Pondering the Last Miles of THIS Life’s Journey!

I often say “maturing” rather than “aging” but the fact is we are all, always aging and each of us reaches whatever age we achieve before passing over.
At 71, feeling the best I have in TWO years (remember that is relative and only indicates how bad those years were!) I find myself thinking about my pending departure! I am not in a hurry but I am at peace and ready.
My Brother Tom’s 70th birthday would have been today. We were close up through college (roomed together three years) and then our lives diverged. At 55, his disease came in a bottle. So the number of years in each of our lives varies.
I reflect a lot and many long forgotten memories come flooding back – the vast majority good and I *think* I have done more good than harm.
Cancer, nerve grafts, toe amputations, large abdominal skin grafts — ALL ARE A PIECE OF CAKE compared to Living With RA — and I am among the fortunate – diagnosed at 69 – so many in their 20’s & 30s have it much worse.
I do not complain – I was raised NOT to be sick!  LOL! Mother did a good job! Her grandmother, My great grandmother Calkin, lived with her at the end. She would dress sharply for her daily walk and leave with one bad/hurting arm in a sling only to return with the OTHER arm in the sling:) Hypochondriac:):) (OR did she have RA and just share the sling so one arm was free?)
So, if we ever said we didn’t feel well it was immediately to bed in a dark room with NO toys or books! This was pre television:) but that would have been banned too.
So I grew up functioning no matter how I felt and only stopped if I was contagious to others.
My first broken arm was when I was ten. playing outside in winter. I came home and was told not to stop crying and being a baby, I would be okay, go back to playing! I finally convince her to take me to the Dr. she did so reluctantly and learned a valuable lesson. I know my body pretty well! NOT Edgar Casey well, but well.
The next 3 broken arms only took “I did again” and off we went to the Dr.
She also listened when I argued against the Dr. (At age 10)  who wanted to wait until April vacation to take my appendix out! Wouldn’t be here today if she hadn’t as it was removed the next day, Feb. 14, 1958 JUST before it burst.
Medicine wasn’t what it is now!
So now I deal with a disease that is barely visible. Yes, you can see I often use a cane, that I walk stiffly and my upper back is curving (Thank you Great Grandmother Bean – as I now think she suffered from RA – based on young, but crystal clear images of her physical being and the fact a cousin in the same line has RA).
You won’t see that my hands often can not open jars & bottles unless I ask you to open it for me, that my mind often sends messages to move and the body says hell no and stays still, that I am fatigued when there is no reason to be, that it can take a day or two to do what used to be a couple hours/half a day, that walking feels like my legs are upside down pencils and I am walking on the erasures!
None of this shows and it really doesn’t matter — I carry on.
Then there is the dilemma of how to best deal with it. I am fortunate to have Dartmouth Medical and their renown Rheumatology Department. I work closely with my Doctor — She knows I use Cannabis – when I first asked about  pain meds she said that only prescription strength over the counter could be scripted. I asked about Cannabis, knowing she can not suggest, and she smiled and said “over half my patients do use it” –
The Power of Cannabis
Thus I started my Cannabis Journey and  the PAIN IS controlled 97-100% of the time – I get occasional twinges  – but it is easy to dose a little more THC.
I have never been a fan of Drug Company drugs and the way they poison us – profit is the motive not wellness! Drugs seem to be concocted to keep you alive needing more and more drugs and never getting well.
I am not stupid and under the right circumstances I will accept a drug. The highest # has been 5 (2 glucose, 1 BP, 1 anticoagulant, 1RA) Medical people often express surprise as most my age take 25-30! I would have scoffed but I have older friends using that many! Mind boggling to me! Right now I am taking just 3 (1 glucose, 1 BP, 1 anticoagulant ) I hope to drop the last glucose next and then the BP – probably stay on the anticoagulant.
But as I said I do not have a death or suffering wish so will, after much thought and research try some drugs. I did this with RA.
Two different drugs, two long windows off feeling worse and worse, not wanting to eat and knowing that with literally NO warning I would have to empty my bowels or badder — Bladder, not so bad as I am male and just need time to whip it out and go! Even with that advantage:) I often nearly wet myself! The outside door was closer than the bathroom or any sink! and nature was my friend. When too public, my side van doors were my salvation as they shielded me while I used a bottle.
Bowels are a horse of a different color! In the morning HRH might have to endure sitting on my lap while I go before I take her out – I know the location of every restroom in my regular travels AND STILL often had to stop and use the 5gallon pail and plastic bag system I always have with me in the van!
Finally in Dec, after I had suffered enough and my Dr. appt was rescheduled, I STOPPED the RA meds and notified my Doctor.
THEN I started to feel better! I am still coming off the med BUT so, So, SO much better! PAIN FREE is my main wish – Pain free as these last miles are traveled.
I still am working with my Dr! Blood indicators good. Xrays show my joints continue to disintegrate – that is a given.
So now I concentrate on QUALITY of life! I do not worry about how many miles I have to go! Goal is to just be pain free!
I can and am adapting life to meet my changing physical being. I do what I can when I can! All I need to do is eat, sleep, stay warm, stay clean AND take care of HRH.
Beyond that every thing happens when it happens – no flairs since I stopped taking the meds- will they happen again! I DO NOT KNOW – but I am prepared to get through them as I always have – I will just up my THC consumption.
As long as I can keep myself pain free with Mother Nature’s Medical Herb, I will soldier through.
I do not share for myself and I DO NOT want sympathy or unsolicited help or medical suggestions! Some of you will yell TMI:) so be it!
REMEMBER Cannabis lowered my A1C from 7.4 to 6.3 in the six months between March and September and my Primary Dr dropped one of my glucose meds. My weight is shifting/balancing and I saw recently where Cannabis can contribute to gain if you are under and loss if you are over. I do know I am down significant poundage – BUT also know that could be the long periods of intestinal disorder.
I post to educate – Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow and many/most of us will be gathering with Friends and Family. KNOW that many diseases are invisible and the odds favor your meeting someone you haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving who is suffering from an INVISIBLE DISEASE! The list is long and goes way beyond RA.
SO, turn off the judgmental switch! Relax, have more drinks or wine IF YOU ARE ABLE, remembering many can not! It is time for us all to just be, let those around us be, help if asked and LOVE.
HAVE a great Thanksgiving everyone!

