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Becky Proske

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since Jan 16, 2013
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foraging tiny house food preservation cooking medical herbs homestead
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Participated in a restoration agriculture PDC at New Forest Farm (6/2013).
Wisconsin, USA (zone 4b)
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Recent posts by Becky Proske

Janet Wolff wrote:I looked up the Gallium.  I believe we have that growing here in the PNW. I'm currently studying to tell the difference between the healthy and more toxic varieties. The easy way, so far, seems to be the size of the flower and the leaves. The good Gallium seems to have leaves that are a little more varied in size all over the plant. I'm excited to learn more about this!

One of the easiest ways to identify cleavers is by touch. It clings to everything like Velcro, even when the plant is green and growing. Cleavers exhibits this trait the most out of the galliums (and look alike gallums) that I've encountered. Once you know it, it's hard to mistake.

I've heard that cleavers seed could make a coffee substitute. Glad to hear someone is trying it out!

Personally, I stopped drinking coffee long ago and now love my herbal teas. But I do enjoy a good rich dark earthy brew now and then, especially in autumn. My favorite way to achieve a satisfying complexity of flavor and richness is with chaga tea, roasted dandelion and/or burdock root plus hickory nut milk.

I make the chaga tea separately and brew it on low in a crockpot for several hours (or all day). I leave the chaga chunks in the liquid while it cools overnight in the fridge. This is my lazy way to do a "double extraction" to get the most medicinal benefits out of the mushrooms. The process can be repeated with the same chaga chunks, but subsequent batches will be weaker and lighter in color. The first batch will be really dark, looking very much like coffee in appearance. This method makes a concentrated brew. I like to freeze it for later and use it in small amounts while cooking or mix it with other ingredients when I want a warm nourishing drink. We make hickory nut milk separately too, and quite often have some of that canned or in the freezer as well. Just chaga and hickory nut milk alone can make a very satisfying drink unique in flavor. It could rival coffee, in my opinion.
5 months ago

Matthew Nistico
@Becky Proske - Excellent post!  I award an apple : )  I appreciate how you've followed up each of your ideas with enough detailed instructions so that someone could recreate your own efforts for themselves.  And that you explained the reasoning behind why you think each of your ideas was worth trying in the first place.  Very thorough and well considered.  I will have to try your herbal tea mouthwash for myself, as soon as I can get my hands on the fresh herbs!

Hi Matthew,
Thanks for your comments! I've been meaning to get back to this thread because I've learned a couple more things since my post.
I still really enjoy using the homemade herbal mouth rinse and lately I've been adding dried kelp and white oak back to the mix. Matthew Wood in his Earthwise Herbal Volume II gives an insightful description to the astringent properties of oak bark. According to him, oak bark is very helpful to the gums, teeth and jaw tendons. I agree with the mention of oak bark, oatstraw and horsetail as other beneficial options to use. Avena (oats) and Equisetum (horsetail) are both high in silica, which is supportive of bones and joints. Both would make great additions to an herbal mouthwash. I now add a small piece of kelp for the rich amount of minerals it provides. A pinch of natural sea salt could also work too.

I also learned from my holistic dentist that massaging the gums will help release tension in the tissues and allow them to regenerate. I have not been good at remembering to do this for my TMJ, so I can't speak to the effectiveness of this idea. But I thought it was curious and a very simple way a person could possibly help their gums.

I recently came across the idea of putting egg shells in with lacto-fermented veggies to harness the calcium through the brine. This makes sense to me, since it would likely be a more bio-available form of calcium. An interesting idea for those of us who don't always have good access to fresh raw dairy in their diet. Will have to experiment with this one.
6 months ago
Alana Rose,

I once bought a secondhand Kleen Kanteen insulated food thermos off the internet and was surprised how flowery it smelled when I received it, like something artificial and probably inedible was kept in it. The unappealing smell persisted even after I washed it and stored it with the lid on. It took me awhile to get rid of the smell. I first sprinkled a bunch of baking soda inside, put the lid on and left it for about a week. Then I washed it again, put the lid on and waited a day before giving it another sniff test. If I could still detect the smell, I repeated the baking soda process, plus aired it outside in the sun on very warm days. Eventually this cleared up the smell and I felt comfortable using it for food. Frustrating purchase, but it was fixable. Hope this offers a way to approach your situation with the instapot.

And I would not advise using steel wool. I've added more scratches to a secondhand ss skillet once with that idea, and it was many more than one would want.
6 months ago
Shae Cunningham

Could you also use sheep fleece directly? Allow the chicks to nestle into it?

The lanolin in raw fleece would concern me. Maybe it'd be okay for ducklings and goslings, but even there I might still hesitate. Wool roving might be better.

I think a key feature to the wool hen brooder box is having the insulation hanging above the chicks. I wonder if the chicks would have a hard time moving around in the wool fleece if it was on the ground... but maybe there are ways to make the idea work.
7 months ago
This reminds me of the following video. I thought it was clever. I would certainly enjoy hearing how the idea works out for your turkey chicks.

7 months ago
Congrats on your first big batch of ghee! Sounds like you did really well.

In a class I took with Goddess Ghee I learned to look at ghee making as a purification process where the "impurities" (ie: water, lactose & casein) are removed from the butter to make a pure oil. What is left in the pan when ghee is finished is concentrated lactose and casein. This could upset the stomach for those who are sensitive to dairy in this way and I just want to point that out. In my opinion, the leftovers are probably best for the compost pile. I've tried at times to save and utilize the stuff from the bottom of the pan, but never really found it to be very appealing. The prime stuff is the ghee you just made and for good reason. It's beneficial for gut health, rich in fat-soluble vitamins and has a high smoke point.

I can not speak to how long ghee will last because I use it up too quickly! I do refrigerate my ghee when I make my own, even though I know I don't need to. I also keep my ghee refrigerated when I open a new jar to help preserve the flavor. Moisture will cause ghee to spoil, so I aim to keep my ghee at an even temperature as much as possible, even when open.

Ghee should have a long shelf-life if all the water has been evaporated from the butter. A good way to know you've accomplished this is to caramelize the solids at the bottom of the pan. By that point, all the moisture should have evaporated. This also gives the ghee a really great nutty flavor and brown color. I've done batches where I didn't cook the butter as long and the final ghee was golden yellow in color, more akin to clarified butter. I will say, in comparison, I don't think those batches tasted as good and didn't keep as well even when refrigerated. They seemed to go off in flavor a lot quicker.
8 months ago
For a long time, Arthur Firstenberg, author of the book: The Invisible Rainbow, has been sharing research about the impacts of electromagnetic fields on people, wildlife and insects from around the world.

I found the follow excerpt fascinating, where Arthur explains how honey bees and flowers communicate on an electromagnetic level. This is taken from his newsletter: The Most Dangerous Technology Ever Invented Part Two.

"When honey bees perform their waggle dance to inform one another of the location of food sources, it is not only a visual dance but an electromagnetic one. During the dance they generate electromagnetic signals with a modulation frequency between 180 and 250 Hz. And they send another kind of signal, which has been called the "stop" signal, up to 100 milliseconds long, at a frequency of 320 Hz. The stop signal is used when the colony already has too much food, and it causes the dancers to stop dancing and leave the dance floor. Uwe Greggers, at Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, discovered that bees will start walking and actively moving their antennae in response to artificially generated electromagnetic fields that imitate these natural signals, even in the absence of any visual or auditory cues. Bees whose antennae he had removed or coated with wax did not respond to these signals.

Pollination is also dependent on electromagnetic communication --between bees and flowers. Bees carry positive charge on their bodies from flying in the global atmospheric electric field, while flowers, being connected to the earth, carry a negative charge. Dominic Clarke, at the University of Bristol, has proved that not only does this facilitate pollen transfer from flowers to bees, but that bees sense and are attracted not only to the colors of flowers but also to the distinct patterns of their electric fields. The electric field of a flower diminishes immediately after being visited by a bee, and other bees "see" this and only visit flowers whose electric field is robust. While honey bees see the fields with their antennae, bumble bees see the fields more with the hairs that cover their bodies, which not only make them such distinctive creatures but also function as a kind of antenna."

Reading Arthur Firstenberg's newsletters can be depressing. But they are chocked full of research information linking the interference of man-made electromagnetic fields on the natural world around us. I like to balance this heavy news with info I find on men and women who are working on promising solutions. One of my favorite examples is Dr. Ibrahim Karim's research and the successful results his team achieved in a regional-wide trial of electro-smog mitigation conducted in two Swiss towns, Hemberg and Herschberg. What I appreciate most about the Biogeometry approach is the desire to elevate the wireless / electrical technologies that already exist in our modern world into something that supports natural vitality (life) instead of denaturing it and causing harm.

At any rate, I think the state of electromagnetic fields is something to consider in relation to the health of pollinator populations. The effect of increased man-made electromagnetic fields is something to consider as a link to the odd fluctuations and decline in pollinators witnessed by so many observers. This awareness requires a more responsible use of such technologies.

Links for those interested:

Arthur Firstenberg's book: The Invisible Rainbow, A History of Electricity & Life

The Most Dangerous Technology Ever Invented Part Two

Dr. Ibrihim Karim's work

Thank you.
10 months ago
I used the GE LED white grow light mentioned previously in the thread. To me, it still seemed to give off a pinkish hue, but not bad, it was livable. All in all, it's a good bulb for the price and seemed sufficient. It made my fig break dormancy in January and I got to enjoy sights of growth when most appreciated ;) Funny thing tho ...I was in a pinch for time and money last fall and ended up putting the bulb in a brooder lamp which I hung from the ceiling. Not exactly the best aesthetics, but cheap and effective... might be a "you know you're a permie type thing" ;) It was hung over a table and I found the light to be fine for writing, reading, eating etc. It wasn't too harsh like some LEDs can be. Because the plants where near a south window, I put the light on a timer with dual settings and used it for a few hours in the morning and evening during the winter months. I only kept a few plants under it. The fig was the largest. I also set my plants on stands to elevate them and put them closer to the light. The fig was about 6 inches away from the bulb.

