Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mark's Coop Construction Campaign - Your Help Needed!

ReMARKable Eggs

First, I want to thank everyone for the encouraging words, thoughts, and prayers for Joshua.  We had our family therapy time last Thursday and I was much more hopeful that he is starting to calm down and "work" the program at Benchmark.  Thank you!  

Second, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!  We are going morel hunting this afternoon and I can't wait!

Third, Mark is graduating from high school next month!  We have started Mark's Coop Construction Campaign on a GoFundMe page to help get his business up and running.

We need your help!  Any donation would be greatly appreciated.  Share Mark's Coop Construction Campaign with any of your friends that might be willing to help "Fund a Farmer" and support local food.  

ReMARKable Eggs Mission:  

To provide flexible employment for Mark while using sustainable farming practices to produce pastured eggs for our family, friends, and community. 

I am keeping this post short (call your mom!) but there is lots more information about the Campaign at the Mark's Coop Construction Campaign GoFundMe site and on ReMARKable Eggs website.  

As always, we will be posting on our ReMARKable Farms Facebook page so "like" us and watch us grow!

If you have any questions about the Campaign or the egg business, don't hesitate to reach out to Denise at denise@remarkablefarms.com

Thank you!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Where's Joshua?

Consider this another late Autism Awareness post (April is Autism Awareness month).  This post is not going to be anything about the farm.  It is about our youngest son, Joshua.  He is also diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (which is a developmental disability) but I have suspected for a while that he also deals with some mental health issues.  He is 14 (will be 15 on May 14th).  In January 2018, I could tell that Joshua was starting to have a lot of anxiety.  I got him set up with some mental health counseling.  He was in 8th grade at the time and was worried about the transition to high school.

His anxiety and behavior continued to escalate until we ended up in the Emergency Room in March 2018.  He was admitted to Kootenai Behavior Health (KBH) in Coeur d'Alene.  Usually, individuals stay there for 7-10 days.  Joshua was there for 3 weeks and they said that he would actually need to go to a more long-term treatment place.  We refused this and brought him home.  We tried more medication management.  I was working with Department of Health and Welfare Crisis Prevention to try and find supports to help Joshua (but there were none available).

We ended up back into the ER 3 more times over the next 3 months.  KBH seemed to be refusing to take him back so he would just have to come back home to us.  One time, he was waiting in the ER for 2 days for placement and we got to meet with a social worker.  I was hopeful that maybe she would have access to some resources that I did not know about.  However, we were just told that Joshua was fine and that we needed parenting classes...this was VERY upsetting.

Finally, in late July, we tried a new medication that really helped to mellow out the behaviors.  We made it to school in August and things took a good turn at this point.  He seemed to really like the high school and had a great support system there.  We finally found a Habilitative Interventionist (HI - this is a fancy way of saying "someone who works with kids with behaviors" to work with Joshua in September.  We had a couple of good months.

In November 2018, I could see that things were taking a turn again.  I had a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) completed on Joshua.  This assessment basically said that all Joshua's behaviors are a result of his lack of executive functioning skills.  I was given a book to read, Smart but Scattered.  I did read the book and it was a great resource.  BUT...I felt like I had already done about 90% of the suggested activities to help Joshua.  The behaviorist that did the FBA had moved out of state so he was no longer available to help us.
Also, in November, I was working with Liberty Healthcare.  This organization determines eligibility for developmental disability (DD) services.  For example, the HI services that we were getting are a DD service.  They asked if Joshua had a mental health diagnosis.  I gave them a copy of some testing we had completed when Joshua was 7 years old stating that he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  He looked at it and said he could not use this testing because the person doing the testing did not have the correct credentials.  So, I started calling around to see how we could pursue better mental health testing for Joshua.

In December, Joshua decided that he did not want to go to school anymore and would run away from school.  This involved me calling the police several times to try and track him down and it was just a big mess.  His behaviors at home were getting more aggressive too.

