You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category.

It’s been a long winter for me. I’m feeling the blahs. I’m working in town, and I don’t really know why. It’s nice getting out. I don’t mind interacting with all of the good people I’ve met. But I don’t feel like me. I miss seeing my boys, getting them off the bus in the afternoon and playing board games. I miss cooking good meals and sitting around the table as a family. I’ve only been working a month, so maybe I should give it some time. But things… things are just not what they used to be, what they should be. Instead of just my brother being an ass, another family member decided to call us on Christmas day and be shitty for no good reason. My husband and I are fighting. A lot. I am so lonely. I’ve gained back half the weight I lost, and feel absolutely disgusting. I’m really trying hard to snatch up any little positive thing that happens and celebrate it, but those little positive things are becoming very far and few between. And sometimes those little positive things manage to make me sad.

Like yesterday. Yesterday, a woman approached me while I was helping someone else. I knew exactly who she was, although she didn’t seem confident in her assessment of who I was at first.

“Are you who I think you are?” she asked, leaning over the little half-wall in front of me.

My heart was beating fast. I could hear blood rushing in my ears. My hands began to shake. I started to sweat, and I honestly thought about throwing down what I was doing right then and running. Running away. Where? Who the fuck knows where? I wanted to escape. Fight or flight, and everything in me was choosing flight. But I was at work. I knew I couldn’t go anywhere or cause a scene.

“From the, uh, market?” I added helpfully, my mouth going dry.

Yep. This was the woman from the couple at the market who repeatedly came to my stand, yelled at me, belittled me in front of customers, and who eventually ran me off. I was… no… I AM terrified of this couple. I’m traumatized just by their presence. I hate confrontation, and I hate rejection, and this couple represents both of those to me. I tried to smile. I tried to meet her eye contact, but I honestly don’t know if I did either because I was just a big ball of panic thinking I was about to get yelled at again. I thought I was going to inadvertently be a part of a big, messy scene, and that I would probably be fired in just a few moments because what company wants a personal drama exploding all over their company floor?

“I owe you an apology,” she continued.

Wait. What? My brain stopped working, and the adrenaline that had been telling my brain to run flooded me, making the world a sluggish, confusing place. I’m pretty sure she said something about being frustrated having to listen to her husband being upset about someone selling plants cheaper, and she apologized a couple times, and I think she even mentioned that she was sorry her friends got on my blog and attacked me. It’s kind of blurry, but I know one thing for certain – she apologized.

So I want to put it out there that I accept her apology. I honestly don’t know what I said back to her. I was a mess. I was crying after she left, and had to tell a coworker I had allergies. It was really nice of her to apologize, and I’m going to try to get past that whole fiasco. And… I’m sorry for calling her and her husband “the mean people” and for avoiding them at all costs. Maybe someday they’ll introduce themselves and we can start over. Maybe now I can even try visiting the market again. I miss all of the nice folks I met there.

Another positive – we actually had a successful birthday party. One where kids showed up. I had nearly given up hope on ever throwing a fun party for my boys. In the past, we’d be lucky if one or two out of twenty invited kids showed up. I felt like I was begging to get acquaintances to come over with their kids. We went bowling and had 12 kids arrive. My husband jumped right in and helped. Some new friends from 45 minutes south drove up special and even stayed for a little after party. And one of the boys’ friends slept over – a first for us. It all went really well.

So that’s my update on life for now. It’s not a pretty one, but I’m trying. I don’t know what progress will be made on the homestead this year. The chickens are doing well, but I don’t know if we’ll do bees or pigs like I had hoped. I’ll definitely have a garden, but I’m afraid it won’t be very impressive if no one is home to tend it every day. I went through my seed collection today and got a little depressed knowing that I’ll never run a private greenhouse or be able to sell all of these awesome plants to my community because there’s no way I’m going to have time to build a greenhouse or market successfully. I don’t know when I’m going to have time to preserve the garden’s bounty, either. If I do sell plants this summer, they’ll probably be hybrids that I didn’t start and wouldn’t even plant in my own garden. All these dreams and goals… up in the air. My husband is talking about taking off again. I don’t blame him. I’m not the most fun person to be around lately.

