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!

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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.

More Bang For Your Buck

Who wouldn’t like to know that the food they are buying or growing is providing the ultimate nutritional value? Who wouldn’t want to know that their food is worth the price they are paying? I would.

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I just purchased a refractometer. It was very reasonably priced and will be a way for me to measure the nutrients not only in the food I buy, but also the food I grow for my family and my cows.

You might remember that when I was on a Pasture Walk last week, I asked the “soil expert” if he could explain Brix. And his response was simply that brix is measuring a plants sugar. What he didn’t say possibly because he didn’t know any better is that sugar is only one component of brix.

Brix simply is the “level of the crop correlated with its nutrient-density; brix is a valuable measurement in determining the nutritional value of the crop”. Rex Harrill explained in an interview posted for the Weston A Price Foundation how simple it can be to test our own food for brix. Using a refractometer you squeeze a few drops from the crop being tested onto the prism and “when the drops fall on the prism, you close the cover plate to spread it out and then look through the viewing end of the instrument where you will see an etched scale generally calibrated in 0-30 or 0-32 degrees Brix. Just as a pencil appears bent when placed in a beaker of water, the light passing through the plant juice droplet is bent so that a clear line is shown against the scaled background. The amount of bending is directly related to the richness of the plant juice (richer juice bends the light more).”

Rex Harrill continues to explain the work of Dr. Carey A. Reams:

“The genius of Reams-style farming is that he devised a way to calculate the energy released when various fertilizers worked their way down to equilibrium. For instance, Reams didn’t suggest that his clients simply scatter so many pounds (or so many tons) of ammonium sulfate on an acre of land. Reams taught his students how to calculate the energy that would be given up by a single molecule of ammonium and then determine exactly how many pounds of that, or any other fertilizer, to apply. In conventional farming fertilizer excesses are generally wasted and ultimately go off the land into the ground water, while shortages create a limited crop yield. Reams-style farming not only creates superior output, it is also very economical because any fertilizer applied is used by the plants, not lost. Dr. Dan Skow is probably the best known teacher currently explaining this desperately needed scientific aspect of agriculture to students around the country.”

He goes on to say; “Brix is a measure of energy. A high-Brix plant emits a far superior energetic electromagnetic spectrum than a low-Brix specimen. Insects “see” in this range and they “attack” plants with the weakest emanations. When the grower finally understands that all that talk about how healthy plants “resist” insects is really another way of saying that the strongest plants don’t attract insects in the first place, they are on the road to understanding Reams agriculture. A refractometer is merely a way for us to see by proxy what insects see with their eyes.”

I’m anxious to receive my refractometer that I bought on ebay. I found an organic farmer about an hour from our home who sells certified organic grains and hays. He gave me a bale of Orchard Grass Hay for my girls to taste. I thought I’d need a lesson on picking out good hay by sight, but once I got home and compared this new hay to the old hay I purchased…..well, it was a no brainer. The evidence was obvious to me. When I walked into his barn, my nose came alive with the fresh smell of hay. It smelled green.

The refractometer will tell me if his hay is all that it’s meant to be.  It will also tell me if my bovine girls will be getting nourishment this winter from his organic hay.  Dr Nelson Arden, DVM explains that nutrition is everything.  He says, “Poor intake of energy (and protein) always leaves the animals in poor shape to fight off any problem, be it metabolic (the prolapse) or infectious (the mastitis and salmonella infections.)

As One who has followed the Weston A Price diet for almost 3 yrs, I’ve often used the term “nutrient dense”.  Using a refractometer is a sure way to measure if my food is indeed nutrient dense.  Rex Harrill goes on to explain that low brix food will be tasteless and watery and those with high brix will be robust and flavorful.  His site gives lots of charts for you to know what the brix measurement should be on the foods you eat.  He was asked in the interview if one could measure brix in milk and meat.  He replied that milk of course could be measured because of it’s liquid state, but meat…..well, why not measure the brix in the pasture to determine the nutrient density of the grass the cows are eating. Because the pasture with the highest brix reading will produce highly nutrient dense meat and milk.

I believe that Dr Nelson Arden, DVM got it right….

Nutrition is everything!

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockleshells

And pretty maids in a row.

My garden grows with lots and lots of hard work and I wish I had a few maids to help me from time to time. Many woman hours have been clocked to keep my gardens producing food and medicine.