The Christmas break went well and I thought we had a good amount of time to "reset" and get back on track.  Unfortunately, the behaviors just ramped back up when school started again.  He ended up assaulting a teacher and we were told that the school district was going to pursue prosecution.

The next week, Joshua assaulted a student at school and was sent home (out of school suspension).  When I was home with him that afternoon, Joshua tried to assault me in our home with a knife.  I had to call 911 and the sheriff came out and took Joshua to the Detention Center in Lewiston.

It is so difficult to determine what is autism and what is puberty and what is hormones and what might be a mental health issue.  I finally did find that the WSU Psychology Clinic could do the mental health testing that we needed.  However, Joshua was already "locked up" so we could not get him there to do the assessment.

The prosecuting attorney ordered some testing for Joshua to determine if he really understood the consequences of his actions.  Basically, we were trying to determine if his developmental disability limited his understanding of his behaviors and their consequences.  It is all just so confusing.

At the end of January, I was talking more with Children's Mental Health and was told about a program that I could apply to for residential treatment.  I didn't want to do this but things were not safe in our home and Joshua needed some intensive treatment that we just could not provide.  The HI that had been working with him since September said he had tried everything he knew to do and just couldn't make any progress.

I applied and Joshua was accepted for residential treatment.  Now, we needed to find a placement.  Idaho does not really have this type of resource available (I think I was told that there is one residential treatment center in Idaho and it is always full and would not be appropriate for Joshua).  The Department of Health and Welfare sent out 3 applications and Joshua was accepted to Copper Hills Youth Center near Salt Lake City, Utah.  They specialize in working with adolescents with Autism and Mental Health issues.  I had actually heard from 2 different people that this facility has a great reputation.

On March 18, I flew with Joshua down to Salt Lake and he was admitted to Copper Hills.  Do I even need to state that this was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do?  Dropping my child off at some facility 600 miles away from home?  I know this is the best thing for Joshua and our family at this time but that doesn't make it any easier.
Joshua hanging out at hotel the night before we went to Copper Hills for admission.
Unfortunately, Joshua continued with poor behaviors and he was kicked out of this facility.  Luckily, they have a "sister" facility in the same area that works specifically with kids with more severe behaviors.  Joshua has been at Benchmark for just over two weeks now.  He had a lot of behaviors again the first week but seems to have calmed down now.  We have weekly family counseling via the phone.  The average stay is 12-18 months. We already have plans to go and visit him.  He has to earn this privilege and it will probably take several months before we are allowed to visit.

The million dollar question for me is "Why?".  I don't understand why he feels the need to attack us but mental health disorders are often irrational.  Let me say how grateful we are for this intervention.  We are SO happy that he was been approved for residential treatment and that he was accepted into the Copper Hills/Benchmark program.  This kind of feels like our last ditch effort to get help for him.  I just wanted to put this out there so people understand what we have been dealing with.  I know we are not alone.  We had a really rough patch with Mark a couple of years ago and I just met with a good friend last week for coffee and she is having similar issues with her teenage son.  If you are the praying type, please, say a prayer or send some positive energy to Joshua.  I just have hope that he will get the treatment he needs so he can be successful and come home.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

ReMARKable Farms website is up!

On the Farm

Head over to www.remarkablefarms.com and check out our new website!  You can click on the tabs at the top of the page to read some background about the me (Denise), Mark and the Farm.

Any editing suggestions to the website would be appreciated.  I will probably change the design in the future.  Right now, it's getting busy with the garden and getting Mark's business going.  Lately, my mind is going about 100 miles an hour lately.  So excited to get the farm started this year but also so anxious that we might do something wrong!

