Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wild Edibles - Part I

 What an amazing rewarding day! I had the opportunity to explore nature's bounty and learn (what I used to take for granted) about our local native plants.
 Katrina, the author of the book, Local Wild Life, was our teacher today. We didn't have to walk far - EVERYWHERE we turned, Katrina held up another, and yet ANOTHER edible plant.

 We tasted leaves, flowers, roots, seeds, and learned about the nutrional and medicinal properties of each plants.

 Pita bread was exceptional. Thanks Elani!
 The juice from all that we collected was surprisingly very delicious. What a health boost!
 The first plant we studied was the Chickweed.
The Chickweed, also known as Starweed (known by the star shaped flowers) is commonly found all over the world and blooms from March through October.

Respiratory Benefits

Chickweed herbal tea can have many beneficial effects for respiratory ailments. The tea can relieve symptoms due to allergies and asthma. It may also soothe respiratory infections, and may even soothe a smoker's cough, according to Chickweed tea contains saponins--chemicals found in most vegetables, beans and herbs that have beneficial health properties--which will gradually reduce thickened membranes of the throat and lungs and make breathing easier.

Circulatory Benefits

Chickweed tea, according to, can promote clotting factors in the blood that will enable the body to stop bleeding in the stomach and intestines. Chickweed tea also purifies the blood, reducing plaque in blood vessels. This allows for increased blood flow, reducing the risks of strokes and heart attacks.

Pain Relief Benefits

Chickweed tea also contains an anti-inflammatory property. It is commonly infused in a therapeutic bath to ease joint pain. Chickweed tea is effective in alleviating the discomfort of arthritis pain, stiff back and stiff neck. According to, chickweed tea, if applied directly to the skin, can reduce swelling of torn ligaments.

Skin Benefits

Chickweed tea can be directly applied to aid in treating skin irritations, acne and eczema, according to It also can be added to bathwater to speed up the healing process for rashes, burns, ulcers and abscesses.

Read more:

I scribbled what I could, but am depending on the help of my fellow students to make sure I logged this correctly. I'll be posting Part II tomorrow, as we had covered many plants, and I need to go over my notes, verify spelling, and double check information. (worm not edible) :)


FOUR of our hens are now laying. As expected, when the hens first lay, their eggs are usually smaller than usual until they gradually increase in size (see eggs to far left.) The white egg shown for comparision is a large store bought egg. Imagine our surprise when our 4th hen, Golda, layed this whopper to the far right! This is her first egg! I have never held a chicken egg this large or as heavy, except for the duck eggs.

We are now wondering if it is either a double yolk, or maybe we can expect this size of egg each morning. Another hen of ours lays in the afternoon, so I'll be comparing after we collect. Since the chickens are different breeds, we're finding it much easier in identifying the owner of each egg.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Growing Weeds

Every morning my chickens look forward to their freshly picked salad.

Thanks to nature, "salad" greens grow in abundance in my yard! The other day I was showing my husband my newly sprouted plants in the greenhouse and he inquired about the weeds. I patiently explained to him that I had no plans to get rid of the weeds. Our chickens were enjoying them too much, so let them grow! Allowing a part of our yard to weed has also brought us an abundance of wild honeysuckle and two Mulberry trees!  For the past few days I kept wondering WHO was spraying on the perfume. Never realizing that the aroma of honeysuckle was wafting through my open window! What heaven!
 Some of you may remember that I had this REED growing in my yard. It resembles bamboo and yes it is invasive. Yes, I know it's not very popular with the neighbors. Yes, it grows like a weed. No, I don't regret growing it.
 This reed has been serving its purpose, enabling me to save a ton of money in making my own bean poles. Have you priced a simple bamboo stick at your local garden store? Outrageous.
 Some of the reed I've used to help create a gate. This entrance leads into my new enclosed garden. (I'm actually standing in my garden looking out - at the invasive reeds. Most of the reed will be taken down for building some trellises. In the spot that you see where the reeds are, I plan to grow corn!)
 Hut I made from reeds.
 Another purpose I found with the reed is making an overhead roof for the chicken coop. Can't really see from this picture, but draped over the reed frame is a net to keep the chickens from flying out of the coop.
 Sharing a small corner of the chicken coop, I've recently put the 4 youngest of my chickens outdoors. The screen gives them a chance to see and get used to the older chickens. I'm hoping they will all get along after I remove the screen. If not, I have a plan B. We recently had ducks that we had rehomed to a nearby farm, and I plan to use their coop to keep the newest chickens in. This coop will also serve as the rabbit pen.
So far, we have 4 laying hens, 2 that should be laying in about 2 months, and the 4 baby chicks. Last month, we had to rehome a rooster. Wish we could keep him, but it's very important in keeping peace with the neighbors. No pun intended.

Tomorrow, I'm off hiking with a small group of people. We're taking a course in native herbs, that can be eaten and used for medicinal purposes. We'll wrap up the day by eating what we find, and cooking over an open fire. I'm especially looking forward to being able to identify most of what is growing locally. I somehow have a feeling I'll be eating Dandelions tomorrow.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Gardening and updates

 Recently I've signed up with YOURGARDENSHOW.COM and entered the heirloom seed contest. This year, (drought or not) I'm getting serious with my gardening, as well as taking a special interest in growing my own medicinal herbs, teas, seed saving, and collecting/growing heirloom varieties.

Although I've entered the contest in a non competitive frame of mind, I do feel that it's a win/win situation for me. The website allows me to meet fellow gardeners, share ideas, as well as being inspired.

You can find me on the website as, My Backyard Paradise, or check back here.

As for other updates, my daughter and I were recently talking about how 2 years ago today, we were backpacking the Middle East. My how time flies!

This week, my daughter is embarking on another homeschool journey, and is headed for Germany. This round, I'm staying home and letting father and daughter bond. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to spring clean while they're traveling, paint some rooms, take care of our pets, and work on my garden. (I'm still planning a return trip to the Middle East!)

The other news is that I am currently editing my book - Pyramids and the Promised Land, and hope to have it available on soon.  I'll be keeping the travel report on this blog, but the book goes into more details, and is the reason why it's been taking me "forever" to edit and rewrite.  I'm anxious to get it finished so I can focus on my next book.

More news later!