Wild Moon Cottage is a small working homestead in the pristine Ozark Mountains. We have dairy goats, poultry, organic herb and vegetable gardens, a start of a tiny fruit orchard, several black walnut trees, wild berries and fields of wildcrafting goodness. We raise our own milk, our own eggs, much of our own medicine and food. I do laundry by hand, make my own vinegar, candles, soap, bread, cheese ........ For a living I am an artist and herbalist. My goal for myself and our homestead is to be as self sufficient and self sustaining as possible.

Monday, July 21, 2014

7.21.14 Life in the deliberately slow lane

This month has had hardship and sorrow but also, as always, great joy and hope.

Star, my beloved companion and guardian is dying. She a shepherd wolf hybrid, 13 years old. Suddenly, almost 3 weeks ago now, she just stopped going to the bathroom and then topped eating. Rather than go through it all details I’ll just say that she had vet visits, tests and xrays, which could find nothing wrong, no twisted bowel, no blockage... She’s gone from over 100 lbs to around 60. I’ve been treating her, feeding her, moving her around, washing her etc etc etc. Some days she seems better but most days she’s worse. The last vet idea was exploratory surgery which is beyond my means. She’s home, sleeping a lot, wanting to live. If she crosses the veil then she will do so in peace and surrounded by great love.

I’ve also been having a time finding homeowners insurance again. The policy was getting ready to expire and I was able to have a new policy written up with s few things changed to my preference but then my lien holder contacted the insurance agency to complain about me and sent them some of my personal emails. Not surprisingly they dropped me completely and black listed my house as “uninsurable" forever.  Humans are so odd.

So I’m on the hunt again to find someone who will insure a house with wood stove. One snooty woman that I spoke with this week called our beautiful little cottage a “hovel”.  Another, very nice, woman said that the underwriters she works with won’t even insure her house, their standards are so strict she has to go elsewhere.

I found that it would have made it impossible to get homeowners if I had gone completely off-grid like I wanted to. It sounds as though it will get harder and harder for non-mainstream folks to get coverage. Pretty crazy stuff.

I am very thankful things aren't worse though.

And there’s still wonder…

I picked the first ripe pepper a few days ago and now I’m harvesting peppers and tomatoes daily.

I let the garden grow up, kept putting off work I should have gotten done. And now stink bugs are in the tomatoes but not too badly.

The herb gardens are doing very well. Small plants but it’s starting to look a little like my old gardens before the move. The one big thing that hurt my heart about leaving the Burrow was having to leave my herb garden. It was an ice storm and the was no chance to dig much up. But that’s done and tomorrow is a new day.

I’m still laid off my second job until august so I've been using that time to work on the house a bit. Preparing for an electric water heater, getting ready to paint the window and door trim and preparing to start painting floors.

We also got our first duck egg yesterday. Thank the Mother! We Really need our eggs although we do have a very local source to buy them.

We have at least 4 extra roosters that I have for sale but will probably turn into meat if they don’t sell soon. I don’t eat much meat and even less when I do the processing of it but it’s much healthier for the meat eaters, mainly Nik.

There’s at least 1 more younger roo and maybe a second one that we’ll sell or eat. Otherwise we’re keeping 3 roosters Archimedes – Ameraucana, Onyx – Barred Rock and Fauks – RIR. We didn’t get any Australorp roos and no RIR hens, no Buff Orps hatched out at all. In hens (not counting Old Hen) we have 7 Australorp, 7 or 8 Ameraucana, 3 Barred Rocks

We also have 3 Pekin ducks, 1 male and 2 female, wonderful things. Big like small geese, great fun to watch and good egg layers thus far.

And 5 Rouen ducklings. We got them on a whim from someone Nik works with. They’re very pretty ducks and apparently good to eat.

I’m also wanting to expand my little rabbitry a bit. Not too much but enough to better house who we have plus a couple of more does and children. Currently none are on the colonies because I needed one to house an ill cat (who’s almost completely well) and the other collapsed (no rabbit injuries or escapes). I saw that it was going so we moved everyone from it. So new/more colonies, pens and a new rabbit tractor are on the list.

