But first tea! This post may contain affiliate links. What's that you say?! Sometimes we share products that we love with you and those may pay us a little something to keep ye ol' farm a running, feed the children, teach them their arthimatic and the like. These links don't change the cost of the product. Read our full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting our family farm with your purchases!
When we first moved to the farm, three years ago, it was a newly constructed home which had replaced an older mobile home. The ground was very wet and muddy as happens in Oregon when the ground is being moved around for construction. There wasn't much growing on our property accept for blackberry vines- brambles - pokies - caneberries... pick your name of choice.
First on the list for the farm were goats! Goats are known for eating just about anything but they really do a number on brambles. As God would have it, there were two precious goats that needed a new home and we needed some goats!
Enter Lucy and Roscoe. These are/were our blackberry eating machines and they had an all you could eat buffet. If you are from the Northwest you understand that blackberries are rather invasive. They grow very fast, they cover absolutely everything and there is little chemical-free way to do them in. Goats are the best bet aside from burning them down. The goats were happy though!
You see though, these intrusive plants do have their upside. About August and September they produce a beautiful black, yummy berry. These berries are full of antioxidants, anti cancer properties, and they make lovely jams, jellies and pies. They are wonderful in smoothies and there is hardly a child in the pacific northwest who doesn't have memories of picking berries fresh off the vines... and then detaching the thorns from them and their clothing. But the little pain from the "pokies" is well worth the reward.
The berries don't stay around too long... their season is relatively short and with four little foragers those berries don't stand a chance! The leaves on the other hand are around for quite a while. They are currently budding as I type and wait anxiously for the return of fresh young leaves. Blackberry leaves contain many constituents: tannins, gallic acid, villiosin, starch and calcium oblate. According the the site Livestrong, they have been officially approved in Germany for use for inflammation of the mouth and throat as well as for acute diarrhea. They are also made into a tea, mouthwash and a gargling solution to help with gum issues and tooth ache.
Blackberry leaf may be made into washes, compresses and baths. It is used internally as tea, a capsule or extract. Its leaf is also slightly sweet allowing for it to be sprinkled on the top of other foods.
As this leaf is brewed, tea steeping time increases its sweetness. It is native to North America and Europe. In America, Oregon is the leading producer of blackberry leaf. (I believe it too! Really we have an acre of it!!) The berries contain dietary fiber, vitamin C, omega 3 and 6 fats.
According to the US National Library of Medicine (NCBI) blackberry leaf is anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-dysentery, anti-diabetic, anti-diarrheal and antioxidant. It has been traditionally used to treat whooping cough, blackberry juice used for colitis, tea from roots for labor pain and the leaves chewed for toothache. Traditionally it has also been used as an esophageal, to treat cervical and breast cancer, assist with anemia, regulate the menses, treat diarrhea and dysentery. An infusion made into a lotion could help psoriasis and scaly conditions of the skin. A gargle used to treat thrust and poultices for wounds and bruises as well as to help control minor bleeding.
As it turns out, this wild, thorny, intrusive plant can be quite helpful in a number of things! With a little pruning and control of this wonderful plant I think we can find quite a good many uses for it down on the farm. How about you? Do you see blackberry vines in a different light now? What use will you choose? I bet you can figure out how we will use it down on our TEA farm! Thanks for stopping by the farm and we hope to continue our herbal series featuring lovely, but maybe not commonly known, medicinal plants. If you are not blessed with this plant in your yard you may find the dried leaf here and blackberry root tincture here.
As always, this information is intended for educational purposes only. Please consult your physician for medical advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please read our full medical disclaimer here.
Find out in our latest video! We also take you on a tour of our farm, give a progress update on our tea studio construction and lift a 23 foot long beam up - Like a farmer!
The sun has not yet risen, slowly little people tumble out of bed for the morning Angelus bell has rung. Its time for morning prayers, and its time to start the day off with God. The rain is tumbling down upon the farmhouse and barn as the sun starts to rise and reveal the day. Fog crowds around the river bend and crawls up the mountain side. The students have dressed and begun their daily studies.
As daylight fully engulfs the farm, barn chores begin. Chickens are given their daily rations to supplement their green pasture and supply of bugs and worms. The waterers are filled and cleaned. There is fresh hay and alfalfa for the goat and the lamb. Next its time for the little people to eat. Fresh sourdough toast, slathered with butter and a kefir smoothie made with fresh, raw, cows milk from the family dairy farm across the valley. The fire crackles in the wood stove as learning commences again. Life is good down on the farm.
Mornings like this are a blessing though life n the farm isn't always so picturesque. There is a barnful of manure and muck to clean out. Wood has to be cut and dried, requiring though ahead of time in regards to heating the farmhouse. Wood burning fires must be made every morning and evening in order to keep the house warm. Bread is baked every day or every-other day to ensure optimal freshness and nutrition. Rain and wet sometimes keep us indoors more often than we would will but God is good in all of His ways!
Those who don't know our little family might think it has always been this way. Yet quite the opposite is true. Why do we want to live the farm life? Why are we trying to grow all of our own food? Why do we choose to work when many of these things could be handled by a grocery store and the electric company?
When this city girl turned farmer's wife was younger I was blessed with wonderful grandparents on both sides of our family. I think that the love of grandparents for their grandchildren was really a reciprocal thing. The wisdom one gains by the time they are grandparents seems even more vast when there are generations between you. There always was (and still is) an awe of the wisdom surrounding my grandparents. On the maternal side Grandpa was/is a humble, hard-working and devoted family man. Grandma full of artistic inspiration, fun-loving and always doting on her grandchildren. On the paternal side, another hard-working and devoted family man. A loving grandmother sure to fill you up not just with her love and hugs but to warm up your insides with the best food should could conjure up. And it was mighty good.
While these patriarchal and matriarchal figures were busy building deep rooted relationships with their grandchildren they were also busy at something else. They were busy sharing living history.
When your a child there is this process of leaving father and mother- some would call it growing up. It lends a certain and necessary relationship barrier in order that authority and order might be established as God willed. Grandparents though, lend another layer to this relationship. They have an established, well documented authority. One that comes with decades of learning. Mistakes made and witnessing so many changes in time. It gives an air of authority that grandchildren appreciate in a new way. It leaves a deep and lasting impression on the young mind. It is an authority that never has to have its relationship changed even as a grandchild grows.
My grandparents were not different. Grandpa impressed on us at a young early age the dangers of smoking cigarettes. He had learned those ills, I suppose, from years when cigarettes were army rations and later when medical technology had advanced enough to teach us the ill effects of smoking. He also taught us how precious Gram's marion berry jam was (marion berries are similar to blackberries but an Oregon specialty!) when sneaking us out to the garage freezer for a container to take home from Gram's stash. I can hear Gram calling him now! "Hooooneeey!!!" Yet the deepest lesson he left was that of his childhood. How he drove at the age of ten because his parents had passed away and his grandmother needed a driver. How during the Great Depression he and his siblings along with his grandmother cleaned for the affluent to earn their daily bread. Hard work lived in this man by his example. There was no bitterness over the hard work, just a deep expression of his appreciation for what he had. Everything was appreciated for its value because of the hard work that it took to get it.
Let me tell you, no one made better mashed potatoes than Grandpa. There was no electric mixer to mash them to perfection either. An old hand masher would do for Grandpa, complete with some good ole' elbow grease. To this day, I use a similar masher because its the one that HE used! During the Great Depression food was scarce for poor city folk. A dish of hamburger gravy and mashed potatoes was most likely an extravagant treat. Potatoes were the mainstay of many a poor man's dish and gravy made it spread around the dinner table easier. After all there were plenty of starving mouths to feed. I remember Grandpa teaching me how to make gravy, Given by the time I was around things like bouillon cubes were invented which was probably an extra that didn't exist in the 1930's. This was also Grandma's dish for she was the mistress of the kitchen at least until health prevented her from being so and even then she was still able to give Grandpa plenty of direction! This dish adorned many a plat at family gatherings. I'm afraid this piece of family history was never fully appreciated by myself as a child but we embrace it fully now in our farm kitchen.
Grandma on the other hand was an East Coast gal who fell for this handsome army man. Grandma always left us with a since of properness about things. There are only a few stories I recall Grandma telling us about her younger years. She use to work for a peanut butter factory, I think she told us that to impress the Farmer who loves his peanut butter. She also told us how her and her girl friends would always go see the army men when they came in because they had been away and had money to spend. That is where she met Grandpa. And how Grandpa sold pints of blood to buy her a ring (awweee!).
Grandma had this since of propriety about her. She was devoted to her religion and always dropping pearls of wisdom on us. Her love of words had us always using her as our point of reference for spelling and grammar. The master at Scrabble and she taught her children how to play well too. Sorry Google, nobody beats Grandma! There was a lot of wisdom behind those quite and loving eyes. Grandma perhaps only spoke when it counted for she wasn't a talkative philosopher but her love was known to all of us. She always had a cup of tea and chocolate mint ready to warm you up. If that didn't do it than perhaps a brownie or no-bake cookie or all of the above to sweeten life up. Together they made a beautiful team, planting the seeds of wisdom that they had learned in their many years of life. They have both passed away now many years but their seeds are growing and sprouting even without their presence. As God would have it, we don't often appreciate what we have until it is gone.
Those seeds that were planted are now taking root on our farm and in our family. As we embrace farm life we are welcoming the rewards of the efforts put into the wood that is chopped by the fire that warms us. The eggs that come from the chickens, that are fed, despite the rainy wet weather. The meal from the lamb that is fed every morning, the produce fresh, that day, from the garden that has been watered and nurtured. We have come to appreciate the food on our place every night because we KNOW its story. We WORKED for it and that work is not without its reward.
So while it is easier to drive to the store and buy what our heart or taste buds desire. While it is easier to turn on the thermostat for heat. We get satisfaction out of the work of these sometimes antiquated ideas. They bring back the memories of our grandparents and their hard work and those seeds that they planted long ago. They taught us appreciation through hard work.
For there is nothing quite like a good hot cup of tea for two and some good ole' hamburger gravy.
Unless, of course, you get to enjoy it in the warm company of your grandparents too!
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.....
Chocolates! Jewelry! Date Night! Oh my..... nope that isn't what my Farmer did....
But, do you know what he DID do? Well ..... we will get to that in a bit! Today is the Feast of St. Valentine. St. Valentine was a Catholic priest in Rome during the Christian persecutions of Emperor Claudius the Second. During the time of this persecution St. Valentine assisted the faithful Christians by providing them with the Sacraments. Because he was so faithful to Christ's Church he was persecuted by the Roman pagans and brought to the tribunal and told to renounce his faith. When the emperor discovered that he would not give up the Christian religion in order to worship pagan gods, St. Valentine was executed on the 15th of February in the year 270 A.D.
This is the history of what is commonly called "Valentines" though in the Catholic Faith it is kept as a feast day. A day in which we celebrate one of Christ's brave soldiers who battled for the Truth to win his reward in heaven. It is a called a feast because we celebrate the day on which this saint celebrates his "birthday into heaven." The typical celebration of this day in the Church is a Mass said in honor of St. Valentine.
There are other historical customs that revolve around this day as well though many of them are not of Christian origin. The most popular tradition on this Feast day is the giving of cards to loved ones or a particular person on which you wish to express your love. Growing up we also gave "Valentines" to every member in our class in school. This is a modern invention that came along with the commercialization of St. Valentin's day. Though it is an extension of an old pagan tradition. The heathens use to have the custom of boys drawing the names of girls in honor of their goddess Februata Juno on the 15th of February. When the land was Christianized many saintly priests abolished this custom and replaced it with the drawing of a saint, which was to be imitated in hopes of to increasing Christian virtue over pagan superstition. (Butler's Lives of the Saints, Vol 1 St. Valentine)
So what do we do down on the farm for the Feast of St. Valentine? Well here we love history, and we love traditions, and you might have noticed a wee bit, that we love vintage farm life. What else are we to do but be consistent and celebrate with a little history and tradition!
