Missouri Herbs

Missouri Herbs
Our new website

For herbs I don't grow, this is my favorite place!

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin
On our site, you will see selected links to books that have been valuable to our homesteading, permaculture, spiritual, health and natural building paths and links to products we use or feel are ethical. Purchasing any of these products through my site will help contribute to our homesteading success and our teaching others to do the same.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Warming up a little

This has been the season of books for me. Since I'm unemployed, my job is learning and reading. I really needed a few more books to help fill in the gaps. My sister-in-law sent me "Herbal Recipes" by Rosemary Gladstar. It had a recipe I needed at the right time and I've been using the treatment since I found it in the book. It's one of those wonderful books that stays open on the counter and lays flat. The pictures are so beautiful, the one on page 22 is what I hope my herb storage will look like and there is even a section on henna! When I saw the two page highlight on Tasha Tudor, I knew that Ms. Gladstar was OK with me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Supposed to be working!

I've been working on the drawings we need for the house. The elevation drawings look so easy in the book, but I didn't realize how much thought had to go into them. Where is the bedroom wall in on the inside of the house so I know just where to put the windows on the outside? What pitch does the roof have to slope? If I put the root cellar right next to the house, how will I do the berm? How thick are the North and South walls so I know how long the roof will be? I spent probably 3 hours yesterday just trying to figure out the best way for the retention wall to go so that the root cellar is totally covered in Earth, but the berm doesn't stick out too far. We have limited space on the hill and still have to find room for a workshop. Every time I thought I had all the answers and started to put pencil to paper, I'd have to stop because there was some other minor detail I hadn't thought about. Plus my drawing skills are pretty lacking, I apparently didn't inherit any of my grandmother's talent.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

An ode to soap

Jeffrey and I have both been reading and re-reading the books we have on home building. Our friend also loaned us some of his including his Earthship series. Wow those are great. Most of the books are geared towards green building methods. The most helpful book has been "Earth-sheltered Houses" by Rob Roy. We keep coming back to it over and over. There used to be about 2 dozen slips of paper marking important pages, but my butter fingers dropped the book and most fell out! Now I have a 3 ring binder on each house building topic and have been taking pretty good notes; writing down which book has the best instructions, photos or drawings on that topic.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I.T. Withdrawals

Here are the dogs enjoying the cabbage scraps I threw out for Rufus (the pig). Rufus licked it and moved on, so the dogs moved right in.

I found this really nice article the other day when I was looking at root cellars online. It's a man's memory of his grandfather building a root pit/cellar. It was a beautiful story and I could almost see it. http://www.masterjules.net/rootcell.htm

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cooking fall harvest on the wood stove

It smells like something grandma would cook in here and the cinnamon sweetness puts a smile on my face. Since the wood stove is going today, I decided to use the heat to cook some butternut squash. This is the recipe I used and it smelled as good as it would if there were an apple pie baking. I left the potatoes out of the squash soup recipe so it would freeze better, then forgot to make a big batch. I followed the recipe except for that and it only made enough for about 2 1/2 bowls. Next time I'll make a lot more as a matter of fact, I'm pulling the baked squash out of the freezer and making it up tomorrow! It is so delicious it's going in the top 5!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recovered Personhood

Everybody is thinking about the economy. The generic advice from experts is all aimed it seems at keeping everyone dependent on the system that is creating their pain. "Work any job, make looking for a job your full time job, buy generic food at the grocery store, if you are not going to retire for 10 or more years, just leave the money alone...lets go to a commercial." Where is the real advice for people seriously hurting and needing to make change?

