Amazing Lavender

This evening I was pulling out some Pennsylvania smartweed but didn’t notice the bumblebee among the flowers and was promptly bitten.  I immediately remembered what my friend, Jenny, had told me after my encounter with a yellow jacket last month…  ” Lavender essential oil applied immediately r-e-a-l-l-y HELPS!  Almost no swelling/pain!” 

Well, I don’t have any lavender EO in the house, but I do have lavender plants in my perennial garden.  I plucked a few sprigs off a plants, crushed the leaves and held it to the bite.  I honestly wasn’t sure if it would help, even though I know lavender is wonderful for burns (more about that later).  Within a few minutes I had no pain!  I continued working in the garden and picked a bunch of beans!

…now to lavender and burns.  Back in college I worked at The Body Shop and learned that lavender can speed the healing of burns.  This was discovered by someone who was working with lavender oil a long time ago, got burned while doing his experiment and accidentally spilled the lavender oil on his hand.  The burned area that was covered by the lavender oil healed much faster than the rest of the burn. 

I have gotten burned in the kitchen several times and applied crushed lavender leaves immediately.  Viola!  Pain relief and quick healing. 

A few months ago I was having soup for lunch…it was much hotter than I thought it was.  I burned my mouth so bad…I don’t think I’ve ever burned my mouth that bad before!  I took a big drink of cold water, but I remembered that I read somewhere that sugar helps if you burn your mouth…not sure how or why…but I got some sugar out. 

Then I thought about the lavender…so I ran out and picked some leaves.  I put them in a sandwich bag with the sugar and crushed the leaves so that the sugar could absorb the lavender oil.  I picked out the leaves and let a couple teaspoons dissolve in my mouth.  The pain subsided slowly and I took a couple more teaspoons of sugar later that day.  Do you know how after you burn your tongue you can’t taste anything very well?  That evening my mouth felt better…and, even more importantly, I could taste my dinner.

If you’d like to make your own Lavender Infused Sugar, simply add a teaspoon or so dried lavender buds to a cup of sugar.  Store in a canning jar or other jar in a dark place for 2 weeks.  Shake the sugar every day or couple days so the sugar can absorb the oils.  You can strain the buds out or leave them in.  Enjoy!

Tour de … Fleece?

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Tour de France, the 22-day long bicycle race across France starting on July 2nd … but how many of you have heard of the Tour de Fleece?  I’m sure if you’re familiar with Ravelry you’ve heard of it! 

Many handspinners around the world spin yarn while the cyclist are racing.  That’s right … 20 days of spinning at least a little each day with 2 rest days.  For some, it’s simple.  Others have it a little more challenging, especially those who have 2 young children, animals to feed and a growing garden. 

I did manage to spin every day that the cyclists rode.  To kick off the Tour I even made a special dinner on July 2nd…  One of our homegrown turkeys, rubbed with a mixture of olive oil and herbs de provence (brought home from Paris by my aunt!) rotisseried on the grill.

I also watched a lot of the race and really became interested in it.  Noah loved watching it with me in the mornings, and Dave and I watched some of it at night, too.  We all gasped when Johnny Hoogerland crashed and cheered for him when he continued racing.

Some days I only managed to squeeze in 10 or 15  minutes but most days I spun for 30 minutes or more.  A few days I spun on my drop spindle because I didn’t have time to sit down at my wheel.  We also left for camping a couple of days before the Tour was over so I packed my drop spindle to take with us… it takes up far less room than my wheel!  I posted photos of my daily progress to my Flickr account, but here’s a collage of my work:

Tour De Fleece collage

Trying a New Waterer

Last year we added ducks to our chicken coop.  It worked quite well, except for the mess they made of the waterer.  For a long time we had the waterer in the chicken house raised so only the chickens could get to it, and a general water trough outside.  This worked for a while, but eventually became a mess in its own way.  If only we had an automatic water system…

Then one day we got our FarmTek catalog in the mail.  Looking through it, I saw that they had a plan for making a poultry drinker with a 5-gallon bucket and their Super Flow push-in Nipples.   Basically you get a 5-gallon and drill 3 holes in the bottom.  push the drinker nipples in, fill with water and hang it so the bottom is about eye-level for your poultry.  We keep the lid on the bucket so that the water stays clean, but we only snap it on in 1 or 2 places so it’s easy to take off.

We ordered 6 nipples but just make one waterer to begin.  We showed the poultry how to drink from it by holding their beaks to it and they will drink from it, but still prefer the outdoor water bowl.  I think if we switched over to only this type of waterer, they would use it without problem.

We made a 2nd drinker when our ducklings were old enough to house with the rest of the chicks.  The young chicks, ducklings and poults adapted more quickly to the new system than the older birds did. 

Here are photos of the drinker in the chick nursery:

Chicks and ducklings drinking from hanging waterer

Another picture showing the handle

They are still using this waterer exclusively, however, when the rain fills their little pond up they prefer to drink out if that.  Even though they have been trained to use this bucket drinker, drinking out of a trough (or puddles) is more natural to them.