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Farm News

 

 

Our Cats Tail Farm Journal of Happenings .  Please, visit us often.

 

As we rediscover our relationship with plants –

and what more intimate pathway than through the gateway of healing–

it ignites a love, a passion for the green nations,

and enables us to become caretakers of that which we love most…   

                 ~ Rosemary Gladstar

 

November 5, 2016: This morning I was asked just what I was still harvesting from the farm and putting away .... it took me aback for a second as I had thought I was past the busy stage. After consideration, the realization came that the gifts from the Earth that I am still gathering are: coltsfoot, raspberry leaf, mullein, catnip and more for burning; burdock root, dandelion root and yellow dock root for tinctures and making bitters; artemisias for bundling; chard, winter spinach, carrots, lettuce, endive, radishes and more for our daily meals; bushels of beets for canning; still sorting garlic for seed, sale, and putting away; storing jars of kim chee in the downstairs fridge;  crafting various jars of Fire Cider. The best reward (and the least work)  is plucking luscious red fruit from our Prairie Spy apple tree every day to and fro the horse barn. No, these apples are for me, thank you very much.


November 2, 2016: A few folk have just asked as they seem confused ..... Urtica dioica does NOT have a blue lipped flower. If it does, it is not stinging nettles. Not that easy to confuse except for the name .... maybe someone was thinking of dead nettle, an entirely different plant? This is the true medicinal Urtica dioica ~ photo from one of my garden patches. It loves a rich soil with partial shade.



October 19, 2016: Our cordao planting for this year was unprecedented. This annual with curving tubular flowers has a long ethnobotanical history held sacred in many African and Brazilian shamanic ceremonies. This summer, due to the heat and sun, our plantings reached over nine feet in height. I am still harvesting the petals which I had thought would be finished producing due to the killing frosts, but I have been proven wrong. I saw no hummingbirds on this plant, as they were too busy on our other plantings ~ but it is said to be very attractive to these little gems of birds. PubMed lists that medicinal properties of cordao may assist in the treatments of ailments such as infections, inflammations, wounds, stomach disorders, among others



 

October 19, 2016: fire cider and kim chee in the works. I love this time of year!


 

October 17, 2016: The uncommon stretch of summer weather is continuing. Today it has been well over seventy degrees F..... the bugs and the heat are aggravating the horses. Unusual ..... harvesting lavender, tobacco, California poppy, tomatoes and cordao on October 14, more cordao, raspberry leaf, fresh raspberries, greens, and baskets of calendula three days later. Another unexpected blessing... it is way too warm to start the woodstove or the furnace yet. The blazing foliage is magnificent!


 

October 12, 2016: Salvia apiana (white sage) was harvested just before the frost. This season, the plants in the patch reached an average of 28 inches in height and is without question the fullest, most fragrant that we have ever cultivated. The loft of the cottage is full of the gathered herb, hanging in the rafters, ready to be used for smudge and ceremony. Mother Earth has truly blessed us this year.



 

October 10, 2016: What a blessing to share labors with new friends. Yesterday, my husband & I visited the Native community and joined them to harvest Seneca white corn for the Ganondagan White Corn Project. Thanks and blessings to Ken Parker and Holly John, of Food is Our Medicine - Healthy First Nations. To share in this work to ensure the preservation of this sacred seed while building friendships and community makes my heart fill with gratitude. May this tradition be blessed and honored for thousands of years.  White corn harvest photo courtesy of Petra Page-Mann.


 

October 4, 2016: This is a PERFECT day for working in the herb garden. This is a prime opportunity for last minute harvesting, removing annuals, marking the plant locations for next year. I am also making note of all the plants that the deer have selected as appetizers and which as main course. The cauldron water lilies are GONE. The marshmallow plants have been browsed to stalks, as have the comfrey (!!??!) and the wood betony. They chose to leave us the ragweed and the goldenrod. I suppose the cultivated plants just have so much better flavor.


 

 

 


 

October 2, 2016: Sticky, resin covered fingers ... pollen on chin and nose ...this year has been unbelievably bountiful in many fragrant blossoms. First tilia, and now it is abundant vibrant blessings of calendula. We have dried, oiled and tinctured. This basket of beauty is destined for the distiller.



 

September 30, 2016: The long hot summer bears an abundant crop. Today we harvested an entire eight quart basket of lima beans, a half bushel of tomatoes, a small basket of green beans all destined for the freezer ~ and more herbal goodies. Salvia azurea, cordao, calendula, tulsi, and thyme.



 

September 24, 2016: Shimmering beautiful night sky, shooting star, several owls in conversation ..... and a few coywolf chattering and squealing immediately across the road opposite the front door.   I cannot recall any previous occasion that they were heard that close to the Farm.

September 18, 2016: Celebrate the abundance of the Earth, for soon it will be Autumn Equinox ! Even though the lack of rain caused a scarcity of some needed crops we have been blessed with a bounty of others. Gather and preserve, prepare and feast! Our vegetable garden has provided a harvest of beets, turnips, tomatoes, fresh and dried beans, cucumbers .... while our herbal gatherings of tulsi basil, calendula, hops and more are keeping us busy with drying, tincturing, a...nd brewing. Our Prairie Spy apple tree is loaded with promises of autumn sweetness, but the hawthorn berries are scarce due to the unusually brisk and cold spring. Soon, it will be time to turn inward, to seek strength in the roots of the crops we gather and in the deepest recesses of ourselves. Like the sap of the trees returning to the roots, it is our time to turn our thoughts and efforts to clearing away what is unnecessary and unneeded .... to complete unfinished projects .... to celebrate and welcome the return to the heart of our beings and the hearth of our dwellings. Now it is time to balance our active and receptive selves and to nurture our connection with the cycle of the Year. Use this time wisely; let us not lose this time we are given in busy-ness, complaints, and self-pity; instead, welcome with open arms this opportunity to cultivate connection with the Sacred. There will be a renewal of growth and expansion in its OWN time.

September 11, 2016: One occupational hazard of being a wildcrafting herbalist is experiencing unattainable sleep all night long while enduring the serenade from the singing cicada that has buried itself in your harvest basket in the kitchen right below your bedroom.

September shelves are6, 2016: Angelica love .... a digestive elixir I am creating. Freshly harvested angelica root, some warming herbs and spices, a touch of maple and orange peel. <3 !



 

September 5, 2016: The bounty of the Green is overwhelming me. I returned from the NE Women's Herbal Conference one week ago, rested and rejuvenated ...... and looking forward to a continuation of a mellow mood. The plants have other ideas! There are "almost past prime" stands of medicinals clamoring for attention, demanding their harvest. Raspberry leaf ... motherwort, a second cutting of lemon balm ... hops are almost ready. A bushel of mullein, a huge basket of tulsi, ...marshmallow leaf and seeds to be separated ~ all await me in the kitchen. There was enough stock of vodka to fill a quart jar of tincture, but there is still a pan of angelica roots to be made into an elixir. Not only is my stock of vodka for tincturing depleted,  I am out of brandy too. The dryer shelves are stacked full. Recalling the lack of healing plants in other years, and thinking of those who suffer and who need this medicine, I am grateful for my blessings.


August 11, 2016: Magikal, mystical mugwort aka "cronewort" ~ Artemisia vulgaris. It appears at your back door when you are accepted as a healer. The energies are aromatic, bitter yet spicy. This member of the Artemisia family is kin to A. annua, Sweet annie and A. ludoviciana, wormwood ... among others. I find it helpful for "frozen" muscles and tendons .... when the cold originated from an external source. A lovely mugwort infused oil or liniment really worked into the gluteus maximus has shown to relieve the temporary and debilitating pain from sciatica, or massaged into the calf muscles to soothe restless legs. If you wish to enhance dream recall, entreat the aid of lovely cronewort. Worn as an amulet or tucked under your pillow, this powerful green ally may surprise you!



July 11, 2016:   All but one variety of garlic is pulled and hanging to dry. One of my favorite uses for garlic is my Fire Cider ~ a recipe celebrated by herbalists for generations! I like to tweak it every year, and here is our most excellent 2015 effort. Some folk experiment with recipes they found on the Internet, and often say ~ "Just dump it all together and whirr it in a blender!" which m...ay work fine as far as the finished product ~ but to me, the result lacks soul and the vitality of healing. As I shared with the sisters in my "Viral Immunity" class yesterday, I learned and practice the importance of the prayerful act of collecting with intent and chopping by hand the ingredients in any medicine ..... asking for the healing of the Creator to consecrate my efforts while I slice, dice, crush, mash, chop and mix. Flow your essence into your recipe. Ask that universal energy combine with and transform your energy and bless your food and medicine. In Ayurveda, this is akin to "sadhana," meaning "participation with everything." Preparing your food and healing potions can be a form of meditation. You are what you put into your body. You become what you cultivate. Let your acts of preparing food and medicine become your mindful way of changing the energy of this troubled world.


 

July 6 2016: Bewitching blossoms, buzzing bees, blissful bouquet, bodacious and bountiful beauty. I am in love.   Photo:  Tilia europaea – Common Lime (T. cordata T. platyphyllos; syn. T. vulgaris)


 

July 4, 2016: One harvest is beginning .... our first basket of tilia is drying. Linden tea, linden elixir ... linden infusion, a luxury in the bath! Roses harvest is ending, having just about finished this years short flush of bloom. The heat and dryness continue in Marilla, and the Farm is wilting, literally. Weeding is postponed until some much needed rain is received .... the ground is solid concrete. Wildlife critters are constantly visible in the back yard, seek...ing water and visiting the pond with the oak tree or the cauldron in the herb garden. Last evening, a raccoon and a solitary deer were feet away from each other by the tree line. The raccoon was wary and experienced, while the deer bounded about, up and down, back and forth, inviting play. She was ignored, and the deer departed disappointed. The hawks who have nested by the stream must be fledgling as the multiple and concerted screeches are overpowering all other bird song. I can see them circling .... the parents are soaring above while the younger calls from below are higher pitched and somewhat immature. The blue heron is daily in the stream, but only a solitary bird, sadly not the usual pair. The orioles are still devouring oranges and grape jelly, and the barn swallow mother is sitting on the nest in the barn under the watchful eye of the horses. While we all are coping with the dryness, a steady and lengthy rain would be welcomed by all.

