Project Springtime Part 1: Making a home for baby chicks. 

I decided to make my cross-town move a little more complicated by adding baby chicks to it. I’m now the proud owner of a black Australorp, a buff Orpington, and an Ameracauna.  They’re nearly a month old and have been perching on the side and leaving the brooder on occasion. Luckily they have very effective alarm peeps and we have had no casualties. 

They’re sturdy birds; the dog, the baby, and the noises of the move were tolerated well from the start. 

I’m feeding them an organic, unmedicated chick feed with grit and occasional scrambled egg treats. I know, feeding them eggs is weird. They go bananas for them and show their true chickeny silliness when it is time for treats. 

So far all that has been necessary is to make the brooder, feed and water them. The brooder consists of 1 large plastic tub with high sides (2 feet) around 2.5-3 feet long, and a special red heat lamp with 2 metal arches around the bulb for protection. I filled the bottom with a layer of pine shavings, and bought both a plastic feeder and waterer, to which I attach glass mason jars. I had a flat thermometer stuck on the inner wall of the brooder for the first couple of weeks to monitor the temperature more closely and keep one corner of the brooder between 85 and 90 degrees F. 

My first brood box was too small. I upgraded to a larger box with higher sides a little over a week ago, and the birds are happier. I also added 2 bricks to elevate the feeder and waterer, and a couple of sticks in case they liked standing on them. They don’t seem to care. They do like perching on the side and leaving bird droppings outside the box. In the above image you can see the old and new brooders, with my ameracauna perched on the side of the new blue one. I have no need for the thermometer any longer, but I did have a burn/melt spot after a couple of days when the bulb was too close to the plastic. It smelled gross (plasticky) when I walked out there, which tipped me off. 

The Australorp seems to be experiencing the pecking order. Her neck feathers are sparse as though she is being picked on. 

Next up for the chickies is a coop. 

Another post about my baby getting over a cold

I know I just posted about how this homeopathic (some of you probably refer to these as “sugar pills”) made a big difference in my baby’s well being. 

That isn’t all that is helping her. I’m also REALLY fond of my Essential Oil diffuser. I’ve used many diffusers, and I like this one the best because the output is higher and it lasts all night. Typically I want the oils diffused during the night, and if it peters out after a couple hours that’s just not good enough. I do sometimes think the oils have all been diffused so I add more, but it’s hard to tell when I’m in the same room all night. I bet if I came in after being outside I would have a different experience. 

Which oils am I diffusing? I’m glad you asked. Mostly eucalyptus oil. I do sometimes add lavender but it hasn’t helped nearly as much as the eucalyptus. 

The first cold she had (this is only the third) lavender worked well. I also didn’t want to try much else. The last 2 have required eucalyptus for opening her sinuses. 

I use about 15-20 shakes of the oil bottle into about 400-500 mL of  water. I do not use the light function. 
The other day when she was more stuffed up I did have to wave the open bottle in front of her. But that gets tricky as she wants to grab everything. No EO on baby hands, too easy to get it in baby mouths or baby eyes. That would be bad. 

Warning: this post may be about sugar pills

Sugar is highly addictive, but you knew that already. That is not the reason I avoid it. 

I have cavities.

But that’s a better intro to a different post. Right now I want to talk about sugar pills. Specifically, homeopathic remedies, which are often in a sugar pill form. 

For the record I would prefer a different form, to avoid the sugar, because I over complicate my response but again, this is for a different post. 

Homeopathic remedies have a bad reputation, I have come to learn. Many people disregard them as worthless, or “no better than placebo.” Placebo does work 1/3 of the time though, right? I’d prefer better efficacy than that, but it’s not bad. And I don’t think the placebo effect works if you do not believe in the remedy whatsoever. 

I have also learned enough about homeopathics to know that I know very little about their use. I can adequately recommend 2 remedies: arnica for soft tissue injury/bruising, and phytolacca for mastitis. I’m able to research more about any particular remedy, just as I would an unfamiliar herb but I often go to others who are more educated about homeopathy and then read extensively before using it.

My baby had a fever up and down for 3 days. Babies, by the way, respond very well to homeopathic remedies. So I looked up the fever remedies, determined which of the 10 patterns fit best and called an experienced homeopath who echoed my recommendation. 

Within about 20 minutes of taking one little sugar pill homeopathic remedy, her mood brightened, her fever dropped and stayed normal the rest of the day. 

Hard to argue with success. Why bother?

Lemon flavored something or other (just don’t call them lemon bars).

My child had a birthday party and I wanted to make a dessert. I decided lemon bars would be just right, but of course nobody uses the ingredients I would use, so I substituted sprouted wheat flour for white flour and xylitol for sugar. 

They’re not bad, unless you think it’s going to be a lemon bar, because then you’ll have this outrageous expectation. It’s a healthy lemon flavored bar, ideologically correct, you might even say. 

It’s very very lemony. My 1 year old tried it and spit it out. 

