Ouch, My Aching Back!!!

My lower back issues began in 1991 when two friends and I decided to skip Senior Prom and enjoy an adventure in northern Michigan. Unfortunately, my adventure ended with a horse back riding accident at the Caple’s Ranch. Ever since, I struggle with regular lower back issues, at times requiring over a week of bed rest. Over the years, I have tried many remedies, some helpful, some not so much. Below are a few regular treatments/life habits with which I found success:

A Relaxing Night’s Sleep: How many times have you started the day with a sore back? Is your bed the cause? 1/3 of your life is spent in bed. Make an investment in a supportive mattress and pillow. Sleeping with a pillow between the knees also takes pressure off the lower back.

Hourly Movement: Do you spend most of the day sitting? Does standing up cause pain? If so, commit to getting up every hour during the day and walking for a few minutes. We aren’t meant to sit all day (Yes, that includes sitting at home watching TV). Hourly movement can reduce soreness.

Acupuncture: I’ve received acupuncture for over 15 years. A traditional 45 minute treatment relaxes and refreshes the entire body. I also found relief in placebo needle placement. Several times, my acupuncturist inserted needles where I had pain, greatly relieving the tenderness.

Ice/Heat: 20 minutes of icing the lower back, immediately followed by 20 minutes on the heating pad works wonders.

Flexibility and Core Work: Commit several times per week to leg and back stretches and core strengthening. You may find this website a helpful start.

Donut Pillow: While a bit embarrassing at first, the donut pillow places extra pressure on the glutes, relieving lower back tension. I keep one in my car and at home. Here’s a more discreet covered pillow.

Massage: Massage can ease tight muscles. Request extra work on the IT Band. Many lower back issues can be linked to tight or weak hips.

Resistance Bands: Speaking of hip issues, utilizing resistance bands can calm the IT Band and strengthen the hips. An appointment with a physical therapist often includes resistance bands to take home and a set of hip strengthening exercises. Make those exercises part of your regular routine!

Remember to use caution and keep in contact with your health care provider when adding a new activity into your regimen.

Thanks for reading!


How to Cope with Depression

Why are so many throwing it all away? I hope my story helps those out there who have walked the same road. I have suffered from depression from 1998: The combination of a traumatic delivery, my parent’s divorce, the national scandal, and my eccentricities created a perfect storm that needed to be dealt with. Over the years, I developed a collection of tools to help me cope. If you suffer from depression, I hope you find a few useful tips:

1. Get some exercise: It doesn’t have to be daily, and it doesn’t have to be sweaty or excessive. Go for a 20 minute walk, choose 3-6 sets and lift light weights for 10-15 minutes, whatever helps you move around a bit. Trust me, it makes a huge difference!

2. Find someone to talk with: Whether you rely on friends or a professional counselor, find someone to share those many moments of self-doubt and grief.

3. Eat healthy meals: Do you include a fruit or vegetable with every meal? If not, start now! Are you limiting foods that make you feel low? Are you including foods that bring you up?

4. Limit alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant and will just expand those feelings of hopelessness and grief. I know the first drink or two has the opposite effect, but trust me, limiting alcohol is a positive!

5. Embrace your passions: Do you have an activity that brings joy? Then do it! I love my music! Singing at our local Commission on Aging and performing with my local Irish girls’ band helps me forget the darker times and focus on more positive things.

6. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones: Spend the majority of your time with those who want what’s best for you. Of course, we should make time for our family. However, occasionally we have to spend time with family or family friends who are not kind; you do NOT have to devote excessive time to those who enjoy your discomfort. You have the right to head home early or pass on a get together.

7. Read The Untethered Soul: Do you have a frequent negative monologue? Read this book and learn how to cope with your “Watcher at the Gate.”

8. Have you thought about ending it all? First, take a deep breath. You have options and you are not alone. I strongly encourage you to reach out to someone and just talk, talk about what ever is on your mind, the last day’s adventures, your favorite meal. If you are not ready for that step, have you tried the steps listed above? You owe it to yourself to try. You are worth it!

Be kind to each other!