 

June 21, 2016: The Summer Solstice lends a special magic to herbal creations. Yarrow hydrosol, distilled with a tinge of blue, the azulene readily apparent; rose petal honey for yogurt, scones and tea, bringing a whiff of summer sweetness when the winds blow and the snow blankets the garden; California poppy tincture for those restless nights; and the crowning jewel, rose petal elixir from the Apothecary rose, the sweetest rose on Mother Earth. The Greenies are anxious ...for this last medicine, and sang together as they helped with the harvest. The gardens had a touch of moisture last night but it did little to lessen the need for water to help with the flowering. We planted several new shrubs to replace those that had succumbed to the stress of the last few winters, including a new mock orange for fragrance. Raccoons as well as new fawns love to eat new mock orange blossoms. LOVE them. Just sayin'.


 

June 16, 2016: We finally received rain, but only a fraction of an inch. Everything is dry and crispy, and I have observed early wilting in full size shrubs and some small trees. Frogs have been a bit scarce, and even the snapping turtles are hunkered down wherever they can find a puddle. We are hoping for an annual resident in our garden cauldron to be the Prince on the lilypads! The mammals are rooting in the gardens wherever they can search out some moist juicy insects ~ so my new wildlife garden (to attract wildlife ... LOL!) is a mass of craters, mud clods and discarded turf. Our resident raccoon is often perched in the top of the apple tree, dislodging infant apples on the climb up and down. Meanwhile, the deer have pruned the anemones, turtlehead, meadowsweet, valerian, marshmallow, and more. How accommodating of them. If only they would prune the goldenrod, the ash tree seedlings and the daisy fleabane. But no. The herbal harvest has begun ... gathering skullcap, mugwort, catnip and rose petals are on my daily routine. Tulsi is growing strong and lush, as is the rose bergamot and the Moldavian balm (Dracocephalum moldavica) and the cordao.  Fingers crossed.


 

 

June 1, 2016: PART TWO: In my earlier post I wrote a bit about poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans (aka Rhus toxicdendron.) If you should have the misfortune to fall into (Heaven forbid) a patch of poison ivy, jewelweed should be growing nearby. Jewelweed (Impatiens capenensis or I. pallida) is related to the common landscape annual, the lovely little impatiens that is used in many garden beds. If you break the stem of either, you will find distinctive, hollow stems that are clear and juicy. The sap of jewelweed applied to the contact area will not completely negate the effects of poison ivy but may (for most people, including myself) greatly lessen the severity and shorten the period of time that you suffer. Even at infant stage, it will help you, but the plant is much more easily recognizable at full maturity. If you find that you suffer often from exposure to poison ivy, take freshly picked jewelweed, whirl it in a blender with water to make a slurry. Freeze this in ice cube trays ... when frozen, pop the cubes out of the tray and store in plastic bags. You can soothe affected skin directly by rubbing the ice cube on yourself, or dump a trayfull of cubes into a bathtub and hop in. IMPORTANT!!! Correct identification is important as with ANY herbal application. I received two messages from folk that asked me if jewelweed is the same as CELANDINE. I was a bit taken aback to have two identical questions this morning. Where is this coming from? NO NO NO NO! Celandine, or Chelidonium majus, is a dermal irritant, sometimes caustic. If you use the sap of celandine as an application to alleviate poison ivy, chances are you will have a much more severe reaction than you had originally!! Celandine is a member of the poppy family and has a bright yellowish orange sap. KNOW YOUR PLANTS! Correct identification is critical in any aspect of herbalism. First photo is immature true jewelweed, the second is at flowering. The other picture is of Chelidonium majus. AVOID using this plant.

June 1, 2016: Writing about poison ivy has been on my mind ever since Anne and I saw it in such profusion at Hunters Creek Park in Wales. And now people are messaging me about it, so, it IS time. I have read that the spreading growth of poison ivy is directly correlated to the health of the surrounding areas ... if the land has been "disturbed" then Rhus will increase. The same is said to be true if the amount of carbon monoxide is increasing. That explains a lot! In the photo of poison ivy, do not be fooled by its benign appearance. Weepy rashes will result if you touch the sap from a broken part of the plant. For some, just brushing the foliage is sufficient. It usually turns brilliant red in the autumn, but other climbing plants such as Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) do as well. Look for the leaf count ~ Virginia creeper has five, while poison ivy has THREE. Leaves of three, let it be. Don't burn it, as if you breathe in the smoke you will become ill. There is a plant growing nearby that will aid anyone who inadvertently stumbles into a patch of Rhus ...... see my next post about jewelweed.

 

May 10, 2016: Along with harvesting a massive amount of stinging nettle which is drying as I type, here is one of the jars as the AFTER picture of yesterdays root.... thank you for your healing strength.

May 9, 2016: It has been a day of blessings ... hummers are here, there are five orioles on the oranges, and the green friends are making themselves known. My husband was digging a new bed and felt this powerful energy. We uncovered this wise root of yellow dock (Rumex crispus) and reverently brushed away the soil. This magnificent herb is known for its action on the digestive system, having anthraquinones as one of its most active constituents. Gentled by the tannins it also contains, it is an invaluable aid for gut health.

 

May 2, 2016:  Someone following Cats Tail Farm on FB sent me this clip art shown on the left ~ and said that they were told this is Siberian ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosis. Nope. I sure do not believe so. I think that this picture has been the subject of artistic creativity ~ this clipart appears to show the root of a Panax ginseng, or P. quinquefolius. The leaf is unable to be identified(?) with the berry structure of a panax but the color of an Eleuthero. Panax berries rarely are that deep of a purple, they are more crimson red. Panax is a herbacious perennial while E. senticosis is a woody deciduous shrub. Note the UFO space type flowerhead of the Eleuthero. Completely different plant with different characteristics,different harvesting protocol, and different uses. I grow both here at the farm.

 

May 6, 2016: This weather is producing an abundance of herbs for spring medicine making. Cleavers is rampant; the yarrow is soft, verdant and ready to be clipped for drying .... and the treasured and indispensable stinging nettles are gaining in size and stature daily. Nettle soup, frittata, pesto ... and drying for my special tea blend. And for those who have been messaging me, have I forgotten my class schedule? It is being finalized. If only family would cease their "surprise events" this summer ..... all would have been in place.

 April 17, 2016: What could be more satisfying after a day of digging, cutting and weeding than to see such beauty ~ windflowers in bloom under the lilac; bloodroot in bloom, leaves unfurling from stems clasped tightly; petasites, a gift from a dear friend in Maine, with its first flower so wantonly displayed for all. In addition, we were fortunate to view a sleek shiny fox nosing among the litter by the stream, full bushy tail floating exuberantly behind, searching for a tidbit to eat; and the first pair of bats providing an aerial display at dusk. Thank you for this beautiful and blessed day.

April 10, 2016: Finally. The text and photos in my website have been 99% updated. The visual appearance remains the same, as I love the creative design of my dear sister who spent so many hours not only designing  our website but who spent even MORE hours working on the inside workings with the peculiar whims and requirements of my web host. If you would like to attend a workshop or a program here at the Farm, my aim is to post a schedule around May 1st ~ Beltane! Many Green Blessings to all, and please, check out my humble efforts in updates.

April 2, 2016: This past week was satisfying .... what could be more fun on a dreary March day than crafting from your herb stash? My apothecary is brimming with new combinations for various needs .... and here is one jar of our favorite peaceful garden tea. Alongside are jars for smudging blends, which have been on my list for months to create. Sipping some newly strained cocoa-kava elixir in the evening aids my creative processes! Watch for my listing of one day workshops and classes to be offered here on the Farm this year.... I invite you to welcome the Magic of Green into your lives!

  

March 15, 2016: The Universe has a message for me ... woodpecker has appeared. While commonly one or two at a time at the feeders, this morning was a distinct oddity. Feeder #1 ~ as I approached, two downies and a red bellied woodpecker were sitting on the empty feeder. Two more downies were perched in the tulip poplar a few feet away. Feeder #2, by the pond and the peace pole ~ THREE downies, possibly a female yellow sapsucker(?) in the oak tree, another downy in the lilac bush waiting for me to leave the feeder. As I returned to the porch .... the pileated flew along the top of the bank above the stream. With the heavy winds that we have experienced the last few years, many damaged limbs and trunks of trees are providing food and nesting cavities.

 

March 14, 2016: Today I am organizing herbal workshop notes, planning summer classes, and crafting mysterious potions. When you go through papers with the intention of finally sorting them, thinking that is your objective .... soon there is a "I have been looking for that, may as well leave it out" stack along with a "I have requests for a class on that" stack and of course a "looks interesting, need to make that" stack. So now I have jars of herbs, bottles of oils, a gallon of honey, some vodka and brandy for elixirs ~ of course as well as lots of little piles of papers spread out everywhere in the kitchen. May as well make it PRODUCTIVE and FUN!

 

 Oh what a catastrophe for man when he cut himself off from the rhythm of the year, from his unison with the Sun and the Earth.  Oh what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it made a personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and setting of the sun, and cut off from the magical connection of the solstice and the equinox.  This is what is the matter with us.                                           ~    D. H. Lawrence

 

February 21, 2016: The silent night was not disturbed, even though the prints in the snow told us otherwise. A few evenings this past week we heard a huge pack of coyotes. This morning ~ tracks of at least FIVE between the garage and the horse stable. Not even a yip, a squeal, or a peep!

 

February 20, 2016: Our mission is to keep this little part of Mother Earth as much as a sanctuary as possible for all of us. We avoid any adversarial actions against wildlife and insects, preferring instead to peacefully coexist with them. Our own composted equine manure along with certified organic products are used in our stewardship /earth practices and gardens. As a result, we have a very comfortable relationship with the fauna who reside with us...... so much so that they also rely on our plantings for optimal health .... but sometimes to our own lack of the same plants when WE want or need them. Sometimes, land stewardship has to be a compromise

 

February 16, 2016: Red Winged blackbird seen at the Farm!!! Yippeeeee! A sign of spring!

 

 

February 14, 2016: Omigosh. It is cold at Cats Tail Farm. This is what the indoor/outdoor minimum - maximum thermometer showed when we came back in from the barn. Left side is outdoors, right side is the laundry room. That is MINUS TWENTY DEGREES FAHRENHEIT. Outdoors, that is in the SUN. With NO WIND. Even the laundry room was chilly, but it has three exterior walls and the dryer vent, .which does not keep the heat in well I think I will buy a second unit for the horse barn to compare. May as well get things done inside that we did not get done yesterday ..... don't think I will be spending any un-necessary time out of doors today.

 

 

December 15, 2015:  I am missing the heavy fragrance of blossoms, the buzzing of the pollinators, the warmth of the Sun on my face. The catalogs have been arriving and so have my first seed orders. Pencil in hand, sketches scattered about ..... lists of "must haves" and also of "do I want" on sticky notes. I am not even snowbound, yet the dream of the green pervades my being .....

 

November 19, 2015: What a difference one year makes. Last year on this date we were still dealing with "Snowvember" and this year ~ neighbors are mowing lawns. We put in some bulbs, cleaned up some of the veggie gardens (nope, have not touched the perennials and herb beds, lets see if I can get to them later) harvested a few handfuls of calendula ~ on November 19th? Topping it off, we snipped a few stamens of saffron! I am bagging up some dried harvest that have been hanging upstairs in the cottage .... several artemisias, some yarrow, some comfrey .... the very last snippets of tulsi that were still on the drying shelf ... I have smudges to blend, some tinctures to strain for the winter. The weather has been too warm to fire up the stove and sit with a glass of wine. Do you think we will be blessed with an early spring?

 

 

November 15, 2015:  No, not Hypericum tincture or oil .... not black currant cordial .... I have tweaked my recipe for the fire cider. This is the blend that really, really tastes GOOD.

 

 

October 30, 2015:  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh... October! Such a sensual month! Enjoy the scents of falling leaves, of baking treats fresh from the oven or the stovetop ~ the spicy flavors of the ciders and spices ~ the crooning music of the departing wildfowl, the symphony of the coyotes howling at Luna ~ the fluttering sensations of the crisp air on your skin ~ and the riotous display of the vibrant palette of color ~ it is a blessing to be alive to enjoy all of this. I wish all my friends a blessed, wickedly awesome Samhain!!

 

October 11, 2015:  Elderberry elixir ~ a half dozen bottles, elder berries gifted from a friend.  Elderberry should be grown by everyone ~ it tolerates rural, suburban, and even rural settings as long as it is a well drained sunny area with adequate access to moisture.  Grandmother Elder is the Guardian and protrectoress of gardens ~ lending her strength and steadniness to all those who grown hear her.  The flowers contain a small amount quantity of essential oil (containing palmitic, linoleic, and linolenic acids), triterpenes, flavonoids (including rutin), also pectin, mucilage, sugar while the berries are rich in many compounds, among which are  sugar, fruit acids, vitamin c, bio-flavonoids.  The leaves have toxic qualities.  This is a "go-to" plant for respiratory issues and assists in bacterial and viral assault.

 

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October 11, 2015:    Salvia apiana ~ spirit medicine  Smudging has been a sacred ritual for many cultures and every religion uses sacred smoke in their ceremonies.  Whether they be Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Judaic, Native American .... I have not found any faith that does not use the burning of scented substances to carry prayers to God or the Creator.  The burning of herbs is used for cleansing, purification, consecration, and connection with ones Relations and with the Divine.  The subtle shifting of energy from burning herbs or incense brings a state of balance to ourselves and to our environment;  with this balance,  interconnectedness is reestablished and awareness that we are not alone but parts of the Whole.

 

You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.   I hope someday you will join us, and the world will live as one.                  ~   John Lennon,   "Imagine"

 

August 22, 2015:     Sea buckthorn berries are loaded this year and I cannot keep ahead of the harvest.   Tangy but sweet, this power packed little fruit is being researched as the next "superfood."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 17, 2015:   Another magical day of medicine making at the Farm. The Green is so thankful to be acknowledged ~ in return, they freely share their wisdom and blessings with us. 

 

 

 

 

 

July 27, 2015:    Woooeeeeeeeeeee. We are on overdrive with drying and processing our herbal bounty. The garlic harvest is all hanging to dry in the upstairs cottage, fragrantly curing. My husband is busy distilling several hydrosols ~ lots of lavender, some tulsi, some yarrow, peppermint for my triple peppermint cream, catnip for insect spray for the horses, clary sage too, all freshly picked from the gardens. We secured some more local honey for infusing with baskets of freshly harvested herbs for our winter toasts, teas and baked goods. New elixirs are brewing .... including a new Cocoa Kava creation.   Black currant cordial is infusing too! We still have a few herb plants for sale, so let me know if anyone is missing a plant for their garden ... we may have it! They may be gone after our next tour. Hummingbirds are still here, sadly our nest of five barn swallows have fledged and left, but they are routinely seen soaring around the barn and yard. The visiting feral Momma Cat has departed, taking the three little kittens with her. Perhaps someone will adopt them, if they can catch them.....  while our pampered house cats Inky and Banshee are snoozing full length in the house in any cool spot they can find, while Merlyn and Misty are snoozing in the barn in the shade, doors and windows wide open. If only we could take naps too. LOL.

 

 July 15, 2015: We pulled the first of our garlic today! Only one or two varieties are ready. This year I am making garlic broth and freezing it, along with making dried powdered, minced, and sliced garlic. Yummmmmmmmmmm      

 

July 8, 2015: More rain fell last night. I think that the Farm will be able to qualify officially as a rice paddy. Fourteen yards of the first sixteen yards of mulch are down, as is 95% of the load of wood chips. Is that enough, you ask? Nope. More to come ... We needed a lot to cover unexpected washed out places ~ so now we are short again for several areas. Water up to the ankles, so now, must I worry about shark attacks? Sightseers are arriving Sunday ~ at least the herb garden is finished and up to par. The echinacea looks like they will be truly spectacular this year, as were the lupines and poppies earlier in the season. Horehound, white sage, the new sweetgrass plantings are installed. Catnip and clary sage are being harvested for distillation of hydrosols, and some ceremonial herbs are ready for cutting as well as others to tincture. The blue herons are visiting daily, the hummingbirds are a fixture, and the chipmunks are planning their ornamental sunflower gardens. If only they would submit their locations for approval .... surprising and unexpected plantings are not appealing in the center of the carrot patch!

 

 July 1, 2015:    Bear spotted Boston/Hamburg area. Bears usually follow a waterway ~ and gaslines. They love to stop and browse for edibles along the way.  My elderberry bushes have still not recovered from the harvest by a bear after what, four years?  Lets all stay safe but stay calm. We don't need idiots shooting off shotguns .... they can be more dangerous than the bears sometimes. I speak from experience. 

June 7, 2015: Our new Apothecary Rose bed is planted ~ YIPPEE! New supplier, so I started out with a small number to access their quality. Potatoes are planted: Green Mountain, Irish Cobbler, King Edward, Maris Piper. Onions, leeks and scallions going strong. Oats are planted for milky oat stage, fingers crossed. All of our varieties of garlic are flourishing and getting ready to pop their scapes. If folk are interested, I will have scapes to sell, as well as our mature garlic after harvest ~ all our crops are organically grown but not certified organic. Living in harmony with Nature is our Passion! Harvesting lettuce for lunches and dinners, but not much else yet.... too busy getting the herb beds in order. What a beating they took over the winter, combined with the late killing frost that shocked many mature trees as well. We lost so many plants! We are now drying nettles and catnip .... tinctured some california poppy .... I missed the hawthorn bloom which flew past in the blink of an eye! Soon linden blossom will be in demand, as well as the rose petals for elixir and bath products. Some herb plants will be available for sale, there may more varieties after I finish transplanting. So far ~ yarrow, valerian, borage, mugwort, sorrel, perhaps feverfew, the true medicinal thyme, maybe some elecampane. Send me a pm if you are interested as there may be more varieties, and there are only a few of each. I love making sweet early summer medicine!

June 6, 2015:   Harvested Eschscholzia californica for tincture and sweet elixir.  Such a lovely golden gleaming color! 