Steak and mashed roots

I don’t like potatoes. So I mashed turnips and rutabagas instead. Have you ever eaten turnips and rutabagas? I think they get bad raps. They taste great. 

I like to multi-task, but not in the kitchen. This is probably a pretty quick meal to whip up but it took me a while because I prepared one thing at a time. 

Salad: mixed greens, sliced cherry tomatoes, avocado, and bleu cheese dressing. Easy. 

Mashed roots: for 2 adults I selected 8 roots, each was a little smaller than my fist. Cut off the ends, peel them, and chop them into  cubes. Then boil them with some smashed garlic cloves until they’re soft. I used 10, but it was still a very gentle garlic flavor because of the boiling. Drain the liquid, but keep it all in the pot, and smash it with a potato masher. Liquid will emerge! Turn the heat on low, and add some butter, salt, and thyme. Let the liquid cook off a bit, but don’t worry much about it. 

The steaks I chose were Grass-fed NY strip steaks. They were about an inch or so thick. I let them stay out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to get up to room temp, and then I dried them with a paper towel. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Season with salt and pepper, and don’t be shy! I under seasoned them this time. Drizzle them with oil, and place them into a HOT cast iron pan, and then don’t touch them. I like my steaks medium rare so I let them cook on the stove for 5 minutes and then turned off the flame. I topped them with chopped thyme and 1 Tbsp of Kerrygold butter each, and put the pan into the oven for another 5 minutes. 

After plating the steaks, let them rest a few minutes so they stay juicy. Pour a little of the pan drippings from the meat onto the mashed roots. 

Now I’m hungry!

Make your own coconut milk

It’s labor intensive and you’ll need some equipment:


Nut Milk Bag

Wide Mouth 1.5 Pint Ball® Mason Jar is my favorite

Tongs and a gas stove really help.

I’m sure you know how to open a coconut but just in case: hold it over a large bowl, and hit it with the back of a cleaver or large chef’s knife. Turn the coconut so that you are hitting it in a line along the circumference. After a few whacks it will start to break open and fluid (coconut water!) will leak out into the bowl. Keep whacking if necessary to get the halves to split, or pull them apart of you can.

Empty the rest of the coconut water into the bowl. Smell it. It should smell good, and so should the coconut meat. Look at the coconut meat: is it firm? Are there any colors besides white? If it is soft and mushy, but not smelly , was it a young coconut? If it has pink on it, it might be ok to eat. Use your judgment. I had the tiniest bit of pink on mine and I chose to cut that piece off. Some people say colors are ok as long as the odor is good.

Now you have to get the meat out of the shell it’s daunting task. The following method may not be suitable for everyone, but it is what I did. Try it at your own risk, and take precautions! I used my gas stove and set the coconut half on the burner directly. I adjusted the flame to be high enough to hit the coconut but not lick up the sides all the way.

After a few minutes I could hear a hissing sound, which I believe was the coconut oil coming into the coconut bowl. I turned off the heat, held the coconut with tongs and placed an oyster knife in between the meat and shell. The bowl of meat slipped out easily.

I repeated the process with the other half. Then I trimmed the small amount of inner shell off the coconut meat.

Place the 2 coconut halves into a vitamix after cutting them into smaller pieces. Add all of the coconut water. Blend it until it’s smooth. Depending on how much coconut water there was you may need to add a little water.

Pour some into the milk bag, place the milk bag corner over the ball jar, and squeeze. You’ll be left with these two components: a container of dry coconut shreds and a lot of beautiful coconut milk.

It is best immediately. If you save it, refrigerate it. It won’t be as smooth cold because the oil gives it more texture when cold. But it is delicious, and additive free.

The best diapers on the planet, and other related things.

imageI used to envy cloth diapering moms just a little bit. But I have found a diaper I love so much that I no longer feel guilty for not using cloth: Poofs. True to their name, they’re downright magical. They are excellent absorbers, they’re antibacterial and biodegradable and they don’t have the nasty stuff most other disposables have – none of those icky gel/plasticky beads, among other things…

Biodegradable and compostable diapers. Let that sink in.

Also, with Poofs we have had no diaper rashes, no blow outs (except when someone forgot to flare out the edges), and we have a very happy baby. She doesn’t like wearing diapers, or shoes, or clothes for that matter, because she’s a baby and who the heck wants to wear stuff? But in my very scientific comparison of diaper brands, I found she was far more likely to remove other brands of diapers, leading me to believe she liked them less.

I also use compressed dehydrated wipes (also compostable!) by Wysi. They’re about the size of a few stacked nickels, made of vegetable cellulose, and I wet them and unroll them before use. When she was an infant I used Thayer’s witch hazel (rose), and at some point I switched to plain water. I usually only need one or two Wysi wipes, although lately she refuses to lay down for changes, so it’s challenging, but hey doesn’t every baby do that?

Have I mentioned I avoid preservatives? I love the Wysi wipes for that feature. Try finding another wipe out there without preservatives (Spoiler: there isn’t one!)