The Power of Cannabis




Hard to believe it has been 10 months since I last posted here! Life has been busy. A new SENIOR Toy Poodle entered my life last February! When I adopted Princess, I thought it would be for short term palliative care. Princess was Skin & Bones and her digestive track had closed down. Long story short, she has come back to life and is active and alert and a REAL Sweetheart.  I dropped a big piece of firewood on my foot last October and as a result had my middle toe amputated in April! Healed well and I would never know if I never looked at my foot.

All that is not the reason for this post!



I would be TOTALLY REMISS if I did not share the results of my routine Dartmouth visit yesterday AND the POWER OF CANNABIS.

My A1C has fallen AGAIN! CURRENTLY at 6.3 (they want me under 7).

Six months ago I was at 7.4 – Three months ago I was at 6.6 – and yesterday I was 6.3.

Last visit (3 months ago) I knew that I wasn’t doing anything that would be expected to lower my A1C and thought “maybe the Cannabis”?? But I said nothing. I wanted to wait for another 90 days. I made NO changes!

Nothing has changed except I now use substantial Cannabis! My diet isn’t horrible but it isn’t whole30 – I enjoy Pecan sandies 4-7 at a time several times a week, chips, ice cream, PB & Marshmallow sandwiches, pizza, donuts, granola, bagels, English Muffins, — way too many carbs – I know as I have been working with/fighting this for decades.I know how food connects to Diabetes!

The only changes are my adding Cannabis AND eating more things I wasn’t and shouldn’t.


You may remember two years ago when I did PURE whole30. I lost 22 pounds in 30 days, felt great and my A1C fell too. Since then I have slowly stopped being PURE whole30 though the “real” food I eat is not processed! (https://www.fayrehalefarm.com/take-control-of-your-food-st…/)

I am very open and honest with my Doctor. He is not allowed to agree or support (NH Hospital) – He is young enough and Cannabis will soon be legal- when it is, he will have a personal case history and he knows this as we talk.

The Power of Cannabis

I am stopping one of the two glucose prescription meds – that is the only change for next 90 days – have to keep eating the bad stuff:) so we change only one thing – the prescription meds..

My diet can be cleaned up later if need be.

Heart fine – kidney function good and I have lost 8 pounds in last 90 days.

Blood work in 90 and next appointment in 6 months.

As I said, I have been working with Drs and prescription meds to manage my glucose for 20 years at least. I know my body and I know this journey. There is no question in my mind that this is a “side effect” (LOL!!!) of the Cannabis I am using for RA pain control.

The Power of Cannabis

I take my THC in several forms. I vape dry flower and oil and have pills & oil capsules. The vaping is something I do not know how to measure so it just is “extra”. Pills & Capsules have mg values – So, In addition to vaping, I use 90-125mgs of measurable THC each day. I have learned how to spread it over the day – I do NOT get high – (three exceptions over the last year and it was part of my learning how to spread dose size and frequency) Occasionally mild munchies! Thus the Pecan Sandies & Chips:):):)

I have since seen a couple articles that mention Cannabis benefiting Diabetes but have not found real documentation — so I am sharing my personal experience.

The Power of Cannabis

That brings me back to CBD – for all who refuse to accept THC. I started with CBD 200mgs a day. As I have stated, It did enough so I knew if I missed a dose. I switched to THC. I have since learned that 600mgs would have been a more appropriate dose and that makes total sense to me based on my 200mg experience. I have a friend who depends on CBD and I asked her what dose she uses. She said she takes 750mg every morning and if having a flair, she takes 750mg again at night. GOOD information to know. I may add CBD back in ALONG WITH the THC I am using.



Dealing successfully with RA pain seems to have had positive SIDE EFFECTS :):):):)

As I said when I started, I would be TERRIBLY REMISS if I did not share my experience.

I hope it can help you or someone you know.

Adopt SENIOR dogs

Princess (HRH) and I wish you all ONLY the best! Remember to cherish each day and to fill your life with LOVE.


The FULL Equation Envelops Two Weeks Of Grieving & Introspection


We are just minutes away from it being two weeks since Peaches passed over and just now, 41  left Andrews AFB for Houston.


This poignant picture of Sully mourning his Human as I mourn Peaches shows both side of the equation. Human/Canine bonds can be the purest we have. Unquestioning Love and Devotion.

For me it has been two weeks of deep grieving and introspection. I grieved for my faithful Companion, Peaches, and for a time when we were a kinder and gentler nation.  I acknowledge my own mortality – something I first recognized when I survived cancer 35 years ago. Interesting that I didn’t recognize it when I escaped becoming a name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall! It was only after surviving cancer that I brought those two escapes together, adding another in 1998, as indications that I still had things to accomplish in this Life’s Journey.  Have I ???

While assessing my life in detail and fully acknowledging that I am far from perfect, I HOPE SO. There will be no large crowds gathering to acknowledge and list any possible good that I may have been responsible for when I pass. I can not personally do a FULL self review until I am on the Other Side and reviewing this Life so I can plan and prepare for the next.

As an Educator of older Emotionally Disabled Students, As a Counselor, As an Adoptive Father of Older Children, As a Manager/Boss, As a Friend, I hope I have contributed some lasting good. Good that is pure as I will never hear or know about it.  I do not include Husband, as that is an area I have not excelled at.

I have always known, and during this two weeks of reflection it has become clearer, that I am a person who needs to be creating – creating takes many forms and has throughout my life. Sometimes it is safe environments, sometimes physical construction of buildings, stores or rooms. I can visualize in 3D and always have been able to do this, I can mentally see, clearly and in detail, what I may want to create. At times it has been the blueprint that those helping me have followed without knowing where we are going until it all comes together and they see the finished product. I learned recently from a special friend that this visualization ability is connected to dyslexia. Challenges come with benefits:)

Looking forward with a creative vision took a hit when Peaches passed. She had become my purpose, after a horrible year with RA, and loving and caring for her gave me purpose again! Then Cannabis took away the horrible, debilitating RA pain! Making life good again.  Then Peaches passed. I guess she considered her mission accomplished.


