Barefoot in the Strawberries

Written by Lydia Benedict.

No more pencils, no more books
No more students’ dirty looks!

My children are not the only ones celebrating the end of the school year. I’m breathing a sigh of relief that I’ve survived another school year—though not without the help of my tutors. This year I had only two: Jamie Pinkston as math tutor and Georgi Smith as my life-saver.

New Kids on the Block

Written by Lydia Benedict.

Photos by Clancy Benedict
News bulletin from Rockspring Farm: We have adopted some kids!  Eleven—to be exact.  That is, we’ve become the caretakers of eleven young goats.
The longer I live here on our twenty acres, the more convinced I become that animals are necessary.  In an effort to keep predators at a distance and tick populations under control, we are forever clearing brush, mowing grass, and even using the weed-eater to keep the overgrowth at bay.  But it’s too much: too much fuel, too much wear-n-tear on equipment, and way too much labor.

Label Lies

Written by Lydia Benedict.


When I think of natural foods, I don’t think of items like Cheetos and Capri Sun juice pouches. Ironically, these foods and many others are often labeled as “natural.” So what exactly does the term natural mean? Not much, as it turns out.

Stage Life

Written by Lydia Benedict.

Within the first year of living in Virginia, my oldest son started participating in Southern Virginia University’s theater program. First it was Guys and Dolls. Then it was Seussical. And now that he is a theater student at Southern Virginia, Tennyson is involved in most of their productions. From cast and crew to sets and sound, he spends a lot of time around the stage. Just last fall, he was part of the ensemble of the University’s production of Hello, Dolly! and I went to every performance, often taking the rest of my children too. By closing night, my girls were walking around the house singing “Before the Parade Passes By” and “Hello, Dolly.”

Words to Eat By

Written by Lydia Benedict.

January is my least favorite month. It’s typically cold and dark, and it feels like the longest month of the year. I’m already looking forward to longer days and warmer temperatures. Still, the start of a new year is a natural time to reevaluate ones life and personal improvement.

A friend recently forwarded an article highlighting eight foods to avoid. While maneuvering through our modern industrial food system can be a dizzying experience, the article below provides a good starting point. If 2014 includes a desire to eat healthier and avoid toxic ingredients, consider these simple changes to your diet. Moreover, experts from different fields explain why they avoid these foods. From farmer to toxicologist, their explanations are worth considering.

Peanuts, Popcorn and Applesauce

Written by Lydia Benedict.

In the supermarket one day I overheard a customer talking to a store employee.

“Are these the only bell peppers you have?” she asked, pointing to some green and red peppers in the produce section, “These prices are too high. I’m going to Wal-Mart.”

I often hear people complain about the price of produce. I agree that eating fresh fruit and vegetables can get costly, especially if you’re feeding a family. But if more people tried growing or raising their own food, their perspective would likely alter.

Groovy Kind of Love

Written by Lydia Benedict.


1988 was a big year. I voted for the first time and Dukakis and Bush ran for president. Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. Libyans were believed responsible. And the Iran-Iraq War ended. It was also the year I graduated from high school.

The Clock is Ticking

Written by Lydia Benedict.

When my 17-year-old son was a little boy, he ran around the house quoting Reverend Ford (Karl Malden) in Pollyanna, “Death comes unexpectedly!” Earlier this month, I received news from a friend that her husband had died. It was an aneurism. One minute they were camping. The next he was gone.


Written by Lydia Benedict.


Earlier this month I returned to my childhood home in Lake Stevens, Washington, for a long overdue family reunion: it was postponed from the previous summer when my older brother underwent cancer treatment. All eight of my siblings and their spouses and children were there. That added up to 18 adults and 34 grandchildren. Add in the spouse of the oldest married grandchild plus my parents and we had 55 attendees—the entire family!

Gut Reaction

Written by Lydia Benedict.

 The overhaul began about five years ago, almost by accident. I had been feeling poorly and I didn’t like it. I began searching for answers, reading book after book and meeting with doctors and even alternative medicine practitioners. While my quest didn’t immediately translate to better health, I discovered a common message: “Health begins in the gut.” When I learned that half of the human immune system is in the intestines, food took on a whole new meaning for me.

Gardening by Moonlight

Written by Lydia Benedict.

Have you ever gardened by moonlight? This past week, I have found myself gardening in the dark more than once. As a homeschool mother, there are certain times of the year that my workload is especially heavy. In December, it’s the demands of the Christmas season on top of school that nearly put me under. In the spring, it’s the demands of the farm.

West, Texas

Written by Lydia Benedict.

When the fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded last week, my 13-year-old son looked at me puzzled, “Fertilizer exploding? That’s just not right.”