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Farm Update: Finding My Way


I know I said I'm not doing many more of these 'casual' posts anymore, as part of my business plan was to blog once or twice a month about more health-related content consistent with my niche as a practitioner. But I miss blogging for blogging's sake and the therapeutic value of it. I also think people may appreciate just hearing my authentic voice updating everyone on what is going on at the Barefoot Medicine Farm as we navigate how to incorporate passions and herbalism into a (mildly?) financially sustainable endeavor.

So, to keep my over-active brain from the excessively wordy and tangential habits that take me all over the place, I will try to organize my thoughts here into categories. :)


Major Plans:

I had mentioned in the past month or so that I was interested in finding and updating a vintage trailer to use as my mobile apothecary and clinic. However, after my experience at the International Herb Symposium with 16 hours of deep introspective driving, I feel called to rework my vision.

We are so blessed to have the space that we have on the farm, and I very much enjoy sharing what we have with others. Due to my interest in education, which now takes the form of workshops and plant walks, I feel called toward creating a physical space on our property. So much of the past few years has been focused on finding clients that I lost part of that green spark that got me here in the first place. Not sure how that is going to pay the bills yet, but I definitely feel pulled toward continuing to build and nurture the community I've found here in Carroll County. I've met some amazing folks who feel more like family than just friends. One thing has led to another and I've somehow built a loving community of people around me who also share in my love of plants and mindfulness.

So the new move is researching types of earthen building styles for my little Healing House- you know I can't just have some normal shed thing! I'm a sustainability nerd, so I'd prefer to have something crunchy as my workspace.


We also had our first (official) plant walk on the farm! It was very well received and I plan on doing one a month while the weather is nice. Going forward I'd like to get creative with themes, such as making medicine from harvested herbs, or making food, or focusing on a couple of plants as we watch the transition throughout the year. Who knows? Side note: I heard about a B&B that is offering foraging classes and a meal...and is charging around $300 a person just for the class! Some of the foraged plants are raspberries... if that's the case I am waaaaaay undercharging...


When I'm not planning out a dirt cottage and hating on greedy unethical bullshit in the guise of foraging, I'm busy with the plants.




Herbs:

The herb garden is kicking butt! I've already harvested a ton of Calendula, California Poppy, and Chamomile. Oats look just about ready to be in the milky stage; this is when the latex (white liquid) can be expressed when you squeeze the oat, and this is the medicinal part I want for relieving anxiety and nourishing the nervous system. I finally have some happy Lemon Balm babies, and see a few of the Holy Basil babies coming up, too. I can't believe how sad those have been! I planted 2 rows of Holy Basil seeds- like, a TON of seeds- and I'm only seeing a little here and there. Very sad.

I also indiscriminately planted other medicinal herbs in my veggie garden, such as: Catnip, Skullcap, Elecampane, Bee Balm, Bergamot, Borage, Astragalus, and a few others I can't remember right now. Other places around the property have other herbs that I can't even recall at the moment.


Veggies:

Pretty big WOMP on this one. I started them all from seed, as usual, and we just had such wonky weather. Not to mention my stupid chickens who have been very bad about getting into the beds and digging things out. I only have a few 'good' tomatoes. I've had to replant bush beans 2 times, and already I see beetles chomping away. I tried a no-till system this year, which is silly because I don't actually know how to do that, so the weeds are horrible. Cukes look sad. I've got aphids of all sizes and colors on everything. We had a great crop of lettuce and spinach, but now those have bolted and I'm barely seeing the overcrowded carrots. Chickens dug out the watermelons and onions 3 times. Again, I randomly planted things in a hurry without really knowing what is where a week later.


Bees:

We finally got some honey!!! We now have 4 hives (one is queenless, so not sure what's going to happen with that one) and a nuc, which is a mini colony we use to as 'spare parts' so to speak. When we need more brood we throw in a frame from the nuc. This week we pulled off 11 frames of honey, but after leaving them outside for a day hoping the bees would get off them and go home, we found they actually ate a significant amount of the honey. Whoops. And, we finally melted down all the extra wax we've been scraping and keeping for the past 3 years. It's beautiful and I can now use that in products- if I ever get around to making topical products.


Chickens:

We have a lot. We had more- babies- which I gave to my mother. Most of my flock of 13 chickens are breeds or mixed breeds. I think I can only identify 2 breeds, which are (thankfully) heritage breeds; this is why my little experiment worked.

Did you know most chickens today will not hatch their own eggs? The instinct to get broody, and then to actually lay on the eggs for the needed 21 days has been bred out of them (aside from heritage breeds) due to folks using incubators. How sad is that???

My little experiment was to see if my broody hen, which ended up becoming 2 broody hens, would actually do what Mother Nature intended.

Through a little trial and error, we ended up with 5 little fluffs of chick. SO cute!



Times are Changing

I have to remind myself that over the past few years I had a lot more free time on my hands to do a better job. Lately work has been picking up, which is good. I'm still juggling an herbal practice, herb growing, herb teaching, tutoring, working at the store, Reiki, yoga, and selling teas on Etsy. I've been out of town for 5 days twice in the last 2 months. I'm about to go out of town again for a week, and as much as I am happy to be with family at the beach, I can't help but worry about what my homestead will look like when I get back.


As I reflect, I see a distinct path God has led me down when it came to all of this random stuff. Falling into herbalism, falling out of teaching, the marriage of them both. Herbs brought me to yoga, yoga brought me to Reiki, and both help with healing the body and mind. Now I'm reading a book on Appalachian folk healing gifted to me by a friend, and apparently energy work and herbalism are part of Appalachian history. And let's not forget- I chose the name of my LLC, Wild Woman Medicine, because of my interest in (but lack of knowledge) plant medicine among the women of Appalachia. We also somehow stumbled across and purchased our beautiful land, which happens to be growing all this plant medicine- the same plant medicine that Appalachian people have been implementing for centuries. All these things are coming together in ways beyond my understanding. However, I'm not blind to the fact that a force bigger than you or me is guiding it all. Slowly but surely, I'm finding my way.

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