How to Deal With Losing Animals on the Homestead

It is hard losing animals you love and care for. The sad truth is, it’s inevitable on the homestead. We hope that this blog post helps when you wonder how to deal with losing animals on the homestead. For us, many of these animals are also our pets. Recently we lost our precious Leo. This loss was particularly hard on Kate, as we lost another cat named Charlie only a few months before. To add insult to injury, one of our hens was also taken the same week that Leo disappeared.

Homestead Animals Have Jobs

Here Benny and Charlie taking a break from rodent patrol by napping together next to the hay roll

Many of our animals on the homestead have jobs to do. Our barn cat, Benny, guards the barn from rodents. He is great at this! He is a little bit more cautious than Charlie and Leo were, because Benny doesn’t roam too far from the chicken house or the barnyard. Perhaps his feral mother taught him to be extra cautious. We adopted Benny and his mom at the same time. His mom did not stick around, but Benny did, and over the months became much more sociable. Today he is the sweetest, most loving cat we have ever owned. Charlie was also a feral cat, but he wandered a bit farther than Benny and he, like Leo disappeared without a trace.

Predators

We have had hens taken by hawks, fox, and coyotes. Over the years, we get used to this, and we understand that no matter how much we try to protect our animals, sometimes predators outsmart us. It is never easy to lose an animal. To my daughters, all of our animals are pets and every time we lose one, we all grieve. It is particularly hard on our youngest, Kate, who is still grieving over the loss of all of her animals. Each time we lose another, the grief of them all is renewed.

Grieving is Necessary

We all know how attached kids can get to pets. We have had memorials for Beta fish, baby opossums, beloved guinea pigs, baby birds that we’ve found as well as services for our hens and cats. When a child loses a pet for the first time, they don’t know that the feelings will be so strong, and they don’t know to expect grief. This is a big emotional load for a young child to deal with, not just the first time, but every time.

To a child, and to many adults who love their animals, losing a pet can feel like the loss of a human loved one. Pets are more than just animals to children; they are companions, good listeners, and even physical comforters. Pets can fill an emotional need for children like nothing else can. Feelings can range from anger, sadness, depression and despair. We lost Leo in early January, and we are all sad, however, Kate still falls into despair at times.

Honest Conversations

Allowing your child to have a ceremony can be helpful, and talking honestly with them about their feelings is important. For me, as a mom, I try so hard to not give the “adult response”, but to find my inner eleven-year-old who lost her dog one winter in Upstate NY. I grieved for that dog for months, maybe years. When Kate and I can talk about all of that honestly, I think it makes her feel like she’s not so alone. It doesn’t take away the heartache though; only time can do that.

Closure

Unfortunately, so often on the homestead, our animals disappear without a trace, and so no formal burial can take place. We try to remind Kate of all the fun times that she had with her animals, especially with Leo. We remind ourselves that some pets are with us for a long time, others for only a short time. Remembering Leo as a joyful cat who lived his life at 100 mph almost always makes us smile.

We made Kate this poster of Leo to help her remember all the fun times she had with her beloved kitten. It hangs in her room next to her bed.

And Then Another Animal Comes Along

Meet Jesse Covenant

Just when you think you can’t get any sadder, sometimes God gives you a gift. This little guy wandered over to our neighbor’s house. She called to tell me that she found Leo. When I got there, my heart sank; it wasn’t Leo. But, it turns out this guy was a stray who had obviously been wandering alone for quite some time. I brought him home, surprised Kate and her sister when they got home, and the rest as they say “is history.” For now, this guy’s only job is to live inside and bring joy to our healing hearts. He’s adjusted well, after his surgery, many naps, and proper nutrition. Kate has even taught Jesse how to walk on a harness!

Our Journey Toward a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

The story of our journey toward a gluten-free lifestyle is one that has many subplots, complete with suspense and fascinating characters along the way. I won’t write the entire novel here, but I’ll give you the highlights instead.

Our Daughter Was Sick

When our second daughter was born, she had some serious issues which no doctor could pinpoint. Some of the more severe symptoms she had was not sleeping, dark red circles under her eyes and lots of fussiness which mostly came at night time. She was exclusively breastfed as a baby, and even nursing her did not help her sleep. As our daughter grew, her symptoms did not change, and she began to withdraw. She had what I call the “checked out look”, you know that dreamy stare that doesn’t actually focus on anything?

