Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Week in Review

At AWANA this week they had vegetable character night.  I thought this was an amazing likeness of DH.  

My niece was over and Miss President was proud to show us where she had missing teeth.

Car was a pleasant guest as well.

Elizabeth was excited to see that they brought spare clothes to change into.  She then made sure they had to use them.  She took them out to play in the mud.  They had a grand time!

Friday was spent down in Amish country.  It rained a lot in the morning.  I stopped at this farm to get eggs.  The lane looked compacted and drivable, most of the mud was on the edges.  I wasn't planning on driving all the way, just up to the crest.  Halfway up, I decided to see if I could back out.  I couldn't. The covering of mud on top was slippier than ice.  As I backed up the rear wheels slipped into the edge and got stuck.  I was embarrassed to have gotten stuck.  I should have known better than to try it.

The poor farmer had to hook up his heavy team and bring them out to tow me out.  Poor guy!  He got a bit muddy doing it, but he didn't complain.  He appreciates my business. Nice guy!

Looked out and saw five deer in the back.  I was able to get out and get close enough to take a picture.

When they saw me they took off running.  It was fun to watch them go.  

All they left was their prints behind them.

Elizabeth and I took a walk/hike to the back of the property.  She was showing off her creek walking skills.  The creek flows through the field.

There is a lot of clay in the fields.  The kids had fun building dams in the creek. Yes, they get filthy dirty playing out in the creek.

Can someone tell me what this is?  There is a clay wreath around the top of the hole.

The hole is about 3/4" across and is neat and straight.  It looks like someone pulled a pole out of the ground, but obviously that isn't what happened. Who made the hole?

It has been a good week.  We are enjoying the warmer weather.  There is a possibility of snow on Tuesday and then the weather hopefully warms up for good.  We have a lot of work to do on the gardens.  Got to get them built up.  Looking forward to the growing season.  I have also ordered more chicks and some turkey poults.  The farm has to earn it's keep!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Moving the Chicks Along

Sometimes I am so busy living that I don't have time to write about the living.  That is not necessarily a bad thing!!!

I finally couldn't stand having almost 65 chicks in the basement!  The dust was overwhelming even though most of it is contained by the sheets around the brooder.  The mobile coop is not near done and I just couldn't wait for it to be finished to get some chicks out of there.  I decided that one of the horse stalls in the barn would have to be cleaned out and made into a new home for the chicks.  This one is pretty tight and was cat proof.  There is netting along the open area on the top.  It was a very dusty job, but Paul helped me.  We then took the hay that came in the barn and spread it around the floor.  We hooked up one heat lamp.  I was too nervous to use two because the wiring in the barn is very old and decrepit.

Michelle and I selected 15 of the largest most feathered chicks and brought them out in a box.  This was a challenge as they were not excited to be caught and the brooder is large.  Fortunately, Michelle has very long arms and I know how to act scary to chicks, so we could chase them down to her end.

They hung out under the light or burrowed under the hay.  One has to be careful where you step!  Don't want to step on a chick.  We watched them carefully for a week.  We decided that 50 chicks that are growing rapidly was still too many to have in the basement.

Yesterday, Michelle and I took out another 31 chicks leaving 19 chicks in the basement.  We chose the most feathered ones.  The reintegration of the chicks went smoothly.  The largest roosters quickly let the others know that they were in charge and things settled down quickly.

My DH made a feeder for them.  This works better than somethings we have done.  We have come up with a couple modifications for next time.  The holes are too big and are down too low.  Too much feed flows over the edges. Next time we will do 1-1.5" holes that alternate towards the the top.  The chicks do a good job though of cleaning up the spilled feed.

This was another homemade feeder that worked well for short term.  Can you tell what it is?  It is a Chipotle Burrito Bowl.  I washed it out and cut holes in the cardboard part.  This works well for smaller chicks.  Now that they are 5-6 weeks old they can open the top from the bottom.  I liked it because it was easy to fill and there was not much spillage.

Here are the 46 chicks in the stall.  They have lots of room now.  So much better than the brooder!  The sheet is hanging there to minimize drafts.  They all seem to be thriving once more, and Mom is happier because there is so much less dust in the basement.  I am still looking at buying more chicks for meat and some turkey poults for meat later this summer and autumn.  Can't wait!  With the price of beef and pork going up so rapidly, poultry will be the more affordable option.

Here is how far the mobile chicken coop has come.  There is still quite a bit more work to be done on it before it is ready for the chickens!!!  The boss has an appointment with a welding friend for next week.  So grateful for a handy stall for the chickens!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Starts on the Farm

The spring behind the barn

"The spring has sprung, the grass has ris', I wonder where the flowers is.... " (Haydn)

The snow has gone, hopefully for good for this season!

There are no leaves on the trees, but the grass is just starting to green up.  

Th trees look so pretty reflecting off the pond.

This is a dead apple tree stump that still resides in the middle of the children's play field.  They worked on removing it and burning the stump today.

This spring we took some pallets and made a mulch pile where it is not visible from the house.

This is where the garden will go very soon.

