Oct 21, 2016

Fire on the Homestead

Last weekend, the coast guard put up hurricane warning flags - something long timers tell me they have never seen in our area. But God heard our prayers, and the hurricane turned into nothing more than a wintery rain and wind storm that caused minor damage, mostly in town. We felt we were out of the danger zone. Then something awful happened.

At 4 a.m. Monday morning, when my dear husband stepped outside to head to work, he was horrified to discover that one of our outbuildings - a big, lovely pole barn - was glowing red with fire.

After he called 9/11, he immediately called me on his cell phone. I thought I'd heard some weird bumping noises, but figured it was just one of my children. Then I thought I heard a man's voice yelling; I almost got up, but the noise went away and I thought it must have been one of my children listening to a CD. (They like to listen to radio dramas in bed.) But no. The bumps were the sound of the metal pole barn warping and falling apart, and the yells were my husband's frustrated response to initially dialing 9/11 incorrectly because his hands were shaking so hard.

We are waiting for the insurance company's permission to knock this down.
As soon as he told me the building was on fire, I slipped on some jeans and a jacket and ran down the driveway to meet him. The pole barn was already done for - the roof had caved in, the metal doors were warped and falling off, and the whole thing looked melted. We were in shock, especially since we'd just been working in there.

Sunday afternoon, hubby and I were working on sorting the contents of this pole barn - mostly furniture and antique and vintage household items. And I was so happy because I found two metal shelves that seemed made for holding canning jars. I loaded those shelves with everything I canned this summer, and some of what I'd moved from the old house. Jars upon jars of applesauce, plums, jams, green beans, chicken soup made from our own chickens... I was so pleased to have a decent place to store these home canned goods - finally. In fact, I almost took a photo to share with you; then I thought, "I'll do it tomorrow."

That night when we went to bed, hubby talked about his dreams for that pole barn. He wanted me to be able to sit by the wood stove in a comfy chair with a book. He wanted me to be able to store books there, if I wanted, or to use it as a sewing and stained glass creation room. Whatever relaxing thing I wanted. My personal space - something I hadn't had since the children came along.

Interestingly, we ended the night with an email from a friend, telling my hubby that someone he'd known in our area had recently died in a house fire...

So there we were in the wee hours of Monday morning, huddled together and watching the fire until fire department came and put out the flames. We prayed and thanked God that no people or animals were hurt. That we'd had such a stormy weekend, and everything was soaked with water. That the fire didn't happen during our dry summer, when it surely would have spread rapidly to neighbors and the forest. That we weren't looking at the embers of our home. So much to be thankful for! And we feel that in some way God was protecting us with this fire. That may sound weird to some, but I know God uses all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Even dry wells. Even fires.We feel His hand firmly holding and protecting us.

In the wee hours of the morning, it was disturbing to watch the building burn. Seeing the wreckage by daylight is almost worse. I can see the metal shelves that still hold my canning jars, which are warped and melted. Oh, it's painful to see all that healthy food I was so pleased to have for my family (after hours and hours of work) gone!

The canned goods on those wonderful industrial shelves...
It's amazing how intact many of those jars still look.
See the spot where the fire wasn't nearly as hot and the building almost looks normal? That's exactly where my canning jar shelves are. The liquid in the jars considerably cooled the fire in that area.
What caused the fire? Since the building didn't have electricity, and since there was nothing else in the building that could ignite a fire, the fire chief felt it was a flue fire. We are still waiting to hear what the insurance company's fire inspector thinks, but we did notice he went into the wreckage and pulled out the entire wood stove flue. It's badly cracked.

Folks, we've had wood stoves all the years we've been married (15), and my husband has had them most of his life. This was such a freak thing.

Yes, it hurts to look at the remains of that pole barn. But, oh my friends, it could have been much, much worse.


Oct 18, 2016

Our Favorite Christian Children's Thanksgiving & Fall Books

As hot summer weather cools and turns into rainy fall, snuggling up with the kids and reading some great books is the perfect way to spend the afternoon. With that in mind, here are some of my family's favorite picture books about fall and Thanksgiving. May they bring as much pleasure to your family as they have to mine!