When our daughter Kate was born, her sister was only 17 months old, and although I was busy caring for my two babies, I took every.single.spare second to read and research so that I could find an answer to what was wrong with my daughter. I felt like this was on my shoulders because the practitioners on our ever-growing list of People Who Could Possibly Help was getting us nowhere.

Autism Spectrum Disorders and Dental Work

The more research I did on why babies didn’t sleep and had dark circles under the eyes, the more I came across issues related to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The more I read about Kate’s symptoms and ASD, the more I read about the benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle (and dairy-free, too). As I delved deeper into this rabbit hole, the more I learned about metal toxicity and how it relates to ASD and allergies.

It was then that I began to realize that perhaps it was the mercury that was chipped out of my teeth and replaced with composite fillings a few months before, that affected my baby. I had some old amalgam fillings that needed replacing when I was pregnant. My dentist decided to wait and do this as soon after my baby was born as possible, so I had these fillings replaced when Kate was only four or five weeks old. Since she was still breastfeeding, she too, was poisoned by the mercury that went through my body, and, into hers via my breastmilk.

Research is Key

At that time I was not aware that there are dentists who take mercury removal extremely seriously, and that there is a proper protocol for mercury removal. Since I did not know this, I went to my regular dentist who removed these fillings from my molars and as she was doing so, I remember swallowing chunks of my old fillings thinking to myself, this can’t be good. 

It wasn’t until months later that I learned of the damage that mercury can do, particularly to a growing brain. Kate also had some exposure to toxic metals via a flu shot that I had when I was pregnant, and by all the vaccinations that she had at birth and until she was 9 months old.

Diet Changes and ASD

Another thing that kept coming up in my research was the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). This diet that has helped many children who are on the spectrum, and has helped many adults with leaky gut syndrome. Learning about leaky gut was a big aha! moment for me, as I had always had gut issues, ever since having surgery for an intestinal issue when I was two days old. It also made sense to me that anything that I was ingesting was going straight into my daughter, given that she was exclusively breastfed.

The first thing the SCD teaches is that you should cut out all grains. Wheat/gluten is a big culprit in causing gut issues, and so as I continued to try to find a practitioner who could help us, I cut out gluten, grains, many carbs that I was used to eating, and sugar. If you are imagining that going cold-turkey with this was probably hard, you’d be wrong. It was excruciating. I’m not gonna lie. And, I had a fairly healthy diet to begin with. I have always been into natural health and I knew the list of no-nos on Dr. Andrew Weil’s list, but it was still hard. So hard, that I have a very vivid memory of standing in my kitchen one weekend sobbing uncontrollably because I had to cook everything from scratch. Everything. Every. Little. Thing. No packaged anything for us. Plus, I was beyond sleep-deprived, and was caring for two babies, who now both had issues. (I had also continued to breastfeed my oldest daughter when I brought Kate home and she suffered some effects of this too.)

Eating Gluten-Free Today is Easy

The year we journeyed toward the gluten-free lifestyle was 2006, and back then, we couldn’t just run to our local grocery store and buy gluten-free items. I think there was one brand of rice bread at the store and not only did it taste awful and fall apart when you tried to use it, but it definitely wasn’t allowed on the SCD.

If we wanted any “baked goods” I had to make them out of almond flour. We bought almond flour in bulk, 25 pounds at a time, from a company who has since changed its name.  It would come in a giant box in a giant bag and we’d repackage it in ziplock bags. I desperately missed bread, muffins, pastries, and crackers, but I found alternative ways of making these via the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I had to learn to love cooking and baking. (I faked it then and I still don’t like it!)

Healing Began

The last doctor we saw around the time we went full-force with the SCD was a pediatric allergist. We opted for one blood draw, instead of the prick tests, and although this doctor made us feel ashamed for bringing our daughter the hour’s drive only to put her through the blood draw, he still agreed to do it.  He kept telling us that we had a “perfectly health daughter” . Imagine how smug I felt when he called me on a Saturday morning, to tell me, “get your daughter off of all forms of gluten ASAP because she is highly allergic“. Thankfully, I had already learned that removing gluten could help, and we had been off of it for two or three weeks at that point.

