Mullein

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Hi, guys!

Ready to talk about one of my favorite plants in herbal medicine? MULLEIN!

I had posted about mint during a time where my son had some pretty bad congestion. I steeped mint tea for him, but also mixed it with some steeped mullein once the minor congestion turned into an awful cough.

Mullein on its own would have worked, but the mint tea helped with flavor. Mullein is far from the most bitter thing we’ve used (I find it rather mild), but he’s seven and he was sick, so adding something tasty with it made him happy.

This “herb” is actually a weed. There are several types you can find out in the wild, with similar benefits. What’s known as “common” mullein is what we have growing in our garden. It’s a type of mullein that is easy to buy from nurseries due to availability (though not every nursery carries this) and the type most commonly used for its medicinal properties. I have mine confined in a pot right now, but it can spread. I can easily spread these myself in an area and expect success. I can just as easily let nature take its course and expect to see some growing here and there (ground, adjacent pots, etc). I’m waiting for the day one accidentally makes it onto our hydroponic deck. It happened once with some random nightshade that decided to take residence where a bell pepper was supposed to grow. Nature always wins.

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Bronchial Tract

Mullein is one of my absolute favorites because it’s awesome for cold and flu seasons. Actually, it’s pretty phenomenal for most bronchial problems where the biggest need is to really knock out that congestion nad phlegm nastiness. Mullein is an anti-inflamatory, which can assist with inflammation in the chest, throat, and sinus areas. Many herbs and plants possess this characteristic. What makes mullein different from some is that it’s an expectorant. A medicine or herb that’s an expectorant helps with coughs. An expectorant helps get rid of what’s called sputum, which is a combination of phlegm and spit that you cough up when you’re sick. This is very beneficial because the more time phlegm is stuck in there, the higher risk you have of it turning into an infection. Another awesome fact is that mullein doesn’t have sedative properties. If you want relief, but still need to be on the go, this is a very helpful plant.

Nose and Throat

Mullein is anticatarrhal, which means it aids in the breaking up of mucous in the nose and throat. I’m going to be gross so bear with me. The way this works is that it makes mucous a thinner liquid so that it’s easier for your body to get rid of it. It’s gross, but it does work. You begin draining, and that’s pretty disgusting, but you know what Shrek says: “Better out than in!” This is a great trait to share with being an expectorant.

How to Use It

It’s most often steeped into a tea. I find the taste is not as overwhelming as other medicinal plants can be. When I get headaches from pressure and congestion I often steep this with white willow bark (DO NOT CONSUMER WHITE WILLOW BARK IF YOU CANNOT HAVE ASPIRIN; DO NOT GIVE TO CHILDREN). I find for mild cases of a cold I drain for about a day (without drowsiness unless I’m seriously ill) and then bounce back about the second or third day. Here and there while letting the cold run its course I’ll feel a little run down, but the discomfort from the colds ar greatly lessened and I notice the cold doesn’t often progress into something more severe, like an infection. There are those who smoke dried mullein leaves. Everything I have researched states it is quite effective. I have not tried it yet, but I will update the day that I do.

Interested in what else we’re growing for medicinal purposes? Visit this page.

New Additions to the Farm!

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Hi, everyone!

This Spring weather has been insane! I moved to Florida when I was 6 years old and I just loath the cold. I understand it is much more bone chilling elsewhere in the country, but I just can’t.

So naturally, being the wimp to cold that I am, I was pretty worried about our first time mama geese. I was initially unsure if they would even go broody to begin with, but they did. I wasn’t sure if they could actually keep their nests warm enough to hatch though. One day it was 80 out, the next day was 60. I understand that it is colder other places. I also understand that geese still hatch eggs in colder weather than ours. I couldn’t shake the Floridian feeling though. I mean, I bring a sweater to Disney World in the summertime because I freeze inside shops and restaurants (don’t judge me).

My husband, who moved to Florida at a much older age than I, laughed at me. It was uncalled for. Rude.

Anyhow, after being ridiculed for voicing my uncertainty, I came home from work and heard that glorious gosling beep! My excitement was soon followed by panic because I knew hearing any baby animal from this distance was a cry for help. I ran to the back of the property and nearly died laughing. This teeny tiny gosling, it appears, imprinted on one of our goat kids. The kid was completely unaware and just kept running and playing around. Whenever this gosling came near one of our ducks, the ducks would run in terror. Papa goose, from afar, just kept watching. He was being such a good daddy (the fathers aid in rasing the babies). I have seen this goose pick up our largest rooster and throw him. He is the sweetest goose towards humans food givers, but he protects his whole flock of geese and ducks. Unless he’s being fed. Then he’s like What flock?

I went to grab this little guy, thankful Goofy (our male) didn’t mind me handling his son. I brought the little one back to the females. They hissed at me. I told them to cut it out. Then I noticed a sister hiding with the females. Two goslings when I expected none. I was happy and excited. Geese are some of my favorite animals.

We have only ever hatched young from an incubator. So, I was like a paranoid first time mother, checking on this nest every couple of hours. I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t ready to see how well my geese trusted me with touching the goslings, but we do have a pond. Believe it or not, ducklings and goslings do drown. Watching it is terrifying and I’ve seen people watch it unaware that it’s happening. They are babies and they do get tired. If they don’t know how to escape the water, they drown. If the water is cold enough, their bodies stop working almost instantly. One year, we had ducklings find the pond in 60 degree weather. I watched one duckling just stop and start floating around the pond like a dead body, calling for help as best as she could. I scooped her out and put her in the lid of a small cardboard box. I boiled water and put two mugs of hot water beside her and made a tent out of a dish towel. At this moment, she wasn’t making any noise. After thirty minutes, I heard her chirping. I gave her some food and a little bit of cayenne in water. Within two hours she was up and escaping from her heat tent, so I returned her to her brothers and sisters.

My side story has a point. I promise. Because the day after our goslings hatched, I came home and the boy was missing again. I found him in an area our goat kids often play in and his neck was caught in the fence. He wasn’t moving and I was certain he was dead. Upon closer inspection I saw he was breathing, trying to call out, but no noise could be produced. I initially thought it was because he was caught in the fence. But he was breathing without struggle. I was still certain there was a neck injury. My husband got the gosling out and told me the neck actually looked fine. Holding the gosling, he informed me boy was very cold. I recreated the same heat tent and within 45 minutes, he was beeping and moving his head. No apparent neck injury. I told my husband we have to bring them in. I wasn’t risking losing them while at work, knowing I may still lose the one fighting for his life.

We set up a heat lamp and brooder in the barn. We put the male in and I put gloves on and went to fetch his sister. The female geese nipped at me, but the gloves helped. They stopped biting when they realized it wasn’t doing much good and I was taking the baby anyway. Goofy, our male, didn’t even hiss at me. I brought the girl in to be with her brother. Within two hours, both were up and happy. We are very thankful.

It’s certainly never a dull day. We were exhausted ourselves when everything was said and done. The most common response I get when I replay these stories out loud with people is, “I don’t know how you can deal with all this.”

I would never willingly give up this lifestyle.

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Mint

Mint is an easy to grow herb that smells and tastes great. I commonly pull a leaf to chew when I’m outside. It’s a favorite here to use to steep as tea, even just for the flavor. There are several benefits to consuming and using mint, other than its pleasant taste.

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Nausea

We often hear of how ginger is used for any stomach issues, but mint does a pretty decent job in dealing with nausea and other digestive discomforts. I steep it with ginger when my stomach is mildly bothering me. It’s not an instant fix, but it does help.

Headaches

Another way mint aids us is with headaches. For me, just smelling some essential oil or a fresh cup of tea brings a great deal of comfort when I have a headache.

Congestion

Believe it or not, this herb’s cooling effects help with congestion. I like to drink it on its own as a tea, but if I’m severely ill, I will mix it with mullein (fantastic herb used to help clear out actual congestion).

If you have chronic issues with minor headaches or stomach problems, you can make a tincture out of mint to take on a consistent basis. Teas are great and I love tea, but tinctures can be a bit stronger if that’s what we need. There are other herbs to use for these problems, but in more severe cases. Mint is also great to use in conjunction with other stronger herbs to help with taste.

Cooling and Pain Relief

But, if I’m being honest, the coolest thing I love about mint are the different body butters, salves, and balms I can make with it. I have a muscle pain salve I make with cayenne. Cayenne does most of the hard work for this task, but the mint provides a nice cooling effect to counter the heat when applied to the skin. Cracked feet? A body butter with shea butter and mint help heal and soothe.

Tea

The most common method of using mint is as a tea. I made some with fresh leaves this week for my son’s congestion.

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First, you harvest this amazing creature.

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If you’re using fresh leaves you do need to chop it. There are many methods to this. This time around, I chose to put some in a small cup and simply cut it.

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I like using tea balls for steeping. They’re easy to use and store. I pack two of these full of fresh chopped mint.

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I boil water in an electric kettle. Once it is done and the bubbles from boiling disappear, I add the water to my favorite tea kettle with the tea balls. The kettle holds 1 liter of water. To get health benefits from the herb, you cannot just steep it for five minutes. You need to do a good 30-45 minutes.

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After that, enjoy!

Want to learn about other herbs we grow and use? Visit this page to learn more! We will be adding more posts about each herb, but if you see a herb you’re curious about and there’s no post, do not hesitate to get a hold of us!

Medicinal Herbs

Happy Monday, everyone! I want to start this post off saying my intent is in no way to discredit modern medicine. I understand and fully acknowledge its place and importance in society. Advances in medicine have been, in large, beneficial and I am not going to claim otherwise.

We do see however, a sort of abuse in the use of medicine. One of the most baffling for me is the overuse of antibiotics. If you have a viral illness, the antibiotic doesn’t really work anyway. Longterm overuse of the antibiotic can result in the development of resistant bacteria.

I always highly encourage others to do their own independent research, and I recommend this article to start with.

What makes the general public so quick to seek out those prescriptions are the discomforts experienced during colds and other viral illnesses. We especially don’t deal well as parents if our children become ill. We want fast solutions to our problems. The sad fact of the matter is, the best option is often to let the illness run its course.

So with this in mind, the goal we should have is not to grab that antibiotic, but to find ways to alleviate the symptoms as much as possible. There are several herbs that can help with symptoms and be of further benefit to your health in other areas.

I use colds as an example frequently, but truly there are herbs for other ailments like different types of pain, chronic issues like allergies, focusing, fatigue, sleep aids, digestion issues, etc.

We began a medicinal herb garden. Here is a small list of some of the herbs we have so far:

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This picture shows our spearmint, peppermint, and lemon balm. We have them growing in our hydroponics.

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Lavender, also growing in our hydroponics.

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Vicks plant. Bet you can’t guess what this smells like…

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Comfrey. This plant is amazing.

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Sage.

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Rue.

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Feverfew.

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Rosemary.

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Mugwort.

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Mullein.

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Yarrow.

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Calendula.

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Eucalyptus.

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Wormwood

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Passionflower.

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Valerian.

I dabble in homemade salves, tinctures, infused oils, and essential oils. I would like to do homemade goat’s milk soap in the future. There will be future posts on each individual herb in this garden, but don’t let that stop you from reaching out if you have a question about any of them. We will add posts as we add to our medicinal garden as well.

Anyone else here work with herbs?

The Hydroponic Garden

So, we have covered some baking, essential oils, kefir, and solar portions of our farm; we have not discussed our hydroponic garden. We do grow some produce traditionally in the dirt, but one of our biggest features on the farm is actually the hydroponic deck we have installed.

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For those of you new to hydroponics, the plants and produce are grown dirt free. The plants are grown in baskets filled with clay pebbles (the photo above is of zucchini, by the way). The roots are exposed to running water underneath the baskets. Many of our planting sites are inside a raised deck we installed. These plant sites often contain various tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers. We have done broccoli, cauliflower, and different melons in the past.

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Other sites, like our green beans, are in smaller baskets. Instead of being in the actual deck, they are in vinyl fence posts.

Growing our produce hydroponically is how we got into being aware of where our food came from, around 8 years ago. My husband and I were in our first place, a duplex, and our son was only a few months old. We grew a few plants in a very small space hydroponically. We had various drip systems that started off looking very unorganized. Our set up has evolved quite nicely as we increased our space. We learned quite a bit from trial and error.

We have a reservoir that holds around 400 gallons of water, nutrients, and pump. Nutrients are checked often and adjustments are made as needed. Our reservoir is actually underground. We learned in the past that hot water can kill plants. At one place we lived, before moving out to the country, we had such a hot summer that our plants began to fail. We actually had to buy a water cooler for the reservoir. So, our reservoir is now underground to help regulate water temperature. It works and saves a lot of space.

The water that goes through the system is recycled and reused.

But now to the fun part… what we’re actually growing in our system.

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These are some of our tomatoes. The netting you see is for cucumbers. It is very gorgeous once the plants start climbing it.

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The left is spearmint and the right is lemon balm (with peppermint being squished in between). We use these very frequently in our still to make hydrosols and essential oils because they grow back quickly and smell amazing.

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This is our lavender. It’s the first we’ve grown successfully, I would like to add. It’s flourishing and smells amazing. We have a favorite buttermilk and lavender bread we use the leaves for (flowers too, if available). It also makes a calming tea.

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More tomatoes. Because tomatoes are great. We use tomatoes frequently raw, in cooking, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and salsa. We produced over 300 pounds of tomatoes a few years. That’s a lot of canning. The process is not my most favorite thing in the world, but I love food and the taste is worth the effort. We also try not to waste as much as possible. Canning helps in this task.

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We have been growing tomatoes for years and seeing the first fruit is just as exciting as the first time. We have this tradition/ritual, where we harvest the first ripened tomatoes of the season and feast upon tomato salads and sandwiches for dinner. I like to use mine on homemade dark rye bread.

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It’s no secret that my family and I adore salad. My seven and five-year old children love it. We all particularly like homemade Italian and ginger dressings. We have a large variety here. Our favorites are romaine, chard, spinach, kale, and arugula. We eat salad on a nearly nightly basis. I bring some into work and often use our own chicken eggs as my protein source (I have nothing against eating meat; I had a difficult time eating meat during my second pregnancy and I never fully recovered).

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Cucumbers are another favorite. Last year we did 52 quarts of pickles on top of the cucumbers we ate and shared with our animals.

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At the end of the season, when we clean our hydroponics up, we often drop seeds into the ground and we get nice little surprises like these under the deck (tomato and lettuce). One year, we fed tomatillos to our chickens. Well, we use their waste as fertilizer. We had a random tomatillo plant growing in our yard. Up front I even have some random lettuce growing from birds dropping seeds.

Does anyone else grow their produce hydroponically? We would love to hear your opinions and experiences!