This year we will all draw a name of a saint to learn more about in hopes of being able to imitate their virtue and goodness along with their love of God. We also celebrate this day with a feast, enjoying some of the goodness of God's gifts. A special gift that He has just given us was a lamb from our far so that it might nourish our bodies on our path to heaven. Down on the farm we enjoy the babies in the spring but life comes full circle when a lamb goes from the field to the freezer. It has been a great reminder of the sacrifice that God made for us by giving us His only Son to open the gates of heaven- the lamb of God. There are so many lessons to be learned when growing and raising your own food and is sure brings an appreciation of the sacrifice that is required. There is another blessing though in knowing that God's creation lived a good life on the green grass protected by our little fence yet free enough to roam around and be as healthy as possible. We will always be thankful for those blessings!
For dessert we will have some treats made with left over Christmas goodies which will remind us of this special day. We gave these candy canes a little St. Valentine's Feast Day twist. In the shape of a shepherd's staff, red and crimson for His blood shed for us, white for His purity. In the shape of His most Sacred Heart that loves us so. Filled with pure white chocolate. One treat for each of the ones He gave for me to love. These little treats are great education tools for young minds as they always remember that St. Valentine's Feast is full of goodies which remind them of Christ and His sacrifice of Love.
What did the Farmer give me for St. Valentine's day? .... He gave me this.......
A blessed Feast of St. Valentine to you all and may we all remember the holy priest who died for the love of Christ on this day! Thank you for stopping by St. Fiacre's Farm!
But first cake! This post may contain affiliate links. What's that you say?! Sometimes we share products that we love with you and those may pay us a little something to keep ye ol' farm a running, feed the children, teach them their arthimatic and the like. These links don't change the cost of the product. Read our full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting our family farm with your purchases!
Welcome to another round of Tisane Tea Tuesday! This will also be our last round in this series as we approach the Lenten season. Here down on the farm we start diving into the season of fasting and so tea time is less here on the farm. We plan to have another exciting weekly post on the blog though, so stay tuned to see what is next on our little farm adventure!
If you are new to this series of posts, every week we have been sharing some fabulous tea time recipes and then pairing them with one of our lovely herbal teas also known as a tisane tea. These teas are not made from the typical tea leaf but rather from fruits, herbs and flowers. We hope you enjoy your visit to tea time down on the farm!
Pacific Peppermint Patty Tea
This week we are featuring our super yummy Pacific Peppermint Patty tea! This tea was blended with a peppermint patty in mind and I think that we have achieved that. It goes great with almost any tea time treat and especially good after a meal. There is nothing like peppermint when it comes to calm and relaxation.
This tea features Organic Peppermint, Organic Cocoa Nibs and wee pinch of Organic Stevia leaf to take the edge off of the cocoa nibs. No worries, this isn't the processed white powder that comes in the stevia packets but an actual herb and green leaf. There is a very small amount added and so it doesn't tend to carry that after taste that Stevia sugar replacements can be known for.
Brew this tea hot or cold it makes a great drink! Iced in the summer time for a cool and refreshing thirst quencher or hot in the winter with some warm frothy milk on top. Sprinkle the top with some extra cocoa nibs and you are good to go. Grab your bag of Pacific Peppermint Patty here.
It goes great with this weeks tea time treat..... Caramelized Balsamic Skillet Cake!
Caramelized Balsamic Skillet Cake
While shopping at one of our favorite local grocery stores I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of Crate Expectations, the maker of this lovey Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar. Its always fun learning the story behind a product and how it is made and to see the passion , interest and knowledge that small business owners put into their product. Bill was no exception and he certainly knows how to pair his Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar with the perfect foods. We were privileged to try it on some strawberries, which was my favorite but the little farmers seemed to favor the vanilla ice cream with this vinegar on top. Since it was such a hit we had to purchase a bottle to bring home and today we are drizzling this goodness on top of a sourdough griddle cake - they are the perfect pair!
This skillet cake is a little reminesant of a bread pudding and a German pancake combined. A little vanilla ice cream on top wouldn't hurt either but we were fresh out. Make sure to add an extra drizzle of Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar!
Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar Cake
1 tbl. Organic/Grassfed Butter
3/4 cup Sourdough Starter
1/4 cup Raw Grassfed Milk
1 tsp. Coconut Sugar
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place a small cast iron skillet (6-8 inches) in the oven with the 1 tbl. of butter to melt and heat up the pan. While the pan is heating and the butter melting blend together the ingredients leaving aside the Balsamic Vinegar. When oven is heated pour your cake mixture directly into the pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Immediately after removing from the oven drizzle with Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar to your liking, you may always add more :) Serve with a slice of lemon or vanilla ice-cream.
Where did January go to?! It was a busy month for this family down on the farm and the weather was interesting too! We have had snow here and there where as last year we hardly saw one snow flake. We had sunshine and blue sky, we had freezing rain and then just plain rain. Much of our time was spent working on indoor projects and cleaning/organizing our spaces. Thanks for stopping by the farm to see what is new!
Around the Barnyard ...
The chicken's seem to be happy with the abundance of water, it makes for some yummy slimy snacks. Since there isn't much for grass left out in the pasture this time of year those worms are quite the treat!
Bob basking in the sunlight and hoping that I will keep my distance, he isn't a very cuddly cat but we love him any how.
The spearmint is making a comeback even through the cold snow, its good to see some signs that spring is not that far off!
A wonderful blue sky day with a little snow on the ground!
From blue sky to ice, every day brings us different weather down on the farm.
The fog floats down on the river as the sun rises in the trees.
In the Greenhouse...
The chickens were suppose to be on bug duty in the greenhouse but I guess they needed a bath! Its quite entertaining to watch them take a dust bath!
Hey if weeds can grow in the greenhouse then so can lettuce and kale! Its time to start the spring planting and get our greenhouse flowing with abundance again! These are seeds that we saved from last year... aka free food!
Planting spinach, oh how we have missed our greens!
Tea Studio Construction ...
We started January out with just the foundation to our tea studio addition....
And slowly but surely....
We have some WALLS!!!! The framing is coming along quite nicely and giving us something to be super excited about!
In the Farm Kitchen ...
Dehydrating some haskaps for our Willamette Berry Pie Tea, a few more months and we will be picking these beauties!
Making a little skin care product in our farm kitchen this month, this lovely French Green Clay and Violet Leaf Lotion Bar has its very own DIY vide on our YouTube Channel. Have you seen it yet? Check it out here!
Farm Girl #1 had a birthday this month so for our Tisane Tuesday that week we made her a special birthday cake! Check out the recipe here!
Happy Birthday Farm Girl! Your a blessing to our family <3
We are adding away to our new YouTube Channel with this exciting DIY Cheese Making video featuring our local dairy farm and Portland, Oregon's Urban CheeseCraft. Check out our v-log style make your own cheese video here.
New in the Farm Store...
We are increasing our spring inventory in anticipation of several events and our February promotion (get a free lip balm with every order)! We thought we would update some photos too and these two lip balms got a new little photo shoot. Check out the vanilla Chai Lip Balm Here.
Ginger Snap Lip Balm, almost like a cookie! But if you are wanting to taste the flavor we recommend our Gingerbread Spice Tea instead... this one is for lip licking only!
We are SO excited to be partaking in the Salem Saturday Market again this year and have expanded our attendance to every weekend rather than every other. We will have these beautiful Market Cards for our loyal customers this year so they can earn a free bag of tea! Make sure to stop by and get your card with your favorite blend.
We are slowly introducing our new packing to our farm store and local events! We are super excited to show these off as we are happy with how they represent our farm, the other farm's that we use and the quality of our teas.
Along with new packaging also comes new sizes! We have our trial size and our full size now. Perfect for either testing out a new flavor or for that flavor you already love!
Thanks for stopping by the farm!
We are glad that you stopped by the farm and hope that you enjoyed your stay! If you need to fill up your tea stash or herbal care cupboard please do so this month and make sure you take advantage of our February promo- A FREE lip balm with every order! We will see you again soon!
Welcome to our Family Tea Farm!
Howdy from our farm to your home! It is said that the, "farm is the nursery of the family," and that "the family is the nursery of the nation." We hope you enjoy your visit to our blog as we share with you the happenings on our little "nursery". Thank you for following us on our journey and watching us GROW! Read more about our farm HERE.