There are so many issues. How about some advice from the experts like plant a garden, get into a bulk buying club or a local coop, completely change your relationship to grocery stores and gas stations, and learn how to setup long term food storage. If the government wants to help people, how about start by letting neighborhoods use abandoned property for community gardens and teaching kids and families self-sufficiency. As a basic human right I wish everyone would focus more attention on learning how to not be dependent for everything from someone else. But we are the product of what? 5 trillion dollars of advertising I think, or is it 5 billion? Either way, we have been taught dependency and the "ease" of buying everything in a store.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Our beautiful cat Benjamin died sometime this morning. He was named after Benny Goodman. Jeffrey found him where he sleeps on top of Rufus' house in the garage. Last night he and I fell asleep on the couch together and I'm so glad that I spent his last evening with him. He wouldn't climb on your lap fully like most cats. We took to calling him "half on half off kitty" because that's how he would get on you; front paws on, back paws off. He loved laundry and if you couldn't find him anywhere, all you had to do was start hanging laundry and he would appear. He'd roll on is back and purr under the hanging clothes and some days would stay out there a good part of the day lazing in the smells of fresh laundry. He had a soft unique mew that sounded like a whispered brrrrrrreeeet, with a trilled r. He loved being brushed so much, sometimes he would drool uncontrollably. Lately he's enjoyed the company of a lone, tall Mullein plant in bloom. He'd stare at it, sit next to it and would take naps near it. We buried him this morning on the hill under the tree next to Mr. Hobbs. We'll miss this sweet, gentle boy. I won't post another picture of him since I just posted one yesterday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The weather here is fantastic right now. Maybe it's the weather, but Benjamin the cat (who is normally found at the clothes line) has fallen in love with a Mullein plant. During the day he sits in front of it and stares and yesterday I found him asleep in front of it. I like to appreciate the Mullein in the morning when I take Lucille out to potty. It's usually covered with dew, since it seems we've had fog every day this summer in the early morning. Yesterday we took some back roads to town to see the leaves changing and to enjoy the weather a little longer. There is a reason people come here every year to see these beautiful leaves exploding into fireworks.

Winter is coming and we are getting as much out of the garden as possible and learning what to do with it all. Our last load from the big garden filled the bed of the truck which was surprising! Most of the haul was beans, but there were all sorts of goodies like turnips and beets. I was able to can and freeze 18 quarts of tomatoes, not a world record but I"m happy. We built a root pit for the damp/cold storage, but aren't sure if we did it exactly right because the only other person I know that has one has such a tremendous ego, it's difficult to even be in their company. We did the best we could based on no experience and just what we've read and seen. For the dry/cold storage for things like winter squash, onions, garlic and pumpkins, we decided to leave the coldest room unheated by keeping the door closed and are using the shelves in there to put the produce on. I'm also storing the tinctures and herbal vinegars I made there since it's dark and cool. The house at Crooked Creek will have a root cellar and that will keep the vegetables fresh longer and be easier to get into.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Ike tore into South Texas with larger-than-life size and tidal surge last Saturday morning. I lived most of my life in South East Texas and the landscapes that were riped apart have deeply rooted memories. Most of my friends and all of my family live there. The reporters have more than covered the details, but this storm and that place are more than just statistics.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beautiful Broccoli

Tonight I'm thinking about my family and friends in Texas and Louisianna while we wait to see the outcome of Hurricane Gustav. I have been checking all day and talking to my mother who is family message relay central. She has gotten 2 households ready for this hurricane and has the worry of my brothers and their extended families all along the Gulf Coast and East Texas. My parents live on the river so we know what storms can do. They are as prepared as they can be and she and my aunt have my grandparents home ready as well. They also have bug out bags ready if the storm turns so they can ride it out with my Grandparents. Tonight my Grandmother wanted to know why I didn't write a story about the broccoli. So Grandmother, here is your story...

This is the first time we've ever grown broccoli. Several people told us they heard you couldn't grow big heads here. We figured we'd at least get something from it and love it, so in it went.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gratitude and humility

After my last post, I was going to do a garden gush. The corn was getting tall, the tomatoes loaded down and beautiful and most of the rest of the garden doing well too. I was cutting the bottom land for mulch, everything was tied and tended. A spot had been cleared near the highway for the farm stand and we decided it's size.

Last Sunday, a 20 minute hail storm hit the big garden at Crooked Creek and we thought wiped out most of the garden for sure. In the last week, some of the plants are showing signs of recovery, but it sure didn't look hopeful when the damage was discovered. Here at the house it just rained like usual. We didn't know there was hail in the area. After our garden was hit we went to town and found out many were hit. People reported foot and half piles of hail off the roof line. Snow plows were used on one stretch. On the way out of town and back to the house we saw the worst. The damage we have sustained seemed slight and trivial. Acres and acres of corn shredded like wispy grass. Just as many soy fields destroyed beyond recognition. A neighbor told us further North, the corn stalks were stripped completely. It is a good time to reflect on humility.

