Dandelions and Duck Eggs

Stuff to get excited about.

I suppose most people think of dandelions as weeds. I happen to know that they are one of God’s gifts. I am always excited to see them after a good rain and some sunshine. Then I know it is time to forage the flowers to make dandelion oil.

Dandelion is one of the first plants that introduced me to the healing properties of the plants around us. My first exposure to practical herbalism.

These simple flowers are known to reduce inflammation among other things. When the flowers are covered in oil and warmed the oil becomes infused with this anti-inflammatory property.

Several years ago, when I first read online about making dandelion oil, I thought “I can do that.” I kept my eyes peeled as I drove my boys to and from soccer practices. I found a bonanza at one of their soccer fields. I was thrilled to learn that this was also a “no pesticide” park. I happily filled my grocery bag with dandelions during my son’s practice while the other parents looked at me out of the corner of their eyes and surely thought I was nuts.

I took the flowers home and let them air dry overnight. The next morning, I put them in a glass jar, covered them with olive oil, and placed the jar in a sunny window. This step allows the sun to warm the oil and the warm oil pulls out the goodness of the flower. After a few weeks the oil is ready to be used. It can be used as is or turned into a salve. I use dandelion oil and a few other ingredients to make a salve I call Lion Balm. We use it on sore muscles, bruises, aches and pains.

I make this salve every year.

This week I found dandelions in my yard. Yay! I am so excited. But I am not going to pick these first flowers. Instead, I will let them go to seed in the hopes of multiplying my dandelion plants in the future.

Yep, I am that crazy person that cultivates dandelions.

I encourage you to look around for dandelions in your yard or neighborhood. Maybe, do some foraging and make your own dandelion oil. It is an easy first step towards learning more about the herbal gifts God has blessed us with.

If you would like to make your own dandelion oil, you can find more information on the Mommypotamus page: How To Make Dandelion Oil (And 5 Ways To Use It) (mommypotamus.com)

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About two months ago, I purchased a flock of chickens from a family that was downsizing in preparation for a move. This flock of birds came with two ducks. I was told their names are Minnie and Daisy. I asked if the ducks laid eggs. The owner replied, “Once and it was really good.” Hmmmm.

Well, it looks like I got a pair of pet ducks. Ideally, all our animals on the farm have a role to play, I am not really interested in feeding a bunch of freeloaders. We will have to see what happens.

Our relationship was off to a cool start. The ducks did not trust me and would studiously keep at least 6 feet away from me at all times.

That was until they figured out that the food comes from me. And it is pretty good food. Then their attitude changed from one of mistrust to joyful declaration of my approach. If they hear me walking towards the chicken run they announce “QUACK, quack, quack, quack, quack” as they waddle their way towards me.

O.K. So that’s really cute and endearing. But they still aren’t laying eggs.

As I would feed and water the birds, I would tell them they needed to pick up their slack. For a while I had nine birds and was only getting two eggs a day. (Of course, three are roosters, but that’s another story.) Feeding all those birds makes those two eggs quite expensive.

The ducks have taken up residency under the chicken coop. Plenty of space. Keeps them warm and dry. A pretty good place for a duck.

Once in a while I look under the coop for eggs. Chickens don’t always lay in their nests and perhaps one or two were laying under the coop. I also still held out hope for the ducks.

Then I found them! I looked under the coop and saw two eggs.

Exciting!

I got down and reached under. One. Two. Wait, I feel more. Three. Four. Dig a little more…5, 6, 7!

What?!!

They had been laying. But the nest was so deep that I didn’t see it until these last two on top were visible.

A total of six duck eggs and one chicken egg (the green one). I feel bad for giving Daisy and Minnie a hard time. I have no idea how long have they been down there. Are they still good? There is an easy way to tell: the float test.

Put your eggs in a large bowl filled with water. If they float, they are too old. If they stay on the bottom, they are perfectly fine. As you can see, mine are on the bottom (no floaters) so we are safe. I gave them a good wash and put them in the fridge.

