It all started with some rolled oats…

We love hearing amazing stories from our customers about the steps they are taking to move toward a simpler, more self-sufficient life. But many longtime customers may not realize that these stories also come from our staff members. Many Lehman’s employees – those of us who did not grow up on farms churning butter, canning tomatoes or weeding gardens – are constantly learning, too. After all, we handle our unique products every single day – how could we not be inspired to use them ourselves?

Recently I had a chat with Roger Myers, a product specialist in our store and a former dairy farmer. He told me about some of the things he and his wife have “discovered” since he began working at Lehman’s a few years ago.

It started with our roller mill. Intrigued by this Italian-made contraption, Roger took one home and he and his wife tried making their own rolled oats for breakfast. They were bowled over by the freshness, the flavor and the overall difference between their home-rolled oats and the supermarket variety. And, since anything that sits on a shelf will eventually lose nutrients, they knew their new breakfast cereal was healthier, too.

Around the same time, Roger tried making his own yogurt. The delicious, healthful combination Continue reading

Discovering Niagara Falls…

Editor’s Note: This touching story comes to us from Jurgen Haver, Judith’s husband.

The memorable thing about my travel days is, from time to time, I wander into something unexpected.  I remember driving on I-20 into lazy southern New Mexico. There was a sign pointing off to the right.  It said Ranger Station.  I turned onto that road.

After a few miles I came to a raised platform made from what looked like left over railroad ties.  It was about a short step-ladder high.  I climbed to the top.  Everything was flat and stretched out forever.  As I gazed into the distance, I heard something new.

I heard the non-sound of silence.  Continue reading

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$50,000 up in smoke

Bob Gray’s company, Homestead Interior Doors, makes wood moldings and custom doors about two hours from our store. Recently, he was checking his online bank account and noticed a $50,000 withdrawal he could not remember making.

“I didn’t remember doing anything like that,” he says (according to an account in My Business). “Then, right before my eyes another $50,000 transfer popped up.”

Bob had software meant to prevent viruses and his computer had the protection of a firewall. It seemed like he did everything right. But, somehow, hackers had wormed their way in past these defenses, then used the information they stole to take control of his bank accounts.

He managed to get half the money back, but the theft nearly led to financial ruin. “There were times that I was convinced I was going to lose my business over this,” Gray said.

Stories like this scare me to death. I know butter churns and wood cookstoves, but I have to live in a confusing world of computers and electronic communication.

So, what can I do, and what can you do, to prevent this from happening? I did some research, and here’s what I found.

passwordsUse tricky passwords – A classic approach is to switch letters and numbers. It’s important that the password is memorable, because you should never write down your passwords. A guide on how to design memorable, secure passwords is found here. An online password generator that does the work for you is found here. There’s a decent (and free!) utility available from PCMag that can help you with your passwords.

Beware of links – A common trick of hackers is to supply a link that only appears to go to a legitimate location. This is often done in fake emails. A classic example is the bank email that warns that you may be a victim of identity theft and includes a link to “verify your password.” There are two dangers of clicking on a link (whether on a web, site, email, Facebook message or Tweet). First, it may lead to a bad site designed to steal your information. Second, clicking on the link may actually install and launch malicious software on your computer.

Be suspicious – Dad’s always told me, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” By now most everyone knows that the infamous “Nigerian President’s son” emails are fakes. This just means the offers will get more subtle and more misleading. But, it’s not just free money offers. Free software, free music and movie downloads and sites offering foreclosed homes for $500 are all suspicious. For a full list of potential scams, check the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Use Windows Update to keep your computers software safe.

Use Windows Update to keep your computer's software safe.

Keep your software safe – Software updates are provided by Microsoft, Firefox and all other legitimate software providers to make sure your software is safe. There’s even reliable, safe anti-virus software is available from AVG Technologies. Downloading and installing periodic updates are no different than getting periodic oil changes for your car. Staying current means avoiding damage.

Check the URL
Scammers can fake how a website looks and make you think you are on a legitimate website when you aren’t. But (so far as I know), they can’t fake the website address information at the top of your screen.

Always check the address of the website before you type any confidential information.

If the address of the website you are visiting isn’t right, the website’s not right no matter how good it looks. (For the story of an experienced web user who fell for this scam, click here.)

In the end, I guess that the internet world is a lot like our real lives. You most likely look both ways before you cross the street. That’s no different from thinking carefully before you click any link. You know what a bad neighborhood looks like and most likely avoid going there. That’s no different from avoiding websites that look unprofessional or make offers that seem illegitimate or suspicious. You lock your doors at night and when you’re away. That’s no different than keeping your software up to date.

Galen Lehman
Galen Lehman, President, Lehman’s

Galen Lehman
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Epsom Salt

Today, Epsom salt has become an almost forgotten folk remedy — something that might crop up among the creased and yellowing pages of a farmer’s almanac. Sure, you can still find it on pharmacy shelves just about anywhere, but what the heck is this stuff, and what is it used for? These days, most people regard it as a medicinal soak for things like sore feet or insect bites. And, yes, it works wonders for both, but that is only the beginning. This multipurpose miracle salt can help cultivate internal and external well-being, and it is also a great go-to ingredient for happy gardens and houseplants.