This is also a time of big transition for our family.  Mark will be graduating from high school IN 2 MONTHS and living with us full time.  This adds a new dimension to our lives.  You may be thinking..."What's the big deal?"  Well, it's kind of hard for me to put into words but for the last 15 years, Mark has gone to school most days for several hours.  Now, he will be home all the time.  I want him to continue to learn and have a fulfilling life.  I am probably putting too much pressure on myself.  I read this in Proverbs last week and it just reminds me to take it one day at a time...

Speaking of taking it one day at a time, this week the fencing is going in!  We are trying to get a perimeter fence around the property. The good news is that about 3/4 of the property is already fenced!  The bad news is that there is still a significant part to fence in and it's expensive (isn't everything...)

Next, we are extending a water line out into the area where the chicken coops will be so we don't have to carry water long distances.

After the fencing and water lines, it may be time to work on the coops!


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Winter 2019 farm update...

Here is an update of what we did over Winter 2019:

First, if you don't live locally (Moscow, ID), it is important to let you know that we had a record amount of snow this year.  Most of it came in February.  I think I heard estimates of up to 50 inches of snow over the winter.  Here are the water trough raised beds to show the depth of the snow.

This picture was taken on March 1st...
This picture was taken yesterday (March 24th)...things are melting nicely...
I took the covers off the large round water trough and the spinach that I planted last fall looks amazing!  It looks almost exactly like it did last fall before I put the covers on.  The walking onion is starting to take off too (back center of picture).  The weather has really warmed up so I expect that we will be able to start harvesting spinach soon!

I experimented with growing lettuce inside.  I started some in December.  It worked really well!

We made some time to go snow tubing at Silver Mountain! We also did some tubing in our own front yard due to all the great snow we got!
Mark and Henry getting ready to "tube" down the hill.
I experimented with making my own soap.  This is an olive oil based soap.  I used oil infused with calendula flowers (that is why it is kind of an orange color).  It just finished curing and I got to use some for the first time right before I started working on this blog!

We continue to work on diet and exercise.  I have been taking Mark swimming and he really enjoys it.  I thought I took a short video of Mark swimming but I must have deleted it by accident.  
It looks like we are on the right track with the weight loss.  Yes, there are some ups and downs and we plateaued for a little bit but we seem to be back on track now...I would say he has lost about 15 pounds at this point.  Still would like to see him lose another 55 pounds...I know that seems like a lot but with warmer weather coming, we should be able to get out and exercise a little more.

Sad news...the bees did not make it.  Yes, these are all dead bees that were at the bottom of the Langstroth hive.  My top bar hive did not make it either.  I cleaned out the hives yesterday and have already ordered new bees (hopefully, they will be available on April 13th!).  I will harvest some honey from the top bar hive so that is a nice thing to look forward to.

Lastly, I spent some time yesterday measuring and flagging our "front" yard where we are going to be building our poultry coops.  
Here is a low area of the property where some water has accumulated.  I have marked it so it can become a small duck pond.
I also had someone out last week to get an estimate on fencing and extending a water line out to the coop areas.  It is both exciting and super scary to move forward with the poultry egg business.

Looking forward to warmer temperatures!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

New apple jelly and sunflower for Farmer's Market

In the Kitchen

I am starting to think ahead to the Farmer’s Market this summer.  I just received a packet in the mail from the City of Moscow sent out to all potential vendors each winter. There’s a mandatory orientation in April and they are also doing site visits. I don’t know if this is a new thing. I’ve never had a site visit before. Something to look forward to, I guess.

 Last fall I was able to collect enough apples to make apple cider jelly and apple pie jam which I’m planning to take to market. Here’s a picture of the different apples that we have on the property. The last apple is a type of crab apple which is completely inedible. Crab apples are used in orchards because they have a long bloom time. Most apple varieties need to be cross-pollinated so having a long bloom time is a bonus for getting good fruit set. 

Here is a picture of the different apples that we have on the property.  The majority of the apples are Ben Davis apples. That is the first apple in the line up (far left).

