A Power Suit for a “New” Age

I am reading Runes, a Deeper Journey by Kari Tauring (the book is also an app). I came across Tauring’s work through the Swedish American Institute and picked up a copy of her book. While honestly I don’t understand many of the Rune references and the teachings behind it I have been very enriched through her unique way of looking at an ancient languange and divination system and relating it not only to her northern European heritage but our world today.

Under the Rune Naudiz–the need fire, Tauring writes–

Our culture has made our basic survival needs so cheap and easy to obtain that we have grown dependent on the grocery store and upon oil and gas to heat our homes. Children grow up not even knowing where their food originates–the cow gives milk, not the grocery store. This dependency exists so that we can be marketed to and told what our needs are. We are encouraged to live so far from the true need fire that we no longer know how to take care of ourselves, our children or the elderly that we are obligated to protect. We are fed soda pop, fast food, and things that cause disease. Then we are sold remedies for these diseases. Television isolates us from one another and the community. The real need fire makes us feel secure by our efforts, but also feeds our desire to strive, know, question, and invent.”

In an unrelated incident I was out doing chores with my daughters. Around our farm we do alot of dirty work feedings animals, doctoring animals and cleaning up after them. We have special clothes we wear for these jobs–clothes we can get dirty in. But while in these clothes I feel immensely powerful, like I have what it takes to handle whatever life and the farm throw at me. And I can walk through alot of really deep mud to get where I want to go. I mentioned to Avril my feelings about chore clothes, my preferred “Power Suit” and she concurred that she felt the same way.

There is something about the way we live that is making me feel more capable and fully human then ever before. I see alot of people working towards connecting their efforts directly to meeting their needs. All over Facebook people are talking about how difficult it is to buy canning supplies this year and if you plan to garden next year I suggest you start now ordering seeds. There is a shift happening and I believe it is not only in my life. We want connection. We want to meet our needs. In what ways are you working to meet yours?

Baby animal cuteness–Benny and Jojo

So far this year we had 2 calves. Unfortunately both of them had selenium deficiency issues manifesting as mental slowness (in one case an inability to figure out how to nurse) and severe muscle tone issues. We have worked with a vet to resolve these issues and had to bottle feed both of these calves, though Jojo was able to stay with his mom and transition to nursing. Benny however had severe muscle tone issues. It took two weeks before he could stand! It took several days for him to be able to hold his head up on his own. But thanks to the great vets at Northern Veterinary both are doing so so much better now. It is really cute to see them interacting with each other. If they are put in the separate pens with their mothers they will call for each other.

I was able to get a video of them this morning. Though of course as soon as I turned the camera on they calmed down. But after a bit they started playing again.

I also introduce you to our birds at the end of the video.

One quick note I did accidentally call Benny Jojo at one point in the video. Benny is the one standing at the back.

Bitters for Digestion

Jump to Recipe

I am learning how important the bitter taste is for the human digestive system. Foods with bitter tastes tend to act very strongly on the digestive system thus stimulating the digestive juices required for optimal healthy absorption of our food.

Lately my digestion has been feeling a bit off. Mostly it has been just a low grade nausea. I hope to soon start an elimination diet to test for food allergies but since it is a big commitment of time (3-6 weeks) I want to have it planned out well. In the mean time I had been researching using bitter herbs to create a bitter formula for digestion.

I had come across a couple references to Swedish bitters but I was looking for a DIY recipe to try versus already mixed dried herbs or powders. I did not find anything that seemed to really fit me so I decided to create my own formula by using herbs I am drawn to and that grow in my garden. I used this basic recipe and this article about how to customize.

I actually came up with two recipes

I picked herbs that I could use from my garden. But couldn’t decide on just one recipe so I made 2.

Mugwort Digestive Bitters
2 oz chopped fresh mugwort (mine was in flower)
1 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary
2 oz dried dandelion root (from Mountain Rose Herbs)
2 TBSP dried hawthorn berries (from Mountain Rose Herbs)
quart jar
apple cider vinegar

Amy’s Personalized Digestive Bitters
2 TBSP chopped fresh ginger
1 TBSP cardamom seed
1 oz chopped fresh motherwort (mine was in flower, ouch!)
1/2 oz chopped blue vervain
1/2 oz dried rose petals
chopped orange peel from 1/2 organic orange
quart jar
Organic Prairie vodka

To make both you put the fresh and dried ingredients in the bottom of a sterile quart jar and and fill with your desired menstrum. In this case either vinegar or vodka. I wanted to try one of each. I then let it sit for 4-6 weeks, strain and put in dropper bottles.

