Butterflies & Bees

Photo Credit to Blue Melanistic

Photo Credit to Blue Melanistic

One couldn’t ask for anything more to bless their gardens and farms with than butterflies and bees!  I’m not sure why I named my business that, Butterflies & Bumble Bees…..I think I was thinking of things that described nature that abounded with beauty and grace and hopefully my business would do the same providing for the poor in India.

(As a side note:  Butterflies & Bumble Bees is moving to a new home.  It is only temporarily closed, but will reopen soon with a new face!  Along side my shop will be a new home for my blog and all will be found at Butterflies & Bumble Bees dot org….If you love Peaceful Acres….as I do….you can still find it right here, but I’ll be posting on my new blog….when?…..I don’t know for sure, but it will be soon….but don’t fret, I’ll make sure you can find me where ever I go and I haven’t left yet….there are stories and tales to come…..like Josie coming into heat again….pics to come on Monday!!!!  Hang tight, don’t go anywhere!!!)

Back to Bees……They are on my mind again.  I’ve got lots of butterflies flitting and fluttering around my little farm during the summer months, it’s bees that have got my attention lately.  Anytime I have honey bees stopping for a snack I am persuaded to leave alone the flowers they are feasting on.  Besides cut flowers make me sneeze and wheeze!  And since the honey bee population has declined we ought to think about ways that we can lure them to our gardens and farms for pollination and food.  You know without them food as we know it will cease.  Maybe that’s why scientist are now creating food in a petri dish.  Now that sounds nourishing, kinda like eating a cardboard box.

While recovering my body from Chronic Lyme Disease and it’s many friends, I stopped all sweeteners even fruit for over a year or more.  Then I allowed myself raw honey due to the fact that it doesn’t raise ones blood sugar levels.  I took a friends word on that (I haven’t researched it but I have heard others refer to it that way) and I’m glad, because I do love local raw honey.  It’s suggested that eating local honey will help with allergies….I haven’t noticed yet, mine are worse then ever.

I’ve lined up my local raw honey for the winter and hope that my stash lasts me.   If I run out then I’ll have to try and locate some more, but for now I’ve got 20 lbs on order from the President of our local bee keepers society.  He has mostly Black Locust honey and that’s good, but I like Wild Flower and various others best.  I’ll store it in small jars just in case it starts to crystalize and I can warm it slightly.  Or just scoop it in my tea as it is.  It’s still good.  I learned my lesson with a 5 gal container of honey I bought once.  It did start to crystalize and it was nearly impossible warming the 5 gal container in the bathtub.  If I store anything for any length of time I prefer to use glass, so I can avoid any leaching from the plastic to my food.

I’ve signed up for the Winter Bee Keepers Class.  I’m really excited.  I’d love to have my own hives and my own honey.  Just like anything else, it takes time and a little money to get started.  Nothing compared to getting the bovine girls though!  So don’t be surprised if next year sometime I add honey bees to my little farm!  But it might have to wait until the following year since hopefully next summer I will have a new calf and milk enough to swim in!!!  All things in God’s good time.  Plus if I have to wait until the following year, then I might as well wait until we retire the next and move to the mountains!  We’ll see, I’ve lived my life like that for too long….tomorrow.  Don’t do that.  Learn to be content where you are.  As I say, “Bloom where you are planted!”

In the mean time, here is a good article on the honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder.  A very interesting assumption.  It wouldn’t surprise me if it was High Fructose Corn Syrup poisoning the honey bees.  Look what it’s done to our health.

Don’t forget I’ll give you a link that you can RSS and follow me onto greener pastures, but for the mean time, I’m right here!

Blood Deficient

I saw my acupuncturist last week for some aches and pains. I’ve been on Dr Zhang’s Chinese Herbs for over a year trying to kill the worst of my infections, Babesia. Bab’s is a parasite cousin to Malaria….not a fun visitor by any stretch of the imagination and very hard to kill. Although Bab’s is still around, I’ve had great relief from it and I live an enriched life today.

