Forage for Ramps

Foraging for ramps is just as exciting as foraging for any wild edible. Once you find them and taste how amazingly good these are, you are going to want to do it every year.

First things first. Harvest ethically and be sustainable!  I think this is the most important rule in foraging.  And it happens to be critical for ramps. More on that in a bit…

Ramps

What are ramps you ask? Ramps (Allium tricoccum) or wild garlic/wild leeks are one of the earliest plants to forage for in the spring.  They have one to two broad leaves with a purple/red-ish stem.  It almost looks like Lily of the Valley.  The leaves are about 1-2 inches wide and 4-11 inches tall.  Ramps grow in the eastern part of North America, typically found in the Appalachians.  On the homestead, we have several large patches and have found them in many surrounding areas.  Make sure you are picking where you have permission or on land you own. Some local laws will not allow harvesting of any plant in state owned land or more specifically, conservation land.  So, just make sure you know where you are picking and that you have permission to do so.

Okay, so you found your ramps.  Now to harvest.  This is a slow process and shouldn’t be rushed.  Harvesting takes time, but it is so worth it.  Ramps will grow in patches.  I usually only pick from the larger patches and I only take about 5% of the patch.  To start, you want to dig with a small trowel around the ramp clump.  Not a lot, just enough to expose the stem underground.  Then, with a sharp knife, (I use this Hori Hori Knife) you want to cut just above where the roots emerge from the plant.  And that’s it! It is important to leave the roots because that will allow the plant to continue to grow, therefore, giving you more ramps for next year.  Its always bothersome to see ramps at farmers markets or on websites that have roots attached.  Its just poor practice and I believe that better harvesting information needs to be shared.  So, don’t dig the roots. Also, leave the smaller ramps to mature.  Only pick what you need. Again, make sure you have plenty of time to harvest.  It is time consuming.

If you cant find ramps near you, take a trip to your local farmers market or health food store (I have found that many in the Hudson Valley carry them in the spring). Check out Mother Earth’s Storehouse. I have seen them in the produce section in years past.

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I hope that you get outside this spring and look for these tasty spring treats.  They are full of vitamin c and are so delicious that you will want to add them in to every recipe!

Here are a few ways I use ramps:

  • In quiche- awesome with bacon!
  • Make into a pesto. Its lovely over pasta. Or on pizza. YUM!
  • Saute with olive oil, salt and pepper- replace to any dish that would call for garlic or onion.
  • Dehydrate the leaves and grind into a powder- add to soups and stews and even chili!

Happy Foraging!

 

The ‘A’ Word Everyone Hates….

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Im going to get right down to it. Anxiety.  If you dont have it, you most likely know someone that gets it.  It can be down right debilitating and can be super frustrating for the sufferer and for the ones they love. Its so common, but still taboo.

I suffer from anxiety and seasonal depression.  I have been able to combat the seasonal depression by adjusting my vitamin D levels and by also increasing my self care- and also spending more time with my husband. (He always knows how to cheer me up when its cold, snowing and gloomy.)

Anxiety is when you feel worried or uneasy about almost anything and everything.  It can make daily life unbearable.

Some things to consider: If you feel that your anxiety gives you thoughts of suicide or self harm or harm to others, PLEASE reach out.  You are not alone and there are people out there that are more than willing to talk.  Heck, if you cant find anyone- message me.  I am always willing to listen.

Now, being an anxiety sufferer, I have found what triggers my anxiety.  Over the last two years, I have discovered some methods that have helped me combat symptoms of my anxiety. I will show you some of my tips and tricks to live a life without anxiety controlling your daily lives.

Number one.  What is causing your anxiety?  Is it stress? Food? Working too much?  Not sleeping enough?  There can be so many causes that it is hard to pinpoint anxiety unless you keep track of your life.  And, I mean track every detail until you find something that triggers your anxiety.  For me, it is caffeine, lack of sleep and of course, no self care (life of a mom).

