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Paige's Highlights

As a kid, the Highlight's magazine was always part-and-parcel of dentist visits--they ALWAYS had them in the offices. Well, to steal their name, I've decided that I should at least be productive with all this planning and gleaning of information that I've been gathering over the past few weeks. I want to be able to enjoy actually DOING all the gardening and homesteading when we arrive and not losing time in the book-learning phase. Plus, I can't stand waiting and this is the nearest I can come to scratching my itch for some land! Here's my weekly list of interesting things I found, sources, tidbits of information, fun factoids, or other information for the aspiring homesteader--we'll see how long this keeps going!

1. Trees of Antiquity. Heirloom Acres seeds is a wonderful source of heirloom, open-pollinated (can anyone say, "I'm saving my own seeds!!!" :) ) varieties that were cultivated for the flavor, not necessarily for commercial production--i.e. all-at-once ripening, uber-heavy yeilds, etc. However, I hadn't found something similar for the other woody plants that Dan and I want to have--fruit trees, berry bushes, and nut trees. That's when I found Trees of Antiquity. They have MANY varieties of trees. Some of it is pricey, but if you're looking for something specific, this is a good source. Personally, I always was a big fan of Stark Brothers, but this is a good additional organic source.

2. King Corn. Many thanks to my wonderful hubby for this one. A great documentary, he asked me to watch it with him awhile ago, but I was distracted doing something. Well, I finally got around to watching the trailer, and let me tell you (warning: Soap-box incoming) my first, screaming thought running through my head was "DIABETES! CAN I GET AN AMEN!!!" Being part of the medical community, I deal with diabetes ALL the time. Literally. There has never been a day of my rotations that has gone by where I haven't seen at least one person with diabetes or had to alter my medical thinking by taking that into consideration. It's near epidemic--and it's almost scary. You have the stereotypical, overweight person who has a terrible diet with diabetes. But then you see a relatively fit older person with diabetes and I'm just wondering where it came from. In the trailer (see about minute 3:30 or 3:40) the documentary dude, Curt Ellis, says "the American diet is sweeter than it used to be." And goes on to list how there's high fructose corn syrup in just about everything--in our spaghetti (as he was talking, I couldn't help but think of that movie Elf, where Buddy puts maple syrup on spaghetti, but anyway, I digress). And it's SO true! We have gotten a much sweeter diet over the years--and we're seeing it in the obesity and diabetes in our patients. With all my chemistry background, I can't say that HFCS is inherently WORSE for you than a similar amount of sugar--chemically they're both made of fructose and glucose, albeit chemical bonds and percentages of each may vary (see this article for more information. They reference several scholarly articles in the comments, so check those out, too). To make a claim like that, I'd have to do a lot of research and hear both sides of the story. But, if we want to go back to the times when diabetes was MUCH less prevalent, we need to start cooking like it--not by just substituting sugar for HFCS but cooking without extra sugar at all.

Here's an extended clip
. According to, it actually run about 88 minutes. Maybe I need to put this on my wish list...hmm... It cuts the movie off with about 20 minutes to go, but I had heard enough. There's no way that I'm feeding my kids all that sugary crap you get in the stores--and the meat! Don't get me started on that. My first thought watching all those feedlots was, "Man, it reminds me of a concentration camp--except they're fattening for slaughter as opposed to starving for the gas chamber." There's just NO way that's healthy--and I don't want to be eating sickly animals! Oh, and they brought up my pet peeve--OVERMEDICATION and OVER-USE OF ANITIBIOTICS. Parents do it all the time--rather than let kids get the occasional cold, let their own immune system do the work and support it, they want a pill. Same with meat production. Rather than let animals live in sanitary (not sterile!!!) conditions as they were meant to, we stick then in an environment that's unnatural which creates problems that we have to "treat." Keep them from getting sick in the first place! Duh! And yes, they brought up my immediate concerns about diabetes later in the movie--I was right! Anyway, watch and enjoy. I really liked this movie because despite the bias, they weren't screaming and yelling and bemoaning the horrors of HFCS and feedlots. Basically, it's just presented and you can made a decision for yourself.

3. Getting rid of Japanese Beetles. If I remember correctly, it was about this time every year that my parents' grapes got pretty hole-y from all the Japanese Beetles. According to this article by Mother Earth News, you can feed them to pond fish and chickens will help keep them cleaned off. However, I'd be careful of the scent traps. I've heard multiple places that traps tend to just attract every beetle in a mile-radius, lol. This is really confirming my idea of putting a "chicken run" around my grapes and orchard trees to keep down the beetle and bug population. Having the fruits and grapes up several feet off the ground should hopefully keep the chickens from eating the fruits (I'll probably need to walk through and knock the beetles to the ground for the chickens) and the chickens will have some overhead protection from hawks. They were always a problem as a kid, but so long as they don't have a long, clear shot from which to "dive-bomb" and stun the chickens, they were fine.
4. Better Eggs from Grass-Fed Chickens. Here's an article from Mother Earth News on how much healthier home-grown eggs are for you--way less cholesterol and gobs more vitamins and good stuff. They sent grass-based egg production farms' eggs to an independent lab and compared them to industry averages. The grass-fed chickens' eggs won hands-down. I always noticed how much YELLOWER the yolks were from our own chickens! I don't need to feel guilty about eating the yolks. :)

5. Recycling old tires. Well, from The Deliberate Agrarian, he used the side-walls from old tires as the weights on some plant cloches. I was thinking that I saw some plans for making sandals out of tires and wondered if they used the treads or not. I'm happy to say that they do! And apparently they were all the rage back in the 70s. Now, I'm hard on my sandals and normally made a (boys) pair trudge through about 3 years before the give up the ghost (girl's are just too flimsy for me). I found about four different styles, but I like the flip-flops the best. Talk about grip! :) I think the carpet would just be a little too smelly for me (I want to wear them outside and get them wet!) so I'd swap for a Dr. Scholl's insert and glue the shoe-goo it in. Here are three more plans. Plan 1. Plan 2. Plan 3.


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