Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It's Cheese!

I just have to share how my attempt at cheese making turned out! There was some question as to whether or not my Colby was going to be edible. With great encouragement from the Kansas Milkmaid, I waxed the cheese and aged it anyway. Faithfully I turned it each day, praying that it would not be a horrible mess when we broke it open. I decided to cut it for Thanksgiving even though it was a bit early (Ok...I need to work on patience) and we had cheese!! Let me correct that, we had glorious, creamy, taste-bud thrilling, cheese! It looked a bit funny because I did not use the typical food coloring found in cheese - it lacked that orange color. But, I could not believe the difference in taste! It was so much creamier... and the flavor was richer, fuller.....better! So now, I confess....I am hooked and much more of our milk will be diverted to cheese! I envision my little dorm refrigerator (now called the cheese frig) filled with all types of cheeses! After I get several wheels of Colby in there I think I will try Parmesan next (I use a lot of fresh Parmesan in cooking and baking) and then some hot pepper cheeses! Here is a picture of our wonderful cheese....take a quick look because I am sure it will be gone by Christmas. For those of you with a local milk supply, I encourage you to give it a isn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thankfulness....and Peppermint Ice Cream

Just a short post today....I have been busy in the kitchen most of the day and am taking a quick break. It has been snowing off and on and I have enjoyed watching those lazy flakes drift across our fields. Soft Christmas music is playing in the background and I have been meditating on the many things I am thankful, friends, a wonderful church, farm life, God's provisions from the smallest to the largest need, this beautiful snow, and for the things God has been teaching me over the last few months. Truly we have been blessed! I am looking forward to tomorrow when we celebrate and give thanks for His provisions over this last year....He has been truly gracious! I have been baking cookies with the boys and am about to start some loaves of cranberry bread with Elijah (7). He has been anxious to begin all day. We just finished several batches of homemade ice cream! YUMMY! Peppermint, Chocolate, Old Fashioned Vanilla and Candy Bar - all of our favorite flavors. We burned the motor up in our last freezer and our good friends Michael and Julie have loaned us theirs to try as we are getting ready to purchase this model. I have been asked before about our is our recipe for Peppermint Ice Cream:
4 cups milk, 3 cups sugar, 1 1/4 tsp. salt,
4 cups half and half, 2 tsp vanilla extract
9 cups whipping cream, 3 cups peppermint candy
2 cups peppermint candy (reserved)
Scald milk until bubbles form around edge. Remove from heat.
Add sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Stir in half and half, vanilla
and whipping cream. Cover and refrigerate 30 min. While waiting
place peppermint candy into ziplock bag and break into small pieces by
pounding with a mallet or rolling pin. Stir 3 cups into cooled mixture and
then freeze as directed for your ice cream freezer. When done gently fold
the reserved candy into mix and place in your freezer - enjoy!
The turkey is thawing, the cornbread dressing is ready, the pies are sure smells good....the cats and dogs must smell it too, everyone is hanging around the door looking pitiful!
I wish you could all come by for a piece of pie and a cup of herbal tea! I recommend you read The Deliberate Agrarian's post on Thanksgiving for a great reminder of our Godly heritage and may you all have a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

God's gift of Red Clover....

Finally, winter seems to have arrived! We hit a new low of 17 the other night...and they are calling for snow flurries today...we almost never have snow until January. The wonderful thing about our area is that it snows frequently but rarely sticks. So, we get to enjoy the beauty of it drifting down but don't usually have it affect the roads. Although our family does long for at least one good snow a year so we can use our sledding hill!

But with weather like this it is time to bring out the red clover tea and tincture! When I speak of red clover I am speaking about Trifolium pratense. The flowers on this plant are really a pale pinkish purple. It grows wild all over our farm. As I study herbs, I am continually seeing the hand of God in placing all of these plants here for our use and our healing. It makes me very thankful for a wise and loving God who cared so much for us that He created plants for every ailment. It is so sad that most of this knowledge has fallen by the wayside. In our family, as we study herbs, we have found it always directs us back to the feet of the Saviour in amazement and thanksgiving for His providence.

It is the flower bud that you want to pick and gather during the summer. Lay them on a cookie sheet, cover with a cheese cloth and let them dry...then store in an airtight jar in a cool dark place (as you should store all of your herbal teas and medicines!) But, you can also order them from Mountain Rose Herbs or other places on the web. Just make sure you buy organic so you will receive the medicinal benefit from this herb.

