This is a busy the time of year for those of us who are harvesting and drying herbs for winter treats for our hens. I have been busy drying sage, mint, basil, wormwood and more.
Herbs on an outdoor wooden table at my art studio.
I do cut a nice bit of fresh herbs for my hens to eat every morning and put them in their food bowl. I use what I have in the garden which right now is; fennel fronds, basil, parsley, sage and mint. I add in some dandelion greens most days as well.
I am also planning ahead and drying additional herbs now for winter eating. In Michigan we have a long period of few greens for our chickens to eat during our 6-month long cold spell. By drying and storing my herbs now while they are in their prime I can not only have plenty of herbs to give the chickens all winter long, I can increase their chances of my girls staying healthy and happy during a cold and often stressful time of year.
Mint in flower with lovely purple blooms.
I am working on harvesting mints right now as they are ready to dry. I planted a few mint plants in the wildflower meadow about 10 years ago and they have spread. Prolific spreaders, albeit invasive, they are now growing everywhere in the meadows edge and working their way in towards the middle of the meadow. I let some of the morning dew dry off and then cut and harvest.
The simplest way to preserve herbs is to dry them and then use the dry part to make teas. I’ve been giving my chicks and hens fresh chopped herbs in season and air-dried or dehydrated herbs in the winter and they love them either way. I taught the Rhodies to eat them as tiny chicks from a week or so old and they still quickly nibble them up as soon as I put them out.
Some herbalists dry their herbs on outdoor drying screen under the shade of a porch but this summer I have been using a wooden table that sits under the overhang of my art studio. I cut the herbs and lay them down and a week or so later they are dry enough to put into jars. The porch overhang keeps them dry and the natural wind tunnel found there helps to dry out the natural oils.
herbs are known as both food and medicine; and mint in particular is known to be a digestive aid and to help with tummy troubles (in humans.)
These herbs can be used in cooked dishes, teas and in the chickens food. Herbs are the most perfect food for humans and chicken alike!
Small House Homesteaders, Donna