Restoring health. Whole foods. Natural products.

We bought a farm!

Greetings from our 8.6 acre farm!   We have been eating “healthy” for two years now.  Eating healthy has a different meaning now than it did when we began two years ago.  Initially we eliminated processed foods, next  I started researching what foods we should be adding, whether organic really matters, what foods help detoxify the body, what do I look for on a label.  Long story short,  the only way to be sure my family would have access to the food I wanted for them was to produce it ourselves. John & I took a weekend to get away in early March and felt the Lord was leading us to list our “luxury home” this spring. Well the timing was perfect and we sold our house in under 2 weeks. The search began!

We had been driving the areas around Montrose and looking online for months. We had a list of what our home must have: water for irrigation (it is very arid in Montrose so without irrigation water growing a large garden would be too expensive), 2-10 acres (space would determine how many animals we would be able to pasture if we decided to raise our own meat), covenants that permitted chickens & goats, preferably had outbuildings, and a house for us to live in. This property has it all, with character!
Our Farmhouse

This is the house. It has been added onto and updated over the years giving it a lot of “character”. The foundation of the original portion is rocks, two bedrooms are on a floating concrete collar, and the 4th bedroom and sun porch are on a concrete slab. Ask my husband about the crawl space and attic access, it’s crazy.


We have several “out buildings”- here you are looking east at the grain silo, a block building which has a large shop and a finished room we are using for storage, and beyond the shop is our 30×60 metal barn with dirt floor.

This area hasn't been worked in a long while. I cleared the circle area in a mere 3 hours on my hands & knees.

This area hadn’t been worked in a long while. I cleared the circle area in a mere 3 hours on my hands & knees.


This is the view out to the hay pasture.  We have 4 acres of hay, and two fenced grass pastures.  Initially we will have a small tribe of goats (I’ll introduce them in another post soon), but we plan to pasture a steer or two and perhaps some lambs in the years ahead.  There are plans for chickens and ducks too!  The head gate for our irrigation is in the back right corner of the hay field.

Spring in the corral

We had water on our list of “must haves” and God answered generously.  We have irrigation, a well for landscape water, and a spring which runs year round to provide water for our animals. We also have city water.

I feel we are living exactly where God wants us to.  In my devotions during the search I was drawn to Psalm 37 which speaks of “dwelling in the land” and “enjoying safe pasture” and Isaiah 49:10 “They will not hunger or thirst, the scorching heat or sun will not strike them; for the compassionate one will guide them, and lead them to springs of water”.  This was the only property we looked at that has a spring.

Our project list is unending, definitely in need of prioritizing.  I have a small garden started thanks to a friend who started too many heirloom tomatoes for her garden (next post!), and we have a good start in preparing the pole barn and yard for goats.  “It only took me two years to build my farming muscles”, said a kind friend to encourage me to keep working on our dream.

As the garden comes in I’ll share recipes for using the heirloom tomatoes (chili sauce, salsa, stewed tomatoes) and my experience learning to make cheese, yogurt, kefir, soap, and shampoo with the goat milk.  Did I mention I have never milked a goat?  This is the summer I am stepping out of my comfort zone!

Blessings from the farm,

Karen Hunter

If you would like to see more pictures visit my personal Facebook page

Is it Real food?

When you are hungry what do you reach for?  There is an entire industry that wants you to choose their product.  In fact if you really looked, I think you would find that the typical grocery store sells more packaged, ready to eat, lab made food than fresh, real food.  And this is a problem if you want to be healthy.

Packaged, lab made foods must survive on a shelf for a long time.  Quite often these products must travel long distances.  Next time you are at the market look at the label of one of these products. How many of the ingredients on the list do you recognize as edible?

I am in a unique position for my new avocation of health coaching, the pharmacy overlooks the produce section.

It is very common for me to refer customers to this area for real food.  My suggestion is always to eat real food in its most natural, least processed state.  Your options will vary with season, but usually you can eat as much as you want from the produce section.

As a pharmacist I often will have customers ask about meal replacement or meal supplement products.  This is common for the elderly who do not consume adequate food, due to health or because they live alone.  Unfortunately the commonly recommended replacements/supplements are a concoction of lab made ingredients.  There are real food alternatives, and they are the healthier option!  For products like Ensure, Boost and Glucerna yogurt or kefir are options.  Yogurt and kefir both contain probiotic cultures which enrich the native culture of bacteria in your gut.  These native cultures are important to your immune system, they keep the bad bacteria and yeast in check, and they aid in digesting food. Yogurt and kefir are both available made from a variety of milks, such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and even coconut milk.  Greek yogurt and kefir contain fermented cultures, which are even more active and beneficial than regular yogurt.  Always read the label so you know exactly what you are consuming.

Other products that are made in the lab, often recommended, but not beneficial are sport drinks. Think Gatorade and Propel.  A healthy option to replace these with is either plain water, or coconut water.  Coconut water is high in potassium, and also contains calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.  Coconut water may be an option if you are preparing for a colonoscopy, and do not want to consume the chemicals in the sport drinks.  Again, read the label so that you know what you are taking into your body.

I use kefir, coconut water, and fresh fruit and vegetables to make smoothies. I also add cacao powder, flax meal and/or ginger root, The precise combination varies with the season and contents of my refrigerator. Other favorite snacks I enjoy are raw nuts and seeds, fresh fruit, hummus and vegetables, or jerky.

If you would like other ideas on using fresh ingredients visit the recipe page of my website:



Groceries.  This is a topic I have been thinking a lot about. Who in the household does the shopping? Where do you purchase your groceries? Why do you shop where you do? What are you purchasing?

Who does the shopping in your family?  This was my responsibility when our children were young.  I did the meal planning, the shopping, and the majority of the cooking.  Now my husband plans and shops and cooks, I do the dishes. My point is it doesn’t matter who does the grocery shopping, but someone must assume this responsibility to enjoy healthy meals. I am grateful he is capable and willing.

We have a lot of choices in our society, and where to purchase our food is one of those choices with many options.  There are traditional chain grocery stores, local markets, ethnic markets, natural food markets.  There are big box stores with a grocery department, and warehouse stores where most items are packaged as a six month supply.  Seasonally many communities have farmers markets, or if you live in a rural community you can purchase direct from the producer. Each of these markets appeals to the consumer for different reasons.

How do you decide where to shop for your food? Is the best price the deciding factor? Does the market carry the specialty items you need? Is the food local?  Is the farmer or rancher someone you know from your community?  Do you belong to their “club”?  What atmosphere do you prefer when shopping? These are all good questions to ask yourself.  For each person reading this the answer will be different.

My life is busy. I prefer to shop in the small “natural” grocery, where there are fewer choices, less advertising displays, and each item is clearly labeled with all ingredients. Shopping should be an enjoyable experience, not one of sensory over-load.  We live in a small, rural community so we are able to buy our eggs and some meat direct from the farmers and ranchers in our community. May-October we also have a farmers market. 

Recently the chain grocery store where I work, as a pharmacist, began an aggressive campaign to collect every individual’s email and phone number so they can download their “app”.  They send you extra coupons, or you can choose which coupons you download.  This caused me to pause and ask myself the questions I opened this post with.  What drives my decision about where to shop for my food?  Is it price? Is it convenience? Is it assurance of quality?  Take time to ask yourself these questions the next time you make out your grocery list. Sometimes keeping it simple is the healthier choice.

My Journey to Health

My journey to health began in 2008, though I didn’t realize it at the time. We lived in a suburb southwest of Denver. I worked as a pharmacist for a national chain.  I had chronic pain, never specifically diagnosed, but referred to as possible fibromyalgia or DVD (degenerative joint disease).  Over the years I took medication for painful muscles, wore knee braces to keep them aligned, and my hands had painful flares. I sought treatment for pain from several family practice doctors, and was referred to specialists in rheumatology. None of them could provide more than temporary symptomatic relief.

 We moved to Montrose, CO September 2008.  I had accepted a position working for the same pharmacy chain I had worked for in Denver. We thoroughly enjoy the new community. Montrose is surrounded by incredible out door beauty and opportunity.  It is only a short drive be in the midst of nature.  It became our practice to spend at least part each day off work outside.

 At work I felt tremendous stress.  My position in the pharmacy was due to the sudden death of a very young, very admired pharmacist.  The staff was grieving, and I was in the midst of it.  I took his place in the schedule, but was never totally accepted as part of “the team”.  My chronic pain returned, magnified by the stress. I was exhausted, and the pain in my hands became almost unbearable. I was now taking NSAID medication for my hands and medication for chronic pain, again.

 I attended a chocolate eating lesson offered at the local hospital in March 2010. This was advertised at the health fair and I love chocolate.  It was a promo for a “Mediterranean Lifestyle” class they were offering.  I learned about the “French paradox” and decided to eliminate all processed food based on this information.  I was diagnosed with a hypo-thyroid later that month. 

 These two details were my first steps to feeling well in over 15 years. I began to read everything I could about nutrition. I started thyroid medication, and some of the pain decreased. I finally started losing weight and feeling better.  I lost 15 pounds during the next year, without changing my pattern of very little exercise.  I had surgery on both hands in 2010 to repair the damage caused by 30 years of opening child-proof caps, yet my hands would often become quite painful.  It was the same pain I’d had on and off for >25 years, but my thumbs were much better.

 March  2011 I decided it was time to try a gluten free diet.  Everything I had read indicated to fully detoxify I needed to eliminate gluten.  After 8 weeks I was feeling better, but improvement had been gradual.  My husband wanted to test my system by going out for pizza on a Saturday; I made waffles, from scratch, Sunday morning.  Monday at work my hands were very tender and my back felt like it had for >20 years. The pain was intense.  This was an unexpected discovery, I had eliminated gluten to detoxify my body never realizing that my chronic pain was due to a food intolerance.  Now if I have anything containing gluten I will feel pain in a joint here or there.  Cheating is just not worth it. And eating gluten free I have lost another 10 pounds. 

 Now I am on a journey to become a holistic health coach, so I can help others find the healing that occurs when your feed your body the food it deserves!

Hello world!

This is my first blog and I’m glad you are reading.  Last winter my daughter encouraged me to pursue “certification” in the area of my passion.  So here I am, after working over 30 years as a pharmacist, heading back to school to become a certified holistic health coach!  I plan to share recipes, articles on health related topics, and my journey. Thank you for joining me, Karen 

Rhubarb Chutney

It is almost spring here in Montrose and the rhubarb is starting to wake up.  The rhubarb growing in my garden is from New York,  John’s aunt Kim shared a split from her plant years ago.  It grows quite happily in the corner of my herb box, taking over the entire area by July.  This recipe was clipped from an insert in our Sunday paper.  “This mellow chutney is perfect on top of softened brie cheese. It’s also a great mate with grilled pork”.

Rhubarb Chutney

2/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1+1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

8 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp salt

12 black peppercorns

1. Place vinegar and sugar in a non-reactive saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to boil over medium-high heat.

2. Add rhubarb and remaining ingredients to pan. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens, 6-8 minutes.

3.Cool completely. Store in a glass jar or plastic storage container in refrigerator. Bring to room temp before serving. Makes 5.5 cups.

*I process in a steam canner, like you would for jam. Check with the local cooperative extension for processing time at your elevation.

The picture is of a rhubarb leaf emerging from the winter.  I find the colors and texture very intriguing!


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