Nature's Mothers Blog

Childbirth, Parenting and Other Passions

flower children November 9, 2013

Filed under: Community life on the farm,Parenting — naturesmother @ 7:12 pm

I saw the quote below and just wanted to share it. I also wanted to say that contradictory to how my previous post may have came across, I am actually – a lot of the time – a very happy person and often quite a good mother. I guess you have to experience the sadness to truly recognise the happiness, and you have to recognise the problems in order to grow. I don’t spend all my days beating myself up. In fact life is pretty damn good (mostly) with quite normal(I think) highs and lows.

Love & light…

 

Our low impact life… October 28, 2013

Filed under: Community life on the farm,Parenting,sustainable living,thoughts — naturesmother @ 8:19 am

People often wonder what our life is like. Our lifestyle is not totally unique, but it is very different to that of the vast majority of people I know.

We have moved 11 times in the last 7 years…that’s a LOT of moving! Why, you ask? We cannot afford to buy a house – we do not earn enough to get a mortgage – and neither would we want one. The idea of working our whole lives in order to pay a mortgage fills us with dread. So we’ve rented – normally we go for the cheapest – which was mostly short term lets.  Other times we’ve intended to stay long term, but our bills worked out to be unsustainable, or we just weren’t happy. We were having to claim housing benefit and having more and more drama with the fact that all estate agents in our area would not accept anyone on Housing Benefit, and most private landlords were wary of HB too. Basically, the Council provided a system which didn’t work for us. And neither were we happy depending on it.

We are happiest close to nature, some of our fondest memories whilst Wwoof’ing. The simple life is for us…so when I found a part time job available as personal assistant and event organiser at a daycentre for adults with special needs, on an organic farm…well, this sounded like heaven.

I got the job and a few months later we moved onto the farm. We lived in a touring caravan – where we built a small top bunk above the single bed so that we each had somewhere to sleep. It was hubby, myself and our 2 girls at that point, but I was expecting… As ‘nesting’ kicked in and began to worry about how I was going to cope with 3 children in this square metre(or less) of floor space. I opened my email one day, and there was an email from a local forum I belong to about someone selling a large shed for £600. I immediately called and we went to see it and bought it straight away. The man who we bought it from was a builder and he told us it’d take a day to take down and a couple of days to put up. Well, we aren’t builders – and it took about 6 months to rebuild it and make it habitable – we had the learning experience of a lifetime! We employed a builder here and there to get us started on the things we didn’t know how to do, but mostly we (or rather, my husband) built our house with his own bare hands. There is a huge sense of achievement in that alone, and even though it was stressful we feel really grateful to have had this opportunity.

We do an exchange – we work a few days a month in exchange for our beautiful piece of land – above an apple orchard and overlooking a valley…what more could we want?! I will save the details of the build for another blog, but suffice to say that our house cost more than £600 in the end – as we took advice to use new cladding (we chose larch as it doesn’t need to be treated). We used recycled/reclaimed things wherever we could, and learnt many a lesson on the way….

This is more or less the end result…

IMG_3122

We get our little bit of power from solar panels – not enough to run a fridge, so we do without one. When there’s no sun, we have no power…although usually the panels will charge a bit, even on an overcast day.

Our loo consists of a shelf, with a toilet seat on it and a bin underneath. The bin gets emptied into our compost bins and will be eventually used as ‘humanure’ to feed our plants. During the year we spent in the caravan we had no toilet, although there are toilets on the farm – so having a compost loo of our own feels like a luxury.

We have a sink with running water…wooo! Another luxury! Our water is from a borehole. We don’t have a shower or bath, but there is a slightly temperamental shower on the farm. A flexitub and a couple of kettles of hot water sort us out just fine mostly, but we do indulge in a shower and swim at a nearby hotel every couple of weeks. We don’t have hot water in our house (at the moment) but we are hoping to buy a new woodburner with a boiler, so we should have that soon…(ooh, imagine washing dishes in warm water!)

