Entries organized under Nicolas

If You Need It…

May 1, 2016

Contributed by HarryNicolas Graybear

There is a principal in ‘herbology’ that effectively says if you need it, it will appear… even if you don’t realize you need it. We experienced this phenomenon several times on the farm.

P1100242This year, the Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) (also known as Gill-over-the-Ground) has REALLY increased its presence in our lawn and in the field up the hillside behind our home. With its square stem and stereotypical flowers, Ground Ivy is definitely a member of the mint family.

So the obvious question is: Why do we need it? What can it be used to treat?

One thing we knew is it has been used as a treatment for cancer. As far as we know, we are healthy in this respect.

Just last week a post was made on Facebook mentioning it was good for tinnitus.  After verifying this use in other sources, we tried it. (For definitive identity assistance, you might visit the Identify that Plant site.P1100239

Harry has had tinnitus for years… perhaps from hunting as a child with his Dad and Grandpa, perhaps from too many loud rock concerts during his college days… who knows.

Harry’s tinnitus stepped up a notch recently, from the constant high-pitch squeal or whistle to a noise that sounded more like spring peepers chirping… non-stop.

The recommended treatment is to drink a Ground Ivy infusion. An infusion is made by pouring boiling water over an ounce or so of plant material and letting it steep in a sealed container (like a capped Mason jar) for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Then strain the plant matter out and drink a cup or two of the liquid during the day. (Inspection by kittens is NOT required.)P1100244

After the first quart of infusion the peepers were silenced.  The squeal remains, but slightly diminished(?).

Here’s hoping for further improvement with more infusion! Luckily, the Ground Ivy will be available all summer.

Signs of Spring!

March 12, 2016

Contributed by HarryNicolas Graybear

We took advantage of a perfectly beautiful day to walk up our mountain to check on the progress of Spring.

One mission of our walk was to find the first wildflower of the season. We didn’t find it… yet. But… There are lots of tiny little plants peaking out through the leaf litter of the forest floor.

The coolest things we found were in or next to water.  In the next hollow over from ours, someone long ago built a little pond fairly high on the mountainside to catch water from a nice little stream coming off the mountain. After the water settles in the pond for a while, it leaves and tumbles down the slope, joining other streams, which join other streams, which join a river. All that water eventually finds its way to the Gulf of Mexico. (We are on the western side of the Eastern Continental Divide.)

We did find two other evidences of Spring.

frog egg mass

Think a deep-throated “Charump!” Or maybe it should be a higher pitched “Ribbet!”

Right! We saw some frogs swimming and jumping in the pond. They hid from us under the leaves and mud, so we could not identify them. (You would hide, too, if you saw something 100 times bigger than you coming towards your home!) But they left a huge mass of something that tells us they are there even if we had not seen them jump and swim.

Can you tell what is in the picture?

Of course!  Frog eggs!  You can see the big embryo in each transparent egg.  In a short time, we should be able to see a tiny tadpole wiggling in each egg.  This pond will be FULL of tadpoles soon!  If we had sat down and been very still and quiet, I bet the frogs would have come up and sang for us.

The other thing we saw, while not rare, is seldom noticed and recognized:


This plant that looks like lizard skin is a ‘liverwort’ (a bryophyte).  It is a ‘lower plant’, more primitive than ferns and mosses (some of which you can see poking out between the thallus (not a leaf or stem, but a ‘body’) of the liverwort. This plant has no stem, leaves, flowers, seeds or ‘veins’. Instead of seeds it has spores.

This primitive liverwort should not be confused with the spring wildflower liverwort (Hepatica), which will bloom in about a month.

We found one more thing near this liverwort and moss.

Do you recognize these?


I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure they are little insect cocoons. They could be insect eggs, but I don’t think so. IN either case, they have been here all winter waiting for warm weather to arrive so they can emerge.

Even though it may still be cool where you live, go out and see what ‘signs of spring’ you can find.

First Snow (Sort of)

December 16, 2015

Contributed by HarryNicolas Graybear

Last week felt like we had migrated to the Bahamas… or the Bahamas had come to us! (At least, I have heard the Bahamas are warm even in winter.) Beautiful days with high temperatures in the sixties made us want to be out exploring instead of preparing the cave for the kids’ Christmas visit.

We did take an afternoon off to celebrate our eleventh anniversary and take a walk along one of our favorite local trails. On our way home, we had to stop and enjoy one of the most spectacular and reddest sunsets we have seen in a long while. Several others stopped to appreciate and capture it with their cameras.

It was surely an optical illusion, but with no leaves on trees everything seemed so much more present, crisper and closer. Rock faces and other landscape features appeared in places we had passed dozens of times before without noticing.  Vista views seemed wider and farther than in spring or summer. Even as the temperature dropped as dusk approached, it was hard to take our eyes away from the beauty.

Yesterday we could feel the temperatures drop all day long. We woke up to upper thirties and by dusk it was in the upper twenties with the first light snow of the season carried by very high winds… gusts more than thirty miles an hour. It made the house vibrate and the trees roar! Even the dogs didn’t want to stay out in it and preferred the house warmth. It was so nice to be inside by the fire even though the snow ended up being only a dusting that barely lasted in the shade once the sun rose.

That’s it for now. Time to wander out to find some plantain (Plantago lanceolata). I’ll chew it up and hold between my cheek and gum most of the day to draw out a minor toothache.

I hope you are having a wonderful day!