Dirty Talk…

IMG_3507

“In spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

Blue Beard’s Egg Margaret Atwood

I wanna dish about dirt today. Let me tell you right now you should be outside as much as possible. No excuses like work or other adulting crap. Get. Out. Side!!! There is no better medicine then the great outdoors. Literally. Research now shows that getting outside and breathing in the microbes from the soil actually has the same effect on our brain neurons as serotonin producing drugs like Prozac. There for dirt = medicine. Soul medicine.

IMG_3521

Serotonin is a chemical the body produces to make it feel relaxed and happy. It is produced in the brain and in the gut. That’s it. Those are the only two places. So if you have depression and gut problems they go hand in hand. You’re welcome. You are having issues because your body is depleted of serotonin and it is going to try and get it wherever it can therefor starving your brain or gut of the serotonin it needs to function correctly. Serotonin deficiency can also cause problems with depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders, and bipolar disorders.

IMG_3518

I know a lot about this because I have obsessive compulsive disorder. When I first started to notice the benefits of gardening and working in the yard I thought it was the action keeping my mind occupied but the more I research OCD and the science behind this “nature deficiency disorder” the more I was convinced that it was actually my body producing more of a much needed chemical- serotonin.

IMG_3525

Some research is showing that depression could be linked in part to anti inflammatory disorder. Allergens trigger an inflammatory response in the body by activating immune cells to suppress the allergic reaction. So how does dirt help any of this?

IMG_3547

The soil is full of good things like microbes and bacteria or maybe microbes are bacteria I’m no scientist. But the soil is full of it and this good guy bacteria called mycobacterium vaccae. This guy powers through the soil up into your nose hole down into your lungs and releases the same effect on yo brain as Prozac. True story. Or it can get into your blood through cuts on your hand.

IMG_3555

You can even eat it off a carrot or some greens. That’s right we have literally taken the happy out of our food. We use so many pesticides and disgusting not necessary things in our food that we can not eat it with out washing it. And then we wash off all the happy. It just goes right down our drain.

Then we sit around, eating more crap, wondering why we feel so depressed and unhappy. I didn’t really understand the benefits of being outside until I lived in Germany. In Germany to keep a child indoors all day is a sin. They go out no matter what the weather. Rain or shine. Snow or sun. You dress for the weather and you stay out. Every. Day.

IMG_3538

At first I heavily resisted this. In all forms. Biking 10 miles round trip to shop. Hiking flipping mountains. I don’t get it. I mean I do because it’s beautiful but if you want to hate you life then let your friends convince you to hike down Hoch Reiss because its super easy and will only take 30 minutes. And by that they mean it will take 3 hours and you will crawl to the bathroom the following day because that is as far as your body is able to make it. Eventually I became so accustomed to the “I’m going to make you climb a mountain to see what kind of girlfriend you are” move that I was actually starting to like it a little. Very little but still a little.

And those bike rides? Began to love how my booty was looking so I put that on the positive side too and liked it a little more. And when it came to my job as an aupair nothing could wear three kids out fast then fresh air. Knocks them out. Positives. Positives. Positive. Yeah, so I  didn’t like the great outdoors. Except heres the thing. I didn’t like it until all of a sudden I did. The trick with getting outside is realizing it’s one of those things that seems like it isn’t going to be worth the extra effort to fit it into our agenda but the research is in my friends and it’s SO is worth your time to fit in. Soon you too will be addicted.

IMG_3501.jpg

Join me this summer in making a family pact to get outside a minimum of 3o minutes. I’m going to call it the #mydirty30journey. It is as simple as this get outside for 30 minutes every day and get dirty. Take a hike. Work in the yard. Breath deeply and acknowledge that this time is important.

Then take a picture and post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the #mydirty30journey so we can all inspire each other this summer to get out. On our lunch breaks, after dinner, or whenever we can squeeze it in because it is as easy as that. Get dirty and breath deeply. Secret of life? Possibly so.

-How I Became The Happy Chicken Farmer-

3f4af2a31050dde2b6f83b4f265b46e9

Some dreams are ambiguous. The beginning is fuzzy. You can’t recall the exact moment it starts they just ease into existence. But other dreams, big dreams usually, you can go back to the moment they started over and over again. That is how chicken farming was for me. It was a dream that was born late one Friday night, pregnant and sick watching food documentaries on Netflix.

Maybe it was the hormones but the cruel treatment of even “free range” chickens for eggs and meat broke my heart. It was no life to live. Chickens thrive on foraging. Scratching and pecking for a little bug or grub, taking a glorious dirt bath, and of course finding the perfect hangout spot and hanging with friends are all important parts of chicken life.

Chickens cannot achieve this life if they are in a cage with 8 other chickens and only enough room to turn around. Chickens poop a lot. True story. Which is great if they are running around your lawn fertilizing it for free but terrible if they are trapped in a tiny cage pecking at the ground where they and 7 other chickens are pooping.  This means they are eating poop, breathing in poop, and then having to be pumped full of antibiotics in order for the poop not to make them sick. An egg is only as healthy as the bird it came from. Still want to eat those store bought eggs?

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not against antibiotics. Sometimes animals get sick and they need them just like you and me. I am not going to let my animal suffer just so that an egg is antibiotic free. I am going to fix my animal but I have had chickens for a year and not one time have I needed to use antibiotics. Tiny shock collars for not leaving the yard and crossing the road- yes. Antibiotics? No. Not so much.

So, after that Netflix binge I decided that I wasn’t going to put up with it. I was going to have chickens and raise my own farm fresh eggs. Maybe I would even go super farmer and raise meat chickens. Or get really crazy and get a pig- or maybe two pigs so that someone else could buy the second pig and then pay for my pig at processing time. Well then I would need some land and if I was going to get some land I was going to need a tractor too and before I knew it I was going to be a farmer.

I think when I first said I was going to have chickens my husband just kind of laughed and was like ok and lovingly (or was it patronizingly?) patted me on the head. Then three years later when I came home with five chicks he was livid but still in denial. And then when I came home with five more he was starting to realize there was no stopping me. He might as well embrace the chicken. But you know what? The ladies won him over because chickens are awesome.

Chicken watching is therapeutic. If you have a long, hectic day there is nothing more relaxing then pulling up your lawn chair and watching your birds. They do silly things, they love a treat, and they are always exploring, and establishing “pecking order”. They are friendly and even our cats love them. Thats right our cats love our birds and I don’t mean the taste.

Our barn cat Tilly is like a sheep dog when it comes to chickens. She goes with me every day to feed them. She keeps the rooster, Putin, in line because just like his name sake he can be a bully. She watches over the baby chicks and will even jump into the brooder with them. You would think a cat, especially a wild one, would eat them but she doesn’t. She loves them as much as me.

What I love the most about chickens though is what they teach my daughter Charlie. We practice counting by counting baby chicks. She learns where food comes from and seasonal eating by collecting the eggs. It teaches her responsibility and gentlness by feeding and caring for them every day. She is engaging with the world around her and learning to have empathy for other living things. Basically it encompasses my world view of living simply to live fully and the kind of lifestyle I want her to create when she is grown.

So why do I chicken farm? I think you could say because I was meant to. I am the steward of a gift. I get to watch over these funny, friendly ladies and take care of them and in return they feed my family delicious, golden yellow yoke, nutritious eggs. It is a great trade off. Especially with an egg shortage going on. Be the change you wish to see in the world.  Been on the fence about chickens? Get one. We can make a difference one chicken at a time together.

Or you can chicken farm vicariously through me…all good options.