Mischief, Mayhem, and Chaos on the Farm!

The three Furies (although furry, as well) Ichabod, Ozzy, and Piscus.

Yes, it has been a busy Autumn. Beside the usual fall chores around the homestead, we have acquired a few new residents to our farm. When Bella lost her sister, Pookie, a few months ago, she seemed inconsolable. Of course, I figured she needed a buddy. We visited our local animal shelter, and well….found a sweet little kitten. With two other siblings we just couldn’t separate.

A few weeks later, there was a knock at the door and two young ladies stood on my porch with a tiny black kitten. “Is this yours?”

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Ophelia. The little princess that rounds out the bunch.

As soon as she was placed on the floor, she claimed our home as hers. She immediately made her way to the food dish. The boys clamored around her and impatiently waited for her highness to finish eating. She licked her paws, cleaned her face, and promptly fell asleep in the dog’s bed.

The kittens grow daily, it seems, as they create chaos, mayhem, and mischief all throughout the house. Bella is fine, as long as they stay out of her way. She has taken a special liking, though, to the little princess, Ophelia.

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Bella, the matriarch of the bunch, seems nonplussed with the new additions. As long as they stay out of HER chair.

Early in August, we noticed a sign at our local Tractor Supply store. Fall chicks are here! We had already considered adding a few more chickens to our flock as we wanted to continue our small egg business next spring. I already had an idea of what breeds I would like to try, and we were happy with the chicks available. We came home with six new additions.

We purchased 3 Silver Wyandottes (or so we thought!), 1 Black Austrolorp, and 2 Brown Isas. Good future egg layers with sweet temperaments.

As the chickens quickly matured, we realized that our Silver Wyandottes were displaying unusual feather manifestations on the top of their little heads. After considerable research (thank you Google), I discovered our Silver Wyandottes were not what they seemed.

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They are actually, ahem, Silver Polish chickens. The ‘punk rockers’ of the chicken world.

https://www.mypetchicken.com

This is what our chickens will eventually grow up to look like. (Image from mypetchicken.com)

Not exactly what I originally had in mind, but I laugh every time I go out to their chicken coop to attend to them. They are flighty, erratic birds with friendly dispositions when they settle down. They lay white eggs, instead of my favorite brown eggs, and are not known to be as productive of layers as I had hoped, but they certainly do bring a particular ‘Whimsy’ to our farm.

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The young pullets graduating to their new home.

So, Whimsical Moon Farm continues to grow with each season. Signs of Autumn surround us as the raised garden beds slowly get cleaned out and orange and red leaves fall from our maple and locust trees around the property. Mornings are cool and misty and the days grow shorter and less intense.

A fat, pumpkin colored spider, bumblebee on a late Echinacea bloom, and Mosey inspecting newly harvested corn field.

Autumn has always been my favorite season of the year. As always, I look forward to the cooler weather, sitting around the fire pit drinking hot cocoa of an evening, and finding quiet, less frenzied moments to curl up with good books and write in my journal.

Here’s to a Whimsical Moon Farm Autumn season.

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Autumn, ready for Autumn.

Take a peek at our soaps! Whimsical Moon Farm

 

 

 

And The Winner Is…….!

My daughter Kayla pulled the winning name out of the highly technical drawing hat.

Drum roll please…….the winner of the festive herbal soap gift box from Whimsical Moon Farm is: TIM BOUCHER! Congratulations Tim, and thank you for participating in our gift soap give-away. If you would be so kind as to drop me a line with your address, we will get your soaps sent off to you pronto.

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Handcrafted herbal soaps made right here on our farm.

Thank you to each and every one who participated in our drawing and for taking a peek at our shiny, brand new web-site, Whimsicalmoonfarm.com. And a special thank you to everyone who has ordered our soaps, sugar scrubs, and beard oil. We are incredibly grateful!

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Whimsical Moon Farm.

We handcraft our herbal soaps and herbal products right here on our farm using herbs that we grow and dry. We feel blessed to be able to grow our farm and our cottage business right here in East Cornfield, Indiana.

Again, thank you everybody who participated in our give-away and a BIG congratulations to Tim Boucher, our winner.

Turning of the Season on our Farm

The last sunflower of the season; Mosey sniffing newly-harvested cornfield; the garden is winding down; lazy autumn cats; end-of-summer barbeque.

 

Since I’ve moved to our farm, I have found my year is now measured not by the days of the month but by the seasons. My calendar is based on the work and events on Whimsical Moon Farm and the farmers around me.

People who farmed had a different way of understanding time, one based on sunlight and seasons, ebbing and flowing in activity like river water. Their year was alive, growing and dying.”  Jenna Woginrich, sheep farmer.

Living on a farm, you would think that Spring would be my favorite season of the year. You know: renewal, Mother Earth waking up again after a long Winter, newly planted gardens, baby animals….but truth be told, I am all about the Fall. I love the cooler temperatures, the slowing down after a hectic summer, harvesting and ‘putting by’ the last of the garden bounty, and the beautiful fall colors. Orange, russet, yellow and red.

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Autumn glow at a nearby lake. This picture was taken last fall.

Although my summer garden beds have pretty much been laid to rest, there is still plenty of activity all around me.  The agri-farmers have begun frantically harvesting their corn and soybean crops. The weather here in East Cornfield has been spectacular for this time of year but the farmers still race against the perfect timing of dried corn on the stalk and the possibility of a thunder storm stomping across the fields.

The dance of combine, tractor, and over-flowing wagon has begun circling around us, as we are bordered by crops on three sides of our tiny farm. We hear the revving of Farmer Matt’s tractor early in the morning and prepare ourselves for a day of loud engines, blowing chaff and dust, and the abrupt change of our landscape.

Farmer Matt maneuvering his combine across our tiny road into the soybean field on the east side of our farm, cleaning up freshly harvested corn field, hauling the filled wagon to the grain bin, harvesting the soybean, the corn field next to our farm as it is cut down.

The hard-wood trees have begun to change color and the squirrels have been frantically busy burying dried corn on the cob, black walnuts, and dried seed heads they discover in the flower bed and herb garden. Many of my favorite wild birds have already flown south for the Winter, so all I have at the feeder now are nuthatches, a lone red-headed woodpecker, and mourning doves. I’ve kept the hummingbird feeder up as I still have hummers swooping in each morning and evening.

Even though the days are growing shorter, the chickens continue to lay their eggs, keeping us supplied with tasty omelets and frittatas.  They have become fat and sassy chickens, their feathers shiny, and their loud ‘crowing’ when one just laid an egg never fails to make me smile. Sometimes I will sit on the side porch sipping my first cup of coffee of the morning, and listen to their gentle clucks and watch as they scratch the ground, entertained by ‘Farm TV’.

There are plenty of chores around the farm that need to be accomplished before the weather turns cold, including shoveling over the garden one more time, cleaning up the compost pile, closing up the storm windows, and maybe even getting that shed painted. The furnace needs to be serviced and we still need to fill up the propane tank. (I never look forward to that!)

The ‘girls’ rearranging their attic, autumn fire-pit, the tip of a recently buried cob of corn the squirrel placed in a fresh mole hill, falling leaf tangled in a cobweb, I LOVE Halloween!

Yes, I love Autumn. And I love living on Whimsical Moon Farm. As I’ve grown older, my definition of success has changed dramatically. Living a life that makes me happy, surrounding myself with freshly grown food and outdoor activities,  working with the seasons and the rhythm of the farm, and building a sense of place and community, Autumn is that time of year I can take time to reflect and appreciate this simple way of making my way in the world.

I send you Whimsical Moon fall blessings with hot spiced cider and fresh baked pumpkin bread on the side.

 

 

 

Morning on Whimsical Moon Farm

 

Now that Spring has finally claimed her season here in Central Indiana, morning has taken on a whole new vigor. “Lets make hay while the sun shines” is certainly fitting around these parts as the nearby farmers have their tractors revving at the crack of dawn tilling, fertilizing and, prepping the soil for corn and soybean. The farmers are about two weeks behind schedule so their activity has taken on a frantic pace. They will work well past sunset, their huge headlights on top of their tractors taking on an alien spaceship appearance. I half expect to wake up the next morning and see crop circles in the fields.

My morning always begins very early with the half-grown cats bounding from floor to chair to coffee table, taunting the St. Bernard while swiping at one or both of the Chihuahuas. It is feeding time on the farm.

A quick shake of the catfood bag, and all four cats come galloping into the laundry room, sliding to a halt in front of their food dishes. Then I check on the chicks scratching away on the floor of their make-shift brooder, refilling their chick feed and refreshing their water dispenser.

Mosey, the St. Bernard, herds me into the kitchen while the Chihuahuas dance between his legs and I get them fed and watered. Tossing a small handful of reptile sticks into the turtle tank, I get Kayla up for breakfast. She usually requests fruit smoothies, but this morning we decide on scrambled eggs with sauteed vegetables.

My chore list today consists of lighting our huge burn pile, clearing out more renegade mulberry saplings, picking up the last of fallen locust tree limbs from the last wind storm, and mulching the flower bed. I’m itching to get the garden area tilled, but I should probably wait at least another day or two for the soil to dry out. Our little front tine rototiller doesn’t chew through the dirt like Farmer Matt’s International tractor.

Besides the regular household chores, I check on the tomato and pepper seedlings under the grow light and determine they need more growing time before moving them to the cold frame to harden off. I get some sourdough bread rising on the stove top and take a gander out the kitchen window to see which birds are coming to the feeder. This mornig we have our male red-bellied woodpecker, several red-wing blackbirds, five goldfinches, a couple of nuthatch regulars, an unexpected blue jay, and a pair of cardinals, the male a vibrant red. We have a pair of turkey vultures nesting in our rustic old barn, but I don’t see them floating above the farm this morning. My roommate, Mindy notices a small bunny hopping across the back yard near the wood lot. Its tiny ears poking up out of the grass.

Mindy begins getting ready for work and I realize lunch is just around the corner.

It’s been a full and productive morning on the farm. The growing season is upon us and we can expect many more busy and hectic mornings to come.

Peepers!

We have chickens! We brought home six baby chicks Saturday. Three Buff Orpingtons and three Ameraucanas.

I set up their brooder in a plastic tote tub with fresh shavings, chick feed, and a watering dispenser with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar added to help alleviate the possibility of disease.

I have a heat lamp hanging over them to keep their temperature around 80-90 degrees. We set their brooder inside our bathtub/shower to protect them from the rangy farm kittens that have grown into rangy farm beasts.

Mosey, our St. Bernard has taken it upon himself to stand guard and protect them as they cheep-cheep and forage around their tub.

In about five or six weeks they will be moving out into their Coopacabana  and should begin laying their eggs around five months.

Mornings begin early here on the farm and now we wake up to the chipper cheeping of the chicks. (I worked hard on that one!)

I hope y’all are having an egg-cellent, whimsical day!

 

 

Today’s Post

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After a hectic, intense week working on the “Blog Like a Pro” challenge last week and being pushed way beyond my usual comfort level in regards to all things computer, I decided this was all I had left in me: This post!

With the weather finally leaning towards sunshine and warmth in this part of the cornfield, I will have more interesting things to post beginning next week. Especially since soon we will have baby chick escapades to contend with and seeds to get started under the grow light.

I hope each of you is enjoying the arrival of Spring and find a little whimsy in your day. Thank you for being a part of Whimsical Moon Herb Farm.

 

 

And the Winner Is…..

270The winner of the Spring Renewal eBook drawing is: HumbleBee Farm.

HumbleBee Farm can expect to receive the Spring Renewal: Herbal Tonics and Cleansers for Body and Soul in your e-mail box on Saturday, March 26th, 2016.

Thank you everybody for participating and for spending time with me at Whimsical Moon Herb Farm.

Have a delightful, inspiring, creative, abundant Spring, y’all!

 

 

 

Spring Renewal Give-Away

 

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Spring is almost here! March twentieth is the official first day of Spring and if you are anything like me, it’s about time! I am more than ready to shed my heavy jacket and wool mittens and pack them in storage for next Winter.

I look forward to digging in the warm earth again and walking in the sunshine with my daughter looking for birds’ nests and lilac buds. The days are getting longer, and there is a feeling in the air that lifts the spirits and causes outbursts of random giggles and joyous gratitude.

In celebration of this refreshing season, I am giving away a copy of my e-Book  “Spring Renewal: Herbal Tonics and Natural Cleansers for Body and Soul”. This includes simple herbal recipes to wake-up your metabolism, cleanse your digestive system, pamper your body, and waken your senses with nourishing tips and ideas.

Just leave a comment below, and I will randomly choose a winner on March 23rd, 2016. Happy Spring!

 

 

Wild-crafting Herbs: the Ugly Truth!

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We first arrived on our farm in the middle of Winter, 2014. Our Buick was packed tightly with two adults, two Chihuahuas, a St. Bernard, enough essentials to last a few days until the moving van arrived, and high hopes. It was 1:30 in the morning Christmas Day when we pulled into the driveway after a stressful 12 hour drive, and we were exhausted.

That day, after a shower and several cups of strong coffee, I was able to walk the property that I would be calling home. This would be Whimsical Moon Herb Farm. I had played my dream through my head and my heart many times over the past few years and I had finally arrived. The ground was frozen with a skim of crusty snow and the hard-wood trees surrounding the property were bare. Acres of last season’s corn and soybean stubble surrounded the farm and the sky was a sharp clear blue.

I walked our back wood-lot looking for the tree that was circled with a rusty metal band. I was checking for signs of the ginseng patch that my partner’s Mamaw Edith had cultivated when she once lived here. As a practicing herbalist and a gardener, I was ecstatic when I learned about this treasure right in our back yard.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed when spring passed into the warm heat of summer and I still did not find the ginseng. The old rhubarb patch was growing like crazy, and hundreds of Edith’s favorite poppies were in full flouncy  bloom, but it was with dismay that I learned from a neighbor down the road that the ginseng had been over-harvested by past tenants. There would be no ginseng this year.

Sadly, you will most likely not find wild ginseng for harvesting. As many of our native medicinal herbs became popular in the late 1990’s, there was a great demand by the herbal industry and also the pharmaceutical companies to gather, manufacture, and market their herbal products. These popular native herbs, like ginseng, goldenseal, Echinacea, black cohosh, and bloodroot are habitat specific and they have a limited range. Wild-crafters looking for a profit harvested them without concern, as they were only hoping to fulfill the market demand. They did not worry about next year’s crop. Many people using herbal medicine had no idea that demand was outpacing Mother Nature’s supply.

As we are now faced with the possible extinction of many  of our native medicinal plants, it is extremely important for us to be aware of and understand where our herbal products are sourced. We need to let go of the notion that our planet will not be depleted and that all resources are endlessly renewable.

I believe in the healing aspects of herbs and have used them for many years. I raised my children on herbs and still mail them care packages of herbal tinctures and salves to keep them healthy. I admit, I am guilty of once being an unaware consumer of herbal products when I first learned of their benefits.

Now, I am just a small herb farmer growing herbs, vegetables, and flowers to supply my local farmer’s market and to craft small-batch herbal soaps and healing products. I am a tiny part of a huge infrastructure that has been growing these past many years. An infrastructure that is working to create sustainable and renewable resources for our planet. We have many options to choose from to purchase our herbal products, and we have resources at hand to educate ourselves concerning how these products were sourced.

I challenge each of us to educate ourselves about the products we choose to consume and the impact these purchases have on our planet. The planet we leave our children.

This spring, I will plant a new ginseng patch in the back wood-lot. It will not be ready to harvest for another five to seven years. I tell my daughter that we are planting for the future.

My favorite resource for purchasing sustainably harvested herbs:

www.mountainroseherbs.com

Inspiration and resources came from: Planting The Future. Saving Our Medicinal Herbs, edited by Rosemary Gladstar and Pamela Hirsch. 2000, Healing Arts Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whimsical Moon Herb Farm Manifesto

Growing up in a small mill town in the Columbia River Gorge, I was raised to appreciate the outdoors and the simple things in life. We didn’t have a lot of money for frivolous consumption, but we were comfortable and we made do or we did without.

I was an avid book-worm, spending many hours lost in fantasy worlds and great adventures. I found many ways to express my creative urges with paper and pencil, a hand-me-down sewing machine, and a small scrappy flower bed I turned into my herb garden. We were taught to be creative, handy, and independent.

It is this simplicity and sense of self-reliance that has followed me into adulthood and continues to motivate me to grow my own vegetables, heal and craft with herbs, and live as close to the rhythms and cycles of nature as possible.

Just this past year I have found myself carving out a small herb farm right smack in the heart of the Midwest. We are surrounded by acres of agri-corn and soybean planted and harvested with huge tractors and combines, and watch as the produce is stored in grain bins waiting for the price to increase or to fulfill government contracts. This corn and soybean will eventually be used to feed livestock or manufactured into ethanol fuel.

Our small farm is being grown one natural garden or herb bed at a time using sustainable growing methods including composting, mulching, cover crops, plant rotation, and soil management. Despite my desire to grow organically, we are unable to label our farm organic when the farmland surrounding us is managed with GMO seed and herbicides.

My desire is to live in the most self-sustainable way possible and show other people how we are doing this. I prefer growing most of our own food, including vegetables, herbs, eggs, honey, and someday our own meat. Living simply without falling into the trap of mass-consumerism and a throw-away lifestyle is what I am striving to attain and what I want to share.

My purpose is not to start a war with the farmers who are working hard to make their living growing government corn and soybean but to create a quiet revolution in sustainable living awareness beginning with my own family and our small herb farm.

I want to share how we create our gardens, raise our chickens and bees, revive our woodlot, craft and heal with our herbs, and find peace and enjoyment living a simpler lifestyle within our four acres. I want to share how we create a cottage business using our harvested herbs to make natural herbal soaps and how we market them either online or at local farmer’s markets.

As I consider my manifesto for Whimsical Moon Herb Farm, I find myself feeling the need to share what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how we plan to make our dreams happen. This declaration has taken on the significance of a calling. I am called to dig in the dirt, grow healthy gardens, care for the land, and create a lifestyle that is nourishing to both body and soul.

I would like to invite each of you to share a cup of hot cocoa, a moment of whimsy, and your own expression of creative dreams and aspirations.