First Day of Spring 2016

First Day of Spring 2016
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Friday, April 29, 2016

Thundering Hoof Ranch

About two weeks ago I wrote about making Bone Broth.

I have been drinking a cup a day for about a month and look forward to it.  I really believe in the healing powers it has.  I feel great, although I felt fine before I started it.  My only problem was finding the organic bones needed to make it.  I had a friend get me some from her source, but I haven't been able to get them from her yet.  Then on a recent trip to my daughter's house, I noticed this sign.

My other daughter also makes bone broth.  Her neighbor gave her some soup bones to cook.  Guess where they came from?  Yup, Thundering Hoof Ranch.  I took this as a sign to research this place near Berlin, Wisconsin.  I went on their website and found a lot of good information.  I found the principles of the ranch are that they use no antibiotics or hormones.  They use forage based farming which means they use permanent ground covers to protect the soil from erosion and ground water contamination.  They do not use any chemical fertilizer.  The animals are allowed to roam without any unnecessary confinement.

Being impressed with this information, I called to see if they sold bones.  A very nice man told me they do, and they have a farm store which is open on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  I was very happy to make this discovery, and today we took a little drive.  The ranch is less than a half hour from our house.

As we were driving in, I had a little pang of guilt and sadness.  Along the fence line I saw the cutest cows I have ever seen.

Calves on this ranch nurse and stay with their mothers for up to ten months giving them a very strong immune system.

I proceeded into the store and purchased two large bags of bones.  The store not only had beef, chicken, lamb and pork but also spun wool from the sheep and homemade soaps made from the beef tallow.

Two bags of frozen bones.

I never thought in a million years I would spend money on bones, but here they are.  I came home and started a batch of broth, but couldn't think about how I got them and where they came from.  I am not a vegetarian but after seeing these animals I am getting close. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

My Little Oil Diffuser

Essential oils have been around for many centuries.  There is evidence that oils were used in Ancient Egypt, China, Greece and many other countries around the world.  Cave drawings from thousands and thousands of years ago indicate the use of oils.  Now days, everywhere you look there are companies selling essential oils.  Some products aren't actually oils at all but just an essence mostly used for the smell while others are grown and extracted from high quality organic plants.  I am part of a Young Living team, but I am not involved in building a business or being an active member.  I am too old and lazy to do that.  I just love having the access to order high quality products.  I have heard the spiel from other companies, but I feel Young Living is one of the best.  People use oils for physical healing, cosmetics, mental clarity, their pets, safe cleaning products and just about anything else you can think of.  If you have a concern or problem there are millions of combinations and oil blends to try.  I have my favorites, and that is an individual choice.  The internet can help with the best choice for you, or I can put you in contact with someone more knowledgeable than me. 

The reason for this blog is not to convince anyone to use essential oils, but I would suggest looking into them before beginning a prescription drug regiment.   The FDA is very strict about saying a specific oil cures a certain disease, but it doesn't hurt to try them for yourself.  What I do want to mention is a product I have found.  Because I have used essential oils for a while, I have also used the oils in diffusers.  Diffusers are devices where distilled water is mixed with some essential oil.  When you plug it in or provide batteries, a fine mist disperses into the air.  People use it to kill germs in the air, to breath in calming vapors and for air fresheners.  The gadget I found is a small simple diffuser, and it doesn't use water.  It has a small pad on which a few drops of oil are placed.  It runs with two batteries or plugs into a USB port.  We have a USB port in our car, but if you don't have one there are USB plug in's which plug into the cigarette lighter.

The little diffuser looks like a computer mouse.
It has a USB connector or uses batteries.
An adapter for the connection.
Microfiber pad to put the oil on.

We plug it in the car when we travel.  It makes the car smell so good and helps with drowsiness.  A little peppermint smell often helps with car sickness. Some lemongrass is invigorating.   It works better than any car deodorizer especially the little trees that hang from the rear view mirror.  It is also nice to plug into your computer.  It adds relaxing scents to the air if your working a a project.

Diffusers come at many price points.  This little one is less than $10.  It doesn't appear to be of a very high quality but seems to work great in a small area like a car.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Osprey Nesting 2016

Over the years I have blogged about the Osprey we see in our area of Wisconsin.

It's always a thrill, but I could never get great photos because the birds were either out hunting, too far away or being blocked by branches in our trees.  Fortunately for us, the Green Team working with Alliant Energy has built four Osprey nesting platforms in different locations not too far from our house.  The Green Team is a partnership of several organizations which introduce all the special things Green Lake Wisconsin has to offer.   It is a group of volunteers who dedicate their time and effort for everyone to enjoy events and nature around Green Lake.