We have a second hand gas cooker – one that someone was throwing out because the exterior is starting to rust. Our heating comes from our woodburner, and wood is something we have no shortage of on our farm as the farm gained loads of salvaged wood from a fire on the Falmouth Docks. It of course has to be collected and chopped, and fires are now becoming part of our morning and evening ritual. The girls love to help light it and little Leander loves to blow out the match.

We are very fortunate to live on the same farm as Zelda School, which is a unique school with a beautiful philosophy, run out of two yurts. The girls go there 3 days a week. I work those 3 days, whilst Hubby looks after Leander. Hubby works on weekends, as a Support Worker or Health Care Assistant (the money is best on weekends – which frees him up during the week) We have 2 family days during the week, in which we try to cram a bit of one-on-one time with the kids, home schooling ideas, and outings – amongst breastfeeding, meals, my self-employed work and other voluntary jobs I seem to accumulate.

We like to grow our own food although we haven’t done too much this year – but that is something to work on in the years to come. There are polytunnels on the farm, so when in season – we have an abundance of tomatoes, courgettes and runner beans.

We love being so close to nature, and we love that we are off grid and not dependant on the Council for housing benefit. We love that we have pretty much no massive overheads or bills. Even so, money is tight – petrol and food being our biggest expenses – but we would much rather be a little short of money and be able to share childcare and experience our childrens childhoods with them…it goes so fast!

Don’t be disillusioned however, this lifestyle is not for the faint-hearted. There is no switch to flip when it’s cold…and if baby has a poo explosion there’s no warm bath to plonk him in…but these things make you think about and realise how much energy and time goes into things that most people simply take forgranted. It makes us realise how wasteful we have been in the past, and how we need to look after our resources more carefully. This is not always an easy lifestyle – but it is a beautiful one – one where I feel so much more connected to mother earth and where my children are free and happy.

So that, in a nutshell, is our low impact lifestyle!

 

My mothers day gift December 7, 2012

Filed under: babies,Community life on the farm,Parenting,pregnancy,sustainable living — naturesmother @ 10:22 pm

This is the lovely film my husband made for me for last Mothers Day.  Great christmas or birthday present idea…

His company is called Smifmedia

 

Make your own milk! September 1, 2011


No not mothers milk…that happens naturally when you have a baby! The wonders of nature!

A couple of years ago we did lots of experimenting with making our own milk replacement for on cereal, etc as we no longer drink cows milk.  This is why.

It is really easy, and doesn’t take up too much time.  All you need is a liquidizer (and the ingredients, of course!). It works out much cheaper than buying it already made (and much cheaper than cows milk) and we can choose organic ingredients and know that the ‘milk’ has no funny additives or preservatives, and has no weird dioxins perhaps leaked from packaging.

Almond Milk (My FAVOURITE…especially nice fresh!)

1 cup of Almonds (soak overnight)
3 cups water
Optional: 1 tspn vanilla essence

Brown unrefined sugar/honey/dates or agave syrup to taste (we normally use about 2 teaspoons raw honey)

Whizz up in liquidizer for a couple of minutes and then pour through cheesecloth, muslin or similar. Bottle, put in fridge and use within 4 or 5 days – it’s that easy!

Almond milk is full of potassium, magnesium, Vitamin E, and has less calories than a glass of cows milk.  You can use the leftover pulp for baking too!

Rice Milk

We’ve experimented with Rice milk quite a bit and it never turns out quite like the Rice Dream that you buy (possibly because they use white rice and we prefer to use untampered with brown rice), but it’s still pretty good.

1 cup COOKED brown rice
3 cups water
Optional: 1 tspn vanilla essence
Brown unrefined sugar/honey/dates or agave syrup to taste (we normally use about 2 teaspoons raw honey)

Whizz up in liquidizer for a couple of minutes and then pour through cheesecloth, muslin or similar. Bottle, put in fridge and use within 4 or 5 days – it’s that easy!


