Monthly Archives: April 2011

Happy Mother’s Day from Blue Vervain

I am a big fan of beauty. And by beauty I mean multi-sensory beauty. I love visiting our friend Erin Piorer’s house. The smells, sights and sounds are always so relaxing. Erin is an herbalist who also enjoys making incredibly beautiful health and beauty items she sells at her etsy shop Blue Vervain. Last night, Thursday April 28th she invited all her local friends over for a mother’s day open house.

See what I mean about beauty.

Tangerine Sprice soap.

Needless to saw my soap doesn’t turn out like this.

A special mother’s day bundle I brought home.

I am always so inspired when I leave Erin’s house to find ways to beautify my own own surroundings a bit more. I also bought “Sweet Peace Essential OIl Room Spray,” so at least my home can smell clean and beautiful.

Our girls are laying again!

It doesn’t get much more local then right out your back door, literally. I remember when Proeun and I first started keeping chickens. It was such an exciting and scary introduction to keeping “live stock.” I remember fondly the chick days, the wonder the children had for them, somewhere I have a picture of the chicks in our little toy ark.

I remember getting more nervous the bigger they got. They have given me quite a fright a couple of times, but I had to conquer my fear or at least nervousness and know that my job is taking care of them.

But by far the best chicken keeping day was the day of the first egg. See I knew chickens laid eggs, but I had no personal experience so it was a complete miracle when it happened (at least for me). I called my parents to tell them, I told my in-laws and they laughed at me, oh well.

Over the winter we don’t put a light in the chicken coop which artificially lengthens the days. So our our chickens don’t lay over the winter. This gives them a nice break, but it also means sometimes we buy eggs. Now our girls are laying again and it is such a joy to go collect the eggs in the morning.

We have all heritage breeds but no rooster, so no fertile eggs. Right now we only have enough chickens for personal use but hope to one day add this to our farms offerings. We also love to share about “chickens in the city.”

Here’s my favorite chicken–a Gold-laced Wyandotte. It’s next to impossible to get a chicken to stand still so this is what I came up with. This breed caught my eye as soon as I started looking at breeds.

You can really see the lacing here. Also I have a partridge rock and I believe a speckled sussex, I can’t remember for sure though. Anyone have good egg recipes?

Greenhouse progress

So with homeschooling, raising and nurturing 4 darling blessings, and getting the farming season up and running I am realizing that my posting days will have to be Mondays and Fridays. So for today’s posts I wanted to share with you how things in our greenhouse are progressing. Last year was our first year starting all our own transplants and I have to admit I was quite a bit nervous. Somehow I worried that the seeds would actually come up, but nature is so amazing and even with our inexperience the seeds did just fine doing what they do naturally–growing.

This year it is almost “old hat” in that I don’t worry but it is still so so amazing the way things work. That is what I really love about farming.

Last year I bought a really interesting volumn called, Seed Babies. I didn’t time it quite right with actually growing seeds so I put it away and promptly forgot about it. Luckily I did find it and can now use it while teaching the children about this everyday miracle.

Onions are one of the first things planted, first up and first in the ground. We are just now finishing the onions we grew last year.

Many plants have these rounded almost clover looking leaves when they first emerge. You can just see these collards first “true” leaves coming out in the center.

Mostly  I love seeing the green. Even though we have a pretty small greenhouse it is a welcome escape especially on these cold, drizzily days.

Linder’s Greenhouse

This weekend was cold and blustery. In fact Saturday morning we woke-up to a light blanket of snow on the ground. I didn’t think to take a picture of it till it was almost gone so sorry I missed the boat on that one. I had been dreaming of a nice warm weekend full of walks and playing outside and cleaning the yard from all that junk that didn’t get put away before last fall.

Instead we decided to go someplace nice and warm. Linder’s Garden Center is a bit of a local fixture around here. The main center on Larpenteur in St. Paul is literally minutes from our house and open all year round. During the spring and summer many grocery stores have smaller greenhouses selling flowers and other plants. 

I had visited the main center a few weeks ago while doing an article for Hmong Times. The children as usual went with me and were really intrigued by “Baby”

the Linder’s mascot. They really wanted to take Proeun to see Baby so this weekend that is exactly what we did.

I brought my camera and got some great pictures.

It was great fun to wander and absorb the warmth. Along the way I began to dream. Wouldn’t it be great to have a greenhouse attached to your house for all those winter blahs? We could grow oranges and bananas and mangos all locally (for personal use sorry all you farm customers) and Linder’s actually sells all those plants. Then I thought heh why not put our dinner table and a sofa in there for just hanging out?  Everyone has their dream for when we get to the farm. Two wants a dog, Avril a horse and me I want a green house, we’ll see.

The kids were all about the cookies and lemonade. Linder’s has been around for over 100 years so they obviously know something about customer service. Oh and they started small and stayed a family business. Pretty cool. Hopefully one day Crazy Boy Farm will be 100 years old.

How do you beat the winter blahs?

Lifestyle Medicine

One concept that kept coming up at the workshop on Natural Remedies and health that I went to last weekend was “Lifestyle medicine.” I suppose you could call it preventative medicine but more then vitamins and exercise it incorporates all aspects of life. Based on a balance of 8 key principles or ingredients in the recipe for a healthy lifestyle–ideal diet, exercise, water, sunlight, temperance, fresh air, rest and trust in Divine Power–if followed closely can assure much health.

Some key things that I brought away from the workshop was that even the way we dress can effect health. Clothes that are too tight or restriciting on our stomach can affect digestion and not keeping our extremities warm enough can cause chills and other illnesses.

Rest likewise is very important. Sophia Lauren one of the Hollywood’s great beauties from the last generation defied common culture and proclaimed that her top 2 beauty secrets were going to bed at a decent time every night and drinking plenty of water.

I guess intuitively it just makes sense that we would need all these things to balance our life and therefore our health. It is such a privilege and joy to be able to take the time to slow down and heal as naturally as possible, but even better is taking the time to be healthy from the beginning.

Charcoal Poultices

Go figure, charcoal is good for you. It absorbs and draws out poisons and toxins, internally and externally. Yes internally. But first as promised we will talk about Charcoal Poultices.

After doing the hot and cold treatment described on Monday you can make a simple poultice of charcoal powder and enough water to make a thick paste. Ground flax seeds can also be added to it. Take a paper towel or piece of cloth and smear the paste all over it. Fold cloth or paper towel in half and place over infected area. You can also put the paste directly on the infection but this is quite a bit more messy.

Cover with plastic wrap, tight cloth or tape to hold in place. Remember to make the poultice bigger then the affected area. I used this once for a bout of mastisis I had. Couple it with plenty of fluids and rest and it will work wonders. Also works for insect bites or stings.

Charcoal can also be taken internally. According to Dr. Mary Ann McNeilus it is the treatment of choice for the American Academy of Pediatrics for poisonings. It can also be used for alergic reactions. It has no taste. Just put a spoon in a cup of pure water stir and drink. It does taste chalky though so you may want to follow up with another drink of plain water. Actually Dr. Mary Ann recommends having your children get used to taking it. Since “when you need it you need it and don’t want to be be fighting with a two year old.”

I am discovering that many of these treatments are a bit time consuming but they are also 100% safe and basically amplify our bodies natural healing ability. Basically you heal the way you were meant to not continuing in your same behavior expecting different results. More about lifestyle medicine on Friday.

Natural Health on the Eastside

This weekend I attended an amazing workshop not even 3 miles from my house. Dr. Mary Ann McNeilus and Judy Aitkens, RN were sharing their vast experience with natural health. Both had worked extensively in what I guess you would call “regular” medicine and what Dr. Mary Ann referred to as “drug based” medicine. The 2 had met in Cambodia while working in a refugee camp. Over the years they learned the incredible value of natural remedies and its accessibility to people of all age brackets, income, education and anywhere in the world.

“One thing everyone has is water” Dr. McNeilus shared.

Here Dr. McNeilus and Lis Craft of St. Paul demonstrate the Contrast bath method while the translator makes sure all the Karen in the audience understand. You use two tubs, one hot (as you can stand) and one cold. This treatment is used to increase circulation and can be used for localized infections, muscle or joint injuries, headaches, edema and some blood vessel diseases in the feet and legs.

Dr. Mary Ann shared how she has sucessfully used this treatment for infections among the poor Amish where she currently lives. Say you have an infection in the hand, first you put your hand in the hot water for 3 minutes, then in the cold for 30 secs. This is one change. Do this 5-7 times 3 times a day and for 1-3 days after it appears the infection is gone.

Follow up with a charcoal poultice, I will talk about this on Wednesday.

As healthcare costs continue to rise I have to admit I have been pretty worried about what we will do when we farm full time. I was experienced with some natural remedies, but hearing an actual medical doctor who made the switch talk was more valuable then I can say. Dr. Mary Ann shared that she had been a family practice doctor. And she was constantly sick. Now after utilizing lifestyle medicine and natural remedies it has been 30 years since she took an antibiotic.

Treasures from the attic

Attics are wonderful places. What a pity many modern homes don’t utilize them, I suppose they are no longer necessary with modern insulation and storage options, but think of all the wonderful things we store up there and the nostalgia attics represent. This week I took a trip to the attic with a box of clothes already outgrown by my little baby. Here’s a couple treasures I found.

Wooden shoes my parents brought back from Holland when they went for the 40th Anniversary of D-day. Avril loves them I don’t remember them being very comfortable but she likes them.

A picture of 2 Effies. I decided long ago I wanted to name my children after someone. Effie is named after my grandfather’s aunt. The little boy in the middle of the picture is Jacob Zummach, my great grandfather. The father in the picture Ferdinand Zummach, my great, great-grandfather and the children’s great, great, great-grandfather. Effie is the little girl sitting next to her father. They were immigtants to, from Germany.

I knew I had this picture somewhere. Now I found it in the attic. What a blessing to have these pieces of family history, and a fun place to store them.