One thing to remember with most grow bulbs like this, is they are wide (flood type) and need a wide lamp holder.
I have found GE 60 watt incandescent plant light bulbs locally, which will fit into a normal socket of most lamps. I plan to try this next with the secondhand lamps I found (table top and floor stand with goose neck). The downside, is this type of plant lighting is more like a spotlight verses the slightly wider reach that is possible with a flood light, but it's a little more aesthetically pleasing and affordable.

I still drool over the Soltech Solutions Aspect light.

I also really like what Modern Sprout offers, especially the growframes and the growbar which can be mounted in a bookcase and not appear too obtrusive.

I think indoor plant lighting has come a long way these days.
Hope this offers some inspiration :)

Have you ever thought about terrariums?

They are a great, low maintenance way to keep a few houseplants. I love the look of ferns, especially maidenhair ferns, but they can be hard to keep when life gets busy. Terrariums work great for such plants that appreciate even moisture. A terrarium in medium, indirect light can go for months without watering, provided it wasn't over-watered when first planted. It is fun to reuse glass canisters, cookie jars and candy dishes for terrarium gardens. My rule of thumb is the container has to be large enough to fit my hand inside, or else I won't bother. Old aquariums make awesome terrariums too. A piece of plexiglass cut to size can work for a lid on a 20 gallon fish tank.

I'll share a few photo examples of what I'm doing with plants and terrariums right now. First photos are my gotu kola, a tropical herb I grow outside in the summer garden. It likes moist soil. I discovered that it does pretty good indoors under glass and this is how I maintain it through the winter. This plant is in a large glass vase and is covered with an old casserole lid that I found at a second-hand store. I have another gotu kola plant that is not under glass and I've wilted it several times now.

The last photo is a classic terrarium in a candy dish with a rabbit's foot fern and oak leaf miniature fig Ficus pumila 'Quercifolia' I just planted this a few weeks ago, so it's still rooting in, but will be fun to watch grow.

Another houseplant stalwart that I don't see mentioned here is peperomia. They are vast genus of plants with lots of variety. They will do fine with less light and infrequent watering. We have a peperomia obtusifolia at work that is no where near a window and yet it has remained green for years. There is also a Marble Queen pothos in the basement office that has not seen real sunlight in 3 years. Granted, these plants don't really grow much in these locations with artificial light, but with a little water, they keep living. I've been amazed by their steady presence.  Philodendrons are similar to pothos and make good houseplants for easy care in my opinion. I love my philodendron 'Brasil'. I'll also vouch for the peace lily. In my experience, the Domino variety seems to be more resilient than other peace lily plants and it's rather pretty with it's variegation. I've wilted my plant a few times this past spring and it has bounced back beautifully (luckily) and still blooms!

One of my favorite youtubers on this subject is Summer Rayne Oakes of Homestead Brooklyn. Her youtube channel is a wealth of information and a great source of inspiration.

Leslie Russell wrote:Does anyone know a natural remedy for receding gums?

Earlier this year, I came across the suggestion of applying bovine colostrum powder as a paste to the gums. It prompted me do a little further searching to discover why one might consider colostrum for healing in this way.  Apparently it is nutrient dense and contains a large spectrum of growth factors that can support regeneration. Not surprising since the first milk is known to strengthen/establish the immune system of the newborn. Bovine colostrum is listed as a superfood in Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions cookbook and "was highly prized in traditional societies."

Here is a product that I am trying.

I am not super diligent with using it as a paste, but I do kinda think it could be helping. My recent dental checkup showed some improvement in pocket measurements from last year. However, I think many other factors are playing a role here too, like consistent flossing, oil pulling, mindfulness with diet and switching to a homemade tooth powder.

I also use an herbal mouthwash, which I make from calendula flowers, chamomile flowers and plantain leaves. I brew them together as a strong tea (long infusion) and swish a small amount after flossing/brushing. I'll make about a pint of this tea at a time and keep it in the fridge or make a larger batch and freeze the extra in ice cube trays for later use. Somewhere in all my herbal readings I learned that calendula and chamomile where both supportive to gum health by firming up the tissue (gentle astringent qualities). They probably provide some good antibacterial qualities too. I like to include plantain for it's ability to draw out and release toxins from tissues. Again, I'm not super diligent with swishing this mouthwash all the time, but I like the taste and it does make my gums feel good. I'm sure one could add a little mint too, if they preferred.
2 years ago