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Happy Halloween!

Many things have changed for us since upping sticks to run a smallholding and becoming ‘country mice’ but one of the biggest changes has been our diet.  Now don’t get me wrong, as ‘town mice’ we were never ones for stuffing ourselves with crisps and takeaways, but nor were we food evangelicals brandishing this or that diet.  We just liked to use fresh and organic ingredients wherever possible.

Now though, since living “the good life”, we’re forever foraging in the garden picking this and that to pop in the pot, it’s one of the best things about being a country mouse, having an extension to the larder just a snuffle from the back door.

So while removing slugs from various nooks and crannies in carrots and picking caterpillars off kale isn’t my favourite activity, I remind myself that fresh veggies taste a lot better, and not only that, they make you feel better too what with all that freshness zooming straight into your bones.

This brings me onto a subject I find fascinating; the medicinal properties plants.  It’s probably an age thing (a weird thing’s happened as I’ve got older, I’ve become a bit paranoid about putting chemicals in my body, beauty wise and diet wise)!  This, combined with living in the sticks, which makes nipping to the chemist quite a chore has resulted in me avidly growing plants specifically for their medicinal purposes.  Truth be told I also I just love it!  In a witchy kind of a way, I feel like Sabrina as I sprinkle my magic seeds into the soil and watch them transform, tadaaa!

This year I’ve grown Echinacea and Chamomile to make tea with if one of us feels under the weather.  Or I’ll forage for Herb Robert which makes a tasty tea too and is reputedly good for all manner of things even if does smell a bit funny.  I brew up Rosemary, let it sit for a while, strain, then rinse my hair with it for natural shine.  This year I’ve been mushing up raspberries and making a tasty face mask.  Raspberries have natural anti inflammatory properties and feel very soothing on the skin.

I’ve also started using natural products to help our hens.  In our ‘previous lives’ we’d buy the standard worming meds for our chickens.  (Hens can be quite prone to intestinal worms so you need to keep an eye out for these pesky blighters).  These days we’ve found a combination of natural remedies do the job and means you can continue to eat your girls’ eggs as there are no nasty chemicals in their systems.  I always have pumpkin seeds in the house, I’ll crush them up and mix a little in with their food every couple of weeks or so.  I also give them crushed garlic periodically which is brilliant for preventing intestinal worms, and sometimes I’ll sprinkle a small amount of chilli into their food as if there are any worms lurking where they shouldn’t be, they’ll come shooting straight out.  And finally, I add cider vinegar (home-made of course, what else?!) to their water which helps their digestive systems and gives them a vitamin boost.

So with it being Halloween don’t throw your pumpkin seeds out if you keep chickens, add some crushed seeds to your hens’ feed, they will thank you for it.  Happy Halloween!

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