My herb garden is my Medicine Garden. With all of the talk on Health Care and whether or not it will be a government run program, in my opinion it is important for all of us to have the knowledge we need to care for ourselves. And now is the time to formulate a plan for you and your family.

My Medicine Garden is filled with all kinds of medicinal plants that I think everyone ought to own if they want to grow their own medicine. It’s taken me a couple years to get all the plants I have. Some I’ve managed to grow from seed, but frankly they just don’t do very well. The only seed plant that survived this summer was my Elecampane. I chose this beauty for it’s healing properties for colds and coughs. It’s the root that is used and is it BITTER! I made a honey syrup with it a few years ago for some asthma issues I was having. Mullein is another favorite of mine for nourishing lung health.

Elecampane

Elecampane

I placed an order with Horizon Herbs for the last remaining essential herbs that I need for my Medicine Garden. We’ve had Richo Cech as a guest on The Herb Mentor and I knew that I could trust his plants to be hardy and survive a fall planting. Included in this order was, Stinging Nettle, St John’s Wort, Motherwort and Russian Comfrey.

Common Comfrey

Common Comfrey

Stinging Nettle

St John's Wort

Motherwort

Most of these herbs are in my daily diet. Using them as infusions gives me the vitamins and nutrients I need as a menopausal woman. Susun S Weed recommends drinking daily infusions of Nettle and Oatstraw for women in my stage of life and throwing in Red Clover once a week. (it is not recommended drinking Red Clover daily due to the high estrogen, but to drink it weekly) I use Motherwort as a tincture for hotflashes and other menopausal symptoms including anxiety and sleep. The Russian Comfrey is for my bovine girls mostly, but also for oil infusions for salves. And who wouldn’t be without St John’s Wort? I told you I’m constantly learning….when I was posting the picture of the beloved St John’s Wort, Hypericum…aha! I’ve been using Hypericum in a homeopathic remedy that I rub into soar joints and I’ve given it to my cow! I know Hypericum very well! Anyway, I can’t wait to infuse it’s lovely yellow flowers for a beautiful golden oil!

(As a side note on Susun S Weed. Susun is a very knowledgeable herbalist, however I do not embrace her spiritual beliefs and practices. I do however feel that I can sift out the information I need and leave the rest behind.)

A lot of the herb plants I ordered are very invasive so finding just the right spot for them to spread out and grow will be important. The Russian Comfrey is non invasive however. We have an overgrown hedge row of trees between us and our neighbor that is probably a good spot to put some of these plants. Your Medicine Garden doesn’t have to be all in one spot. Just so you know where to find the plants when you need them. We also grow Poke Weed…who doesn’t? The birds kindly drop seeds everywhere especially in our White Pines. You can harvest the berries and dry them for a serious immune boost. It’s the seeds that are poisonous, so as long as you don’t chew them, they will pass right out of you as they do with the birds! The young leaves are often sauteed and eaten as greens and I’ve heard that some use the big stems as you would rhubarb. Poke oil is recommended by Horizon Herbs as a treatment for Mastitis in livestock.

I’ve been using Tea Tree Oil on Josie for Mastitis, but I’d really like to find an oil that I can infuse myself. I’ll have to give Poke Oil a try.

There are so many “weeds” that are wonderful Herbal Friends. Take a walk around your property or nearby woodland and you will be surprised at what you already have right at your finger tips.

Scripture says that God gave us everything we need for life and godliness.

Seek and you will find!

(as I was writing this post I remembered one more that I MUST have….ARNICA! It is one of my most used herbs)

Arnica montana

Arnica montana

A Sweet Taste of Autumn

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6:30 AM DST in Maryland

I really should of grabbed a jacket when I went out early this morning to tend the animals. I love this time of year. I’m not sure who doesn’t. And I know Josie is happy to see cooler temperatures. I know. I too was at the end of my first pregnancy, 25 years ago.

I too was looking large, feeling off balance and wanting nothing more than a cool drink and a place to prop my feet! I’m not sure I could of stood on one foot….she’s quite talented, being able to scratch her behind on three legs!

