Graduation Day!

 

Today is a BIG day! The ‘girls’ have graduated from our bathtub to their new chicken abode. They are both excited and nervous. I guess I am too! Mamie, Dolly, Jackie-O, Bess, Harriet, and Priscilla (yes, they are named after past president’s wives) are now full-fledged chickens, scratching in the grass and straw, roosting on their posts, and attempting to bwack and cluck like the dainty young ladies that they are. Okay, well maybe not so dainty, but they do attempt to strut around like sassy girl chickens showing off their new feathers.

The weather here in East Cornfield, Indiana has finally presented us with beautiful blue skies and warm, breezy days allowing us to get our gardens planted and some of my herbs potted. I was beginning to get concerned as the cold, wet forecasts were relentless, but the old-timers around here explained to me that it’s not unusual to plant your vegetables on Memorial Day. Sure enough, I will be planting the rest of my seed starts this week end and setting tomatoes out to harden off. Happy Memorial Day!

We have also been keeping an eye on a nest that a pair of robins built under the eaves of our side-porch roof. Both of the robins have been diligently taking turns sitting on the nest or feeding the babies scrounged worms and mealy bugs. Just this morning, the baby robins were big enough for us to take pictures of them poking their fuzzy little heads out with beaks wide open. We have been trying to be cautious while coming and going, as this is our main entry area, but it has been enjoyable listening to their peeps and watching the parents.

It sure feels good to get outside and work the farm after a long, tedious winter and wet, cold spring. Like my grandma True used to say, “blow the stink off” and that’s just what it feels like to me. The windows and doors are all thrown open, the porches cleaned off and lawn furniture brought out of storage, and work gloves and garden clogs are always at the ready as our growing season has finally blessed us.

Here’s hoping that everybody has a Whimsical Moon day!  BWACK!!

 

 

 

 

Still Clucking Along

 

It has been a few weeks since I have had an opportunity to sit down and write a new blog post, but Whimsical Moon Herb Farm is still clucking along.

The weather has been petulant and cranky in Central Indiana which has set our gardening endeavors behind schedule but I can still find signs that the season is moving forward.  The girls have grown considerably with their feathers coming in and their peeps becoming clucks. We picked up their new Coop-acabana from Tractor Supply last week and will be building their new home soon. They should be ready to move into their new digs about the time we have it ready for them.

The rangy kittens have become chaotic cats and keep a close eye on the weather as well. All four of them sit at the windows watching the wind and rain blow by, waiting for that moment they can prowl the farm and hang out in the barn.

The tulips and dandelions have mostly finished blooming and the California poppies and trillium are getting ready to flourish. My room-mate Mindy recently discovered wild trillium, also called wake robin, growing throughout the woods where she has been hunting for her prized morel mushrooms. We discovered trillium was a valuable healing herb for the native people in this area and I plan on creating an entire blog about this versatile and interesting medicinal in a future post.

In between stormy weather and tornado warnings, we have been able to at least get our garden area turned over and plan on planting as soon as the temperatures warm up once again. Tomato, pepper, and cantaloupe starts are ready to be hardened off in the cold frame and we plan on planting corn, beans, peas, squash, and salad greens just as soon as the sun shines warm on us again. All of the herb starts, including sage, thyme, chamomile, peppermint, and slow growing rosemary will have to wait for even warmer temperatures and will probably be hanging out in our tiny greenhouse for several more weeks.

Hope all of you are having a whimsical moon spring and green blessings to each and everyone of you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why an Herb Farm?

Last week I had an opportunity to catch up with a dear friend I’ve known since high school. We usually touch base on Christmas and birthdays, but my friend Pam (not her actual name) had called excited with the news of her forthcoming addition to her family. She was going to be a grandma and she was to the moon and back excited. I could hear the joyful exuberance in her voice and exclaimed how delighted I was for her.

She has been witness through many of my life incarnations including marriage, childbirth, having a developmentally delayed schizophrenic child, divorce, struggling single mom, and now farmer; and so we cheered her new life celebration and discussed my newest life stage.

Why an herb farmer?” she asked me, trying to understand what on earth I was doing.

I told her how I’ve always wanted to be a farmer, and she laughed agreeably reminding me how I always had my nose buried in Mother Earth News magazine or growing avocado trees from the pits in my windowsill, but she didn’t think I was actually serious.

She teased me about my “Lola Granola” status and then got back on the subject of her new grandbaby and when it was due to arrive. We ended our telephone conversation on a happy note, and promised we wouldn’t take so long to catch up again.

As I stood at the kitchen sink washing the dishes, I got to thinking about my friends question as I stared out the window overlooking our scrappy garden and wood lot. Why an herb farmer? Our farm’s four acres is tiny compared to the hundreds of acres of cultivated agri-corn and soybean that surround it. And that’s just how I like it. I prefer to focus on value rather than volume and find I enjoy the diversity of my small farm rather than a monoculture environment.

I’ve always known I wanted to become a farmer, and my vision has always included farmer as a lifestyle, not necessarily a job title. I formed an early relation with herbs, both growing them and using them for healing, cooking, and crafts. When I became an herbalist I recognized it as a calling, just like farming.

Combining my love of growing and using herbs along with growing vegetables, raising chickens and goats, and living sustainably just made sense to me. I didn’t see my farm and my herbs as being separate but more like a natural part of who I am.

As I consider the path my life has followed to where I am now, I realize that I have always been curious about alternative ways of doing things, whether learning herbal and homeopathic healing, birthing my last child at home with a midwife, or finding my spiritual relationship closely related to earth and nature, it makes perfect sense to me that I would grow an herb farm and call it Whimsical Moon. It’s foundation relies on alternative styles of farming (also known as traditional) including permaculture, sustainable soil practices, and raising animals naturally with plenty of space to thrive.

Herbs, as a market product have their own special niche and they appeal to a wide variety of needs and uses, including healing, crafting, and cooking. Working hard to make a living growing, gathering, and marketing herbs appeals to me on many levels. It fulfills my desire to live with the seasons and cycles of nature, to live as sustainably as possible, and to live with mindful intention focused towards healing and creativity.

So, why an herb farm? For me, it is a natural outgrowth of who I am and how I want to live my life. I enjoy the hard work of cultivating the herb gardens, learning the intricacies of marketing my herbal soaps, balms, and dream pillows, and writing about our experiences, both joyful and challenging.

Some of my favorite references include:

Carpenter, Jeff and Melanie. (2015) The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer

Schafer, Peg. (2011) The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm

Phillips, Nancy and Michael. (2001) The Herbalist’s Way

Soule, Deb. (2013) How to Move Like a Gardener

Back yard shenanigans.

Back yard shenanigans.

Our friendly neighborhood squirrel parked under the bird feeders enjoying the banquet of seeds and dried corn.

Mornings are a bit cooler these days and the leaves are beginning to turn. Pinecones drop at the slightest whisper of a breeze and birds are coming to the feeders in flocks now, preparing for the journey to their winter homes.

I spent some time cleaning out the raised garden beds today, getting them ready for late vegetable planting. I’m thinking maybe some garlic for next spring, carrots, spinach, kale, arugula, and a row or two of snap peas.

I think Autumn is my favorite season in the cycle. Looking forward to building a new scare crow to replace the weathered, raggedy one leaning forlorn against the fence. Crisp apple cider, warm vegetable soups, and fresh baked bread…fall is tasty.

It’s a Whimsical Moon day!

So much to do, where to begin? A sunny day with those hazy clouds rolling off the coast. The raised beds are beckoning me, “come weed us, please.”  Rosemary and peppermint bunches are hanging to dry in the kitchen, Echinacea tincture is ready to be  strained and bottled, and the cilantro seeds are ready to be harvested.  

But, here I sit, creating a new blog. I am excited to share my gardening, creativity, and simple living in tune with the seasons. I look over at my shelves lined with bottles, jars, and baskets full of dried herbs, tinctures, herbal soaps, and teas and feel a sense of calm and gratitude. I love working in my gardens, creating herbal goodies, and writing about the journey.

A downy woodpecker is pecking at the suet. A handful of house finches and chickadees are at the feeder. The morning is getting hotter and a warm breeze is stirring the wind chimes. The day is unfurling before me, must be time to get busy.

I look forward to returning often to this blog and sharing the whimsy.