Favorite Fall Themed Picture Books

* My Basket of Blessings by Mary Manz Simon. This cute board book is engaging to look at and reinforces the important concept of counting the blessings God gives us. The book is die cut to look like a basket, and each page has die cut images of items inside the basket, giving a fun layered look. Each item is fall-related, including juicy apples that "will never match the sweetness of God's love for me," a scarecrow to remind that God made us, and a pumpkin pie, with it's wafting scent, to remind us God's gifts are everywhere.

* God's Oak Tree by Allia Zobel Nolan.This board book is beautiful to behold. The cover features a die-cut hole through which you can see a smiling acorn. Open up the book, and you'll find the pages are of different shapes, starting narrow and growing wider. Each time you turn a page, the image of an acorn hanging from a tree shifts, and on the opposite side the image of a fully grown oak tree gradually appears. Each page is beautifully illustrated, with rich nature colors, lots of wild animals, and plenty of detail. Best of all, this book explains science (how an acorn turns into a tree) from a Christian standpoint.

* Give Thanks to the Lord by Karma Wilson. Based on Psalm 92, this book celebrates the glory of nature during fall, giving God thanks for providing it. I especially love that this book makes it easy to memorize a simple Bible verse.

* My Happy Pumpkin by Crystal Bowman. This cheery board book tells the story of a pumpkin turned jack-o-lantern and how it symbolizes the way God washes away our sin and shines through us. It's sure to become a
seasonal favorite, perfect for reading while your children decorate pumpkins.

* The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs. Very similar to My Happy Pumpkin, but targeting a slightly older age group (say, 5 - 8). A classic! (In fact, check out all the parable books in this series, each focused on a different time of year. They are excellent.)

Favorite Thanksgiving Themed Picture Books

* Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas. If you read your children only one fall or Thanksgiving themed book this year, make it this one. Here's a part of history few people know - how Squanto's life was shaped by God at least in part to help the Pilgrims. An amazing story!

* Mary's First Thanksgiving by Kathy-Jo Wargin. A story that helps instill thankfulness, while teaching the legend of the five kernels.

* Samuel Eaton's Day & Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters. Filled with full color photos of reenactors from Plymouth Plantation, which do an excellent job of showing what everyday life was like for Pilgrim children. These books don't specifically mention Thanksgiving, mind you, but are still a great tie in with that holiday. (Also check out the companion book about a Native American boy of the same time period: Tapenum's Day.)

* Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness. My kids adore the illustrations in this book, and often spend days studying them. They are detailed and rich, and the story itself does a good job of showing why the Pilgrims came to the New World, how they suffered, and how they trusted God.

Oct 14, 2016

Weekend Links & Updates

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!
Spider webs are an amazing part of God's creative design!

In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge till the storms of destruction pass by."

Psalm 57:1
* We are expecting a hurricane to hit us this Saturday. Hurricane! I had no idea we got them here! Apparently, large ones don't come often, but they do come. They are comparing the one expected this weekend to another that hit in the 1960s and destroyed buildings all over town. We are a little concerned, because we have a lot of windows, but no way to cover them. But the previous owners of our house said it was built above and beyond the hurricane code; let's hope they were truthful.

In preparation, I picked the remaining apples off the tree and harvested any figs that were ripe or close to it (I can't stand to see food go to waste), and tried to remove as many light things (like lawn chairs) from the yard as possible. I do still have potted plants out. We have extra water, plus firewood, food, and paper plates and plastic utensils (so we don't have to boil water to wash dishes if the power goes out).

Last night, was a strong storm with rain and wind. We could see our windows flexing. The puppy, who sleeps in a sheltered area in a large crate outside, barked so much last night, we had to get up in the wee hours and move him to an outbuilding. He's afraid of the wind. (He needs to get over that because we live in a windy area!) Tonight, maybe, we'll bring his crate in. The bunny can come in, too...but not the chickens!

