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helwen: (Due Consideration)
Gardening is poking along, but we did some more clearing this morning, between/in-front-of the two lilac bushes that are to the left of the south end of the barn. We're not trying to clear everything out, but I'm hoping to get most/all of the garlic mustard and stinging nettles out of that spot. Valerian and Jerusalem Artichokes will be going in. The chokes are sprouting in the pots I have them sitting in (with almost no soil!), so they need to go in this weekend. I wanted to put them in today, but I'm thinking I want the soil in the area to rest overnight, and see if anything we missed recovers and pops into view.

This past Wednesday was Day 0 of the basement getting re-done. We got the call from BIL R to clear everything out of the basement, which we did with help from [livejournal.com profile] loosecanon.

Day 1 - Thursday morning they showed up and removed the floor vapor barrier (heavy plastic), started figuring out how the concrete pours would work, removed the stairs that go up to the first floor, did elevation sitings between the river and the house and decided that a drain would be expensive, so we'll still have a sump. Screw-jacks have been moved to other temporary support spots, old footings dug out.

Day 2 - More work on leveling the floor by R's guys. Plumber is removing older pump. Newer one will be temporarily raised up for the pour, then put back in place.

Probably nothing over the weekend, but I don't know yet. Concrete pours will be sometime next week. One of the windows will need to be opened, to make it simpler to pour. R wants to get the concrete by gravity if at all possible, as pumping costs $700 per use and he's trying to save us money. First pouring will be supports and part of the floor, second pouring will finish the floor. Because of some interesting...features...of the basement, the floor will have two levels. Also, there's a big rock in one corner that they're working on coming up with a best solution for -- it'll be staying as far as I know, because it's in a corner and probably goes under one of the walls of the foundation.
helwen: (Due Consideration)

Thinking about putting this in the yard. Native, drought- and shade-intolerant. I'd like to put it near the river, but much of the sunny bank areas are under-cut and raised up, so I don't know if they're damp enough. I could put them in the sunny part of the lower field, which is pretty darn boggy right now, and isn't as high up as some parts of the river bank. But if I could find the right part of the banks to put them, they might actually help to stabilize the bank.
helwen: (Default)
Well, I gave it a shot but I can't keep up with the herbal program I joined in April. I wish I could stay -- the folks there are great, and they were more than willing to find something less physical for me to do for my volunteer days, but I'm finding it too challenging to keep up with that and everything else on my plate. Time to go back to trying to build up my reserves again!

That said, I won't stop working with herbs or learning about them... just, on my own, at a slower pace.
helwen: (Default)
Humans try all sorts of ways to deal with stress, some better than others. Time for sleep, meditation, and exercise are all good ones but sometimes those just don't happen or are insufficient to stress levels.

L and I have started taking ginseng, which takes 1-4 weeks to have a noticeable effect. Ginseng is not recommended for younger folks, in fact I myself might be a little young but as I'm past child-bearing age, I'm giving it a go. There are other herbal adaptogens, so depending on how stress shows itself in your body (nervous, muscular, digestion), you can choose something that will help your body to cope with the stresses in your life.

I'm nowhere near ready to even suggest what specific folks might want to use, but the folks at Goldthread Apothecary can no doubt help. I can't say, after 1-1/2 weeks, that I'm feeling significantly less stressed, but I have been getting a bit more stuff done than I thought I would, and life is less crazy-making overall, so I'll say tentatively that it seems to be helping.

Of course, life will also be less stressful when the electricians aren't coming here every week :P
helwen: (Woodsy)
Posting so I don't lose the link:


One of the nine sacred herbs in this charm is Nettles.

I have a book somewhere on A-S medicine I need to find now...


Apr. 19th, 2012 01:16 pm
helwen: (Woodsy)
Been reading up on Stinging Nettles, and found this great page:

A much-maligned but highly beneficial plant. Balancing/restoring kidney function, reduces benign prostate enlargement, helps with asthma and allergic rhinitis, helps clear congestion and phlegm, helps with arthritis, may possibly help with sugar-levels for diabetics (hasn't been tested on humans yet), good for the liver, helps with gout...

Contains Vitamins A & C and also K, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, silica, and calcium.
helwen: (Default)
Was thinking about herbalism -- someone on our Ashfield sustainability list (New Future) was talking about it, and got the feeling that now is the time to start down that path once again.

Problem is, there are two schools nearby -- one in Ashfield and one is Conway. Now, you'd think that was a no-brainer, but the Conway location is likely just as close as the Ashfield on, because of the way the towns are laid out.

There's Goldthread Apothecary: http://goldthreadapothecary.com/?p=seven_month

And Blazing Star Herbal: http://blazingstarherbalschool.typepad.com/blazing_star_herbal_schoo/upcoming-classes.html

I'm sort of leaning toward Goldthread first, followed by tailoring something at Blazing Star next year that would be focused on the ritual/ceremonial side of things, rather than trying to learn about all of everything at once, but.... sigh. More thinking to do....

Thoughts welcome!

Bog Myrtle

Dec. 18th, 2011 10:16 pm
helwen: (Tower)
Hadn't realized there were so many different kinds of plants called "myrtle"...

Interesting tidbit on bog myrtle (in Wales, but also mention of Vikings)


Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:17 pm
helwen: (Xena)
Okay, I suppose it might not merit that subject line but....

Was just at Richter Seeds, which usually I'm happy with, looking for herbs. They advertised Mint, Menthol (Mentha Spicata) as being commonly referred to as peppermint or spearmint.

Um, excuse me?

They Are Not The Same Thing!!

helwen: (Tower)
A couple from an online acquaintance:

Candy Canes Fight Germs is about the various properties of Peppermint.

Mistletoe Fights Cancer is about Mistletoe (European, not American)

The year 2012 comes up in conversations now and then, and of course the History Channel is having some fun with it next weekend, plus there is a disaster film coming out in July 2009 I believe.

Here's the Wikipedia Entry on 2012. They list all sorts of things that are happening in 2012. Did you know that the location for the Superbowl has already been determined? I don't know anything about football, but I'm mildly impressed that they're so organized.

Anyway, lots of stuff happening in 2012 - elections, various competitions, astronomical events of interest, all the Olympics, and more. For those interested in the Mayan calendar, there's a link or two pertaining to that as well.

I'm a little boggled at how many apocalyptic songs have been written, specifically about 2012...

Decided to add the Wikipedia entry on Mesoamerican (Mayan) Long Count Calendar for being able to check that out without having to look through the whole 2012 entry. Interesting to read about Mayan references to dates beyond 2012.
helwen: (Laundry)
In spite of the lovely weather of the past few weeks, on which of course I positively thrive (/sarcasm), I have managed to complete for Lyle two fighter shirts, one ME shirt, and am mostly through a Roman tunic for him as well.

The costmary and comfrey from [livejournal.com profile] bunnyjadwiga were picked up by [livejournal.com profile] mizpagan and Mistress Eleanore M and we picked them up last Wednesday and brought them home. Since I won't be seeing [livejournal.com profile] gardengirl6 again until the 20th (having forgotten I'd see her this Monday just past), I'm putting the comfrey in the garden until then. [livejournal.com profile] countessinn would also like a snippet of the comfrey, which should be quite do-able, as even in the pot the comfrey is happily growing leaves from various spots. Today the weather is finally quite tolerable, so they'll be given plenty of space to grow in for the next week or so.

Thanks again [livejournal.com profile] bunnyjadwiga!

[livejournal.com profile] fitzw managed to get one of the A/C units up the stairs yesterday, and that should be getting installed soon. Fortunately today is nice and I can actually breathe and think pretty well, but more humid weather is on the way in a few days. I'm looking forward to being able to draw again!

Had a filling re-done on Tuesday and also my mammogram finally. 2nd half of regular checkup was on Wednesday. Still a few things to follow-up on, including re-doing the cholesterol test in 4 months, because the most recent one didn't make any sense compared to one year ago. So, not passing with flying colors, but appear to be more or less okay. :p

Picked up my maille dream catcher last night from Faolen (Quintavian). Very cool. I like the maille dream catcher because it also sort of looks like a lotus blossom. Now I get to put a few things on it for ornamentation/completion, but I'm quite pleased with the work, and also amused that it will be an interesting mix of cultures... just like me ;)

Going to bring my Pennsic trunk back downstairs, now that I've gone through all of L's stuff ... needed to break down the temp. wardrobe first, which I had his clothing on while I was checking for repairs and stuff.

Now there's space for the trunk to be downstairs, where the wardrobe was, and I can still cut out more fabric in the rest of the livingroom....

and once I've put a few things into my trunk, L's comes down and gets mostly packed and stacked on top of it. Then come the backpacks, which will have blankets and such packed into them. Hm, can possibly fit the campstools inside the packs too... I can be a little lazy about my packing when it's just the two of us, but with three people I need to be a little more orderly. Good practice!

And, as the icon depicts, today is another laundry day. And excellent weather for it!
helwen: (Laundry)
Put in a wash early yesterday morning, then got distracted and forgot all about it until too late in the day. Got hung up this morning.

L and I harvested some Tall Cinquefoil (Potentilla Arguta) and some Mullein leaves yesterday. The former is mostly for some friends, but we'll keep a bit as well. There's tons of Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla Reptans) here as well (also called Tormentil). According to one site, there are 500 types of Potentilla...

Picked a few strawberries today. Oh, found some wild ones yesterday, and nibbled on a couple of those, but left most for the critters. If we want to make preserves again this year we'll have to go to a Pick-Your-Own, as our strawberry plants are still getting comfortable.

Went out to harvest some red clover flowers, yarrow, and horsetail. Started first with the clover, then figured I might as well get some grass for the chickens at the same time, which was a mistake. They came with little bright green insects of some sort.

At first I tried to get some of them out, then realized how silly that was, since the chickens would love them. So, carefully took out the red clover and put it to the side. The I gathered a bunch more grass and took the basket up to one of the chicken rooms, banging the basket upside-down to get all the bugs out.

Then off to get clover, yarrow, and horsetail. I only got a bit of clover, but I'll keep collecting over the next few weeks as I have time. I got a decent little bunch of yarrow, and quite a bit of horsetail. Since the yarrow's only started blooming in the past week or so I'm not quite sure how much there is, so I only took a third of the aerial parts that were in bloom.

The cinquefoil and mullein are hanging up in the back attic, but I don't have a lot of space there. So the clover, yarrow, and horsetail are all hanging up on our porch. There are nails on the inside of the lower edge of the porch roof, so they're high up and under the edge of the roof. Also that side of the house faces north, so it should be okay as the light is indirect or null in that area. When I get the stinging nettles I'll hang them up on the other side of the porch to keep them isolated until they're dry.

I still need to harvest the stinging nettles, but I'm working up to that...

Checked in on the chickens and they'd decimated the bugs and most of the grass, with some bunches of seeds laying around here and there. There's grass growing all over the place that won't be harvested as hay, so this can be something to do on some of my walks.

Cut out fabric for a couple of laundry bags, as we can't fit the hamper in the bedroom. Will be sewing those up today.

Need to do some prep for the event this weekend. Must get down loaner clothing, among other things.

Need to do some spinning. I need to make more space in the fiber/textile room and the best way is to get spinning, since yarn takes less space than roving. Which is also one of the reasons I've been doing more sewing this year, trying to make more space...

Need to pack up completed scarves so they're protected (wool) and out of the way.
helwen: (Default)
For those looking for it, a tall plant that can handle partial shade to fairly heavy shade -- but not total shade -- is Tall Meadow Rue (Thalictrum polygamum). Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae).

Perennial, reproduces by seeds.

From Peterson Field Guide on Wildflowers Northeastern/Northcentral North America:

An intricate plant; plumes of flowers lack petals. Note starry bursts of white threadlike stamens. Leaves divided and subdivided into many roundish 3-lobed leaflets. 3-8 ft. Swamps, streamsides. E. Canada to Indiana, Long Island; in mts. to Georgia. JULY-SEPT.

Note: Mine appeared in my backyard in Northampton one year, and I moved it with me to Sunderland, Holyoke, and now to Ashfield. But it may be possible to find on a walk, or at one of the nurseries that carries native plant life. There's one on the road that goes toward Hampton Ponds (Rt. 202 I think) and another in, I believe, Deerfield.

Also, maybe the shade made up for not being swampy? Because none of the places I had it in the past were swamps or by streams, but were somewhat damp from not being in direct sunlight and/or trapped moisture in the soil well either by the shape of the land or the other plants growing there (ground cover especially). In Holyoke it got a few hours of sunlight daily but it was either by the shady side of the garage or down at the bottom of the hill (moved it when we expanded the garage for the studiolo). Until last week it was in full sun here at the farm and wasn't thrilled about that but was still growing anyway. Come July it might not have fared as well.

Now it's under trees and will probably only get direct sunlight at sunrise for a few hours. Soil is definitely dampish there. Hm, maybe it'll grow higher than 3-4 feet this year? That could be interesting...

Tall Meadow Rue: additional properties and supposed properties.

The alkaloids around the roots have antimicrobial properties. Also has the name Thalictrum pubescens.

Was one of the plants that used to be used for rattlesnake bites.

From http://www.voyageurcountry.com/htmls/floweringplants/plants/meadowruetall.html:

The nickname Muskrat Weed was given to the Tall Meadow Rue by people who found the tall plant frequently at muskrat ponds.

Caius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the elder) served the Roman army in Germany and Africa and then was a colonial administrator in Spain. He wrote many books on subjects ranging from history and military tactics to of course, natural history. The 37 books he wrote Historia Naturalis still remain. In one of those many books he mentions the Genus Thalictrum. He said that Thalictrum "prevents hair falling out, or if it has already done so, restores it." What Pliny the elder did not know was that some members of the genus contain thalictrine, which is a very potent cardiac poison according to the United States Dispensatory.

There are some pictures of Tall Meadow Rue at this above-mentioned site.
helwen: (jug)
!!! Check out the Apothecary Find Post at Bunnyjadwiga's LJ if you're at all interested in a medieval find on herbs used in the medieval time period!


helwen: (Default)

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