Wednesday, January 22, 2014

You Can Can!

I'm not talking about dancing.  I'm talking about something much loved in the winter (like right now!)  when I see these on my shelves...

and much disliked in the summer (when you do it every day for weeks on end).  It involves heavy pots, lots of hot water, steam, chopping, grinding, and lots of cleaning up!

Yes, we are talking about canning!  Do you do it?  Do you water bath? Do you pressure can?  Both? If you've never done it before, will you start this year?

If you are a crazy canner during the summer, do you can when you don't have a garden? I just discovered this different type of canning a few years ago but....more about that in another post!

It's time to start thinking about canning this summer - and yes...I know it is snowing outside right now.  Begin to gather your equipment (more on that in another post).

Start picking up jars - so easy to find at estate sales, auctions and thrift stores.  I often see ads in our little paper from elderly ladies who have finally given up canning and they are selling off all of their jars!

Pick up a copy of the Ball Blue Book - it's inexpensive and is a good basic place to start!

Keep an eye out for sales at Tattler - my favorite re-usable canning lids - yes re-usable! I don't buy canning lids anymore and I save a lot of money because of that each year!  I love my Tattlers!

Also, check out your local county extension office.  They usually have a canning expert on staff! I make good use of this resource myself.  When I am going to can one of my own recipes and want to make sure I have the times and pressure down correctly, I always run it by our local extension agent just to make sure I haven't missed something!

Let me know if you have any canning questions, and I'll respond to them in future posts on canning.

More on my favorite equipment coming soon with some giveaways to help you on your path to putting up food!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Things you never thought you'd say to your children...

This is a common topic in our home..."things I never thought I'd say to my sons".

Tonight it was this...

"Your eyeliner and eyebrow pencil are waaaayyy to dark"....

I should, perhaps, mention that I have a son involved in community theatre and ballet...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Life with boys...

I know nothing....


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 and questions for YOU!

First I want to thank you all for the kind emails, messages and comments about Nora. I have the BEST readers!  Y'all touched my heart and reassured this crazy farm girl that she's not the only one who loves her cows! Thank you for your kindness and your time...I truly appreciated your comments!

This past holiday season was wonderful yet difficult.  Wonderful because we spent much time together as a family and I really enjoy having all of my kids and my grandson together.  We also got some big projects accomplished which has taken some pressure off of me - always a good thing!

Difficult because many people we know and love, experienced the death of a loved one between November and now. Our hearts still grieve with you all, yet we know He is faithful and that all of this will work together for good to those who love Him. It's so hard to see when you are in the middle of it, but take heart and know that even the hard things are gifts from Him.  I believe this is where faith and trust come that He is a loving Abba and trust that He is in control of all things. We are so grateful to Him!

I almost made my weight loss goal for 2013.  I began August 1st with the goal of 10 pounds a month.  Boy...that first month was e a s y!  The others? not so much.  I came very close though - loosing 46 pounds.  I feel better,  except for the baggy clothes thing going on.  I have more energy and have been blessed to have been healthy through all of it!  I'm setting a new goal...35 lbs. by the end of May.  I know this will be harder but I am determined!  I also hope to spend more time with stern and grump taskmaster.  We still have that love/hate relationship!

I am working on some new things in for my family which ultimately means it will be something new for y'all too.  Here's the list with questions for you!

1.  Solid lotion bars.  Do you love them? Use them?  What do you like/don't like about them?  I'm working on recipes and would love some feedback from y'all!

2.  Whipped body butter!  Again...what do you like or don't like about whipped body butter.  

3.  Which do you like most - solid lotion bars or whipped body butter?

Can you tell we are needing some moisture in my house?  One of my sons is a carpenter and he is outside all of the time!  His hands tended to get so dry when he was a child, that during the winter they would crack and bleed.  Now that he is outside all the time, I really want to develop something for him to bring relief!

A friend made an innocent comment over the holidays which began me thinking about my salves...she had a baby with a very inflamed bottom and was having trouble getting my healing salve on him - his skin was just to tender.  Ever have one of those "a-ha!" moments?  I really feel like I need to re-formulate my salves so they are a little softer and easier to apply.

4.  How do you feel about softer salves?  Yes, no?

Then one of my lovely daughters talked to me about my Healthy Lips Lip Balm.  I created this for her.  She says it does a wonderful job in warding off a cold sore episode and has greatly reduced her outbreaks.  However, if she does end up with a cold sore, the lip balm is way too painful to apply.  So...we are working on a lip "cream" that will help dry up those cold sores.  This is the same recipe as our lip balm but quite a bit "looser" to make application easier.  We just finished our first round of testing and it was very effective!  We are now working on the softness/hardness ratio so we can get it just right for those tender lips.  This would come in a tin as opposed to a tube. The tube would be used as a preventative and the tin would be used if you had active cold sores.

5.  Would a Healthy Lips Lip cream be of interest to y'all?

And another thought....

6.  Sugar scrubs....yes or no?

And just to keep you happy....and me busy...

7.  What other products would you like to see available at TNfarmgirl?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!



Friday, January 10, 2014

It's not easy to kill a cow

She'd been looking bad for sometime.  She was quite old. We couldn't get her to gain weight.  I didn't think she would survive last summer.  I knew she wouldn't this winter.

We talked about taking her to the stockyard.  But...she was an old friend. 

My boys were raised on her milk.  I made every dairy product possible from her rich creamy milk. My boys rode her like a pony. 

I don't think she ever kicked during milking. Ever.

She deserved to live her few short months on grassy pastures that were well known to her.

When all the other cows ran away from home...she stayed here.  When all the other animals conspired to make trouble (yes...they do that...) she was good as gold.

She was the perfect family cow.

Shortly after sunrise this morning, we saw her laying flat out in a field. We just knew she had died. We started trying to figure out what to do.  You don't bury a cow in ground that hasn't been above 30, and mainly in the teens, for days. 

We decided to drag her to the farm graveyard.   

A wee bit later, Elijah came running in.  She was alive....but couldn't get up.

He brought her water, hay, feed.  Nothing doing.  She appeared to be suffering. He said it looked like she was crying. Elijah rolled her over to help her get on her feet.  She didn't even have the heart to try.

I believe she was about 17. She had lived with us for over 11 years.

We knew we had to put her down.  Farm life is hard...don't believe all those pretty pictures in the magazines. 

My oldest and my youngest did the job together.  I'm grateful to both of them.  I don't think I could have done it. I stayed in the house...watched from the window...prayed and cried.

All of her pasture mates came to say goodbye...even the horse.  I didn't know they did that.

As the tractor took her to the graveyard, the other cows followed, bellowing non-stop.

Don't tell me cows don't cry.

She was my favorite cow ever....I'll miss you Nora.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Diagnosis Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1, you might want to start here!    

Now that I knew what it wasn't, I felt more confident in attempting to treat this thing spreading across Elijah's face and down his throat. We continued with the colloidal silver since that seemed to give Elijah relief.  Elijah just soaked a rag in it and kept it pressed to his face. This tells me that we were probably dealing with something bacterial.

I then started with Plantain...both compresses and poultices.  We did them for several hours that day, alternating between a compress and a poultice.  I'm so thankful that we can find Plantain on our farm even in the middle of winter!

We saw immediate improvement!  This is how he looked after spending an evening with Plantain. The red patches were less angry looking - more pink as opposed to bright red.  The weeping was confined to his chin at this point.
Before bed, we slathered Jewelweed Salve on his outbreak - just in case this was some sort of poison oak or sumac.  We deal with poison ivy all the time, all. the. time., but to our knowledge never poison oak or sumac so we weren't sure if they would present differently on Elijah.  We were covering all bases since we didn't know what we were dealing with.

 The next morning he looked even better!

You can see areas that were covered the night before that are now clear patches.  The area on his cheeks that are above his mouth are now clear.  The patches down his throat and across his collarbone were gone!  The weeping was much reduced. Was it the Jewelweed or the Comfrey in the salve that did the trick? 

Each morning, Elijah would need to remove the dried crusts from the weeping over night.  He did a mini exfoliating session again in the middle of the day and at night.  This seemed to speed up the healing process. 

Again, we did periodic compresses with Plantain throughout the day and evening.

At this point, we began using my Healing Salve both night and day. That really seemed to put us on the fast track to healing!  After using my healing salve for two days, his face is almost back to normal.

The improvement was so profound that we stopped using everything else and only used my healing salve. You can see a small crusty patch in the crease of his chin. This was the area where everything started and that was most severely affected.

After another 24 hours, there was no outbreak visible.  No scarring either!  His skin was back to normal...clear and beautiful! (Elijah would object to me using the word beautiful!)

We have tried to figure out what this was...poison something? contact dermatitis?  possibly impetigo (although I think the doctor would have diagnosed that)? We will probably never know.  We prayed!  We covered all the bases herbally and his face quickly cleared.  We give all glory to our Abba Father for the herbs he gave us and the answer to our prayers.

I recommend everyone gather Jewelweed and Plantain, let them dry naturally (no dehydrators or ovens please!) and store it in air tight containers.  Or visit my affiliate partner Mountain Rose Herbs and stock up!  

Both Plantain and Jewelweed are important to keep in your herbal arsenal at home! I think we use Plantain and Jewelweed ( along with Comfrey) more than any other herbs.  Get seeds and roots this year and grow them yourself!

Remember though....once  you plant them you will always have them in that area so make sure you plant them in the right place!


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