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Edible Weeds

I have been fortunate to meet special people, such as Eva Taylor of Ironwood farm who introduced me to permaculture.  Recently, I have gotten to know another amazing person, who has expanded my appreciation of nature and the garden, Leenie Hobbie.

Leenie and I share several mutual friends and I have often heard the statement, “you’ve got to meet Leenie Hobbie!”  She is a frequent guide for “Weed Walks” in our area, teaching people about the local flora and showing people how to identify edible plants. 

Fortunately, Leenie and I finally connected and we spent some time in my garden, which I admit is not entirely weed free.  Perhaps my German heritage makes me more fastidious about it than I need to be, but there were definitely  more than enough weed samples to be found.  I’ve always felt that their existence in my garden was a source of irritation, taking up precious space for my darling cultivated plants.  Until Leenie’s visit.

She quickly identified several edible varieties and even knew their nutrients and historic medicinal use.  She described how they could be used in cooking, and those loathsome plants suddenly turned into recipe potential!  Lambs quarters in quiche?  Sounds delicious!

Invader or Ingredient?

Invader or Ingredient?

Since her visit, we’ve gathered various types and even made “weed chips”  Collecting the leaves of a thorny vine called Greenbriar that Leenie showed me, we fried them in olive oil, producing a delightful crispy treat.  And I am willing to tolerate more weeds in my garden, and am even finding some favorite tasting ones, such as Purslane.

Leenie has a delightful and informational  blog, 3 Herb Mamas, that I encourage you to follow, and I am placing it on my list of favorite blog links.  She is also creating an Etsy store for her herb-based creams and salves, so stay posted for when that is launched!

Pond Question

I received a question about what we use in our pond to solve fish illnesses such as Ick and fungi.   Since the honey bees drink freely from this pond it is important to use products that are compatible with their health as well, and antibiotic-based “cures” don’t seem compatible.  Fortunately, I have found these all natural products for fish, and am putting them in our amazon store.  They are made with herbal extracts such as tea tree oil. 



Look closely, and you can see the honey bees drinking from the new pond, using the plants as little islands or “flotation devices.”


Meals at Meduseld – Easy Mayonnaise

Thick, creamy mayonnaise

Thick, creamy mayonnaise

Making mayonnaise from scratch can be daunting.  The oil has to be incorporated very gradually into the eggs or it will separate.  I’ve avoided making it in the past because of the mess it would make with my blender.  Oil and eggs would spray all over the kitchen as I poured oil into the running blender.  What a mess!  It seemed to take more time to clean than to make the mayonnaise!

Recently, I decided I had to commit to making mayonnaise from scratch again.  The list of ingredients on the store brands, not to mention the exorbitant price, was enough to convince me to find a better way to make this delicious treat.  And did I ever find one!    A hand blender!

I have  an inexpensive Hamilton Beach hand blender (in Meduseld’s Amazon store) that I use for making Smokey Pumpkin Soup (recipe for that soon).  Using this nifty tool, you can make your mayonnaise in a wide mouth quart jar that can go straight in the refrigerator.  The only thing to clean is the hand blender attachment. 


First, the list of ingredients for a very basic, thick and creamy mayonnaise.  Then I’ll provide some variations.

In the bottom of the jar, place:

4 egg yolks (try to get local free-range eggs for freshness)

scant teaspoon salt

Blend these together briefly.

With the blender running, very slowly pour a trickle of one cup oil into the jar.  Oil options are: olive, sunflower, grape seed, and blends of these and other oils.  I do not recommend using soy since it can increase estrogen levels (   This is very serious for men!

As you pour in the oil, you will notice that the mix will start to get thicker.  When you have added all the oil, you should have a thick mayonnaise.  Now, add two tablespoons apple cider vinegar and blend.  Voila!  It’s that easy!


That is a very basic version, not unlike the brand Dukes.  It you want to add some flavor, you can mix one teaspoon mustard in with the eggs.  You can add seasonings such as herbs and garlic.  Or you can substitute half a freshly squeezed lemon for the vinegar.

2014 Gardening Goals, High Intensity Gardening

I think practically every gardener spends January (in the northern hemisphere at least) pouring over seed catalogs and planning their spring and summer gardens, and I am no exception.  As soon as the New Year’s celebrations are over, seed catalogs start pouring in the mail enticing us with their bright pictures and promises of high yields.

Over the years, though, modern growing methods have left most of us feeling disappointed.  On our farm, we have been trying new methods of organic techniques, incorporating permaculture, and avoiding quick solutions such as pesticides and herbicides.  So, I was thrilled to come across a new method of gardening called High Intensity Gardening which can literally help the plants to express their full genetic potential, while improving the condition of the soil and the nutritional content of food.  For example, a tomato plant has the genetic potential to produce 400-500 POUNDS of tomatoes, but due to our growing methods, toxins, nutritional deficiencies,etc., we fall short of its potential.

