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Greetings All,

One of my blog readers, who has a wonderful blog of her own called Cat in the Flock, is offering a drawing to new subscribers to her blog for a signed copy of my book. Here is the link to her blog, which will go live at 6am on January 17th, where you can read all about this great book give-a-way. I hope you will check it out.

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https://www.catintheflock.com/

Cat in the Flock

Why You Should Read All of Tammi Hartung’s Garden Books This Winter – Plus a Chance to Win a Free Paperback!

My own collection of Tammi Hartung books.

Hartung books

By Lisa Brunette

I’ve been fangirling author Tammi Hartung for some time now, and I think you should share in the love. I picked up a copy of her 2014 book The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature a couple of years ago at my neighborhood used book store, and I was immediately hooked. When I found out she’d also written on growing healing herbs and how to make use of native plants, my soul-sister crush was cemented.

Here’s a list of just a few of the many things Hartung has taught me:

  • That plants signal their use somewhat metaphorically, through color, shape, and way of being in the world. This is called the “doctrine of signatures.” A good example is the heart-hued, heart-shaped rose petal offering healing powers for the heart muscle.
  • Your quest for food plants does not have to be in conflict with your desire to help support wildlife. In fact, the two can coexist in a mutually supportive way.
  • It’s surprisingly easy to grow, harvest, and make use of your own healing herbs as teas, tinctures, food medicine, syrups, poultices, balms, the list goes on.

An ethnobotanical herbalist and organic farmer, Hartung champions an approach to gardening that is gentle on the earth and its creatures. Her books are enormously helpful if you’ve wanted to garden but felt turned off by guides that call for fertilizer and pesticide use, or simply zap the fun and natural-world connection out of the endeavor. 

Now for a rundown of all four books, in order of publication date. I highly recommend every one. You can try scouring used book store shelves for them, but I’ve also provided handy links to the Amazon pages for each. We don’t receive anything in return for including these links.

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Growing 101 Herbs That Heal: Gardening Techniques, Recipes, and Remedies – Storey Press – North Adams, MA – 2000

Publisher’s Description: What better way to take your medicine than straight from the garden? From St. John’s wort to fennel, chicory to skullcap, herbalist and gardener Tammi Hartung introduces you to the special cultivating and care techniques required to grow 101 versatile and useful herbs.

How I’ve used this book: As a reference guide for the historical medicinal use of 101 herbs and for how-to’s on handcrafting herbal teas, tinctures, and other products. It’s illustrated and full-color, which helps you picture unfamiliar techniques and makes it an attractive reference.

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Homegrown Herbs: A Complete Guide to Growing, Using, and Enjoying More Than 100 Herbs – Storey Press – North Adams, MA – 2011

Publisher’s Description: Infuse your yard with the flavor, fragrance, beauty, and healing power of organic herbs. Whether you want to work herbs into existing flower or food gardens, grow them in containers, or plant a dedicated herb garden, Homegrown Herbs is your in-depth guide to everything you need to know about planting, caring for, harvesting, drying, and using more than 100 herbs.

How I’ve used this book: Same as the above, as I believe this is an updated version of the original. But they’re definitely both worth owning. This one includes some helpful tips on harvesting and drying flowers and herbs, a list of edible flowers, a good assortment of food medicine recipes, and other additions.

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The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature – Storey Press – North Adams, MA – 2014

Publisher’s Description: Make beneficial wildlife part of your food-garden ecosystem: they’ll pollinate your plants, feed on pests, and leave behind manure to nourish your soil. Tammi Hartung has spent years observing natural rhythms and animal habits in her garden, a peaceful place where perennials attract pollinators, ponds house slug-eating bullfrogs, mulch protects predator insects in the soil, mint gently deters unwanted mice, and hedgerows shelter and feed many kinds of wildlife. Her successful methods are a positive step toward a healthier garden.

How I’ve used this book: This book has formed the basis for my wildlife-friendly garden design at Dragon Flower Farm. It’s why we have a brush pile supporting families of rabbits and other critters, a rock garden for snakes and reptiles, and a host of other features that encourage everything from opossums to monarchs to visit our garden.

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Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine: The Curious Stories of 43 Amazing North American Native Plants – Storey Press – North Adams, MA – 2017

Publisher’s Description: The plants in your backyard have amazing stories to tell and fascinating uses you’ve never known about. For millennia, we humans have relied on these plants to nourish, shelter, heal, and clothe us. Through captivating tales and images that illuminate our lost wisdom, Tammi Hartung reveals the untold histories of 43 native North American plants and celebrates their modern versatility.

