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Herbhome’s Mission

Mission? That works ūüôā

Several of our volunteers have asked that we post our view of what we are about – so here goes…

I thought it would be tough to write about just what we believe and why we do what we do. Surprisingly it is fairly easy.

We want to pass on the love we have for our hills and hollows and be sure that the homestead skills don’t get lost. we hope to show that sustainability doesn’t have to happen in an instant- but can be achieved one baby step at a time.

We can create a better world by taking the dreams in our head and using our hands and skills to bring it to life.

I think that we interact with the “real world” daily, like it or not. Maybe we can make a difference by the small things we change on a daily basis. I used to be one of the loud , aggressive, up front people for the causes I thought were important. Now I think my role has changed. It is more about teaching, making small changes- “baby steps” each one making the word a little better. My best image is of the pebble dropping into the still pool . each ripple going out , touches and changes the next one.

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We love the hills and hollows here and treasure the waters – the Buffalo – our Creeks and Springs are all¬† rich and beautiful. The culture here is deeply ingrained in our community and we are gifted with a good array of skills that are important to pass done so they won’t be lost.

Our volunteers from the  different work exchange programs we are involved in hopefully walk away with a love for our area- the culture and people as well as a respect for the ecology that is so rich.

I think sustainability starts one person at a time.. if we can pass that on, then we have achieved a big goal!

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Carrie’s Journey

(Please re-read occasionally as I will be updating as I learn more..update inserted April 18, 2018 )

Our daughter Carrie has Colorectal Cancer that has metastasized for the second time.

I thought never to write about this- it is too personal and painful and private. Yet it needs to be told.

Why the change of heart about it?

Her current surgery date was moved up . We were told it would be two weeks or so sometime after the first of the month- so we didn’t hold funds back for the transportation and housing for them. Then , on getting home from our trip, she was told by her doctor – “You no longer have time to wait- it may progress to where you can’t have the surgery if you wait”.

So we were in panic mode- both of us had stretched our budgets to make this trip happen , and I had recently bought a fairly new truck , so I would have reliable transportation while she was ill. Broke, broke, broke.

I reached out in the community and found enough funds to cover their needs until the first- (Many thanks to Sara and Deloda for their research help and to the Newton County Cancer Support Group and several friends who helped). I hope  to make people aware of the issues faced by cancer families and share resources which we have found and also some of the emotions and thoughts that happen. please check our webpage for blog posts about cancer and the help available.

We will be fine after payday , but it brought back all the problems that cancer familes have to deal with- many of them overwhelming, both emotionally and financially.

It also brought home the courage and inner strength and grace my daughter Carrie has. She is such an amazing young woman. I stand in constant awe of her. She and her partner Darrell are dancing with this cancer diagnosis with an amazing grace and love.She has done a wonderful job of raising her two teenagers on her own . Her son is 15 -a ¬†bright and kind young man- he is in the HALO program where bright young high school students can advance at their own rate- ¬†and her daughter , who is 17 , is starting college down at Arkansas Tech in Russelleville this Fall.She graduated a year early from high school. These are strong ,resilient, good young people- who have moved forward through a lot , what with their mom’s illness.In processing all this in the middle of the night , I came¬†to realize that I am a story teller- and this is one that needs to be told. Cancer devastates families- current medical laws are ridiculous- and it won’t change unless we reach out and tell our stories- so I am sharing ours now. I am going to try to suggest things friends and family ¬†to do to help those dealing with cancer.

To begin- we have a genetic marker for family cancer.

My Mother – Carleen Thorn , of Low Gap , died of Cancer-it had metatazied from her colon to the wall and apron of her abdomen -was all through her intestines and pelvic floor. It was not found until late stage.Doctor B. opened her up and came out and told us she was full of cancer and there was nothing he could do but make her comfortable. This was in November. We lost her in April 1980.Momma did get to hold baby Carrie in her arms. I had Carrie ten weeks early and she was in the neonatal ICU at the same hospital- Mom was brought up in her wheel chair and held Carrie in her arms- I can remember her saying “I’ve been waiting for you, little girl”.

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Doc Tom S.found my Ovarian cancer the day Carrie was born. Fortunately it was encapsulated and I survived.Ir metastaisied again in 1995- and I went through 8 years of chemo and radiation. I will always be grateful to my special friends Linnea Powers and Lee Castleman for the love and time they gave through all the rough spellss- from holding me when I wept to foot rubs to cottage cheese and chips ūüôā and all the Prayers and moral support…

My son Justin (Justy) was diagonosed with Neuroblastoma in 1981. We had been taking him repeatedly to the doctor for seven months- and they failed¬†to pick up on it , until his eye started protruding. They did a cat scan and couldn’t see anything. We took the same films to Arkansas Children’s Hospital and they found five tumours. He was stage IV Neuroblastoma. He had tumors on his adrenal glands, and behind his eye. We went through 2 and a half years of treament, before we finallly lost him. It was ¬†a difficult time- both emotionally and finacially. I had just graduated from nursing school and started work at the hospital , when he was diagnsosed. I actually took my state boards while he was in hospital being tested! I remember sittting in his room , reviewing for Boards.

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Unfortunately, since I had just begun working, the insurance would not cover him the first year (This was before ARKIDS). yet it wasn’t the medical bills that were so difficult- it was housing and meals and transportation. the daily expenses were almost impossible to meet. Bless our landlord – he waived our rent during that time period. I have heard many negative things about him since- yet he reached out and made our lives so much easier.

We lost our Justy in 1984- he was five and a half.-the nurses on the Oncology floor at Children’s nick -named him “Sunshine”. Bless all the friends and co workers at the hospital who helped with our funeral expenses.

Carrie had a cough all that winter- I kept taking her to the doctor- and ER – nothing wrong- you are just worried because you lost your son – there’s nothing wrong- it’s just a dry hacking cough. Fortunately a new ER doc came in – Allen really listened – had a CAT ¬†scan done and there was very obvious tumor about the size of a pop can wrapped around her aorta.We went straight to Children’s – they did surgery the next day . It was a Ganglio neuroma- a benign tumor that is a precurser to Neuroblastoma. Again , finances went south. The decisions rise up – do you buy the medicine she needs or make the house payment- ? How do you make the trip to Little Rock for her check ups? Not knowing how to plug into the network of help that is available.

Jumping to the here and now.

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Carrie had increasingly severe abdominal pain. She went to the GP first, for several months , then as the pain worsed to the point of bending her over when she moved- to  ER Рshe saw a surgeon who told her she had an ovarian cyst that had ruptured.

They removed it – but the pain continued to increase. (Evidently one of the symptoms of colorectal cancer is a rigid uterus- how could it be missed, with two different doctors doing surgery? One of things that make you go “mmnnn?”¬†)

When she went back to the surgeon for her check up- he told her “oh that is just normal post surgical pain , honey” and patted her on her bent over back.(Can you tell how furious I still get about that one?) One of his nurses was overheard saying “Oh, she just wants drugs” .

She saw a gyn , who told her ¬†it it was time to do a hysterectomy.He went in to do it and she had such a severe bowel blockage that he couldn’t do the surgery. He closed her up and was planning another surgery later-

Carrie’s cousin and I yanked her ¬†out AMA and took her straight up to Mercy hospital in Springfield to the ER. She was admitted – they removed a tumor that was completely across her abdomen. It had ruptured several times at some point in the past. She had surgery, chemo , and radiation – became so ill they sent her home under¬† Hospice Care- she rallied and ¬†had more surgery and was able to be home for awhile. She has numerous medical issues¬†to deal with . She has difficulty absorbing nutrients due to her ostomy, tires very easily and has medication and medical supplies to buy.

. It metatastiszed to her lung- they took a wedge section out in July a year and a half ago and she rallied had more surgery and has had almost a year and half of reasonable health.

Now it is back – wrapped around her aorta and carotid arteries. This is a very dangerous surgery and thankfully her doctor at Mercy has gotten her into Mayo in Minnesota for further treament and surgery.

Update …

They ended up removing her lung and pursuing further chemotheraphy. Then around December , her incision site , which had bern numb, began hurting. It reached almost unbearable levels of pain. After several months of battling pain conventionally, she was exhausted and discouraged. We got her into pallative care, and she  now has a greatly improved quality of life. The pain she was dealing with is a know side effect of thoracotmy. It is considered a syndrome.

She was also referred to a neurosurgeon to be evaluated about this. He found medical answers for her,  rather than surgical, which has  been a real gift.

For us,we have learned to accept each day as a gift.

