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Archive for the ‘Makeshift Homesteading’ Category

This little info graphic has been traveling around the web in the last few days and I wanted to jump on this bandwagon because our Farm is, above all, about Positive Change. The cost of fresh fruits and vegetables is outrageous as compared to something like Ramen or Hamburger Helper, both brands full of such crops as Corn, Soy and Wheat. How can an Economically sick America be expected to Eat Right when we are inundated by these cheap foods? Does anyone really wonder why 2/3 of America is Obese?

What if the White House grew what is truly America's Diet?

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Jasper, Turquoise and Sugilite...

 

While waiting patiently (not really a word to describe my demeanor) for my Vinegars and Tinctures to brew and my recently harvested Yarrow and Motherwort to dry, I decided to Get Crafty! So I broke out all my dusty jewelry making supplies that have been packed up for three or so years and dug around until I found my Healing stones (that I purchased with the intent to one day make something out of). The result of my toiling with wire and beads until 4 a.m will soon be featured on RavenOakMedicinals.Etsy.com. Now I know I normally only craft herbal remedies for healing but that doesn’t mean that herbs are the only way to longevity! Semi precious stones have been used for thousands of years to lend courage, incite love, increase the awareness of the unknown and, of course, to heal ailments! Though little studied in today’s modern medicine (most likely because learned individuals believe it’s a crock of B.S.), I think that stones may actually hold certain useful properties…for example, I have seen Turquoise, worn close to the throat, lend the courage for a woman to speak about sensitive issues to her husband. Whether this incidence is a strange force within the stone working positively on the human body, or simply a placebo effect, I am not qualified to say, but the point is that that woman was able to resolve a possibly explosive issue without anger or potential violence. Amazonite is said to lend the courage and confidence of an Amazon Warrior Woman…though probably because the wearer looks (and therefor feels) great wearing it!

 

Flame Jasper...

As to the bodily healing properties of stones; Red Jasper is said to shield the wearer from environmental pollutants, radiation and electromagnetic pollution. Turquoise not only shields the person, but also cleanses the body of such toxins! If this has even the least bit of truth, imagine the opportunities available to medical professionals! Such amazing claims deserve further study. Many Such stone and crystal healing techniques usually involve placing  the stone or even water that has had that stone soaking in it,  directly on the affected area. One example is black onyx, usually used to heal infected wounds or fungal infections;  Soak a large black onyx stone (or a handful of smaller ones) overnight, than used the ‘infused’ water to either make a compress or gently pat the affected area.

 

Black onyx beads with Large Agate bead in center...

I have never personally had experience with using stones to heal the body, but when  conventional medicine fails to work (like so many times before), I feel that Anything is worth a try to prevent so much suffering.
Now for the second part of this post…I now have a Twitter account! This means more Farmin’ updates, herbal tips, Wild living excerpts and a deal or two for RavenOak Medicinals customers! This is actually very good news for me, because as we all know, I don’t have Internet at the Farm. So, any blog posts or shop listings have to be written at home and saved until I find free WiFi. However, I have twitter on my phone now, so any exciting or interesting info can be conveyed before I forget! You can find me at @WileWife on Twitter’s site or just glance over at the Twitter feed at the right of the page!

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I’m so glad everyone got to  meet our new Ducks and Chicks; Merry and Pippin, those are the two ducks, and Mrs.Winners and ‘No Name’ (we don’t know if its a hen or rooster yet!) our chicks. There growing so fast now! The ducks seemed to have lost their baby fluff completely and the chicks keep getting bigger and bigger every day!  Since There’s a lot of great info on the Internet on the care and keeping of poultry, we won’t go through the whole run down here but let me warn all of you before you decide on those cute little ducklings, they are a bit more complicated to care for then chickens. Their little webbed feet are very sensitive, they are Extremely messy eaters, drinkers, players, poopers…well, just about everything they do is messy, and their nutrition requirements are different then chickens.  Think about this before you start your backyard flock and things will go a lot smoother than they went for us! (let’s just say my poor floor got scrubbed about twice a day for two weeks until they were old enough to stay outside…glad it’s concrete)
Here are a few great sites to check out if your thinking of raising poultry:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/    – a great general resource for poultry

http://www.motherearthnews.com/home.aspx   – just type in chickens in the search box at the top of the screen.

http://www.newagrarian.com/category/ducks/   – a great blog about Raising Ducks, including a diary of development.

http://urbanchickens.org/   – thinking of keeping chickens in the city? Yes you Can do it!

Now let’s talk about happy birds! Treats to be exact! First of all, please don’t feed your birds junk food…pop tarts, cake, chips, etc are just not good for them, not even every once in a while! All of the treats listed here, however, are not only great for them, it’s a blast to watch them eat it too!

Collards are my bird’s favorite treat, they are absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals. Serve in their whole form when Ducks or Chicks are about 4 weeks old and watch them tear the leaves to pieces or, in the duck’s case, drag whole leaves into their swimming water to rip apart. 

Radishes, Turnips and Rutabegas are a fun treat for your chickens, grow them big and hang them whole in your coop at chicken head level. They love pecking at the Root until there’s virtually nothing left, just remove if they don’t get it all eaten before it starts to mold. This is a great way to supplement their winter diet and keep them moving during the sluggish months. Since ducks can’t peck, chop the root up into very small pieces and place in a pile near their water dish.

One way to provide a great treat all summer long is to hang a light a  little above the height of the birds right in the middle of the coop. The light will attract all sorts of yummy bugs (including mosquitoes), which the birds will then snatch right out of the air! Just be sure to create some sort of plastic covering or perhaps a metal screen cage over the bulb to protect it from pecking beaks.

Fresh grass clippings are great to throw in the coop. The birds will root and scratch to find bugs, seeds, flowers and plant material to eat. I’ve seen our ducks stick their heads in a pile right up to their necks to root around, they fling it everywhere, including on the unsuspecting chickens! You can leave the clippings in the coop, just make sure they don’t get moldy, Mold is especially hazardous to growing ducklings.

And, of course, we can’t forget bugs from the garden! One way to amuse a child for hours on end ? Tell them your chicks and ducklings love bugs! Crickets, rollie pollies, cabbage worms, grass hoppers, slugs, Japanese beetles, you name it, they eat it! Make sure your child knows not to grab any spiders, centipedes or scorpions! In fact, why not go bug hunting too? It’s great fun and every time you find a new bug, it could turn into an excellent educational experience…”ohhh! Look at this bug! It’s called a (insert cool bug name)” then watch your chicken chase it down and rip it apart! Ok, so maybe it’s a little morbid, but at least your ridding your garden of salad eating insects the organic way, right?

I hope everyone garnered some fun ideas from my little ramblings, I know I’m growing a giant radish just for my chickens right now! Have any yummy treat ideas for poultry? What are your chickens favorite food? We definitely want to know, so please comment below! (yay! I rhymed!)

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Wanna Take a Tour of our Farm? C’mon, lets take a walk!

This is where we lived for Two years while working on the Big Barn, the small addition on the right was a battery box. Right behind it, the Ducks and Chicks are housed...lets go meet them!

 
 

Meet the Ducks and Chicks! The Ducks are named Merry and Pippin...they're always in trouble! We're fairly certain one of the chicks is a hen, she'll be named Mrs.Wynners. (I know, we're morbid, wait 'till you hear the Rooster's name)

 
 

Awwww! They love each other!

 
 

Lets check out the Gardens now! Well, this is actually the compost...I have volunteer peas and pumpkins coming up!

 

My Baby Carrots! They were DELICIOUS! I keep harvesting them before they reach full "carrothood", there just too good to leave in ground!

 

Yarrow...good for wound healing, and the treatment of colds and viruses, I have A Lot drying for the shop as we speak, with more to come as you can see!

 

The last Radish...we're seeing how big it will get...

 
 

I made a wonderful Rose Vinegar for sunburns last year from this rose...Make the same way as garlic vinegar. To use, Soak a rag in half water, half vinegar and lay cloth on Sunburn to alleviate pain and turn the burn into a tan!

 
 

Now we'll take a walk down the path we cut behind the house, everything is left wild for the local critters until we turn the area into an orchard, we always see rabbits, deer, racoons and plenty of birds down here!

 
 

To the right is this beautiful wild vetch, the pea-like pods are poisonous, but this plant provides vital nitrogen to the soil structure, as well as beauty to the landscape.

 
 

Just behind the vetch is a large Privett shrub, though invasive, it too provides vibrant blooms and food and shelter for wildlife. I've heard rumors its medicinal but havent had a chance to research this further...

 
 
 

As we continue down the path, my favorite flowers appear right in front of the semi-dry pond bed. A simple wild daisy, it's simplicity is it's beauty!

 
 

This is one of the many wild willow trees that populate the property, Im fairly sure this is White Willow. White Willow bark is medicinally similar to asprin; pain relieving, fever reducing, etc, The difference is no Stomach bleeding! Im very excited to have these trees...

 
 

This is the Lower Barn, soon to be workshop/studio/forge! It needs alot of work, but hey, were accustomed to that by now!

 
 

This is Grandmother Willow-who-is-actually-an-Oak, the inspiration for RavenOak Medicinals...the Ravens and She have an agreement, they get to hang out on her limbs as long as they fertilize the ground below with their droppings!

 
 

The guardian of the Oak...surprisingly not covered in Raven Poo!

 
 

A view thru the Oak leaves...That's the little building up there and you can just barely see our solar panels to the left. The driveway is to the right...thats where we're headed next.

 
 

Up here to the right of the driveway is the baby Oak Grove, a No-Mow Zone. Though we will not see the full maturity of these babies, it is still pretty cool to know our grandchildern will bear witness!

 
 

Our pecan started as a stick in the ground! The nuts it produces are very large!

 
 

Say Hi Bo-Bunny! (He likes to graze the clover under the Pecan)

 
 

The last stop is my messy front porch, we wont go into the house, its not fully done yet. That's Mint growing up through the cracks there, Oh! and meet Churches! Rev. Churches Chicken is his full name and he loves biscuits and my Garden. Dont worry if he chases you out of the driveway as you leave, he does that to everyone!

Well Im glad you could stop by, it’s too bad you couldnt see everything! We didnt get to the Frog Filled Pond Bed, The Stream behind it (I’ll be growing Ginseng back there one day!) Oh, and the Pine Forest, My Grandmother’s straw and mud cottage she’s building next door, The Front and Side Fields…soon to be an apple orchard and vineyard,and the Slab behind the house, its going to be a Huge Greenhouse someday! Oh, Well, maybe next time! I’ll invite you in for some coffee and some Peanut Butter cookies, maybe it wont be such a construction zone then! See Ya’ll next week!
 
 
 
 
 

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Dont Worry Everyone,The Super Suprise will be revealed next Thursday! Until then, enjoy this post about doing too many things at once!
Spring is such a busy time of the year for us Homesteaders (or at least for those of us Trying to be Homesteaders ;)). Planting seeds and seedlings, harvesting  the Early Spring Bounty, Making tinctures, teas, vinegars and Herbal Waters, and of course…Spring Cleaning! Well, being the Crazy woman that I am, I attempted to take on each of these tasks in the course of a Week and Weekend! I suppose it’s because of that Extreme sport we like to train for, you know…The Procrastination Olympics? Whew! Time for some Tips, I think! 
   First tip of the Week…Don’t do what I did! Bunching all of these tasks together is a recipe for exhaustion and Mistakes, which will only cause more work in the long run! I realize this may sound like common sense (and it is ;)), but too many of us seem to be leaving that little bit of knowledge at the gate! Take the time to plan out each task, call planning a task in itself. Set One for each day, or tackle One in a weekend and always remember to take breaks when doing farm work, herbal preparations, cleaning, etc…In this manner, your body, and mind has time to recoup, think of things you may have forgotten and gear up for the next portion of whatever your work may entail. Believe me, you’ll get more done and make fewer mistakes this way. Perhaps we should take a page from the British, Tea Time sounds pretty appealing!
   Now for the fun part…Story Time! ‘Tis a tale to rival that of Cinderella! Full of happiness, beauty, herbal magic and children’s laughter! The only problem? The beautiful princess missed the ball and ended up scrubbing the same pot for three days! So, without further adieu, Once upon a Time…

 Three beautiful princess friends decided the time was right to brew the magical love potion called Rose Water, so, one spring Sunday, they all gathered together their children and husbands and brothers to a mystical Farm (much like my own) to have a party. While the children played outside, mixing potions and soups in old pots full of grass and mud, the three friends gathered roses from the Pure White rose bush, filling their baskets and reveling in the sweet, flowery smell that permeated the air. Laughing along with the three children, they skipped to the castle, tossing rose petals into the air and admonishing the youngest child for actually eating the mud pie, which only brought more hails of delighted laughter from the messy young ones. They then spirited to the Hearth of the Home, and there they poured blessed well water into a beautiful, and expensive, stainless steel pot, picked the rose petals free from their buds and placed the magical brew onto the fire. They then placed a steamer on top, with a small glass dish in the middle to catch the sacred liquid. On top of this, an inverted lid was placed, to direct that sacred liquid into the dish. Many prayers and chants were said over this apparatus, words filled with happiness and giddy jokes, for laughter is the essence of Love, until finally, the brew began to boil, and then to simmer.  An imploring silence fell over the room. The first friend peeked under the lid… and was amazed to find a light golden liquid dripping into the glass container! “We’ve done it!”, she whispered, and was greeted with  cheers from her two beautiful friends. “Oh, we must let it simmer longer…perhaps we’ll get even more!”, but her ignorance was like that of her friends, for the potion must only be allowed to simmer for forty minutes, else the essence be diluted… So after an hour, the second friend arose, saying she had a birthday party to attend and bade them fair well, gathering up her two little girls and a grumbling husband as she left. The last child to stay, a small boy, came into the kitchen where the two friends sat chatting and watching the potion. And as young children are wont to do when they have been playing all day, said in a sweet voice, “I’m hungry!!”, “Hey me too!” echoed the men, who had been playing a game of chance and risk the entire day. The first princess looked to the second, who nodded her head in agreement, “I shall make a feast!”, she cried! And she went about filling pots with water, placing pans of sausage on the Enchanted Chef stove and shredding cheese to complete the meal….but all the while, the love potion sat simmering on the stove…forgotten…By the end of the great feast, all the patrons sat in satisfied chatter until, at the same time, the two princesses looked to the stovetop in alarm as smoke poured out from the potion! “No!”,they cried in unison as they lifted the steamer to look beneath. The Pure White Roses had turned black, as all the water had vanished from the bottom. The liquid gold potion, that was supposed to smell like sweet roses on a warm spring day, instead held only the slight fragrance of burned roses. Alas, the potion was ruined and as punishment for her distraction, the Princess had to scrub the blackened pot for Three Days! Here is the magical mixture she used, after many failed attempts, to Finally remove the burned mess from the bottom of the pot, I place it here so that no other Princess (or Prince) shall have to scrub a burned pot for three days again!
2parts Baking Soda
1part lemon juice
1part water
Create a paste to coat the burned on food stuff and leave it to sit overnight. The next morning take a copper scrubbing pad and scrub, scrub, scrub! Rinse it with a little water, but leave a little of the paste at the bottom, then add Eco Friendly dish soap and scrub some more, to get at the corners, use the handle end of a tooth brush or spatula stuck into the copper scrubbing pad. By the end of this, you should have a squeaky clean pan!

I hope you enjoyed my little fairy tale, it seemed appropriate in light of scrubbing pots, and remember; like every parent has said at one time or another in their children’s lives…Do as I say, not as I do! And may you never have to scrub burned on Rose Petals!

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Alas, my friends, I am guilty of shirking my blogging responsibilities! But who can truly blame me? The Spirits of Spring have called me to the newly blooming Gardens ( or what will soon become gardens ), and who can resist the call of Nature ( no, not that call! 😉 )? I apologize, but now it seems the rains have come to Georgia and I suppose I will be stuck indoors today! So now I sit, sipping a steaming cup of Organic ( and Fair Trade ) coffee mixed with wild harvested, roasted Dandelion Root that I recently dug from my yard.

    I have, in earlier posts, preached the amazing qualities of this sometimes hated weed, and what better time to explain the roasting process than on a rainy day? Plus I figured with my total lack of posts I might better give y’all something useful to read, otherwise my minions ( oops… I mean Readers:) )might rise against me! Now enough of the babble, let’s get to the good stuff!

What dainty Flowers!

How to Roast Dandelion Roots:

First, of course, we must extract them from the soil! To ensure a continuous supply of crunchy, cleansing roots, and crisp salad greens, we must pick the seed laden puff balls and make a few wishes for the future! Just be sure not to blow the seeds into your neighbors yard ( unless, of course, they share your love for dandelion’s sunny disposition )!

To gather the greatest amount of roots, you will need a good spade, and by spade, I mean a square shaped shovel with a nice, sharp edge to it. Some people prefer a regular shovel, but these tenacious roots tend to grow about 2 feet long, strait down into your yard, so it gets pretty difficult unless you have a long shovel!

 A good root diggin’ technique is to dig in a circle around the base of the plant, placing the spade straight down at the base and jumping up and down on it multiple times, then standing on the shovel and rocking precariously side to side to loosen the soil around said Dandelion. Not only is this really fun, it’s the only way I’ve found to get the whole root! Comment if you have a more efficient ( though maybe slightly less fun) technique. Once you have the soil loosened, reach down and grab the base of the plant and using your shovel for leverage, pull straight up. You should now have a beautiful, dirt covered root, along with some excess dirt under your fingernails. Keep up the diggin’ until you have enough roots ( there’s no real way to tell how many you’ll need, because, of course each root is a different size, shape and length).

These beautiful little roots, covered in Ga. Red Dirt, are actually a golden yellow color when washed. You can see how long and skinny they are, and they shoot straight down into the soil.

Now clean your roots outside first at the hose, I like to set up a grate over my compost pile, then spray them with the hose, but not too hard, you don’t really want to bruise them, however, get as much soil off as possible before moving on to the kitchen sink. Once inside, cut the leaves off and set them aside for lunch, then move on to scrubbing them as you would a potato, until all the dirt is gone. Place them on a paper towel to get the excess water off, then start chopping them up.

Now you can see the yellowish color. Sorry for the Horrible Pic!

It doesn’t really matter how you chopp them as long as their basically the same thickness to ensure even drying.

Spread them on a baking sheet, a couple of centimeters thick, and place in a 250 degree F. oven, leaving the door partially open to allow  moisture to escape. Keep checking them until they look shriveled, then leave them for about 30 more minutes to get a nice brown to golden color. The whole process usually only takes about 2 hours (unless you decide to try this on an extremely humid Georgia afternoon, like I did! Then it takes half the day to just dry them!:))

When their nice and roasted (I can always tell by the Earthy, slightly spicy aroma that permeates my kitchen), store them, unground, in an airtight jar in a cool dark area just like any other medicinal herb.

I like to grind the Dandelion with the coffee beans at a ratio of about a third of the Dandelion root to two thirds of the coffee. Adding more will give you a more bitter, Cafe Du Monde chicory-like flavor. Then Brew just like you would regular coffee and enjoy the cleansing, nutrient rich flavor of your dandelion coffee! Just remember, both coffee and Dandelion roots are diuretic, which basically means you’ll be urinating more than usual. Don’t let it get you down, it just means the dandelion is traveling through your body picking up toxins along the way out. Be sure, however, to get a little extra potassium in your diet, as this can be depleted by a pickup in the frequency of urinating.

Not only is this a great tasting way to take your medicine, it will also extend the time between buying more coffee, thereby saving you a couple extra dollars! I like to use that extra cash to buy plants…and potting soil, and pots, and seeds, and garden tools….O.K, so maybe it wont save me that much!

MMmmmmm.....

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The honey-sweet scent of these follows me through my work in the garden!

I thought it would be nice to do an illustrated report of my small raised bed garden. Everything is (thankfully) Thriving, and I dont even mind the weeding this year! Raised Bed, I’ve found, is really the way to go!

This is my small Raised bed and it is packed with veggies! Yesterday I found out I have a reason to be proud of it. My friends little six year old boy came over with his Dad and was very interested in it. When asked what it was, I told him everything in the Garden was edible. He proceeded to pick Collard and Spinach leaves and eat them raw, sitting on the ground, giving half to my rabbit! Apparently the Spinach was extra sweet!

 

My Winding Row of carrots is finally peeking it's head, along with the chives beside them!

Not sure if this is a disease or an adaptaion, but this interesting feature is what started this little photo essay of mine :). It seems the spinach has formed a little cup, perhaps to catch rainwater? Or perhaps its a disease...

 

Another example of the same occurance...Oooo! maybe my spinach is mutating into a carnivorous plant! Lol, Now I feel like Poison Ivey from Batman!

 

A Beautiful little flourette forming!

 

My poppies popping up around the Broccoli!

 

Thinning the radishes, Mr. Bo loves the thinnings!

 

Lettuce, Kale, Radishes and Onions in a small space. They are flourishing!

 

Im so happy I dont have to buy these from the produce section anymore, Collards go from the Garden, straight to the pot!

 

Lovin his radishes!

 

Hope you enjoyed my little Garden! Im hoping to build more raised beds soon to acomodate all the warm weather veggies and herbs I want to grow. Though getting Bear to help me build anything is easier said than done! 😉

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