7/16/14

Depressed

Remember a few months ago, when I finally figured out that the blisters/rash on my hands were Dyshidrotic Eczema?

This week, Drudge linked a story about a kid who has developed Dyshidrotic Eczema from his iPad. From a nickel allergy. And the comments mentioned nickel being found in foods, as well as computers, jewelry, cell phones, etc., etc. I read the article and started thinking about allergies: Nickel vs. Round-up vs. gluten.  (Yeah, yeah, I saw that smirk. Okay, how about if I amend that to "...did my blond best to think about..." Better?) I wish I knew a good Doctor who didn't believe in "take-this-pill-to-treat-the-symptoms" medicine and would actually work with me to eliminate the CAUSES...instead of me having to do the self-guinea-pig approach. But anyway...

I've been having no end of trouble with my hands lately, even after eliminating Round-up-contaminated foods. I have blisters forming under the skin (you can see them. They're like little white polka-dots), blisters at the surface (painfully itchy. I mean, PAINFULLY ITCHY), and pin-dot scabs that form on the blisters after they pop but before they peel...all together at the same time.  It mainly shows up on my right (dominant) hand, with random, occasional single blisters on my left hand. And while they've gotten much less severe since I changed my diet, they're still there.

I got on my (possibly nickel-containing) computer and Googled "list of foods containing nickel." And copied down the list with my (possibly nickel containing metal trimmed) ink pen. And got really, truly and completely depressed.

I can put my cell phone in a case. I can get rid of the cordless house phones and use plastic-cased wall phones. I can get rid of my favorite ink pens. If I have to, I can wear gloves, like this is the 50's or something. (I'll tell everyone I'm trying to be lady-like...nah, no one who knows me would ever believe me. How about I'm getting in touch with my inner Michael Jackson?  Ewww.)

But the list of nickel-containing foods is just about everything left that I can eat:

Grains

Avoid

Whole wheat bread, multi grain breads, multi grain cereals, wheat bran, wheat germ, whole wheat pasta, oats, oatmeal, buckwheat, seeds, rye, millet
Vegetables
Avoid
Beans, lentils, peas, soy products (tofu, soy sauce, soy beans) sprouts, brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, canned vegetables, red kidney beans, chickpeas, cabbage, corn, mushrooms, onions, carrots
Fruits
Avoid
Canned fruit cocktail, pears, bananas, canned fruits, tomatoes, raisins, rhubarb, dried fruit
Meats
Avoid
Shellfish, herring, mackerel, tuna, processed meats with fillers or coatings, canned meats and fish
Beverages
Avoid
Tea, chocolate milk, beer, red wine

OTHER SOURCES OF DIETARY NICKEL TO AVOID
Chocolate and cocoa powder (especially dark chocolate)
All nuts (walnuts, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, soy nuts)
All seeds (sunflower seeds, linseed)
Licorice
Baking powder
Gelatin
Marzipan
Margarine
Commercial salad dressings
Vitamins containing nickel
Canned foods in general
Stainless-steel cooking vessels used for cooking acidic foods
The first quart of tap water drawn from any faucet in the morning. 

WAYS TO PREVENT YOUR BODY FROM ABSORBING THE NICKEL YOU EAT
Take a vitamin C supplement with each meal.
Eat a high iron diet

Those last suggestions are the only good news of the morning. I'm going to start taking vitamin C with every meal and see if it makes a difference. Can't hurt. Might help. And it is much better than trying to eliminate even more from my diet.

What is the use of having a farm if you can't eat anything you grow???

7/4/14

Happy Independence Day!!!

Here's hoping everyone has a wonderful Fourth!

Sam's coming to visit today. We're planning a big lunch, an afternoon haying, then a bonfire (with s'mores and fireworks.)

Yesterday, we made a last-minute run to ChinaMart (I had run out of ketchup, green onions, and hot dog buns...and I needed balloons for the ginger ale I'm attempting to make.) On the way home, a little brown and black dog (looks like a Cairn terrier mix) walked out in front of the Durango.  She was obviously abandoned and starving.

It took all of us (including Arabella offering a slice of pizza) to coax her to come to us.  She smelled like week-old roadkill, she was coated with ticks, and her skin barely covered her bones. She also is pregnant.

We brought her home, washed her up, de-ticked her, and bedded her down for the night in a spare kennel. Monday, we'll take her to the vet, check her for a chip, and start putting up the obligatory "Found Dog" notices. Based on past experience, I think we have a new dog.


5/25/14

Happy Wear the Lilac Day

Today is the day we celebrate the Glorious People's Republic of Treacle Mine Road.

Truth! Justice! Freedom! Reasonably Priced Love! And a Hard-boiled Egg!

(If you know the reference, sing along with me, to the tune of "Shortnin' Bread": All the little angels rise up, rise up...)

5/22/14

It is Officially Summer Now

The air conditioners are up and running, so I guess summer has officially arrived.

This last week has been crazy busy. Giselle went rock climbing and got her hair cut, Arabella's dog Kipu went in for his summer buzz cut, the girls are coming down to the wire on their next karate test, there was a reenactment meeting, we started breaking up the front walk to re-pour it so it actually leads to the front porch (and found out there were three layers of sidewalk to be broken up!) and Danny's been working daily 12 hour shifts. We've had something going on almost every day! Remember my list of 40-odd chores? Yeah, I got about 10 things crossed off, and added about 15 more. I'm even farther behind than when I started...

Wednesday was so busy, that I (stupidly) decided to eat in town at the local Italian restaurant (yeah, I'm that dumb.) They have reeaally good spaghetti and bread sticks, and the girls were hungry, and I didn't feel like cooking, and, and, and... Anyway, guess who has felt like c**p all today and got nothing done? When will I learn I can't eat non-organic bread or pasta???

Tomorrow is Danny's first day flying for the new employer. Once he's on an actual work schedule, things should ease up. Tomorrow night, we plan on getting up around 1:30 am to see the new meteor shower that is coming through. Saturday, we have a reenactment and have to be up early...but how often do you get to see the very first passing of a meteor shower?! It'll hopefully be worth the missed sleep.

Here soon I hope to be able to start posting more about the farm. We've been working it...some. Mainly infrastructure and maintenance, which doesn't make for exciting blog posts (Today, I weeded the front flower bed. Wow...or not.) When I get another chance to post--probably mid-next week--I should have more to talk about. Until then, stay cool!

5/13/14

27

That's how many trees I fertilized/mulched today. And I have 6 more trees on order (2 each of crabapple, mulberry, and pawpaw.) What was I thinking?!

It is hotter 'n blazes right now. We're expecting a storm to hit sometime this evening, but right now it's muggy and 88 degrees. Since spring decided to be a no-show this year, we've been struggling to get the spring chores done in summer heat.

Before Danny left for Missouri, we pulled the citrus and pomegranate trees out of the basement where they had spent the winter. I went out early-ish this morning, mucked out the main rabbit stall, and fertilized/mulched those four trees. Then I covered the mulch with chicken wire, to keep the dogs out.

One of the first spring chores around here is taking off the barn panels (we close it in every winter with clear poly panels. Lets light in but keeps the worst of the cold drafts out.) I had managed to get some of the panels off, so the front rabbits in cages wouldn't overheat, but hadn't gotten around to getting the panels across the back of the barn, facing the creek. The main rabbit stall was already getting too hot, even though it's in shade.

So Giselle tackled getting those panels off while I mucked out underneath the rest of the rabbit cages. Every time I filled the wheelbarrow, she'd stop and we'd trudge up the hill to the orchard, with her pushing it for me. Then we'd shovel the rabbit compost around the base of each tree. One wheelbarrow-full mulched about 4 to 5 trees. I'll let you do the math.

But we got the trees fertilized just before a good, multi-day rainstorm that can wash the nutrients right into the soil. And the rabbits should be more comfortable. And now, I'm off to the showers. It's karate day and I don't want to go to town smelling like rabbit poo.

[Breakfast: Lemonade. We're out of ice so I couldn't make iced tea and there was no way in heck that I was going to drink hot tea. Lunch: leftover cream of mushroom soup and tuna sandwiches on Irish Soda bread*, both made with all organic ingredients. I didn't have any reaction at all. WHHEEE!!! Dinner: Something cool. Maybe iced tea. Maybe just ice.]

*Irish Soda Bread

(I adapted this recipe from one I found in Cook's Illustrated, which is one of the best all-around cookbooks out there.This is a great quick all-around non-yeast bread. From start to finish, it takes just over one hour to mix and bake. It rises just as high as all the no-knead breads I've seen, with a fraction of the aggravation. You will need a dutch oven, though. I suppose you could use a cast iron skillet and tin foil in a pinch. Cook's Illustrated's original recipe called for cooking it in a cast iron skillet, uncovered, but I didn't like the crust that method produced.)

4 cups flour, minus 2 TBSP
2 TBSP cornstarch, rice starch or arrowroot
2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP melted butter
1 to 1 1/4 cup milk
1 TBSP vinegar
3/4 cup yogurt

Heat over to 400. Oil inside of dutch oven (or skillet). Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry, using just enough to moisten all loose flour.

Turn onto floured counter and shape quickly into round . Dough will not be smooth. Put dough into dutch oven, cut cross in top with sharp knife, cover and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take cover off and return to oven for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, until nicely brown and cooked through (use a cake tester).

I don't know how this bread stores, because we usually eat it immediately. (I did manage to keep some leftovers one time, and they worked great in a strata several days later. But I froze the bread in cubes the same day I baked it.)