One of my aches has been a burning stabbing pain in my right elbow and shoulder. In Chinese medicine heat indicates stuck blood. (please know that I don’t pride myself in using correct technical terms…I just try to get the jist of it) Lisa, my acupuncturist, did the little pinch the fingernail tips and thought I was a little blood deficient. That really didn’t come as a surprise. I know that ever since my battle with Hemolytic Anemia last fall, even though I brought my RBC back to normal with food and herbs, I continue to battle fatigue. If you think that I am a boundless 51 yr old filled with energy who accomplishes great feats every day…then I have misled you! I am not. I do get a lot done, but it takes a lot more these days! And I usually don’t post my off days. Learning to live with a positive attitude has meant not always admitting that I feel like a piece of chewed up and spit out meat! But for those of you who visit my blog hoping to get some tips on living with these infectious diseases, I try to be a bit transparent for you.

I respond to acupuncture very quickly. Lisa got my blood flowing. I’ve been in complete menopause (literally means a pause in menses) for a year…well, she got a little flow going! I thought that was a great way for me to know that it was working. It comes as no surprise to me that after my treatment last week, my fatigue is worse. Sometimes in treating things naturally, it gets worse before it gets better.

My symptoms with Bab’s are: fatigue, nervousness, anxiety, crying, muscle pain, nerves jump in my body like the jitters (I can literally feel my nerves twitching or the energy flowing through them…it’s weird), insomnia, nausea, bloatedness….. while I’m at it I might as well blame it for overweight, silliness and sometimes offensive behavior!

Why not? Babesia is a very very wicked disease. I am grateful however that I’ve had so much relief from it and I believe that one day I will be free from it’s grip. Dr Zhang’s site now says that it’s recommended to double the dose of Artemesia and HH. My usual dose lately has just been 1 capsule per day. When it’s active I up the dose to the recommended 3 capsules per day. During this most recent activity, I’ll be upping my dose to 2 caps 3X day. I will probably up it gradually. I hate sudden death!

Here’s what it says on the fact sheet Lisa gave me. “The quality of our blood is a measure of the available nourishments circulating in our body. Blood nourishes our muscles, organs, brain, every part of us. It’s quality depends on the quality of food we eat and our ability to absorb nourishment. In other words it depends on the strength of our Spleen.” In reading about the blood it makes sense that insomnia and difficulty thinking are a problem, and fatigue in the muscles all due to a lack of blood flow. Babesia attacks and kills the red blood cells, thus a lack of blood flow.

I’ll focus my diet again on blood building foods which include, fermented apricots, fresh liver, fermented beets, dark leafy greens braised in stock with a little balsamic vinegar, infused nettle tea, bone marrow in the form of stock, grapes, sardines, figs, and eggs.

When I feel like this I don’t want to fuss much over food, the easier the better. I always try to keep most of these foods on hand and I do try to keep my diet filled with variety. I have a ton of ferments in the frig and an Autumn garden growing dark leafy greens. My fresh pastured chickens always come with livers and hearts and they are scrumptious fresh! Yes, I said chicken livers are scrumptious! Braised in a little lard with some red onion they are great. The fresher the better and be sure to not over cook.

Here’s what I had for lunch yesterday.

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Heat up the stock and add several handfuls of greens per person….they will cook down to nothing. In my mix I’ve got beet greens, spinach and kale.

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I added some fennel root that I cut from the garden and some red onion. A dash of balsamic vinegar and it was so good, I could of eaten an entire plate full.

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I threw in a leftover pastured chicken wing and added fermented beets for a good blood fortifying nutrient dense meal.

Pass The Rosehips Honey

This is the vicious lovely Multiflora Rose. These beasts beauties have been known to rip man, woman, child and beast to shreds. Just try passing one at full throttle on a John Deere and see if you don’t agree. These bad boys beauties are wicked bad.

They do have a few redeeming qualities if you are cursed blessed to have one or two or a couple dozen. The rose hips are packed with Vit C….more Vit C than an orange.

