Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Woods, Creeks, and Wild Turkeys calling, oh my!

You know it has been a great day, when you get home and your vehicle is totally muddy, there is mud between your toes, and splattered on your face! Spent the day running around in nature with one of my good buds, Ron. We met up out west of town and drove out to one of his buddy’s place, Tim. Now Tim has a great place he and his wife built and they live with nature. They have ponds that gravity feed to meet their water needs, have a cool greenhouse built out of windows and hay bales, gardens and fruit trees, root cellars, and critters.


The house is to the right and the pump house to the left in that pictures. There are barns with cattle, and some full of fire wood, as they heat and cook with woods.


Here is their greenhouse arrangement



These are amazing root cellars! They have a couple of these big metal tubes they bought. These folks make so much of what they need to. Notice the door pull. The one on the door leading into their house was made from half of a pair of pliers!





I didn’t have a flashlight with me and the inside of these cellars don’t have electricity, so no pics. I will be prepared next time as I want you to see how roomy, water and bug proof these were. My idea of a root cellar! They even had a friend stay in one of them until he finished his cabin.

We then headed for the 400 Acre Woods. There we just had a blast. Backpack full of books by Samuel Thayer, and good reference books on flowers, medicinal wild plants and trees. We found the cherry trees, sweet cicely, bloodroot, trilliums, spring beauties, wild strawberries, jack in the pulpit and more in bloom. We located slippery elm, paw paws, cottonwoods, cherry, sassafras, shagbark hickory, walnut, red and white acorn, basswood and many more trees. Ponds, creeks, and springs running down the hills, and seeps purcolating just up from the ground were all around us. Each hillside and creek side held different plants and it was so much fun to not hear a sound but the wild turkeys calling and be able to note as each area changed and revealed its own unique environ. We saw white tailed deer, opossum, and 1 snake.













We saw deer, raccoon, and turkey tracks and found spots where deer had been bedding down.

We stopped often and got out our field guides and other books and learned so much about how to use some of the things we found for medicine or food. Ron really got into grubbing out some spring beauty bulbs and we munched their flowers as we walked.


We waded creeks and walked barefoot till we could wash off the mud






I brought home a small sassafras sapling and some wild geranium to plant in the gardens. But best of all I brought home my wild heart full and at peace, and totally, and hopelessly reaffirmed in my love with nature.

Big hugs to all of you who visit Comfrey Cottages




Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Miss My Mom. She would love all this herbal stuff!


This was our five generation picture taken when my mom and her mom were both still alive and my first born grandchild, Evan, was a wee one, about 8 years ago. We lost my mom to cancer 4 years ago today, and G.G., as my vain grandma liked to be called (lol), the very next spring. That is my beautiful, and only, daughter Michelle Elizabeth holding her son.

My mom would have just loved all the natural healing and herbal knowledge I have been learning these last few years. The family used to tease her as she read her wisdom garnered from sources such as Prevention magazine, and others. I always listened to her though, (in those matters;-) ) , and always had a bent toward our natural world. If she were here today I can see us truly finding our common ground, besides family, with herbal/plant medicine and also with the foraging for wild foods, that I doing more and more. Well, mom this post is for you, in honor of the strong, warm, loving, giving person you were. I miss you so much!

I read herbal and wild foraging books constantly and even my dreams have me walking through woods and fields searching for the knowledge I am sure other women in my family had at some time. Some how it was lost a few generations back and I crave to recapture it, to share with all those following in my footsteps. Life is busy with so many things, so finding the time to apply what I have been learning is sometimes hard. I am trying to make it a point to do a few things every week.


Tonight, after getting home, I went out in the gardens and gathered some whole plants of violets. Roots, leaves and flowers for a tincture. I am going to use the tincture, at times, for fevers, to break up mucous and respiratory complaints. The pretty yellow jar is dandelion flowers in safflower oil. I have some infusing in olive oil and thought some in safflower oil would be pretty and useful also. These both will make nice moisturizers and massage oils, that help release tension and emotions in the muscles. I also started some plantain tincture. This tincture will be good for gastric complaints, ulcers, and also for diarrhea. It will also be soothing for any complaints throughout the urinary system. As plantain is a relaxing antispasmodic to the mucous membranes, coughs, asthma, and other bronchial problems, are another way this tincture will be used.

Last week I managed to sneak in a few medicine making moments also.


I made angelica root tincture and honey. Licorice tincture, concolor fir oil, dandelion vinegar, and peppermint oil.

Mom would just love all this and I think of her often as I learn more and more about our natural world and her gifts to us. We just need open our eyes and our hearts to what she has to tell us!


I have found this book by herbalist Gail Faith Edwards, to be most helpful in my herbal journeys. I love what Gail has to say in her forward

These words are the ripened seeds that spill from my wild heart to the dark moist soil within your own.”

