Cofrin Park

Cofrin Park
Cofrin Nature Park

IDEAS CHALLANGE

Friday, February 13, 2015

AMAZING CHOCOLATE CHIP ALMOND BUTTER OATMEAL COOKIE RECIPE



Missed out on the Christmas cookies, so thought I'd make my favorite cookie, with a few gluten-free and dairy-free changes. These chocolate chip cookies, made with almond butter and organic coconut oil, taste amazing! I have not made cookies in over 15 years, but it all came back to me: the smell! The chocolate!

CHOCOLATE CHIP ALMOND BUTTER OATMEAL COOKIE RECIPE
(makes 13 rather large cookies)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup raw honey
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1 cup regular organic oats
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup raw almond butter (unsalted)
1 large organic egg
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream together the coconut oil, almond butter, honey, egg, vanilla extract, salt and baking soda until smooth and creamy.

Stir in the oats and chocolate chips. Mix until combined.

Drop tablespoon sized balls of dough onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies began to lightly brown.

Let cool for 5 to 8 minutes on the baking sheet; then, transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

THE DATING DIVIDE

 
WHY DO WE BOTHER WITH INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS?
Because intimate relationships most acutely accommodate our basic human need for love. We need a love that gives us profound feelings of  connection, companionship and affection. Our need for such love must be satisfied-- and we will commit terrible acts of embarrassment to get that need met. So off we go, and dive into the deep end of the dating pool...

THE DATING DIVIDE
Why is finding a great mate so difficult? After all, the internet gives us a smorgasbord of attractive offerings complete with profile. A few clicks, a few bucks and BAM the right one pops up! Alas, no refund for defective products.

The media, advertisers and dating websites lead us to want to have a relationship all neatly wrapped up and ready for us to consume at will. They sell relationships like a used car dealer sells cars.

So, how do we find a fulfilling intimate relationship in the first place?

Trick question. We do not "find" a relationship. Rather, we create one through choosing someone who is not wrong for us and then going for it. I say that we choose someone "who is not wrong for us," because nobody is perfect, no matter what their bio says.

Where to begin? How about deciphering what we seek?

RELATIONSHIP DECONSTRUCTED
A relationship is a connection between two parties. But how does that connection materialize?  

An intimate relationship is an evolution established by you and your intended. The daily decisions and actions you take, determine the course of the relationship. It grows by sharing your unique gifts during moments of authentic trust. You trust yourself to allow another into the deepest parts of your soul, and that ethereal experience narrates the relationship. You are both manifesting something brand new, and that's exciting.

A relationship either flourishes or withers according to the personal and spiritual growth of you and your beloved. It also depends upon the friendship you foster. As the relationship matures, you both mutually derive satisfaction and joy through giving all you can to your intimate, without keeping score. Just thinking of how you can make your beloved smile, turns you on and lifts your spirits.

Navigating a successful relationship, however, comes with unexpected storms. Since people do not grow and learn at the same rate, you may find yourself navigating alone in the dark--patiently waiting for your mate to catch up; perhaps guiding your mate back on course. Storms offer periods to review, rebuild and better the relationship.

TRACKING TRUE LOVE
How to find your true love, the raw material of relationship--some suggestions:

1) Clarify what you must have in a mate in great detail. Listen to Tony Robbins' coaching on the matter. He suggests making a list of what you must have in a mate. If this seems daunting, he says start by listing the things you hate and then choosing the opposite. This method can be fun and funny. For example, a short list of character traits I loathe: Slobs; Drunks; Sloths--watches T.V. incessantly, ignoring me and the world; manic depressives; constant complainers; revolting personal habits... (hopefully this does not describe your current mate.)

The point is that once you decide what you want, the universe opens up and drops the mate of your dreams in your lap. Well, not really, but it does get your subconscious mind on the job, and you start noticing people you may not have otherwise considered.

2) Put yourself out there, and not just on websites or in bars. If you commit to finding your mate, then go the distance. Spruce up and get off the sofa. Go follow your passions, get involved accordingly and let go of the goal.

3) Remember, a relationship is a place you go to give, not to get, as Tony Robbins likes to say. I think he means that you need to take yourself out of the equation and focus on the person in front of you who sparks your interest. Drop your "story" and live completely in the present moment--be curious. Learn to embrace silence in the presence of another human being and notice the magic that occurs.

