Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brilliant Idea for Drying Herbs and Peppermint and Kitten Update

I know several of you are wanting a kitty update! Well, the kittens are 2 weeks old today and all have their eyes open!


Mama Peppermint is well healed now and actually putting on a little bit of weight herself now


Everyone is so spunky! We just leave the kittens alone in their little nest in the closet, most of the time. When I do get in their to give them a pet, they hiss a little! lol! When they start to come out into the rest of the house on their own, we will start holding them more and getting them used to being with people. Peppermint is getting feistier too! What a good sign that is:) It means she is comfortable with her new home, the other cats and that she is feeling much, much better! Now she and Dandelion romp around the house in the evening and she even gets feisty wrestling me sometimes!

The brilliant idea is this… we have a truck camper, and I see no reason not to start using it to dry herbs in! It even has a little stove and refrigerator in it, so portable too if so desired:) I always have trouble with space when wanting to dry herbs. I have suspended drying racks in my den, and put baskets and such around on top of things, but it will be so nice to have some additional space. The table area all turns into a bed, so herbs can be spread on it, also in the closet suspended from the clothes rack:) There are little shelves behind the curtains above the table, which can be utilized also. Even a little refrigerator if ever needed! I don’t know why I never thought of this before!

That appliance bungee corded in is a portable air conditioner. That might have to be stored elsewhere!

We have just been home a few days, but I did manage on hour to go forage


We have had so much rain it has been hard to get out much, and besides I don’t want to try and successfully dry soaking plants that have all their nectar leeched out by rain. I did gather a few clover, some linden and elder flowers, and a few green pine cones. I found a lovely gift on my porch, I suspect my sweet neighbor Claude, of two nice pine cones also:) I am afraid the linden harvest will be slim pickens. I hope it is a bit dryer to try and get out again tomorrow. The woods are as lush as a jungle right now, as is the gardens


I think the primroses, pleurisy root, and feverfew look so happy all blooming together. :) Those elders were just planted last year! I was tickled to see they had flower buds too:) The lemon balm is amazing and that will be perfect to dry in the camper!

Max the duck is a on patrol at Comfrey Cottages. Ruby has been missing and I can’t find her. I suspect she is nesting in a hidden spot under one of the buildings or behind the bee yard fence, in amongst the bramble there. I don’t see how she could have got out and I have seen no feathers to indicate hawk attack. Max is exhibiting some unusual behavior which can only be considered guarding, so I suspect and hope she is nested somewhere. He won’t even let the pigeons light in the yard without charging madly at them! lol! He never did that before!

The raspberries don’t seem to mind the gloom and rain


I will be bringing these to our annual beekeeping picnic and herb meeting tonight! Talk to you soon!

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Chevy Chase Style Vacation Part One

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chevy Chase. He is an actor who has made several movies about his fictional families various crazy vacations.  Each vacation was a comedy of disasters and mishaps in these movies. Quite funny… unless your own vacation goes in a similar fashion!

Last week my brother Eric, brother Robbie, and two of his children, Ben and Sydnee, daughter Michelle and her children Evan and Lily, her partner Chris and his children Brodie and Breven, myself and husband Gerald, all camped together in lovely Kimberling, Missouri, at the Water’s Edge Cabin and RV Resort, on beautiful Table Rock Lake.

