Have you wondered where we have gone?? I can FINALLY tell you all what is going on! We have been selling livestock and stuff for the purpose of pulling up stakes and heading West, and I had to keep it all a big secret. We have been in negotiations since last summer with a network to do a t.v. show about homesteading, and we received the initial contracts about a week ago. If we can come to agreeable terms, you just might see us doing what we do, on a weekly basis! Weird. Super weird. But hopefully a great adventure!!

Stay tuned for updates as we follow the Oregon Trail!

 
 
I have terrible anxiety issues, so finding ways to deal with it naturally is important to me.  There may not always be a pharmacy around, and even if there is, using plants is better for your body.  Many of these are very easy to grow no matter where you live.  Most will also work if you have trouble sleeping, and who wouldn't love a cup of lavender/lemon balm tea?

 
 
We have at least a few determined readers who live in town, or have no yards, or live in apartments, have health issues and can't manage gardens, etc. I am going to repost today some ideas for gardening in small spaces. It takes just as much work to plant and grow ornamentals as it does food; both are pretty, but for the
work involved, why not get some produce out of the deal?

Below are several ideas that I have found while traipsing around the internet, some I have posted before and some I haven't.  They are all great for inspiration.  Happy Growing!


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Container Gardening on Your Deck, Patio, or Balcony
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Grow Strawberries, Or Any Other Similarly Sized Plant, In Recycled Guttering
Above is an illustration on how to grow potatoes in a bag; you start at the bottom, and fill with dirt as the plant grows.

However, I want to add a little information to this drawing; it looks like it has the seed potatoes planted whole.  DO NOT plant whole seed potatoes.  You need to cut them in cubes first, with one or two eyes per cube, then let them dry (cure) for two or three days.  If you don't, most of them will rot before you get any food from them.  Then plant them eye up, and back fill dirt as the stalk grows.




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Grow food in a bag.
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Grow food on your kitchen counter.
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Grow food on your walls.
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Grow food in pots.
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Be creative and save some money; grow food in small backyards.
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Grow food in pallets.
 
 
I love bees.  Not only because they are cute, but because they assist me in growing food, AND honey is my go to cure all for ailments inside and out.  I don't use chemicals on blooming plants, I always plant bee friendly or bee attractive plants, and I leave certain areas of my land untouched, so that the bees can have all the clover they want, as well as any other native plants they might like.  Protecting the wild bee population is one of the most important things that I do, in my opinion.  I help them, they help me.

Check out this very interesting link to bee-havior.   
 
   


From New Scientist.com,

The extraordinary mental feats of bees are forcing us to rethink what we thought we knew about intelligence. Prepare to be surprised at what a tiny brain can do as we take a look at some of what these industrious honey-makers get up to.


Guarding the door

Throughout history, bees have been revered for their altruism and cooperation – but they occasionally engage in
all-out warfare, invading another hive and steal its honey. For this reason, some workers linger at the hive entrance to ensure that no enemy bees make it inside. The guard bee in this picture can be seen with its body arched, waiting to inspect and attack intruders.




Attending the queen

In any hive, the queen bee quickly establishes an entourage befitting its royal status. Here, the queen honeybee (Apis mellifera) sits at the centre of its court. As sign of their
loyalty, its attendants lick their sovereign and clash their antennae against her majesty's – a common behaviour that helps establish group membership in the hive.





Can I have a bite?

Bees share and share alike, passing their precious nectar to other members of their hive. This also allows them to exchange relevant hormones, helping to prepare the behaviour of the colony for different situations.





Read the rest of the article at http://www.newscientist.com/gallery/bee-haviour/3.
 
 
If you are unfamiliar with quercetin, you aren't alone.  However, if you have allergies, increasing your quercetin intake can really help.  You can buy quercetin supplements in pill form, but taking it in the form of food makes it easier for your body to absorb.

So, if you suffer with a runny nose or itchy eyes in the spring, eat more onions!


 
 
Gardens are so important to many people, either for aesthetics or for producing food.  Working the soil is good for the soul, and years ago I had a gardening epiphany; if I am going to do all this work landscaping, why not put in plants that would give back in the form of food, herbs and medicine?

I've never been much of a tea drinker.  I have sampled many times the teas in the little boxes from the grocery store, trying to understand why people seem to like them so much.  They were always so bland and tasteless, even if I used three or four bags.  I even went so far as to find a local bulk tea shop, and bought several types that appealed to me.  Most of them just can't compete with my heavenly dark brewed, packed with flavor, beloved coffee.  I gave up, and decided the Brits could have my share.

However, when I began to grow my own herbs, a really wonderful thing happened; I found that my homegrown teas were packed with flavor.  In addition, if you are using teas as medicine, using fresh plant material is a better way to acess the medicinal qualities.

For an even more interesting tea, try adding fruit peels such as apple, lemon or orange.  I save my fruit peels for just this purpose.  Find some local honey as well, and you can create all sorts of heathful, helpful powerhouses.



 






From wikiHow.com:

A tea garden is a delightful hobby that can complement the rest of your herb garden and will provide you with the joy of fresh herbal teas, more properly known as herbal infusions or tisanes, at a moment's notice. Creating a tea garden in a container can also make a perfect gift for somebody.  References to "tea" below should be understood to refer to herbal tea.

[snip]

Peppermint - this is a perennial favorite for many people. Its refreshing taste is uplifting and cleansing, as well as wonderful for stomach troubles of all kinds. Peppermint is generally very easy to grow and enjoys sunny and semi-shaded spots. Grows very, very easily and unless you want it escaping across the garden, keep it pot-bound. The leaves are the part used for making tea.

Lavender - a delightful, softly fragrant tisane that is perfect for soothing, especially recommended for reducing tension and soothing headaches. Lavender grows well in full sun, well-drained soil . Lavender buds are the part of the plant used for tea.

Lemon Verbena - a refreshing and tangy lemony taste comes packed in these simple but easy-to-grow leaves. It needs full sun and will not tolerate harsh winters, so keep it pot-bound if that's a danger in your area. The leaves are the part used for tea.

Rose Hips - rose hips are the seed cases for roses. They are extremely high in vitamin C and are very good for you. Rose hips will form once the rose bush goes to seed. The rose hips should be deep orange-red before harvesting. Clean the rose hips gently before steeping.

Marjoram - this herb has a fruity, citrus flavor and an undertone of mint. It grows well in full sun to semi-shade.
Leaves and flowers are suitable for steeping.

Pick the leaves or flowers. The best time of day for this is just after the dew has dried but before the heat of the sun begins to draw the oils out of the plant.

Prepare the leaves. Leaves should be bruised to release their essential oils . Do this by rubbing them  together.

Make the tea. Add the herbs to a teapot or directly to a mug or cup. For each cup of tea, add approximately 2 to 3 teaspoons of fresh leaves and/or flowers. Slice rose hips in half before adding.

Allow to steep for 5 minutes. This will ensure that the flavors are released and the full benefits of the herb's or flower's qualities are available.


Read more about teas as gifts, choosing the right soil and/or pots for herb growing, and additional herbs to grow and use at http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-an-Herbal-Tea-Garden.



 
 
Join us on our Facebook page, for more of a conversation, rather than the post of the day format.

You can find us here, https://www.facebook.com/BillyJoesFoodFarm.  Don't forget to "like" the page, and click "show in newsfeed" and/or "get notifications" so that you won't miss our Facebook posts.

 
 
10 Weeds That Heal (from http://www.thereadystore.com) was a fairly popular post, so here is a companion, 10 Herbs That Heal.  Go eat some plants!!




 
 
"It's natural, it can't hurt me!"

Many people think if a plant, vitamin, mineral, etc. occurs naturally, that it cannot be dangerous.  Often people think if a little is good, a lot is better.

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

I was diagnosed with osteoporosis at the age of 36, and began studying herbal medicine at about the same time.  As a result, I spend a lot of time reading information and studies about supplements and using food as medicine.

To make sure I get the calcium I need, I use dairy products and foods that are high in calcium.  Actually, my health issues are what made me decide to get dairy animals in the first place, sheep in particular; sheep milk has more calcium than other milk.  My feeling is that a body will absorb more of what it needs if you consume the vitamins and minerals you need by ingesting them via foods, rather than supplements.

I am happy that I came to that conclusion, as every day there is some commerical advertising a pill with ridiculous side effects, a new lawsuit about some medication that caused birth defects or deaths (but the research them before they okay them for public use, right???!!!), or a new study, usually in Europe because America is Pharmaceutical Nation, about the use of vitamins.

Today, I share with you a warning regarding the use of calcium supplements.  The British Journal of Medicine has found after a study that lasted for 11 years that people in the study who took calcium supplements were more likely to suffer heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

The human body is an amazing thing, and the nutrients contained within the food that you eat all have a purpose, which is why eating whole, natural foods is infinitely better for your body.  Your body naturally knows what to do with the food you ingest, and how to take what it needs and throw out what it doesn't.  I'm just not sure if the same can be said for supplements.  Why not err on the side of caution and just eat more of what you need?



From Science Daily...
Calcium Supplements Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Attack, Study Finds

"They found that calcium supplements were associated with about a 30%
increased risk of heart attack and smaller, non-significant, increases in the
risk of stroke and mortality.


The findings were consistent across trials and were independent of age, sex,
and type of supplement."




From the BBC...
Calcium pills 'increase' risk of heart attack

In all 12,000 people aged over 40 took part in the trials of calcium 
supplements of 500mg or more a day.

The risk of heart attack was seen across men and
women,  was independent of age and the type of supplement given.

A small increased risk of death was seen in the study but was not 
statistically significant, the researchers said.

The reason for the increased risk of heart attack is not clear but it is 
thought the extra calcium circulating in the blood could lead to a hardening of 
the arteries.

Calcium in the diet is safe and the Food Standards Agency recommends adults 
have 700mg of calcium a day from milk, cheese and green, leafy vegetables.




From CBS news...
Study links calcium pills to heart attacks..."A dietary uptick in calcium is not harmful, but supplements could lead to heart disease,  study finds "

"Additionally, people with a naturally high calcium intake through foods like
milk and cheese tended to have a lower heart attack risk, the study found.
"




I am not a doctor, nor am I advocating that you stop or start any kind of vitamin or supplement.  I study food as medicine for my own use and benefit, but I do want to share information that I think you will find useful, so that you can make up your own mind about your health.  Individuals are their own best patient advocate.  If you have questions, please ask your physician.



 
 
Lavender is one of my favorite plants, because it is not only beautiful, but so incredibly useful.  I have planted countless lavender plants at my place over the past couple of years (and at the last house too), and just adore it.  So easy to care for, and it is lovely year round here in zone 6.

Lavender can be used for calming teas, for aromatherapy, in bath water, to make essential oil, to cook with, to make soaps; the possibilites are endless. 

Last year when the parking lot plant sellers were getting rid of all their remaining plants, I stopped in and bought ALL of their lavender for about 25% of the original price.  There are deals to be had, if you time your shopping just right.  I gave some away to friends, and planted the rest.  I can never have too much.

From www.crunchybetty.com, here are many different ideas for using lavender, one of the most useful plants out there.

Crunchy Gift Ideas: Love ALL the Lavender!