Collecting Fall Herbs: Field Day Friday

Do you look at the beauty of weeds like I do? Fields of the yellow tasseled goldenrod, roadsides covered in frilly blues of  chicory, happy looking Black eyed Susan’s and the purples of the many different types of thistle invigorate the sense of beauty as far as the eye can see. I see beauty all around me, but I also see the innate medicinal value of these plants as well. We have many of them growing on our farm. Some would tell me to cut them down, to pull them out, but I won’t. Instead, as nature does her work, I allow them to spread naturally. My husband has known me to bring home seeds and roots of some plants to transplant in our herb garden as well.

Being part Cherokee and having learned much from my elders, I know that all year long we are blessed with opportunity to gather wild herbs to save and use for different purposes. I can’t prescribe what herbs another should use, but I can share with you what different ones are used for, and allow you to make decisions for yourself. Also, having practiced as a Registered Nurse for 26 years, I will be the first to tell you to talk with your personal physician before using any herbal, holistic type of healthcare regimen. He or she and you, should decide what is best for your personal condition and go from there.

Today, I want to share with you one of the fall herbs that I’ve gathered, it’s medicinal values and how to collect and dry. Herbs, in general, should be collected in the mornings, after the dew has dried, but before the heat of the midday sun. Most herbs may be dried on a screen, covered with another screen or cheesecloth to keep off insects. Some herbs may be hung upside down, in small bunches, and allowed to air dry. Some people advocate drying herbs in a dehydrator or in the low heat of an oven. It’s a personal choice, but at our homestead, we don’t use either of those methods. My pantry looks like an upside down garden at the moment, and smells heavenly.

Today, let’s talk about goldenrod. goldenrod  These flowers amaze me. For so long, they’re been regarded as one of the worst allergens of the fall. They can cause issues for some, but do you know how medicinally good they are? Used for hundreds of yeas by Native Americans, they have antifungal properties, the saponins, that can help alleviate such yeast infections as oral thrush when a tea made from it is used as a gargle. It can be used for skin yeast infections or those elsewhere when used as a wash or rinse over it. Gargled, as a tea, it helps to stop coughs and sore throats. As a weak tea, it can help stop diarrhea naturally, without having to resort to chemical compounds found in over-the-counter medications. It’s been found to be an effective treatment in colitis and IBS.

Goldenrod tea is also beneficial for the urinary tract, kidneys and bladder. The saponins, tannins,  and flavonoids found in the flowers and leaves help keep infection and stones from forming in the urinary system.

Mixed with dandelion and thyme in a tea, it is an effective immune stimulating drink.

The usual dosage for a tea for ingestion or gargle is about 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb in a cupful of boiling water. Allow the herb to steep for about 10-15 minutes for the full effect, strain, sweeten with honey if desired, and drink. For gastrointestinal issues, it’s recommended to drink about 4 cups (1 quart) of tea daily.

We keep goldenrod planted on our farm, not just for medicine, but to draw in pollinators. goldenrod with bee

I love watching bees and butterflies visit the golden fronds goldenrod with butterfly. and coating their legs and bodies with the powdery pollen.

Goldenrod is associated with fall, the waning of the heat of the summer and watching the trees slip into the last final burst of glory. It’s fall already?  I am not ready to give summer up quite yet.


Herb of the Day: Ground Ivy

ground ivy

Ground Ivy (glechoma hederacea)
Also known as:
-wild snakeroot
-creeping charlie
-cat's foot
-field balm
When the plant is crushed it will smell like camphor, citronella and peppermint mixed together. Harvest the flowers and stems between April and June.
Used for:
-decongestant, helps treat persistent coughs, asthma
-weak tea solutions are used to help treat eye infections, back pain
-has a very high vitamin C content 
-as a tea, for relief of flatulence
-has been used to help treat lead poisoning
-as a tea is has diuretic qualities and may be used to help treat kidney disorders, bladder and kidney infections
-as a wash, may be used to treat sinus cavity infections
-safe to give to children to help treat respiratory ailments such as coughing, bronchitis, 
-helps to alleviate diarrhea by drying up watery and mucous secretions.
-may be used to help treat arthritis and rheumatoid problems
-Compresses and poultices may be used help treat wound infections, boils, cuts and bruises.
-May be used in dried form to help alleviate heavy menses
To use as a tea- Use 1 teaspoonful into 1 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 10-15 minutes and drink 3 times per day.
To use in tinctured form, use 1-4 ml of the tincture 3 times per day
To treat heavy metal poisonings, use 3 plants in 1 cup of boiling water, steep for 10-15 minutes, strain, cool and drink. Take 1 liter of this fluid per day for 10 days to 3 months, depending on how serious the heavy metal poisoning is. 
To make a tincture fill a glass jar 2/3 full of the herb, take equal parts of 100% grain alcohol and spring water and pour over the herb until the herb is completely covered. Allow to sit in a sunny place 24 hours, then shake and store covered, in a cool dark place for 1 month. Take 15 drops/day
Herb may be dried on a screen for later use.
1 3/4 oz (50 g) ground ivy, freshly dried 
4 cups (1 liter) olive oil
Grind the ivy in a mortar or in a blender. Add the oil and mix. Macerate 1 month and carefully strain. Pour the oil into several small bottles (easier to use and less likely to go rancid).
Excellent for wounds, bruises and even muscular pain.


Herb of the day: German Chamomile

german chamomile

German Chamomile

There are two plants that are known as chamomile—German Chamomile (which is the most popular) and Roman (or English) Chamomile. Though belonging to different species, they are used to treat the same conditions. Both have been used to treat frayed nerves, various digestive disorders, muscle spasms, mild infections, and a range of skin conditions.

Other names these plants go by are: chamomile, chamomile, wild chamomile, sweet chamomile, German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile, mayweed, scented mayweed, and pineapple weed. 


Some of the uses for Chamomile are:


  • Sore Throats
  • Chest colds
  • Abscesses
  • Gingivitis – inflammation of the gums
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Psoriasis
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Minor burns
  • Ulcerative Colitis – Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Chicken pox
  • Diaper rash
  • Colic


  • Internally, chamomile flowers have widely been used for herbal tea. It is so popular that it can be found in the tea aisle of most grocery stores. Chamomile tea has been used as a mild sedative and a tonic to calm the nerves. When a child is teething, chamomile tea can be safely used for both of these purposes. It will calm him and help to keep him from being emotional while cutting his teeth.
  • Other uses for chamomile tea are: Anti-inflammatory – used for arthritis, and other swellings.
  • Antispasmodic – used for intestinal and menstrual cramps, relieving gas pains, and a mild, effective laxative.
  • Vasodilator – used for fever, sore throats, the aches and pain of colds and flu, headaches and allergies.
  • Anti anxiety tonic.


Externally, chamomile flowers can be made into an infusion, which is especially good for the hair. They can be added to cosmetics as an anti-allergenic or made into an ointment for treating wounds or hemorrhoids. Dried chamomile can be used as potpourri and for herb pillows, and burned for aromatherapy. Other external uses are:

  • Compresses – for swellings, sunburns, burns.
  • Added to baths to relieve muscle aches, sooth tired feet, and soften skin.
  • Rubbed on the skin to repel insects.
  • Water plants with the tea to feed them and prevent some diseases.
  • Essential oils can be used as a flavoring, in making perfume, and to combat neuralgia and eczema.
  • Made into a paste, use it to treat skin irritations, infections, and burns.
  • Steam therapy for treating asthma, hay fever, and sinusitis.



Grind dried flowers in mortar and pestle, add some water or unsweetened chamomile tea, and slowly add oatmeal as needed.


Place a handful of flowers in a mesh bag, hang from the faucet by its string, and run the bath water over it.

Natural Hair Highlights:

Thoroughly wet hair with unsweetened, warm chamomile tea. Wrap head with plastic wrap and cover with a bath towel. Keep head warm for 30 to 60 minutes to bring out natural highlights. Dry and style as usual. This will add golden highlights to brown hair.

Steam Therapy:

Place dried chamomile flowers into a mesh strainer over a pan of boiling water. Breathe the steam deeply to ease respiratory symptoms.



Children under 18 should use half of the recommended adult dose.

To relieve colic use 1 – 2 ounces of unsweetened chamomile tea daily.


  • Tea: pour 1 cup boiling water over 2-3 heaping tablespoons of dried flowers, steep 10-15 minutes. Drink 3-4 times daily      between meals.
  • Tincture: (1:5, 45% alcohol) use 1-3 ml (100-150 drops) three times daily in a cup of hot water.
  • Capsules: 300-400 mg three times daily.
  • Gargle/mouthwash: make the tea above and let it cool. Gargle as often as desired. You can also make an oral rinse of 10-15      drops of chamomile extract in 100ml warm water. This may be used three times daily.  (dosage information via


While chamomile is considered to be a safe herb, some people may experience allergic reactions such as hay fever, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. It may worsen asthma symptoms, so those with asthma should not use it. Those with allergies to asters, daisies, chrysanthemums, and ragweed may also have reactions to chamomile, as they are related.

Pregnant women should take care in using chamomile. It is a uterine stimulator and can cause contractions. Drinking large amounts of chamomile tea with high concentrations of the herb may cause vomiting.

Other possible interactions include:

  • Blood thinning medications – chamomile may increase risk of bleeding when taken with warfarin.
  • Sedative – chamomile can increase the effects of drugs that have a sedative effect, including anticonvulsants – Dilantin      and Depakote; barbituates; tranquilizers – Xanax and Valium; insomnia treatments – Ambien, Sonata, Rozerem; antidepressants – Elavil; and alcohol.
  • Herbs like kava, catnip, and valerian root.

Other medications – because chamomile is broken down by certain enzymes in the liver, it can interact with other medications that are also broken down by the same enzymes, such as: Saldane, statins (medications which reduce cholesterol, such as Lipitor and Xetia); birth control pills; and some antifungal drugs.

Halloween is coming up soon. Please read this and share with your friends who have children at home.

Yes, fright night, All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, what ever you might refer to it as, is just 72 hours away. I read a post on a group that I belong to, and thought it was worthy to share with as many friends as possible. For this reason, I decided to share it here, on my Facebook page (Living a Self Sufficient Lifestyle) and on my 2 yahoo groups as well. If you only knew how close I was to buying these for my kids when they were younger. I even wanted a pair of them just for fun. Read on and beware, be very aware.

The Horrible Halloween Accessory that Can Make You  Blind

The Horrible Halloween Accessory that Can Make You Blind

Nothing tops off a Halloween costume quite like a pair of glowing eyes, cat eyes, or devil eyes, but if you’re not careful, you  could end starring in your own personal horror story. Hollywood and Broadway  make good use of decorative contact lenses, but you might want to think twice  before wearing them and you definitely shouldn’t let your kids wear them.
Plopping the wrong contact lenses into your eyes just for the fun of it just  may jeopardize your eye health in a big way. As tempting as it may be, you should NEVER buy  contact lenses without a prescription and NEVER borrow them from someone  else.
David Bakke of Money Crashers tells Care2 of his brief brush with Halloween  eyes. “I used Halloween contact lenses once in the past but took them out after  only about an hour. They caused eye pain and headaches and I later learned that  the damage could have been much worse had I left them in.”
These days, Mr. Bakke knows better and offers a few words of advice from the  voice of experience. “Halloween contact lenses can cause infections, abrasions  on the cornea, and permanent damage to your vision. I say, don’t even think  about it unless you have your eyes examined first by a qualified eye doctor and  obtain a prescription as well.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that wearing  contact lenses incorrectly can cause:

  • a cut or scratch on the top layer of your eyeball (corneal abrasion)
  • allergic reactions like itchy, watery red eyes
  • decreased vision
  • infection
  • blindness

Warning signs of eye infection include:

  • unusual discharge
  • pain in the eye(s) that doesn’t go away after a short period of time
  • decreased vision

If you have any of these signs, see a licensed eye doctor (optometrist or  ophthalmologist) immediately.
Orlando optometrist Eric Perez says, “The consequences can range from simple  eye irritation to something tragic like corneal ulcers (that may lead to needing  a corneal transplant). An improperly fitting contact lens will scratch the  corneal epithelium making it easier for bacteria to enter the eye leading to  unfortunate consequences.”
An eye infection can easily become serious, even causing blindness if not properly treated. The FDA classifies  decorative contact lenses as a medical device and oversees their safety and  effectiveness.
Want that special Halloween look in your eyes? Forget the novelty shops and  online stores. Don’t even borrow them from your closest friend. It is most  definitely not worth the risk. Visit an eye care professional who carries  decorative contact lenses

Read more:


Goat Mastitis Prevention: Herbal Treatment

Our Gabby lost a set of twins and we’ve had ongoing issues with her having mastitis. This is information shared from our vet and from personal experience. The following picture is not Gabby, but one that I found online to show you what mastitis in goats looks like. It is something that must be treated, otherwise the soft tissue in the teat will become permanently damaged and kids born to that doe will not be able to nurse her,

picture of goat mastitis

Goat Mastitis Prevention

If milk tastes salty, the goat usually has mastitis
Too full of milk will cause milk leakage

Eliminate chapping. Use a good quality teat dip

Use a bag balm after milking. Make sure to towel dry the udder after washing it. Use an antibacterial milking soap.

Milk 3x a day to evacuate bacteria out of the udder.

Infection leads to tissue damage.. the white blood cells can get ‘outgunned&# 39;

Bed in straw over sand. Silica gives no source for bacteria to live.. clean the straw daily to every other day. Strip stalls.

Mastitis prevention: Apple cider vinegar. 1 cup to 1 gallon of water. Add molasses if you like. Milk does with mastitis or suspect of it LAST! And always wash your hands between milking different animals

Teat dip; Dry powdered goldenseal root. Use as you would for any other dip, except it is dry.

Medicine Balls for Mastitis:

Add these dry powdered herbs to molasses.. stir to doughish consistancy, roll in wheat flour and/or slippery elm and dry.

Equal parts, Thyme, Garlic, Rosemary, Oregano, Sage, Mustard. Give
approximently 1 TB every 12 hours for 7-10 days

Protecting Bees from Pesticides

OSU updates resources for protecting bees from pesticides

        October 15, 2013     


Honey bees climb across a honeycomb. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)  
Honey bees climb across a honeycomb covered with almond flower pollen. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)  

CORVALLIS, Ore. – As the worldwide population of honey bees continues to decline, the Oregon State University Extension Service and partners have updated a tool for Pacific Northwest growers and beekeepers to reduce the impacts of pesticides on bees.

The revision of OSU Extension’s publication appears after an estimated 50,000 bumble bees died in a Wilsonville parking lot in June. The Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed in a June 21 statement that the bee deaths were directly related to a pesticide application on linden trees conducted to control aphids. The episode prompted the ODA to issue a six-month restriction on 18 insecticides containing the active ingredient dinotefuran.

OSU researchers are investigating the effects of broad-spectrum neonicotinoids, such as dinotefuran, on native bees. The work is in progress, according to Ramesh Sagili, an OSU honeybee specialist.

The newly revised publication “How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides” includes the latest research and regulations. Lead authors include Sagili and OSU toxicologist Louisa Hooven. Download the updated version for free online at How to Reduce Bee Poisoning form Pesticides (pdf). 

“More than 60,000 honey bee colonies pollinate about 50 different crops in Oregon, including blueberries, cherries, pear, apple, clover, meadowfoam and carrot seed,” Sagili said. “Without honey bees, you lose an industry worth nearly $500 million from sales of the crops they commercially pollinate.”

Nationally, honey bees pollinated about $11.68 billion worth of crops in 2009, according to a 2010 study on the economic value of insect pollinators by Cornell University.

Growers, commercial beekeepers and pesticide applicators in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California will find the publication useful, Sagili said. An expanded color-coded chart details active ingredients and trade names of more than 100 conventional and organic pesticides, including toxicity levels to bees and precautions for use.

The publication also describes residual toxicity periods for several pesticides that remain effective for extended periods after they are applied. Additionally, the guide explains how to investigate and report suspected bee poisonings.

Nationwide, honey bee colonies have been declining in recent years due to several factors, including mites, viruses transmitted by mites, malnutrition and improper use of pesticides, Sagili said. In Oregon, about 22 percent of commercial honey bee colonies were lost during the winter of 2012-13, Sagili said. There has been a gradual, sustained decline of managed honey bees since the peak of 5.9 million colonies in 1947, according to the Cornell study. The number of managed colonies reached a low of 2.3 million in 2008, although there were increases in 2009 and 2010, the study said.  

“Growers and beekeepers can work together with this practical document in hand,” Sagili said of OSU Extension’s publication. “It gives them informative choices.”

For example, when commercial beekeeper Harry Vanderpool needed to advise a pear grower on whether an insecticide was acceptable to use around bees, he turned to OSU Extension’s publication.  

“That manual has been a blessing,” said Vanderpool, who keeps 400 hives in South Salem to pollinate dozens of crops for growers from California to central Oregon. “It’s a tool that helps beekeepers and farmers work together in the right way with the right chemical rather than us telling farmers how to farm or farmers telling beekeepers how to keep bees.”

You can also find OSU’s publication by searching for PNW 591-E in OSU Extension’s catalog at The publication was produced in cooperation with OSU, Washington State University and the University of Idaho.


Author:          Denise Ruttan     


Source:          Ramesh Sagili, Louisa Hooven     



And One Last Elderberry Recipe to Share with you

elderberry flowers

Refreshing Elderflower Drink

At the beginning of elderberry season, you have about 2 weeks to gather elderflowers before they drop off, forming the tiny green pellet sized balls that will eventually turn into the wonderfully, medicinally, rich in Vitamin C berries that are well known for their health benefits. Elderberries grow on canes, with a smooth tan-gray bark, usually in clusters along the wetlands as I explained earlier. Elder flower clusters are a creamy white, have a lemony smell and are in clusters about the size of a dinner plate. If you’ve ever taken walks in the woods, along the creeks or a river bank, there’s no mistaking an elder cluster from another tree. The canes can grow 8-10 feet high or higher, are very pliable, and actually, can be transplanted in their smaller stages to a place on your own farm.

For a wonderful, crisp, lemony flavored drink that’s high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, gather the flower clusters, rinse in a mild solution of vinegar and water to dislodge bugs or other debris, rinse and drain.

Use about 2-4 small clusters of the flowers from a flower head, put into boiling hot water and allow to steep for about 20-30 minutes. Strain the liquid, sweeten if desired.

It can be consumed as a hot tea, or chilled and ice added for a refreshing summertime drink.

NOTE: If you’re really crazy about elder flower tea as I am, you can dry elder flowers, store in an airtight container and use 1 teaspoon full in a tea strainer or a small muslin tea bag, in a cup of boiling water, steep and strain as above, to enjoy the summery fresh flavor of elder tea all winter long. It makes a nice gift too!!!