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.

Drinking Water-Our Most at Risk Resource

We had a good solid rain this am..so glad. Fire at Hawksbill Crag.

Seems like water is on the front of my mind. ¬†The pipelines and the hog farm issue, over population…high usage…

All of the above! People in general just seem to take potable water for granted. I believe it to be our most at risk natural resource.

Several years ago ,we made a trip to Cali to visit family. I took Neill to see a place we lived for a few years. It was so shocking, It was heartache to see it! Where it has been much like our area here, ¬†it is now wall to wall houses for miles! Stacked up the hillsides, almost able to lean out and touch the neighbors home…

The first thought after I recovered was “Where in the world are they getting the water for all this? ”

Some years ago there was an effort to buy water from Arkansas..it was rejected…Thank goodness!

But how many of these homes are even conscious of their water use?

How many homes reduce their water use , by installing a more efficient toiliet? Here in our area..we run into problems with this as well. When we wanted to hook Carrie’s home up to electric, a full flush toilet was required. We had talked about an incinolet, but the young man who we talked to said they keep trying to get them approved ¬†but so far no luck! That’s sad…

How  many of us leave the water running while we brush our teeth?

What about industrial use..are there any options to their methods?

What about commercial animal farms? I have a deep respect for the family who own and operate the hog farm at Mt. Judea, yet maintain an even deeper fear of the results of a leak in their facility! Rather than crucify them, we need to change the laws.

We MUST protect our water ways ….remember Green Forrest?

A whole township of home wells ¬† and springs contaminated by a chicken processing facilty…

The proposed pipelines are not something that will just affect people who live far from us! It sets legal precedent for other projects, like the Diamond Pipeline Arkansas is facing.

Don’t accept what anyone says..research for yourself! Get the facts…form an educated opinion and the act. Protest, peacefully and legally. Be proactive! Do your part on an individual level. If you can’t make large changes, do a small thing each day! They add up !

Our local area is so blessed ,both in our people and our resources. If all of us who love it work together, rather than being divided, we can preserve those treasures.

 

 

Seasonal Almanac

I had a moment of awareness hit today. Much of what we do is seasonal. We live close to the earth  and the seasons have a great influence on what we are doing on the homestead.

I have always known this. Yet I am doing a lot of “When this happens then it is time to do this…” I think it is time to have a special section set up this way – follow the process for a year and see how it all begins to align.

Fall-October

This month is time to set out bulbs- Daffodils go into the ground, Amaryllis, Iris= it is time to set out and mulch all the wonderful Mums that we’ve been decorating with.. If you get them out now , they will establish deep enough roots to survive the winter freezes.

How do you like to use your Daffodils? I like to naturalize them – the effect suits me… Some people like more formal arrangements and they can be very stunning that way –

Narcissus¬† (Paper whites) are lovely- we always used to bring them in and force them for Christmas to go with the Poinsettia’s-

Now is the time to give your perennial herbs a haircut- harvesting about two thirds of the growth РI tend to make a lot of tinctures now- getting my home remedies ready for the winter. Made goldenrod, plantain, basil  and several others just the other day.

I prefer to use a tea or decoction over tincture, but a tincture is a safe and effective way to store many of the herbs. I dry and then store a lot of herbs Рhave a nice garden cabinet friend Sue gave me Рit creates a nice dark shelf unit to store my harvested herbs. These beautiful fall days I carry a pocket full of wally world bags with me and my pocket knife and forage as I hike Рthe biggest issue is to be sure you clearly label you harvest- date gathered , where , what and the preparation- I also add other info Рlike the moons phase it was gathered in Рimportant to me for research purposes.

Be sure to keep your herbs well watered unless it actually freezing – they are building a strong root system for the winter months- even though you may not see leaf growth.

Herbs tend to take longer to germinate than veggies- instead of two weeks they can take 5-6 weeks.

I plant seeds that need stratification¬† (several months of cold weather ) now and be sure to set up id markers – my old lady brain forgets where I planted things and we also have a lot of helpers come through with our volunteers ūüôā

Now is a great time to id trees – the leaves make the ones like sugar maples easy to find- take the time to learn the bark and leaves of two or three you are interested in.

I like to advise that students follow three herbs throughout a whole year- what does it look like in  the winter months Рhow does it look when it first comes up in spring- what plants or trees does it grow nearby- what of type of soil does it like- how much sun hits it? How much water  does it use. does the color change as it grows larger?

Are there insects that live in it? Can you learn what the job insect does for that plant?

All these things help find the plant colony through different times of the year.

Livestock is coming into heat now as well- goaties are a good example- now folks who want to hit the Easter buckling market will breed earlier.. it just depends on what your need is. I like to dry up my does to be sure they are very healthy when it is time to kid. As a small farmer I have that advantage.. that intensive management is my market advantage.

Now is also the time to be planning for which plants to start from seed in last winter- what plants do you want ready to set out in the Spring- how long does it take them to be large enough to set out?

What plants are in bloom now?  Here are a few РWhite Snakeroot,  Heal-All, Wild Indigo,most of the Aster Family are still in bloom. My Spearmint, Peppermint , Catnip are all blooming still.

The Honeyoye Strawberries are sending out runners. My mouth is watering all over again !

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!

“To DO” Lists-What’s YOURS like?

Got one? That dreaded “to do” list?

Mine actually helps me ūüôā

Making lists didn’t used to be productive for me. Then I read something in a Womans Day magazine some years back that really made it work¬† by putting a new perspective on it.