John Kempf is one of the greatest advocates and educators of High Intensity Agriculture.  He has formed an organization called Advancing Eco Agriculture.  You can listen to him here in an interview with Dr. Mercola offering a brief explanation of the methods and outcomes.

Last year, I demonstrated in an article called “Compost” the amazing results of using compost in the garden.  Mr. Kempf discusses the benefits of compost “tea,” a liquid made by fermenting compost in water, generating an enzyme and beneficial bacteria-rich liquid for the soil.  Kempf draws the similarity with Dr. Mercola, that just as humans’ digestion benefits from beneficial organisms, the soil is the plants digestion and benefits from pro-biotics as well.  Here are two videos showing Kempf’s Plant Health Pyramid.



As I consider my seed choices, I will also be researching recipes for compost tea.  And with a few exceptions, I will not be ordering from most of the major seed catalogs, who provide overpriced packets with scarcely any seeds.  Ever since starting this blog, we have provided a link to where we buy our seeds.  The majority of the seeds come from Europe where cross-pollination with GMO crops is not as great an issue.  The packets are reasonably priced and usually contain hundreds of seeds in each.  I am awed by the quality and quantity. 

It is increasingly necessary for small farmers to embrace these natural growing methods and seeds.   Top soils across this country are microbiogically dead, and can only produce if given chemicals, yielding nutrient deficient food.1  Since Big Ag has not responded to the call for better farming,  small farms are leading the way.  Please support your local farmers!




Book Review – Victorian Secrets by Sarah A. Chrisman

Victorian Secrets – What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself


This book arrived yesterday morning and I read the entire book in one day. It really was that captivating. If it says anything, my husband started it last night.  This is not a book about sex and illicit romance.  It is about understanding another era.

It is the documentation of one woman’s journey to living history in the truest sense of the words, going to the modern interpreted “lengths” of wearing a corset 24/7. And she shares every aspect including her extensive research. And this was so beneficial! As a massage therapist, (in addition to having degrees in International Studies and French) she actually knows anatomy and can share the actual physical changes that are or are not affected. She takes corset wearing from the domain of myths and scare tactics into real biological conversation.

One reviewer on Amazon nearly put me off buying the book and I am so glad I did not heed her rant. The author suffered real verbal abuse from people and I am glad that she did not cover these events with rose colored glasses. I think it reflects a great deal on society today, where interfering, judgmental people think it is within their rights to tell other people how to live. These feminazis she encountered don’t even see that their vitriolic comments are right in line with the very people they seek to condemn. They preach tolerance, but only if it agrees with their agenda.

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this first-hand. I wear skirts most of the time and it is unbelievable how often I am questioned about this very harmless thing! Other rude observations have been regarding my or my friends’ families, with statements like “there’s a pill for that,” and Don’t you have a television?” Never mind that my kids with be paying their social security. Can you imagine how much it hurts the children who hear these statements showing that they are unwelcome to that person! Another example was on a long hair forum, where another member was told it was selfish of her to keep her own long hair! People have no idea how much they hurt others with their judgements, and I wish someone would come up with a corset for their mouths since there already seems to be one around their minds.

This is a very real problem in society and I am glad the author chose to document that part of her journey. Society turned away from manners and etiquette, making a deliberate decision to become “informal.” Instead of informality, society got rudeness. Instead of people voluntarily minding their manners, we now have to have hate crime legislation to control the deplorable things people now say and do to one another. Maybe more people should have heeded Miss Manners.

Chrisman has a delightfully descriptive writing style, and I envy her poetic use of language. When discussing diaphanous real silk tulle she ordered for some hats she describes its luxurious texture, saying “If Arachne had met Iris, the rainbow goddess, after Athena turned the presumptuous weaver into a spider, the resultant web might have been something like this material. Soft as a kitten’s breath, it lay upon my hands with the weight of a butterfly come to rest…” Ah, the bliss of reading an educated author!

Her husband gets a fair share of the story and he seems delightfully supportive. The two of them are united in marriage, interests, curious minds, and the pursuit of improvement. They take their role in historical recreation seriously, shunning imitations and petroleum derived fabrics. They should be imitated instead of criticized for this, as one other reviewed did.

She evidently has a strained relationship with her mother (something I can relate to) and still comes to understand her. Bravo.

I recommend this book even if you have no intention of wearing a corset. The author lived and traveled abroad and her acceptance of other opinions and cultures may have been enhanced by this foreign travel. The book may be about corsets, but its underlying theme is that of “live and let live.”