Depending on whether you have low stomach acid (nausea) or high stomach acid (heartburn) depends on whether you take a dropper before or after eating. Low stomach acid take a dropper about 15 minutes before eating, high stomach acid after. Here’s to good health!

Mugwort Digestive Bitters

The bitter flavor of these herbs helps make sure your digestive system is running in tip top shape.


  • sterilized quart jars


bitter herbs

  • 2 oz chopped fresh mugwort
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 oz dried dandelion root
  • 2 TBSP dried hawthorn berries


  • To make put the fresh and dried ingredients in the bottom of a sterile quart jar and and fill to the top with either apple cider vinegar or vodka. Let it sit for 4-6 weeks, strain and put in dropper bottles for dosage. Refill as necessary.

Epic Life Lessons from Cows

Yesterday was an epic day–keeping in mind that many of our best epic adventures (I am think specifically of Lord of the Rings) do not start out well. Yesterday did not start out well.

It began with worries. Without going into too much detail I, like many others right now, I am worried about our economic future. While for this very instant, this day, we are safe, I was worried about what the future weeks and months might bring. I have been doing a lot of work trying to be more present but this was really testing me. At one point in the early morning the Bible Verse (Matthew 6:34) popped into my mind. It says not to worry about tomorrow because, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Ok that sounds really horrible the the idea that there is enough stuff to worry about in the present is what I got out of it.

Little did I know I actually had alot to worry about in the present (yesterday. When we went out to do chores we were missing 5 cows–2 of them were pregnant and due in a couple weeks so actually more cows were missing. We have discovered that our cows need a hard, high fencing and had spent weeks making a beautiful pen last year next to our greenhouse. We didn’t put a fence up over the greenhouse wall but instead used the wall as part of the siding and the cows broke through the plastic of the green house and walked out the front door, and onto the road. We followed their tracks for about 1/2 mile up the road. Stopping to ask our neighbors if they had seen a herd of cows walking past. It must have happened overnight because no one had seen anything, but many of them came out to help us search. One lady said she thought they were in a field about 1/4 mile off the road, behind all the houses.

Another friend from further up the road had heard we were looking and called to say her husband, who is a pilot and keeps a two seated Cessna at the local airport could take one of us up to look for them. I was beginning to be overwhelmed with the kindness offered us but the worry of the missing cows was keeping it at bay.

After 1 hour of on foot searching we took to the air. Avril was the lucky one to go up in the plane. Within about 15 minutes I got a call, they were spotted, in a field next to a drainage ditch–right where the first lady spotted them. But now we had it narrowed down.

This is the picture Avril sent me.

She sent me a picture with the text, “follow the plane.” So I set out following the plane, but then the road ended and I needed to continue on foot. This is a huge field. I was at a neighbor’s house, he wasn’t home but his dogs were loose and they followed me into the field. I was a bit worried but I was also not sure what else was in the field. We had seen a lot of bear poop while searching and an area of the corn field where the bear had previously feasted on corn.

It was a long walk, I finally found them, then the dog scared them, they scattered and I lost them again, though one got caught in a barbed wire fence. I decided I needed to secure the dog. By now the pilot and Avril were back on the ground and helping and luckily he had a length of rope in his car and we were able to secure the dog and take him back home.

I decided to go back for the cow stuck in the fence. By that time he (a young steer) had freed himself and calmed a bit but was now worried that his herd was gone.

A call came that the other four had returned to the road and the neighbors had chanced them home. Two and Avril then worked to get them back in their fencing (a different paddock that we have never had issues with) and Proeun, Mavis and I began trying to corral the one lone steer home. He got stuck trying to cross the drainage ditch ( I had previously crossed this ditch) and we were able to get a lead on him. He promptly refused to move. After another hour of trying to pull him we decided to drop the leads and corral him home cowboy style–though we were on foot. He calmly walked home and with one one minor mishap we were able to get him in the pen.

So from 10-4:00 I was reminded that there is enough to worry about in the present and I don’t need to worry so much about the future. Hopefully I remember the lesson so I don’t have to learn it again in a similar fashion anytime soon.

Book Review–The Overstory by Richard Powers

I was introduced to this book through the North Country Herbalists book club. I sadly did not finish it is time for the discussion, which would have been great because their is literally so much to unpack in this book. Still I am so very glad I read it.

I started out with very little information about the subject of The Overstory–though I assumed it had something to do with trees. The first section of the book is entitled “Root” and contains all sorts of vignettes of various people in different times. There did not seem to be much rhyme or reason and I had extreme difficulty connecting with some of the characters.

By the second section, “trunk” the characters were beginning to meet and the story was starting to make sense but it was starting to get more challenging in other ways. The concepts and assumptions were starting to stretch me a bit, though I had been introduced to them recently through other classes. Namely that trees connect to each other, that the forest is a living thing in and of itself, not only a collection of individuals. The roots of trees connect and share information such as what pests are present and even send out warning signals.

The backdrop of the book is the heyday of the Pacific Northwest lumber wars, an event I knew little about at the time, but pitted human interest–economic interest, against protecting the last giants of a forest. The politics and passions or the movement are brilliantly played out.

The author’s characters mention several times in the book that stories are the only true way to change a person’s mind, and Powers does a good job presenting an interesting idea (one that smacks of truth) through a story that draws you in and makes you both furious and hopeful at the same time.

It inspired me to change how I view forests and how I view my future. I now have a goal of returning more land to wild spaces. Barbara Kingsolver said of the book, “Monumental. . .A gigantic fable of genuine truths.”

Look for the amazing descriptions of the eco systems existing in the tops of some of the worlds largest trees. A great read.

Happy 4th with an explosion of wildflowers

It has been a long time since I stayed up to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. But here on the farm we are enjoying a different kind of explosion–wild flowers. So beautiful and fun.

I am currently taking a Botany for Herbalists course through the Matthew Wood Institute of Herbalism. One of the tools they recommended was a Black Eye Lens. It is a magnifying lens that clips on to a smart phone. I also have a Nikon D3100 (this is a newer version of the camera I have). I love this camera and use it for most of the pictures I take on this blog or if I know that it is a photo I will really want to keep. But often I don’t have it with me. I might not always have the lens with me, but at least I can fit that in a pocket.

So we are celebrating this special time of the year, which also happens to be flower season with pictures using my black eye lens.

Water droplets pooling on my Lady’s Mantle
Marshmellow plant just starting to bud.
Red Clover
Milk Weed
Still Identifying–I am thinking Evening Primrose

I still need to work on lining the lens up so that you don’t see black on the edge. The last couple of flowers I have not identified yet, but I was fascinated that I was able to get pictures with insects on the flowers so I shared them anyway. It is a fun new toy to enjoy this time of year.

Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference Brings Connections

Last weekend I was able to participate in the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference. This would have been my first year to attend the live conference which normally takes place annually in Almond, WI. But with 2020 happening it was moved to a virtual event. None of us knew how the events following the death of George Floyd would effect us and the world. But I am so thankful for the opportunity to really connect with an amazing group of women who really thoughtfully planned what turned out to be the perfect event.

What struck me as particularly timely was the poetry of Dominique Christina at the Saturday night keynote event. Conference founder Linda Conroy said of Christina that she embodies the goal of “living on purpose,” and she is “using her poetry to change the world.” Conroy went on to say “I don’t think you will ever see the world the same way,” after hearing her poetry. For me that has been the case.

I am attaching the link to the recording. Christina comes first so you don’t have to watch over an hour of herbal goodness to hear the poetry. The first poem she shares struck me. Even listening to it again I didn’t catch the title but she said that the poem, “reveals me.” She describes, “the hologram I created. . .in the attempt to survive my experience,” and how the poem was a conscious effort to peal back those layers to bring a level of “integrity with myself. . . be entirely myself–the magic of it but also the mess of it.”

What is particularly striking is Cristina’s experience is so different from mine. But by sharing it you see a glimpse into an amazing woman’s past pain and how she is turning that to beauty. Throughout this time of racial tension I am reminded how important stories are. Of course it is nice and healing to share our own (first we have to be really honest with ourselves about who we really are and why), but it is equally important (if not more so) to listen others stories. Especially the stories if those who traditionally haven’t had a voice.

Listening and sharing was the subject of Cornelia Cho’s Friday night keynote. So I highly recommend you listen to that in its entirety. And the invocation by Brooke Medicine Eagle is amazing!!!

My hope is that you will take the time this week to really examine yourself and the feelings this experience is triggering and honestly look at why. And then take that new found experience and listen to someone’s story that is completely different from yours. Listen from a place of love and understanding.

And for those of you who would like more herbal goodness There is another virtual conference coming up next weekend. I got and email from another herbal teacher of mine Tammi Sweet. She says

It’s critical that we connect our learning with a greater purpose of creating a society where people have access to healthcare and are safe in their communities.

There is also a 50% off solidarity price for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and some scholarships are available. You can find all the information about this on the registration page.

This event will help you find other people with similar interests, connect with teachers around the topics you care about, and give you 32 classes to choose from.

Here is a link to get tickets to the Allies for Plants & People Symposium

Happy herbing!

Links to Dominque’s books.

This is Women’s Work. This is the book Conroy talks about in the introduction.
They Are All Me.
Anaracha Speaks. I am particularly interested in this one which chronicles the historical experiences of Anarcha, a real woman who was experimented on and tortured in the name of modern science.
The Bones, The Breaking, The Balm: A Colored Girl’s Hymnal. This one is not available new and is pretty expensive but if you love Christina it might be worth it.

Baby Chicks and Geese

It is so rewarding to see my older children starting to embrace our lifestyle of their own free will. Proeun and I have been talking about how amazing destiny and synchronicity is. We made many of the decisions we are ecstatic for years ago, when it seemed foolish (sometimes even to us), but now our life is sustaining us in so so so many ways. I am ultra grateful we made the decision to follow our heart.

The past couple of weeks we have had some new additions to the farm, thanks primarily to the efforts of our older children.

One task Avril particularly likes is having chickens. We thought about purchasing from a hatchery but the Coronavirus hit about the time we would have had to order so we decided on hatching our own.

We invested in a better incubator. We did get the one with the egg turner but there is a cheaper option. In this case you would have to turn the eggs manually. This is what we did last year. You use a pencil (definitely not pen or marker) and write the date on the egg, put and X on one side, flip it over and put and O on the other. You flip from one sign to the other about every 12 hours, we did at 8:00 am and 8:00 pm. It takes 21 days to hatch chicks. Three days before they are due to hatch you stop turning the eggs. If you are using this incubator you will want to remove the egg turner at this point.

Our first batch didn’t turn out very good. Avril trouble shooted and decided that one thing she needed to do was open the incubator twice a day, a mother chicken will leave the nest sometimes so she started implementing this and the 2nd batch went better.

Lith cannot keep her eyes open for pictures but she loves the new chicks.

She has done two batches of chicks and now duck eggs are in the incubator.

Duck eggs in the incubator.

A second addition to the farm is Embden Geese. We did order these from Peterson’s North Branch Mill, our absolute favorite store! We had been doing some spring cleaning jobs around the farm. I was feeling overwhelmed and seriously thought about hiring someone to complete the task, but instead I offered to pay the children if they would get the job done without me. They did and Proeun the 2nd (Two) decided to use his money to buy geese, He researched breeds and places to purchase and selected Embdens. Geese are a new addition to the farm.

Two showing of one of his goslings.
The 4 day old Embden Geese are very interested in what the 2 week old chicks are doing.

If you are interested in getting into poultry chickens are a great way to begin. Many cities allow a limited number of chickens. To get started my absolutely favorite books on all things homesteading is Storey publications.

They have books specific for raising poultry, including chickens, and hatching them.


I used to feel like I had a “bad lawn”. Over the years the ratio of grass to dandelion, ground ivy (creeping charlie) and violets has been slowly, maybe not so slowly, shifting. But as we shift our overall farm focus to plant allies (i.e. plants used traditionally for what ails us) I am thankful for this shift. I am thoroughly enjoying learning ways to preserve this goodness and enjoy it during the winter months, though it is actually feeding my soul right now.

I am really connecting with one plant in particular.


Maia Toll says in her absolutely beautiful Herbiary (really for the it is a must have for the visuals of it alone)–

“Violet understands that most of us have forgotten: it’s okay to have a public face that is different from the one we wear in private. In fact, in order to deeply know ourselves, it’s necessary. . . You may think that you are being your true, authentic self by fully expressing each thought and feeling out in the world and sharing well, everything. But overexposure will send truth scurrying. Befriend your truth in the quiet and dark. Become intimate with its contours and inner dimensions before you carry it out into the light.”

Sometimes we struggle with knowing how much to share, who to share it with and how to say no. This is an area I particularly struggle with. The solution is to fully embrace and know ourselves. How interesting that when I was studying Violets I discovered that this plant is ready and willing to help. The Flower Essence Repertory has this to say about Violets–

“The soul forces of the Violet type are highly refined, full of exquisite yet delicate sweetness. Such persons long to share themselves with others, but usually hold back due to a feeling of fragility in group situations, and fear that their sense of self will be lost or submerged. Such a type often gravitates to a lifestyle or occupation where work is done silently and alone. The Violet personality inwardly feels a great deal of warmth, but he/she appears cool and aloof to others; even the body and especially the hands may be moist and cool. Although such persons may find a few others who are able to understand and accept their shyness, they suffer great feelings of loneliness, for they would like to share more of themselves than they actually do. The key to their unfoldment lies in being able to trust the warmth of others. Like the Violet flower, whose essential fragrance cannot be detected until the sun shines upon it and the air wafts it upward, so the Violet type must learn to let its essence flow into others. Violet flower essence helps such souls shift their awareness from fear of losing the Self, to trust that the Self will be warmed and revealed by others, so that their beautiful soul nature may be shared with the world.” 

I find that this pretty much describes me. And so the plant I needed came. One huge part of this is finding people that I feel comfortable to share with and give to who do not take advantage of me. So while I was struggling with this dynamic I noticed the flowers asking for attention. That was last year. Violet was one of the first flower essences I made. I learned about flower essences through this book and the Green Wisdom School of Natural and Botanical Medicines. Another resource for making your own flower essences is this book.

Sadly the season for Violets was over before I had a chance to really explore it. This year I have been anxiously waiting for the Violets to come back. I am making a tincture, oil and drying leaves for tea. Note that many sources do not recommend dried Violets and it is very difficult to find to purchase. But Robin Rose Bennett sings the praises of Violets so strongly in The Gift of Healing Herbs I decided to give it a try. So my dehydrator is out and humming away. I use this one. Note that Bennett gives easy to follow instructions for making tinctures and oils with herbs and offers some interesting combinations. Her other book, Healing Magic, is also very good.

In case you need more motivation to try working with Violet this spring Bennett says this about Violet–

“If ever there was a plant that speaks to its connection to your heart, it is sweet blue violet. Not only does violet help your body dissolve cysts, lumps, and bumps, this plant’s soothing nature can help you dissolve the red-hot burn of anger, cool the draining white heat of frustration and resentment, and relieve the simmering roil of felling stuck in separation when ruled by your judgmental mind.

“Violet leaf infusion or tincture is the remedy to use if your head is aching in response to over-thinking, or to feeling angry and frustrated with someone. Violet leaf nourishes the nervous system and provides pain relief due to its salicylic acid, the anti-inflammatory chemical related to aspirin. Violet is one of the sweetest-spirited plants I know.” (Bennett, 2014)

There is also some culinary fun to be had with Violets. Here is a syrup recipe from Erin Piorier, a great local herbalist and teacher.

Have fun working with and enjoying plants this spring! If feels like this spring has been a long time coming.

Willow, The Nigerian Dwarf Goat

I had this idea that maybe life on the farm was getting to be too much. In all honesty prior to Coronavirus we thought about moving back to the city, getting a little lot that required very little maintenance. We (Proeun and I) imagined weekends where we would say, “What shall we do today?” Normally our weekends start with a look at our “to-do” list and a sigh.

As our children got older I felt guilty about “making them” live this life that required so much from us and them. We decided to sell our animals. And I was so thankful to find a wonderful family that was excited to move our whole flock of Lincoln Longwool sheep to their farm so they were all able to stay together. We also found really amazing homes for most of our goats. But Miracle (sorry the pictures of her were on the old host for our blog and didn’t transfer) was a different story. Avril thought about it and asked if we could please keep her. We also had a couple of other special goats that will remain on our farm and have since had babies this year.

I didn’t know how much Avril really loved this life. She recently told me that her ideal life would involve raising animals on her own homestead. She has already picked out the name of her farm, but it will be a secret for awhile yet.

It is so rewarding as a parent when your children so clearly tell you that they appreciate the life you have worked so hard to offer them. This of course makes you even more motivated to keep giving for them. So today we are basking in a warm sun, feelings and baby goat cuteness.