This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 46th week, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I covered a great way to help with allergies in a previous post. I now want to focus on another natural form of allergy control: honey. I was talking to my doctor that other day and the topic of natural health came up. He asked me if I had tried honey as a method of allergy control. I told him that I have been eating a lot of honey, but that I was unsure of how much I ate per day. He stated that the suggested amount of daily honey is 1 tablespoon per day.
The thought behind honey is that bees feed on pollen. By eating honey everyday, you are essentially taking in a small amount of pollen. This concept is similar to the method of allergy hyposensitization (allergy shots.) One key is that the honey must be produced locally by free ranging bees. This allows the bees to collect the pollen from sources that are likely bombarding your histamine cells.
So is there any science behind the claims that honey helps to alleviate allergy symptoms or is this simply a false claim?
There does not to be a peer-reviewed study that has been conducted on this treatment/ theory. As a veterinarian, the premise makes
sense in that you are introducing very low amounts of the allergens into your body over a long period of time (the same concept as immunotherapy). It appears that the pollen should be a local as possible (within three miles is generally recommended.)
Honey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One informal (unfunded) study on allergies and honey conducted by students at Xavier University in New Orleans produced positive results. Researchers divided participants into three groups: seasonal allergy sufferers, year-round allergy sufferers and non-allergy sufferers. These groups were further divided into three subgroups with some people taking two teaspoons of local honey per day, others taking the same amount of non-local honey each day and the final subgroup not taking honey at all. The Xavier students found that after six weeks, allergy sufferers from both categories suffered fewer symptoms. The group taking local honey reported the most improvement.
The good effects of this local honey are best when the honey is taken a little bit (a couple of teaspoons-full) a day for several months prior to the pollen season. There are a multitude of success stories online to back up these claims.
Canadian goldenrod (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some allergists rebel at the concept of honey relieving allergies. Their claims are based on the thinking that most allergies are caused by plants that are fertilized by the wind and not insects. As a result, the bees do not collect this pollen and it does not show up in the honey that they produce.
DarkRedKidney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sesame seeds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Recent blood work revealed that I have a mild anemia. My doctor made some reçommendations for improving my intake of iron. Being the curious person that I am, I am now researching these foods on my own. I would like to avoid taking a multivitamin. I would like to improve my iron intake with only natural sources. So here is what I have found so far.
Red Meat. I actually am glad to jear that I need to eat more red meat. I now need to find a source of grass fed beef, but we do still have some conventional beef in the freezer. I will work through that. The iron content of red meat is listed below. It appears that liver (yuck) and kidney (who eats that?) are excellent sources of iron.
Green Leafy Vegetables, Red Meat, Beans, some seeds and some types of nuts are good sources of iron.
Garbanzo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I got the following information from an eHow article:
Excellent Sources of Iron
Excellent sources of heme iron (3.5 mg or more per serving) include: liver, which has approximately 11 mg per serving depending on the type of liver; kidney, which has 7 to 11 mg, depending on the type; and shellfish, such as clams and oysters.
Excellent sources of non-heme (plant) iron include: cooked beans, including white beans, soybeans, lentils and chickpeas; breakfast cereals (the ones enriched with iron); and lima beans, red kidney beans and split peas.
Good Sources of Iron
Good sources of heme iron (2.1 mg or more per serving) include beef, poultry (the darker the meat, the more iron it contains) and blood pudding.
Good sources of non-heme iron include: enriched egg noodles, or any other enriched, cooked noodles; dried apricots and other stone fruit; spinach; peppers (canned/fresh) and tomatoes
Other Sources of Iron
Foods containing 0.7 mg or more of heme iron include chicken, ham (and other lean pork meat), lamb, veal, seafood (be careful to avoid mercury poisoning by consulting the mercury levels in your seafood) and eggs
And, finally, foods containing 0.7 mg or more of non-heme iron include: nuts; seeds and legumes such as peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds; breads (enriched with iron); breakfast cereals like oatmeal and farina/cream of wheat; wheat germ; canned beets; dried seedless raisins and fresh stone fruit such as peaches, plums/prunes, dates, apricots and nectarines.
The juice of any of the fruits listed previously can make an excellent iron-rich drink, along with beverages such as milk or protein shakes that specify they are enriched with iron.
In general, iron absorbs poorly into the body. Iron supplements and non-heme iron do not absorb as well as heme iron, so to maximize absorption, be sure to eat and drink foods high in vitamin C to better absorb the iron.
How should I select a garden?
There are many things to consider when choosing a garden site. One consideration is simply where to place the garden. The answer will vary according to your situation and what you desire to grow. I have seen people who have incorporated gardens into their landscaping. I call this edible landscaping. Edible plants can be incorporated in among many traditional flowers and bushes. Thia interplanting allows for pest control and confusion.
So on to the more traditional gardening types.
Raised bed . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One method that I like is the raised bed method of gardening. Raised beds can vary in length to suit a particular situation. They tend to be three or four feet wide, which allows for weeding from either side. A person can weed to the middle of the raised bed from either side. An advantage of raised bed gardening is drainage. Another advantage is that they have a small footprint. This means that they can be tucked into small spaces and catered to fit small areas that are available. Still another advantage is that they have very deep, loose soil. This allows for deep root penetration. In the end, that plants may be healthier as a result of having more extensive root systems.
I modified this system and made what I refer to as strip gardens. I took 50 foot long strips of sod and dug them up in four foot wide sections. I then began to pile on the compost and other soil amendments. This gave me a raised bed type garden. I was able to add soil as I went. In this system, I was able to eliminate the walking paths that serve to compact the soil near the plants. I eventually elected to fill in the areas in between the strips.
Finally, on to a more traditional garden. Our garden is about 60 feet long by 50 feet wide. We elected to go this route as we are now able to plant rows of corn and bean in whatever configuration that we choose. We lay out our corn in rows separated by 30 inches. The beans go in rows that are 24 inches apart. We are then able to grow cucumbers, zucchini, and other plants where we want them.
The ideal site should be sunny (at least 8 hours of sunlight per day). It is ideal for it to be flat or sloped slightly to the south. In our area, it is best to have a wind break to the west and north. This prevents the corn from blowing over later in the summer when the big storms tend to roll in. We have our small orchard and berry patch to the West, which seems to keep the corn upright.
So the other night, we got to witness the birth of our first Red Poll calf here on the farm. It all started at softball practice with a call from the neighbor. He called to say that a heifer was in labor…with a bubble hanging out the back end. We were just done with softball practice, so we quickly jumped into the van to head home for the show.
Upon arriving home, I noted that one of the girls was off on her own with her tail raised. Indeed she was in labor. So we set up near the barn to see how things would transpire. We watched as she laid down to push, then stood up for a bit. I was surprised to see her eat some grass in the midst of laboring. We clearly saw her water break. There was a lot of clear fluid the came out very fast at first and continued in small bursts as she pushed. Finally she laid down for several contractions. At this point, her tail and back end were facing away from us.
I decided to walk around to the corner of the filed where she was laying. I stayed outside of the fence line, but got close enough to watch through the video camera. I taped the whole event from this vantage point. I watched as the calf appeared to be stuck. I could only see one foot and a head. My veterinary instincts started to kick in, but luckily I decided to wait a little while. Upon zooming in, I could see both front legs and the head. The legs were crossed in such a way that it appeared to be only one. I was still a bit concerned as a few minutes passed without any progress. I knew it was best to wait it out, but I was questioning this mantra in my head. I waited a few more minutes and could see that the calf was shoulder locked. As I was mulling over what to do inside my head, she began to make more progress. The shoulders were starting to come through as her back end likely relaxed a bit more. Finally, the shoulder came through. After many contractions over about 45 minutes the calf was about to be born. Three or four final contractions and pushes and the calf was out.
We had a live bull calf. I was amazed to watch him stand and nurse within 20 minutes. This is so amazing to me. We are excited that he was born without any problems and is doing very well.
And now the kicker……remember I stated that I was watching through the video camera? Well, I was recording as well. Apparently when I began to walk around for a better view I hit the record button. Our video camera has a delay on the light enough that I messed the whole thing up. Every time I thought I was recording, the camera was off. When I thought it was of….it was on. So when we went to view the video, there was nothing but grass. The stinker is that I had a great video (Or so I thought). O well Maybe next time.
Quick update on the cold frame project. Less than 24 hours into the project, we had a severe wind advisory. We went to close the cold frame, which had been propped open earlier in the day and this is what we found:
So tonight was spent picking up broken glass and placing new windows on the cold frame. Note for this time: add a chain or piece of baling twine to prevent the window lid from opening too far in the event of a wind gust.
Today we took up the task of building a cold frame to extend the growing season. So we took off to the barn to look for materials that were laying around. Our efforts provided us with wood and several old wooden windows that we have been saving. I didn’t do specific measuring, so I will give you the generic version
First we set both windows on the ground to provide us with dimensions that we would need. We selected four pieces of wood for the sides of the cold frame. We chose a wider piece for the back and a piece not as wide to form the front. This gave us a sloping frame that we could face toward the south to maximize the sunlight exposure.
We laid the two windows side by side and the four pieces of wood on their corresponding sides. We then marked all dour sides in prefer to make the proper cuts.
The front and back were about 52 inches long and the sides were about 40 inches in length. The back ended up being 14 inches tall. The front is 12 inches tall. We would have liked to have more of a slope, but we wanted to create the cold frame for very little cost.
After cutting the four pieces for the frame, we found a 2 x 2 to make four corner stakes. These were cut to make four 2 foot long stakes that were pointed on one end.
We then drilled small holes in order to help get the nails started. The wood that we used was extremely hard, so much so that we bent several nails. Once we got the four sides nailed to one another, we set about attaching the comer stakes. These will serve to drive the cold frame into the ground and keep it in place. In order the keep the frame together and hold the stakes in place, we attached two c-clamps to the stakes and sides. These clamps kept the stakes in place as we drove the nails through the side panels and into the stakes.
Once all four stakes were secured, we laid the windows on top of the frame. With a huge sigh of relieve, the windows fit almost to a tee.
Above you can see our stopping point for the day. The stakes are sturdy and the windows are resting on the top. We will need to add hinges and then located a prop stick, but the project is nearly completed. Now to finish up so we can set the plants in place.
Well let me start by stating that this is our first calving season, which will lead into our first breeding season.
We are evaluating which breeding program to go with. We know of several potential programs.
The first is simply pasture bull breeding. Due to the presence of young kids on the old homestead, we have not seriously considered this as an option.
The next method would be a timed breeding program , which would require hue use of prostaglandins and follicle stimulating hormones. Seeing that we are trying to go with a hormone free program, this is off the table as well. So what should we do?
The best breeding programs are reliant on heat detection. This can be noted through observation or left to the bull if one is around. The issue facing most farmers is that they are too busy to simply sit on the fence and watch for evidence of heat. These behaviors include increased walking activity, mounting behavior, and willingness to be mounted. Typically a cow that is willing to be mounted is ready to be bred, the cow doing the mounting is about 12 hours away.
I think that we are going to go with some kind of marker-type system. This can be a simple as tail chalking. This method uses chalk to mat the hair over the tailhead down. Once the animal is mounted, the hair stands up, so that it is evident that she is in heat. Another form of the marker system is called a Kamar pak. This is a dye pack that is fixed to the tailhead region. Once the animal is mounted, the dye pack is broken and changes color to alert you to the presence of a breedable heat.
After compiling the above from the vast knowledge contained within my head (Said with tongue in cheek sarcasm), I found the following website, which may be more helpful.
I found this to be a great resource. It is organized well and goes through the possible management systems that are available.
As can be noted from this blog and our previous posts, we are fans of natural and organic farming. Our basis is rather simplistic in the fact that we would not drink roundup or fertilizer so why put it on our foods or in our animals.
Herein lies the dilemma: what do you do when you have a sick animal or a crop being ravaged by pests? There are limited options in this area, as the focus of organic farming is prevention and overall health. Of course, you can reach for a home remedy. The quick fix is antibiotics or a chemical pesticide. Since I am a veterinarian and not a botanist, I will talk on the animal side.
Many sick animals can be treated with something to bolster the immune system. They can be given things such as IV fluids and vitamin C. Many organic dairy farms depend heavily upon aloe as a treatment for mastitis. I like to infuse hypersonic saline into the udder and then milk the affected quarters out 15 to 20 minutes later. Some animals can be fed dandelions as a natural diuretic if there ia a lot of edema (extra fluid) present in the udder.
The condition that presents the greatest challenge is bacterial pneumonia. This requires the use of antibiotics, which are restricted of course. I am hoping that there are some things in the works as far as research in this area. I think that for the moment organic dairies should be allowed to use the antibiotics, but the withdrawal times need to be extended out to allow residues to clear. A traditional dairy will have a milk withhold of 4 to 8 milkings, which amount to 2 to 4 days. Perhaps the organic dairy association should consider a 2 week or 1 month withdrawal time. This would allow the farmer to retain the animal, yet would be a long enough withdrawal time to strongly discourage the use of antibiotics. Just my 2 cents of course…..but it seems that a longer withhold that allows the farmer to help the animal and keep her in his herd is much better than having to wait to the last minute to treat her and then be forced to remove her from the herd. Afterall, are we desiring organic farms just for the purity of the food or do we desire the best for the animals as well?
In the picture above you will see the apparent barren soil of our garden. This soil is actually starting to activate. There are a myriad of organisms that can not been seen by the naked human eye. Earthworms are migrating to the surface to perform their important roles such as creating airways and water channels. They also produce casings, which are packed with vital nutrients.
Tonight was warm enough for us humans to begin to activate as well. Using our stirrup hoe, I cultivated the top inch of soil, preparing it for future planting. I am planning to plant some cold tolerant vegetables in our raised beds. This will include miners lettuce, spinach and lettuce varieties. We also got word today that another Fedco Seed order will be going out tomorrow. We are glad that we did not miss the deadline.