I love a quiet morning in winter. Walking out to open the barn with snow falling on my head. The ducks are anxious. They can hear the difference outside. They know there is snow. They are even more anxious when its raining. Wet, wet, wet is all they want. As I walk up here is a little bunny. I know she was given a name by her owner, but she moved here and now I call her little girl. Maisie is it? no thats not right. She doesn’t care. I’m sure she must be a Virgo…doing it her own way. What need is there in a name. She arrives at the door as I do. I’m sure timed just right. I open the doors and she hops out of the way as a flood of feathers, both duck and chicken fly from inside. All have woken and those that are on the ground want to be out. They know it’s time for scratch and breakfast. All await the throwing out of the scratch, even that little girl. As they all are occupied I fill the feeder with grain and move about to gather chicken eggs from boxes and duck eggs from their various hiding places. I make a note of the fact that new straw needs to be put down. As lovely as this is yesterday it was torrential rain and it has compacted this thin layer of straw. The duck eggs are laid on the edges where they could pull together a nest to lay their eggs in. I have plenty of broody hens, but what I would give for a duck to sit a month on her eggs. Once we had one. Of course that was during a short time with no drake…what was the point. Once all the barn duties are done…feeding check, eggs gathered check, new straw down check, cuteness observed from all around check. I never get tired of watching a bunny nibble at corn right next to the birds. Of course the ducks are off. Rarely do they stick around for scratch…off to the pond. Must get wet. I turn to head back to the house. My hands are getting cold. Fingerless gloves are great to work with, but they really do not offer protection from the cold. The snow is light still. It must have begun just a couple hours before. I can see the tracks of the one hen that refuses the protection of the barn at night. She must be perched in the awning outside the garden shed. The little bunny tracks as she travels over from the old hen house at the top of the orchard. She’s become a wild thing, well she thinks so. No winter nap for her, runs about in the rain or snow, cavorts with chickens, loves an occasional cuddle. But in her mind she’s wild as hell. And just before I get to the back door I spy a trail of deer tracks. I haven’t seen them for quite a while. I’ve been hearing gun shots not far off. Some ridiculus person practicing with a target. But it has scared the wildlife enough that we don’t see the deer like usual. They must be coming through on the deer highway up our driveway from the river across the neighbor’s yard ahead of us. They are somewhat smart. They gather that they don’t hear that terrible noise early in the morning so that is when they come through. The deer we see know us. They have been visiting their whole lives. They know in late summer there will be apples for them. Some will even eat from our hands. In other times of the year there is that nice compost pile full of greens or what have you. And if they are very lucky a garden or orchard gate will be left open for some serious treats. But now is the hard time of the year. No treats unless they are brave enough to go into the barn. Some will. Some have met resistance from chickens and don’t want to try their luck a second time. Today they seem to have just moved through. One maybe two of them. On I walk into the house where it is warm from the fire I started before I went out. The smell of coffee is now in the air. The prelude of the day has finished. Or was that the whole day and the rest just an epilogue.
Have you ever had something you've neglected for so long it becomes painful and guilt ridden to contemplate getting back to the routine? Yep, this blog and my podcast too for that matter. I love writing! I send out a monthly Herbal newsletter and a weekly Magical newsletter. I just created an online course where I am still adding content. I've found that since I linked my blog to my business website I've boxed myself into this space of feeling like I need to post very professional plant monographs and inquiries. And then my brain goes down the rabbit hole of there are so many amazing herbalists out there producing these articles. What do I have to bring to the table that is new. And I finally realized that I don't live my life to be like others. I've always had a hard time fitting into a box-it works for a while and eventually my elbows get pointy. Leo here with Scorpio rising. Is it any wonder? I am a story teller. I love sharing my bit of Mt. Hood. That is what my podcasts (former and current) have always been about. The plants, the animals, time in our kitchen and the apothecary. And that is what I want to bring to this blog. I haven't decided if I will get back to the podcast. I love podcasting! But do I have enough to say that can span all of these spaces? I do think I preach to the same audience across the board. Is that true? Email or drop a comment and give me some feedback.
Last summer as I posted a final entry for the year (having no idea it would be) I was in the midst of a healing crisis that began in the spring. I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer in June and took until the beginning of October to finally begin to recover from a surgery gone horribly wrong. I am not going to share all the not very thrilling details here. But I will share that I think there is a place for both Allopathic (the Western Medical model) and Herbalism (as well as other forms of healing) in our world. I had a very fast growing tumor. There was no time to seek out alternative ways to slow and stop the growth. And believe me I would have if there had been time. There are so many healing modalities out there that can do just that. There are also times when you have to go to the quickest route to assure care. That said, what a mess it was. My experience of not being heard, being bounced about just reassured me that what I do with herbs and helping people find the right life changes is the most important calling for me right now.
Keeping healthy and bringing herbs into your diet and life with teas and elixirs (and so many other carriers for healing with the plants) can keep the need away from Allopathic care. But also using herbs outside of that model. Taking a tincture of Meadowsweet for a headache is almost the same as popping an Advil. Look to the problem. What is causing your headache? What needs to change so you don't have them anymore? Eyesight? Stress? Not eating correctly? What I advocate most with people I talk to is to live mindfully. Be in connection with your body. Know yourself so well that you can make changes so that you don't end up at a Doctor's office or in an Herbalist's care.
Obviously there are times when our bodies run amok. Mine sure did. After the fact I found out that these tumors run in my mother's line of the family. I'm just the lucky one where it became cancerous. If I broke my leg or was hit by a car I'm heading to an emergency room. But if I am having pain in my stomach, can't sleep well or have headaches won't stop I'm going to take a look at my life. What is going on? What changes can I make? And then I'm going to take the herbs that can support my body while I make those changes. Herbs are not a bandaid. They take actions in our bodies that allow the body to heal itself. They work as cleaners, builders, nourishers.
I am on the healing path now. After 4 months in bed I have been striving to make my body strong again by exercising several times a week. I eat nutritious meals and eat out less. I drink a lot of Nettle tea to support my body and aid in the strengthening I'm doing. I take Miky Oat elixir when my nervous system feels overwhelmed as I slowly climb this last hill to full health. I see an Accupuncturist and a Naturopath/Energy Healer to continue to make changes for my healing and help bring my mind and body back into sync. I am very much myself. And I want to keep it that way. I don't expect to ever go through such a healing crisis again, but I am now at a higher risk. So I certainly won't be complacent. There are some things we can't keep from occurring in our bodies, but there are other times when our complacency is what allows dis-ease in our bodies. What changes can you make today that are proactive for your health? If you aren't sure make a list of discomfort in your mind and body. Can you see any issues that might group all of this together as an all encompassing problem? Sometimes the areas of our lives that we need help with really do all stem from one bigger change that needs to happen. Can you make one small change today that will make you feel better? I am doing that. I'm going outside on this sunny day (wish it were snowing on our mountain though) and I'm going to spend at least 30 minutes with the light on my head. I'm going to put my hands in the earth and begin to clean up what I was unable to last fall. The plants are still sleeping, but I left a mess out there. The exercise, the deep breathing, the connection to nature all are going to help keep my mind and body healthy.
If Stress is at the core of discomfort or dis-ease in your body you might want to check out my new course--Self Care in Stressful Times. I've brought 25 years of experience in dealing with my own stress to these lessons, lectures and activities. As I said I'm still adding more-- recipes, resources and videos to help you find the right techniques for you in your own self healing.
Time for me to get outside!
When I moved this blog from a personal Wordpress site to be hosted within my business website I felt that I needed to remove more personal information. I wanted the blog to show my love for the usefulness of plants, Pagan holiday thoughts, a bit of my life on this mountain. All more personal thoughts or the daily photo of an herb or knitted sock have moved to Instagram.
I have done this with my website as well. I took 'I' right out of the descriptions in a effort to make this site look as professional as possible. But I am beginning to see that as a mistake. The only we here at Chicken Coop Botanicals are the plants and I. There is not a staff that labels your products or packs your orders. Personal stories that I have about the products or plants used or the gathering process you will find only in the New Moon newsletter. That comes out later today by the way. I've decided it's time to do a tad bit of revamping. I miss rambling blog posts. It doesn't matter if I'm the only one that reads them. This should be my writing outlet after all. Over time I am going to be changing some of the product descriptions as well. I think it's important that you know how I have worked with a product. Everything on this site is personally made by me and has a bit of my heart in it. The reason I created this company in the first place was that I had so many items I'd made for our family and friends' health that it made natural sense to carry it over into helping others.
Also, I am always the student and a teacher. I am learning old ways of making tinctures I will begin to share with you as new products are ready to be added to the website. I had big plans of classes this summer but I've had health problems and a major death in the family. I plan to write about both. And about those classes in the very near future. It's about it get all personal up in here. Hope you're on board for that.
The Podcast will return once I am completely healed from last week's surgery. Surgery? Yep. Something that you'll be reading about very soon. The basics of this month are over on Instagram.
To sign up for the newsletter, which I send out every New Moon, just click that envelope at the top of the page.
Tomorrow I have a birthday. We are going to go sit by a river in a canyon. High desert country is not a place I could live year round, but I need to visit at least a few times a year. That medicine of openness, dryness, the stark scenery that is so different from our green forest home, the scent of warm juniper and desert sage in the air is so healing to my soul. I've been going over to Oregon's high desert country (only a couple hours from where I live) for most of my life. I love to sit on the river bank or in a raft and watch Osprey and Bald Eagle fly over head, swooping down to gather up a jumping fish. This is where I gather Mullein, Desert Sage, Desert Lavender, Wild Mugwort, Juniper, Wild Rose and hips. It is a unique area and I feel different when I gather there than here. I can't explain it, but it feeds my soul in a way no other place does. This year that is what I need.
I am not quite ready to write here about my father's passing earlier this week or my surgery. But hope to write in a notebook while watching shadows across a canyon, people screaming as their rafts tumble over rapids of white water, Eagles screeching high above. Healing is not always found in a bottle folks. Get back to those places in nature that give you peace. The best healing happens there.