This sign has been taped on my mirror since March. I put it there after 5 months had gone by without getting pregnant.

I know that 5 months is really not a long time, especially in comparison to the years that many of our friends tried/have been trying. I can only slightly relate to the sadness each month, the confusion and frustration that can swiftly set in, the roller coaster of hope and despair. But we felt these things. We had assumed, with our healthy lifestyle and diet, it wouldn’t be that difficult to get pregnant. With a book borrowed from Cher, called The Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer, we had been charting my cycles – a process known as fertility awareness or sometimes natural family planning. It felt like we were doing everything right. Because of the charts, I knew exactly what days I was ovulating, when we should be trying and when we shouldn’t. And it wasn’t working.

By March, I was starting to get exhausted from the emotional ups and downs. I found this definition of the word WAIT: To remain or be in readiness; to serve the needs of, be in attendance on. This totally shifted my perspective. I realized that waiting wasn’t passive. That I should be doing more, more than sitting around and hoping for a change. So we really studied my charts, and we found a pattern that indicated I had low progesterone levels. Progesterone is the hormone necessary to sustain a pregnancy. In her book, Singer mentions that sometimes eating sugar or white flour, even in small amounts, causes the body to produce excess insulin, which causes the ovaries to stop making estrogen and secrete testosterone instead, which stops ovulation and consequently, the production of progesterone.

Now, I wasn’t eating a ton of sugar or white flour, but it seemed possible that a muffin or cookie on our sporadic trips into town could be causing an interference in my cycle. So, no sugar. No flour. We both started taking insane doses of cod liver oil and I started this prenatal vitamin. And we were pregnant, by the end of that month.

I am well aware that this does not scientifically prove that a no sugar/flour diet will help you get pregnant. I know that many couples have much more serious problems and issues that can’t be solved with cod liver oil. But I am 100% sure that diet and nutrition play a HUGE role in fertility, and that by charting her cycles, a woman can at the very least have a wealth of information to study and analyze. She can feel like she is actively involved, rather than just passively waiting and hoping.  As a way of trying to get pregnant, trying NOT to get pregnant, or just for general health and knowledge about your own body – I truly think that fertility awareness should be a method that we think of less as “alternative” and more as common sense.

That little sign is still taped on the mirror…because now that we are in MONTH NINE (what?!), I am once again waiting patiently and trying to remain in readiness, strong and lively for our baby.

- Hannah.

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This is admittedly not going to be the most popular thing I’ve ever said here, but I can’t help but feel like gas needs to be $10/gallon or more––not $2. And although I have no idea what water costs these days, it should be more expensive, as well. As should energy and natural gas. Food—my God—food should triple in price. Why? Because we wasted hundreds of millions of tons of food last year, and who knows how much water, gas and energy. We cannot possibly value something upon which we place no value.

Would we really waste gas, or food, or energy at the impressive levels we do if it cost double or triple the amount it does now? It’s hard to believe we would. If food and gas and energy and water we’re more expensive––or reflected their true costs––they would be more valuable to us, and we would learn to cherish them––too valuable to waste. That investment would force us to be more creative with our resources, more conservative, more considerate. And most importantly, it would give our poor, ailing planet a fighting chance.

Which has to happen. We know that. Another group of scientists told us AGAIN recently that it has to. Unequivocally, if we don’t change there will be no future on Earth, or not one we would subject even our worst enemies to. (Though unfortunately we don’t even get to choose who suffers, it will be our children and grandchildren who will get that honor). We have to change, but cheaper is not the answer. In fact, cheaper is the problem.

If we continue to use water like it has no value, to gobble up oil and natural gas reserves, and only eat the cheapest, chemically-grown foods, we will kill this planet off. And ourselves along with it. But if we just charge more for the things we need, and learn to value them more, the world would prosper. It would be harder, sure, and we would have to wear coats in the house, ride bikes, take shorter showers, cultivate our gardens and budget more for food in lieu of devices (or what have you), but it would be a small sacrifice to ensure a reasonable future for this place. We shouldn’t have it so easy if everyone after us has to suffer for it. That’s not fair. That’s lazy. That’s cheap.

- Jesse.


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the "nursery"

At thirty-four weeks, the baby could come today. Or tomorrow. Or not for ten more weeks––the baby’s keeping pretty mum about it. But either way, we’re feeling ready. Most importantly, Hannah is feeling ready.

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks gathering all of the cloth diapers and wipes and towels and head lamp batteries and candles we need for the home birth–-that is, a birth in our off-grid cabin. We have a lot of back up water in jugs (because we ran out of money to finish our water system this fall–-I hate to sound like the Cubs fan I am here, but, you know, maybe next year). We’ve read a lot and watched the birthing videos. We’ve done everything our midwife has suggested. Hannah has eaten well––lots of protein and leafy greens––and stayed active. The only thing we’re missing is birthing music, holding out in hopes that there will be Christmas music playing on some local radio station. Otherwise, it’ll probably be NPR. Or UK basketball.

We are as ready as any two kids can be and like I said, Hannah feels good and confident. I am absolutely honored to have such a tough woman willing to carry and birth our baby under these conditions. And not only willing, but excited. She has dealt with a hot, dry summer––no air conditioning. She’s done almost every market delivery by herself so I could stay home and farm. She’s milked the cow and insisted upon it. Hannah is such a trooper, such an inspiration. And I am a lucky man to have her.

So with that being said, I say bring it on, little baby, we’re ready for you.

- Jesse.

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When we came back to the house from doing chores yesterday morning, the pigs were out. All of them. Again. Feel like you’ve read this post before? Same here.

Honestly, it’s becoming a joke––a really mean one. But it’s also entirely our fault. They’re getting out because we recently let the solar-electrified fence wires get cold––low voltage––and the pigs learned to slip underneath. We’ve tried to retrain them to the fence but obviously that hasn’t taken. (That being said: Trousers probably wouldn’t care if the fence swung at him with hammers. He’d still get out and come to the house to see what we were up to. It would be endearing if he weren’t an unpredictable, two hundred pound digging machine.).

And every time it happens, although I know it’s the worst state to be in to deal with animals, I can feel my frustration rise, I can’t help it. Between the pigs getting out, the goats killing our blueberries this Spring and the turkeys eating our garden, I’m just kind of over animals this year, and tell Hannah often––”Only chickens next year.”

But truthfully (and begrudgingly), we need them. We love them. And we love what they do to the property, how our farm is slowly transforming because of these derelicts. It’s really our management, with our inadequate equipment, that has failed. Farm animals have no sense of obedience. They just have needs and those needs have to be met. So that’s what I try to think of when I’m chasing Trousers and the others through the woods, or dealing with the turkeys getting out and eating the pig food––they’re not failing us, we’re failing them. Needless to say, it’s been a humbling year, but the farm is really coming along and we’ve learned a lot about husbandry. We need these weirdos, we just need to manage them better. So next year, when we get more pigs and keep rotating the goats, we’ll be raising them on a farm thriving from a year’s worth of humility. But we’ll be doing a much better job of it, by God.

- Jesse.

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Some random photos from the past week.

halloween.Setting up for some trick-or-treaters….even in Bugtussle!

arrowheads.Arrowhead hunting with Ira. 

sweet potatoes.Sweet potatoes…..all day, every day.

fattie.This one got ENORMOUS while we were gone! 

escaped turkeys.A blurry shot as we chased the escaped turkeys through the yard. This is basically what our life looks like these days.


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