My Favorite Wrapping Paper

The best gifts come wrapped like this…

My favorite box...

My favorite box…

Once you open the box, you open a world of new opportunities for great health!  I just finished a great course on herbal medicine in a post-disaster situation. This box is filled with herbs to help treat  bacteria, viruses, shock, pain and many other things.  Many of these herbs I’ve never used before.

This box is filled with roots, barks, flowers, leaves and moss…don’t you just love the name “Old Man’s Beard”?

Herbs of all Kinds!

Herbs of all Kinds!

This week I get to “work” them up.  I’m looking forward to that time! Some are for teas and some are for simples ( one herb tinctures) and some are for formulas (tinctures involving more than one herb). Isn’t that a pretty sight?

This then required me to make a trip to the liquor store where I ordered a case (yes a case!) of vodka. I’m getting quite the reputation…in this town “nice” people don’t go to the liquor store. I’ve been three times in the last 45 days!  I’m sure the nice gentleman behind the counter is thinking…”she doesn’t look like an alcoholic”.

I hope a case is enough…

Please follow and like us:

Tons of Tinctures!

Last week, my kitchen table looked like this at the end of the day…

Oh MY! Vodka!

Oh MY! Vodka!

And Rebecca nailed it….I made and strained tinctures all afternoon. I strained tinctures made many years ago. I made more tinctures and still have another list to finish later this week when my herbs come in!  You can see some of the finished ones below.

Just a few tinctures!

Just a few tinctures!

 

I ended up with a cabinet full of tinctures which I’ll strain either towards the end of the year or the beginning of next year. Notice the different sizes?

A Ton of Tinctures!

A Ton of Tinctures!

Some things I make in half gallon jars…Jewelweed tincture is one of those because we use it so much and give a lot away.  Red Clover is another.  It purifies the blood, and gives us support for our immune system.  We use it every time we think we are coming down with something and we bounce back in a day…often less!

Other herbs, we tincture in half pints, pints or quarts.  I use canning jars and I save jars from the store, although those are getting harder to find…most companies are using plastic. And I use the same jars over and over.  Once a tincture is strained, the jar goes in the dishwasher and once clean, it goes back on the shelf to wait for the next tincture!

During the fall, after the plants have died back, I dig roots of many plants: comfrey, mullein, echinacea, elecampane, and many others!

If you are growing medicinal herbs, now is the time to dig up the roots of appropriate plants and get them washed, chopped and tinctured!

What herbs are you tincturing this fall?

Please follow and like us:

Mullein Harvest!

After spending half of the day getting the hens ready for the coming winter, it was time to turn my thoughts towards harvesting herbs and to begin the harvest of various roots around the farm.

Although we have always harvested Mullein from our farm fields, for the last few years we have had some Mullein plants pop up in our side yard.  Each year I ask Elijah to mow around them. If you attended an herbal medicine class this year, you’ll remember them from our outdoor plant identification walk.

All parts of the Mullein plant can be used, roots, leaves and flowers! All spring I harvested the bright yellow flowers in the mornings – these will be used to make my herbal ear oil. More on that in a future post! You can read more about using Mullein in this post.

Mullein leaves are harvested throughout the spring and summer.  I prefer the leaves before the plants send up their flower stalks. Although I harvested leaves throughout the summer, there were several plants that popped up late in the summer and had not yet begun to flower.  I harvested the leaves from those plants as well and ended up with a huge amount of mullein leaves!  They are drying as we speak and I will have enough Mullein leaves for the year and to share with others. Mullein has the softest leaves – very similar to  Lamb’s Ear only on a much larger scale. Elijah thinks they would make good bedding.

Mullein Leaves!

Mullein Leaves!

You want to pick only the freshest, unblemished leaves.  On the right, you can see the leaves I discarded.

In the fall, it is traditionally time to harvest roots from your medicinal plants. This past week, a hard freeze and snow was predicted so it was time to dig some mullein root.

IMG_20141031_150856569

You want to dig the roots once the plants have begun to die back. The flower stalks were dead although there were till a few green leaves on some of the plants. It was a great harvest!

I laid the roots out on the driveway and hosed off the dirt and clay.

Washing Mullein Roots

Washing Mullein Roots

Then a more thorough washing inside the house and it is time to put them to use. I’m drying some for future use and tincturing a good amount for a variety of things.

IMG_20141031_175023787

Mullein Root Harvest!

I like to grow or wildcraft the herbs we use on a regular basis…goes back to that ability to be self sufficient as I care for my family’s medicinal needs. Mullein grows wild all over our farm – having them pop up in our side yard just makes it easier.

I encourage you to grow your own medicinal herbs and learn to use them! Plant medicine is easy, fun and adds to your security when hard times come. Begin by researching issues that your family deals with on a regular basis, find the herbal solutions, grow them and learn how to use them!

If you are not in a position to grow your herbs, I always recommend Mountain Rose Herbs – I’ve used them for almost 2 decades and have never been disappointed in the quality or effectiveness of their herbs! Their Mullein is superb and very inexpensive! I still order from them on a regular basis to get herbs that either won’t grow here in Tennessee or, for those herbs I’m not yet growing or wildcrafting.

Don’t forget to save seed to replant!  I just toss the seeds into a flower bed and next spring I’ll have plants!  The seeds are very tiny (think pepper!) and are inside what looks like “larger round seeds”!

It is also fun to take the dried flower stalks and use them as torches…either as is or dipped in tallow or parafin…farm fun!

Do you use Mullein on your homestead?

Blessings,

Please follow and like us:

A hitch-in-yer-git-a-long…

This is called a hitch-in-yer-git-a-long…

Ouch!

Ouch!

This is what happens when a two year old is running full speed, trips and lands his sweet little head on the top of your foot! When it comes to a fracture, better my foot than his head!

Thankfully it is only a stress fracture and I should be back at full speed in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, I’m getting caught up on work I can do sitting down. I’m keeping it covered in my Arnica salve during the day for the swelling but I’m using the big guns at night for pain relief…my Aches Away salve! It still works on swelling but it helps me sleep easily throughout the night! I am very grateful to Abba that it wasn’t worse for either of us!

Which brings me to the exciting work I did after the clean-up of the hen house….(so glad I got that done before I ended up in a boot!)

Drop by tomorrow to see what I harvested!!

Blessings,

Please follow and like us:

Chicken Poop – is it worth it?

I spent a good deal of Thursday cleaning the hen house. Yep…I scrubbed a ton of chicken poop. I can hear certain people now…”why in the world do you do these things? Eggs are cheap…why keep chickens”.

Here’s my list of why:

I keep chickens because I have a source of clean, fresh (you don’t think those eggs at the store are that fresh do you?), healthy eggs. Bright orange yolks – nutrient packed eggs!

I keep chickens because I’ll have eggs even if the stores don’t…self sufficiency.

I keep chickens because I can share fresh, healthy eggs with all of my kids and their families.

I keep chickens to be able to raise more hens….each spring we have some mamas go broody and babies are born to replenish the stock. Who needs hatcheries?

I keep chickens because I have a source of clean meat for the table. As the hens age, we harvest them, process them and stock our freezer with them.

I keep hens because they turn my table scraps into wonderful manure for my garden.

I keep hens because I love to watch my grandson follow them around and cluck at them and talk to them….he so desperately wants to pet them but they want nothing to do with him! Pure entertainment!

And finally, I keep hens because I love to watch them and hear their gentle clucking (especially when they are herding their babies)….I find them an excellent stress reducer.

Several times a year, the coop gets a deep cleaning.  Everything comes out, gets a thorough scrubbing and is disinfected with a bleach solution.  Just before winter sets in is a must. I’ll repeat this in the spring and again in the summer.

We have a 12 unit nesting box I found years ago at a thrift store in a neighboring state. It occurred to me during this cleaning that we never find an egg in the top 6 boxes – just the hay and a lot of poop. The floors of the boxes pop out for cleaning.  This time I decided not to put them back in the top 6 boxes.  I had to giggle – I had visions of hens jumping into boxes and dropping down a level!

Clean nesting boxes!

Clean nesting boxes!

I ended up only putting floors back in 4 boxes in the middle of the bottom row.  I think that is enough for a dozen hens!  They usually only use three. We will use less hay and keep cleaning chores down, a win-win situation.

I keep a bucket for cleaning out nests.  As the nests are soiled, the dirty hay is picked up and put in the bucket which then gets dumped into the garden, either in the compost bin or tilled into a garden bed for future planting.  Free fertilizer! Add another layer of clean hay and they are ready to go!

We’ve also decided to move the feeder outside – lots of pooping happens during feeding. Although our house is moved often, it is heavy and difficult to do.  Less poop in the house will be a good thing! We are looking at some different designs. Any ideas?

Home Made Chicken Feeder

I’d say keeping chickens (and cleaning poop!)  is definitely worth it for my family.  How about yours?

Next time, find out what I did with the rest of my day….VERY exciting for an herbalist like myself!

Blessings,

Please follow and like us:

Farm life!

It’s a rainy day today…after a week of glorious weather (which might explain my absence this last week!) and we are hunkering down for our first freeze.  A bit early for our area! With the threat of a freeze, it was time to gather the last of the basil from the garden. I believe I picked about a bushel and a half!

I use a lot of basil in cooking and in a creamy basil dressing I make,  but I also use it for medicinal purposes and even in one of my soaps. So…we grow a lot of basil over the season! After being washed, dried and picked, I ended up with quite a few bags of basil for the freezer and a bit left over to be dried.  I pack 2 cups of basil into each bag!

IMG_20141005_241730812

It’s been a busy fall!  Josiah got married last month at a friend’s farm and the weather was glorious! Here’s the happy couple just after they shared their very first kiss ever…

10700336_576389205801145_4663493159248392382_o

The wedding was beautiful, another son left the nest and I gained a lovely daughter! My little family is growing!

All of my family has been too busy this summer and fall so we’ve started a new tradition Family Camp Outs! We used to camp together when the kids were little and it’s time to start again!

We had our first one last weekend.  The kids came last Friday evening, pitched their tents, we shared a meal and then enjoyed a bonfire together complete with smores! The weather was perfect! Don’t you just love bonfires?

IMG_20141024_214416592

Eventually the boys went off for some “brother time” and the ladies gathered to watch Moms’ Night Out.

This movie was done by the same church who did Courageous and Fireproof. Cute movie with the important underlying message that what a stay-at-home-mom does is valuable and important. It’s easy, as a mom, in the hum drum of wiping noses, changing diapers and cleaning up yet one more mess, to forget that our Father gives great value to the sacrifice and service moms give their families.

We spent Saturday together around the fire, hanging out, laying in the hammocks and enjoying each other.  We had supper together and made plans for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. It was some necessary downtime for everyone!

We have decided to do this again for Hanukkah, only we don’t plan on sleeping outside. Instead my home will be full and we foresee a lot of fun, laughter, board games and the general craziness that ensues when my 4 sons get together!

I’m in the process of creating two new soaps that reflect Appalachia…can’t wait to share them!

My fall soaps are on sale until Monday morning! Hope you ordered yours…once they sell out, they won’t be available again until next fall!

The chicken coop has been winterized – a thorough cleaning tomorrow and the addition of another heat lamp should ensure healthy hens, and plenty of eggs all winter long!

We have some projects on our list…cleaning up a barn, cleaning out a shed and mowing the fields along with a bit of greenhouse repair from a hailstorm and we will be ready for winter!

Elijah and I have picked out some hikes to explore in the Smokies over the holidays and I’m really looking forward to that!

Life is busy and full of joy and I thank Abba for every moment of it!

Are you ready for winter? What’s happening on your homestead?

Blessings,

Please follow and like us:

Plantain ~ everybody needs some!

