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.

Baby Greens

Saturday morning I sorted my seeds and got them ready for a long winters nap in the Arctic Box! I found a couple seed packs of Fall & Winter Lettuce Mix, Mustard Greens, Spinach and Kale. The Red Leaf Lettuce is up and almost ready to cut. All the spinach and beets that I allowed to self-sow are up and almost ready for cutting as baby greens. The kale is sweet and I hope to beat the Harlequin Beetles to it! No Carrot seeds, so I suppose we won’t be harvesting carrots in February.

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All the Sunflower stalks are pulled but I still have the ugly job of pulling the Corn. Every Fall when I pull the Corn, I throw my back out….so, I haven’t been very anxious to start that job. While pulling the Sunflowers, I rubbed against the Tangerine Marigolds that I sowed in the Spring. I have never met a Marigold that I liked! On my trips to India, I learned to hate Marigolds. It’s their custom to adorn their guests with Marigold garlands at every welcoming event….they itch and they stink. The smell of Marigolds has to be the worst that God created and probably for a very good reason. These Tangerine Marigolds smell like….Citrus. I’ll be sure to save seeds from these little beauties.

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The volunteer Zinnias are still really pretty and I’ll let them self-sow again for next year.

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Limas are still growing on the vines for one more crop. And by the looks of all the blossoms, they could go on for a while, but a killing frost is not too far off.

Stock Piling For The Dark Days

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Tuesday I went apple picking at our local You Pick Farm. I use to take the kids there all the time when they were little. Our play group would meet there for outings and pickings and picnics. There were lots of moms and kids there and it brought back lots of great memories.

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Our apple trees produce nice cow apples and I have managed to make sauce with them in the past, but they are just too much work cutting out all the spots. By the time I’m done with them, my hands are cramped up and it takes me days to open my fingers again. We don’t really do much to take care of our trees. I prune them in the winter, but that’s about it. The farm I went to, only uses sprays when they absolutely have to….what that means is they don’t spray too often. I’d prefer organic, but we don’t have any near by and well, mine are organic and they look pathetic. Since I can’t grow everything we need, or it didn’t grow this year, but rotted, I can either go without or buy the best I can. So, I chose to buy the best I could.

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I’ll store my apples in the shed this winter, trying not to freeze them. I’ll probably put them in a cooler for insulation and wrap a couple blankets around the cooler. Hopefully they will keep well.

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I hope to get some freezer sauce made, although since I’m having issues with freezer space, I just might have to can them. Honey and the kids love apple pie. So I’ll make sure that we have plenty on hand for the holidays.

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I picked 35 lbs. Which didn’t take any time at all. The trees were loaded. It’s too bad they wouldn’t give me the ones on the ground for sauce making. The only ones pickable were Ida Red, Stayman, and Golden Delicious.

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It was a nice sweater day.

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Fields of greens, broccoli and tomatoes for the pickin.

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And of course lots of pumpkins.

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I brought home a few cooking pumpkins for pies and some extra butternut and acorn squash that should keep well in the basement.

Sweet Girl asked me one day, “why do you call this simple living? it looks like a lot of hard work to me.” I guess it all depends on how you look at it. I don’t think my kids will be following in my footsteps, at least not anytime soon.

On my way home I stopped to see my AI man….(you know…artificial….)

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Seems as if my Josie girl is having some really really strong heats! That’s a story for another day.

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His Holsteins were out grazing and the corn was being harvested. (ask me how my sinuses feel? Just awful. The dust from the corn fields is killing me.)

I enjoyed my day riding in our country side.

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How do ya like them Green Acres? Nice horse farm.

But as I say, “you can ride a cow, but you can’t milk a horse.”

Ugly!

I know it’s not nice, but Jenny Hen is down right ugly!  She’s the oldest gal at nearly 4.  She’s on tenure now and thinks it’s her job to sit on anything that doesn’t move.  She sat on a bunch of golf balls for nearly 3 weeks!

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She’s molting and is walking around nearly butt naked!  I realized the other day, that if I don’t start culling out my old ladies I’ll soon have a petting zoo and I don’t think Honey would be too big on that.  I ought to do Jenny Hen in now while she’s naked, then I won’t have as many feathers to pluck.

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A face only a mama could love.

The new pullets ought to start laying next month.  Fingers crossed.  Our egg ration has been 1-2 eggs a day for quite some time. I’ve been dreaming of deviled eggs, eggs a la golden rod, egg salad…..anything with golden eggs.

I was looking for Annie’s egg today.  She usually lays it in the new hen house.  As I rounded the corner, I was chitter chattering to myself about goodness knows what….and I didn’t expect to catch her sitting on the nest….well, I startled her to death, and she squawked.  She jumped up and nearly scarred me to death.  I screamed, she screamed and then I laughed.  She gave me a working over about it too.  I heard about that for at least a half an hour….I sure didn’t mean to disturb her.  Heavens knows we need that second egg.

I’ve only named the two Silver Laced Wyandottes.  I ordered 5 of everything, but lost nearly half…so I’m only left with two Wyandottes.  They are Wyonna and Naomi Judd.

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I’ve got 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Black Australorps, 2 Barred Rocks and 4 Rhode Island Reds.  Since they’ve hardly developed personalities yet, I haven’t given most of them names yet.

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It’s lookin very rednecky and I need to get it cleaned up a bit.  But heck they love climbing and roosting all of the stuff.  The Buffys are really cute.  My gates need some repairs before winter settles in.  If we get iced like last year, the gate might fall clean off it’s hinges….or rather electric ties.

Raising chicks has been so easy.  My friend Carol told me it was but I didn’t believe her…ok Carol, it is easy.  I’m ready for some meat birds next spring!  But I’m gonna have to get some help with the butchering…I really do hate that job of slitting their throats.  A turkey would be a great adventure too.  Heck I pay a small fortune for a pastured organic turkey.

Now if we could only get some of our own fresh milk and these girls would really be eating in style.  Clabber for everyone.  All in God’s good time.

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