Saturday, April 30, 2011

First Website Sale, and Other Non-Important Tidbits of the Day!

OK, to some of you great website moguls this may seem such a little thing, but to me its like "WOW!"

I woke up this morning, checked my e-mail and there was a notice that I'd sold an item, not from my Etsy store, but from my website! How very cool is that! So, as soon as the funds show up in the bank, off goes the item. 

At least I know I am getting traffic to my website....Yola doesn't have visitor counters for us lowly paying site customers, only the higher level paying site customers. I guess I need to find an app for it because this is driving me nuts. I need to know how many visitors I've had and how well its doing. Obviously, not exceptional yet, as its not on the search engine "radar" yet - but I was found somehow by someone! :) I may just have to ask! (gee, novel idea, huh?!)

I may be back later to brag about my finally-finished-digging garden (if I'm not dead to the world)! I need to plant radishes today, so I have to complete the digging and get the fencing up around it to keep the dogs (and other "varmint") from ruining it like they did last year.

There's a feeling of "expectancy" lately....wonder what it will be. My 'timeframe' vision is starting, but its not yet clear - something later in the Summer, I think. Hate these when  they start because they're so undefined. Waiting for the clearing is very aggravating. Wish I  knew how to make them clarify themselves right from the start. My thought on it though is that the path could change before getting there, which would change the outcome or the over-all timeframe. I know that has happened before, but not very often. Its like walking into a thick fog wall, you have no idea where you're going, a variation on the path and the fog may dissipate or disappear, meaning the timeframe's end result is now changed or not going to happen. But continuing on the path, with maybe some minor path changes here & there in the thick fog, and eventually it begins to clear and finally disappear. Usually, I end up exactly at the time & place predicted, and the closer I get (i.e. the clearer it gets), the more closely I can pinpoint the exact week, quite often even the day. Grrrrrr! So the wait now begins! aaaaaahhhhh!

So, that's my news of the day!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Runes for Growing & Protecting Your Garden

I'm still digging my garden.....damn those wonderful rains! But its almost done. I've also got carrots beginning to peek out, plus yesterday I just planted the scallions, onions, & chives. Since the garden isn't completely dug out yet, I've had to re-arrange most of my vegetable planting by the Moon phases, moving them back a month. Which has worked out fine also because the temperatures were still rather cool for planting. Its about time to get the lettuce, peppers, broccoli, & tomatoes transplanted from their starter pots into the garden. 

I've been trying to think of ways to bring all the right "growing" energies into the garden - I need all the help I can get! Talking with the Goddess, requesting assistance from Mother Earth, calling on the Fae & the Ancient One, and sending Reiki energy are some of the things I do as I'm working, but I also want to do something "visible". Hubby has mentioned several times how an old Irishman he knew as a kid would place "3 crossed sticks" in his potato garden....and get very irate when stupid kids messed up those sticks!  :p

So, this got me thinking, which means doing a bit of favorite pastime! There are a couple of Runes that would work. One pertains to gardening in particular which is the Othila (OATH-aw-law) rune (but it has 4 sticks, only 2 of which are crossed). The second is the Ior (EYE-or) or Jera (YARE-aw) rune which refers to a good year's harvest. Ior is the later version in the Younger Futhork rune system (550 - 750 CE), while the Jera is the older from the Elder Futhark rune system (200-450 CE).

I have also been wanting to find really interesting row markers for the vegetables planted in that row. I've found some really interesting ones, from letter stamped silverware, to woodburned wood sticks. I don't have the money for the stamps or the silverware, but the woodburned idea is right up my alley! All I need are the wood pieces to make them with.....I guess a trip down the hill to the woods is in order. Or I could cut pieces from the barn wood - that would be very cool looking! And will have lots of energy to add to the markers...and more of that growing assistance that I need!

The way to make them will be to leave the natural worn look on the whole piece, but sand smooth the section that will be woodburned with the words & the rune. I like this idea! 

Here is the Othila rune (gardening, home, land):

Here is the Ior rune (cycles, good year):

Here is the Jera rune (harvest, reward):

A better idea is to make a bindrune from these runes. Combining these 3 runes into a bindrune will be lots of fun!

Here's the Garden Bindrune I'll be placing on the markers:

Guess its time to get to work!  :D

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hoodoo Hill Zazzle Store!

Wow! What a great site! Very user friendly, and what a wonderful way for their customers to make money. They provide the goods, you provide the design, your customers place an order for the item or items they want, you receive a royalty from the sale! No inventory to keep, no monetary outlay, no hassle what-so-ever. They broker for you and everyone is happy. Don't you just LOVE free-enterprise capitalism?!

I am designing beautiful fine art graphics from some of the masters who painted witches (or women they thought depicted witches) and writing poems to go with each. These designs then are placed on the goods of choice by the customer. They're not limited to only a tote bag or t-shirt, but are able to pick from key chains to doggy sweaters! Very cool!

So far I have one design completed and am working on another. I hope to have at least 10 designs put together this week. Very excited to earn some money from my own designs. I will definitely keep posting here regarding how well its going.

Here is my first design, the graphic is "Daughter of the Witch" by Larsson in 1889. The poem is my own original.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Squidoo Lenses

RubyRavn, Hoodoo Hill, and A Witch's Craft are all having lenses posted to Squidoo! What a great site! 

Write articles on specific topics to create a "lens". These then become sources for others to read & access, plus w/ widgets & apps you can generate income through your lenses. I enjoy writing, so this should be lots of fun - and if I can generate income, all the better! I'm linking to this blog as well as all my other sites. This should generate a great deal more interest for my craft site A Witch's Craft, my sales on Etsy, and my website & sales for Hoodoo Hill.

Anything to generate interest and income!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Finally some beautiful days! Rain in between, which is good for the garden, but the sunny days are warm w/ cool breezes. Perfect!

Which of course has me itching to go out to gather what is currently blooming. So far I've gathered quite a bit of Dandelion, Dock root, and Heal-All. The wild onions are so delicious in foods. I cut them up nice and small for added flavor in most of our meals.

I'm still trying to find out about some of the plants in our pastures. Have no idea how to find out what they are. I've tried online, but that's like trying to find a needle in a haystack!

Here's an article on Wildcrafting that is interesting. Much of the information is common sense, but there are some good pointers and ideas in the list at the bottom of the article.


Wildcrafting for Beginners
By Howie Brounstein

Wildcrafting, or gathering plant material from its native "wild" environment is becoming very popular. Many local herbalists and wildcrafters are concerned about damage to our resources. A well-trained wildcrafter should never damage or deplete our inheritance from nature. A few actually intend to damage the environment for personal gain, but those folks will not be swayed by one article on the internet. The majority of the wildcrafters are looking for a way to connect with nature for the day, have fun, and finish with some plants for food, medicine, fiber, or art. These wildcrafting guidelines are for you.

Included in this article is a Wildcrafting Checklist that you can print and carry with you into the field. Use it every time you harvest. It will be difficult to answer all the questions. Some questions will require returning to the site every year for a couple of years. If you can't figure out if your population of plants (plant stand) is growing or shrinking, or if it's being eaten by elk, don't worry. Just be aware of these thoughts, and try to answer them as time goes on.

The biggest mistake most new wildcrafters make is harvesting the first good patch they see. There is no hurry. There may be an even better stand over the next hill or around the bend in the river. Please don't wildcraft on a busy schedule, or you'll miss many beautiful lessons that nature has to offer.

Your emotional state will greatly affect your plant and habitat locating abilities. Concerns, fears, and a constant replay of yesterday's traumas will cloud your awareness of the signs around you. When you're upset, you are more likely to miss obvious animal clues, get lost in thick shrubs of the ever spiny Devil's Club, Oplopanax horridum, or even fall off a cliff. Many places of power are inaccessible without a proper emotional state. No rock climber in their right mind would attempt a difficult ascent without a centered consciousness. The same applies to plant hunters. One must approach the earth with openness and respect if you expect to learn anything from it.

If you obtained a permit from a public agency to harvest from our public lands, you agreed to harvest a specific distance from roads and trails. Follow this sound regulation on private land also. People hiking (and to some extent driving) through the forest often wish to experience the beauty of wildflowers. Most will never leave the trail. Even if you pick a wildflower that grows back next year, someone may not learn of its special charm this year. 

Wildcrafters and administrators will try to find an exact distance, but I suggest hiking until you no longer see the trail. Walking out of sight will help make your harvest invisible. A successful wildcrafter leaves fewer marks on the stand than a foraging animal. Very few human eyes will follow you off the human highways, and feeling as if you're the only folks in the woods makes it even more enjoyable to wildcraft.

Some plants are not damaged easily, and should be the first choice of a wildcrafter. Blackberry, Rubus sp., and Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, are two that are nearly impossible to eliminate, even if you dig their roots. If a piece of root stays in the ground, it will grow back. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, can be cut with a lawnmower and still flourish regularly. Nettles, Urtica spp., when grown for fiber can have 3-4 aboveground harvests in a growing season. Plants that fit into this category are generally perennials. You can pick them and not threaten their survival. 

Endangered plants are species in danger of becoming extinct in the foreseeable future. Threatened plants are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. A species can be threatened or endangered throughout its range, which means if it goes extinct we will lose its hidden secrets forever. Many of these plants only grow in one special area (endemic). The Columbia Gorge on the border of Oregon and Washington hosts many endemic species. Peck's Penstemon, Penstemon peckii, grows only in the Ponderosa Pine Forest in Deschutes and Jefferson Counties. A species can also receive protection for part of its range. Newberry's Gentian, Gentiana newberryi, has stable populations in California, but is listed as threatened in Oregon. Deschutes County is at the end of its range, and there are less of them. Rare plants have small, localized populations. They may not be listed as threatened or endangered if the populations are both stable and numerous.

The US. Fish and Wildlife Service determines which plants receive federal protection. Unfortunately, they are very slow in reviewing candidate species. Many have become extinct while waiting to be listed. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Fish and Wildlife of each state is responsible for determining state protection. We also have the Oregon Natural Heritage Program. This program has its own list of plants that deserve protection, but haven't made it into the clogged federal and state lists. They also have a list of plants to watch and monitor. A copy of Rare, Threatened and Endangered Plants and Animals of Oregon is available from: 

The Oregon Natural Heritage Program
1025 NW 25th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97210

Your own local Natural Heritage Program may have a web page, check it out.

Do not pick protected plants. Unfortunately, they are not always easy for an amateur to identify. They are not always showy. There may be large amounts of them in one spot, so that they appear plentiful. There are some good picture books available. All folks who pick plants from the wild should try to familiarize themselves with the local protected plants. When in doubt, don't pick it.

Some plants are sensitive to disturbance. Please do not pick them even if they aren't protected. The Calypso Orchid, Calypso bulbosa, is a fragile plant that lives partially off leaf mold. Its little root is close to the surface, and easy prey to slugs and others. Minor disturbances can easily dislodge the root from the mold. If someone picks its flower, it can ooze fluid and essentially "bleed" to death. Even disturbing the area around it during flowering could kill it. The law does not protect this plant because it is too numerous. It is our responsibility to help sensitive plants survive.

How can you tell if a plant is sensitive? Most plants that are not green (contain no chlorophyll) are "no picks." These weird species are white, brown, red, or purple and just plain eerie. Botanists call them parasites or saprophytes. They are particularly fascinating. These include Broomrape, Orobanche sp., Coral Roots, Corallorhiza sp., and Indian Pipe, Monotropa uniflora. Other "no picks" include the Orchid Family (Orchidaceae) and almost all the Lily Family (Liliaceae). The Orchid Family includes Calypso Orchid, Calypso bulbosa, and the Rein Orchids, Habenaria sp. The Lily Family includes Trillium, Trillium ovatum, and Mariposa Lilies, Calochortus sp. These families are easy to recognize with a little practice. Not every Lily and Orchid is sensitive, but it's a good place to start. Most (but not all) of the unusual or showy plants are no picks. If you are not sure, don't harvest it.

Many books and government permit guidelines suggest harvesting 1 in 3 (33%) or 1 in 4 (25%). This has been an acceptable amount for many years. I never harvest this much of a stand. The stand is drastically changes in appearance, no matter how you pick. Even if the plants regenerate in a year or too, the visual impact alone is extreme. It changes the ecological balance by letting in light, warming the soil, etc.

One in ten (10%) is the best ratio to go by. This leaves most of the stand for reproduction and wildlife, and minimally impacts the ecosystem. All these harvesting ratios are generalizations and numbers that I personally never use. Each plant and ecosystem is unique in the amount and kind of harvesting it can handle. If you have to limit yourself to 1 in 10, then you are at the wrong stand. The best thing to do is locate a stand much larger than your needs, and then select some of the finest plants out of many. It is unusual for me to pick more than 1% of the stand, even when I collect a pickup truck full.

No matter what percentage of the stand you can pick, you should never harvest more than you can process and use. This seems obvious, but beginners often blindly pick as much as possible. Washing and cutting Oregon Grape Root, Berberis nervosa, can take as long or longer than the harvesting process. The root becomes very hard after a day or two, and a hacksaw may be required if you don't process it immediately. Plants will lose potency while waiting to be placed in the herb dryer. Large clumps of Valerian, Valeriana sitchensis, are quickly removed from a middle elevation meadow, but washing the roots may take five times longer (or more if its a grassy clump). Even dried herbs have a shelf life.

Every time my apprentices harvest anything, I ask them what "wildcrafting is stewardship" means to them. The answers become personalized for each individual. To me, it means if you take care of the earth, the earth will take care of you. I am a caretaker of these wild plants, returning year after year to many places to watch and protect the plants that support me. Perhaps this year you will find a personal meaning for this phrase also.

Wildcrafting Checklist

  • Do you have the permission or the permits for collecting at the site?
  • Do you have a positive identification?
  • Are there better stands nearby? Is the stand big enough?
  • Are you at the proper elevation?
  • Is the stand away from roads and trails?
  • Is the stand healthy?
  • Is there any chemical contamination?
  • Is there any natural contamination?
  • Are you in a fragile environment?
  • Are there rare, threatened, endangered, or sensitive plants growing nearby at any time of the year?
  • Is wildlife foraging the stand?
  • Is the stand growing, shrinking, or staying the same size?
  • Is the plant an annual or a perennial?
  • Is tending necessary and what kind?
  • How much to pick?
  • Time of day? Time of year?
  • What effect will your harvest have on the stand?
  • Do you have the proper emotional state?
  • Move around during harvesting.
  • Look around after harvesting. Any holes or cleanup needed?
  • Are you picking herbs in the proper order for a long trip?
  • Are you cleaning herbs in the field? Do you have the proper equipment for in-field processing?

*Wildcrafting is stewardship 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hoodoo Hill Inventory Additions

I've been adding more inventory to the website & Etsy sites. I opened an Artfire account, but haven't placed any of the inventory in there yet. Need to figure out how to really get this business going. I'd like to offer more plants (herbs, small trees), oils & herbs for spiritual work, amulets (made some really cool ones w/ Sweet Gum balls), and other crafts. Here's a picture of the amulets:

 The "Love & Romance" amulet is on the left, the "Money & Abundance" amulet is on the stone, and the "Protection" amulet is on the right. They're filled with the appropriate herbs & oils. The "Love & Romance" amulet has an incredible rose scent. These are $10 each.

There are, of course, several zoological items to choose as well, such as deer teeth & bones, macaw feathers, mud dauber's nests, etc.. 

Deer Bones $5 each

Deer Teeth $5 each

Mud Dauber's Nest
Small $10, Medium $14, Large $20

Some time this summer I should have opossum bones (they're currently being "cleaned" by ants & bugs inside a hollow log in the woods). We found the poor thing drowned in the creek - we think one of the horses stomped it to death. The skull is perfect as are most of the other bones. Once its stripped enough I'll finish cleaning it. The skull is mine to keep, the bones I'll keep some and offer some for sale.

I have also collected bark from fallen trees: Sweet Gum (bark & pith), Cedar, Oak, Silver Birch. These are $5/large piece.

I need to get my drying racks built downstairs, it will make the laying out & drying process so much more organized. Right now I have things all over the place - here in the house as well as downstairs! Driving me nuts!

Anyway, that's about it for now - Spring Cleaning to get started on since its far too windy to dig more in the garden, and its going to rain. So I might as well start inside! Ugh, that includes windows. :( This is gonna suck! :)

The Garden & Other Spring Things!

Well, the garden is "getting there". I'm still digging it out - every time I get a good start, wear myself out, then rest to recoup for the night, it begins to rain the next day. I'm only about 1/2 finished digging. 

Yesterday I did plant the carrot seeds. I've had the lettuce, broccoli, peppers, & tomatoes already started downstairs. I'm hoping that planting by the Moon & astrological phases that I'll have a really good garden this year. At least no Lilliputian vegetables. They were delicious, but....damn! Still haven't figured that one out.

I have plans for canning & freezing as much as possible. I've found some really great recipes that will be used when the time comes for harvesting. I've perfected my pickle juice recipe, so this year my cucumbers won't go to waste. I need to find a really good bread & butter pickle recipe....or find that same brand that I bought 2 yrs ago.... :{ Not sure if I can!

The Curly Willow cuttings I've been growing for the last year are doing great transplanted in their new places. I also transplanted one of the multi-fruit trees, which seems to be doing fine as well. The red maple I thought was dead, isn't and is doing very nicely. I'm hoping it will grow considerably this year. The maple near the house is definitely dead, but only the main tree, it has shoots coming up that we'll leave alone until well established (to keep the dogs away from it), then we'll cut that off and see how it develops from there.

Time for Spring cleaning around the house, barn, & property. Plus, all the "little" projects that need to be done or completed, such as the stone slab borders. I knew I should've dug them in deeper - now I have to! Wouldn't mind cementing them in place....hmmm, that's an idea! But then, if one breaks I won't be able to replace it - they are only sandstone. I'll just have to plant them in deeper then.

Ah well, guess I should get started planning my Spring Cleaning Projects! Making a list of them will keep me organized and less likely to skip around. Its also quite nice to see what's been accomplished when crossing something off the list!