A “to do ” list is a memory aid filled with SUGGESTIONS not a MUST¬† do thing.

How is it helping ?

Well, – we have a big scribble board -with four columns

We keep a NEED list- if one of us wants something or needs something the next trip to town it goes up here . The understanding si that these are budget dependent , of curse.

Then there is the one with the Day of the week and the Date up there for us old folks whose memories aren’t functioning well til there is a pot of coffee on board LOL- this is where the¬†TODAY’S WORK¬†is listed- We try to keep it down to three major items- that way it is not too overwhelming. If one doesn’t get done – it just stays up the nest day-IF it is super important on the priority list it gets a time frame set out-¬† this means – get that one done ASAP!

The third¬†one is for¬†¬†Neill’s reminders-his things he wants to remember

and the fourth is MINE Рthings I need to do in town Рor business calls to make Рorders to fill etc.

It is surprising how much this helps- also, when we have volunteers it let’s them know what next , if we are out of pocket for some reason.

We do keep a separate chore board – the everyday stuff spelled out for our volunteers- or us , if we happen to be in a time with no volunteers here.

The board is also a place to scribble where you are going if you hike- not intended as an intrusion, but a safety feature- if it gets dark -are you upstream or downstream – were you headed to town?

It truly  has helped us get a load more accomplished to keep our lists.

 

Chilly! Weather Patterns – Shifting?

Gooood Morning!

Woke up to a chilly 52 this AM !

As one of the Ancient Ones, I remember …

Old time folklore the first twelve days of january represent the months of the years – if the first is wet – January will be wet- etc.

Another one is about counting the fogs in August-the number of fogs is the number of snows the winter will bring.

We got into a deep discussion of weather patterns yesterday. I had to add my two cents worth here .

We are seeing a lot of changes. But I can remember seasons like this – Dad used to say we had three weather cycles- a three year one, a seven year one and a forty year one.

Things will stay about the same for roughly three years-rain patterns repeat about every seven years and seasonal shifts make the rounds about every forty years. in looking back – I actually was shocked to see – I think he was right !!!

Our traditional Pattern here was a couple of fair weeks early in January , then all *** would break loose- the worst of our weather usually through about the last week of February- when we would have an open spell- I usually turned garden then and pur out the early things- peas, broccoli, a small amount of lettuce – might even risk a small planting of sweet corn..It would turn bad again and then when it got better the early garden would be up and doing well.

Late March , early April it would fair up again – then storms come in – May usually was rainey and flood time- June would be hot then we’d have Fourth of¬†July lightening and thunderstorms–

August was dry – the creeks would start to drop , springs would get iffy- and the heat and humidity would be horrible- September¬†would be hot and dry .¬†October would start getting rainey-¬†another¬† of heavy floods –¬†and cold- I remember bundling up most Halloweens!

Then we’d get an indian summer through November. Thanksgiving time there was usually a snow and cold snap – then clearing off until Christmas. On the mountain we always had a snow – at least a flurry ,Christmas¬† night- then clear until about¬† ¬†week in January.

It seems like now we have the same¬†progression , but it has shifted by about 3-4 weeks¬†later in the year…

A lot of our weather here in the ozarks seems to depend on where the jet stream falls as well. Our storms are usually right on the edge of it. The years the edge of the jet stream drift down toward Little Rock we have snow- if it lands directly over us , we get the intense ice storms. It also affects our rainfall – the stroms follow the edges of the front- if it swings north of us – we are dry ..

Weather is always a topic of converstaion in the country – try it sometime !

Taking a Day Off to Dream

Life can get busy as twins. All the “should” and “musts”…

Sometimes it does the Spirit good just to take a timeout  just to rest and recoup our energy. We need  time to let our brain process everything we feed it Рand surprisingly it will come up with unexpected , unique , answers and solutions.

My rest times often produce some awesome dreams of things I hope to do here on the homestead- scares hubby a little LOL- his “Honey Do ” list gets longer !

It can also be a great time just to re-connect with why you live your life. Right now , the wind is stirring my chimes- an old belief that they scare off bad things has them hanging everywhere ūüôā -Wow! Just realized that comes from Uncle Fred¬† (My great grandfather) and all his tales of the Orient¬†ūüôā

My Shadow cat is curled up snoozing beside me, hummer’s are stocking up on sugar water- hounds are snoozing everywhere- the leaves are rustling .. just a soft day to BE.

The muscovie ducks I got from Jimmie are picking out their roosting spots , now that they are getting older-one has even decided she likes the kitchen roof- she can look through the gable window and see what we are doing..:)

I get so much joy from the world around us- I hope I never lose that sense of wonderment! When I get wrapped up in real world issues and forget to get grounded it really shows in my state of mind and behaviors. Being a type “A” personality , bent on providing the best for family,¬†it took many years to allow myself to relearn the connections I had as a child to the woods and hills I love. So it often takes a conscious effort to stop and ground when “real life”¬† rears it’s head.

My skill set has always been to make things happen- and right now it is¬†needed¬†in our family due to illness. But I also don’t want to¬†loose the things I hold dear about my life. So – time out to Dream.

Planning the medicinal garden growth- also getting a list together of what we still need to complete the wind tower- and the floor insulation the first… wishing for more tanks for water storage… and dreaming about the living roof we want for the new library we hope to build. LOL – As the boys all say – when is Jeannie EVER without a project?

I believe Dreaming keeps hooked in to Life!