The Cardboard Box of Finland

 

This is a story about Finland, and a tradition that has been occurring for over 75 years. My mom sent me a link to this inspiring story many years ago, and today as I was writing a short essay on welfare reform, my dear mom’s enthusiasm for the cardboard box of Finland emerged in my mind.

In the 1930’s, low-income expectant mothers were given either a cardboard box filled baby items like sheets, blankets, fabric to make clothing, toys, etc. or a cash grant. 95% of families chose the baby box. Throughout the past 75 years, the items have changed to reflect the times, like ready-made clothing, and removing the bottles to promote breastfeeding (This would be considered a promotional subsidy or grant, like our book discusses on page 406. They used the baby box to promote and encourage certain “private activities” like breastfeeding which would benefit the baby’s health, and most likely lessen healthcare expenses.) Here is a list of recent items from the BBC News article Why Finish Babies Sleep in Cardboard Boxes that mothers will find in their baby box:

  • Mattress, mattress cover, undersheet, duvet cover, blanket, sleeping bag/quilt
  • Box itself doubles as a crib
  • Snowsuit, hat, insulated mittens and booties
  • Light hooded suit and knitted overalls
  • Socks and mittens, knitted hat and balaclava
  • Bodysuits, romper suits and leggings in unisex colors and patterns
  • Hooded bath towel, nail scissors, hairbrush, toothbrush, bath thermometer, nappy cream, washcloth
  • Cloth nappy set and muslin squares
  • Picture book and teething toy
  • Bra pads, condomsbaby box

In 1949, the country decided to give the box to all mothers, no matter their income, removing any stigma from receiving a box. The country had a very high infant mortality rate in the 1930s, reaching 65 deaths per 1,000 births. By 1950, this number dropped to 32, and today Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world (1.7 deaths per 1000, compared to 5.8 in the United States) (https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/infant-mortality-u-s-compare-countries/#item-infant-mortality-higher-u-s-comparable-countries (Links to an external site.)  In 1949 the government changed the perception of the box from a hand-out to an equalizing gift. This promotional subsidy was and is the “carrot” of the infant mortality and healthcare expense challenges. The box encouraged citizens to see a doctor before the mother-to-be was 4 months pregnant, or they would not receive the grant. The government also made changes to the healthcare system during those 75 years to National Health Care Insurance and a Central Hospital Network.

I do believe that human beings need those carrots and need for government to create responsible public policies that protect and serve the people. I want my representatives to follow more of the Trustee Model, by being informed and exercise their experience and good judgment on critical issues like healthcare. Even if their decisions go against what citizens may feel at a particular time, I want a government and representatives that our Founders envisioned; wise and able to see the bigger picture that the masses may not, like how giving out baby boxes to everyone could create a happier, healthier and more equitable place to live.

Here is a quote from an analysis written by Professor Daniel D. Huff, professor emeritus of social work at Boise State University:   “In 1990 the federal government spent 4.7 billion dollars on all forms of international aid. Pollution control programs received 4.8 billion dollars of federal assistance while both secondary and elementary education were allotted only 8.4 billion dollars. More to the point, while more than 170 billion dollars is expended on assorted varieties of corporate welfare the federal government spends 11 billion dollars on Aid for Dependent Children. The most expensive means-tested welfare program, Medicaid, costs the federal government 30 billion dollars a year or about half of the amount corporations receive each year through assorted tax breaks. S.S.I., the federal program for the disabled, receives 13 billion dollars while American businesses are given 17 billion in direct federal aid.” An example of corporate welfare is the subsidies that are given to the fast-food industry every year. The University of Illinois and UC Berkeley did research to show that “taxpayers pay about 243 billion dollars each year into indirect subsidies to the fast food industry because they pay wages so low that taxpayers must put 243 billion dollars to pay for public benefits for their workers”.  This is also an issue with big box stores like Walmart.

There are many negative and inaccurate perceptions about welfare, like most recipients are African American, or “they” don’t want to work, which creates the negative attitudes about welfare that keep Americans distracted and far from solving the poverty dilemma. If we could shift our perspective out of judgment and focus on the real sources of the problem like discrimination, inequality, racism, gender bias, etc. (which take time and a willingness to change attitudes) and target reductions in the corrupt corporate welfare system, real change could be possible.

So, my vote is for the cardboard box.

 

How Cupcakes Changed My Life

“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.”
― Yvon Chouinard

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OK, I lied.

Cupcakes didn’t really change my life, yet…

 Cupcakes have helped me see that it isn’t so much about the end product, but how I choose to get there.  

Slowing down and recognizing the possibilities and impact of each moment both nourishes our souls and the world around us. This process can feel both like an inconvenience and a pull on our limited reserves of time, energy, creativity, thoughtfulness, talent, inspiration or money… yet as we give what we think we do not have enough of, our life transforms; we find ourselves asking how we can feel so content and full of a happiness that persists even among the pains of life.

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To build new habits, we need to strengthen our mental muscles. We need to begin by creating a mantra that asks something of ourselves. It isn’t about bettering ourselves or the moment. It is exactly the opposite. It is about learning how to step back into our magnificent selves and live the moment as “we” instead of me.

Here are 16 statements and questions to help get us started on creating a nourishing and slowing mantra:

1) I don’t think I need that.

2) What would the courageous thing to do here?

3) I think I will let that thought go.

4) Could I make a new and inspired choice that leaves the world a better place, or at least no worse?

5) Do I believe in this and how does this impact the world?

6) I am so happy that this action aligns with my values.

7) Who could I teach this to?

8) I choose this instead of that because it gives comfort.

9) Could that be re-used?

10) Is this action just, compassionate and loving?

11)  I am enjoying this moment.

12) Just listen.

13) Deep breath and stand up for what is right.

14) This action promotes well-being for everyone and I am grateful.

15) My actions matter and make a difference.

16) Can I spend a little extra on that which promotes justice?

 As we contemplate the power of the moment and invest in something greater than ourselves, there will be a sense of loss and confusion as the world whizzes by. We question what we are missing… but I have to hurry up. I don’t have time. I need more. I want more. It has to be better. I need more happiness. Grab. Don’t care. Don’t have time. Don’t have time. Too busy. Don’t even remember that I care. Need more. Better. Meeeeeeeee!

Whatever we are doing, including eating, buying, giving, or baking cupcakes, we have limitless possibilities to incite our slowness mantra and ask something of ourselves. What moments of justice, equality and love created that bike, that house, that car, that skirt, that makeup, that phone, that conversation, that text, that email, that bacon, that water, that blanket, that hamburger, that restaurant, that job, and that life-changing cupcake? 

Don’t have time? Make time. Start with one act of slowness, and build from there. These are the moments that begin to build deep and lasting happiness. These moments fill us up with gratitude and abundance because we are being of service in each and every moment. We are shifting our focus from the quick feel-good ending to the long, beautiful and enduring now.

Peace to you and may all your cupcakes be as beautiful inside as out.

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This Sweet Moment

Oh how sweet the moment is, even when it’s not.

We may forget, but every moment is sacred. There are some moments though that remind us of it because the sweetness is pressing up so very close with the inevitable bitterness of life.

This morning, my parents sent me a Snap Chat from the Good Samaritan rehab facility. My mom recently had a stroke after enduring her third brain surgery this year. She was diagnosed with an aggressive malignant brain tumor a year ago, and has undergone radiation and multiple chemo-therapies. The Snap Chat was of a moment in time; the two of them singing the song Good Morning from the musical Singing in the Rain. It simultaneously made me smile and cry as my mom wrestled with the words and my dad smiled as he sang.

Oh, how I sometimes want to refuse the pain, yet there they were singing to me the ying and yang, the ebb and flow, and the coming and going of all of life.

How to Become a Cash-Back Bandit (and a little more compassionate too)

“The best of us must sometimes eat our words.”
J.K. Rowling

It all started after a morning of errands with my husband. We had dropped of books and movies at the library, took a new route to Tractor Supply, and then headed to Woodman’s for groceries.

Later that night, as I was lying in bed, I had an unsettling thought. I had intended to get cash back at all of the stores we shopped at. My husband had an upcoming trip to Germany, and I was being Ms. Frugal,  avoiding cash machine fees.  Where had I gotten cash back? I popped out of bed, looked in my wallet, and found $40.00. Huh. I thought I had gotten cash at two places. I should have $80.00.

I looked at my receipts, and saw the $40.00 cash-back entry on the Tractor Supply receipt. My immediate conclusion was that Tractor Supply had not given me my money.  It made complete sense to me in my sleep deprived (and hormonally sopped) state. And to answer your question now… NO,  I did not look for the second receipt that I most definitely should have been looking for.  I was a lady on a mission.

Early the next morning, I was on my 40 minute quest to Tractor Supply, armed with my receipt and my conviction.  I walked into the store to find the young woman who had checked me out the previous day. As I asked to see the manager, I eyed her and chewed over if she had pocketed my money; maybe X-Men and no expense spared at the concessions?

