Solomons Seal- A Shade Loving Herb

Solomon's Seal is a great little shade loving herb. It is a delicate plant that hates the sun, but thrives and spreads in the perfect, shady situation. Closely related to Lily of the Valley, the tiny, white flowers will turn into small black berries.It is debated, but the flowers, leaves, and berries are said to be poisonous while the stem and the root can be eaten or used in medicine. I would suggest researching prior to ingesting this in any way. I hesitated even referring to it as an herb for this reason, but it is technically a very powerful herbal remedy that has been used for thousands of years to treat everything from broken bones and arthritis, to bruising and respiratory issues. 
To learn more about the medicinal uses of this plant, click here.

   You can start this plant from seed, or by planting a piece of the root. It will spread over a few years,    and should be planted in an area that will support this. They require little attention once planted, insects don't seem to bother them. As long as they have shade and slightly moist soil, they seem to thrive. Plus the rich, green color adds so much life to areas that are hard to plant. We have these interspersed with hostas, ferns, and azaleas.


Simply Eggs and Tea Towels *Give-a-Way*

If you have followed Happy Days Farm for very long on social media, you have noticed that we have a healthy obsession with tea towels, a.k.a, kitchen towels or dish towels, as well as our fresh eggs. They both tend to show up in our photographs on a regular basis.
We always have a basket of fresh eggs on the kitchen counter. Since fresh eggs, that have not been washed, can be left out of the refrigerator for up to two weeks, they have become a part of our kitchen decor, just like the tea towels.

Tea towels have been around since the 18th Century in England, where they would be wrapped around tea pots to help insulate them, and used to catch drips before they landed on fine tablecloths.  Tea towels were made of fine linen, and of course were lint free. This enabled them to be used to dry crystal glasses or delicate china. Of course, tea towels were elegant back in their day. This was an avenue for young ladies to demonstrate their embroidery work, as the tea towels could be designed to match the other table linens or even perhaps the china that was being used. 
So, this simple towel was very useful in all households, whether you were a commoner or royalty. In thrifty households, flour sacks would often be re-purposed into tea towels, so as not to waste a valuable source of fabric. Of course, this was a departure from the original linen material that was used, and the beginnings of cotton fabrics being incorporated.
As time passed, as with most other linens, the towels began to be mass produced, and take on new forms. 
Currently, tea towels are primarily used as decorative tool. Many times, the fine linen towels are obviously not absorbent. However, the idea behind the tea towel, and its ability to add a touch of whimsy and personality to a kitchen is undeniable. Most tourist stores include a tea towel with a city name or other local claim to fame. They an be found in ever color, with almost anything you can imagine gracing the front~ making it the perfect elegant or sassy gift.

Today we are doing a give-a-way of this cute little Cock-A-Doodle-Doo Tea Towel
There are four ways to enter- each way gets you 1 additional entry.
There is only one towel available, so there will only be one winner!

  1. Commenting on the post
  2. Following on Instagram
  3. Following on Twitter
  4. Sharing our contest post on your facebook page

Here are a few tea towels on Amazon that we love!
(Affiliate Links)

Why Chickens Begin Laying More Eggs In Spring

If your chickens are like ours, their laying has kicked into overdrive! We are getting three or four times as many eggs now, as we did during the winter months. We have eggs everywhere! I love this time of year, the trees are blooming, my herb garden is growing out of control, and the chickens are so happy.