I am left to walk on!

These two weeks have helped me redirect. I have worked through the numb void and realize what the next steps are. At this point in life, I do not know how much time I have left. I know that I need to be looking forward and creating.  Two weeks of deep morning and introspection have set my next course.

I have visualized how to downsize within our house and create a home that can allow me to continue aging as I host friends in a welcoming space. I know how to bring my books into this reduced area – this  VISUALIZATION came to me last night! There will be book cases in all rooms other than the dining room (OF COURSE) and the front hall will become book lined – including all the way up the staircase:):)  At 70, with the minor infirmities that life has gifted me so far, I will need to hire some help for the staircase installation – something I would once have done myself. Most of the rest I can still do with some help from Tom.

There will be a bedroom off the dining room that can be a guest room until the day arrives that I need to sleep on the first level – Then our room upstairs can be a guest room. If I live long enough there are two other second floor bedrooms that can be guest rooms.

Energized and ready to create.

The other thing that has come out of these two weeks is my acknowledging that I do want to visit England & Scotland while I am still able. This will take some careful planning, if it is to be. Time will tell on this. I need to renew my lapsed passport!


Thank you Peaches for joining me in life as I came through the RA pain and needed a higher purpose. Loving you and making sure your, all too short, time with us was the best possible.

Peaches  Peaches

We both loved deeply and purely and we both benefited.

Thank you Peaches for Loving me and being such a Special Friend!


It Is Time To Notify The Fayrehale Community ——

Peaches at Lucy MacKenzie

July 25, 2006 – November 21, 2018

Peaches Was Part of Our Family From
April 20, 2018 – November 21, 2018.

She passed over The Rainbow Bridge at 3pm, in my arms with me loving her, petting her and talking to her. It was very peaceful as her beautiful, clear, deep eyes, which were looking at me, turned cloudy when her Energy left and she was gone.

She will spend one last night “sleeping” with us and then be wrapped in gold, raw silk for a Spring burial.

Now she is frolicking on the other side with all three Abigails:), Heidi, Gretchen and Portia as they wait to greet me en masse one day in the future.

Our time together was all too brief. Peaches brought so much JOY to so many. Not just the Friends who followed her here but to THOUSANDS of total strangers, often hundreds a day, as we were out and about.

She will be REMEMBERED and MISSED!

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

(mary elizabeth frye – 1932)

Cancer:(  We were fortunate in the fact that the first signs were just 4 days before Peaches passed. I thought she had congestive heart failure when I took her to the Vet. Xrays showed that she was riddled with cancer. An egg size tumor in her stomach and smaller tumors (plural) in kidneys and lungs.

Her time with us was all too short! 7 months and 1 day but I kept my promise to her and she was loved and well cared for “for whatever time she had left”.  The void she leaves is enormous.

It won’t surprise any of you that Peaches leaves behind OVER 5000 pictures:):):)

She may be the most photographed and best known Adopted Senior Canine ever!!!!

The First Picture is the day before she passed when she had that pre-passing surge and came up to give me our regular morning greeting which involved lots of kisses (face and head washing)

The Second Picture is just 5 days before she passed.

The Third Picture is one of my favorites.

The Fourth Picture is a summer lunch visit with Aunt Gretchen Greer.

The Fifth Picture was taken by Gretchen on the Day we met! Little knowing how glorious our time together would be ……. or how brief.

I hope all the pictures will help as I work to adjust to the void Peaches left. Noticeable at every point in the day!




Peaches LOVED riding in the van and went with me every time I went somewhere! She never minded waiting while I ran an errand and would be watching for me as I returned:) We never did get to take a long trip:(  We did have 5 overnights. A single and 2 doubles. She loved it. The bed in the van is narrow (34″) so she would go to sleep up by my head & shoulders and then when daylight appeared move down by my feet so she could watch (read GUARD) out the window! I would wake up with her head resting on my calf and her eyes watching out the window.


Next –  Pictures from our FIRST day together – after signing the adoption papers on April 20th – this year.

An all too short but PERFECT love affair!

Peaches  Peaches

Peaches  Peaches

Peaches  Peaches

Now, Peaches’ Chair is empty and My Heart Aches. 

I haven’t figured out why Peaches was SO SPECIAL. I have loved and deeply mourned all my Canine Kids! There was something different about Peaches.  She was a BIG DOG in a small body:) People thought her bark was a big dog bark when they couldn’t see her and commented on her bark when they could:) The vet said her cancer was seldom seen in small dogs – Peaches had BIG Dog cancer!

In time, I will open my heart, home and life to another Senior Canine that needs loving care for whatever time she has left. Probably in the Spring unless my path crosses with the right canine before that.

I know Peaches would want another to enjoy the life and benefits she had for her final 7 months and 1 day!

Peaches Empty Chair



REMEMBER! Seniors Need Love Too !!


Peaches Has Been Part of Our Family For 16 Weeks!

The TOP NEWS of the Day is that Peaches made (WAS!) the front page of the Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society Summer Edition Newsletter!!!!

An Honor She certainly deserves — says her unbiased Dad!






Peaches celebrated her 12th Birthday on July 25th.  

I don’t know what Peaches’ wish was BUT I know that mine was to be able to celebrate birthdays 13, 14, 15 and 16 at least!

Remember Life is uncertain and ever changing. Make sure that those you love are kept close and know they are loved.


Time For An Update! It Has Been 9 Months! Time Enough To Have A Baby!!!!

Last October was a life changing Month. I lost Abigail and stopped breeding Heritage Breed Chickens. Life moves on and the last 9 months have been busy and full.

Peaches of Fayrehale in the van

Peaches of Fayrehale

The two biggest events in the last 9 months were a 67 day, 8500 mile trip and the addition of a new Canine Family Member.

I will only touch on a few highlights. 100 friends were able to follow my daily updates on a private/secret Facebook page. They saw the entire journey.

boondocking van

Home was my van! I had a VERY comfortable bed, a book case full of books and plenty of room for clothes in the back!



