Monday, October 22, 2012

Around the Homestead


My goodness!  It's hard to find the time to write here.  Life is just so busy!  But, I'm trying to take inspiration from the many spiders around here these days and get back on the writing train.  After a long hiatus, I think I'd like to continue with the "Around the Homestead" posts each Monday.

After a rather hectic and all-over-the-place summer, we are beginning to settle into a nice rhythm this fall.  And it feels so good.  Our days have been full of autumn activities such as splitting and stacking firewood, getting the animals housing and food ready for winter, mushroom hunting, and harvesting apples for cider, applesauce, pies and so much more.  This weekend we'll be planting garlic and building a new mobile chicken coop... can't wait!

splitting, splitting, splitting... and more splitting
and still so much more to go!
Birch and Sarsaparilla have been hunkering down in the barn quite a bit since the rain started.  I'm working to get the barn nice and cozy since they've been spending so much more time there.   
Been enjoying perfecting vegan/gluten-free apple pies this fall.                         
Spending time in the old growth while hunting for mushrooms has been nothing short of divine.
And we are embarking on our annual fall cleaning spree.  I know that most folks do spring cleaning but, around these parts, the major push occurs in the fall.  It feels most needed when the weather turns cold and wet and we begin spending more time inside.  There's an undeniable need to massively clean house... and purge, purge, purge!

It feels SO good to be pushing things out the door.  It's downright amazing (and ridiculous) how much stuff amasses.

So, here's to autumn, spiders, writing, and getting rid of stuff....  Cheers!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Herbal Healing Salve

Our new cows are settling in so nicely.  They are becoming more and more comfortable everyday in their new home.  The barking dog that lives across the street that they can hear, but cannot see, is still a bit of a stress factor for mama Birch.  But, other than that, she seems as relaxed as can be.  The best we could have hoped for!

Birch came to us with a few small, but painful looking, nicks on her teats.  There was a yearling in the herd that she came from who thought she'd get some extra milk (round two!) with all the newly freshened mamas this spring.  The yearling rendered many of the milky mamas a little beat up in the teats.


Sequoia and I set about making some healing salve for our sweet mama cow.  It was a great science week for Sequoia's homeschooling - botany, chemistry and health in one week!  She studied all and harvested most of the herbs we used for the salve.  The only herb we were not able to harvest and dry ourselves is the echinacea root.  The salve is so soothing and healing I have also been using it on Jade's teething-related rash.  It has all but cleared up the rash in less than 24 hours!

  • 4 tbsp dried and finely chopped plantain leaves
  • 4 tbsp dried and finely chopped chickweed
  • 2 tbsp dried and finely chopped comfrey leaves
  • 2 tbsp dried and finely chopped calendula flowers
  • 2 tbsp dried and finely chopped echinacea root
  • approximately 1 cup coconut oil (enough to cover the herbs well)
  • enough beeswax to get the consistency you want
  • 3 capsules of vitamin E (the ones I used are 400IU's each)

  • finely chop all your dried herbs
  • measure out the desired amounts
  • add all the herbs to a crock pot or double boiler
  • add the coconut oil (adjust the amount accordingly so that your herbs are sufficiently covered)
  • heat the oil/herb mixture for a minimum of four hours on very low heat, checking on it frequently to make sure that it is not too hot - the herbs should not burn or overheat or some of the medicinal quality is lost
  • strain out the herbs through a cheese cloth, squeezing out as much of that liquid gold as you can get
  • return the oil to the crock pot or double boiler and reheat over low heat
  • add as much beeswax as you would like to get the salve consistency you want (you can take little spoonfuls out and put in the fridge to cool rapidly to check your consistency - adjust accordingly with either more beeswax or more oil depending on if you need it thicker or thinner)
  • poke holes in the vitamin E capsules and squeeze the oil into the mixture
  • at this point, you could also add any essential oils that you might want for fragrance or healing properties (I split our batch in half and left one half plain and added peppermint essential oil to the other half.  Peppermint is good for mastitis.  Plain is good for a nursing calf. Peppermint for her udder, plain for her teats.)
  • once you have the consistency that you like, pour your warm salve into little jars.  I used two 4-ounce canning jars.
  • let your jars sit over night until the salve is thickened and set
  • use liberally and enjoy!

From teats to tushies, this stuff is really great.  My hands love it too, especially this time of year when they are all dried out from time working in the soil.  I strongly encourage giving some salve making a go.  It's really easy, lots of fun and really satisfying.  And feel free to mix it up with your herb, carrier oil and essential oil selection!  Next time I think I might add some yarrow or Oregon Grape root.

Happy concocting! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Daily Gratitudes ~ 3 ~ Holy Cow(s)!

Sorry for missing a couple days. The following should explain why....

I am so grateful to be welcoming our latest family members!  Welcome to the tribe miss Birch and baby Sarsaparilla!  We are so happy you're here!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Daily Gratitudes

Hello lovely people.  It's been a while.

In an effort to get myself coming back to this space on a regular basis again, I am going to try to post every day for at least two weeks.  The posts will be short and simple.  A photograph and a gratitude.  Simple as that....  Something this new (again) mama can handle.

Thank goodness for a break in the rain!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


the arrival of our beautiful new son!

Jade Oriah was born on February 16th at 2:58 pm into my own arms (I caught him myself!) in the warmth and comfort of our home.  He is healthy, happy and strong, and we are so grateful to have him with us!  We are all madly in love and enjoying the timeless, blissful babymoon.  No need to do much else than snuggle a sweet little babe and rest and recover.
Yup... definitely deep, deep in love....

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Waiting Game

As of today, we are one week away from my due date.  Wow!  I can't believe it!  This pregnancy seems like it both crawled along at a snail's pace and flew by at the speed of light.  It just feels strange that we are here, at this point.  The waiting game point.  Every night I go to bed wondering if tonight will be the night?  Will I wake up in labor?  Will I be holding a new little one in my arms before this time tomorrow?

Yeesh!  It's crazy-making... and so sweet....  An excitement and anticipation that is only felt but a few times in a lifetime.  Mmmm... moments and feelings to treasure.

Some images of things keeping me busy as I wait for this new little one to arrive....

Our area was rocked by a snow and ice storm that required some extra critter care and some major clean-up efforts.
The bees did just fine!

Everything was coated in at least an inch of ice.

Our local wildlife got a little extra help as well.
The thrushes were very happy for the bird seed we threw down for them.

Many, many trees and branches were lost.
These are the branches of our beloved almond tree that was eventually lost.

Many hours have been spent at the wheel... yay!
And, I discovered a love of Shetland fiber.

Woodstoves are the best thing ever.

Knitting, knitting, knitting....

The storm was followed by at least a week of beautiful sunny weather and warmth.
The bees have been ever so busy, out looking for early forage.

This handsome fella has also been loving the sunshine and warmth.

Hours, upon hours, upon hours have been spent rubbing this ever growing belly.

And beautiful sunrises have been such a gift!
Here's to another evening of wondering what the night may bring!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Snuggling In

Hunkering down and snuggling in is what life seems to be all about these last few weeks.  Both kids have been sick with a head/chest cold that just won't quit and Steve and I have been cleaning and organizing fools.  We seem to have no desire what-so-ever to leave the homestead.  We'd all just very much prefer to stay cozied up to the fire tending to the needs of health and home.  And that suits me just fine.

We are being blessed with a beautiful winter storm at the moment that is greatly adding to the mood.  The world outside my door is white, fluffy and magical.  There is nothing that brings a sense of quiet and peace to my world quite like snowfall.  I absolutely love it.

And this is where I have been spending much of my time during this storm:

Our nearly finished solarium!  I can't tell you how good it feels to have this project almost complete.... It has been a long time in the making.  The tree fell and smashed the original structure in three years ago!  I can't believe it has been that long.  All that's left is finishing work, but the structure itself is complete.  And what a cozy, lovely spot it is!  The woodstove heats it pretty well and it is so nice to have a spot to chill that is surrounded by windows and feels like we're outside, especially in the grey of winter.  I am really looking forward to getting the finishing work done and officially checking this project off my list!  Woot!  Woot!

Yes, quiet and mellow most definitely are the words of the day today.  Elderberries are simmering on the stove for another round of elderberry syrup for those coughing kiddos, fires are crackling in both woodstoves, snow is falling thickly and silently outside, the baby in my belly is moving less and less as it settles in for birth, and my mind and body ease more deeply into the slower rhythms needed for the transitions ahead.  I am very thankful for the opportunity this winter cold and storm have given me to slow down and snuggle in.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Little Bit of Light

Hello again, friends.  Sorry for the long hiatus.  It has been a very busy few months, what with the putting the greenhouses to bed, putting up food for the winter, homeschooling, work, the ever-growing baby and belly, and the thousands of projects that are always taking place on the old homestead.  There just isn't room in the day for computer time unless it's work-related.

But, you know, I would really like to get back to regular updates.  Really I would.

On an exciting homestead note, we decided a few weeks ago to move ahead with the land clearing project. Clearing is actually not really the right word.  We are heavily thinning the forest on about 1.25 acres of our land.  The long-term goals are to get the remaining trees healthier and stronger (so we stop having so many topped and downed trees every time we have a windstorm), let more sunlight into our land and home, and eventually get a nice healthy pasture seeded and growing strong beneath the remaining trees so that we may graze some livestock.

It is amazing how different the land looks and feels with more open space and light.  I can't stop walking around with my mouth hanging half open and day-dreaming about fence lines, pasture seed, garden beds, loafing sheds, and critters.  I can't wait to raise our own livestock right here, a hop, skip and a jump from my own front door!  The future is looking a little brighter here at Howling Wolf, quite literally, with more visible sky through the dripping rainforest canopy.

Well, as I stated before, time is beyond precious these days, so I'll have to keep this post brief.  But, let's hope I can manage to return regularly to this space for fun updates and info!  For now, I will leave you with some greenhouse images from the later part of the summer season.  It's pouring now and so dark I absolutely need lights on to read by, so a little summer light and brightness seems quite nice....

Wow!  Just looking at those photos made me feel warmer, immensely grateful and deeply nourished!  What a great reminder in the darkness of a winter storm!  Happy New Year everyone!