When you are out working in the field and get stung by an insect, crush one of the flower buds and rub over the bite! And don't forget about plantain leaves for the same thing...

Red clover tea is made by bringing water almost to a boil and then pouring over the buds and allowing to steep (covered!) for a few minutes. Sweeten with honey or stevia - NEVER white sugar if you are using this tea for a medicinal purpose. It is relaxing to the nerves, and is wonderful for colds, spasmodic coughing, stubborn dry coughs, wheezing, bronchitis and in the past was a preferred herb for treating whooping cough. Gargling with the tea helps to relieve sore throats. Red clover is also an expectorant and helps to relieve congestion. If drinking the tea for sore throat relief, add some slippery elm bark to the tea!

You can take your tea and turn it into a syrup as I instructed in my post on Horehound. It is always one of the herbs I use in making our cough syrup. That in turn can be turned into a cough drop, as I instructed in the same post.

Red clover tincture is one of the most important tinctures in our herbal medicine chest. As soon as I get that feeling that I am coming down with a cold, I begin to use Red Clover tincture and Colloidal Silver. Tinctures are easy to make but can also be purchased from Herb Pharm - the only online source I would trust for my herbal medicine if I couldn't make it myself.

Red clover is extremely effective and works quickly. One afternoon, I was teaching a class on herbal medicine and the herb that I chose to use for demonstrating tincture making was Red Clover. I knew that I had a cold coming on, sniffles, scratchy throat, etc. I began taking this tincture at the beginning of the class, explaining to the people present that I would be using this throughout the class and why. Within 2 hours, there was a VERY noticeable improvement. Sinuses cleared, sniffles and nose blowing ceased....this was one excited class because they were able to see the results first hand! I had a large bowl of fresh picked red clover in the center of one of the tables. Students appeared ready to fight over this clover at the end of the class. Everyone wanted to go home and make a tincture that night!

Next spring, I highly recommend that you begin gathering blossoms and drying and storing them for winter. I use them fresh during the season but always keep about a gallon of them dried for winter use. I make about 2 quarts of tincture during the summer....and am thinking about increasing that amount. My boys are more than willing to pick them because they have experienced the healing relief from their colds....

Red clover is also healing for the skin. It is cleansing to wounds and promotes healing. It is an important part of the healing salve that I make. Currently, red clover is being studied by the medical community for its anti-cancer properties.

Red clover has many other healing benefits. I encourage you to study this herb thoroughly and make it a part of your herbal medicine chest.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pictures of our farm....

I have been asked several times recently to post some pictures of the farm. I think I have figured it out so I am giving it a try.

This is a picture from this fall - it was an overcast day but I managed to get a picture while the sun was peeking out. You can see some of our goats and their guardian dogs.

Here is a picture in the opposite direction. The ridge gives us a beautiful display of color during the fall.

This is a picture looking toward the back of our property in the spring. The ridge runs at the back and there is a year round creek at the bottom of the ridge.

I need to take some pictures in the other directions...when I have the opportunity, I will post them.

Get your plant i.d. books ready again...tomorrow I want to tell you all about Red Clover - one of my favorite wild herbs!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Winter ear aches and herbal solutions!

When my second child was young, he had constant ear infections. They were so frequent that we purchased an otoscope and learned how to use it so that we could diagnose ear infections at home. We wanted to determine if a trip to the doctor was necessary. Although I was using herbs to treat my children at that time, I did not know I could treat ear infections and ear aches easily and simply at home. Since learning this, the rest of my children have been treated with herbs and we have successfully avoided the traditional antibiotic course of treatment.

Evidence shows that antibiotics are so over prescribed in our society, that we are creating superbugs that are resistant to normal courses of treatment. Antibacterial soaps, shampoos, detergents, cleaning supplies, toys, etc. line our store shelves. Our bodies are not given the chance to develop normal resistance while at the same time superbugs are emerging. In our home, we avoid everything labeled "antibacterial" and have found our family to be much healthier.

The herbal treatment for ear aches/infections that we have found very successful is a Mullein and Garlic Compound. You can buy this in health food stores - the only brand I recommend is HerbPharm. You can also purchase directly from them. All companies have a slightly different formula. I believe that the addition of St. John's Wort flowers in HerbPharm's recipe is what sets it apart as the best.

