Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
This past week has been quite eventful as most of the Country has experienced a heat wave and subsequently, several major storms. My heart goes out to those who have experienced great personal loss. Mother Nature is a powerful force indeed and commands respect. Although it’s been quite hot here as well, it’s always possible to escape the heat in the surrounding mountains. Numerous cold streams are just a short distance away and offer a welcomed way to lower ones body temperature a few degrees in short order.
Last Sunday a friend and I set off on an adventure. We drove to Max Patch, a popular stop for tourists and locals alike. Max Patch is a huge bald located along the Appalachian Trail that offers breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains. We collected elderberry flowers, yarrow, bee balm, boneset and ate our share of wild berries. We also fished a bit and visited two swimming holes during the course of the day to cool off. It was quite simply a wonderful day.
On our way home I spotted some mountain mint growing on the side of a relatively steep slope. Footing was a little precarious, but we still collected quite a bit. Although I had managed to navigate the slope going up, the downward trip proved to be entirely different. When I was almost down I figured I could stay on my feet if I moved a bit quicker. I was wrong. When I reached the bottom, my feet couldn’t quite keep up with my momentum. I stumbled and as I lurched forward, toward the road face first, my only choice was to break my fall with my left hand and hopefully roll out of a potentially bad injury. Although I suffered some road rash from roadside gravel, on my left palm, I escaped with only a few cuts and scrapes. Asphalt can be unforgiving…I was lucky.
My hand and a small gash on my right knee were bleeding quite a bit. As fate would have it the yarrow, we collected earlier in the day, proved to be quite helpful. I mashed up some of the leaves to make a quick poultice. It adhered to wounds easily and stopped the bleeding immediately! It was quite impressive actually. I’ve used yarrow numerous times in the past and have never suffered any infection from these various boo boos:))
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), is a wonderful plant that all of us should get to know. Historically, its healing properties are well known. As the Latin name implies, yarrow has been utilized by cultures as far back as ancient Greece and most certainly before that. The great warrior Achilles, reportedly used it to treat severe wounds. Its ability to stop bleeding and keep wounds bacteria free is truly legendary. Its herbal properties are listed as anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, cicatrisant, diaphoretic, digestive, expectorant, hemostatic, hypotensive, stomachic, and tonic.
Although considered edible by some, I find it a bit too strong. I value its medicinal properties much more. As a tea, it is an all around wonderful tonic. I usually sweeten it with honey. I use it in several herbal concoctions too. As a tincture it sterilizes wounds, but stings quite intensely. I’m continually amazed but the abundance and complexity of Nature. It truly provides everything we need to thrive on this beautiful planet. Yarrow is just one of thousands of gifts that are available to us…if we’d only take the time…
As always, I welcome your thoughts and input. Please consider joining a group I started called “Traditional / Primitive Living Skills” and I do encourage you to ask questions and contribute.
Richard Cleveland lives in Asheville, NC. He is the founder and director of Earth School. A self-trained Naturalist, fishing and nature guide, he has taught traditional native skills to thousands of people, of all ages. For info about his programs visit www.LoveTheEarth.com
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