How to Heal Wounds; the Wise Farmgirl’s Pharmacy

Booboo is our oldest cat in the house right now.  He is in his second generation of kids.  He waits excitedly by the door if Maryjane arrives.  When Booboo was a kitten, our son Andrew trained him to run to his room if he played Bob Marley.  Booboo walked around sporting a tiny Jamaican hat with fake dreadlocks.  This kitty is beloved.  Apparently not so much to our young cat.

Chuck wants to be king, apparently.  Who can really understand cats?  I wonder why they are my favorite animals sometimes with all their ferocity and claws.  Or teeth, in this case.

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The night before last, we turned out the light and Booboo jumped on the bed and curled up between us as always.  We noticed a horrible smell and he was suckling madly in the dark.  We turned on the lights and noticed that he had two very defined bite marks on his hip.  Deep, about a quarter inch, and oozing with puss and infection.

These are the times I am grateful to be an herbalist.  Not much throws me.  I grabbed the wound healer, and using a dropper, applied it into the wounds.

Yesterday morning the puss was gone but the smell was there and I could see the muscle tissue in his leg.  (Chuck is grounded, by the way, and may very well become the shop cat at our new store!)  I went out to the garden and harvested calendula, yarrow, echinacea, and comfrey.  Calendula, echinacea, and yarrow are anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and are natural blood cleansers and antibiotics.  Comfrey could honest to god heal the world.  It binds tissues and bones and heals quickly.  I placed these into a wide mouth pint jar with 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt and poured boiling water over the tea.  That sat and brewed for about an hour.  I left a little room to add cooler water to make it temperate.  Once it was cool, it was ready.

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Booboo was certainly a good sport and let me squeeze the fomentation into the wounds using a flat cotton pad.  I added the wound healer again.  The wound healer was used that morning as well.  A repeat application of tea and wound healer was given again last night.  This morning it looks clean and on the mend.  He will get the same treatment today and I have no doubt that by tomorrow morning he will be nearly healed.

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It is always wise to have herbs on hand to make fomentations (a tea you put on topically) or infusions (a tea you take internally for medicinal purposes), but a good wound healer can save the day.  We have used it when Doug cut his finger down to the bone with a hatchet.  We have used it for burns from the wood cook stove.  We have used it for every cut or wound.  It replaces stitches, kills infection, and helps the body heal itself quickly.  It also helps with pain.

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First start with a base.  This is an extract.  In a pint jar, fill 20% with herbs like the ones listed above and top with vodka.  Leave in the window for two weeks.  Pour some of the finished extract into a half-pint jar, about 1/4 full.  Fill the jar with filtered water.  This is your diluted base for wound healer.  (Believe me, you need to cut it.)  In a 4 ounce jelly jar, combine 1 part finished, diluted base and 1 part aloe vera gel.  (Please make sure it is actually aloe vera gel!  You’d be surprised what they put in cheap aloe vera.  You should opt for the bottle that is nearly 100% aloe vera gel with a small percentage of preservative.  Otherwise it will rot too quickly.)  I like to add about 10 drops of tea tree oil and 10 drops of lavender.

There you go!  You are ready to take on cat bites, sunburn, cuts, boils, and battle wounds from the garden or kitchen.  This is a great addition to your homestead pharmacy!

For more recipes and to build your own homestead pharmacy, click HERE to check out my book, “The Homesteader’s Pharmacy” on Amazon.

 

How to Make a Nourishing, Infused Oil for Dry Skin

It is so dry around here that I do believe a stale cracker blowing across the desert in a windstorm has more moisture than my skin has right now.  Colorado is always dry-most of the state is high desert- but winter is the worst!  It is time to make a nourishing infused oil and calm that itching down.

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A small crock pot is perfect to keep in the bathroom plugged in.  After the concoction is infused in the crock pot, you merely have to turn it on warm as you get into the shower.  Or pour a bit into the bath.  Use on lips, hands, face; the whole body will just absorb it with fervor.

You can easily just use the oil as is.  In Ayurveda sesame oil is used.  Olive oil is a natural sunscreen and has a long shelf life.  But I am more of a sunflower girl, myself.  Rich in vitamin E and oleic acid, sunflower oil is nourishing and absorbs easily.  I am also an herbalist so I infuse some medicinal herbs into my oil.  It makes it all the better.

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In 32 ounces of sunflower oil poured into the crock pot, I added a small handful of roses, calendula, mullein leaves, and lemon verbena.  I let that infuse on low for a few hours.  The herbs are dried so they won’t mold and sunflower oil lasts easily two years.  Other herbs that might be nice are lavender, pine, or geranium.

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No need to strain.  I use my fingers to apply but you could use a small sponge.  This time of year the oil absorbs faster than you can apply it so be liberal and feel great.

Our Farmstead in August (chokecherries, herbs, bees, and helpers)

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August is a beautiful time on a farm.  The daily rainfall (incredibly rare) has made this place look like an absolute Eden.  Allow me to give you a tour in photos with your morning coffee.

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This wouldn’t be Pumpkin Hollow Farm if there were no pumpkins.  Princess orange pumpkins and green pinstriped pumpkins are quickly filling the front yard.  Some have taken over the herbs.  Some have volunteered in the back pasture and in the mulch pile with the help of our neighborhood birds.

