Off-grid Chick Brooder

(Update: 2 October 2015) A friend of ours raises meat chickens and got us a super deal on 25 chicks that were just a few hours old (fresh from the incubator)- just couldn’t pass it up, so we built another off grid chick brooder made to house 20 chicks. We brought them home 29 September 2015, and so far so good. They are strong little buggers, and are doing great with out a heat lamp. In the morning we bring them out to the orchard in the warm morning sun and let them out into their run, to play, eat and drink all day. In the evening when the fall temperatures begin to plummet, we shoo them into the enclosed nest box and bring them in the house for the night. Repeating each day. We are amazed at how tough these chicks are, at night in their little nest box we have a thermometer, it stays around 75F all night, and in the morning they are bright eyed and ready to play outside. This experience is inspiring us to make permanently placed brooders out on our south facing slope so we can raise our own layers from chicks starting early spring. We’ll see how this experiment progresses.

Here are some pictures of the brooders and our cute little chicks.

(Posted: 27 September 2015) This is our off grid chick brooder.

In about a week or so we’ll be getting 10 meat chicks that are one day old, and will need to keep them warm. Most people now days (in America at least) just put chicks under a warming light for at least the first week or so till the chicks are able to keep their own temperatures on their own. Being off grid poses a challenge, as heat lamps are energy hogs and take around 16 or so amps per hour to run, that would deplete our batteries in no time. Tim found some info online on how to make a box brooder. Here is the link: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/aq628e/aq628e.pdf

So we made this brooder with materials handy onsite, it isn’t exactly what is depicted in the pdf above, but close and made with what we had on-hand.

We built it out of ply wood, used wire screen for the bottoms, and top of the run box. Made an insulated lid for the nest box, then lined the nest box with pink insulation board, we plan to put hay in the bottom before the chicks go in. Painted the whole thing black to help with heat absorbtion, and also to keep the plywood from rotting too fast. Next we plan to get some little hinges to attach the run lid, and some little latches to keep the nestbox lid from coming off, and also little latches to attach the nestbox itself to the run so it can’t be knocked over by a critter. So this is an experiment, we’ll see how it goes. Wish us luck!

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Getting Adjusted with Goats

This is what I get to enjoy everyday now, they are the CUTEST! All are eating well, and growing fast. I was so nervous in the days before we brought them home, hoping the transition would go smoothly, hoping that changing from the milk and  milk-replacer they were getting at their original home to the milk I was going to give them would be an easy switch and wouldn’t cause health issues. Luckily the breeder I bought them from was kind enough to give us 3 quarts of her goat milk to make the transition easier. So thankful, as I feel that helped greatly smooth the transition from her milk-replacer to the milk-replacer I got.

For the first days feeding, the youngest goat (Dos) I fed strait goat milk, 1/2 the milk I got from my breeder, and 1/2 of the goat milk I bought from our grocery store, then I switched him to what the other two were getting.  The other two (Basil & Milkyway) got 1/2 replacer, 1/4 breeder goat milk, 1/4 store bought goat milk. I would also add in a generous splash of milk kefir. I gave kefir to add in some healthy probiotics to help their guts be colonized by good bacteria.

For the first few days they all had a soft poo, which indicated slight diarrhea, and I didn’t want to see this get worse so I went to my herbs. I made an infusion of dry Echinacea (I foraged last summer) and dry catnip (harvested from my herb garden last summer)- Put a good size handful of each dry herb in a 2 quart jar, and then filled the jar with just boiling water. Then I let it sit out on my counter overnight. I poured off the herbs and the resulting tea is what I used to mix the replacer with instead of plain water.

Echinacea makes a wonderful immunity boost, and my go-to herb for darn near everything.

Echinacea in the Ozarks

Catnip is a wonderful herb for diarrhea and cramps and I felt would work well here.

Catnip

I would have used Blackberry leaves or even Raspberry leaves but didn’t have enough in stores, so I’m glad I had so much Catnip on hand.

So after a few days on this they are doing super fantastic! They are poo’ing perfect healthy little goat berries, and are growing well. I’m so happy they are thriving! So far so good 🙂

From Scratch Pumpkin Pie

Yesterday our friend called us and offered to give us a whole trailer load of pumpkins, some were too far gone for eating making great compost and chicken supplements, but a few of them were worthy of using to make my first from scratch pumpkin pie. I plan to finish the pies today and put them in the freezer and save them for thanksgiving. So now I will share my recipes for the pumpkin pie filling and also the pie crust, which is the same pie crust recipe I used for the apple pies I made before. (https://earthenstewards.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/apple-pie/)

Pie Filling:

First I found a succulent ripe pumpkin, it was about 10″ diameter, and looked a lot like a jack-o-lantern variety, only much smaller. I washed the outside of it, broke off the stem, and then cut the pumpkin in half. Scooped out the seeds and stringy guts in the center. Then I put the seeds aside to wash and save to plant next Spring. I then cut the halves into smaller chunks and arranged them in my cast iron dutch oven, and put it in my preheated 300ºF oven, and let it cook for around 40 minutes or more. When I smelled that rich sweet aroma of pumpkin cooking I opened up the oven and dutch oven and started poking around with my fork. The flesh was super soft so I pulled it out and let it cool on the counter. Later when cooled enough to touch, I separated the pumpkin meat from the skin. I noticed that the pulp/meat was very juicy, so I decided to strain the mush overnight. The next morning I put the mush back in a mixing bowl, and blended using my little hand blender. I gathered the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar (I used raw sugar, as I like the big brown crystals)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups of whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a separate bowl I added the ingredients listed above and mixed well. Then I set mixture aside, preheated the oven to 425ºF and began on the pie crusts.

Pie Crust:

Gather together-

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup tallow/lard
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/4 to 3/4 cups of ice cold water

In a large mixing bowl mix together salt and sugar. Add lard/tallow and break it up with a pastry cutter as you start to coat it all up with flour 1 cup at a time till it gets crumbly, then add the rest of the flour. Add in the cubed cold butter and work it into the flour with hands or pastry cutter. Work quickly before butter softens, work it till it’s crumbly. Add ice water a 1/4 cup at a time mixing until dough forms, work into a ball. When it comes together stop working the dough or it will get tough. Divide dough in half and flatten it slightly to form a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. On a floured surface roll each disk out into a circle about 1/4 to 1/2″ thick,  1o to 11″ wide to make a 9″ pie. I used my round cake pans to bake these in, as I don’t have pie dishes yet.

 

I put the crust in the pan, made sure it was gently stretched/pressed into the corners and then added the filling to 2/3 full. Then I trimmed off the excess crust around the edges, and put them in the oven. I baked the pies for 15 minutes at 425ºF before lowering the oven temperature to 300ºF for the remaining 40-60 minutes. You want to cook the pies till a toothpick or butter knife comes out practically clean.

 

Now I plan to let the pies cool, and freeze them till Thanksgiving. Done!

 

Rampage of Gratitude to kick off the holidays ❤

I am giving my thanks to the most beloved people in my life through cooking us up a feast this Thanksgiving, so we can share good grub and make memories together this holiday season.

I’m thankful for my desire and inspiration of keeping my family healthy, and my growing knowledge of yummies I am able to make for them.

I’m thankful for how I find myself creating delicious health art in the kitchen for us/them to nourish with and enjoy!

Even the treats I make with trusted ingredients from scratch, which gives me a satisfaction that is indescribably alluring to keep me at it each day.

It is my pleasure to accomplish new nourishing baking skills and learn through trial and error each day.

I love that we are the kind of family where my kids are growing up on a 99% from-scratch-diet, where my children see and help their mama prepare and make daily nourishing traditions for them.

I’m thankful to be learning and sharing these traditional skills that my children can someday hand down to their own children and grandchildren that will enrich all our lives with vibrant health for generations to come.

Fodder: Refining my system – Update

Continuing to learn and change things. Using the screen trays is a no-go. The little rootlets get stuck and make it a nightmare to harvest. So I’m switching to my solid bottom trays. Still hoping to get a sprouting room up and running before winter hits.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Fodder: Refining my system… I need shelves and a sprout room

Rocky Hollow Rabbitry: Growth & Plans

We are growing!

Tim has added a new structure downslope from our original rabbitry structure, but it is twice as big. Each of the 3 equal sections of both buildings holds up to 8 cages. We have 2 of the 3 sections filled with cages, so we just need to get the wire and other materials to build the remaining 8 cages and we will be finished with construction on our rabbitry. Once finished that will be 24 rabbit cages. Weee-doggies! Haha!

Due to recent health issues with our New Zealand Whites (see the “snuffles post”), we have decided to buy some crossbred Californian/New Zealand Whites from a trusted breeder to add to our herd, as we have read that the crossbreed rabbits tend to have better immune systems then the purebreds.

I also added a couple pictures of our coop progress, the comfrey is coming in nicely, the rainbarrel system works great, and we are now getting on average 22 eggs per day from our ladies.

Rocky Hollow Pallet Chicken Coop

 

UPDATE! We are almost ready, with just over a week to go. We go to the SWAP to pick up our chickens on June 5th.

IMG_3895 (800x600)

 

Getting this one up, pallets are fun to build with.

Where we left off today, we stacked rocks around the back and sides where there was any gaps between the bottom of the skids and the ground. Then in a spot in the back where the water would run down the hill, and would end up running under the coop we piled up a bunch of clay, dirt and some rocks to divert water around the side of the structure.

2014-04-18 Progress as of yesterday afternoon, Timmy has put on another siding panel since then.

Science – Inoculating Logs – Foraging Morel – Walk by the Lake

What a day!! I think I overdid it a bit, as my hands are so achy and sore. I drilled a good portion of about 600 holes to inoculate our Missouri Hardwoods. My forearm is wicked sore from hammering in the dowels covered in mushroom spawn. But it was all worth it! We got SO much done. We only have about 400 holes to go 🙂 The boys were a great help again today, and are getting great with a drill and a hammer, they are awesome dedicated team players.

After we decided to call it a day Timmy brought us out to the public lake access to go for a nature walk. It was so beautiful, as Spring is showing her beauty with blooming trees, flowers, mushrooms and tadpoles!

Spring is Springing!!

Updated: Our Mushroom Garden is Born – Science–Earth Science-Mushroom Garden, Digging Ponds & Making Leaf Mold

We are so blessed to have invested in a mushroom crop that is sure to please! We received our order of 10 varieties of scrumptious mushrooms.

Nameko

Tiger Sawgill

Turkey Tail

Chicken of the Woods

“Iceman” Polypore

Brick Top

Black Poplar “Pioppino”

Brown Oyster

Brown Shimeji

Today we spent a few hours out on the land inoculating our first 4 logs with “Chicken of the Woods”(Laetiporus persicinus). Our logs are all about 4 feet long, and for each log we are drilling around 25 holes in a diamond pattern at a 6” spread all over the log, hammering in the inoculated dowels, and sealing the holes with wax.

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The boys helped us take our choice logs and put them up on smaller logs to get them up off the ground, in nice neat rows. This helps limit competitive wild fungus from taking over the log before our inoculated dowels have a chance to dominate the log. The boys were having a lot of fun helping to carry the smaller support logs from a nearby pile, Paul would lift the bigger logs so the Gage could push the small log underneath getting our selected logs off the ground. They made a great team, they helped us enthusiastically the whole time Tim and I worked on this project. They really liked teaming up on drilling and hammering. Tim would help Gage drill the holes, then Tim would use a hammer and pound the top of the drilled hole with a big allen-wrench to open up a little notch for the melted wax to seal it off, giving our desired mycelium a good chance to take the log from the inside and be able to inoculate the log for productive fruiting in 6 to 9 months. I love setting up these long term projects that we put a lot of effort into the beginning, only to let nature do Her thing and then with minimal effort thereafter in the form of watering and quarterly soaking and for our efforts are rewarded for years and years to come with 3 to 4 abundant fruitings per year. Knowing that we will learn a whole lot from this, and only get better at it and grow, gives me feelings of gratitude and pride in our choice to include these aspects into our dynamically diverse farm. It’s fun to see how much the boys enjoy this project with us, they were a great help, and adorable. I am looking forward to seeing them enjoy helping us more tomorrow.

We also plan to soon start the first step in our web-of-ponds that catch rain and irrigate our mushroom garden and hugelkultur gardens. With all this rain has come a great blessing as we have been watching where the water runs, and how it moves on the land, so we know where and how to enhance the natural potential of the land. Plus we have been talking about making a super absorbent soil amendment with all the fallen leaves called leaf mold, its much like peat moss. To make it is ridiculously easy, it just takes raking them into piles, or send them through a multcher and pile them up, and leave them sit for 2 to 3 years. It breaks down into a pleasant earthy smelling spongy material that you add to mineral rich compost and it helps keep the compost wet longer.

 

*Update* 2014-04-03

We left the logs laying on the smaller logs all summer and winter, and this spring we have begun digging holes about a foot deep and burying the log about a quarter of the way, to have it standing vertical (except the piopinno, these will be partially buried horizontally) to absorb water from the ground and begin fruiting. Here are some recent pictures of our progress. 19 down, 22 more to go from the 2013 inoculation. Then we just received our new order of dowels to inoculate more logs down by the wet weather creek. We’ll be getting started on those soon. We are going to add some fungus to our garden collection, more Brown Oyster (as seen above), Reishi, Shitake and Maitake.

Great Blessings in Small Packages

Simplicity=Bliss

I love this space!

I love this space!

As I sit here and appreciate my many blessings, and see my adorable little tidy kitchen, I am reminded of pioneers of the ol’ west who crossed the Oregon Trail going west to freedom and a new start. We are reading the Laura Ingalls-Wilder Series and have gleaned lovely visuals of what daily life must have been like for these pioneering families, for the mother and father to take care of their brood and carve a life out of the wild. As I feel we are modern day pioneers, going back to our roots and rediscovering a simpler more fulfilling, sustainable, responsible, independent life for ourselves, to show our children how to live with the land… I think of how hard life must have been for those mothers, the tools they must have had out on the plains or in the mountains…. My kitchen is tiny, but amazingly convenient, with a stove, oven, sinks and counter space…. Comparing that to living out of the back of a wagon, I feel pretty darn blessed. I love my tiny home, I love keeping it cozy and clean, I love nourishing my family with such wonderful modern day conveniences.

So Blessed ❤

Homemade Granola Cereal: Horse Chow: Family Favorite!

Almond Honey Oat Granola2

This is my super simple, family approved homemade horse chow! Let yourself be inspired! This is delicious, nutritious and so customizable! You can make this simple recipe, or add in all kinds of yummies, from chocolate, dehydrated fruit and any nut or seed that you can think of! Have fun, be creative, Nourish Deeply!

Simple Granola Bars / Cereal / Horse Chow

(the perfect substitute for all those boxed cereals)

Serves: makes 3 lbs

Ingredients:

:dry:

  • 3½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw ground chunks of almonds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

:wet:

  • 1 teaspoon refined coconut oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon unsulphered molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Also need – parchment paper

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  • Cover a rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix the dry oats, almonds, & cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Heat the butter and coconut oil till melted together in a small saucepan over low heat.
  • Once the butter melts stir in the honey, vanilla and salt.
  • Pour the hot liquids over the dry ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until evenly coated.
  • Spread mixture onto prepared pan in one even layer. Bake for 75 minutes.
  • The granola will become crisp as it cools at which point you can break it up into small chunks by pounding it in a zip lock bag.
  • Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Homemade Tumeric Raw Honey Salve

Tumeric Honey Salve

A few weeks back I made a beautiful batch of healing salves, that work better than anything store bought I’ve ever used, and I know it’s safe because I know what I put in it.

I didn’t measure out each of the ingredients. I just melted down a big chunk of Shea Butter and intuitively added the other ingredients to create the desired consistency.

Also I didn’t add the honey to the heated oils to maintain the living enzymes and qualities of the Raw Honey. I just add a glob of honey to the finished salve, mix it in and it usually gets used within a few weeks. The honey changes the consistency and makes the oil salve a bit stickier, but the healing effects is unmatched! Way worth the “inconvenience” of the stickiness.

Materials needed:

  • Double boiler
  • dishes or tins to pour the finished oil mixture

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil
  • FairTrade Raw Shea Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • RoseHip Infused GrapeSeed Oil
  • Tumeric Powder
  • Raw Honey

First I melted down the Shea Butter in the double boiler, then added the rest of the ingredients except the honey. Stirred it all together and poured them in the tins. Waited for the oils to cool and set, and then with one of them put in about a teaspoon of raw honey and mixed. Raw honey is a powerful topical healer, with natural anti-fungal and anti-viral properties as well as so many more health and healing benefits. Those bees are incredible!

Today’s Affirmations: 1/8/2013

Today’s Affirmation that tingles my Aura as I say it aloud to myself:
“All Around I’m Flourishing
It’s My Mind, It’s Nourishing
I’m Utilizing Thoughts and Beliefs
Actions and Attitudes and Selecting My Speech
I Adore, adore, adore this Body Temple and Magikal Life of mine
I LOVE and APPRECIATE Myself
I KNOW I AM Perfect Health”

This affirmation was inspired by this Youtube video shared by my Muse, Solara An-Ra

Experiencing Parenthood

courage to become who you really are

 

I AM Adaptable like Water
I AM vibrating at my Highest Possible Frequencies
I AM a Miracle Magnet
I AM LOVE EMBODIED

As the current of time moves downstream like  a river, I am unfolding as a parent (one of many aspects of my unfolding life experience).  As a young girl I knew I wanted to be a mother of a big family. This impulse was very strong, and it was kind of a “Pole Star” for me during my budding teenage years and young 20’s. All my decisions, fears and shadows influenced my decisions too, but being a mother was a driving force in my life.

Reflecting back on when I first became a mother (at age 22), and how much I have been changed by the experience of motherhood over the years.

I started from childhood, as I learned the joys and hardships of living in my family of origin, and further into the world as I explored… I felt myself (and my adult examples of how to live and thrive in this world) to be inept, impotent, damaged, though I could not put my finger exactly on how I  felt I was this way, or more importantly how to fix it.

Now, 10 years down the road of parenthood and self-evolution, I see that as a young malleable child my brain had been wired for survival/destruction in an illusion smoke screen of pain that my consciousness was  snared in, passed down to me like a virus from one generation of pain to the next.

Consequently I learned to and became later aware of the fact that I was limiting myself in many ways due to the programming of my mind. After becoming a mother, and my children reflected/mirrored back to me my “bad habits” it became obvious to me that I needed to change myself into an example that I could be proud of. I wanted to see positive habits and loving care reflected by my children, not a bunch of self-destructive behavior that serves no one, but harms
all like I grew up living. Children learn what they live, till they grow up and learn better, than we do better. No more blaming my parents, this is on me. I didn’t want my heritage to my children to be a self-abusive mind, sometimes desperate self-abusive hunger for love and affection, and no genuine self-worth or self-respect. Though I could see with my own eyes, feel with my own senses that I was handing down this viral ineptness that I inherited, I have stumbled and struggled to quickly release the snares of habit and take on new behavoirs and practiced from the perspective of Sovereign-Integration of my HeArt and Mind, learning the skills of  Self-Appreciation, and practices that enrich my life, and consequently the lives of my closest most precious treasures, my family. I was born to break old cycles of pain, I came to make new cycles, that can be improved upon and expanded upon. I will choose compassion, love, caring, nurturing, touch, I choose to surrender to the moment, to let go of thoughts Imageand feel my way through life, to give instead of need. Where I feel a lack of love, give love to fill that need, not wait for someone else to give love first. All behavior is either an act of love, or a call for love.

I AM thankful for the pioneers into consciousness, for the forerunners who helped to bring back the teachings of Practical Heart Math to our culture. For the WingMakers, for opening up ideas and windows that I never imagined to exist. This world is such a magikal place, if seen from the viewpoint of the Law of Attraction.

I AM thankful that learning to compassionately love and accept myself, and how that has made me more available and able to give love/assistance/care from a point of brilliant angelic love!

Herb Fairies!

Until May 5th, http://www.learningherbs.com is selling an incredible product! A book series containing 13 books, about Children helping the Plant & Fairy world bring the Plant Magic back to humanity. We were excited to add this set to our home-school curriculum. It is incredibly important to me to guide my children to learn about the natural world, and how to forage for wild edibles and medicinals. To me this is essential to leading an empowered life, fuller life. This wonderful story helps the kids learn and understand how to identify herbs, and how to use them to add vibrant health and wellness to their own bodies. I am enjoying reading it, and am also learning a bunch! I love using my imagination to learn about my passions, this series is adding fun and magic to an already delightful passion! Thank you, Kimberly & John Gallagher for your vision, creativity and shining example!

 

go here to get yours before it’s too late! After May 5th, these materials won’t be available again till sometime in 2013!

 

Dandelion Blossom Vinegar & BlackBerry Leaf Infusion… mmmmm!

I would like to share my appreciation of the amazing awe-inspiring beauty, abundance and prosperity that only Mother Nature so willingly provides! Thank you Spring for bringing back the life and the nourishing powers to our Garden!

I’m thankful for the overwhelming abundance of happy yellow faces of the dandelion blossoms, and their amazing delicious health benefits! I foraged in my neighbor’s yard (with their permission of course) and plucked enough to pack a 2 quart jar full to create a yummy health giving vinegar infusion! Yum! Now my family will enjoy the health giving Love of Mother Earth for months to come when I use this vinegar (in 2 to 4 weeks to allow the vinegar to draw out all the healthy goodness from the blossoms) in salad dressings and other delicious dishes.

I’m thankful for the abundance of blackberry and red raspberry leaves that are coming back with vigor and vimm, for me to pluck and make delicious herbal infusions to nourish my beautiful family for free!

I’m thankful for all the garlic grass, wild leeks, wild lemon balm, clover, chickweed, comfrey, dandelion greens, and so many more amazing herbal allies that grow abundantly in my area for me to find and enjoy! I’m so thankful for how the Earth offers her abundance freely to those who take the time to get to know Her and all that she wants to give.

In the picture I attached you see on the left is the Dandelion Blossoms infusing in Apple Cider Vinegar. And on the right is my jar of Red Raspberry and Blackberry Leaves infusing in water, a lovely nourishing infusion we drank with lunch 🙂 mmmmm!

**disclaimer**
Please do your own research into identifying and consuming wild herbs, we are each 100% responsible for what we choose to put into our bodies.

My New Stoneware Dutch Oven, a Sign of things to come!

My newest manifestation! SoOoOo Thankful! My Stoneware Dutch Oven, yesterday I finished making my first ever batch of sweet baked beans! YUM! It took 2 days to prepare and make- pre-soaking the beans and then slow cooking them. I LOVE SLOW! hehehehe

I have been desiring more traditional healthy ways of preparing my family’s food- while ridding my home of teflon coated, aluminum and other toxic pots and pans, creating a vacuum for my desires to find me at warp speed! I’m replacing the toxic cooking implements with Cast Iron and Stoneware- learning to cook using these more traditional means is like HEAVEN! I love learning to use these amazing implements, as they require me to slow down, and put lots more thought, intention and love into the meals I prepare for my family 🙂 Its so fun learning to cook like my Ancestresses used to, and enjoying the quality of health they also enjoyed, before all the “convenience” foods took over 🙂 Cheers to rediscovering ancient wisdom in this amazing modern time!

Teaching Herbs to Kids by Kristine Brown

Green blessings to you,

Susun Weed
www.susunweed.com

http://wisewomanherbalezine.com/wordpress/2012/02/20/february-20-2012/#Article20

Teaching Herbs to Kids by Kristine Brown

“We must take our children into the wild, introduce them to the plants, and teach them of their connection to the earth. In instilling in our children a respect for plant medicine, we not only care for their tender bodies but help pass along the seeds of a tradition that is as old as human life itself.”  
– Rosemary Gladstar

Kids are the Future, Teach Them Well

Children are one third of our population and all of our future.   -Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981

Children are the best students when it comes to plants. They have no prejudice against any of them (except for what we teach them), no preconceived notions of how a plant should work or how its medicine should heal. Just as we can accept an orange has lots of vitamin C, a banana is high in potassium and beans contain protein, they can accept that peppermint is soothing to the stomach and comfrey can heal wounds and scars. And why not? They are all plants after all. Certainly if garden ‘vegetables’ can be nutritious and keep us healthy, so can herbs, weeds and other plants. As adults we tend to be narrow minded when it comes to our food sources but if we allow ourselves to open up, we can realize that this wonderful world we live on has given us an abundance of nutrition and healing through the plants and didn’t just reserve it for a select few. All plants have importance and value. We herbalists, scientists and the like just have yet to discover them all.

Children and Herbs 1

Nurture this attribute in children and reserve your opinions. Encourage them to keep an open mind as they grow to all the possibilities plants offer us. Let them learn for themselves. Teach them to trust their instincts. This doesn’t mean to let them eat anything, especially when it comes to fungi, however, when teaching them the difference between poke and elderberry, or hemlock and queen anne’s lace, teach them respect of the plant and reverence for the medicine each plant offers whether it is mild (chickweed, lemon balm, plantain) or overly strong (foxglove, hemlock, etc.). Time will teach the appropriate use and application of each variance.

Giving a good herbal foundation will stay with children for their lifetime. Knowledge is power and empowering. Even though the majority will not choose this calling as their lifework, they will have a solid foundation of herbal knowledge which will stay with them for their life and they will one day be able to pass the information along to their friends, family, community and children of their own. They will have the ability to take control of their own health and teach others to do the same. There is nothing more empowering than knowing you have the ability to take charge of your own healthcare.

Here are 10 ways to incorporate herbal learning into your everyday activities:

1. Start a notebook of the plants in your yard. Head outside with a notebook and make a list of each plant you have, starting with the common name and adding the latin name if you know it or later when you can look it up. Have your child(ren) look around and tell you what they see first. Don’t forget the trees! Even if you don’t think a plant has medicinal uses, write it down anyway. You’ll be surprised at the number of plants that are ‘just weeds’ really are medicinal. Remember, all plants have value, some are just yet undiscovered.

2. Make some medicine. You might start with a few simple items such as making a salve to replace the Neosporin and perhaps a tincture of Meadowsweet or Willow Bark to replace the aspirin. As your child(ren)’s knowledge grows, they may wish to make a salve for general wounds, a salve for skin afflictions, a drawing salve and a muscle salve. Likewise, they may add tinctures for various types of headaches: skullcap, wood betony, dandelion, feverfew and so on. The key is to start simply and have them build on that knowledge.

3. Assemble a home herbal medicine kit. Begin by making a list of all the over the counter medications you currently use. Then study your list of plants growing in your back yard and cross reference…ask your child(ren): which medications can be substituted with herbs? As they learn about the herbs that are growing in your yard, they can begin making medicines to replace them with.

4. Start a herb garden in your back yard or in containers. Begin with a few simple herbs such as chamomile, mint, basil, rosemary, lemon balm. Let your child decide on 10 or so herbs that they would like to become familiar with. Have them help create the garden, pot the plants, weed the garden and water regularly. Encourage them to work with the plants and observe them as they grow. Make sure they taste each plant regularly and record how the flavors change as the plant grows. Mint becomes extremely strong when he flowers; Dandelion leaves become bitter as they mature. Be sure to have them record all this information (see journalling below).

Giving your children a part of the garden to grow their own plants is very empowering and also teaches them responsibility. They will take pride in growing their own medicine and when it comes time to use it, they will be more receptive to using it as it is something they themselves planted, grew, harvested and created medicine from.

5. Explore the herbs. As you work with the herbs, talk with them about the latin names and the family they come from. Discuss characteristics of each family and similarities between plants. Have your child(ren) sample the herbs and state how that taste makes them feel (puckered, dry mouth, thirsty, etc) and what they think the plant may be useful for. Have them write down these ideas and put their theory to work the next time they have need to. If they are having trouble getting started, try offering them mint and say something like ‘this is good for upset stomaches. When you eat it, what else do you think it would be helpful for?’ (freshen breath, pick me up, etc.).

Encourage them to discover medicinal uses through their own intuition. Never discourage them. If they say lemon balm would be good to stop bleeding on a cut, let them try the theory out the next time they get cut. If it doesn’t work out, offer some suggestions of plants that may be more suited (something more astringent such as yarrow or plantain) or ask what they think might be more suitable. Teach the

6. Keep a journal of experiences. Have your child(ren) regularly sketch drawings of the plants progression over the course of the growing season, keep notes on the changes such as when they bloom, when they go to seed, etc. They can write down harvest information and any remedies you and they make with the herbs.

7. Have a herbal ally. Once your kids get more familiar with herbs, encourage them to pick one herb to learn about for 3 – 6 months to a year depending on their age. Have them focus on one herb and use it as much as possible, making as many remedies as possible from it and really getting to know it. Encourage them to be immersed in the plant, writing songs, stories and poems about their ally. They should also be making as many medicines as possible with their herbal ally: salves, tinctures, vinegars, elixirs, oils, poultices, compresses and so on. Even if it doesn’t seem to make sense doing this with a plant, have them try it anyway, even if it’s just a few ounces.

8. Use the herbs in every way possible. This seems like a given but a lot of people overlook this. Incorporate herbs with your everyday living. Experiment with dyeing clothing with plants. Use them in floral arrangements, crafts, nature tables and other seasonal decorations. Eat them. Make them be an integral part of your life.

9. Play games. Wildcraft! from Learning Herbs is an excellent cooperative board game that will teach children about herbs. Other games such as Walk in the Woods can also be a good teaching tool. Look into getting knowledge cards from Pomegranate such as Herbs and Medicinal Plants, Darcy Williamson’s Medicinal Flower Cards or Linda Runyon’s Wild Cards. Also, although not Herbal Based, it is a great tool for teaching plant families: Shanleya’s Quest book and card game.

10. Start a Medicinal Herbal Library. Offering a variety of books to children is a great way to let them explore herbs on their own. There are a few children’s books available and a wealth of adult herbals that are kid appropriate. For a complete list of books to stock your library with go to: http://www.herbalrootszine.com/herbal-learning-resources/.

Remember, No Matter What, They Are Always Learning

Above all, be open to experiences and allow your child(ren) to participate in all your herbal endeavors. Weave a tapestry of herbal love and knowledge into your child(ren)’s lives by letting them observe and help. Even the smallest child can add the oil to the double boiler to make an oil or help strip herbs from stems. And when they grow tired of the task, let them move on to another while you finish up what you are working on. In time, they will naturally start helping longer and eventually take over some of the tasks of medicine making in the home, creating their own recipes as their knowledge grows. Always gently nurture this and remind them to keep records of their experiences.

“Can we teach children to look at a flower and see all the things it represents: beauty, the health of an ecosystem, and the potential for healing?”
-Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Kristine Brownhas taught classes on herbalism since 2003 and has danced  with the plants for over 17 years. In 2009, she began writing and  illustrating Herbal Roots zine, a monthly publication for children. She offers a monthly herbal study group, presentations for adults and summertime workshops for kids.

Her focus is on local plants which are easy to access and identify, allowing her community to empower themselves by harvesting their own plants for medicine.