How I’ve used this book: The prettiest of Hartung’s works, the hardcover is a pleasure to leaf through for the luscious imagery, entertaining fun facts, and short tips on native plants we might actually take for granted. It’s a bit of a fascinating history lesson, too, as told through flora.Tammi Hartung.

Just as I finished this last book in Hartung’s oeuvre, I lamented she had no more, but then I discovered her blog, which is an extension of her work as co-owner of Desert Canyon Farm. As mentioned in her Amazon author bio: 

She and her husband, Chris, own Desert Canyon Farm, a certified organic farm since 1996 in southern Colorado, where they grow more than 1800 varieties of plants. They grow all types of herbs, heritage and heirloom food plants, native and wildlife habitat plants, edible flowers and more. In their flower seed production field, they grow over 60 varieties of perennials for a German seed company called Jelitto Perennial Seed Co, so seeds from Tammi’s farm end up being grown by gardeners and growers all over the world!

Through the blog newsletter, I enjoy hearing about Desert Canyon’s work across all four seasons, as well as getting to know Tammi and Chris, not to mention dog Shrek. Tammi’s blog posts offer a glimpse behind-the-scenes for both the farm and her latest author project, a children’s plant book. As an avid hiker myself, I also like the photos and accounts of their hikes through southern Colorado terrain, which is much more arid than my environment here in Missouri. Side note: Tammi is a friendly, responsive writer, too; I reached out to her to find out if I could buy her books directly through her instead of Amazon (the answer is no, as she directed me back to the ‘zon), and we had a really nice little exchange.

And Now for That Chance to Win a Free Paperback

All you have to do is get one friend to subscribe to our newsletter, and both you and your friend will be entered into a drawing for a free paperback copy of Hartung’s third book, The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Forward our newsletter, share a link to our blog, or somehow else get one of your friends excited about Cat in the Flock enough to sign up for our email newsletter.
  2. Email us at this handy link to let us know you succeeded, and include your friend’s email address used in the signup so we know to credit you and your friend!
  3. That’s it! We’ll reach out if you’ve won. If one of your names is selected, you both get a copy of the book.

I hope you check out Tammi’s books and get as much out of them as I have. 

Anthony and Lisa

https://www.catintheflock.com/

Cat in the Flock

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Kaila came back to work this week and we are very happy to have her company and her help!

She and Lizz were propagating rosemarys, thymes, planting seeds and transplanting plugs until they were nearly cross-eyed. Just kidding, but it was a big work list they had to do this week.

Chris is continuing the construction of our new shade structure in the retail nursery area. This is going to make it much nicer for the little pots of plants sitting on benches in the hot sun and for our customers as they browse through the nursery area.

It’s 43 years plus that I have been growing plants from seeds in my adult life, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve experienced the process, I’m still in awe every time I see a tiny seedling germinate. Look how tiny these seedlings are (above).  They are precious and will grow into amazing and beautiful plants!

These baby seedlings are easier to see, but just as sweet and inspiring of what will come as these green babies grow up.

In the Lizard Greenhouse, where the tender succulents are currently living, the Tiger Aloes are putting up flower stalks. I love these aloes so much. I’ve never seen one bloom yet, so I’m really excited to see what their flowers will look like.

James took us for a walk on one of the Royal Gorge trails that overlook the Royal Gorge bridge (in the background) and the Royal Gorge itself.

If you look down into the Gorge, you can see the train that travels this Gorge several times a day.

On a different hike we found a sea shell fossil along the road at The Banks. When M’lissa was young, we would walk on this road and she would find fossils sometimes, but it has been quite a few years since Chris and I have seen a fossil stand out on the road and greet us.

Along one of our walks, someone had left a snow angel to greet us. It was a very cold day, but this left us feeling very warm and happy inside.

Greetings in the New Year,

I hope this first message of 2021 finds each of you well and happy and beginning to think about all things “Plant” related.

I have just finished posting the information for this Spring’s Open Farm Days and Our Farm Stand & Nursery Store. We are also planning to offer our spring schedule of free classes this year, providing we can do so safely and within the current Covid19 regulations.

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You can find information about Open Farm Days, our Farm Stand & Nursery Store, and the free Classes schedule by going to those pages on this website.

