Category Archives: health

Hiking in Pachaug State Forest

Last night when Rob got home from work, we went for a walk in the forest. Our property directly borders Pachaug State Forest, Connecticut’s largest state forest. We walk out of our horse barn and are in the state forest in 20 yards. It is my absolute favorite thing about our house. Rusty loves the forest too!

Rusty in the creek just behind our house

There is something special and relaxing about hiking. I find it resets my inner peace. This time of year, the earthly smells of leaves and water, ground me like nothing else really does. Maybe the Japanese are right about that forest bathing thing…Exercise and nature fill up my bucket.

The blue trail is flooded by Heron Marsh due to beavers. Rusty was wondering why we wanted to go around.

We didn’t hike for very long, we walked for about 2 miles. The sun was setting and Rob is still recovering from his accident. He took a few running steps and said: “Not yet”. Yes, I agree. Not yet. Patience is a virtue.

Sun setting over Heron Marsh

We walked over to the “water fall”, which is a popular destination for our kids when they hike or run in the forest and we contemplated new better ways to connect to the Yellow CT Horse Council trail without having to go out to the main gravel road first. Maybe this is a good project for Rob’s recovery this winter. We had found an overgrown forest path several years ago, but never finished clearing it.

As we came down the path to the house, the kids texted that goat chores were done. The light was fading and the view of the sunset across the road was, as always, spectacular.

The view from our drive way

Run and Ride

This morning I ran the Griswold Sunflower 6k road race at Buttonwoods Farm.  At only 2.5 miles from the house, it doesn’t get much more local than that.  Before I talk about the results, I want to give an update from my May post “Primal Diet and Fitness“.  If you didn’t read it, or don’t remember it, please go back and take a look.  It has been almost 3 months since that post.  I have continued to follow the Primal diet and training approach for endurance sports.  My weight loss steadied out with my new weight at 164 lbs; I lost 21 lbs.  I may still lose a little more, but I feel great and I definitely feel that I have found a sustainable eating plan.  On the training front, I have continued to limit my heart rate to 140 bpm in my marathon run training.  I am not worried about a specific speed goal.  On Thursday of this week, I did 16 miles in 3:00.  It was my longest run to date and my heart rate did creep up in the heat.  However, I wasn’t crippled from the run and recovered quickly.

With my focus on distance, I haven’t done any speed work at all.  In fact, a sprint triathlon in June is the only other time I have truly tested my speed in the past 4 months.  So today’s 6k race was a little bit of a question mark in my mind; I really didn’t know what kind of pace I could sustain.

It turns out, I was able to run the race in 26:21 for a 7:04 min/mile pace.  That was good enough for 18th out of 566 runners and 3rd (out of 30) in the men’s 40-49 age group.  I can live with that!

After I came home and had some breakfast (I don’t eat before running), we loaded up the trailer with 5 horses and headed to Arcadia in RI.  Today I rode Mojo, Anna rode Dakota, Vicki rode Duchess, Alex rode Teddy, and Amanda rode Huey.  This was a switch up ride for Alex and Anna to test out some things and the first time we have taken Duchess out for a trail ride at a different location.  All the horses behaved for the most part.  Mojo won the “Most Typical Arab” award for his spook at a butterfly flying across the trail.  We didn’t ride too hard and did 10.5 miles in 2:30.  When we got home, it was time to put some steaks on the grill and call it a day.  The weather was great and we made the most of it.

Lyme in people and horses

As we are all aware, Lyme disease is a way too common in our area.  Some friends who live farther away may not realize the disease is actually named for Lyme, CT, where the disease was first diagnosed in 1982 (about 25 miles from our house.  In fact, the disease was diagnosed at Subase New London (according to a display I saw on base).  While some still believe Lyme is a temporary illness that is gone after a simple round of antibiotics, I am not one of them.  I truly believe based on my experience and observation that Lyme, while occasionally short-lived, is frequently a life long problem once contracted.  I want to share a few quick things just in case it might help someone dealing with Lyme.  I’m not a doctor and I’m not a vet.  These are just my thoughts and experience, so take it or leave it.

First, even if you had a negative Lyme test or never saw a bullseye rash, that doesn’t mean you are not dealing with Lyme.  The estimates vary dramatically, but there is general agreement that the Lyme tests are not perfect and false negatives are not uncommon.    In our family, Anna has had Lyme for years, Amanda was born with it (possibly got it in-utero from Anna), and I now believe many of the symptoms I thought were related to my concussion in 2013 (migraines and memory problems in particular) were actually Lyme related, even though I tested negative for all tick-born diseases.
Symptoms that might be an indicator you are dealing with undiagnosed Lyme in your horse:
unexplained, and inconsistent lameness
stiffness resembling arthritis
hypersensitivity to touch
Unexplained muscle loss, especially along the topline
general poor performance (more apparent as a reduction in performance in competitive horses)
For people, symptoms may include, but certainly not limited to:
bullseye rash
lack of energy
flu-like symptoms
persistent headaches
memory loss or degradation
swelling and joint pain (similar to arthritis)
numbness of hands and feet
I listen to podcasts from The Horse Radio Network and the founder, Glenn, shared his story about Lyme a couple of years ago.  That got me to start noticing a lot more about Lyme.  Recently, they did a revisit to the topic.  If you are still interested in what I have written so far, I HIGHLY recommend you take the time to listen to this single podcast.
There are some alternative treatments that don’t require large doses of antibiotics, which is sort of the point of this post.
Dr. Tobin is a holistic vet that has done some extensive research on Lyme, and specifically has identified Ledum as a treatment that is effective in animals and humans.  Now, I will say this is not something we have used yet on our own farm, however, I have a friend who used it on her horses that had chronic Lyme, and had been through multiple rounds of Doxycycline without success.  She tried Ledum and saw a dramatic improvement in her horse in under 48 hours.  Here is a link to the article from Dr. Tobin and more information about Ledum.  Check our the entire website for some interesting alternative views to traditional medicine.
For people, we were turned on to Silver Biotics by a friend.  We have used Silver Biotics, purchased via Amazon and noticed subtle results.  The Silver Biotics aid your immune system by killing the spirochetes of Lyme.  It’s not ucommon to feel a little worse initially as the spirochetes die off.  The changes were actually more apparent when the Silver Biotics were stopped. For me, I had some chiropractic adjustments to my neck at the same time I was taking the Silver Biotics.  My migraines ended and my memory challenges faded away.  However, after not taking the Silver Biotics for almost 2 months, the memory lapses returned.  For Anna, the joint pain and stiffness seemed to lessen when taking the Silver Biotics, but returned when she stopped.  Now, this is far from definitive evidence, but the silver is not very expensive (the dose is only 1tsp 1-3 times a day, and we just take 1 dose at breakfast) and has been helpful to both of us. Care needs to be taken not to overdose on silver as it can turn your skin permanently blue. It is also toxic in large quantities.
There are many other alternative treatments for Lyme disease.  It’s not about the right answer, but rather what works for you.  I encourage everyone to keep an open mind and be willing to learn.  If you have other treatments that have worked, please leave a comment below!

What are we eating?

Recently at a fair, a family was talking with me about goats and the use of goat milk in our house.  I started in on my discussion with them about the health benefits of goat milk and how it differs from cow milk.  Then we talked about the milk benefits for kids who show some sensory disorder tendencies or are on the autistic  spectrum.  Afterwards, I thought about everything I had just said to them about all the reasons we got into goats in the first place.  We didn’t get goats to win ribbons or make a lot of money (and I haven’t met a non-commercial goat dairy that has figured out how to turn a profit in goats).  We got goats to have a health milk supply for our family.  And we raise our own meats to have a healthy meat supply.  And Anna grows a big garden for an organic, pesticide free vegetable source.  So why, when I look in the cabinets of the kitchen, do we have so many boxes of processed cereals, snack crackers, chips, boxed side dishes, and store-bought bread?

It’s simple – we allowed our priorities and focus as a family to get distracted.  As my trimming business has increased, it put a strain on the amount of time I have to contribute to the farm.  Anna has developed a steady flow of kids taking riding lessons.  And there is a farm to deal with.

I spend approximately 16 hours a week driving between my commuting to Newport every day and trimming horses in the evenings and Saturdays.  I spend most of my time in the car listening to audio books.  I go through lots of different subjects filling the time, but sometimes I seek out specific topics.  Recently, I listened to two audio books that had a significant impact on my thinking.

Wheat Belly and Pandora’s Lunchbox

Wheat Belly was enlightening about how hybrids and GMOs have affected what we consume.  The author presents a lot of compelling reasons to give up wheat entirely, and if even a fraction of the information is true (which I believe a significant percentage is accurate) then it is amazing how many of the weight and health problems in today’s society are caused by wheat.  I highly recommend this book for everyone.  In particular, those who are over weight and are concerned about diabetes.  I guarantee you will think differently about your food afterwards.

Pandora’s Lunchbox caught me off guard.  I expected a book that was similar to Wheat Belly in it’s hard over, all or nothing approach.  Instead, it was a much more balanced documentary of the processed food industry and how it has affected diets in the modern life.  Again, definitely worth the time to read (or listen to).

So, what are we eating?  Well, I didn’t go home and empty the cupboards of all processed food and anything containing wheat.  However, we are making a commitment to do a little “reset” at our house and refocus some of our efforts.  More attention to menu planning and cooking food, instead of reconstituting powders and boxes.  Planning outings to minimize the temptation of going through a drive through.

And by the way, if you don’t have time to listen to audio books in the car like I do (or like Anna, can’t focus on an audio book while driving) consider giving up that evening time watching junk tv.  We gave up cable long ago.  Instead, we get a few shows every season through Amazon just to get our fix.  Evening are better spent reading or listening to an audio book, while enjoying a glass of wine and some goat cheese!

Now I’m listening to Fit2Fat2Fit.

Biking in the house

We finally got motivated to bring the CycleOps bike trainer out of the basement and into the den.  A little Pandora for music and we are all set to ride the bikes inside.  Last night I took mine for a test ride.  Vicki was begging to bring hers up too, so a quick adjustment was made and she got to ride.  Given the tire doesn’t reach the resistance flywheel, so she is just spinning with the resistance of the gears on her bike.  That said, she rode on the trainer for 40 minutes while listening to Kids Bop.


Then we adjusted the setup for Anna’s bike.  She plans to get comfortable enough on the trainer with proper riding attire and the clip in shoes so we can ride outside in the spring.


Why is the butter in the fridge?

As you know, we like to get back to the past and look at how things used to be done in the time of our grandparents and great grandparents.  Part of that, is reading (listening to audiobooks) of biographies from the 1900 era.  I like to pick up on how things were done and figure out why we are doing it differently.

For example, eggs.  Why are the eggs in the fridge?  There was a significant study done by Mother Earth News about the methods of storing eggs.

But what about butter?  Before everyone had refrigerators, they still had butter and managed to keep it fresh?  That is because, butter doesn’t need to be refrigerated.  Butter has salt in it that keeps it fresh. It’s true, if you want to buy some butter and use it 2 or 3 months from now, the fridge is a better choice.  However, if you use a couple of sticks a week, then it is fine on the counter.  As with many items, refrigeration simply extends the time that an item can be stored prior to going rancid.  For the manufacturers, this is important.  But for our family, the butter sits in a dish on the counter.  And because the butter stays soft, we don’t need to buy “soft butter” at the store with olive oil or other things added to keep it soft at 40F.

And in our house, you will only find butter, not margarine, because we have looked beyond the label in the store and made an educated decision.  That doesn’t mean anyone using margarine isn’t educated, simply, it’s not what we choose after learning more about the subject.

Ginger for the sweet tooth

I have a confession.  I have a sweet tooth.  In fact, if I have a bag of spice drops sitting on my desk at work, I might eat the whole bag in a couple of days.  I like to keep snacks in my desk drawer so I can munch on things through the day instead of just eating a big meal for lunch.  I really want to have healthy snacks, with as little processing as possible, but I also like some variety.