Happy 2015. Winter can go away any time now.

iwantyou

Tired of homesteading groups/forums that constantly dissolve into political or religious battles between opposing belief systems? Come join me in a new facebook group titled Secular Homesteaders. It will be a safe group where anyone can share pictures, ideas, and stories about their own homesteading adventures without the bother of senseless bickering over non-related issues.

I started this group this morning after seeing what several other ambitious homesteading groups have become. I have a low tolerance for pettiness, for unsubstantiated woo, and for drama. There will be just as much religion as there will be anti-religion – none. People of any background are welcome so long as they can focus on homesteading and leave their personal religious and political baggage behind.

Thank you for your consideration. Hope to see you there!

I’ve always loved garlic. On everything.¬†I never thought about the potential benefits garlic might have – I simply enjoyed it for the spicy, robust flavor it gave to every dish it joined. Then I came across a meme on facebook that claimed all sorts of miraculous things that garlic can do. I was intrigued. Could garlic really do everything this source-less meme said it could?

10484965_326603860823739_7675666742530126096_n

It sounded like a challenge to find the truth behind each of these claims. Challenge accepted. And, unlike this meme, I will actually share my sources with you so you can verify for yourself. I encourage anyone to leave extra sources in the comments, but beware – anyone who tries to post pseudoscience will be publicly shamed and stand as an example of what not to do when attempting science. ūüėČ

To help give a brief overview of each item on the list, I have color coded each item in the following way:

Green – Seems legit, though further study is always helpful.

Black – Unknown or mixed results.

Red – Decidedly false.

Blue – Duplicate or broadly termed item made to inflate the list and make it look more impressive.

1. High Cholesterol. According to this study, a garlic supplement lowered the mean cholesterol level of human participants by 11.5%. In this study, a garlic supplement lowered the total cholesterol level of rats significantly.

2. Athlete’s Foot. This study showed that ajoene, a garlic-derived organic trisulphur, cured 100% of athlete’s foot in human subjects after a mere two weeks. Furthermore, the subjects had no recurrence of fungal infection for 90 days afterward.

3. Poor Digestion. This is a very broad term because digestion encompasses so many different processes in the body. I found this study that stated a high intake of garlic essential oil reduced gas (methane production) by 17.5% in ruminants. This study found that giving broiler chickens garlic did not aid in the digestibility of the meat end product. Really, I didn’t find anything specifically on poor digestion related to garlic intake, so this claim remains unknown.

4. Low Energy. Just like poor digestion, low energy is a broad term. I looked up everything I could think of relating to low energy: sleep patterns, kinetic ability, fatigue, and endurance. I did find this study that suggested aged garlic extract helped combat physical fatigue in rats, but the method of action seemed unknown and I couldn’t find any follow up studies to determine the exact mechanism.

5. Blood Sugar. I’m taking this to mean plasma glucose. This study suggested that¬†diallyl disulfide, the major organosulfur compound of¬†garlic, increased plasma glucose levels within an hour of ingestion. In non-geek terms, blood sugar increases.

6. Blood Cholesterol. I’m sure the maker of this meme probably forgot that the first thing they listed was cholesterol. But hey, why not list it twice to make the miracle list even longer and more impressive? See #1.

7. Colon Cancer. This review of thirteen different studies on the subject found no evidence for garlic reducing the chances of colorectal cancer. In fact, it suggests garlic supplements may increase the risk for colorectal cancer. Ouch.

8. Chronic Bronchitis. I couldn’t find one scientific study that found any benefits to garlic in the treatment of bronchitis, either acute or chronic.

9. Yeast Infections. No benefits were found in this study when garlic was used in Candida-positive women.

10. Respiratory problems.¬†¬†This study¬†found that purified aged garlic extract reduced airway inflammation in mice, but if you look at #25 you’ll see that garlic can also become an allergen that causes acute respiratory problems.

11. Boosts the immune system. Holy broad terms, batman! While technically correct in it’s sweeping coverage, as many papers including this review have shown, garlic is composed of many different compounds, some of which can be easily altered depending on preparation. Overall, yes, but it’s disappointing to see such a broad term used in a list that also encompasses specific uses. I’m going to count this one as a double and point you to… well… every other number on here because most of them have something to do with the immune system.