Soon, I will be writing my normal post for this week, but I was too excited about the spring offerings to not tell you this minute that I have just posted them up. Enjoy.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

The Winter Solstice is a special time of the year for Chris and I. It is the one time of the year that for a few short weeks life has a gentle pace to it. A gift of sweet smelling beeswax trees and pine cones pretty much reflects what the time between the last week of November and the end of December is all about for us.

With the arrival of the first week of January, everything shifts gears here, and for me farm work begins again in earnest with long work days, 7 days a week, until mid June. Chris will have another 2 months of a calm schedule, and then in March he will join me in the spring season of work and survival, but until then you will find him working some (he is building a new shade structure over our retail nursery space), skiing some and playing some gypsy jazz music.

Our lives here happen very much with the seasons of the year…Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox. We live, work and play with the seasons. For us, it is a good way to live.

And, so it is that since the end of summer, and through the fall season, Lizz and I have been planting and starting to prepare for the spring busy season. The week before Christmas found us moving plants into number 5 of our 9 greenhouses, fondly called the Lizard Greenhouse because some school children visiting the farm one year found a salamander in that greenhouse living underneath the benches.

The Lizard Greenhouse is now filled with hardy fig plants, pomegranate trees and black tea trees, purple beauty bell peppers, tender succulents, society garlic and silver drop eucalyptus, and more – all of which will be ready for sale when we begin our open for Farm Days on April 10th, 2021, with our Farm Stand & Nursery Store loaded up with all manner of potted plants for sale to farm visitors (more than 1800 different varieties of herbs, heirloom & heritage food plants, native and wildlife habitat plants, edible flowers, unique perennials & annuals, and much more).

Soon I will be posting up information about the Spring 2021 Open Farm Days, along with our planned free class schedule. Keep an eye open for this information on this website in early January.

In the meantime, there is still room in the Plant Barn and Basil House Greenhouses for Lizz and I to grow our pantry vegetables for her and Jake and Chris and I to eat. You can also be growing fresh vegetables and some fruits indoors in your house on a table or countertop even if you live, like us, where the snow is happening and the outside temperatures are very cold. You don’t need a greenhouse to do this either. A room in your house with bright indirect light is a great place to grow lettuces and greens, carrots, green onions, swiss chard, some kinds of peppers, and red robin cherry dwarf tomatoes. You can also grow cabbage, peas and even green beans.

I will be talking a lot this winter and spring, probably summer too (oh heck…most likely all year long), about growing your own climate change victory garden for your household. It can start right now, if you like, indoors or in a greenhouse if you have one. Buy yourself some spinach and lettuce seeds, plant them in a pot, set them in a bright indirect room of your house (be sure to put a drainage tray under the pot so you protect your floors, counters or furniture from plant watering events), and your off and rolling with the beginning of your own climate change victory garden. As you go along, you can plant some other veggies too, grow your own strawberries, and herbs for cooking, tea and health.

Having the security and delicious results of growing some of your own food and herbs is something we can all do, and in truth, with our lives dictated by Covid19 virus, it feels pretty good to be able to harvest my own salad right here in my homeplace. Even if you live in an apartment, dorm room, patio home or single-family home…in the city or the country, everyone can grow at least a few things they can use as food or herbs. Give it some thought and then give it a go!

Some of you may have seen an earlier post where Chris was carving a sunburst for the new screen door on our seed room. This is my solstice gift from he and Shrek. They put a huge amount of time, energy and love into this gift. The finished door is beautiful and I’m delighted.

In addition to carving the sunburst in the middle of the door, Chris carved flowers for the top, a lizard, mountain sheep, roadrunner and chili pepper for the bottom corners of the door. It is perfect! And it compliments the front door of our house, which he built several years ago.

We had some fun on Christmas day making some gourd wind chimes for the front and back porches.

Of course, we have been enjoying some hikes with Shrek very often.

We found a new area to explore between Sand Gulch and The Banks that was quite beautiful.

The Bone-Hunter Shrek found a few new bones to bury along the trail.

Last night we got about 3″ of new snow – Yay! Good moisture and much needed. It was so beautiful. We took our evening walk tonight in Red Canyon Park.

Cold and Gorgeous!

At the end of our walk the full moon was just beginning to rise. What a nice way to close out 2020. Two more days until a new year begins.

And a great way to close out my day today in the company of furry friends. Shrek the dog, Willow the lap cat, and Sadie the belly petting princess. Pal opted not to be part of the action, choosing instead to lay behind the wood stove where the warmth made him sleepy and he took a bit of a winter’s nap.