Monday, August 4, 2008

FDA Globalization Act

Still haven't had time to do a "real" post yet about what is going on, but I'm working on it. I did want to post this though from my favorite little soap company:

"Congress is considering legislation that would force many small businesses like Cindi's Goatique to close. The regulations in the FDA Globalization Act of 2008 would force us to pay thousands of dollars in fees just for the privilege to sell our products, and require us to submit paperwork each time we create a new product or add an ingredient to our existing products. Small companies such as ours would cease to exist, and your choices would be limited to larger corporations that could allocate funds and hours to compliance with these new laws. Please visit the sites below and contact your legislators to ask them to oppose these new regulations. Thank you!

Indie Business Blog

YouTube video that explains the Act

Friday, August 1, 2008

Little Football

Lucille burrowed into a pile of drying grass near the garden trying to "get it". She never finds what is in there. That is as far as she goes and then stays there doing the dogs version of "breath of fire". It was a good day today. There is a lot going on and so much to tell. I'll post the update soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New space and beauty tips

While I was visiting my family, Jeffrey finished up a room for us to move into. We've wanted to move upstairs right over the wood stove since we put it in. It'll be a warm and soothing - cat free, dog free and construction free space! Usually when we go into town for groceries, we'll stop at the resale shops or garage sales along the way. We picked up some pretty decent solid wood end tables for $5, the dresser for I think $20. Jeffrey found the window at a discount building supply place and did all the trim himself out of pine. The quilt was made from a lady a mile down the road that runs the diner and the little pine picture frame with handmade dried onion flowers is from my friend Mary Ann as a going away present. It matches the window frame perfectly. The painting to the left was a gift from my grandmother. It was in the scrap pile and I found it a few years ago when I lived there. She hated it and wouldn't let me take it like that. She lightened the sky and added some details. The sky was ominous dark and purple and I loved it, but she wouldn't let me have it without the yellow in the sky and lights in the windows. The yellow in that sky matches the paint that Jeffrey covered the room with and I really love it, insurance paid for that. We are really trying to fix up this place and hope to sell it to pay for part of the build of the new earth sheltered house. If we have to keep this one for a while though, we'll have some nice space to live in till we can sell it. If Jeffrey's mother moves up here with us there will be plenty of room.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Solar Panels arrive!

Last night, we picked up 4 solar panels at approximately 1/2 the regular price. Jeffrey found them used on Craigslist. They are only 2 years old and came from a solar company, we have a guarantee on them. This was a huge find. We've been able to find a solar hot water heater (that we had to sell before we moved) and have seen solar panels listed before, but that is rare. When we found them previously, the seller was either too far or the timing was bad. We've been looking and looking lately and there haven't been any. We thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and get started on solar out at Crooked Creek while we had some money and the need to start building out there. Then the day before yesterday they appeared on Craigslist and the man even met us closer in so we wouldn't have to drive so far. We are going to build an animal house/ building supply storage/ Garden & power shed first. Since we aren't in a huge hurry, we can take our time and wait for the great deals and they are out there. It's amazing what people will get rid of. We already have roofing material from our old roof, some lumber left over from construction and other items we can used that we've picked up along the way. Now if only I could find a good, used grain/ flour grinder I've wanted!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My trip to houston

I'm back from my week long trip to Houston for my parents 40th anniversary. I was able to visit with my immediate family and many extended family members that I don't usually get to see. It was a bittersweet trip of laughter and tears; reminiscing and misunderstanding; joy and careless injury; youthful wisdom and energy. I will always be absolutely awestruck at the great blessing my nephews and nieces are. It brings tears to my eyes at how incredibly fortunate we are to have them. Their very births created joy and distraction during grief. Their childhood has been one of great flexibility and insight. They express their love for us without shame and truly enjoy listening to our "stories around the fire". They show amazement, excitement and sentimentality well beyond their years.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It's a hot one today

It was so hot today. The desire to finish though is greater than reason that creates balance and I think our brains baked a little too long in the heat today. More of the seeds that need to go in for July were planted this morning and the remainder will go in this afternoon. Then the next planting will be for August 1st and before that some succession planting. The RV is now on top of the hill and has provided tremendous relief from the hot sun for us and the dogs. The weather forcasted 85 degrees today and I believe it hit that while I was planting Kale. After I watered the seeds, 3 small solid yellow butterflies and one larger, darker yellow butterfly "fluttered by" and all around us landing on the freshly watered soil. I tried desperately to get photos of them, but they were bashful today. I managed to snap 2 of them together.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

We recently got an Earthway "high wheel cultivator" and it's wonderful. Makes the work of preparing the beds much easier than using the hoe, though I still do like to use the hoe for getting the big rocks out and making the sides high and straight. The walkway is already compact and hard. Jeffrey used it to easily plow up some dirt from the walkway to bury the sides of the row covers. We swear the corn and beans grow while we are there, it's bigger after only a few hours! I've attached a photo of a big area at the bottom of a the hill that I scythed today. I told my mom it took me 1/2 - 1 hour to finish. Jeffrey just informed me it was longer than that. I had no idea. It's a pretty big area, the white square you see down there is carpet pulled out of a room.

Monday, June 30, 2008

New Garden almost caught up!

It seems like it was another lifetime when I posted last. We took off running full speed ahead to catch up with the planting season almost the minute after I lost my job and we decided to put in a bigger garden. We had no prepared place to plant and were already weeks behind in planting or starting most things. For these last 4 weeks, every moment has been something new to do and learn. I am learning how to be unemployed, I don't know how to go about all the mind numbing processes involved with not having a job. I get a free month of COBRA insurance and also unemployment insurance, handling these take up a great deal of time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A double rainbow

We've been working at the big garden from early in the morning till it gets too hot. There is almost no shade near the garden and none in the garden. Then we go home and work on the small garden here at the house or on inside projects that need to be done (like baking bread and washing laundry). One of my projects during the day today was to put some of the smaller herbs into to clay pots and I also planted some seeds for an inside container garden. All the other herbs are in the garden, but these were smaller and leggier. Plus I thought it'd be nice to have some in the house. When the sun starts to sink, we head over to Crooked Creek for the 2nd shift and work till it gets too dark. The 2nd shift was truly paradise tonight. In the morning it's hot and the flies swarm; but in the evening, it's invigorating! Tonight the clouds reflected all possible evening colors and rolled like smoke in the swift winds.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Jumping right in

(If anyone knows how to get this blog from jamming my sentences together, please help me. No amount of spaces between the periods and next word will create space.)

I have been through the phases of a big change before and know I haven't reached the last of it yet. I'm feeling good about being laid off and I'm excited about the future; but I was also having moments of fear and betrayal this week. It's compounded with the knowledge that many people I have dearly loved for 11 years are going through the same thing. It was a relief for many of us; but it is still a little frightening for me. I feel I don't know enough yet, but also feel that I will learn what I need to know. Just since August I have learned more than I could have imagined. There was so much more I was planning on learning in the next 2 years though. Things that were going to be learned thoughtfully and intentionally are being guessed at and rushed. I suppose there is no better way to learn than by jumping right in.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


After getting more information today, I learned that there were closer to 26 people left. That's still a lot of people though and most of my friends that worked there were included. I also heard that some of the suits were kind to the ones they had to let go. What a hard job that must be.

We had a great day working outside today and making home made cottage cheese. I want to track some of my friends down tonight, so more later.

Friday, May 30, 2008

8:28 - it's not too late

Thursday May 29th at around 10am, I received a phone call from the manager of another department that I have never spoken to on the phone before. She quickly started reading in robo-tone from the "you are being fired" script. "I am here with the Human Resource manager. We have called to inform you..." In a split second my life changed and my stomach fell on the floor. I broke out in a spontaneous nervous sweat and began to shake. I was shocked, then mad and angry, then scared. Sometime that morning men from headquarters in suits descended upon the office and informed upper management that our project was terminated and effective immediately most of the employees were being laid off.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book discoveries

These last 7 days I have gotten so much new information that I have a hard time believing it. I also didn't feel like writing as much and wanted to just think and work. Today I felt very run down and didn't have the energy to start the evening work around the house. I couldn't perk up and didn't have the mental energy to write. I sat on the couch and turned the TV on because I didn't have energy to read either. After a little of the "Mega-Disasters" special tonight on droughts I felt oh so much better. I thought instead of watching TV, I'd go watch "outside". It's a little chilly tonight so I grabbed my hoody and Lolli and I went outside.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Quiet Day of Memories

May 20th, 1996 my brother Jacob died and our lives changed forever. Today I wish I were there to give hugs to Mom, Dad, Grandmother, Grandfather, and my brothers. I miss you Bubba.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Relax, Smile and Breathe

(by the way, I just discovered the "title" field)

Today I'm not quite feeling myself. After some frustrating work, I had to get outside. Although I did have a very nice phone call with my Dad, we don't get to talk much on the phone. We took the dogs to the creek and they ran through the tall grass oblivious to the rain. Even though two of them are older dogs, they still run like puppies; galloping with ears and tongues flapping up and down from the stride. It never gets old, it always makes me laugh. Little mama Lucille had to stay home today because I wasn't up to carrying her through the rough spots and up the hill. So we all quietly snuck out the back door, leaving her sleeping next to the wood stove that was fired back up today after a chilly snap.

Friday, May 16, 2008

There is a light, cool rain tonight tapping on the metal roof. There are 3 corners of the house that weren't finished off properly when the new roof was put on and we had 3 bird families chirping away today. It is the most incredible sound, you can pick out the parent and the babies. It echoes through the giant beams and spaces hidden just under the sheet rock of the ceiling.

There are now 8 out of 11 apple grafts that have taken. I just feel so excited as their leaf buds get bigger every day. I know one day they will provide delicious apples for all who are there for many years to come.

I found out there is a momma duck sitting on a clutch of eggs in the stream at Crooked Creek. She is hidden inside of a giant, twisted ancient looking bush that is along the bank. I already knew rabbits and birds lived there, I wonder who else calls this protective spot home? I would love for ducks to live near the garden and eat bugs.

It is truly Spring!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I seem to find out about things so late sometimes. I just found out about this movie. I loved the quote on their front page:

"Sit, be still and listen for you are drunk and we are at the edge of the roof" - Rumi, 13th Century

Click here for more on the movie. I can't find it used so I hope a used one will find it's way to my door one day.

I continue to find blogs and websites dedicated to simple living and homesteading. Some of these places have been running for years. Almost daily I find more and more information, there is just so much out there. It seems bizarre that I've been interested in simple living for years and I still manage to "discover" sites, or movies or blogs that have been around for a long time.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

There's been plenty to keep us busy every day this week getting the garden in. What perfect Spring time weather for the increased exercise. Jeffrey built trellises out of old trim board that he cut in half and made me more bed markers out of old lathe. I used a black marker to just write on them and then pound them into the ground outside the bed. That allowed us to install to the edge of the beds "floating row covers", just a thin fabric that lets light and rain through but it helps protect the plants from bugs. We are growing organically so need to help out bug reduction.

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's hard to know where to start when you first decide to simplify your life. I read about all sorts of things that I wanted to implement. There were and still are so many things that I don't know how to. Sometimes the only thing you have to go on is a book, magazine or an online resource for something that is so foreign to you, someone may as well have tasked you with brain surgery. When people write instructions on how to do something, they are going to make sure they tell you the best way to get the biggest results. Sometimes the instructions were long and complicated, equipment needed went against my goal of trying to get out of debt and I didn't have the kind of time or energy they said I needed.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I found the word "homesteading" through an odd sequence of events. Growing up, I loved being in the country and going to my grandparents house. Though my grandparents had a home near the edge of the city, they spent much of their summer time gardening in the little town where my Grandmother grew up. They always had a huge garden every year that produced more than the family and all their friends could eat.

Going there during the summer and vacations was always a favorite time for my brothers and me. We'd fish, explore, ride the go-cart and had freedom to come and go. Sometimes I would sit on the boat dock at the "Big Pond" for hours just looking at everything. It was always an exciting treat to help grandmother in any way she'd let us. Last year one of my brothers and his wife bought my grandparents country place and are working hard making a home out of it with their burgeoning family. I can't wait for the day when the fields are reminded of the bounty they used to produce. I don't know that my grandmother will ever retire.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I want to say thank you to my friend Kendall who encouraged and helped me yesterday. Her blog has given me momentum to start my own.

After reading books on organic gardening including Eliot Coleman's book on the 4 season harvest (see links section) and in learning from teachers, I learned that you can grow and eat fresh food year round and store much of the fall harvest. Being able to grow and store your own food is the emerald in the crown of self sufficiency. So many people struggle with the cost of groceries. The cost of a head of lettuce is ridiculous. People should not have to pay these prices for wilted, stunted, gassed produce.

Monday, April 28, 2008

When we moved here in August, I planned on starting a blog immediately. So many things happened so fast, I wish I had started. I'll try to keep each post short, except for this one which will be to get up to speed :-)

We bought an old house on a small piece of property and are living 6 miles from our 23 acres at Crooked Creek property where we will build our homestead. We are planning to build a passive-solar, earth sheltered home off grid without a mortgage. I hope to document our journey, failures and successes here.