"Gypsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark."

~ Saying of the Gladdagh Gypsies of Galway

Monday, April 30, 2012

Chicks: 3 weeks old

The chicks are three weeks old today! 

And yesterday was their first adventure outside.

They were quite the curious bunch!
No matter that the farm manager was lurking somewhere.

Boy are they ugly!
Yes. I am serious. 
When they go through this adolescence stage, they are u.g.l.y!

Here they are with my nephew and niece, checking out their 'almost ready' new digs. 
With any luck, it will be finished and the weather will cooperate for them to move OUT of my bathroom and into it next weekend!

Like I said, U.G.L.Y! :)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan

Things have been busy .... and cold ... at the farm this past week. Here was our meal plan - enjoy! Try something new for one of your dinners this week!

Monday: Chili

Tuesday: Spaghetti with homemade marinara from Roma's I canned in the fall!

Wednesday: Stuffed Cube Steaks with Rice
I used my homemade sun dried roma's and fresh spinach from the garden!

Thursday: Crock Pot Pot Roast with Mashed Potato's

Friday: Bone-In Chicken Breast on the grill with Orzo, Broccoli and Bacon salad!

Saturday: We treated ourselves to a meal so easy, and so good for you! Shrimp Scampi and Baked Salmon!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Almost 14 Months

This boy LOVES the tractor!

And he LOVES to be outside...without shoes on....or socks....

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Potluck on a Farm

I am just going to warn you now -- the title of this post is deceiving!
If you click through, thinking you'd be reading about a lovely dinner on the farm made with fresh Spring veggies, well.....you might want to click out now!

How soon I forget what Spring means to a farm cat!
And, to our Farm Manager, to be more specific!

This gal must have thought she was at an all you can eat buffet this week.
And don't get me wrong, I need the rodent control. I couldn't imagine if she didn't hold up that end of the job!

But, the other night, she had a nice 'display', shall we say, lined up along our sidewalk to the barn. I have never seen so many 'entree's' all at once. I decided she must have scheduled a Potluck for all the area strays, to commence at dusk. Clearly I wasn't on the invite.

And since baby bunnies are not on my list of things I wish to consume, that was a-ok with me!


This post linked at Farm Photo Friday

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Decoding: Beef - more 'labels'

We have covered the general overview of meat classifications. We've covered how you need to read into your labels because even the meat you buy at your health food store might not be what you preceive it to be.
Now, let's go back to the USDA's definition of 'All Natural'. Part of the definition states there are no added colorings to your beef. But, did you know that grain-fed beef has more redness in its coloring versus grassfed beef? So any beef cow supplemented with grains will havea more reddish color to it, which our culture accepts as a good thing, and therefore, preceives a grain-fed beef to be better for them.

Sadly, the 'All Natural' label doesn't mean that the beef has never had hormone injections or antibitoics. Yes, let me say that again -- the 'All Natural' label doesn't mean that the beef has never had hormone injections or antibitoics. It doesn't even mean that the animal didn't live in some terrible and nasty conditions in a CAFO and 'beefed up' [no pun intended] on a grain based diet. Because, the 'All Natural' label refers to the minimal processing that the beef goes through, after slaughter. In other words, once the beef is processed, it cannot receive any injections or chemical addtions - that's it! THAT'S IT! It has nothing to do with the animal prior to processing.

Really, how good does that make you feel to know that the 'All Natural' cut of beef you are bringing home for dinner was pumped  with all kinds of hormones and antibitoics while it stood knee deep in manure in a CAFO gorging itself on grain? The old saying 'You are what you eat rings ever so true, no?

If you had a choice to be one or the other, which would you be?