After you find what your triggers are (and that might take a while- but it is SO worth it), you can move on to helping yourself overcome those thoughts of inability to control your anxiety.  My tips are by no means to diagnose, treat or cure any illness. I am not a medical doctor- so talk to your doctor before trying any of my tips. The following tips worked for me, but everyone is different.  As always, if you have questions- ask your doctor.

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The very first thing I did was STOP caffeine. It wasn’t easy.  I still have caffeine (a latte or some extra dark chocolate) from time to time, but not like I used to! Caffeine has some crazy effects on the body, and can make those with anxiety, make the symptoms even more pronounced since it is a stimulant to your nervous system. Here is a link to read more about caffeine and what happens to your body when you drink it.  There are some benefits to coffee- but its always good to know other side effects after a good cup o’ Joe.

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The second thing I did was start meditation.  I am fortunate enough to have a Won Dharma Center nearby.  It is a beautiful place with so many wonderful, kind, lovely people.  If you are near in the Catskills or the Hudson Valley- you must visit.  They even have hiking trails AND retreats.  (I have been to a few of them and I highly recommend attending at least once!) Here is there website to check out their schedule.  They also have weekly meditation on Sundays open to everyone. Not only was I giving myself some much needed quiet time, but it allowed me to focus on….well, nothing!  Having a set time each day or even just once a week, really let me calm my entire body and mind.  This was the most beneficial part of my emotional healing.  I went from so anxious that it was very difficult to leave the house to being able to enjoy life without the constant worry that something bad was going to happen. Once I began meditating, I noticed a huge difference in my sleep habits. I was an insomniac before I started meditation and it was worse with the short day-light hours.  Now, I am able to sleep much better and I know that in order to sleep well, I need to focus on myself each night before bed.  (Meditation and essential oils) However, I have been able to control my thoughts much better and I am able to remind myself to take a time out with my oils.

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Essential oils are the third tip and what I use on a daily basis to ensure that my body remains calm and relaxed- especially during stressful days and when I am more prone to anxiety or worse, a panic attack. I always have Stress Away with me. Everywhere. See me out? Ask to see the Stress Away- It is never is out of my reach. I also use Lavender.  Lavender is so calming and soothing that I cant get enough of it.  It is frequently found in my desert mist diffuser.  For better sleep, I use a combination of Frankincense and Lavender.  Together, they smell incredible and I can feel the calming and grounding effect of both of them in seconds.  That’s right, seconds. When you breathe in essential oils, it goes directly to your lungs and into your blood stream.  Which is why essential oils work wonders for anxiety.  They work quick and they are all plant based. No pharmaceuticals for this girl! Peace and Calming by Young Living is another calming blend that would be beneficial to everyone that could use some peace. (which is everyone, at least everyone with kids!) Here is a short list of some other essential oils that are great for relieving stress and anxiety:

  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

Bergamot smells sweet and tart at the same time.  Being a citrus, it is very uplifting and refreshing.  For those mornings when you have to get motivated! Blend it with grapefruit essential oil and ylang ylang for your morning routine.

  • Rose (Rosa damascena)

Rose essential oil by Young Living is one of the worlds most valuable oils in the world.  It takes 22 pounds of rose petals to make 1- 5ml bottle of essential oil. That’s a lot of flowers!  Rose oil will encourage positive feelings. Super helpful for when you have no positive thoughts in sight. Highly recommend for those days when you really need to chill.

  • Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)

Vetiver is an exotic plant from Asia. It is best used in a blend of lavender and ylang ylang for calming and relaxation.

  • Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)

You can use ylang ylang in a diffuser, but it is so relaxing in a hot bath before bed.  It is also very nourishing for your hair and skin. Ylang Ylang is also an ingredient in Young Living’s Peace and Calming blend.

  • German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

German Chamomile promotes feelings of calmness and eases nervous tension.

  • Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

Frankincense might be one of the most popular oils out there.  It is grounding, calming, soothing and good for your skin.  It is literally one of my all time favorites in my diffuser.

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I hope that some of my tips will help you or someone you know that suffers with anxiety.  If you are interested in any of the oils I mentioned, or want to know more about any of the Young Living products- message me or call me.  Or you can visit the Young Living website here.

