This Farm’s Future is Evolving

Black Sun Farm has been the product of my heart and soul for over five years now. I poured myself into building this small property into a working homestead. I can’t even tell you how many plants I’ve put into the ground here. And the birds I’ve raised for eggs and meat over the years were all spoiled rotten and given the best food and care possible.

Last weekend I found a new home for Cabbage, Onion, and the few ducks I had left. Feeding them all winter with virtually no return of eggs is simply unsustainable at this point. This year was hard for me—if you noticed, I started the year off strong with lots of Events, but I only went to a few markets and festivals over the season. I’ve been working my other farm job, growing food here for my family, and my business necessarily took a spot on the back burner of importance.

There are now no longer any farm animals on this farm. I still have three cats (one of whom is a great barn cat that I may need to find a home for soon as well,) but no more poultry. It’s a sad week for me. I’ll have to buy my eggs someplace else. The gardens produced a lot and my freezer is full, so at least I have that much.

If you’re still reading this far, THANK YOU for your support!

Whether or not I keep this place, or keep farming is very questionable right now. I will always be an Herbalist and a farmer at heart, but this business doesn’t make nearly enough to pay all my bills on its own.

Check out the links in my sidebar and below to see a few class offerings you can learn from any time. Also remember that I have lots of GARLIC available at $2/bulb if you want some for eating or planting.

People tell me constantly, “Keep farming, there are food shortages coming!” or “I’m so envious of all the things you know about and know how to do!”

Want to know the truth? I LOVE knowing how to grow and forage my own food. I LOVE knowing how to raise and slaughter my own animals for meat. I love knowing all I know about medicinal plants, nutrition, and keeping the body healthy.

But LOVE does not equal money. And I need money to survive.

So if you want to keep me going please seriously check out the things I sell through my website and Etsy store.

Also: I spent all of 2022 making foraging videos on TikTok. Why don’t you follow me and start learning a few things for free?

@theoriginalmealchan

Hopefully this explains better why you should be trying to grow some of your own food or at least buying food from a farmer’s market or local farm. It’s not as hard as you think it is and it will save you money and health in the long run! #farmtok #farmfood #foodismedicine #eatrealfood #buyfarmfood #supportyourlocalfarmer #sustainablefood #sustainablefarming #foodsource #savemoneyonfood #buylocal

♬ original sound – Amelia from Black Sun Farm

Heart Health is Vital!

Keeping your heart healthy is about more than just supporting an organ. Yes, you can’t live without your actual physical heart. It pumps blood throughout your entire body and is the powerhouse of your system. Herbs like Hawthorn, Shepherd’s Purse, and Rose can help heart and circulation health on a physical level. But what about your emotional heart?

Women have mostly been interested in my Rose Elixir: a special blend of rose hips, rose petals, brandy, and honey infused over many months. A few drops of this helps heal your heartache over a loved one (whether that be a death or a relationship.) I only have a couple of bottles left, so Contact Me if you want some.

But for men? Whether you are a man or know a man in your life who has suffered heartache over and over, or is sick of the ghosting and frustration involved in Online Dating, there’s little help for you. Every self-help or coaching program I’ve seen online claims to teach a man how to catch a woman or how to get into her pants as if sex will solve all his problems.

I promise you this: it won’t. Men have emotional needs too! One of my closest friends is a man who has had a lot of life experience with relationships and can show you how to find, meet, attract, and date a quality woman for a real romantic relationship that could make you happier than you’ve ever been before.

He learned his lessons from the School of Hard Knocks… working at Chippendale’s and then becoming a bartender in Hollywood for 14 years!

If you’re a man looking for help to end your loneliness, check out The Redfield System. If you’re a woman, please share this with a man you KNOW needs help finding a woman for something deeper than just a sexual fling.

Spring is Nettle Season!

I’m sure you’ve heard of nettles. There are two kinds I’m talking about here: Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) and Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum.) Both plants come up in your yard and fields in early to mid Spring, and both are edible and medicinal!

Dead nettles taste better before they flower…. honestly, most herbs in Spring time taste was better before they flower, when the greens are young and fresh. However, both types of “nettle” can be eaten raw, but better cooked, from about early April through mid-May.

I’m not going to go super extensively into every medicinal aspect of each herb here. As you know, I prefer to blog about my personal experiences with the herbs and how I work with them. There are dozens of places online (including the links above) where you can find detailed Materia Medica information on each herb.

I will tell you now that one of the primary things I work with nettles for (and that both of these plants make excellent remedies for) is Seasonal Allergies. You know… this time of year when the weather man is giving you “Pollen Level” alerts and you start seeing a yellow powdery coating on your car when you leave for work in the morning. The days when as soon as you step outside, your nose starts running and your eyes start to itch.

Everyone hates that part about Spring. But the plants have innate intelligence–Nettles knows that while all the trees are busy having tree sex (that’s where most of the pollen comes from,) it’s their time to show you how much they love and can help you! I’m trying to say that stinging nettle and dead nettle come up in spring as remedies to the allergic reactions all the other plants are giving your face.