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We grow dozens of herbs for the medicines we make.  Our bees need not scurry far as they are immediately drawn to the medicine gardens.  Calendula (for mouthwash and skin conditions) mingles with Bidens Ticks (a strong anti-biotic when mixed with juniper berries).  Blue Lobelia masquerades as a prim and proper flower when its real superpower is in opening airways and has a place in my asthma medicine.  Funky red Monarda (also known as bee balm) is great in cold medicines and in my brain extracts.  Another picture of fluffy calendula brightens up the herb garden.

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The bees have been tremendously busy bringing in bloomers full of pollen from the sweet herbs surrounding them.  Should we get a bit of honey this year it will taste of summer and herbs.  Wild Herb Honey.

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Such bounty we have received from our dear gardens.  I was surprised to see that even though I stole their tomato cage and stopped watering them the shelling, snap, and snow peas all continued to grow.  I shall try to extend their season next year.  I did not expect them to survive through summer.  The tomatoes are growing with a new vibrancy now that the sun has started to show hot on their beds.  The green beans are irrepressible and the corn is taller than me.

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Another thing taller than me is the mullein.  We let it grow in the yard instead of mowing it down and it is a powerful tool in our artillery for everything from asthma, colds, nerve pain, and digestive disorders.  This herb is a gift!

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Another gift of August is chokecherries! So many people ask me what a chokecherry tastes like and I am ever surprised that a lot of folks have not tasted the sweet taste of chokecherry jelly.  They are not eaten plain.  A small bite will taste like a drying powder in the mouth.  They are boiled with water and the juice is used to make a myriad of recipes from chokecherry tapioca to chokecherry pudding (an American Indian tribe Crow recipe eaten with deer jerky) along with chokecherry jelly that my grandmother used to make and my new favorite, chokecherry gin, that my friend Sandy made!

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There is something magical about berry stained fingers.   A sense of place and of the earth, the warmth of the day, an adorable helper, and the promise of goods to eat during the winter create a peace only found on farms.

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Though we are as busy as our bee hive, we take time to see the flowers, smell the earth after rain, bask in the sunshine, and give thanks for nature’s gifts,

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and fully enjoy summer for winter’s winds will be knocking on our doors before we are ready!

 

The Apothecary Garden

An Apothecary Garden is an important addition to any farm whether your plot is an apartment balcony or large acreage.  Herbs easily grow in pots on the porch or a south window in the house or in their own space in the garden.

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Apothecary gardens have been a staple in every culture around the world for many, many centuries.  The religious leaders were generally the herbalists, medicine men, and healers of the village.  Herbs have amazing healing powers and are every bit as effective and much more safe than pharmaceuticals.  Herbalists have been known as healers since the beginning of mankind.  Sometimes these things are met with cynicism.  I know how to make a broken bone heal in two weeks.  Folks that aren’t aware of herbs are confused about this.  My own family stems back to the Salem witch hunts where many of my herbalist ancestors were burned at the stake.  Herbs are wondrous and miraculous, but met with confusion all the same.  My goal is to take the woohoo out of herbs.  They heal.  End of story. Now let’s get your Apothecary garden going!

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Peppermint is a staple everyone should have.  It is a mild pain reliever but its real job is in the digestive area.  It will calm an upset tummy, help stop heartburn, even heal stomach lining due to ulcers or colitis.  It is carminative, meaning it is anti-gas!  A cup of tea is delicious and with a little chamomile and ginger (which contain the same digestive properties) you will have a fine medicinal tea ready for the taking.

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St. John’s Wort is becoming harder to find to grow, but if you can get it, grab it!  The pharmaceutical companies use a derivative of St. John’s Wort that is then lab created to make chronic pain medications and anti-depressants.  If you can change the structure of the constituent then you can patent it.  Can’t patent something God made up.  He was there first.  Therefore, you cannot make very much money peddling a plant.  Big pharma is after a bit more money than that.  Making a tea of St. John’s Wort flowers, leaves, and rose petals is every bit as strong as an anti-depressant/anxiety medication.  There are corporations out there that don’t want you to know that!

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Valerian is a beautiful plant that will get your sleep cycle back into a peaceful rhythm.  It is also an excellent pain reliever.  Add catnip and chamomile to go to sleep.  Add California Poppy and St. John’s Wort for an excellent sleep remedy.

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Stinging Nettles will stop allergies in three minutes flat.  Take care when harvesting them (they aren’t called Stinging for nothing!) and dry them in a paper sack.  Crumble them up and make tea with them.

Dandelions can be made into tea or salad to help heal the liver and gallbladder.

Red Clovers help with women’s health, uterine health, and breast and uterine cancer.

So the weeds that pop up in the garden are there for a reason too!

There are Apothecary gardens that are designed in a circle with paths leading north and south, west and east.  There are Apothecary gardens that have winding paths.  I turned the front three feet of my long front yard into our garden.  The left side is medicinal plants and the right side are culinary (which also have medicinal qualities) herbs.  One large section of the garden holds the Poppies and Calendula (great for skin when infused into oil) to inspire beneficial insects to the garden.  Pots of herbs line the porch and in the winter are brought in to line the window sills.

Head to the nursery and see what you can add to your garden.  Want to learn more and completely take charge of your family’s health?  Look up my correspondence classes for Certified and Master Herbalists and take control of your medicine! http://gardenfairyapothecary.com

I am also leading an herb walk and medicinal tea talk Sunday, June 30th from 10-12 at Castlewood Canyon.  Meet at the visitor’s center.  Their cost is $7.