With the exception or 6 nights in a bed at Friends & Family, 1 night in a Walmart Parking Lot, 2 nights of stealth parking and 6 nights at Boyd’s in Key West, I spent every night at a Cracker Barrel!  Cracker Barrels became my home away from home. A safe place to sleep for the night and a great place for a healthy breakfast ($7.99) and suppers in a similar price range.

I never knew where I was headed more than 2-3 days out! Often when I was wondering where to next, a Friend who was following my journey would come up with suggestions based on on where I was and off I would go!  I didn’t think about the bumper stickers until well into my trip and after dozens of places visited. Presidential homes and libraries were visited as often as possible. Often I had private tours (good timing).

   dome room

EVERY day was fun and special. Everyday a new adventure. It is nearly impossible to pick favorites! I do have to have to mention how excited I was to finally, after 7 visits over my lifetime, get to tour the second floor and Dome Room of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Home! Several days in this area as I revisited Monroe’s and Madison’s homes and visited the Wilson Presidential Library and the Frontier Culture Museum. At the FCM I had a personal tour, by the 30 year employee/expert responsible for the deconstructing, moving and reconstructing many of the buildings, riding in a golf cart! We would stop at each building and go in.

The trip meandered down the East Coast to Key West where I spent six nights at Boyd’s Campground. Lucking out with a water side site and a beautiful wake up view in the morning! Then back up via Tennessee where I went to Graceland and ended up stumbling across Loretta Lynn’s Hurricane Mills Ranch and Dollywood.

Key West Morning

Key West Morning View

I had the opportunity to see many family members and friends. Too many to mention and all special. I will mention a first in FIFTY YEARS visit with my favorite cousin & aunt! I ended up visiting twice, once on the way down and again on the way back! We reenacted a story time from 50 years earlier:)


Cousins 50 years later:)


My Favorite Aunt and a VERY SPECIAL GIFT from my Cousin

The large piece of Rose Quartz was one of many that my Grandmother Verrill had. Most were stolen. She gave this one to my cousin who moved it with her from home to home through 30 years in the Coast Guard until it ended up in the garden of her B&B in North Carolina.  On my first arrival, as we walked to the house, she diverted to where the Rose Quartz was and told me she was giving it to me now and I was to take it with me when I left. It traveled on a pillow in the passenger seat for the rest of my journey and now resides in our dining room.

And that brings us to the other major event in my life during this 9 months of silence. Many of you know and follow her daily life:) for the rest of you let me introduce MY PEACHES!

Peaches    Peaches

Abigail was supposed to travel with me and of course her passing changed that. My Private page went from “Boondocking with Abigail” to “Boondocking with Abigail’s Spirit”. While I was traveling, I came to the realization that at this point in my life, at my age, I shouldn’t be getting a puppy, I should be adopting SENIOR canines and giving them the best possible life for whatever time they have left. I only had two criteria: Female and 20# or less.  The weight requirement due to my age and RA.

Peaches was turned in to the Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society in February. I adopted her April 20th. She was the result of my first visit to any place and it was meant to be. Her longevity at Lucy Mac’s was due to her age. Sad, but fortunate for me. She weighed 17.88# when turned in!, 15# when I adopted her and reached her goal weight of 12# four weeks ago when she weighed in at 11.8#. I am monitoring w/ weigh-ins every three weeks as we increase her food for weight maintenance. She loves to ride and I am hoping I can afford to get away again this winter. She has spent one overnight with me in the van and it went very smoothly.

Peaches    peaches

Last week on July 25th, We celebrated Peaches’ 12th Birthday!  I don’t know what she wished for. I know my wish was that we get to celebrate 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th Birthdays at least

Remember Life is uncertain and ever changing. Make sure that those you love are kept close and know they are loved.


No Hens Clucking, No Roosters Crowing, No Turkeys Gobbling and No Geese A Laying!

Life evolves and transitions and We, Fayrehale Icelandic Chickens and Fayrehale Chantecler Chickens are partnering with Red Feather Farm and Aragorn Heritage Farm  for the continued preservation of these two important heritage breeds.

Various life events and circumstances make it untenable for us to maintain breeding flocks over the winter.  We have been working with these two serious breeders for the last three years in preparation for this transition! They are ready and eager to carry on the serious work that we, here at Fayrehale, have been doing with the Icelandic & Chantecler breeds.

What Will We Be Doing?

We will spend 2018 concentrating on hatching and developing a PURE, 100%  Sigrid Line flock of Icleandics AND importing some new Chanteclers from Canada. We will no longer be hatching and shipping the high number of chicks that we have in past years!  That role/service is being assumed for us by Red Feather Farm and Aragorn Heritage Farm.

What Will They Be Doing?

They will be hatching and providing you with the same high quality chicks that we have been shipping for years!

Fayrehale Icelandic & Faryrehale Chanteclers with Red Feather Farm

Red Feather Farm and Ben Rothfeder are located in The Catskills (North Branch, NY ), where Ben has several years experience hatching and mailing chicks from his quality flocks.  Red Feather Farm has started  receiving and taking orders for 2018.  They will be continuing with our Chantecler & Icelandic Breeding Program.  Just as with us, 2018 List position is in order of payment received and like us, they are not in a position to offer refunds, They are able to work with you and roll your order over to a more convenient time.

Red Feather Farm

You can contact Ben at Red Feather Farm here  and you can place your orders online here! Passing the torch to the younger generation brings with it increased computer/technical skills and that makes your ordering easier!

Aragorn Heritage Farm - Mark Dickerson   Aragorn Heritage Farm - Shea Dickerson

Aragorn Heritage Farm and the Father/Son team of Mark Dickson & Shea Dickson are located in Concord, NH. Their website link will be added soon as they are doing some update work on it.  It was actually Shea that brought them to Fayrehale Farm four years ago! I have been working with them ever since. http://aragornfarm.com/

 Aragorn Heritage Farm can be reached at mld@aragornlabs.com . They are not yet ready to ship live chicks BUT they can and will ship fertile eggs and  will provide a good local source for the New England area that can drive to their farm and pick up pre-ordered chicks. 

We are secure in our knowledge that we have taken three years to prepare to pass the torch! Icelandic & Chantecler Chickens are too important to do otherwise.

Those of you who contact us will be forwarded to Red Feather Farm  or Aragorn Heritage Farm depending on your needs and location.