The manager smiled as she walked up to the register. “How can I help you?”.  I slowly pulled the receipt out of my purse and pointed at the evidence.  She mumbled untruths about last nights reconciled accounts, and there was talk of “going to the back room” to check the books again. I was not backing down. No gift certificates or in store credit either. I wanted cash.

She continued to be disagreeable as she walked towards the registers. She opened the till, counted the money, and handed me the $40.00.  My mission was accomplished.

That night, around the same time I had the original cash-back thought, I had a much, much more terrifying thought that I proclaimed to all who laid near me: Dear God, there was no second cash-back! We had gone through the self-serve line at Woodman’s and were unable to receive cash. Somehow (please don’t judge me) I had completely blanked that out.  My daughters both stared at me with empty expressions, until a smile crept across my older daughters face. Her timing was magnificent…”You robbed Tractor Supply. Oh my God. You really robbed Tractor Supply. You just walked in, demanded money, and they gave it to you!!!”.

And that my friends, is how I came to be known as the Cash-Back Bandit; armed only with my false creed and a crumpled receipt.

Epilogue: The following day, I left early to return to the scene of the crime, with an apology note, $40.00 in hand and some humble pie on my breath. I did not end up doing any hard time, yet I am living with the whispers.

What have I learned?

1) We are not always right! Can you believe it?

2) Think the best of people.

3) Take time to laugh at our mistakes.

4) Forgive and be forgiven.

5) Take the time to really listen to others. They might have something important to say.

6) Take time to process your thoughts. The need to act quickly may be a red flag.

7) Tell your stories, so others can learn from your successes and mistakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WelcomeTree Farm Vision

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“Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.”
Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

Our vision at WelcomeTree Farm is to better the health and happiness of our community and the world as a whole:

* Inspiring personal health, deeper compassion, and environmental mindfulness through organic gardening, whole food plant-based diet, meaningful movement, meditation and a connection with animals and nature.

* Teaching about the benefits of growing an organic garden and being an organic consumer (Our health, healing & preserving our environment, a sense of purpose, spiritual well being, education of a new generation, and our interconnections with all living things…).

* Sharing our passion for ending the destructive forces of factory farming through hands-on educational activities and lectures that cultivate a deeper compassion for all sentient beings. (I plan to visit Farm Sanctuary in Watkin Glen, NY in 2019 to learn more about how we can support the mission to end factory farming).

* Supporting low-income and elderly community members in establishing their own organic gardens (Individuals or families would be supplied with low or no-cost organic vegetable seedlings, tilling or raised-bed construction, and “as-needed” levels of support with planting, weeding, harvesting, and recipe/cooking support).

* Selling, sharing, and donating organic vegetables and fruit to the community that we live in. 

* Actively engaging in our local and government politics to help ensure:

1) The integrity of organic farming.

2) Support of diversified, sustainable farm practices that protect people, animals, and soil health.

3) The right to know what is in our food.

4) Food, shelter and health justice, where food free from pesticides and human/animal abuse, a place to call home, and health care are treated as the basic human rights that they should be.

Would you like to support the WelcomeTree Farm vision? Just click the Donate Button at the top of the page. We will let you know exactly how your contribution helped to further our goals. Please pass along our website to your friends and family. Thank you.

Any questions? Contact Denise at welcometreefarm@me.com.

How To Keep Your Goat Worm-Free Naturally!

If you own goats or are thinking about it, worming is a critical part of keeping your goats healthy and happy. Chemical wormers are one of the options for de-worming your goats, but I have found that I prefer the herbal method, where prevention and health are the objectives.

Benefits of Herbal Wormers

How do herbal wormers work and what are the benefits?

Specific herbs in herbal worming blends aid in boosting your goat’s immune system, which in turn help to fend off parasites. The herbs act as preventative medicine instead of reactive medicine. Keep your goat healthy and happy and they will be much less likely to become infested with worms.

If your goat already has worms, particular herbs help expel the parasites. They do not like being near the herbs, so they leave the body via the goat’s droppings.

My favorite benefit of herbal wormers is that you do not have to stress out and/or pump your goat full of poison. A happy goat is a healthier goat.

Procuring Herbs

I will assume if you are still reading you are considering the more natural approach to keeping your goat worm free. If you are fully on board, you will need to decide how you will procure your herbs. I have plenty of space to grow the herb blend, yet I have chosen to purchase my herbs on-line from a long-time goat owner and herb specialist (http://fiascofarm.com/herbs/wormer.htm). You may decide to grow them yourself, purchase them in bulk on-line, or order them ready to go as I did. If you are raring to grow, you will need the following ingredients to start your herbal blend: Black Walnut, Fennel, Garlic, Wormwood, Stevia, Hyssop, Thyme, Cucurbita Pepo, and Mugwort. Recipes will vary, but those are some of the basics to get you started.

Five Tricks to Mixing and Administering Herbal Goat Wormer:

1) I use a glass-canning jar and a plastic syringe to administer the herbal wormer. Apply a small amount of olive oil to the tip of the syringe’s plunger so it does not stick while you are releasing the herbs into the goat’s mouth. (I am currently using a more effective syringe to dispense any liquids to my goats. Click to see this update). 

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2) Use very warm water to mix with the herbs. Goats LOVE extra warm water.

3) I mix 2 tablespoon of Molly’s Herbals Formula #2 Weekly Worm Formula and Tonic to approximately 8 ounces of water for my two 160 pound goats (I also tried mixing the herb blend dry with their goat chow, but found that the herbs settled to the bottom as they rooted around in the chow. If you do choose to mix your herbs with feed, I like to use the 3.5 quart Little Giant Mineral Feeder. I have several around the barn for feed, mineral, and baking soda. Liquid form does ensure that they ingest all of the herbs). For my goats, if the mix is too strong, the goats turn their noses up to it and shy away from it the next time I attempt to administer it. They have excellent memories. This makes it important to get it right as soon as possible, but no pressure! Molly’s Herbals includes a dosage chart to help find the right amount for your goat. 

4) Add a tablespoon or so of honey to the liquid blend if your goats do not seem to like the herbs. I have had 100% administration success since adding honey to the mix.

5) Remember to keep your goat’s head looking straight up when feeding them the liquid herbs. This will ensure that the blend is heading to the proper stomach.

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It makes me smile to think about how excited my goats are when they see that glass jar and syringe full of “herb tea” heading their way. I imagine that would not be the case with a syringe full of chemical de-wormer. So, fellow and prospective goat owners, cheers to happy and healthy goats!

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Follow up: My goats are turning 6 in February of 2018! They continue to be healthy, happy, worm-free goats! Here is an added list of 5 of my favorite items that I use with my goats.  Some of these products are affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I make a little extra money to care for the farm.Thanks for your support!

5 Favorite Goat Items

  1. I provide baking soda to my goats at all times (sodium bicarbonate). I sometimes use Arm and Hammer, but I prefer to use a higher quality organic version. It is more expensive, but worth it! Baking soda helps balance the acid in the goat’s rumen,  reducing the chance of bloat.
  2. I use Manna Pro Goat Mineral Supplement as my mineral supplement. The goats love it! Every time I freshen my supply in the barn, I grab a handful of the mineral and the baking soda and feed it to them right out of my hand. It’s like a treat! This is to be given free choice, available at all times. I use the Little Giant Mineral Feeder (3.5 quarts). It has two separate areas for the baking soda and the mineral. It works so great! Just make sure to use large screws to secure it to the wall because they will most likely stand in it. They are very durable though, so no worries! Also try to place it at a height not too high that they can’t reach it, but high enough that it isn’t an accidental toilet:)
  3. I also use the mineral feeder for my goat chow. (I get my chow from Tractor supply. I have always used the brand in the link, but I recently changed to a new Organic feed by Nature’s Best that TS introduced. If you need it delivered, Amazon is the way to go.) I have two goats, so they each get their own compartment to eat from, although they always switch sides halfway through! I give them each a cup or two a day. There are feeding instructions on the bag. I use a plastic container/bin to keep the vermin out of the feed. Make sure it seals up well! The bin in the this link is weather tight, which will reduce the chances of mold, bugs and mice.
  4. I bring warm water to the barn everyday, sometimes twice! Goats love warm/hot water. I have two buckets of water available to the goats at all times. One is my heated bucket during the cold months, and one smaller bucket that I re-fill with hot water. I find the larger buckets hard to carry, so I like a smaller one to re-fill the bigger one. My Saanen Luna knows the red bucket is the steamy hot one. I can’t even get it hung up before she starts slurping down the water!
  5. I purchased the cutest goat coats for Luna and Areida on Etsy this past week from a small business called Coat Your Goat. They are wonderful! We chose canvas on the outside and flannel on the inside. They look like they will wash and wear very well. goat photos 159.JPG

Looking for some fun goaty gift ideas? Here are some of my favorites!
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If you have any questions, feel free to message me!

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