I highly recommend this book to those of my readers who are on their own herbal journey. Gail writes with a warm, welcoming style that encourages me with its insightful, yet non complicated information and uses of many herbals and trees. I have found this book to be another that is right here in the kitchen while I make herbal medicine, on my bedside table at night, and in my backpack at all other times. Gail has shared with us what it took her many seasons of intimate contact with the plants, to learn.  And yes, I do especially recommend it to those of you, who like me are at the beginning of our herbal journeys, although it is certain to be of benefit to the experienced herbalist also.

big herbal and honey hugs to all of you who take the time to visit here at Comfrey Cottages


Monday, April 19, 2010

Herbology At Home

I want to share with you all a wonderful herb book that has found a place in my kitchen, where I keep the ones I refer to the most often. It is called Herbology At Home and it was written by Anke Bialas, of Brisbane, Australia. Anke's herbal web community, Herbology, is wonderful and I like what she has to say about it.

"Herbology is an online information site dedicated to raising herb awareness with an emphasis on reviving old, once common, herb lore to enable readers to make their own basic herbal products and herbal remedies. Herbology provides inspiring, educational, high quality information in a virtual space. It delivers informative, entertaining reviews, feature articles and resources.

The Herbology goal is to create an environment where traditional herb lore which used to be passed on within families from generation to generation can be revived and shared in a virtual setting."

I very much enjoy this free herbal community and suggest you all check it out! I was very fortunate and won a contest Anke was holding for a copy of her book and I wanted to tell you all about it!

The whole title is Herbology At Home Making Herbal Remedies. Anke says that she considers herbology an amateur interest whereas herbalism is a professional pursuit. I was glad to hear someone else make the same differention as I do! I always consider myself an herbologist, one who studies herbs and no way would I be ready to consider myself an herbalist, if ever! But as Anke says, just because we consider herbology for amateurs does not mean it is any less effective or important! What Anke does say it represents is a continuation of an ancient tradition whereby herb lore is practiced by everyday people in everyday situations! Now that was truly speaking to me folks! Anke's aim is to help guide everyone in taking back our heritage of herbal medicine and passing it on to future generations!

The book is very well written and easy to read with clear instruction for making internal and external remedies. There are sections on infused oils, creams, first aid, children, tinctures, food as medicine and many others! Each is very helpful ready reference when you are making your own remedies at home! What I consider very useful is the fact I finally have a book in my home library that is so easy, and fast to use. Let's just say you have gathered some St. John's Wort and you can't remember right away how to infuse it in oil or fresh tincture it, just grab this book and you can immediately find the sections of the book to help! A ready reference with sound advice right at my fingertips! I am in love! Thank you so much for all you do and share Anke:)

Anke's blog is just great and I just love all she shares there also:)
She has shared wonderful herb videos here
and growing herb videos here

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages and get your copy of Herbology At Home today!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sassafras, Redbuds and other adventures

Every spring I look forward to the Sassafras festival! I drink sassafras  throughout the year, and step up the frequency in the spring. A wonderful smelling and tasting spring tonic! The festival is held in one of our small town and it is fun to share this ritual with others:)


We all gather in a communal room around long tables and enjoy the food, the tonic and the being together after a long, sometimes isolating winter.



The event is in the towns old opera house. Ellisville is a town on the Spoon River with lots of history and charm.


I always renew my sassafras root supply at the event also, as they keep some bags of fresh dug root behind the cashier table. I find it kind of funny they don’t put it out where everyone can see it. Almost as if they are hoarding a secret that only sassafras lovers can know;-)

  From herbalist Jim McDonald in a video on Herb Mentor, I have learned that the leaves may be used also. I had always just enjoyed the root. The leaves are very mucilaginous .Sassafras is a cooling demulcent for inflamed and dry tissue. An example would be a sore throat. So the leaves are a very different medicine than the roots. Whereas the roots are a spicy, blood moving, blood purifying tonic, the leaves are cooling, soothing and demulcent! Wow, am into this one folks! All over it as one of my best buddy’s has plenty to share:) Before the sassafras my brother Eric and I enjoyed a walk through his property.



He had quite alot of bloodroot and so I was able to transplant some here to Comfrey Cottage’s gardens. They have made themselves right at home:) We saw many familiar plants and had several field guides to help us discover new ones.


We enjoyed nibbling on a few of these Spring Beauties which are super sweet right now:)

Have you ever enjoyed a redbud trees beauty?