I know, I can hear you saying, “no way”. “Yes way.” However picking these tiny little seed thingies is very labor intensive. I’m cursed blessed to still have one or so more clusters of Multiflora Rose left in our back 40. Honey Some believe that the madix was made for this lovely bush from hell and believe me it’s the only way to be rid of it. But, if you are cursed blessed as I am, please make use of it.

My one good standing is in the Blackberry patch (another blessing), so picking these tiny little things was another battle of flesh and blood. After getting a long thorn from this ugly lovely rose, under my thumb nail, I called it quites. I was blessed with 2/3 cup, but that was after I pulled the tiny little stems off.

Now that my finger tips are numb and calloused, I mashed my rosehips in my morter and pistal….you know, that thing we used in High School science class.

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You have to admit they are a lovely shade of red. The birds love them too, so I didn’t wait until after the first frost to pick….otherwise, there might not of been any left. I know, at this point your asking yourself why I’m going to all this trouble when all I need to do is pull a bottle of Vit C off the shelf….they have rosehips in them too.

Well, I call this “Simple Living” or “The Simple Life w/o Paris Hilton”….my daughter, Sweet Girl, can’t quite imagine what I mean by that. She thinks that I go to way too much trouble to do this thing called life. The funny thing is she meets gals all the time who say, “oh I want to be just like your mom”. She says, “come on over”!

I digress. Once you’ve smashed your berries, you can cover them with raw honey. (why raw? I’m so glad you asked. Raw honey has live enzymes, just like raw milk or raw carrot juice or raw anything. And make sure you buy your honey from a reputable source…..did you know that honey sold by….well, I won’t name them, but sold by some very well known places….if you were to ask them for their barrels the barrel would say something like….Product of CHINA or Vietnam and it will say, Honey & Corn Syrup!!!!!! I’m dead serious! So make sure it’s local raw honey!)

Okay back to the rosehips….. It makes a yummy way to take Vit C. And you’ve spent hardly anything, except for the honey, which in my case I’m gonna eat anyway. If times ever get really hard for you and they are for many right now, you only need to look as far as your back door for Vit C. If you don’t have any rosehips nearby, Pine needles also are loaded and you can make some tea. It’s good to know some foraging skills….more later on my black walnut salvaging.

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Then just take a spoonful and enjoy or use 2-3 tsp and pour boiling water over it as to make a tea. Kids love taking their vitamins this way.

Last year I made some Rose Petal Honey. The Petals are carminative, stimulant, emmenagogue, antibacterial; Astringent; and Tonic. Now it’s up to you to look all that up, I’m just sayin that Rose petals are also very good for you. Of course DO NOT ever use the ones you buy in the store or receive in from your Honey! Only use organic rose petals that have NEVER been sprayed. I only buy mine from Mountain Rose Herbs. I love eating it on buttered toast, with the sweet hint of rose! You can strain the petals out of the honey after it’s sat for a few weeks, but I just left mine in and they have crystallized with the honey and are so good to eat. Using a tea strainer you can also put a couple heaping teaspoons in the strainer and pour boiling water over and let steep…..mmmm rose honey tea! So good and so good for you.

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What are you foraging? Anything interesting?

UPDATE Warning:  Do NOT eat too many rosehips!  I was a bit under the weather on my B-day.  I ate too many rosehips and boy did I ever have a doubled over tummy!  DO NOT do that!  And DO NOT dumb the seeds in your compost or you will have more Multiflora Rose!  I haven’t done that, but I thought I’d mention it so you aren’t yelling at me next year when volunteers are coming up by the dozens!

Winter Prep

By the time I roll out of bed in the morning, the temp’s have been in the low 40’s. And since my animals eat before I do….burrr baby it’s cold outside! This morning the steam was rising from the bovine girls into the crisp cool air. They’re starting to grow their winter coats getting ready for snow and ice. The dew has been very heavy, so I think it’s time to put the row covers over my raised beds just in case. I’d hate to lose my lettuce at this point. It’s good for at least another 3 months before it freezes under cover.

