Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekly Exercise Report

Distance (mi)
Falling Creek Park Trails

Chicken Day at Idle Wild Farm

Chicken Day at Idle Wild Farm

I spent the past Sunday morning at Idle Wild Farm. It was chicken processing day and I decided that I would lend a helping hand to my cousin Doug Overstreet. Doug, his wife Lucy, and their daughter Gillian live in our grandparents house in Thaxton area of Bedford County. My grandparents lived beside my great uncle Roy and great aunt Helen's farm. Since Roy's passing, no one was farming on the land any more. Once Doug and Lucy moved into my grandparent house, they had big plans to get the farm up and running again.

After a lot of back breaking work, they have really built a very nice farm that is providing health food to the local community. They have a large green house and garden where they grow many vegetables. They also have been raising chickens and hogs. They sell vegetables, eggs, and meat at various farmer's markets in the area. I am not an expert at their type of farming, but I do know that their animals are pature raised and do not include a lot of the "stuff" found in food from the big chain stores. Contact Doug and Lucy and they will be able to explain their exact process of raising animals and growing vegetables. You can also checkout their website for more infomation.

If anyone knows Doug, they know he can't sit still. He has been like this as long as I have known him (34 years). Before the boys came a long, I would spend time at the farm helping Doug work on his next big project. But once Anna and I started our family, my days helping Doug have dwindled down a lot. I have really missed not being able to hang out with Doug like I had in the past. But we all get older and our lives gradually pull us away. So, I talked myself into taking a little time out of my weekend to help out at the farm. This is a short description of my first chicken processing day at Idle Wild Farm.

So my chicken processing experience began late Saturday night. Doug, Chris Blair, and I were hanging out like old times. Then Doug informed us that we had to round up the chickens that needed to be processed in the morning. I have come to expect to work when I go to the farm, so I had come prepared in my old work clothes. Doug backed the tractor's trailer next to the chicken coup where the unlucky chickens where roosting for the night. Doug and I proceeded to pick up 80 chickens and place then in a number of cages on the trailer. The brave Chris held open the cage doors for us with such pride! I only came out of this chicken grabbing with one wound. One of the chickens roosting two spots over from where I was snatching the next chicken apparently like the looks of my wedding ring. He gave me a nice peck that broke the skins just a little. Insurance paper work is pending! Doug backed the tractor and trailer into the barn for the night, to keep the chicken out of the overnight rain.

Saturday morning, with coffee in hand, I showed up at Idle Wild Farm ready to process some chickens. Doug had recently built a covered structure to use during these chicken processing days. It really paid off on this day, because it rained the entire day. There were 5 people in all helping out on Sunday; Doug, Lucy, and two of Doug's usual helpers Patrick and Brent. Doug and Brent handled the first few stages of chicken processing (I will spare some of the more graphic details) and Patrick and I were on the gutting table.

Other than fish, I have never really had to process any animals before. I have hunted a few times, but I have never shot anything. My gutting job didn't bother me at all. Maybe it was my grandfather's gene's that helped. He was a butcher for years at Stevens & Update in Bedford. About after way through our processing, I was even daydreaming about the fried chicken I was missing at my parents house. Our family always gets together after church on Sundays to eat. It is one of my favorite times of the week, because I get to hang out with my parents, my brother's family, as well as my own. Anna and the boys went on to my parent's house with out me this Sunday and I stuck with my hands in chicken cavities.

We worked very steadily from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. It was a very cold and wet day. Just to prove how cold it was and to show just how desensitized you get to the processing, I was actually looking forward to starting the next chicken because of the warmth of the innards on my hands! By the end of the processing there were 80 whole chickens in the ice bath and we were all hungry. So Doug feed his workers hard boiled eggs (big surprise) and peanuts. Doug and Lucy were already having customers showing up to get fresh birds. I believe they had already sold 30 of the chickens to customers coming Sunday to pick them up. The rest were going to get prepped and bagged for the Forest Farmer's Market on Saturday 04/28.

All in all, I had a great time at the farm on processing day (don't tell Doug, he may make me do it again soon). I think the biggest emotion I felt was the sense of community. I got to help out some people that mean a lot to me and they in turn get to provide many families with health food. It is a lot of hard work, but this is how people use to live in our area. Doug, Lucy, Brent, and Patrick are just a few of the people that are trying to turn back the hands of time. By going back to when food was local, healthy, and most importantly less processed. I urge everybody to help out in their local communities. If there were just a few more farms like these operating, they could really support the food needs of many local families.

Being a single income family with small children, we are as guilty as anyone for shopping with monetary concerns first. Anna does a great job shopping a a number of stores to get us the best food at the best prices. I understand that shopping and eating locally raised food is not always easy to do financially. But when possible, I am going to start making more of an effort to buy local food and support the local farmers, not only for my family's health but our local community's health also.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tasty Thursday

Anna's Taco Soup

I know it seems like we are eating soup all the time around our house. Well, you would not be exactly wrong if you were thinking that. I personally love having soup around each week. It always gives me something warm to eat for lunch. We usually freeze a portion too. It makes for a nice quick dinner when you don't have the time to cook. Here is another one of my favorite soups that Anna cooks. She has provided the recipe below. I hope someone enjoys this tasty dish soon!

1 (16oz.) drained can pinto beans
1 (16oz.) drained can kidney beans
1 (16oz.) drained can black beans
1 (16oz.) drained can corn
1 (16oz.) can of stewed tomatoes
1 package of dry taco seasoning mix
1 package of dry ranch dressing mix
2 lbs. of cooked and drained ground beef or chicken
1 onion
1 small can of chopped chilies (optional)
1-1/2 cups of water
Grated cheese, green onions
Tortilla chips

1.) Brown the meat and onion until no pink remains
2.) Add to a large pot with all the canned items.
3.) Add the water and dry package ingredients.
4.) Stir until well mixed over a medium heat.
5.) Cook until hot (about 15-20 minutes)
6.) Serve in soup bowls topped with chopped onion, grated cheese, and tortilla chips.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Product Review - Zensah Compression Sleeves

Zensah Compression Sleeves

As promised last week, I will spend this week's product review on some running gear. Since I am fairly new on the running scene, I do not have a lot of experience with a large number of running products. But while I try out new things, I am going try to share my observations with you.

While running in my first few races, I noticed that there were several runners that were wearing compression sleeves that covered their lower legs. I didn't give these sleeves much thought until I started getting into longer training runs. Once my runs started getting over 8 miles, I was feeling soreness in my legs that would last a few days. This soreness didn't cause me to be overly concerned. I have always felt that if you were not a little sore, then you were not working hard enough.

While visiting a local running store, I asked the sales lady if the compression sleeves really worked? She said that she loved them, especially for recovery. This was something that I never thought of using the sleeves for. Since i have always seen people wearing them while they ran and not just wearing them after their runs. I thought I would give them a try. I figured if anything it would help me recover from my longer training runs quicker and allow me to get more mile in each week.

So after dropping a bunch of hints to Anna, she surprised me with a new pair of Zensah compression sleeves, black of course. I wasn't the only one excited about these new sleeves. Jasper (our lovely beagle) was so excited, he got the Amazon box off the front porch and ripped it open. Luckily, even though he had got the sleeves out of the box and chewed on them a little, they were not damaged at all.

I started wearing the sleeves during my long weekly runs. I didn't really notice a big difference at first, but I was not getting too sore either. This is one of those preventive products that you really can't determine how much they have actually helped. I liked the feeling of extra support for my shins and calves while I ran. That was enough to satisfy me and I really enjoyed wearing these sleeves.

It wasn't until the week before my first half marathon that I truly came to appreciate the Zensah sleeves. I started getting a weird tightness/soreness in my left calf. It felt as if it was constantly on the verge of cramping. I tried everything to relieve the pain. I stretched more before and after my runs that week. But nothing seemed to help. I decided to wear my sleeves under my pants during the day while I was at work. After wearing them for around 6 hours that day, I could really feel the tightness start to go away. Since it seemed to help so much, I decided to wear them to work the next day too.

When race day rolled around later that week, my legs felt great. I can't say that the soreness would have not gone away on its own anyway. But the sleeves had to be some help in getting my legs recovered for my race. Now I am planning on getting a second pair so that i can wear one pair when I am actually running. Then I can use the other pair after my run for recovery purposes. I would urge anyone experiencing lower leg issues to try out a pair of compression sleeves.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

My Favorite Air Jordans of All-time

Section of my basement shoe shelf

Anybody that knows me, knows I have a shoe problem. Every since I was in grade school, I have had a thing for sneakers. I remember doodling pictures of shoes in school notebooks when I was younger. I have many different brands for shoes, but I have always been partial to the Air Jordans. I remember getting my first pair of Air Jordan IV's when I was in 6th grade! I wore them until my toe stuck out of the bottom of the sole. The IV's were the shoes Jordan was wearing when he hit the shot over Craig Ehlo shot during game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round series game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. That was also the game that got me hooked as a Michael Jordan fan. The Jordan brand has started to release older "retro" Jordans in recent years. This has given old timers like me a chance to buy back some of those classic shoes from our childhood. What was the first pair I bought? The IV's of course! Here is list of my personal favorite Air Jordans through the years. Each is a link to a picture of my favorite colorways.

1.) IV
2.) VI
3.) XI
4.) XIII
5.) XII
6.) III
7.) IX
8.) X
9.) VII
10.) XX3

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stuff the Boys Say

Although this quote may make a few of you question what I am actually teaching my children, it is too funny not to share. While waiting to see the dentist last week, Eli turned to Anna and said:

"Mommy, can I show Dr. Alexander the tick bite on my balls?"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Snapshots

Weekly Excercise Report

Distance (mi)

Tasty Thursday

Ryan's Chicken Gumbo

This week is not really going to be a recipe because I have never actually measured anything when I have made my gumbo in the past. That is the beauty of it! You can't go wrong if the proportions are a little off.

Vegetable Oil
1 large onion
1 large bell pepper
6 cloves of garlic
creole seasoning
black pepper
1 whole chicken
1 container of chicken broth
1 polish sausage

1.) Boil chicken in large pot. Once chicken is done, remove from water so that it can cool. Hang on to the broth so that it can be added to the gumbo later.
2.) Once chicken is cool, pick the meat off the bones and discard bones.
3.) Heat oil and flour mixture in large pot to make the roux. I try to leave roux on as long as possible without burning it. It should be darker than peanut butter before you move on.
4.) Add diced onion and bell pepper, along with the minced garlic, creole, salt, and pepper. Heat mixture until vegetables are soft.
5.) Add left over broth from step 1. I usually added a secondary can of broth to make the gumbo go a little further.
6.) Pick chicken off bones and add to gumbo. Cook gumbo as long as you would like. In my experiences, it seems to taste better the longer you let the gumbo cook.
7.) About 15 minutes before you plan to eat, add sausage to gumbo.
8.) Make rice in separate pot.
9.) Serve gumbo on top of a bed of rice. I like to add Texas Pete hot sauce to each bowl to make it a little more spicy.

Updated Blog Schedule

I apologize that I have gotten behind in my normal weekly posts this past week. After giving a little thought on my blog schedule, I have decided to make a few adjustments. Since our weekends are usually pretty busy, I am going to do away with my Friday post. I am going to bump my "Good Food Friday" and create "Tasty Thursday" instead. My old Thursday "random thought" post will no longer exist. I will just post random thoughts when I feel the need.

Updated Schedule:

Sunday: “Snapshot Sunday” – Anybody that knows us, knows we take a lot of pictures. So my Sunday posts will be my three favorite pictures from the past 7 days.
Monday: “Stuff the Boys Say” – I will try to write down funny stuff that Eli and Coy say during the week and report on these sayings on Mondays.
Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday” – Random top ten rankings.
Wednesday: “Product Reviews” – Short review of products used by our family. These products may be household goods, children products, or athletic gear.
Thursday: “Tasty Thursday" – This will be a general “food”inspired post. It could be a delicious recipe we used at the house, or a nice dinning out experience.
Saturday: “Weekly Exercise Report” – I will use my Saturday post to wrap up my exercise for the week. I will include walking, running, biking, or weight training completed in the past week.