I am placing it in my Amazon store here. 





Plea to Farmers

I went to high school in the beautiful state of Iowa.  From the meandering Mississippi to the fields of wheat and corn that stretched beyond sight, it was also inhabited by some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.   I remember in the fall students returning to school  as brown as nuts.  These students had spent the summer detassling corn, a process where the tassle is removed to prevent pollination.  Thousands of Iowan acres were detassled by hand and the students were glad for the income. 

The detassling was done for hybridizing corn.  The tassles of most corn are removed while the pollinator rows are left intact.  This creates the hybridized, higher yielding corn.

Fast forward to present day.   Instead of relying solely on the genes present in the corn, corporations have inserted genes for certain traits into the plants and we call them genetically modified organism, or GMOs.

Over and over I read and hear proponents of GMO’s stating that with population growth GMO’s are necessary to feed the world.  While I disagree with the logic of a statement that says  “the undesirable should be accepted in lieu of something worse,” I am going to give the first statement the benefit of the doubt and test it, and see if it stands up to logic.

A casual glance at the research shows that forty percent (MSN Statistics)  of U.S. corn is used to make ethanol.   So 40 % of each years’ crop isn’t feeding anyone.  People are dying of starvation all over this planet, and here we literally burn food to fuel our cars.   When almost half of the corn produced is literally burnt, the feeding the world argument falls apart.

BTW, Ethanol is very hard on automobile engines that were not created to handle it.  It burns at a higher temperature, decreases fuel efficiency, and destroys the plastic fuel intakes on fuel pumps – very expensive indeed.  And even the EPA admits that it is worse for the environment than its gasoline counterpart.   Despite this, evidently the EPA has signed off on increasing the blend allowed from 10% to 15%.  Google what this will do to your engines.   It’s especially frightening when you consider examples from mechanics that gas companies are already sneaking in higher levels of ethanol.  Here’s what Consumer Reports says about the matter.

So, the single biggest argument for using GM crops falls short.  Here are the ones against its use, and they are substantial. I ask readers, especially those who farm with GM crops to please consider:

  • GM corn has been proven to cause cancer in rats and mice at levels that are allowed in drinking water. 


  • GM crops treated with glyphosphate cause disease, from diabetes to obesity to heart conditions.  This may sound like a stretch, until you see the explanation of Dr. Stephanie Seneff, MIT researcher.  Monsanto claims glyphosphate, the active ingredient in Roundup (c)  is harmless to humans since it affects the Shikimate pathway of plants.  Since human cells do not have this pathway, they claim it is harmless.  As Dr. Seneff points out, however, the human gut bacteria outnumber our human cells in our bodies 10 to 1.  It is estimated that each human carries 10 billion bacteria cells, each of which DOES have the Shikimate pathway.  When our intestinal balance is destroyed, Seneff shows that other health problems emerge. 


  • GM crops creates monopolies.  Imagine all the worlds major crop seeds in the hands of a few corporations.  Nuf said.


  • GM crops are weakening U.S. exports.  Recently, India announced that it would be buying GM free soy beans from Brazil.  Personally, I love Brazil, but I am sad that crops that used to be the strength of this nation are being lost.  I was born in Decatur, IL while it was crowned “the Soybean Capital of the World,” and it is about to lose that crown, if it hasn’t already.   I remember as a little girl driving over a large bridge that went through Decatur past the Staley’s plant.  We called it Staley’s bridge, because the smell of the soy processing was so overpowering we had to warn each other to plug our noses.   Well, many countries don’t want our GM products, including Japan who just cancelled a large wheat order when the story emerged last week of rouge GM wheat found in an Oregon field, as described here by The Wall Street Journal.  Korea and Taiwan and considering their U.S. imports as well.

wake up gm


 This is a nation built of hard workers.  People who took great risks, leaving foreign lands and families to build a better place.  Farmers in this country are the embodiment of the virtues that built this nation – hard-working and self-sacrificing.  It is such a shame to watch their international markets shrivel.  Now more than ever it is important to look at why other countries have banned GM products and to turn the tide before all confidence is lost internationally in our ability to produce safe, delicious and nutritious food.  This country was the bread basket of the world.   Please think about it!


Stowell's Evergreen Open Pollinated Growing in Meduseld Garden

Stowell’s Evergreen Open Pollinated Growing in Meduseld Garden




Disappearing Bees

Dr. Mercola covers the problem of colony collaspe disorder (CCD) and its impact on the almond industry in California this spring.  In his thought-provoking article, he reminds people about the necessity of bees in the world’s food supply and draws attention to the dire consequences if we do not find ways to protect the bees.  Please take a moment to read Dr. Mercola’s article.