Mother’s Day Essential Oils Class

Hey Guys!  Just a quick note to let you all know about my Live Facebook class coming up on May 1st at 10:45am (EST).  It is going to be awesome!  I will give you tons of gift ideas for the moms in your life.  The best part, she can use Young Living products every day, all year long.  Like Knots Hollow Homestead on Facebook for the event info!  See you there! Mothers Day Essentials Cover Photo

Meet The Animals of Knots Hollow Homestead!

A little introduction of the animals that live here on the farm. We raise mostly chickens for eggs and meat. I raise sheep for spinning yarn, crocheting and weaving. We love all of our animals and hope you enjoy their ‘bios’.

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This is Duke and Daisy. They are brother and sister. We have had them before our farm was even a possibility. They enjoy naps in the hay loft, chasing mice and exploring the fields and streams.  We have two other barn cats (Shadow and Camo) not pictured.

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This is my sweet girl, ‘ Willow’. She is a rescue from a farmer that basically abandoned her. I don’t know exactly how old she is, but she came with her lamb (Mocha) 2 years ago. She enjoys watching me do barn chores and follows me wherever I go. She eats the most hay and must be the first to get alfalfa treats. She is a merino ewe and has lovely long, crimpy wool.

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This is Goji.  Goji was born in the spring of this year. His twin was born first at 11:50pm on one day and he was born a little after midnight the next day. He enjoys frolicking in the field after his mama. He likes to chase the chickens and sleep in the hay pile.

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This is ‘Baa-Baa’. (Get it… Baa Baa black sheep…) She is one of my foundation flock. As a lamb, she always got into trouble. She would break through the fences, and then would run off into the flower gardens! She grows the longest wool out of all the sheep in my flock, but she tends to have the most hay stuck in her wool- so she must always be coated to keep her wool clean.  Her babies are Goji and Jasmine. They are her 3rd and 4th lambs.

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My very first sheep, Mary. She has always been so sweet and friendly, however he is always nervous around strangers and the kids. She had two twin girls this spring. Petunia and Poppy. They are her second set of twins and 4th and 5th lambs. She produces beautiful white wool that is so much fun to spin.

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Twin sisters, Poppy and Petunia. Poppy is the older twin. She is slightly larger and has a black nose. She enjoys jumping over her sister while she naps and running as fast as she can after her mom. I am excited to watch this little one grow as I expect her to produce a fine wool. Petunias the smaller lamb with a pink nose. She is very shy and prefers to hide behind her mama. Although, she likes to chase the cats out of the barn.

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Miss Jasmine was the first girl for Baa-Baa and oh boy is she feisty! She is clearly a little devil. She causes all sorts of trouble in the barn. Like, climbing through the gate and running off into the pasture all by herself, or she breaks into the barn and jumps all over the hay bales. Oh, and she likes to jump on top of her mom. She also tells her little brother to do the same. Such a trouble maker.

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Meet Lily! She is just over a year old and she is one of Mary’s lambs. She looks just like her mama. She is super sweet and enjoys exploring and following her best buddy, Henry!

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Mocha! She is the smallest of the flock (besides the lambs of course), but her personality is massive. She thinks she is the main sheep in charge and is not afraid to show it. She even chased out a fox from the pasture not too long ago! She is one of Willows lambs. She is a merino/shetland cross.

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The kids favorite sheep, Henry! Henry was born last year and he had a rough start. Our oldest, Dakota helped me pull this lamb in the middle of the night because he was just too big. After some resuscitation and a long night of warm up, he stole our hearts. He lived in our house for a few weeks where he decided he wanted to be a dog. (Our sheep dog!) He now is one of the flock and enjoys sunshine, flowers and playing with the cats. He is the first one to call out in the morning if I am a minute late with the hay!

Essential Oils- My Story

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I have been using essential oils for quite a while, but I didn’t really get into learning in depth about them until recently. As some of you may know, I studied horticulture, I garden (clearly) and know most plants in my area. And if I don’t, my super knowledgeable husband does.

I use herbs on a daily basis for cooking, healing, consuming, it only makes sense to incorporate essential oils into my daily life.

Now, here’s the thing, I truly believe everyone wants to be healthier, live healthier and doesn’t want to use toxins or chemicals. So I’m going to share some information that will help you see that essential oils aren’t just for crunchy, homesteading mommas. Oils are for everyone!

First, let me tell you what exactly IS an essential oil. Essential oils are highly concentrated plant compounds that are usually distilled but sometimes other methods can be used. These oils contain the essence of the particular plant, which give them their fragrance. Pure essential oils can be made from many different parts of a plant such as the flowers, roots, leaves and even resin. It takes many, many plants to make a single bottle of pure essential oil (more on this later). Not all essential oils are pure and the sad truth is, some companies label their oils as ‘100% pure essential oil’ but, regulations only require essential oils have at least 10% pure oil to be considered “pure”. Make sure that you are only buying pure essential oils from a well known, reputable company. Which is why I use Young Living. Check out their website to learn about their Seed to Seal promise.

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Essential oils can be used in many ways. They can be used in a diffuser or just inhaled for immediate results since when you breathe in, the oil gets into your blood stream. Many oils are most commonly used in spas because when you breathe in certain essential oils, you will immediately feel calm, relaxed and at peace.

Essential oils can also be used topically for a multitude of reasons. I always carry Young Livings Stress Away when I am out-because anyone that has taken kids shopping MUST have stress away for when your 5 year old has a meltdown because he wants 3 bananas instead of 5 or his T-shirt suddenly is itchy…you get my point. I usually use a carrier oil when applying essential oils to my skin. Here are some that I use often: coconut oil, sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, etc.. However, you can use some essential oils neat (or straight out of the bottle).

There are some select essential oils that are used for ingestion. Check oil the ‘vitality’ line of essential oils. I use this one Thieves Vitality in tea and this one Lemon Vitality in my water everyday. My husband suffers from digestive problems so he uses Digize and it has made a huge difference for his overall well being. You can also put the essential oils into capsules to easy consumption. Check out the Young Living website for more in depth info on that.

On to cost effectiveness. Now, some more rare oils aren’t cheap, but for the most part, they actually save you tons of money. Think about how many products you could replace by using only organic, plant based products. Think of all of the chemicals you use on a daily basis. What is that doing to your health? What is it doing to the health of your children? Not that long ago, I was using chemical cleaners to clean my floors, bathrooms and even my kitchen with. The same place my kids eat. I was using chemicals to wash their dishes, to clean the floor they put their little bare feet on. We all know that the skin is the largest organ on the human body and it absorbs what is in our environment. Scary stuff. So, would I prefer to spend slightly more for a much better product that won’t harm myself, my kids or my pets? You bet. However, since starting using oils and replacing the toxic chemicals in my home, I have found that they are actually cheaper in the long run. Most of the cleaners (even shampoos and soaps) from YL can be diluted. Especially the thieves cleaner…. where else can you get organic, plant based, toxin free cleaner for just about $1 a bottle!? It’s unheard of. So, there are ways to really save money.  With the essential oils, you literally only use a drop or a few drops (depending on what you are doing) and there are so many drops per bottle!

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I am a firm believer that if you start on a more healthier path, you will make healthier choices in the long run. Instead on grabbing that soda at lunch, bring Ningxia from your monthly wellness box (eek! Ask me about the monthly wellness boxes-You customize your box every month and you can adjust how much and when) instead for an healthy alternative. When you start making smaller changes, the easier it will be to switch to a healthy lifestyle. Healthy living is priceless in my opinion. I want to set a good example for my kids. And I want to make sure that I am healthy to stay alive to see my grandchildren and their children.

I really recommend getting a few books to learn more about specific essential oils and their uses. This is one I recommend and this one.