Cheating and Proof

As we waited for Kate’s allergy reports, my own testing proved that Kate truly was allergic to wheat, as I suspected. One day I ate about one-third of a piece of Pizza Hut “personal pan pizza” while shopping at Target. Can you picture how small that is? I was starving and I had been on the SCD for about three weeks. Disclaimer: I never did the SCD intro diet; I went straight for the second stage. I just didn’t see how I could maintain strength while nursing two babies and not getting any sleep and by eating only gelatin and broth. I do know that the intro diet is a very important stage in healing though.

The fallout from that cheat was horrible. While Kate’s symptoms had not entirely disappeared, she was doing a little better in terms of not looking so “checked out” and the circles under her eyes were a bit lighter in color. After this one “cheat” her symptoms came back with a vengeance, and I did not cheat one tiny bit for the next 26 months.

Big Improvements

After about eight to ten weeks, we saw big improvements in Kate’s behavior and in her skin, her eyes and her circles under the eyes. It was as if the fog she was in was cleaning. By that time, we had found a doctor (and a dentist) who understood our issues. We thank God for both of them. The doctor we found is a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) doctor.

Our dentist is a member of the IAOMT board, and both of these practitioners taught us so much about the immune system and overall health. I believe that our DAN! doc saved Kate from an autism spectrum diagnosis. I believe that if we had not followed his protocol for repairing her gut and mine (and our immune systems), that events would have turned out much differently for us.

We Still Live a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

After a few years, I was tested for Celiac Disease. My results came back right on the border of “yes” and “no”, smack in the middle. My doctor took that as a yes, and it did explain why, after being off of gluten for a while, I gained weight (I had always had a hard time keeping weight on), and felt healthier than I had in years.

Today my girls and I still live a gluten-free lifestyle. About two and a half years into the SCD, I also introduced grains to my diet. I can handle these now in moderation. I tried eating wheat again a few years after doing the SCD, and it just didn’t really give me warm-fuzzy feeling I thought it might, and it made me constipated so I went back to the gluten-free lifestyle. This turned out to be a very good thing for me, because I have Hashimoto’s and was also reated for Lyme disease a few years ago, (thank you, mercury). Living a gluten-free lifestyle helps with any auto-immune disorder.

Both of my girls understand the health benefits of the way we eat. Kate has eaten tiny pieces of bread so she knows what “regular” bread tastes like, and when we go to church and receive holy communion she now consumes the “regular” host instead of the g/f one and she does just fine. Sometimes if we eat out, my girls will order French fries (these should usually NOT be eaten if you are living a gluten-free lifestyle, because of cross-contamination), but that also seems to be just fine for them in moderation.

Today, I still bake with almond flour, but not as regularly as before, and now that the SCD has improved our guts, we can eat other grains which allows us to be able to walk into pretty much any grocery store and buy gluten-free things like bread, muffins, crackers, and granola bars. We still prefer homemade things because of the high sugar content of many of these gluten-free packaged foods, but it’s nice to know that they are available to us if we want them, and it definitely makes living the gluten-free lifestyle a lot easier.

Start a Blog in 2018

Have you ever had dreams of working from home? Today, we’ll show you how to start a blog in 2018 and realize your dreams of working from your kitchen table in your pajamas! Here are a few things you need to know before you get started.

You Can Make Money Blogging

The blogging industry is growing, and has been over the last decade. I began blogging “for real” in 2009. By “for real” I mean, I started a blog with Word Press, hosted it with a super hosting company, and set it up to build my homeschooling consulting and evaluation business. As the years went by, my readership grew and the opportunities for affiliations with companies became more abundant. Today, the opportunities are bigger than ever before, and blogging has become a career and a great way to support yourself and your family.

Find a Niche

What will your blog for 2018 be about? Ask yourself these questions: What are you interested in? What are your strengths? Have you had any amazing and cool experiences that you want to share with others?

I have many interests and a few things that I am great at, and have lots of experience doing. My blog capitalizes on these things. You won’t find me doing makeup tutorials here, or discussing current style: these just aren’t my strengths, although you can sometimes find me binge-watching my favorite beauty bloggers on youtube. Find your strengths and interests and turn them into a business!