 

This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.     ~ Susan Polis Schutz

 

June 1, 2015:  My Passion and my Path is EDUCATION regarding our health and the health of the planet on which we live. In Marilla, for the past two years we have been fighting a company, named "quasar energy" from Cleveland, Ohio ~ who came to Marilla and other towns in Western New York to store toxic sewage sludge ~ "equate" ~ and spread it on crops as fertilizer. The EPA/DEC says it is perfectly safe because it is "tested" for harmful ingredients, but in reality they never test for THOUSANDS of ingredients that are proven toxic to humans, wildlife, soil, water .... and air. In addition, sewage sludge or "biosolids" contain bacteria, viruses, industrial waste,  pharmaceuticals. medical waste ... and more ... that can contribute to "superbugs" and disease.  Many foods available for consumption in supermarkets are already contaminated with these materials .... even organics may have this in their makeup.   If you are questioning validity, be advised that in addition, there are mountains of scientific statements and papers by learned scientists to support these findings of hazardous and injurious material.  Hunters and those who consume harvested wild meat should be especially concerned about PRION diseases as Chronic Wasting Disease is on the rise and may be directly linked to toxic sewage sludge - AKA "biosolids" which is often spread on state lands such as parks, etc., to aid "reforestation." .  For further information, please visit www.sludgefacts.org

May 16, 2015:  Wow ..... more questions! Can I arrange a special class if you organize a group? OF COURSE! Want a Ladies Day, or a family outing discovering your own Green Spirit? Learning basics of the wild greens growing near you .... identification ..... how they help us? What to do with them? Explore all that waits for you, meeting your own Allies and awakening your wild awareness of all Nature. If you want to consider this experience or have questions, message me. Available dates are shrinking. We can always schedule next year if we plan now.

May 15, 2015:   Hello folks,  people have inquired from me if I would consider doing weed walks on their property, or a nearby wild area. YES! Cultivated herbs, wild plants .... all love to be introduced to the two-leggeds and acknowledged as brethren. They may be waiting for the opportunity to be recognized! Message me if you want to arrange this.

May 11, 2015: Baskets, pruners, dehydrator all ready.  Cleavers is running rampant in the vegetable garden!   Two huge baskets of nettle leaves are harvested, and I was careful to leave the plants standing that were visited by the butterfly larvae.  Nettle ~ a magical vitamin powerhouse and one of my herbal allies

May 6, 2015: HUMMERS!!!!!!

May 3, 2015: Rose breasted grosbeak at feeder!! No hummers yet.

April 29, 2015:  Thankful today. One young man, from a brief meeting about sewage sludge, sought me out to ask about the power of the plants in healing ones self. Willing, attentive, polite, and eager to listen and learn. The Green is so willing to share with those who have a true interest. My heart is happy.

April 26, 2015: The wrens have returned! Pepe LePew is seen often strolling the yard, doing his share to search out grubs and lawn insects. We have a mated pair of mallards in the stream, the nest is in the brush in an unmown part of the field. There are several pileated woodpeckers heard daily with several owls hooting in the evening. I have not seen the redshouldered hawk recently; perhaps he/she has moved on. The brief but not unexpected snowfall several mornings ago has blunted the beauty of the daffodils, but the grass is greening, the willows are leafing, the coltsfoot is in bloom! Alas, soon my exuberance will wane with the mountain of yard work that needs to be done. We lost several full size trees, many ornamental shrubs, but too soon yet to view all the perennials. Seeds are in trays under lights ~ the promise of lushness and renewal. The cycle begins again. Aho.

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.     ~   Henry David Thoreau

April 20, 2015:  Bloodroot is in bloom. Nettles are peeking through the leaf litter. Chickweed, cleavers, baby dandelion .... popping up everywhere. Roses have new shoots. Willows and birch are budding. Sorrel leaves are stretching. I found some self heal in full leaf! I few sprigs of tasty dill .... the parsley is greening and spreading. Lady Lobelia is shy, but but visible. The Wheel has turned. Life is good.

March 15, 2015: The top crust of the snow is icy and glazed, making the footing to the barn a bit precarious. Pepe LePew found a new home, under my husbands workshop. At the feeder: one solitary junco, no cardinals, over one dozen chickadees. Red tailed hawk perched on sand ring fencepost, looking for breakfast? One male bluebird, preening on the snow shovel handle (I will not be moving that shovel anytime soon) and NINE whitetail deer on the treeline by the stream, five resting contentedly, four standing and browsing. Time for a nice cuppa.

March 14, 2015: Along with the familiar doves, multitude of cardinals, juncos and the woodpecker at dawn ... about twenty robins were perched in the plum tree this morning. Returning from the barn, FOUR red winged blackbirds were merrily dining on oil sunflower. First sighting this year!

 February 13, 2015:  Nature and the animals know best, no matter how superior and scientific we humans believe ourselves to be. Does anyone recall my post that my horses started their winter coats in early JULY of last year? I was concerned about the cold and hard winter that signs were indicating? I hate to say "I told you so" ~ but, I told you so.

 February 8, 2015:  WOOT! WOOT! The Cats Tail Farm herbal program for new students in 2015 is FULL. Please PM me if you want to be added to the cancellation list for this year, or to have a place on the 2016 program early notification list. Thank you!

January 1, 2015:   Recent communications are making me concerned. People have been messaging me with questions, much more so than usual, mostly on plant ID and uses .... the identification of the plant is the most critical to knowing IF you should use a plant for its gift of medicine or not. If you rely on purchasing dried herbs from a local store to use, it is not the same a gathering herbs fresh and making your remedy yourself. The plant healing begins with greeting the plant in the ground, communing with him or her; telling the plant your needs for its healing strength, asking permission to gather, then harvesting responsibly. The last and most important action is to thank the plant of its gift for your benefit. Now while I realize that not everyone has access to an entire garden of cultivated medicinal herbs, or to wild plants out their door, lets face it.... almost everyone has access to dandelion, plantain, chickweed, and self heal within fifty or so feet of their residence. You need not know fifty different medicinal plants, but five plants ten different ways. Again, the issue is KNOW YOUR PLANT ~ which brings me to the point of this posting. People were writing me, confused with native wild ginger being identified as zingiber, then again with absinth wormwood which is different from one of the many other varieties of wormwood ~ being the same as southernwood (no, it isn't!) Now I am reading from others questions about yarrow being the same plant as lady's mantle. The only (far reaching) similarity is that yarrow is ACHILLEA, while lady's mantle is ALCHEMILLA. Just a difference in the word and perhaps some folk are consulting some of the same printed material, where they are most likely listed next to each other. Alchemilla is a member of the rose family, related to apples, hawthorn, raspberries (HUH?) and roses of course ~ while yarrow is called "woundwort" and has many valuable properties, among them being a styptic and one of the three ingredients in the herbalists cold tea remedy which every self respecting herbalist uses as a staple in their arsenal. Rather than ramble on even more when I am irritated with inaccurate information being shared, here are photos of each plant so that you may see for yourself. The white yarrow is often found in the wild and may easily be transplanted into any cultivated setting, but keep in mind that hybrids of yarrow (the pastel colors) have limited medicinal constituents, while the yellow is only ornamental and has very very low amounts, if any, of medicinal properties. Lady's mantle, or the Alchemilla, can be grown in a cultivated setting as a ground cover and has a beauty for the eye and spirit as well as being a valuable ally for humans ~ especially the feminine

December 28, 2014: 

 

As a favorite motto states, "Teach respect for the Earth and ALL living beings" know that you will be acknowledged in return for your efforts. This reward can be in the form of the most majestic sunset for your delight, the appearance of an inquisitive fox that shows no fear of you, or perhaps a visit from a relatively uncommon avian friend to your window feeder. Sometimes, Mother Nature has a sense of whimsical humor and gives you a smile along with a gift ~ look what we found just today in the bin of potatoes we harvested from the land here at the Farm! !

 

In the last week or so, for some reason I have received several inquiries to clear confusion regarding the native ginger found here as a woodland perennial, and the ginger commonly available in supermarkets. Which is the true ginger? Well, they both are but they are NOT the same plant, not remotely related, and do not have identical constituents. The photo on the TOP, with the tall spike leaf is the ginger that is primarily used in medicine, Zingiber officinale ~ a tropical plant used primarily for digestive, circulatory and digestive issues. It can be grown here as an annual or in a greenhouse with some pampering but is not hardy in this zone. To show the other, the image with the "violet-like" leaf is a member of the Asarum family, Asarum canadense being one of the most commonly found here. Note the unusual bloom. This native ginger can be found in shaded woodland areas of Western New York and have less strong medicinal value, but this plant is a supreme example of a species with a clonal root system which can exist as long as a ten-year time span.

Proof that Mother Earth is restless ...... first over 88 inches of snow in Marilla/Cowlesville, and today a 1.5 earthquake south of Lockport. Oy.

 

 Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it's beauty.         ~   Albert Einstein

 

 

November 22, 2014: 

 SNOWVEMBER IN WESTERN NEW YORK: 

OVER EIGHTY EIGHT INCHES OF SNOW IN THREE DAYS!

The snow has not only been taxing to the two legged, four`legged, and the furred and feathered .... but the one legged are suffering. I see a beautiful powerful white pine, Pinus strobus, down by the stream, with limbs broken and twisted from the weight of the snow. I will take a basket, shears, a knife ... and an offering. The needles, sap, tears and wood have power healing to the body, the spirit, and the soul. Gather with gratitude. There is strength here.

November 22, 2014:  Accomplished: roof shoveled, and three sides of my car are visible We are making progress. Two old cranky people, we do pretty good.

November 18, 2014 8:30 PM update: Our power went out at 2PM and JUST came back on. When we have no power, we have no water as there is no way to run the well pump ... and our phone is digital. My cell coverage is poor here too. We trudged thru 3.5 feet of snow with headlamps to the barn hauling water. Horses seem happy and it sure is good for both hubby and I to get back into the house. We have homemade soup and bread and going to crack open a bottle of WINE.

 

November 18, 2014 UPDATE from earlier post: I still cannot see the road and we have about another foot of snow since my earlier post. It is still snow thundering and there is NO sign of a plow. OR any vehicle. At. All. The temperature rose to a balmy 15 degrees F. The vehicles are half buried and we have not attempted the path to the manure pile. Black bean soup is on the stove and bread is rising to be put in the oven. Cats are sleeping and we have discovered two dead lines of tree lights. Maybe I won't be ahead this season after all.