Last year we had daffodils on the first day of spring.  This year the green tops are just bursting through and it is April 9th already.  They (whoever 'they' are) say that spring is 3 weeks behind this year.

I was excited to see my honey berry bushes budding out.  I had transplanted them from the old house and was concerned that they would survive the very cold winter.  They are looking healthy.  Yes!!!

Here is the view from the house towards the back. Green is my favorite color and I am really happy to see its return!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chicks Growing Up!!!

I started this post  a couple days ago and it will  not be current for very long!  The problem is that the chicks keep growing and feathering out despite the fact that my DH is not able to work on our mobile coop all week.  That means that the chicks are getting big QUICKLY and the brooder is seeming to get smaller every day.

What to do?  For now I am enjoying watching them get their feathers.   The Black Jersey Giants look like crows now.  They are 4.5 weeks old and are almost all feathered out.  Apparently,  farm animals don't wait for a convenient time to grow.  They need more space NOW!

The immediate answer was to put screens on top before they flew out.  I have no desire to be chasing chicks all over the basement.  They are really doing well and get airborne enough that they crash into the screens.  I guess we got them on just in time.  We also put in some stands with rungs on them so they can roost.  They like to sit on top of the stands. They are roosters!

I am really tired of having 60 plus chicks in the basement.  There is dust everywhere, any clean laundry left sitting out for a couple days develops a fine coating of cream colored dust. For the most part it has not circulated through the house, for which I am grateful.  The smell is only mild and I don't find it unpleasant.  BUT I am ready for them to move into their non-existent mobile chicken coop.

I thought long and hard on this and finally came up with an answer!  I cleaned out one of the stalls in the barn this afternoon and I am going to move the chicks in there in the next 24 hours.  The weather is pleasant and the stall is secure.  I am really pleased.  I will take pictures once they are moved.

The other bright spot in my day, other than the sunshine and warm (54 degrees F) weather, was the fact that I noticed that my seeds are starting to sprout.  The leeks and onions have been up for awhile. Today I noticed that the basil, tomatoes and carrots (growing in toilet paper rolls) are starting to sprout also.  YES!  I am such a newbie at this, that I always doubt that I am doing things right and if it will really grow.  We have accomplished stage one!  Yeah!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Random Review of the Week

My view from the window this afternoon

Today started off as overcast and dreary.   The sun was hidden behind the clouds.  Then the snow started.  It has been coming down non-stop ever since.  We are supposed to get 2-4".  I can tell you this,  it is already over 2".  The grass is covered and the world is all white.

This week we had my niece over after school a couple afternoons.  We really enjoyed having her around.  Elizabeth loves it, as she only has brothers around here to play with and they just want to do boy stuff, like pingpong basketball, and frisbee.  Elizabeth likes to play 'dress-up' and  a girl cousin is the  perfect companion.

Miss President likes to dress-up and do a photo shoot.  They had a blast!  I am not sure what the theme was or what they were using, but I think it may have had a biblical theme.

Whatever the dress-up, they enjoyed their time together.  

The chicks are growing quickly.  I will do a post about what we are doing with the chicks, shortly.

These are some Anna-made-It cookies.  She made up the recipe and they were delicious.  They were a kind of coconut bonbon. Yummy!

Apparently, Elizabeth can do dress up by herself.  I really enjoyed watching Elizabeth in her funky outfit playing hymns on the piano (JoAn has been giving her lessons) and Paul with his violin playing duets together.  It sounded nice.  Elizabeth has been a good student.

T-Bob is getting so big and strong.  He is an excellent helper on my trips to Amish country.  He has such an easy going personality, that he is a joy to hang with.

My favorite sunset of the week
The family is once more enjoying good health after a month of struggles.  It takes a long time to go through when a bigger family gets it one person at a time.  It looks like we will have another busy week.  But it is all good!  My seeds are starting to sprout in the basement.  That makes me happy!  Looking forward to gardening season!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Echinacea Myths

File:Echinacea angustifolia.jpg
Echinacea Angustifolia.

In the midst of this flu season, I would like to educate my dear readers about Echinacea.  There is much conflicting research about echinacea.  Why is that?  Is it worth taking?  Why is there such a variation in price?  How long is it safe to take? What would you take it for?

Echinacea is known to gardeners as the purple coneflower.  It is a wild species of the American prairies.  Native Americans used it for everything from boosting their alertness/energy to treating rattle snake bites.  It has been used by traditional herbalists for as long as there has been traditional herbalists.  It is imported by the rest of the world from America.  There are three common species of echinacea.  Two are used by herbalists.  The two varieties are Echinacea Purpurea and Echinacea Angustifolia.  So what is the difference?  The E.Purpurea species matures in three years and the E.Angustifolia species takes ten years.  Most herbal companies use the E.Purpurea species as it is much less expensive to grow and harvest because of the time to maturity difference.