I’m off now to finish supper. I’m baking a chicken crostata with fresh rosemary. A hearty double crust recipe, purposely a little tough to hold in all the goodness. Filled with leftover chicken, chicken gravy, yellow squash, potatoes, peas, onion, garlic, freshly cracked peppercorns, minced queen ann leaves. shredded lambs quarters. Once the crust is folded over I brush it with egg and sprinkle finely chopped fresh rosemary. Fresh slices of tomato with sea salt on the side. It’s a wonderful thing.


It’s such a hearty meal that for evening tea I’m just having tea with honey and goat’s milk. Sometimes the sweet tea is the dessert  :)



A basket of beautiful baby bunnies. Our most recent litter  :)


Friday, June 27, 2014

What's for Supper? 6.27.14

I just got in from gathering things for supper. Tonight is a meat meal and I'm making ...
Roasted herbed chicken with sage, lemon thyme and onion
Steamed rice with garlic, onion and magenta and silver lamb quarters tossed in to steam lightly, after the heat is turned off
Salad made of red and green romaine, arugula, grape leaves, dock, violet leaves, red and white clover leaves, dandelion      leaves, daylily petals, queen anns leaves, wild onion and sorrel. 
Commercial ranch dressing
Cornflour flatbread
Iced bergamot tea with rose petals, red clover blossom, raspberry leaves and a little spearmint

Evening tea (our dessert time) fresh raspberry & gooseberry shortcake
Simple black tea with honey and goat's milk

I usually gather everything in the same basket or pot then go through and sort. 
1 - sage and lemon thyme for the chicken
2 - bergamot, rose petals, red clover blossoms and raspberry leaves for the tea
3 - raspberries and gooseberries with a few leaves and petals still in
4 is the salad mix minus the romaines
5 is lambs quarters for the rice
6 sprigs of spearmint for tea



Aside from the ranch, sugar, rice, flour, cornmeal, some spices and black tea, everything came from our land or locally grown. The honey and eggs are local  (I traded all our laying hens for firewood last year and our new hens aren't old enough yet). But most of the ingredients came from our land and most are wild. If you live in the Ozarks you likely have access to most of these things and much more. We eat this way all the time and have since my son was very little, so it's not a big deal for us and still it amazes me and makes me smile at each meal.

What did you harvest to eat today?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Almost Summer 6.17.14

At least two days in a row without rain. Not to complain about all the rain but we needed to dry out a bit. Everyone has been living in muck for sometime and cleaning out pens was almost useless. scoop a shovelful up to have it filled with muck water. Thankfully the horse and goat can get out if their pens during the day. The chickens are getting close to big enough to get out a freerange as well but not quite yet. The rabbits are all living in hutches right now except for the 2 free ones, but tended the hutches in the mud was not a good thing, especially because my boots are cracked and leak  *-*  The ducks love it all, rain, mud, muck, they're happy as clams.

The gardens are doing wonderfully but the yard area is way overgrown since the loss of our very decrepit lawn mower. I don't mow a lot but where I do mow is chest high in fleabane. 


There are buds and blossoms on everything. So far we've gotten planted in the vegetable garden ...

O roma tomatoes
H mortgage lifter toms
H california wonder green bell peppers
? big bertha peppers (I got them accidentally and know very little about them
O sweet onion sets
O H moon & star watermelons
H jack o lantern pumpkins  (meant to get pie pumpkins but we've eaten many jack pumpkins)
H pimiento pepper
O H crookneck squash
H boston cucumbers
O blue lake bush beans
H red or orange bell pepper
O arugala
O red and green romain
O summer spinach
O calendula  (with the tomatoes)

To the big herb garden I've recently moved or added ...

stevia
lavender
poppy
mugwort
lemon thyme
english thyme
comfrey
my two special thimble berries (which aren't doing well at all)
motherwort
magenta lambs quarters

In pots I have a big alo vera, hens and chicks (they stay out year round), rosemary and ginger! (thank you Linn!)  I used to always grow ginger (not american ginger, which I do wildcraft when needed) but lost my last plant when we moved here and hadn't tried to get started again. But a friend gave me some of hers and it's doing wonderfully. If I can get a greenhouse up before winter ....