I collect the tops of nettles and chop them up fresh to make a vodka-based tincture. A strong infusion also works well, as does the herb ground up and encapsulated (though I find you need at least 4 capsules a day, which seems like a lot compared to how little tincture is effective at staving off your sniffles.)

How to pick Stinging Nettle

I use this same method (seen above) to pick all my nettles. They make an amazing pesto too! Stinging nettle is a Nutritive herb, meaning it is full of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and more! I add stinging nettle to any tea blend for a client that needs a boost to their nutrition; if you ingest enough of it it’s like eating the herbal equivalent to a multivitamin.

One final thing about Stinging Nettle is that its seeds are purported to be the BEST kidney and urinary tract tonic in existence! A good point to remember if you know anyone suffering with kidney disease. I just wish I could figure out the trick to harvesting nettle seeds…

Purple Dead Nettle isn’t quite as nutritive, but it still has a lot of similar amazing properties and is a plant worth working with, especially if you can’t find a patch of stinging nettles. You can use it as a green vegetable (just like throwing kale in your stir fry or smoothie) or create a medicinal tincture with it as well. The leaves are slightly fuzzy and soft, and the flavor is more bland than that of stinging nettles. But it’s still got more vitamins in it than most commercial greens!

The last time I got sick (the kids brought home a virus from school) I took my wobbly butt out to the back yard and picked a basket of stinging nettles, chickweed, dandelion greens (this was April so they were still tasty,) and wild onions. I went back into the house and steamed the stinging nettles (a practice I highly recommend before eating them, as it takes their “sting” out) and threw everything into the food processor along with a little lemon juice, some olive oil, grated parmesan cheese, and a small handful of black walnuts. Then I boiled some gluten-free pasta up, added my pesto, and ate a big bowl of it!

I’m not joking when I say this: I ate this meal around noon time, on a day I was feeling woozy and my head was spinning every time I stood up and walked around. By 5pm I was right as rain! Stinging nettles are no joke, man…

Do you need help foraging for wild foods and medicines? Why not schedule a Foraging Walk with me today?

No More Eggs

I don’t really know if it merits a blog post, but I thought I should announce somewhere on my site that I’ve finally decided to stop losing money in the egg game.

For over four years now, I have raised chickens and ducks on soy-free organic layer feed, allowing them to free range the entire yard and feeding them treats regularly as well as fresh produce. I’ve had and offered the highest quality eggs an animal could produce (I even raised quail last year, whose eggs were delicious!) but at the prices I had to charge to get even half of my investment back, I was always losing money. And layer feed just went up again!

Organic feed isn’t cheap, and neither especially is Soy-Free feed. Why do I feed the girls soy-free? I’m soy-intolerant, but if you click that link you’ll see the other reasons. At any rate, I am going through some changes in my life right now and I simply can’t afford to be losing so much money on feed when I can barely sell any eggs. So I have reduced the size of my flock by over half. I now have 3 chickens and only 4 laying ducks.

Basically, if you are one of the 2-3 people who were buying eggs from me consistently before, chances are that I’ll be able to supply you with a few dozen eggs a month still. If I happen to have extra eggs, I’ll sell them. Otherwise, due to lack of customers and increasing feed prices, my egg operation is now officially closed.

I will continue to feed my girls soy-free and extra treats, but the eggs are going to benefit my own family. Thank you for your support the past few years! It’s an unforgiving job, but I’m glad I can at least feed my own kids the healthiest of eggs available.

Favorite Herb This Week: Ginger

Ginger is the herb I’d like to highlight this week, as I have started working with it more frequently since growing my own last season. Zingiber officinale is the official Latin name, and the plant is native to somewhere in Southeast Asia. You CAN, however, grow it here in Connecticut if you play your cards right. The video below demonstrates how I am currently hoping and praying that my 2022 ginger crop will survive until I can plant it outdoors in May.

Ginger is a warming, drying herb that I work with both fresh and dry. If you can find it grown organically, you don’t have to worry so much about peeling the skin off, but if all you can buy is a big chunk from the local Asian Market you had better scrape the skin off (it actually is easiest to do with a spoon) before you chop the root up into “fingers.”

Ginger is great for helping relieve an upset stomach. I’ve used ginger both fresh and candied for this purpose for my kids for years. Another way I like to work with ginger both for tummy troubles and general winter blah’s is as a tea: A few chunks of fresh ginger, two slices of fresh lemon, and a cinnamon stick bashed up in the mortar and pestle. Put those three things into a mug and pour boiling water over the top. Add honey to taste (or to help a sore throat) if you want, but I think it tastes pretty good on it’s own too.

Another new way I’m working with ginger now is as an infused oil. The warming, rubefacient properties of the herb help increase circulation in the capillaries. I’m currently infusing some ginger in oil to be combined with my infused cayenne oil. Once completed, I will give this blend to a client to help treat peripheral artery disease that is creating a lack of blood flow to their extremities.