 

August 25, 2014:  Returning home from the Women's Herbal Conference, I pondered the message that we have sent out from the fire.... 650 strong women, lovers of the Green, dancing, singing, drumming, sharing our wisdom and our power of healing. Many youth were there to take their first steps onto the magical path of the Green Ways! We have left the lake, candles lit for the path of those to follow us .... and as a beacon of light until I and our sisters gather again.

 

August 20, 2014:  A sample of the ayurvedic herbs now found at Cats Tail Farm ~ bringraj.

 

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August 19, 2014:  A lovely photo of a sacred herb, Seneca tobacco here at the Farm.  Many thanks to a Native sister for the generous gift.  We are saving the seed for next year to carry on the strain.

 

 

 

 

July 20, 2014:  First steps in making a herbal salve at Cats Tail Farm.  Freshly harvested Green gifts, lovingly infused in golden oil.  What magical healing .... so much sweet wild medicine in there!  Plantain, lady's mantle, milky oats, lavender blossom, lemon balm, St. Johnswort.    Everyone's first aid kits now contain a tin of this gift of Mother Earth.

 

 

 

July 19, 2014:  Yummmmm ... the harvest has begun.  Some varieties had larger heads that anticipated, while one variety was smaller than we had hoped. The flavor is intense and powerful, and we have LOTS.  Pickled garlic;  garlic broth; our own dried garlic powder.  Bring on the vampires!  There is still lots more in the ground to pull, and omigosh this year we had scapes by the POUND. Perhaps next year I should consider "garlic bed weeding for pick your own scape harvest" as a barter option.

July 10, 2014:  Not only our hummingbirds love this monarda, the rose scented bee balm.....

 She is a flower love of bodacious beautiful blossoms, so one creation is our CTF rose scented bee balm infused honey! Anxious for winter pampering in teas, on scones or home made toasted crumpets by the breakfast fire.

 

 

 

May 27, 2014:     Working with the magic of the Green .... the first seven trays of nettles came out of the herb dryer and bagged, nine trays (so far) of comfrey went in. What an abundant year for comfrey! And the nettles are taller than I can remember from previous seasons..... flats of St. Johnswort, clary sage, white sage, borage, thyme, and astragalus are hardening off for planting. Clippings of various green are being set aside for soapmaking, and I am already out of vodka from root tincturing. Poke is appearing strong and sturdy, and lots of little lobelia seedlings have sprawled around the garden beds. There was a lot of lavender lost this winter, but the survivors show great promise of blossoms. Absinthe wormwood .... never ever better!

 

 

May 25, 2014:  This evening it was such a lovely twilight, with the scent of lilacs everywhere. I grabbed my pruners and a basket and walked to the stream, only to find Pepe LePew a mere ten feet from the lilac bushes. Stopping in my tracks, I called to make by presence known. The little one was busy eating whatever, so I was able to clip ~ cautiously. He kept glancing up at me, and believe me, I kept an eye on him. No fear and no reactions. And my lilacs still smell like ... lilacs.

 

 

 

May 14, 2014:  Finally it is HARVEST TIME! This is one of the couple of baskets of Urtica (Stinging nettles) that I harvested last night. Don't let the size of the basket fool you .... some of those leaves are bigger than my hand. The first batch is in the herb dehydrator, I am waiting for my tea makings to dry .....

 May 12, 2014, Monday: The day is a bit humid with blackflies in abundance, so the horses are snoozing in the stable. On my morning ramble through the gardens, I that the arum and the candelabra primrose that were presents from a Greenie are healthy and strong (thank you!) but our cauldron in the herb garden had a fatality ~ our Nymphaea odorata succumbed due to the frigid winter temperatures. I have a replacement, a TINY one .... it will take some years to have it reach the size that our previous lily had spread. Upon removing the remains ... an indignant frog swam to the surface, popped his head above water, looked us square in the eye, and voiced his extreme displeasure at being disturbed. Much wildlife these last few days..... thrashers, flickers, hummers .... and I finally convinced our oriole to pose for a shot. The condition was that he would consent to a session only through the kitchen window.

 

 

 

April 19, 2014, Saturday:  Frost on the windows at dawn, a breathtakingly beautiful sunrise, a cup of oolong tea, the fragrance of rose petals scenting the steam, unfurling around my mug; the welcoming nicker of my horses this morning at their breakfast time; daffodil buds plump with a promise of golden glory to come. Thank you, for this blessed day.

 

 

 

April 15, 2014:  Hop tendrils are unfurling and stretching!!!! Woohoo! Brewing awaits!   Another herbal entrance this spring is Chickweed ..... Stellaria media, not to be confused with "mouse-ear chickweed" which is not related to chickweed even remotely, being Cerastium vulgatum. It looks like chickweed in need of a good shave.

 

April 14, 2014 : Comfrey, sorrel, mugwort, all making their spring debut; vinca major has several bright blue stars; elderberry in bud; sage and lavender, foliage both showing verdant green; catnip showing vibrant sprouts; chamomile rampantly and brazenly spreading; the goldfinches had been appearing in their summer wardrobe of lemon gold. Tomorrow ~  in search of bloodroot buds.

 

April 12, 2014: We listened to the turkeys gobbling in the fields; found some baby coneflowers (yay!) discovered that bluebirds have inhabited another nesting box; checked on the newly emerging comfrey and nettles; pruned pruned pruned; hauled round rocks and flat stone, all by wheelbarrow; and yanked out some feisty quackgrass that was long enough/strong enough to knit hats and scarves for every resident in Marilla.

 April 11, 2014: the Spring Peepers in Marilla are singing!

 April 10, 2014: Hypericum (St. Johnswort), Melissa officinalis (lemon balm), Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot), Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew) ~ all happy and poking through the leaf litter, showing their faces in the garden ~

April 3, 2014: Lobelia siphilitica and cardinalis! Salix is budding! Achillea tufts poking from the soil ....... even the alchemilla is waking. And the chipmunks have been scurrying back and forth, back and forth ..... on a mission.

March 11, 2014:   YAY! Three snow geese winging across the back fields, a flock of red winged blackbirds in the spruces by the road, and PUSSY WILLOWS! Last year, I gathered these in mid April. Old Man Winter, blizzard or no, you are not going to dampen my spirit.

 

March 6, 2014: Even when the temperature is frigid and below zero, you can still find natures medicine available to nourish and heal. These rosehips, found outside my library window, are one of the strongest sources of vitamin C in the world. They are found to be rich in vitamins E, K, many of the B vitamins, and are exceptionally fragrant in the hip stage as well as in the lovely flowering stage. A bit tart, different varieties prove a bit different in flavor. The freeze and thaw actions sweetens them even more. Did you know they are related to hawthorne, apple, raspberry and even Lady's mantle? Lovely, vibrant, gifts of the Green!   This is one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record for Marilla, New York.  Both March 4 and March 6 saw overnight low temperatures of fourteen degrees below zero fahrenheit. February 28 and February 12 both registered a low of seventeen below zero fahrenheit.  That is without wind chill!  The water source in the barn froze both times even with precautions, and the poor horses water buckets were frozen  pretty severely.  Mittens really did nothing to keep the cold away.

 

January 25, 2014:  If you are like many folk right now, you are feeling cabin bound and stir-crazy, and even lethargic, this is the perfect time to consider journalling your winter observations. Donald Stokes has a good book for this season …. “A Guide to Nature in Winter.” Put on your warm coveralls, don a wooly hat and mittens, and go outside to see what you can find! Animal tracks are a great subject to begin with. Are they domestic cat? Squirrel, possum, mink, or raccoon? Sketch them, use a ruler for scale …. Note the number of toes, the indentations, the pattern of the prints in the snow. Follow them and see where they reside. Are there signs of feeding on plants? Often their choices of food is a clue to their identification. Allow yourself the opportunity to study over a course of a few days. Then once you have identified the animal, research it to find their activities and habits, their preferred foods, and their behaviors during the seasons. A whole new world may open to you …. You may find yourself sketching, or writing poetry, or starting a new hobby with that digital camera that you received for a gift. And don’t forget to leave some seed or treats for our feathered friends. This is a difficult time for them as well.

 

December 16, 2013:  Coming in from evening chores ~ eight degrees below zero. The two horses were frosted with sparkly sugar in the light of the full moon .... they loved running in the deep snow and did it with such grace. Four wheel drive is a definite advantage when playing in three feet of the white stuff!

 

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can  learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.  ~Hesse

 

 

 

September 19, 2013:      This AM harvest after barn chores .... calendula, lavender, california poppy, boneset; leaving the tulsi and the sweet annie for later.  A day or so ago harvest ~ some not-quite-ripe seedless concord grapes, before the deer find them; white sage (salvia apiana) for drying; calendula, for drying; catnip for hydrosol; california poppy, to add to my tincture; boneset, for tincturing; comfrey, for drying; a half bushel of bartlett pears for canning; a few yellow dock roots, for drying; some virginia mountain mint, for hydrosol; some thyme, for honey syrup; and in the oven ~ the first apple pie of the season. Maple sugar makes it special!  Bushels of apples await, as do the quince.  This summers bounty makes up for the dismal fruit crop of last year.   Mother Earth is generous in Her gifts! 

 

July 16, 2013:  Such fun having herb society folk visiting Cats Tail Farm! Two weeks ago it was Batavia Area Herb Society, today it was the Orchard Park Garden Club herb interest group. Love those herbal sisters ~ and so rewarding to see the spark of the Green fanned .....   we toured the gardens, shared herbal tales, sipped herbal teas ...... and even visited the four legged members of our family.  Misty, our beloved Arabian mare, loved all the attention and here she is getting ready to bestow a nuzzle on Sandy from the Genesee county herb group.

 

 

 

July 15, 2013:  We harvested our first few varieties of garlic ... turkish, and the transylvanian .... yep its REALLY good for vampiric issues.   Once we harvest our remaining varieties and we see how they cure, we will have garlic for sale.   We also make Rosemary Gladstar's pickled garlic recipe, some garlic broth for the freezer, and even garlic powder.  Garlic recipes will be distributed should you decide to buy some garlic from us.  Aptly named the "stinking rose" it sure helps to keep a body healthy.

 

 

July 6, 2013:  We went cherry picking. Wow are they costly this year, and the cherries had so much moisture in them. Nevertheless, we hauled home two baskets and have plans for preserving them for winter pleasures. Four jars shown of Cherry-Raspberry conserve (we have a pint jar open in the fridge already, can you blame us?) and two jars of an old Polish recipe .......  then last night we finished off the sours and made three bigger jars of Cherry-Blackberry conserve, and another quart of brandied cherries. There are still enough sweet cherries left over to sit on the porch, put up our feet,  and spit out the pits. If it cools down enough to sit outside, that is.

 

June 16, 2013:   Last evening at twilight we planted tulsi basil, feverfew, echinacea, baikal skullcap, mad-dog skullcap, St. Johnswort. Still to plant are elderberry, ginkgo, yarrow, nettles, ashwaganda, red-root, maral, monarda fistulosa, artemisia (three kinds) and one or two others. Rain, rain, go away!

 

June 13, 2013:  This was not the flood crest. You are still able to see the rocks outlining the circuits in this picture. Ten minutes later - you couldn't.

The flood came down from Wyoming county, thru our yard, and continued on to the west.  I was marooned as the flooding water closed both sides of our road .....  both the Bennington side and  the Wales side.  This seems to occur every eight years or so, and while distressing, it no longer sends me into a tizzy of despair.  Even with taking precautions, our newly built bridge was washed out but retrievable.  Our losses so far:  the maize from the Three Sisters garden, four hills of organic Salem potatoes;  along with the bridge, we lost one hanging basket and four solar post lights.

June 5, 2013:  Dig, dig, dig.  This is one flat of our own Salvia apiana seedlings, all tucked into Mother Earth. Full sunshine! Next ~ the flat of Urtica, or stinging nettle, a true vitamin powerhouse. Then after that ~ only seven (sigh) more flats of Green friends to plant into Mother Earth.

 

 
May 15, 2013:  Mayflower ~ Crataegus ~ hawthorn blossom. The flower essence effects changes on the heart chakra. Especially useful to ease broken or troubled hearts during or after a traumatic love relationship. It eases emotional extremes in matters pertaining to manifestation of heart disease. An aura spray of hawthorn is thought to be even more beneficial than the liquid drops.

 

May 14, 2013:        I have enough cleavers (Galium aparine) growing to supply a medium sized Third world country.

May 12, 2013:      Our ginseng is spreading! Our goldenseal is blooming! Our black cohosh, blue cohosh, wild ginger and spikenard have all popped out! YAHOO! We transplanted some hops and centaurea this morning and weeded part of the labyrinth. Our highly unusual hawk and crow pair have returned for the third year ~ so amazing and remarkable to see them perched not a foot away from each other. Buzzed by chattering hummingbirds while we worked. More to report later ~ its already 10:30 AM.

 

Until one has loved an  animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.               ~ unknown

 

May 11, 2013:        Dig dig dig ~ compost compost compost ~ dig dig dig ~ plant plant plant ~ mulch mulch mulch ~ weed weed weed ~ mulch mulch mulch. Whew.


April 15, 2013 :  Teeny teensy tiny baby nettles at Cats Tail Farm  ~ yum!  What a vitamin powerhouse, and they really are tasty if you know when to harvest and what to do with them.  They are a staple in  my favorite herb tea blend here at Cats tail Farm.

 

April 13, 2013:  Still bitter and raw outside. We had over three inches of rain and the ground is saturated. The Green is happy with the ample supply of moisture and I am hoping for a good year for horse hay for Merlyn and Misty. Report: the bloodroot is barely peeking through the leaf mulch, the hellebore has a few plump rosy buds, the Anemone pulsatilla has ferny foliage spreading about; our Chinese chestnut tree may be lost due to deer rub debarking; the lady's mantle has teensy tiny leaves; we may have lost several patches of E. purpurea (thank heavens we started some in flats) and wondering if the E. angustifolia will show herself at all; the yarrow wantonly spreading through uncharted territory. More reports tomorrow ~ searching for the Marsh marigolds.

 

 

April 11, 2013:  TWO HUNDRED SEVENTY FIVE likes on our Facebook  page!  WOOT!       https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cats-Tail-Farm-Herbal-Center-Botanical-Sanctuary/192302017455632

 

March 27, 2013:  Mother Nature is playing tricksy on us!  It snowed at morning feeding time, so I left the barn shut. Later that morning, the temperature rose ... and rose ... to mid forties.  At 2:00PM ~  the temperature dropped, the snow started, and did not stop until another five inches carpeted the Farm.   Everything was covered, and the only brightness were the brilliant coloring of the male cardinals flitting about the shrubbery.  Then, they too, despaired and departed.

March 10, 2013:  This morning returning from the barn I heard a faint call from above, not unfamiliar and eagerly anticipated.  I large V of snow geese were passing overhead to the north, probably winging their way to the Iroquois Refuge at the Alabama - Shelby townships of western New York State.  Their distinctive underside of white with black wing markings, along with their honk, not the same timbre as a Canada goose, make this a joyful experience each March and September.  Our first experience with this birds was at the Lake Champlain Valley part of the North Atlantic flyway several years ago near Ticonderoga ~ thousands were overhead and settling on the lake, to the delight of several dozen groups of birding enthusiasts who scheduled this as part of a yearly ritual.

Today's temperatures were in the sixties and the snow melt is rapid.  Of course we strolled the property and planned ~ more gardens.  More elderberries, more nettles, more bloodroot and solomon's seal ~ tonight I will have paper and pencil and make a "wish list" along with a "to-do" list.  The Green can be very inspirational!

February 25, 2013 :  Maybe I shouldn't jinx myself, but I have an entire apothecary full of winter medicines for colds and coughs and sniffles. I haven't needed or opened any this year!

February 24. 2013:          Winter is softening … can you feel it? Although the winds can still howl, sting, and break some mighty limbs, there is a promise of light, of sweetness, of a caress …. the mammals are stirring, buds are quickening!  This evening’s walk had a purpose. Instead of a simple trek on the frozen ground, we toted a drill, spiles, and sap buckets. We are anxiously awaiting the nectar from the one-leggeds. Only a few taps, placing one on each tree. Soon we will be a-boilin’ the sap down for a bottle or two of golden goodness.  Two mornings ago I was checking the thermometer before our morning feeding of the horses.  The bird feeder  was just out of my field of vision.  Suddenly, as if a bomb exploded, the birds scattered and feathers, the same colors as a junco, were flying everywhere!  Two seconds later, a kestrel swooped three feet from  the window to settle on an apple tree branch.  I saw no remains of the bird, so I trust that it escaped mortal injury.    That feeder was vacant of any diners for at least two hours, until they felt safe to return.

The new bridge for the tractor has been rebuilt over the summer.  The stream had widened, thanks to a lack of maintenance downstream and the old bridge was no longer safe nor stable to use as a foot bridge, let alone for heavy equipment.  As a result, we were unable to pile the fresh horse manure into tidy and manageable piles, nor were we able to retrieve any for new gardens,  The weeds and scrub had grown waist high, and the whole area was an unkempt mess.  We now have a bridge, only to have our old walk behind brush cutter break a critical part!   Of course, that machine is no longer manufactured, and a search for parts yielded no results.  Anyone have any goats for rent?

October 3, 2012:  Our Peace Pole is installed, with wishes for peace expressed in English, Polish, Cherokee and Tibetan.  Undecided as to the design of the surrounding turf, we planted crocus bulbs for naturalizing, a souvenir of our trip to the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine ~ via Ipswich, Massachusetts!  A small family owned bulb company calls Ipswich home. Lovely crocuses, our choice for bulbs not being appealing to deer.  Sadly, we neglected to take other mammals into account and found large holes where crocus bulbs once resided.  This spring will prove the telling......  

"Once you make that connection to Nature, you see things in a different light, and once that bond is made it can never be broken, it just grows stronger." 

~ Markus Newman

September 2, 2012:  What a year!  The winter that wasn't, the spring that arrived before the snow, the summer of the drought ~ it was a challenge for all the Green to flourish, and for the two-leggeds that tend them!  A winter that rivaled any of previous spring seasons had many "city-folk" celebrating.  "How can you NOT love this?" they exclaimed, while joyously donning shorts and sandals early in March.   The true believers in the ways of Nature were shaking our heads, worried about bird migration, food cultivation, and the altering of seasonal patterns.  Well, what do the "simple" folk of the country know?  Unfortunately, we were were proven right in so many of our warnings.  There is a scarcity of peaches, pears ... apples are almost non existent.... and we did not have ONE black currant to make our favorite "Black Currant" cordial or put up any jam! 

Last year, we were bemoaning the need of a raft to traverse our backyard due to the uncommonly wet spring and very heavy precipitation.  This year, we were contemplating developing pole-vaulting as a skill to cross the caverns that appeared in our parched and cracked soil.  The wells of many neighbors were dry, leaving them unable to irrigate, but my sweet husband had the foresight to install many rain barrels for collection ~ even the slightest and tiniest drop was captured and stored for our gardens.  Our bridge across the stream to the upper acreage and the compost piles is rebuilt, after many hours of hauling the wood, sawing the wood, nailing the wood ~ not to mention buying the wood.  Yikes!  We were able to reconstruct many raised beds and cultivate tomatoes, green beans, beets, turnips, radishes, kale, peppers,  winter squash..... plus we tore out one old eyesore garden and installed a kitchen culinary herb garden.  Now our parsley, sage, rosemary and more have a place to call their very own!

 

December 16, 2011:  The winter solstice has not yet arrived and the Green is slumbering in anticipation of Spring’s renewal.  Roots are buried deep in Mother Earth, infant buds are tightly clasped, only a promise of Summer’s shimmering verdancy.  The strength and the power of the plant kingdom are quiescent until the brilliance of the sun’s awakening stirs their beings.  

To all ~ may we at Cats Tail Farm wish a blessed holiday season, and the coming new year, full of joy, peace, prosperity, health and good fortune to you and yours.

August 31, 2011:  You can taste autumn's distant promise - a whisper, a softness ... a mellowing of the scent and sound around us .... the plumpness, the ripening of the fruit ... our feathered brethren gathering on the telephone wires to finalize their departure.  Even the insects are changing their summer patterns.  It's time to bring in the hay, the grains, the fruit and make our larders and apothecaries groan under the laden shelves.

It has been an intense summer for us, and it has been a banner year for the garlic and the shallots, a poor year for elderberries (although it was a VERY GOOD year for whichever furred ones stripped our shrubs clean!)  the apples are making up for the last few years of barren fruiting, laden branches drooping almost to the ground under their weight.  Jars of canned peaches are on the shelves with our other preserved efforts,  but our blackcurrant ale failed.  Our cordials continue to be truly magnificent, if I may say!

This years the NE Women's Herbal Conference was held at a new venue in New Hampshire.  What amazing energy was generated with over six hundred participants in attendance ... learning, exchanging, drumming. dancing, all  Wise Women of the Green!   I am always in awe of the amount of herbal knowledge and wisdom that is shared.  Each time I attend a conference, or complete more training, I am humbled to realize just how much there is to know.  When I expressed this to one of my teachers, her response was, ""If they open their minds and hearts, herbalists will learn until the very day they die. And even then is is more to learn. " 

 

"If ever the world sees a time when women

shall  come  together, purely and simply  for

 the  benefit of  humanity, it  will be a power

 such as the world has  never known."

 ~        Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

 

 

July 28, 2011:  The gardens here at the Farm are struggling with the lack of rain.  Of course, our local meteorologist has been touting the "large and heavy downpours" that we "will be" experiencing, only to never have any arrive.  We had a very small sprinkle of liquid a few days ago.  Everything and everyone perked up!   When drifting off to slumber we were serenaded alternately by a fox, coyote, a barred owl AND a boreal owl.  What a magical evening!   I think everyone was celebrating the rainfall, scant though it was for us here.  Since then, nothing has fallen, and we have been raiding the rainbarrels to give the plants a drink, but one can only haul so many pails. The "flora of miscellaneous culinary and medicinal virtues growing in misguided locations" are vigorously overtaking the medicinals that are intended for that site.  The lack of moisture must not be a handicap to them.  A few friends and I need to gather for a rain dance!

In the last few weeks, our pantry has new additions of black currant jam, black currant cordial, and black currant beer.  We missed the strawberries, but blueberries are next on our list for "putting up."  The elecampane is suffering from thirst, so this autumn we will harvest half of our stand and tincture some, make cough syrup with some, and dry the rest.  The white sage is doing well... it likes the heat and dry!  Our garlic and shallots are absolutely spectacular this year, and we expect many culinary adventures utilizing their bounty.  The skullcap is magnificent, the eleuthero is gaining in size and stature,  and the arnica is popping up in unexpected places!  Rather than an adversarial stance, this year I decided to allow the plants to propagate where they wished.  After all, they know their needs better than I do.  The stand of wild mint has doubled in size; peppermint glycerite for the apothecary;  comfrey leaves and yarrow for tincture and drying for the first aid  kit;  oils to be infused and salves to be made.  Our second batch of soap, birch leaf, is curing alongside the white sage and sweetgrass bars.  So much  to do!

June 21, 2011:  Happy Solstice everyone!  T'is the season of abundance on Mother Earth.  This is a time of growth and of unlimited possibilities;  be joyful and celebrate!  Eat, pray - do ceremony - expand your visions - dance - open your heart to the beneficence of Nature........  run through the warm rain ...... gather ye rosebuds while ye may!

So many plants were clamoring to be recognized!  From the shy woodland ephemerals and the cultivated medicinals, to the wild, unfettered garden "weeds" that hold many healing powers.....  to the unexpected blessings that made an an appearance.  A zebra swallowtail alighted feet away from us and the hummingbirds darted playfully through the group. of friends.  Many plants are still not yet at peak, others are already at or even past their prime.  Mother Nature must have teamed with Coyote this year, they are playfully teasing us and keeping us guessing.  Be vigilant, they whisper..... pay attention to us......  you must be ready when WE are ready to be collected.......

It’s SOAP MAKING WEEKEND! YAHOO! We went through our apothecary stash of homegrown dried herbs and soapmaking supplies. Lots of dried calendula, noted for cell regeneration . lavender and rose petals (the fragrance is awesome!) … hmmm… even lots of salvia apiana and cedar. My distiller is going to be running nonstop the next few days. Beauty soap and purification soap for ritual cleansing coming up!   Already we have collected rose petals and made our Rose Elixir and rose skin toner, along with skullcap glycerite, lemon balm glycerite,  and collected the first cutting of sweetgrass.  Now we sorely need some gentle rain. 

 

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.  ~             Albert Einstein
 

May 1, 2011:    Sunny, breezy day.  Not only was I able to work in the dryer area of the yard, but I went for a walk to see how the Green is renewing!  Everything is later in appearing this spring, since the weather was so cold for so long.  I found several trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) nodding in the breeze, a solitary purple violet, some spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) ,and a few brave dandelion blossoms.  The blood root blossoms have faded, but the stands have increased in size and vigor from last year.  We finally located some tucked away spots where they want to put down roots, and not float away, to re-establish themselves in locations only visible to the fairy folk.  Up in the old marsh in the corner, the marsh marigolds are brilliant against the tannish grey hue of the old weeds and grasses.  They were happy to see Father Sun as well.  Coming back through the woods I stopped to check on the lady's slipper.  Too cold and mucky for her as of yet.  Soon, she whispered...... soon......

 

The environmental crisis is also our spiritual catharsis.  In healing  the Earth, we heal ourselves.                            ~  Kenny Ausubel

March 1, 2011:  The stream by the cottage is running swiftly, carrying away the winter piles of snow that were accumulated from the last storm.   The thaw was welcome, only to have a sudden drop in the temperature  ~ and realize that our turnout area for the horses now is a skating rink!  (oh, to have four feet!) The freeze realistically was not unexpected.  After all it is only March in Buffalo..... this morning, on the way to the barn to feed the horses, we heard and saw several red-winged blackbirds and our first bluebird of the season.  It is time to get the boxes ready for occupancy!  To hear their melodious voices along with the chickadees, the towhees, the downy woodpeckers, and the rowdy blue jays, with Father Sun shining benevolently, daylight faintly lingering until the evening hours ~ it is a blessing to be alive!  The cottonwood buds are swelling and ready to be harvested for their medicinal virtues.  Maple sap is running, as is the birch - now is the time to try the Birch Beer recipe.  Speaking of, our labors in our Elderberry Ale were WELL received.  Our few bottles had quite the "kick" to them, while our blackcurrant cordial was our smoothest batch yet!   We will be planting more small fruits this year, more sea buckthorn, more blueberry bushes, and red raspberries.  We may have to replace our wolfberries, thanks to the browsing mammals.

While the cold winds blew, and the wood fire toasted, our skin suffered and turned dry and red.  Indoors, we were busy playing with our infused oils and our home distilled hydrosols from the plants on the farm.  We used peppermint hydrosol in a barrier skin cream, our Apothecary's Rose hydrosol with rose infused oils for body cream, and rose geranium hydrosol combined with aloe for a luscious hand cream.  All were created for our own taste, and what a decadent and luxurious treat they proved to be!  I am forever grateful to Rosemary for sharing this simple recipe in her teachings to us.

December 8, 2010:  Winter arrived three weeks early with a massive snow system moving across Western New York.  Actually, it hovered, stationary,  over parts of the area for more than one day.  Our farm and town received only fifteen inches of snow, but many were not as fortunate.  Other areas near us were covered with more than three feet of frozen white.  Commuters were caught unaware and were unfortunately marooned in mountains of slick snow on the NYS thruway, most in excess of twelve hours, some as  long as twenty hours.  Not us!  We were snug at home, listening to the forceful winds, sitting by the woodstove, dinner and snacks at hand, sometimes napping after the shoveling and snowblowing efforts.     The next morning after feeding the horses and barn chores, I trekked out to the cottage and stream with the camera to capture some of Nature's brilliant display of new white finery.  To our dismay, we discovered a few toppled trees on adjacent property, and a large limb of our Amelanchier (Juneberry) tree had snapped, and is  now lying on top of the Echinacea angustifolia bed.   Nature does her own pruning, without heed or assistance of the Earth's human inhabitants!

All is quiet on the Farm.  We are using the "down time" from outdoor labors to do some painting, wallpapering, building bookcases, and just general home updating.  I ventured into the basement to begin inventory of the dried botanicals on hand for crafting herbal teas and smudges for friends, with the result that we are now making lists of "seeds to buy",  "ideas to contemplate" and "things to do" for the spring season.  The apothecary is stocked with many tinctures, cordials and salves, so next year we will concentrate on botanicals to dry.  I have had queries about anise hyssop, nettles, peppermint and lemon balm, to my surprise.  These green healers have such a proclivity to naturalize that I foolishly overlooked their abundance and did not harvest a sufficient supply.  If anything, these green spirits are encouraging me to "think outside of the box" when I am formulating.  At least until we transplant these to new beds, and give them a new accessible area to stretch their roots!

 

Good people, most royal greening verdancy, rooted in the sun, you shine with radiant light.       ~ Hildegard of Bingen

A few weeks ago we paid a visit to Andrea and Matthias in Avoca.  When we arrived, they were finishing a garden tour with a group of naturopathic students from Canada.  Hosts, students, and a few friends all had jars in hand, gathering and collecting sea buckthorn for tincturing.  If you have never had the opportunity to harvest  sea buckthorn, it is an awakening experience.  These brilliant orange berries are gathered after the frost, so your fingers are numb and fumbling from the cold.  The lack of feeling is a good thing as you must make a conscious effort to minimize the damage done to your hands by the fierce and plentiful thorns on the branches.  (This plant is aptly named.)  Of course, they do not bear heavily, so you need to reach well into the interior of the shrub to grab them - only to find that the slightest touch makes them pop like an overripe slug.  One friend had more berries on her face and on her glasses than she did in the jar.... I won't mention names...........  Then came our tour!  What a blessed land, beneficent energy............nettles, hops, crampbark....... Mother Elder and her children........rows of angelica..........the lodge grounds by the running stream.  After our foray we all warmed up with soup, bread and glasses of our homemade cordials and  elderberry ale.  The companionship was even better, if possible!  We departed in a very mellow and satisfied frame of mind!  And promptly returned home, and harvested our own sea buckthorn berries.

September 28, 2010:  Autumn has arrived, and so have the snow geese with their melodious "cooing" calls, so distinctive from their Canadian kin.  The horses are growing their winter coats in preparation of the long, dark winter nights.  The hours of daylight are growing short, the darkness is lengthening, the air is crisper, with an elusive and indefinable  scent.  There is much to share this season! 

The tree, which moves some to tears of joy, is in the eyes of others only  a green thing which stands in the way.  As a man is, so he sees.             ~  William Blake

Some of our news did not take place ON the Farm! We have just returned from a brief visit to Maine, to partake in the Common Ground Fair sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Some very dear and special friends have graciously consented to "pamper and care for" both the cats and the horses, so away we went!  We meandered through Portsmouth, shopped through Freeport, dined through Rockport, Camden and Belfast, and then toured the rugged, rocky agricultural lands on the way to Unity.  The weather was damp and breezy, but truly not unpleasant!  Because of the chill, it was ideal for enjoying hot apple cider, spicy chaga chai, and the many local and organic foods being purveyed on the grounds.  The riotous colors of the produce stands provided a sharp contrast to the overcast skies, and the scent of Sweet Annie blanketed the entire fairgrounds!  We saw innovations in permaculture and sustainable living , home building and construction, in alternative energy, in small-plot grain growing and processing,  in vegetable production, seed cleaning and storage, in beekeeping methods, in animal husbandry ~ even a "big people " hobbit house was for sale!  There were several well respected herbalists giving presentations on the medicinal properties of herbs, as well as fiber crafters, potters, metal smiths, stone masons, Native American artists.........   and so much more.   On our return home, the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont were at almost total autumnal foliage at the end of September, and we were doubly blessed by the unexpected early display of scarlet, russets and gold.

During our absence, back at the Farm, the calendula was still offering sunny blooms, the white sage was growing taller and stockier, the rose scented geranium was as fragrant as ever.  Time to plant the garlic, the ground is getting cool enough.  The promise of frosts are ever threatening, so we must rush to harvest the rest of the tulsi basil, the ashwaganda, the andrographis, and all the remaining annual medicinal plants for processing before we risk losing them.  It is the time of making salves from the fragrant oils that have been infusing on the apothecary shelves, of gathering fragrant armfuls of herbs to soothe us during the ever lengthening hours of darkness.  It is the time to withdraw, to become introspective, to tunnel and burrow within our selves and our abodes, to reap the joys of our labors and to humbly give thanks for our harvest.  It is also the perfect time to sip herbal tea  - and study some of the new books on green spirituality and earth medicine that I have been accumulating since April  - but have NOT had time  to enjoy! 

 Plants, Not Politics!   ~   The Green Mountain Witches, Sage Mountain, July 2006

September 12, 2010: The hummingbirds vanished last week, on their way to warmer, more tropical habitat.  Such a long distance for such a tiny bird, traveling solo!  The Canadian geese are making their "V" shaped appearances overhead with purpose in mind and miles to fly.  The ever more obvious tinges  of rust, orange and crimson are feathering the tree branches, soon to carpet the ground beneath.  Even the air carries that elusive scent and promise of the Wheel slowly, inevitably, turning to autumn.

It has proved to be a bountiful season, even with the drenching rains of June, the heat and drought of July, the insect damage of August, and the browsing deer of September.   Our Sweet Annie, famed for both its scent and its healing power, is over seven feet tall!  Today we  harvested baskets of andrographis for tincturing and drying for immunity support, another cutting of our "Attar of Roses" scented geranium for distillation into hydrosols,  and our first harvest of this years English thyme, sweet marjoram,  and tender rosemary ........ these last three, comforting and fragrant, essential to wintertime stews, soups, and savory herb breads.  Soon the frosts will arrive (not TOO soon, we hope) so we may gather the vibrant roots of burdock, dandelion, yellow dock, elecampane - and a new one for us - ashwaganda.  We found a stray horseradish plant, growing outside the gas line, which  escaped from the long ago kitchen garden of Owen and Jean, our well loved and dearly missed former next door neighbors.  We take this root, give thanks for the blessings that we have been given, and choose a small section for our use.  We will replant the rest of the root to ensure a steady and renewable supply of horseradish to make our annual supply of Fire Cider for winter chills and battling the ever threatening seasonal virus.  We are fortunate to have many of our cold and flu essentials recently tucked away for this years needs ~ elderberry syrup, elderberry cordial, elderberry jam, elderberry ALE!  Black currant cordial, elecampane cough syrup, rose elixir .......  packets of herbs for steam inhalation to ease congestion, sore throats, stuffed and or runny noses......   jars of herbal bath combinations for aching bones or the "chilled through to the core" feelings that we all experience...... bottles of fragrant warming massage oils and lotions to ease our way to restful slumber.    And we have jars and jars of peach jam for our morning toast, with a steaming mug of tea on a dark, chilly winter morning! 

 

August 15, 2010:  This was Elderberry Picking Weekend!  Bambi & Company took their share, until we put the netting up to save what we wanted for ourselves.  Then we gratefully put the berries away ..... we made Elderberry Syrup, Elderberry Jam, Elderberry Cordial - and this year we tried a recipe we found for Elderberry Ale.  The fermenting mash is bubbling merrily away, its first day in the carboy.  How exciting!  We froze elderberries to make syrup later in the winter as well.  As we harvested these luscious berries, we found several new plants sprouting from the base... the babies are spreading.  Now, how to keep them safe and secure from browsing mammals.......

 It has been a productive past two weeks, with putting away corn relish, jars and jars of zucchini pickles, the elderberry syrups, jams and ale, and preserving Moroccan Lemons in brine for culinary adventures.  The herb dryer is full with skullcap, anise hyssop, calendula, Tulsi basil, comfrey leaves, coltsfoot leaves, mullein leaves and more......the cupboard is packed with jars of new tinctures, some are  lobelia, yarrow, boneset, anise hyssop .... and several jars of oil for salves and liniments are steeping alongside.  The garlic harvest was very disappointing, as there was an overabundance of moisture and rain during the bulb forming stage, and we only have about 50% of what we had expected.    We have on hand a few new varieties to plant, to see how they will do here at Cats Tail Farm.  There is still much hope for garden produce as we planted our late summer crops of bush beans, lettuce, radishes and a tiny bit of chard.... all are up, leafy and growing by the second.  They were only planted ten days ago!  The Little Green Herons have been seen frequenting the stream behind the cottage.  Now there are SIX of them!  There must have been four little ones from the nesting pair, all are now winging through the trees, squawking loudly.  The dragonflies and damsel flies are dancing in the evening twilight, an aerial symphony of colors and  patterns.  Of course, the three pair of ruby throats are still here, now feasting on the coneflowers, the sweetspire clethra and the Rose of Sharon.  Soon they will be departing, and we will miss their acrobatics and chattering trills.

Walk gently on the Earth.  Simplify your steps.  Increase your strength.  Make a home in your heart.  Choose a vehicle for your journey.  Embark on your path.  Share your dreams at the crossroads.  Embrace the stranger on the road.                ~       unknown

 July 19, 2010:  This past Saturday we were walking along the meadow edge, we were fortunate to view fritillary butterflies, a zebra swallowtail,  and a darner dragonfly resting on the newly opened Joe Pye blooms.  We found fresh scat of a curious shape along the gas line.....  we all exclaimed the same thought.  It did not resemble coyote, fox or deer...... the only close matches in the field guide show bobcat or bear, which are unlikely but both are plausible.   We gave thanks for the opportunity to observe and learn, and passed it by!  The valerian was scarce to find unless we crossed  the road, so we continued on.  Blue vervain is plentiful, so I will return tomorrow to gather some.  The peppermint is ready.... must cut it before it is too late.   The elderberry umbels are filling out, promising a good harvest for syrup for winter immunity, and the elecampane is blooming!  Stately elecampane, also known as Elf Dock and  horseheal..... a magical fairy plant!  Since we have both fairies and horses as residents here at Cats Tail Farm, it is especially welcome.  I gathered yarrow and  some St. JohnsWort for oil infusion.  The purple coneflower is blooming its little heart out!  There is such an abundance of gifts for healing.

www.catstailfarm.com    Marian V. Prezyna.  March 2010 All rights reserved. All photos and content on this website are not to be used or published in print, on the web or in any other form. This web site may not be reproduced in any form, except as occurs in normal browser caching, without express written permission from the Owner. Misuse of private property will result in legal action.