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.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring Chicks

Our chicks are doing well.  They are perky and lively.  This is the bookshelf brooder.  It is a bookshelf lying on it's back.  It is called an instant brooder, for when my DH didn't have the time to build something and the chicks are on the way home.  The lovely sheer curtain is there to give the brooder an artsy feel.  No, not really.  Actually, it is to keep the draft from the backdoor from falling down the steps and chilling the chicks.  Drafts cause bad things to happen to the chicks.  This brooder is small and we only used it to isolate a couple of the smaller chicks that had 'pasty butt' issues.  The big brooder is just too big to chase down a chick without crawling in there with them.

The big brooder also has sheets around it.  Partly it is to keep the draft off, but it is also a way of keeping the wood chips contained and discouraging adventurous chicks from trying to escape.  The basement here at the farmhouse is clean and basic.  It is perfect for our farm projects.  The cement floor is easily cleaned up and projects can be moved in and out without requiring permanent modifications.

Here is the brooder set up.  At this point, we have two heat lamps, and with the curtains it seems to be very adequate in keeping them warm even with it's large size.

We have moved the water up on to the towel stand.  Since we moved it, there are a lot less wood chips in the bottom of the waterer.  All the chicks can get up there or reach it from the ground.

The chicks are getting more distinct looks as the feathers come in.  The Barred Rocks are getting their striped feathers.  I am surprised at the large variation in size, even between birds of the same kind.  Some are pygmys and some are large.  The Black Jersey giants have distinctive black legs and are quite a bit larger as they are a week older.

Did you know that hens get their feathers much earlier than roosters?

The ones with the white heads are the Barred Rocks and the ones with the black heads are the Black Austrolarps.  I really enjoy watching the chicks.  When they nap they lay there looking dead.  It can scare you at first.  They are just like babies, they just flop down on the ground sprawled out and are instantly asleep.

The hens are roaming widely over the back yard.  If they see us come out they 'think' that we must want to feed them, so they come running.

They don't seem to mind having muddy feet at all.  The yolks are now really getting orange!

Just a comment on the weather...  This time last year we were picking daffodils, this year there is still some ice on the pond!  It is still winter gray and the green of spring has not started.  Soon,  I think it will happen soon!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Speech and Debate Tournament #2

Reminder:  I write this blog for family and friends.  This is going to be one of those Proud Mama bragging posts!  I thank God for the skills that He has given the children.  Bear with me as I share how blessed we were!

Thomas collecting his plaque for winning Rhetorical Criticism

This tournament was our home tournament.  Almost all the parents were working hard to run the tournament.  My job was ballot check-in coordinator.  I worked in the judge quiet room.  There was a group of us that went over the ballots the judges completed to make sure all the i's were dotted and the t's crossed.  One of the things that results from this job is that I get to see EVERY ballot so that I know how the kids are doing even though I can say nothing.  I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  It does raise my stress level to watch the judges sitting there trying to decide whether our kids had won or lost.  It was a great tournament for our club as well as our family!

Thomas and T-Bob were Speech Sweepstakes Participants
Thomas and T-Bob  each competed in three different speech categories.  This is called 'sweepstakes'. For the last four years, winning sweepstakes has been Thomas's goal.  T-Bob did make the final room in his informative speech on basketball,  although he did not place.

Thomas was so excited that he finally won speech sweepstakes!  This is a major achievement.

I have to admit that this brought a few tears to the eye of this proud mama.  Thomas managed to handle this well and was a graceful winner.

Thomas won 5th place in debate speaker awards
 Thomas won 5th place in the debate speaker category.  This was his personal best in the debate speaker category.

Thomas and Mikayla won the debate tournament

The other major award given at a tournament is debate tournament winner.  Thomas and his partner Mikayla won the final round against their friends Caleb and Rachel Boyer.   It was so great to receive their awards from our coach and club. Very few things are as sweet as winning your home tournament.

Here are the four teams that placed.   Thomas and his partner rocked this tournament.  To win both Sweepstakes and the Tournament, as well as first place in a speech event  is very amazing.  The only disappointment was that my DH wasn't able to be there and share the moment.  He was with his family.

One of the things that I really love about our league, is that it is open to setting up special categories for special kids to 'compete' with the rest of the kids.

This is another very sweet special lady.  When my DH had to fly out of town to be with his Dad, Carol took over and performed his jobs.  That was such a blessing.  It allowed things to go smoothly at the tournament.  She is so easy to work with.  I learn a lot from her.