The active ingredient in echinacea are the alkyl amides.  That is the immune modulating portion of the herb.  I say modulating, because herbs bring or modulate a system to normal or healthy.  Thus Echinacea is perfectly safe to take whether you are sick with the flu or have an auto-immune disorder.  Some people, mostly in the medical profession, think that because echinacea helps boost the immune system that it is dangerous to take if you have an auto immune disorder. This is simply applying pharmacological thinking to herbal principles.  They do not correlate very closely at all.  The alkyl amides are only found in the roots of the echinacea plant.  The leaves and flowering parts can be bought fairly inexpensively, so that is what is used in many echinacea products.  The alkyl amides can only be extracted by alcohol.   So a glycerin preparation is not very useful at all.

Echinacea has a multitude of uses.  I use it all the time and it has saved me many trips to the doctor.  I use it on any kind of cut or skin infection.  We use 'echinacea bandages' at our house.  We put echinacea on the pad of a band-aid and apply it over the sore.  We will change the band-aid 2-3 times a day.  An outer ear infection can be cleared up in very short order by dipping a cotton swab in the echinacea and gently sticking it in the ear canal for ten minutes.  If the skin is abraded then you might want to dilute it with pure water 50%.  Do this morning and evening and within 48 hours it will be 100% better.  Echinacea swabbed on a mosquito bite will remove the itch within five minutes.  Echinacea can be applied on a wart with an 'echinacea bandage' and they will be gone within 2 weeks.  I have used it on all different skin infections and seen them clear quickly.  A sore throat is helped by gargling diluted echinacea.  Then there is the common use of echinacea when it is taken internally.  It is useful for building immunity.  We use it at our house at the first sign of illness.  There has been interesting double blind studies done on college students who took tableted echinacea 2x a day for 2 years and it was found they had 80% less colds and flus than the control group.  There is absolutely no problem with taking echinacea everyday of your life.  The idea that you can only take echinacea for a short time is an urban legend that is based on an incorrectly interpreted research project.  This wrong idea has been disproven, but the urban legend lives on.  Echinacea has also been shown to modulate adrenal function.

So how do you know if you are getting the 'right' echinacea?  Start off by reading the small print on the side of the bottle.  It must say "Echinacea Angustifolia root" and be an alcohol extraction. Avoid anything that says proprietory blend.or doesn't list the specific species and plant part. The second step is a taste test.  Put a few drops in your mouth, or suck on the tablet and see if it makes your mouth  buzz like a bunch of bees are in there and make your saliva start running strongly.   If that doesn't happen then you  are wasting your money to buy that product.  The alkyl amides cause that reaction and since they are the part that has the immune modulating activity then if it doesn't react that way you can know that they aren't present and the product won't be helpful!  Echinacea tea has very little if any benefit, other than as a hot beverage.  As a physician, I get all my echinacea from Medi-Herb.  They have the highest quality herbal products on the market, although they only sell to health care professionals.  For those that want to make their own, I would buy the echinacea angustafolia root from Mountain Rose Herbs and then use alcohol and follow the normal methodology for making an herbal preparation.  Otherwise, contact me and I will be happy to get you your own supply of excellent quality echinacea angustifolia.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Random Thoughts

The last ice of winter

Today the last of the ice melted off the pond.  You can see where the morning snow landed on the last little piece of ice and coated it.  The temperature never got above freezing today.  It doesn't feel like spring yet.  We had snow on Friday and today. It isn't in the weather forecast, but it just keeps coming!  Gotta love Ohio weather!

Mallards on the pond

One thing I have been enjoying is watching a pair of mallard ducks on the pond.  They stay near the edge and get scared if anyone comes outside.  They quickly fly away.  They are definitely wild.

Chicks at 2 weeks

Friday was a long day in Amish country.  I think I saw more patients on Friday than I ever have before in one day.  I felt pretty good doing it, especially considering how sick I have been with the flu the last three weeks.  I may have had a birthday last week, but I am still feeling young!

Chicks at 2 weeks

My DH has been working hard to get the kitchen finished at the old house.  It is looking really good.  We still have to go over there and take apart the dugout shed and the old chicken coop.  The chicken coop is too big to move intact, so we will have to take it apart and repurpose it in some of our out buildings here.

My two favorite homesteading books

My time has been spent lately planning and learning everything I can about gardening and poultry.  A lot of the ideas of permaculture and guild culture, and the biodiversity are appealing to my philosophical understanding of the world.  It was interesting to me that when I went to Amish country on Friday, one of the organic farmers brought up how he felt that the ideas being taught in this way of farming was really cutting edge.  He is looking to incorporating more and more of them on his farm.  I didn't ask him anything about them.  He was just telling me what he would do if he started on a new property.  It was good to hear that these ideas make sense from somebody who makes his living this way.

Thomas's Cream Puff treats

 Thomas has been experimenting in the kitchen.  He made these on Friday while I was gone.  Michelle didn't even help him.  They were pretty good.  The stinker did siphon off quite a bit of cream off our milk though.  Hmmm.  Can't be a regular occurrence, as I can't give up so much cream.  I am happy that he is finding something to occupy his time with other than debate!

This evening I spent most of my time putting together the AWANA slide show for the closing program.  When my DH and I went over our schedule for the next few months we realized that our lives were pretty well booked up through the WHOLE summer, and that's before we add in farming!!  It will be interesting to see how it all works out.