One of the things I’m just beginning to get to grips with is the abundant wild harvest that is available here on our land. While the concept of foraging isn’t new to me a lot of the flora is, variations are different here than back home and I admit to being desperately terrified of making a mistake.
Luckily we made contact with Amber Westfall through our homeschool group and her herb identification walks really put a fire under me. She helped me to see the plants around me more as individuals rather than as a mass of life ‘out there’ in the fields that surround our home. Instead I’m starting to recognise and name the plants, feeling more rooted and secure here as what was unfamiliar becomes familiar.
With this in mind we headed out into the sunshine to collect the abundant and perfectly named Goldenrod to add to our medicine cabinet. This plant is all over our land right now, lending it’s sweet fragrance to the air and nodding it’s yellow head in the sunshine. The woody stems make it useless for grazing animals so it’s good to know it can help the people living here instead!
Huwyl dived straight in with scissors and basket in hand, snipping away like the seasoned forager he is. As I watch him confidently approaching nature like this, knowing he is absorbing this information into himself like sunlight on a flower, I wonder how different his perception of the world will be when he is an adult. I can’t help but hope and dream that both the boys will be comfortable with nature, at ease and familiar with their environment; I hope that it won’t be an abstract for them but a companion providing food, medicine and peace of soul.
After jumping heartily in the only puddle on our entire farm, Neirin insisted on being the bearer of the scissors. Despite his grumpy face he was determined to not relinquish control of the tool of power and chopped away at anything he could reach. Neirin is our most determined child, something akin to a bulldozer when it comes to willpower, so arguing with him can feel like banging your head against a spike repeatedly but with less laughs.
But he truly is our farm boy, willing to participate in any given task, unfazed by weather or muck. Despite my frustration at his current screaming phase, which involves reacting to a variety of stimuli with a pitch and volume of screaming that makes your ears wish they had taken a polar icecap vacation for a year or two, his presence is one of solidity and earthiness that I can’t imagine being without. Everything he does is done with utter conviction and commitment, unfortunately for our ears right now that is quite often bellowing loudly, but I do believe his drive and energy is a great gift.
According to my herbal bible The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, Goldenrod is good for treating upper respiratory catarrh, influenza, flatulent dyspepsia, cystitis, urethritis, treatment of wounds as well as treating laryngitis and pharyngitis. Not a bad little ally to have around the place I think.
I followed Hoffman’s instructions on alcohol based tincture making, he says to use 120g of dried material or twice that of fresh. By wondrous and joyfilled coincidence we had exactly the right amount in our basket, perfection. I bruised some of it and stripped the more woody stems away before adding 1/2 pint of 40% vodka. It nearly filled a quart jar and looks so ridiculously attractive I can hardly bear to pop in in a dark place for 6 weeks; but I must and of course I will.
The yellow and green, pressed perfectly against that glass as it swims in its alcoholic bath, seems to me a perfect distillation of our farm. It is wild and unfamiliar in many ways but in others a comforter, an ally, a protector. While we may not yet know exactly how to use all the gifts that are being offered we are learning and willing to learn more, we are alert to all the possibilities and delight in each one we find. What seem to many weeds and waste are in fact a mother’s gifts, available to all but treasured with gratitude.