Posted in Farming

The Intricacies of Placing a Seed Order

Oh it is one of the best days of the year for me! Not my birthday, not my anniversary (that’s next week), not Christmas, it is the day I placed my seed order! Do you know this joy? Oh happy day. My seed and orchard orders are in.

I know quite a lot of folks who are just starting a garden this year. And there are some of us that are moving more towards subsistence farming and those of you that want to start farming as an occupation. So, how many seeds? What do you plant? Drooling over the gorgeous photographs in seed catalogs not only causes hunger but a bit of confusion. Where do you order from? What should you expect?

What are your goals?

So you are just starting out. The proud new owners of my urban homestead that I sold in August plowed down all of my gardens, according to my neighbor. They can’t wait to start a quaint salsa garden. After I let out my breath, I realized that maybe they don’t have time to farm like I do. Maybe a few tomatoes and hot peppers is what will bring them joy, and that’s okay! If you are just starting out, maybe choose ten things that you really love to eat. Maybe even five. Don’t get crazy with new things. Stick with the tried and true.

What is your gardening zone? When is your first frost? Look at how many days it takes on the seed package to see when you can harvest. And then add a month! If it’s really hot in your area, you will need to sow cold crops early. And you can sow them again in July for fall harvest. If they are a summer crop, you cannot plant until after the frost. Some things are going to be started indoors or you can buy f@#k up plants (a term I got from the hilarious book, The Wisdom of a Radish. It is when farmers can’t get their seedlings to grow and have to buy plant starts. This relatively refers to tomatoes and peppers.) and plant them the third week of May. There is a lot to think of so don’t go overboard with the seed order yet! Choose ten things. And go from there.

So you want to start a farm. I guess we got tired of selling all of our best stuff. We sat at our booth amongst the bigger farms with their tables filled with produce from California and Mexico, that they passed off as their own, and their piles of corn in May for cheap, as hundreds of unsuspecting patrons bought up peppers with stickers on them. The funny looks I got trying to get a buck an onion. Selling out and taking our forty dollars out to eat because we had sold our best stuff and we were too tired to cook anyway.

Niche crops and a good market are key. And anyone that has a desire to start a sustainable farm is golden in my book. My friend, Ethan farms in New York and lamented to me on the phone about how the Amish come in with their sixteen kids as slave labor and drive the prices way down at the market. There is always something. But if you have the heart for it, think big! How much space do you have? What can you grow that is unique that would be of interest? Do you have a good market nearby or a place to do a roadside stand? Make sure you grow enough for yourself as well and take a day off. Or at least half a day off. Sustaining yourself is as important as sustaining the next guy. Your personality sells the produce. So have a beautiful display and a big smile on your face when selling produce.

So you want to be a subsistence farmer. Amen sister. I hear ya. This is a new phrase for me. To feed oneself and to teach others to feed themselves is more important than taking fifty carrots to market to sell to folks who want a half price deal. So when choosing seeds, think of space. If I have a fifty foot row that I am going to plant green beans in, and I am placing them six inches apart, and the seed packet has fifty seeds in it, then I need to get two packets or one size up. Yes? Don’t get crazy now here either. I wanted to plant leeks. I love leeks. You only use the bottom third of leeks. They take 120 days from transplant. I could do it (barely) but I could grow bunching onions in half the space and have twice as much onion in my fried potatoes.

I am intensively farming a quarter acre by hand with sustainable methods. I ordered over 75 different varieties of vegetables, herbs, and grain. I ordered 12 different varieties of fruit trees and bushes. I spent a smidge over $900. Next year I will cut that into a third because of the perennials and what seed I will save, and the year after will be even less, until I am saving all my seed. For this reason, I ordered almost entirely heirloom seeds and fruit. My root cellar and pantry will be brimming with delicious food to choose from all year and I can back out of the marketplace a bit more and more. In a few years when everything is up and going, I will save $8000 a year on groceries. And of course I will grow all of my own medicines and culinary spices. I ordered a lot of seeds because variety is the spice of life and without animal products in our diet, these beautiful plants make up our entire home grocery store leaving us to only purchase staples like flour, sugar, coffee, etc. I made sure to choose some crops that are ready to harvest in late April and those that will store through January to give us as much food security and variation as possible.

Getting Started and the Bottom Line. I like Seed Savers. I got the items that weren’t available through them from Territorial Seeds. And the remaining three items on my list I ordered from Johnny’s. I ordered all my heirloom fruit from Trees of Antiquity. I love heirlooms because I love plants that can tell an interesting story. Being a history lover, I want my food to tell tales of pioneers and indigenous growers instead of what the inside of a lab looks like. Plus I can save my seeds. One of my very favorite vegetables was Shiso, a spicy Asian green, that I saved the seeds from but the chickens got into them while they were drying on the porch and they are no longer available anywhere I have looked. Save your seeds.

If everyone planted food where they are, we would change the course of the planet. We would be healthier, the planet would be restoring, our children would be able to care for themselves in the future. All the environmental woes of the world can start being erased by planting some seeds and feeding yourself. It all starts with a seed order.

Posted in Herbal Remedies

Never Fear a Virus Again

Those old survival instincts like to create panic and the news loves to induce it. Viruses have been around since the beginning of time, I’m betting, and many have become worse because of our own doing. We have created drugs that are making the bacteria morph and resist. Perhaps illness and natural disaster are ways for the earth to control population. Whispers about government conspiracy trying to control population abound but we do enough damage ourselves with pollution, drilling for oil, animal agriculture, GMO’s, and lifestyle, so we needn’t worry about the government! Let’s just get down to it, a virus is a virus. It’s a cold- sometimes a bad one- but a cold nonetheless. Now, turn off the news and let’s get some tried and true remedies into your homestead apothecary so you don’t have to worry about the flu, the Coronavirus, or a sinus infection. We are not trying to come up with cures or shun doctors, we are trying to prevent and catch things early.

Oregon Grape Root

The good thing about new viruses is that they are none the wiser about our western herbs. If you think herbs are just mild immunity boosters, think again. I’m not talking essential oils or tea bags here, I make herbal medicine that is more effective than anything that big pharma can come up with. Nature is more than happy to help you heal and live a life that does not revolve around fear of getting sick. So, let’s get started.

First, where do you get these herbs? I highly suggest you grow them. Many of our best allies are becoming endangered and extinct. In a few months, seek out a plant nursery that sells plant starts. If you live in Colorado, two of my favorites that have tons of medicinal herbs are Tagawa Gardens in Parker and Desert Canon in Canon City. No yard or green thumb or it’s winter? You can order online. Just google “organic echinacea.” You can find reputable, small farmers that sell it. Or you can go with one of the bigger companies like Mountain Rose Herbs or Starwest Botanicals.

Here are some herbs to start gathering. Try to get one from each section.

For Sinus infections you need an antifungal:

  • Walnut (leaves or hull), black walnut even better.
  • Garlic
  • Mugwort

For Sore Throat:

  • Bear Root (Osha) is a great antibiotic
  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint

To stop the sniffles:

  • Stinging Nettles
  • Peppermint
  • Dandelion
  • Rose Hips

For lungs you need a cough suppressant:

  • Mullein leaves and flowers
  • Valerian
  • Willow Bark

To break a fever:

  • Willow Bark
  • Feverfew
  • Catnip

To open airways:

  • Ephedra (no it’s not dangerous. You will probably need to grow it. It is not illegal to use it or sell it. The bastardized version from the lab, ephedrine, caused all the trouble back in the days of quick weight loss.)
  • Mormon Tea (the American version of Ephedra)
  • Thyme
  • Indian Tobacco (Lobelia Inflata)

Specifically Anti-Viral:

  • Echinacea (also anti-cancer and anti-biotic)
  • Yarrow
  • Lemon Balm
  • Sage

Specifically Anti-biotic:

  • Juniper Berries
  • Oregon Grape Root
  • Barberry Root
  • Bear Root
  • Garlic
Echinacea

In a quart jar add 8 Tablespoons of dried herbs of choice (try one from each category) and fill 3/4 of the way with rum and 1/4 of the way with honey or agave. Sit in sun for a week, then move to a cupboard, shaking occasionally, for 3 more weeks. Don’t strain, just pull out what you need. Take 1 teaspoon when everyone is sick around you, 1 teaspoon 6x a day when sick.

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Now, it’s all well and good to take herbal medicines to heal, but if one continually taxes their system, the herbs will only go so far. Other ways to boost immunity:

Green smoothies and juices once a day are very important for antioxidant and vitamin intake.

Fresh air while walking or riding a bicycle.

Stress reduction

Surround yourself with people and things you love and do work that is meaningful to you.

Eat a plant based diet so that you are eating as many antioxidants and minerals as possible.

Don’t let fear attack you. There are bits of fate we have no control of and there are things we can do proactively. Let’s just live and let the universe take care of the rest. A home apothecary will take away many of your fears and help you be ready for anything.

Intrigued? My books on Amazon can help you navigate the world of herbalism even further.

Posted in Beauty/Health

Farmgirl’s Guide to Great Skin

Twenty Years Old

I was a very pretty child who came from a very pretty family. I had a rough go there during my tweens (yikes) but pulled out of it by my teens and landed my first modeling contract when I was eighteen. I had great skin, three years of braces, and my height and natural weight were just what agents were looking for.

Twenty-two Years Old

I modeled full time for six years before, at the ripe old age of twenty-four, I was “washed up.” When your entire occupation is based on your looks, it is hard to get older. (Yes, I thought 24 was old.) As a model, one’s entire identity and worth is wrapped up in beauty and age.

Twenty-Four Years Old

So I put on more and more makeup. Got a little older. Got a lot more stress in my life. And somewhere along my late twenties, I started getting the worst skin! Acne began to plague me. And I straight out panicked! I started reading about how to get great skin. How to be more beautiful and ran across a book on herbs. Well, y’all know how that turned out. It completely changed my life and I’ve been a clinical herbalist ever since.

Twenty-One Years Old (and 3 months pregnant with Shyanne!)

Along the way, my skin cleared up, my eyes got brighter, my skin refreshed. Oh, I still got wrinkles! I earned those suckers. I am happy every year I am here on this planet, and I will take the signs of aging with grace. But, I rarely wear makeup (if I do, it is just a touch of mascara and some tinted lip gloss), and the number one thing I get asked from people, is how do I have such great skin?

Forty-two Years Old

Your skin is a mirror of your insides. It speaks of toxicity, cancer cells, stress, poor diet, dehydration, and disease. It also speaks of health, joy, vibrancy, and energetic foods. Your skin can change day to day depending on how you feel or even what you ate yesterday!

Almost Forty-Three Years Old

I have learned a great deal about the skin from being an herbalist. Cancer cells that become prevalent or that are being detoxed through the skin from the sun (a good guy) can become cancer cells in a toxic environment. I have seen many cases of Psoriatic Arthritis, where sometimes there is a hole in the skin all the way to the bone. Severe eczema, psoriasis, acne, rashes, hives; all ailments of the skin show what is going on inside the body. Even sluggish, tired skin can tell of insomnia or a sluggish digestive system. So how do we fix it?

Last Saturday. Forty-Five Years Old.

Moisturize Inside and Out:

  1. Drink 1 teaspoon of good olive oil 4 times a day.
  2. Keep a glass by the sink and drink a cup of water every time you go in the kitchen.
  3. Get a water bottle you like and take it with you everywhere.
  4. It doesn’t have to be just water! Kombucha, tea, and fresh juices all count!
  5. Coconut oil protects against sun burn and keeps skin feeling soft.
  6. Try my lotion recipe for really soft skin! It also protects against sunburn but allows beneficial sun rays to reach us.
  7. Need even more moisture? Make my skin oil for super nourished skin.

Be Kind to Your Skin:

  1. Get at least 30 minutes of sun exposure daily.
  2. Sunscreen causes skin cancer. Research it.
  3. You do not need five layers of foundation. It settles in our wrinkles and makes us look ridiculous, then clogs pores, causes acne, and makes us look even more ridiculous! Ditch the makeup.
  4. Embrace flaws. Liver spots? Guess what? They aren’t from the sun. Or the liver. We white girls get freckles, then spots. Get over it. You look great.
  5. Most skin care lines are toxic. Try my recipes for body products. I use face wash (but not every day!) and lotion. That is it. Secret’s out!
  6. Life is too short for stress. Your skin will thank you.

Check Your Diet:

  1. Green smoothies and loads of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, and whole grains have antioxidants which improve skin and slow aging. Meat and dairy contain zero antioxidants. Any nutrition you get from animal products is from the plants they ate. Skip the middle man and skip the toxins that you end up with. Dairy is especially bad for the skin.
  2. Eat lots of great spices and herbal teas.
  3. Incorporate fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha into your diet for gut health.
  4. Wild greens are blood purifying. Your skin will tell you when you need your blood purified. They will also heal kidney problems and help rebuild bone. Dandelions, goosefoot, burdock, mallow, and even kale, chard, and spinach will make your skin look fabulous.
My oldest granddaughter, Maryjane Rose.

Now, as we get older we may care less and less about our looks (do these galoshes match my apron?), but we should always associate skin health with organ health and do our best to have vibrant, youthful skin. It is easy to do! And it is kind of fun when folks are shocked that you are a grandma.

Posted in Beauty/Health

Be Your Own Pharmacist (Your Best Life, day 2)

“There’s an herb for that!” my students and I used to joke. There is, quite literally, an herb for every single ailment known to man. (Hint: it’s not marijuana.) When men wanted profit, they mimicked constituents in plants in a lab, changing their genetic form so that they could be patented. Along with greed though, there were side effects. Listen closely to commercials and read the fine print; cancer is one of the leading side effects, amongst so many other serious chronic illnesses. All to treat things that can be reversed by lifestyle.

True, it is easier to pop a pill, but the medical model as we know it is not what it should be. Modern medicine was developed for trauma care on the battlefields. Never were we intended to go to urgent care for the sniffles. A typical trip to the veterinarian will set you back hundreds and may or may not help the situation. Once you step on that wheel of medicine, it is hard to get off.

I could go on about how big AG and big Pharma are mega-forces that have brainwashed us and keep us under their thumbs out of fear, but I don’t want to get too negative here, so let’s turn it around. You can completely change your life (and quite possibly the ones around you as well) by learning how to treat thyself. By having a growing knowledge of what herbs treat what, how, and how to blend and make them into medicine, you can be your own pharmacist, nurse, and doctor to yourself, your loved ones, and your animals. Not only will one save thousands of dollars, but one can also completely turn one’s health around. And being healthy is one of the keys to living your best life.

There are so many ailments that can successfully be reversed, or at worst, managed. Most of our common ailments are from diet, lifestyle, and more prevalent, medications. Now, forget genetics. You are your environment.

I have worked full time for over a decade as a Master Herbalist, so I have seen what really good herbal medicine can do and how it changes people’s lives. Find an amazing herbalist (try my daughter, http://whitewolfherbs.com) (you will need to find someone that does more than essential oils; those are for aromatherapy), or better yet, learn yourself. Empower yourself. Being in control of your health is imperative to living your best life.

Today, pick up a book at the library or bookstore and start reading about basic herbalism. (Do not look on the internet, as most sites about herbs are going to be big pharma run.) I like Rosemary Gladstar, Tammi Hartung, and of course, I am rather partial to my own books on the matter. You can find them at http://AuthorKatieSanders.com. I even have a full text book to teach yourself how to be a full working herbalist and two recipe books to turn your kitchen into a pharmacy. You will have a lot of fun in the process.

Posted in So You Want to Be a Homesteader Series

Be Your Own Doctor (How to make your own medicine)

If you knew how many times I have uttered the words, “It’s a good thing I am an herbalist!”  We were the parents that made regular visits to the ER on weekends with everything from pink eye to a broken wrist.  For the past eleven years, there is little I have been unable to handle myself.  I can get rid of pink eye in two hours, sinus and kidney infections, and oncoming colds over night, as well as chronic issues.

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My home apothecary is filled with dried herbs from my gardens, a few that are purchased due to not growing here, and many jars of brewing extracts so that I am always ready to anything.  My medicine gardens are drinking up all of this spring rain and are ready to burst into blooms.

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Living amongst animals means that inevitably you will be treating a bite.  Emily read from her phone as I tried to stop the bleeding and keep myself calm, “One in three people end up in the hospital after a cat bite.”

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“It’s a good thing I am an herbalist.”  We were so far from my house though that we drove an hour to the town of Elizabeth instead to get to my daughter, Shyanne’s home apothecary.  I wasn’t going to be home for another six hours and I knew it would be too late by then.  Infection would surely set in.  We stopped at a grocery store so that I could at least wash it with soap and water.  I walked like a shocked crime victim to the far bathrooms.

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Shyanne gave us the code to her house.  I applied our Wound Healer and then drenched a paper towel in straight Goldenseal alcohol extract and slapped it on my arm.  Emily heard a scream from the lower floor.  Yikes, cat bites hurt.  But the medicine took away much of the pain and opened the wounds to bleed freely.

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Second day

Yesterday I cleaned the wounds again in the shower and applied Wound Healer and then our Pain Salve.  I bandaged it and went about my day.  Today the wounds are sealed, bruising is gone.  It hurts because it is in the crease of my arm, but there is no infection.  I started taking our own Antibiotic the day of the bite (2 days ago).  The medical system did not gain a penny from me.

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It is just wise to at least know basic herbal first aid.  It could save your life.  Know what herbs stop bleeding, kill infection, set bones, heal torn muscles, and help with pain.  Then move on to internal antibiotics, allergy medicines, pain medicines, and digestive help.  Heart, eye, brain, kidney, and thyroid medicines inevitably follow.  It is addictive and empowering and an important lost skill on a homestead.  I know not everyone has the same passion I do, so if you don’t want to make all of your own medicines, please seek out a qualified, talented herbalist.  (Not just someone that sells essential oils or grows pot.)

The Herbalist Will See You Now Cover

If you are local, I have a 12 week intensive Master Herbalist Program starting August 25th on my farm.  It takes place every Sunday afternoon.  If you are not local, I have a Correspondence Course as well.  Or you can check out my books, The Herbalist Will See You Now and The Homesteader’s Pharmacy to teach yourself.  They make great homestead references. Http://AuthorKatieSanders.com

Homesteader's Pharmacy Cover

Don’t forget the power of plants.  With a good grasp of herbalism, your homestead will be filled with healthy animals and humans!

If you live in Pueblo, or surrounding areas, I still make folks medicine.  My number is 303-617-3370.  You can also visit Shyanne or order from her website at http://WhiteWolfHerbs.com 

Posted in Herbal Remedies

Become a Certified Herbalist with my Online Course

Do you have the same love for herbs as I do?  Do you imagine an apothecary within your home filled with jars of beautiful dried herbs that you grew yourself and vats of brewing medicines to heal anything and everything?  Do you wish to know how to heal?  Do you imagine your own apothecary on the main street?  Greeting customers with a cup of tea and a smile and a ready cure for their dog’s arthritis or maybe their own lingering cough?  If you are tired of doling out money to others for things that you can heal yourself, maybe it is time to consider becoming a certified herbalist!

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I have been an herbalist for a long time.  I have seen nearly every ailment you can think of.  I have successfully helped heal thousands of people and animals.  I grow dozens and dozens of medicinal herbs and can identify many more.  I know Native American herbs like the back of my hand.  It is a part of my very heart.

I remember the fear of holding my newborn son, his fever raging, his lungs tired from screaming.  I remember not knowing what to do.  I remember.

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I don’t want any mother (or father) or farmgirl to not know what to do when your chicken sneezes, or your horse colics, or your baby has a fever.  Knowing how to work with herbs takes away so much fear in life.  So much worry is dispelled with knowledge.  I am not talking about essential oils here, I am talking about the whole herbs and what to do with them.  The plants are our medicine.  Let me teach you.

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My online certified herbalism study course is back and better than ever.  I have purposely set my price considerably lower than any other school because this is knowledge that is so very important.  $250 includes your text book, my recipe book, and ongoing study with me.  Take all the time you need.  We will keep in touch through email.  You can call or text me if you have questions.  Even after you complete the course.  Now is the time.  Spring is a great time to embark on a new hobby, career, lifestyle.

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Email me to register.  Katie@Pumpkinhollowfarm.net

Posted in Farming

Starting Seeds in Salad Containers

Over the years I have written about many ways to start seeds and they all have one thing in common, a simulated greenhouse.

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Now, every year I think I will have a real greenhouse.  Surely by the time I need to start seeds I will have one built or put together or otherwise exist, but then the same issue comes up every season (no funds), and so I am once again left with my own creativity.  This year I saved salad containers all year.  The kind with the lids.  You see, the key to seed starting is lots of sun and continuous moisture in a warm space.  It is so dry and cold here that I would be watering all the time and probably cause the seeds to mold.  No, I need a mother-nature-way of watering, softly and simply, with evaporation and condensation.

Many seeds should be direct planted.  Even though I added six weeks to my growing season by moving to Pueblo, I still need more time for peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant.  I found last year that when I direct planted them, they almost made it before frost.  This year I am holding back half of the seeds to direct plant and half I will transplant.  Transplanting is not always successful so we figure that one of the ways will succeed!  (And so goes the life of a farmer.)

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Fill your salad container 2/3 of the way full with organic, potting soil.  You want room for the plants to grow.  Water the soil so that it is evenly damp.  We don’t want any marshes settled at the bottom, but you might be surprised how much water the potting soil can hold.

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When it is evenly damp, sprinkle the seeds over the soil somewhat spread apart.  Barely sprinkle on more soil to cover and use a spray bottle of water to really dampen.  Until they are established, a water bottle prevents water pressure from dislodging the seed or drowning the poor fellas.

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Close lid tightly and mark with a sharpie.  Because you will forget the varietal and date you planted!  Just trust me on this.

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Let’s see, now to find a place with at least six hours of sun where the cats won’t step on or eat said seedlings.  (A more difficult dilemma than one might think.)  The guest room has a nice sunny spot on the bed from the south facing window a good part of the day and the door closes.

Now over the next week or two, keep an eye on your seeds.  There should be consistent “rainfall” in the box.  If it slows (every other day or so) spray thoroughly with water and reclose.  When plants are 1 inch tall, open the top and water as needed making sure not to let them dry out nor drown.  (You can still use the spray bottle.)  Once they get to be about two or three inches, transplant into another container separately.  (A blog post on that will be in a few weeks.)

I don’t know about you but I am darn near stir crazy not being able to be outside doing something.  At least starting seeds makes me feel like spring has begun.

Posted in Animals/Chickens, Herbal Remedies

How to Treat Parasites and Infections in Chickens (and other animals)

The chicks that we brought home were rescued by brave volunteers that worked parallel to the killing crew that came in and snapped thousands of necks by hand.  It is amazing that these chickens have lived this long.  And it might be amazing if all of them make it another month.  Some are stronger than others.  One of our girls has beautiful, sleek outer feathers and a sweet filled-in face while another is smaller than the others with a deformed shoulder and a terrible cold.

The easiest way to treat chickens is with tea in their water.  They all love their water and don’t mind the taste of the herbs.  The infusion works quickly, so I expect whoever is going to survive is going to be well by the end of the week.  No more parasites, E coli, viruses, or infections.  You can use this same technique to treat other animals as well.

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In a saucepan combine 1 Tablespoon of each loose herb-

pine needles

mint

rosemary

eucalyptus

goldenseal and

3 cloves of garlic

You could also use/sub in:

Walnut shells

Oregon grape root

echinacea

mugwort

juniper berries

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We are using a blend of herbs that are anti-parasitic and antibacterial.  Bring to a boil with 4 cups of water and simmer (decoct) for 20 minutes.  Turn off heat and let continue to infuse.  Pour 1/2 cup of infusion into small water bowl if chicks are in your guest room or the whole thing (herbs and all) into a large waterer if you are treating a whole flock.

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I cut up a pumpkin and placed it in their little pen.  They also get a tablespoon of cinnamon mixed into their feed twice a day.

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Right now we have seven chickens taking up the guest room.  I don’t want them to freeze, nor do I want them to get the other chickens sick.  In their infirmary, they are snuggled together, eating, drinking, or singing.  We take turns holding each one each day so that they get used to contact.  My cat, Frankie, loves to snuggle on my lap when I am holding the chicks.  We have a fun, little farm here.

