Last week as I was taking a walk with my dogs, and I sometimes like to venture off the path, when I came upon a bunch of St. Johns wort plants growing in a field. This is the first time I have found this herb and was very excited. I picked some and brought them home to use the flowers for an herbal oil used on sore muscles.
Here is a close up of the flowers.
This is the finished oil. I filled a pint jar 1/3 full of flowers and then poured olive oil over the flowers to 2/3 full. I placed the covered jar in a crock with water in it and heated on low overnight. You can see how the flowers turned the oil a red color. I strained the flowers out after it cooled and now I have a good oil to rub on sore muscles or in this case my husbands sciatica.
On August 16 my 24 year old son is getting married and his fiance' wants a bouquet of country flowers. So last spring I planted a lot of different annuals like zinnia's, bachelor buttons, sunflowers and some dahlias. This morning was so cool and nice I decided to cut some of the flowers to get an idea of what will look nice. Then I took a walk and gathered more.
A close up of the garden flowers.
This was the final gathering, including herbs from my herb garden goldenrod and some queen ann's lace from a nearby field. What could be more fun.
As you can see by the photo, the sugar snap peas are taller than my 6'2" husband. We are eating sweet pods of peas and when the pods fill out I shell them and freeze them for winter. We grow this variety every year and are never disappointed.
Another project growing in the garden is non-GMO wheat. This variety is Maris Widgeon, an old heirloom from England. It grows to about 4 feet tall and the heads are a good 4 inches in length. We planted this last fall and will harvest it in July. I want to grow wheat for sprouting and grinding for bread. This spring we planted Kamut (an ancient wheat) and Sonoran white. These are all on trial and we will pick the one that does best here in SE Ohio. WE will also consider how easy they are to winnow, whether they lodge and how they taste.
It has been awhile since I've posted any farm activity. I've been trying to get all my winter weaving, spinning and knitting projects done because I know as soon as it warms up I will be outside starting the garden. I have been very busy with lambing and kidding. One big doe kid from my 3 year old alpine doe needed help, but all are well and the doe kid is one of the nicest we've had from our alpines. We breed for milk and dairy soundness, which means sound legs good udder attachment, teat placement and size and a good sound structure to produce milk. We've had 1 ewe lamb out of a Shetland mule bred to our texel ram and a ewe and ram out of our shetlands bred to a BFL. Pictures in next post. I'm posting a picture of apple cider vinegar I bottled up in January after fermenting since September from apple cider from our own apples. It turned out very good and with 2 1/2 gallons I shouldn't run out. I put a mother in the cider I got from an amish friend, and let it work for about 4 months. Raw unpasteurised cider vinegar is high in potassium and can be sprayed on your animals hay daily for about 2 weeks before lambing or kidding to help with easier births. Adding it to the water is another way to get it in their systems. The Robins have returned and the Blue birds too so Spring is not far off.
What am I doing to keep myself busy during the freeze? I bought an Irish penny whistle and am learning to play. This is something I have always wanted to learn. I also play the violin, guitar, and mountain dulcimer. It is fairly simple if you can play by ear. What fun!
My next project is spinning small amounts (30-60yds.) of Shetland wool into a fine yarn to knit Kate Davies, Sheeps Heid Tam. I need 9 colors and so far have 5. I am combing the wool and blending some to get different colors. I am mostly using the neck wool which is very soft.
And last but not least is THE PROJECT. Sarah is a pup out of our male border collie Craig and our Ruby who is a Jack Russel-Heeler mix. She is 12 weeks old and very smart. If you notice the light yarn in the above picture, that is her doing. While I was on the phone, she found my basket and thought this skein was so much fun to play with. No damage done but it will take awhile to unravel.
I was caught kissing Santa Claus. We weren't under the mistletoe but who could pass up an opportunity like this! Even Saint Nick knows the reason for the season. For born this day in the City of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Our new chickens are in the chicken house finally. A couple of weeks ago on a 50 degree day we butchered our old hens for stewing and moved our young hens and rooster out of the chicken tractor into the chicken house. Just in time because the weather turned very cold. The breed of rooster is a Partridge Plymouth Rock with a Speckled Sussex hen in front. Behind the rooster(who I haven't named yet) is a Partridge hen and a Delaware hen(white). I have 9 hens in all which make for a handsome group. These heavy breeds were chosen because they are dual purpose, good for laying, foraging for food and for meat. The hens can become broody and hatch out chicks, at least that is what I hope for next summer. We haven't got any eggs yet but the hens are approaching 5 months so I expect some at any time.