I have learned that the buds and flowers were an important part of the local Indians spring sources of vitamin C. So Dylan and I have been enjoying not only the beauty of these native trees but also the nice taste of the spring buds, and probably this week the flowers will open so will try them in a tea:)


To let you know how tasty they are, Dylan always asks for a nibble when we pass these trees on our walks:) And they look so pretty in salads!

Sweet Spring! It is just impossible to sit in the house now that we have tasted the freedom of the outdoors again! And my little buddy and I wander here and there from parks to friends wilder properties, enjoying stretching our muscles and eating fresh from nature:) And laughing at waters movement, which we both enjoy immensely!




Stopping frequently for a good roll in the new grass and flowers



while still finding time for a soiree hosted by the library! This event was attended by Lily and her bff Mya, and Mya’s little sister, Julia


For those of you who are friends with me on facebook, there is a lot more photos of the grandchildren and their different happenings there, and you have interest:)

I am doing a couple cool garden comparisons. I have several bleeding hearts and having recently learned that the wild flower Dutchman Breeches are in the same family, I have planted a few of the wild flower near the garden bleeding hearts. I have sweet woodruff in one bed and have put cleavers from the woods, in another near it. They are both galiums .Cleavers are high in vitamin C and also a diuretic blood purifier. A good tonic for the lymphatic system and strong anti inflammatory properties for the urinary tract. There is a history of the Micmac, Ojibwe, and Penobscot tribes using this plant. Good for clearing heat, inflammation and toxins from the system.It is also useful for psoriasis, dandruff and other dry skin conditions, and a plant I am getting to know and will post about using more of using cleavers, also known as bedstraw, in goat cheese making soon!

Well I have been on here way to long and must get to it! big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages



Friday, April 16, 2010

Feeling Lucky!

First thing I woke up this morning, I saw the news I had won the lovely comfrey pendant Kristine, of Herbal Roots Zine had offered in one of her giveaways!

Thank you sooo much Kristine for the prize. And thank you to Rebekah of Mulberry Mudd for creating it:)

comfrey pendant

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Comfrey and Suppositories via Methow Valley Herbs


I had to share this blog post by Rosalee de le Foret, over at Methow Valley Herbs! She has shared some wonderful insights about my beloved comfrey. One of the things she has shared is about suppositories, (herbal bolus), which are a form of rectal or vaginal administration of herbs  used in the case of hemorrhoids or vaginal infections. She even shares a recipe for making an herbal suppository for hemorrhoids on the post:)


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pine Salve


During the winter I harvested some pine pitch from the white pine tree (Pinus strobus) outside my bedroom window, and made salve of it. Some of this salve I sent to a friend of mine, in Scotland, David Gould. The salve is excellent for drawing splinters out of flesh, and as David is a woodworker, I thought he might have need of it some day. Not long ago David wrote me to let me know that he had a deep splinter in his leg that had been there about a year, and was constantly inflammed and sore. He started to use the salve nightly, and the inflammation was almost gone and that he would keep using it to see if the splinter might come out. Today my pine tree is glittery along its trunk with flowing sap, from the places on its trunk where we have cut limbs to keep them from damaging the roof or so we could walk under it. I decided to go harvest some more sap and make more salve as I am out and I don’t want David to run out.


I use a knife to scrape and dig out the sap and in the process I get some bark and needles also. HPIM7346

I added some olive oil to the chunks of sap melting over the double boiler and used a toothpick to mix them all together good.


I then strained it through a cheesecloth I had pre wetted with olive oil.


In another pot I had melted down some beeswax. I incorporated the beeswax and the sap/olive oil together and put into containers.


The antiseptic properties of  this salve is magical for pulling out the red of a recent cat scratch also and it is becoming the first thing I reach for to prevent infections and to clear infection from many types of wounds.

Through reading Gail Faith Edwards book Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, I have learned Pine flower essence is helpful for folks who tend to be hard on themselves, taking on guilt and having self blame. I have found rubbing the pine salve on my pulse points has the same effect of releasing guilt, by surrounding me with its soothing scent with my every heart beat.

Special affinity for pine shows a concern for future generations welfare. By learning, using and sharing pine’s gifts, I am able to teach and help myself, my family and my friends. Learning to use the gifts of our natural world keeps my carbon footprint down . I use pine salve instead of an antibiotic cream from the drugstore, thus cutting out all the carbon usage generated by the act of buying such things. It makes me feel enpowered to make natural remedies and comforted in knowing I am helping make this world better.

Pine is one of my herbal allies that I like to enjoy in many ways. The evergreen pine needles are high in vitamins A and C and make a delightful tea. When I have a sore throat or congestion chewing on the expectorant and antiseptic sap helps me clear congestion and my throat feel soothed.

For many others insights on pine I suggest Kristine Brown’s lovely Herbal Roots Zine, December’s issue . Where I first learned about making the pine salve!

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages