Developing Medley Acres

This year we decided to try planting a pumpkin patch for pick your own pumpkins this fall, along with a zinnia patch, sunflower patch and sweet corn. We also planted a large number of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and perennials from seed that we hope to be able to sell later in the summer as well.

Dan invested in a few more tractor/farm implements, including a planter and a plow, and has prepared and planted the 5+ acres we had previously leased to a local farmer… we now have fields of timothy, clover, and switchgrass for cover crops/habitat, and we’re adding our garden fields of pumpkins, sunflowers, and raspberries. Its finally dry enough in the fields to be able to get out and do some planting! We’re hoping for a long fall to make the growing season long enough to make all farmers’ plantings worthwhile this year…

Here are some pictures from the homestead over the past couple of weeks (including today!). Many of the photos are courtesy of our daughter Eva.

Hand Poured Soy Candles

Forestville Candle Company LogoTwo teenage daughters of a good friend of mine have started a business for themselves, hand pouring soy candles. Their business is called Forestville Candle Company and they have an Etsy store that I would like to share here: ForestvilleCandles.

I’ve been a “regular” candle buyer from them since they started selling their candles before Christmas because I LOVE the glow of candles, and the fact that these candles do not emit toxins in the air.

Their scents are delicious! Some smell so good, I could eat them! (but not quite…). In the winter, I really liked their Balsam scent, and Peppermint. This spring, they have a huge selection and a variety of sizes to choose from… I have been burning Lemon in the house recently and it has helped my mood immensely on the more dreary spring days. My other current favorites are Cucumber Melon and Lily of the Valley…. none of their scents are overpowering, but they fill the house with a warm, comforting aroma. I just love them! forestvilleCandle2

If you need yet one more reason to purchase non-toxic candles from an entrepreneurial pair of teens, part of their proceeds go toward Feed My Starving Children, an organization that is dedicated to providing nutritious meals to children worldwide. So not only do you get beautiful aroma and wonderful ambiance, you also help support a couple of good kids in their efforts to build their savings accounts, & you also help other children around the world… !

Check out Forestville Candle Company and tell them Jennifer sent you 🙂

 

“Let Food Be Thy Medicine” –Hippocrates

My husband Dan gets these emails periodically from the USDA about farming practices and farms across the US who are doing interesting things. One of the more interesting ones came in the other day about a farm in New Jersey, which is run by a doctor. He and his family bought a large acreage and now runs a farm in conjunction with his practice…

From the USDA article: “Two farmers help Dr. Weiss with the farm and run the Doctor’s Farm Market, with ‘doctor’s tips’ and ‘doctor’s recipes’ next to each fruit and vegetable…” Read the article Healing Patients on the Farm here. You can visit the doctor’s website at www.myethoshealth.com.

Ethos Farm in the Early morning Autumn light and frost covering the land

Image and info credit to Dr. Weiss/Ethos Health/Farmers.gov

 

Natural Tick & Lyme Disease Prevention

As yucky of a topic as this is, I thought this was a very good and informational article by Whole-Fed Homestead about ticks, how they work, and how to use natural products, and common sense, to help prevent being bitten by the little buggers… it is so hard to decide between using something chemical that has proven nasty side effects, but is effective, and some natural options which require more effort and applications, and may be less effective. Either way, there are pros and cons. Every year, we weigh it out and often use both methods. But I felt this article covered a lot about how ticks work, which helps me decide what to do to protect myself and my children. Good luck!!

 

Homemade Honey Lip Balm

Best-Homemade-Lip-Balm-Whole-Fed-Homestead

Recently, I purchased some beeswax from friends of ours who used to have bees (Cindi and Pete from Rush River Fiber). I had intended to use it to make lotion, and when I was looking for recipes online, I ran across all kinds of interesting and fun looking lotion and lip balm recipes. I tried my hand at it and while I think overall it was a success, the beeswax had a very high honey content and it wound up quite soft for the little twist tubes I had purchased to put it in. BUT… it tastes DELICIOUS! 🙂

So when I ran across this post by Whole-Fed Homestead, I thought – hey, this is the route to go!!! I have not used their method/recipe yet, but the next time I make a batch, I’m going to follow their method. Thanks to Crystal from Whole-Fed Homestead for letting me repost her recipe here to share with you! (her recipe even made it into Mother Earth News Magazine!)

 

 

 

Who Has Time for a Sick Day?

Good reminders!

A Homeschool Mom

Who_Has_Time_for_a_Sick_Day?It got me. I’ve been skillfully avoiding it for the last few weeks, and lacking all subtlety the dreaded virus finally caught up with me. I am now under the weather. Strictly speaking, sick. Doesn’t this ill-timed disease understand I don’t have time for this? I’m a mom. I’m a homeschooling mom. I’m a mom with way too much on my plate to become even the slightest bit tired much less down for the count. I can’t take a sick day. Who has time for a sick day?

Dramatics aside, how does being sick affect our learning routine? It’s one thing for one of my children to be sick. Mom can attend to their needs while keeping the remainder of our household intact. But when I get sick almost everything stops. As we can’t afford to keep this up for too long, I need a plan of attack:

Just How…

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Elderberry Syrup Recipe

By Wellness Mama

Tis the season… for a cold. Darn. Thankfully it’s just a little sniffle but I’m going to finally make the elderberry syrup that I’ve had the ingredients to make for a while now… I have a couple of recipes at my fingertips, but this is the one I’m going to work from today from Wellness Mama.

elderberry-syrup-recipe-1

photo credit: wellness mama

Herbal Infused Vinegars

Another great article from Mountain Rose Herbs on how to make herb infused vinegar. I didn’t realize it but according to their article here, using vinegar instead of alcohol does also work for creating tinctures for health benefits!

See article below, from Mountain Rose Herbs…

How To:

Herbal Vinegar Extract Method

Step 1

Chop or grind your dried herb to a coarse powder. You can also find many powdered herbs available on our website. Fill 1/5 of your sterilized jar with the herb. Pour organic apple cider vinegar over the herb until the jar is filled to the top. Cover tightly and allow to extract for 14 days in a cool, dark place. Be sure to shake the jar daily.

Step 2

After 2 weeks, strain the herb through cheesecloth. Set the strained liquid in a capped jar on a shelf and allow the sediment to settle overnight. Decant the clear liquid layer into another sterilized jar using a strainer. Cap tightly, label, and store for up to 6 months in a cool, dark place.

Step 3

If you are infusing the vinegar with roots or barks, there is one more step you might want to take. Once the mixture has extracted for 2 weeks and the herbs have been strained out, heat the infusion just short of boiling and filter through cloth while hot. The heat will help congeal albumin in the solution that can then be removed when straining. Excess albumin can encourage your extract to spoil quickly.

To Use:

As a general guide, take 1 tbsp of the vinegar extract up to 5 times a day when needed, unless you are working with potent low/drop dosage herbs. Due to the acid content in vinegar, be sure to avoid direct contact with your teeth. You may want to mix each dose of vinegar with water or tea to dilute the acidity.

For more information about making herbal vinegar extracts at home, check out Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech and The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green.

 

Making Herbal Infused Oils

Mountain Rose Herbs has a good post about how to make your own herbal infused oils. I’m harvesting the abundance of mint, lemon balm, basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano that we have growing here and am figuring out the best ways to preserve them right now… going to try making some infused vinegars and oils to be later used for cleaning, cooking or on our bodies as ointments. I am also referencing this great book called Alchemy of Herbs which has been very helpful for looking up all the herbs I have growing and how to use them. It’s exciting!!! (the photo above also includes a bowl of beans and lettuce from our garden today… those items are photo bombing and will be eaten later today…)

An easy way to make herb infused oils that I’m going to try. From their website post here.

Folk Method for Solar-Infused Oils

Use the sun to naturally infuse oil with the goodness of herbs!

Directions:

  1. We always recommend using dried herbs. If you desire fresh herbs, wilt them first for 12 hours to remove the moisture (too much water will cause your oil to go rancid), cut into small pieces, and crush with a mortar and pestle before adding to the jar.
  2. Place herbs in a clean, dry quart jar.
  3. Fill remaining space in jar with oil of choice, making sure to cover herbs by at least 1 inch. If your herbs soak up all of the oil, then pour more oil on top to ensure the herbs are well covered.
  4. Stir well and cap jar tightly.
  5. Place jar in a sunny, warm windowsill and shake once or more per day. You can also cover the jar with a brown paper bag if you prefer that to direct sunlight.
  6. After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil using cheesecloth or a mesh strainer. Make sure and squeeze out every precious drop of oil!
  7. Pour into glass bottles and store in a cool dark place. The oil should keep for at least a year. Vitamin E Oil may also be added to prolong shelf life.