So, I do not know what Thomas will do for an encore.  This tournament was rather an epic experience.  He continues to work hard and aim for victory in the next tournament which is only a couple weeks away.

Monday, March 17, 2014

When is Vitamin C NOT Vitamin C?

Answer:  When it is ascorbic acid.
(Note: Personal Professional qualifications...Chiropractic Physician, Nutritionist, Herbalist)

Recently a number of my friends are talking about making and drinking a 'singing canary' from the recipe on the TrimHealthyMama website.  They asked me what I thought of it, and here is the long reply.  The Singing canary sounds great except for the fact that they include 4 GRAMS of Ascorbic Acid in it!!!  That is CRAZY!!!  Let me explain why and I will try and keep it simple.

Ascorbic Acid is part of the vitamin C molecule but it is NOT the whole molecule.  To illustrate my point, think of whole Vitamin C as an egg. Ascorbic Acid is like the egg shell.  It is the part that protects the main part of the whole vitamin (The anti-oxidant portion prevents the whole vitamin from being oxidized by the oxygen in the blood, this allows it to be used as a preservative).  It is no more a whole vitamin than an egg shell is equal to a whole egg.  If your body requires the nutrition of an egg, the yolk and the white, then you can eat eggshells all day long and not get the required nutrition.  The same is true of ascorbic acid.  Your body needs the nutrition from a whole Vitamin C and you can eat ascorbic acid all day long and you will still suffer from scurvy, the disease that results from a lack of Vitamin C.  Ascorbic Acid does not treat scurvy, but a couple bites of raw potato or a little bit of lime will!  That is because whole vitamin C is found in whole food!  It is the difference between eating eggshells vs a whole egg.  In a whole Vitamin C molecule there is ascorbic acid.  It composes about 5-10% of the whole Vitamin complex.  It is necessary to protect that complex, Just like an egg shell is necessary to bring the egg from the coop into the house, protect it in the fridge, and convey it to the pan. In our bodies,  Ascorbic Acid is used in the process of copying genetic material.

We need about 350 mg of ascorbic acid every day.  That is about the amount found in whole food in a healthy diet.  If you consume over 500 mg- 1 gm the body produces an enzyme called ascorbase that breaks down the ascorbic acid and excretes it out of the body.  But what about amounts over 1 gram?  In a recent nutritional seminar I was at they informed us that in the not too distant future prescribing large amounts of any vitamin would be considered malpractice.  4 GRAMS is huge!  Taking large amounts of Ascorbic Acid causes long term genetic damage, one of the things that people think they are preventing when they take it.  In the short term ascorbic ACID acts as a system acidifier and so people are using ascorbic acid pharmacologically to acidify their body.  This acidification does slow down viral replication and does help a bit in treating colds.  But it is not a natural treatment nor is it healthy!  The large amounts of ascorbic acid also irritates the bowel and causes a loose stool or even diarrhea.  This is a side effect of a pharmaceutical reaction.

So where does ascorbic acid come from?  If it is not part of a whole food molecule, then it is made from corn syrup, mixed with sulphuric acid and a number of other harsh chemicals and processed into something that looks and acts something like an egg shell.  It is made by the pharmaceutical industry.  If you look at your vitamin bottle and on the back it says '%DV' and you look down the list of ingredients until you see Vit. C/ascorbic acid and it says any number greater than 10% then you know that you are buying synthetic ascorbic acid produced by a drug company.  If a person has a corn allergy, they need to avoid ascorbic acid.  Many vitamin companies claim that their vitamin C is all natural!  This just means that they have some powdered whole food that they have added synthetic ascorbic acid to.  It is no longer natural.

Let's look a bit more at the whole food vitamin molecule.  All vitamins, except D which is really more a fat and is in a class by itself, have a core mineral and many other parts.  At this point we probably only know 50% of the parts and pieces in a whole food vitamin molecule.  Vitamin C has copper as it's core.  Vitamin E has Calcium.  Vitamin C has pyrosinase, copper, P factors, K factors, J factors and much more.  We are not that smart, we have no idea how to make a whole vitamin, we can only make something that looks like an eggshell.

So why do many people feel better when they take their vitamins?  There are several factors.  One, is that most multi-vitamins contain some minerals.  Most people are so depleted of minerals that getting any in is going to make a positive difference in their health.  Second, is that when the body sees that eggshell coming in, it draws from it's reserves and puts the pieces and parts together to make something like a whole functioning vitamin molecule.  However, in the long run this further depletes the body. That is why after awhile people stop getting those good results and think the vitamin isn't working as well, so they must need to take MORE!  This is wrong.  It just results in further depletion in the body.  If someone has toxic levels of copper, you can actually use ascorbic acid to chelate out that excess copper.