Do you ever wonder why they begin to lay more in the spring?
There are several different reasons that change laying cycles.
Extra daylight hours is the number one reason why egg production drastically increases during the spring months. Chickens need around fourteen hours of light to produce eggs, and during the winter months, they just don't get that requirement, unless you supplement their coop with light. We choose not to do this, so that their bodies can rest, the way nature intended it.
Hens will begin laying between 20 and 28 weeks old, depending on their breed. They will reach their peak laying around one year old, and will continue to lay very well through that year. By the time they are three years old, their egg production will drastically decrease, but you will still get several eggs a week from them. During our hens first year, they even laid consistently through the winter. It was great!
Temperature is another huge reason for a drop in egg production. Hens will lay best when the temperatures are over 45 degrees but under 75 degrees. Both extremes will result in the hens body naturally redirects energy to either staying warm or cooling off.
Hens require a quality layer feed and supplemental calcium in order to maintain the nutritional level they need to consistently produce quality eggs. Also, they need a constant supply of fresh, clean water. Even a few hours without access to water can decrease egg production.
Click here to learn more about adding supplemental calcium for your laying hens.

So what do you do with all these additional eggs?

1. Eat them! Make sure to use all those great egg recipes you have been collecting all year long! 
I am adding a link-up at the bottom for egg recipes that we love, and I invite you to add a link to your recipes if you have them online somewhere!

2. If you still have too many, try to sell them. At farmer's markets, 
people are asking between $3-$5 for a dozen free-range
 chicken eggs, and duck eggs are even more. 
3. Make sure to give some to family, friends, and neighbors.

4. Another option I have seen recently is gifting them to your local food bank. 
Eggs are a luxury item that many people do not get very often.

5. Freeze your fresh eggs to use in baking later in the year when they are in short supply. If you 
are interested in freezing them, here is a great link explaining the process.

Make sure to add your favorite recipes to the link-up!

Help! Ten Ways To Care For My New Easter Bunny

So, someone got you or your child a rabbit for Easter.
First of all, congratulations! You have just received a precious gift that will bring you years of enjoyment and friendship as long as you take care of them properly.

I am going to give you a few tips to get you started on the right path with your new friend.

1.  First, make a few calls and locate a rabbit savvy vet. Generally speaking, they are listed under 'exotic vet.' However, you can ask your normal vet about their experience with rabbits. Sometimes, it may work out. Anytime you think your rabbit isn't acting right, you need to call the vet. Rabbits deteriorate quickly. They can be fine in the morning, and deathly sick by evening, so don't wait. The most common ailment is probably gastric stasis. Anytime your bunny starts to not eat as much, or at all, not drink, and you see a decrease in poop amount, or size, it is an extreme emergency. Click here to read more about gastric stasis so you learn to recognize the symptoms and catch it early. The other issue is called 'snuffles.' Rabbits do not catch colds, so runny eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing is dangerous and needs to be treated by a vet with antibiotics. A good diet of hay, pellets, and fresh foods, and a lot of exercise will go a long way to building a strong immune system. I keep a product called VetRx Rabbit on hand to use if something happens during the night.

Gardener's Supply Grow Light Review

This year, we have taken a new approach to our gardening. For several reasons, I wanted to start my garden earlier, but since I like to start herbs from seed, this is difficult and most often controlled by the weather. Luckily for us, I’m a member of the Gardener’s Supply product review program, and they offered me the opportunity to review one of their most popular grow lights! Grow lights are a great way to start your garden from your favorite seeds, early in the season.

It took about five minutes to assemble the grow light, and I was ready to see what it could do. Since I had never used a grow light like this before, I decided to test it with some organic, non-gmo carrot, lemon balm, thyme, and echinacea seeds. (Anybody else notice that these choices may have been submitted by our rabbits?) When I am planting a garden that will be used to feed my family or my animals, I love to start with seeds. By doing this, I can control almost every aspect of my garden, including the soil the seeds are started in.

Immediately, I noticed that the T5 grow light has an adjustable top that easily allows the height to change to accommodate your growing seedlings. I had to raise it twice in three weeks because my seedlings were growing so fast. Indoor grow lights can also be used during the winter to allow plants and herbs to continue to grow and produce during the off seasons.

Since this is a simple, full spectrum, fluorescent grow light, it is compact enough to be set up on a tabletop, we actually put ours on a table in the garage so that it could be easily watered every couple days.  Also included with the grow light was a watering tray, which made it easy to simply water, and not worry about getting everything wet. They have really thought about everything.