Ginger is also excellent when infused fresh into honey; honestly this makes super awesome-tasting honey to add to any tea! However, I do also dry ginger chunks to be blended into teas, such as my Gut Heal Tea and my personal blend of Chai tea (Available in my Apothecary Shop.)

I like to just give you an idea of how I personally work with an herb in these blog posts, as I have books and web resources and personal experience to draw on. But Henriette’s Herbal has a good Monograph you can check out, and so does This Website I found, if you only want to look online.

If you are interested in learning more about Folk Herbalism, check out my new Folk Herbalism School going on this year!

Bone Broth Revisited

You’ve likely heard various diet fads touting the incredible benefits of bone broth: a slow-cooked broth made with animal bones.  You can purchase jars of bone broth at most health food stores for anywhere from $9 to $20 a pint.  But do the physical benefits your body gets really merit that kind of expense?

If you have any farms near where you live, or even a decent farmers market, you can easily buy the materials to craft your own mineral and collagen-rich bone broth at home for under $10.  I generally make a big batch of it once a month or so in my 7-quart slow cooker, utilizing vegetable scraps that I’ve saved from cooking meals every night as well as dried mushrooms I had foraged over the summer, dried seaweed, and whatever tiny bits of fresh herbs are still poking their heads up above the snow in winter. 

Tossing medicinal mushrooms into my crock pot of bone broth

You can make bone broth any time of year, but winter is often the time our bodies need it the most; that time of year we are more sedentary, allowing our poor knees to suffer from lack of regular exercise and stuck indoors, catching whatever virus the kids brought home from school. 

If you can pick up some local beef bones or a locally-raised chicken to roast, you will be provided with enough bone, sinew, and fat to improve the functioning of your gut, give you healthier skin, and grease the cartilage in your joints.

I recommend buying local pasture-raised meats or bones as not only does in decrease the carbon footprint of the products you are about to eat but allowing the animals to forage on pasture is scientifically-proven to be better for both the animal and the person eating their meat, unlike feeding them on corn or soy like the larger commercial feedlots do.  100% Grass-fed meat is defined as an animal that was raised fully on pasture, eating their natural diet of grass and other plant materials found while foraging.  This is true for beef, lamb, or pork (although being a farmer, I would have to say God bless anyone who wants to raise their pigs solely on pasture.)

It’s important to note that chickens (and all poultry), on the other hand, are omnivores.  This is a critical distinction you ought to keep in mind when buying eggs, by the way—I personally think “vegetarian-fed” eggs are cruelty to the poor chickens. If you’ve ever watched chickens pecking around someone yard or field, you’ll notice them scratching up the earth and digging for insects.  Bugs aren’t vegetarian! The chickens require the extra protein in their diet found from insects and other “meats,” as soy stops their bodies from being able to properly assimilate the nutrients in the other grains found in normal poultry feed.  Buying pasture-raised chicken is going to result in the best tasting meat AND the most nutrient-dense bone broth from the remaining carcass.

Another benefit of making your own bone broth, especially if you use some nice big chunks of beef thigh or shank, is the bone marrow.  You don’t want to waste that nutritional powerhouse that comes free with the bones; bone marrow is incredibly rich brain food! Recent evidence suggests that eating and scavenging other predator’s kills for bone marrow is one of the things that caused new neurons to form in the human brain and allow hominids to develop the way we did.  Our brains got bigger and better at processing information, evolving us into the apex predator of the world.

When you make bone broth with a full chicken or turkey carcass, or even better, some kind of joint bones from a ruminant such as a cow or sheep, your resulting concoction will be extremely rich in collagen.  This is the substance your joints require to lubricate themselves.  No more knees cracking and creaking like bubble wrap when you take that flight of stairs!  It’s also a primary lubricant of skin cells, as you can probably deduce from the number of collagen-based face creams available in stores today.  You don’t have to be a beautician to appreciate having skin that stays soft and supple rather than dry or cracked. 

Finished bone broth ready to go into the freezer

The gut-healing benefits of bone broth are nothing to shy away from either.  I’ve helped several clients regain their gut health, heal recurring ulcers, and repair their microbiome utilizing homemade bone broth as a catalyst for change.  High quality bone broth drank a few times a week can act as a prebiotic to feed healthy gut bacteria, help reverse the effects of SIBO, and heal the walls of the gut lining that have been affected by IBS, Crohn’s Disease, or Ulcerative colitis

So, is bone broth “worth it?” In my opinion, absolutely!  I personally prefer to make my own rather than buy it in less-than adequate quantities at the store.  A small jar of bone broth from the store is only going to give you maybe two mugs full or be enough to add to a soup or stew.  If you make your own, however, you will provide yourself with enough to add to the water for boiling your pasta or rice, turn into an inflammation-fighting ramen soup, or drink as a hot breakfast on a cold winter morning.

Bone broth: warmth, comfort, and painkiller in a cup.

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