We, here at Fayrehale, are not disappearing, we are just changing the level of our seasonal involvement! Everyone should think about and plan a transition to the younger generations so that their work may be carried on.

Thank you for years of interaction and business and know that we, with Ben, Mark and Shea will continue to see that you have the BEST Icelandic & Chantecler Chickens available




August 22, 2010 – October 9, 2017


August 22, 2010 – October 9, 2017
Abigail passed over the Rainbow Bridge this morning – at home with us.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
(mary elizabeth frye – 1932)

TAKE Control Of Your Food — STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!

TAKE Control Of Your Food — STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!

TAKE Control Of Your Food -- STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!

The Whole30 Program In A Nutshell

TAKE Control Of Your Food -- STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!

I lost 22 lbs in 30 days – I Feel Terrific 

Eight different friends and relatives have communicated with me as they watched my 30 day journey. They wanted information and started the Whole30 program themselves. I decided a blog entry would be a better way of sharing the information.  If not you?  Who??  You may not be interested for yourself but you many know someone (or many) who would be interested. Please, feel free to share!

For over two years I had been eating carefully and working to lose some weight! NOTHING was happening – NOTHING!  I am on medications for borderline blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. I know that these and other drugs interfere with weight loss.  It was a long time friend who told me about Whole30!  She has several years on me and takes many times more medications.  Her Doctor told her to do the Whole30 program and that she would lose weight even without increased exercise (bad knees).  She did and SHE DID lose 20 pounds in the 30 days!

I decided it was well worth a try after 2 years of no results!!  I started June 26th and did not stray for 30 days with the exception of ONE ear of corn on the cob which you will see below and which, as I enjoyed it, I did not know I was straying.

It is simple to start! Initially you just need the The Whole30 Program In A Nutshell , The Shopping List to guide you and the receipt for making your own Mayonnaise. (There will be more on making your own Mayo below!) Once you start making it fresh, you will never want to go back to the additive laced commercial “stuff”!

I had/have no interest in preparing three meals a day! (That as the hardest change for me, I had been eating two, breakfast and supper). I also have no issue with eating cold food!  Particularly this time of year. My system was to cook in bulk and have what I needed ready to pull from the refrigerator. Daily cooking was limited to scrambling eggs in the morning, often with sweet peppers, mushrooms and chives.

Steaming is my friend!  and a good way to prepare a big batch of assorted healthy vegetables

TAKE Control Of Your Food -- STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!  TAKE Control Of Your Food -- STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!

Here you see a selection of healthy vegetables ready to be steamed. The first picture was taken before I piled the kale on top! Red cabbage, cauliflower, sweet potato, butternut squash, rainbow carrots and Brussels sprouts. I used the local, organic kale under my breakfast eggs and my protein servings.

When it came to protein, I would bake a batch of boneless chicken w/ some Olive Oil & Seasonings

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Turkey or ground beef burgers would be cooked on top of the stove in batches using olive oil. Fish would be fresh for the meal!  Sardines and canned tuna would either be made into salad w/ homemade mayo or just dumped on the mixed greens as part of the salad.  Chicken salad became a favorite of mine – chopped/shredded chicken, celery, onions, red grapes and homemade mayo makes a delicious chicken salad.

Let’s discuss the Mayo here before we talk about the meals which are FULL plates of deliciousness.

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For your first time making this Mayo, do a single batch!  The MOST IMPORTANT thing is that the oil MUST go in SLOWLY!  Otherwise you have a runny mess which you can still use as a salad dressing on your salads.  For me, I found the best way is to use a tsp to take the olive oil from the measuring cup and drizzle it in from the measuring spoon! It works for me every time.  I double the dry mustard and the lemon juice. Now I make double batches and am adding various seasonings and herbs.  WHEN YOU DOUBLE, you still only but 1/4 cup of olive oil in to start – doubling the other ingredients but not the oil!  Then you drizzle 2.25 cups of oil.  I will never go back to commercial.  Potato Salads and Chicken Salads are delicious when made  with this.

There you have the basics. Now a few example of the VERY FULL Plates of food that I enjoy.  You must not skimp!  You are not counting calories here. You are eating protein, fat, vegetables and fruit.  Fats are olive oil, nuts, ghee, avocados, olives and nut butters BUT NOT peanut butter!  PB is a legume. (check the shopping list)

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TAKE Control Of Your Food -- STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!  TAKE Control Of Your Food -- STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!

TAKE Control Of Your Food -- STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!  TAKE Control Of Your Food -- STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!

TAKE Control Of Your Food -- STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!  TAKE Control Of Your Food -- STOP Letting Your Food Control You !!!

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Pic #1.) Breakfast, usually put mushrooms, sweet peppers, chives or chopped tomatoes in the eggs and serve on a kale leaf.  Pic 2.) My one stray during the the initial 30 days!  That corn (which I had with ghee & salt) should not be there – Ooops! – Tom was here and we were treating ourselves to fresh scallops. Pic #3.) Chicken and sardines on the salad. Pic #4.) Beef burger and olives, pickled garlic & pickled fiddleheads on the salad. Pic #5.) Fresh Tuna steak and anchovies:):)  Pic #6.) Liver!  Don’t forget the offal (organ meats) Use a LOCAL source and NOT commercial. I enjoy liver, heart & tongue.  Pic #7 & Pic #.) Two breakfasts with sugar free, nitrate free bacon. A treat but not something I now yearn for often. Pic #9.) A quick lunch of Tuna salad on mixed greens and fruit. Pic #10.) Turkey burger and shrimp – I made the cocktail sauce with some organic tomatoes and horseradish.

I am very lucky!  I have access to some locally made, sugar free, taste bud stimulators that I use on my salads.

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Pickled Garlic, Pickled Fiddleheads, Pickled Dilly Beans and Dill Pickle Chips

The vinegars from these condiments get combined and I add the anchovy oil to make my salad dressing. The olive juices get used in cabbage and greens

Thank you Gizmo’s Pickles Plus

So, where does this leave me now?  It has been an interesting and positive journey so far and I find myself (surprisingly) having no interest in bringing much of what I eliminated back in!  I had a very interesting experience Saturday. I had pizza (2 slices). Back at the beginning of my Whole30, when I still thought I was changing my eating patterns for 30 days, I bought a $30 coupon at Positive Pie (Barre) for $15.  By Saturday, I was no longer longing for pizza!  And it was a beautiful pie!

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I had said all along that I would have two slices and Tom could have the rest. I ate it with a knife & fork, small bites that I savored. As I looked at the first piece I thought I would have three pieces:)  But then said, no I said 2 slices – with the anchovies from the third slice:):)  That was ample. Tom had more Saturday and Sunday as I returned to Whole30 eating with absolutely NO yearning for more pizza!

So, with a few minor exceptions, I am content eating this way. I did pick up some crumbly bleu to use on my beet greens as a garnish w/ ghee rather than butter.  In two weeks, when Tom is here, we will go to a good locally made ice cream stand and I will have a kiddie scoop of ice cream.

We have another Positive Pie coupon that expires the end of October so there will be two more slices of pizza down the road.  I know the friends I will get together with soon for supper and my first red wine.  I know the friends I will see later this year and have my first drink – a Manhattan!  All occasions that are spaced out and special.

We we take our trip later this fall, I will enjoy eating out and will not be adamantly Whole30.  There will be certain things I avoid like white dinner rolls!  I will order food in the spirit of the way I am now eating.

Tonight, I am having steamed beet greens w/ beets still attached (a favorite vegetable for me) w/ ghee and the first crumbly bleu as a garnish along with a steak and salad.

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As is usually the case with these full supper plates, I eat the protein and most of the vegetables (tonight I will eat all my beets:) and half the salad. The remaining salad and any uneaten vegetables roll over to breakfast when I add eggs and fruit.

This may not be for you!

It has been an amazing journey for me.



Chantecler Chickens, Icelandic Chickens – Cooking & Rediscovering Traditional Meats from Historic Chicken Breeds

This is a great article by Gina Bisco, who lives in Chittenango, New York, where she raises, and eats, Chantecler chickens!  When we started gathering our breeding stock for Fayrehale Chantecler Chickens, we acquired 6 hens from Gina and these Bisco Line birds were added to three lines imported from Canada.

Cooking your Heritage Breed Chickens

So That You Can Enjoy Delicious Chicken Just Like Your Grandmother Served!

Chantecler Chickens, Icelandic Chickens - Cooking & Rediscovering Traditional Meats from Historic Chicken Breeds



Rediscovering Traditional Meats from Historic Chicken Breeds

By Gina Bisco
The chicken meat most of us take for granted today is quite different from what our grandparents experienced. Today commercial chicken meat production is very different from methods and ideas common before the mid-20th century. Those of us who want to conserve old chicken breeds need to understand the traditional chicken meat classes and their excellent cooking qualities.
There are 4 traditional chicken meat classes: broiler, fryer, roaster and fowl. The traditional broiler age range was from 7 to 12 weeks, and carcass weight from 1 to 2 1/2 lbs. (Squab broilers would be youngest and smallest of these, typically Leghorn cockerels about 3/4 to 1 pound dressed.) The next age and weight group was called the fryer. Traditional fryer age range was from 14 to 20 weeks, and carcass weight from 2 1/2 to 4 lbs. Traditional roaster age range was from 5 to 12 months, and carcass weight from 4 to 8 pounds. Most roasters were butchered between 6 and 9 months. Hens and roosters 12 months and older were called “fowl” or “stewing fowl” signifying that slow moist cooking methods were required.
These traditional meat classifications, used until the 1940s, were based on the growth patterns and carcass qualities of the pure breeds that were commonly used throughout the U.S. to produce eggs and meat. Traditional chicken meats were classified by butchering age because of the special product qualities associated with each age range. Even though modern product labels and modern cookbooks still use the terms broiler, fryer and roaster, these traditional meat classes no longer apply to the modern “meat line” chickens because of their extremely fast growth rate. The modern “meat line” chickens grow so fast that all sizes, even the largest size, are butchered before they are old enough to be classified as traditional fryers.
Historic breeds’ natural growth rate may appear to be a disadvantage when compared with modern meat lines. But natural growth rate offers a very real and significant advantage that can only be obtained with age – flavor!
Though historic breeds can all be butchered young, in the past people preferred the richer flavor of the meat from chickens older than 12 weeks. Once it is realized that flavor cannot be hurried with faster growth, but requires time and age to develop, then the advantage of keeping historic poultry breeds becomes clear.
The modern meat lines grow too fast to develop the rich flavor that people used to expect from chicken meat. The modern meat lines are bred for uniformity, and to reach certain sizes under controlled conditions. They grow so fast that they have to be butchered quickly when they reach target weights. After about 9 weeks of age, modern meat lines suffer increased losses from bone and heart failure. They are not designed to live long enough to achieve the rich flavor that traditional chicken breeds achieve.
Historic poultry breeds are, in contrast, very flexible as to butchering age. Any historic pure breed can be butchered between 7 to 12 weeks for use as broilers, 12 to 20 weeks for use as fryers, 5 to 12 months for roasters, and over 12 months for stewing fowl. Although historic pure breeds were categorized as “egg breeds”, “meat breeds”, and “general purpose” or “dual purpose” breeds, these categories were not nearly so specialized as the modern mind tends to assume. Prior to development of the ultra-specialized single-purpose meat lines and egg lines, all pure breeds were managed more as multi-purpose flocks rather than exclusively for production of a single specific commercial product.
Prior to 1920 the egg breeds were so classified because of feed efficiency, smaller size, and lack of broodiness – not only in regard to number of eggs produced. The meat breeds were classified as such not because they were used only for meat, but because they were the best suited to producing the highest quality, largest and top-priced roasters. In fact, until 1920 and measured by eggs per hen per year, meat breeds such as Brahmas and Cornish were competitive with many egg breeds. Their primary disadvantages as egg layers were their greater food consumption and inclination toward broodiness. The general purpose breeds were therefore not the only category expected to produce both meat and eggs. Rather, general purpose breeds were considered most practical for general farms. General farm chickens were expected to be as productive as the egg breeds and meat breeds, but require less attention.
All historic breeds were once used to produce table eggs and meat. They were expected to lay well enough to be used for egg production, and every flock produced fowl when the layers were culled. All historic breeds produced about half cockerels and lacking the capability to accurately sex at hatch, excess cockerels were raised with pullets until they were old enough that the differences were obvious. The farmer could then decide which traditional meat classes would most profitably fit the excess males.
Probably most broilers and fryers on retail markets in the early 20th century were from egg breeds, such as the very popular Brown or White Leghorns. The egg breed cockerels did not have the carcass traits required to achieve the best roaster prices, so most were usually butchered at the younger broiler or fryer age. The heavy breed cockerels (cockerels from the meat, general, or dual purpose breeds) could be used for fryers or broilers if market conditions indicated it was too risky to keep them longer. But these breeds had the right body traits to be graded as excellent roasters when well grown. And roasters were always preferred.
The product qualities of a traditional high quality roaster do not at all resemble the modern meat line chickens in the supermarket labeled “roaster”. The carcass of a traditional roaster is overall longer and narrower, has a naturally shaped breast, and has proportionately far longer legs and larger thighs than the industrial meat line carcass of the same weight. The carcass of meat line “roasters” has a very broad breast and relatively tiny legs and thighs. The traditional roaster carcass yields a fairly even amount of dark meat and light meat, whereas the meat line roaster yields nearly all light meat and little dark meat. And, due to the much younger butchering age, the meat line roaster has a soft texture and bland flavor, while the traditional roaster has the rich flavor and firm texture expected of the more mature chicken.
The traditional meat types each require appropriate cooking methods. Far from being a disadvantage, this greatly expands culinary potential. But, after more than 50 years of supermarket chicken, most Americans don’t know the first thing about cooking older chickens, and have no contemporary sources to turn to for that information. Modern cookbooks are designed for the modern meat line product.
Generally speaking, the quality and flavor of chicken meat from historic breeds is going to be superb as long as it is understood that different ages require, or are best suited, to different cooking methods. The key is to know the butchering age of the bird as well as when the bird was butchered.
Top meat quality requires proper processing. At butchering time, chickens must be killed quickly and humanely, stressed as little as possible. Stress reduces meat quality. Also, it may be that hand plucking could result in better meat quality for older butchering age ranges, as the mechanical pluckers are said to toughen meat somewhat.
After processing, for best meat texture, chickens should be chilled and aged before cooking. Most sources recommend chilling and aging chickens for 24 hours, and up to 3 days before freezing. I think aging at least 24 hours improves the texture, and that older chickens are better with longer aging, up to perhaps 5 days in the refrigerator for fowl. The properly aged bird should retain a very fresh clean smell with no hint of taint. I’ve read that chickens that are to be frozen need not be aged first if they will remain at least a month in the freezer. However, that advice may have been based on industrial meat lines, butchered very young. For historic breed chickens butchered at 12 weeks or older, freezer aging may not be enough. If a chicken was not aged in the fridge for at least 24 hours before freezing, then after thawing I usually will allow it another day or more to age in the fridge, before cooking.
An important generality about the difference between cooking modern meat line chickens and cooking historic breed chickens is that for the latter there is a bigger distinction in time needed to cook the light and dark meat. Modern meat line chickens, being all butchered within a very young age range, all have leg meat nearly as tender as the breast meat, which will cook about as fast. The historic breed chicken has had more exercise over a longer time before it is butchered, which greatly increases flavor but also increases cooking time for those muscles. This becomes noticeable in the fryer age range: the breast meat of a fryer will reach optimal doneness noticeably before the legs. The difference increases as the butchering age increases, and seems pronounced in birds over one year. The cook has to plan how to prevent the breast meat from getting overcooked, and dry, by the time the leg meat is done. Good cooks will find many ways to achieve this end, and the results are well worthwhile.
The traditional classifications indicate the ages best suited to different cooking methods. Broilers are the youngest and tenderest chickens and can be cooked by quick dry heat methods. At the broiler age range, up to 12 weeks old, historic breed cockerels are quite slim and usually under 2 pounds carcass weight. Due to the tenderness of youth as well as their slim proportions, they are suited to broiling, whole or split in half, by direct heat such as in the oven broiler or outdoor grill.
The traditional fryer age is up to about 20 weeks old with the bird usually not weighing more than 4 pounds. At this age cockerels have had a lot more exercise and have developed wonderful flavor, but should still be tender enough to cook by dry heat methods – though to cook evenly they usually have to be jointed. Egg breed cockerels are reputed to be excellent fryers, and at that age range may be as meaty relative to their smaller bone
size as the cockerels of heavier breeds. Fried chicken is really worth the mess and calories, at least occasionally, with home raised fryers.
The roasting age range specified for historic pure breeds is from 5 months to about one year, but most traditional roasters will be butchered between 6 and 9 months. This age range is expected to have much richer flavor. General purpose breed roasters can be baked uncovered in the oven at moderate temperatures. But open pan baking requires frequent basting. I find it easiest to get consistently great results throughout the wide roaster age range by using an old graniteware “chicken roaster” that has a tight fitting lid. This type of dark enameled roasting pan was designed to retain moisture and brown the bird without taking the cover off. (Good browning may not happen in a roasting pan with cover made of shiny metal.) If the cockerel is over 10 months old, I’ll usually put in a cup of water. Baked at about 325 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for about 30 minutes to the pound, without removing the cover, they do not need basting and the skin browns nicely. The breast should still be moist and not overcooked when the legs and thighs are tender; if that doesn’t happen, try a lower temperature and more minutes to the pound. It also helps to cook the bird with the breast down.
General purpose breed cockerels are usually from 4 to 6 lbs carcass weight at roaster age. Historic meat breed cockerels should surpass the weight of general purpose breed cockerels at some point in the roaster age range, and their flavor should be equally wonderful. While I believe egg breed cockerels should make fine small roasters, they may require moist heat cooking at an earlier age range since they reach maturity significantly younger than the heavier breeds.
Hens and roosters butchered at older than one year, classified as “fowl”, make very fine eating also. This class was perhaps the most commonly eaten and least seasonal type until the mid-20th century. But today mature fowl is rarely available, unless you keep your own flock or know a farmer who does. It is essential to use moisture and low temperatures in cooking hens and roosters over 1 year old.
It will take hours longer to cook fowl, but the meat is richly flavored and was esteemed for sandwiches, chicken salad, pot pie and all recipes calling for cooked chicken meat. Fowl will become just as tender as younger chickens as long as it is kept moist and the meat temperature is kept low, preferably below 180 F. If the meat temperature goes above 180 F, the protein fibers toughen so that even if it is cooked long enough to fall apart, the individual fibers remain tough. When stewing, the water should not be allowed to boil, but should be kept at a simmer temperature, 180 F or less. Fowl can also
be steam-baked with 1 or 2 cups water added to the pan; the pan should be tightly covered so the moisture won’t escape, with the oven temperature at 300-325 F.
Whether stewed or steam-baked, the breast meat of fowl will be best (especially good for sandwiches) if it is removed as soon as it is done, which may be a couple of hours before the dark meat is done. I allow at least 3 hours to cook a 3 1/2 to 4 lb hen.
Some prefer the electric slow cooker for stewing chickens. The only slow cooker I’ve tried allowed the meat temperature to get too high, 200 F or higher. Perhaps others have better slow cookers.
A great advantage of the historic chicken breeds over modern meat lines is discovered when making broth. It is hard to make good broth out of supermarket chicken. They are so young that there is just not much flavor in them to make a good strong broth (and in the process the meat becomes tasteless mush). Our ancestors knew and greatly appreciated the rich flavor of strong chicken broth. Historic chicken breeds can all be expected to
produce superb broth.
There are basically two methods for making chicken broth. One is to stew the chicken. With this method, flavor goes out of the meat and into the water, so to protect meat flavor, use only 3/4 to 1 cup water per pound. Fowl is the best choice for this method of making broth because fowl has the most flavor. A 4 lb. stewing hen can be gently simmered in enough water to produce between 1 and 1 1/2 quarts of rich broth, while retaining good flavor and texture in the meat. Do not allow the meat to boil.
Another method of making broth is to use the bones and skin from baked chicken (like Thanksgiving turkey soup). Simply add water and simmer on the stovetop for a couple of hours. This method makes decent broth from chickens that are much younger than 1 year (though older are still better). According to one cookbook, for a rich broth the proportion should be about 2 cups water for every cup of bone and meat scrap. I expect to get about 4 to 6 cups of rich brown broth from the bones and skin of a roaster or old hen that was first oven cooked. Bones and skin from baked chickens can be saved in the freezer until there is enough to do a large batch of broth at one time.
Usually cookbooks that give directions for cooking fowl specify “stewing hens” and don’t say anything about roosters. Some modern books on raising chickens even say that old roosters are not good to eat. But, remember the old song, “She’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain”? It was the old red
rooster that was going to be made into chicken and dumplings. From my own experience I’d guess that meal was worthy of song. The general purpose breed roosters I’ve butchered have been very good to eat, even when several years old. Properly stewed, the old rooster’s meat has superb rich flavor and the texture is firm but tender, not dry, tough, or stringy. The rich broth from stewing an old rooster is truly wonderful. Use more than 1 cup water per pound when stewing a rooster; roosters yield significantly more strong rich broth than hens.
For more information and recipes well suited to all the traditional meats that can be produced from the historic breeds of chickens, look to old cookbooks from before the 1950s. Here are some favorites:
Fowl and Game Cookery,
by James Beard,
Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book,
The Modern Family Cookbook,
by Meta Given,
Let’s Cook It Right,
by Adelle Davis,
1947, 1962, 1970
Some cautions regarding old cookbooks are in order. Those from the mid-1800s and earlier can be very hard to follow. The older the cookbook, the sketchier the instructions seem to be, and the more likely they are to use unfamiliar terms. Cookbooks from the late 1800s and later are the easiest to decipher and tend to give more complete instructions.
Don’t believe it when a cookbook tells you hairs on the chickens are a bad sign or that they mean the bird is old. The hairs are just filoplumes, a hair-like feather, whose presence and length is variable and not directly related to age. People commonly used to singe them off. They can also be plucked with tweezers, or left on if they don’t bother you.
Another old cookbook caution is outdated ideas about food safety and bacteria. Some say you can stuff a chicken the day before you cook it, which is now considered a dangerous practice. Some old cookbooks also say chicken can be stored at temperatures well above what is now considered safe.
Aside from these sorts of cautions, what old cookbooks say about cooking chickens is generally true for historic breeds. After all, those were exactly the chickens that were familiar to cooks then. No one would have known what to do with a 6 or 7 pound, 9-week old supermarket chicken. The size would have made an impression, as would the bland flavor.
Many Of You May Not Read The Comments!
I Want To Make Sure That You See One Of Then So I Am Going To