I'm reading there have been tornadoes in nearby areas today - again, rare, but they do happen here sometimes.

Please pray for the safety of everyone in our area. This is not Florida; we aren't used to this type of weather and most people are completely unprepared. We need God's protection.

* Several recalls: Blue Bunny ice cream, Nestle Drumstick ice cream, and Lunchables.

* A report that Similac formula may contain maggots.

* I've written before  about the fact that our ancestors, who sometimes canned veggies in a water bath canner (which is now known as a good way to poison someone) may have gotten away with it because they boiled canned veggies before serving them. But here's a great article that explains some other reasons past generations may have (or may not have!) gotten away with unsafe canning procedures.

* Intestinal diversity protects against asthma. Fermented foods are your friend!

* Fire cider is easy to make, and many people swear by it's ability to keeps colds and flu at bay!

Christmas Countdown

This week, I didn't post any gift ideas, but here are a few I mentioned on Facebook the week previous that didn't make it into last weeks' Weekend Links. See last weeks' suggestions here. See part one of the Christmas Countdown here and click here for part two.

Christmas Countdown Gift #16: Family Games. Yes, kids enjoy games. But when the whole family plays, games take on a whole new, important place! Board and card games are an easy way for families to spend quality time together, building relationships. Here are some of my family's favorites.

Christmas Countdown Gift #17: Food Saver. They really do make food last longer in the freezer - or if it's dehydrated. Truly a must if your recipient preserves food or shops sales to get more affordable meat and produce. We have this exact model and love it!

Oct 11, 2016

Yarrow: A Common Weed That's Good Medicine

Back when we lived in the suburbs, my neighbors sometimes gave me some preeeetty strange looks. Imagine me knocking on a neighbor's door: "Hi! How are you today? I was just wondering if you'd mind if I picked some of your weeds. I use them to make medicine for my family."

No one ever said no, and a few even smiled and told me stories about how their granny used to do the same thing, but most of them raised their eyebrows, muttered something about it being okay, and then shut the door, shaking their heads at me. I'm sure a few even started referring to me by my strange hobby: "Look, honey! It's the weed lady!"

But in the suburbs, I systematically learned to identify local weeds (mostly by using Google), then researched them to see if they were useful in any way. Now I have the pure pleasure of learning the useful weeds on our rural homestead. So when I spotted a certain wildflower - a very common weed called yarrow - I was pretty darn excited. It's an extremely useful herb.

Identifying Yarrow

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.) is a plant that can be found both in the wild and in gardening centers and domestic gardens. But, as with all medicinal herbs, the wild versions are far better medicine. (The medicinal qualities have largely been bred out of domesticated versions.)

Unlike their colorful domestic siblings, wild yarrow is a white or pale lavender flower - actually, clusters of tiny umbellate-shaped, five-petaled flowers with yellow stamens. Yarrow usually blooms between June and September, tthough in mild climates it may bloom further into fall. The flowers sit on long, straight stalks and the entire plant is aromatic, smelling a bit like chamomile. The leaves are feather-like, and grow all along the stem. The stems can grow to about 3 -5 feet tall. The roots are rhizome-like and are near the surface of the earth.

Yarrow is common along road sides, in grasslands, on rocky beaches, in meadows, and in the open areas around woods. It is also known as warrior plant, squirrel’s tale, mille foil, thousand leaf, wound wort, and nosebleed plant.

NOTE: Do not consume any plant you cannot positively identify.

Close up of yarrow flowers.

Harvesting and Preserving Yarrow 

Yarrow flowers, leaves, and roots are all useful. The flowers are high in aromatic oils and should be gathered when dry and fully open (but not turning brown). The leaves are higher in tannins and may be harvested any time, though herbalists say they are more potent in spring and early summer. The root is primarily used for toothaches and is usually harvested in fall.

To facilitate using yarrow all year long, the roots, leaves, and flowers are typically dried before use. People have been air drying medicinal herbs for thousands of years, and you certainly can preserve them that way today; but if you have a food dehydrator, I recommend using it (at about 95 degrees F.). It will dry the herb more quickly and retain more of the medicinal qualities of the plant. Store in a glass jar with an air tight lid in a cool, dark, dry location. The dried herb will last several years; as long as it is still aromatic, it has some medicinal qualities left in it.

Drying yarrow with an electric dehydrator.

How to Use Yarrow 

Yarrow is antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relieving), astringent, vulnerary (heals wounds), and styptic (ends bleeding). Herbalists consider it cooling, drying, and a bitter.

Yarrow flowers and leaves.
Bleeding: For thousands of years, people have used yarrow to help stop bleeding. (One of this plant's common names, "warrior plant," even hints at this important historical use.) Today we know yarrow contains alkaloids that are proven to reduce clotting time, and achilletin and achilleine that help blood coagulate. Use dried, powdered yarrow, or chew fresh leaves until the juices are coming out of the plant. (Traditionally, the wounded person was encouraged to do the chewing so he could swallow the juices in his mouth.) Apply as a poultice directly onto the wound. Traditionally, a strong yarrow tea was used for internal bleeding. (Of course, if you have serious bleeding, you should go to the emergency room.) 

Fevers: Another very common use for yarrow is reducing fevers. Yarrow tea causes the body to sweat, which naturally helps reduce fever. 

Heart: Yarrow tea is also often used to dilate peripheral blood vessels and treat high blood pressure.

Sedative: Yarrow tea relieves anxiety and insomnia.

Reproductive: Yarrow tea is said to help regulate the menses, bring on a late period (not caused by pregnancy), reduce cramps, and reduce heavy menstrual bleeding. (Scientific studies show yarrow contains phytoestrogens, which act like estrogen in the body; this means that in women who have a good balance of hormones, prolonged use might lead to a hormone imbalance.)
Circulatory: Yarrow is said to help improve varicose veins, hemorrhoids, phlebitis, thrombosis, and generally improves circulation.

Diuretic: Yarrow tea is a mild diuretic and may relieve cystitis, irritable bladder, and stones. 
Yarrow's feathery leaves.
Anti-inflammatory: Yarrow is said to relieve painful joints, hemorrhoids, and is known to generally reduces swelling.

Colds/Flu: Yarrow tea is recommended at the first sign of a cold and is said to relieve sore throats and act as a decongestant. Herbalists say the tea is not only warming, but stimulates the immune system and helps you "sweat out" the sickness.

Astringent: Yarrow is a mild astringent, good for oily skin. (Make yarrow tea and allow it to cool before splashing it on the face or applying it with a cotton ball.) It also helps tighten pores. 

Minor cuts/scrapes/rashes/bug bites/stings: Yarrow is excellent for all these minor complaints. It reduces the swelling and pain and will help prevent infection. Chew fresh leaves and apply to the affected area. 

Toothache: Yarrow root helps relieve the pain from toothaches and may help any infection in the area. Hydrate dried root with a little water, then apply to the tooth.

Digestive: Yarrow tea soothes spasms and cramps in the digestive tract, including those from IBS or gallbladder attacks. It's also good for the liver and gallbladder.

Bug repellent: Yarrow tincture or essential oil helps repel insects. 
Closeup of yarrow's leaves.
Immune System & Infection: Yarrow has long been used to stimulate the immune system. It also has antimicrobial properties and may prevent infections, including viral and urinary. 

Good Food: Yarrow is good food, too! The young spring leaves and flowers are sometimes used in salads and soups.

Good for Plants: Yarrow is great for other plants. It's roots seek out and readily absorb potassium, copper, and phosphorus; therefore yarrow is sometimes chopped up and used as mulch around the garden. 

Basic Yarrow Tea
Place about one tablespoon of chopped flowers, or leaves, or both, in a tea ball. Place tea ball in a cup and cover with boiling water. Cover cup with a saucer until steaming stops. Steep at least 10 -15 minutes. Drink up to three times a day. To help with fever, reheat and drink as hot as comfortably possible and take hourly until fever breaks.


