Tuesday, May 29, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Cheap & Healthy Fabric Softener

Last week I wrote about making your own Laundry Soap, so this week I thought it would be a great time to follow up with inexpensive Fabric Softener. It is quite simple, really. All you need is a big jug of good quality White  Distilled Vinegar. In place of your commercial fabric softener, simply use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar (depending upon your load size) in the softener cup or added at the time you would normally add fabric softener. And that's it! It's that simple! ..... and cheap!

Apple cider vinegar would probably work, but there is a big risk of it staining your clothes, too. You can also add a few drops (it doesn't take much) of your favorite essential oils to the vinegar if you just have to have the fragrance in your laundry. But once again, I strongly suggest you steer away from the darker oils to avoid staining. Many essential oils also give a boost of germ killing action, too, and some grease cutting benefits. I like the citrus essential oils because they smell so clean and fresh, kill germs AND cut grease!

Distilled White Vinegar is a natural fabric softener, removes soap residue from your clothes and washer (my washer was so shiny clean after just a few uses), helps to remove odors, and kills germs, mold and mildew. Distilled White Vinegar is also the best fabric softener choice in children's fire-retardant clothing as commercial fabric softeners can interfere with the fire retardant properties. Vinegar also prevents yellowing of your lights and reduces static cling. I really wish I had known about this when my kids were growing up!

Commercial Fabric softeners are also loaded with strong, irritating fragrance and chemicals. You would be surprised at just how many, and the harshness of, the chemicals contained in ordinary, store-bought Fabric Softener.  HERE is a list of some of them and what they do to your body.  So by using Distilled White Vinegar in your rinse, which costs MUCH less than commercial Fabric Softeners, you may very well be saving far more money on medical bills and medications! I have been using white vinegar in my rinse cycle now for several years and I love it so much, I will never go back the commercial made stuff. Now, when I get around someones freshly done laundry that commercial fabric softener has been used in, I immediately start sneezing and getting all choked up. Distilled White Vinegar in your laundry's rinse cycle... it's the BEST choice!

(AF) Wooo Hoooo! It's RAINING!!!

Dancing Chicken animated emoticon
 I sure hope it makes it to Dave's Farm, too! The last two times it rained here, it didn't at Dave's. It is so dry here that, by today, my weeds were badly wilted and beginning to get crunchy! So I can't even imagine how dry the plants and pasture are over at Dave's! Besides it being too long since it last rained, the high winds we have had have further dried things out. I gave my cucumbers a little drink today (Monday - had to haul it to them in the wheel barrow) but they really needed a lot more. They said we didn't have a chance until at least tomorrow night.... I'm so glad they were wrong. Course, I was out there a midnight bringing in things that I didn't want to get wet (had planned on doing that tomorrow). But I am not going to complain so long as all gets watered and the hail misses us.

My power keeps flickering so I should probably get off of here and just kick back and enjoy the crackles and rumbles of the storm, the fresh, clean air breezing in the windows, and the soothing sounds and wonderful fragrance of the falling rain as I drift off to sleep...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz   WAIT! Drift off to sleep? I hope not until after it is over because I don't want to miss it. I really enjoy a good storm that ISN'T tornadic or damaging. How about you?

Monday, May 28, 2012

(AF) A Memorial for Siser Bertrille

    I will soon be changing my profile pic, I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it, yet. You see, the pic posted is of my wonderful Sister Bertrille (named after the Flying Nun because of her ears that stick out like a nun's hat). Sister Bertrille gave me many beautiful babies over the years, and much wonderfully, delicious milk. But sadly, a couple of weeks ago, I lost my beautiful girl during labor. It turned out that she also had some vinyl tarp threads balled up inside her, tightly wrapped up with hay she had eaten, that had impacted and blocked her digestive tract. It apparently was in the last bail of hay I had purchased. It didn't take much of those thin, blue strings to do the fatal damage. She is sadly missed by not only me, but the other goats and even the cats. Some of the cats adored her and loved to cuddle with her.

Rest in peace my beautiful, faithful and loving Sister Bertrille! You were so in tune with me that you knew when I needed your comfort and snuggling and comforted me in a loving and gently way. You also knew when I needed to laugh and did a great job of clowning around to make me laugh until I nearly fell over. I will always cherish your wonderful memories. Rest peacefully, Sister.

Her last set of babies.

Sister Bertrille on the left, trying to corral her ornery, near grown kid. I still have the now grown kid (on the right) and she is totally lost without her momma!

A carefree afternoon of munching hay.
Her ears would flop down just a little when she ran.

Sister Bertrille playing peek-a-boo.

I will never forget those beautiful ears!

Friday, May 25, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Calcium Supplements... Are they dangerous?

Ever since I was a baby, I was allergic to milk. As a small child, I did not receive enough calcium from other forms and grew up with a weak muscle tone. When I was carrying my children, I was given high doses of calcium supplements, especially since I couldn't tolerate much milk.

As I got older I discovered the joys of lactaid tablets. So long as I took one in the morning, I could drink some milk throughout the day, but still took calcium supplements several times a week. Over the past few months I have discovered a milk that I can drink without having to take any lactaid tablets, so I have been thoroughly enjoying all the milk I could desire (but now that I have goats, when they are fresh, none of this is a problem, anyway - sure wish they would hurry up and have those kids).  So I have not taken any calcium supplements in awhile, and a good thing too, because yesterday I learned that Calcium Supplements can actually greatly increase your risk for a heart attack!!!!

One study shows that they can increase your risk by as much as 86%, maybe more! Now that is SCARY!  One of the reasons given is that when you take a supplement, it puts a lot into your body at once, so much so that your calcium level can soar way above the normal range. Now that can't be good!  They have been telling us all this time that calcium supplements are "natural", but there is nothing natural about 'flooding' your body's system with a large burst of calcium.

HERE is some more interesting reading on the subject.

Sudden surges of calcium in your body has been shown to end up in plaques that line the artery walls, which we know is a major contributor of heart attacks. Read more HERE.

All this now makes me question the safety of every day foods that are Calcium Fortified.  Orange juice and other juices, breakfast cereals (cold & hot), boast that they are 'fortified with extra calcium'. Could we possibly be harming our kids, building up plaque in their tiny little arteries, and increasing their heart attack risk, beginning at very young ages? It really gives you something to think about. It also gives you more reason to eat as naturally as possible.

