This one goes out to Nahko and Medicine for the People for their beautiful song “Budding Trees“. What a beautiful season of new beginnings. The grass is growing, the hoof clan is grazing, and we are happy.
Over the past couple of weeks we have had to fix machinery a number of times. First the ATV, then the backhoe, then the ATV, then the backhoe again… That is what you get with old equipment, but the parts have been cheap (about $10/ fix) so we are thankful it hasn’t been anything severe so far. We found a spring on the other side of the property today which was a great find! We don’t have to haul water from the creek to the greenhouse to water seedlings anymore. The water is only maybe fifty feet away now! It is definitely seasonal, but it is a blessing nonetheless.
In the greenhouse the kale, lettuce, and spinach have sprouted. We purchased some raspberry varieties and a couple of lilac bushes to plant here come May. For now, they are in the greenhouse. We have been transplanting douglas fir saplings in various places on the property from other areas on the property where there are many spaced closely together. It is important just to transplant trees that are overcrowded to allow them space to grow in all directions, but not leave any area without trees. Our goal is to re-forest the entire property. We have now moved twelve saplings and have A LOT more to go! We plan to also spread the ponderosa pine, tamarack, quaking aspens, and birch trees found on the property. Today during our trail maintenance day we took a garden hoe and shovel and cut flat footpaths into the hill. The goal is to create trails all around the property. Well, the wildlife created them, we are just improving them for our own comfort. During our time down in the canyon we identified some plants!
We are learning the medicinal qualities of the plants found growing on the farm. Quaking aspen are analgesic, anti-inflammatory, astringent and diuretic. The bark contains a substance that can be extracted and used to treat fever-related illnesses like malaria and tuberculosis. Douglas fir resin can be used as an antiseptic to treat cuts, burns, wounds, and chewed to treat sore throats. Young shoot tips can be added to cooked meals for flavor, made into tea rich in vitamin C or placed in the tips of shoes to keep feet from perspiring and prevent athletes foot! There is more… you can make a mouthwash by soaking the shoots in cold water. Amazing!!! Ponderosa pine is used as an antiseptic for skin ailments as well as for respiratory issues. You can also crush the seeds into flour to make bread.
Scouringrush horsetail and ballhead waterleaf are found in the canyon near the creek where springs emerge from the earth to join cottonwood creek. Scouringrush horsetail can be used as a sandpaper or polishing material. It is a homeopathic diuretic that can be boiled and drank to treat venereal disease. You can cook and eat the ballhead waterleaf greens and roots. Hollyleaved Barberry roots can be used to make yellow dye. The berries can be used to make purple dye, wine or jelly and is used to treat indigestion. Sagebrush buttercups and small bluebells cover the grassy hills along with these tiny flower clusters we have yet to identify. There are wild strawberries we found while transplanting the saplings so we put those in the greenhouse to disperse around the property in the near future. In addition to the native plants, we are mixing our own food forest seed mix of cover crops, perennials, fruit and nut trees. Some of the seeds include pinto beans, mustard, buckwheat, fennel, dill, peanuts, amaranth, black beans, peas, radishes, marigolds, sorghum, carrots, potatoes, and a wildflower mix. Also, we will be planting grapes, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, currants, cherry, pear, and apple trees. The main nut trees will be black walnut, chestnut, pine nut and hazelnut. We are researching seeds to grow specifically for making chicken, rabbit, sheep, goat and dog feed. More on that to come. We are exciting to get to work!
Since there are SO many things we want to do and only so much time in a season we decided to hold off on our large earthship for the time being and instead build a “practice” earthship. The one we are building will be 200 sq. ft., totally off-grid, and located on the hill just east of where we want our future home to be. It will likely end up being the first aquaponics greenhouse on the property, but I’m sure it will see many uses. It seems wiser for us to learn all the principles of building an earthship through this small scale project before we dive into a multi-year building project. We want our home to perfect, just the way we envision it, and that will take time, practice, and patience to accomplish. We learned as we built the tiny house that everything takes longer than you think it will and building a house is exhausting no matter how TINY it is! We will still share all that we learn as we embark on the tiny earthship build (aka “ET”). So far the hole is dug and three tires have been leveled and pounded with dirt. Hopefully, this project will be completed over the course of this summer and give us a much better idea of how the bigger build will go. This also frees up more time for us to work on developing the garden and food forest. What do you wish you had time to do? As Nahko would say… Wake your dreams into realities. ❤
P.S. Please show love for your Mother Earth tomorrow and everyday there after. She cares for you deeply and would appreciate some respect.