I normally store my eggs unwashed on the counter. This is how eggs are stored throughout most of the world. There is this magic that a chicken does as she lays her egg. She surrounds it with a protective coat called a “bloom.” The bloom prevents bacteria from penetrating and helps preserve it. Washing the egg removes this coating. So washed eggs go in the refrigerator.

Farm life is marked by the simple excitement of dandelions and duck eggs. I’ll take it.

Soothing Peppermint Salve

Salve-ation for rough, dry hands

The backs of my hands were looking rough – dry and flaky. It could have been all the hot water I used mopping our wooden floors when we moved in last month. Maybe it was too much digging in the dirt preparing the garden beds for the spring. Or perhaps the chill outside coupled with the warm dry air inside. Whatever the cause, I needed a fix fast.

Fortunately, I came across a post from one of my favorite blogger/podcasters, Mellissa K. Norris of Pioneering Today. This “homemade peppermint salve for dry skin” was the cure I needed for my rough, dry hands.

There was a time, when lotions and shower gels from my favorite mall store were always on my Christmas wish list. But then I began to notice that the lotions didn’t really moisturize my skin. I learned that my favorite bath products were actually toxic – filled with ingredients I could not identify and that could actually cause me harm over time. At about the same time I became aware of how easy it is to make your body products and set about learning more. Soon I was making herbal salves for my family and sharing them with friends. If I can do it, you can too.

But I don’t have the time.”

I hear you on that, my friend, and have made a few extra tins in case someone you love needs some dry skin salve-ation.

First, let’s see how easy it really is.

Gather the herbs: I had what I needed on hand. The peppermint, calendula, and chamomile were from my garden in California, and I have an abundance of plantain on our land in Tennessee. I love growing my own herbs for these homemade salves.

Clockwise: peppermint, plantain, calendula, and chamomile.

Infuse the herbs in oil: I usually use the Kirkland brand organic extra virgin olive oil. There are two methods for infusing. Solar infusing in a glass jar takes a few weeks, but uses the sun to warm the oil. Warming the oil in a double boiler for a day or so takes less time, but uses electricity. For this batch I made a double boiler out of my crockpot and warmed the oil during the day over the course of two days turning the crockpot off at night and covering the oil with a cloth.

Using my Crockpot and glass mixing bowl as a double boiler.

Strain the herbs from the oil: Using cheesecloth, a colander, and a Pyrex measuring cup I strain the oil. Make sure to bring the ends of the cheesecloth together, twist, and squeeze to get all the infused oil goodness. The Pyrex measuring cup comes in handy here since it lets you see exactly how much infused oil you have after squeezing it through the cheesecloth and you don’t have to transfer the oil before the next step.

Straining the infused oil.

Add beeswax and other ingredients: Beeswax is added to make a solid, spreadable salve texture. I place the Pyrex measuring cup in a larger pot filled about halfway with water, making another double boiler. Heat the water to almost boiling. This slowly warms your oil and melts the beeswax. When it is completely melted add any other oils. I tweaked the original recipe a bit – adding more Vitamin E oil and some Apricot Kernel oil for their skin nourishing benefits. I used a little more beeswax than the recipe, making a firm salve that can be used sparingly and goes a long way. The Peppermint essential oil helps sooth irritation and itchiness as well as adding a soft minty smell. I use Mountain Rose Herbs to source any products I don’t have on hand.

Extra add-ins.

Melting beeswax in a makeshift double boiler.

Pour into containers: Pour your oil into several containers and allow to cool. Test it on your skin. I think you will love it and want to share with your friends. I purchase my tins from Specialty Bottle, but you can also reuse empty cosmetic jars or other small glass containers.

Salve-ation!

Do you have rough, dry skin that needs some all-natural goodness? I have some extra tins from this batch. Shoot me an email or leave a comment and I can send some your way.