A diary of the projects, hurdles, rewards and family life at we recorded at Wise Acres, our former homestead in Horsefly, BC. (Careers and teenagers have forced us back into the city, at least for a little while.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Enjoy a Free-Range Halloween

I love this woman! I have enjoyed many of her posts at her blog Free Range Kids. Check out this latest post from The Huffington Post.

As Goes Halloween As Goes Childhood

Forget all the guys in Bernie Madoff masks and tutus. If you want to see something really scary on Halloween, come to my apartment around 9 p.m.I'm letting my kids eat unwrapped candy.

They can eat any homemade goodies they get, too, and that unholy of unholies: candy where the wrapper is slightly torn. And on the very off chance they get an apple, they can gnaw it to the core, so long as there's not a razor-sized, dripping gash on the side.

Which always seemed like it would be a kind of give-away that something was amiss.

It's not that I'm cavalier about safety. I'm just a sucker -- so to speak -- for the facts. And the fact is: No child has been poisoned by a stranger's goodies on Halloween, ever, as far as we can determine. Joel Best, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware, studied November newspapers from 1958 to the present, scouring them for any accounts of kids felled by felonious candy. And...he didn't find any. He did find one account of a boy poisoned by a Pixie Stix his father gave him. Dad did it for the insurance money and, Best says, he probably figured that so many kids are poisoned on Halloween, no one would notice one more.

Well, they did and dad was executed. That's Texas for you. Another boy died after he got into his uncle's heroin stash and relatives tried to make it look like he'd been killed by candy. And that's it.

Now look at how the fear that our nice, normal-seeming neighbors might actually be moppet-murdering psychopaths has turned the one kiddie independence day of the year into yet another excuse to micromanage childhood.

It's not just the fact that churches and community centers are throwing parties so that kids don't go out on their own. It's not just the fact that Bobtown, Pennsylvania has gone so far as to "cancel" Halloween altogether -- for the sake of "safety." (The authorities there were surprised to find this decision unpopular.) It's not even that those of us who'd like to hand out homemade cookies know they'll be instantly tossed in the trash.

No, the truly spooky thing is that Halloween has become a riot of warnings that are way scarier than the holiday itself. The website Halloween-Safety.com recommends that if your child is carrying a fake butcher knife, make sure the tip is "smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury if fallen upon."

Excuse me? Has anyone ever seen a knife land blade-side up? And then fallen on it? Meantime, schools around the country are sending this note home to parents: "Please, no scary costumes." In England last year a man was ordered by his landlord to take down his lawn decorations because the zombies were too "realistic."

In other words: They looked too much like...real zombies?

Our fears are so overblown they'd be laughable if they didn't sound so much like the fears that are haunting us the rest of the year. Fears that have lead to parents to wait with their kids at the school bus stop, and keep them inside on sunny afternoons. Fears that make parents forbid their kids from skipping down the street to invite a friend out to play. That's the everyday version of Halloween fear: The fear that we cannot trust our children amongst our neighbors for one single second because, who knows, they might be pedophiles just waiting to pounce.

If you want to see what childhood is becoming, look how at what Halloween has already become: A parent-planned, climate-controlled, child-coddled, corporate-sponsored "event," where kids are considered too delicate to even survive the sight of a scary costume.

If you want to see what childhood is becoming, look how at what Halloween has already become: A parent-planned, climate-controlled, child-coddled, corporate-sponsored "event," You know. Like if someone came dressed as a slightly torn Snickers.

Skenazy is founder of freerangekids.com and author of "Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Difference a Day Makes

This is what it looked like out my window yesterday...
and this is what it looks like now...
It has been snowing continuously all day and doesn't show signs of stopping any time soon. This is the second snow of the season...the first was last Sunday but it had came and went in one day. Sure wish I had got my snow tires on!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

There is a reason it is called "Froot" Loops

Don't Let Kellogg's Buy Scientists: Froot Loops Aren't a Healthy Breakfast

The nation's largest food manufacturers, including Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, ConAgra and PepsiCo, want you to believe that Froot Loops and other unhealthy foods are "Smart Choices." And they have somehow convinced representatives from the Baylor College of Medicine to back them up.

The new "Smart Choices" program--an industry-backed marketing ploy--puts a green check mark on products that are determined to be "smarter food and beverage choices." But the choices selected are anything but healthy.

Dr. Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices board and the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said in a New York Times article that she supported giving Froot Loops the green check mark because compared to feeding your children doughnuts for breakfast "Froot Loops is a better choice."

Kellogg's Froot Loops Cereal is 41% sugar. There is nothing "smart" about Froot Loops or other foods packed with sugar.

The reality is that the food industry is using the Smart Choices program to deceive parents and other shoppers into buying the very food that has led to a costly epidemic of diabetes and obesity -- and researchers like Dr. Kennedy are abetting this deception by associating themselves and their respective institutions with the program.

This is outrageous.

Click here to send a letter today and tell all four doctors supporting the Smart Choices program to stop shilling for Kellogg's. They, and the leaders of their respective institutions, need to hear that you think it is wrong for them to support any program that gives sugary cereals and other unhealthy foods a stamp of approval as healthy choices.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Garlic...it's a beautiful thing

The other day a friend stopped by and gave me this little bundle of homegrown goodness...
just look at the size of these cloves...
Wow...the taste is just extraordinary. So much better than the imported stuff we've been getting lately from the grocery store. My hands actually still smelled like garlic hours later, even after having them in a sink full of soapy dish water!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Herd share

Photo courtesy of Sally Anne Thompson/Animal Photography

Exciting news today...we found out about someone starting a herd share program with weekly deliveries to Williams Lake!!

We have been thinking about getting some sort of milk animal (goat or cow?) for some time but everyone we know who has had a cow, is really discouraging us. Mainly, because it is a lot of work and you must, must, must milk a cow at least once a day, if you keep the calf with her during the day, and it must, must, must be at the same time each day. So that would really tie a person down! We also need to spend some time and money on fencing and clearing more of our property and at this point we don't have much of either. So for now...the herd share is a wonderful compromise. Here is how it works...

Because it is illegal to sell raw (unpasteurized) milk to the public
, but perfectly legal to use as much raw milk as you wish from your own herd/cow, small scale dairy farmers and willing consumers have come up with the herd share concept. Consumers pay a farmer a fee for boarding, caring for and milking the herd. The herd share owner then obtains (but does not purchase) his/her share of milk from the herd. This arrangement is similar to arrangements of owning a share in a crop, racehorse or a bull. During the past two years or so, several cowshare/herdshare programs have been implemented in this province, and have been functioning well with no problems.

In Prince George, the Hunny-Do Ranch has been operating a herd share program for a few years now, but as it is a three-hour drive to PG, it is not feasible for us to be part of it. Check out their site if you want to know more, they have some good info on herd shares and how it all works.

And why go to all of this trouble you may be asking?? There are many, many health benefits to raw milk. Check out this link for a really complete listing of the benefits of raw milk. But in a nutshell, milk in it's unpasteurized form has nourished people for thousands of years and switching to a raw milk has been documented over and over again as helping relatively modern conditions such as lactose intolerance, Crohn's disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and arthritis. I first learned about raw milk when my neighbour Gigi lent me the book Nourishing Traditions put out by the Sally Fallon and the Weston A. Price Foundation. You can check out this youtube video for an overview of where they are coming from. It is interesting and thought provoking stuff.

This video is Sally Fallon discussing raw milk...