It takes about 8 hours to drive to Kimberling, from our home. Hubby and I decided to leave Saturday evening, spend the night at some point past St. Louis, and get to the camp on Sunday. The rest of our party, were starting out early Sunday and planning to drive straight through.  Nothing had been easy even in the preparation for this trip. Gerald and I had been plagued by vehicle breakdowns, plumbing issues, etc. for weeks and we actually got on the rode about 6 hours later than we wanted to, due to last minute mechanical issues. We finally got on the road at 6 at night, so anticipated about 3 more hours of sunlight. We got about 20 miles out of town and Gerald suggested an issue with the key we had left with our darling neighbor girls who were caring for the kitties in our absence. So, back to town we go to double check they had a key that worked. We had had issues getting those keys made! Anyway, when that was settled, granddaughter Lily, who was riding with us, felt hungry, so off we go to find food and don’t actually start our until 7. By this time I am trying to convince Gerald just to spend the night at home, and head out Sunday, with the rest of the party. I bet he wished he would have followed my advice… we got no further than 2 1/2 hours down the road and I had to wake Lily, (who had finally fell asleep), with the words…THE TRUCK IS ON FIRE! WAKE UP! Yes, smoke is rolling out of the truck hood and behind us also! I felt so sorry for Lily and Gerald I couldn’t even be shocked or surprised. Poor little 6 year old girl was terrified! Smoke from the truck, standing in a ditch alongside a major highway, in the dark, were all quite overwhelming for her and I was grateful when Gerald assured us the truck wasn’t actually on fire. We had some sort of leak and all the fluid on the hot underside of truck and engine was causing the smoke. We got Lily in the truck and I used coats to cover the windows so Lily would not have to see the smoke, darkness and zooming semi trucks, driving within feet of the window. Gerald stood outside with a flashlight, because even with our emergency flashers going, traffic would not be able to see the boat we were towing, and he was being certain that traffic saw the truck also, to keep us safe. Both Lily and I were nervous for him out there! I called Chris and asked him to go online and call us a tow. Problem 1 was, Chris and Michelle’s computer had gone out due to storms, and so Chris had to go dashing up to his store to use that computer. Problem 2…. I had said we were broke down near Staunton, which is in Illinois, Chris thought I said Stanton, which is in Missouri! We should have been in Missouri, but due to key and food delay, we weren’t! Poor Chris is frantically calling tow companies in Stanton, and they were telling him there were no such named towns near them, nor roads nor exits! Chris calls back and discovers we are in Illinois and he then calls the state police who in turn call me and then arranges a tow company to call me! Whew! Two hours later, at about 1:30 a tow finally comes. Lily and I got to sit in the tow truck while they loaded our truck, with camper on it, and the boat. This is the view we enjoyed while the truck was being loaded


Having Lily with me was a good thing, as it forced me to stay positive and light hearted. We had a grand time marveling at the high tech interior of the tow truck and were amazed of its power in loading up our truck and camper on to its flat bed!


The friendly tow truck driver took us to the repair place to drop our vehicle off , but he had no success finding us a hotel room in the same town, so we ended up at a hotel in a town 12 miles away. While in the tow truck, Gerald started gagging and acting sick. By the time we got checked in at the hotel, he was very sick and started running a fever and being sick to his tummy;( 

The next morning, we realized we had not left the key to the truck at the repair shop, which would open the next day, so we had to find a way to the next town, and hope their hotel had rooms opened up. I call around and there is not a rental car shop open nor a taxi within 30 miles of us who are willing to come get us and bring us to Staunton, where our truck was!

Meanwhile, the rest of our group had started driving our way, so Lily was rescued and got to travel with the rest to the campground. Gerald finally called the lovely tow truck owner from the night before, to ask him if he knew of anyone who would be willing to take us to our truck. Luckily, he did have a man picking up parts in the town we were in and we got a ride to the hotel at Staunton. We drop off the key in the drop box and travel to the hotel. Gerald is still sick and goes to bed, while I spent 4 hours reading in the lobby. I had forgotten to leave the key for the repair, but had remembered to grab two books out of the camper! lol! One of them I am going to make a separate post about, I admired it so much;-) The next day our truck was repaired and luckily, Gerald got feeling better at the same time so we headed out late in the evening again, but this time reached the campground around midnight without mishap.

It sure was good to wake up and be in camp the next day! Nice clean area, no other campers besides our party, clean bathroom and shower room, on a lovely land finger jutting into the lake. Everyone else was well settled in and we were greeted by a morning campfire, with Chris making blueberry pancakes for all!  Gerald was feeling kind of tired and weak,(rightfully so), and so we choose to stay at camp while the others went on to visit Silver Dollar City.

The rest of our time was fun and uneventful until the last night when grandson Brodie slipped and gashed his knee and ended up at the hospital for 9 stitches! While Chris, Michelle and Eric handled that trip, I had Lily and Sydnee in the shower when suddenly Breven pops in his head and tells me Evan has hurt his ankle and can’t walk! Telling the girls I will be right back, (I could see Evan in the twilight sitting on a boulder not far), I rushed out. Luckily, just a bad twist and after getting Robbie from camp, Evan got a piggy back ride up the hill, and was able to walk on it by the next morning.