According to The University of Maryland Medical Center's website (and other sources), yarrow has not been tested on children or nursing infants. Pregnant women should not take yarrow because it could potentially cause miscarriage. One study has also linked yarrow use in pregnant women to low birth weight in infants.

Allergies are possible; if you are allergic to anything in the Asteraceae (aster) family (that includes chrysanthemums, daisies, and ragweed), you should not consume yarrow.

Yarrow may interfere with iron absorption or the absorption of minerals. Do not use yarrow if you have gallstones. Yarrow may negatively interact with blood pressure and blood thinning drugs and should not be taken if you are already taking a diuretic or sedative. It may also counter-act drugs used to diminish stomach acid.

Yarrow may cause contact dermatitis (rash) in some people. It may cause your skin to be more sensitive to sunlight. 

It is always wise to consult your physician before taking any type of natural supplement

I am not a doctor, nor should anything on this website (www.ProverbsThirtyOneWoman.blogspot.com) be considered medical advice. The FDA requires me to say that products mentioned, linked to, or displayed on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this web site is designed for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for qualified medical advice or care. There are no assurances of the information being fit or suited to your medical needs, and to the maximum extent allow by law disclaim any and all warranties and liabilities related to your use of any of the information obtained from the website. Your use of this website does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. No information on this website should be considered complete, nor should it be used as a substitute for a visit to, consultation with, or the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider.  

Oct 8, 2016

Weekend Links & Updates

As seen on our homestead.
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.

* Fall is hitting us hard, and it's a good time to reflect on our first months on this new homestead. I think we've accomplished an awful lot: Put in a new well (with hired help, and the work of the Mr., the kids, and me); dealt with a variety of plumbing issues; began unpacking; harvested and preserved from most of the orchard (some apple trees are still producing); started a modest winter garden; acquired a rabbit and a puppy; acquired chicks and built a brand new run for them; hauled some of the garbage that was left by the previous owners to the dump; cut brush back from some of the trails in the forest; painted one room - all since moving here in June. Now the Mr. is busy gathering wood for the winter; there's lots of dead wood in the forest, so at least it will be seasoned. We also think our little house is so well insulated, we won't need nearly as much firewood as we did on our suburban homestead. That's a blessing! (Unless Hubby starts a fire in the stove in early fall; then it feels like a curse because the house is to hot!)

* A Day in the Life of a Homesteader: Wake up to the puppy whimpering to get out of his crate (which protects him from cougars). Bleary eyed, walk puppy down our private road and let him maul me with love. Stagger back up the private road to grab a cup of tea before the kids get up. Wipe the mud off puppy, then walk inside to discover kids already up. Time for breakfast! But first, let the chickens out of their house. Let the puppy out to go potty again. Clean the mud off him. Breakfast, devotions, let puppy out and clean mud off him twice. Our read aloud (currently The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, which I strongly recommend), which is interrupted seemingly endless times by me telling the puppy "no!" Tell kids to get ready for school. Run a load of laundry out to the out building while the rain takes a break. Check to make sure puppy isn't trying to kill chickens. Run into the greenhouse to check plants. Water. Prune tomatoes. De-muddify puppy. Do homeschool with lots of me saying "no!" to the puppy. Clean house, with puppy chasing vacuum and mop. Declutter just-unpacked items, since there will be a party at the house this weekend. Let puppy out for the billionth time and clean the mud off him. Harvest veggies. Puppy. Do more laundry inbetween rain showers. Puppy. Blog. Puppy (!). Organize recently preserved foods. Puppy. Sit down (finally!) for a cup of tea. Puppy interrupts endlessly. Make dinner. Puppy. Serve and eat dinner while puppy interrupts as often as he can. Do dishes. Puppy! Vegetate with a book while saying "no!" to puppy. Make hubby's lunch. Puppy!! Get kids to brush and change. Puppy!!! Put puppy to bed (hurrah!). Put kids to bed. Put self to bed, exhausted. The end.
The chicks are getting big!