You can also purchase a small book from them for $3.95 that lists over 150 liquid herbal remedies and their uses. I use the Therapeutic Herb Manual very frequently and highly recommend it. It is full of useful information on using herbs effectively and it is indexed in the back of the book by ailments.

The Mullein and Garlic Compound is a blend of Calendula flowers (30%), St. John's Wort flowers and buds (25%), Mullein flowers (25%) and Garlic bulb (20%). This is done with a hot oil infusion. Once made and strained well (you only want the oil), keep this in a dark brown bottle with dropper.

I warm the oil by rolling the bottle between my hands for a few minutes and then place 2 or 3 drops in the affected ear. You don't have to warm the oil but it adds greatly to the comfort factor for the child (or adult!). This oil works very quickly to relieve the pain. I give this oil several times throughout the day. Be careful that the dropper or the mouth of the bottle doesn't touch anything (ear, hands, skin etc.) that might contaminate it.

This oil works by destroying the bacteria/fungus living in the ear canal. It helps to reduce inflammation and relieves the itching. It also has the ability to relieve the pain associated with ear aches. One of our boys developed a strange looking fungus in his ear canal after swimming in dirty water. It was very painful. The pain relief was almost immediate and the fungus disappeared in a matter of days.

Of course, I encourage you to grow Mullein, Calendula, Garlic and St. John's Wort and to make this compound at home. But in the meantime, be sure to purchase a bottle and keep it on your shelf this winter.

Caution: What you have read here is based on my opinion and my experience in our own family. Ear infections can be very serious...and can turn into other serious medical problems. Therefore it is important to promptly seek qualified medical care in any ear disorder with fever or where redness, pain, or swelling is severe or persists. You are responsible for your own medical decisions.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Beautiful Fall!

Fall is my favorite time of year. I missed the change of seasons when we lived in Florida. I am so thankful to live here in Tennessee. The weather has been wonderful. Cool, crisp nights and mornings with comfortable afternoons. We have enjoyed having the windows open for a month now.

I love to see the leaves raining down. There is a mountain ridge that runs at the back of our farm. The trees on that ridge have been wearing the most beautiful colors. Reds, Golds, Yellows and Oranges and a few splotches of green here and there. God is showing His majesty everywhere we look.

On a few of the colder nights, our neighbor's wood smoke has drifted tantalizingly across our farm. I love the smell of woodsmoke....fall isn't complete without it! We have already had a couple of bonfires for toasting smores and enjoying the glorious heavenly display of stars. Shooting stars seem to be thick this year.

The boys are talking about pitching a tent and spending some nights outside....I sense adventures in the making. They have spent the last few afternoons in a little rowboat on our farm pond. Evidently some beavers have arrived here and are making a home at our pond.
This is NOT a good idea. It is out of character for beavers also since the only tree near the pond is a beautiful weeping willow. Beavers can do a lot of damage. Our pond is home to a variety of creatures at different times of the year. We often get Canadian geese, Mallard ducks, Blue Heron, and deer stopping by for a drink and a rest. This is our first year for Beaver.

The horses and goats are getting their winter coats. They always get darker and fluffier in the winter. Isn't God's design awesome? The darker coat in winter helps them to absorb the warmth of the sun and the lighter coat in the summer helps to reflect the heat.

We put the buck in with the does for breeding. We have laughed ourselves silly at the mating ritual of bucks....not the act itself but what leads up to it! We have talked of building bleachers and selling tickets....just to watch the faces that a buck is too hard to describe...ya'll will just have to see it for yourselves someday. Guaranteed belly laugh!

I have been busy gathering herbs for seasonings and medicine this winter. Roots from Echinacea, Comfrey, Elecampane, Astragalus, Dandelion and more. Leaves from Comfrey, Mullein, Motherwort, Mugwort, Rosemary, Stevia, Tarragon, Lavender, Thyme....they will be gone before long.

I have more time for cooking now - something I truly enjoy. Fall and winter is my time to try new recipes that I have been gathering...last night I baked a Caramel Pecan Pie - it was a big hit! Last week Julie encouraged me to try Taco Soup - it was absolutely delicious and will become a frequent meal at our house. Seems like I am too busy from March through October to do much experimenting in the kitchen.