The other apples, I am not sure about.  The last apple is a type of crab apple and is completely inedible.  Crab apples are used a lot in orchards because they have a long bloom time.  Most apple varieties need to be cross pollinated so having a long bloom time is a bonus for getting good fruit set.

The majority of apples are Ben Davis –the first apple in the line-up on the far left. The Ben Davis was one of the most popular apples in the United States in the late 1800’s and “one  of if not the most important commercial apple at the time.” (Mother Earth News). The world’s most famous apple producer of the time, Frederick Wellhouse of Leavenworth, Kansas, (they called him “The Apple King), stated that the Ben Davis was his most profitable apple. This was high praise from a man who dominated the industry for 30 years. The Ben Davis did not win such high regard for taste, which was usually described as “cotton-like” or tasteless. When it comes right down to it this was an apple that fit a certain need at the time. Fruit lovers required an apple that would put up with rough handling and be able to be stored without refrigeration until cherry season in June. Who would want to peel and can hundreds of pounds of fruit if they could simply store the whole lot in a barrel in the cellar?  In fairness to the Ben, it does get much better in storage. By  January the Ben Davis Apple had softened from a rock-¬like state to something resembling a Jonathan apple. Its taste had mellowed and it made a decent pie

Our neighbor told me that this orchard was planted to have apples to make apple cider vinegar.  I guess there used to be a processing plant for this in the area at one time.

In the Field

 I placed my sunflower seed order a couple of weeks ago. I opted to try White Lite seed this year which is the only new one I ordered. It has a white petal and white center.  I tried White Nite last year. That one has while petals and a brown center.
The only thing I did not order was more of is the PorCut Peach.  It looked beautiful but the bugs loved it and ruined it by chewing little holes in the petals.  I still have seed left over from last year and I plan to go ahead and plant it to be used as a trap crop to keep the bugs off the other flowers.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Seed saving and giving...

In the Garden

There are many benefits to saving your own seed.  Of course, there is the obvious benefit of saving money!  The seeds you save will be better adapted to grow in your region/environment.  Growing heritage seeds allows for more diversity in our food supply.

Here is a nice blog article:  40 Reasons to Save Seeds.

Do your research.  Some seeds require certain protocols for saving i.e. fermenting tomato seeds.  Also, you cannot keep seeds of hybrid plants because they were made by crossing two plants and so the seed will not be true to the parent.  

I didn't get around to saving as many seeds as I had hoped but it was also my first big year of gardening so I had lots of things to monitor.  

Here is a list of things I did keep: 
a flowering tobacco plant that I just LOVE the color of
dill (I also shook the plant really good to try and get it to self seed)
broccoli (although I did buy a new broccoli so I am not sure I will actually grow these)
a green frilly lettuce (I need to do a better job of labeling things too)

Our library in Moscow started a seed library last year.  I finally got around to checking it out this winter.  
The idea is that you can take some seeds and leave some seeds.  I took some lemon balm and Cinderella pumpkin seeds.  I left some arugula and calendula seed.  They have very nice directions on how the library works.

I have already placed one seed order and it was about $50.  I still have more seeds to order!  It is just way too much fun to sit and look at the seed catalogs and dream about the garden...


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Tea time and tinctures...perfect for a cold winter's day...

In the Kitchen

A short post on herbal tea and some tinctures I am experimenting with...


Last year, I grew an herb garden right outside of our kitchen door.  I also planted herbs out in the vegetable garden among the veggies.  Here is a picture of chamomile growing among some broccoli plants.  The chamomile has the little yellow and white flowers.  I would pick off little flower heads and dry them to make chamomile tea.

Taken from herbwisdom.com:
Chamomile has been used for centuries in teas as a mild, relaxing sleep aid, treatment for fevers, colds, stomach ailments, and as an anti-inflammatory, to name only a few therapeutic uses. 

