“To Love, To Life, To Family, and the time to enjoy them.” Part 1

“To Love, To Life, To Family, and the time to enjoy them.”

Part 1

Isn’t this just the perfect motto? This is one of my favorite motto’s, but I have to say, time is one thing there never seems to be enough of. I love it when life goes perfectly smooth but quite honestly that is not the norm. In fact 2014 into 2015 has been quite the “rolly” coaster!

Last summer, 2014, my dear Bernadette decided she was ready to move into a little cottage where she worked at the time, and make life on her own in the big world. I have to admit it was the perfect cottage and not too far from home! At all of 17 years old, it was time for her to move out of our home. In fact, she would be heading into her first year of college come fall, so why wouldn’t she move into her own place? Or so she told her parents.

Bright yellow paint, scrubbed bathroom, successful antiquing for adorable furniture, and even a special place for her dog to sleep (Right on Bernie’s bed!) and she was ready to move in! There was still a smell though. Leave it to Mom’s nose to have forewarned her dearest daughter that the smell coming from the cottage could very well be mold. You see, this cottage dates back to the 1800’s. When you walked into the first floor’s teeny tiny kitchen you might as well have been a solidly drunk sailor navigating on a sloping deck.

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Move In Day with her new roomie! (Bernadette and Molly)

Bernadette was two weeks into living and loving life on her own when I get “that phone call,” “Mom, I am shaky, really shaky. I can’t control my hands and I feel like I could pass out. My hands are shaking like Papa’s hands shake. I can’t even stay on my horse.”

MOLD took her strong healthy body down like a Mohamed Ali blow. Bernadette’s Cushing’s disease leaves her with weakened adrenal glands, immune system and God only knows what else. Bernadette crashed and crashed hard. Her cortisol levels dropped dangerously low and Dr. Howard Lando put her back on cortisol (steroid). We work so hard to avoid the use of cortisol by means of diet and supplements so she hopefully never has to become steroid dependent. There is a delicate balance with the added cortisol. Her body can very easily become dependent on it and could fail to produce cortisol on its own. When her levels fall so low we have to supplement her cortisol to “jump start” her system again. Dr. Pete and Lolin Hilgartner immediately had her back to consuming bone broth every day and on a solid mold fighting regiment.


Bernadette’s Bone Broth

Strict orders! No if’s, and’s or but’s, from all of her doctors to immediately move out of the cottage and return back home into a mold free environment. She was heartbroken. Brad and I hurt for her too. Nothing worse than living out on your own in the big world, in the perfect slanting cottage, and then having to move back in with your parents! Even Nellie, Bernie’s dog, was devastated, as she would not be treated as the queen bee among our menagerie of farm dogs.

Nellie on Bernies bed

Queen Bee Nellie

Life back on the farm rolled on day in and day out. Fall came, life was picking up, Bernie was back in school climbing slowly out of her mold fog, and we headed into turkey season full speed ahead. I felt tired, but then again I seemed to always be tired. Let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger and besides, there is a heck of a lot going on here at the farm. So I told myself…

My Bone Broth Journey

I often say, if anyone had told me I’d be doing what I am doing today, I would have laughed right out loud. God certainly had other plans for me. In fact He had majorly different plans than what I ever dreamed I’d be doing with my life. That was my first mistake; thinking or planning the big picture as I thought it should be.

My work comes from His guidance and all that I do is attributed to the fact that He knows the what’s, where’s, when’s and how’s for me. If only I will listen better. I am not going to go all “God and be healed” on you, but I do need to give credit where credit is due, and I cannot fathom what or where I would be without Him. I simply am not capable of ever doing on my own, what I do today.

My journey from childhood to now has been amazing, ever changing, evolving, and full of learning. I have been spoiled with incredible life travels and experiences, and I have experienced devastating losses and long, tough roads. That’s life. I can always look around and see how blessed and lucky I am to live the life I live. While at the same time I can get frustrated, lose hope, and see a never ending pile of obstacles that can get pretty overwhelming. Especially when you have a child or children with an illness no one can figure out.