What Is It?
Unrelated to table salt, Epsom salt (also known as magnesium sulfate) was originally discovered in mineral waters bubbling from a spring at Epsom in Surrey, England. It is a crystallized mineral compound of magnesium and sulfur — both essential to human wellness — that is naturally present in seawater and brine pools. Continue reading

Butterfly Defense

When most of us look at a butterfly, we don’t see a cunning and defensive work of nature but they are.  Yes, butterflies are beautiful and fragile but Mother Nature armed them with special defenses against predators.  The kind of defense depends on the butterfly, but there are basically four main types.

Eye Spots
Many butterflies use eye spots, like peacocks, for defense. The spots are a common form of defense that use a pattern on the top, underneath, or both sides or their front and back wings. Some butterfly species have two large eye spots on their rear wings. When a predator approaches, the butterfly will suddenly show its eye spots and frighten the would-be attacker away. Other butterflies only have small eye spots. The spots are usually positioned on the edge of the wings. These spots are used more to puzzle the predator and cause the animal to attack the eye spot. If the butterfly is attacked, it can still fly away with minimal loss. Swallowtail butterflies, and other species like them, take eye spots to another level. These butterflies have tails on their hind wings with their eye spots. Predators confuse this combo as an antenna and eyes and can’t predict the direction that the butterfly will move. Continue reading

The Old Farmer

37786028I passed him again this morning, on my way to work. My car rounded the sharp bend in the road where his farm sits. He was hitching up his big work horse to the wagon in the already stifling morning heat.  He paused to look up at my passing car.

Mr. Brenner.

He’s not Amish, but he dresses plainly, wears a straw hat and works his fields with a team of horses. Drives an ancient Chevy Chevette that looks like it’s been through more than one battle.

How long has he farmed this land? How many times has he hitched up a team? How many cars has he seen pass by?

He is old, knarled and stooped, but still he works.

I have seen him many times, driving his team, or stopped by the side of the road to chop up a fallen tree, or easing back onto the big wagon after opening the farm gate. He looks and waves, but does not smile. Simply gets on with the business of farming.

I’ve seen his wife, too – also old and stooped, working in the vegetable garden in front of the trim white farmhouse. She tends the neat rows of vegetables, dotted with flashes of color: gladiolus, planted there for sheer happiness.

How long will this place be here, in the bend of the road? Will a son or daughter take over when these two are gone? How long will my little girl be able to say, “Stop the car, mom!” so we can watch their flock of geese, swimming in the little pond by the springhouse?

Will their life, and their ways, survive?

Cold Frame Gardening Seminar!

Join local gardener Karen Geiser on Thursday, August 19, 6:00-7:30 pm at our store in Kidron to learn about extending your gardening season into the winter months by using cold frames. Growing spinac

h, lettuce and gourmet salad greens like mache, arugula and kale around the calendar is possible in our climate and Karen’s family has eaten greens all winter for the past eight years.

Karen, a long-time cold framing expert, will share handouts with planting dates and resources, give suggestions for structure options and have various greens for sampling.

Following the seminar you can browse the garden room at Lehman’s for seeds, supplies and books

Greens growing in Karen’s cold frame garden last winter

to help you get started on your winter

gardening adventure.

Seminar cost is $10/person and includes a 10% off coupon for Lehman’s purchases.
Preregistration by Tuesday, August 17 is helpful.

Duckling Diary

Editor’s note: This story was written by Judith’s daughter, 11-year-old Brigit Brown.

As I thought about my duckling’s birth, I realized it was a miraculous story. I was confused though. How should I write it? As I do with many problems, I went to one of my animals. Because this story is about her I went to M&M, the duckling.

“I think you should make them quack up,” she said. So here goes!

Her egg-citing journey began at 9:00 p.m. five days ago. I was checking the egg in the incubator for the last time that night. Peter, my brother, was in his reading chair. Mom was in the kitchen. And Pa was sleeping down the hallway. I glanced at the egg. What was that? A small pyramid had appeared! Continue reading

Time for Tuning Out

As computer gadgetries spin us around faster and faster, I have to work harder and harder at cultivating quiet in my life. In the not so distant past, quiet came more easily. Certainly, quiet was plentiful when I worked as a wilderness ranger for the Forest Service, wandering remote mountain ranges for weeks at a time with only a pack on my back. But with each passing year, the tide of responsibility seems to rise (for better or for worse), and it gets tougher to create time for simple pleasures. With so many daily demands, I find that cultivating quiet requires a heightened awareness of triggers that fuel stress, and I’m learning to dodge them before they bring me down.

Continue reading

Why Amish and Mennonites Fight (and how you can do it better)

In our little village of maybe one thousand souls, there are five Mennonite churches. If you count the two Amish churches, there are seven churches that share common beliefs. Most small towns have only one church. Why does Kidron have so many?

To understand why, you have to look back at how things started. In the 1500’s, a group known as the Radical Reformers staked their faith on a simple idea: They would demonstrate their love for God by trying to follow his teachings exactly.

They said that baptism at birth did not follow the New Testament example. They believed in separation of church and state, an idea that would show up in the USA constitution 200 years later. They tried to live their lives according to a literal understanding the teachings of Jesus Christ. (Click here to read the Schleitheim Confession, which spells out their theology.)

Because their interpretation of what God expected them to do didn’t match up with common beliefs at that time, those who joined this group were horribly persecuted. The lucky ones were drowned, hung or decapitated. Some were burned alive. Some were horribly tortured, even tortured to death. But, despite these hardships, those who survived stood firm for what they believed was right.

Reformer Anneken Hendriks was burned alive in 1571

The so-called Radical Reformers learned from this experience. They learned that doing the right thing matters. They learned that Continue reading