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Sweet Girls 25th birthday is on Friday. 25 years ago my water broke on Labor Day, how appropriate! It was hotter than…. But Sweet Girl showed signs of who she would be and didn’t want to come out and only did so with a lot of prodding! She was born the next day after much convincing that it was a good thing. Way back when, they used to keep us in the hospital for a few days….I really can’t remember how many it was. What I do remember is that the day she came home, we had our first taste of Autumn.

~~~~~

I didn’t accomplish much this weekend, at least not physically. I did work on my Sheepwalk & Fences Vest by Autumn House Farm and I really like it. I’m not sure what’s going on with me…..I think it’s just a combination of Menopause and Babesia. I didn’t sleep much last night and I’m not sure why. I usually sleep like a rock. It could of been the frequent hot flashes and the fact that my mind was racing all night. My doc told me that hot flashes are a sign that the adrenals are stressed. Yeah, that sounds about right. So, now my job is trying to eliminate that stressor in my life. Not so easy, but I have to let it go.

So, it’s time to up my Cod Liver Oil again and watch my diet. In the mean time I won’t stress out over the little things like the grass and pasture need cutting (4 hr job), the garden needs weeding (3 hr job), the house needs cleaning, the manure needs hauling (1 hr job). It’s pretty hard to accomplish a lot when my energy reserve is only 3-4 hours! I guess I should be thankful that it’s overcast and looks like rain and go unload the dishwasher. But that’s been part of the problem….so much rain and everything is growing and makes my work load greater.

Here’s my vest….maybe I’ll finish it today and spit my tongue out at the yardwork!

Heck, it will be there tomorrow….I know my yardwork fairy isn’t comin!

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Nice foot too!

In A Pickle

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It’s that time of year again when the cuc’s are piling up. We love making brined pickles following the recipe in Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. It’s a very easy and simple process and so much more healthy for you than vinegar pickles. They keep in the frig for….well let’s just say, our 3 gallons lasted a year! Don’t throw out the brine either. It’s full of goodness and is so yummy to drink! The garlic after being brined and sitting for a long time looses it’s bite and is very good to eat.

For 1 Gallon it’s basically: 6 Tbsp Sea Salt dissolved in water, 3-4 heads of garlic peeled, a couple flowering heads of dill, a bunch of grape, oak or cherry leaves, washed cuc’s and I use red pepper flakes instead of Sandor’s suggested black peppercorns. Pack them in a clean jar with the cuc’s on top of everything and then pour the salt brine water over them. If they need to be weighed down then place something on them to hold the cuc’s below the water line. Place a cloth over the top and leave in a cool place for as many days as you like to achieve the desired tartness. We like ours at 3 days.

These pickles are a hit. Ben always serves them up and tells his friends that these are the best pickles they will ever taste. Sure enough they can’t stop talking about them. They are so good!

Hot Off The Press

My friend Amanda Rose finished her long awaited book, Rebuild From Depression. It’s available now on her website for $19.97 and the shipping is free. I ordered my copy as soon as it was available. I’m looking forward to posting another piece on the book after I’ve had time to read it. So much of what I learned from Amanda helped me with my battle against chronic Lyme Disease. Although the book is based on Amanda’s unfortunate tangle with postpartum depression, the facts and the research are applicable for everyone with a brain!

Why not order your copy today??? Why wait until you are in that uphill climb out of a mucky muddy pit. Learn now how to achieve and maintain the mental health needed to battle depression. In our stressful society we all need whatever help we can get….I sure do.

My daily routine always includes a healthy swig of Cod Liver Oil and plenty of grassfed butter. Nutrient dense foods loaded with Omega-3 are high on my list. One really great thing I learned from Amanda, was about Phytic Acid. This was the key that unlocked my life again to grains. And she offers a free e-course if you’d like to learn more. Yes, I said, FREE.

Why not pop on over and visit Rebuild From Depression and learn about the mysteries to the food you eat. Her mom, Jeanie Rose does wonderful little cooking videos, plus she has her own website called, Pray The Scriptures.

Some of my most memorable posts by Amanda are; Rugged Mountain Woman, Poison Oak Relief Anyone?, Apparently I Can Survive AnythingA Eulogy Written on a Country Pasture: Rest in Peace Vancer Eyk Organic Dairy, and I Met My Meat (I love the license plate). Those are just a few that stick out in my mind over the past couple years since I’ve been visiting Amanda on her website.