Plantain (Plantago major) is by far one of the herbs I use the most. It grows everywhere and you can usually find it year round.  It never really disappears during the winter but the plant goes almost “dormant” …very little growth in cold weather. As the weather warms up, it really takes off. You will find this plant growing everywhere…on your farm…in your lawn….unless you use chemicals to control the weeds. Yes, Plantain is considered a weed but I have found that many of the best medicinal herbs fall into that same classification! It is so amazing to me that our Father has given us all of these “weeds” with such awesome healing power! And they are literally right under our feet…if we only took the time to learn about the gifts He has given!

There are many forms of Plantain – about 200! The two that grow at my farm are Plantago Major, also commonly called Common Plantain, Greater Plantain, Ribwort or Waybread.  And Lanceolata  or Fingerling, a variety with long narrow leaves. It is said to have come to North America with the settlers. The Indian’s called it White Man’s Foot because it seemed to grow wherever the settlers traveled.

Here is a picture from my Medicinal Herb Course of plantain growing in my yard.

Plantain

Plantain

The next two are close-ups of the leaves…notice the “ribs”? Hence the nickname ribwort!

This is the front…

Plantago-Major_Green-Leaves__56699-320x480

And this is the back…

Plantago-Major_Green-Leaves__65844-320x480

This picture shows Plantain Lanceolata or fingerling plantain. Notice the seed heads on top?

Plantago lanceolata var. mediterranea

 

Now that you’ve seen it I’ll bet you are saying, “I have that in my yard!” Most people do!

You can use both the leaves and the seeds of plantain (and occasionally the root!).  It can also be eaten raw, dried, used in teas,  decoctions, a wound wash or tincture. It would be a wonderful addition in a formula for wound care!  I also use it in salves.

It is an excellent vulnerary (used for healing wounds) for both the skin and the mucosal tract. I use it internally for upper respiratory issues (sinus and throat).  You can put it in your homemade cough syrup to soothe a dry cough and is especially soothing if the throat is sore and/or inflamed. It is also a good relaxing expectorant.

Plantain has very soothing properties and has been found to be effective in treating other internal problems such as gastritis, peptic ulcers, acid reflux and even Irritable Bowel Syndrome!

Fresh leaves relieve insect bites and stings. It helps to neutralize the poison of venomous insects – wasps, bees, spiders etc. If we get stung while outside, we grab some plantain and chew it well and then put it on the bite…it reduces swelling, stops the reaction and relieves the pain. My boys have been trained to do this since they were very little. You can also use a leaf poultice to speed wound healing. Jeremy was once bitten by spiders while tearing down an old building. Unfortunately he didn’t quit what he was doing to look for plantain. By the time I saw it, the area was hot, swollen, and red with long red streaks coming from it. I used a poultice of Plantain followed by my Healing Salve.…we saw improvement in a matter of hours.

Plantain also contains baicalin which makes it an excellent herb to add to anti-bacterial formulas used to treat infections such as staph and strep.

Plantain, used as a poultice, helps to stop bleeding and encourages healing. It has proteolytic enzymes, which are active in the fresh leaf (and fresh or dried root). These enzymes reduce inflammation and help reverse allergic symptoms! They also aid in the digestion of food.

Plantain is very high in vitamins A and C and is also a rich source of calcium.

The seeds are related to psyllium seeds and can be used the same way…can anybody say Metamucil? You can powder the seeds and put the powder in juice or you can actually make a tea from the seeds….personally, I prefer the powder.

Of course, I don’t recommend any of these things if you are harvesting Plantain from a lawn or an area that has been chemically treated. When using herbs for medicine it is imperative that they be organic and chemical free!

You should be able to find Plantain growing now. Harvest some this fall for those unexpected emergencies in the middle of the night or when the snow flies. Plan on reaping a larger harvest next spring!  This year, Elijah and I picked and dried gallons of Plantain because we use it so often. If you can’t find it growing locally, you can always find it at my favorite herb shop – Mountain Rose Herbs.  You can click on their banner on the right or you can find Plantain here.

So, take a walk around your lawn, your homestead or farm or perhaps a friend’s place and look down for some of the wonderful gifts given to you from the hand of your heavenly Father! Then take the time…stop…and give thanks!

Let me know if you find plantain on your place,

Please follow and like us: