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, April 22, 2013

Part 2 of 4 - Starting Over, Again

We have been blessed with more rain. Everything is so green, so full of wick and wonder. Every vase in the cottage is filled with flowers, daffodils, forsythia, red bud, iris …

I’ve just recently learned about the upkeep of wild raspberry patches. Thankfully it’s not too late to cut back the old growth so that the younger and new canes can draw the wick and produce more. I noticed a marked drop off of raspberries last spring compared to the spring before but counted it to the 2 summers drought.

The chickens are laying again and have been for a couple of months. We have 22 eggs in a barrowed incubator that should start to hatch this weekend. Buffs and Buff/RIR mix, which may be Red Stars but I’m not sure.

Two litters of buns, 8 total, all boys but two. 4 himalayans, 1 black, 1 white, 2 brown. And a pregnant doe due in 3 weeks.

I don’t know how much, if any, of the orchard trees and bushes lived. We worked so hard to keep them all watered through the drought of last summer but we lost some anyway. Of the ones that lived through the summer, several were broken off by unknown forces over the winter. The Service Berries look to have been killed by cut worm. I had treated them with a natural clay mix but I didn’t keep it up through the winter, which was so mild the worms must have kept at it. Right now it looks like one each of pecan, pawpaw, hazelnut and hawthorn lived. That’s out of 3 each planted. Bushwise, there’s a spice bush, a witch hazel and maybe a red or black currant. We’ll be thankful for whatever there is and keep trying.

We’ve finished preparing the vegetable garden plot and it should be plowed soon. A neighbor is going to come up and plow it, then disc it. It will be a huge boon to lessen the work this year. I had to dig up almost all my herbs from the herb gardens though because he needs that space to get his tractor to the vegetable garden plot. I couldn’t find the Black Cohosh to dig it so I hope it will survive the tractor.

I had spread azomite over the plot last year and will do so again just before plowing. The place sat empty for 2 years and then 2 more years with us not using it. We make prayers that it’s good fertile, healthy soil.

I’ve got some starts going, slow to get them as usual but they’re in their little cups awaiting sprouts of joy. One of the greatest seeds started was my special variegated mugwort. It’s called Oriental Limelight and is as lovely as it’s name. I had given away and traded a bunch of seeds and thought I had accidentally given away all my special mugwort seeds the first summer we were here. I tried to get some back but to no avail. Then, this winter I came across a few bags of saved seeds from the burrow and there, with the cinnamon and lemons basils, was a tiny bit of mugwort seeds. I used every seed to try and start, so hopefully I’ll have some coming up to transfer to the herb gardens after the big plot is plowed.

So far I’ve started …
Gypsy toms x 6 - Heirloom - Sprouted
Speckled Roman toms x 6 - H - S
Long Cayenne x 6 - H
Purple Beauty Bell pepper x 6 - H
Variegated Mugwort
Lemon Basil - S
Common Basil
Genovese Basil - S
Cinnamon Basil - S
Purple Basil - S
Stinging Nettles
White Horehound
Broad Leaf Sage - S
Common Thyme - S
English Thyme
Mammoth Dill - S
Chaste Tree (Vitex)
Sheep’s Sorrel
Fenugreek - S
Anise Hyssop
Lion’s Tail (Wild Daga)

Hopefully, still out in the herb gardens is Bloodroot, Goldenseal, Black Cohosh, Echinacea p, Fennel, Common Mugwort, Wormwood, Mints (Lime, Apple, Earl Grey, Orange, Chocolate), Common Sage, Rue, Celery and more I can’t think of. Dug and brought inside until the veg garden is plowed … Motherwort, Hens & Chicks, Peppermint and Spearmint. I also have a little peach tree and two Ginko starts doing well inside until they can go out.

I have a large bag of seeds for the vegetable garden. I’ll need to start a lot of them inside and need to make room to do so or get the greenhouse up  : )

I’ve planned succession planting for the flour and the sweet corn and hope to plant popcorn and gourds behind the barn.

We’ve been going through our scrap building supplies to see what we can come up with for the greenhouse ends. So close to starting to put it up : )

Since the loss of our beloved Thistle, I’m looking for a new dairy doe. Saanen or Saanen mix. We’ll need at least 2 now as most goats aren’t like Thistle and need and want goat companions. I’m also looking for a wool eweling, preferably just weaned so I can raise her.

Still no solar shower since it blew down last fall. We were offered a lot of scrap building material but haven’t been able to pick it up because of not having the blazer legal and broken rear brake. Things happen as they should.

So we’re also trying to figure out a new shower system with what we have here. If we had a much taller ladder could add a solar water heater to the roof, attach a drain system to the cistern, and clean the chimney. A longer ladder is at the top of The List.

I made a very good deal last fall to get a heifer this year. A meat breed mix but would be plenty of milk for us. Cheeses, yogurt and …butter!!!  But, I have decided that I’ll most likely put it off until things smooth out more here and we get further on. I think I’ll be able to make the same deal next year or the next. We’ll see. We know a few people who keep or get bulls each year and the offspring can be turned into meat or traded for meat, which would help immensely. We’ll see.

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