Archive | March, 2013

Bitter Melon


Bitter Melon After My First Taste

I have always been open to and held a great respect for ancient medicines and traditions.  My major complaint about American Medicine is that it is orchestrated and promoted by profit hungry drug companies out to profit regardless of the required listing of damaging side effects.

I have been monitoring borderline high blood pressure and pre-diabetes for years. I finally, several years ago, allowed myself to be placed on low dosages of Lisinopril  and Metformin  after extensive discussion with a doctor I knew and really trusted.

I discovered that the medications were interfering with continued weight loss (140# to date over recent years).  2012 was the year I decided to stop all medication and to concentrate on losing more weight and exercising.  This year (2013) I returned to the Doctor for blood work……. feeling good and having dropped (slowly) 25#.  Blood indicators unchanged:(:(:(  Still pre-diabetic  and borderline high blood pressure.  So I returned to low dosages of the two medications.

This caused me to explore new action in a new direction.  I did a little research into Ayurvedic Medicine and made an appointment with a certified Ayurvedic practioner here in Vermont. I met with Kevin Clark this past Friday and left impressed with his assessment of me and my concerns!

Without boring you with details you may have no interest in! (Plenty of information available if you are interested in learning more)  I have Double Doshas and have both Kapha and Pitta Doshas as strong components of my being. Kapha Ayurvedic Body Types have bigger builds and bones and being too slender would not be healthy for my being. I am designed to be large and solid.  People with a Pitta Ayurvedic Body Type tend to have very sharp minds and intellect and I will not self assess this characteristic 🙂

Anyway that brings us to Bitter Melon. It was recommended, as a first step in my new journey of exploration, that I start using Bitter Melon . Chemicals in bitter melon have been suggested to lower glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, and increase glucose absorption. Additionally, the chemicals promote the way in which liver and muscle glycogen works together, and promotes healthy glucose oxidation. These findings are particularly note-worthy for diabetes research.

I found it in the closest Asian Market to us in West Lebanon, NH, Yipings.


My first taste was last night as shown in my first picture in this post.  It was no where near as bitter as I was mentally prepared for it to be after comments I had heard and reading I had done!  I could eat it raw!  I will explore receipts for cooking with it.


I am planning to grow Bitter Melon in our garden this year!

BitterMelon growing

Just bought my Bitter Melon seeds

Reading indicates it can be difficult to germinate. Nicking and soaking the seed helps as does knowing that they can take up to 30 days to germinate.

Will keep you posted as the season progresses!

Just heard from Piney Creek Garden “I grow bitter melon every year, for quick germination, soak it over night, the next day crack both side ( I bite both sides a little bit just enough to crack) and put on the ground after the last frost. for indoor start in a pot with under a grow light 2 weeks before the last frost. mine germinate in more than week”

They included a picture of Bitter Melon growing in their 2012 Garden

Bitter melon - Piney Creek Garden

Piney Creek Garden‘s Bitter Melon 2012



Thinking about Spring!


Jumping the gun a little and replacing the winter image in the header with one from the archives.  On this, the second full day of Spring we are still snow covered.  I am ready for and  I am “seeing”  GREEN……… Soon:)  The plantings have grown but otherwise this is home in the spring and summer.


EUREKA !!! It was a Success and Not a Failure !


Winter Harvest 2011

In 2011 we decided to attempt a winter greenhouse here in Vermont based on Eliot Coleman‘s book Winter Harvest and grow winter greens. We knew we were late getting the seeds planted and the hoop house finished but moved forward with our plans.

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Winter Hoop House before Greenhouse Plastic Installed

The two raised beds in this house were hooped w/ 10′ PVC pipe and then we planned a row cover inside this smaller hoop which we never got around to using.


Mustard Greens Started & Small Spinach Plants

As I said, we were late planting for this winter project. Mustard greens had the best start. Spinach really small and the other side, the other 4’x8′ bed, had two varieties of Kale that were at the stage of the mustard.  So we didn’t harvest the greens we had hoped for. The plants lived through our Vermont winter (remember no auxiliary heat source) and really took off in the Spring.  We knew we had planted late but still considered it a first try failure.

2012 was a complicated year and we were far enough behind that we decided not to do our second try.  We figured we’d give it a go this year, 2013.

WELL!  Today we attended the Spring Open House at High Mowing Organic Seeds  and Tom and I selected the:

  • Winter Greenhouse Tour with Katie Traub & Gwenael Engelskirchen –
    Learn about overwintering brassicas and other biennials for seed production. We’ll focus on timing of fall plantings, winter chores, special care for seed crops, pollination, when and how to harvest.


High Mowing Organic Seeds’ Tunnel House 3/16/13

Great information that showed us we had not failed!  Our winter house had acted properly. We do need to plant earlier (we knew that) if we want the luxury of harvesting some fresh greens during the winter months.

The information we harvested today also will have us start holding some plants over for seed.  Thinking we will start with Red Onions and Beets as we start learning to save seeds.


Onion ready to send up new growth and go to seed.


Beets already showing new growth and progressing towards going to seed.

So we returned home invigorated!  Knowing that we had not failed in 2o11 and looking forward to this coming winter when we will again have hardy greens and small numbers of beets and onions as we prepare to master some biennial seed saving!

High Mowing Organic Seeds has a large resource section on their website with valuable information.


Icelandic Chicken Eggs arrive on the Ides of March


Icelandic Cock  –  Mack Hill Farm

I had the pleasure and the privilege of visiting Mack Hill Farm today to see their flock and acquire my Icelandic Chicken hatching eggs!   Mack Hill Farm is a great mixture of tall trees and open spaces. When I arrived the 90 some Icelandics were scattered around in groups scratching through the leaves in the woods,  each cock with his harem.  One hen still roosting high in a large pine tree.




I love the varied colors.  I am hoping that my hatch will include Peach  and Black and White Speckled birds.  What ever hatches they will be a marvelous mixture of color and comb varieties.  This breed which goes back to the Vikings is the perfect solution for my “need”  for colored chickens.


Icelandic Chicken Eggs

Four of the six dozen eggs I brought home to hatch.  As you can see the Icelandics lay a white egg with occasional hints of beige. Very similar to the White Chanteclers! This may mean I keep a small mixed flock off dark egg layers so I can continued to sell mixed hues to our egg customers.


Placed in the Incubator on the Ides of March

Yes, we hatch in the dining room:)  These should be pipping on April 3rd as I was told today Icelandics hatch out in 19 days.  Will post pictures of the hatch in April.

Additional eggs later this season from Muddy Hoof Farm –  way Down East!


2 Days old here.  Hatched April 5, 2013.  38 Icelandic Chicks.


Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy !

I am aware of the fact that too many people fail to see the real beauty in their immediate world. There is beauty around us every moment of every day. We just need to take time to see and appreciate it. One of the best ways is through the eye of a camera! Try it. Take you camera and look at your own world. The world that is right around you. Inside or out, beauty is every where. Seeing and appreciating it will make things much better in this difficult world we find ourselves living in.


Earl’s Shed

Earl is gone now. His place is empty and we mow the yard and let out poultry graze there so the place does not look unused and abandoned.  His daughters are in Florida.  Earl was the first person we met when we came to look at the house in 2003.  We went into his shop to introduce ourselves as prospective neighbors and to ask if he knew where the property line was and was he happy with it.


Earl’s Shop

Earl was feeding peanuts to a chipmunk that day we first met.  He walked us out and showed us the survey stakes. He was happy with them so we were too. Earl was a good man. Earl was a good neighbor. His shop was here before we bought our home. We bought our home knowing that Earl ran his shop and the yard filled up in the non-winter seasons.  We planted a “wind break”. We defended Earl’s right to do as he wished with his property. Earl was a good neighbor.  We miss him.


The perception of beauty is a moral test. – Henry David Thoreau


Let me share some of the beauty that Abigail and I see every day that we walk. Hopefully it will encourage you see see that beauty that is around you all the time.


Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting. – Ralph Waldo Emerson


In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful. – Alice Walker


Beauty is not caused. It is.Emily Dickenson


Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty if only we have the eyes to see them. – John Ruskin


I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. The longer I live, the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and the wonder of the world. – John Burroughs


Beauty in distress is much the most affecting beauty.Edmund Burke


Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.Confucius


Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. – Albert Einstein


Beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.Kahlil Gibran


Beauty is the experience that gives us a sense of joy and a sense of peace simultaneously.Rollo May


Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. – John Muir


A thing of beauty is a joy forever.John Keats

The beauty around me is endless – Take time to see the beauty around you.


Cabin Fever – The Robins Keep on Singing!


Cliff Ice on my walk today

“Cabin Fever” is not something I usually experience!  I love winter as long as I have access to a wood heat source to “warm my bones”.  Wood stove heat is the only heat that penetrates my body and truly warms me on cold winter days.  So why am I experiencing bouts of what I believe is “Cabin Fever”  My personal assessment indicates it is a reaction to the roller coaster winter we have had!  The extreme swings in temperature from above freezing to below freezing, the swings in snow cover, that while mild compared to friends and family south of me, never the less have frustrated me!  The lack of snow cover protection threatens to harm my gardens and plants.

I work to heighten my spirits by preparing to start the incubator and seeds. The peeping of newly hatched chicks and the seedlings breaking through the earth are both indicators of Spring and the new cycles of life.

I look at pictures from other seasons and know that I,  we,  will be cycling though them again.


The Pussy Willows are out and have been for weeks!  They brave the winter weather swings and remind me that Spring is near!


The snow recedes and reveals the dead grass that will soon turn green with new life.  The chickens find these snowless areas, lay on their sides and bask in the warmth of the sun. They preen and strut and execute the courtship that will result in fertile eggs for this years hatching of a new generation.

On my walk with Abigail today, the three mile walk that reaped these photos, I found myself thinking about a Spring 16 years ago when an April blizzard had the robins presenting me with a valuable life lesson.  Nature teaches us as she wraps us in her seasons.  I searched back to find an article I had written “The Robins Keep on Singing”  and I lift a segment from it to end this entry.

An entry that reminds me to keep on singing as I wait for Spring!

I knew I would have to walk the last quarter mile of my mile long driveway due to the mud. I parked at the turnaround just outside my gates. It was snowing — a wet, soft, gentle snow that clung to every branch. I lingered there, listening to classical music, writing in my journal, savoring the beauty and the peacefulness of the night, the woods, the snow, the world around me, life.

Suddenly I thought: “I do not want to be in a building tonight. I want to stay out here.” That is exactly what I did. Leaning the seat back, I went to sleep.

I awoke the next morning to a truly spectacular, truly beautiful, truly peaceful, truly memorable, white, snow covered world — trees, snow, woods, birds, me —–ethereal beauty and peacefulness. As I greeted the new day, appreciating the connectedness of all, I realized that this spectacular, snow covered world, while lifting my spirits, was a severe hardship to all the robins who had returned the week before. Yet, despite the hardship, despite the difficulty,”the robins keep on singing”.

A powerful lesson delivered by the natural world at a point in my life when the power and trueness of that statement, “the robins keep on singing”, can help me keep a proper perspective on events in my life.

“The robins keep on singing” has been added to the list of phrases I use to help myself. Two of my other favorites from the list are: A line from a poem by the Isles of Shoals poetess Celia Thaxter, ” The sunrise never failed us yet” and a line by I know not who, “The earth turns toward the morning”.

The first quote reminds me that light always follows darkness, without fail, and the second quote keeps me aware that each day is a new beginning, that whatever happens there is always a new day dawning, an opportunity for a fresh start.

I offer these for you to use as you ponder the “why for alls” and the “where for alls” of your life.”


And so I rejoice in the mud, which follows the snow and precedes the green awakening of my, of our, world.  May this find you rejoicing in nature’s cycles too!


VANDANA SHIVA: Traditional Knowledge, Biodiversity and Sustainable Living

Vandana Shiva

“If you are doing the right thing for the earth, she’s giving you great company.”
Vandana Shiva

Normally this site is for me to show and share our own efforts and journey towards maximizing our self sustainability level.  Knowing we will not reach 100%, we strive to maximize!

Often it is beneficial to step outside our own society/country for honest assessments of the situation we find ourselves in as citizens of the Earth!

I am posting two videos here for your contemplation.  The first is 16:40 minutes and the second is 38:47 minutes.  WORTH every second!

VANDANA SHIVA: Traditional Knowledge, Biodiversity and Sustainable Living


Dr. Vandana Shiva on Just Food

I invite you to watch these, contemplate their unsettling message and share!

I leave you with this quote :

“[How do I do it?] Well, it’s always a mystery, because you don’t know why you get depleted or recharged. But this much I know. I do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation. I believe that if you just do your little bit without thinking of the bigness of what you stand against, if you turn to the enlargement of your own capacities, just that itself creates new potential. And I’ve learned from the Bhagavad-Gita and other teachings of our culture to detach myself from the results of what I do, because those are not in my hands. The context is not in your control, but your commitment is yours to make, and you can make the deepest commitment with a total detachment about where it will take you. You want it to lead to a better world, and you shape your actions and take full responsibility for them, but then you have detachment. And that combination of deep passion and deep detachment allows me to take on the next challenge, because I don’t cripple myself, I don’t tie myself in knots. I function like a free being. I think getting that freedom is a social duty because I think we owe it to each not to burden each other with prescription and demands. I think what we owe each other is a celebration of life and to replace fear and hopelessness with fearlessness and joy.”  Vandana Shiva

added link  May 25, 2013:

Fighting the Corporate Hijacking of Seeds


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