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The mullein needs a trim to fit inside the hoop. The spinach, beets and kale are up. I love kale in the winter for soups. I’m hoping these cold temps will give it a nice sweet taste. I’ve spotted a few Harlequin Bugs and have been squishing them. I better make sure they are all gone before I cover things up or they will do a number on my kale like they did last year. They suck the juice right out of plants in the Brassica family until they kill them. A soapy spray or pytrethrin will do the trick. Last year I used a mixture of Neem Oil and kitchen soap.

Harliquin Bug

Harlequin Bug

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I pulled the rest of the carrots and have been very very slow about sowing more seed. We might and we might not have carrots this winter.

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Most of the peepers have been picked. Although there are still a few growing. I had 4 volunteer pepper plants in last years bed and they all seem to be HOT!

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I will cover my Rosemary plants and pray that they make it again this year. If I do get my greenhouse built, I’ll pot them along with my Holy Basil and move them into the greenhouse for the winter. I love having lots of fresh dried herbs on hand for winter cooking. I buy my sausage from a local farmer and it’s plain ground pork so I can add my own seasoning of black pepper, salt and lots of freshly dried sage. I dry my herbs hanging them upside down in the cool, dry basement. Then placing them in a paper bag whole. I crush them when I’m ready to use them to keep their essential oils in tact.

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I picked out my choicest garlic from last years crop. Planting only 1/3 of what I ordered last year and using 16 Elephant cloves and 16 ??? I’m not sure what the other is….I know….a short pencil is better than a long memory. I didn’t mark them and I couldn’t remember what went where. I thought I planted them by alphabetical order….to help me remember…..but that didn’t work. I’ve plum forgot! Whatever they were, they are a nice medium compact bulb. The small variety didn’t do quite as well and that might of been the German that the company said they had some issues with. I don’t really care, when I chop it up and put it in a sauce no one cares what it’s called. If I end up passing it down or along to a friend, I guess it will get a new name….Peaceful Acres Garlic or something of that sort.

I guess we’re ready for old man winter. The dark days are coming. But I’ll enjoy the beauty that surrounds me now.

Harvesting Fresh Basil

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After cleaning up in the garden, I was left with a huge bundle of Basil. As we draw closer to our first frost date of Oct 16, I didn’t want to take a chance. Mmm, I love pesto and the fresh smell of Basil. I stripped the leaves off and rinsed them quickly in cold water. Normally I wouldn’t wash Basil, since it strips it of it’s essential oils, but my Basil was covered with dirt. And from the looks of the water, I’m glad I did.

I don’t have a recipe that I follow for Pesto. I throw a little bit of this and a little bit of that in following the typical ingredients of Garlic, Parmesan Cheese, EVOO, and Pine Nuts. I buy raw Parmesan Cheese from Trader Joe’s and grind it in my food processor. I keep my pine nuts in the frig after I’ve soaked & dried them to break down the Phytic Acid that inhibit digestion. I always keep plenty of EVOO on hand and I have a ton of garlic from the garden. I pour in enough EVOO to make a thin paste of the Basil leaves and then throw in the rest of the ingredients.

After finally getting all the basil processed, I ended up with over 1/2 gallon or Pesto.  I poured it into ziplocks since my freezer space is at a premium.  I prefer storing in jars, but I need to flatten as much as possible right now until I get another freezer.  We’re ready for the dark days when fresh food grown on our little farm is hard to find.  Although I don’t eat pasta, Pesto is good on chicken with some marinara sauce and topped with melted raw cheese!  Oh yum!

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I love using my Gma’s Yellow Ware bowl. I don’t know why, I just feel like it grounds me and reminds me of her and her old world ways of Eastern Europe.

Self Sufficiency or God Reliant

As I try to become more and more self sufficient…..I really hate the way that sounds.  Because I’m not at all depending on myself for anything.  All I have comes from God and Scripture says that “He gives us everything we need for life and godliness.”  So, as I become more and more dependent upon my Heavenly Father for all that I need, I was happy to order a few long desired herbs for my Medicine Garden.  And I planted them asking for His blessing.

