Seasonal Journal Winter 2019


by Rainer Maria Rilke

 You darkness from whom I am born – I love you more than all the fires that block out the night;
 for the fire limits the world to the circle it lights up and excludes all the rest.
But the darkness holds everything: shapes and shadows, creatures and me, peoples and nations — just as they are.
 It lets me imagine a great presence stirring beside me. I believe in the darkness.

The Winter Solstice still approaches, yet winter has definitely arrived here in the North Country. Some days are brilliant and blue, but many are gray and cloudy. The darkness is more predominant than the light. There is the chance to get gloomy and whiny about the cold, the snow and the dark. There is also the opportunity to embrace the beauty of winter with the fresh air and stillness, the frozen gardens and lakes, and the abundance of darkness. Allow the darkness to pull you inward.  Relish this time to cuddle with a good book by the fire or work on creative craft projects. Record your dreams and journal your ponderings.  Let the darkness coax your deeper questions and longings up to the surface. What questions are we often too busy to ask?

 How can we best walk our talk? How can we best love our loved ones? How can we best share our gifts and be of service in a needy world?

Are we letting our hearts sing?

No need to have all the answers. Just give yourself time to contemplate the deep and profound questions as well as have some fun with practical planning for the New Year. Relish the darkness and all it can hold and gestate. Wishing you time to ponder, dream and envision.

In the vegetable garden…

 a lovely blanket of snow is insulating and covering the orchard and garden beds. We are grateful to have the land and plants at rest. We are relishing the time to do inside projects and outdoor fun. 

Well, one thing we are doing now in the gardens and orchards is attempting to discourage deer from sneaking in and munching on the baby apple trees. Michael has a few tricks up his sleeve that work some of the time!  He is out there today wiring smelly soap (Irish Spring) on to the branches of the smaller trees. He also has battery powered scare “eyes” that look similar to a coyotes eyes at night. What works best is a good fence and/or a tough guard dog. Our gentle Zola occasionally does guard duty and some of our orchard areas and gardens are fenced, but not all.  We’d be happy to let the deer have apples, but unfortunately that just draws them in and encourages browsing.  One evening of browsing from just one deer can take years off a small trees life or even kill it.  Such are the challenges of living in harmony with our neighbors.

Of course, we are dreaming and planning for next year’s gardens.  Our favorite seed and plant catalogs  are arriving in the mail. They will wait until a cozy evening by the fire after the holidays. Here are some that are piling up and that I highly recommend:

Fedco Seeds
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
High Mowing Seeds
Strictly Medicinal Seeds

Rosemary Gladstar’s Fire Cider Recipe

  • ½ cup grated fresh horseradish root
  • ½ cup or more fresh chopped onions
  • ¼ cup or more chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup or more grated ginger
  • Chopped fresh or dried cayenne pepper ‘to taste’. Can be whole or powdered. ‘ To Taste’ means should be hot, but not so hot you can’t tolerate it. Better to make it a little milder than to hot; you can always add more pepper later if necessary.
  • Optional ingredients; Turmeric, Echinacea, etc.
  1. Place herbs in a half-gallon canning jar and cover with enough raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to cover the herbs by at least three to four inches. Cover tightly with a tight fitting lid. It is best to use a plastic lid or put a sheet of wax paper in between. 
  2. Place jar in a warm place and let for three to four weeks. Best to shake every day to help in the maceration process.
  3. After three to four weeks, strain out the herbs, and reserve the liquid.
  4. Add honey ‘to taste’. Warm the honey first so it mixes in well. “To Taste’ means your Fire Cider should taste hot, spicy, and sweet. “A little bit of honey helps the medicine go down……”
  5. Rebottle and enjoy! Fire Cider will keep for several months unrefrigerated if stored in a cool pantry. But it’s better to store in the refrigerator if you’ve room.

This a great remedy filled with antimicrobial and circulatory herbs. A small shot glass daily serves as an excellent tonic (unless you are already running too hot).  Take teaspoons throughout the day if you feel a cold or flu coming on.

Wise Women from my Ancient Wisdom for Modern Women 7 Month Program preparing Fire Cider. 

In the herb garden……

today I’m not really in the herb garden I’m in the kitchen catching up on herbal projects. I’m straining tinctures, fire cider, and shrubs.

The fire cider and shrubs are made with our own organic apple cider vinegar that Michael ages in the cellar from our apple cider.  Raw vinegar itself is a health enhancing product with a long folkloric tradition. Modern science is now validating many of the healing qualities, recognizing that raw apple cider vinegar is truly alive with gut friendly beneficial bacteria which increase immunity and improves digestion. Use of raw apple cider vinegar with our meals also encourages better assimilation of minerals from the food we eat.

Fire Cider is quite popular and “in the news” recently because it is a tasty and effective health tonic and also because of a trademark conflict and  court case over the term “Fire Cider”. A company (Shire City) trade marked the term “fire cider” and even sued some young herbalists who had been selling it for years.

Many of us have been making and sharing the recipe for years, so it was outrageous that a large company would try to trademark it.  Fire Cider is an old remedy and the name was coined by Rosemary Gladstar and her students over 30 years ago. A strong and passionate grassroots movement formed to make the term generic and not allow it to be trademarked.  This effort was also to set a precedent for other traditional products not to be trademarked. The movement was led by Rosemary Gladstar and the “Fire Cider 3”, Kathi Langelier, Mary Blue, and Nicole Telkes. After a long and drawn out court case, they prevailed!!  If you want to learn more go to

I encourage you all to make your own Fire Cider or buy some from your local herbalist.  Also Rosemary (and Friends) new Fire Cider! book is awesome, buy it!  There are so many great recipes and stories. Michael and I are happy to be contributors. I shared my favorite recipe for High Calcium Tonic (I’ll send that recipe along in another seasonal journal). Michael shares a funny story about downing a pint and how it practically knocked him out!

Winter Wellness Tips

 Winter wellness tips 

When the weather gets cold, wet and winterish it is the kapha time of year, according to Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science).  Kapha is comprised of the elements of earth and water. Think of the elements of earth  (solid, stable, strong) and some of water’s aspects (fluid, soothing, cooling). Nothing wrong with those qualities, yet the wetness, cold and heaviness of winter can cause some imbalances.  We might feel low energy, congested, too heavy or even depressed.  The Ancient teachings of Ayurveda remind us that opposites bring balance.  To help us stay in balance in the winter eat warm foods. Some raw food is okay, if you are not having digestive problems, but big huge cold salads are best to enjoy in the warmer seasons. Drinking your water warm with lemon or just plain is ideal. Herbal teas with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, keep your digestion working well.   

Healthy lifestyle choices that will promote vibrant health and enhanced immunity. 

1. Get enough sleep (ten hours for children and eight hours for adults) Honor our circadian rhythms. Go to bed by 10:00 rise before the sun, when possible. 

2. Eat vibrant, colorful, seasonal, real food. Favor warming foods like soup, cooked grains, roasted vegetables, and good quality protein. (See soup recipe below) Adding warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and a bit of cloves is especially good this time of year.

3. Drinking plenty of pure warm water. Start first thing when you wake up in the morning with one or two glasses of warm water.  Avoid cold or iced beverages that cool down your digestive fire.

4. Wash hands often, especially when working and/or spending time in public places.

5. Dress for the weather. “No bad weather, just bad clothes.” Keep neck, head and kidney area warm.

6. Teach your family to cough and sneeze into their elbow.

7. Daily self-massage with warm oil especially paying attention to lymph node areas is healing and increases immunity. Follow this with a warm bath or shower.

8. Deep breathing.

9. Joyful movement you love. What makes your heart sing  (walking, yoga, going to the gym, dancing, skiing, skating, snowshoeing in the woods)?  Remind yourself even a short time is better than nothing. 

10. Get out into the sunlight every day. If you live where there isn’t much sunshine, supplement with Vitamin D.  Take time to connect and just be, observe the sunset or the sparkling diamonds on the snow. 

11. There are so many wonderful herbal allies for cold and flu season. Our all time favorites are elderberry, echinacea, ginger, garlic and turmeric. 


 Rocio’s Quinoa Peanut Soup

When our dear friend and mentor, Rocio, comes to visit she often makes us a delicious soup from her childhood growing up in the Andes. It incorporates many traditional foods from the area: potatoes, peanuts, quinoa, and she says sometimes it would have meat in it, but not always. The meat was often cuy, (guinnea pig), or poultry.  The soup is delicious and hearty and full of protein from the peanuts and quinoa even if you don’t add any meat. We often serve this yummy soup at our Healing the Healers Retreat that Rocio facilitates here at the farm.  Yummy anytime, especially on a cold winter day!

  • 2 teaspoons  oil  ( one teaspoon of pig lard in the past) but at the present olive oil. 
  • ¾ cup chopped spring onion  
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sliced or chopped  potatoes
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup roasted and ground peanuts or  natural peanut butter
  • 1-2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon of salt  or to taste
  • chopped fresh cilantro, chives, or parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste  
  • 1 cup grated cheese  or shredded  meat  (both optional)


  1. Place the quinoa in bowl and cover with water. Let the quinoa soak overnight or at least rinse.
  2. Drain and rinse the quinoa well. (Quinoa has saponins which taste a bit soapy if you don’t rinse it well.)
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion with the garlic and the cabbage for 10 minutes, add potatoes and quinoa, then add broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat.  
  4. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa is cooked and the vegetables are tender, about 18 minutes. 
  5. Stir in ground peanuts or peanut butter until it is combined into the broth. Remove from heat. Stir in herbs and add cheese or have on the side as an option.