Moving Day!

Farmer’s Daughter has moved to its own domain!  You can find me from now on at http://farmersdaughterct.com

In other news, I’ve also made this cute FD button that you can add to your side bar if you so wish… I’ll be adding buttons onto my new blog so if you feel like trading, leave me a link to your button!

Grab the code:

<a href=”http://farmersdaughterct.com/”><img title=”Farmer’s Daughter Blog” src=”http://farmersdaughterct.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/sunflower-green-fd-2.jpg?w=150” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></a>

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Fighting for Clean Air in Oklahoma ~ An Interview with Lisa Sharp

Lisa Sharp is a freelance writer, social media marketer and environmental activist, living in a small town in Oklahoma. She has a blog called Retro Housewife Goes Green and runs a website called Green Oklahoma.  Lisa and I have been online friends for a few years, which in internet time equates to forever.  So when I saw Lisa talking about a local cement plant, air pollution, and the subsequent health effects on Facebook, I told her I’d love to interview her for the Moms Clean Air Force

How did you become interested in and first learn about the pollution coming from the local cement plant?

Around 1992, I would have been five, the cement plant tried to get a permit to burn hazardous waste and my grandmother was very active in fighting it. They won that fight so I didn’t think about it much until I became more active in the environmental community. A few years ago I was at a sustainability conference listening to Earl Hatley and I ended up talking to him about the cement plant and it turned out he had been apart of the fight against the plant in 1992. The things he told me sparked my interest and I started researching cement plant pollution more. 

Please give us a summary of the environmental problems caused by the cement plant.  What pollutants are released? Are current emissions standards being exceeded?

After the cement plant lost the battle to get a hazardous waste burning permit they started burning tires. As of a few years ago there were only nine wet-process cement plants burning tires in the U.S. Seven of the nine are in violation of the pollution limits, set by the Clear Air Act. Three are high-priority violators. One of these three plants is the plant in my town. In 2005 they violated the pollution limits more than 1,000 times in one year. They were only fined $321,000. Last I checked they were currently in violation as well.

Some of the toxins the plant puts off include ammonia, benzene, certain glycol ethers, chromium, diethanolamine, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, ethylene glycol, lead, manganese, mercury, sulfuric acid, and zinc compounds. Cement plants are the third largest contributor of mercury emissions. 

How has your own health and/or your family’s health influenced your environmental activism?

I personally have asthma, as do my mom and brother. My mom’s asthma was very severe when I was young and we were living 0.7 miles from the plant. While many things played a role in her asthma being so bad, we believe one of those things was the cement. Since they have moved from that house, out of town, she has been much better. My asthma was better when living outside of town as well and once I moved back to town, now 2.5 miles from the plant, my asthma has gotten worse. 

I also have many friends that are quite young but already are battling cancer. My town’s cancer rates are above the state average, which is above the national average. I’m tired of seeing my friends sick and dying and knowing there is this plant pumping tons of cancer causing chemicals into our air.

Has the pollution from the cement plant been linked to local health issues?

Officially, no. But as I said our cancer rates are high. I also believe our autoimmune illness rate is high but haven’t been able to research this yet. Many doctors in town have commented on Ada’s cancer rate and citizens are starting to also question this. Benzene is one of the toxins that the cement plant puts off in large amounts and it’s been shown to cause cancer so it’s hard not to question a link. And benzene isn’t the only cancer causing chemical the plant puts off.

Have your local politicians become involved in this issue?

No. There is a city council member in Tulsa that is fighting the cement plant there on burning hazardous waste but that is the only politician I know of. And he is not being well received by others in Tulsa. That will be a very big fight.

What are you hoping will happen? What would be your ideal outcome?

Many people have this idea that I’m trying to get the cement plant closed down, but that’s not the case. I know they are one of the largest employers in my town and that it was cost the city jobs and money that we can’t afford to lose. Also at this time we need cement, I don’t want to close our plant just to end up with another city polluted to make the cement we were making. 

I would love to see the plant follow the current laws and for the laws to be made stronger. I also would like the burning of tires and hazardous waste by cement plants made illegal. This is where a lot of the emissions come from so this would cut them a lot. More scrubbers and other improvements that would help pull out the toxics would be nice as well. The biggest thing for me though, is to first get them to follow the law.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming an environmental activist?

Don’t do it! Just kidding. It is a very hard job and one that is often thankless but it can also be the most rewarding job you can do. You don’t have to take on a big company like I’m doing. I started by joining my local recycling coalition, I’m currently a board member. Simple things like that can really help your community be a better place. 

More about cement plants from Lisa:

I’d like to thank Lisa for sharing her fight for clean air with the Moms Clean Air Force.  As Lisa said, her goal is to have the cement plant follow current emission standards and she thinks emissions standards need to be strengthened. 

Please join the Moms Clean Air Force in our fight to strengthen clean air standards and protect our children’s health.

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800,000 Voices for Clean Air

Three years ago, I remember having a “light bulb moment.”  I was sitting in my environmental law class, the first class in my environmental education program (my second MS).  I was taking notes in black pen on my repurposed notebook, learning about how a bill becomes a law and listening to my professor talk about the comment period.

I remember thinking that I had never learned this before.  I’m sure at some point in my education I was supposed to learn it, but to be honest I was much more interested in things like studying the cartilaginous skeleton of sharks, adding insect species to my entomology collection, tracing the evolution of placental viviparity, and the genetics of Przewalski’s horse.  I kid you not, those were my passions and college.  I didn’t see how US law was connected to the natural world.  But then suddenly, years later, I got it.

I could do all I want on my own to protect everything I love about the natural world.  I could stop dying my hair, make my own cleaners and read every environmental book since Silent Spring, but that wasn’t enough.  If I wanted to affect real change on a large-scale, I had to get politically active and advocate for legally protecting the environment.  I had to speak up and make sure others were listening.

Now, I am so proud to play a role in the environmental movement at the political level.  I’m thrilled to be one of over 800,000 people who made their voices heard and contacted the EPA about the new Mercury and Air Toxics Rule.  I hope that my writing for the Moms Clean Air Force encouraged even a small fraction of those 800,000 people to speak up for the health of our atmosphere and the air that our children breathe.  Thank you to everyone who contacted the EPA, and congratulations on taking a stand on protecting our environment. 

The EPA is going to consider all the comments and release the final Mercury and Air Toxics Rule by November 16.  This doesn’t, however, mean that our work is done.  It’s only the beginning of the road to clean air.

I was thinking about that class in environmental law today, and how I should email my professor to thank her for starting me down this path.  As a teacher myself, I know how much she’ll appreciate hearing from me.

Please join the Moms Clean Air Force to help us fight for clean air for our kids. Thank you!

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Pick Your Own

Don’t those look like delicious raspberries?

Too bad they’re not actually raspberries… they’re unripe blackberries.  Joshua likes to pick and squish raspberries, so when he grabbed a berry from the blackberry bush I thought that was what he was going to do.  Instead, he decided that after days of squishing berries he was ready to eat one.  He’ll probably never eat one again!

Later that day, while visiting my family’s farm, we went for a wagon ride and picked some sweet corn and peaches.  I hoped a sweet, juicy peach would make up for the unripe blackberry incident.

To my surprise, Joshua ate half of that very big peach, skin and all! He loved it!

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Filed under Adventures, Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Outside, parenting, Photo Essay

My Big Boy

Joshua is turning 17 months old this week.  I still can’t really believe how big he’s gotten! He wears a size 3 to 4 T, and weighs in at over 30 lbs.  Time really does move more quickly when you’re a parent.

Joshua’s vocabulary has expanded, and I want to list out all of his words to have on record.  (In semi-order of appearance)

  • Mama
  • Dada
  • tractor
  • duck
  • dog
  • hi
  • bye
  • what’s that? (wassat?)
  • moo
  • uh-oh (or uh-whoa)
  • whoa
  • horsie
  • wow
  • baa
  • bock bock bock
  • meow
  • truck
  • yeah
  • NOOO!
  • eat
  • out
  • up

Joshua also knows that he can grab people’s hands and lead them where he wants to go.  I can tell he wants to communicate with us more, and it must be so frustrating to not have the words to do so.  He gets upset when we don’t understand, or also when we don’t do exactly what he wants.  I can see the “terrible” twos coming on, but for the most part I’m doing my best to understand why he acts the way he does, out of being tired, hot, overwhelmed, etc.  I’m also trying to treat him with respect, understanding and compassion, especially when he’s having a hard time.  It’s not always easy!

Joshua loves books, especially The Big Red Barn, Moo, Baa, La La La, anything with tractors or farm animals, and Goodnight Moon.  He loves to watch “Thomas the Train” on TV and we try to play outside every day, especially with rocks, dirt and sand.  Joshua is a fearless climber and keeps me on my toes.  He loves to be chased, climb the stairs, and play peek-a-boo.

Joshua is such a fun-loving boy.  We’ve had lots of good times this summer playing at the beach, in the pool, on the farm, at Ed’s parents’ house, in our play room, and outside in the driveway.  I am thoroughly enjoying staying home for the summer, and I’m completely exhausted at the end of the day.  I crash into bed knowing that Joshua will have me up early the next morning, since he has never wasted time by sleeping in.  His days are full of fun and excitement.

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Scalloped Potatoes and Leeks

As far as I’m concerned, the best part of eating ham for dinner is having scalloped potatoes alongside it on your plate.  We have a freezer full of ham steaks that need to be used up before December, when our next round of pigs will be all grown up.  Have I shown you piglet pictures yet? I can’t remember, so here you go!

Anyway, I had a big bunch of local leeks in my fridge, so I decided to add them into my normal recipe and it was delicious! I don’t measure when I make this recipe, since it’s all about the layering, so these measurements are just estimates.  Seriously, you want to make this recipe!

Scalloped Potatoes and Leeks

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • half stick of butter
  • 3-4 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced OR 8-10 small red potatoes, washed and thinly slided (no need to peel them!)
  • 2 large leeks, well washed, halved and sliced
  • 4-6 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar this time, but any cheese you like will do)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I like LOTS of black pepper, and add a little bit to each layer)
  • 2 cups whole milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Cut the garlic clove in half, then rub the cut side on the inside of the a 9 x 9 pan to flavor it, then use 1 tsp of butter to grease it.  Begin with a layer of potatoes by placing them in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and about a Tbsp of flour, then dot with about 1 Tbsp of butter.  Add another layer of potatoes, more salt, pepper, flour, and butter.  Next layer in about half of the leeks.  Add another layer of potatoes, salt, pepper, flour, and about half the cheese.  Add another layer of potatoes, salt, pepper, flour, and butter.  Add the remaining leeks, then another two layers of potatoes, salt, pepper, flour, and butter.  Pour in the milk until the potatoes are mostly submerged, then press the layers down with your hands.  Top with the remaining cheese, some more pepper, and maybe even some more butter.  Bake for an hour until bubbly and the cheese is nicely browned, then let sit for about 15 minutes to cool and thicken before serving.  I’ve found that if I double the recipe I need to bake for up to an additional half hour to make sure the potatoes aren’t crunchy.

Ham? What ham? Pass the scalloped potatoes and leeks, please!

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Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Recipes, What's for Supper?

World Breastfeeding Week

It’s World Breastfeeding Week! When a friend asked me if I was going to be blogging about it, I said probably not. I’m kind of all blogged out when it comes to breastfeeding, having written for a year now at the Breastfeeding Diaries.  My monthly check-in column “Yes, We’re Still Nursing!” is just about the perfect amount of writing.  Breastfeeding is part of our normal life now, as normal as me snacking on berries, eating fresh-caught fish, or having a big glass of water by my side at all times.  It’s how we live, it just IS.

That’s not to say that I don’t think about it or talk about it.  I’ve been happy to help out some of my loved ones who are new mommies with questions about nursing and expressing.  I laugh about it, like when the UPS man encountered my nursing bra-turned-swimsuit drying on the front porch.  I’m also really proud of the fact that I have nursed Joshua every single day for the last 16 1/2 months.  That’s just amazing to me.  I wish I had that kind of endurance in other areas of my life (dieting, exercise, laundry…).  I’m very happy with how our nursing relationship is right now. I nurse Josh when we’re together and don’t worry about it when we’re apart. There’s no pumping, bottles, measuring, washing dishes, or any of the stuff that stressed me out about being a nursing, working mom.  He nurses way less now than when he was a newborn, but I’d say he probably nurses about 10 times a day, just usually for shorter periods of time.  But to me it’s no big deal. It’s just what we do. 

I’ve thought about night weaning, but I don’t think Joshua’s ready for that yet.  I do believe that he’ll wean when he’s ready, but I see no reason to push it at this point.  I joke that I have no idea how I’d ever get him to sleep without nursing, as he nurses to sleep every time he’s with me, with the exception of falling asleep in the car a few times.  Though he falls asleep fine when we’re apart. 

Over the past 16 1/2 months, I’ve lived and breathed breastfeeding.  While eating, in my sleep, in public, in private, without a cover (but sometimes with), in the bath, in the pool, at the beach, at a parade, at a tractor pull, at picnics, in a parked car, in the shade, in the sun, on the couch, lying down, walking around, sitting on the floor. Whenever, wherever.

So what’s the plan? There is no plan. I have no plans to wean him at X age, just as I have no plans to keep going until X age.  If I had to make a prediction, I’d guess that his nusing duration would be measured in years, but we’ll see.  We just go with the flow.

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