Mo Bloggin'

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Archive for the tag “medicinal herbs”

Relaunching the blog

129I think this is the longest I’ve gone without posting, but the handwriting has obviously been on the wall (note to self: look up where that saying came from!) for, oh, the past year, with long gaps between my posts, and not even catching up with everything then (cause how could you?).  As another blogger said, I write a blog post every day, it just doesn’t always make it out of my head. I have good intentions, then time takes over (not enough of it) or just a lack of drive when it comes to actually sitting down and putting fingers to keyboard. I’ve even thought about getting one of those voice recognition software programs, where you just speak and it types for you. I still may, someday, but in the little bit of “don’t forget this moment/observation” recordings I’ve done on my smart phone, well, I’m not seeing the speaking of writing as something that’s going to work well (and I have some cringe-worthy recordings to prove it), but that’s a post for another day.

My purpose here today is to relaunch the blog with new focus and direction, up to and including the possibility of a second blog to hone in on…something.  When I started this blog, lo those many years ago (almost 6 years now), I was kind of using it as a way to record my journey from selling one home after living there two decades to finding my new place.  The search for the new place, or The Hunt, as my category states, was the goal, with various riffs along the way about the dogs and my life in general. After I found the new place, I of course blogged about it and all the things I was doing, from fencing to home improvements, along with the addition of the sheep, the bees, the garden, and everything else I’ve been doing here. Soon the care and feeding of everything I’m doing here at the farm became too much to keep up with, with regards to regular blogging.  Or I got lazy about it. Or both.

But I find myself now looking for community.  I love it here, even as I yearn for more—the embarrassing truth—and am looking for ways to connect with others with the same values and dreams, as well as pursuing those dreams myself.  At the top of the list of course, is the somewhat nebulous desire to work from home (I’ve written of this before; the desire is real, the nebulous part is not having any idea if/how I can do this), and to somehow make a living without having to leave for eight or ten hours, with a crappy, planet-killing commute to and from those eight hours elsewhere.  (Thankfully the job I’m commuting to is one I like, with coworkers and an employer I like, so it’s not torturous by any means (just the commute).  So I strive for those connections with others, especially those others that are following their passion and living the dream in a way more in line with my own vision of this for myself.

She makes it very hard to leave every day.

She makes it very hard to leave every day.

I can talk myself out of anything—one of the things I’m really, really good at.  Let’s call it my Virgo moon, always carping and critiquing and seeing what doesn’t work.  Why this could triumph over my Scorpio sun and ascendant is beyond me (well, it’s obviously deeper than three signs in my natal astrological chart) but here I sit, second guessing my abilities, and even my deserve level.  I have so much, have accomplished so much in this pursuit of my little farm, who am I to want more? Why is this not enough?  Am I just greedy?  Why can’t I make this soggy, shady, northwest facing hillside work for me?  And just what do I want?  More land (greedy), better exposure and location (ingrate), more outbuildings and easier access to all the systems to adequately care for it.  For example, currently my compost dump for dumping the soiled bedding and manure from the sheep shed consists of traversing the hillside, across and down, in a slippery, wobbly crossing of 50 yards with a loaded wheelbarrow, dumping said barrow (without losing it over the edge), then wrestling it back up the hill to the shed to be refilled.  Right now six fillings/traverses is about my limit before it starts to get dangerous due to fatigue.  A fall or clonked knee or shin or bashed ankle are usually all I get, but they add up over time, and I sit here typing with a tendonitis issue in my forearm that I’ve been nursing for several months now.  It limits nearly everything I do, and though I’ve curtailed activity and babied it (and completely avoided needed fall chores), it still aches.  I have an appointment for physical therapy next week and am hoping to get back on track soon.

Okay, so this post has taken a completely different direction than the one I intended when I started it (a week ago).  A week ago I was high with the inspiration provided by having gone to a couple of local events where I put myself in the company of those doing what they love—small businesses and blog writers growing a business, people working with wool—the product I grow—and the community around that.  The cynic has since come out, and I see that all of them have partners—usually a husband—who also contributes to the bottom line by providing an income separate from these small businesses.  Meaning, if they failed, they wouldn’t be destitute and out on the street.  Hard decisions would have to be made, no question, but in the meantime they have the luxury of building their business without it as the only income to pay the mortgage or feed the family.

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Minnie’s twins, Mungo and Trixie – trust me, they’re even more adorable in person.


So what can I do to follow my own passions, to find more contentment in what I’m doing rather than this blasted, near-constant yearning for something more, something closer to “it.”  I have many ideas, and the plan is to get them out of my head and get some action around them.  A lot of the ideas around growing things, be it wool, medicinal herbs, birds of the poultry variety, or green matter (veggies, native plants) may not work here.  I was at an event on Thursday that gave me ideas, ideas that require more work (meaning I need to get my arm better).  I want to increase my beeyard, and plan a medicinal herb and native plant garden (already have a buyer for one of the natives that grows here…if I can part with it), and get some structure—planning and organization–around the sheep products – raw fleeces and wool.  And, lastly, some action around my writing.  Because according to that astrological chart, that’s my Golden Ticket.143

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Winding up…

So, Thanksgiving came and went, and we are in the thick of the holiday season.  I, as usual, am running behind.  I have a good excuse this year – or a good reason (I really dislike the word “excuse” as it implies one is at fault) – but more on that later.  I put up some more Christmas lights tonight, and a few Christmas decorations, but haven’t really done much otherwise.  And I realized in putting up my lights that I have a bit of a light fetish.  I love Christmas lights, and seem to have way more than I need.  I have some of the old fashioned lights with the screw-in bulbs that I like to put outside on the porch railings.  And I of course have some of the mini-lights that have been the norm for the past couple of decades.  And this year I invested in some LED lights.  (And last year too, evidently – as I found some in my Christmas box that I must have purchased in some after-Christmas sale last year.)  As I went through everything this year I finally threw out several strings of the mini-lights that had bulbs out.  Last year they gave up the ghost mid-season, and half the string wasn’t lighting up.  For some reason I packed them up instead of tossing them.  

So, it’s less than 10 days to the big day now, and I’ve done almost no decorating and little to no shopping.  I was/am into the spirit of the season this year too, but things have kind of gotten away from me due to…well, stress, I guess.  I’m coping, but just barely sometimes.  There are a couple of things going on, but the biggest is that my beloved buddy, Cutter, was diagnosed with a nasal tumor three months ago and things have progressed to the point that I know a decision will need to be made soon.  Decision meaning I will have to euthanize my sweet, my amazing, my wonderful bigstrongboy. 

The tumor is inside his nasal passages – his left nostril has not passed air for at least three months due to the mass in there.  I spent three weeks salary to find out what was going on (with a CT scan, rhinoscopy, and inconclusive biopsy) in September, and learned that there’s not much you can do for a nasal tumor – radiation therapy maybe, but at his age, with his existing condition of epilepsy (we woke up to a grand mal seizure this morning, thank you very much), and quality of life issues – not to mention crazy-expensive cost – I didn’t pursue that.  Instead I’ve been giving him a plethora of alternative therapies, basically throwing sh** at the wall and hoping something sticks.  He gets drops of herbal tinctures (Western herbs) on his food, as well as Chinese herb powder, also mixed in his food.  He also takes a medication called piroxicam, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory  drug (NSAID – Tylenol and  Motrin are NSAIDs too) that is known to shrink tumors.  I don’t know if it has helped, but one always hopes.  I give him mushroom extracts and capsules – several species of mushrooms have great immune enhancing properties.  I’ve also been giving him a Chinese herb capsule called yunnan baiyou to help with the bleeding.  He has a bloody discharge from his left nostril, and one night even had a blow out – a sneezing fit left my office looking like a crime scene.  I cleaned it up, the smell of blood so strong, and my clean up rags covered with blood, feeling like an accomplice to some gruesome CSI plotline.  

So after two months of these semi-desperate treatments, he’s progressed to sounding like a bulldog with a cold.  I thought the Darth Vader breathing of last month was bad (I’d half expected to hear “Luke, I am your father” in sonorous tones in the dark of night, as his breathing noises developed), but this snorty, snotty sound now, where he has difficulty clearing a breathing path (like small children, dogs don’t “get” that you can just breath out of your mouth) is becoming more prevalent.  In sleep, the body wants to breathe through the nose; when eating or drinking, breathing through the nose is what the body is designed to do – anyone who’s ever had a cold knows the discomfort of trying to eat a meal, or get a good night’s sleep, while trying to breathe normally.  Cutter is coping well – it’s really just been the last two days that have me wondering how many days I have rather than how many weeks.  He’s a strong dog, and deals with things stoically (my strong Rottweiler boy), without complaints or drama, and he still enjoys his little pleasures – a good meal, a treat, some cuddles with mom (rubbing his head on my leg – oh, how I will miss this), but I can see that things are slowing down.  He’s not as engaged as he was even a week ago; he’s curtailing activity and is less likely to, say, immediately follow me around the corner of the house in hopes that I’m heading up to the chicken coop (where he will get an egg for a reward).  Little, subtle things that tell me he’s letting go – not quite done, and not suffering or in pain, but moving toward that awful day that will leave me broken.  I try not to dwell on it, try to live in the moment with him, but I have to think ahead and at least have a sketched out plan for “the day,” so I can proceed then with as much serenity as possible, to see him off without undue drama.  It would upset him to see me overly upset, though he knows I am already upset (as I sit here weeping over the keyboard, speaking of snorty, snotty sounds).  I’ve told him that he only needs to let me know when he’s done, and I will take care of things for him.  I preface this with telling him that he’s the best buddy a girl could ever have, and that even though I don’t want him to leave, I don’t want him to stay longer just for me, that I’ll be okay when he has to go.  We both know that’s not true, but we both try to believe it.

Hi ho, hi ho

I’ve been writing mostly about the new place, when I do write (my blog has been neglected!), and it continues to both overwhelm and charm me.  There is so much to do, and I’m making slow progress.  I’ve got the roof replacement lined up; we’re just waiting on a forecast for two or three days of clear weather (it’s a tear off, with plywood replacement in some sections, as well as skylight replacement…and addition – as long as the roof is off, I figure it’s the perfect time to add another skylight, this one in my dark-ish bedroom).  I was watching some YouTube videos tonight, trying to get a handle on fixing my very sticky back door.  I actually got the door open today, with minimal effort, but closing it after a few hours (it was a beautiful warm day) was a job, and I almost thought I’d have to leave it partly open all night.  I have some ideas on how to fix it after watching the YouTube bits.  I’ll take a look at it tomorrow, in the daylight . 

I purchased a small table for my dining area, and am looking forward to setting it up and being able to eat at a table again.  I unpacked or moved four boxes I had stacked in that area – always a good feeling.  I’ll set up the table tomorrow and see about dining chairs – I have a couple of misfits that will work for now.  The office is still looking like a cyclone came through.  I need to reorg my bookcase(s) and make room for the books still in boxes.  I have a couple of writing assignments – one due tomorrow for a newsletter – and trying to write amidst this mess isn’t conducive to flow or clarity. 

I’ve been reading a great book that has me fired up to get farming.  It’s called Micro Eco-Farming, and is all about the idea of producing sustainable local food and farm products on small acreage and regenerating the Earth at the same time.  I’ve been surfing the web looking at the kind of livestock I want (Shetland sheep, dairy goats, mini-cow?) and reading no less than three seed catalogs (medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, vegetables) to see what I might grow here – what will grow well in my conditions, and hopefully not be too attractive to the mama deer and her fawn. 

I found the lower right (NW) corner marker of the property, which was exciting (to me), and followed the fence posts along the northern border up into the cottonwoods.  Some of them are barely visible among the blackberry vines and general overgrowth of brush, but they’re there, and hopefully with a little bushwhacking, they’ll be useful again with my field fencing plans.  Now if I can find the NE and SE corners I’ll be happy.  I’m not exactly sure where the SW corner is, but the driveway is there, so I’m not fencing all the way to the edge of the property there or along the front.  There’s a 25 foot right-of-way setback, and the front of the property (bordering the street) is a ~35-45 foot swath of  mostly cedar woodland.  A great buffer and good cover for wildlife, too. 

I’ve been looking at ways to get through some of the blackberry and underbrush, as well as mowing the pasture and the grass around the house, too.  The pasture grass is heavily populated with tall mannagrass, and the grass around the house is almost all couchgrass.  Neither are “desirable” per se, but a good mowing will go a long way to sprucing things up.  There’s a riding lawn mower in the garage that I need to figure out.  I will probably rent a brush cutter – the Billy Goat Outback brush cutter looks like exactly what I need, but I don’t have $2K to spend on machinery right now.  Plus, I only want to get it cut back a little once or twice then have the maintenence done by my own goats (probably won’t keep a billy though).  And sheep.  And maybe a burro or a llama for flock guardian.

Herb Fair at Bastyr University

I spent half a day on this past Saturday at the Bastyr Herb and Food Fair and came away completely recharged on my “herbal thing.”

 Bastyr University is one of the premier colleges for naturopathic education in the United States, and holds the annual event in early June every year.  It’s a chance to visit the college campus and shop the various vendors’ wares (herbal products for whole health running the gamut from beauty and skin care to flower essesnces and herbal tonics), including the university’s bookstore, with it’s wealth of herbal tomes (my personal interest) and medical texts. 

I haven’t been for about three years, and was toying with going this year.  Since I don’t have a garden of my own right now, and my medicinal herb SW Corner and hensgarden was sold with my house in 2007, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go and “tease” myself.  I downloaded the schedule of events to find that the keynote speaker was none other than Richo Cech, of Horizon Herbs in Oregon.  I’ve been a longtime fan of his fabulous seed catalog, as well as a customer in years past.  His knowledge is expansive (the seed catalog is almost as good as many of the herbal books I have) and his products are unmatched (a vast selection of medicinal and culinary herb seeds, and plants too, that I dare you to find anywhere else).  On top of it, the keynote was at NOON, instead of the usual 9:00 a.m. thing, so I had plenty of time for a leisurely Saturday morning with the dogs.

I got there with enough time to park down the street and walk in though the footpath in the adjoining St. Edwards State Park.  It was a warm day, though overcast for the first day in weeks, and I enjoyed the trot in.  I perused the vendor’s booths (resisting the herb sales) and signed up for a university study on the immune enhancing properties (or not) of medicinal mushrooms, specifically turkey tail mushrooms.  They were also conducting the same study on echinacea, but I’m not an echinacea acolyte so I passed on that one. 

I viewed the Horizon Herbs table, again resisting purchasing seeds (all in good time, Maureen), and then headed inside for the keynote.  I got there in the nick of time, as the room filled up and it was literally standing room only (or sitting on the floor room only).  I’m not sure why it wasn’t held in the auditorium rather than just one of the classrooms, but it was a great talk nonetheless.  Richo had a PowerPoint presentation (photos) that he narrated like a true storyteller.  He spent over a month off the east coast of Africa where he collected seeds and quickly became known as Docktari, using his herbalist skills to help heal minor ailments with the locals.  His knowledge of the area and the language (Swahili) stemmed from a stint 30 years ago as a young archaeologist and he described his history and this trip with equal parts humor and a captivating appreciation for herbs, the people, and the serendipity of life.  He’s in the process of writing a book about the experience and I am looking forward to its publication.

Perhaps the best part of the whole day for me was the reenergizing of my interest and desire to grow medicinal herbs.  I’m not sure where or when just yet, or how/what I’ll do with them once I grow them (thinking herbal business), but I’m positive this is in my future and I can hardly wait.

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