Posted in Beauty/Health, Herbal Remedies

How to Make a Rich Skin Salve for Super Dry Skin

I have told you before; it is dry here.  Not just dry, like you might need some lotion and lip balm, it’s eczema, skin itching, nose bleed dry here in Colorado.  I love to travel places with humidity.  But, my home is here.  In the winter, lotion doesn’t cut it, even though I make the most fabulous lotion, I need something stronger in the cold, dry months of furnace and wood stove and zero percent humidity.  Last year I showed you how to heat infuse herb oils in the crock pot to keep in the bathroom for after you shower.  This year I want to show you how to make a really great thick skin salve that can be used on cracked heels, finger tips, dry patches, or if you live in the desert, all over your body!

It’s quite simple, really.  In a wide mouth quart jar add 2 Tablespoons each of calendula flowers and comfrey leaves and 1 Tablespoon of lavender and/or roses. (Try online at mountainroseherbs.com or at your local health food store.  Next year grow them!)

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Now pour in 2 cups of olive or sunflower oil.

Put jar in saucepan and pour water in pan to half way up jar.  Bring to boil.  Make sure no water jumps in the quart jar.  Double boil the jar of oil for 45 minutes.  (You could place it in a sauce pan directly and heat on medium low for 20 minutes, stirring often,  but you really risk burning it.)  I like to use a chop stick to stir every five minutes or so.  Keep an eye on your water level!

When the oil is infused, strain the herbs out through a fine sieve and put oil in a clean, dry, wide mouth pint jar.  Add 1.5 ounces of beeswax, emulsifying, or candelilla wax to oil.  Heat in double boiler again until wax is melted.  Stir with a chop stick often.

When completely melted, you can add 30 drops of lavender essential oil, or leave it as is.  Stir with chop stick once more and let cool on a towel on the counter until set.  Do not cover until set.

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The salve lasts for years but you will use it up in a month if you live in Colorado!  Wishing you warm cups of tea and perfectly moisturized skin this holiday season, my Friends.

You can find many recipes for salves and herbal medicines in my book, The Homesteader’s Pharmacy. 

Or just make it easy on yourself and order from our family apothecary, WhiteWolfHerbs.com

 

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

How to Grow, Use, and Keep Fresh Herbs

Herbs are so heavenly.  Not only are they filled with nutrition to lower cholesterol and improve circulation and immunity, they give everything a taste of fresh summer.  A bite of excitement.  A perk to the senses.

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If you aren’t used to having fresh herbs in your food, it may take a little bit to get used to.  One might be more accustomed to mint in their tea than mint in their salad!  Just start small and add more as you go.

Try cilantro on top of Asian, Indian, or Mexican food.

Parsley is nice atop savory dishes.

Basil and Oregano, of course, are the king and queen of Italian food.

Thyme is delightful baked on top of squash halves and potatoes.  Same with rosemary.

Soups adore to be simmered with dried herbs then topped with croutons and fresh herbs.

Rice with mint or couscous or in salad is refreshing.  A mixture of herbs even better.

How to Grow

In the summer, herbs grow wonderfully in the garden.  In the winter, one might want to start some in a window sill.  The plastic containers used to hold washed salad from the store are great for starting plants.  Fill 3/4 of the way with potting oil and dampen.  Sprinkle seeds on top.  Sprinkle a light amount of soil on top.  Spray with a water bottle and put lid on.  Set in sunny spot.  Use water bottle to keep seeds from drying out.  The lid does create a greenhouse effect.  Don’t overwater or the seeds will mold!  If the top soil is getting dry, give it a good spritz.  When seedlings are an inch or so tall, remove lid and continue to grow delicious herbs!

How to Chiffonade

This is the best way to chop herbs.  For leafy herbs, roll several leaves together into a small log then starting at the end slice them into small ribbons.  Smaller herbs can be minced.

How to Store

The best way to keep fresh herbs, whether harvested or store bought, is to keep them in water like a nice bouquet of flowers.  My basil actually grew roots after four weeks!  But usually fresh herbs will last about a week to ten days.  Cilantro likes to be in water in the refrigerator.  They lose their oils over time so do attempt to use them as soon as you can.