Friday, September 12, 2014

Herbs and stuff....

(drying herbs)

 The cold air descended upon us and thus the garden had to be harvested in a hurry.  I plucked nearly all the herbs:  flat leaf parsley and curly parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and the caldendula flowers that I use in my salves.  I picked all the lettuces and a few tomatoes that had turned orange, the pumpkins were brought into the garage and part of the garden I covered with a tarp, hoping to selvage what I could after the freezing temps of the night.  The root veggies would be safe underground.

This morning we awoke to just 22* so I was quite sure the garden would be totaled.  Even the covered tomatoes and peppers were wilted from frost.  Some of the herbs took it well though.  Probably because they were clipped short.  I'm not sure. 

I'm thankful that I always have those lovely root veggies to keep my gardening going even if it frosts a few times.  The carrots and spuds can take it and I like to keep them underground until the earth starts getting cold and freezing.  I feel like I'm still gardening, but not doing a whole lot.

I began drying my herbs.  I start by trimming off all the stems and letting the leaves dry on newspapers and towels.  I prefer this method to hanging little bunches all over. It always seems so messy to me to strip dried leaves off stems and have everything in a crumbly heap.  I prefer the whole leaves in tact.  The process of drying herbs got me to thinking more about herb teas, herbal oil infusions and all that good stuff, which reminds me that I still have some lovely peppermint and spearmint to gather in.  I forgot about them, but they seemed to fare the frost just fine.  One of the good, herby things that I decided to try for the first time is Fire Cider.  It's a concoction of everything hot:  onions, garlic, peppers, horseradish, peppercorns (among other additions) all covered up with apple cider vinegar.  It is left in a quart jar for 4-6 weeks with a daily shake to help move the good things around to infuse the vinegar.  The concoction is then strained and honey is added to taste.  It can be used as a tonic for the immune system or as a warmer-upper or as a tonic for colds and flu.  I'm thinking it would make a good hot toddy for cold nights.  If you're interested in Fire Cider, click here for a recipe and for a good video by Rosemary Gladstar who is an herbalist who I think is so interesting to listen to.  She explains the goodness behind Fire Cider.

 Along with the cold temperature, rain, sleet, and snow came huge flocks of birds into our front yard.  This is not the prettiest picture of our yard, but I wanted you to see how very many birds we had.  These were mainly yellow-headed blackbirds and their young.  Incredible gaggle of noisy ornithological specimens!

There are other birds that I've been noticing these past couple days especially.  I've seen catbirds, several vireos, and warblers which do stay for the summer, but seem especially prevalent now.  The Sandhill Cranes are flying over and sometimes roost in the big cottonwoods by our pond.  When we moved cows the other day, there were swarms of swallows swooping, diving, and catching the little white moths that the cows were kicking up as they walked.  All manner of birds are flocking up, and that usually means their migration is at hand.  I'm just enjoying the days as they come and trying not to be sad about their leaving us again.  Instead, I'm looking for the chickadees which sometimes come and stay through the winter months, and there are always the nuthatches and woodpeckers that keep my spirits high.  I am also anticipating the hoo-hoo-hooing of the owls soon and look forward to taking the littles out owling!

Tomorrow will be a warmer day and I hope to continue clearing the old, frozen vines off the garden and pull up the dead bean plants and such.  It'll be good to clean things up and put a few things away into the garage for next year.  The three neighbor-grands will be over for the day and we will surely enjoy a fall-ish day together outdoors.  There are already a few golden leaves falling from the trees.  We might make a chai tea in the afternoon and have a cookie.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  I hope all is well with you.  Thanks for stopping by.


  1. Fire cider. Hmmmmm. I learn a lot here!
    Chai tea and a cookie sounds tasty, too!
    We had a cold day with some weird snow. I think my tomatoes are okay though. I'll go out and check tomorrow morning.
    Yay for littles over for a visit! We are going to see James early in the morning so his parents can take a morning nap!
    The other day we had a huge influx of magpies! They were swooping all around. My neighbor put out some suet and attracted a fluffy little woodpecker that I haven't seen in my yard.
    Have a great weekend. It's always so lovely to read your posts, friend!

  2. It sounds very exciting to be in the middle of all that bird action, in addition to the imminent descent of winter upon your ranch. I very much enjoyed the vicarious thrill of the changes.

  3. I always learn so much when I visit. I do like the idea of that fire cider. I will look at that link. I love all of the birds that you have coming through. I am seeing lots of birds now. I am always glad to see the migrating birds. I wish I could go looking for owls with you.
    I rarely see them now.
    I can't even begin to imagine cold yet. I would love to though. I am tired of the heat.
    I hope you get a real Indian summer now after this cold shot. Your cottonwood trees will turn to gold.
    Have a lovely time with your grands. Mine are here now. The uncles are entertaining for a bit. :) It is almost nap time for them. Have a lovely Sunday.

  4. Hello dear Jody! I always love to come here and see what you are up to and what the land has to offer you. I am in Southern California right now and it's hotter than the lake of fire! oye. I'm glad I'm in an air conditioned hotel room right now. How sweet to have 3 grands as neighbors!!

  5. My herbs also did well despite the snow. Today I will bring in my thyme and sage. Things are green here now that the snow has melted. Can you please direct the cranes to fly over the hills. I have yet to hear them. There is nothing I enjoy more. Enjoy the fall.

  6. When I saw the national news I thought of you and I wondered if you had snow. Is this the normal time of year for it to begin? We have had a cool summer and it is now in the mid 60's which is a little cool for this time of year. Hope you are well and I am going to stock our pantry soon! Dianntha

  7. You have been busy and I love the way your herbs look all spread out. I really like the idea of prepping them before they are dry and messing. I thought of you, too, when I was hearing about the snow up yonder. We have ourselves a little cool front and we are tickled pink! haha Doesn't take much.

  8. I always enjoy reading about what you are up, and I imagine the pioneer women doing the same things. Next spring I want to plant herbs and try drying them. You have inspired me once again.

  9. I'm woefully behind on my garden work, but we won't see cold weather for another couple of months most likely. I'm one of those who hangs up herbs to dry; it just makes me happy to see dried herbs dangling all over my house! You're right, though, it's a messy process to remove the leaves.

    Hope it warms up some for you!


  10. We had a sudden cold front today and the hail pelted down. I was afraid it would destroy my garden but, thankfully, it didn't. It's interesting to see how you do your herbs. My oregano is doing great - it usually winters over. And I planted some lemon basil this year - but I only use it for aromatherapy :) It smells so delicious - and I haven't a clue how to use it!

    Those flocks of birds are amazing! We have red-winged blackbirds here. No yellow-headed. The chickadees, finches, woodpeckers, bluejays, and occasional robin, stay for the winter here.

    I'm going to check out your fire cider - it sounds very interesting!

  11. That fire cider looks exciting :) I can't believe your temps already! 22º! Wow -- We won't see those temps all winter (I hope). Have a lovely fall, and I hope you get some more moderate temps to enjoy it.


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