Anise hyssop

Another herb I grew was called anise hyssop.  I have to say that I did not know a lot about anise when I planted it.  Just that I had read a lot about how great it was.  It has pretty purple flowers that bloom late in the season and the bees seemed to really love it.  I picked and dried the leaves to make a tea.  It has a licorice type flavor.

Taken from 104 Homestead:
Hyssop is often times uses as a cough and cold remedy, usually in the form of a tea. It loosens mucus, aids in congestion, and lessens the symptoms colds, flu, sinus infections, and bronchitis.

There was also this recipe on the 104 Homestead website:
Feel a cold coming on? Try this recipe.

1 tbsp. dried hyssop flowers or 3 tbsp. of fresh
8 oz. water
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. lemon
Steep flowers in boiling water in a covered container for ten minutes. Add lemon (optional) and honey. Honey can be adjusted for optimal sweetness.

I did not dry the flowers so now I am wondering if I did this wrong..well, the leaves make a nice tea too!


Here is a picture of how I dried the flowers.  I just picked off the petals and let them sit out until they were crispy.  These are marigold petals.  I also hear calendula referred to as marigold.  I dried a lot of calendula petals.
Taken from mamaandbabylove.com:
Marigold tea is great for fussy, colicky babies, fevers and tummy aches. It’s also great for healing trauma and big stressors, since it’s super calming to the nervous system. 

I found this graphic on the draxe.com website.  Not sure you can read it but click on the link and you can go to the article.


I didn't actually grow the roses but we have lots of wild roses around the property so in the fall I would go and harvest some.  I made a tincture with the rose hips by placing them in some 100 proof vodka and letting it sit for 6 weeks.

Taken from organicfacts.net:
The health benefits of rose hips include their ability to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, relieve respiratory conditions, prevent cancer, lower cholesterol, manage diabetes, increase urination, regulate digestion, boost the immune system, increase circulation, and help in building stronger bones.


I planted quite a bit of comfrey in the food forest.  There are so many benefits of comfrey that it should probably be it's own blog post.  

Taken from motherearthnews.com:
The most common medicinal use of comfrey are in poultices to help heal swellings, inflammations and sores. 

Here is a pic of how I dried the comfrey.  The leaves were so large that I just pinned them to the clothes line until they were crispy.  Then, I made a salve with it to put on closed wounds.


I mostly wanted the catnip for the cat but then I started to read all kinds of great info about it's medicinal properties.

Used in traditional medicine in Europe for centuries, and first mentioned in the poetic 11th century herbal, De viribus herbarum, catnip was prized for its ability to calm occasional nervousness and promote restful sleep. It was employed as a relaxant and diaphoretic, and was thus helpful in cases of occasional restlessness Considered extremely useful for children, it was often used to support healthy digestion and soothe the stomach. 

I had also read that catnip tincture makes a great bug repellent.


I planted yellow and white yarrow plants (I think the yellow one is a hybrid type).  Each one had different types of leaves too.  I harvested the flowers and some leaves to dry.

Taken from wellnessmama.com:
Yarrow is one of my go-to herbs for children. It is helpful in relieving fevers, shortening the duration of cold and flu, helping improve relaxation during illness, and relieving cramps associated with hormones or illness. Applied topically, it is helpful with skin itching, rash or other issues.

An external tincture or poultice will often help with hemorrhoids, rashes and broken skin. Some people will notice relief from allergy symptoms by drinking a tea of yarrow and mint.


Of course, you can't forget the mint.  It is a plant that I brought over with us from the rental house.  I have it in a pretty shaded area so my hope is that it will not take over the whole herb garden.

Taken from organicfacts.net:

These were just a few of the herbs I grew.  I use them to make simple teas to drink and I also made some tinctures and oils.  To make a tincture, put the dried/fresh herb in a jar and fill with 100 proof vodka.  To make an infused oil, used a dried herb and cover it will olive oil.  Shake every day (that you think of it) and let it sit for 6 weeks and then strain.  I am over simplifying this but I think you get the idea.