herbal shrubs.

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shrubs are a delicious and potent herbal infused concentrate. a harmonious blend of organic (local NS) apple cider vinegar and honey (local unpasteurized), infused with wild-crafted and/or naturally grown botanicals. they are sometimes also called oxymels, from the latin word ‘oxymeli‘, meaning ‘acid and honey’).

it is a very ancient remedy, and it is an effective way of getting medicine into you that might not be so alluring on its own. adding the additional medicines from organic apple cider vinegar, as well as honey into the equation. . .

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shrubs can be mixed into bubbly or still water, hot or cold, or make a unique addition to wild cocktails. they are wildly refreshing, soothing to sore throats, and also boast whatever benefits of the herbs they are crafted from.

we are getting to be quite wild about them. they are incredibly tangy and delicious, and versatile.

catch us at farmers markets this year, we will be sampling our seasonal shrub collection.

you can also find them in our new online shop!

 

 

healing herbal broths

 

 

 

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soup in a herbal & bone based broth. wooden spoon a gift from patchy owl

as winter refuses to unclench her icy claws from our eastern shores, my mind wanders to warm soups, and herbal infused broths.

broths are both nutritious and healing, from the inside out. they were once a staple in most houses, simmering on the back burner, considered to be a cure-all. “good broth will resurrect the dead,” says an old south american proverb. broth can be used for the flavorful and  in soups, gravies, sauces, or sipped warm as a morning or mid-day snack.

broth can help boost our immune system, nurse us through sickness, help cleanse and detoxify our bodies, improve digestion, ease joint pain, even help to heal our guts and aid with autoimmune disease.

herbs, mushrooms & seaweeds are a wonderful and nourishing addition to delicious and home-made broths. though herbs are useful in tincture form, this is a newer more potent method of ingesting herbs, while a more traditional, gentle and tonifying approach is herbal teas (infusions and decoctions), and herbal broths.

as a mindful omnivore, i tend to make my broths bone based, from grass-fed cow bones, or free-range organically fed chicken or duck bones and feet. this greats a nutrient dense base for your herbal broth, rich in iron and calcium, amino acids and gelatin. (a great resource on the powers of bone broth is sally fallon, who wrote ‘nourishing traditions’ and ‘nourishing broth’. weston price is also a wealth of information on bone broths for tooth health)

if you choose to not eat animals and are vegan or vegetarian, ignore the first part about bones, and simply start with a vegetable scrap base. as with most of my recipes, they are loose and interchangeable, depending on what you have on hand. broth is made from bones and scraps that would usually be thrown out, it is a truly useful and wonderful way to make use of them!

B O N E        &       V E G G I E         H E R B A L         H E A L I N G        B R O T H

  • 2-4 lbs of beef bones (marrow bones are especially nice) / 1-2 chicken carcasses (you can also save any bones from your meals, lamb, fowl or beef and add these too)
  • 4L glass jar (or foodsafe plastic bucket or ziploc) full of veggie scraps (i save my vegetable peelings, onion skins, herb stems, and any other compostable non-rotten organic veggie scraps throughout the week and stick them in a big glass jar in the freezer. this makes for a vitamin rich and tasty broth)
  • generous splash of organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (this helps the minerals in the bones break down to be more easily assimilated)
  • heaping tablespoon of sea salt
  • 4-8 cloves of garlic (to taste. garlic is amazing medicine)

i add this to a big stock pot, and add enough water to cover the bones and veggie scraps. the less water you use the stronger your broth will be, but you can always dilute it later. i do mine on the woodstove, for 12-24 hours. but you can also do it on your stove, or in the slow cooker. ideally you want it to cook for at least 6 hours, but we try and cook it extra long for ultimate absorption. there is speculation about what kind of bones to use and for how long, and it might be work looking into it for yourself, this is just what works for me. if you leave the lid off, your broth will reduce and become more concentrated.

 

this is also when i add tougher more fibrous additions that need to be simmered (decocted) longer for their medicine to infuse.

  • medicinal mushrooms – maitake, shitake, chaga, reishi, turkeytails, etc. these medicinal beauties are wonderful for helping with inflammation, aiding the immune system, helping the body adapt to stress, help with viral infections, inhibiting cancer cell growth, chemotherapy support, and on and on and on. they can all be researched separately for their medicinal value.
  • seaweeds – dulse, nori, kelp, kombu, wakame etc. we are fortunate here in NS to have access to many local and plentiful seaweeds. seaweeds are unique in that they can now provide minerals which are becoming increasingly absent from our land-grown food crops, which are grown in mineral depleted soils. seaweeds are rich in antioxidants, amino acids, iodine, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium and so on. there is such beauty in our medicine from the ocean, these weeds of the sea who support our nervous system, as well as the circulatory, endocrine and digestive systems, ease nerve and muscle pain, increase our longevity. . .i could go on. (an article for another time)
  • roots – burdock, dandelion, yellow dock, ashwaghanda, turmeric, ginger. these roots are all lovely additions, for flavor and medicine. they each have their own unique and medicinal benefits for healing and supporting different body systems. burdock, dandelion and yellow dock are wonderful toning and detoxifying herbs, ashwaghanda is an amazing adaptogen (helping and supporting our bodies as they deal with stress and adrenal fatigue), turmeric is anti-inflammatory and wonderous in many ways, and ginger is warming and equally divine in numerous ways.

i will let this come to a boil, and then put on low heat. at this point, i would add more delicate and leafy herbs and materials.

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  • flavorful herbs – thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage. these culinary herbs are strongly anti-bacterial, fight sickness and impart a delicious flavor, to keep it short.
  • leafy herbs – stinging nettles, lambs quarters, dandelion greens, oat straw, horsetail, calendula, etc. these herbs add nutrients and minerals, support our various body systems, and tonifying and helpful for wound and bone healing, fighting infection, glowing skin, strong hair and nails, and so on.

this is a versatile recipe. i like to add freshly ground pepper, tamari, miso, fresh parsley or cilantro, sesame oil, the variations are endless really. the wonderful thing is that you can experiment and find out what tastes good and feels good to you.

i make a big batch of broth every few weeks. i simmer it and then cool and strain it into 1L mason jars (making sure to leave at least one inch of headspace or else your jars will break) and freeze them. they are super easy to pull out and defrost whenever you need. they will last a week or so in the fridge defrosted.

nothing like a cup of warm broth. the benefits are really too lengthy to list. . .

 

lady of the woods.

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as spring begins to stretch her fingers and withdraw from winters cold and snowy embrace, one of my favorite blessings that occurs. . .is sap. as trees begin to awaken from their wintry slumber, a sweet and watery liquid begins to traverse from the trees roots to its leaves, bringing water and minerals throughout the tree. birch sap contains amino acids, enzymes, proteins and sugars, which is food for the tree in its times of substantial growth, such as leaf production.

the birch tree is known in celtic mythology as ‘the lady of the woods’. she symbolizes new beginnings, protection and renewal. birch were some of the first trees to return to the glacier leveled landscape after the ice age, and are some of the oldest known trees to exist on earth. birch has had many, many uses through the eras, for it’s wood (which is hard, light in color, and versatile), for its bark (which is wonderful tinder, paper in a bind, used for tanning leather, made into birch bark canoes, and many other things), and as well known for its medicinal uses. it is said that the traditional broom of witches was made from twigs of birch. this was a tree heralded to bring courage, maternal protection from mother earth, and new life and love.

 

The first leaves on the birch tree herald the rebirth of creation and the dawn of spring. Where man has raped the land and then left it abandoned and barren, birch will come carried by the gour winds to bring back harmony and balance. It has a deep and long relationship with humans giving its sap for sweetness, wine, and vinegar, its bark for writing and containers and its oil for tanning hides. Birch wood has provided cradles, boats and roofs protecting and transporting humans for millennia.”

— Peter Pracownik and Andy Baggott

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our daughter drinking maple sap, straight from the source.

birch sap is a refreshing tonic that can easily be tapped and collected (in a manner similar to tapping maple trees). birch sap yields about 80:1 sap to syrup ratios, while maple is around 40:1. hence, birch sap has not been as desirable for commercial use due to its smaller yield, however, that doesn’t mean its medicine is not worth experiencing. the sap makes a watery but slightly sweet tonic that is a gentle spring detoxifier.

as spring is waking up, our bodies can also be in a state of sluggish health, needing a bit of a spring kick. nature provides many different plants to aid in the transition of the seasons. birch sap is a gentle medicine that will not stress your body out, as other heralded ‘detox’ plants or herbs. it is an effective but subtle medicine that has been used for centuries by native americans and people across russia and scandinavia, it is not just a fad.

drinking birch sap can be helpful for complaints of the urinary system, bladder, kidneys, etc. and is said to help with conditions of gout, rheumatism, arthritis, kidney or bladder stones, swelling, fluid retention, bronchitis, headaches, wound healing and skin problems. the sap is a restorative tonic that aids the kidneys and liver to move toxins, uric acid and excess water out of your body.

the sap is considered a rich source for magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, vitamin b and c, and thiamine. in todays world, our agricultural soils are often depleted, and the vegetables that we count on to supply us with many of these nutrient, minerals and vitamins, are vacant or extremely low in them. the sweetness in birch sap comes from xylitol, a natural sweetener found only in birch that is interestingly enough being studied for preventing cavities.

birch trees are hardy and found growing throughout the northern hemisphere. birch helps to purify the blood, it can grow in polluted or toxic areas, and actually is shown to help clean the soil around it. all parts of the birch tree can be used for medicine. in general, the medicinal actions of birch range from an astringent (an infusion of birch leaves or twigs can be used to help tone the skin, and for inflammation), diuretic (increases urinary output, can be helpful for UTI’s), anthelmintic (aids in expelling parasites), diaphoretic (help your body sweat out toxins), and many more.

you can tap any kind of birch tree. we tend to tap either yellow or paper birch. each kind of birch (or even each tree!) will have slightly different sap and flows. it is a simple process to tap a tree, easy to research or ask local maple tappers about. when done properly, you are taking only a small amount of sap from the tree, and not harming or injuring it. here is a simple and easy guide to tapping trees:

http://lusaorganics.typepad.com/clean/2013/03/how-to-tap-a-maple-tree.html

update.

hey folks, thanks for bearing with us for our winter hibernation. . .we have been busy, planning, concocting, experimenting and getting lots of things prepared for the new year.

firstly, i am happy to say that this will be our third year offering our  w i l d . f o o d  &  m e d i c i n e  boxes. more info on that in the months to come, and beginning  m a y  2 0 1 8 .

we have some more exciting news in the works, but i will keep you in suspense for now. also coming this spring, an online shop!

i will be getting back to more frequent updates in the weeks to come, featuring local seasonal plants, recipes and so on. grateful for your support.

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yule time offerings.

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finally managed to get together a list of what we have been crafting, mixing and creating these last months. if you want to support local crafters and folk medicine makers this holiday season, we are happy to share with your what we currently have available.

our herbal infused oils and tinctures are infused for at least one lunar cycle, and all of our botanicals are either wild-crafted by our own hands, naturally grown in our gardens or that of friends, or very rarely traded from trusted local growers (ginger mostly). we source our apple cider vinegars, oils, beeswax and honey from as local as possible, and always choose organic. everything we create is made in small batches, with the finest of foraged and home-grown ingredients.

o f f e r i n g s :
l i p b a l m s (made with organic cold pressed sunflower oil from quebec infused with local wild-crafted and organically grown herbs, and local beeswax. these are in compostable, paper and wax recycled containers)
– sage & sweetgrass lipbalm
– spruce balm
s a l v e s (most come in small and large, while supplies last. all are crafted with organic, cold-pressed sunflower oil from a small farm in quebec, and local beeswax)
– three tree healing salve ( spruce, pine & fir, smells like the woods and great for cuts, scrapes, splinters and as a chest rub for congestion )
– boreal balm ( local bear fat, infused with spruce pitch, local beeswax. amazing for healing, anti-bacterial and good for respiratory, kidneys, etcetcetc )
– aches and pain salve (st johns wort oil, cayenne & wintergreen, good for arthritis, nerve pain, sore muscles etc)
– dream balm ( a dreamy infusion of mugwort, chamomile, rose petals, elderflower, hops, lavender, rose absolute. rub on your temples at night to aid in deep relaxation, and to send you off to sweeter places anytime you might need )
– calendula salve ( this stuff is amazing for wounds, burns, eczema, rashes, babys bum, sore nipples, the works. gentle and effective )
– aches n’ pains salve (arnica, wintergreen, hot peppers infused to help bring relief from aches and pains, and to promote healing of muscles, tissue, bruising and other discomfort)
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s m o k i n g . b l e n d (just a few left, coltsfoot, mullein, nepeta, peppermint. helps relieve lung congestion, coughs and bronchial irritations. nice substitute for tobacco)
t i n c t u r e s
(all tinctures come in 50oz dropper bottles and are tinctured in 40% vodka)
– angelica (coughs, colds, digestive remedy, for pre-menstrual bloating and cramps, to regulate and bring on a late period)
– yarrow (coughs, colds, flus, fever. nice to have in the house for when you start to feel sick)
– nerve tonic (a blend of calming, nerve-nourishing and soothing herbs, to help combat anxiety, and promote relaxation. can be taken morning and night for best results.)
– sleepy tonic (a medley of sleepy time, gentle and effective herbs. this one has great reviews, safe for little ones as well)
– immunity elixir (this immunity boosting blend of herbs and wild-crafted medicinal mushrooms packs a potent wallop to the immune system, helping to fight off infections and colds, as well as intended to shorten the length of down-time that goes along with illness. contains: chaga, reishi, propolis, elderberry, elderflower, yarrow, ginger with a bit of sage infused honey syrup. take as needed, store in the refrigerator.)
– herbal mouthwash (a refreshing and minty blend of herbs to kill bacteria, soothe inflammation and toothaches! leaves your mouth feeling fresh and clean. contains: mint, sage, propolis, willow & oregon grape. )
– joy tonic (a blend of herbs to help keep the winter blues at bay)
– other tinctures available, can also do specific blends as needed, inquire for more info.
h e r b a l . v i n e g a r s
( herbs infused in organic local apple cider vinegar. great for salad dressings, marinades, etc )
– fire cider (an old folk remedy and a potent immune system tonic. can be taken daily to help promote digestive health and keep colds at bay. it can also be used by the spoonful at the first hint of sickness, or added into cooking, salad dressings, tea, cocktails, etc as a daily preventative. contains: 100% local nova scotian ingredients, locally grown ginger, garlic, hot peppers, onions, horseradish, thyme, oregano and sage in boates organic apple cider vinegar, with local honey. ) ALMOST OUT
– chanterelle & wild bay
– stinging nettle
– wildberry
– raspberry rose (its even more amazing than it sounds)
h e r b . i n f u s e d . h o n e y
( wild-crafted or organically grown herbs infused in local nova scotian honey. )
– evergreen
– lavender
– rose
– summers end (a blend of wild-crafted and home-grown flowers, a taste of sweet sweet summer)
s h r u b s
(shrubs (or oxymels) were once considered a herbal folk medicine cure-all. they were drank to promote longevity, gargled for sore throats, drank for arthritis relief, to clear phlegm, and. . .they are delicious! ours are made with boates organic apple cider vinegar infused with herbs, and local honey,. shrubs can be added to bubbly or still water, or sipped on their own. each bottle will make about 25 drinks.)
– elderberry rose
– evergreen
– peppermint
s m u d g e . s t i x
– juniper or cedar
– sweetgrass braids (few left)
s e a w e e d
– wild harvested nori ( nori is very high in protein, calcium, vitamin c, iron, magnesium, potassium, the list goes on. it can also be eaten as a snack, sprinkled onto salads, stir fries, or added into soups. seaweeds are extremely nutritious and said to help with inflammation, boosting the immune system, aiding in detoxification of the body, and nourishing the skin.)
d r i e d . m u s h r o o m s
(wild-crafted nova scotian sun-dried mushrooms, nutritive and medicinal, can be added into soups, stock, re-hydrated for stirfries or risotto, etc)
– hedgehogs, maitake, matsutake, reishi (some available powdered as well, great for gravy or soup)
– chaga (drank as tea, or can be added to broths, chaga is an immune boosting, liver supporting, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer)
o d d s . a n d . e n d s
– dream wreaths ( whimsical hops vines, lavender & mugwort wrapped into a dreamy wreath, to be hung above to bed to promote deep sleeps and sweet dreams )
– lavender bundles
– styptic powder (stop bleeding and heal your cuts & scrapes with this herbal powder. keep in your first aid kit, sprinkle liberally on any cuts or scrapes. naturally anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.)
– breathe easy ( roll on bottle with organic sunflower oil and a blend of essential oils for relief of congestion, coughs, colds, sore throat, etc)
– aches and pains (for those deep muscle tissue aches, pains and sprains, arnica is helpful for relieving pain, promoting healing from trauma and bruising, and other injuries. can be liberally rubbed on the body to relieve pain. contains organic sunflower oil infused with arnica, and organic essential oils.)
b o n e . & . a n t l e r . j e w e l r y
(hand-crafted bone, feather, tooth, antler & other wild found jewelry, necklace pieces, earrings, keychains. etc)
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. . . . .
if i haven’t mentioned what you are after, drop me a line, i have likely forgotten half a dozen things, and i am happy to custom make blends.
. . . ..

please inquire for prices, or to make an order. WE ALSO DO CUSTOM ORDERS

we ship to anywhere in canada.

we are also doing some winter markets as well, so it really is while supplies last.

thanks for all your support folks!
* also, worth mentioning that we are very open to bartering and part-trades, money isn’t everything, we would rather trade hand-made goods, foods, organically raised meat, etc, etc. try us. .. .

the winter blues, vitamin d & st. johns wort

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winter time. winter blues. this time of year, our bodies are getting a bit confused. we are not spending as much time outside (or very little for most of us), and the majority of us are lacking in vitamin d. vitamin d is something that our body in the summertime, is able to convert from the sun. however, when the days get shorter and the weather colder, we might have to look otherwise.

some of the symptoms of vitamin d deficiency are: fatigue, poor immune system health (getting sick often), depression, slow healing wounds, and even muscle, bone and back pain. some of these symptoms sound vague, but i can see it in myself in these dark months, the need to amp up my ingestion of vitamin d.

so what are some safe and affordable sources of vitamin d you may ask? i tend to steer away from supplements and pills, as i don’t believe that they are as readily absorbed as more natural and direct sources.

MUSHROOMS! edible and medicinal mushrooms have the unique ability to transform ultra-violet light into vitamin d. but firstly, they must be placed in the sun. you can do this with dried or fresh mushrooms (shitake, maitake, chaga, reishi, etc), we like to sun-dry our mushrooms for ultimate vitamin d uptake.

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some other important natural sources for vitamin d would be: sustainably harvested fish, eggs from organic free-range chickens or ducks, grass-fed raw milk or butter, and ethically sourced cold pressed cod liver oil (though it seems the better the quality, the more expensive it is, making it not really an option for us).

being outside, even though often it seems like a struggle to get there, ( especially when going outside involves layering multiple jackets and sweaters and mittens on multiple children ), is truly the best medicine. soaking up that vitamin d from the sun is the best way of getting that powerhouse of goodness into your body.

seasonal depression is a whole other boat. sometimes the winter blues run deeper than the surface of nutrient and vitamin deficiency (though they can definitely be a contributor). adaptogenic herbs can be helpful, as they can help the body adapt to stresses and changes and provide extra support throughout the seasons. tulsi (holy basil), ashwaghanda, and milky oats can be helpful, as well as other herbs such as: roses, lemonbalm, st. johns wort, and so on.

st johns
st. john’s wort, the sunshine plant, has received much attention for it’s support and easement of seasonal depression, as well as anxiety. st. johns wort has been used for centuries to help deal with the blues, irritability, pms and is now being studied for its anti-viral components. topically, st. johns wort is a very useful healing remedy for nerve injuries and pain, swelling, mild burns, aches and pains, and varicose veins. it is also said to be helpful with some of the emotional strain that occurs along with the symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine or alcohol. the buds of st. john’s wort, when squeezed, yield a dark red blood-like substance, this is what is tinctured with the aerial parts, this is where the medicine resides. there is something delightfully tangible about being able to see such a unique and rich color on your fingertips, the medicine somehow seems more real.

folk healing is an intuitive and historic way of treating and healing people and animals. it has been passed down for generations and generations by many healers throughout the ages, across the world. it is not always recognized by scientifically minded organizations (or the church, back in the midieval times, which was a precursor to the witch burnings, but that’s a whole other story on its own. . .) it is an age old art, imbued with much experimenting, note taking, care and devotion to the plants that grow around us. when things are mass-marketed or grown in mono-cultured huge quantities, i feel like the medicine loses some of it’s resonance. i believe that medicine is made with the hands of the people who know you, and care about you, who put their time and concentration and medicine into the plants that they are extracting it from. it is made in small-batches, perhaps even indicated by the cycles of the moon. there is something rich and deep about folk healing that has been woven by the gnarled and scarred papery old hands of so many women and men across this world. i am indescribably grateful to play the smallest of parts of it.

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y u l e t i d e . b o x

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hey folks, we now accepting reservations for our last wild food & herbal medicine box of the year . . . . the y u l e . b o x ( coming late december 2017 ) ;
 
a winter offering of herbal wares, seasonal remedies, wild harvested preserved seasonal food, and other hand-crafted surprises. it will come in a basket to keep, with a descriptive, folklore laden newsletter explaining the contents within, recipes and their uses.
 
some of the things you might find inside the yule box include:
 
– a bitters blend ( a digestive remedy for the holidaze, for when you thought you wouldn’t eat too much turkey. .. and then you did. . .also helpful for liver support)
– a herbal salve with boreal infusions
– a ridiculously delicious shrub for adding to cocktails or bubbly water
– high-quality wild foraged mushrooms.
– and other surprises. . . .
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as usual, we are focusing on locally nova scotian wild-crafted or grown plants, as we believe that the plants growing around us can provide the majority (if not all) of the food and medicine that we need. winter is a time of year where just like most of the plants outside, our energy tends to go inward, deep down to rest in our roots. more time to perhaps sit by the woodstove, to dream of things to come, and to nourish our hearts and bodies and rest from the busy, whirling energy of the summer now gone by. allow us to bring you a taste of the boreal forest, it is filled with food and medicine. . .learn more about what is growing wild around us.
reishi
 
regular size share – $80 (includes a basket)
small size share – $60 ( “ )
 
do not delay, reserve yours soon, as there is a limited quantity available. drop us a line, or an email at hobo.crow@yahoo.ca to inquire, or reserve yours now.
 
yule boxes also make lovely gifts for dear ones and family, one of a kind locally made herbal creations for health and well-being. these can be mailed anywhere in canada, you simply pay the shipping.
 
deliveries will be late december, to the valley (berwick and wolfville), halifax, and the south shore (bridgewater area). if you don’t fit into those areas, we can likely work something out.
 
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also open to doing custom orders for yourself or friends and family, message me for more info, if you would like herbal support for certain issues or ailments.
 
everything we craft is from locally found, mindfully harvested plants, (either wild-crafted, or grown by us or trusted friends) seaweeds and mushrooms. when it comes to honeys, vinegars and other menstrums, we source as locally as possible, from within our community, or at least nova scotia (other than our oils, which are sourced from an organic farm in quebec, as local as we could find). we create unique herbal wares, crafted with care and reverence, from our hands to yours.
 
*** we are open to barters and part-trades, money is just a convenient form of currency, and we are happy to accept otherwise. some things we are interested in are: grass-fed beef organically raised beef or pastured pork, ethically hunted deer, massages or other body work, tattoos, hand-crafted pottery, clothing, knives, etc, etc. try us, we are happy to discuss alternatives to money, we love trading.
babayaga

wise woman ways.

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simple, nourishing and traditional medicine, the wise woman way.

herbal medicine doesn’t need to be complicated. her roots are steeped in tradition, stirred by wizened hands, and most of us would not be here today if it were not for her nourishing and deeply healing ways. . .and yet, it is in our bones. . .

it is preventative medicine, rather than that which treats symptomatic medicine. it is a whole system, instead of a closed system. it is our right to live freely and healthfully upon this land around us. to respectfully gather the plants and medicine growing here, for food and health. to build and maintain our bodies and systems.

it is easy to overlook this. our connections to both our own bodies, and the land beneath our feet (sometimes far beneath the city concrete), are often in these times frayed and worn. strung bare, wavering in the breeze, or simply broken and disconnected. this disconnect fosters all sorts of feelings of despair, sickness, isolation, sometimes a sadness we cannot explain.

everything we need to heal and sustain ourselves is growing, or can be grown, right here on the land.

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sometimes our bodies have been mistreated for so long, chemicals both ingested through our mouths, and our skin (the bodies largest organ), that it is not an easy or simple answer. often, it is not, though we have grown accustomed to wanting and expecting these quick fixes. but our diets have grown strange and twisted, labels long and listed. . .our bodies starved for nutrients and so we take pills to try and replicate what whole plants would nourish us with, the vitamins and minerals we are lacking.

it is not an easy or simple fix.

we need to recall that there are more holistic ways of living. of being. of breathing. there are ways that we lived before, where our bodies did not fail us. where we did not ingest or put on our skin something that we could not pronounce, or did not know its origin, or even shook or touched the hands from which it was planted and cared for and grown.

there is definitely a romanticism—-and yet to ignore it would be to misunderstand. . .as the romanticism stems from a deep rooted longing, from within our very marrow. . .our bones are aching for a return to something that is real. to live a life that resonates fully within us. to live with the seasons, to eat the food from the soil that we have nurtured. dead soil grows dead food. whether it is a bag of california greens, or a fresh picked salad of garden greens and weeds and flowers, full of vitality and life, which our body so longs for. your body knows the difference. it craves real food, remembrance of whole fats, bone broths, using all of the animal, and the vegetables from true undisturbed and un-sprayed, un-poisoned earth.

our food and medicine is growing all around us. it doesn’t come in expensive bottles from stark lit stores. there are weeds growing around us who offer ten times the nutrition of the vegetables we grow. we need to re-think. to re-learn, and un-learn as well, the habits that will lead to our unconscious undoing. times are shifting. things can change if we want them to, if we demand that they do. to hold out for real food, for clean water, for the power of holding our health in our own hands.

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a book i would really recommend for those of you interested in learning more about weeds and the nutritive foods and medicines they can provide, is ‘the wild wisdom of weeds’ by katrina blair. she writes with knowledge, experience and passion for the often considered invasive and taken for granted ‘weeds’ that likely are growing all around you.

root medicine & bitters.

root medicine is one of my favorite times of the year. you can dig roots in both the spring and the fall, and both have their anticipation, and yet i favor the earthy, musty and cool autumn. . .when the energy of the plant has retreated back into the roots for the long cold months ahead. this means the leaves have generally died back, perhaps killed by frost.

bitter is a taste that in our modern world, we have gradually steered away from, in favor of sweet. . .sweet would have once been a rare occurrence in nature, especially in our climate. apples, berries, some few herbs perhaps. . .but our ancestors would not have eaten a lot of sweets. back in the day, we would have naturally incorporated bitter tastes into our diets, from bark to different wild foraged foods. the bitter taste can be used to help sluggish digestion, by stimulating digestive juices. they also aid in detoxification of the liver, and tonification.

in traditional chinese medicine, there are five elements and each element has a flavor. bitter is fire, and the bitter taste can be used medicinally in what is considered ‘excess damp’ conditions, helping to move the energy downwards for processing, tonification and elimination. bitters can be helpful for skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and other inflammatory conditions, but when used in excess can be considered too drying.

bitters can also be helpful for gently and gradually helping body functions return to normal. if you have digestive issues, gas, bloating, incontinence, damage to your guts, or if you have overindulged, bitters can aid in getting your body back on track. they are a cheaper, more local alternative to store-bought probiotics (as well as a well balanced diet and natural probiotics found in lacto-fermented foods and drinks). they can also help curb cravings for sweets and sugar.

we need more bitters in our life! the taste isn’t unpleasant, it is just a bit foreign to our sweet-ruined tongues. personally i have come to enjoy bitters, i try to take them regularly for digestive and liver health, especially when i have eaten too much, or feel inflamed. they have helped me a lot with my belly and gut health.

some bitter and digestive stimulant herbs that i tend to reach for are dandelion, burdock and yellow dock roots, as well as angelica (which is one of the only bitters that has warming, rather than cooling effects, think of ginger as well in it’s spicy and heating taste).

this year i am experimenting with other boreal bitters, and am looking forward to offering some bitter tinctures and blends in the months to come. .. octobers wild food and medicine box will include one of our new bitters blends. for more info on our monthly boxes, follow the link above.

proper plant identification (as always) is important when digging root medicine. it is wise to be certain you have identified the correct plant before digging and making medicine from it. consult different plant identification guides or consult with local herbalist and plant folx.

happy digging!

nourishing the nerves.

there are times in our lives where we reach that point of discombobulation (a.k.a losing it, breaking down, etc.) it’s helpful if we can be mindful of this progression towards the tipping point before completely falling off that edge, but sometimes it’s just too late, gravity prevails and off we go.

for me, this moment seems to often happen mid-summer. the heat, combined with the sheer incomprehensible busyness that comes along with my life revolving around summers botanical bounty, my dear and sweet but demanding two year old who is consistently at my side all day every day, caring for other humans and animals, and many other factors all seem to suddenly implode——–leaving me a mess of salty, sweaty chaos, inside and out.

while there are many contributing factors to stress and anxiety, and just as many helpful and mindful practices to avoid them (nutritive, healthy, wholesome foods, breathing, exercise, etc), i do find myself turning to herbs to help me deal with moments of madness. there are lots of herbs that are more helpful taken over a more long-term period, on the preventative side of things. milky oats (as well as oatstraw) is one of those herbs, whose presence in our bodies is likened to food for the nerves. to soothe and nourish, as a sedative, nervine and nutritive tonic. it can be extraordinarily helpful for folks who are feeling frazzled, overworked, who are burning the candle at both ends, or even to help withdrawal from nicotine, caffeine, alcohol or hard drugs.

milky oats are harvested at the green ripening stage, when you squeeze the oats and a white, slightly sweet, milky substance comes out. they are tinctured immediately. oatstraw is from dried oats. drinking oatstraw tea is a good building tonic, helping to keep those frayed nerves in check, for over taxed nervous systems, exhaustion, irritability, sexual impotence. . .the tincture of milky oats is best used acutely, for situations of stress. both can be used, but the tea is more effective over more long-term use.

oats and oatstraw are full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, from iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamins a, b & c. when taken regularly, they can help build and strengthen our bones and nerves, as well as help heal emotional trauma, chronic fatigue, sleeplessness and regulate hormones. they are a gentle and effective plant ally, one worth building a long-term relationship with. oats are easy to grow, a wonderful cover crop, and easy to collect seed from to grow again next year. listen to them whispering in the breeze, or try a tiny sip of their sweet, milky goodness, to calm the nerves and salve the spirit in this crazed world of ours.

we also make a calming and a bit more potent tincture called ‘woah nelly’, that has become popular over the years, and is always at-hand for myself and my family for those times of frazzled nerves, meltdowns, and other occurrences that seem to come this time of year. if you would like more info, or wanted to find yourself some woah nelly or milky oat tincture (oatstraw is still drying for future tea), don’t hesitate to drop a line.