Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Oswald Vineyard Sept. 2014

An anomaly has occurred here in west Texas – we have had rain, cloudy skies and cool temperatures for almost 2 weeks!

Most people would find this a relief from the heat, especially farmers.

But not grape farmers who are waiting to harvest grapes!

When we were contemplating the lifestyle change from corporate America to farm life, one appealing aspects was knowing we would be faced daily with our total dependence upon the Lord – unable to put our trust in a paycheck. That sounds really good doesn’t it? But it is harder than you might think!

One huge area that we have NO control over is the weather. From late freezes to thunderstorms with hail to early freezes – all is completely out of our control.

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Hilde, Hildie or Hildy….

Hilde our new Jersey milk cow As I said earlier, during my absence from Cultured Palate, a lot has happened. So, I would like to introduce you to our new family milk cow. She is 1/2 Brown Swiss and 1/2 Jersey. The problem is the spelling of her name!

How would you spell it? Hilde, Hildie or Hildy?

My preferred spelling is “Hilde”!

So, while our family disagrees (playfully of course) about the spelling, everyone agrees that Hilde is possibly the best family milk cow we have ever had!

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Butchering A Cow

butchering a cow tips and techniques

“Butchering a Cow” might sound like a step-by-step tutorial, but I really just want to share with you how we butchered our steer Brisket (while encouraging you to also branch out beyond your comfort zone).

We purchased Brisket when he was a few days old from a local dairy (and steer-ified him soon thereafter). As his name implies, we considered him not as a pet but  future meat for our table. Last week, that happened – Brisket was re-located to our freezer.[Continue Reading]

No More Milk!

preparing to calve how to dry off a cow

It is sad.

Then again, it is good.

First, the sad part:

We are no longer milking Emme, our family milk cow. Needless to say, we are really missing the fresh raw milk… and cheese… and yogurt… But most of all – the ice cream!

That’s right, no more ice cream for dinner – I mean literally, dinner consisted of ice cream many nights. If you remember, we had many flavors of ice cream like Blueberry, Coffee and of course, Vanilla, for dinner on hot summer nights through the end of September. We have reverted to our time living in Switzerland and adopted the European tradition of having our biggest meal midday and a light dinner in the evening which, after all, ice cream is! It was especially refreshing after working in the vineyard heat all day.

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EIFS on Basement Complete!

EIFS on basement finished

Hopefully, we are done with water leaks in the house! It will be so nice to enjoy a rainy day without worrying about mopping up puddles as the rain comes under the walls!

I am now in Georgia visiting my mother and sister but before I left, the EIFS (exterior insulation finishing system) on the exterior house walls was completed!

Since we are living in what will eventually be the basement of our home overlooking the vineyard, we wanted to wait to complete the exterior of the basement walls until the upstairs was finished. But, we got tired of puddles! So, what started as an effort to use up the EIFS materials that were left over from  building the barn, ended with completely finishing the walls of the house!

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YEAH – The House Sold Party!

Al house sold

If you have been around for awhile, you know that we moved from Alabama a little over 5 years ago. We left a very comfortable lifestyle (thanks to corporate America) to relocate in west Texas and start a vineyard.

Unfortunately, our nearly 5,000 sq ft home about 40 minutes from Mobile was put on the market just in time for the housing crash.

And, there it sat!

For a little over 5 years that beautiful house – our dream house, the one we were to grow old in – sat unsold!

But, in a quick flurry, the right person came along and it sold!!!

Now, we are Texans for good – hopefully!

So, this past weekend, we had a “Yeah – the House Sold Party”!

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Greenhouse ICF Walls Poured

greenhouse hoops up ready to pour

We have finally gotten back around to work on the greenhouse that we started way back when!

I think we have too many projects going on at the same time! And, when you do the work yourself on all of them, well, it just takes time. I know patience is a virtue but it sure can be hard to come by sometimes!

If  you have been around awhile, you will remember that a friend gave us all the parts to a greenhouse which had been blown away in one of our haboobs. All of the parts were there but a couple needed re-welding which John and the boys did.

We used ICF (insulated concrete forms) out of ease for the base. ICF are so easy to snap together and once filled with concrete make for a strong wall. For more information on how we are building our house with the ICF, click here, here and here.

The hoops had been put up and are secured by purlings of wood. These purlings are what the fiberglass for the roof will be mounted upon. So, after some final straightening and squaring up, we had concrete  delivered.

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How to Get Started With REAL Food

turkish market

Last week, after posting Getting Started with REAL Foods, I received several emails with questions about particular steps to take. I also received an encouraging email from a longtime reader, Sara, detailing the steps she took to get started with REAL food after being introduced to Nourishing Traditions. I thought everyone would enjoy hearing her story. Sara now lives in Turkey and the picture above is of the market where she buys her produce – isn’t it beautiful?

Different Countries – Different Foods

… So, there I was, standing in my tiny, cold, corner and crevice-stained kitchen, cooking the only thing I knew how to cook, yet again. It had been a month in our new home and all I knew how to cook was a stir fry recipe I’d gotten from the back of a box of rice. Everything I knew about cooking from growing up in Texas was no help to me in China. I had to learn all over again how to cook everything. Even the rice was different! I was depressed. I just kept cooking the same thing over and over again because the available ingredients were so different! I had no access to butter, no access to cheese… How in the world is a southern girl from Texas supposed to cook anything without butter and cheese??? I was lost. I was seriously depressed for a month!

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Texans for Good – Hopefully!

Al house

You may have noticed that there was no Family Friday post last week. I have a good excuse – I was in Georgia visiting my mother and sister before heading to Alabama to clean the rest of our stuff out the house we had lived in for 20 years before moving to Texas to start the vineyard! We had a great time and even celebrated our son’s thirteenth birthday!

Collage Macon

When we decided to make a lifestyle change and leave the corporate world behind to embrace the simpler lifestyle of owning and working a vineyard, we put our house near Mobile, Al on the market. That was slightly over 5 years ago! Unfortunately, our timing was terrible – we put the house on the market right as the housing crisis hit and the bottom fell out! I say our timing was terrible but the Lord’s timing is always perfect! I think if we had sold the house 5 years ago, we would have been tempted to expand the vineyard more quickly, and I do not think we could have kept up with the additional work .

Looking back, I am thankful for all the lessons we have learned during the past 5 years. But, it has not always been easy. In fact, it has been down right hard many times! We have definitely learned a lot about frugal living and working together as a family! Despite all the challenges, the lifestyle change has been wonderful for our family!

I would like to share with you pictures of the house that we built intending to grow old in and now are thankful to sell!

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Why I Quit Coffee

Coffee cup with coffee beans background

Reasons to quit coffee – there aren’t any are there?

After all, coffee make the work go round!

For those who know me personally, you will be shocked to learn that I have quit drinking coffee – yes, I found reasons to quit coffee!

Yep, ME, a devout coffee drinker whose preferred brewing method has been an Italian automatic coffee maker or a french press  – I have kicked the habit!

This is a subject I would not even have discussed because after all, coffee has antioxidants – right? Well, yes BUT, the antioxidants in coffee are so weak they are of little benefit!

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