We had not realized that the lake was in flood and so the beach near our site was flooded out, so the swimmers had to go to the other side of the park where there was a bit of beach left. Gerald, Evan, Breven and I were going out fishing when I took these pictures of some of the group at that area

The other issue with a flooded lake, is it took us awhile to realize the fish were still working the area that would normally be the shore, not the shoreline the flood had made. Soon, fish were being caught though!


Lots of bonding between Uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, siblings, Papa, Grandma, granddaughters, grandsons, brothers, sisters, partners, and all!

I will post part two of this holiday soon. Good to be back home and hope to get caught up with all of you dear visitors to Comfrey Cottages soon, at your blogs!

Big hugs and love to all who stop in and visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Update! Four little kittens…

so i just checked and make that four little kittens:) Did you know kittens can purr? There is at least one as loud as her mommy:)

Three Little Kittens..


..and one little mama rumbling up a storm in my closet! Last night I suspected the time was nearing. You see, most evenings little Peppermint has kept me in a bear hug on the sofa…

peppermintand me

 ..but last night she couldn’t get comfortable. I woke up this morning and didn’t see her with the other cats waiting for breakfast so went and looked in the closet I had readied for her. She had had one and was in the process of having the second! Soon there were three:)

Peppermints injuries are very close to being well now. Will be a bit harder to tend what with three little kittens nuzzling in that area!

Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xxx

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

May Pictures

Maples, Tulip, Basswoods, White Pines and Hawthorns

squirrels, mourning doves, bunnies, blue jays, robins and starlings

tulip tree flowers, valerian, honeysuckle, Julia Child rose, and the rose my daughter gave me last year:)

some of the different garden areas. the area with the birdbath has my honeysuckle, meadowsweet, parsley and lady’s mantle. the pond area has spiderwort, valerian, marshmallow, daylily, soapwort, honeysuckle bush, rose of sharon, weigla, and violets. and then pictures of how the veg garden is growing at my nephew and niece’s, Scott and Dawn, home.

Max and Ruby, the ducks


And Colin and Ariana tasting their first hawthorn leaves. Colin calls it his salad tree now:)

Well, I had so many things happen in May, especially with adopting Peppermint, I had not had a chance to share these pictures:)

Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cats and Herbs and Honey : Meet Peppermint


It must be spring. Every spring my daughter or I end up with poor neglected cats on our porches. This little lady was in a very sorry state when she arrived at my daughters. Emaciated, pregnant, grievous dog bite injuries on a hind leg, and under her tail. She came limping up and I was terrified that her entire leg was disjointed or broken. One of her wounds removed all of her hair from near her knee around to the back of her thigh. Deep bite wounds there, with a large area raw and oozing. The knee and lower leg also had deep bite wounds.  Some of you might be squeamish so don’t look at the album. It hurt her for me to move the leg in order to document her injuries, so these pictures really don’t show the total extent.

That injury extends all the way to the bend of her leg. A similar type bite entry wound there.

Michelle had recently adopted a blind kitten she found, so I took Peppermint home with me. Besides the fact I am home during the day and Michelle works outside of the home, we thought Peppermint would require close watching and tending.

When I got her home I first kept her isolated from the other cats in my den. First order of business was to let this little cat know I cared about her and that she was now safe. You see, we have a good idea where she came from and saw the despondent, “I give up”, look in her poor eyes. She responded within a short time just to being petted, in a quiet safe room, fed and watered well and given love:) Very soon her little motor was purring full tilt! Since she was by nature a friendly wee puddy cat, I gently started to explore her wounds. This all occurred late two Fridays ago, so I was pretty much on my own and I am not a veterinarian, but I didn’t think the leg was broken or disjointed, but just could hardly bear weight due to the nature of the dog bite wounds. Next step was to decide what herbal helper I could use on her wounds to help them heal. With some of the wounds being so deep, large area of super sensitive skin exposed, and her pregnancy I thought about it and decided that a yarrow and calendula water extraction, cooled and then applied would be appropriate. I used a little glass spray bottle to apply  it. Very handy especially with having to quickly lift her leg a bit to apply it to the inner upper thigh also. Within 3 days there was marked improvement and Peppermint was able to put much more weight on the leg. She put on weight, her eyes became bright and alert, she was released from isolation and assimilated into the clan of other Comfrey Cottages Cats:)