God has been leading us to pare down our possessions. Each time we do this we sense a greater freedom. It also seems that it reduces our desire for acquiring more. It gives us more time to spend with each other instead of taking care of things. We will be having a garage sale this weekend and using the proceeds to purchase a commercial style ice cream maker. We make our own ice cream and the results are amazing...we just can't stand the stuff from the store anymore...not even the gourmet brands. We burned the motor out of our last store bought ice cream maker so this time we are going for the heavier duty model. I hope we have homemade ice cream for the holidays!

Tonight is family game night for us. We love playing games as a family. We enjoy Scrabble, Clue, Uno, Lost Mountain of God, Dutch Blitz, Dogopoly, Set, SkipBo and others. We also love jigsaw puzzles. We have been working on a HUGE Noah's Ark puzzle for almost a year now....I hope we finish it before Christmas!

Guess I had better get busy putting stickers on things for tomorrow!

Ya'll have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Back to the garden for Horehound......

I remember that Grandpa used to keep Horehound candy in his pocket come cold weather. During the summer it was always peppermint....never Horehound. Now I know that there was a reason behind this. Horehound would be one of my top ten choices for a medicinal herb.

Horehound, also called White Horehound is a perennial. It is a small rounded bush, very pretty. It has small white flowers that circle around the stems. It doesn't bloom until after the second year. The stem is downy, square and white. The leaves are a pale green and heart shaped and they are wrinkled and have a white wooly covering.

Once you start growing Horehound, (everyone should!), you will be picking the leaves and flowering tops after the flowers open. Dry both the leaves and flowers for winter use.

Horehound is a very effective remedy for sore throats and coughs. When you feel a cold coming on, pick 10 to 12 small horehound leaves, chop finely, mix with 1 tablespoon. honey and eat slowly to ease sore throat or cough. Repeat this as necessary.

Here is an excerpt from my Medicinal Herb Class handout:

"Horehound contains a compound called Marrubin which causes a
secretion of fluids into the bronchial passageways that loosens tough
phlegm from the chest and makes it more fluid. This makes
expectoration easier during coughing. It relaxes the smooth muscle
of the bronchi while promoting mucus production and
expectoration. Horehound eases congestion and
wheezing. It is good for bronchitis, bronchial asthma,
croup, whooping cough, and non-productive coughs.......
Marrubin is what causes the distinctive bitter taste of horehound."

So, how do we use it? At the first sign of a cold or cough, I start making Horehound tea. We sweeten it with either honey from our bees or with Stevia that I grow, dry and powder.
(By the way, Stevia should be green....I see it in the health food stores and it is white. I assume it has been bleached....) I also take the tea, double strength, and turn it into cough syrup and cough drops. This is easy to do.

To make cough syrup, warm the Horehound tea and then add honey (raw and unpastuerized!) to the desired thickness. Some people like a thin cough syrup (less honey) and some like a thick cough syrup (more honey). Place your finished syrup, while still warm but not hot, into a glass bottle with a cork stopper. Keep your syrup in the refrigerator. At our house, we take 2 tablespoons for adults and big kids and 1 tablespoon for smaller children as needed for a cough. We also continue to drink the tea and use Horehound cough drops as necessary.

To turn your syrup into a cough drop, cook your mixture until it reaches the hard ball stage using a candy thermometer. Pour out onto an oiled cookie sheet, score when partially cool, do not wait until completely cool or you will be breaking it apart with a meat mallet! (Been there, done that!) Store in waxed paper in an airtight container. You can also dust with powdered sugar to keep the pieces from sticking...but I try to avoid the sugar. Use these as you would any other cough drop.

There are many other health benefits to Horehound so I encourage you to read more about this herb. I have been giving Horehound cough syrup and drops to my children since they were small so I want to say something about the cautions listed below.

As I study herbs, I sometimes find cautions listed without any explanations. If I find an explanation that seems reasonable for avoiding an herb that is applicable to my family's health situation, and it appears in more than one resource, I will do so. Many times I will find a caution listed in one book but on checking a dozen other books that caution does not appear..... This is why it is important for you to do your own research and make your own decisions about which herbs to use and which to avoid. I will always pass the cautions on when I teach and encourage you to study and make your own decisions.


Tuesday, November 8, 2005

My Trip to the City....

I spent last weekend in the BIG city. I don't mean the little town close to us. I mean a huge, tourist attraction filled, outlet malls, traffic filled city. I had forgotten what it was like.

I think what assailed me first was the noise....traffic, sirens, horns...loudspeakers blaring. It truly felt like an assault. I have become used to the occasional tractor, hay baler, donkey and dog. Daily I hear a variety of birds, the gentle mooing of our cows, the nicker of our horses and twice a week the afternoon train off in the distance. I think in 7 years on this farm I have heard sirens twice.

Next was the traffic - 20 minutes to go 4 blocks!! I kid you not. How do people live like this? Did I really live this life just 7 short years ago? How much of a day is spent waiting on red lights, feeling the frustration much time over a lifetime?

And finally the rudeness of people, in stores, on elevators, in restaurants....I actually saw a man almost run his truck through the plate glass window of a store in his hurry to get a parking space before the next guy. He was going so fast he jumped the curb narrowly missing shoppers. He just laughed....

And talk about stores...on our way out of the city, we made one stop. There were cars there from dozens of different states. Thousands of people walking from store to store - buying, buying, buying....this was entertainment???.... and judging from the license plates this was most likely their chosen vacation destination! The thought of spending a vacation in this place was baffling to my 12 year old son...."You mean they shop for fun?"....

I entered the "Le Gourmet Kitchen Shoppe" mission was to purchase a jar of sweet roasted pepper salsa as quickly as possible and get out. My Mom brought a jar of this along for our weekend of scrapbooking and it was delicious. My job was to take a jar home and try to re-create it. I confess that this is something I love to do...I can be a wee bit obsessive about it!

As I walked through this very crowded store, I was amazed at what I saw for sale - all displayed to advantage...marketed very well....things that made your desire leap initially (the phrase that came to me was "it tickles the eyes").....but when you stopped to think....the desire quickly waned. As I have said before, I am not a big shopper. I am also not a kitchen gadget person - rather than have 20 tools to do 20 jobs in the kitchen, I prefer one tool that does it all or at least most of it. A good set of knives is about all I really need for most jobs - and I do appreciate the mixer that kneads the dough for 4 loaves of bread at once (it also does just about everything else)!

I was amazed at the choices of "food" items that really contained very little food - the list of ingredients on most cans/boxes sounded like the inventory of a chemical factory. I was glad to find the salsa and then an open cash register! As I was leaving, I heard one of the workers bemoaning to anyone who would listen about the dreaded Black Friday....innocently I asked what Black Friday was....his eyes got wide....and he said "Oh, you don't want to be here on Black Friday!!" "What is Black Friday?" I asked again. "The Friday after Thanksgiving" he replied, "it makes today look like a ghost town". I can't even imagine.....

Thank you God for delivering us from city living...thank you for the beauty of Your creation that surrounds us daily....thank you for the thoughtfulness of country neighbors...thank You for the quiet that is filled with gentle whispered sounds...

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Scattered Thoughts....

We have a new agrarian blogger! Please visit Tn Full Quiver, the blog of my dear friends Michael and Julie. This couple are the only like-minded agrarian Christians living close to us. We have shared many great farm moments together! This is the couple who taught us to make soap in their kitchen! I am sure that they will have great bits of wisdom to pass along.

I'll be taking off for a few days. I am taking my Mom and my 12 year old off for the weekend to scrapbook. I have been scrapbooking for a year now and it has proven to be a wonderful way to record what God has done in our lives. Although I don't often have time to scrapbook, it is a real stress reliever when I do. My Mom is 79 and she scrapbooks quite a bit. I am hoping this weekend will be a special time for her and my son. I know that Josiah is very excited!!

I hope to talk about a few more medicinal herbs next week....considering we are entering the "cold and flu" season...I think horehound and red clover would be good get your plant i.d. books ready! I hope to show you how these two herbs can make your winter much more pleasant!

Grace and Peace!

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

The Beauty of Farm Dirt

I have been reflecting on the difference between farm dirt and city dirt in a conversation with the Ksmilkmaid. As women we want our homes to be neat and orderly and clean....somehow I think this is tied to the nesting instinct we build a comfortable, safe and beautiful place for our families.

When we were city people (has it only been 7 years ago?), we had a small 4 bedroom house that had been beautifully decorated by the ministry of a Titus 2 team of women. The floor plan was wonderful, not one inch of wasted space, but the kitchen was small. We had a corner lot and fenced yard. When the kids went out to play the most they could track in was grass, if the lawn had just been mowed.

Because there were not a lot of outside responsibiities, we cleaned house on Saturday mornings as a family. It didn't take long at all. The rest of the weekend was free for us to do what we liked. We played family games, did the grocery shopping, visited friends, had a lot of friends to dinner....the fairly normal American household except that we weren't big shoppers and we didn't watch much T.V. We quit watching network T.V. about 20 years ago - we do enjoy old movies and the occasional new movie that passes our family litmus test for acceptability (maybe one a year!). Although we were Christians, and very active in our church, looking back it seems that a lot of our lifestyle involved serving our own desires in our free time.

Then we moved to a farm.....lots of changes. The house is a wee bit bigger but with lots of wasted space. It is a much older house and in need of many repairs. It appears to have been finished inside from the local bargain salvage store. Quite a change from my beautifully decorated home in the city. The kitchen is much bigger which is good news since my kitchen responsibilities have grown a hundred fold.

But the most amazing difference is what comes into this house. It is rarely grass anymore...although that happens. But here we also have dirt, red clay, twigs, leaves, feathers, nasty old pieces of skeletons from small creatures (oops....treasures of great worth according to my boys!), hay, weeds, mud, poop (from all sorts of animals!)....and critters! Oh, my the critters....if you had told me 7 years ago that my living room would one day be a temporary home to a sick baby goat....well...I would have politely smiled and quickly backed away... all the while trying to remember what you needed to do to Baker Act a delusional person.

Our main living area is actually one medium size room that includes living room, dining room and kitchen - in other words - very close quarters. In the seven years we have lived here we have had, as temporary residents for one reason or another, baby chicks, chickens, roosters, guinnea keats, goat kids, kittens (I am allergic!), puppies, injured dogs (BIG!) and a variety of injured wild birds of all ages. I am waiting for the day they tell me a calf needs to come inside....can I draw the line there?

Now, you must understand that I was raised in a home that was like a picture spread from Better Homes and Gardens. My dad was a Marine Corps Colonel. Everything had a place and it was always in it....or else! It was ALWAYS clean. I quickly learned, after the birth of my first child, that this was not a reasonable lifestlye for someone who wanted to spend time with their children. But, I did need a semblance of cleanliness and order. This seemed to adjust with each child and worked very well for city dwellers.

But now-a-days....well life on a farm is different. Farm dirt is different....for one thing there is so much MORE! The amount of dirt that comes into this house amazes me. How can 7 pairs of feet do this much damage? With visitors, customers and 4 boys, who are in and out all day - early morning chores, playtimes, adventures, explorations, and evening chores - I have come to learn that I am fighting a loosing battle. There are days when I sweep the living room, leave it for an hour, come back and wonder what happened....didn't I clean in here!?? Sometimes all that dirt is from my 7 year old who has found a great treasure and wants to share it with me (this can be anything from a huge frog, to an unknown bug, to a "beautiful" weed)...Sometimes from a boy who has run in and out to leave me a bouquet of flowers, a basket of eggs or some vegetables harvested from the garden...Sometimes from an unexpected customer, who has left a much needed check on the kitchen table....

This dirt has begun to have meaning for means that we are living in a beautiful valley between two mountain means the air is fresh and means we are raising our own food, wholesome and means God has entrusted a variety of animals to us for their care and in return they provide us with many delicious means it is safe for my boys to play outside unsupervised and they are having wonderful adventures in the midst of God's means we are beginning to make a small living from the work of our hands and the bounty of God's means we are living the life that God wooed us to 7 years ago....

I guess I need to thank God for the dirt..... (am I able?) because it is truly a beautiful reflection of God's work in our lives and our choice to leave the normal American lifestyle and follow God's leading to do something radically's just really hard, at times, for my flesh to appreciate the beauty of farm dirt!