Honey bee on Hady Almond at Meduseld

Honey bee on Hardy Almond at Meduseld


One definition frequently given of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.  We have a fine example of that in the genetical engineering corporations, who push their GMO seeds and products on farmers worldwide.  These farmers are given the promise of better yields and higher profits.  The reality is that these products increase the use of herbicides and pesticides.  It has caused such significant problems in India that there is a crisis of cotton farmers committing suicide, and that is worth an article of its own.  Additionally, Vandana Shiva states in a BBC Interview that a “billion people go hungry because of GMO farming.”

But the problems with GMO crops are not just with the agricultural and toxin issues, it also has to do with what these feeds do in human and animal bodies.  I have already attached videos from Dr. Don Huber who is an expert on glyphosate (commonly known as “Roundup”) who has written and testified frequently on the grevious problems caused by glyphosate ready crops.  I have also provided links to a GreenMedInfo article showing the cancerous tumors that developed in rats fed GMO corn. 

The latest in the craziness is now emerging.  Researchers have now altered the genetic structure of wheat so that it “silences” how the wheat handles carbohydrates.  My guess is that someone is trying to produce a lower carb wheat to satisfy the trend for lower carb diets.  However, there is reason to believe that this gene alteration can be absorbed by human bodies, silencing how the body can handle and store carbohydrates.  Here is a video provided on GreenMedInfo’s website called GMO molecules May Silence Hundreds of Human Genes.  It is only 4 minutes long and certainly worth the time to understand the ramifications of dabbling in GMOs.

Please share this blog with as many people as possible since the GMO issue has been obscured by special interests.  This article provides many helpful links in one place that cover the madness.

Dangers of Commerical Fish “Farms”

In this article, Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses a documentary that reveals the problems with commerical fish operations.  It confirms what he was warned consumers about for years – that these operations are not good for either the fish or humans, that they destroy the environment, and that government agencies charged with protecting the public are actually complicit in covering up the damage.  Please take a moment to go to Dr. Mercola’s article with embedded video here.

Raising Healthy Sheep – Care and Worming




When raising healthy sheep, the goal is to feed only the sheep and not a batch of nasty moochers looking to literally suck the life and nutrition out of the animals.  These little moochers are the parasites that are a very real part of life on virtually every farm.  Sheep are prone to them, and unfortunately, many parasites have developed resistance to many of the wormers that were once very effective.

These wormers also have another downside  – derived from chemicals, these pesticides are not exactly what we want to give to our darling pets, nor is it something you want to consume if you raise some of the sheep for the table, as we do.   The lables on these commercial wormers provide withdrawl times before you can eat the animal, but we all know that toxins tend to acumulate in the fatty tissue, and how much is really cleansed out of the system? 

For years, we had no parasite problems at all.  We were able to use diatomaceous earth as our sole wormer and fecal counts from the vet came back with no parasites.  Then we brought in a few sheep, and despite worming them upon their arrival, they obviously had a strain of parasite that was resistant to the wormer.  Failure to thrive started appearing, which caused us to look at the flock and our program in a new light. 

Research showed that natural iodine, such as Thorvine Kelp,  added to the diet would help the sheep to fight parasites naturally, but when faced with a persistant problem, it is only a bandage.   We also tried making fresh garlic juice and drenching the sheep, which we had read is also effective.  This was funny during administration time.  We used this with some lambs we were setting aside for butchering, and felt like we were seasoning them ahead of time…

Thank God for my friend Esther.  She is another local farmer raising animals, mostly chickens, but with years of experience raising cattle and other animals.  She is also a superiour gardener and it is always so interesting to talk with her – I always learn something.  Yesterday, I learned something from her yet again, about her system of parasite control.  Having had a resistant problem in her flock, and not willing to use toxins to solve it, she searched for a solution and found Olive Leaf  (olea europaea).  She was able to mix this into her chickens “mash” and within a short period of time her chickens are laying better and the size of the eggs has jumped to jumbo.

Googling Olive Leaf, shows that it has been used for health benefits for both humans and animals – all sorts of them.  According to the articles, horses, cattle, sheep, all can benefit from properties within this bountiful plant, and we have decided to give this a try for the next several months and see what benefits our sheep can derive.  I intend to update this post, and during the worst parasite month – typically July, I will get some fecal counts from our veterinarian. 

Esther also recommended a tincture from Mountain Meadow Herbs called Para-Rid that in addition to having olive leaf, also has wormwood and black walnut hull extract.  Mountain Meadow Herbs has a sale running until tomorrow, and I may explore trying some of this with a few of my sheep.   I will update this post with more information as our experiment unfolds.