Use The Right Tools

This is very important and something I learned by experience. I began my blog by using WordPress, by hosting it with a terrific company, and by investing time and dedication to building it myself. As the years went by, and as my girls started to grow up and demand more of my time, I didn’t really keep up with Word Press. It is really like learning a new language, or at least it was for me. Don’t be intimidated though because once you get the hang of it, it’s easy; but, like any language, if you don’t continue to use it you lose it.

Write Good, Quality Content

This might seem like a no-brainer, but to keep your visitors coming back to your brand new blog for 2018, you want to offer them something that is useful and relevant to their lives. Post often, and be sincere. I love reading and listening to personal stories. I think most people do. If you are relatable, and give your readers quality stuff, you will already be set up to grow and expand.

When I started my blog in 2009, I wrote good, quality content. As life’s demands and other priorities took over, I stopped doing this. Yes, I still shared good information, however, it was not my own information; mostly, I’d just link to something else. Which was still good for my readers, but not really going them anything personal.

Keep Your Blog Updated

After a few years I realized that my blog was looking a bit outdated. The header was old, the theme wasn’t that exciting anymore and I wanted to refresh it. Knowing that I once was able to use Word Press to create a great-looking blog, I dusted off my password to the cpanel and decided to start updating. What I thought was going to be a relatively quick and easy thing to do, was more difficult than I thought. I needed a refresher. Many refreshers. And now, I was teaching online (full-time at this point), and continuing to homeschool my girls.

Hindsight has taught me that once you begin a blog with Word Press.com you should never, ever, move your blog to a different platform. Never! I was pressed for time, and wanted what I thought would be the “easy way out” so I moved my blog with all of its great content over to Weebly. Weebly has a drag and drop feature and the themes were easy to use and super modern-looking. Their customer service is fantastic, and I thought I had done the right thing.

My original homeschoolinflorida.com blog is still hosted with Weebly and will be until I feel ready to redirect that URL, so you can see it here. 

It looks nice, right? It is, except for one thing: monetization.

Monetize Your Blog

You must monetize your blog, if you want to make money, and the best way to do that is to begin with Word Press. Using Word Press has many other perks, too such as giving you great analytics and other things that I may write about in a future blog post but for now, just know that there are multiple ways to do this and I am still learning about all of them. The possibilities are incredible!

If you want to learn the details of how to monetize your blog, I encourage you to take the 30-Day Blogging Fast Track Course with blogging experts, Heather and Pete Reese. They even post their monthly income on their website so that you can see that it is not only possible, but very probable for you (and me!) to make that kind of income, too.

If you are not ready to sign up for the 30-day course, Pete and Heather also offer a totally free 5-Day Crash Course. I actually took this one first and was hooked, which prompted me to sign up for the 30-Day Fast Track Course. And did I mention it is totally FREE? Not only is it free, but it is jam-packed with amazing information. You won’t believe what Heather and Pete offer for zero cost. I promise you, it is just a snipped of the information contained in the 30-day course. And the best part is, after you sign up, you have access to everything for two years so you don’t have to worry about digesting it all at once (or taking notes!)

My Blog Evolved and Yours Will Too

After prettying up my blog with Weebly, I realized that I wanted to get back to regular posting, more writing and sharing of tutorials and things that I have experience with, so that I can help and reach more homeschoolers. Ultimately though, I found myself wanting to turn this business blog into a hybrid of sorts, and share some more personal things about our homeschooling lifestyle in Florida. This is why you see me blogging here at Our Happy Medium. almost ten years later!  You can read more about our vision for our new blog here. 

This time, I hired a web developer to help me get set up with Word Press again. If I had done that the first time, I would never have moved my site to Weebly, and things would have been a whole lot smoother for me. If you would like the contact information for Micah, the super-awesome, ultra-patient web developer who not only helped me, but actually taught me how to get going with Word Press again with a brand-new beautiful, and easy-to-use theme, I am happy to share his information. Just email me at Terri @ ourhappymedium.com.

Main Things I Learned by Taking the 30-Day Blogging Fast Track Course

  • Blogging is a HUGE business right now
  • The sky is the limit in terms of how much money you can make
  • Travel Blogging is even bigger
  • There are multiple ways to monetize your blog, all you have to do is choose the right ones that fit you and your blog style
  • Blogging helps you meet, and build relationships with, people from all over the world
  • There is no time like RIGHT NOW to begin
  • There are hundreds of support groups for bloggers, including one devoted solely to Word Press help

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