Ok, my hands are killing me, but I wanted this post done before Halloween’s over. Here’s the Cliff Notes version:
Back in September, I covered my sunflowers with old white curtains to protect them from frost. My neighbor thought I was just decorating early for Halloween! Which was a great idea; I’d already tried coloring eyes and mouths with Sharpie but was a failure. I was muttering about the problem when Paul (aka Mr. Wonderful) suggested using fabric. “But it hurts to use scissors!” I whined. Then I remembered the cutting board and rotary cutter I invested in a few years when Cook got a quilt shop (Thanks again, Susan Covey of Cabin Quilting!)
Sewing hurts too, so Paul suggested fabric glue. Woohoo! We were business. I have almost no range of motion in my wrists lately, so he helped position the ghosts, too. One of the best things about making Halloween decorations is that they don’t have to be perfect! Get a kid to help. Or someone with crappy range of motion. It could be therapeutic. 😀
Another Halloween craft project that’s fast, cheap, and easy. Like my sister. Just kidding! Please Pin, Like, Share, or comment this project, or better yet, do it yourself!
What, you don’t name your trees? This is one of our favorite trees. Mine (Laura) shades my whole front yard in the summer. Lois’ shades the old wood shed/ice house at Cook’s Country Connection. Listen, if Pocahontas could have Grandmother Willow, we can have an Auntie Linden. And like Grandmother Willow, the Auntie Linden in our yard has smacked a guy or three in the head. So shush.
The last time I read Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, Ayla used Linden flowers to sweeten something. Finally! Something that grows in the near-arctic conditions of Cook, MN!! I searched Wikipedia to be sure it wasn’t just literary license, and discovered many other fun facts.
There is a Linden tree in Gloucestershire that is coppiced (omigod, I didn’t even know there was a word for that!! It means to harvest by cutting tree down to the stump, then letting its shoots start over. It’s technically the same tree) thought to be 2,000 years old. If you live up here, imagine a willow after attempted chainsawing.
The name of Linnaeus, the great botanist, was derived from a “lime” tree in Europe–what we Yanks call Basswood or Linden .
Linnaeus… You know, the guy who came up with a universal system for naming things. Binomial nomenclature. ie: Tilia americana. Ringin’ any bells??
There’s more. “The excellence of the honey of far-famed Hyblaean Mountains was due to the linden trees that covered its sides and crowned its summit.” Beekeepers love Linden/Basswood/Lime trees! The first time I noticed a buzzing noise coming from the tree I park under (Auntie Linden), and looked up to see thousands of honeybees I called my sister in a panic. “Don’t come over!! You will DIE!!” (She’s allergic to bee or hornet stings.) She laughed and said ” They’re just doing what bees do. Leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone. Just don’t piss ’em off.” Roger that.
I read on:
“In particular, aphids are attracted by the rich supply of sap, and are in turn often “farmed” by ants for the production of the sap which the ants collect for their own use, and the result can often be a dripping of excess sap onto the lower branches and leaves, and anything else below. Cars left under the trees can quickly become coated with a film of the syrup (“honeydew”) thus dropped from higher up. The ant/aphid “farming” process does not appear to cause any serious damage to the trees.”
Well, that’s pretty awesome… and it explains all the ants in that area. And it doesn’t hurt the trees! Huh. Here I was all worried that the ants were a sign that one of my favorite trees in all the world was sick. Whew!
It’s also good for making guitars, and even clothing. You can eat the young flowers and leaves, too!
But coolest of all, it has medicinal properties that my body needs, like fighting inflammation and healing the liver.
“Most medicinal research has focused on Tilia cordata, although other species are also used medicinally and somewhat interchangeably. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Limeflower tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the Tilia flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants) and volatile oils. The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.
“Linden flowers are used in herbalism for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), and as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. In the traditional Austrian medicine Tilia sp. flowers have been used internally as tea for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever and flu. New evidence shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective. The wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). That wood burned to charcoal is ingested to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat edema or infection such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.“
Thus, last year I made tea from the flowers and the smaller leaves they were attached to. Honestly, I don’t know if it helped the Stupid Rheumatoid Arthritis. But I’m sure it didn’t hurt. 😉 And it tasted good. Want to make your own? Good. Here’s what I did:
when flowers are mostly open, gently pick them and the smaller leaf they are attached to from the bigger main leaves. This year, they are a month behind normal. Big surprise.