The bottom line is avoid multi vitamins!  Eat a healthy diet instead!  

I could go on about this for a LONG time because I have a lot to say re this topic!  You probably noticed.  I want people to stop wasting their money on things that are HARMFUL to them and instead eat healthy!  I am happy to address other questions re vitamins, minerals, herbs and nutrition.

Incidentally, Vitamin E in the form of mixed tocopherols causes cancer to come out of remission and to spread (metastasize).  There has been  double blind research done to document this, and it makes total physiological sense.  Can you think how this might work?  (Clue above.)

Picture on my camera that one of my kids took of their breakfast for some reason.
Note the healthy egg that was eaten- not just a pile of shells.

Dad : Graduated to Glory!

My dear Father-in-law graduated to glory on Saturday evening, March 15, 2014.  He was ready!  He never wanted to be an invalid or as he said it, "in-valid".  He worked hard to serve His Lord and he spent much of his time telling others about the peace and joy he found in his salvation.

When he left his worn out physical shack, he had his wife and six of his nine children with him.  He had times of alertness during the last few days.  He was able to acknowledge people and sometimes was able to say "yes" and "no".  He lived a long full life.  Those of us who were privileged to know him were blessed and encouraged.

His nickname growing up was "Sunny" and that he was.  He always had a big grin on his face, unless he was grading his students homework or tests and they weren't doing well.  That made him frustrated.  He always was in combat with the administration who wanted everybody to pass.  Bill just couldn't understand why he should pass someone who never did any work and only occasionally showed up.  He was part of that WWII generation who understood that you did what was right no matter what the personal cost was, and not just what you 'felt' like doing.  That was how he approached his own life and this caused him a lot of stress towards the end of his teaching career.

Dad really enjoyed all his grandchildren.  He loved to play games with them and to be silly.  He did insist that they follow the rules and get along, or he would put the game away.  He loved making silly faces when someone took pictures and would turn his glasses upside down or stick his tongue out.  I think he did it as much to tease Mom as anything.  He loved to play physical games.
Kickball was his absolute favorite.  Any time there were more than a half dozen adults or kids around he would try and get a game going.

He was never a grumpy old man.  I found him to be more cheerful as the years passed.  It was also sweet to see his and Mom's relationship grow closer as they aged.  It was neat to see God continuing to work in his life.  He desired to be an encouragement.  He didn't always know the best ways to say things, but neither do I!  He was faithful in praying for all his family and many others.  I knew through the years that I could count on my in-laws praying for me!  That is a blessing!!!!  They also were always very supportive of us as a family.  I know that we made decisions that they wondered about, but they never said a word of criticism and just kept praying.  What an example!

Dad and I grew much closer in our relationship when he was here in Cleveland to have heart surgery.  He had a number of  complications and what was supposed to be a 4-6 week recovery ended up being about 5 months.  I spent a lot of time with him at the hospital.  We had a lot of good talks.  With all the medications and illness, and time in the hospital, he sometimes was  a little confused.  One day he told the nurse that he had ten children, he only has nine, and I was thinking that he was confused again.  But then he gave me a big grin and turned to the nurse and told her that these were two of his daughters (It was Debbie and I).  He told me that he sometimes wondered about me, but I knew that he always prayed for me.  His hearts desire was to share the gospel with all that he met, and especially with prisoners in jail.  He held many many Bible Studies in prisons through the years.  He will be missed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Passing of Time

Time point Zero

We woke up this morning to rain.  Lots of it coming down hard.  As we watched we saw it change to sleet.  The ice piled up on the bottom's around trees  and on the grass.

15 minutes

15 minutes later the sleet turned to snow!

30 minutes
The snow piled up and started to cover the grass.

45 minutes
The tips of the grass are only slightly visible.

1 hour 
The grass is no longer visible.  

By the end of the day we had lovely white snow covering everything.  The roads were treacherous and there were several 50+ car pile ups locally.  We made the determination to stay in all day.  Fortunately, JoAn had the day off and Paul only goes to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All the schools were closed as they knew the storm was coming.  Don't know which number snow day this was, but we have had a lot this year!

We live on a state route.  It is normally well plowed an salted.  Tonight you could barely see any tracks from vehicles.  I did see a snowmobile zipping down the road followed by a car.  Winter will soon be over and it will be time for spring and getting the garden ready.  I can't wait!!!!