Sunday, October 25, 2009

A video of feeding honey back to the bees:)

thought it might be fun to film the bees enjoying their tribute today. many people say not to do this as it can encite robbing and fighting amongst the bees. i hope this video shows that this is not the case with my bees. they have a riotous, joyful time and the house bees waiting for them in the hive are just vibrating when they receive the honey from the forager bees! i can not only sense through seeing their behaviors, my own being vibrates and glows right along with them! i realize that laying out these combs like this invites other creatures big and small and would not be able to safely do this in a more rural setting. as it is, i put up the frames at dark and re-give them during the daylight hours. i have done this for several years without mishap. something you would have to decide for yourself if you chose to feedback honey the way i do it. i let them be like the bear and glut their fill before winter and then offer it to them this way again in the spring, to help strengthen them. i consider it a gentle, organic way to feed my bees.  enjoy, they and i most certainly did!


Herbal Honeys, Bees and Organizing

Today is simply a gorgeous day! The sun is strong, the winds mild and just a sprinkle of rain once in awhile. I did go out this morning and say hello to the world. Patted our maples, noted a darling pine sapling that must be relocated next summer. She is two now and strong enough to handle the move well. Also noted the things i can get a last harvest of and jotted down the things that would need divided and shared with others. I have to get back outside before tomorrow and “weed out” (not a phrase i am found of), a few more of our prolific violet friend. A couple of years ago i went around and transplanted violets all around our little pond and she loves it there! She keeps popping up anew and i might actually get a few more leaves of new growth to save and use. She reminded me of herself today while i was organizing the cabinets. There she was time and time again. In jellies in the food pantry, and in the medicinal cabinet as well. Not to mention she has been replicated through art in many of my everyday usage items like teacups etc. I wandered to the back of comfrey cottages gardens to say hello to the bees and to bring them a gift. I had a hive not make it last winter and i am certain it was due to them getting too wet in the fall,and not disease. i had saved back all their brood box frames that had honey in them. A good idea to always save back such honey as a rule, in case your bees need the honey fed back to them. I fed them back two of these frames today just for fun really. Oh, it will used by them, for certain, but i had fed them back the honey super that was just full of mostly uncapped nectar over the course of this last week, so i really don’t think they are light on winter foods. I did it just to share the joy of sunlight with them and to pay homage to them. I love my beautiful sunshine bees. They are in for another treat soon as i strained off some lemon balm honey and i have a plate of the strained balm and i am going to go out and share that with them when i am through with this post!

So, i suppose i should have been outside more today but i chose to open the windows wide and pull aside all the curtains and straighten my various cabinets before i got to work on a few things that needed done.

This is the cabinet i store mainly the dry herbs, roots etc.



and in the bottom of it i store the kitchen appliances and tools like the sprouted. all the dried beans, grains, flours etc plus the seeds for sprouts


this cabinet is mainly for the herbs and things i use for culinary reasons, foods as medicine reasons, smudging, and glycerites, vinegars, etc etc you get the idea


that is my beekeeper suit hanging on the door there. plus lily’s little blue apron:)

to the left on the cat ledge, violet joy supervised. the milk jugs on the floor are kept refilled and the lid left off of them so the chlorine can evaporate. cats are healthier with dechlorinated water. we almost lost of kitty earl of eight a couple of times before i discovered that trick! now he is thriving and healthy.


and the yellow cabinet. this has all the jars full of herbal oils and tinctures waiting to be used and to be stores in some of the containers you see. this cabinet has alot of containers and also where i keep the seeds i have collected for next year. i found this cool metal cabinet for a real deal at 10 dollars. the downside was the paint the peeps had on it just smelled foul, so hubby and i stripped it and he repainted it one of my favorite colors:)



and david gould, my friend, if you will note the bag hanging to the left of the screen, it is the wonderful bakery bag you gave me last christmas. big hugs to you and liz:)


now that i have taken the time to sort out from the helter skelter of summer, and organize, i can work more efficiently and know what just i do and don’t have on hand.  the whole experience was just grand with the sun shining through the windows, the breeze gently carrying the scent of the outdoors and our pine, and the whole aromatherapy experience of being immersed in dozens of herbal and spice smells at once… well i was just giddy i swear!

this is a picture of the lemon balm honey and the hops and honey straining.  i feel so empowered making lovely, healthy things for myself and my family and close friends. i am certain this hops infused honey will be a great treat and benefit for someone this winter with bronchitis. and the lemon balm will be a special joy on some wintery day when someone is feeling a bit blue or non vibrant. i am thinking it will be a great benefit to one who is in the process of recovering their strength from illness also.

