IMG_5148The boys got busy over a hot fire while mama was away out of state. They knew this was a treat I would voluntarily forgo. But, oh, how delicious they were! Or so I’m told. IMG_4954Remember all that back fat that we cut into cubes? Well, the boys popped them into a cast iron kettle and heated them up over an outdoor fire so the skins could fry in the fat. IMG_5149Cracklin’s. Piping hot, crunchy fried skins. Eeew!IMG_5151

Construction crew

img_3467T-Dot has been spending some time at the end of our driveway digging up our old culvert and laying down a much longer one. The boys have been out there watching them with interest. Big machines, loud noises and fresh brownies. What a fun time! And the new entrance is so nice! It will be much easier for Jeremie to maneuver our camper and stock trailer in and out of the driveway now.img_3464


Charlotte and Susie made countless runs down into the woods for "just one more bunch, please?!" of jewelweed.

Charlotte and Susie made countless runs down into the woods for “just one more bunch, please?!” of jewelweed.

Jeremie and the oldest three have been gone for a few days. While they were gone, the kids and I made all sorts of concoctions in the kitchen! I always have a green salve on hand for baby butt rashes and bug bites. Usually I buy dried herbs to infuse into oils, but I was inspired by a friend to harvest my own.IMG_2899 We have an ABUNDANCE of plantain growing in the yard. Sadly, the lawn had just been mowed. No, not sadly. I mean I an super greatful to have short grass! That is an on-going struggle at the Funny Farm. Jeremie Some people around here like to have the yard look like a hay pasture! :) Anyway, I was still able to find plenty of large leaves of plantain in the orchard. Plantain is good for so very many things! Look it up! Bug bites, burns, itchies. It’s edible, so add some to your salad! After thoroughly washing them (I do have chickens, remember? And chickens poop everywhere.)  I dehydrated them in my Excalibur. IMG_2900You never want to infuse oils with fresh herbs because the water content in the plant matter will make your oil go rancid or moldy. Except when it comes to Jewelweed. That’s another wild plant that we harvested this weekend. Jewelweed is God’s remedy for poison ivy. He even plants is right in the same vicinity. Jewelweed has a juicy stalk that, when applied to the infected area, counter acts the irritation caused by poison ivy. But these juices are ineffective after being dried. So after we harvested this jewel of a weed 😉 (three times!) I did a couple different things with it.IMG_2904 First, I chopped up the stalks and leaves and covered them in water. After letting it simmer on the stove for a couple hours I strained the plant matter out. This juice will stay good in the fridge for a few weeks, but I froze most of mine in ice cube trays to be used as needed at a later date. IMG_2915Don’t forget to pop those frozen cubes into a ziplock container so they don’t dry out in the freezer! Applied directly to the infected area, the coolness and the jewelweed juice ease the pain and the itch. I also used the infused water to make a batch of jewelweed soap. IMG_2921This soap is packed with poison ivy fighting weapons! I infused the water and the oil both, before mixing together. I made the bars very small, individual size. Only two people in the family suffer from a reaction to the poison ivy. Once a bar of soap gets wet, it doesn’t last as long, so I wanted many, small sized bars for the many times Tommy or Benja need them. IMG_2928Then I also infused oil with this plant. Specifically avocado oil and sweet almond oil that are so good and nourishing for the skin. Care must be taken when infusing a fresh herb into oils because of the water content. After the oil is infused let it rest and the water should sink to the bottom. Simply pour off the good oil, leaving behind the bit with water. This will help keep the oil or salve fresh longer. There are a couple different ways to infuse oil. You can let the herbs and oil sit in the sunlight for a couple weeks, giving it a good shake now and then. Or you can heat the jar of oil in a crockpot on low overnight. Or you can heat the oil with the herb on the stovetop. But keep the heat low! IMG_2925I used the infused oil for my soap and I also made some salve by adding a few tablespoons of beeswax to the strained oils.IMG_2926 The last thing I did with my jewelweed was to make a tincture. I chopped the plant, put it in a mason jar and covered it with witch hazel. 100 proof vodka would work as well, but witch hazel is cheaper. If using vodka, the tincture can be taken internally, just a few drops in a shot glass of water. IMG_2909I keep the witch hazel infusion is a small glass spray bottle to apply topically to the infected area. This works not only for poison ivy, but for bug bites and burns as well. There is some controversy regarding tinctures and jewelweed so do your own research. But it works fabulous for us! You might think I’ve got a bit overboard with my remedies, but folks, if you could see Tommy and Benja suffer you would understand. It’s horrible. And we have poison ivy everywhere. And fences must be run. And forts must be built. And creeks must be explored. And boys must be boys.

This post is already too long, so I’ll share the rest of our wildcrafting adventures another day.

Have you figured out how to get more than 24 hours in a day yet?

Neither have I, but if someone knows, please share.

We have been very busy around here the last few days.

I had friends visit for a few hours on Friday afternoon.

My dog strangled itself to death on the run line on Friday evening.

On Saturday I was gone half the day in murray at a lamb showing class with charlotte and the young kids. Then we went to lowes to get supplies.

Then we started building bunkbeds and lofts for the boys room. We got it finished this evening. Well finished enough for now. We have sleeping spots for 4 boys. 1 computer desk area under Jimmy’s bed that Tommy will use for programming his robots. Jimmy has a drawing table up in his loft bed. Jack has a curtain to hide  behind in his bottom bunk. Benjamin wants some shelving in his bunk. And I have a lego building area yet to build. Need to find a storage spot for all the Mashoonga sticks. Tommy was a huge help.

My computer has been crashing on and off for quite some time. I think I finally figured it out. I sure hope so, I have a lot to do before I leave on Wednesday.

Thankfully we had two new baby calves born on Sunday evening, helped us forget about the dog. They were so soft, it would be hard to imagine without having touched them.

We have to milk our Jersey cow now some because the new calf does not drink enough to empty her. So that is twice a day.

Then I spent an hour this evening running around with one of my new south poll momma cows trying to squirt her engorged teat to get the milk out of it so that it would be small enough that the new calf would be able to nurse it. She tried to kick me every time I squeezed it. I finally got the milk clot milked out after about 5 miles of jogging(it seemed that long) with her avoiding her hoof. Then she finally stood still while I was doing it until she moved over slightly into the electric fence and we both got zapped. Then I had to get her to calm down again so I could finish. After it was back to a normal size I was resting and watching the new calf nurse and she nursed all 4 teats. So I knew I had fixed it. Otherwise she would have gotten mastitis in that quarter and probably never would have been able to produce in that quarter again in her life.  Then I looked at my shirt and realized I was full of manure. Charlotte watched the whole episode. I am sure she was thoroughly amused.

I got a hair cut tonight.

Now that I am cleaned up it is time to engineer. I will hopefully finish before 3am.

But I think I got my computer fixed. So far it seems like I may have a bad set of DIMMs. I will find out if it crashes anymore tonight if I have it solved.

Then wake up and put in a full day of engineering tomorrow.I also have to set up 8 days worth of mob grazing that is easy for someone else to move my cows while I am gone.

Wednesday we have an 8 hour drive to Naperville, IL for the ICHE homeschooling convention. Saturday night or Sunday we will drive back home the 8 hours. Then Monday we have to drive about 5.5 hours to knoxville, TN for Mia and Katie’s state livestock competition that they qualified for which is all day Tuesday.  Then Wednesday we drive back the 5.5 hours to home. Then I have to catch back up on the engineering and chores that I will now be behind on.

Earning his keep

There are many reasons we love having Tommy around. He’s always ready for a quick laugh. He’s eager to lend a helping hand. His smile brightens any room. But lately I’ve been glad to have him around for a more practical reason. VARMINTS!!!! Tommy’s good at catching them, or killing them, as the case may be.IMG_9093 He and his brothers caught this big mama the other day. And even though she has probably made off with 100s of ears of my corn, I still felt a little bad to see her disposed of. Tommy tried to get the makings of a coon skin cap from the ordeal but the pelt fell apart. I think it is the wrong season to be collecting fur pelts. Now the animals are shedding any extra fur to help keep cool. In the fall or winter, they will have nice furry thick pelts.

And Tommy killed this for us.IMG_9401 Benja found it right in the front yard by the deck. All the kids were playing out there barefoot! What a scare!! This is the third copperhead we’ve found in the last two weeks. What is going on here?! I’ve seen them by the pond and I know they are in the woods, but right up by the house, by my babies???? Not acceptable. I need a new dog. Jeremie says I just need to let the pigs out in the yard more often because they scare away or eat the snakes. And root up the grass and make a muddy mess. But we’ll see. I may resort to that.

Itchy, itchy

Benjamin has been clearing fence line with Jeremie. Our fences are covered with poison ivy vines. Despite washing right away with jewelweed soap right away, poor Benja’s back developed quite a rash.poinson ivyI have jewelweed salve, but it wasn’t helping much. After perusing pinterest for poison ivy remedies I put together a little healing spray. Witch Hazel, Almond oil, 50 drops of DoTerra Joyful blend and 10 drops each frankincense and lavender oil. I sprayed it on three times a day, despite loud objections from Father. This is how it looked 4 days after treatment began.IMG_8287Much better, but still a little healing to go. It was nice to have the remedy in a liquid form that could be sprayed. It was much easier to apply than a salve.