Archives for the month of: April, 2015

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This evening I finished up a batch of meditation incense that I’d ground up a couple days ago and then left to sit. The scents blend like flavours in stew if you let it sit overnight.

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I won’t actually buy Dragon’s Blood anymore, much as I love it, since I’ve learned about how badly overharvested it’s become, but I have a bit left from before that I figure I might as well use up. I’ve also made this blend with no Dragon’s Blood but double the cinnamon, and was still happy with it.

Today we added another length of electric fence to the chicken yard, thus greatly increasing its size. These birds are voracious foragers, and had decimated the grass inside their smaller yard. This addition should help since it’s easy to move to fresh pasture as they need it.
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They’re very curious.
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They also have very little fear of us anymore. 🙂
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Hand feeding not actually the best idea though – they don’t have very good aim!
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We are blessed with an abundance of poplar trees on our land. Poplar buds have been used for centuries to make medicine, sometimes called Balm of Gilead. Powerful for many different topical ailments, my primary motivation in making this is for its treatment of burns.  It was brought home to me the other day that we’re lacking a good burn cream in our medicine cabinet. Time to fix that! Poplar buds are best harvested in the spring when they’re just starting to swell with luscious juices. That is, right now. image You don’t get much when you’re determined not to strip more than one branch per tree, but luckily I only needed about half a cup. image They’re super sticky – gloves highly recommended. image I’m working mostly from Beverley Gray’s Boreal Herbal. Cannot say enough good things about this book!!! If you live in the boreal ecosystem and are at all interested in wildharvesting, go forth and purchase it ASAP. image I don’t own a double boiler so I’m heating my infusion in a mason jar in a pot of hot water. image 1 part poplar buds to 2 parts olive oil. Once the water starts to simmer I remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature with a coffee filter over the top to let any excess water evaporate. (If I had cheesecloth I would have used that instead but I don’t, so we make do) image Then I put the lid & label on (label very important, always label your concoctions!!) shake it and put it in the cupboard to infuse over the next month. I’ll shake it again periodically as I remember. image A month from now I’ll strain it and use the infused oil to make my salve.

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See Part 2 for the actual making of the balm.

There is a lovely small garden bed on the south side of our house that I plan to fill with kitchen herbs this summer. They don’t take much space and I love having them right outside the door so I can just pop out and snip some for whatever I’m cooking. It’s obviously been neglected for a year or two.
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Over the last couple of days I’ve been preparing it for the growing season. First I cultivated it shallowly by hand and cleared out the weeds. Got several buckets of tasty nutritious weeds for the chickens. They love fresh greens and aren’t picky!
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We’ve inherited quite a lot of old bales of straw, so I put down a thick layer for mulch. It will help retain water and build up the organic matter in the soil as it decomposes.
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Then I covered the whole thing with thick tarps and weighed them down pretty thoroughly with rocks because even in a nice sheltered spot, prairie winds are intense sometimes.
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It’s still a good month until I can trust the weather not to freeze at night, so I’m using the time to heat up the soil under the tarp. Hopefully this will trick the weed seeds into germinating and then smother them thru lack of sunlight, all before the plants I actually want even go in the ground.

While it is possible to have enough tarps for a given project, I’m not at all convinced that it is possible to have TOO MANY tarps stockpiled around an acreage. They’re useful for so many different things! What I’m saying is if you see them on sale, buy 4 or 5 cause you never know when you’re going to need one (or several).

It took them a few days in their new accommodation before they wanted to go outside, but they eventually got the hang of it.  They also tuck themselves in at night just after sunset, which is hugely convenient.  The first few days of chicken wrangling were pretty hilarious, but it would have gotten old very quickly.