We are blessed by the generosity of our local community and the people we have talked to in both American Cancer society and the Colorectal Cancer Coalition. Yet so many folks don’t even know where to begin searching for help. We are also a¬† proud people here in Newton County . We have strong work ethics and believe we should handle our “own business”. Yet Cancer doesn’t care about Pride. The costs and the choices we have to make , just to get by during cancer¬† can wipe out resources and wear down the Spirit. The mean income level here in Newton County is $12,000.00 . It is almost impossible to meet emergencies on that level of income!

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I think it is important to speak out and ask for the small help you need. Things as simple as transportation for treatment can be overwhelming- do I buy the gas to get to treatment , or I buy groceries for this month? How do I pay for staying away from home for testing? How do I pay for gas for the family member watching my children while I am away? What about meals for the family that is sitting by my bed? Or holding my hand and washing my face when I throw up from chemo? Who is doing the laundry at home or feeding my dogs- or washing the dishes while I am gone?

All these things DO weigh on you mind.

So, to family and friends:

We all feel helpless when a loved one is ill. But you CAN do something. Whether it is a small donation – to cover a few meals- grab a gift card to a chain like Arby’s at the check out stand and send it -find out what theri particular worries are- maybe you can help them brainstorm to deal with it – but often just listening is all they really need.

You can visit , if they are hospitalized locally- a pat on the hand or hug and sit quietly for ten -fifteen minutes – can lift a patient’s day- it gets so LONELY when you are stuck in hospital! You don’t really feel up to visiting – it is just important to have someone show up who cares. Many people are afraid to raise the subject of cancer with a patient Your friend may be wanting to talk about their illness. You don’t have to¬† say anything – LOL – just listen.

You can help family- bring food, shop, ¬†do laundry – do a few dishes- offer to feed the livestock if they farm, if they have to be gone with the patient-check on family that may be borderline able to care for themselves…

Set up a “Card a Day” circle- four or five friends get together and send a card out each day – maybe Jane on Mondays , Cathey takes Tuesday , mike does a Wednesday card -etc. You have no IDEA how much a pretty card will brighten someone’s day!-It doesn’t have to be the patient – try sending one to family members.

If you are good at research – be the go to person – find the resources for transportation and housing – meals in hospital for family- some hospitals offer this – others don’t.

Donate to the Cancer Society- your local chapter – it stays home …while national donations go for research…There are also events for those of you who walk, cycle, climb, goldf – that can help raise funds for research.

There is¬†so much you¬†CAN ¬†do to help- SMALL things add up and truly do help lighten the load.Often there is a ¬†primary caregiver- the “rock” that holds the family together- they can get wrapped up in taking care of the minutea¬†¬†and be drained down to nothing- as friend or family – watch for this and grab them for a cup of coffee or ameal – and let them know what you see happening!

Families¬†or the patient can get so overwhelmed. They become exhausted , discouraged and feel helpless. Sometimes they just need a shoulder to cry on , a quiet hug , or someone to listen when they rant and rave. Often a patient may be acting out , due to their anger and the family feels guilty about expressing anger in return – so give them a place to vent – where they don’t feel guilty. Be sure to listen – and remember that while there are “four stages of grief” no one will go through them in a set order- nor will they necesssarily go through all the stages. They be stuck in anger- many families get locked into denial- family members may even retreat from the patient, mainly because they don’t have the coping skills.( A good read to help understand this is Elizabeth ¬†Kubler Ross’s book “Death and Dying” ).

Perhaps the the most important thing you can do, after Prayer, ¬†is just let the family know you are there. It means so much to all os us.While the related posts appear inthe menu below- I am also including the links ¬†in this post – so they are easier to find”

Colorectal Cancer-How to get help with day to day expenses.

Cancer Resources- more links to help

Cancer help- Links, Numbers, Contacts

Colorectal Cancer-How to get help with day to day expenses.

 

 

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Hello world!

Welcome to Herbhome!

We live deep in Newton County, Arkansas. Our homestead is our dream place- We both have longed for a remote place , backing the National forest and were blessed to come across this one ūüôā We are a work in progress…learning , doing and living our dream.

Our homestead has many Native Plant colonies which we cherish and try to encourage to expand. We also garden, keep livestock, host volunteers-recently we got our first two bee colonies started. It was exciting to see their first honey!

This blog is an effort to share a lot of our ideas  and the learning process with others.

Serendipity- Things happen in their own time…

Life reaches out and surprises you some time !

This spring I thought I would slow down on the Festival circuit, just doing my favorite smaller ones. Then , yesterday , I came home to a surprise. A festival I had done for several years had called while I was in town , asking that we vend it again this year. I had a pretty intense self talk about it all…

After batting it around for a while , I decided we’d do it again. I have been blessed to usually hit on things that sell well, and have built a nice clientele who will buy from me at whatever Festival we show up for. We are trying to meet some financial situations, due to family illness and I feel that this is an answer to prayers for a way to meet those needs, so off we go to the Festival Circuit!

So far , all the Flux festivals (My Fave) this year at Caldron Creek, Peach Tree at Crane Missouri , and now Byrdfest at Cass on the Mulberry. Come see us if you attend any of them !

Serendipity often presents opportunities like this. I believe our job is to be open to them. Paying attention, being open to change , listening to what is being taught. Awareness is a concious act- listening and absorbing what is being said.

Sometimes it is about being aware of your strengths and weaknesses. What do you do well? What gives you trouble? These are things that are important in Homesteading as well.

One of the major problems new homesteaders run into is not admitting problem areas. We always try to urge new folks to have a sitdown with their partner and have an honest talk about things you are good at and things that you hate doing. then think about these is realtionship to what you will be doing on your homestead. If you hate getting stinky- don’t keep pigs, do sawdust humanure or active composting. Does the site of blood bother you? Get your partner to to do the livestock butchering or take it to your local food processing folks.Really think about what you can and cannot handle- this is where being honest with yourself is really important.

Serendipity often opens up volunteer opportunities to learn, with neighbors, or as a traveling volunteer. Pay attention if you want to learn things that help you further your dreams.

Just thinking and havign the conversations about your skills and things that you just cant bring yourself to do becomes so important…

I am not a good detail person! Thankfully , Dear Hubby is. We complement each other on this. I am perfectly happy spending the day in the garden or hiking our hollow- he likes his time out with the TV… it works , because we don’t get frustrated with each other. I am the dreamer, he is practical. We both have a wealth of the knowledge of the oldtime homestead skills..I multitask – gather materials and helpers, while he does the nuts and bolts stuff. We both know carpentry and basic mechanics. He is a electrician and. plumber- welds and has a degree in Agriculture. I am a retired Nurse and also have a degree in Medieval ¬†fabric art , with a focus on natural dyes. I am a past Master Gardener, we both have been Licensed Falconers, I have been a certified Canoe instructor and white water rescue instructor. We both love the native plants and wildlife in our area, while he is a hunter, as am I ,I hate fishing! I focus on photography, while he paints beautiful watercolors. He has a degree as a Journeyman Beekeeper and is working on his Masters. Me? I am super allergic to his pets! I love watching them fly- they are gold against the sun above our garden… so beautiful.

Point being, find where you are strong , and what your partner is better at.. listen to the things that open up in your life … Pay attention, live with awareness.

 

Listening…

Our trees are full of the wind right now. I love laying here at night and hearing it move through the hollow.

Living close to the earth like this , the things you hear are important. The sounds tell a story of what is happening in your world…

Crows are my best friend , they have 70 plus different vocalizations! They have a different sound for a man vs. a man with a gun…there is a very distinct call for a hawk and a completely different one for an owl.many hunters dislike them, because they will follow them and warn wildlife. Grain farmers also have problems, because they thieve grains..sometimes in large amounts. But for me, they are sentinels, protectors and local entertainment!

They have a hilarious sense of humor. I’ve seen a crow light on branch near a sleeping owl, then slowly sidle up beside it, look around, and ?suddenly do a raucous “Caw!” in it’s ear, flying away to sit and laugh as the owl wakes up bumfuzzled.

They tend to hang out in smaller family groups, living in one area, claiming turf. Yet I have them gather into murder of crows..hundreds in one spot, discussing , arguing, the it gets still and then it seems like they come to an agree ment and they all disperse!

They are extremely aggressive toward hawks and other raptors…ganging up on them and driving them out of their territory. It is odd here, ours tolerate our resident hawks, the Redtails, Sharp Shin and Coopers yet let a strange hawk move in and it is driven out rapidly .

One of the deep joys of living here, is our wildlife. They have a rhythm to their lives that brings me a sense of belonging, when I slow down and listen. So many things here can tell a story, just by sound alone. Deer move the forest floor with a certain rhythm, while squirrels have their own crazy start stop sound.

The creek has it own voice. I hear it sing , gurgle and roar…you can tell if it is high water by the sound. There¬† are perfect places to sit and listen to the waterfalls, or wade …but watch out for the crawfads! They have an affinity for my big toe.

Sitting on the deck, just listening …a treasure all it’s own.

 

 

 

 

 

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Food Storage Options on a Homestead

One of the biggest gifts of homestead living is being able to produce your own food. You know exactly what it is, where it came from and how it was grown and processed.

Wheee! Ok , so you grew it! Now how do you store it to keep long term?

There are as many options as there are elbows. The trick is finding what works best for you…

First, a word of advice. Start by storing things you normally use. I pick up thing I use when they are on sale. Drink a lot of coffee, Buy an extra when it is on sale.. So many beginners are excited to get a chance to try all sorts of new and exotic varieties. Start with basics, learning as you go. Oh! And don’t store everything in one place!

Now, on to the good stuff! Most food you will store needs two things: consistent temperature and protection from rodents and insect invasion.

Store items as fresh as possible. Dry foods need to have some sort of insect protection in the storage container. Canned goods need to be protected from freezing. I also like to have a front edge on shelving, since we do get occasional tremors here. I remember jars of canned food waltzing slowly off the shelf. That was a fun cleanup…

I begin storage by thinking about what we eat each week..How many chickens will we use each week? How much pasta? Do I enjoy making my own or is that a chore I hate. That helps me decide what to store. We use chicken about twice a week. So 52 weeks x 2=104 stored for the year.¬† It could be cans of chicken breast, frozen bags bought on sale and divided into the freezer. Or canned chicken from home grown fryers or roasters. That gives me broth as well…

Pasta? I love making it, so I store flour in five gallon pails , with O2 packets to help keep bugs out. If you have access to a dry pack canner, use the appropriate gas in number ten cans. If you don’t like to bake , but enjoy pasta, dry packages of pasta and put them in five gallon buckets with O2 O2 packs. You can buy many dry goods in 50 pound bags, and in turn repackage them into five gallon pails or number ten cans.I do lot of comparison shopping for my bulk storage.

Places to store food…hmmnnn. I worship my freezer! It is one of the best tools man ever invented for the homesteader. But it does take either electric or gas to run… There are tricks to maintaining its temperature if you run out of power, tho. One is to keep it as full as possible. This helps keep an even temp in it. I often put gall jugs of water in the bottom. They help maintain the temp and are a source of drinking water as well. You can also store milk this way..Be sure to empty it down to the shoulder before storing. It will explode on you if you don’t. (Water jugs too) Be sure to give the milk 24 hours to thaw completely. When it freezes the fats and liquid separate ,so they need to be shaken up to remix , once they are thawed.

If your power goes out, open your freezer as little as possible, cover it with quilts, etc. Also if it snows, you can bury the food in the snow til power is restored!

A root cellar for storage is a wonderful addition to any homestead. It can be as simple as a dug hole lined with straw, cover with straw and dirt, to a nice well designed cellar with lighting, water and shelving an root bins.

The principle behind a root cellar is that once you are below your frost line (18 inches here) the temp holds at about 52 degrees. That is perfect for storing roots and other foods that don’t take freezing well.

Basically , store your foods several ways so it isnt all destroyed if something happens, rotate it so it doesn’t so out of date and enjoy the thrill and pride of being self sufficient.

 

 

 

 

Winter in the Ozarks

How is everyone faring with this weather ?

Isn’t it incredible ? One thing about Arkansas, if you don’t like the weather , wait 15 minutes and it will change. ¬†Our weather changes so sharply , here in NW Arkansas. The contrast ¬†in just a few jours can be deadly !

Maybe today is a good day to share a little about homestead prepping for winter, now that you’ve experienced one of our colder spells…

We live behind a creek, with a treacherous hill to travel in bad weather, so we have to plan ahead a little. Some of the things that are routine, from experience are pretty important !

Shelter , water, food and fuel to stay warm are the priorities , both for us and our animals. We have been in the situation of being homebound for 8-9 days before… I think the longest was back in the 80’s for a thirteen day period. We could have forced the issue and hiked out, but it would risk a bad fall in the process, so we stayed put.

So what are the obivious thign s to do ?

