A Walk In The Park And Gathering Vitamin C

 

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Rose Hips

While walking at Columbus County Park last Friday with my sisters I couldn’t help but notice the thousands of bright red rose hips still clinging tightly to the wild rose bushes. “I’m coming back to pick rose hips.” I announced. I just couldn’t stand to see all that vitamin C going to waste – especially during flu season.

So when my sister J.B. called me on Sunday and wanted to come visit I asked if she wanted to go pick rose hips. The weather was great and she agreed to go.

Columbus County Park is an old farm/homestead that was granted by the previous owners to the county for use as a public park. What a grand gift it was. It is over 400 acres some wooded – some meadow, with a deep valley that the Belle River runs through. The main walking path is a 2.5 mile loop that tracks through the woods, down into the valley, along the river, back up the hill, along the neighboring farm field and back up through the woods. There are other paths throughout the park – some designated for horseback riding and others for mountain biking. There are areas for fishing and canoe launces along the river. There are areas designated for hunting. There is a sledding hill, a play scape, and a lodge with a pavilion that can be rented for events.

On Sunday we took the main path down into the valley and along the river where the rose bushes were waiting. We stopped and picked rose hips for at least 1/2 hour before finishing the loop. Sadly I forgot to take picture while we were picking (the photo above is of our rose bush at the farm and was taken around the time of our first frost last fall). I did, however, remember to get out my camera as we ascended the hill. The first three pictures (below) are taken from the same vantage point. The first photo is the path that lay ahead. The second photo was the view as I turned to my left, and the third photo is looking back where we had come from.

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This last photo was take once we were at the top of the hill. The fence and pine trees on the left separate the park from the neighboring farm filed.

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As we picked rose hips we drew the attention of other walkers. Some inquired as to what we were picking and why. Perhaps you too are wondering why I wanted to pick rose hips.

Before I answer let me make this clear: I am not a Doctor. Nothing that you read here should be taken as medical advice. If you are sick you should seek help from a medical professional. You should check with your medical professional before using any type of medication or herbal supplement.

Rose hips are known to contain high amounts of vitamin C. You can check out this article from web md for more information. Vitamin C is said to be a great aid in the prevention of colds and flu, however if you read the web md article you will realize that vitamin C  is destroyed when heated and quickly diminishes during storage. While rose hips have other beneficial properties that can withstand heating, processing and storage, it is the vitamin C that I want to capture. My solution is to make rose hip tincture. Simply put tinctures are made by soaking herbs in alcohol to extract the beneficial properties of the herb.

Here is how I made the tincture. After cleaning the rose hips I crushed them and put them in a pint-size jar. I then fill the jar with Everclear. Vodka or brandy can also be used for making tinctures but Everclear has a higher alcohol content and is said to  extract more of the beneficial properties. I covered the jar with a tight fitting lid and gave it a good shake before storing it in a dark space where it will sit for at least two weeks. The instructions say I should shake it every day, but I do it as often as I remember when walking past. After at least two weeks (probably longer) I will strain the rose hips out and we will use the remaining liquid (tincture) as needed this winter to help ward off the bad guys (cold and flu bugs).

Rose hip tincture is not the only weapons in my flu fighting arsenal. It stands along side of elder flower tincture, that I like to make into syrup by mixing it with our raw honey, and hot pepper juice – a recipe I found here.

I have been grateful for the mild winter we have been having thus far, but it seems that change is in the air as the snow storm that arrived today brought along much colder temperatures. Brrrr!

How about you? Has your winter been good thus far? Do you have any special recipes you use to prevent or treat colds or the flu? I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading and be well. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Eggs Year Round

If you have been following my blog for a while now you may remember in this post from last spring I mentioned that we were adding to our flock with hopes that they would continue to provide us with fresh eggs through the winter. At that time we bought 12 chicks – 8 buff orpingtons and 4 black astralorps. When they were just a few days old one of the black astralorps became sick and died. We lost a second astralorp during the summer to some kind of predator, likely a hawk that carried it away, and we lost one of our young buffs due to an injury that wouldn’t heal. Thus we ended up adding 9 new layers to our flock.

I am happy to report that our plan has been a huge success. From December 1st through today our flock has provided an average of 7 eggs per day. Way more than my husband and I use.

Our current chicken count is 24. Here is the lineup –

  •  1 rooster and 23 hens
  • 2 of the hens will be 6 years old this coming spring (probably no longer laying)
  • 2 of the hens will be 4 years old this coming spring (probably laying few if any eggs)
  • 7 of the hens will be either 2 or 3 years old this spring ( we have had so many buff orpingtons it is hard to keep track of which ones we have lost) (should still be laying but maybe not as many as they once did).
  • 3 hens that will be two years old this coming spring (should be laying regularly)
  • 9 hens that will I year old this spring and just began laying late this past summer (laying regularly)

Having excess eggs has allowed us to continue to share them with family and friends. A couple days ago when we dropped some off for a neighbor he told us “these are the best eggs.” My husband replied “because we have happy chickens”.

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We keep happy chickens by allowing them to free range. They have plenty of room to spread out and peck and scratch and do what chickens love to do. Yes, there are risks involved and some times we lose chickens to predators, but thus far the rewards have far outweighed the risks.

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During the winter months it becomes more of a challenge to keep “happy chickens”. While we allow them access to the outdoors every day, when temperatures are bitter cold or there is snow on the ground the chickens seek protection from the elements.

This year my husband made them an additional sheltered area. He pulled our trailer near the chicken yard where it would be stored for the winter. After he blocked up the wheels to keep them off the ground, he  covered it with a large tarp. The tarp drapes over both sides all the way to the ground. He placed bricks on the tarp, both on the ground and on the trailer, to keep it from blowing in the wind.

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Underneath the trailer he spread straw and hay for the chickens to nestle in or scratch and peck through. He also places their food dish under the trailer each day.

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Thus far we have had an unseasonably warm winter and snow has been scarce, but on the days that we have had cold winds or snow, the chickens have taken advantage of this shelter rather than stay in the coop all day.

Do these look like happy chickens? 🙂

 

 

 

2018 Review

As we enter 2019 I thought it would be fun to take a look back at our 2018. I have to say that blogging has been a lot of fun this year. This blog has seen incredible growth compared to it’s first few years. I have enjoyed watching the number of followers steadily increase, as well as the positive feed back when readers like a post or leave a comment.

To review this year I started by looking at the stats and decided to share my five most read posts this year.  I then chose another five posts that didn’t even make the top ten but I thought were worth re-sharing.

If you have been following me for the entire year and have already viewed all of these posts, I am most grateful and I hope you will stick around to see what 2019 has in store. If you are new here, and would like to get to know us better, check out some of the links below.

Top Five

  1. There was a tie for the most viewed posts this year. I find it kind of funny that one of the two most viewed posts was this one talking about blog stats and thanking readers. https://donteatitsoap.com/2018/05/31/im-not-gonna-wait-to-tell-you/
  2. The other top post was probably the most exciting thing that happened to us this year. https://donteatitsoap.com/2018/06/27/when-dreams-come-true/
  3. I am happy that this post was in the top five because I think it has an inspirational message. https://donteatitsoap.com/2018/09/16/god-will-not-give-you-more-than-you-can-handle-i-beg-to-differ/
  4. This post was a long time in the making so it is good to see that it has had many views. 🙂 https://donteatitsoap.com/2018/04/30/working-with-nature/
  5. This is a post I wrote in response to terms that were hitting on my blog through various search engines.  Interestingly, I probably get hits on this post about once a week through search engines. https://donteatitsoap.com/2018/06/20/garlic-soap/

My Picks

  1. I prefer summer over winter and seeing that our winter has just begun this post is for anyone, like me, who may be longing for some fun in the sun. https://donteatitsoap.com/2018/08/17/staycation-and-my-favorite-things-about-summer/
  2. We celebrated my birthday last year by going to one of our local attractions that was well worth the visit. https://donteatitsoap.com/2018/01/07/pizza-chocolate-chocolate-chocolate-cake-and-a-history-lesson/
  3. Something a little different from me – poetry?  https://donteatitsoap.com/2018/05/15/wild-flower-bouquet/
  4. A really great recipe – is it asparagus season yet???  https://donteatitsoap.com/2018/05/07/asparagus-for-breakfast/
  5. Just something I thought was worth re -posting. https://donteatitsoap.com/2018/09/26/my-thoughts-about-bee-keeping-and-honey/

As we begin 2019 I would love to hear from you. Is there something you would like to share with us? Is there something I have written about that you would like to see more of, or perhaps something that I have not written about but should? I do have some posts planned but I am always open to your suggestions. Thank you for reading and we wish you a Happy New Year.

Sharing Christmas With You

Christmas 2019 was filled with blessings. Let me share some our Christmas with you.

Gifts

Gift giving,  especially buying lots of commercially made gifts, is not the focus of our Christmas.  If you read my previous post about homemade gifts you know that I have been working on making gifts since just after Thanksgiving. That certainly wasn’t too soon to start because I didn’t actually finish up until the afternoon of December 24th. Whew! That was cutting it close! and I didn’t even have time to bake any Christmas cookies this year.

This year since all of our daughters are living in their own homes or apartments I decided to crochet them each a doily. I have several doilies, that were made by my mother, grandmother and my husband’s grandmother, that I treasure. I have them on dressers, book cases, our entertainment center, and our dinning room table. I think they add a touch of class. I also think it is not something that my girls were going to buy for themselves.

As I mentioned I finished up the last one out of four on Christmas Eve and I only snapped a couple of quick photos as I was pressing them because I still had wrapping to do.

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The other thing I have been working on for at least as long is making candles. Actually making bees wax candles is something I have been trying to get right for quite a while now. Bees wax seems to be incredibly finicky and will not burn or melt properly if it does not have the right wick.

I spent the month doing candle trials with bees wax, bees wax blended with coconut oil, bees wax blended with tallow and some that were plain tallow and using different types and sizes of wicks that were recommended for bees wax candles. I was able to find a  few combinations that burned well, but in  no way have I mastered the art of making bees wax candles. (If I ever do I will blog about it.)

As gifts I gave votive candles in a candle holder with an inspirational message attached.

 

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The message was one of these two quotes:

Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

The Weather

Having a white Christmas here in Michigan is hit or miss. Last year on Christmas Eve we had a snow storm. We woke on Christmas morning to a world that was blanketed in the white fluffy stuff. It was picturesque. We had the “White Christmas” that everyone is said to “dream of”. The snow that fell made driving treacherous. I heard accounts from people who were out in it. They said driving took two to three times longer than normal to get where they were going. It also created a lot of work. My husband spent last Christmas morning plowing and shoveling snow – first at the farm, then bringing the tractor home to clear parking spots for our guests. He also did some plowing for (much grateful) neighbors along the way. As it drew closer to time for our guests to arrive I received phone calls from my aunt and one of my daughters who had started out and ran into blinding snow squalls. These hazardous driving conditions prompted their decisions to stay home and safe.

This year we celebrated Christmas without snow. It was a chilly day with temperatures hovering around the freezing point. The ground was brown, the trees barren, and the skies mostly gray, but we did not have the extra work involved in clearing snow and travel conditions were good for our guests. I was not at all disappointed that we did not have a white Christmas.

Food

I spent Christmas morning preparing our meal. The menu included a fresh fruit platter, cheeses and crackers, smoked salmon (my husband smoked it the night before) and olive mixtures for appetizers. The main meal was tossed salad, lasagna and garlic bread. For dessert we had pumpkin pie, (Aunt Donna’s) cheese cake and birthday cake (for Jesus). Not necessarily a traditional Christmas meal of turkey or ham but very much a hit with all of our guests.

Guests

On Christmas Eve we were extremely disappointed to learn that my Father-In-Law was not up to making the 2 1/2 hour trip to spend time with us on Christmas Day even though my husband was going to pick him up and bring him here. Thankfully everyone else we were expecting made it. Our guests included my Dad, Aunt Donna, all four of our girls and 2 sons-in-law and of course our two grandbabies 🙂

After we ate we gathered in the living room where we opened gifts, talked, laughed, played, shared memories and created special moments that have now become more precious memories.

One funny thing that sticks in my mind was Kara and Lindell shouting “CAMO CORN” in unison as they each realized at the exact same moment that the bucket of caramel covered popcorn that they had received as gifts was not called Caramel Corn. Nor was it Camel Corn as they thought they had heard someone else say. It was indeed called Camo Corn. LOL!!!

 

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There were precious moments spending time with our two little miracle grandbabies. Jackson who is now two and a half was born at just 26 weeks and spent his first 4 months of life outside the womb in a neonatal intensive care unit. He under went eye surgery before he ever came home from the hospital and when he came home he was still on oxygen and being tube fed. He had surgery to repair two hernia’s when he was about six months old and at this time the surgeon discovered that his appendix was tangled in the hernia, so he had his appendix removed at that time as well. It was only after that surgery that Jackson began eating better and gaining weight and was eventually weaned off the feeding tube.

Each time I spend time with this little guy I am awed by how far he has come after having such a rough start to life. Although Jackson has not yet begun to speak he is learning sign language. When they were here on Thanksgiving his dad was holding Jackson and  I threw him a kiss from across the room. His dad showed Jackson how to throw a kiss back to me. We each repeated the action several times. As I stopped and began having a conversation with someone else Jackson signed “more”. When his dad asked “more what?” Jackson leaned in and kissed his dad. Precious moments!

Jackson seems to have an innate curiosity about the world and how things work. He notices little things and studies things as if trying to figure them out. On Christmas we spent time looking at the Christmas lights that hang from our mantle. He would touch one and I would say the color, then he would touch another and I would say the color –  then I would say a color and he would look for a light that was that color. He also took an interest in some of the tree ornaments that were hanging at his eye level. Together we looked at them but learned not to pull on them.

When it was time to open presents Jackson started with a gift from Aunt Donna. He took the paper off the box and I removed the gift from the brown card board box. It was a set of 4 wooden puzzles. They were bound together in a plastic wrapper. When Jackson saw them his face lit up. His Mom prompted he to say “thank you” and he signed “thank you”. Then quickly signed “please” indicating that he wanted to play with the puzzles. My husband sliced open the plastic so we could get out one of the puzzles. Jackson removed all of the pieces from the puzzle then began picking up each piece and studying it, then fitting it back into it’s proper place. Later he and he dad spent time playing with the farm set (tractor, cow, horse, corral) that my husband and I picked out for him.

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His little sister Addy is now almost 14 months old. It was not Ken and Tina’s plan to have another baby while Jackson still needed so much attention, but God often has plans that differ from we humans. Addy’s entry into the world was much smoother than Jackson’s but only with the aid of much medical intervention. The special prenatal care Tina received allowed her to carry Addy to the date that the doctors had planned her C-section. While it was not a full-term pregnancy she was only a few weeks premature and her development has been normal.

On Christmas day I heard Addy say both “mama” and “dada”.  We will be working on “grandma” soon. LOL! While Addy spent some time playing with toys, her activities more so involved being on the move. She busied herself by quickly crawling in whatever direction she was facing. I wanted to give her the freedom to explore but not allow her to get into trouble in our non-baby proof house, so when she took off crawling I would follow along behind her on all 4’s. When she noticed that I was there she would stop long enough to turn and give me a “what the heck are you doing?” look. Then she would quickly be on her way. When she reached  a point where I felt she was getting close to trouble I would lift her up and turn her around. Each time I would pick her up she would loudly voice her objection (scream), but once set down she would be happily on her way.

Tina had brought along the sweater and hat that I had made for Addy’s birthday so I could get pictures of her wearing them. When we put the sweater on I was delighted to see that it was a perfect fit. Tina sat Addy on the beanbag and so we could get pictures. I then placed the hat on her head, but before anyone had time to snap a picture Addy had removed the hat. I thought the hat looked very cute on her but I have no proof because each of the several times I put it on her she immediately removed it before we could get a photo. Oh well – I decided I would at least like a photo of her standing up wearing the sweater. She is still wobbly on her feet unless she is supported so I held her up. As soon as her feet touched the ground it was like her legs became springs. She began bouncing up and down as fast as she could and continued bouncing for a good couple of minutes while I held her trying to get her to stand. This little girl’s antics had everyone in the room laughing and I never did get the picture I wanted. (I think her mom got it on video though.) I really don’t see a career in modeling in her future. LOL!!!

Though our time together lasted only a few hours it was a lovely day packed with Christmas blessings. I hope you enjoyed reading about it. ♥