Being a wife and mother, allowing myself to be crippled by overwhelming thoughts really isn’t an option. While sometimes I would like to wallow in my misery, I can’t allow that behavior to last too long. I have a family. I am the personality type that says, “Pull yourself up by the boot straps, Elaine, and get to work. Do something. Anything! Think big, think out of the box and take some action.” This is easier said than done, but done it must be and relying upon the big man upstairs is the only way I have been able to get past myself and begin moving forward.

In the last 14 years I have worked consistently on two products I can call my own. Two products, whether anyone else likes them or not, I can honestly say I LOVE them! They are my life blood. They are my two labors of LOVE!

Bone Broths and Sushi Stories – Say what? Yes, Bone Broths and Sushi Stories 🙂 Today will be about “My Bone Broths.”

Bone Broths, stocks, what ever it is the experts want to call them, I’ll call them “My Bone Broths.”

Yes, I know bone broths have been made since the age of time and they are the latest and greatest trend right now. The new Starbucks, Red Bull, and Mountain Dew. Except “My Bone Broths”  are the real deal. Nutritiously dense, gelatinous and a delicious super food!

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The road to developing Bernadette’s broth was an adventure I took seriously. I knew there was no way, on Gods green earth, I would get many chances to get my daughters to drink the mystery power drink. If it was nasty, even one time, it would be game over. The road to developing a broth my children would drink like a soda pop, was indeed, a long journey – a little over two years to be exact.

It all started when Dr.’s Pete and Lolin Hilgartner explained to me that the Cushing’s tumor in my lovable, hugable, happy-go-lucky, 8 year old Bernadette, would wreak havoc on her organs, mind and body. We needed to find a way to attack the root cause and not just go after treating the symptoms caused by the over production of cortisol in her tiny, but ever enlarging, body.

The good doctors suggestion; We know it is going to affect her organs so let’s create food medicine to help boost her organ function! She needs to eat organ meat. “HAHAHAHA Yeah Right! You fool!” was what I was thinking to myself.  Meanwhile, trying to keep a serious face and nodding my head, yes, in agreement like, “That’s such a brilliant idea doc’s!”

Dr. Pete then challenged me by involving me in my own child’s health, but at a different level: “You know Elaine, with your farm, you have the organ meats. We really need someone to develop foods with organ meats because it is seriously lacking in all of our diets. By consuming them, they help boost blood cell counts, fertility, support weakened immune systems and so much more.” Dr. Pete went on and on with detailed information that made perfect sense once I stopped and really listened to absorb the crux of what he was teaching me. No doctor had ever explained food as medicine in this way to me before, much less food as medicine alone or in combination with clinical medicine. Food as part of Bernadette’s overall medicine would quickly become part of our daily lives.

I went home scratching my head and thinking to myself, this is too much and way beyond me, but maybe I should keep reading and learning from that book, “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon Morell and Dr. Mary Enig. This great resource was given to me by that encouraging and insistent “The Healthy Habit Coach“, Tara Rayburn and now Dr.’s Pete and Lolin Hilgartner. I’ve learned in my lifetime that when the same something keeps popping up in front of you, over and over, regardless of the channel, I need to pay attention.

Pay attention I did, and playing Bone Broth Chef in my kitchen began. Two years later I had the “soda pop” my kids would drink without a bat of their eyes. In fact, my sweet Bernadette couldn’t wait to have it for her breakfast every morning before heading off to school at age 9. This really was the breakfast of champions! Today, Miss Bernadette is 18 years old – going to college, riding horses, working as a nanny and loving life. Yes, I am proud of “My Bone Broths” I have made over the years. One of my greatest joys has been in developing  “special batches” for many of you, for your family members with cancer, serious to extreme food allergies, pneumonia and more. I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have enjoyed making them for you! I would love to hear how they have worked for you.


“I tell people that your broth is the most dense, best tasting broth I’ve had! Also, your Bernadette’s Broth is incredibly dense and full of nutrition with all the organ meat that is used.” – Dr. Pete Hilgartner

The Fearless Duo

image3 (1)MaryElaine 

 MaryElaine is our youngest  of 5 daughters – okay “MY BABY” and an employee from the get go – whether she intended to be or not.  Mary Elaine has been working on the Farm since the beginning.  She is essential to our Farm team as she helps whenever we need and with whatever we need.  On Patio Service days, you’ll find Mary Elaine in the shop making sure everyone is getting the service they deserve.  When she is hiding out from work, you’ll probably find her in the barn! She’s actively involved with the horses here on the farm including running the Fields of Athenry Equestrian Business.  She has a special, and frankly rare, quality to work hard and for that I am so grateful and proud. Not only does she work hard but she keeps everyone laughing.  Every Wednesday night after packaging has been done, as a farm family, we sit down around the table and have dinner (It’s our chance to laugh, share stories and enjoy each other’s company).  Mary Elaine is the one who always has the whole table crying with laughter! Between her stories and her comments, there’s never a dull moment! MaryElaine and Bernadette truly have a special bond.