PLEASE DON'T TEAR MY HEART OUT!
Getting into an intimate relationship is major risk-taking, but its good for you, because you learn about yourself and what it means to be fully alive. Unfortunately things may go awry. Relationships die. You must objectively do whatever it takes to get from devastation back to your new, improved self, when it's clear the relationship is over.

I cried for 80 miles, just like Doris Day did in "Pillow Talk," over losing my love. I needed my Auntie's arms to comfort me. When I walked through the door, choking back sobs, my aunt said "What's wrong?"

"My boyfriend left me, and I...don't...want...to...live!"

"Oh, is that all;" and she turned and went to her room. I was so shocked by her prosaic reply, that I immediately stopped sobbing. Later that day she comforted me, but in the moment, she did me a favor. Once she interrupted my pattern of despair, I was able to see what I was doing to myself. I was able to move on! Once I gave myself some space, I realized that the guy I allowed to devastate me, I never truly trusted or loved! He was wrong for me on every level, but I was too needy and love-starved to see it. I looked to "him" to feed me, instead of feeding myself. And I'm an excellent chef.

When your beloved dumps you leaving you heartbroken, do not allow yourself to dip into a depression. Instead, if you must grieve, then schedule it: 5 minutes a day for a week; or 1 day and done. Wail, meditate, write in your journal, be grateful for everything in you life, and laugh!  Step-up the self care: eat well, exercise, get out of your routine and change your environment. Do something fun! Realize that this too shall pass.

EVERYTHING dissolves. Once you recover from your emotional blows, realize that your heartbreak has expanded your capacity for love and connection, not diminished it. Consider the experience as a gift, a practice round, because you WILL "find someone better." Awareness of these facts will help get you through the pain of it all--guaranteed!

THE PERFECT RELATIONSHIP RECIPE?
It's worth a try, so let's get cooking my dears!

INGRIEDIENTS:
One self-actualized human being
Unconditional love
Great sense of humor
Intelligence
Integrity
Coolness
Uncommon sense
Flexibility
Curiosity
Life affirming

DIRECTIONS:
Gently incorporate ingredients through all the seasons
Allow to heat and cool, rise and fall for years and years, until matured
Mix it up, as necessary
Share the love!
 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

GLUTEN-FREE SOURDOUGH BUCKWHEAT BREAD RECIPE



Gluten-free bread that tastes like wheat bread? I looked at several recipes online that made such a ridiculous promise, and did not like any of them. They required too many ingredients, included guar gum and xanthan gum, which I wished to avoid, or added sugar. The photos of the finished "breads" looked dried-out and withered. Not what I was going for. Therefore, I concocted my own gluten-free sourdough recipe, based upon my years of experience making wheat breads.

This was my second attempt at gluten-free bread baking, and it turned out better than the first. This gluten-free buckwheat bread tasted much like rye bread and had a similar texture, only a bit denser. It sliced surprisingly well.

I had a BLT with my bread and it was awesome! I used my bread to make croutons for my Thanksgiving stuffing, and it worked great!

The secret to getting the flavor of bread is in the fermentation process that takes time, but not effort. I used to make my wheat bread by first making a "starter," and thought it might work with the buckwheat flour, which is really not flour at all. Buckwheat is a seed and gluten-free.

I fermented the buckwheat flour, water and a bit of yeast for a couple of days. It smelled nutty and full-bodied just like wheat.

I altered how I made the final dough as well. Instead of rising the dough in the fridge for 12 hours, I immediately made the dough into a loaf and let it rise for 6 hours at room temperature (about 75 degrees.) Success!

GLUTEN-FREE SOURDOUGH BUCKWHEAT BREAD RECIPE


DAYS 1and 2

Starter

1 ¼  cups Organic Buckwheat Flour (Bob's Red Mill)
1 ¼  cups filtered water
¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
 
Add the yeast to the room-temperature water. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Stir in the flour.
 
Stir all ingredients until smooth. Cover with towel and let sit 48 hours at room temperature. (About 74 degrees Fahrenheit.)

 
DAY 3
 
FEED  the Starter by adding:

½ cup filtered water
½ cup Brown Rice Flour (I used Arrowhead Mills Organic)

Recover and let ferment for another 24 hours.
Notice the spongy texture and air pockets

DAY 4

Add to the starter:

¼ cup water
½ teaspoon yeast
1½ teaspoons sea salt
1 and ¼ cup Gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
2 Tablespoons Psyllium Husk
1 Tablespoon Arrow Root powder
 
Mix until dough is formed. I used the food processer fitted with the dough blade.
 