My packages arrived last week, beat-up a tad from their long journey across these United Sates.  I paid a small fortune to have them sent from Oregon to Maryland, but since it would of cost me much more to make the journey in my car, it was worth the sacrifice for these plants.

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Not all plants are equal in quality.  I’ve spent a small fortune on plants that didn’t have a good start and they were short lived.  I’ve also tried as I might to start some of these herbal plants by seed to no avail.

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Richo Cech is the owner of Horizon Herbs.  He’s been a guest on  Herb Mentor where I have been studying herbs for over 2 years.  I try to support some of the herbalist that are featured on Herb Mentor, mainly because I can.  And I’ve been longing for these herbs for a while.  I have always been a proponent of being able to care for oneself and with all of the chatter about health care, I needed the peace of mind knowing that my Medicine Garden holds just about anything I need to care for myself and my family.

I finalized the location for these new plants.  The small raised beds in the rear of my veggie garden are too shaded to do me any good.  Since Stinging Nettle is an invasive plant I wanted to contain it.  Motherwort needed part sun, so she went clear in the back with room to spread.  The Stinging Nettle went in the front of the same box.  The sweet and delicate leafed St John’s Wort went in the long box that I originally planned for sweet potatoes years ago, since the boxes were filled with sand, peat and dirt.  It would make a good drainage spot for SJW.  The Goldenseal was beautiful.  The roots were a lovely bright mustardy yellow.   And they went just outside my garden gate for full sun.  The Russian Comfrey roots went in the box with SJW.

I had my first introduction to Stinging Nettle.  I’d been warned repeatedly that it lives up to it’s name.  Yes it does sting.  The little pricks from it’s leaves left me with an irritating rash on my fingers for a day or so.  I remembered my gloves when planting time came around.

I can’t imagine every having enough of these wonderful herbs.  I use them almost daily for menopausal health and for various other maladies.  I cannot wait to harvest the bright yellow flowers from SJW and the bright yellow roots from Goldenseal.  Nettle will make the loveliest green tincture next spring for allergy season.  It’s full of Vit A, C & iron.

Of course after receiving Richo’s book I made another list of more herbs that I seriously can’t live without.  How could I of ever forgotten my beloved Arnica!  I use arnica everyday for aches and pains.

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Richo suggests fall planting to give them a good start.  With all the rain and snow these new herbs ought to get off to a good start and be ready for harvesting next spring and summer.

“Lord, I pray you will bless my gardens and cause them to prosper and grow, giving us food for nourishment and medicine.”

The Frustrations of Blogging

This morning I checked in on my Pasture Walk post to see if it was updated.  And to my horror….IT WASN’T!!!! I really hate that part about writing a blog.  When I spend hours and hours trying to edit a post before it’s published and I forget one little button………“Update Post”! I could kick myself.

I did a bit of reading this weekend and reread a July issue of Acres USA.  In that issue was an article on Brix and many other great applicable topics.  So in my updated post I expanded on Brix and now it’s gone.  Why the post didn’t do an auto save, I’ll never know.  I really do hate these machines sometimes!

Now I’m just too frazzled to even think about writing it all over again.  It was so perfect yesterday.  Or at least I thought it was perfect.  Now it’s gone forever.

That’s happened a couple times now and it’s a real bummer.  So bare with me if I take a break and recoup.  It’s really frustrating when I’m typing soooo fast and hit a wrong key…..and everything vanishes!!!!!  Gone in a stroke of a key.  Gone into cyberspace!  Gone forever!  Gone as if I had never written or thought it.  Just gone!

I know.  Life has more pressing important issues to deal with.  So, I’m off to deal with some of them.  I’ll fill you in on Brix at another time.  I’ll let you know about making our decisions on cow vs goat.  I’ll let you know how my bovine girls are doing.  I’ll fill you in on my herbal medicine garden and pottery and so many other things that it takes my brain to be in gear for.

Until then, I wish you a happy and joy filled day.  Get out in this beautiful autumn weather and thank God for a new day.  This new day is a gift from Him.  Embrace each and everyone one of them.  Carpe Diem.  Seize The Day!