There is so much to learn and it can really be overwhelming. I would love to help you! I would be happy to meet with you and discuss how oils can help you have a healthy home and life. We can chat via phone, text or email. If you are nearby, I’d love to grab a cup of tea and talk or come to one of my parties! I have at least one a month! I can help you find the perfect oils and products to start out with.

Make Your Own Herbal Tea Blends

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Making tea is really one of my all time fun thing to do.  I love combining different herbs to create one of a kind teas.  The best part about making your own, is that you can grow these herbals yourself!

Some of my must have plants for making your own tea is:

  • Chamomile
  • Mint
  • Calendula
  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Lemon Balm

These are all super easy to grow and so fun to harvest!

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I hold monthly Sip & Sniff parties once a month on my farm!  Visit me on Facebook to find dates and times.  I would love to meet you! You even go home with a sample of one of my own tea blends!

 

What’s the Buzz?

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We started our beekeeping journey over 3 years ago and it has been quite difficult.  The first year, we went to seminars, read every book and blog, researched types of bees, treatments, and treatment free beekeeping.  There is a lot of information to process, so my advice is to take it slow.  Talk to local beekeepers and research the different types of hives (yes, there are many types).

Here is a quick look into our journey:

Year one-

We went to an awesome workshop local to us that had many types of hives to look at and they had beekeepers tell us the pros and cons to each.  We fell in love with the top bar hives and decided that is the one for us.  We were not planning on getting bees for another year, but were so excited after that- we purchased our first hive 2 weeks later.  We purchased all of the ‘bee gear’ and went to work on getting everything ready- as temps were warming up and we knew we would have to get bees soon.

After lots of research on types of bees, we chose to get bees that have been in our area instead of getting bees from down south.  It gets really cold on the homestead and the winter winds on top of a mountain are no joke. We wanted hardy bees. We wanted tough bees that would survive the cold weather. That was our hope anyway.

We purchased our bees from a beekeeper in a nearby town that has raised bees for a decade or so.  We were so excited that our bees would hopefully be super strong and would survive our harsh winters.

Our first months with the bees were great! They were drawing comb, making honey, lots of brood (baby bees) and I spotted the queen easily every time I opened the hive.  A little bit about how scary it is for first time beekeepers to open a bee hive… SCARY! After doing it a few times it wasn’t as bad as I expected and I did not get stung- not once that year in fact!  We used a smoker- but I had more success with calming the bees by using sugar water in a spray bottle.

I figured we would have a great survival rate that winter. But then, we had a drought that summer. A severe drought. It was so bad that year that our pond dried up, the trees turned brown and most plants just died.  I worried about my bees as they pretty much stopped producing honey.  They only had a fraction of honey that I had expected for them to have… and barely enough for them to be able to survive the winter with. But, I had thought that as long as they had something, they might make it. I even put an insulation board in the roof portion of the hive to keep them warm at the end of November.

NOPE. Mid December comes around, after an extreme cold snap, all of the bees are dead.

Year two:

It was so upsetting and such a loss that we decided to take a year off after that.  Researched more and figure out what we could have done better in the mean time.  I realized that I did not feed them enough, I did not check them enough (from what I have read, you need to open them up at least once a week- with kids, a full farm, gardening and homeschooling- it seemed like too much at the time). We didn’t provide them with enough fresh, cool water. I have a big water source for them now. I am also planting a lot of wild flowers this spring which will help them gather pollen.  I found with all of the farms around us, its hard for them to forage when its all corn and soy surrounding our little homestead. We had a big problem with robbing.  That’s when other bees from other hives or wasps invade the hive and steal the honey. [Insert angry face]

Here is what we are doing differently this year:

We decided to move the hive closer to the barn where it would be sheltered from the winter winds and be in a full sun location with easier access to a constant flowing stream and many meadows. We purchased a second hive, but this time we went with a langstroth hive.  We ordered our bees which should be here the end of April (unless it keeps snowing!) and are anxiously awaiting our second attempt.

Stay tuned for updates on our adventures in beekeeping.

 

Interested in beekeeping?  Need some bee gear? Check out Hudson Valley Bee Supply

 

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