Let’s start with shelter. Be sure you house is weather tight-if it’s not there are many tricks that the old timers used…(and those whose homes aren’t finished yet) such as ¬†covering windows with plastic- be sure to extend this over the seams where the windows join the walls. Many people use bubblewrap on the inside of their windows-I prefer insulated drapes that I can open to allow the solar warming from the sun- since it is nice and low on the horizon. Passive design REALLY helps here…. It often is only a 8-10 degree increase in temp, but that is that much less wood you have to use to heat your world. If you can’t afford insulated drapes, use a comforter- be sure to use one large enough to cover the edges where the windows join the wall.

Use a snake beneath your door- I make one – a fabric tube filled with sand, ashes, gravel, whatever you have on hand.

It’s often about just thinking ahead, bring ready for the seadonal changes and living with our Earth.

New Year’s Eve 2017

Snow Flurries here at Herbhome ! Happy Dance !

Something ¬†magical about snow , it always creates a overwhelming happpy feeling in me…

Haven’t posted in a while … seems like I have been spinning my wheels on the highway for months now. It is nice to stop a moment and reflect.

I am not much for resolutions. I tend to blow them off, but Carrie and I decided that 2018 will be “The Year of the Mom”. We both are caretakers .. nourishing thoses we love is very central to who we are. Sometimes our own health and well-being ¬†tends to slip off the roadside.

An important thing to remember ¬†is that you can’t care for others very well, if you don’t take care of yourself first. For those of us dealing with illness, aging issues, or busy work and family lives, it can be hard to break the habit of putting everyone else in front of ourselves. So we made a pinky swear to work on it, together. Go find a partner and ¬†make a pact! Bet it will help you to keep your resolutions better.

What things would you like to change for the New Year? How about what you’d like to keep doing ? Today is a good day to review your past year.

One of my goals is to learn to be stronger spiritually.

I want to be kinder to those I love. I need to to work hard at not saying things I can’t take back. They can’t be unsaid and often cause extreme pain. I believe it is very imporatnt to thank those around you- those close to you are deserving of courtesy and gratitude. ¬†Express your love daily!

Another is to gain physical skill in my martial arts. It has done so much for me spiritually , but also has kept me moving. (My body is starting to show the wear and tear of many years of working.) I love the precision and intense focus required in my practice.

I want to get more work done on the house, making it more comfortable.

Farm-wise , I hope to expand our garden, increasing it’s productivity. I want to add a large deep freeze to our arsenal of food storage. ¬†We need a hay barn ¬†still and hope to add a library. One of the disasters for us of our house fire in 2001 was the loss of our library. Between us , we had a huge research library and wonderful reading selection. miss it .

I’d like to do more crafting- work on my herbal- and finish my novel.

Our world on the Homestead is very seasonal, I’d like to develop an seasonal almanac to track what we “normally ” do .. .

For instance, January is when I get the green house ready for new seeds. I have baby spinach in outside beds to harvest now and some cilantro… it’s time to turn those beds and fertilize them … I am brosing seed catalogs, making selections of heirlooms to try – I usually introduce one new variety each season, Our actual garden space is fairly small, so for protection of their genetic heritage. I only use one new variety each year.

February ¬†usually has a warm spell toward the end of the month.. I try to have ground turned , ready to plant by then .. That’s when I plant early greens- and sometimes will throw in a small patch of corn. If you get the timing right it won’t be up until the next warm spell .. of course there are times when it is a goof, LOL!But that little extra effort will make a good early corn crop if it is sucessful.

March is usually for planting my root crop. The season is different here in the Hollow- I am gradually adjusting the varites I grow to meet this… it has been a learning curve, beieve me- I have almost exclusively lived high up in open areas for garden. We are now deep in a hollow, and with much less sun. So I have had to keep good records and change varieities to meet those differences. I sow my annual flowers like zinnias and coreopsis.

April tends be really wet here- sometimes to the point where root things will rot- so we occasionally have to replant.

May- this is the big garden time- planting all the summer harvest things.

Ah, well… loads to dream about!

Havea specail New Year. May all good things come your way in 2018. !

 

 

Busy Times

Haven’t posted for a while…this time of year gets so very busy!

Catching up…Let’s see, what has happened?

Carrie’s tests came back NED! Happy timesūüėä Life is so much better.

We’ve been busy working on building a workshop, reusing the supplies from our old bathroom, plus some barn boards from Phillips mill. It’s very close to being finished! Neill is setting it up just the way he wants it, with a small wood heater, all his saws and bee stuff and then one side will be for mechanical things (plus I get my back porch back!! Yay! ) .

Doelings are weaned, Moonbeam is bred and is drying up…going to miss her milk…have plenty stored for my soapmaking..canned a bunch before we dried her upūüėĀ

We have two amazing youngsters from Scotland volunteering with us right now, Jamie and Krista (Krista is actually from Latvia) …both of them are a real asset…we have bern getting lot done.

Main focus has bern on the garden…getting the greenhouse prepped for extended crops and planted, and doing fall cleanup in the raised beds. Krista made a mini bridge to cross the spring run off and a nice stone step up between the terraces!

Neill is doing his Journeyman’s class this year in bee-keeping…so far is holding his usual “A”…makes it look easy..grrrrrr.ūüėą They are thriving..hoping to sell some honey commercially next year.

I have crafting fever..ideas overflowing..looking enviously at fabrics ..told myself no more until current projects are caught up, Haha!

Harvested Jewelweed for Soap and Salves, have it infusing in organic olive oil…Plantain and Wild Lettuce made salve, Elder made both tincture and syrup as well as jam…

 

I love Fall! The turning colors, the changes in the light, the falling of the leaves…sometimes just quiet in my rocker, watching a single leaf swirl on the wind…

We have some wonderful youngsters helping us currently…Jamie and Krista are Scots, Krista is from Latvia , originally. Her accent is hilarious, Euro overlaid with a Scottish burr!ūüėĀ They are cycling across the US, learning a little of our Culture.

They have busy, helping with everything…hauling lumber, sawdust, we’ve Hiked, cooked, and talked the world over…ahhhh..Neill N Jamie on politics! Now theres a conversation to be listening to!

I truly will miss these two. IMG_20171007_144435_hdr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herbal Salves

We use our homemade herbal salves for so many things. Often our volunteers ask about them, so here goes!

They very simple to make and yield such wonderful goodies for us to use…most from our gardens here on Herbhome. Good herbs, grown on the homestead, can add a lot to your lifestyle. We cook with them, use them in our soaps and Dream Pillows and make many teas, tinctures and salves, all out of our gardens and the woods on our place.

We garden organically, so our herbs are grown in healthy soil, without pesticides and , being the crazy granny lady, they are talked to pretty much dailyūüėá

The wild plants we use are harvested responsibly. Many of our native plant colonies have been devastated over the last decade or so, due to the current popularity of herbal cures. We try to promote responsible foraging, only taking small amounts , reseeding and protecting these wild treasures. I usually will only harvest every third year, alternating between colonies.If one of the colonies seems weak, it is left in peace.

Our old timers all knew where the herbs were, and would harvest for sale, but most of them left the “medicine patches ” be. Just like a lot of us know where to look for items in a grocery store they knew where the plants were.

The process is very basic, just changing up the oils and herbs to match your needs.  For instance, if I want a light, smooth salve, I will use something like grapeseed oil. I tend to use organic olive oil because it is so nice on my skin.

Most salves are made with certain proportions of oil to beeswax. I use all organics in ours. Just me bring pickey, but they are for my family ūüėĀ

I like to make mine with nine parts infused oil and one part beeswax, with one capsule of Vit E per cup as a preservative. Using a double boiling to prevent scorching, I melt the beeswax and slowly still in the oils. I add the vitamin E, and then pour into a sterilized jar or tin. Label, label, label!

To make the infused oil, I take freshly harvested herbs (you can use dried, if you need to) and macerate them (crush ¬†or break) filling a quart jar.Then I cover them with the oil of choice…using a dinner knife or narrow spatula to remove air bubbles. I seal, label and set them back for six weeks . Shake the jar gently daily, and if the level of oil drops, top it off.

When you are ready to make your salve, strain the oil for use.

If you want a stronger infusion, replace the herbs with frsh and let infuse several weeks more.

I make Comfrey, for bruises, aches and pains, Arnica for sore muscles, Chickweed and Plantain, for bugbites, Rosemary and Lavender with Yarrow for infection and Lemon Balm and Lavender for soft skin..

There are many other great combinations, but this is a good, basic collection for your herb cabinet! As always, we make no medicinal claims, these are just things we use.