would really help to be able to SEE it and TOUCH it, so you can connect all the pieces you have read about.  Essentially, there is no way to completely replace the physical experience.

You may be completely new to the whole idea, you may have read all about it and are preparing to get started, or you might have some experience under your belt and simply want to compare notes.  There are many ways to farm and each farm will have its own nuances, based on its land, people, and personality. The way we do it isn’t necessarily the way you will, but I guarantee that you will have a better idea of what you want after you have something to compare it to.  You may even have some ideas for us to consider.

Each workshop will have both instruction and demonstration of the relevant focus.  You will see the cow milked, the chicken processed, and perhaps even some chicks hatching (for the sake of time, we will not process a pig!).

Please reserve your spot by emailing us at at least one week before the class date. Farm attire recommended (i.e. boots and something other than office casual).

The spring rush

May 28, 2013

Alternate title: why we disappeared for two months.

Hello Long Lost Friends. Why yes, we are still here, and we do still have a farm, and a blog. But life gets particularly busy in the spring, even (maybe especially?) with the colder weather this year.

Our first batch of chicks came and went, and are already on some of your tables! Eating seasonally can be a hard transition, even if you do utilize a freezer, but it’s oh-so-refreshing when you get those long-awaited foods once again. That’s how I felt about chicken this year! If you are a customer, you know that we had a high mortality rate on our first batch- almost 60%- due to the cold, wet weather, and some feed issues. We talked to other farmers who experienced similar loss this spring. Farming provides a powerful daily reminder that we are not in control and we’re completely dependent on the God who made all of this bounty we enjoy. Our latest batch of chicks arrived a few days ago- all 185 of them- and we have already started them on their low GMO feed. For more detail s on that project, check out this previous post.


Our biggest batch of chicks to date



Inquiring minds want to know…

IMG_5129-002Our pigs- all 11 of them- are now in their own wooded area which we were able to secure on a neighboring property. Last year our pigs had pasture and imported acorns, some shade, and all our garden scraps, but we are especially excited to get them a little closer to their preferred habitat. They seem to be enjoying their new wooded home, and we are praying the coyotes will respect their territory (and the electric fences). If we have any problems, we can always move the donkeys in for a time. Speaking of pigs, we enjoyed a pan full of ribs yesterday with some friends and family- always a special treat.


IMG_5025Adding to our already very busy spring, we found out we were expecting baby #5, so I have been somewhat less useful around the house and farm during my first trimester. Thankfully, this has been my best pregnancy yet, so my morning sickness was minimal, and we were still able to accomplish some big projects like cleaning up and thinning out the strawberry bed. That hard work (which I only accomplished with the help of small hands), is already yielding the first strawberries of the season.


We might have a few ruined outfits this month…

IMG_5160-001Despite the activities we have to put aside during this early part of the year, we are continually thankful for the life we have here, and the beauty surrounding us. Every time I see the kids playing in the field, Warren heading out to milk with the baby on his back, or the kids covered in fresh strawberries, I have to smile.

Farm equipment

April 22, 2013

Got lawn service?

All organic lawn care device with triple functionality (cropping, aerating, and fertilizing).

Close, even grass cropping while aerating the soil.  Cropping results in healthier grass than traditional cutting or tearing from other devices. Randomized spot cropping for even appearance.

Spreads fertilizer while in operation (currently spreader is malfunctioning, resulting in clumps that require further spreading).

Minimal maintenance required.  Device produces an edible byproduct that is stored in a reservoir tank.  Tank must be drained every 12 hours or damage to seals and functionality may result, voiding the warranty.

With additional equipment, device self replicates annually.


Matilda and her daughter

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