Farm Markets, Nettles, and the Start of Summer

This past weekend was the annual nettle harvest, and Chad made a batch of nettle and asparagus soup (a favorite of Chad’s homemade soups, perfect with crusty bread, and a dish the vegan will eat). I’m excited to begin the Farm Market Season. This weekend, Cairn Hill Farms will have a stand at these markets:

  • 5/25 Middleville (8-1)
  • 5/26 Hastings (9-1)

We offer the following products:

    • Beeswax Lip Balms: A blend of coconut oil, avocado oil, beeswax, and vitamin E
    • Sprays: Enjoy as a room spray or facial toner
    • Essential Oil Blends: Add to a favorite lotion, make a spray, or use for aromatherapy
    • Salt Scrub: Treat your feet with this lovely new product!
    • Farm Fresh Eggs, Veggies, and Nettle Iced Tea

Can’t make it to the market or want a custom blend? Please message me cairnhillfarms.net

Orders can be shipped.

Nettle and Asparagus Soup

Below is Cairn Hill Farms Summer 2018 Newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

Down on the Farm

Farm pasture


We have added some new farm animals and had some new adventures here at Cairn Hill Farms. In addition to our flock of chickens and Heritage Turkeys, we purchased two goats and two lambs. They are settled in, but not without some challenge. The large goat (named Darryl by the high school building and trades) gave us a great deal of grief. He is a one year old 1/2 Alpine 1/2 Boer and thinks he’s human. Refusing to remain in the barn or pasture, Darryl wanted to be in the house with us, as he would frequently try to accomplish by jumping the fence, climbing our porch, and looking at us through the window. Luckily for Darryl’s sake, he agreed to stay in the pasture after the installation of an electric fence.


Farm Darryl


Farm lambs


We also had five Heritage turkey poults. We lost the first one because he was alone and refused to eat, another fell out of the nest, and a third was the victim of the local nocturnal population. The two that remain are an 8 week old who thinks she’s a parrot and one that hatched yesterday.


Farm parrot


The poult that arrived yesterday reminds me of the power of life. Its mother and the other 11 eggs were destroyed last week. I found the single egg in a pile of feathers and my daughter put it in her room, under a heat lamp. While I assumed the endeavor to be a lost cause, these hardy birds keep proving that “life goes on.”

My daughter and I are also running a stand at our local Farmers’ Markets. We have ten products under development over the past nine months. Two are ready for sale, all natural room sprays! I started making these for our kitchen and bathrooms because I found the chemical sprays smelly and bad to breathe. We hope to add items throughout the summer as they are ready for use. Stop by and see us!


Farm Product

Dealing with Depression

I have suffered from depression since 1998. I deal with it in many ways, devotions, exercise, mud runs, vitamins, medications, counseling, and whatever seems right at the time. I am one of those people who is willing to try what comes down the pike.

Let me back up. I had a big second boy, 11 lbs, 11 oz, naturally, which led to a few complications. We survived that, but the stress of the birth and the blood loss led to problems. While I was fighting my doc to avoid a transfusion, G needed to be fed every 75 minutes because we found out later he had BWS (Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome), not to mention my oldest son was an active toddler. I was not able to drive for a month, among other issues. I had an amazing support network! They helped me through the moments where I couldn’t physically care for my child.

What caused further problems was my parents’ divorce in the fall of 1998. My first thought was 43 years of marriage!  You are giving it all up now? I was devastated and made contact with a counselor. Occasionally sharing my thoughts continues to be a large and effective part of dealing with depression.

Then the national scandal hit. Two weeks before, Chad and I had just returned from a week in St. Louis, MO, where our son had major surgery.  I was also pregnant with my third child, so I was in protection mode. While I thought my dad received a bum rap, my job was to protect my unborn baby through this tragedy. I hunkered down, and MK emerged, alive, but with complications, a ripped hole in her lung, pneumonia, and a non-life threatening genetic disorder. The clan rallied round, and we moved forward and loved the new member of our clan.

I’m not sure if any or all of these events caused my depression, but I do know that life is full of challenges for all of us. Embracing these challenges and making them my own was the most effective way for me to tackle depression.  If you suffer from depression, be proactive.  Educate yourself!  Which activities, vitamins, and medications help?  Which hinder?  Most important, know that you are not alone.