Billy is happy that the winter killed an apple tree, Twasheek’s condition improving, seed saving:

•April 30, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Here are this week’s pictures with more detailed descriptions below:

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3., 4. The winter killed an apple tree on the electric company’s land and they let Billy take it.  He will make some nice turned bowls and carved spoons.  Apple wood tends to crack as it dries, so Billy is taking extra precautions to slow down the drying process to minimize cracking.  He couldn’t resist roughing out a spoon. This spoon will have to dry for some time before it is ready to be finished.

17.,18.,19.  The experiment has convinced me that something poison is in the peat I bought last year.  The results are compelling, however in order to prove that it is poison in the peat, not peat in general that stunts the growth I’m growing some seeds in peat that I bought this year.  The plants (wheat) have just emerged and this year’s peat is already ahead.

20.  We’re planning on selling our surplus products such as veggies, flowers and seedlings at a stand on our farm.  I’m in the process of making signs for the highway to let people know that we’re here.

Cows out to pasture, peat experiment preliminary results, spring medicinals.

•April 21, 2017 • 2 Comments

Below are this weeks pictures from New Nandagram, with more thorough descriptions below the slideshow:

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1.-4.  We had to keep the cows in the goshalla and a small paddock over the winter because if we let them on the pasture, they turn it to mud.  It wasn’t really dry enough to let them out, but it was mid-April and they are usually out by the beginning of April.  I’m always careful to check on them when they change feed suddenly–in this case from hay to grass, but they did fine.  I thought they’d run and buck when they got out, but they just dove into the grass and couldn’t graze fast enough.  Our neighbor lets us use his 5 acre pasture and because it is mostly canary grass, we let them there first.

7. Morel mushrooms appear at this time of year.  They are hard to see because they blend in with their surroundings, but I understand people can train themselves to be able to spot them readily.  I didn’t harvest these, primarily because they are growing in a place where I know they spray Roundup every year.  I also personally don’t care for the taste of mushrooms, although I understand that Srila Prabhupada enjoyed them.

8.-11. It is time to harvest nettles, a common plant in our forest.  Nettles are easy to identify because if you accidental touch them, they sting severely.  However they are a healthy and delicious vegetable when prepared like spinach and when dried make a pleasant tea, particularly when mixed with mint.  Nettles do have some mild medicinal value as an antihistamine, but we harvest them more as a food and a tea.

13. Billy was suffering from acid reflux, and a tea made from the root of the avens weed gave him immediate relief.  This is the time of year to harvest avens root.  After thoroughly cleaning the roots, they can be dehydrated and used to make tea.  They have a spicy flavor, something like cloves.

16. and 17.  Last year I started my seeds in a mixture of potting soil and peat and was dismayed with abysmal results in spite of providing great conditions for germination and growth.  This year when I started my first flats in the incubator with pure peat from the same bale as last year and although the seeds germinated, they failed to grow, even after 2 weeks of careful care.  I developed an experiment to determine if the peat was contaminated with the herbicide 2.4D.  After one week, my experiment has some preliminary results.  The growth on both the monocots and the dicots was very stunted from the seeds grown in the peat compared to garden soil.  Because the dicots (wheat) were also stunted, I can conclude that the culprit was not 2,4D, but rather something else.  I did run into a friend in town and mentioned the experiment and she’d also had trouble starting seeds in a potting soil/peat mix last year.  She was so disappointed with the stunted growth that she didn’t start any seeds this year, never suspecting the peat.

From April 14, 2017:  We’re very concerned about what is happening with starting seeds in our seed incubator.  Last year I had a difficult time getting seedlings to grow and attributed the problem to a willow tree growing on the north side of the greenhouse that had partially covered the top of the greenhouse.  This winter we removed the offending limbs so I was dismayed when we seem to be having the same problem in spite of having almost ideal conditions both within the incubator at night and in the greenhouse during the day.  The seeds will germinate, but they fail to grow.

I’m beginning to suspect that the peat moss that I start the seeds in is contaminated with 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4D), a common herbicide that is used to kill trees.  The bale of peat that I have has some chipped wood in it which may have been treated with the poison. So I’ve devised an experiment which will determine if I’m correct.  2,4D only affects dicots, plants with broad leaves. Monocots which are grasses including grains are unaffected.  I’m going to plant 4 pots and start seeds from monocots in 2 of them and dicots in 2 of them.  One of the monocot pots will have the suspect peat as the medium and one of the dicot pots will have peat as the medium.  The other 2 pots will be started with regular garden soil devoid of any suspect peat.  Of the 4 pots:

  • one with monocot (wheat) seeds in suspect peat
  • one with monocot (wheat) seeds in garden soil
  • one with dicot (sprouting mix including alfalfa) in suspect peat
  • one with dicot (sprouting min including alfalfa) in garden soil

If I’m right, the wheat seeds grown in the suspect peat will flourish, but the alfalfa grown in the peat will fail.  Both the garden soil seeds should be fine.  We’ll have the answer next week.  Stay tuned!

This week’s photos with more detail below:

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1. and 2.  I was dismayed that the seeds I started on March 22 germinated just fine, but failed to grow.  Normally 2 weeks after sprouting, these tomato and lettuce plants would have their first true leaves.  These plants have had ideal growing conditions: in the greenhouse during the day and in the warm incubator (with a fan) at night.  There is no excuse for this lack of enthusiasm!

3.,4. and 5.  The experiment using monocots and dicots, peat and soil.  We’ll see…

6. I made mozzarella with about 9 gallons of milk.  This picture shows the cut curds being slowly heated to 98º F

7. The cooked curds culture at room temperature over night and then are ready to melt and stretch.  I’ve found that if I freeze them at this stage I’ll get a completely fresh product when they’re defrosted and stretched.  Mozzarella doesn’t keep as well as an aged cheese and needs to be offered within 10 days.

8. and 9. We got 3.5 lbs of ricotta cheese from the whey left over from the mozzarella and used it in pancakes, a creamy pasta sauce and some apple/walnut/ricotta bread (it’s cake, really).

10. We’ve been soaking Twasheek’s foot in an epsom salt bath to help draw out the infection.  It may help a little, but he is still lame and infected.  He’s been on antibiotics and pain meds for 3 weeks.

11. One of our biggest battles here is the battle of the morning glories.  They send out runners that are like a freeway exchange in Los Angeles and want to take over the garden.  This year I’ll be covering them with patty mats (cow manure mulch), but I thought I should get as many out as possible, first.  While digging in the raised beds, I uncovered this monster.  He’s a salamander and he was very lucky that I didn’t hurt him with the tools.  I found him a nice damp hole after taking a selfie with him.

12.  This is the number of morning glory runners I found in about a 4′ x 8′ section of garden.  They are being relocated to a FEMA camp.

14.  We have a wonderful walnut tree that didn’t produce any walnuts the first year we were here.  I’ve been putting all the extra whey from cheese making on it and giving it cleaning from the horse stalls.  I leave the horse stuff in piles to encourage worms and then after a few months, Billy spreads it around the tree.  We’ve had great walnut crops the last few years. Hopefully our generous tree will give us another nice harvest this fall.

15. There is a wildlife area about 1/2 mile from our house where they release cage-raised pheasants every Friday in the fall so that hunters can come an shoot them.  A few escape the hunters, but they’re usually prey to coyotes or eagles within a month or so.  This guy has survived the winter and hangs with our chickens.  He fights with the roosters and may be a baby-daddy for some of the chicks.  If he survives much longer, we’ll probably give him a name.

16., 17. and 18.  Willow bark tutorial:  The first step is to identify a willow tree.  This should be done the prior year because the bark should be harvested just as the leaves are coming out.  In the winter, sapling sized trees all look alike.  They have thin, alternate leaves and tend to prefer moist locations.  We have several on our property.  I recommend googling “willow tree identification” to become familiar with the types of willows.  The willows growing in the swamp in the corner of Dee’s pasture have the strongest medicine, I’ve found.

Once you’ve positively identified a willow, find a newish branch that has a rubbery bark, rather than the thick, rough older bark.  I use a potato peeler and peel of long strips from a clean(ish) area of the branch.  If you collect the bark from all around the branch, you’ll kill the branch above where you took the bark,  That’s not the end of the world for the willow because they love to send out new branches. I usually just harvest from one side of the branch, however.

Take your peeling strips and spread them out in a dry, airy location that is at least room temperature.  When they’re crispy dry they can be stored in a sealed jar in a dark location and maintain potency for up to 2 years.  Whenever I’m trying a new medicine, I take the precaution of taking a tiny amount and seeing if there is any adverse reaction.

For a headache or muscle ache I make a tea using as many strips as I think would make a heaped teaspoon if it were powdered.  I simmer the strips in about 2 cups of water for about 10 minutes and let it cool.  Then I strain and drink with a little honey to mask the astringent taste.  That is equivalent to about 2 aspirin, depending on the strength of the particular willow.

For more weekly pictures from New Nandagram go to: https://newnandagramcowprotection.wordpress.com/

Kalindi’s Dairy Diary

•December 16, 2016 • 1 Comment

Kalindi’s Diary of a Dairy Cow

September 14, 2014

I remember feeling squeezed and then my nose felt a new sensation, something that I soon learned was cold. My tongue was hanging out of my mouth and took the brunt of the cold breeze. More squeezing, and suddenly I was in a new environment and it was so cold. I was shivering, but I felt a raspy tongue and when I figured out how to lift my head, there was Mom. She was licking me and making quiet loving noises as she worked at drying me and warming me up. Somehow I knew that I had to figure out how to work my legs to stand and find food. Mom kept working on cleaning me as I struggled to find my balance, but after several attempts, I was up and began nudging all around her to find the food. The food was lower than I initially thought, but once I latched on, I had a desire to suck and suck until my belly was full. By that time, I had dried off and it wasn’t so cold any more, so I crumbled down to the ground and the last thing I remember was the song of the frogs and crickets as I fell asleep.newborn-with-mom

When I woke up, I could feel the warmth of the sun on my fur and looked around for Mom. There she was, grazing on the lush grass. Other cows were nearby, too, grazing, but all of them were facing my direction and I felt curiosity coming from them about my sudden appearance. I stood up, much more easily, this time and went right for the food. Mom groaned and strained as I sucked, as if she were in pain, but she licked me as I stood against her body. I filled my belly and then tried out my legs to see if I could run. I could! I could even buck! The other cows crowded around me and some of them even touched me with their noses. Then I was tired again and crumbled down to the soft ground. Continue reading ‘Kalindi’s Dairy Diary’

New Puppy Falls of Cliff into Deep Water

•December 6, 2016 • 3 Comments

The day after we brought our new puppy home,  I took him and Ruger, our other dog for a long walk through the forest.  Raksha had never been in such a wild place with so many smells and his hackles were up for the whole 3 miles.  I had to carry him across a stream, but he stayed with me and Ruger.  I did have to carry him across a small, brisk stream, but he was alert and excited.

The next day we were unable to go on the same walk because it was Saturday and there were at least a dozen cars at our trail head due to hunting season.  So I decided to walk along Riffe lake.  It was a flat walk along a road that formerly led to the town of Riffe.  Riffe is now under water because of a dam, but the road makes a nice walk leading to the lake.  When we reached the lake I decided to follow Rainey Creek for a while before taking the road back to the car.

Due to recent rainfall, Rainey Creek was running quite high, and there were places where the stream bends and floodwater carves out cliffs.  I happened to notice that the drop off one of such cliffs was about 10 feet and made a conscious decision to walk away from the creek due to the danger that a dog could fall.  Right when I made that decision I heard a splash and then a couple of seconds later a plop-plop-plop sound that sounded like a dog trying to swim.  I looked down over the cliff, and sure enough, there was little Raksha swimming and trying to keep his nose out of the water.

It was late November and the wind was blowing quite hard.  I had a long, retractable leash that I made into a noose, but was unable to get it over his head because the wind kept blowing it against the cliff.  The nearest place where I could conceivably approach the water was only 15′ away, but even there it was extremely steep.  So the choice was to jump into the water (in November) to rescue him, or try to get him to swim towards the less steep place.

Continue reading ‘New Puppy Falls of Cliff into Deep Water’

Blind Spots

•July 26, 2016 • 3 Comments

There is an amazing phenomenon that I call “blind spots” that occurs when people are confronted with information that is contrary to their cherished beliefs. People are unable to process or to remember facts that contradict what they believe to the point that they are literally blind (or deaf) to the truth. To illustrate this concept, think of a belief as a bubble and any information that contradicts the belief is outside the bubble. If the belief is trivial and has no emotional value to the believer, such as the belief that lemmings commit mass suicide, the bubble may as well be made of soap film and can be popped with some documented evidence, or information from a trusted source. (Lemmings are actually well-adjusted rodents who like to go swimming as a group). However if the belief is cherished, such as the belief that our government stands for truth, freedom and justice, the bubble may as well be coated with Kevlar armor. Documented information that stands contrary to the belief will be unable to pierce the armor causing the person with the cherished belief to be unable to hear, see or remember the information.

I first became aware of this phenomenon several years after 9-11 when my husband, Billy, asked me to watch a video of the third skyscraper that collapsed on 9-11. We don’t have a TV, so on 9-11 we had gone to a neighbor’s house to watch the event unfold. We had never heard about a third skyscraper collapsing, but the video, posted several years later on YouTube did a good job verifying, through several news clips, that in fact a third World Trade Center (WT7) skyscraper did fall down. Additionally it showed videos of several buildings that were demolished through a controlled demolition, followed by a video of WT7 collapsing. Any reasonable person would conclude that the collapse of WT7 was identical to a controlled demolition. The fact that the media apparently didn’t pursue the story of the odd collapse and the government didn’t investigate how the building collapsed by testing the dust for accelerants such as nano thermite, made me suspect that there was a larger conspiracy afoot.

Continue reading ‘Blind Spots’

Don’t Feed the Ghosts!

•July 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

When I’m confronted with knowledge that goes against what I’ve accepted to be true, I rely on synchronicities to verify/substantiate the knowledge. Synchronicity is defined as “…a concept, first explained by psychiatrist Carl Jung, which holds that events are ‘meaningful coincidences’ if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.”

This article is about my journey, which has been fraught with synchronicities. It has led me to conclude that probably all mental illness/addictions/depression are caused or exacerbated by ghosts and that having negative thoughts attracts ghosts the way that blood attracts sharks. I’ve learned that I am sometimes influenced by these unseen miscreants and the ability to banish them has enriched my quality of life immenselylike going from staying in a fleabag hotel to a five star resort.

Continue reading ‘Don’t Feed the Ghosts!’

A new arrival!

•April 27, 2013 • 3 Comments

Last night Dhana presented us with a sweet little girl.  We haven’t named her yet because some of our friends may decide to become her guardians.  This was our first unusual presentation: the hind legs came out first.  But she was so small, it was a quick delivery.  We did get her a selenium shot because she has tight tendons on her front legs.  However she’s up and nursing  following her Mom all over the pasture.

This calf was unplanned.  Apparently her brother was more mature at 9 months old than we realized.