As someone that has already had a heart attack, I don't care to ever have another! So I plan to work harder at getting my calcium needs met the truly natural way, from my daily diet. Here are some great foods high in calcium:
  • Dairy Products
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Spinach
  • Black Strap Molasses
  • Collard Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kelp
  • Broccoli
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Tahini
  • Flax Seeds
  • Oranges
  • Chia Seeds
  • Dark Leafy Greens
  • Quinoa
  • Beans
  • Many dried herbs (example - a 100g serving of savory contains 2132 mg of calcium)
  • And my personal favorite.... Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
  • With a little checking and research, you will probably be able to find many more natural food high in calcium.
We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this subject.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

(AF) Neighborly Swapping

My neighbors down the road and I made it a point to have a phone chat today and catch up. They are the Aunt and Uncle of my late Jonathan, the ones that got us together, and great friends. Its funny how you can live so close to someone, yet far too much time can go by before you take a moment to chat because each time you pass by you think, "I must take a moment to visit tomorrow" and "tomorrow" just keeps getting pushed over to the next 'tomorrow'.

Now, my neighbors on either side of me are far from desirable... to put it politely. But this neighbor, along with a few others down the road, are the most wonderful neighbors a person could ask for! Although they have serious health issues, they would go out of their way to help you. That's the way neighbors were, once upon a time.

As we chatted about various things, we got to talking about our wild foods. I asked her if she had any lambsquarters this year. Turned out she doesn't have a single one! She was so excited when she found out that, just around the bend, I had loads of it. Funny how the soils, and plants inhabiting them, can be so different even just a stone's throw away on the same little mountain hill. I told her to let me know a little bit before they were going to be back by (they pass my house to go to town), I would pick them a big mess and they could stop and pick it up. They both sounded pretty happy.

Next was my turn. During the course of our conversation, I found out that she has LOTS of 4 O'clocks this year. That is one of my absolute most favorite flowers and I no longer have any. She said she had lots of seeds saved from last year and would be glad to share some with me. Woooo Hooo!!!! I don't know if it is just her soil, or if they are a special variety, but hers are also some type that grow taller than her head! I can't wait to get some planted!

Talk led back to gardening and I mentioned that I had just potted up some cherry tomato seedlings and had far more than I could use. Now she got excited again! They had been looking all over for the regular cherry tomatoes this year and couldn't find any. Funny... I have heard lots of people saying that this year and when I think about it, I didn't see any, either. I had seeds so I wasn't looking for any. She was thrilled that I had plenty to share with her.

Then, my turn again. When I had called her, she said she was just finishing up eating a Sweet Vadalia onion. We talked about how good they were and she said she would save me one. As we talked, they decided that they probably needed to check their mail, anyway, and her husband would just go ahead and stop by and swap stuff. (Although they are approximately a mile away, their mail box is just a few feet down the road from the edge of my property.)  I grabbed a bag and quickly picked a mess of lambsquarters, finishing just as he pulled up. We swapped, chatted a moment, and both went back to our houses and chores... very happy people. It was as good as a Christmas gift exchange, only maybe even better because we both got something that we had really been wanting, but it was very unexpected.

I LOVE living around neighbors like this. Communities were once like this, then it all kind of died off as greed and heavy material desires set into society ..... now, as we enter terrible times again, there seems to be a glimmer of hope for this type of community sharing and bonding again. I hope it stays that way this time, even IF the economy miraculously improves.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Homemade Laundry Soap

I normally make my own laundry soap COMPLETELY from scratch, meaning I even make the soap that I grate up to make my laundry soap with. But recently, as I started working on cleaning out a bathroom closet, I came across a large hoard of store purchased bar soaps. Long before I started making my own soaps ... when all six kids were still at home, I purchased soaps "stock up style" any time I found a sale, had a coupon, or better yet, had a coupon AND it was on sale. I also had a box of those tiny hotel soaps that a couple of traveling relatives had given to me.

Now that I make my own soaps for bathing, I really don't want to use these store purchased soaps on my skin.... but I really don't want to throw them away, either. The answer? ....  I have been grating them up and making Powdered Laundry Soap out of them for Dave and I. And let me tell you, over time, it REALLY saves some money!

Here is my recipe for Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap:
  • 2 cups finely grated bar soap
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • a few drops essential oils (optional)
Mix all together in a large bowl (glass, plastic, or stainless steel - NOT aluminum) until thoroughly blended. Use only 1 Tablespoon per average sized load. Add an extra 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon for extra heavily soiled laundry and/or larger loads. 

I DO NOT advise grating these hard, commercial bars of soap in your food processor. It is much too hard on them and can easily break the bowl, snap the pin that holds it on, and/or destroy the motor. (yep, I had to get a new one.)
For these hard bars of commercial soap, they grate up pretty quickly, easily and finely on a hand grater. If you still have difficulty grating them, microwave them for just a few seconds (careful, too long will burn them) to soften them and they will grate up much easier, though not as finely. If you do not have a microwave you can easily soften them in your oven, the dash of your car on a hot day, or even just sitting in the sun on the concrete, brick or rocks. It doesn't take long.

Once you have the bar soap all grated up, if it still isn't as fine as you would like, dump it into your food processor with just a little of the Borax and Washing Soda. Whirl all until fine and smooth. The two powdered ingredients cling to the soap so that the soap doesn't stick to the blade nor the sides of the processor and it smoothly powders all nice and fine. Then add in your remaining borax and washing soda, blending well with a spoon (wooden or stainless steel, NOT aluminum).

For added savings and a much harder working laundry soap, I purchase my Borax and Washing Soda at a chemical supplier in large bags. Not only is it much cheaper that way in the long run, but it is a much stronger, better grade product. For example ..... the Borax you purchase at your local grocer or retail store is usually 20 mule. What I purchase at a chemical supplier is 5 mule (MUCH stronger). Since it is still less expensive (ounce per ounce) I can still use the same amount in my recipe AND save money while having a laundry soap with much more cleaning power!

Since these commercial bar soaps usually already have a strong fragrance to them, you might not want to add any more. But if you desire stronger grease cutting ability from your laundry soap, thoroughly blending in a few drops of grease cutting essential oils (such as pine, rosemary, or any of the citrus) works great. They also help to rid your laundry of odors and germs.

You don't use POWDERED laundry detergent and prefer liquid? That's easy..... simply dissolve the amount of powder you would use for a load in a cup or two of hot water, stir until dissolved, then add to your laundry and wash as usual.

One more added tip ..... when you are grating up the commercial, perfumey, store bought soaps, I STRONGLY advise wearing a mask over your nose and mouth. I didn't when I was grating up the hotel soaps and within an hour, EVERYTHING in my upper respiratory tract was as packed full of mucous as it could possibly get! I was miserably sick for a good long while. I also don't advise using laundry soaps made from store bought soaps on a long-term basis (unless they are all natural, of course), but it is a great way to use the ones you have on hand up without having to throw them away, and save a little money in the process. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

(DF) SNAKE!!!!!: an unwelcome guest in the hen nest

Before I get started, let me make it very clear that I do not really dislike snakes (at least in their own habitat).  I would also like to say that I am not an advocate for killing any creature (and yes that includes snakes, bugs and poison ivy) without a really good reason.  Considerations of scary or annoying or even dangerous don't qualify in my mind as good reasons.  For me personally, and each of us has the right and obligation to make such decisions for themselves, what qualifies as good reasons are few.  They include the need for food, an immediate threat to oneself or others, with others including not only other humans but any creature one is responsible for the survival of, such as domestic animals and pets that we have agreed to care for.  Sorry, that wasn't supposed to be a full essay, so now to what I was really saying.

Recently, I have noticed that the daily egg count has been less than stable.  Some days there will be six or seven and other days one or none at all, sometimes for a couple of days in a row.  With no sign of broken eggs or other evidence, my obvious suspicion was a snake.  My suspicions were right, and Sunday afternoon I surprised a large black rat snake (commonly known in this area as a chicken snake) in the hen nest, with bulges to show two eggs already swallowed and another on the way.  The nests have doors that open into the blacksmith shop so I don't have to open the chicken pen to gather eggs, making the variety of implements for dispatching the intruder somewhat considerable.  In seconds, the snake was dead and laying beside the path, still dripping egg from its mouth.

As I have already stated, there has to be a good reason for me to kill anything, and to kill one of these non-poisonous snakes is a particularly shameful loss around the farm.  Normally, their main food source is rats and mice, which everyone wants to keep under control for obvious reasons.  However, once they get started eating eggs, they don't stop.  And why should they?   Snakes aren't stupid and an egg is a wonderful source of protein, with the added benefit that it does not try to run away or put up a fight.  This is where the reason for killing the snake comes in.  Eggs are the reason for having the chickens in the first place and a threat to someone's food is a potential threat to that person because it takes away that nutrition.  As an added factor, if there are chicks present, they are just another snack to the hungry snake, and a large one like this particular individual of about five feet long can kill a full grown hen.

Yes, the good reason was really there, but such a total waste of a misguided predator.  Or was it a total waste?  I remember quite well how much my grandmother loved her chickens and how much she hated anything that was a threat to them.  She hated snakes in particular and would kill everyone she saw, no matter what kind.  She also believed it was a terrible sin to waste anything, even a dead snake.  To keep this sinful waste from happening, she would bury any snake she killed (or anything else that invaded her chicken house for that matter) in the garden.  Partly as a result of this practice, her garden soil was very rich and productive.  With that in mind, the snake in question is now in the compost pile under manure and bedding from the goat stall, where it will enrich the soil for next year's garden.  And egg production should be a bit more stable, at least until that blasted squirrel finds a way to get in the chicken pen, but that is another story.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


On May first, Anna talked in the "Tightwad Tuesday" post about starting sweet potato slips from sweet potatoes purchased on sale earlier in the year.  A few days before she had discovered that there were a few sprouting. Anna found one sweet potato she had forgotten about from the year before.  It was starting to sprout so she gave it to me to start slips from.  I promptly buried it in a pot of compost and proceeded to keep it watered.  Sure enough, there were soon leaves popping up in the pot.

As the next few weeks passed, the growth in the pot became very nice and it was soon time to plant them out.  Saturday was the most likely time for me to get time to plant, but I took the opportunity earlier in the week to dig up a bed in the garden, which I believed would be enough space for the amount of slips from one sweet potato.

Saturday came and I eagerly dug compost into the bed in preparation for planting.  With great anticipation, I removed the slips, compost, potato and all, from the pot.  I knew there were some roots (quite honestly, I had peaked a little) but was not at all prepared for what I saw.  Roots had filled the pot almost to the point of being root bound.

I have started sweet potato slips in the past, by burying the potato in dirt, in sand and by submerging the sprouting end in water, and all of these methods worked well.  This was the first time I had used straight compost, and the resulting root mass was far more than I expected.  You can bet I will be using compost to start slips from now on.

That one sweet potato produced a full dozen lovely plants which gave me no choice but to dig up another bed to accommodate.  If the age of the original sweet potato means anything, these slips should produce some real keepers which can potentially keep us in slips for years to come.  Now we will see how well they produce.

Friday, May 18, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Fluoride, Where It Comes From, & Unknowingly Medicated

Fluoride . . . . . . I can't believe they put this stuff in a pill and give it to our kids!

Fluoride - a binary compound of fluorine with another element. It is a neurotoxic chemical that is cumulative.

Over the past several years I have broken quite a few bones. Sometimes, only enough pressure that would normally only cause bruising ,would result in a break or a fracture. I went to several doctors trying to find the cause and they all just said that each and every break was a 'coincidence'. I had bone density tests done and they all came back great... actually.... they came back better than great. They showed that my bones were actually 10 years younger than I actually am. So I asked them how that could be if I kept breaking things. COINCIDENCE

I was not going to believe that it was coincidence. Something just wasn't right. It just isn't normal to break/fracture bones that often. I couldn't get any answers from any medical persons, so I set out on my own to research, dig deep, and find some answers. EVERYTHING I read, that pertained to my symptoms and breaks, pointed to fluorosis. So I decided to dig even deeper, because although everything pointed to that being what my problem was, I didn't think it was possible for me to have ingested much of it.Here is what I found:

First, I learned that my drinking water was loaded with it. I had no idea! I was always told that ours didn't have any in it. When I contacted the chemist at our local water treatment plant (And let me tell you, it was some work getting a reply from him!) I learned that fluoride had been being added to our drinking water for over 30 years. He said that the records didn't go any farther back than that, so he couldn't tell me how long ago they actually started adding it. When I asked what kind of fluoride was being added, I learned that only a very small percentage was the natural kind, and the rest was the kind from manufacturing waste!  I drink LARGE amounts of water, especially in the summer, so it appears I had ingested enough over my lifetime that my bones had finally started paying the price (an probably other parts of my body as well).

In general, there are two types of fluoride that are used in our water systems. The first is the naturally occurring fluoride calcium fluoride. Although still toxic in large amounts, it isn't nearly as toxic as chemically produced fluoride.  Most water plants either don't use this one, or only small amounts of it because it is costly to obtain.

The second is sodium fluoride. It is a synthetic waste product, usually coming from the chimneys of  plants for the aluminum, nuclear, and fertilizer industries. Usually, it is used just as it comes out of the chimneys with no further processing (YUCK!). This form of fluoride, the one MOST commonly used in our water supplies, toothpastes, dental fluoride treatment, and those little fluoride pills that are given to your children, is one of the most toxic forms. It can cause an horrifyingly array of serious health issues, including my brittle bones. Why is this type so commonly used? Because it is extremely costly for plants to dispose of it and super cheap for companies to purchase. So they dispose of it in our water supplies!

Does it really help with our teeth? I don't think so, and some studies show that it actually weakens them. Many, many year ago, a study was done on a small group of young children using the natural form of fluoride. Although many studies have since shown results to the contrary that meager study concluded that it helped their teeth, so from that, we began to be doused with fluoride.  Independent studies have shown otherwise, but if these were taken into consideration, then dumping all that toxic waste would be far too difficult and expensive.

A "safe" amount of fluoride in our drinking water has been set (though I don't believe any is safe), but they aren't taking into account the many other places we get fluoride in addition to just the water we drink throughout the day, or that some people drink more than others. As I began to look at all the places I was getting fluoride from, I was surprised because I was thinking of just mostly from my water that I drink. Setting aside the naturally occurring fluoride we receive (such as from green tea and other foods and beverages), we take it in from far more places than we realize. Of course, it is in many toothpastes (I now make my own) and our drinking water.We cook our foods with that nasty tap water, which adds fluoride to our foods. We water our gardens with that tap water, which absorbs fluoride up into the veggies and fruits we eat. We purchase foods and beverages that have been processed with fluoridated water (if it just says "water" on that ingredient list, chances are it is fluoridated municipal water. Even if it says 'purified' water, it may have fluoride in it). It is also being added to many of the medications that we take (We can read the ingredients to look for it, but that doesn't help for prescription medications). Over time, this all quickly adds up! Then, add in that we may take in large amounts simply from bathing. As we bathe, our pores open up and let the fluoride absorb. The warmer the bath, the longer we are in it, the more of the toxin we take into our bodies. A long, hot bath can bring quite a bit of the nasty stuff into our bodies!

So, what type of fluoride is used in those tasty, chewable tablets that are being forced onto our precious children? Why, SODIUM FLUORIDE, of course! It is also added to many children's VITAMIN TABLETS! The USDA has never approved the use of fluoride tablets for our children and actually considers fluoride a toxin. This is scary. I would not want to hand my child a tablet to eat that came from the chimney of an industrial plant!

I have taken several measures to remove some of the built up fluoride from my body and to help heal it, and I have made great improvements. (I will be discussing that in later posts.)  But one thing is for sure, I no longer drink, nor cook with ordinary tap water (well, except for at Dave's Farm because he is on natural well water). I still have concerns, though, about bathing in it and hope to remedy that, too.
I look forward to your comments and input. Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I Want Them All!!! ... or ... co-parenting

My tiniest cat decided that she wanted all the kittens from both litters!

She had climbed into the box with the other cat's younger kittens and coaxed her own to follow.

AMAZINGLY, neither cat got upset over the situation. They simply compromised.

My battery was dying when I took this pic, so it's kind of fuzzy. Batteries are in charger, and I will post a better one when I catch them together again. Some of the kittens are hiding up under the white cat as they nurse.  None of the kittens are picky...  they just nurse on which ever Momma they come to first.

Yep, going to have to get them a bigger box, because they won't all fit in that one much longer!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


First, I would like to apologize for the delay in this post this week. Dave and I are both having great Internet difficulties. For the past day or two, he has not been able to get online at all, and I was only able to get on long enough to get kicked back off. If anyone else is having similar difficulties in your area, we would like to hear about it... like to know just how far the problems go out.

Okay, now for this week's money saving tips on making a Free Salad. I am a big fan of salads. I crave them often, and, at times, I practically live on them. The other day, one of those salad craving moods hit me really hard. My salad makings in the garden are not yet ready, and I DID NOT want to spend the time and gas to drive to town just to buy things for a salad. The answer? .... Take a walk around my yard to see what Wild Greens I might still have to make a salad with.

From late winter (as we begin to have a few warm days), all the way up until the heat really begins to set in, there is a constant array of fresh, FREE greens to make a great raw salad with, if you just look around you. (Note: Be CERTAIN you know exactly what it is you are picking and eating!)   
 The variety of greens (along with fruits and flowers) constantly changes as the temperatures and weather changes, so you will never get tired of eating the same salad over and over. Your ingredients available for your salads will probably change every couple of weeks. Example: Cleavers and Henbit are now gone, wild lettuce is now too tough, but Honeysuckle and mulberries are abundant. 

This is the salad I ended up with after my walk through my yard. EVERYTHING in it was taken from the wild. NOTHING was purchased, and I never left my property. All was organically grown (naturally) with no chemicals or pesticides.

As for the dressing I used, it was free, also .... sort of. Last week I had hit a Super Sale on Marinated Artichoke Heart Salad (39¢ a jar). I had saved the 'juice' off of it because it is great for using as a marinade for meats, or (in this case) as a dressing over salads. That 'juice' that most people throw away is a great blend of oil, vinegar, and spices.... the basics of a good salad dressing or marinade. It is so useful for so many things that I can't believe people throw it away when they get to the bottom of the jar! (WE have also found that a few sips of it opens up our sinuses for awhile) This time, it made the absolute perfect dressing for my Wild Salad. What a wonderful treat this was without ever leaving my house, nor spending a single penny!

If you would like more information on the specific ingredients used in this salad, you can find it HERE on our TwoFarmsOne Cooking blog.

Thank you and Happy Wild & Free Eating!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


For all of you who are mothers, are honoring a mother or like myself, have at some point lost a mother and would love to go back a few years and celebrate, we here at Two Farms One would like to wish you a happy and truly blessed Mothers Day.

Friday, May 11, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Addicted or Dependent... There IS a difference!

This isn't really a post about natural remedies or anything like that, but it is some interesting information I would like to share. In a day and time where many of us are trying so hard to turn away from chemical medications as much as possible, and turn more towards natural healing, information like this can be pretty helpful at times.

Over the years I have been on a variety of medications (unfortunately). Back when I was 21, when I first went on heart medication, the doctor told me that whatever I did, "Don't quit taking it cold turkey. It is a dependency drug. Stopping it abruptly can seriously damage your heart."  I mistakenly took him to mean it was an addictive drug.

Over the years, from time to time, I was put on various medications that were classified as "dependency" drugs. The doctor assured me it was NOT an addictive drug. Friends and family would insist that "dependency" was just a doctor's nice word for 'addiction' to keep themselves out of trouble. So one time I asked one of my better doctors what the difference (if any) was and he explained it to me very clearly. Of course, I had to back it up with some deeper research. Here is what I learned. Keep in mind that here, in this post, I am talking about prescription medications... not illegal drugs, gambling, video games, alcohol, etc.:

DEPENDENCY: Drug dependency is when the BODY has become so adapted to a drug/medication, that when the drug is no longer put into the body, it can lead to withdrawals and/or organ damage. HERE is one good explanation. The medication does not cross through the blood-brain barrier, but the body becomes so used to running on it, that to suddenly quit taking it will often cause withdrawals and even major organ damage. Your mind doesn't crave the drug... it isn't thinking, "I gotta have it, I just gotta have it." but your body, without the medication it has become accustomed to, will not work properly if doses are missed or stopped altogether.

ADDICTION: Drug addiction (remember, I am talking prescription, here), can often happen with medications that cross the Blood-Brain Barrier. Not all medications can cross the blood-brain barrier. But when they do, there is then a risk that your mind will become addicted to the drug... that your mind will crave it. With addiction, your mind thinks it can't function without the drug it has become used to. Often times your mind's determination to get another dose of the drug in question may be so strong that it may make a person act in ways they never usually would or do things to get it that they would never do otherwise. (This is not the case with dependency)  I really hope this is making sense. The first part of this page also has a great explanation about addiction in relationship to the blood-brain barrier.

So in general, DEPENDENCY drugs affect the body and ADDICTIVE drugs affect the brain, which, in turn, can affect the entire body. There are many different views, opinions, definitions, and explanations as to dependency versus addiction, but in the world of prescribed medications, this is the explanation I was given by my best doctor. And I hope that at least one person can get some benefit out of my odd ramble of the day.  Although not about addiction, HERE is one more interesting bit of information about medications and the blood-brain barrier.
Here are some NATURALS that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Although this is a little off topic, I find it sadly interesting that Caffeine crosses the blood-brain barrier, but cancer drugs can't. At YOUNG LIVING they discuss some Essential Oils that show capabilities of crossing the Blood Brain Barrier and even raising the oxygen levels in the brain, which could be great news for healing cancer and other diseases that chemical medications can't, and without the side effect of addiction, too.

There are also things throughout our daily lives that can open up the Blood Brain Barrier and allow things in that normally wouldn't go in. Could this cause a normally DEPENDENCY drug to become an ADDICTIVE drug? I do not know, but I think I will be doing some further research on the subject. At Neuroscience For Kids, they discuss these every day barrier breakers. It really gives you something to think about. It is just one more reason for me to wean off of using my microwave, and work harder at getting my blood pressure down (naturally, of course)!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I learned last night that my middle granddaughter is having her Pre-K Graduation tomorrow night. Seriously? Pre-K? GRADUATION?  Now, don't get me wrong, I will tell you in an instant how proud I am of my grand kids. I also look forward to participating in all of their events that I possibly can. Although I don't get to very often, I love getting to watch them in their plays, graduations, sports, etc. It just makes a grandma swell with pride! But some of the activities kids are involved in today, one must wonder just where exactly the logic in it is.

Way back when, there were two graduations.... Middle School (or 8th grade graduation if your school was one of those that went from K-8th), and High School graduation. Then they squeezed in 6th grade graduation. (especially in places that had a middle school) It was initially pretty simple, but, as time went on, it became more hyped-up involved. Then, just as we adjusted to the extra "graduation" (and I say extra because with six kids, any year we had less than three 'graduations' was a relief a light year.), they threw in KINDERGARTEN GRADUATION!

I never have adjusted to the idea of Kindergarten Graduation. I am still from the old-school way of thinking where Kindergarten is "optional" and First Grade is where it all starts. By "where it all starts" I am not referring to the process of learning (because I believe that begins at home prior to school), but the beginning of tossing our kids into the hectic jungle of learning where the biggest thing they initially learn is other people's morals and ways. Setting aside the fact that I don't think, in today's society, that ANY of our public schools are fit for our children to attend, if they are going to, I think they should still learn as much as possible at home for as long as they can, at least until Kindergarten or First Grade.

But now kids are starting public schools as young as 3years old, sometimes even 2 years .... in what is called Pre-K. Personally, I think it is just a glorified babysitter, yet society is really pushing these kids to enroll in Pre-K as early as possible. I am sure it serves a great purpose for children whose parent(s) work and they have to go to a sitter anyway, but I have strong beliefs that children should receive their initial education and morals AT HOME, from their parents! When we send our children to school, they aren't just learning what the teacher is teaching them (and I often question the quality of that, too), but they are learning all kinds of things from the other kids around them, and from the parents that come to pick up their classmates. It becomes EXTREMELY difficult to instill our own morals and values into our kids when they are away from us all day.

I do not at all agree with the direction the younger end of our school systems have gone (and I also disagree with most of the upper end, nowadays, too). I have no doubt but that family values are falling to the wayside because of this push for 'early education.'  But I could easily elaborate much more fully and go on all day on this topic, so I will stop with that, because I am sure you get my drift by now. I will say; however, that if I had a child to raise in today's world, they would never even set foot in a Public School for even one day. I ended up homeschooling my youngest two children, and, in today's world, I would start out that way from the beginning if I had it to do now.

But...... I do LOVE my grand kids and I am so very proud of them for all of their accomplishments. So, irregardless of my opinions on them going to Pre-K, or having a Pre-K Graduation (which I just learned won't even be at their school, but at our town's big Civic Center!) I will be there to support them, because it is important to them.

So, since my granddaughter loves dolls so much, and loves for me to knit her things, I knitted this little (6-inch) doll for her 'Graduation Gift.'  I had just recently found this pattern as I was looking for a small doll pattern for another project I have started, and I just had to make my granddaughter one, too.  I found the pattern HERE and made a couple of alterations. Instead of casting on 20 stitches, I Cast on 18 stitches and knit in the round. I did the arms as her pattern stated, but for the legs, I used a 4-stitch i-chord. It just seemed right that the legs were a little bigger than the arms.  For the hair, I cut 12 (8.5 inch) strands. I tied them together in the middle, braided each side, then tied the ends with a small bit of coordinating yarn. It has been years decades since I put hair on any dolls. I use to quite a bit, but I am sorry to say, I have forgotten how. So this was my simple stab at relearning. On one doll, as I attached the hair, I left the yarn tail long so that I could satin stitch some bangs on her. It turned out really cute, too. As for the eyes and mouth, be patient with me. Once again, it has been years since I did any faces, too. Obviously, I need to drop down a yarn size for the facial features. BUT, as none of us are perfect, I will show my goofs to you, too (even if I have been knitting for 40 years and showing them is embarrassing). I figure, when new knitters come along, if all they see is our 'perfect' work, they might get discouraged. But if they see that even those of us that have had our knitting needles glued to our hands for decades still make mistakes, too, it might encourage them to continue with their new found hobby and join the ranks of us hopelessly addicted knitters.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Better than cheap lawnmower

Here on dave's farm, a lawnmower is not an absolute necessity, since I can simply cut the tall grass for the goats.  However, there are plenty of snakes, ticks and rodents that are much more likely to come close to the house if the grass is tall, making a lawnmower nice to have.  Every garden center and farm store in the known universe sells a variety of mowers at what is considered a reasonable price, so this should be no problem.  But it is a problem!!  The problems are very simple, the first being what is considered a reasonable price and the second being that I am such a tightwad.  But there is a solution, and remember, cheap is good, free is better.

The solution here is obviously a cheap lawnmower, or better yet, a free one.  It just so happened that I noticed last summer that there was a decent looking mower setting in the shop where I help out at times.  It was in the corner, behind a couple of old engine blocks and was completely covered in dust, yes, it looked like it had been there for awhile.  I asked if it would run and if it might be for sale.  Turns out that a customer had left it to be worked on almost two years earlier, but the price of the carburetor that was needed for it to run right was about $50 plus labor.  The customer had not confirmed the work but had not picked up the mower either.

Though the sign above the shop door leaves no doubt that anything left over 60 days becomes property of the shop, the owner said he would call the customer to see if he would sell it.  Calls were made but not answered over the next month or two, and the calls were not returned.  After a couple of months, the shop owner got frustrated and told me if I wanted to try and get it running, I could have it, but I had to work on it somewhere else as he was tired of thinking about it.

Within minutes, the mower was in the back of my old Chevy and on its way to a new home.  Later that evening, it fired up, though it did not run well and no gas seemed to get through the carburetor.  Next day, with the help of some carburetor cleaner, a can of gas treatment and a bit of work, it was running well enough to mow the lawn, or at least the part that was short enough to mow at that time.  It still didn't run right but I hadn't dropped a couple of hundred dollars either.  I used it for the rest of the summer, and parked it for the winter.

This spring, it fired up and ran well enough to mow once again, though still not good.  Halfway through the first mowing, it died.  No gas was getting to the engine.  Off came the carburetor and once in pieces on the tailgate of the truck, it was obvious that there was a problem with a small rubber piece inside (needle valve seat, to give it a name).  Not something I generally have laying around, but it did not take me long to break out the trusty exacto knife and make one from part of an old tire.  In a very short time, it was running quite well, not like new but close.

Don't get me wrong, it is not a new mower and not maintenance free (as evidenced by the fact that the starter rope broke later when I tried to start it again).  When you consider that a comparable mower sells new for just over $200, that even with the rope I only have about $10 in this one which will do the job, and that I am just too tight to turn loose of the new price for something that is nice to have but not necessary, it is a pretty good deal.

It is also worthy of note that with the price of used mowers in this area running in the $75 and under range and the price of parts and labor for even minor problems being pretty high, it could be worth checking the local shops from time to time.  If you have a little knowledge of small engine repair and a few tools, the repairs might not be so bad.  And you too could have a "cheap or better" lawnmower.

Monday, May 7, 2012


As the old saying goes, "you get what you pay for".  But do you really?  Is it always as advertised?  Not likely, at least not always.  There are many things that are not exactly as they appear or are advertised, and in many cases (unless we are very observant and read the labels carefully) we may not even know that we paid for something we didn't get.  It happens all the time with food labels, phone service, clothing and at least a bazillion other things that don't come so readily to mind.  But what about things more simple and straightforward, like garden plants?

Have you ever bought a tomato plant and found that it was really a pepper plant instead?  Me nither, but they look enough different that it would be hard to mistake one for the other.  What about one variety of tomato or pepper that turned out to be another?  This is something that could happen often and in most cases, most people would not be sure of the mistake.

Look carefully at the photos.  You will notice that the tomato is small and red, some variety of cherry tomato to be more precise.  Anna purchased this plant which was clearly labeled as a "Lemon Boy", and had a nice picture of medium yellow tomatoes on the vine.  The tomatoes it is producing are certainly not "Lemon Boy", or anything close.  The pepper plant is one I bought.  You might think it is a bell pepper, judging from the shape of the peppers.  In reality, the peppers are smaller than bell peppers and, though still green, they are obviously hot.  They appear to be a variety called "Cajun Bell", but whatever they are, they are absolutely not the "Cayenne" that they were clearly labeled to be, complete with pictures of beautiful "Cayenne" peppers.

If the tomato had been a different yellow variety than the one labeled, would we have known?  If the pepper had been similar to what was expected, would we have made the connection?  The answer is, probably not.  While surprises can sometimes be good, this disturbs me.  Not only because the varieties are different than advertised (in fact, I feel it is always good to try different varieties) but more because of how such little "mistakes" could be used.

Now to my main point.  It is no secret that the seed companies (among other entities) are always pushing their hybrid seeds, and would like nothing more than for the open pollinated, heirloom varieties to disappear.  It is also no secret that they are constantly developing genetically modified varieties and trying to push them on the consumer.  My question is simple.  At some point, how much trouble would it be to simply substitute a hybrid or genetically modified variety with similar characteristics to the one you think you are purchasing?  The frightening answer is that it would be quite easy to do, very hard to prove and a big chunk of the population would not know the difference for at least a year, and only then, if they saved seeds and planted them the next spring.  This would solve the seed company problem and our problems would begin in earnest.  The really scary part is that if someone like me could think of it, we can't expect that they haven't thought of it too.

I don't think of myself as paranoid, and I am certainly not trying to say that anyone is "out to get us".  The fact is simply that they are looking at the bottom line and if we save our own seeds, they can't sell theirs to us.  This gives me more incentive to grow heirloom varieties and save seeds.  I strongly encourage everyone else to do the same, if for no reason other than keeping the old varieties that our grandparents and great grandparents grew, from being lost forever.  Once you have saved those seeds, I encourage everyone to in some way, share them with others, whether it be giving a few to the neighbor down the road, swapping those you have for those you want, or selling your surplus to those who are having trouble finding them.

If you have purchased plants or seeds that are not what you expected, have fun with the surprise and we would love to hear the stories.  If you have heirloom varieties, we would also love to hear about the ones you enjoy. 

Lambsquarters Bread and a Cooking Blog

Dave and I both love to cook. And not only do we love to cook, but we love to experiment, test, and create in the kitchen. We figure, if it doesn't come out to our liking, then there is always a critter around that will surely eat it, then we can make needed adjustments on the next batch, but that rarely happens, as usually, most things we make at least come out humanly edible.

But we both have a giant multitude of recipes that we use and dishes that we cook, and we are constantly creating new ones. We want to share them ALL with you, but we have been afraid that if we did, it would turn this blog about building our lives together into just a cooking blog. So, for now, we decided to start a "spin-off cooking blog" and see how it goes. We would greatly welcome your opinions on the subject.

You can find our cooking blog at http://cookingattwofarmsone.blogspot.com .  Today's recipe is for Lambsquarters Bread. We hope you enjoy!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pharmacy Friday - Perilla Mint... I had no idea!

  Perilla Mint -  Perilla frutescens . Shiso : It is an annual wild mint that now grows abundantly here in the US. In other countries, it is cultivated and grown as a food crop, but here, it is regarded as a weed and grows quite prolifically, especially in shady, wooded areas.

Until I moved out here in the woods nearly 15 years ago, I don't recall having ever seen it. I had no idea what it was. When I first moved here, as I was pulling weeds from around wanted plants, I kept noticing that something smelled like mint. I finally realized it was the pretty green plant with the square stems and purple highlights. But I didn't know what it was called.  I left a few to grow because I thought they were so pretty, then pulled the rest. But from just those few that I left, they really took off! It now grows all over my front acre nearly as abundantly as my wild spinach (lambs quarters).

Over the years I simply regarded it as a weed because I didn't know what it was. I just knew it was taking over and I kept pulling it up and, I hate to admit it, but I sprayed it a lot, too (that was before I became so conscience of the dangers of weed killers). 

Then a couple of years ago, on a day this stuff was especially strong and wonderfully fragrant, I decided to do some deep research and see if I could find out what it was. My results, of course, turned up that it was Perilla Mint, without any doubt. But everything that I read on it said that it was a nuisance because it was highly toxic to many animals, especially livestock such as cattle, horses, goats, etc. It appears it is very deadly to them with little chance for recovery or remedy. I have to wonder now how many of my goats over the years that were fine one day and gone the next, had eaten that stuff!  Here are some links on its toxicity in livestock:

   Poisonous Plants of the Southern United States
   What is Perilla Mint?
   Perilla Mint Toxicosis
   Farmer Loses 6 Cows

So for the past 2 years I have worked harder than ever to pull up and thin out this dangerous, yet beautiful and wonderful smelling plant. The results? This year it seemed to be thriving better than ever! It even survived last summers extreme heat and drought with no problem. So this spring, once again, I found myself fighting a losing battle as I fervently worked to pull it up by the bushels and discard it. Fortunately, though, I haven't seen any in my rocky goat yard, but you never know when a sprig will pop up and get eaten before you ever see it.

But the other day, as I was working in my yard picking wild edibles and pulling up and discarding the Perilla Mint, it was smelling extra wonderful that day. It got me to thinking... "How can such a beautiful and wonderfully fragrant plant be so completely horrible. It HAS to have some good purpose." So when I took a break, I came in here to the computer and decided to do a little deeper researching on it. What I found was AMAZING!  I had no idea the Perilla Mint has so many good uses, too!

 In Japan, it is also called Shiso and is actually the most important part of their diet and cuisine!  Too bad I can't ship all of mine over there to them. It would definitely be an easy farm to get started, here, and maybe even pay for itself, lol.  HERE  and HERE is what Wikipedia has to say about its culinary uses in several different countries. I especially like the way it is used to serve Wasabi on.

This site (Drugs.com)  says that it has shown antioxidant, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and tumor-preventing properties. I have seen several places where it is known for its cancer fighting abilities against several different cancers. If you can keep it away from your livestock, this plant is WONDERFUL!!!

At LIVESTRONG they talk about how great it is to alleviate nausea, allergies, sunstroke, asthma, muscle spasms, and other ails. And to think that I have been pulling up and throwing away the very thing that could be helping with my asthma and allergies! It also fascinates me that it can prevent some food poisonings. Maybe I should sip a cup of Perilla Mint tea before I go out to eat the next time! HERE is the nutrition information for Perilla Mint from LiveStrong.

According to Local Harvest, Perilla Mint seeds were brought to the USA in the early 1800s by Asian immigrants. They give several great cooking uses for this great herb and also says that it is great for relief of colds, flu, sore throats, congestion, and that breathing in the steam from a boiled pot of it can clear the sinuses! Sheesh! I have been battling this blasted sinus infection and was throwing away the very thing that might help it. Ugh!!! 

So now, as I walk through my yard, I view this most interesting plant from a totally different point of view. I view it with a smile and thoughts running through my head as to how much of it I want to dry and put away for winter's use; while at the same time, I am contemplating how I am going to let some of it grow while keeping it away from the livestock. I think the best defense will be to make sure they have plenty to eat so that they won't even be tempted to take a nibble of it.

I will post a picture of my Perilla Mint sometime this weekend. By the time I realized this evening that I hadn't taken a pic yet, then cleared out some pics so I could take one, it was too dark. Thank you for taking the time to read my post. If you know of any more uses for this most interesting herb, we would love to hear them.

On the right, you can see the turned over leaf to show the slight purple coloring on the backside of the leaves.The amount of purple on the leaves/plants will vary greatly. Sometimes there will be no purple at all.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

(AF) Bug Out In Your Car

I have been reading a lot more lately about how to prepare for emergencies, both semi-small and larger scale disasters. I have made some preparations, but, sorry to say, I have a long way to go. But after reading a post over on another blog, I realize that I am thinking way too one-sided as I plan out and organize my preparedness.

One thing they brought to attention was the fact that, when a disaster strikes, you might not be at home. You know, I hate to admit it, but I have been thinking mostly in that direction, of being at home when disaster strikes. I am sorry to say that I have not been thinking in terms of the fact that if a huge earthquake hits (and we keep having more and more of the darned tremors), or a tornado, or a bomb, or any other disaster, I MIGHT NOT BE AT HOME. I might be out somewhere in my car.

Over at Preparedness Pantry, they strongly suggest that you also carry a well stocked emergency kit in your vehicle and one at your office (if you have an office) or place of work (if you work away from home). Several years ago I did carry what I called my "spur of the moment camping box" in my car. I had everything I needed in there for me and my youngest two kids to, when opportunity arse, just drop everything and run to the lake for 2 days. It contained a small grill, tent, sleeping bags, medicine kit, food, fishing supplies, and everything we needed for 2 days. I guess that could have counted for an emergency kit. But as the kids grew up and moved out, I got too busy to go camping, and got a little nervous about going by myself, the stuff in my kit got old, I fed it to the chickens, and everything else was put away to make room for hauling stuff to the flea market.

It sounds like I should have just restocked with fresh supplies and left it all in there. So over the next month I think I will drag my old box back out, begin to restock it, and make room for it to STAY in the car. My biggest worry is that, this time of year, it gets far too hot for anything to stay in the car for even a day and remain edible/usable. So I am looking for suggestions on items that heat won't hurt, and/or ways to package them so that high heat won't affect them.  HERE is the link to the post I read that got me to thinking about all of this. They have some great suggestions for starting and organizing a 3-day emergency kit to keep in your vehicle.  If any of you already have an emergency kit that you keep in your vehicle, it would be great if you could share with us what it contains along with any pointers and tips you might want to share.

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Sweet Potatoes Get Great Mileage

 Late last Fall, sometime right after Thanksgiving, I stumbled upon the most magnificent sale on Sweet Potatoes.  The store must have badly overstocked because they were selling them at 10¢ a pound, no limit!!! There was absolutely nothing wrong with them and they looked very nice. (well, except for the fact that they were from the store and might have chemicals on them)  I LOVE sweet potatoes cooked so many different ways, and they are VERY healthy, so I purchased about 50 pounds of them that day. (which only came to about $5.00)

That store must have REEEEALY over stocked on them, because they remained on sale for that unheard of price for quite some time. It turned out that they were extra delicious sweet potatoes with the creamiest of textures, so each time I went for groceries I picked up a few more of them until, by the end of the sale, I had gotten at least 150 pounds of them! It might have been more, I kind of lost count.

This is what they look like after over 5 months.
  I kept them in the cooler part of my house and they kept well all winter long. Dave and I thoroughly enjoyed eating all the best flavored sweet potatoes we could possibly desire over the past few months. They really held their quality well. Many days, I put them in a cast iron loaf pan in the front of my wood burning stove (winter heat). They would slow cook while I went about my chores so that when I was ready to eat, the sweet potatoes were done to perfection ..... crispy skin outside ... creamy, tender and sweet inside. Just a dob of butter and my dinner was ready! Oh, how wonderful they have been!

We decided that we had to have more of those great sweet potatoes and were hoping to sprout some of them into slips so we could get them started. We really prefer growing our own so that we aren't eating all those anti-sprouting chemicals that are usually sprayed on root crops like that. But as you can guess, something that good from the grocery store was nearly impossible to get a start off of. We tried all winter, but with no luck.

  Then a few days ago, after we had nearly given up, our luck unexpectedly changed! Although I brought them home from the store in plastic grocery bags, I always transferred them to a box so that they wouldn't rot in the bag. But a few days ago, I realized I had missed a bag. The bag was sitting partly open (fortunately) and had apparently gotten just the right mix of air and moisture, and 4 of the sweet potatoes were putting out a few sprouts. YEA!!! So, we are now nursing them along to get some slips so we can plant and grow our own from the best sweet potatoes we have ever eaten. So not only did we get the ultimate bargain that we enjoyed most of the fall, all winter, and on into the spring, but we may get all of our future sweet potatoes off of that wonderful sale. :)

But alas, the quality of our delicious sweet potatoes is beginning to fade. One might think that that was the end of their great uses and they were ready for the compost heap (which still isn't a bad thing), but no, they still have a great purpose. Although there aren't a lot left, there are still a few. Upon doing the math, I decided that they were cheaper than chicken feed (and probably more nutritious) and a good change of flavors for them. So I have been cooking them up a few at a time, cooling them off, and giving them to my chickens for a treat. They are so happy!!! My meat chickens have even increased their laying to nearly meet that of a decent layer. I give them about a nickel's worth of sweet potatoes and they, in turn, give me a few eggs. As soon as I get an incubator set up I will be incubating their eggs to raise some of our own meat chickens, but until then, their extra large eggs are wonderful for eating. Just one egg completely fills a fried egg sandwich!

Dave has started sweet potato slips before, but I never have (although I have grown them as decorative vines for fun as a child). As I do searches on how to do it, I am finding that there is a multitude of ways to start them.  If any of you have started your own, we would like to hear what method you used and which method you think works best.

Buying once, then saving seeds, taking starts, etc.... from produce is a great way to save money! With each 'purchase and save' you can really start building up your produce variety for very little money. Then if you can add in swapping with others, you can really start to build up your variety for nearly nothing. Those wonderful, tasty, economical sweet potatoes I purchased months ago, just keep on racking up the savings, even many months later. And we truly hope that by this fall, we can reap in a bounty of a new crop of sweet potatoes from that great sale, a bounty that we can enjoy, once again, for another long stretch, but this time, with only the cost of our labors. It was truly a savings that just keeps on saving!!!