12. Increase absorption of iron and zinc. Now here’s a great example of being specific AND being true! See this study for more details.

13. Coughing. Another repeat. See #10.

14. Antioxidants. While garlic has been found to have some antioxidant properties, many studies including this one have not been able to find antioxidants in the blood stream after a human ingests raw garlic.

15. Breast Cancer. A specific garlic derivative aided in cell death of breast cancer cells according to this study. This study also observed the effect a garlic derivative had on the death of breast cancer cells.

16. Cold and flu. Garlic may or may not be responsible for the reduced severity of cold and flu symptoms, but it also has definitively been shown in this study to have no effect on the incidence of colds or flu.

17. Leukemia. This study shows that certain components of garlic can stop the proliferation of cancer cells.

18. Anti-fungal. This study found that garlic derivatives allicin and garlic extract inhibits growth in fungal cells.

19. Vaginitis. Oh, dear. Another double and a broad term. See #9.

20. Toothaches. Pure wives tale. I couldn’t find even one study that found garlic to help toothaches.

21. Warts. This study found that 96% of patients treated with lipid garlic extract had a complete healing response for their recalcitrant multiple common warts symptoms. What’s more, no recurrence was found in the garlic-treated group.

22. Stomach. Too broad to tackle succinctly. What about the stomach? Digestion has already been covered in #3.

23. Diabetes. This review talks about the anti-diabetes properties of various garlic derivatives. This study goes over the effects of garlic on postprandial blood glucose levels and intestinal sucrase and maltase activities – all decreased by garlic.

24. Parasites. This study suggests that garlic can be a powerful anti-parasite in guppies and other freshwater fish. Although somewhat effective, this study showed that garlic wasn’t nearly as powerful as pumpkin extract or ivermectin at eradicating the nasal botfly. This study found that allicin treatment wasn’t effective in treating parasitic infections in commercially raised chickens.

25. Allergies. This study found that purified aged garlic extract reduced airway inflammation in mice. But this study found that airborne garlic increased allergy symptoms in humans.

In all, this meme touches on some of the awesome qualities of garlic, but I cannot in good conscience promote ANYTHING it claims for multiple reasons. Number one – I am no doctor. I have a degree in Biology with a focus on genetics and microbiology. I speak the language of medicine, though I am not trained in its many particulars. While I can read through all of these abstracts, studies, and reviews and understand them, I am not a source of medical knowledge.

Number two – different garlic preparations have different properties and vastly different outcomes. If you actually read through even half of the studies I linked to, you’ll have noticed that there are many different compounds present in raw garlic. For instance, allicin has some antioxidant properties, but it has not been detected in serum or urine after ingestion of raw garlic. Garlic powder must be prepared at a suitable temperature and is associated with some toxicity. No major studies on the efficacy of garlic oils have been reported. The composition of aged garlic extract is such that it has increased sulfur compounds with the loss of allicin. Basically, there is A LOT of variability in the contents of garlic preparations.¬†¬†None of these studies mentioned were predicated on a person eating raw garlic – they were all conducted with very specific by-products of garlic processing.

What does all that mean? It means that eating raw garlic may or may not give you the benefits you just read about because those specific things tested in the studies may or may not be present and in usable form in raw garlic.

Number three – this was just a few hours worth of research that I did. I no longer have access to all of the full articles, so this brief research probably missed many small nuances that are only present in the full texts. There’s always more to the story, like¬†¬†the fact that some toxicity has been reported with garlic use, especially when taken as an encapsulated supplement. Exact doses are very case-dependent, and toxicity levels vary from species to species, person to person. Did you know that even small amounts of garlic are toxic to cats and dogs? Garlic also has known interactions with other drugs, including the ability to make birth control less effective.

Why did I even bother going through pointing out what was true, what was false, and what was inconclusive if I’m not going to stand by any of it as it relates to the miraculous claims of this meme? Because I simply wanted to point out that this meme, while certain aspects of it are scientific, is broadly pseudoscientific in nature. One cannot take a couple truths, stir it in with a bunch of unknowns or complete falsities, and expect the end result to retain scientific accuracy. This meme contains a few nuggets of science, but is overwhelmingly false despite that.

What’s my point? Use your reasoning skills when you come across things like this meme on the internet. Research the claims for yourself. Don’t accept anecdotal websites and sources as truth – dig deeper. Peer-reviewed studies are the best sources for any medical information and advice. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And finally… talk to you doctor! Your doctor has most likely heard all of the pseudoscience surrounding various alternative medicines, and will be able to present you with well-researched information to counter or enhance your own findings.

To end this blog, I leave you with this.

minchinalternativemed

The chickens spent their first night in their coop this past Saturday. I set up a ring of hardware cloth in the middle around the hanging heat lamp for the first few days because when we first put them in there they all freaked out and piled into a chilly corner crying. I left the box I carried them out there in for them so they had somewhere to huddle that was familiar. They’re still using it, so I figured it can stay a couple more days. Today I took out the hardware cloth so they could explore the entire coop. They seem a lot more confident and less scared. They are eating and drinking out of some old feed and water containers we had on hand, but I’ll soon be making some better ones. I absolutely LOATHE store-bought feed and water containers. They are inefficient, leaky, and annoying as all get out to clean.

DSCN0453

The coop still needs a lot of work. Once I’m done with the garden, I’ll get back to working on it. I still need to paint it, build dividers for the nesting boxes, finish plugging up the eaves that are covered in hardware cloth, and build gates for the run.

Speaking of the garden, remember that aerial shot from the top of the coop I said I’d do? Well, here it is.

DSCN0463

You can see the tiller sitting where I just finished tilling up the last bit of the garden. I started rowing it up this afternoon and the darn black flies and mosquitoes decided to come out in droves. I’ll get out there and plant the rest tomorrow if it’s nice. While I was up on the coop, I thought I’d take a few more shots.

DSCN0464

My husband has been working on this the past couple nights. He’s building a 14’x16′ shed next to the coop because we need somewhere to store the bikes, mowers, tillers, snow thrower, and all the rest of the junk that was in the chicken coop up until a few days ago. He works on that while I work on the yard and garden. Once the shed is done, maybe I can talk him into starting on the greenhouse…

DSCN0465

Pardon the mess around the house. I took the picture before I even thought of cleaning anything up. You can see part of the pile of junk from the chicken coop in the bottom right, along with the Volkswagen rabbit truck that my husband finally got running again. What do you think of the final color of our house? I like that it blends well with the environment around it. My husband has been painting, too, on top of building the shed and all the other tasks I’ve set him. Once he gets it all painted, we can start hanging the exterior trim. We’ll be doing craftsman style, white trim. The ugly yellow foam around the ICF basement will be covered with stone, though we haven’t decided which kind yet. Seeing as the fake stone is about $100 per 10 square feet… it may be a while before we decide.

You can see the orchard to the right behind the house. Our new trees are taking off. Looks like we lost our two peaches and two cherries from previous years – there aren’t any new shoots or greens on them. Que sera sera – that’s life on the homestead. Thankfully we bought four new cherry trees this year, and they seem to be doing great. The apples are all very hardy types, and are growing as if we didn’t just have a record-breaking cold winter. Maybe we’ll start seeing some apples in the next few years? One can only hope!

I’ll no longer be a vendor at the Menominee market, but I wish everyone there the best and I’ll try to make it back as a customer from time to time. I’m looking into other local markets. I’ll keep you posted as I figure things out. I’m open to suggestions if anyone knows of somewhere where I can sell produce and homemade goodies nearby.

I have another piece of news, too, that I have only shared with my husband and one friend so far – I have been offered a writing position for a pretty major homesteading website. They get traffic upwards of a million views a month. I would be writing one entry per month on a topic of my choosing, and in return I will get a HUGE boost to my own blog traffic and first access to panels and podcasts hosted on their site. I will continue to write for my own personal blog, of course, but this new venue will open me up to a much wider audience and more opportunities. When I started this blog four years ago I never thought I’d reach more than a few family members and friends. I’m very grateful to be able to reach so many more, especially all you fellow heathens – it’s damn near impossible to find other godless folks in my every day life. It’s good to know that even though I’m lonely, I’m not alone. ūüôā

Cross your toes and stab a forkful of His Noodliness for me! I could use some good luck!

 

June 2021
M T W T F S S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Blog Stats

  • 53,858 hits