It has been a challenging and difficult year in so many ways for everyone I think, but the year has also been filled with many gifts that make life rich.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

 

 

Winter Solstice Greetings All!

Chris has been carving a beautiful screen door for our seed room and it’s not finished yet, but I couldn’t wait to give you a peek. This will be my solstice gift from he and Shrek.

I spent 3 very LONG days putting together my planting schedule for 2021. This is the schedule Lizz and I, plus Kaila and Susan when they get back to work in the new year, will use to plan each week’s greenhouse tasks from seeding and vegetative propagation, veggie patio containers, flower baskets and all the other planting projects we will be doing. The whole book looks like chaos, but to me it helps make sense of all the planting rotations we need to do to make sure we are always in good supply of plant inventory every week from January 1st through the summer months.  Wish us luck with the growing schedule.

This weekend we took a lovely mountain solstice stroll with John and Renata. We talked non-stop from 10am until nearly 4pm getting up on each others lives. It was so good to see them!!

Meet Josiah, who I believe is about 10 weeks old! This is my sister Karri’s new puppy. He joined their family at Thanksgiving at 7 weeks old and he is growing huge! He does look like a cuddly bear, but my goodness he is going to be a very big boy when he is all grown up.

My parents put in a request for Hobo Stew this past week. We used to make this when we would go camping when I was a kid, only then we cooked them in the hot coals of the campfire. Of course, now I cook them in my oven instead, but they still taste delicious. Maybe not quite as good as when I was a kid and we would open them up and find bits of campfire ashes mixed into the meal, but pretty close to being just as good I think.

Hobo Stew can be made with anything you want to put into it. It can be made with all veggies, hamburger (which is what my dad likes) and veggies, chicken…you name it. Use whatever herbs and seasonings you like. I use onions and garlic and rosemary most of the time. After you prepare the individual meal packets, you bake them in your oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 300 degrees for another 45 minutes. Serve with bread and butter and it is a meal fit for a king – or maybe a hobo at least :-}

We did get a bit of snow this past week, about 4 inches in all. Chris and Shrek and I took a snowy afternoon walk at Oil Well Flats and it was cold, but so beautiful!

We’ve had this hawk friend hanging around the farm of late. I so enjoy seeing this amazing bird.

My early morning river walks have been next to a very icy cold river. Just beautiful.

This is the marker post at the parking area near the river. I’ll leave you with it’s powerful message and may you have a wonderful Winter Solstice tomorrow.

We shipped the seed harvest to Germany a week ago last Friday. The next task after the seed left was to pack our pop-up camper and head to Cedar Mesa, Utah for our annual fall camping-hiking vacation.

This was the view from our camping spot in Comb Wash at sunset. There just isn’t a nicer view from a camping spot!

We called our friends, Judy and Gary, last minute before we left to see if they wanted to meet us there, and we were thrilled that they said yes. When we arrived, they had already set up their camp, and had been hiking for a couple of days. It was just so nice to see them both and catch up on our visiting.

We’ve been going to Cedar Mesa nearly every fall for the last 28 years and we always find new places to hike and amazing things to see.

This trip we actually hiked into Arch Canyon. In years past we have never hiked that canyon because it was either too wet and not accessible or there were more people around than we wanted. Usually, we hardly see anyone on our camping trips, but on the rare trips that there have been quite a few people around, we always choose to hike in a more secluded canyon. This year, like usual, there were practically no other people in the area, the canyon was dry enough to access, so off we went.

This ruin was one that we saw and it was very very high up on the canyon wall (thank goodness for a great camera zoom for these kinds of pictures). We’ve never seen a ruin like this one with sticks in one side of the ruin, and we’ve seen a zillion ruins over the years.

This rock pinnacle is called Dream Weaver. We’ve admired it for years when we have camped on the rim of Arch Canyon and looked out from the canyon rim at our campsite. One year, we had 2 young men camping not far from us, and as we visited, we learned they were from Austria. They were rock climbing several major places in Utah and Arizona. They climbed the Dream Weaver while we were there and then headed to Mexican Hat for more climbing events.

Honestly, looking at this skinny tall pinnacle from the canyon floor, and being with Chris who was an experienced climber back in his younger years, we were amazed that they would climb this, and we knew that it must have been a very difficult climb.

We spent a day hiking a side canyon of Lower Mule Canyon. We didn’t see a single soul all day, which was wonderful! Every direction you look, there are amazing things to see. The canyon walls remind me how beautiful the Earth is. I feel very humble when I look around and see gorgeous nature everywhere.

One our first day of the trip, we re-visited a rock knob at the top of a massive slick rock area. The knob is a sacred place to the Ute people. It is covered with beautiful rock art.

Lunch in the wash of a Lower Mule Canyon side canyon.

Ruins are every where waiting for a respectful hiker to enjoy. Some you can walk or climb to. Others are high up on canyon walls. All are incredible!! There are often pottery shards and petrified corn cobs left behind by the people that lived in these ruins hundreds of years ago. I’m always left pondering the people who created the pottery, ground that corn in a stone metadata (not sure if this is the correct spelling). I know quite a bit about them from reading, listening to people like M’lissa who know much more than I do, and from our visits to their homes on these canyon hiking trips. Still, I would so like to know more. I would love to hear their stories from their own selves, but of course, since they are long gone from this Earth, that will never happen. I stand in awe and deep respect for the lives they lived in these harsh, beautiful and ancient places.

A very lovely manzanita bush along our way.

On the way home, we drove past this really cool free library sitting with a McElmo canyon back-drop. We have a free library on the front of our farm, where books and magazines are shared with others that love to read as much as we do. In truth, I had free library envy when I saw this one. Wow, it is beautiful, and it holds 3 times more books than our little library does. The people that use this free library must find some great reading treasures in this gem of a place!

On the last day of our trip, I gathered a few bits and pieces of plants. I do this every year in order to create my solstice wreath, or in this case a solstice hanging, which finds a home on our back porch door (which we use as our front door).

This year, my solstice door hanging has ponderosa, shepherdia, Artemisia tridentata, manzanita, juniper berries, rose hips, Mahonia.

There was just enough left over to create a bouquet for my kitchen window ledge. It smells so wonderful! Bringing all my memories of this hiking vacation rushing back to me in a moment, and I’m standing once again in Cedar Mesa surrounded by beauty everywhere.

I hope you are enjoying a quiet and safe Thanksgiving weekend. I’m sure that you, like Chris and I, have much to be in gratitude for.

Chris has been working on getting our seed crops harvest ready for inspection and shipping to Germany. We are hoping that by end of the day on Monday we will be ready to request our phytosanitary inspection.

While Chris has been working on the seeds, I’ve been spending time working on the book project. Definitely requires a large amount of tea as I’m working ;-}

Last Friday, we took a hike in Lion’s Canyon with our friends Michelle and James. A very nice way to spend the day.

Lizz and I are planting quite a bit for our spring plant offerings in the Farm Stand store and nursery when we open for Open Farm Days (mid April thru 2nd weekend of June). Lizz does most of the planting these days, as I’m stuck in the dungeon doing office work much of the time. I hate doing office work when I could be doing plant work, but this time of the year there is much to be done in the office too in preparation for next spring’s busy season.

Let me give you a quick peek at some of the plants we have growing to offer for sale this coming spring…

Baby Tumeric plants.

Baby hardy Figs

Black Tea plants

Silver Drop Eucalyptus

This is just a small peek. These are literally hundreds of different varieties of plants we have seeded now and cuttings and divisions done and we are just getting started!! By spring there will be over 1,800 different varieties on the benches for sale.

And this is the ripe fresh fig I picked this morning to eat while I was watering the Basil greenhouse. Delicious!

We have had 2 very full weeks here. Many different kinds of spring farm supplies have been coming in – part of our clay pot order arrived. Hoping to get the rest of the pots soon.

Half of our annual order (about 400 big bags) of greenhouse planting media, aka: soil, showed up and we got it stacked in the supply barn where it is protected from the weather.

Seed orders have been arriving daily for the past 2 weeks. I always feel better when all the seeds are safely here in our hands. We bag them into moisture-proof bags and store them in 2 refrigerators that are completely dedicated to seed storage.

Lizz spent 2 days getting the plant databases on this website updated with all the new varieties of plants we plan to grow this coming year. Oops…as I’m writing this, I realized that I forgot to give her the lists for the new fruit tree varieties to add. I’ll see if she will do that next week.

I’ve been working on the planting schedule, which is an equally huge task to get organized. So, farm work has been busy.

We did get about 10-12 inches of wet heavy snow this past Sunday and Monday. We are thrilled about that, as it resulted in 6/10″ of moisture that we were desperate to get. This will help all the plants and animals greatly, and it is good for people too.

We had a rare visitor on the kitchen window screen. It’s an insect called a Walking Stick and it is reddish brown in color and looks like a piece of stick or thick piece of a grass stalk. They aren’t common here, but once in a while we will see one.

Today, Chris and I took Shrek for a walk to the Cowboy Cabin and on the way to and from there was a really large herd of Elk.

This guy sure looks majestic doesn’t he!

One of the reasons we were walking today, beside it just being a magical walk, was to harvest some Juniper berries that I need to make into a spice necklace sometime in the next two weeks.

We had a hard time finding any Juniper berries that were nice and plump like they usually are at this time of the year. I think because of the severe drought we have been having, all the berries were very tiny. We did find enough that were a reasonable size to be able to string on a piece of floss.

I had a fast visit to Montana to see M’lissa and Luke and Dorian Gray the cat. It has been well over a year since I have been able to see them, so it was time.

So, I ask you…what do you do when there is so much stress in the world and in your life? Too much drought to worry about, too many farm tasks to accomplish, too much worry about people you care about in your family, too much concern over Covid19, too much Government POLITICS invading every aspect of your life! Well, you get out your coloring book and check out from your world for a little while.

I think every one on the planet needs to have a coloring book right now to get absorbed in, even it if it only for a tiny amount of time. Trust me. It will do your mind and spirit some good!!

Happy Halloween!

The first thing I want to say, is that WordPress has changed their format and I cannot make heads or tails out of the new writing editor. It’s terrible and I hope I can figure it out and get used to it soon, but in the meantime, please bear with me if my posts are a bit discombobulated.

We received a truck load of pots and trays of all kinds of sizes and shapes that we will use for next springs plant inventory. Of course, the truck arrived when Lizz had already left for the weekend and Chris was picking up supplies in New Mexico, so it fell to me to haul all these things to the back of the farm where the supply barn is located…one cart full at a time. Took me 2 days, but everything is put away.

This week our clay pot order arrives and a truck load of greenhouse soil, plus 175,5000 blank plant labels that we will use to print our information on and then put in each plant pot so that all of you will have information about the plant in that pot when you purchase it.

Ahhh…this is supposed to be the slow time of the year, but it never really feels like that in the moment.

Chris and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary on October 2nd! My husband is always so good at choosing the perfect gifts for me and this year, he came home from New Mexico with 2 gorgeous long chili ristras for our back porch. He could not have picked anything I will enjoy more and every time I go out the back door and see them, it just makes me smile.

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This is our deer drinking trough, which sits along side the gardens to the south of our house and near the driveway. Every day I fill this up because otherwise the deer would drain all the birdbaths, which, of course, don’t hold as much water. Many years back ago, we adopted this approach for supplying the deer and larger animals like squirrels, raccoons, skunks and such with drinking water, but we had a problem that the birds wanted to drink from the deer drinking trough too, and the little birds would fall in and drown since the trough is quite deep.

We solved that situation with Lizz building a small oak ladder that sat in the trough and the birds would use it to drink from, or as an escape route if they fall in. It has worked like a charm.

But our bird ladder, which was many years old by now, fell apart and wasn’t effective for the birds to stay out of the water while drinking. Problem solved! Lizz built a beautiful new bird ladder from a log and willow twigs this week.

I’ve been continuing my mornings walks at the river and it is such a pleasant way to begin my work day. Right now all the trees there are so beautiful with their autumn clothes of colored leaves. The river is very low, but it still sings as the water moves past. The sound of moving water is soothing and delightful.

I hope you have some place magical where you can go for a walk often, hopefully every day, or at least a few times a week. Nature is the very best healer and medicine maker for the stressful times we are living in these days.

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I discovered this secret place this week. Now, who do you suppose lives in this tree?

It could be a wild animal, but it might be a forest gnome or a fairy or perhaps some other magical creature. Hmmmm…something to ponder. I’ll be trying to figure it out too.

Every year or so I hold my Free Market event. A Free Market is like a yard sale, except every single item is totally 100% free. If you can use the item, you are welcome to take it home.

This Saturday, October 3rd from 9:30am until whenever I decide I’m done, everything will be set up in the front yard for your shopping pleasure. Please come by and have a look to see if there is something you can use or would like to have.  You’ll see the Free Market sign covering our farm sign and the flags will be up too as soon as I’m finished with the greenhouse watering and have everything set up in the front yard.

There will be quite a few clothing items, some books, audio books and movies, kitchen and household items, even a few groceries.

Come by this Saturday and say hello and have a look.

Last weekend, Chris and his fellow musicians played music for the Members Only Day at the Desert Reef Hot Springs. They sounded so wonderful. I got to soak in the hot springs while they played. I did feel kinda sorry for the guys, though, because they played just before dark and the weather started getting pretty cold by then. they said they had a hard time coaxing their fingers to play as they got colder, but they persevered and it was great!!

We went for a hike to enjoy the autumn aspen colors in the mountains, but it was just a bit too early really and the trees were just beginning to get their autumn colors. We had a glorious hike all the same.

This is really one of the most amazing and beautiful aspen areas around along Highway 9. The trees are old and big around and so tall and straight.

It is hunting season now, so Shrek has to wear his hunting costume while we are hiking so that they can easily spot that he is a dog and not a deer. Orange ribbons and his bear bell all outfitted and we are ready to go walking.

And I know I’m partial, but this must be the most handsome man on the planet – my husband!

We have been to the Sangre Mountains several times to hike this summer and it is always such a pleasure. When we go to the high mountains, I am always in the company of some of my oldest and best friends, like this Osha plant. This is the elevation of 8,000 to 13,000 foot elevation and the plant community is the first group of plants I ever learned to use as a young herbalist some 42 years ago.

I grow Osha in my garden these days, which is a very special thing for me, and I don’t harvest wild Osha plants for my medicinal needs. This is a plant that is threatened from commercial over-harvesting and climate change and so I feel it is important to respect it’s wild home, enjoy being there, but leave those wild plants where they are.

I do grow and use Scottish Lovage (Ligusticum scoticum) and Lovage sometimes called Garden Osha in the San Luis Valley (Levisticum officinale), as these plants are easy to cultivate and they are nearly identical to Mountain Osha (Ligusticum porteri) in their medicinal benefits.

All of these plants are recognized for their powerful medicinal actions to address respiratory challenges and for their antimicrobial benefits. They help you “breath deeply”! They all three have my utmost gratitude and respect for the medicinal gifts they provide when I or my family have the need of their benefits.

This week has allowed me time to take early morning walks along the Arkansas River near where I live. The drought has had it’s impact on the river water levels. To take this picture, Shrek and I walked nearly to the middle of the river, across river stones, so that he could get a drink. It never happens that I can walk that far from the banks and not have to worry about getting me feet even a little bit wet.

The plant colors at the river are starting to change into their autumn clothes too. In a few more days it will be breath-taking and beautiful!

I also want to share with you about another plant that needs our help these days and that is wild White Sage (Salvia apiana), which grows in the California mountains, and is being seriously threatened these days from over-harvesting, wildfires and habitat loss.

Many people will know this plant as a ceremonial smudge plant in the Native American traditions, but it is also an important medicinal herb. White Sage that is sold is quite often gathered wild by the thousands of pounds. It has a limited range in the region where it grows wild and it needs a break from being harvested. Several native tribal groups have asked people to stop wildcrafting (wild-harvesting) White Sage. I feel strongly we should honor that request and graciously not only avoid harvesting it ourselves from the wild if we happen to live or be visiting the places where it grows, but we should stop buying it from people and places that have sourced it as a wild-gathered plant. This is not to say that the people or places that are selling wild-source White Sage are bad, but rather I’m saying we all need to step up and do our part to help protect this plant in its wild habitat. Collectively, we can make a big difference to the survival of White Sage.

Now that I  have told you about the concerns, let me tell you this too…this plant does grow well in cultivation and seed can be harvested from cultivated plants and used to grow more plants. Buy some seed or better yet, buy a young plant next garden season and grow it yourself to meet any needs or wants you might have to use this plant either medicinally or ceremonially as a smudging plant.

White Sage is not difficult to grow. It is not cold hardy, but can be grown indoors in a pot during the cold months of the year. It loves being outdoors in the warm months of the year and it is truly a stunningly beautiful member of the Salvia (Sage) family of plants. It has whitish-gray leaves and stems and the flowers are ice blue. Bees, especially bumblebees, will enjoy it in your garden or on your patio next summer, and if you grow it indoors during the cold months of the year, you will enjoy the wonderful fragrance from the foliage.

A Guide to Growing and Respecting Sacred White Sage