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 Bernie & DadBernadette

You may not see her working  as often in the shop, however she is the inspiration behind the Farm.  Bernadette and Mary Elaine are the youngest employees and have worked since the farms conception and are truly dedicated to our Mission.

Now that you have met the key players of our operation it’s time for Bernadette to share her personal journey. Having had her tumor removed 7 years ago, Bernadette has finally put pen to paper. She is now courageously letting us inside the depths of her Cushing’s Disease in hopes that it might help others to live each day to be the best you can be.

Bernadette’s Personal Journey:

It all started in second grade when I was eight years old. My mom began to notice I was gaining weight. It wasn’t the fact that I was gaining weight, it was the odd phenomenon that the weight was fluctuating along with my face flushing beet red with little to no exertion on my part, leg and ankle pains, overall joint pains, and blinding headaches. At first we blamed it on growing pains; I would gain some weight, then I would grow a little bit, but after a few rounds of this cycle, I just stopped growing. Soon I became the shortest and roundest member of my athletic, tall, skinny, 5’8”+ sisters. My hair was thin and scratchy looking, breaking off at the top. My legs hurt to the point that I shuffled like a little old arthritic man. It was a miracle if I could ever keep up with my long-legged family. This lasted from second grade all the way through my seventh grade year. During middle school my head would hurt so badly and pulse so strongly any source of light would irritate me. When I got these headaches I would get nauseous, but nothing ever came up to relieve me of the sickening feeling. I just figured this is how it was going to be for me. I didn’t expect to feel any better because when I had gotten to my worst that was what had become my normal.


Between second and seventh grade my mom battled with different doctors trying to convince them that something was wrong. I had many visits to NIH (National Institute of Health) and overnight stays to do testing. I was a case they had had very few dealings with before. I felt like an experiment. They used me as a prop for many training doctors, poking and prodding me like a dummy in one of their college courses. Like I said, I was something they were unfamiliar with. I learned in my experience, that sometimes when doctors can’t solve something, they jump to conclusions which lead to making irrational diagnoses.

Doctors blamed my wacky body levels on my mom giving me drugs or body creams to make me the way I was. They also insinuated that I wasn’t eating properly or exercising enough. Specifically from one doctor, “Could your daughter be taking your birth control pills?” I was only in 7th grade at this point, and being strong practicing Catholics, my mother did not take birth control.


Let me tell you what family I am a part of. First off, I lived/live on a working farm with horses to ride, creeks to play in, and woods to explore. There are multiple Olympic level athletes on my mom’s side of the family, who if they didn’t eat and exercise well wouldn’t be in the shape or condition necessary to compete on the international level. We would tell the doctors this, but they continued to blame it on me not eating well or eating too much and not exercising enough. After a few years of nothing but dead ends my family and I went to “visit” Grandma in Arizona. This trip was indeed a trip to visit my grandmother but it was mainly a trip for me to see an old retired family doctor friend, Dr. Tawfik Rizkallah, who with one glance at my full heavy body and constant rosy red cheeks diagnosed me with Cushing’s disease. I had all the classic signs but no proof to show for it. None of the fancy machines that hospitals have could find any tumor growth that linked my outward bodily signs to the imbalances within my body. This was about fifth grade.


By the time I reached seventh grade in 2008, my mother had had enough of me feeling the way I did. She took my health reports and asked her adult endocrinologist (Dr. Howard Lando) to take a look at them. He denied the papers at first saying he only deals with adults and that my mom needed to take me to a child endocrinologist because the child to adult system is so different. Mom did and it led us nowhere again. Mom pushed back and told Dr. Lando she needed him to take a look at my reports. Dr. Lando finally agreed and within a few weeks he had me sent to have an MRI. The hospital said they only wanted to do a scan of my adrenals when Dr. Lando sent the order in to be of both my adrenals and brain. He was furious when he heard the MRI team wasn’t going to listen to his order. He personally called them up directly and before I knew it, the MRI team agreed to his orders, put the rose smelling liquid into my veins and into the tube I went, listening to the clicking and clacking noises like horse hooves hitting pavement. A month later, October, 2008, I was scheduled to have brain surgery with none other than Dr. Joe Watson, a man who reminded me of a very tall and sophisticated “Bill Nye the Science Guy” who had a different pair of glasses on at each appointment. I was one of twenty kids in the U.S. he had ever removed a pituitary brain tumor from for Cushing’s Disease.

Now let me rewind a bit to early fall 2006, the time Drs. Pete and Lolin Hilgartner and Tara Rayburn were brought into my life. These are the people that I refer to as my miracle workers. Tara Rayburn is the woman who pushed my mom to make a product that would help make people feel the best that they have ever felt. She encouraged my mom to study the ways of how people used to raise their animals and how they made their broths and how they lived. She’s the woman who introduced my mom to the Weston A Price Foundation and Essential Oils, both of which help in healing and attitude in ways that I cannot even begin to explain. She’s the woman who introduced me and my mom to Drs. Pete and Lolin who have helped me heal and stay healthy since my surgery in 2008. Dr. Pete is a chiropractor who takes a different look on how to adjust the body, but he’s not just that. He’s a life coach. He has helped me stay strong through teaching me how the body works and giving different perspectives on how to look at things that I go through. He has taught me the power of saying no so I don’t wear myself out and drain my system of the things we have worked so hard to build up again. Dr. Lolin is the nutritionist. She has taught me and guided me to eat well and be well. She’s always telling me to surround myself with happy things; happy books, happy movies, happy people, because it’s amazing how much our body is drained when we are surrounded by negative news, negative people, and bad food. She’s the one who has helped me feel as close to a normal teenager that I can feel. These are the people that I really credit for my post surgery success.

This small, less than an inch, tumor caused my system to produce more than 758 milligrams of cortisol in my body daily. “Normal” people produce about 15-20 milligrams of this steroid daily. This is what helps maintain and support people’s immune systems and bodily functions when they get sick or stressed. After the removal of my tumor, my cortisol levels dropped to zero. I had absolutely no immune system. Nothing to back my system up if I had a sudden crash. I was put on hydro-cortisol for a long time and for any of you who have ever needed to be on a steroid, you know it is not a fun experience. In order to combat the steroid feeling and to help my immune system grow stronger and to help raise my levels again my mom worked on perfecting her Beef/Lamb Bone Broth, which she named Bernadette’s Broth because of the wonders it did/ does for me. This broth is made over the course of two to three days with the organ meat, marrow and soup bones, and spices to create an amazing product that results in energy boosts and immune system boosts. After drinking this broth like a cup of tea every day my levels slowly began to rise and I was on the road to recovery. 1

Between my mom’s Bernadette’s Broth, Dr. Pete’s adjustments, Dr. Lolin’s nutritional guidance, and Tara Rayburn’s guidance on which oils to use when, I have been able to work outside in the sweltering heat to the freezing cold without getting overly drained. I have been able to fall off horses and get back on without needing to be rushed to the hospital in worry that my body couldn’t heal itself after hitting the hard ground. I’m not as tired as I used to be and my joints don’t ache nearly as badly as they used to. That’s not to say that I’m magically rid of my disease because I’m not. My tumor could grow back if I don’t follow the guidance of the four people mentioned above. My tumor could still grow back even while I’m eating well and following the protocol Dr. Lando, Dr. Pete, and Dr. Lolin have set for me, but I also know that if I do follow the holistic path in combination with aids from clinical medicine that is used so often today, I have a better chance of staying strong and thriving and hopefully less of a chance of a tumor growing back. I owe my life to these people because they have kept me alive and healthy since 2008, while at the same time encouraging me to continue to grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I encourage everyone to take that step outside of the box of conventionality, and take control of how you eat in order to control how you feel, because I believe that the way we eat and how we treat our body has everything to do with how we live each day.Bernie side saddle jumpng Tink

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