I spread them evenly on trays in my dehydrator and when crumbly I separated leaves from flowers and put them in old, airtight mason jars for winter.
Then, come January I added some Rugosa Rose hips for Vitamin C and voila! Yummy, healthy, tea for two.
As you can see, the tea has very little color to it. Go by taste- not color- to judge strength. 3 or 4 minutes should be fine for a cup to brew.
As usual, if you liked this article, please click “Like” “Share” “Pin”, or leave a comment. Thank you for reading! Loveyabye!
Sometimes, it’s the shots you DON’T get. A few years ago, I captured a hummingbird moth on my camera phone. It was mostly a blur, and I had never seen anything like it. It sounded like a bee or a hummingbird, and the wings moved so fast that usually I could barely see them with the naked eye. Plus, Lois and I were probably having daiquiris in the garden. Ever since, I have been interested in, and wanted to capture these bugs on film. All I had was this one blurry, crappy picture and it kinda drove me nuts.
This spring, I was delighted to see them on my own lilac bushes. At first, the yellow and black stripes on their bodies reminded me of a bee of some kind. But when I sped up to 60 frames per second on the Nikon, I was surprised to see that the wings on these moths were … transparent!
Also, the proboscis is funky! Their tongues just kind of curl up under the chin when not sipping nectar.
…and I’m happy about it. A little over a year ago, I shared my passion for composting worms in a post called, I Have Worms. I took last winter and summer off, not wanting to bring the bins inside after spending the summer outside. I had hoped the worms would survive winter in compost bins and piles, but they didn’t. 😦
Luckily, I had shared worms with several friends, and Ms. J. still had some she was willing to share back.
I am still happy with the content of the original post, but wish there were more pictures. So this time, I’ll be keeping a kind of photo journal of the process. Welcome.
First, I keep my compostables (fruit and veggie scraps) in the freezer. It speeds up the decomp process and eliminates smell and fruit fly issues.
Also, the smaller the chunks, the faster the worms can break it all down. This Pampered Chef hamburger masheer thingy works GREAT to chop up frozen romaine.
Please note: when adding compost to an indoor worm bin, thaw it out first or the worms could die.
In order to separate the worms from their poo (castings) later, I’ve found the best method is to feed on only one side of a bin at a time. When the pile gets near the top, I will start feeding on the left side only. The worms will move to that side, leaving their nutrient-rich fertilizer on the right. I first tore up a small brown paper bag into one by six- inch strips for bedding. Then I added an ice cream pail’s worth of fruit and veggie scraps (thawed to room temp),
followed by more paper bag and finally 2-inch layer of black dirt.
I am so excited to have worms again! I can make dirt and super fertilizer all winter. Also, I eat better (more fruits and veggies) and my fridge is cleaner because I am always looking for more worm food. And Mr. Clean (aka Mr. Wonderful) doesn’t even mind that they’re inside. Much. 🙂
I am very nervous around poultry. (See “Guinea Monsters From Hell”) And I used to hate cooking. So this Martha Stewart-esque-ness is new to me. I have been growing, canning, cooking, drying and freezing food a lot more the last few years. Now, being unemployed AND on the Low Child Support Diet has encouraged me to do even more, and to do it better. It’s been a slow process, and many people have contributed along the way. Here are two that I remember.
One of my favorite bloggers is Jackie Clay. (Check her out here. Chop chop!) We are lucky to have this awesome lady in our community, and I have learned so much from her books and blogs about living off the land in this area code. I subscribed to her blog for several months before I even attempted canning on my own.
I vaguely remember Anthony Bourdain saying that the poorest people had the best-tasting food, because their seasonings could make even the cheapest cuts of meat and other ingredients taste good. That’s when I started growing herbs, tomatoes, etc. in containers and finally a garden.
As I mentioned, I am scared of live poultry; however, they are delicious, especially roasted with organic herbs that we grew here on the hill. Growing rosemary, sage, celery leaf, red onion, garlic and thyme makes me happy. So as long I have Lois and Jill next door to raise chickens, I will cook them.
By the way, does anyone know why when they are alive they are hens & roosters, but as soon as the heads come off they are just chicken?? Same with cows, bulls, steers, heifers, and beef… What the hell?
I believe it’s important to know where our food comes from. I like that the chicken (fka: rooster) was grass-fed next door, not in a cramped factory “farm.”
And better yet, the next day I made the leftovers into soup and paired it with homemade bread. Note to self: next year, grow a LOT more carrots and potatoes. As far as fast, cheap and easy goes….it was super cheap and really easy…two out of three isn’t bad.
PS: Thank you Ant, for the title! You’re right; Rooster Noodle Soup sounds way better than Chicken Noodle Soup.
Visitors to the farm are usually surprised to learn that we water the entire garden and landscape with reclaimed rain water. Our system, which collects and stores rainwater from our barn’s metal roof, provides 100% of our annual watering needs. The best part, it was extremely easy to install, and can be inexpensively adapted to almost any home, shed or roof with a gutter.
We spent the past week hooking our tanks back up from winter storage – and within 24 hours – we had just over 150 gallons stored from a single rain. It’s been over a year now since we first completed the rain collection system – and I honestly don’t know how we survived without it.
It gives us access to free water, and with our two plastic tote tanks, can collect as much as 550 gallons from a single downpour. And that’s only using rain from…
I first found this old jar full of rose petals several years ago, while cleaning out my grandparents’ basement. I vaguely remember placing it on the shelf between the two giant sets of doors that Grampa Ralph drove his school bus through.
A few months ago, I stumbled across it again. Mr. Wonderful and I tackled the basement last fall, and somehow, this didn’t get thrown away, even though the glass jar had at some point fallen from the shelf and broken. The light from the naked bulb in the 10-foot ceiling was just enough to make out a handwritten note in pencil taped to the jar.
I brought the jar up the steep steps (hand-hewn by Grampa Ralph I assume), to the sunny living room corner windows.
The note reads: “Petals from the boquet of Red Roses Ralph gave me one Mother’s Day. M.P.”
Ever thrifty, the note was written on a piece of scratch paper.
I hereby invoke the right of Artistic License and also include what I THINK when I look out this window. I left it pretty much the way it came out of my head…stream-of-conscious style. I included links so that if you fall behind, you can click to get the rest of the story.
Big Guy plowing. which means, since I don’t pay him for this service, I will hafta have my sister sleep with him. Good thing they’re married. This pimping out my sister barter system has worked great for me AND him for years. He fixes my brakes, and I say, “Thanks! I’ll have my sister sleep with you!” He delivers dirt for my garden, I say, “Thanks! I’ll have my sister sleep with you!” You get the idea. Like I said, it worked great….until she had our friend The Electrician on Retainer wire in the tanning bed in the basement of The Barn. She said, “Great, thanks! I’ll have my sister sleep with you!” Poooooor Stewart. We both turned a few shades of purple and I said, “That’s not fair!! I’m not married to him!!” and I have since been thinking of alternate barter items. No, I haven’t paid up–and have since met Mr. Wonderful. Looks like Lois will need to break out the checkbook. Sorry… dollar!
Yesterday, I had two adventures at The Farm. On the first adventure, I took along a basket to collect pine cones for a craft idea and ended up walking down memory lane.
If you are new to the blog, you may not know that my sister and I live next door to each other; she and her husband and creatures live on the land (and in the house!) our great-grandparents homesteaded in 1900; and I in the house our Grampa Ralph built next door. When we were little, our grandpa’s brother, Uncle Uno lived in the Farm house, and we spent hours between both places while our parents worked. Every day, grandpa would go next door to visit his brother, who was housebound with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Several days a week for the last 11 years, I have gone next door to let assorted dogs out (or in, or whatever their little hearts desire). Our family has watched this land and the humans (& creatures) that live here grow, reproduce, mature, die, and begin again for nearly 113 years, and the land has watched us right back.
Come for a walk with me. I’m sorry the captions are in white….I can’t change that 😦