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Hi, I’m Sarah Southwell, founder of GroWise Be Well, a holistic and inspirational lifestyle company for children of all ages. We are here because of you and for you. GroWise Be Well, empowering you.
[0:00:20.9] Hi, I hope your day is going absolutely fantastic. I want to talk to you today about how I became a farmer, in the mountains of Montana. How did I get here? Well, do you remember last week’s podcast where I talked to you about the power of intention? I would love to say that I had it all put together and magically created this life on this beautiful farm, all through intention and tapping into that. I believe I did to some extent and when I looked back, I think that a lot of times in our lives, intention works exactly like that.
That something comes in front of you, it comes in your path and you’re forced to evaluate it and think about it and then choose a course of action. That’s the power of intention as well. You can either just laser in and say this is exactly what I want to do so therefore now, I’m going to go and research all of the options, or the options are presented to you and then you’re having to make a choice.
I believe that the universe presented to me this idea of creating a life where my children were living on a farm, we were all eating healthy foods and growing stronger and more vibrant. So, my husband and I picked up our family from the city and we moved everything, lock, stock and barrel, we left family, we feel as if we may have event disappointed family and friends when we made the move, we gave up our lifestyle to become farmers.
Let me take you back actually, this will be a better explanation. For me to actually take you back in time in a time portal, back to 2011. My third child had been born and my oldest son had been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Well, my third child, after a couple of months of breastfeeding, started to show signs of extreme sensitivity to dairy, when I would eat it.
This, combined with my need to reduce the symptoms of autism in my oldest son, sent me on this huge research project into food, and how it can either make us sick or can make us vibrantly healthy. Well, my husband and I spent probably too long watching food documentaries, and we were sitting with our eyes wide open, staring at these movies, these documentaries, just appalled at the state of our food industry.
We couldn’t believe some of these things were going on and nobody seemed to know about it, and nobody was talking about it and people were just going to the grocery store and buying food that was given to them because the FDA stamped it. Oh, so it must be good for you. We sat there probably for a couple of months brainstorming ideas of what we could do to help our friends and family wake up to what was going on in our food industry.
Well, we batted about all kinds of ideas, we thought about taking out billboards and advertisements on television because everybody tunes in to television and then we realized that none of those would have any effect because people would take it back to the source of the message, and it would be my husband and myself, living in a very nice house in the middle of a city, not “walking the walk.”
So, we really kind of boiled it all down to this idea that we needed to grow our own food. If we were really that appalled at the state of our food industry. If we really believed that changing what we put in our bodies would affect our health in such a dramatic way, then we felt that we had no other course of action to take. We had to “walk the walk so we could talk the talk.”
So, our families and friends weren’t super happy about this but we picked everybody up, and we moved to Montana, where we had lived before. We thought about getting a farm in Kansas which is where we were living at the time but, honestly, we really didn’t like the humidity and I got to tell you, the bugs grow really big in humidity.
I love bugs because they’re part of our ecosystem, but not on me, okay? Anyway, and then of course tornadoes. I mean, every year we hear stories about tornadoes taking out someone’s barn or like somebody’s cow flying around so we were like, “no.”
[0:05:25.6] We’re not doing that. So, we picked Montana because we knew people here, we knew the people are good here, and we know the soil is good here, and the air is clean, and we felt that it was probably the best place we could start on this endeavor because it was a little bit known to us so it wasn’t so super scary. So, we, in 2012, we picked up and moved out to Montana and we started looking for our farm.
Well, it took us about I’d say four, five months to find the right property and what I mean by the right property wasn’t my idyllic property. I, of course, wanted the exact list of property that everybody wants when they come to Montana which is I want part forest, part pasture, year round water, and privacy, and views. Just put it all in a package, right?
Well, we finally decided on a piece of property actually. No, I have to be honest, my husband talked me into the property that we ended up buying. We now have 80 acres, which is a lot to manage for us, but we wanted a larger piece of ground because we wanted to offset the carbon footprint as much as we could.
So, we bought the farm, there were not many trees on this farm. This was pasture land that had basically gone fallow. We put in to — implementation immediately a plan to rehabilitate the soil — and we did that through permaculture. My husband is certified in permaculture and he had hired a good friend of ours at the time to be his farm manager and helped design the farm in a permaculture plan, which means that you make use of the contours of the land to facilitate the growth of edible plants and trees for you, humans, and for the animals.
We like to share. The elk seem to want to take more than their share but we’re talking with them about that and totally getting – I’m not talking to the elk. Anyway.
[0:07:47.0] So, we moved out here, bought the farm, we started in on this plan to rehabilitate this soil so that we could grow our food and we could do a carbon offset program and we could reforest the pastures which my husband has done a fantastic job with reforesting the pastures — that it’s just amazing how he put in these tiny little twigs, he promised me when we bought the property, he said, I promise you, you’ll have your forest.
Well, you know, we joked about it for the first five years because I would just look at him and roll my eyes and go, “Are you serious?” Because he put in these little twigs. I mean, these “trees” came in the mail and they were like sticks and I’m like, my god. Okay, what did I get into here? I absolutely love the property today. It is so amazing.
We are so blessed, and thrilled to be here. So we moved here, we thought it was a great place to raise our three boys which, it has turned out to be absolutely the best place to raise our three boys, I am so glad we made this decision just for the simple fact that they get to be boys and run and can be dirty and they get to go into the forest and they get to interact with wild animals that other people just don’t get a chance to do.
So, for that alone, I am grateful, we made this decision but we went beyond that of course. I had done a tremendous amount of research on the autism spectrum and I found that there was a hypothesis that there is a methylation gene that is not turned on and doesn’t allow for a child that has autism to process proteins properly, which then can create the lack of clarity and the fuzziness that they feel inside, and so processing proteins is really important to our ability to focus and have clarity.
[0:09:47.8] And, therefore, feel more connected with our environment. I then went further to discover that the best way to get a body to assimilate protein is by having probiotics, prebiotics and enzymes — all in one. Which come in raw milk. I started to look around for a way that I could get raw milk into my son and unfortunately, in Montana, it is still this way, it is illegal to sell raw milk.
I had to make the difficult decision at that point to buy my own milking animal and start milking. Well, I was not buying a cow. I mean, I’m in awe of those people who can milk cows, they are big. I don’t know if you’ve ever been like out in most SoCal, but they’re big. I chose goats. I also found that I’m joking around, yeah, I would milk a cow but anyway.
Goat’s cellular structure of goat milk is the most similar to human milk. It is easier for our bodies to assimilate it, our bodies don’t assimilate cow milk well because the fat molecule is too large, that is why so many people are lactose intolerant because the body, our human body sees it as a foreign object because it doesn’t process properly in our bodies, the fat molecule is too big.
The goat molecule fat molecule is more like that of the fat molecule in human milk. So, therefore, not only are you getting all the probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes, but you are getting a fat molecule that our bodies recognize and therefore it assimilates it and so you actually use it, you don’t just ingest it. And so, purchased Nubian goats.
[0:11:37.4] Nubian goat milk is thought of as the sweet cream of milk. So for those of you that liked cow milk, a Jersey cow would be very similar to the milk that you might get from a Nubian goat. It’s got that nice creamy texture and it’s just got a sweet tone to it. Now goat milk is this whole thing all on it’s own and I had to figure out how do you keep it from being goaty — because nobody wants goaty goat milk and I am not going to drink goaty goat milk.
I’d throw it out the second it starts to smell like goaty goat milk. So, how was I able to keep that from happening? I figured out that the bucks that we used for breeding create hormone production in the females all year round if they are nearby. So we had to separate the buck far enough away and what we actually eventually did is we just removed the bucks from the property all together and now I just go out every year to rent a buck. Yeah, you can do that.
So I go out to rent a full Nubian buck to breed every year now because I don’t want the hormones being affected in my females, because it changes the taste of the milk and so we figured that out and then everybody enjoys drinking it. So it is fabulous. I milk to this day, I still go out and milk. I now use a milking machine though because I did the hand milking for two years and if a goat puts its hoof in the pale it goes out.
Now granted we don’t just pour it on the ground, we have other animals here on the farm that we can feed them the goat milk. So, we make use of it someway, but it certainly didn’t go into my children where I really wanted it to go. So a milking machine is amazing. It cuts down the milking time and there is a pail that literally locks down on it so nothing can get into the milk. No hair, no poo, no nothing that would contaminate the milk because raw milk, because it is raw and it is not pasteurized, it has bacteria in it.
[0:13:47.4] And a lot of people are really afraid of that bacteria but we have been ingesting raw milk for thousands of years as humans, and it is one of the most healthiest foods that you can ingest and there is no need to be afraid of it if you handle it properly. So I researched what a grade A dairy requires. I researched the temperature of the milk that it comes out of the animal and how quickly they expect the temperature to drop once you have milked the animal.
How quickly they want that to drop down to 39 degrees. I store all of my milk in stainless steel containers. I get it into the walk-in as fast as possible. I strain that milk, I am meticulous with my goat milk because I don’t want anyone to get sick. I don’t want to anyone to have ill effects from this and by anyone I mean my family because we don’t do anything else with it. Like I said, we live in Montana unfortunately it is still illegal here, which just blows my mind and we are talking about Montana. The last best place, right?
And this, where you should be able to be self-sufficient, is not allowed. So, I’ll get on that rant some other time I won’t bore you with that right now. If there are any legislators in Montana listening to this, please, come on, let’s get it legal. We should allow ourselves to decide what we feel is appropriate for ourselves, how we can allow people to choose alcohol or cigarettes but we can’t allow them to choose raw milk. Anyway, okay I’m not going to talk about that anymore.
So, not only did we do goat milk, but I came out here with the idea that I was going to be home studying. Everything is going to be hand power, you know manpower, and I’ll tell you what, I have tried to make my own ketchup probably six times and I have just had to make a truce with ketchup and say, “Okay, I am just going to buy you from the store,” organic, low-sugar right? I got a ketchup but I cannot — still I have not figured that out!
[0:16:02.6] It has definitely dominated me but someday, someday I am going to get it! But making everything from scratch on your own is really a lot of work. I can our food. I still do that to this day. I preserve our food, I just made hundreds of fruit rollups a couple of weeks ago. I am making garlic scape pesto this weekend. I make goat milk ice cream last weekend. I am always doing something, I make goat cheese. We do a lot of things with the goat milk and I’ve tried yogurt so many times it just doesn’t work.
Anyway, so we did a lot of things. I mean everything we really wanted to be natural, free of chemicals, free of dyes. We are staunchly opposed to genetically modified organisms in our food because there has not been enough long term studies on GMO’s, to tell me that it is not going to have any effect on our bodies. So we just stay away from them. We also don’t like the fact that one company pretty much owns all the GMO seeds and basically it is a racket.
So, we’d rather just have our food not frankenfied. They splice those genes in those genetically modified foods with like diseases and bacteria. So, no thanks, I am good with my tomatoes just being good old fashion heirloom tomato — just full of tomato bits. Nobody else, nothing else. Anything that is a whole other topic too, genetically modified organisms. So I will probably get in trouble for that one. I am sure somebody is going to like me for that one.
So we moved out here. We became farmers, three little boys — letting them grow up to be Montana boys and we’ve loved every single minute of it but that is where we are today. We are on our farm ABC Acres in Montana. It is a permaculture farm. It is beyond organic. We use no sprays. We pull weeds by hand, and we daily rotate our animals so they can have the freshest best ingredients going into their bodies and they’re happy. So it is a beautiful place to be and our children have really benefited by being here.
[0:18:18.7] My oldest son is 14 now and through the combination of the raw milk, the good wholesome air, water, and food and oriental medicine, he no longer displays any symptoms – okay, maybe very few, very few and only in very specific circumstances but he displays very few symptoms of being on the autism spectrum anymore, no one would know. And my youngest who had a reaction to dairy no longer has any problems. We don’t eat dairy anymore besides the goat milk ice cream.
And only during the summer when the goat milk is in. So we go dairy-free completely during the winter while I let my beautiful girl goats just build babies, right? So I give them the whole winter off to just spend all of that time putting their energy into building their newborns. So there you have it, everybody seems to be growing strong and healthy and we’re happy and even though it is hard work and sometimes we think, “God, it sure would be nice to order out from the Thai restaurant or the Indian Restaurant or the Chinese Restaurant down the road,” like we used to in the city, we can’t complain.
We are so blessed and we appreciate the connection with the land, and our bodies, and the fact that we know at the end of every day we are doing everything we can to live the most vibrantly authentic life. So I know all of you can’t run out there and buy a farm and get some goats and do things like that but you know what you can do, you can get to know your local farmer and you can drive out of your city environment 45 minutes one way and pick up those fresh farm eggs because believe me, they are so much better than store bought.
Oh my gosh, the nutrition in those fresh farm eggs is amazing. So just get to know your farmer, go out there and meet one. Go for a farm tour somewhere. We have farm tours on our farm so the people can connect, they can come out here, they can do a farm tour, they can feed the animals so they can connect with the farm and with nature. So I just recommend that all of you take the time out of your day, maybe once a week or if you can’t do that often, once a month.
[0:20:53.7] To go out and connect with your farmer or go to a farmer’s market and support them there but you are not just supporting them. Everybody always told that to me in the city, “Oh get a CSA, support your farmer or go to the farmer’s market, support your farmer,” yes, I want you to support your farmer but you are also supporting yourself. You are supporting yourself, you are supporting your ability to be amazing every day, which then of course has this ripple effect into everybody’s lives that you come in contact with.
So eat farm fresh food for the farmer, for you and for everyone around you. So all right, well there you have it. I probably talked too much today. I will talk again about aspects of the farm I’m sure because I love it, and I am passionate about it. So, let me know if you want to hear anything else too. So don’t forget, every Tuesday, or as we call it around here at GroWise Be Well, You Day, because it is all about you on Tuesdays for us.
So every You Day we post a new podcast and we get out there on our social media and we launch specials and we try and connect with you and give you content that can make you be the most amazing, empowered you, you can be. So, check us out every You Day. All right, thank you so much for tuning in. Have an awesome day.