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The E.R. and the Comfort of Comfrey

If I could only have one medicinal herb, it would most likely be Comfrey. Comfrey is a perennial and very easy to grow. It often grows wild. Be sure you plant it where you always want it to be...if you try to move it and leave even the smallest piece behind it will become another plant. Other names for comfrey are knitbone and bruisewort. You pick the leaves during the summer and harvest the root in the fall. Clean the roots, finely chop and dry for winter preservation. You can dry the leaves or make an oil infusion from them....we do all of these.

The following is an excerpt from the handout that my medicinal herb classes receive...

"Comfrey is one of the most valuable medicinal herbs known. It has been used successfully as a wound-healer and bone knitter. Comfrey feeds the pituitary with its natural hormone and helps strengthen the body skeleton. It helps in the calcium-phosphorus balance by promoting strong bones and healthy skin. It helps promote the secretion of pepsin and is a general aid to digestion. It has a beneficial effect on all parts of the body, being used as an over all tonic. It is one of the finest healers for the respiratory system. Comfrey leaves, and especially the root, contain allantoin which is a cell proliferant. It increases the healing ability for wounds, broken bones, sprains and slow healing sores. It has been used with great success to stop bleeding. It is soothing and is one of the most popular ingredients in herbal skin salves for wounds, inflammation, rashes, varicose veins, hemorrhoids... almost any skin problem. Research suggests that the whole plant may have anticancer properties.

A fresh leaf poultice reduces swelling and bruising around fractures, sprains and arthritic joints and speeds healing of cuts, burns, open sores and eczema. Puree the leaves only and make a poultice to apply to minor fractures that would not normally be set in plaster, such as broken toes, ribs or hairline cracks in larger bones. A comfrey poultice applied immediately to a sprained ankle can significantly reduce the severity of the injury. The allantoin found in comfrey encourages bone, cartilage and muscle cells to grow and encourages ligaments and bones to knit together firmly. It is absorbed through the skin and speeds up healing. Comfrey heals with such rapidity that is important not to put it on dirty wounds - it can actually trap dirt and pus within the wound. Comfrey contains rosmarinic acid which has a strong anti -inflammatory action. As a poultice, bruise the fresh leaves and apply to burns, wounds, open sores, boils, gangrene and moist ulcers.

Comfrey oil relieves pain and inflammation caused by injuries and degeneration, especially the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Make a hot oil infusion and use on arthritic joints, bruises, sprains and other traumatic injuries.

Comfrey salve is also healing for bruises The combination of tannins and mucilage in comfrey helps to soothe bruises and scrapes. Comfrey salve relieves pain and speeds healing of pus-filled wounds, skin irritations, cuts, scrapes, sores, or insect stings and bites. The allantoin in comfrey is a compound that helps stimulate the growth of new cells. It aids healing through cell proliferation. Its' astringent tannins form a protective surface over wounds that promotes healing. It also helps to prevent scaring."

Comfrey oil is the base of all of our healing salves that we make. Those salves are put into use daily, sometimes for simple things, sometimes for more serious problems. Yesterday afternoon, my 7 year old burst into the house screaming. He had taken a tumble down a ditch, unlodged a large slab of stone which tumbled after him and landed on his ring finger. One look and I knew we were taking a drive to the E.R. The stone had dislodged the nail bed, opened the finger to the bone and broken the bone. They were able to re-attach the nail bed with a couple of stitches, clean out the wound, and remove the fingernail. It was very bloody. I did this with another child 5 years ago - same wound, different cause. My 7 year old was much more dramatic...wailing "I don't want to be a little boy without a nail!" It only got worse....most of it was fear of the unknown. He has been in a doctor's office only a handful of times in his life and never in a hospital. He had to have a tetanuss shot.... he doesn't remember ever having a shot. When we got home we unwrapped the finger and covered the wound with our healing salve which is comfrey based and it relieved the pain quickly....from my experience, it will heal fast and with very little scaring.

Comfrey is a wonderful gift from God. It was used so much among the older generation for a variety of problems. It is mentioned throughout the Foxfire Books. We have lost so much...exchanged it really, for an unnatural, chemical/synthetic copy. I encourage you all to make a bottle of comfrey oil and keep it in the pantry. Even better....turn it into a salve! Let me know how you do....or if you have questions. Wish you were all close enough to "dig you a patch" for your garden!

I have included all the warnings related to Comfrey that I have ever read. There are some I agree with and some I don't. Please do your own research and make your own decisions as to how you will use this herb to treat yourself and your family.


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