Aug 13

View From My Window – September 2013

Caddy our little Pig PenWe  all love our little pony Caddy, but we often have to laugh and call him “Pig Pen”!  You remember the character from the Peanuts Comics, yeah like that. Caddy insists on this strange morning routine. Every morning, I go out to do the barn chores. They include cleaning the manure from the stalls and the paddock area. This time of year, after I groom Fasci and Caddy I apply a homemade potion that helps to keep the flies, mosquitos and blackflies from biting. I use a small rag to get the inside and outside of their ears and face and then spray down the rest of their body with a fine mist. They are both very appreciative and usually wait for me to apply their fly stuff before they head out and brave their tiny biting foes. But as soon as I finish Caddy, he has to apply his own accessory; dirt!  Unfortunately his paddock area right outside his stall is dirt( I did seed this years ago but as soon as I took the barrier down the grass was gone and it’s been dirt ever since). So Caddy just has to walk outside his stall and lay down and roll in the dirt. Sometimes he rolls over and other times he gets up and repeats the process to make sure he gets both sides. When he gets up, he shakes, like a dog and a cloud of dirt rises from him, just like in the comic strip. Now you should not think he only does this in the summer, he does this year round. But this time of year when he has been sprayed with bug stuff the dirt really sticks to him.

We still love him, we just call him our little “Pig Pen”.

Aug 13

Poison Ivy Isn’t Funny, But…

mc8-29I know that poison ivy isn’t funny, but I did have a tiny little chuckle when my son showed up with his buddy covered in a poison ivy rash. To me it was a little funny because, he doesn’t get poison ivy; at least not for the first 25 years of his life! My dad was the same way; he could pull it out and never get a bump until he was about 60.  I had been telling my son for years to stop pulling it out barehanded. Just because you are not sensitive to it today doesn’t mean you won’t start tomorrow.

Well he had been doing a favor for his Aunt and Uncle up in their woods over the weekend and now he and his friend had it all over their legs and arms. The other amusing part was that he wanted to use essential oils to treat it. When he was younger he thought all this natural stuff was just superstition or placebo effect. Now our son who is very analytical and needs the research to back up any claims that are made was asking for me for advice on which essential oils he should use on his poison ivy rash!

He had worked for us for quite a few years and he now had all the facts he needed to be a believer in the power of essential oils.

He thought maybe Tea tree oil and I agreed because it has antiseptic and drying properties. He asked me what else he could add, maybe lavender for it’s anti-inflammatory properties and for it’s ability to ease pain and calm nerves.  I was pleasantly surprised that using alternative medicine was his first choice and he came to me for advice (I must have done something right).

So we dug up a spray bottle and he mixed up his potion and took some soaps and left. Oh and a few days later he called to tell me it worked! Nice thing about our Alabu product line is you can have some comforting soaps and lotions for itchy days in your home…even if it isn’t poison ivy!

Aug 13

The County Fair

Hal-&-Nell-webLate summer is County Fair time; do you go?  I don’t mean the kind of fair that is more of a carnival than the historical county fairs where farmers took a day off and brought their families to the fair to see what was the latest in agriculture. It was a time of fun and competitions, celebrating another harvest with their friends and neighbors.

I grew up a mere 5 miles from the NJ state fair and our family always attended. Being a 4-H family we spent almost everyday at the fair. We looked forward to the fair like most kids anticipated Christmas. We thought for months to come up with original ideas for our 4-H club’s booth; we spent hours booth sitting, (they were never left unattended) and showed our animals at the fair.

Funny thing, if you participated like this in the fair, it was a yearlong process of preparation and fulfilling 4-H requirements! The county fair wasn’t just late summer for us! Keeping record books, doing demonstrations and showing was all year with 4-H. It was very hard work and a privilege to be able to show at the fair. No matter how we did at the show, we had a feeling of accomplishment that we had done all the work required to get to there. Sure the fair had a midway with rides and games and things we enjoyed, but the 4-H and agricultural side of the fair is what was most important to us and where we spent most of our time.


Now we live near the convergence of four counties that have pretty nice fairs.  Some are better than others. It is sad to see so many fairs shrink the agricultural area of their fairs. So many people today have no idea where their food comes from before it gets to the grocery store.

Because we have a farm, people ask us questions like, “where can I take my kids to see a cow, they have never seen one before.” These types of questions always surprise and sadden me. I am heartened that in our area there is resurgence in interest in where food comes from and people wanting to have their own garden.

So if you haven’t been in a while or have never been, get your kids and go to a county fair with real live animals and kids working hard to have the privilege to be there. Tell them you appreciate all the work they have done to be there. Yeah, go to a fair!

Aug 13

Save a Life – Donate Blood

Blood_donation_web.1Dean and I are pretty enthusiastic about donating blood. There have been a number of reasons  throughout our lives that nudged us to do it. Dean has always felt good about donating blood and starting doing it regularly in high school. I always felt a bit squeamish about needles. But after 9/11; I started giving blood, I just felt like I had to do something and they were asking for donations. I was glad to do it and have continued. You never know who you will be helping; like our grand daughter, she needed many transfusions when she had heart surgeries. And our good friend, he  was diagnosed with leukemia and needed blood transfusions frequently. He told us some days he didn’t get a transfusion because the demand was higher than the supply. Did you know every time you donate it is enough to save three peoples lives? I’m assuming it is even more if it is used for babies likes our grand daughter.
Please consider finding some time to donate this week.  Donating is pretty quick (about 30 to 60 minutes if you make an appointment), and doesn’t really hurt. You don’t even have to watch or see blood. I can look at the blood but I never look when they insert the needle.
If you haven’t donated in a while, or it’s your first time, here are a couple of tips: Drink lots of water before you go. Drink lots of water after you donate. The hospitality team at the donation site will have water and juice for you and a snack afterwards. You can go to www.redcrossblood.org to find out everything you need to know about donating blood and even make an appointment online. Every day lots of people depend on blood donations to survive. It feels great to donate; you’ll be somebody’s hero!  If you’ve donated recently or have anything to add, let us know in the comments section below!

Aug 13

Hummingbirds and Bees Don’t Play Nice


hummingbird on feederI really like hummingbirds; they are beautiful and even though they are so small they are fierce little fighters, except when it comes to bees.   I always feel so bad for the little hummers when I see them being chased away from their feeder by bees. It is amazing to me that they are afraid of the much tinier bees buzzing them. But I guess they are no different than us, most of us folks are afraid of bees too. Who wants to get stung, right?

So what can you do to keep the little hummers from being tormented at their juice bar? The best thing to do is start with the right feeder. You can purchase feeders that are bee proof. It is designed so that it is too long of a reach from the top of the feeder to nectar below for the bees to get, but the hummingbirds still can lap it up to their hearts content. They also make bee guard tips, which can be purchased to use on feeders you already have.  I have a bottle type feeder that the bees really like, so I will try the bee guard inserts and see if they work. My dish type feeder works pretty well for keeping the bees away and I like it because it is really easy to clean.

There are a lot of tips on using oils or insecticide to keep bees away, but most hummingbird sites will advise against this, as it is not good for birds or bees. I’m all for communing with nature and figuring out how we can all live comfortably with each other. If the hummingbirds and bees can figure it out, so can we.