So, the five reasons to use Gardener’s Supply Grow Lights
  1. You can grow certain items year round- like herbs and lettuces.
  2. You can start seeds indoors and get a head start on your spring garden.
  3. You can have more control of your plants by purchasing your choice of seed and soil.
  4. T5 fluorescent grow lights use minimal energy.
  5. A tabletop grow light is designed to be compact and clean, and can be set up anywhere without creating a mess.

A few things to remember:
  • As you can see from the photos, my seeds started growing really fast; however, it is a good idea to plan around 8 weeks before re-planting into larger containers or your garden.

  • It is very important to keep seeds moist when working with a grow light. It is not like starting seeds outdoors. They have light and heat on them 24 hours a day, and they do not get the benefits of the morning dew. Forgetting to water them for a couple days will cause them to dry out and possibly die.

  • If your seeds start looking long and stringy, then you have the light too far away from them. If the leaves seem dry or are curling, the light is too close.
For more great items, make sure to visit Gardener’s Supply

Easter at Happy Days Farm Link Party

We love Spring and Easter at Happy Days Farm. 
Everything is bursting to life again.
We also love finding fun new blogs and great new ideas! Join us in this linky party!
Just add the links to your best Easter or Spring related blog posts, 
or your favorite posts from other  bloggers. The idea is to create a collection of the best posts,
 all in one place to make them easy to find. 
So, please share this post, in addition to adding your links. 
Let people know that they can find great ideas for recipes, animals, 
decorating, etc, one one of the participating blogs.
Co-hosting this Link Party with me:

The Supermarket Doesn't Want You to Know This

Marketing, research, and product development all sound like terms used in corporate America, don't they?
Truth be told, they are, and that is the point of this article. Marketing specialists spend years studying how to read the publics wants and desires. They learn how to package product based on current trends, what colors to use, what slogans are best, etc. 
Any idea what the current theme and trending word is? 
Today, I was in the grocery store, and noticed how many packages now use this word. While standing there, I decided to see where these farms were, and guess what....Most of them didn't really exist. They are just product names designed to attract a certain clientele. This particular clientele is becoming educated about what they eat and where it comes from, so the manufacturers are trying to capitalize on this idea.

Just because a product or package has the word 'farm' in it, does not mean that the product actually came from family farm, which is the idea that the word generates when it is used.  If you ask them, I am sure they would say something like, we never said it was from a family farm. 

Now, I am not saying that every product with the word farm is like this.  What I am suggesting is taking a few moments while you are at the store, and typing the name of the farm into the internet just to see if it really exists. I am happy to say, that many times, it does.
These products are the ones that we need to support as often as we can. 
Photo Credit: Timber Creek Farm
One easy way to identify this without searching the internet while walking the store is to notice how many products bear this name.
Do you see the same 'farm' producing eggs, milk, cheese, bacon, sausage, ham, chicken, steak, apples, oranges, bread, cookies, etc.
How many farms have you seen that can produce this many different products en-mass?
Most family farms will specialize in just a few products.

It is genius though that some mainstream brand names have created off-shoot companies to package identical product using the word farm, just to appeal to a certain clientele. Genius, but deceiving. Just a small amount of research is required to fix this. 

~Here are a few tips to help~

1. Buy from local stores as much as possible.

2. Buy from family farms and farmer's markets as much as you can, products will be fresher, in season, and will help support your local economy. #buylocal

3. Grow some of your own food, everyone can grow something, even if it is just herbs on a windowsill. 

4. Stay informed about the products you purchase and where they come from.  
Research the companies you are getting your basic foods from. A lot of local farms have websites 
and social media now, and that makes it so easy to confirm labels.

5. When you do shop at large chain stores, look for more local choices they may be carrying. 
When you purchase these brands, it will encourage the stores to continue buying from local sources.
Stores will buy what sells.
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