Oat Milk
1 cup oats
4 cups water
Optional: 1 tspn vanilla essence
Brown unrefined sugar/honey/dates or agave syrup to taste

Whizz up in liquidizer for a couple of minutes, leave to stand for about 8 hours and then pour through cheesecloth, muslin or similar

The remaining bits from all these can be mixed with flour, raisins, oil, seeds, sugar and whatever else you fancy, and made into biscuits!

 

 

Hawthorn or Elderflower cordial recipe July 9, 2011


If you still have any elderflowers out, run and grab them and make this yummy cordial! Erin lives on the stuff!

Ingredients:

20 heads elderflower or hawthorn flowers
1.8kg sugar (I use the slightly healthier unrefined brown sugar)
1.2 litres water
2 unwaxed lemons
75g citric acid

Shake bugs off flowerheads and put flowerheads in a bowl.
Dissolve the sugar in the water by warming gently
Peel the zest off the lemons and put it into bowl with flowerheads
Slice lemons and add to flowerheads
Poor sugar water over flowerheads once it’s cooled a bit
Add citric acid
Cover with a cloth for 24 hours then strain through cheesecloth (or sieve)
Bring to the boil, then bottle and mix to taste (about1 part cordial to 6 parts water)

 

Elderflower bubbly June 25, 2011

Filed under: Community life on the farm,Parenting — naturesmother @ 9:42 am
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It is that time of year! Everything is blossoming and fruiting frantically, and there are not enough hours in the day to do all that needs doing!  I did, however, get around to making some elderflower champagne, and this is how:

Ingredients:

8 heads of elderflower (preferably picked when fully open on a sunny day)
1 kg of sugar (I used unrefined demerera sugar this time – slightly better for you than white sugar)
2 unwaxed lemons (only organic lemons-or your own- are unwaxed)
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
10 litres cold water

Method:

  1. Peel lemon rind of thinly with a potato peeler
  2. shake insects of elderflower heads and put in bucket
  3. add lemon rind and the juice of the 2 lemons
  4. add sugar (gently) and apple cider vinegar
  5. pour water over and stir
  6. Stir twice a day for a week, and then bottle (plastic fizzy bottles work best – if you use wine bottles store them somewhere where explosions won’t do much damage – although they’ve not exploded for me yet!)
  7. Can be drunk anywhere from week 2  and up to a year, and is only slightly alcoholic but very tasty!  Enjoy!
 

New baby alpaca! June 20, 2011

Filed under: Birth,Community life on the farm — naturesmother @ 6:32 pm
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Oh, how lucky we are to live on the farm!  Yesterday, the first baby alpaca of the year was born.  A beautiful, strong, long legged rose grey boy cria, who looks similar to his stud male dad, Max. His name is Carthvean Dianthus!

Usually alpacas choose to give birth on sunny days, but there’s not been many of those around, and today was really rainy, so good thing it was yesterday!

Being greeted by all the other girl alpacas

Trying to get up…

Erin & Julie get to welcome baby

Wobble wobble wobble…it took about 30 minutes for him to do what it took Ayla & Erin about a year to do!!

Love…

Katya the llama on guard!

 

How eco are eco disposable nappies? May 26, 2011


I used cloth nappies with my first, Erin.  I bought them second hand for £20 plus a few extra nappy covers off ebay and a couple of fleecy Lollipop nappies.  They were really great and I felt that they filled all the criteria:

  • they saved me lots of money (even though I spent considerably more on electricity & soap nuts),
  • they look gorgeous and you can choose loads of funky designs,
  • they are 40% kinder to the environment (disposables take 200 to 500 years to decompose, but electricity and detergents for cloth nappies are taken into consideration)
  • they are easy to use and comfy for baby
  • they are free of chemicals – much kinder to baby
However, this time around, and after a trial kit from the Real Nappy Project I decided to go with disposables (eco disposables, mind you).  My main reason was that we share a house and a washing machine with our own water supply from a spring, and I realised that I would have been hogging the machine and using a lot more water and electricity.  As it is with 2 children and life on a farm we could easily do a load a day.
The other, perhaps selfish reason was that I feel I simply don’t have enough time to be constantly washing and hanging out washing.  As a stay-at-home mother of two, who works on a farm in exchange for rent and a wonderful lifestyle, is doing yoga teacher training, and looking after a few websites as well as running Natures Mother…life is busy!  Living in a shared house is great in many ways but it also adds to the pressure, as we can’t just leave dishes to pile up, or forget the vacuuming for a few days.  Hubby and I get the chance to watch a dvd or favourite series about two or three times a week, to give you an idea of how much free time we have.
So the search began for the most eco-friendly and chemical free, but affordable, disposable nappy:
Moltex – currently at about £12 per pack (46 minis/ 42 midis/ 34 juniors). They are stocked in most health food stores, otherwise you have to pay postage to order them online.  They are:
  • Manufactured with more than 50% renewable resources from controlled cultivation
  • 100% Chlorine-free absorbent core and 20% of absorbent gel biodegradable
  • Fully biodegradable packaging
  • 100% biodegradable breathable protective film
  • Free from perfumes and lotions
  • Free from bleaching agents and toxic residues
  • Recommended for babies with eczema and skin complaints
Nature babycare – currently at £5.99 per pack from Boots (between 28 and 4 nappies depending on size)
  • 100% chlorine free
  • Based on biodegradable materials
  • Biodegradable back sheet film based on corn
  • 100% GM free
  • 100% biodegradable high loft
Sainsbury’s little ones eco nappies – very little actual info available online, but the info below is on their nappy pack. (£4.99 per pack  – 28 to 34 depending on size). It does not say anything about being biodegradable or free of chemicals, so for all I know they may be just as bad as a bag of pampers.  Packaging is plastic which is “recyclable at a larger Sainsbury’s.
The core in a baby’s nappy is made from a blend of absorbent materials, including fluff derived from wood pulp.  The FSC label on the little ones eco nappies is your guarantee that the wood pulp used in these nappies has been sourced responsibly, helping to protect the forest for future generations.
  • uses a minimum of 60% renewable plant based materials
  • Dermatologically tested
Beaming baby has recently launched its range of disposables – they sound fantastic! Have you tried them? Prices are at £3.99 for 20 minis, £7.99 for 40 midis, or 38 maxis. (There are other sizes)  You can buy them online or reduce cost of pricing and find your local stockist here
  • Over 65% biodegradable (including the packaging), that’s 40% more biodegradable than standard disposable nappies; the most biodegradable disposable nappy currently available in the UK.
  • Most of the nappy biodegrades within 4 years instead of the mind blowing 400 years that standard nappies are estimated to take!
  • They have a biodegradable water resistant outer sheet made with natural cotton and cornstarch paper.
  • The absorbent layer is fortified with 100% natural cornstarch.
  • The packaging is bio-degradable to further reduce the impact on the environment.
  • They use 30% less chemicals than standard disposable nappies and are kind to all babies; especially those with eczema or sensitive skin (try our Organic Baby Lotion and Organic Baby Wipes).
  • They form a naturally breathable layer against your baby’s skin; the top sheet is made with natural cotton and cornstarch fibres.
  • We infuse them with aromatherapy oils including chamomile and ylang-ylang to help protect baby’s sensitive skin and release a gentle scent.
Admittedly I was under the impression that Sainsbury eco nappies were an ok substitute if I could not get Nature baby nappies (Moltex being out of my price range), but after more research I think I will be popping into my closest stockist of Beaming Baby nappies!
After all, which mum who wants the best for their baby (the skin is a giant sponge, hence nicotine and contraceptive patches and aromatherapy) and the environment, would choose anything other then cloth or nice eco nappies?!
 

The Modern Day Mother April 13, 2011

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Community life on the farm,Parenting — naturesmother @ 11:33 am

baby in sling – check
save the gorillas – check
sustainable energy – check
natural non polluted setting – check
breastfeeding – check

All these things (except save the gorillas perhaps – more like love the goats, alpacas, dogs, cats, sheep & hens) are completely the norm to my little girl. How amazing that we can live this lifestyle!

 

Spring has sprung March 11, 2011

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Community life on the farm,Natural Remedies,Parenting — naturesmother @ 5:43 pm

Birds are building nests, there’s a few bees around, the daffodils are out but the weather can’t quite make up it’s mind yet – although we have had some LOVELY sunny days.

Life is busy on the farm…here is some of what has been happening:

  • The broad beans are pushing through the soil in our outdoor beds.
  • The first early potatoes are in the ground (some in the polytunnel and some outdoors)
  • The wind turbine has arrived…we will soon have free electricity!
  • The propogators & greenhouse have gone crazy…most things are coming through now. We’ve been sowing things in the polytunnels too!
  • Ayla has been crawling for a while and is now pulling herself up on things & enjoying trying out walking (just holding our hands still!) She’s 8 and a half months now. Still only 2 teeth!!
  • Erin is enjoying kindergarten at Zelda School, which is a Steiner inspired school run in a yurt in Gweek. Erin and Ayla have also gone to a lovely playgroup at nearby Trannack School. Zelda School is applying to be a free school and could be starting Reception & Year One classes from this September! Hold thumbs!
  • Tara (the Golden Guernsey goat) has been scanned and only has one baby, which wriggles a lot now! She’s due in April
  • A compost loo has been fitted in the mobile home. It’s not a longdrop but a rather funky one that looks pretty similar to a normal loo. Basically, your wee goes in the front bit & poo in the back(2 separate compartments). We did have an incident where Erin used it for a number 2 without the child seat…meaning her bottom was too far forward….need I say more?!
  • Here are our feb and march to do lists for the veggie coop side of things, if anyone is interested what is going in where and when.  feb-to-do-list march-to-do-list If anyone is interested to follow goings on on the farm, have a look here
  • Julie has been training Molly the mule, and Erin has been on a little saddle on her back!!

Our sleeping arrangements have taken a bit of twist…Steven is on a mattress on the floor and Erin and Ayla in bed with me(Erin won’t sleep on the mattress).  I miss having Steven in bed with us but it works out well, we all get more sleep and Erin and Ayla aren’t distressed, worried, scared or alone in the night (Erin had been waking up in her own room crying really hard). I don’t like to sleep in a room on my own so why should they?! It’s lovely. I can breastfeed Ayla practically in my sleep. Steven often joins us but then gets kicked out in the night as Erin is so wriggly.  He comes in for cuddles in the morning and his mattress is right next to the bed so it’s not as bad as it sounds.  I find myself naturally becoming more of an attachment parent (which is the opposite to how I was brought up, so has been wonderful but I’ve needed to rewire my brain a bit). It does feel right.

Erin has gone back to breastfeeding every morning and night. She seems to be feeling a bit insecure again and I think she just wants to make sure I’m there for her. I have plenty of milk, so this is not a problem! I do love her! She is extra cuddly at the moment and it is rather nice! She’s started shouting when I talk to other people, she’s really fighting for my attention and I’m not sure what is the right way to deal with this, but I feel if I tell her off it is as good as me saying that her issues (whatever they are) are not important. So I am trying to be calm and patient and give her lots of unconditional love.

Ayla is still not mad about solids. Baby rice mixed with water is still the only mushy food she’ll eat. Every now and then she’ll have an Ellas organic baby food – fruit & veg. But she won’t tolerate them being mixed into her rice. So different to Erin who’d just eat anything and everything.  She eats finger foods but not enormous amounts, although she’ll sometimes get stuck into a risotto or something with her hands. Mess, glorious mess! 😉  However, I’m not worried as she’s still getting everything she needs from my milk and does not seem to be losing weight or anything! I’m taking lots of Floradix to  help keep my energy up and immune system strong.

I’m busy reading a wonderful book called “Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves”.  I’m learning a lot and I hope soon to post some quotes that have been helpful to me!

If you have anything to add, any tips, or if you’d like to share any birth or parenting stories, please email them to me on info@naturesmother.co.uk and perhaps they’ll make it onto the blog!

sharon xxx

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