For the Love of Lentils

I’m sure you’ve heard of lentils, but have you ever actually eaten them? They are small, round, flat, pea-like seeds that come in a variety of gorgeous colors — green, pink, brown and yellow to name a few. Don’t let their frivolous hues fool you, though. These little gems are as nutritious as they are pretty. As one of the first crops domesticated in the eastern hemisphere, lentils have nourished humankind throughout history. They are still revered in India, where much of the population is vegetarian, because 26 percent of lentils’ calories come from protein, and they are one of the best vegetable sources of iron. Lentils are also a great source of fiber, so they not only fill you up without a bunch of calories, they keep your digestive system happy, help lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar. In short, they’re something of a super food. Continue reading

Defeating coyotes


Thirty years ago, coyotes (long believed extinct in this part of Ohio) were first spotted in the Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area. Roughly 20 miles due west of our store, the marshy swamp is known for many things. I’ve heard it said that this was the last place in Ohio with bear, panther and Native Americans. Even today, bald eagle sightings are common. Along with eagles and their offspring (apparently known as “eaglets”) the swamp is where we find most of our local ghost sightings.

About 10 years after the first coyote was shot in the Killbuck Marsh, we started hearing them call at night. Five years after that, an Amish friend shot one in the field behind my house in broad daylight, after tracking it for nearly four miles. Soon after that, I lost my first lamb. Continue reading

An ‘old-fashioned’ mom’s 10 favorite toys

Wooden Marble Track

Wooden Marble Track

Okay, I may not win the award for most old-fashioned mom, but I do like to think my children enjoy as much good, old-time fun and activity as they do “screen time.” When it comes to toys, my 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son have lots of things that flash lights, play music, talk and move (powered by myriad batteries, of course). But they often gravitate toward the simpler toys, and things that really aren’t toys at all (like boards, rocks, sticks, cardboard boxes, shoes, scarves, pots and pans).You know, toys that encourage them to use that word I used to hear all the time when I was little: imagination.

Below, in no particular order, is a list of my children’s (and my) favorite toys from Lehman’s. Imagination is required, not batteries. Perhaps your children would enjoy a dose of “old-fashioned,” too. Continue reading

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Kids and Kindness

Giving thanks. It’s a simple concept, rooted in so many of us. But how did we come by the understanding of gratitude? For me, growing up in a family that valued giving over having was key. What we lacked in financial wealth, my parents made up for in graciousness toward others. There was never a time when the Butters clan was too poor to volunteer assistance of one kind or another. How thankful I am to have been born into altruism. It was clear from day one that my hands were meant for lending. I never knew any other way.

Helping kids become helpers is crucial in developing strong identities of generosity and usefulness. “There is an unexpected magnificence in our children and an underestimated power in their ability to change our world for the better,” writes Mary Gordon, author of “Roots of Empathy: Changing the World Child by Child.” It is through our children that we can go beyond the frontiers of science and technology to explore the recesses of the human heart. We have managed to harness the power of the wind, the sun and the water, but have yet to appreciate the power of our children to effect social change.” Continue reading

Winter Readiness Tips

Winter is almost here; that’s a fact of life. Are you ready?

Whether you live in the suburbs, on a small farm or a large homestead, there are always jobs to be done before winter sets in. Here in the Southern regions, first it’s apple butter time quickly followed by deer hunting season and then, as the snow flies, it’s hog butchering time.  Here are some ideas for a “winter readiness checklist” around your property. They may not all apply to you, but at least one or two could prove vital and even life-saving for you and your family this winter. Continue reading

How Laura Influenced My Life

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born near Pepin, Wisconsin on February 7, 1867 and died on February 10, 1957.  She is best known as the author of the “Little House” series.

I had not read or known of the Little House books until my girls were starting school.  My father was in the Air Force and we traveled with him throughout the US and also overseas.  It seems that any book that was “required” reading in a certain grade in one state was not required in another, so I missed a lot of children’s required reading material.  It was not until I was a teacher that I started reading some of these books.  I would slip into the school library and grab a bunch of books to read during lunch hour; in that way I “caught up” with a lot of great books I had never read.

But when we came back from Australia, with Joy starting 2nd grade, we bought land out on the South Dakota prairie and my mom mentioned “Little House on the Prairie.”  Shocked that I had not read them, she bought us the series and I started reading them to my girls.  They caught on to Laura and Mary quickly, playing them out on our prairie, even demanding night caps (that’s them in the photo).  When we had power outages or blizzards or other trials common to the prairie, we would compare our problems with Mary and Laura’s and feel better off. Continue reading

Autumn Invaders

One night last week, I found the cat staring intently at my little basket of kitchen laundry by the stove. Usually this posture means she hears a mouse somewhere, so I sent my husband to investigate. (Yes, I’m a wimp.) He came back chuckling, with a curled-up woolly worm in his hand. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then I started to wonder—what exactly are these things, and how are they getting in my house? This was at least the third woolly worm to invade my kitchen in recent weeks. Time to do a little detective work. Continue reading

Turkey Weary? Jazz up your Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving the day comes once a year, but we have much to be thankful for all year long.

I love gathering together – out from the cold into a warm house with all the wonderful smells and the hum of people talking here and there. When our house is host, the cold cheeks that come into the kitchen bring me the deep shiver of late fall.

Sometimes it may feel like the choices of foods for Thanksgiving are getting…dare I say it…boring.  That should never be the case; there is such variety in the culinary word this should not be a problem.

Here are some recipes to mix it up a bit this year.  Beware: there are those who see the selection and order of the food as just as much of a tradition as the holiday itself. They may not take well to change. Nevertheless, each year I try to serve something new and different.  Sometimes the new dishes come from our guests; our daughter-in-law grew up in a traditional Cuban-American home and her additions to our Thanksgiving feast have been delicious. Continue reading