Ahhh, finally a moment to pause, to relax, to reflect...it's the 12th of August, the 71st anniversary of the Wizard of Oz, and our sixth month into this particular adventure. It always helps me to reflect on 6 months prior to an aware moment, or anticipate 6 months into the future, to keep my bearings on life, Time, the great turning of the Wheel, and 6 months ago I think we finally placed our first seed order. After many long nights crunching numbers, flipping thru pages, arguing for one variety or another...I would get SO hungry for a fresh tomato or green bean, a ripe eggplant or sweet ear of corn, as I read the descriptions of each delectable vegetable we were choosing. It seemed almost unreal to imagine such warmth in the air and to smell the piney scent of a tomato plant as you rustle under its leaves searching for that ripe red (or pink, or yellow, or purple!) fruit. And yet we trust that day will come, and so ... here it is! Ah, here come the procession of harvests. All the tomatoes we could hope to eat and more. The sweet corn (one of them) didn't make it. It was the first corn we planted and naively thought the crows understood how much we loved and respected them and they would do the same for our interests (corn seed in this instance) but alas, the crows ate all but a few seeds! We put up scare tape that worked really well for the other 3 corn plantings - most of which are dried corn varieties, Flint and Dutch Butter Popcorn. So we do have corn...we have a red sweet corn that isn't nearly as sweet as the few ears the crows deigned to leave us. It's an absolutely beautiful piece of work, though. The shucks are completely red, a deep deep wine red, and the kernels start out creamy white but turn ruby from the outside in. Finally you find a ripe ear that is as red as a merlot, as tempting as Delilah. And the flavor is satisfying, if only mostly because it's such a treat to eat something so heavenly hued. This corn can also be a dried corn, so we're going to let most of it dry and grind it up and make "magenta polenta" isn't that exciting?!
Where have we been?! What have we been doing?! Wow, it's been - I don't even know how to begin, but that's what I'm trying to do so I'll stop trying and do - it's been humbling...to recognize how little you know when you've spent so much time learning a thing is humbling. Yet the sweetness of that hard realization is that you get to learn stuff...and that is what life is all about. So there are many opportunities for invention and creativity, for experiment and mistakes, for challenging the inherited unconscious assumptions we have about growing food and farming and living in the seasons and striving toward a sustainable lifestyle so that we may leave an inheritance of hard-won wisdom for our 'children' to improve upon. That is an honor I humbly accept. It's been exhausting...we have worked ourselves silly! Which is a neat place to be in that you are too tired for bullshit...I don't know how else to explain it. We are learning how to harvest and process all kinds of foods, and not just what recipe to use, or the best system for canning, but how to pick things in time and rotate harvests, processing, and a little rest time. We just figured out we need rest. Apparently we haven't learned that lesson very well! We keep having to relearn it. Two and a half weeks of canning and we finally took a night off tonight. BUT! We have 111 half pints and 13 pints of elderberry syrup. Well, not anymore cuz Gabe sold 2 cases today. By the way, we are selling elderberry syrup to our friends, family, loved ones. We got peaches, beans, squash, blueberry jam, 16 pints of ketchup, marinara, chopped tomatoes, and lots of things fermenting: brined cucumber pickles, brined pickled green beans (they were purple but they lost their color), and a kind of jardiniere which is just lots of random veggies like beets, carrots, peppers, celery, etc. pickled in a brine together, spiced with fresh tarragon. Wow, now that I list that it doesn't seem like much! But I guess it's the whole process, from picking and cleaning and prepping and cooking it down to canning...Gabe just brought 12 cases of mason jars home to add to our 12 we already had, so I guess we'll at least do that many more : ) And I guess all in all it's a lot. That's enough rambling for now. There's impossibly too much to catch up on, I'll reflect in the long, dark winter months...for now...
We are going to do something a little different here, or at least try to! We are going to start our apothecary here online. This seems like a fine place to have a website, it's so simple and easy I can maintain it, and we can update our inventory as it's harvested and available. With that...
Fennario Farm & Apothecary is pleased to offer our first batch of elderberry syrup for sale! The Elderberries are respectfully wild-crafted by me and Gabe, and carefully transformed from purple-onyx jewels of fruits to a rich vibrant velvety purple syrup that will keep you well. The FDA doesn't approve me saying that, but my body doesn't need the FDA to tell it when a medicine works.
How to use Elderberry syrup (in our experience - please share yours!)
At the very very first onset of feeling like you might be getting sick, take it! It seems to work best at totally preventing illness - which in a way makes it hard to prove it works, cuz maybe you were just going to feel a bit run down and not get sick, but if you want to chance it that's up to you. We take it at this point. Usually we'll take a half pint of syrup in one or two doses, depending on how bad we feel. You can take it if you just have been exposed to someone with the flu or a cold too. in these early stages you don't need to take as much, it seems. I guess it all depends on how well your immune system is functioning in the first place, or how often you are exposed to flu pathogens...you'll have to figure it out for yourself so just use this as a guideline to start with. You can take 4 oz two days in a row, or 8 oz. It's really good in teas, especially teas that augment that healing action, like boneset, yarrow, echinacea, goldenseal. Ah, that brings me to goldenseal. We combine the syrup with the goldenseal and it tastes like chocolate! I'm serious. It's gourmet. I think these two are the best partners for preventing the flu or a cold. Generally I use herbal medicines as my body instructs me, and I encourage you to listen to your body's cues for how much and how often you take a medicine. Listen to it shift slightly when your immune system kicks in to fight off a bug. Listen to what foods and drinks it asks for. There is a profoundly distinct difference between how our bodies tell us what we want and how our minds tell us. I encourage you to discover that as well. But if for some reason you don't catch yourself feeling slightly ill, you find yourself in a full-blown flu episode, take it in small doses frequently, like 2 oz every 2 hours.
It's good straight out of the jar, in tea, in your water bottle that you drink on all day (that's a great way too because it gives you little doses very frequently), on your icecream...wait! you don't feel good! Hold off on the icecream til your better : )
The Elder herb is a miraculous gift of healing to humans. I read that a doctor of old would tip his hat every time he passed an Elder bush, so great was his respect for this medicine. And the more I get to know it, the more I am convinced that I shall never, never be without her healing powers.
I've missed writing here. We are going to move away from Blue Hill/Paw Paw probably in November, so the horizon of our departure is in view now, a mere 3 months away. There is so very much to do between now and then, but everything is exactly as it should be, and we have survived the rapids of spring chaos and summer intensity, and look forward to the languid days of autumn as we reap the rewards of all this work and planning and canning and praying...and dream up the next piece of heaven we'll be getting our hands into.
This next place is gonna be out of this world : ) I can't wait to tell you about it! Hey, maybe you already know about it, before us even! Let us know if you do... But for now we are savoring the last piece of this treasure we were so fortunate to receive...
Many years ago, as a matter of fact it was 9 years ago nearly to the day, I went with a Gemini and a Scorpio to a fabulously fancy Chinese restaurant in Orlando. I was at the last peak of my 20's, perched precariously on a precipice from which I was about to fall, and was high on a new taste of life, and I got a fortune in a cookie that has been my No. 1 favorite fortune ever since...9 years later I feel again on a peak, but this one affords a much more benevolent view of my future, and I savor these words that are still true
It tastes sweet.
Love and Light and order your elderberry syrup! Or go pick your own, I'll help you make them into syrup : )