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The Fields of Athenry Farm Story

From Sickness to Health: How We Healed Our family.

Many of you have asked could I help explain to a loved one about this whole notion of eating meats and protein rich, nutrient dense foods.

Maybe some in a family have allergies, obesity, depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, ADHD or autism.

Maybe some have revulsion to eating meat, are vegetarian, or suffer from cancer, diabetes or infertility … the list goes on.

When the movie “Food Inc.” came out, it created a heightened awareness of how or how not to farm, and what or what not to eat. My husband and I have five gorgeous daughters ages 25 to, each of whom we love very much, each one special and different. In 2003 our second youngest, then 7 years old, started gaining weight in her face and abdomen. It seemed to come and go, and at first I thought maybe it's just a growth stage and dismissed it. Then her face started flushing, and then came the pain in her feet, legs, joints, and then the headaches. She was in second grade. Played little league sports like every normal kid and ran up and down our long farm drive training her sheep and riding her pony. With hindsight I am now able to give you a quick picture. My family history: Generations of Olympic Swimmers and many generations of incredible cooks in the kitchen. Tall, lean and mean athletes, every one of us. Always balanced meals and home cookin!

We also have a family history of Pituitary Tumors, Thyroid Disease and Carcinoid Cancer. My mother was given a drug called Diethylstilbestrol (DES) while she was pregnant with most of us. Back in the day, the medical world thought this would help prevent premature labor. But it created a host of serious health issues that would show up later in our lives – a lot later, such as in adulthood and in our own children. Yes, it would creep insidiously into our own children and who knows yet about theirs? These health issues are categorized under something called MEN1. (I beg here ... all parents do not allow your daughters to be given the Gardasil Shot! Watch vaccinations, research and learn -

In spite of my family's health history, the clinical doctors over and over told me that my daughter's issues were from a lack of diet and exercise. My mental response was, "you're talking to the queen of diet and my family definitely knows exercise!" (These doctors included pediatricians, endocrinologists, Cushing Disease specialists from National Institute of Health and more!) Why did they dismiss us? Because their clinical tests could not verify through X-Rays or MRI's what the urine and blood analysis showed – that our daughter’s cortisol levels were off the charts along with other hormones, etc. – and I must be giving her something that had artificial hormones in it! ERRRRRR. (Only one doctor – who was our family’s retired endocrinologist back in Arizona wrote on our daughter’s behalf saying he was convinced she had Cushing's – but because he was retired and a clinical test did not show anything – he was dismissed also!).

Cushing's disease is notorious for being intermittent and extremely difficult to catch clinically. Typically, it is not diagnosed until your late twenties or early thirties. We won't even discuss here the damage a person deals with by the time they are clinically diagnosed. She had all the classic outward, bodily signs. You could look at her body and know she had Cushing's disease. This took place over seven years of begging doctors to listen to me. Mother knows best!

In October of 2008, Bernadette had a tumor removed from her brain, a four-hour surgery. This tumor produced 758 milligrams of cortisol (steroid) in her body per day. You and I produce 18–20 milligrams a day. When the tumor was removed she had no cortisol production, and it had shut down her pituitary and adrenal glands. Body lesson: We have three major glands - the engines of our bodies: 1st, the President – our Pituitary Gland (located behind the bridge of your nose straight into brain; 2nd, the Chief of Staff – our Adrenal Gland, (sits above kidneys); 3rd, Secretary of State - our Thyroid Gland (butterflies across Adams apple of the neck in front). These three glands run like the engine of our cars, and more importantly, our bodies. These glands run everything – hormones, body function, everything. When one is off it messes with you. Quietly. Insidiously. When our glands and brains are not fed properly it also results in: Remember: allergies, obesity, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, ADHD, autism, a revulsion to the thought of eating meat, vegetarians, cancer, diabetes, infertility, the list goes on. 

Since 2003 my years have been spent in combining clinical and holistic practices. I was desperate; I couldn't alleviate my daughter's pains and clear retardation of her growth cycles that were manifesting before our eyes. She shuffled like a little old man – it was so painful to walk and she did not have any energy. Or, she would have too much energy and could not sleep.

Then, Tara Rayburn (of Nourishing Your Family) knocked on my door one day, and slapped down a cookbook – Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon – and challenged me to read the first 37 pages. She then introduced me to the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Yes, I changed everything I did. My kitchen has never been the same. I started cooking bone and organ broths. I already raised lamb and chicken. We were still buying our beef and pork for our family from Costco. Now, I decided to approach my meat processors/butchers, farming neighbors and friends about raising our own beef and pork with them, under our standards – this was a huge decision. I was nervous and scared about whether or not I could sell a whole cow and commit to the monetary end from the standpoint of my tiny farm operation. I didn't know a thing about pigs! How would I find enough land? My direction of how and why I did things was about to change and pull me in a way I never imagined. It was not an easy road. It was very difficult. I was scared and nervous. Many others in the farm markets said things that were difficult at best from to our practices, what I knew, didn't know, and whose animals belonged to whom – the rumors! My husband said, "Elaine, pull out of the farm markets. Focus on our daughter. Keep learning what you are doing – sell from the farm. People will come: they know you have good products and practices, they will come. Let them see the farm and how it operates." (I thought he was nuts … but his favorite line – "Those who know, know!".

So, I continued. I went to conferences, read books, saw different holistic practitioners, medical doctors, holistic practicing doctors and nutritionists.

I settled into nutrient–dense eating practices that were beginning to help not just Bernadette's energy and pain levels, but also started effecting differences in the rest of my family, including me. And differences or no differences, each of our family members have chosen to put into practice at least some of these eating changes. What differences?

Every one of our children, at some time or another, has been on asthma or allergy medicines and plenty of antibiotics. Inhalers, steroids and more … and the list goes on. Our youngest was always sick with colds and ear infections, always on antibiotics. (But remember, we ate really well balanced meals – healthy, organic cereals etc.!) Some of us who changed our eating habits have not been to a doctor for colds, allergies etc., etc. for years. I sleep well – no indigestion. Others with diabetes – now under control. The money saved in time and doctors, enormous. Health tremendously improved!

What Changed? … the contents of my refrigerator, cabinets and pantry.

Our Farm and Home Motto is now: "If it Doesn't Rot – Don't Eat It." Think about it. Do a pantry raid. If it is meant to sit weeks or months on end on a shelf in the grocery store it is going to sit in our guts too, and wreak havoc on our bodies to boot! Our intestines just don't recognize these refined, processed and preserved foods … or have the ability to break the food down. It is like the rubber on the back of a mat. Our intestines go to work, like the washing machine, the rubber or the refined food in this case, breaks down and spreads, but never really goes away. It sits in us, just like on the grocery shelf, preserved for life! (Do that pantry raid, get rid of anything that has Cereal, Soy, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Monosodium Glutamate [MSG], “Refined” or “Processed” in the labels.)

Everything we eat not only nourishes our bodies and our organs, but our brains, too. When improperly nourished we have all kinds of side affects that really can be averted by the FOOD we eat. Do a little at a time. Remember good, better, best! Just start now. Our bodies need nutrient dense foods and good fats, meaning, real butters, raw milks. We need good fats to burn fats, not margarines, not hydrogenated oils! (See Do a simple test – put these foods outside together, one of our Amish Butters or a tub of your favorite margarine. See which one gets eaten first by animals or which one deteriorates the fastest – this is what takes place in our guts, our organs and our brains!

My favorite of our farm sayings is: "If we could take our yester-years’ way of eating and today's medicine we really would have the fountain of youth!" Our bodies are an amazing balance of things and needs which include seasonal eating – what's available from the areas we live in at a particular time. These change between cultures, from hot climates to cold climates, from seaport to mountains to desert. Everything in moderation and balance, meat proteins are different from vegetable proteins, our bodies need both. Red meat and white meat, our bodies' need both, in balance, from animals and fields properly cared for. The minerals, the supplements we are lacking can be gained from proper nutrition. Clean meat is not the carcinogenic red or white meats raised in dirty crowded feed lots, and given hormones and antibiotics to keep up with large demands to feed the world. This includes our vegetables locally grown and chemically free, and plenty of deep dark green veggies. This includes cooking with herbs and spices organically grown that enhance all of the above. Eating locally, eating seasonally, eating in balance gives us the best health advantage.

My journey became a mission, a passion and warmth in the knowledge that our journey is now able to give hope to others. If you have had a positive advance in your life affected by the changes you have made in your eating habits, we would love to post them and encourage others going through difficult health issues. I believe clinical medicine or holistic medicine alone by themselves does not have all the answers. Together they are a tremendous power. Our clinical doctors are not taught this level of nutrition in medical school. We need both. We need to change. The same people who taught me or assisted with the changes in our lives and my customers’ lives give the talks we sponsor in our Farm to Community Health Outreach. I bring to you those I know and have trusted myself. I encourage you to take your health and nutrition back. You can do this! We did.

–Elaine Boland, Owner