Now before you say 'Oh well she is an animal welfare advocate and so of course she is going to get all 'don't eat meat from cows standing in 5 feet of shit' because that is cruel' on me - hear me out. Let's think about this. When you have an excess of animals living in crowded conditions, of course dieases and infection is going to rum rampant. Especially if they are confined in a place that doesn't allow them much if any fresh air, sun and wind -- or, confined in a place where they do get fresh air, sun and wind, but have to stand in their own feces. C'mon, that is common sense! So of course there is then a need to give antibiotics. On the flip side, you have pastured raised beef that is out in the open, with sun, wind and fresh air. They are free to roam and have ample room. They aren't tucked in butt to butt with other cows. Logic would tell you these cows are more likely to be healthy and not contracting and passing diease and infection. AND, they are foraging on grasses, they way they were intended to be. Not gorging on grains.

Ok, so back to labels. I had to run into the grocery store the other day. I needed a few things like bananas and milk. I do go to a locally owned 'chain' grocer when I have to. This one in particular tries to support local farmers when they can and I appreciate that. And they are locally owned. And, I know what to buy there. Like I said, I needed a few things. Banana's and Milk - and they carry the milk I like to purchase! I did end up purchasing some meat while I was there. I knew I'd need it for some dinners and I wasn't going to have an opportunity to buy it at a local farm before I needed it. I tried to make the best, educated decisons when I purchased, and the labels STILL dupped me - some. Let's look.

The Angus Roast I purchased

The roast was located in the section of beef that was 'free of hormones and antibiotics'. Funny, while I was looking, another lady asked the 'butcher' (lady in white coat stocking styrofoam trays of meat on shelf) what was different with 'that' section of meat. When the employee told her, she swiftly hiked it back to the 'other' sections of meat. Back to the roast.....I chose a 'CAB Natural Certified Angus Beef' cut of meat. I figured it was my safest option. The label states how the cattle this cut came from was never given antibiotics or hormones, contained no artificial ingredients, was minimally processed, traceable to its birth place and fed a 100% vegetarian diet.

So what does this tell us? Obviously good things like being hormone/antibiotic/artificial ingredient free. Traceable to it's place of birth is interesting for meat bought at this type of establishment. And obviously, Vegetarian Diet means no animal by-products, but still likely feed corn. I sent an email via the Certified Angus Beef Beef website asking how I can trace the roast I purchased to its birth place, but I have yet to receive a response. I was hoping they'd have a link on their site where I can input a serial # from the package and do it right there, but no such luck!

Update: This is the response I received from the Certified Angus Beef bran rep: 'Certified Angus Beef LLC and our licensed processors have internal auditing systems in place to track Certified Angus Beef® brand Natural product back to the ranch of origin. These systems are in place to ensure the cattle have been managed in such a way that no antibiotics or supplemental growth promotants were ever administered, or animal-derived feeds were ever fed. These processes are not in an automated system where consumers can trace an individual cut but rather for our company to ensure our label claims of “natural” are being met. They are similar to processes used for organic products to ensure the authenticity of the claim.'

I found a very good article here that further discusses grades of beef here. They also mention how the Certified Angus Beef logo is really more marketing, rather than 'fact'.

The main take away here, once again, is to 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food'. But more importantly, know how to 'decode' your food - sad that's what it's come down to, isn't it?

This post is linked up at Freaky Friday and Pennywise Platter


From the Beef Files!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Decoding: Beef - from 'healthy stores'

In yesterdays post, Decoding: Beef, I mentioned what is most likely plastic wrapped for you at your local, chain grocer. But let's take another look at what might be offered at your locally owned 'health food/organic' type grocer.

Referencing what is available at the one closest to me, they sell what they label as 'All Natural Free Range Beef'. It is 'Certified Piedmontese' Beef to be exact. There is no claim this beef was 100% free ranged, so right off the bat, I question. Upon further research on the website for Piedmontese Beef, I find that this meat is never fed any animal by-products, emphasizing species appropriate/natural diets. It also states they are raised without the use of routine antibiotics and without added growth hormones. Note -  'All Natural' as defined by the USDA means the beef contains no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed.

After further reading I also learned that Piedmontese Beef is a rare cattle in our country, not easy to come by. Can't the same be said for 100% Grassfed beef? At least in some areas, right. The website also states their cattle is fed a pure vegetarian diet, but let's not forget, grain is not a meat, and therefore, can fall under the terms of 'vegetarian diet'. In a nutshell, they are telling us their cattle are not fed any animal by-products. And don't get me wrong - not feeding animal by-products is an absolute must, or should be, for the meat you consume. Hello, mad cow disease anyone?

I emailed 'Certified Piedmontese' to get clarification on their definition of a 'natural and humane environment', as they state that is how their cattle are raised. Most of you know this is another loose term, especially if you have ever researched into the poultry industry. I received a fairly speedy response from a representative that stated "Our animals are allowed to graze freely for the span of their life however; we also provide them with quality grains and forages, never feeding animal byproducts." So, if I understand correctly, it sounds like their cows are out on the 'free range' so to speak, but are also offered additional feeds. I am not sure why a cow would feel the need to eat additional forages if the pasture is plentiful, but I guess that is up for further research.

Photo Source

My other question, when emailing Certified Piedmontese, was to ask what the average life span of their cattle is. They state on their website that "The decision to raise Piedmontese, and to do so in this fashion, was the result of careful research. “Originally we looked at raising grass-finished beef,” says Peed. “That would have provided some of the same health benefits as Piedmontese.” And in fact, the company’s Piedmontese cattle do spend theajority of their lives on grass. But finishing cattle on grass, say experts, takes a very long time, and the extra time means that you end up with older cattle that have lots of connective tissue and tougher meat." According to their rep that responded to my email, their cattle have an average life span of 18-22 months.

I then emailed a local farmer I purchase grassfed beef from to ask him the average life span of his grassfed cattle. He told me his 100% pasture raised beef has an average life span of '18 months to two years, or even longer, not much past 3 years of age'. That is the same life span as the Piedmontese beef, give or take 2 months. Granted, he did say 'or even longer', which would help back up Piedmontese's claim that finishing cattle on grass can take a very long time. (I would equate that to those individual cattle that require the 3 year mark my local farmer mentions.)

Photo Source

However, this brought up yet another question for me, which I emailed back to the rep. In talking about the decision to raise Piedmontese, again as mentioned above, the website states 'the company’s Piedmontese cattle do spend the majority of their lives on grass' - huh? Wait a second. The majority? In the original response from their rep, her email said that their 'animals are allowed to graze freely for the span of their life'. Sounds contradictory, no? I haven't yet heard back from Piedmontese on this, however, my local 'natural' grocery store responded with the following explanation: "This is a common question we get and it is not black and white. They are 100% grassfed until the last 60 days which then they have the option to eat a mix of grains, corn etc. to give them more flavor."
**UPDATE: The rep from Piedmontese responded to my email asking if the cattle were pulled off their free ranging regime for a period of time before slaughter. Her response was "Yes, the cattle are removed from the range environment for the final phase where they receive a complete, balanced diet."

Piedmontese does not claim to be 100% grassfed beef. They do state they are 'All Natural', which is true...as far as not having any antibitoics or hormones injected. And they are raised on open land with room to roam. Sometimes though, as consumers, we see the 'All Natural' label, and assume that means 100% grassfed & finished.

This is why you hear people say "Know your Farmer, Know your Food". If you truly want to know what you are eating, sometimes you are going to have to do a little research. Sometimes, when you see the label 'All Natural', sometimes, it might not mean exactly what you think it means. And as consumers, we need to appreciate the companies that are willing to answer our emails and phones calls, giving us answers to our questions. So, next time you are purchasing meat from your local 'organic/health food' type grocer, ask a few questions and see if they way it is labeled/marketed means what you think it means!

Come back again tomorrow for more info on beef - we are digging into some USDA definitions!

