This week I read a quote by author unknown... "If your yard gives you dandelions, make dandelion tea!" So I just had to try it. I have been reading for years that dandelions are edible, the entire plant including roots. There are also a lot of nutritional advantages to eating this herb. Yes, this "weed" is considered an herb. So what are the health benefits?
- Rich in calcium, vitamin C, luteolin, potassium, fiber and antioxidants
- Bone Health
- Diabetic Health
- Liver Health
- Weight Loss
- Facilitates Digestion
- Stimulates appetite
- Natural Laxative
- Relieves Gas
- Prevents Constipation
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
- Digestive Aid
- Stimulates Insulin Production
- Cancer Prevention
- Skin Health
The white milky substance in the roots is said to treat itchy skin, eczema and acne. Some even think it could treat fungal skin irritations like ringworm.
So how have I used this herb this week? Well, let me break it down into the different parts of the herb.
Flowers and buds:
See the yellow flowers and buds in the photo above? Those became a part of my salad at lunch today. Not a bad taste at all. Blended in well with all the other vegetables in the salad.
This week I have enjoyed making tea with the young leaves. Love it! You can add honey or another sweetener of your choice. I prefer no sweetener. Just remove the young tender leaves from the stem, rinse in cool running water, and cut in smaller pieces. Place them in your tea cup and cover with boiling water. Let it stand for about five minutes, then drink. You can remove the leaves, or just leave them settled on the bottom as you enjoy your tea. I chopped some of the leaves in the picture above and added to the salad I enjoyed for lunch and in a cup of hot tea after my meal.
The roots are said to be really good for you. They can be chopped and dried for use in making tea. Earlier this week I chopped some in the food processor and dried them. I later made a hot tea. I will say, it did not have much of a taste. Might be better adding it to another blend of hot tea. Shouldn't affect the taste and you will still be getting all the nutritional benefits. Definitely prefer tea made from the leaves.
Hope this inspires you to use those dandelions in your yard instead of mowing them down. Think herb and not weed.
Disclaimer: The benefits stated above have NOT been verified by myself. Always check with your doctor before taking herbs, as some are harmful if you are pregnant or taking certain medications!
So we were out working in the bee yard the other day when we got a surprise. But let me start at the beginning. We were doing a quick check of all the hives. The two new hives and the two established hives. Hive 2 was the 'experimental hive' with no queen. There were actually a few bees in the hive, but no queen. We decided to move a couple of frames with brood and eggs from Hive 1 to Hive 2. Shortly after doing so, I looked down on the ground to see a small swarm! Small and in an odd location. This was the first swarm we had found! Right under one of our hives at that. Needless to say, we were excited at this find. Being both surprised, and caught off guard, we made the hasty decision to try and put this swarm in Hive 2. We did our best to catch and move bees. We were even able to locate the queen and add her as well. Catching her in a queen clip and placing her in the hive to give her and the other bees a little time to adjust. Almost immediately we thought of a better alternative we should have tried. This was a crazy move on our part. After all, we did just throw bees from two very different environments in a new hive box. Definitely not the best way to start out. Needless to say, at last check the bees were busy working in the hive. We will dig deeper after the bees have had more time to settle and adjust to all the change. Hive 4, our other experimental hive, was looking good. Strong and full of bees!
It's been a while since we have given an update on the bees. For a quick review, back in March we bought a "Resource Hive", which is pictured above. This hive is the same size as the standard Langstroth Hive. However, it has a permanent wall going down the middle of the hive body. This enables you to house two nuc hives in one box. One hive has an opening in the back, and the other, as seen in this photo, has an opening in the front. Each side of the hive can hold 4 deep frames. As the nuc grows in strength, you can add another box on top with another four frames. When the bees have increased in number and strength, you can then take all eight frames out and put them in a ten frame brood box, with one or two additional empty frames, to create a new hive. Currently, we are only putting nine frames in our brood boxes. This gives a little extra room between frames, making it a little easier to remove and move them around. The hope is that we will not kill the queen during inspections as easily when pulling frames in and out. When the other side of the resource hive is strong, you can then move those eight frames out as well, creating a second new hive.
Back in March we used this box for a couple of first time 'experiments' as fairly new beekeepers. We had a very weak hive. However, it still had a queen. We took four frames with the queen, and all the bees we could get, out of the weak hive and put them in one side of the resource hive. Only two or three frames really had any bees on them. We then added a sheet of newspaper and the deep box that goes on this half of the resource hive. In the upper box we added four frames from one of our stronger hives, choosing frames with lots of brood and bees. These bees would chew through the newspaper and join the hive below, giving them time to adjust to the pheromone of their new queen below. This prevents fighting and the possible killing of the queen. As all the brood above hatches, the hive will grow stronger very quickly, while the queen below continues to lay eggs.
For the other half of the resource hive, we removed four frames full of bees, capped brood, uncapped brood, and eggs. The goal here was for the bees to make their own queen from one of the eggs. In the box above, we just added four frames of empty drawn comb we had at the farm with the intention that the bees would use this for pollen, honey and more brood if needed.
Both of these procedures are very acceptable practices for creating hives from splits and weaker hives. The other "new" variable we threw in there, that, in hindsight, we should not have, was a new type of hive cover. Though the cover does seem to be a good, it's not appropriate for the resource hive as I will explain later.
The results or our attempted save/split..... Not the win/win as expected, but a win with lessons learned. The new cover I just mentioned above, well, it has crawl-space type grooves on the underside which are located in areas which I believe allowed the possible mixture of bees between the two hives. But I can't say this for certain. When we moved the first half of the resource hive to a ten frame brood box, we did not see a queen or brood. This was the side which originally had a queen. It seemed even weaker. I'm thinking maybe it had possibly swarmed due to overcrowding. During one inspection, this half of the hive was very full of bees. Due to rainy weather, we were not able to transfer the hive as soon as intended.
The nuc on the other side, which was originally queenless, was strong with brood AND it now had a queen! This means we succeeded in having a hive to create it's own queen, or, the queen from the other side made the move to this side from the crawl spaces on the underside of the top cover. There is no way to be sure as to what really happened.
Though it's not the win/win of two strong hives we expected, it's still a win. We did get one strong hive out of the deal to replace a very weak hive we would have probably lost anyway.
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ALL MOMS OUT THERE!
Those that have given birth, adopted children, or helped to mother the children of others!
A sure sign summer will be here before we know it! As you can see, my chocolate mint is also doing well and going wild!
Did you know that most other countries sell eggs that are not refrigerated? The US is one of the few oddballs when it comes to refrigerating eggs. Let me tell you about my personal experience and share some egg facts with you. Then you can decide what you are more comfortable with.
Many years ago, while at a relative’s house, I noticed a large flats of eggs stored in the utility room. I wondered why they were not refrigerated. Sometime later while watching a cooking show, a famous chef stated that he preferred to cook with room temperature eggs. These two events got me to thinking. I did some research and discovered not everyone stores their eggs in a refrigerator.
Before I go any further, let me give you some scientific information. Just before a hen lays an egg, she adds a protective covering to seal the egg. This is an antibacterial covering called bloom. The bloom prevents bacteria from entering the egg as well as keeping moisture inside the egg. Mother Nature is awesome! Here is something else you might not know. Commercial egg producers wash off the bloom before packing the eggs for sale to the public. Washing the bloom off the egg, particularly with cold water, causes the pores of the egg shell to pull in bacteria from the outer surface of the egg. When this is done, eggs must be immediately refrigerated to prevent bacteria, which may have entered, from growing and causing a food-borne illness that could lead to food poisoning. Knowing this, you should never remove eggs from the refrigerator and then store them at room temperature. The protective bloom is no longer on the egg. Therefore, the egg is NOT protected from bacteria entering and growing inside.
So how do I store eggs if I do not refrigerate them? I store them at room temperature in a cool part of the kitchen. Here are some pointers...
1. Use only farm fresh eggs that you know have never been washed.
2. Do NOT wash the eggs. Most eggs are very clean when laid. If they are a little dusty or a feather attached, wipe them off with a dry cloth or paper towel. If they are dirty, wash them in water and store in the refrigerator.
3. With a pencil, write the date the egg was laid on the shell. When you get a large collection of eggs, this will make it easier to identify the oldest ones. The accountant in me always uses the FIFO (First In First Out) method when choosing a fresh egg for cooking.
4. At this point you can either place the eggs in a basket as pictured here, or place them fat end up in an egg carton. (In order of date laid, of course. wink)
5. Now comes the big question... How long can an egg be stored at room temperature? This question is almost as controversial as, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" All I can tell you is what I, and others I know, have done. I have eaten and used eggs that were stored on the counter for a couple of months. HOWEVER, I NEVER use them when they are more than a few of weeks old without doing the Float Test. See my blog from last week as it tells in detail how to do the Float Test. Just remember, if the egg floats, don't eat it.
6. When using eggs stored at room temperature, always make a few quick common sense checks first. 1) Float Test - make sure the egg sinks before using it. 2) If it smells bad, never use it! 3) A fresh egg whites are a cloudy white. Old eggs have clear egg whites. Spoiled eggs whites have a pinkish cloudy color. Do NOT use.
I have followed these steps for years without any signs of contracting food poisoning. I hope you have found this information informative and useful.
Now for the disclaimer.... The FDA recommends refrigerating eggs. Follow this link, http://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/Consumers/ucm077342.htm for more information. Please do your research on egg storage and follow the method you are most comfortable with.
Cheers, and God Bless!
This past week, I have been reminded life does go on without the internet or electrical power! A week ago our internet went down due to a storm. Five days later, after several calls to our internet provider, it was finally determined the real issue was with our router. This was determined only after the provider had resolved storm related issues at their towers first. With problems resolved and internet finally restored, via an old router until the new more-powerful replacement arrives, I was looking forward to starting my week in a fully technologically function office early Monday morning. Turns out, God had other plans for my morning. If you ever want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans! It appears he wanted me to slow down to a pace even slower than that of my backup router.
After conceding to His will, I sat in my recliner, Bible in hand. I would use this time to read His word and prepare the lesson I am to each at church next Sunday. Was thrilled to be getting an early start. Not long after getting started, I heard a click and chime. Turns out the power came on two hours earlier that the electric company had expected. I was happy for the quick return of power. But I was also sad to see the forced quite time fade away. It only fades away because of our doings. As I made the choice to remain there in the natural light from the window studying his Word, I remembered the physical and mental rest associated with power outages occurring during the busy times in my life as a parent. Seems we never got a rest during those times from the hustle and bustle of all the demands on a busy family with children and teenagers. I remembered the time I had wanted to declare a weekly "Power Off Wednesday". As you can imagine, this never happened. Why do we find it so difficult to hit that "power off" switch? If you are wondering what I was reading in the Bible, it was passages about resting on the seventh day, the Sabbath, and letting the land rest every seven years. Turns out our inability to to unplug and rest is nothing new. The Israelites were faced with the same challenges of unplugging from the work of their world and resting as well. The end result was not good for them. I believe there is a lesson we need to learn from the past here. Not a lesson we want to learn, but rather one we need to learn.
When you unplug and regroup after an unexpected outage, it seems easier to find a little time to stop and smell the roses. Here is a rose from my yard, with petals fully extended, as it shows off all if its inner beauty. Have a beautiful and blessed day!
Most people have heard the phrase, "This too shall pass." Well, during the rainy seasons here on the farm, I have updated the phrase by substituting "dry up" for "pass". When we first moved to the farm, we were in a dry season. Shortly there after, the El Nino drought-busting monsoons started! If I have learned to notice and identify anything while living in the country, it's the weather patterns. While living in the concrete jungle of the cities and urban areas where it rains, drains and dries quickly within a few days, weather patterns had passed unnoticed in my field of vision. Well, a few days of rain in the country can linger for weeks until the sun and wind once again return for a few consecutive days to dry the Earth. Many times, the rain returns the very next day after the drying of low areas which hold water. This means you are not always able to get caught up with the mowing before the next rainfall. Average truly means AVERAGE where you take the dry (drought) days and average them with the wet (flood) days. It seems there are actually only a few short periods of time which fall within the "average moisture" range. One learns patients with the spring rains, and to adjust their outdoor chore and 'mowing schedule' accordingly. Knowing that "this too shall dry up", I can once again enjoy the beauties of rain. One such beauty brought about by all the water on the farm, not always present in the urban jungle, is the sound of frogs . I'd like to share the sounds of croaking frogs (and wind) with you today. Checkout the file link below. At times this spring, they have been so loud I could hear them while working in my office building. Enjoy, and blessings for your day!
A Mattingly - Owner and operator of Our Little Barnyard. Can't believe it's been over twenty years since I started living the farm dream! What an amazing and challenging journey it has been!
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