FORM the loaf into a log form.

PLACE the loaf into a buttered bread pan. Grease the top and cover pan with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for about 6 hours.

PREHEAT the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Create steam in the oven by pouring ½ cup of hot water in the bottom of the oven.

REDUCE the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic wrap and make 1/4 in cuts on top of loaf, if desired. Place loaf in oven, careful to mind the hot steam!

BAKE the loaf for 30 minutes.

REDUCE the oven temp to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake another 10 minutes or so.

REMOVE bread from oven and take out of pan. Cool on cooling rack.
Artisan Gluten-free Sourdough Buckwheat Bread


 
 

 

 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Become an Ideas Machine

"I have an idea! I have an idea! Let's build a tree fort in the woods and camp out in it! We can live there! We can have pet monkeys! Let's go over to that house they're building and get the leftover wood boards and nails and build it in this humongous tree..."

Ah, the innocence of childhood. And the beauty of it: no editing, no shame, just ideas and action. Let's get back to that way of being. Flow with life and flow with ideas and action.


Have any great ideas lately? How about crappy ideas? Do you immediately dismiss them as stupid? Or worse: somebody else must have already thought of that? I do.

My sweaty hands and feet slip and slide on the yoga mat while in the downward dog position. I hate that. I thought, "why not make some footgear that fits like a glove, with rubber toes so I do not slip?" Great idea. Many years later, the minimalist footwear came out, with rubber toes that fit the foot like a glove. Hey! That was MY idea! And off to mediocrity I went...

James Altucher, writer, former hedge fund manager, public speaker, entrepreneur, believes that we can cultivate the idea muscle just like any other. He writes down at least 10 ideas every single day. He says if  you make this effort, in 3 to 6 months you become an idea-making machine that may lead to a business that may lead to riches and the life you deserve. What a great idea. Let's do that!

CHALLENGE:  I challenge myself, and you all, to start an Ideas Journal today!  Keep it up for 3 to 6 months and see what happens. Put some of your ideas in the comment section below. Altucher says the better ideas come together when two seemingly incongruous ideas "mate," and beget a really great idea, so idea-sharing is a good thing.

 Altucher also suggests using two old ideas, mate them, and come up with a great new idea. In his book, Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream he gives an example of two strange ideas that mate: the Internet and [cyber] stalking. Those two familiar ideas combine to become Facebook!

Becoming an ideas machine benefits your life even if you do not pursue an idea to start a business. When you consistently flex you ideas muscle, you have greater ability to deal with those little snags in life that just do not go away. You will tackle them more efficiently and effectively. That alone will increase your competence, confidence and joy.

Focused idea-cultivation forces you to live in the present moment, where you are meant to live. You may also become more productive at your work and more interesting at parties.

One great way to think up an idea: ask yourself what irks you in your daily life and come up with any way to fix it. Get thinking, and writing.

Here are my 10 really dumb ideas to get us all going:
1) Virtual wallet that "holds" all credit cards, scanned business cards, etc. in one card that can be used like a traditional credit card, if necessary. Otherwise, it works by using a computer chip to portray the specific card for use. The app must include a security system, in case it falls into the wrong hands. (Damn, Gene just informed me that a similar "wallet" exists called Apple Pay. See what I mean about someone else already thought it?  But my version would not require a cell phone. I guess my idea would be more akin to the Apple Watch, coming out in 2015.)

2) Organizer-gadget-belt/purse: specific pockets for personal items like eyeglasses, sun glasses, phone, wallet (see #1), knife, pen, nail file, lipstick/chapstick, gum, teeth care, etc. It must be sleek, least it take the form of an army or police belt. [I looked this up and found one already made on Amazon, but it was my idea first.]

3) This is hard. I'll sleep on it. Insomnia cure for getting back to sleep in the middle of the night: CD that replaces "stinkin' thinkin' with positive feedback loop that can be personalized for the user.

4) Idea stimulator: CD that gets you in the mood to solve problems with new ideas.

5) Yoga tape that tapes to fingers/hands/feet so you do not slip on sweaty mat. Those yoga shoes/gloves are too bulky. The towels move around too much.

6) Adaptable "Key pad."  For example, phone users should be able to reconfigure the keypad on cell phone or landline in an accounting pad configuration. Produce landline phones with different choices for the key pad configuration. [This is really Gene's idea. He's loves his accounting pad setup and often calls wrong numbers after using his accounting keypad.] It was my idea to steal his idea and add it here, because this idea stuff is hard.