* So far this year, my family's birthday gifts have been free because I've earned gift cards through Swagbucks. I'm working toward making Christmas free, too! If you don't already belong to Swagbucks, but like the idea of free gifts, now is a great time to join. If you click this link, join Swagbucks, and complete one "gold survey" by Oct. 31st, Swagbucks will give you 400 points to get you off to a fantastic start! To learn more about Swagbucks, click here.

* Why Discipline Often Backfires with Kids. Interesting stuff!

* Your Birth Control Might Raise Your Depression Risk. It's full of risks, actually; this is just the latest "discovery."

* Natural Help for Gassy Tummies.

* Harvesting and Using Horseradish. 
The tomatoes in the greenhouse and really producing now, and the greens in my fall garden and starting to give us salads!
I never get tired of this view.

Christmas Countdown

See part one of the Christmas Countdown. Click here for part two.

Christmas Countdown Gift #12: Food in a Jar. Homemade gifts show you put time and energy and thought into the gift; plus, they are a good way to give more with less $. Check out my gifts in a jar ideas here.

Christmas Countdown Gift #13: Food. It's hard to miss the mark when you give away delicious food. Some ideas include cookies, cinnamon rolls, delish but easy bread, amazing cranberry bread, or even homemade sauerkraut!

Christmas Countdown Gift #14: A chicken. Or, if you prefer, a goat or a pig. My kids BEG to give this gift. Because it makes such a difference in the lives of the truly needy. Check out World Vision to see what I'm taking about. 

Christmas Countdown Gift #15: Books! Most books are excellent gifts, but today I'll stump for The Jesus Storybook Bible. This children's Bible is such a blessing on the whole family! It's entire focus on Jesus, and even the adults in the house may find themselves learning something. I recommend buying the book and the CDs.


Oct 6, 2016

How I've Blown It As a Mom

It was supposed to be a vacation in a warm, sunny place. It was going to be a time to see my Dad and catch up with two of my aunts. I was in the middle of our big move, so I wanted it to be relaxing, too. Instead, the day before my children and I flew out of state for the visit, I got a serious phone call: My Dad was in the ICU.

Our relaxing little vacation turned into hospital time (wearing sweltering hot hospital gowns and nitrile gloves, no less), worrying over and praying for my Dad. It wasn't all bad, though. Soon after we went home, my Dad was sent home, too. While we were there, we got to enjoy a few of the sights - even if they were mostly in the hospital courtyard. And I did get to re-connect with my aunts.

My aunts and I spent a lot of time in Dad's house, trying to find things to do. We vacuumed away his cobwebs. We washed up the still-boxed, non-aluminum cookware he'd been given for Christmas and put in the cupboards. And one of my aunts blessed me so richly. She said, "Kristina, you're a really good Mom." "Your kids are just as they should be." "You're doing a wonderful job with your children."

What a balm to my heart! Bless my aunt for knowing that today's moms need to hear these things so very desperately!

And it made me realize what a blessing I could be to other moms. When was the last time I told a mom she was doing a great job at this messy mothering thing? Honestly, I couldn't remember. Maybe never. In fact, I realized, I'd totally blown it! As a mom, I was in the perfect position to know how needed these words are, yet I'd never used them.

I am now absolutely determined to change that - to make it something I say regularly - to the bored moms who sit around on the bleachers at swim lessons. To the exhausted moms I see in the grocery store checkout line. To my friends who are moms. To my family who are moms. To the mom with the grumpy toddler in the restaurant. To the mom with the eye rolling teen at the airport. To moms in church, to moms in doctor's offices - to moms everywhere.

Will you join me in this challenge? Will you give a mom the encouragement she deeply needs, simply and easily, by saying: "You're doing a wonderful job!"

Title image courtesy of  gajus / 123RF Stock Photo.

Oct 4, 2016

Why Organic...Isn't

Nobody wants to hear this. Perhaps that's why most in the media don't report it. And trust me, I know how frustrating it is to be a mom wanting to keep her family healthy only to discover everything she thought about healthy food is wrong. It's a bitter pill, but it's the truth: Organic produce often isn't. At least, not in the way you think it is.

I've long preached that store bought organic food isn't all that. But for some time now, I've been learning about disturbing trends in the organic world. Stuff that actually could be hurting your family's health.

Sometimes They Lie

When I was researching my ebook Grow the Dirty Dozen, I learned there have been instances of farmers being caught using synthetic chemicals on their certified organic crops. For example, in 2011, the Pesticide Action Network discovered that a group of "organic" California farmers were dousing their strawberries with synthetic fumigants. Sometimes farmer's cheat. Imagine how many times they don't get caught.

In addition, as the New York Times pointed out in 2011, many seedlings and stock plants that are purchased and grown by organic farmers are exposed to loads of man made chemicals before they reach organic farms. Farmers know they aren't purchasing organic stock, and they continue to buy conventionally grown seedlings because they think they are less likely to become diseased. Still, there you have it: Your supposedly organic food that's actually been exposed to man made chemicals.

Sometimes Natural Isn't Best

But perhaps a bigger problem among organic farmers is that their produce is sprayed with natural chemicals. That's right. One can safely say that all the organic produce in your grocery store is sprayed. It's only considered organic because those sprays are considered natural.

Here's the problem, though, Not everything that's natural is safe for human consumption.

For example, a common "organic" spray called rotenone-pyrethrin is linked to Parkinson's disease. (And it's a well known fish-killer, too.)

It gets worse.

Conventional, non-organic lettuce, for example, is sprayed once or twice during its lifetime - only when the farmer thinks it's needed, since sprays are expensive. On the other hand, organic lettuce might be sprayed 5 - 10 times with a natural, organic spray like rotenone-pyrethrin. Why? Farmers often “have to use a lot of the natural pesticides because they break down faster,” says Linda Chalker-Scott, a professor of horticulture and landscape architecture at Washington State University. “One of the benefits of some of the more traditional synthetic pesticides is that they have been manufactured to be more effective at lower doses.”

The USDA has tested such lettuce and found that pesticides are 10 times (or more) prevalent on the organic lettuce than on conventionally grown lettuce. Many other studies show similar results on other types of produce.

And let's remember why farmer's use pesticides: to kill insects. Pesticides are poison, and some of the same poisons that kill insects have the potential to do harm to humans, too. And, it seems, many organic pesticides are rated with a higher level of concern by the EPA than many synthetic pesticides. (See chart here.)

They Linger

Here's another problem with organic produce. According to Science Daily, "an undergraduate chemistry student, in a...small-scale study, recently screened veggies for a number of banned pesticides and made an interesting discovery: The chemicals showed up on both conventionally grown and organic veggies—in roughly comparable amounts. In fact, organic carrots had higher amounts of some chemicals than the conventional vegetables did." Other studies support these findings.

Turns out, many banned chemicals stay in the soil. Some for many decades. Yet the USDA calls a farm organic if it's been synthetic-free for only three years. And so supposedly "organic" produce may contain synthetic chemicals.

What to Do?

I know; it's depressing. All you want is to feed your family food that's grown the way God intended. But the truth is, as long as we embraced mega farms and mono crops, farmers are going to have to spray our food. So what can you do?

First and foremost, I recommend avoiding grocery store produce; the produce found there is most likely sprayed with something.

In an ideal world, you would grow all your own produce. That way, you'd know exactly what's been put on it. If you don't already, I strongly recommend that you grow what you can - even if that means merely growing a few pots of lettuce on your porch.

For the produce you can't purchase, seek out local farmers at farm stands and markets. But just don't buy blindly. For one thing, a lot of local farmer's produce isn't organic. For another, you'll want to ask the farmer about his or her farming practices. Has her farm always been organic? If not, how long has it been organic? Does she use organic pesticides? How often does she use them? All this, asked in a polite way, is valuable information any decent farmer should be willing to share.

Finally, some of you are probably wondering if you should bother to buy organic at all. Sometimes I wonder this, too! But here's at least one reason to stick with organic: Only organic produce is 100% guaranteed not be GMO.

Photos courtesy of macor / 123RF Stock Photo

Oct 1, 2016

Weekend Links & Updates

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

In which I share my favorite posts from this blog's Facebook page.
Our house and the outbuildings were bursting with - stuff - when we moved in. Most of it, frankly, is only good for the garbage dump. But once in a while, I find something like this little table. It's not in perfect condition, but I think it's nifty. (And yes, that is my ancient cell phone charging.)

"Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

* Preserving our apples has been a bit of a challenge, since my canners and most of my jars are still packed. Thank goodness my mom-in-law lets me take over her kitchen and canner once in a while. However, her immersion blender broke, so a few days ago, I canned a large laundry basket full of apples using the really old fashioned method: a chinois. Can't wait to get my immersion blender back! (Check out my easy applesauce recipe, here.)

* So thankful our water problems seem to be over now. First, our well went dry. Then the plumbing in the house is so fragile, it sprung leaks, which meant going periods with the water turned off. And since we've moved in, the exterior filter has leaked on and off. Last week, water was pouring from the filter! My poor hubby tried to fix it, but the darn thing is defective. Since it was put on right before we moved in, we called the installers. It took them a while, but they finally showed up and replaced it. It was painful to see all that water go to waste! (Buckets filled up instantly, or I'd have tried to capture it.)

* I am sitting here laughing because one popular search on the blog is "cook time rooster soup." If you want to know how long to cook a rooster (or an older laying hen), go here.
* Ground beef, veal, and bison recall due to possible E. Coli contamination.

* How to make fruit trees thrive, even in a small garden.

* There are now three types of GMO apples approved by the FDA. Buy organic or from a farmer you trust!

* According to this, there is a cheaper alternative to outrageously expensive EpiPens.

Christmas Countdown

See last week's Weekend Links for more information about my Christmas Countdown.

Christmas Countdown Gift #7: Family Movie Night. There are so many variations on this gift and you can spend very little to make it happen! Start by either purchasing a good, old fashioned family movie...OR buy some Redbox codes so your gift recipients can get free movie rentals! (In fact, a nice card with coupon codes in it makes a perfect neighbor gift!) Now add a big bowl, some popcorn, maybe some candy...Viola! Instant family movie night!

Christmas Countdown Gift #8: Date Night at the Movies. This is similar to gift #7, except it's just
for married couples. Begin by purchasing movie passes for two. Throw in an all-important, homemade coupon for free babysitting. Add cash for popcorn and drinks.

Christmas Countdown Gift #9: Build Your Own Puppet. Finding good, creative play toys can be a challenge, but these build your own monster puppets are terrific. You get one puppet base, plus a variety of features (eyes, hands, etc.) that come on and off with Velcro. Both my children are older than the target age for this toy (7 and 11), but they still love this thing!

Christmas Countdown Gift #10: Snap Circuits. If I could only give my children one toy, it would be this one. Using the special circuits and the project-packed books (yes, there's more than one!) that come with this set, kids can build a lie detector, a doorbell, a fan, and hundreds of other the separate book that explains the science behind the circuitry.
things. It's easy - the pieces snap together and apart. I even love the box, which makes it easy to organize all the parts. A terrific add on is

Christmas Countdown Gift #11: Egg Basket. Confession: I've always wanted an egg basket. Chances are, if your recipient has chickens (and doesn't already have an egg basket), she wants one, too! They are not only great for gathering eggs, but for storing them, too.

Oldies But Goodies:

* Organic Gardening Isn't Just About Ditching Chemicals
* The Easy Way to Remove Grease from Fabric
* Helping Dawdlers Notice Time Pass