The first breeding nest I ever saw was several years ago on the lights of the baseball diamond in downtown Green Lake.   This year a lot of people will have that opportunity.  It seems that three of the four platform sites have attracted a breeding pair of Osprey.  Perhaps there is time for the fourth platform to welcome another pair as well.

Today we saw the Osprey pair who have taken over the Silver Creek Inlet platform along Hwy. A.  I expected a more elaborate nest.  This one looks like a few sticks were brought in and that was good enough.  Maybe they aren't finished with the nest, but she is sitting there looking like she is incubating eggs.  I will report further when they are hatched.  We have the perfect setting for such a platform on our property.  I wonder how we could make that happen.  Wouldn't it be amazing to sit on our deck and see these beautiful raptors nesting?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bluebirds 2016

This is my fourth spring blogging.  Every year I write about the bluebirds.  Until I moved to Princeton, I had only seen a bluebird a couple times in my life.  The first time I saw one up close was the first year we lived here in 2002.  We heard there were bluebirds around, but we never expected to see them.   A friend gave us our first bluebird house, and we put it up the next spring so we could see it from the kitchen window.  One day I was talking to my mom on the phone.  I used to talk to her every single day and sometimes twice.  That was the hardest adjustment I had to make after her death in 2012.  As we were talking I saw a bluebird check out the house.  I held my breath because I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  Those bluebirds stayed and raised a couple of broods.  I was hooked.  Every year since I watch carefully for them to show up in the spring.  It is usually in March sometime.  We even made another duplicate house and put them back to back.  We have had bluebirds in one side and tree swallows in the other.  It doesn't happen often but we leave it as is.

One of the first photos I took of a pair of bluebirds in Princeton Wisconsin.

We have had our ups and downs with the birds.  The weather and house wrens have been our greatest challenge.  Sometimes we lose eggs to the wrens.  I write about my disdain for them every year.  I won't go into that yet again, but if you search the blog for house wren, you will see what problems they cause.  A few years ago we had the bluebirds arrive, but we didn't have any young ones the entire summer.  I have learned a lot to improve the success rate.

Here are some photos from this year.  For the first time ever, the birds have switched houses.  They are living in the tree swallow house.  For some reason, they got there first and the tree swallows aren't fighting back.  The bluebirds are very fussy about the size of their house and especially the size of the opening.  They like it  1 1/2 inches and no larger.  Last winter either the squirrels or woodpeckers made the hole slightly bigger.  That may have been enough to send the bluebirds elsewhere.  Fortunately we had another house that met their specifications only 15 feet away.  This gray-blue house was also given to us by a conservation club.

Damaged birdhouse opening.

This year the bluebirds showed up right on schedule.  I can usually hear them before I can see them.  At that point, I put a few dried mealworms in a a small dish near the birdhouses.  Once they get a taste of them, they usually stay.  It is probably bribery, but it works.

This is the flat blue tray I use for the mealworms.
Another pair have been trying to become neighbors with our nesting pair, but the male doesn't want any part of it.  I think that is why he tries to scare off his own reflection.  He thinks that the bird he sees in the window is his competition.  If it is bright out, he wakes me up about 5:00am with his tapping on the windows of our house.  He moves around to the garage windows and recently the RV sitting in the driveway.  At some point he will stop.  I don't know if it is when the young ones hatch or when he is comfortable with his surroundings.   All I know is that it happens every year and then he settles in.

This is probably another pair trying to move in, but they are always chased off.

I can see why he thinks there is another bird on the other side of the window.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

University of Wisconsin Varsity Band Concert 2016


 Last night, April 16, 2016, we attended the University of Wisconsin Varsity Band Concert titled "We've Done It Our Way".  It was everything we expected and more.  I had seen the band in other smaller venues without the entire band of over 300 students and without all the fanfare.  For those who aren't familiar with this university band, it is amazing.  It is due to all the outstanding efforts by the students but the main reason for their success is the band director Mike Leckrone.  He has been the band director since 1969 and has continued to make being in the band an honored experience and something for every student involved to be proud of.  How these students can participate in over 150 performances throughout this school year and still attend class and succeed in school requires a lot of dedication and hard work.  It surprised me that 35% of the band members are engineering students and only 4% were music majors.

Mike Leckrone is not only a terrific band director and arranger, he is a true showman and performer.  This year he made his entrance with Bucky Badger in a boat sailing down from the ceiling on a wire and landing on the stage.

The show was almost three hours long and included songs from the Eagles in honor of Glen Frye,  Frank Sinatra who Did It His Way, a Richie Valens hit La Bamba, famous TV themes, songs from Les Miserables plus all the favorites Wisconsin fans know and love.  Another big entrance was made by Mike after intermission.  He flew in on a rocket made of cheese.  Wisconsin and cheese go together.

Then if that wasn't enough, this man who is 79 years old, came flying above the crowd on a wire.  He did somersaults and flips as the band played.  It was an amazing sight to see.

I imagine all universities have bands who play at sporting events and major celebrations but I think the University of Wisconsin Varsity Band is unique.  Thousands and thousands of people attend performances throughout the state every year.  It shows that practice makes perfect and they are as close to perfect as they can get.  It will be a sad day when Mike is no longer able to direct the band.  I think he will be a hard act to follow, but his legacy will continue into the next generation.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Benefits of Bone Broth

When I started writing this blog a few years ago, I wrote more about recipes and homemade helpful tips.  Throughout the years we have been so overwhelmed with recipes online, I haven't posted as many of them.  The same is true with homemade products.  I still make my own laundry detergent, deodorant, kefir, sauerkraut and many other things, but all of these recipes or a variation of them are posted daily on facebook, pinterest and other social media.  I started making my own healthy products and living this way because of my situation with uterine cancer.  This is a woman's cancer that doesn't get the media attention the pink ribbon campaign gets, but it is just as devastating for the women involved.  As with breast cancer, there are different types.  Some require very little treatment and others require a lot.  I had a very aggressive type that required surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  I was lucky and it was caught early.  This week it has been nine years since my last chemo treatment.  Doctors have told me that now I am not at any greater risk of cancer than anyone else my age.  Although that is a relief, once you've had cancer it is never far from your mind.  I try to do everything I can to improve my odds of a healthy life.  My husband taught me that there are no such words as always and never.  Instead I use often and seldom, so I admit I often slip and eat junk at times, but overall I try to eat healthy.  It is hard to do, but by making real food I know what is in my meals.  I try not to get carried away and go off the deep end with trends and off the wall ideas.  It has to make sense to me.

Recently I have seen a lot of information about the benefits of bone broth.  Bone broth is the broth that results from slowly cooking meat or poultry bones in water for an extended period of time.  The time depends on the bones.  Smaller chicken bones cook for 24 hours and dense beef bones as long as 48 hours.  This makes sense to me because ever since the discovery of fire and the cooking of meat, people have been cooking bones to get all of the nutrition from an animal and stretch their food supply.  History shows broth being made by the early civilizations.  This food is very easy to digest and is soothing to the gut.  Bone broth contains the vital amino acids of glycine and proline, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates. True bone broth is a rich source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, in easily absorbed forms. It’s also an excellent source of collagen. The gelatin in the bones supports the bones, muscles and joints.

I recently got an email from  They listed the following reasons to drink bone broth.  I sent this to my daughter and told her how good this stuff was especially for leaky gut.  She almost gagged at the words "leaky gut" and "bone broth".  I guess the names don't sound appealing even if it's good for you.  I will have to replace these two terms with better words like stomach and broth.

It Enhances Your Immune System
Bone broth supplies amino acids and minerals that really augment your immune system. The collagen content helps to repair the  lining of your entire digestive system, which not only makes your entire body vastly more efficient, but also more able to handle any bacteria or viruses that may try to sneak their way in.

Anti Inflammatory
Key amino acids like Glycine, Proline and Arginine help to regulate inflammation and how your body responds to damaged tissue. Inflammation is a natural and beneficial reaction in most instances, but if your body isn't in perfect balance, inflammatory responses in the body can get out of hand quickly and cause more harm than good. These amino acids are crucial to keeping inflammation in check and healing damaged tissue to avoid inflammation in the first place.

Speaking of these amino acids, Glycine has another fascinating benefit to our bodies. Glycine can actually 'clean' antioxidants. What this means is, once an antioxidant binds with a free radical, Glycine can restore the antioxidant to a pristine state so it can continue to pull other free radicals from your body. Thankfully, bone broth has large amounts of Glycine.

Rebuilds Your Body
Collagen is the main connective tissue that keeps your body together, quite literally. Every part of your body has collagen in it, and your body is 25-35% collagen. It only makes sense that adding more of this to your body makes it much easier for your body to rebuild itself. The gelatinous aspect of bone broth, what makes it congeal and jiggle, is the rich collagen in it. Consume this connective tissue to make it easier for your body to replace connective tissues wherever they are in your body (hint: they're in every part of you!).

Helps You Sleep
If you consume gelatin before bed, you will find that you sleep much more soundly and your rest is more rejuvenating. The gelatin and collagen being pulled from the bones goes right into you with each cup of bone broth, helping you to sleep better and therefore feel better each day. If you took the effort to get a good bed to sleep on, you should get a good source of gelatin, like bone broth, into your body before you sleep.

Cleanse and Detox
Bone broth helps to fortify your liver with its wonderful Glycine content. By bolstering the connective tissue and also recycling your body's antioxidants, it both strengthens your liver and also makes its job easier. The Glycine in bone broth also helps balance the amino acids in your body, which makes it far more efficient in its use of vitamins and minerals.

Specialty Minerals
We could all do to have more calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium in our bodies. These minerals work together in your body in bone and joint health, nerves and electrical impulses in the body, blood health and many more crucial functions. Bone broth can supply a healthy amount of all these minerals.

Proper Digestion
Not only is bone broth very easily digestible and hydrating, but it also gets rich collagen right to your digestive system, allowing it to repair easier than otherwise. By drinking bone broth, you help to improve and maintain digestive health. If your digestive system is fine tuned, your body absorbs nutrients easier and quarantines the rest of the body from harmful bacteria or particles that have not yet been broken down, dealt with and made safe for the rest of your body through the blood stream.

Fight Cold and Flu
From reducing inflammation to boosting your immune system, bone broth is a truly nourishing dish when trying to fight or prevent colds and flu. It eases symptoms, helps rest, thins mucous, and is a wonderfully healing food.

Don't think you can just go out and buy a box of chicken or beef broth.  Those products are not the same and don't have the same medicinal properties.  You can buy real bone broth online, but it is quite costly.

After reading all about it, I wanted to make some but I couldn't find a good source of organic bones.  I didn't want bones from an animal who was injected with all kinds of things to make it grow fast in unhealthy conditions. After all, I would be boiling these bones to leach out every speck of what was inside.  I didn't want some of that to include bad things.  That would defeat the purpose.  My grandpa Dux was way before his time.  He said that cancer means that cells reproduce themselves  and grow out of control.  He thought by adding hormones and raising an animal from a baby to the butcher shop in just a few months meant they were doing the same thing with the animal.  They were forcing the animal's cells to multiply quickly.  He did not want to eat those animals treated this way.  None of us would if we would think about it, but full disclosure about what we eat isn't always possible.

I finally settled on buying two whole organic chickens from Costco.  I roasted the two chickens and pulled off all the meat.  Then I put all the bones in the slow cooker with a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  I added filtered water, some sea salt, carrots, celery and onion.  This is like making carcass soup but you cook it on low for a full day.   After 24 or more hours, I strained the bones and vegetables out leaving only the broth.  The only problem I had was that it smelled really good cooking during the night and it disturbed my sleep.  I kept waking up smelling food cooking.

This was the best product I could find.  There is so much controversy.  I read recently that "No Antibiotics" means nothing to the consumer.  It said that all animals have to be off antibiotics for a period of time and that no antibiotics can be detected in the system before they go to market.  The article also mentioned that without antibiotics diseases would be spread.  I think the key is there should be no over use of antibiotics and there should be easy testing to find out if the laws are being followed.  Notice the label says No added Hormone...ever but it doesn't say No antibiotics..ever.  Vegetarian fed could mean a lot of things.  If the chickens are fed grains, hopefully they are GMO free to be considered organic, but I can't prove it.  At some point you just have to have blind trust.

This is my second batch of broth.  In my first batch I used unlabeled beef soup bones and it also turned out great. I have no idea where these bones came from or if they were organic but neither did the store employees. 

I have been drinking a cup of broth everyday and really look forward to it.  Even if the benefits are all hype, I like it.  If you want more information about the benefits, all you have to do is search the internet.  There is a ton of information. Here is one example:

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Storage Idea For Batteries

Today's blog is going to be short and sweet.  Recently I saw a great idea on Facebook.  It was a Good Housekeeping post with organizational tips.  They showed how to store batteries in a clear tacklebox.  I thought that would be an easy project, so we took a trip to the lumber store.  Actually we were going there anyway for some other things.  It so happened they had a plastic latching stowaway box in the perfect size.  It was also on sale for $5.83.  When we got home, we gathered all of our batteries.  Most of them were stored in a drawer in the original packaging.  Some had fallen out of the package and were laying loose in the drawer.

Since the compartments in the box are adjustable, they can be placed to fit each size battery.  When we were done, all the batteries were in one place.  It was amazing to me that all of our batteries fit in the box with a lot of room to spare.  Now when we are running low on a size, we can see it at a glance.

The post had all the batteries labeled, but I don't think that would be necessary.  It is pretty obvious which is which.

Latched and ready to put on a shelf.  No more digging for the right sized battery.