Wonderful article on cooking heritage breed chickens. Thanks! I’ve tended just to crockpot my 1 yr old roosters when they become so noisy and a nuisance to the hens that neither of us can stand them any more. Nice to have a better understanding of cooking them.

I’d like to make one comment about stuffing a chicken or other bird the day before roasting. A woman familiar with such older practices once told me that the key to safely stuffing a bird the day before cooking it (such as if you want to put a Thanksgiving turkey in the oven at 5:00 a.m. and don’t want to have to stuff it immediately before while you’re still half asleep) was this: she said you want to make the stuffing a day ahead and CHILL IT THOROUGHLY first. Then stuff your cold bird with the cold stuffing and place it in the frig until it’s cooked the next day. That way the bacteria in the cavity of the bird can’t warm up from being surrounded by hot stuffing and then do bad things to the people who later eat the bird.

I’ve tried this several times, and it works. The bird and stuffing go into the oven, all a refrig temps and cook at the same time.

I find this helpful, because I like preparing several dishes weeks in advance, if possible, and freezing them. Cranberry-orange relish, stuffing, homemade brown and serve rolls, squash, some pies, and other items can all be made the weeks and months ahead and simply thawed the day before a holiday meal with a minimum of fuss.

And Gina Bisco is right: homegrown heritage chicken (and turkey) are superior to the supermarket birds.



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