the next cabinet has my microwave on top of it, but the drawers and cabinet is used for mainly my canning things. I am a bit ocd in always sterilizing every container, even when they are not going to be used specifically for canning foods.



this taking time to organize and take stock has really helped me already, while in the process of doing it. i managed to strain off some honeys, catch an awesome herbal buzz through all my senses and feel some satisfaction with my learning process this year, as many of the herbs in the herbal cabinet and on the seed shelf are the results of my own gardening or wild harvesting this year. i love my wild harvest friends val and katee:)

my lovely val shared some pears with me last sunday. I have been eating a few but they were going soft quickly so decided to make a nice pear jelly which i infused with star anise, cinnamon, and tarragon. very nice! did the trick of replacing some of the juice and sugar in the recipe with honey again and really love the results:)

well i am off to check on the bees and offer them the strained lemon balm:) i have a friend stopping by at 6 to get some of my feverfew to try for her headaches. I am going to offer her a healing touch session as the same time so i must go rest up a bit too!

herbal and honey blessings and hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages. and please do share your pics of where you store your things sometime! i love to have visuals when i am sending blessings to you all:)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Am In Love with a Fictional Man…The Harvester

the harvester

I have read this book yearly whenever i am in a sweet mood it seems. the harvester by gene stratton-porter is one of my most loved books. it should appeal to many of you. the central character david langston has spent his entire lfe in the medicine wood living and harvesting with the seasons, so lots of good herbie related passages throughout. while for those who like a little romance and beauty, which again speaks to all of us with the love of nature and sweet innocent love. david has spent his life studying and cultivating herbs and plants and sells them to hospitals in the hopes of lessening the pain in the world. he is a noble man and this is an inspiring book, with a many love stories, interspersing and freely vining throughout the story.  the spots where we folklore and fairy lovers will smile are in passages such as this

“the harvester broke from a tree a large fan-shaped fungus, the surface satin fine, the base mossy, and explained to the girl that these were the ballrooms of the woods, the floors on which the little people dance in the moon light at their great celebrations. the he added a piece of woolly dog moss, showing her how each separate spine was like a perfect little evergreen tree. that is spine where the fairies get their christmas pines, he explained.

do you honestly believe in fairies?

surely! who would tell me when the maples are dripping sap, and the mushrooms springing up, if the fairies didn’t whisper in the night?….”

here is a nice link about the author

so go out and find a copy of the harvester! i am sure it is reasonable at amazon and also through library loan systems. go on, i dare you not to fall in love with david langston also!lol

Monday, October 19, 2009

Herbal Roots Zine: Giveaway Monday - November's Issue

Herbal Roots Zine: Giveaway Monday - November's Issue
if you haven't got to know kristine's lovely herbal roots zine yet, i strongly recommend you do:)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Making Elderberry Tincture and Other Things…


a couple of the jars i made of elderberry tincture today while watching Disney’s Earth video.  i had watched it once before and all i can advise is, if you haven’t seen it, you should! marvelous music, wildlife video and earl ray jones narrates. what more could you ask for! it was fun to sit and tease the frozen elderberries off their stems while watching this wonderful movie! i had harvested these elderberries awhile back and just did not have anytime to do anything with them besides the elderberry honeys i did. so froze the rest of them, right inside my carrying basket, in the basement deep freeze until today, when i took out some more to work with. i still have ALOT in the basket and will be doing more things so stay tuned for when i next have a spot of time. here is a pick of my frozen berries


you can see in that deep freeze some goats milk i have frozen for lovely cheese this winter, and also some jars of lemon balm tea, which will be a ray of sunshine one day soon:) you can just see the elderberries peaking out so you can imagine how many i got that day of harvest! i love that carrying basket! my husband won it at a turkey unlimited event i think


the other day i went to the recycle center and since we don’t have glass recycle here, someone had left all these lovely wine jugs! i grabbed them and they have been riding in my car for a week. i just today have a spot of time to myself to have hauled them inside and given them a good cleaning. i will fill a couple with water and store in our basement for an emergency and just cap and save the others until needed for whatever project i think up i need a container like that for!lol


my friend garrett has a lady ginkgo tree and has always complained about the smell of her ripened fruit. i have always tried to tell him that he shouldn’t cut her down, but after working with her fruit getting the nut out, for an hour, i wouldn’t really want to open any window during the fall if she was outside my window. garrett brought me a nice big bucket full and i spent a nauseating hour hulling them yesterday. they smell like vomit, no kidding just horrid.



but surprisingly, the nut, after being rinsed repeatedly and then baked in an oven at 275 degrees for 25 minutes, taste and smell fine! they did smell some though while cooking i will admit. my poor daughter michelle,  my oven is out so i baked them in her oven and i smelled up her whole house! thanks michelle for putting up with your mom!lol anyway, the nut itself cracks very easily and inside the nut meat is a pretty green. they just taste a bit bland, maybe just kind of green, you know what i mean, and a texture a bit like a bean. i will let you know when i try adding them to different dishes and how that does. for now, i think i will just crack one or two a day and nibble on them. lisl meredith heubner did an excellent article on ginkgo and i encourage you to read it. i followed her lead on this , my first time harvesting them. if for some reason you can’t read the link for her article, she said to tell you to just friend her on facebook and then you could read it under her notes section of her profile.

been busy with the end of harvest also. lemon balm honeys, comfrey, lady’s mantel, pineapple sage, thyme, and the last of the chamomile drying. a few infusions with the pineapple sage, which is very yummy . going to freeze a few of those in the deep freeze for later:) i used a recipe tina sam’s of the essential herbalist blog had posted.  that magazine is invaluable! other than that, been saving a few seeds from the garden some butterfly weed seed, marshmallow and others. dandelion trying to help with the butterfly weed seed!lol


and a little surprise. chickweed planted herself in this old watering can! had to hurridly pull out the copy of herbal roots zine, for march as that issue of this monthly herbal pdf kristine lovingly creates, had chickweed as the star of the month. for those of you who don’t subscribe, i highly recommend kristine brown’s wonderful herbal roots zine!


so much more i could tell you but night is coming too fast these days and i still am trying to get alot done today!

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Scenic Drive and Wild Plum Jelly

In our neck of the woods, Fulton Co. Illinois, we have our Scenic Drive on the first and second weekends of October. Even though it was a bit rainy and gloomy on Saturday, my hubby and I decide to venture out to a few of the surrounding communities.  My husband and I always particularly enjoy Mt. Pitsgah. There are quite a few Native American vendors and activities there.


my hubby ordering a buffalo burger


and some of the Native American’s were drumming, which always touches me

Yesterday, which ended up being the pretty day, found me in the kitchen, processing the wild plums Katee and I had harvested earlier. Aren’t they pretty? Well, they might be pretty but next to impossible to peal and de-pitt without loosing most of the fruit, so after muddling through with that through about 6 plums, (I waste no time when I see something is fruitless to continue!), decide to throw them all in the pot with a bit of water and just let them cook down!


so instead of the original plan of jam, I changed to jelly! lol  after letting them cook until all the skins had separated, I gave them a thorough mashing and into the jelly bags the lot went!


Note the three pretty carnations at the sink. My dear granddaughter Lily left those in my vehicle Saturday, saying they were just to show she loved me! awww

I used one package of sure jell, 4 cups of the wild plum juice and 1 cup of apple/grape juice mixture, 3 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup of honey. I really wanted to make jam as I knew how I wanted to do that with absolutely no extra sugars added, but… this is what I came up with for the jelly. The 1 cup of honey in place of 1 cup of sugar seems to have done well, so I might try substituting 2 cups of honey next time, and oh, since the honey counts a liquid also, I reduced the juice by 1 cup also.


24 hours later and all looks well. All the jars seem well sealed and it looks as if the ratios must have worked as it is well set!!


Was this worth the fact that soooo many things didn’t get done due to the time invested in gathering and preparing these lovely jellies? Well, the time spent in the wild with nature and Katee was priceless. Getting to work with a new wild gathered food, priceless again! Luckily it is pretty nice out today so maybe after Dylan goes home I can get the supers off the beehives as we had a light, patchy frost last nite. Then hopefully some last minute herb trimming and hanging to dry. Crazy gardening year! My tomatillos are so lovely and swollen but I imagine I won’t get a ripe one before a hard frost. Just last month the bees were busy pollinating them. I have heard from many gardeners that they too had bounty on some things, and famine on others. I am thankfully to have experienced this wild harvest though and will gladly sacrifice the tomatillos in exchange for her bounty with the wild plums!

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro.

for those of you who haven’t heard the news, you need to read this article. and if you haven’t any elderberry medicine yourself, you should get stalked up at your local healthfood store or online source, such as the essential herbalist, tina sam. in a hurry here tonight as getting late, but there are other lovely herbalists whose blogs are on my blog roll who have elderberry for sale, so if you are in need, please check it out:) herbal and honey hugs all around