I've actually been out of it for about 5 days, in bed for over 48 hours of that with severe muscle spasms in my lower back. No idea what the cause was, I did't hurt myself at all, that I recall.  When I was in my early 20's, I did slip a disc on my right side, which was/is the worst. But it hasn't bothered me since, until now. It started out with occasional painful catches in my lower back but would leave when I could stand up fully. But on Friday evening it turned into a 2 hour long muscle spasm. When it was over and  I took great care not to bend at all but it happened again a few hours later and lasted almost 2 hours that time too. I resorted to old prescription muscle relaxers from when we were in the bad accident in the Crow truck several years ago. I do believe they helped but they did noting for the spasms, which started in my lower back and wrapped around my sides, eventually going to my lower stomach muscles. When I had some time to think I had Nik look in my Herbal where I have a list of anti-spasmodics with comments. Ginger is at the top of my list and I began taking 1/4 t ground ginger in a cup of water. The spasms eased right away and ceased soon after. The worst of it was Friday night and Saturday day. I slept most of Saturday and Sunday and was up with care on Monday. Much closer to myself today (Tuesday). 


Foodwise, there always has to be food  :)   I made some wonderfully weird flatbreads today.  I didn't write down the measurements but will be making them again soon and will take care to make a recipe. They're made with white, whole wheat and corn flour, and a little corn meal. A dense, rustic, hearty and delicious bread that I stuffed with chicken salad, arugula, lambs quarters and dandelion greens. Most excellent!


Friday, May 2, 2014

5.2.14 Merry May!


We’ve gotten most of the carpeting up and I’m preparing to paint the floors. All the floors will be simple plywood for quite a while, if not longer. We’ll be painting all the floors a rich dark brown call Bittersweet Chocolate.

When we get to the walls the livingroom, kitchen and bath will be Cottage White or Old Lace or both, my room will be light Victorian Sage ( a color of my own making) and the mudroom will be Tawny Birch.

I tried a new recipe for veggie burgers the other day and I think it may be my favorite yet. It makes 4 big burgers. I made two into regular burgers on buns with oven fries and wild salad. The second two I saved for supper and we had them like mini meatloaves with catsup on top, served with herbed potatoes, polk greens and acorn squash.

Here’s the original recipe as is, with my changes noted.

Red Bean Burgers

2 cans (15.5 0z ea) red kidney beans rinsed and drained.
(I used around 3 cups of cooked dry red beans, drained but did not rinse)
1 med carrot pealed and shredded (about ½ cup)
1 t chili powder
1 t dried oregano
¾ cup dried bread crumbs
( I used some homemade seasoned croutons, crushed )
2 large eggs
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper  (I use sea salt)
3 T extra virgin olive oil

Lightly mash beans in large bowl, leaving some whole. (I roughly mashed all and left larger pieces). Add carrots, chili pepper, oregano, bread crumbs and eggs. Season generously with salt and pepper; stir until thoroughly combined. Divide mixture into 4 portions and form patties.

Heat 2 T oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. ( I Never use non-stick! I cooked mine on a large cast iron skillet with 1/2  T olive oil per side ) Add patties and cook undisturbed until bottom forms a browned crust and most of oil is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Flip patties and add remaining 1 T oil to pan, swirling to coat bottom. Cook undisturbed until browned on other side and heated through, 8 to 10 mins. Serve on buns with accompaniments.

** I’ve not tried freezing them but I would think they would freeze well if first frozen singly on a baking sheet then added to a glass container or whatever you use. I plan to make a double batch next time and try freezing for fast food. I’ll post the results.

It’s been cooler this week so the solar shower is still cold but it’s to warm up this coming week so maybe …  It’s usable now but we’re going to be working to finish it next Tues and Wed and I’ll take some photos.

I’ve gotten a good amount of the main herb garden and the vegetable garden tilled. The main herb garden won’t be tilled again as a whole after this year. Just a tilling to get it started. I moved the horse radish and part of the mugwort to the main herb bed the other day and planted the onion sets and magenta lamb’s quarters today in the main herb bed as well. I sprinkled medicinal poppy seed over the onion bed as well. I’ve been moving several things there but want to move what’s in the veg garden first. I’ll wait until fall tho to move the garlics, I don’t want to risk stunting them or harming them at all for a fall harvest.

The main herb bed is for all manner of perennial herbs and veg. The main vegetable garden will be worked twice a year and is for the annuals. There will be a second small working vegetable garden behind the barn for popcorn and gourds.

All the animals are doing great. We have an abundance of goats milk! Old Hen has now laid 8 eggs. The last chicks hatched will be going into the chicken pen next week.

I found 2 pairs a jeans at a yard sale yesterday. And the great news is that, they fit! 1.00 each. Sheesh, I’ve not had jeans that actually fit in years. The jeans I did have I had to tie on with a scarf so that about ¼ of the waist was cinched tight. It wasn’t comfortable at all. I also found a bed skirt and a small box of babyfood jars. Thank The Stars for yard sales and thrift stores!


There are a lot of May-lemons (may-apples) this year. I see them everywhere. I keep checking to try and get some lemons before the creatures but none so far. I never get the ripe ones in time and the fruit is so rare anyway. 


Monday, April 28, 2014

Tornadoes

I'm just hearing about the tornadoes. We have a small area to put some tents or a couple of small campers. We have water, food, clothing etc to share. We can also take in a few animals (1 or 2 large or small small) , until their humans can get back at it. 

It may not be comfy for any of us but we can all make do and make it work.

Please share this with anyone in need. We're north of Gainesville Mo. I don't have a stock trailer but I can haul small stock and a few humans at a time. We'll help in any way we can.

You can reach me here or at wildmooncottage@gmail.com
 or wildwoodwoman@outlook.com

Friday, April 25, 2014

4.18 & 4.21.14

It’s just after 3:00 pm and I’m just sitting down for some lunch. My lunch is leftover and reheated, steamed brown and white rice with a creamy, thick chicken gravy, fresh lemon thyme and black pepper. Delicious! 

This week has been very productive. Among other things I made 2 pints and 2 half pints of violet jelly, which is mighty delicious! and racked off 2 regular and 1 large bottle of mead from the first batch. I changed it a bit because of what I had ready so there’s 1 small each Elderberry mead from my tincture, Lemon mead from my own extract and a large Clove mead. I’m sure it won’t be drinkable by Beltane (which is what I meant instead of Ostara). It’s very strong and potent and I can’t wait until it truly becomes mead  :)

This month is going so fast! It seems like it just began and it’s already the 18th!

Nik got the tiller out for me and started it a few times to check it and get it going. I’ve made a lot of trades over the years, sometimes they kind of iffy, a few times I’ve been flat out ripped off but mostly they have been wonderful transactions for both sides. The tiller being among some of the best trades I’ve made.

So I’ll be getting to work on the gardens finally, I hope  *o*. I still haven’t gotten the onion sets in and I have several things to move from the veg garden to the big herb garden. Thankfully, most everything planted last year that should have come back has and is doing very well. A few things were lost, like the Valerian, which should have self seeded and had some good seed heads that dropped in plenty of time. Anyway, I’m thankful for what there is and will try again on what I need. Like the Thuja, which I found and thought had some wick in it but I guess it doesn’t after all.

Lunch is done and now I’m off to wash some dishes and make some pumpkin butter.
…………………….

It’s now the 21st. The pumpkin butter turned out wonderfully and has been slathered on toast for breakfast for the last few days. I made 3 pints and we’ve already gone through the first one.

Tomorrow I’ll be picking up our 2 blueberry bushes and Thimleberries. I’m very excited to have them. I brought a blueberry when we moved here and got another the following summer but both were lost. The new Blueberries are larger and older than the others so will hopefully have a very good chance. Plus I have a better spot for them now in the orchard. The Thimbleberries are very precious to me and will hopefully do wonderfully and produce many amazing berries and leaves  :)

My ultimate goal will never change, it is … to live simply and in peace. But the getting there has changed many times and will do so many times more as I reckon it. We’ve gone back and forth on meat animals, what kind to raise etc… (I would prefer to do without meat altogether but Nik wants it and some of the animals need it).  We’re back to goats. In some ways I would prefer a cow and calf for milk and meat. Much more milk, harder cheeses and blessed Butter! Glorious delicious butter. But cows can be as hard on the land as goats and they can be harder to manage, especially on a smallholding like ours.

So we’re back to goats for milk and meat and will hopefully come across a very creamy doe soon. Our old Anya goat was very creamy and I made butter weekly with just what I skimmed. But our Pansy is not nearly as creamy and butter is very rare.

We’ll also have chickens for meat when we have enough to spare. Eggs are more important to be sure.

I’m in now for afternoon tea break. I’m having black tea with goat’s milk and violet jelly on commercial crackers. Then I’ll head back out to milk and finish a hammock.

We got the solar shower up and working. It’s not been hot enough to warm the water yet but it will get there. I’ll try to remember to take pictures to post.

We’re still working toward the inside shower too. By The Gods! I want a warm bath or shower inside in winter!!  So we’re back to looking for an electric waterheater and will change it over from the propane, which will be a little wonky but not too hard. That will give us a hot shower in winter until the bathroom floor can be set to hold the cast iron tub. And I’m going to start looking for something light enough to be able to drag in by the woodstove or something as a back-up tub where water can be heated on the stove, unless we can get the clawfoot into the bathroom first.

I’m done with crazy, dangerous, stinky propane and will soon have 1 new full tank and 1 old half full tank, plus a little propane stove once it’s cleaned up(which I took it in trade awhile back), to trade/barter/sell. I’ll take a primitive stick on fire any day!

But I’ll keep the old propane water heater and either use it for another solar water tank or a wood fired tank. Most likely the latter. I’m wanting to set up a gravity system that will warm in the sun and catch rainwater when needed, and feed inside to shower/bath and kitchen sink. A plastic barrel could do that job and leave the old tank to use as a wood heated tank for when there’s no sun in winter but I need a way to have it high enough for gravity and still safe and reachable for the wood fire under. It’s all doable :)


In my quest to find out more about our well and pump etc. I got some good and bad news. Good news is that the pump is only around 6 or 7 years old. And both good and bad news is that the well is less than 200 feet deep. Since I can’t do anything about the bad, I will focus on the good. We can get a manual hand pump set up pretty easily and have access to our water on or off grid. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

4.12.14

It’s been summer warm for the last few days. 88 here on Thursday. And very breezy. I’ve never lived anywhere as windy as often as it is here. We have a good place for solar and wind, and I so look forward to when we can move to that.

Last night I worked late into the evening and when I came out of my studio I was overcome with an intoxicating mix of scents from all the flowers blooming. I just stood for some minutes looking at the moon and starts and breathing in the sweet magic of life. A gentle reminder that everything comes around and all things are possible.

Our current batch of eggs in the incubator are due to hatch next weekend. I’ll be glad when the hatching is done for a while. Even so, turning this batch has been much faster. I used old paper egg cartons to make simplified egg turners. I just cut them to fit in sizes of 12 and 18 eggs each, cut notches between each egg cut for moisture and humidity, trim all excess so they fit to one another easily and close (so the eggs don’t drop hard) and make twice what I needed. When it’s time to turn the eggs just put an empty one on top, hold together and gently & slowly flip. I can turn 5 doz eggs in the time it took to turn 1 dozen individually. I’m keeping a little more water in than usual to compensate for the paper absorbing some. I’ve candled several times during and all 60 eggs are fertile and doing well. On the day they are to begin their rest in preparing to hatch I’ll remove them from the cartons just like from an automatic egg turner. We’ll see next weekend.

We’ve finished the main part of the new chicken pen and the ducks and first 9 chicks are loving it. We still have to put on a top and build the new hen house but they have shelter and won’t need the henhouse until later this summer.

And some strange chicken magic! Old Hen, who is around 14 years old now, has laid 5 eggs over last week. She’s not laid any since but those 4 are amazing. I wish they had been fertile so we could have some Old Hen babies. But we’ll save the blessed eggs for Ostara, an unexpected bounty to bring more of the same.

The first of the mead may also be ready for Ostara. Not as ready as it should be but ready enough to partake a little. I’m going to rack the first batch to 4 smaller bottles, flavor 3 with herbs and leave the 4th simple and dry.  The 3 will be 1 each Sage, Lavender and Melissa, and will be a bit sweeter. I’m hoping to be able to have a little of the dry for Ostara and leave the other 3 to age.

The next batch after is Pumpkin spice but the next batch, which I will start in about 2 weeks, will be very sweet winter mead acked off into 1 Elderberry, 1 Cinnamon & Ginger and maybe 1 flavored after racking with some homemade orange extract.

I’ve not had to water the orchard since the first day we planted the new trees and bushes. It has rained perfectly for them. First every day, then every other day or every few days. I wouldn’t have minded hauling the water, it’s worth it for the return of fruit and nuts some day, but what a gift of extra time and energy not to have to. The Service and Beauty berries are already leafing out  :)

The blueberries and thimbleberries should be here soon too.

Strange how dry things can get so quickly. Our road is already very dusty. More strange is how things in a closed pantry can get so dusty too.

We should have the solar shower rigged up by the end of the next week. I need help to work on it so it’s left for Nik’s days off. It’s nothing fancy at all, not as nice as our old one, but if it works I’ll be very happy.

I gathered up a passel of violets the other day, there’s an abundance of them this year. Got them in and rinsed and started steeping and then discovered I didn’t have any lemon juice. I was sure I did but nadda. So no jellies until I get some  :(   Does anyone know of a substitute for the lemon juice? I believe it’s only function is to prevent oxidization and improve color but gray violet jelly just wouldn’t be the same. And it may have a more important role as an acidic in canning the jellies. I’ll get some lemon juice soon and be making Violet, Dandelion and Sassafras bud jellies. I’m going to try making a small jar of Redbud jelly too.

Today I’m making cheese and may start some yogurt later, but that may wait until Monday.

I also need to make some soap. I’ve not made any in years and have been buying it. I do plan to make some as soon as the honeysuckle blooms, I’ve been wanting some honeysuckle oatmeal soap. Maybe grind up some rosehips to add to a few bars for my face soap as well. I have everything I need and just need to take the time.

My secret business venture goal has gotten a bit closer suddenly and unexpectedly. Anything can happen but anything is possible. We’ll see  :)  I’m very excited about it!

I’m not making house calls anymore unless it’s an emergency. I’m trying to figure out a way to host folks here to see. The cost of house calls has become overwhelming. People give what they can in trade but no one, including me, can spare even a few dollars for fuel costs, which I understand and place no blame. I’m hoping the above secret business venture will include something for that. Even so I’m trying to figure out some way to have a space here for them to visit without bringing it into the cottage. Things work as they should so I know it will work out.

Lastly, some folks have gotten together in the Gainesville area and started the Ozark County Homegrown Food Project. Jessi is heading it and I have high hopes for her and the whole thing. It’s about buying local and as truly local as possible. I’m so proud pf them!

There was a great article about it in the Ozark County Times April 2nd.   I believe great things will come from it.

This is something that has always been of great importance to me. I was hoping to be more a part of this but lack of internet has dampened that. Things are as they should be. I wish them the absolute greatest luck!!