7) Virtual receipt keeper for retail/grocery receipts. Includes Smartphone app for retailers without computerized cash registers. Retailors no longer give paper receipts, but keep them in the Cloud online. If you need to return something, the retailor can go to the Cloud and retrieve the virtual receipt. Never again be asked: "Do you have the receipt?"

8) The hardest part of working out is getting to the gym. "Get to the gym now!" automated calling feature app that calls you at the time you know you should be at the gym, or whatever your workout routine requires, but you made the mistake of "thinking" about it, and were about to bail. Right then, you get the call. You can tailor the call to what works best for you. For example: "Hey Ann! This is the President calling, and I need you to meet me at the gym right now! Get moving, the future of our country is at stake!"

9) I detest leaf blowers! The leaves should be sucked up, not blown around, morons! Leaf-Vacuum to the rescue. It also has a muffler, because it must be quiet! The Leaf-Vacuum not only vacuums up the leaves, but turns them into mulch, for use as fertilizer elsewhere. Its on wheels and runs on solar power. The Leaf-Vacuum works so well, that instead of weekly work, it becomes a monthly job.

10) Who doesn't love to dust? Especially those knick-knacks and electronics? "Dust-Free" leaves your dusting in the dust. It works like a mini air purifier that you set behind the dusting space and it "collects" the dust, rather than the dust collecting on your stuff.

Bonus Idea: Automatic-lap-lane tightener that tightens the lane-dividers in the swimming pool, so the group exercise instructors don't leave "drifting"  lap lane dividers for lap swimmers to jam their hands into.

Tap into what annoys you the most, and come up with a solution. You may become the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. Get in the game, and become an ideas machine! I bet you'll surprise yourself!









Tuesday, July 15, 2014

PERFECT PORK AND CHICKEN MEATLOAF/MEATBALL RECIPE


 

Have you ever tried to make mouthwatering, light and airy meatballs, only to produce ones good for hockey game pucks? Me too. But not this time!  The leanness of the chicken and the sweet fatty pork combination put this recipe over the top. I think the secret is in the apple and onion additions. But the real secret: I used organic, free-range ground pork from Tracy Lee Farms.  And, I did not overcook the meat or fuss with over-mixing the meat mixture. Golden and delicious results!

I like this recipe better than my Oven Baked Turkey Meatballs recipe, because of the lighter texture and sweeter flavors that I developed in this recipe; however this recipe is more complex. It may also require a trip to your local co-op or farmer for the organic pork, which makes all the difference. This recipe depends upon it—as you know the finest ingredients deliver superb results.

THE JOY OF COOKING cookbook says that meatball and meatloaf recipes are interchangeable. So this recipe also works for meatloaf, if you want a simpler preparation. I have given a meatloaf preparation, below.

I've also included an awesome Mushroom Marinara Sauce recipe, for serving suggestions when making meatballs. 

PERFECT PORK AND CHICKEN MEATLOAF/MEATBALL RECIPE   Print Friendly and PDF

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound organic ground pork
1 pound organic hand-chopped or ground chicken tenderloins
1  large handful fresh parsley
4 Tablespoons diced apple
1/3 cup diced onions

4-6 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dry red wine
1/3 cup ground flax meal

1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2Tablespoons organic wheat-free soy sauce
SPICES:
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon ground coriander

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Using your hands, gently mix ground meat with dry spices, and flax meal.  Do not over-mix.
 
Puree apple, onions, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, wine, parsley, sesame oil, soy sauce and egg. I used an emersion blender.

Add the puree to the meat mixture and gently combine, using your hands.


IF MAKING MEATLOAF:
Lightly spray 2 pans or casserole dishes with cooking spray. Form meat into 2 round loaves. Place loaves in pans. Top the meat loaves with 1 Tablespoon tomato paste (if desired.) Cover pans with foil and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Bake in preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. Remove the foil after 15 minutes and continue to bake until done, about 20 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with the foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.   

IF MAKING MEATBALLS:
Form into round meatballs, about the size of a baseball. (These are large--One meatball per customer. If you choose to make smaller meatballs, adjust the cooking and baking time accordingly.)

The meatballs will be quite wet. Place meatballs on a plate in refrigerator to set up.


Heat a cast iron Dutch oven or large pan with a small amount of olive oil on medium heat.