From the Beef Files!
Decoding: Beef
Decoding: Beef - more 'labels'

Monday, April 23, 2012

Decoding: Beef

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but I am constantly amazed at the whole 'food' topic. All the things I am learning, all the things I thought were good but really aren't. All the things other people think are good, but they really aren't....the list goes on and on.

I was having a conversation with a co-worker awhile back regarding purchasing a half a cow. He was telling me the great deal he got on his and I asked "was it grass fed"? He looked at me stumped. He didn't know, nor did he really care. I made a comment along the lines of wanting to purchase 'grass fed beef' and another co-worker chimed in "GRASSFED? Why would you want GRASSFED? Grain fed is the good stuff - that's what you WANT". *sigh* I digress. Some people will only ever see their point of view, and I get that. But some are open-minded and willing to look at the flip side of the coin. So for those of you that fall into that later group, I hope this post is helpful to you.

So - get comfy and let's dig in, shall we?

First things first - all beef is NOT created equal.
In the most general of terms, you have your grain fed beef and you have your grassfed beef. Beyond that it gets tricky because you can have grass fed beef that is grain finished or 'All Natural' beef that was still grain fed! This is where you have to employ your super sleuth skills to decode those marketing labels just so you know what you are feeding your family.

Here are the definitions Wikipedia gives:

Grass fed or pasture-fed cattle, grass and other forage compose most all or at least the great majority of the grass fed diet.

Cattle called "corn-fed," "grain-fed" or "corn-finished" are typically fattened on corn, soy and other types of feed for several months before slaughter.

The later of the two definitions is the meat you are most likely purchasing if you are not specifically seeking  out grassfed beef.

So what's the big deal? Grassfed or Grain-fed...
Cows are ruminants. Ruminants are mammals that digest plant-based foods. In other words, they're designed to eat grass. I know this is hard to believe, but cows were not made to eat & digest corn! Humans are the ones who have tried to manufacture the cow into a ruminant tolerable of consuming corn and adequately digesting it. So why did we change this, you ask? 'As a high-starch, high-energy food, corn decreases the time to fatten cattle and increases yield from dairy cattle. Some corn-feed cattle are fattened in concentrated animal feeding operations.' (Source: Wikipedia) In other words, how to get the biggest bang for the buck. And this doesn't always equate to 'healthy'. I don't know about you, but that is not the motto I use when speaking in terms of my family and their health.

So how do you know what kind of meat you're purchasing at the store?
Beef not labeled with any particular type of 'feed classification', just packaged up in Styrofoam trays and plastic wrap, is generally, if not always, going to be Grain-fed Beef. However, the 'butcher' around the corner from me displays all his meat openly in glass cases and packages them in freezer paper. Nice marketing ploy and even though it tricks some consumers into thinking it is fresher, better meat, it is still grain fed beef. How do I know? Because if it was grassfed, it would say so! There is also a good chance it was previously frozen too!

You will see some beef labeled as 'prime' or 'black angus', etc ... but at the end of the day, it is all grain fed beef. It should be more appropriately labeled GMO grain-fed on a CAFO! I digress...

Beef ... otherwise known as a CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation)

100% Grassfed is going to be labeled and marketed as such and most likely is going to be sourced directly from your local farmer, buying club or CSA.
100% Grassfed Beef at Miller Livestock Co.

Grassfed standing alone is a loose term. This can imply the cow was feed grass as some point in time, but nothing more. Meaning, yep - you guessed it - probably majority grain-fed. And this defeats the purpose of the benefits that were present from the cow being grassfed. This also is not a guarantee that the beef you're eating wasn't given hormones and antibiotics. Heck, it isn't even a guarantee the beef you are eating was raised in this country!

Just looking at these photos, which cow would you prefer to be on your plate?

Come back tomorrow for another does of beef!

This post is shared at Real Food 101 and Monday Mania

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan

I am still not up to speed with my meal planning for this week, and I know I never got one posted last week :) So, I'm sharing last weeks meals with you - hopefully you find something to help you out with your own dinners this week.

Monday: Scrambled Egg & Cheese Burritos with Bacon

Tuesday: Crockpot Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Sweet Potato Fries
I bake my fries. For Sweet Potato fries, I like to sprinkle them with Smoke Paprika and then toss them in shredded parmesan cheese when the come out of the oven!

Wednesday: Bone-In Chicken Breast on the grill with Roasted Cauliflower
I roast my cauliflower tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and when it comes out of the oven, I sprinkle it with shredded parmesan. Clearly we love parmesan!

Thursday: Homemade Cheese Pizza & Garlic Cilantro French Fries

Friday: Mongolian Beef in the Crockpot with Rice
This was my first time trying this recipe and it was FANTASTIC! I scaled back the red pepper and hubby still thought it was pretty spicy. I added mushrooms to my dish and the leftovers the next day for lunch were still good :)

So what are you cooking up this week?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Wild Hive

Last evening I was minding my own business, on my way out back to bring the horses in. As I glanced at the bee hive in passing, something caught my eye.

Can you see what it was?

It was a MASSIVE swarm of bees hanging from a branch of a Pear tree!
I couldn't believe it - seriously!

I called our beekeeper because at first, I was concerned it was her hive and something was wrong.
My husband insisted there was no way - that there were way too many bees there and that it had to be a whole different hive. And then he kept yelling at me to stand back. *sigh* For those of you who know him, you know what I mean! 

My beekeeper was pretty sure it was a wild swarm - I used that term loosely because I know there are more technical definitions in the beekeeping world, but I am not up to speed there - and she said she'd be right out as she wanted to try and catch it and put it into a hive. Yesterday was a warm day, reaching about 80 degrees, but it was supposed to get cold at night and she said they wouldn't have a chance once the cold came in.

Fascinating. The more I learn about honeybees, the more interesting it all is. 
They truly are very docile, unless you piss them off!

My beekeeper arrived and first checked her hive just to be sure it wasn't them. Yep, she was sure. Her hive was PACKED! And they were all PISSED. I guess they don't like to be bothers when dusk rolls around and you could even hear the 'tone' of their buzzing was different that if you were just observing them while there were minding their business!

Once she got her hive all put back together, you could see them all over the front of the hive trying to get back inside. I stood WAY far back to get a picture with my camera at 100% zoom! But of course, a few angry bees spotted me and the next thing I know, I was running like a lunatic through the orchard, flinging my head like a violent teenager at a 90's grunge band concert, trying to get pissed off honeybees out of my hair. 

Well, for those who know my husband, he was none to happy about this after he repeatedly told me to 'Stay Back Allison!'. Ha! I laugh at this, but he sure was not! So there I was, banging my head into thin air, trying to rip my ponytail out, while my husband 'attempted' to help!

And so, there went the rest of my photo opps! I didn't get a chance to take any of the beekeeper taking the new hive. It did take her a good while. She also 'smoked' her angry hive to try and calm them down. In the end, she did get all but about 50-100 of the wild swarm. She said she didn't see the queen, but when she got home, she was going to try and look as she placed them into a real hive. 

Basically, she has a soft bristle brush and she gently brushed them off the tree and into a box. She said, ideally, you would just cut the whole branch off and it'd be a lot easier, but clearly we couldn't do that since it was one of our orchard trees!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Link Loitering, April 20

Have you heard about the Arsenic in Chicken controversy? Here's a great article. All I know is, I am happy with the pastured chickens we buy from local farmers and we'll keep it that way. And yes, we can TOTALLY taste the difference between their chickens and the ones we'd purchase from a grocer. My chicken stock is totally different too making it from pastured birds. No thanks to chicken meat containing antibiotics and antidepressants - yes, you read that right, antidepressants! And, you can bet your bunnies I purchased the Organic Starter feed for our chickies that doesn't contain Roxarsone!

And while we're chatting about Poultry, can I just share these photos of pastured eggs I picked up this week from a local farmer? They are gorgeous -- the photos don't even do them justice! One was a beautiful olive green color, another a double yolker. I paid $1.75/dozen - what a steal. These eggs are so completely different, and better, than the ones you buy from a grocery store. Even the 'organic' and 'cage-free' ones people choose, thinking they are making a wise decision, and paying upwards of $2.50+ a dozen. Those marketing schemes are such a racket. I let the farmer keep my quarter in change when I handed her $2.00 - even still - what a steal. And you bet when we cracked these open, they were a nice, rich orange color.

When I was leaving, the husband stopped me, as this was my first time purchasing from this local farm, and he asked me if I'd looked at the eggs. I looked at him with what was probably a tad of confusion on my face and said 'Yes, they are gorgeous!'. He said 'Oh good - you know, sometimes people pick up eggs and get freaked out when they look at them and they are not all white'. REALLY? Yikes! It is a sad day when people think they eggs need to be all white and uniform in size.

And now, moving on to a completely different topic, though still food related, here is a nice blog post from The Healthy Home Economist this week on another reason Vegetable Oils are not good for you.

Upset that the government tries to control what we eat? You'll appreciate this blog post! Sorry, but I'd rather not eat GMO's and I certainly don't need to government telling me what is healthy and what is not!

Enough Already!

***Also, next week is turning into 'Unofficial' Beef Week over here at The Life of a Novice! I am working on a post on 'Decoding Beef' and the information can certainly be spread out over a few posts! So - send me your beef related questions and I will see what I can dig up for you to be reported on next week!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Edible Kale?

I need your help again!
Can you tell me, is this Kale 'edible' Kale?

The title of my blog is The Life of a Novice!
I can't be an expert at everything - gesh!
Just shit shoveling....That, I know a thing or two about :)

Hubby brought home this Kale for me - it's a long story - we'll leave it at that.
At the end of the day though, we question if it is indeed, edible Kale!

And one of the main reasons I question is because I attempted to buy some potted Kale at a farmer's market last fall, until I was told it was 'ornamental' Kale, not 'edible' Kale.
Well Boo! That wasn't what I had in mind!

I wonder if it is a Red Russian Kale, but I am not sure. Do you have any tips for identifying Kale and whether or not it is an edible Kale?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Guess the Greens, Volume 2

Last May I posted  'Guess the Greens' in an effort to help indentify plants. trees and flowers on our property that I have no clue what they are! I am still searching for answers to that last post, so feel free to take a look and give me your best guess.

And, I have another one for you too!
What is this??

I posted the photos on Facebook over the weekend and had guesses for Wild Rocket and Wild Mustard.
But, I am not positive on either yet, so I wanted to see what you thought!

So go ahead - give it your best 'wild' guess!
What do you think this is?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chicks: 1 Week Old

The chicks turned 1 week old yesterday! 

These gals keep adding more feathers everyday. 
It really is kinda surreal, at least for me, to watch.
And I am still shocked at how fast they grow!

Now c'mon! Look at this! Who could say this isn't cute!
Though, when I look up close, the dark eyelids freak me out a tad! Don't ask. I can't explain why.

Ahh yes, and Ms. SASSafras...still giving me the ol' stink eye....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wild Trout on the Grill

Saturday morning hubby came home with this trout.

Beaming from ear to ear, yet still disappointed he only caught a few!

He had the locally caught trout around here before and hadn't really cared for it, but we decided to give it another try. I can't recall that I ever did. 

I made a simple marinade for eye, just eyeballing the measurements.

1/4 cup olive oil
Scant 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper
2 crushed garlic cloves
Fresh Thyme from the herb garden
and a lemon, sliced

We let it marinade, then we wrapped the foil around it and hubby cooked it on the grill for about 15 minutes or so. I thought it was pretty good, though I wouldn't have mind it cooked a few minutes longer. Hubby, once again, didn't care much for it. Maybe it is just the garlic and lemon combo for me - gets me every time!


This post is linked up at Real Food 101, Freaky Friday and Pennywise Platter

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Foraging: Dead Nettle

I have this 'pretty' weed that is randomly all over the place.
In the garden, herb garden, orchard, pasture...even sidewalk cracks! 
I was curious what it might be so I posted a photo of it on the Facebook page

And low and behold, it has a name!
It is Lamium Purpureum, otherwise known as 'Dead Nettle'!
Not to be confused with Stinging Nettle.

And you guessed it, you can eat it!

Seems the reason it is called 'dead' nettle is because, unlike stinging nettle, this does not hurt to touch. It is actually part of the mint family as it's square shaped stem alludes to. This also means it is invasive; a sure-fire sign of a mint family member!

I found little tid-bits here and there on the internet on how people consume Dead Nettle. Smoothies, on salads and things of the like. But, there wasn't overwhelming info on this. So, I am throwing it out there to you, fellow readers! Share with us what you do with Dead Nettle. We mentioned on Facebook trying out a contest for the best Dead Nettle recipe, but the truth is, what could I offer as a prize? 10# of dried Dead Nettle shipped to you? So, let's just share recipes. Post your info or link to your recipe for Dead Nettle in the comments and then I will compile them all and share them in another post.

Update: I did a little more searching and found this link that talks about the medicinal properties of Dead Nettle! Pretty cool!


This post is linked up at Monday Mania

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bees & Peas!

The bees were out in full force yesterday once the sun warmed up the day!

It truly is interesting to watch them. There were swarms of them coming and going and seeing all the different shades of pollen tucked on their back legs is neat!

And my Shelling Peas are ready to climb so hubby has been working on a new trellis. One down, one more to go!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chicks - Day 4

The chicks are 4 days old - as of yesterday when I took these photos. 

I know everyone says they grow so fast - but geshhh. The grow so fast!
Look at their wing feathers already forming!

It is really for the better though. 
The sooner they get all their feathers, the sooner they can head to their coop and out of my spare bathroom!
I am not amused sharing 'my' bathroom with hubby now!

And then we have Ms. Blondie here...or as I am renaming her, Ms. SASSafras. 
Please turn out to be a Ms.!

This post linked up at Farm Photo Friday

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Medicinal Wild Violets

It's that time of year again.
The Wild Violets are popping up everywhere!

In years past, I have done Wild Violet Jelly.
This year though, I wanted to try something different. I have been reading up a lot lately on all the medicinal benefits of wild forages and Wild Violets are no exception!

My niece attempts to help hubby pick Violets!

Hubby & I picking Violets

Me picking violets while hubby goes for a joy ride on the kiddie 4-Wheeler! I guess this is what he has to resort to while his is in the shop! *sigh* men....
This time around, I tried my hand at Wild Violet Syrup - a recipe I found over at Chiot's Run. Susy has all kinds of great info on utilizing wild violets! I am looking forward to using this syrup in my tea, especially before bed.

According to Bontanical.com, Wild Violets help aid in sleeplessness and inflammation. They also serve as a laxative; keep that in mind!

The more research I do on Wild Violets, the more I see they are recommended to help with nasty coughs. (Susy also mentions this in her post) Because the syrup I made contains honey, I don't foresee any issue taking a spoonful of this, versus some nasty over-the-counter cough syrup, for future colds!

Wild Violets are high in Vitamins A and C. And, quite simply, look so pretty covering the lawn. Iti s crazy to think some people spray them like they are weeds to get rid of them!! The Chinese use this flower to make herbal teas and in my readings, it seems there is some notes out their that the Wild Violet holds anti-microbial and insecticidal properties! Who knew?

So how about you - do you use Wild Violets for anything?

This post is linked up at Pennywise Platter, Monday Mania and Freaky Friday