When I was at the store the other day, I decided to pick up some crystallized ginger, after all, it looks a piece of candy.  I know, crystallized means sugar-coated, but it’s still better than “high fructose balls with artificial flavor, artificial color and a sugar-coating” also known as spice drops.

Did you know ginger is really good for a lot of things?  Check out this website:

It has a little kick that helps wake you up when sitting at a computer, and the health benefits definitely outweigh the added sugar (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).  So, next time you want a sweet snack, grab some crystallized ginger.

Why we need to control our own health care

As I have been dealing with my concussion, it has made me understand more about why I need to understand my own health issues and not rely on the doctors and medical establishment to teach me.  Doctors are certainly important, in particular for dealing with emergency and trauma situations, but doctors are fallible (like the rest of us).  Since I have at least 2 hours a day commuting, I listen to podcasts some of the time.  I have long been a fan of the Horse Radio Network and listen to some of their shows.  Today, I listened to a Stable Scoop episode about Lyme in People.

I would encourage everyone to take an hour and listen to the episode.  You can play it directly from the website or download and play it later.  While it is specifically about Lyme, it is also about taking control of your situation.  As I listened to the episode, I realized that it is very possible some of the things I have been battling from my concussion may actually be related to Lyme.  This is definitely possible since we already know Anna and Amanda have Lyme.  It might even be possible that Amanda was born with it.  I didn’t realize that only a small percentage of people with Lyme actually get the traditional bulls-eye.

My plan is to research some of the homeopathic/holistic/alternative treatment options for Lyme.  In doing so, I am sure I will continue to learn about managing our health better.

Aromatherapy is working

If you have been following along, you know I have been experimenting with Aromatherapy to control and hopefully prevent, my migraines.  You can review my “Concussion Blend #1” which has been updated with a minor change I made doubled the Frankincense oil content.

My time at work was slightly irregular, so I waited a while to validate the results.  I am completely convinced that the blend is working to help with the healing.  By using some of the oil in the morning and again after lunch, I have been avoiding the migraines completely.  I have also been experiencing much less in the way of dull  headaches towards the end of the work day.  I am still feeling more fatigued, but I am pleased with the results so far.

I want to also give credit to the cranial sacral massage that I had.  While I never had any “Ah-ha” moments, I do feel like it helped restore some balance.  I have another massage tomorrow, so we will see how it continues.

Now if only aromatherapy could make it cooler outside…

Aromatherapy Conconcussion blend #1

As I previously discussed, the aromatherapy has been having a definite positive impact on my migraines.  Initially, I started with pure Frankincense oil to conduct a causal determination that the Frankincense oil was the specific ingredient resulting in the improvement.  I didn’t take any meds at all during the week of testing.  I was so pleased with the result, I decided to start testing various blends of essential oils to create my own aromatherapy solution for healing my concussion as a whole and not just blocking the migraine symptoms.  Note, my concussion was sustained 5.5 months ago, so this isn’t just going away on it’s own.

The major symptoms I have been having were migraines (when reading computer screens at work all day under florescent lighting), low grade headaches (in particular when using Frankincense to block the migraines), and excessive fatigue (again more noticeable following extended computer use/florescent lighting at work).

I have not yet found any aromatherapy blends specifically targeting concussions, which is surprising.  Therefore, I researched oils used for combating migraines, headaches, and fatigue and chose my ingredients.  Frankincense is rarely used for any of these purposes based on my research so far.  I discovered the link to healing concussions and migraines through other blogs like mine.

Rob’s Concussion Blend #1

15ml almond oil (carrier oil)

20 drops Frankincense oil (NOTE – I initially started with 10 drops but after a few days, I could tell there was not enough Frankincense having been using it pure previously)

8 drops Eucalyptus oil

8 drops Lemongrass oil

4 drops Peppermint oil

If anyone else local is also combating a concussion or just migraines and wants to join in the aromatherapy testing, you are welcome to email me.  Some of the oils are quite expensive and it doesn’t take much to test or create blends like this.

I will post next week after I have given this blend a chance to work.  My initial thought is I may have to add more Frankincense based on the fact that I was using it pure previously.