Brown the meatballs in batches. Do not over-crowd the pan. Treat them gently or they will fall apart.
 
Place browned meatballs on a greased baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook!

Cool the meatballs and refrigerate or freeze, in covered containers.

Warm meatballs for meal in marinara sauce and serve with organic brown rice pasta.

MARINARA SAUCE with SHITAKE MUSHROOMS RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:
½ pound shitake mushrooms (or porcini or button)
½ cup chopped onions
5 chopped garlic cloves
Olive oil and clarified butter for sautéing
1 can San Marzano tomatoes (crushed or blended)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons  pesto sauce
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup dry red wine (Cabernet)
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon white pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Sauté mushrooms in olive oil and clarified butter. Add onions and garlic and sauté until softened. Deglaze with red wine and reduce for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and reduce for a minute or two.  Add the spices, paste and tomatoes. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or until flavors combine. Taste it! Do not boil.



SERVE:
Cook wheat-free pasta according to package directions.

Drain pasta and put back in pot. Add enough of the sauce to coat the pasta. Plate the pasta; add more sauce and a meatball.

Enjoy!
 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: The Virgin Diet, by J.J. Virgin

Why go on a diet? Because, food is survival. Food choices matter: what you ingest either heals or hurts your body. You really are what you eat. Food is information--it affects gene expression!

That's why I recently read, and attempted to follow, The Virgin Diet, Why Food Intolerance is the Real Cause of Weight Gain, by J.J. Virgin. The tag line: "Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 pounds, Just 7 Days."

I think she means 7 ounces, because that's about all I lost. My fault. No alcohol allowed in the first 2 cycles of her diet, and I did not drop the blood of Christ (aka Cabernet.) However, I did eliminate gluten/wheat from my diet about a year ago and lost 3 or 4 pounds. I have also eliminated sweets, most all processed foods, peanuts and corn years ago, and lost a few pounds from those dietary changes as well, so I'll give her those--even though I ramped up the exercise.

PREMISE: Food Intolerance (FI)
The premise of the Virgin diet: eating foods to which you are sensitive or intolerant triggers inflammation, leads to weight gain and causes other sucky symptoms. Food intolerance (FI) refers to physiological reactions that occur after ingesting the offending food. Such adverse reactions can take several days to manifest. Food intolerance is different from an acute allergic reaction, which can be deadly (like an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts, for example.)

Virgin identifies some possible causes of food intolerance: pre-existing conditions (like Celiac Disease;) radiation exposure; eating too much of the same foods daily; taking antibiotics; stress; and my personal favorite, leaky gut.

Eliminate the problematic foods according to the Virgin Diet protocol, and you should feel loads better. (I did feel slightly better during the elimination phase.)

THE 7 FOODS TO AVOID
The seven culprits that may lead to FI:
Wheat/Gluten (no surprise there)
Corn
Soy
Peanuts
Dairy
Eggs
Sugar and sugar substitutes

WHY AVOID THE 7 FOODS
Virgin explains how these 7 foods can adversely affect your body and brain, citing similar studies as others in her field. She lists a host of complications associated with FI: chronic inflammation, insulin resistance/pre-diabetes, hormone disruption, autoimmunity, fatigue, bloating and thyroid disruption. She notes other reasons to avoid FI foods include issues such as toxic mold (on legumes/peanuts) and the GMO debate. (GMO=Genetically Modified Organism)

Virgin adheres to what other authors, like Dr. William Davis in his book Wheat Belly, have stated regarding how food affects the body. However, she believes the reason you must totally eliminate the offending food is because eating it triggers the release of IgG antibodies. Those antibodies ostensibly create problematic immune responses, inducing inflammation and weight gain.

THE VIRGIN DIET HAS 3 CYCLES

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Touring Tracy Lee Farms

WELCOME TO TRACY LEE FARMS
Do you wonder about all those cows you drive by on the highway? I do. I’ve always wanted to visit a small farm, and chose Tracy Lee Farms, LLC, in North Central Florida, which was participating in a farm tour. 
Several pigs, over 100 head of cattle, over 300 chickens, horses and 2 donkeys share approximately 200 acres of lush farmland. Although not officially certified organic, Tracy Lee Farms uses organic practices throughout the farm and feeds only USDA certified organic feed. She invites people to come to her farm and see their farm operations first hand. 
At Tracy's side, I learned what it means to love and care for farm animals. I learned respect for the land and the intricate processes that go into preserving that land. I witnessed the dedication, independent spirit and integrity Tracy brings to her vocation. As I crisscrossed the farm, I felt an ever increasing appreciation for the food I eat, and a greater awareness of how it's produced. Thank you, Tracy.
WHY GO SMALL AND ORGANIC?
I had watched the documentary Food Inc., so I knew of feed lots and industrial farming. Not a pretty story: scores of miserable-looking and scared-sounding cows corralled for fattening and slaughter. That movie motivated me to go organic and local in the meat department. Not an easy task. The chain grocery stores occasionally have a smattering of organic meats. The Farmer’s Market is a better bet, however many small farms continue to use less expensive commercial feed (GMO soy and corn.) Worse yet, the food industry has begun diluting what "organic" means.
My quest brought me to the local co-op, where I recently purchased some Tracy Lee Farms meat. The taste and texture of Tracy's meat far surpassed any grocery-store product. That experience prompted me to discover more about where my food comes from; especially since an animal is giving up its life to satisfy my occasional meat-eating ways. Off to the farm adventure I go.
FARM GREETER: CUTER THAN A WALMART GREETER
When I arrived at Tracy Lee Farms, a wounded baby pig, greeted me like a puppy. She was convalescing in the house in order to keep her wound clean. Tracy had already formed an attachment to her and so did we. The piglet, a registered Berkshire “heritage breed,” will be the next breeding hog. The Berkshire, a rare breed originating from the county of Berkshire, England, yields more tender, juicy and flavorful pork.
FARM WALKABOUT
After meeting the piglet, we “tip-toed through the tulips” of decomposing “fertilizer,” aka pig-poo, and stepped over a thin, electrified wire, the main type of fence they use to contain the animals. I did not test the “fence,” but the animals seemed to know to stay away from it.  Looked to me like they could just hop over it, especially the cows, but apparently they do not.
The enormous hog and her brood stole my heart. I cannot explain why I have such a fascination with farm animals. They are beautiful.

I played with one of the cows, like you do with a dog, giving it the "challenge" posture, and he scampered away; turned, and then carefully followed me.
Two donkeys share the cows’ calving pasture in order to provide protection against rogue coyotes. Coyotes stalking calves at twilight--their hunt fiercely foiled by an innocent looking donkey? Wish I'd seen that show.
Once the calves mature, they live with the other juveniles on a different pasture where they can take care of themselves without donkey supervision. They hang out, form quilting clubs, practice yoga…they even take their vitamins and minerals from a segregated trough that provides the nutrients missing from the grasses on which they graze.
Tracy Lee Farms tests their grasses in order to determine the proper mineral supplementation. Tracy explained that several pastures grow different grasses and clover for the cows' dining delight. On our visit, the cows were still on the “winter” rye grass pasture. They consume about one and a quarter acres of grass in 24 hours. That’s a lot of salad.
MOVING DAY
Tracy manages the daily tasks of moving cows and chicken pens by herself! Her husband, Michael, is on hand when he is not working his other job. I thought she must saddle up like a cowboy to move the herd, but that’s not how they do it: They create an opening to the next pasture, "and the cows come a runnin'."
SCENT OF A FARM
Ever pass an industrial farm in your car and feel nauseated by the burning stench that followed you for miles? Tracy’s farm, although not a perfume parlor, smelled charmingly like a really clean farm or zoo. I didn’t even notice much of an odor at first. The farm smelled better than some people with whom I’ve crossed paths. I used to love the smell of horses and barns when I took riding lessons—the aromas at Tracy Lee Farms happily liberated that fond memory for me. 
Michael hauls us around on a flatbed with his tractor for several miles.
SUN-WORSHIPPING COWS
As we headed for the barn on the flatbed trailer, we passed three black steer/cows in the front yard pasture sun-bathing right next to some perfectly good shade. Tracy told us the breed came from Africa and preferred direct sun to shade. Since farming in the sunshine state has its heat-related challenges, Tracy Lee Farms is considering expanding the African-breed for their farm. Seems there’s always something new down on the farm.
The farm tour ended too soon. I could watch those animals all day long, and understand why Tracy devotes her life to her farm. It’s immediate. It’s sacred. It’s spectacular.
I left the farm feeling exhilarated yet exhausted. Think you work hard on that computer all day? Need to work out? Spend some quality time farming.
To see a video montage of the farm tour click on the YouTube link below: