Sunday, March 4, 2018

Let Me Reintroduce Myself

Hi All,  After some time away, I've just launched a new website!  I'm copying the initial post here to reintroduce myself and catch everyone up a bit.  Please check out

My name is Amy Ray.  I have been happily married to my soul mate for over 20 years.  I am a mom, daughter, business woman, friend and counselor, life long learner, educator, and Oh, and did I mention mom!?
I began my wellness journey as a child.  My mother was diagnosed with MS when I was young and I watched her as she modeled courage, researching and trying every possible integrative option to battle her disease.  As a teenager I poo poo’d (as is typical of a know it all youth) such things she introduced to me such as Ayurveda, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Acupuncture, Supplements, Yoga, and the list goes on….
Now, my husband and I own a veterinary hospital, he’s the Vet 🙂We live with our two children, two dogs, a cat, chickens and three pigs on  a six acre homestead where we have worked to teach our children about sustainability, free play, growing and raising our own food, and being good caretakers for the earth.  As my children grow and evolve I now also look to natural ways to keep my family healthy and happy.  I blogged about this philosophy and adventure at Tilting at Windmills The photo above was taken in Córdoba, Spain, shortly before I wrapped up an eight year blogging journey, so it feels fitting to be the launch of this website.
A few years ago, our daughter began a debilitating battle with depression, anxiety and anorexia.  As her illness evolved my blogging voice fell silent as I found myself coming full circle and going back to the roots that my mom instilled in me.  I began to research for myself the vast world of integrative medicine.   Funny enough, now my teenage daughter is the one to poo poo my ideas.
This space is to share what I have already learned, and continue to learn.  I have degrees in Psychology, Business Management,  and have independently taken a number of continuing education classes in integrative health and mindfulness.  Now I have enrolled to become a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach.
I’m loving every moment of my crazy busy life, and striving to take a road less traveled.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

In The Garden :: July 9, 2016

As we have had a tremendous amount on our plates so far this summer, I have been remiss in posting.  I hope that as we move through the height of the garden season, that I can keep up! :)  The promise of mid-summer abounds with the garden in full swing and beginning to deliver.  The above elderflowers are about to make their way into mead.  B has not done a batch in a few years and instead of foraging for the flowers, the ones we planted long ago are starting to produce in spades.

The sugar snap peas (foreground) and the sunchokes (back) are beautiful.  The sunchokes, our first year with this perineal, are almost as tall as B right now.  The peas, as quite typical for us are so robust we cannot keep up with them.  Shaded in between the two at ground level is a patch of endive.

The summer squash are well on their way and we should be harvesting our first full size napa cabbages this weekend.  Brussel sprouts, broccoli and storage cabbages are also well on their way.  We will have plenty of horseradish and garlic to share, as we watch them take over their various beds.

We have five different kinds of beans this year.  Four green beans and a row of soybeans.  The large squash to the left is a volunteer coming back on it's own from last year.  We also have a volunteer cucumber.  Both plants have given us small early yields to whet our appetite as the smaller plants mature.

We have done primarily roma tomatoes for canning and salsa, but have plenty of cherry tomatoes for snacking.  Peppers and eggplant are also just beginning to flower.

We have a bed of storage onions which are coming along nicely.  We will think them during the summer as we need them and should still have a number to add to the root cellar.

This morning we did our initial harvest of red currants.  It looks like we may get another batch in the next week or so.  As I write, they are simmering on the stove so that we can extract the juice for jelly.  It may not look like it but the garden is smaller this year as we focus on just sustaining ourselves and our storage needs for the off season.  It will be fun to see what we can accomplish.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Catching Up

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time can get away from us.  It has been a busy month with spring sports, wrapping up school, and having family in town visiting.  I cannot believe that it is June already; each day has been full.  Much like the baby robins above have matured rapidly in just one week, time has flown in the blink of an eye.  My free moments have left me tongue tied of late and been more for quiet reflection while basking in the abundant sunshine and reading the words of others rather than formulating my own.

The weather has been amazing and the garden is humming away. This weekend we will seed the remaining summer crops.  B purchased 60 feet of mining conveyor belt which he is re-purposing into circular raised Mellon and squash beds.

B has also been working on a solar heating system for the pool which is just about finished and should work wonderfully.  

Our chicks are set to arrive just prior to mid-month and I look forward to raising a new flock of egg layers along with this seasons meat birds.  We have had quite a drought of eggs from our aging and diminishing flock this year and I am looking forward to an abundance of eggs once again this fall.  So with the expectation of their arrival we have moved the chicken tractor to new digs behind the garden.

The peonies are just starting to open.  This year the evolution is seamless.  We had two full weeks of lilacs blooming, and just as the final buds have withered, the peonies are making their entrance.

We are getting scattered thunderstorms this afternoon and after the mornings work, it is a welcome respite, to sit back listen to the rain and gaze upon the progress.  As we weeded, trimmed and reorganized a few things in the garden this morning, we found the fruits of our labor from propagating our own monarch haven.  We have a mini milk week forest that is growing, sure to bring some colorful friends.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

In the Garden ~ Week of May 16

Though our weather is winter coats one day and t-shirts the next, the longer days have made the early garden very happy.  One of the baby hickory trees burst all of its buds on Friday.

We were able to begin transplanting the cooler weather crops from the basement into the garden.  Both Storage and Napa Cabbages, Brussels and Broccoli went in and then were quickly row covered to aid against the dreaded root-maggots that can plague these crops.  We began the early row cover last season and our plants were all beautiful and healthy, so we are hoping for similar success this season.

The peas are all emerging.  B planted them extra thick so that we could have some to add extra sweetness to our spring salads.

The horseradish is peeking through (foreground) and you can glimpse the ever giant mega rhubarb in the background.

B gave the girls expanded access to new pasture on Friday.  They were a bit reluctant to cross the line where the fence was previously, but once they did, they were happy to snack on dandelions and trot around snorting happily.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

In the Garden:: Week of May 2

This time of year things change so quickly.  We had rain all weekend, and the long sustained drink coupled with longer days have the flowers blooming and the pollen flying.  More and more we are starting to work on outdoor tasks.  The pool has been opened, chemicals adjusted and now just needs a good cleaning.  Unfortunately some four weeks later we are still waiting to hear back from the contractor who is bidding our deck.  Hopefully this project can still be completed this season.

We had our first asparagus with supper last night and the spinach is robust.  Sidney found a fantastic recipe for a asparagus, spinach and fennel soup that was delicious!  Everyone loved it, except the boy who grumbled at the vegetable based meal (there was sausage on the side for his benefit), but I did notice that despite his grumbles, every drop was eaten.

More and more there is green in the garden, and the flats in our grow room in the basement are just bursting.  We know we must remain patient until closer to the end of the month before much of it can go outdoors, but there is a constant pull, especially after a supper made mostly of our fresh beginnings.

The lilacs have just begun to bloom, which means regardless of temperature my kitchen windows are open wide so that I can enjoy the sweet smells for the oh too short time it lasts.

B was off yesterday, so when I got home form work we had a few errands and then after school he and Sidney went for a ride.  It was late in the day when we got the notification that our bee packages had arrived, and there is a limited window to pick them up.  So off they went while I worked on above referenced soup, to get our bees.  Now all of those flowers will truly be happy.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zen #atozchallenge

As April draws to a close, this teeter totter that we have been on, while still rocking seems to be finding some homeostasis.  Much like the crazy fluxes of our Wisconsin weather, as my lilacs start to open and the peonies send robust shoots up, there is the hint of soon a warming into Spring.  The expected rain is starting to fall and going over the list in my head is not a stress, it is simply that, a list, that I know will get accomplished in due time.  As I close out this A-Z Challenge I do so in a moment of Zen, one that I will hold onto as long as I can and hope to be able to tap into and return to when needed.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yawn

the windmills of La Mancha, Spain

The week is winding down, and though a busy weekend awaits, it is a good outdoor kind of busy with soccer games and garden and household tasks.  Maybe it will be intermixed with a family game or movie, some reading and grabbing a bite to eat out.  Even a busy weekend is a relaxing change.  It is less regimented by the work and school requirements of the week, and there are fewer have to get done's.  Tomorrow also marks the end of this Blogging A-Z challenge, and with that, I can stretch out stifle a little yawn and relish in a writing undertaking completed.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for Xander #atozchallenge

Whew, X was a tough one, and I was scrambling a bit, until my mom said "what about Xander"!  Well there it was.  This is Xander, our overly confident 18 pound farm poodle. We work closely with a wonderful rescue organization at work and he was evacuated from a puppy mill.  At 10 weeks old B did heart surgery on him to close a hole in his heart and from that time on, he was ours.  He has always been full of energy, and like many smaller breed dogs, thinks that he is three times his size! He never shies away from keeping the livestock in line or running the fences on patrol :)

Several years ago Xander was also diagnosed with Addison's Disease, which in a nutshell, is adrenal gland failure, is little body cannot keep up with cortisol production so he does not deal well with stressful situations.  He is managed well on medication and for the most part, certainly does not let anything slow him down.  In our household,  he bosses around Emerson, our boarder collie, but is pudding in the hands of our five pound kitten, Juno.  They wrestle like they are both canines, and many a time Juno comes out on top!  I took this picture last weekend he was covered in dry leaves and dust from patrolling under the porch.  He was just out and about in the sunshine watching over the homestead, as any farm poodle would do.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Wellness #atozchallenge

It is funny how things in your life just come full circle, especially with mothers and daughters.  But it also seems that some of the age old resistances minimize from one generation to the next.  When raising kids, maybe we start from that place of additional insight from day one based on our experience, or maybe it is just an evolving collective consciousness over time.  When my mom first began her journey into trying to support and heal herself as she began living with MS some 35 years ago, she looked to natural solutions.  She began yoga, educated herself on Chinese medicine, vitamin supplementation, acupuncture, QiGong, Ayurveda, etc.  My pre-teen self was exploring my own way, and in typically rebellious nature was less than open to all of this.

Fast forward to present.  We moved to our homestead to teach our kids about their food sources, to respect more free play, and try to experience life separating, if only a little, from the constant day to day pressure of the society we live in.  As an adult I absolutely love yoga, strive for natural cleaning solutions and am a DoTerra Wellness Advocate.  After an eighteen month journey learning, experimenting and experiencing I am feeling strong enough to begin to teach and share what I have learned about how to use essential oils to support our bodies' own natural systems. This is especially important because the outside factors that passively effect our health when we do not even realize it continue to grow. I have learned that the marriage of traditional medicine and the 'old ways' lead to a whole person approach that is necessary today.

 My daughter, who is an avid chef in training has become very focused on seasonal, local, natural, whole foods and how superfoods assist and affect health.  Though in true teenage form she does not listen to all that I am trying to teach her.  However, as mentioned earlier, the resistance is less than what I felt when I was her age.  She feels more comfortable researching on her own and re-wording or correcting me where she deems it necessary.  That said, she is more than willing to try what I tell her about, and for the most part, ultimately returns to it later on.  Everyone's journey into wellness is unique, personal, and embarked on for different reasons, though initially it can be overwhelming, as you gain confidence it is well worth the trip.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Variety #atozchallenge

Variety is the spice of life right?  One of the most stunning things we encountered while in Spain were the beautiful markets.  As we grow most of our own food, eat fresh while we can, try to store as much as possible, cook with wild abandon and were at the end of Winter at home, these 'merkat's' were complete eye candy.  There was everything from farmers market style groceries, to sushi, tapas, and anything else you could imagine snacking on.

The variety was both intriguing and dizzying.  The best part was we simply sampled our way through, and for at least two of our meals that is exactly what we did!

These meals were as fresh as can be, prepared in their most basic form; olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs. We could travel from booth to booth with a glass of wine or beer in hand and simply immerse ourselves in the variety laid before us.  Of course, the meal ended with a bag of hand dipped truffles, what else?


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