Under the Weather and Saving Runner Bean Seeds

Overnight it tuned a cool 40 degrees and I woke up with a lousy head cold and sore throat. Oh no! I decided to cancel my in-town physical therapy appointment for today and stay home to try to heal. Sorry my foot!

Fennel in pan USEFennel seeds in a drying pan.

I went right to the fridge to take a huge shot of elderberry syrup made with Elderberry and other wonderful healing herbs that I bought at the Great Lakes Herb Faire I attended in early September. More about the Faire here: https://smallhousebigskyhomestead.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/back-home-from…kes-herb-faire/

Pans on wahser and dryer USE

My washer and dryer helps to dry the beans inside the pods.

This magical elixir was made by herbalist Lisa Rose of Burdock and Rose Herbals and quite honestly, it worked really well for me. Four days of the elderberry treatment the last time I had a cold and I was soon back to health. I am crossing my fingers that it works as well this time too.

Foraging Book cover

Lisa M. Rose book on foraging in the Midwest.

I decided this day would be a light work day as well as a nurturing one for me. I bundled up in warm long underwear and a sweatshirt and turned on the Eden Pure heater to take the chill off the house. This Eden Pure heater is such a blessing in the cold weather. Not only does this heater take the chill off the house, because it is portable I can move it close to me and it warms me right up.  And best of all, it can be moved from room to room as needed.

Runner beans on towel on floor

More seed pods than workspace so the floor became a temporary holding space.

I worked on the computer for a while and then I began to work on what I call “Sit Down” projects that have been waiting for a rainy day. I have pans of dried herbs and bean pods in my kitchen, laundry and dining room that need my attention. They need to be separated, fully dried out and stored until next spring’s planting season.

VERT pods on boiler USE

We have hot water boiler heat and this hot water boiler unit dries herbs quickly.

The harvested Scarlett Runner Beans seeds needed to be separated from their pods and to finished drying in the warm laundry room air. I prefer to leave them to dry on the vine but a cold snap and an early frost changed those plans.

Fennel in pan with legs

Sitting on the floor and separating the fennel seeds from the flowers.

After I finished the beans, I worked on the fennel seeds separating the seeds from the flower heads. I love to have my own fresh fennel seeds for cooking and this past spring I replaced my fennel plant as the old one died. The old one lasted some 7 years and was real good producer for me. I knew I had to be careful not to buy the kind that you dig and cook the roof for fennel soup but rather the perennial kind that goes to seed and comes back year after year. Next came the oregano.

While I separated seeds from pods I watched the 2012 documentary, In Organic We Trust, made by filmmaker Kip Pastor. Because I have studied the subject of organic food intimately, there was not a lot of new information for me, but it did serve to cement my earlier resolve to continue to seek out and eat, organic and locally grown foods.

Runner beans on towel on floor

I am storing my seeds and beans in glass jars with lids to keep the bugs out and my harvest as fresh as possible. The oregano will be used for cooking and for the chickens.

Even though I was not happy about feeling sick today I was happy to get this work done and the laundry room cleaned up and tidy once again. I am grateful I have the washer and dryer top as well as the boiler unit to dry things on but I’m even happier to get the room cleaned up and vacuumed up once again. I do admit, I like a neat and tidy looking house! (I suspect it’s the German ancestry in me!)

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Back Home From the Great Lakes Herb Faire

I just returned from the three-day Great Lakes Herb Faire that took place in Chelsea, MI last weekend. It was a great weekend of sharing and learning from some very talented herbalists.

Big tent sunshine USE

There were 250 registered participants and well-known regional teachers. The delicious food we ate was prepared by the Ann Arbor Food Coop and they did an outstanding job of providing fresh, tasty and organic meals for participants and presenters.

Dad child tent and tree USE

I drove over with my healing friend Nancy Baker who is a body worker with a healing practice in Kalamazoo and gives Reiki, massage, Mayan abdominal work (for pregnant and sexually abused women.)

Lisa Rose in booth

I am still processing the great amount of detailed information I received but certainly feel that the experience was well worth the commitment of my money and time.

Path to Clark lake

The only downside was that it was cold and rainy and I returned home with a nasty cold from sleeping in a tent on the ground. I guess I am getting to the age that sleeping in a tent is no longer attractive.

VERT Map on easle

The people I met were terrific and the training was superb. I have books to read, new website to visit and fresh tinctures and elixirs to try out. I even bought preventative tinctures for my chickens from Susan Burek at Moonlight Mile Farms.

Kids and mom at railing USE

I am very excited that I might have discovered a possible curative herb to try for my chronic bacterial staph infections. I figure I have nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain…

Fols at fire pit USE

A more detailed article to come soon.

Small House Big Sky homesteader, Donna

Hens and Herbs – A Love Affair

My chickens love their herbs! Every morning after I feed them their wet fermented mash, I cut them fresh culinary herbs. I walk down through my vegetable garden and meadow clipping fresh tarragon, fennel, parsley, sage, basil, mint, catmint and even spinach gone to seed. I chop them all up and add the herbs to their food dish and offer several dishes of herbal tasty treats. In a short time every bit of fresh green herbs are eaten.

Eating and posing USETHIS ONE

Herbs the breakfast of champions!

It’s important to teach my three-month-old Rhodies to eat these fresh herbs now, because I am already drying many herbs for winter eating for when the deep snow is on the ground and live greens are hard to find. Last spring when they were just tiny chicks, I fed them dried sage, oregano and kale which they gobbled up. Their absolute favorite was the dehydrated kale and I was thrilled because I know how healthy kale is.

babies corner food and herbs USE

My Rhode Island Reds feeding station and hang out place. I give them food, water, herbs, a tarp for shade and a roost bar for an afternoon rest.

I’m the first to admit that feeding fresh herbs is not my original idea. A number of chicken bloggers choose herbs for their many health benefits and many knowledgeable chicken keepers are feeding their hens and chicks fresh herbs every day.

Herb bed 6-2015

In my opinion as a chicken keeper this is definitely a nutritional strategy that is worth the time and effort. If you desire to learn more about the benefit of herbs for chickens, I recommend you visit the Facebook community, Susan BurekPoultry Natural Living & Herbal Care started by herbalist Susan Burek for lots of great information. You can also visit her website Moonlight Mile Herb Farm, http://www.moonlightmileherbs.com

Moonlight Mile LOGO

I am attending the Great Lakes Herb Faire this September and am anxious to hear Susan present and learn even more.

Festival Image

2015 Great Lakes Herb Faire logo. I’m signed up!

My herbs have been chosen for their soothing and healing properties as well as their nutrition. Their fresh smell is delightful too. I had thought that perhaps the strong taste of some of the herbs, like fennel for example, would be too strong to be accepted but this does not seem to be the case. My laying hens and pullets gobble them all up. 

Herbs hanging on old rake USE

I hang a bunch of mint and tansy on my coop where the hens dust to help with fly control.

Yes, hens need their grains, vitamins and minerals to stay healthy but fresh live green are like a nutritious summer dessert. Now why can’t we humans have nutritional desserts every day too? I vote yes, do you?

Herbs and mash

Small House homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna



I Signed Up for The Great Lakes Herb Faire

I did it. I made my commitment to the September Great Lakes Herb Faire today and I am now registered for this amazing event. Their website is greatlakesherbfaire.org/about.html

Festival Image

The first Great Lakes Herb Faire will be held on September 11-13 2015, at the Chelsea Outdoor Center which is located at 2500 Pierce Road in Chelsea, Michigan. This three-day event is dedicated to the sharing of herbal knowledge.

Many community-building activities, like  morning yoga and tai chi, and evening drumming and Contra dancing are planned as well. There is also a vendor opportunity for sellers and buyer alike.

Herb bed 6-2015

One of my herb beds planted in very old RR ties to contain them.

While I am nervous that I have may have over scheduled myself this fall (I have two trips planned in Sept.) I am very excited about this learning opportunity.

Artesemesia close

Artemisia/wormwood in my meadow; primarily used in aromatherapy and as a de-wormer for chickens. This has a sage like scent with mint undertones.

I can’t wait to meet others of like mind, to listen to what the many talented herbalists and teachers from throughout the Great Lakes bioregion have to share.

Comfrey close USE

Comfrey in my meadow; Used as a fertilizer, conditioner for soil and activator for compost. I use it to make compost tea for tomatoes. Also used as an herbal medicine for healing scrapes and bruises.

And what I am really “over the moon” about is that I will be able to meet and take a class with herbalist Susan Burek of Moonlight Mile Herb Farm http://www.moonlightmileherbs.com/

Moonlight Mile LOGO

I am a member of her Poultry Natural Living and Herbal Care blog, https://www.facebook.com/groups/herbalpoultrycare/ and quite frankly, I am in awe of her herbal knowledge and skills.

I am thrilled to finally meet her, purchase some of her special herbal avian tonics and tremendously interested in learning more about her experiences, natural chicken keeping tips and her unique way of using herbs in her chicken keeping.

I grow many herbs here at The Small House Homestead but I do not always feel confident about the best way to use them.

For additional details about the faire or to register go to the Facebook page; Great Lakes Herb FaireFestival ImageSmall House Homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna