Saturday, March 29, 2008

Don't forget earth hour tonight

At eight tonight March 29 ---whatever your time zone---earth hour begins for your area. This is an event started last year in Sydney Australia involves people and cities around the globe. Here is an excerpt from an article to explain what it is if you have never heard of it:

Twenty-six major cities around the world are expected to turn off the lights on major landmarks, plunging millions of people into darkness to raise awareness about global warming, organizers said.

Will you participate? It not only asks that cities and businesses to turn off light on major buildings and landmarks but restaurants to have diners eat by candlelight for an hour and home owners to also participate.

Here's a link to the official site for Earth Hour to find out more about it. Try and participate if you can since it's just so darn easy. (earth hour site does seem to be a bit backlogged so you might have trouble getting it---good luck)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Some natural help

As I posted about recently I had to take my son to the Doctor's office expressly for the purpose of getting a note for him to prove to school he was actually sick.

Generally we rarely set foot in a Doctor's office unless we have serious pain or raging fever that could be something more serious. We are overall a healthy family with no ongoing issues (severe asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart issues etc) so most "common" illnesses are just something we have to overcome and wait out.

Here are some "natural" remedies and ways to deal with colds AND flu that may save you the time and expense of going to the Doctor's office since it is not always necessary to go to the Dr to get better. ( Some people go to get antiviral drugs when they have the flu but these can cause side effects and even the CDC says they may shorten the duration by 1 or 2 days, which is not very much.)

First--Wash your hands!! The flu virus (and cold) is spread by someone sneezing or coughing their germs onto surfaces. These germs can live in this hostile environment for up to 3 hours. This means that the person who used the debit card machine 2 hours before you is still there in a sense. You then use the debit card machine (or touch their change or the counter they touched) and then poke your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth. Those are the three ways that viruses generally get into the body---obviously cuts and other things can be entrance vectors but we are trying to be simplistic here. Also--- studies do prove that at the first signs of illness, extra vitamin C and zinc, whether in lozenge, nasal spray, or juice form can help to at least reduce the severity of colds and influenza. By how much? No one really knows for sure but hey....pina colada blend orange juice tastes great so I don't mind drinking it.

Secondly---lay off the aspirin if you start to develop a LOW fever. Fever is the number one top notch way for the body to kill a virus (such as cold or flu)---though it does make you feel kind of yukky for a bit. A low fever is considered anything below 102 degrees. I would go so far as to say that anything below 100 is a safe bet that you or your child will not die for sure. Above that is your personal choice whether or not to give aspirin. Obviously you have to use your better judgment. If the fever is accompanied by extreme pain, vomiting, convulsions etc---definitely a Dr is in order. This is something anyone can research a bit more on line for their selves.

Three--Have coughing? Then you must need to get rid of some phlegm/mucous. Drink LOTS and LOTS of fluid. Fluid helps keep mucus moist, so it can be expelled easier and also helps to keep sinuses moist and keep those nagging "stuffy head" headaches at bay. This is a must for anything involving mucus and the lungs.
Also---my personal favorite: Steam. Don't waste your time trying to steam up your bathroom. Boil some water in a pot and poor it into a large bowl. Drape a towel around your head and over the bowl and breathe as deep as you can---through your mouth and through your stopped up nose. It will absolutely help stop coughing and break up the mucous. Do this a number of times a day (and night---especially if you wake up coughing). I have done it up to 10 times a day because it just helps so well. Another thing......add some eucalyptus or camphor oil. Easily found in the essential oil section of your local green grocer or health food store. I used eucalyptus the last time I had a "croup" type cold. Between the steam and the essential oil, I quickly broke up the problem and worked into a productive cough (with much less coughing to boot)

Here's a small excerpt from another site about steaming:

Steam inhalation is an effective treatment in respiratory conditions and is highly recommended for treatment of the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, allergies and asthma.

1. Steam relieves inflammation and congestion of upper respiratory mucous membranes.
2. Steam relieves throat irritation by moistening the air.
3. Steam relieves spasmodic breathing (Asthma, Croup).
4. Steam loosens secretions and stimulates discharge of mucous from the throat and lungs.
5. Steam relaxes muscles and relieves coughing.
6. Steam Keep mucous membranes from excessive drying

For very young babies steam is one of the few ways to help with cough or croup since cough medicine is not recommended for them---not that most of the cough medicines help that much anyway. If you read labels the majority of cough medicine (even some prescription ) is made with Guaifenesin. This is a medicine used to help expectorate mucus. The funny thing about this medicine is that you really need to drink lots of fluid to help it do it's job (it says that --really). it really doing the job then or are the fluids?

Lastly for us---a bit of green phglem does not send us to the doctor. We use our judgement to decide. If we are feeling better, coughing is productive, and no fever is present or no longer present then we consider that our bodies are taking care of the problem on it's own and antibiotics are not needed. If fever is now present when it wasn't or coughing is less productive or worse then a visit to the Dr. is probably in order.

My point of this post? People are smart and can learn to care for their selves without wasting time or money in a dr's office for a cold or other minor things. I think we have all been brainwashed to believe we need some one to tell us we will make it or to commiserate with us----I'm not sure which.
Studies show that the major reason Dr's give prescriptions is to make people feel as if the Dr actually did something for them or to "be on the safe side". I mean---how many times have you made it out of a dr's office without a prescription? However antibiotics CAN NOT do a thing for flu or colds and studies are starting to show that cough medicines aren't really doing much either. Worse is that we still are overusing antibiotics by going to get a prescription for one because we just don't want to take the time to do simple things to help our body like steam inhalation, drink fluids and REST.

Well, hopefully it will be along time before anyone in my family has this again. But, just in case we do....we know some tricks to help care for ourselves while our body fights the enemy. Hope your family has good luck avoiding the dreaded flu and cold season next time.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Little Bit of......

Sheep Sleep

Turkey Love

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Flu

So yet again the "flu" has risen it's nasty little head here in our home. My son now has it and unfortunately will miss this whole week of school. Missing school is no big deal as far as I am concerned since I know he can easily make up the work but...big but here....he had to go to the doctor to receive a note to say "yep---he's really sick, Mom isn't lying." At the cost of my co-pay since I am a lucky one and have insurance.
So I had to make an there...spend time waiting...and then shell out the co-pay all so my son's school will believe he was sick. Idiotic isn't it?
Of course the Doctor seemed offended when I told him we were there only for the note and that I already knew my son had the flu. How did I know that I was asked. Why...because I and some of my neighbors have had it. "Well," he says "we will have to check for ourselves."
So they did---with a very large Qtip up his nose and a vial of some sort of "flu detector" stuff.
Five minutes later we are given the big negative about my son having flu along with a script for prescription cough medicine we don't need. Of course the Dr doesn't guess as to what it might be and I....ever the suspicious person especially when your a jerk to me ....decided to go home and do a bit of research on this supposed "test".
With just a bit of quick internet looking I find these nice little facts easily enough that the Doctor didn't mention to me (maybe I seemed to stupid to understand or need explanation):
*Detectable Influenza virus is only shed the first day or two of symptoms and very hard to distinguish after that (my son has been sick 7 days now) Hence---testing is most accurate and best done during this time.
*These supposed "rapid in office tests" are only 70% accurate with nasal swabbing and less so with throat swabbing even during the shedding period.
* The FDA itself also says that these tests are only moderately to reasonably accurate depending on the time of year----very early flu season testing and very late flu season testing equals less accuracy. (This is late in the flu season isn't it??)
* Lastly---the Doctor must also use his BRAIN and consider how his local has been affected by the flu to help with his diagnosis.

Is this all I can ever expect from the medical field for the rest of my life? Is there no doctor out there that can think for himself and believes (truly believes) that you don't need a script for everything and that you only need to see him if you are really really sick??

Lastly---I thought about balking about this and telling the school board that though I was a lucky enough person to have insurance what exactly did they require from someone without it? That I personally wasn't going to buy into it and what the hell where they going to do about it? Kick my son out of school?
Originally when I called the dr's office I was going to just pay cash (thinking a quick visit for a note would be simple enough) but they told me it would be at least.....get this...a $100 but probably more. That included the 30% discount I got for not having or paying with insurance. Hah!
This is bureaucratic bull crap in the highest form. Both the Doctor, the test and the school requirements.

I think I was born in the wrong century or something. Thanks for letting me gripe.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I would like to do a little bit of nagging today in my post. Usually when I speak on this subject I have to post about, people start to look around and say "yeah, yeah, yeah". Here in this forum---you can't do that. Though you can just switch to another web site :-)

My subject of choice today is vitamin deficiencies and human health. Let me bore you by starting near the beginning of understanding for us--- and I will try and keep it somewhat short since I believe I have posted on this a bit already.

When we began to raise our cows and sheep we, because of one of our black cows turning red, realized we had a problem with copper deficiency on our property. Now as we have been told over and over again----sheep do not need copper so we were NOT suppose to worry about them and just treat the cow. However, during research into this subject (I am not one to accept the first explanation someone gives me) I found that, through soil testing, it was actually the health of my soil that was affecting the absorption of copper in my cow. We have too much of some good things and not enough of others. These extremes all effect absorptions rates of various minerals from the soil, into the plants and eventually on to the animals and my family (either through eating the plant ourself or the animal that ate the plant).
At first we just supplement the cows with some extra copper---but we started to realize that there was more to the issue than just adding a bit of copper to the cows and doing nothing for the sheep. Also we had some minor health issues that seemed, when studied from a holistic viewpoint, to have to do with other mineral issues. We could have done just the "normal" thing most livestock owners are taught and purchased medicine from our vet---but we didn't want to always treat our animals---we wanted truly healthy animals.
Well, to make a long story and long research condensed---we chose to take a step that most veterinarians will never think to suggest: We eventually sent in a liver from a sheep to a testing laboratory (that we had butchered) and had it tested for various minerals. We couldn't butcher the cows since they were breeding stock and not eating stock, so the sheep was the next best thing. This is something I highly recommend for those that keep livestock---especially if you lose an animal. Just cut out the liver (I know---some find that yukky) and freeze it to send off.

This past year we tested for more things than ever and found out that though we now supplemented our animals with a number of healthy things AND that overall they are doing very well----we still were surprised to find ourself low in some nutrients. Our more expanded testing we did through the Colorado Veterinary Diagnostic Lab told us that we had successfully raised our copper and selenium up and that a host of other nutrients were very good. It did though go on to tell us that we were borderline deficient or outright deficient in some other nutrients we had never really considered: Cobalt (B12), magnesium, and zinc. All things now being attended to in our mineral program.

The health of the soil---as pointed out above---affects all "veggies" that grow in it. Whether or not that "veggie" is for a human or a cow/sheep/chicken/goat is irrelevant. We ALL get some of our vitamins and most of our minerals from the plants that grow in soil.
IF the beef or chicken or whatever did not get those nutrients in their food---you will not either.
After we started to learn about our problems we encouraged others to test their animals too and lo and behold---many many many livestock owners found that they had deficiencies in the mineral/vitamin health of their livestock even though they did what the experts recommended.

Now on to some observations and articles:

Recently a friend was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Then...another friend was too. One lives near me---the other very far away. Right about the time I found this out from both of them (within a weeks time) one of the magazines I read came in the mail. Just by chance it had an article about Vitamin D deficiencies (there is also another link within this article to explore) and that experts are now realizing that many people, especially those with fibro, may have vitamin D deficiencies. Of course I told both friends---one took me seriously because she too has checked her animals and realizes what aspect correct vitamins/minerals play in health. The other----her eyes glazed over and she said that she would just drink a few more glasses of fortified orange juice. However amounts and absorption rates vary with each glass. 100% does not necessarily mean you get 100%. Also---in regards to vitamin D did you know that if you live in a Northern local you receive less rays to help you each day? Did you know that you need approximately 30 minutes a day (on a large amount of your body--not just hands and face) to receive your "daily" amount of D? Did you know that I was dumb enough to think the world was small and that I did not live in the North? hahaha North in this case is....north of the equator! So, anyone above Atlanta or Las Angeles lives in a "northern" aspect. Go figure! Funny how we view our world sometimes!
Anyway one of the biggest problems with figuring vitamin/mineral intake, either from eating food or taking supplements, is the absorption rates. Take a glass of milk. Say it has 1500 mg of calcium in it (lets assume here the cow was fed a healthy diet and not some funky food they like to feed). You don't necessarily receive ALL 1500 mg---it ranges depending on what else you ate, what's in the body already to help it get absorbed etc etc.
Also---did you know that just because you buy vitamins you may not be buying the one best absorbed? Calcium is a good point and one piece of information I actually learned from my mother's cancer doctor. Calcium Citrate is the version you should be taking and not the other forms --one of which is oyster shell.

Now, vitamin/mineral supplements can help we all know----but maybe not as efficiently and easily as we are led to believe. That is why you need to check to make sure you take the BEST form of a given mineral or vitamin. The form most easily absorbed.
My family has taken Calcium supplements for years (since my mother's bone density came back borderline during cancer treatment) with added vitamin D (in the form of "D3" which is one of the better forms).
We now also take a copper and a B12 supplement since we realize we may not be getting enough in our diet because we eat quite a bit of our food either from our own soil (which currently still needs some improvement) or also food from the store that is not organic. Organic does not imply that all minerals/vitamins will be there---it depends on how they care for their soil. It does however give you a better chance since the "organic care" of soil including compost and other organic amendments help the soil to reacquire or else to "unbind" the minerals.

Some really good places to learn more about these types of things are:

Pat Coleby's books on natural livestock care (she has one for cows, horses, sheep and goats). Even if you don't own livestock the information on soil health and vitamins and minerals is easy to read, and easy to understand. It will get you headed in the correct direction for sure. This is were we started-----and we highly recommend it----but we do not exactly follow the mineral mix for the livestock anymore.

Acres USA. This "magazine" is quite informative. I don't always get use from every article and the editor is very outspoken (which I like---but maybe some others wouldn't) but it is good and very well geared to organics/soil health/better livestock care etc. This one is NOT just for those who raise livestock. It is for those that garden too. They also have an excellent book store with many books that deal with the subject of nutrients (and our lack of them).

The reason I posted this is for this: more and more I realize what nutrients mean to overall health. I also realized, in dealing with "high up" officials during my search for information, that most doctors/vets/livestock people will just regurgitate exactly the same thing over and over. They know nothing more than the standard information supplied to them that seems to me to be obsolete and worse---incorrect. Your children and your health depends on the correct nutrients. Please...make sure you are getting it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Signs of Spring (and lambs)

Not only have I noticed many daffodils and forsythia blooming around here, but we now have a few dogwoods (just a few) with some flowers on them and a number of trees with swelling buds.
This, along with the warmer weather we had the last few days, reminds me that spring is very close and may be peaking from around the corner of my house ( I just can't see it because we're siding you know?).
The big storm on the news came through and brought much rain and lots and lots of wind to us along with a drop of temps. We went from high 60's, low 70's to the 40's :-(
Within the next few weeks we will start to see more and more warm days though AND some lambs.

Yes, I was working up to the lamb part of my title.
Though I have my first ewe "officially due" on April 9th----she is just the first I actually had seen get bred. Without a marker on the rams chest that leaves a green (or red or orange etc) spot on the back of the ewe it is sometimes impossible to know exactly when a ewe was bred or even took. Just because you see a mating does not mean that the ewe took that time or at all for that matter.
Most of the time however---I don't see them breed. They are sneaky or maybe just private. I mean after all...... who wants a crowd watching when you do the deed-- right?

During feeding about a week ago we noticed that we have a number of ewes developing some nice bags. Or nice Jumblies as Austin Powers might say.
Nice jumblies are a sure sign that we are at least within a months time at most.
So considering when I first started groping my sheep's jumblies----I suspect I may have a set or two of lambs by mid March. Yeah!
Everyone loves a lamb---they are just too cute.

Not only do I have one or two adults that may be due then but I also think one of my yearling ewes is also-----and I think she may have twins. Though she is not a really large sheep she is fairly large for her size in a round kind of way. She has also all but quit running around the pasture with the flock---a sure sign of an imminent lamb or squooshed multiples. So we shall see if I am correct. Last year I did guess correctly that one of my older ewes would have triplets so....we'll see if I can go 2 for 2 on guesses. If big deal. At least I know that she actually is pregnant and better than that she, and the other early due girls, tell me that my young ram Tex absolutely did his job to the best of his ability. Quickly too. Another good thing.

Very soon I will have to start making my very late (about 11 oclock) and my very early (about 5:30 or 6) pasture rounds. That way I can catch any lambs that might be born while it's cold out. Icelandics are usually very good about getting their lambs up and clean but sometimes a new mom kind of doesn't get it yet----and then her lamb can get cold and possibly die. I had that happen last year so we will be extra careful this year. Another problem is a ewe having twins while another ewe (usually very close to her own due date) gets a bit over excited and kidnaps the first born. Sometimes that "yeah---I'm going to have a baby" kicks in a bit hard and they get a little too excited about having a lamb and steal someone else's. We have to be careful of that since the kidnapper doesn't have milk yet----not a good thing for a little lamb.

One last thing I would like to leave this post with is a link to helping hypothermic lambs and how to tube and give intra peritoneal injection of glucose solution to them. For those that breed sheep it is a great thing to keep on hand for "just in case". Last year I had everything on hand EXCEPT the glucose solution which was how I lost my little gal. I didn't think I would ever need it and that tubing and warming would be fine----but that was just not so.

So---here's to an excellent last lambing for me. I truly look forward to it and am very excited as always. I will surely miss it next year (and for many afterwards) and I will have to re-live it each year vicariously through my sheep owning friends :-D

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

And more easy seed starting pots

In Mother Earth News there is an article (with good pictures) of a nice tidy seed pot out of toilet paper tubes.
So---here is a link to my old post about newspaper pots
and here is the link directly to Mother Earth News for the how to on toilet paper tube pots. The directions say to cut the tube in half cross wise so that will give you two pots per tube. Just think how many toilet rolls we use per year AND it doesn't take much room to store them---especially since they are flattened to start with. The pictures are better in the Feb/March 2008 article but the directions are pretty easy so there is probably not a need to buy the magazine to see it.

I actually think that these are easier to remember to "how to" without having to go back and re look each year at directions. On the other hand you can make much larger pots with the newspaper style---so it's really just a matter of what you need and what you have on hand.

More about Peas

I read a short article in organic gardening magazine the other day (april 2008 issue) about helping your peas grow better and faster.
It is very interesting and so I decided to type it verbatim here for those that don't get the magazine:

Stronger Seedlings: Peas get a boost from vitamin C!

Vitamin C and folic acid, two nutrients that are vital to our own health, boost the performance of pea seeds, according to a recent study at the University of Massachusetts. The researchers doctored pea seeds with different concentrations of vitamin C and folic acid. Ten days after planting, average seedling height of seeds soaked for 12 to 48 hours in either a vitamin C solution or a folic acid solution was 40 percent greater than that of the seeds soaked in plain water. Root length, seedling weight, and germination were also enhanced by both treatments. Food-science professor Kalidas Shetty, Ph.D., is now developing a natural treatment to boost seeds' defenses.
Our advice: Try this at home--dissolve half of a 150 milligram vitamin C tablet, or four 5 milligram folic acid tablet, in a quart of water. Soak your peas for a day or so; then plant.

I haven't done this myself but will attempt to remember to try it the next time I plant my peas.

This just goes to show you that "proper" vitamins (and minerals too) help everything :-)

P.S ---photo "borrowed" from Renee's garden site.