I keep my cats indoors and they are never exposed to other cats, and thus their different diseases, so the next Tuesday, (we got her on Friday), when the vets was open, Michelle took Peppermint in for a visit to be tested for Feline Leukemia and Aids and to look at her wounds. The vet told my daughter the wounds looked clean and told her whatever I was doing was working:) With her clean bill of health and re-interest in life, it was fun to let her out of the den and watch her interact with the rest of the cats and my hubby. When I sit down on the sofa, she is right next to me, and crawls up on me with her little paws wrapped around me, as if she is trying to give me a big hug:)

I know many of you will be aware that yarrow is on the toxic list for cats on the ASPCA website, and that other sources will alert you not to use yarrow with pregnant cats. When I first began applying the above to her injuries, she was too weak and apathetic to even lick herself, so I am sure she got none of it internally, and I believe yarrow is perfectly safe used externally. I think the ASPCA website is only referring to yarrow internally, although I will say, I have never had a problem with using it internally, with other cats. I am staying away from giving Peppermint anything internally that is rich with volatile oils though, due to her pregnancy. As always, I am just sharing what I am doing and not trying to give any medical advice, so do your own research and make your own decisions! :) Now that she is  responsive and can move her leg , she is licking her wounds, which is of great benefit in her healing process.

I continued the yarrow, calendula and added rosemary in a separate spray bottle, but when some of the wounds closed more and stopped draining as much,she developed an abscess, on the inside part of her thigh that was so raw looking, but wasn’t draining. The bite wound had encompassed her whole thigh, both on the inner and the outer sides, and the wound on the outside had scabbed over, while the inner thigh wound has still been open and seeping some. So , I  made repeated plantain poultices and the open wound then leaked out large amounts of pus and the abscess greatly diminished. Eventually the swollen up part also opened up and started draining.

Making these herbal helpers, I do snip up some plantain in a bowl and put a little just before boiling water in it. Then I take a whole plantain leaf and roll and crush it in my fingers, place it on the wound, and then dip the medicine cloth in the hot solution and apply it over the leaf, and hold it there until it gets cold, and then repeat, for a total of about 15 minutes at a time about 6 times per day. The first pictures in this album show the abscess before the plantain poultices, and the last picture after a day.

After three days of using plantain poultices and spray, (with periodic sprays of rosemary or yarrow/plantain spritzes), the whole area is very close to normal. During these last three days I have also applied Manuka honey to all the wounds, several times a day. I had a friend share this honey a few years ago, and I have saved it back for a time when I really had a hard to heal wound to deal with. Within hours of first applying it, I could see so much healing happening! Any good organic honey would help, I just happened to have this.

So dear little Peppermint has been occupying a lot of my time and focus for the last 21 days. I will keep you all posted on her progress and any changes or additions I might do with her herbal regime. I have cleared out the bottom of my den’s closet and covered it with towels and am hoping she decides to use it for her birthing den… I wouldn’t be surprised if she just used the rug at my feet she is lying on as I type this though, right in the kitchen:) lol!

During this journey, I did also use green elder leaf and marshmallow poultices during the first couple of days. I did like the wound response best when using the yarrow and calendula though. And the rosemary when the wound was a bit less raw. I think that there was a nice progression of improvement all along, with the only set back being when the wound up on the inner thigh gotten swollen. But beautiful plantain did an excellent job of drawing it all to a head and getting it to drain. The honey was especially beneficial and I will certainly use it again if I have to deal with an injury like this.

Again, I am just sharing with you how herbs have helped dear Peppermint:) I am not professing to be a veterinarian! Do your own research and make your own decisions, although I will gladly discuss this further with anyone interested:) I will share kitten pictures when they arrive!

Big Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx