Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: My Side of the Mountain

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

This is an older book, originally published in 1959. It's written for young adults, but it is eminently readable by anyone. And if you're interested in foraging wild plants (or hunting small game or falconry or living off the land) then this is a sweet little novel you'll want to read.

Our hero, Sam Gribley, lives with his family in New York City. He learns about living off the land by reading books in the New York Public Library and by talking to others. When the story takes place, he's probably about 14 or so. Sam decides to run away from home and go find his great-grandfather's farm in the Catskill Mountains. He tells his father that this is what he's doing and the old man says, go to it, son! Every boy should run away.

So off Sam goes, first by train and then by hitching rides. With him he has a penknife, a ball of cord, an axe, and $40 and the clothes on his back (two or three layers of clothes). He heads to the small town near where the farm is located, goes to the library and with the help of the friendly librarian, finds out where the farm is on the mountain.

Sam is, at first, scared and cold, and he can't quite light a fire his first night out in the woods. He manages to find a nice man, though, who teaches him that necessary skill. And from then on, Sam is set. He takes to his new life like he's been living it forever, instead of just reading about it in books.

Sam fishes and is successful. He finds many wild plants to eat. In fact, Sam makes it all look so easy! For a kid raised in NYC, it's a bit unbelievable. Since Sam is such a likeable character, I could forgive him for how easy he makes it all seem, foraging, trapping, fishing and even raising and training a falcon.

I won't go through the entire plot, but I'll share some fun bits, how's that? My comments in bold.

"I was hot and dirty. I scrambled down the rocks and slipped into the pool. It was so cold I yelled. But when I came out on the bank and put on my two pairs of trousers and three sweaters, which I thought was a better way to carry clothes than in a pack, I tingled and burned and felt coltish. I leapt up the bank, slipped, and my face went down in a patch of dogtooth violets.

"You would know them anywhere after a few looks at them at the Botanical Gardens and in colored flower books. They are little yellow lillies on long slender stems with oval leaves dappled with gray. But that's not all. They have wonderfully tasty bulbs. I was filling my pockets before I got up from my fall."


"At lunch I also solved the problem of carving out my tree (the one that he ends up living in). After a struggle I made a fire. Then I sewed a big skunk cabbage leaf into a cup wtih grass strands. I had read that you can boil water in a leaf, and ever since then I had been very anxious to see if this were true. It seems impossible, but it works. I boiled the eggs in a leaf. The water keeps the leaf wet, and although the top dries up and burns down to the water level, that's as afar as the burning goes. I was pleased to see it work."


"Once home, I immediately started to work again. I had a device I wanted to try, and put some hickory sticks in a tin can and set it to boiling while I fixed dinner. Before going to bed, I noted this on a piece of birch bark:

This night I am making salt. I know that people in the early days got along without it, but I think some of these wild foods would taste better with some flavoring. I understand that hickory sticks, boiled dry, leave a salty residue. I am trying it.

In the morning I added:

It is quite true. The can is dry, and thick with a black substance. It is very salty, and I tried it on frogs' legs for breakfast. It is just what I have needed."

(That's a neat trick to know!)

"The inner bark of the poplar tree tasted like wheat kernels, and so I dried as much as I could and powdered it into flour. It was tedious work, and in August when the acorns were ready, I found that they made better flour and were much easier to handle.

"I would bake the acorns in the fire, and grind them between stones. This was tedious work too, but now that I had a home and smoked venison and did not have to hunt food every minute, I could do things like make flour. I would simply add spring water to the flour and bake this on a piece of tin. When done, I had the best pancakes ever. They were flat and hard, like I imagined Indian breat to be. I liked them and would carry the leftovers in my pockets for lunch."

(Wonder if that baking in the fire got rid of the tannin in the acorns sufficiently? Another way I've read to rid the acorns of bitter tannin, is to put them in a lightly woven bag in a fast stream and let the water wash out the tannin. Or boil the acorns in as many changes of water as it takes.)

Sam is awfully clever. He trains his falcon, Frightful, to hunt for him. He also befriends a little raccoon:

"Jessie C. James became a devoted friend. He also became useful. He slept somewhere in the dark tops of the hemlocks all day long, unless he saw us start for the stream. Then, tree by tree, limb by limb, Jessie followed us. At the stream he was the most useful mussel digger that any boy could have. Jessie could find mussels where three men could not. He would start to eat them, and if he ate them, he got full and wouldn't dig anymore, so I took them away from him until he found me all I wanted. Then I let him have some.

"Mussels are good. Here are a few notes on how to fix them.

"Scrub mussels in spring water. Dump them into boiling water with salt. Boil five minutes. Remove and cool in the juice. Take out meat. Eat by dipping in acorn paste flavored with a smudge of garlic and green apples.

"Frightful took care of the small game supply, and now that she was an expert hunter, we had rabbit stew, pheasant pot pie, and an occasional sparrow, which I generously gave to Frightful. As fast as we removed the rabbits and pheasants new ones replaced them."

Sam's friend Bando (a lost English professor who Sam found and fed) and his Dad manage to come visit Sam in his big hemlock tree home for Christmas. Their Christmas dinner menu:
wild onion soup, turtle shells of sassafrass tea, blackened venison steaks, "fluffy mashed cattail tubers, mushrooms and dogtooth bulbs, smothered in gravy thickened with acorn powder. Each plate had a pile of soaked and stewed honey locust beans mixed with hickory nuts. It was a glorious feast."

My Side of the Mountain
is a charming book. You'll whiz through it in an afternoon. My library has a copy, then finally I found my own copy in a used book place. I made the mistake, however, of reading it now, before foraging season kicks in big time. And the book has made my mouth water with the mind-pictures of wild greens, onions, acorn flour, turtle soup..... It'd be best to wait to jump into this story, wait til March at least when the first young spring greens will be out. (That's for my area, anyway. Your seasons might be different.)

There's lots of good foraging-type info in the book, not so much for plant identification, but for the variety of plants and critters Sam finds to eat. There's good how to survive in the woods information as well. How to build a debris hut, finding spring water, that kind of thing.

Apparently, Jean George went on to write a few more of these books--you can find them at Amazon or just keep your eyes peeled for them. The next two are called On the Far Side of the Mountain, and Frightful's Mountain. I'd like to find those and read them too.

Check it out. You'll enjoy it!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Busy Day!

Yesterday was busy. First off, got the chickpeas ready for thermal cooking. Two cups soaked chickpeas, half and onion, some tomatoes and chipotle peppers, other herbs and spices and enough water to cover. I boiled the chickpeas on the stove for 10 minutes or so. Then I transferred the pot with a cover to an insulated cooler that was lined with baby blankets. Once the pot was safely in the cooler, I wrapped the blankets around it, stuffed in some newspapers to insulate it even more, then closed the cooler. By end of day (about 5 hours later), I opened the cooler, unwrapped the pot and checked the chickpeas. They were still just a bit hard, so I removed the pot and simmered them for another hour or so on the stove. I could have heated them up again and put them back in the cooler for further cooking, but didn't. Chickpeas take a long time to cook. They are, however, delicious! And it is neat to have another cooking method if the power is out.

Our hunter neighbor was cleaning out his freezer a while ago so he could put in all the deer meat he had just processed from the deer he got hunting. We benefited with loads of venison, fish, and random game meat. Pheasant was one of the gifts, so yesterday we had roast pheasant. I used the crockpot for this: 2 pheasant breasts, rolled in flour and browned in the fry pan. Cut up an onion and put that in the crockpot, added the browned pheasant breasts, and 1 cup dry red wine and 2 cups chicken broth. Threw in some rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Let it cook all day, and by dinner, the meat was falling off the bones! We had it with baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. A royal feast!

In the afternoon, I couldn't stay inside any longer, and the weather permitted so I went foraging. I've been really hungry for wild food, so I went looking for fresh greens although I knew there wouldn't be much or any yet. Our wild foods start coming up in March, which is still a tad early. I found no greens--even my favorite chickweed patch hadn't yet recovered from the snow and ice it had been buried under for nearly two weeks. Sigh. I did find some wild chives and harvested those. I'll use them with the chickpeas to make a salad.

So I dug roots instead. A friend has asked for some sassafrass roots. She grew up in Ohio and loved sassafrass tea, but hadn't had any in years since she nows lives out west. So, I dug sassafrass roots--well, wrassled them out of the mud is more like what happened. I went for the little saplings who had come up in the shade of a large pine and which were unlikely to grow up anyway. It was very messy, digging in the mud, but at least it was mud and not hard packed earth as it was last time I dug them. Got a goodly store of roots, enough for my friend and for us. The inner bark of the root is what you use to make the tea traditionally, but I just simmer the roots for 20 minutes or so. Makes a fine tasting, reddish-brown tea that is excellent. It's a good tonic and blood purifier.

I also found the old dead poke plants and managed to dig up bits of the roots. A poke plant simply will NOT give up its roots, you'd have to use elephants to drag them out of the ground. But I could chip off pieces of it and got enough for something or another. Poke root is quite poisonous so I'm not sure if I'll use them or not. I'll research this more before I do anything with them.

After digging the roots I went and visited Fred to see how he was doing. He's recovering nicely from his broken elbow, but his rheumatism is acting up. We had a glass of wine and commiserated.

All in all, a busy fulfilling day. I can't wait for those wild greens to come in though! I'm hungry for 'em!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More Advice from the Comments

This from MamaLiberty, a retired RN and herbalist (with a very cool webpage). She was commenting on FarmerMechanic's advice on using potato slices for eye burns. I want to thank everyone who leaves comments on the blog. That way we all learn. Thanks!

MamaLiberty said...
This might be very useful - will have to experiment with it myself - but the MOST important thing to do FIRST for any burn is to run cold water over it to reduce the temperature of the tissues. This stops the burning and tissue destruction and can make a significant difference to the eventual healing and scar formation.

Large burns cause serious dehydration and the body needs fluid replacement, so don't rely on home remedies alone for serious or large burns. IV fluids may means the difference between life and death.I'm a retired RN, as well as herbalist and energy healer.

Home Remedies from Foxfire 1, Part 2

And here's the rest of the lineup of home remedies from Foxfire 1.

Make a tea of boneset leaves, using one tablespoonful. You may use them fresh or dried. (Catnip tea is good, too. HM)

Irritation Caused by Insects
Bee Stings
Chew or mash ragweed and put it on sting to deaden pain and reduce swelling.
Put moist snuff, mud, tobacco juice, or red clay on it.
Crush a few chrysanthemum leaves and rub the juice on the sting.

Chigger Bites
To relieve itching and infection, rub chewed snuff or tobacco over the bites.
Make a mixtgure of butter and salt to stop itching.

Spider Bites
If bitten by a black widow spider, drink liquour heavily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. You won't get drunk, you'll be healed. (I'd advise caution with this one.)

Irritations of the Skin
Boil chestnut oak leaves and apply the resulting dark juice to the affected areas. Or take any of a variety of teas to break them out. These teas include catnip, ground ivy, mashed up berries of the tread-save, red alder leaves, raw alder bark scraped uphill.

Poison Ivy
Use a mixture of buttermilk or vinegar and salt.
Rub wild touch-me-not (jewelweed) on the area.
Slice open a green tomato and run the juice over the affected area.

Erysipelas (skin disease)
Use a poultice of peach tree leaves and corn meal.
Make a salve of balm of Gilead buds fried in mutton tallow. Add vaseline is you wish.

Use sulfur and lard.
Use gunpowder and sulfur.
Wash some yellowroot and put it on the affected area.

Bind salty fat meat to a stone bruise or a thorn in the foot to draw out the inflammation. A poultice of clay will do the same thing. (I've used clay for drawing out splinters. Good stuff!)
Make a tea of poke roots by boiling them in water for a couple of minutes. Dip a cloth in it and rub on the affected area. (Be careful not to get any in your mouth.)

Buttermilk and lemon juice mixed together and put on freckles will remove them.
Put sap from a grapevine on them.

Chapped Hands
Rub pine resin on them.
Rub hands with mutton tallow.

Athlete's Foot
Wrap a wool string around the toe, or step in cow dung that is fresh.

Sweaty Feet
Boil dried chestnut leaves until you have an ooze. Apply this to the feet.

Kidney Trouble
Make a tea from dried trailing arbutus leaves.
Eat one or two poke berries a day for a couple of days.
Drink some red alder tea.

Liver Trouble
Make a tea of lion's tongue by boiling a few leaves in water, then straining. Add syrup if you want to sweeten it.

Any herb tea will break them out.
Make a tea of sheep dung to break them out.
Boil red alder branches and drink the tea.

Take a small piece of lead and bore a hole in it. Put a string through the hole, tie it, and wear it around your neck. Your nose won't bleed again.
Place a nickel directly under the nose between the upper lip and the gum and press tightly.
Lie down and put a dime on your heart.

Pain Killer
Roast some poke roots by the fire. Scrape them clean with a knife and grind up. Make a poultice out of the powder and apply to the bottom of the feet. It will draw pain out of anywhere in the body. (Wonder if this one works...I might try it.)

To bring down the fever, put some quinine and hog lard on a cloth and put it on your chest.
Give the person two teaspoonsful of oil rendered from a skunk.
Make an onion poultice to make the fever break. Then give the person whiskey and hot water.
Make a tea of butterfly weed and add a little whiskey and drink it.

Roast a poke root in ashes in the same manner as you would roast potatoes. While it is still hot, apply it to the inflamed joint. This eases the pain and reduces the swelling.
Drink a mixture of pokeberry wine and whiskey.
Let rattleroot, ginseng, red corn root, wild cherry bark, and golden seal root sit in one gallon of white whiskey. Drink small portions of the resulting liquid as needed.
Rub some wildcat oil on the skin.
Cook garlic in your food to east the pain.

Risin's (I think this means boils.)
Place an elm bark poultice over the bump.
Scrape the white of an Irish potato and place on scrapings on the bump. Bind them on with a clean cloth. This will draw the risin to a head.
Take raw fat meat (the fattest you can get), cut a thin slice of it and bind it over the bump with a cloth bandage. This draws it to a head, and when you pull the cloth off, a tiny hole is left in the center of the bump. Make a thread loop and ease this loop into the hole and twist several times; then yank the core of the risin' out with a swift motion. (Gak!)
Eat sulfur mixed with honey.

Put butter around the sore so a dog will lick it. The dog's saliva will cure it.
Put a little lard or something equally greasy on the sore. Then dust the sore with sulfur. The grease will hold the sulfur on.
Make a salve of white pine resin and mutton tallow.
Mash up yellowroot and put it on the sore.

Sore Throat
Bake onions in an open fireplace; then tie them loosely around your throat.
Gargle with honey and vinegar.
Rub pine oil on your throat.
Take a sock you have worn inside a boot and worked in for almost a week so that it has a bad odor. Tie it around your neck.

Stomach Trouble
Make a tea of wild peppemint and drink it.
Deink some blackberry juice or wine.
Drink some juice from kraut left over after cooking.
Make a tea of golden seal roots and drink it.
To settle the stomach, place five small flint rocks in a glass of water. Let it sit for a few minutes and then drink.

Tonsil Trouble
Gargle with tan bark tea make from chestnut leaves.
Smear balm of Gilead slave over the person's chest.
Gargle with salt water.

Make a small amount of wine from pokeberries, and mix one part of the wine with eight parts white whiskey. Take a small spoonful just a couple times a day. It's also good for rheumatism and muscle cramps.
Use burned alum.
Put drops of vanilla straight from the bottle on the tooth.

Get something like a penny that a person would want to pick up. Put some blood from the wart on it and trow it into the road. When someone pickes it up, the wart will go away.
Wet your finger and make a cross on the wart.
Tie a horsehair around it.
Rub the wart with the skin of a chicken gizzard, then hide the skin under a rock. The wart will disappear.
Wash the affected are with water from a rotten chestnut stump for nine mornings in a row before breakfast.

In the early spring, pick the small tender leaves of the poke plant. Boil the leaves, drain them, and cook in grease from fatback. Eat a mess of these.
Take "worm syrup" which is made by boiling Jerusalem oak and pine root together.
Eat tobacco seeds.
Eat a head of garlic every day until they are gone.
Put three or four drops of turpentine in a teaspoon of sugar and eat it.

Preventatives, Cure-alls
Take wild cherry tree bark, yellow poplar bark, and yellowroot boiled, strained and mixed with white liquor.
Mix together some sulfur and molasses and eat it.

Take about two tablespoons of mutton tallow, and heat it up in a frying pan with about six balm of Gilead buds. Mash the buds up while the mixture cools and when the grease is all out of the buds, strain the mixture. Put it in a jar and cover it. The salve is clear and will last for years.
Take one cup of pine resin, about one ounce of camphor-phenique, one cup of mutton tallow, and ten to fifteen balm of Gilead buds. Put it all in a frying pan and heat until liquid. Mash the buds until all the juice is out of them. Strain and put into jars and cover. Makes about a pint.

To help hair grow, break a section of a grape vine, set in a bottle and let the juice drain. Rub the juice in the hair.
A piece of nutmeg tied around the neck will prevent neuralgia.
Give a grouchy person a tea made from violet blossoms.

There you go! Live and learn.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Another Informative Comment

From the comments section, Thanks jesmith! (Readers might want to look for his book, 100 Herbs of Power.)

jesmith said...
In the 19th Century physicians such as Pasteur, Fleming, Jenner etc. became fixated with the concept of bacteria and viruses, a concept, which dominates modern medicine with its preoccupation with antibiotics, antivirals and suppressant drugs.

Claude Bernard (1813-1878) disagreed strongly with Pasteur, who laid the blame for sickness on bacteria, stating that: -“The microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything.”

Thereby reiterating the importance of the concept of homeostasis, or maintaining balance within and without the individual.

According to certain sources * Louis Pasteur, on his deathbed, conceded that Claude Bernard was right.*

Marie Nonclerq 1982

John E Smith (author of '100 Herbs of Power')

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Something to Read and Consider

There is a very important article I just read. It synthesizes some of the things I've discussed in this blog. It is called The Lost History of Medicine and you can read it here. It talks about the germ theory of health (Pasteur and the allopaths) vs. the terrain theory of disease. It's very important to understand this information, important for your health and well-being. It is actually a book review and a good one (yes, I want the book! but I always want the book!). So take a few minutes when you can and read the article. It is the background you need in order to comprehend why nutrition and detoxifying is so important.

Mind you, the FDA, Big Pharma and Big Medicine thinks all this is tommyrot. Of course they're right, that's why huge numbers of people die every day under the treatment of their doctors.

Maybe I should point you again to Death by Medicine. That's another good read (but a scary one).

Treatment for Eye Burns

From the Comments, thanks to FarmerMechanic:

FarmerMechanic said...
Working on the farm welding all these years there have been several occasions when my father and I have burned our eyes from the flash of the welder. Not when we were wearing our helmet. It was when we were in the area and seeing the flash in the corner of eye or helping holding something and getting a flash. I would warn everyone it does not take much exposure to burn your eyes. The problem is the symptoms do not appear until 6-8 hours later and you are trying to sleep. It feels like you wiped vaseline in your eyes and sprinkled sand in the mix.Over the years we both would end up going to the emergency room to get some anesthetic drops in our eyes. (Here's where the home remedy comes in.)a old welder we met told us that he would cut thin slices of potato and lay the slices on his eyes for a hour or so and take some over the counter pain reliever. The remedy works and it works well.. no more trips to the emergency room. I think this would work with sunburn to the eyes as well. I got caught one time on a long drive through a snowstorm without sunglasses and burned my eyes. I wish I had a potato then! I can see how the onion would work and I will try it next time I have a burn.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Terrific Burn Medicine

This is an excerpt from Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs & Spices.

Terrific Burn Medicine

The February 1911 Bulletin of the History of Medicine (15: 143-49) contained a most informative article by medical historian Henry F. Sigerist entitled "Ambroise Pare's Onion Treatment of Burns." Pare was a famous French surgeon (1510-1590) who was looking for a simpler, easier and more effective remedy for burns than the standard cooling ointments of his day. He discovered it in a most remarkable way in Peidmont around 1537. At that time he was a young surgeon of 27 and was attached to the army of the Marshal de Montejan in the third war between Francis I and Charles V. ONe of the kitchen boys employed by this Marshal "fell by chance into a Caldron of Oyle being even almost boyling hot," Pare later recounted in his memoirs. The good doctor was immediately called on to attend to the poor lad's injuries. He quickly went to the local apothecaries "to fetch refrigerating medicines commonly used in this case," when he met "by chance a certaine old countrey woman, who ...perswaded mee...that I should lay to raw Onions beaten with a little salt" on the boy's injured skin. "Wherefore," he continued, "I thought good to try the force of her Medicine unpon this greasy scullion. I the next day found those places of his body whereto the Onions lay, to be free from blisters, but the other parts which they had not touched, to be all blistered."

And so came abouit Pare's famous onion dressing for all degrees of minor or serious burns. He soon had occasion to use it on some soldiers who were unfortunate enough to have some gunpowder explode in front of them, severely burning their hands and faces. In a mortar and pestle, Pare crushed slices of onion with a little salt and applied this dressing to part of their injuries and regular ointments to the other part. He recorded: "I observed the part dressed with the Onions quite free from blisters and excoriation, the other [covered only with ointments) being troubled by both..."

On more than one occasion have I recommended that freshly expressed onion juice be mixed with a pinch of salt and applied directly to even the worst burn and left overnight, with fantastic results the next day. This may be a folk remedy from the Middle Ages, but it was constantly tested by a competent doctor of the times and always proven to be effective. My own experience with the same thing through the years has only confirmed what Pare himself discovered and proved as valid therapy for burns.

End Excerpt.

Wow. I'm not at all anxious to get another burn, but I guarantee you that I'll definitely try this for myself! I can just imagine, post-crash, and someone gets badly burned and there's no medical help around. Burns can be very dangerous wounds and hard to handle. Onions and salt to the rescue? These simple kitchen items would at least be available to most folks, and just pounding up some onion slices with salt and applying the onion dressing to the burn is so easy a child could do it.

Keep this one in mind, folks. It could come in very handy. As with all folk remedies, try it yourself and see if it works. Sounds like it will.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Home Remedies from Foxfire 1

Home Remedies from Foxfire 1

I bought my copy back in '72 for $3.95, when it first came out. I listened to old time string band music back then and knew of bunch of hot fiddlers, banjo players, double bass, guitar--a great batch of muscians in a band called the Swamp Root String Band. They were a hoot. Anyway, they got me interested into things old time Appalacian. Foxfire was a natural.

Amazon has some of them, of course.

Along the way I acquired a bunch of the Foxfire books, but it seems only volume 1 and 2 remain with me. Damn. When I moved here I had to get rid of hundreds of books, boxes and boxes of (sob) my good friends. As much as I hated that, it had to be done. And it is a relief not to have to move dozens of boxes of books anymore. Now I use the library all the time.

Foxfire has a chapter on home remedies that I want to share with you. Try to keep an open mind about these things. These were not stupid people, not a bit. They could and did live strong, vital, active lives. They wouldn't have used these remedies if they were ineffective. So some of them are bound to be, and these are the ones I've mentioned here. Others of the remedies just make me hoot and holler, as I have a highly developed sense of the absurd. (My comments are in bold. I really enjoy these things. :) Still, that doesn't mean the thing wouldn't work--for all I know they might. I've only typed up a few of the remedies, buy the book. There's tons more great info and lore in these books than just the Home Remedies chapter.

I'll quote you the intro in full, and then cite a few of the remedies in each category. Might as well, we just got snowed in again with a mini-blizzard. Ain't much else to do and this is kind of fun. Enjoy.

Home Remedies

The scarcity, until very recently, of medical facilities in the remoter rural areas of this country has been so well documented that it needs little repetition here. Nevertheless, despite the lack of facilities, peopole did get sick and often needed help. The fact that help wasn't there didn't eliminate the need.

And so, as with everthing else, there were forced to make do with what they had on hand. As Harriet Echols told us, "People, y'know, didn't have a chance of runnin' after doctors back in these mountain areas. They weren't close, and where I was raised, it was twelve miles by horseback to th' nearest doctor. They got a cut and it was too bad. They used th' turperntine and sugar or kerosene oil as an application to kill infection; and of course kerosene oil in those days was scarce because people had to use it for light, y'know. That's all th' lights we had except th' pine knots in th' fireplace."

The end result was a staggering body of lore, a portion of which is included here. Some of the remedies undoubtedly worked; some of them probably were useless; some of them--and for this reason we advise you to experiment with extreme care--were perhaps even fatal (taking large quantities of whiskey for snake bites, for example). "It was a chancy business," as Molly Green said of her remedies. "If it hit, it hit; and if it missed, it missed."

But the remedies themselves stand as a weighty testament to the ingenuity of an all but vanished race.

Drink a mixture of honey, vinegar, and moonshine.
Make a tea from either the seeds or leaves of alfalfa.
Drink powdered rhubarb dissolved in white whiskey.
A magnet draws it out of the body.

In one pint of gin, place several pieces of the heartwood of a pine tree. Leave them in the gin until they turn brown. Then take one teaspoonful of the mixture twice a day.
Suck salty water up your nose.
Smoke or sniff rabbit tobacco.
Swallow a handful of spicer webs rolled into a ball.
Keep a Chihuahua dog around the house. (Who knows?)
Gather leaves from ginseng, dry and powder them. Put the powder in a pan, place a hot coal on top of it, and inhale the smoke.

Place a spider web across the wound.
Apply a poultice of spirit turpentine and brown sugar to the wound.
Use a mixture of soot from the chimney and lard.
Use pine resin.

Blood Builders
When the sap is up, take the green bark of the wild cherry and boil it to make tea.
Take the young leaves of the poke plant, parboil them, season, fry, and then eat several "messes."
Make sassafras tea, using the roots of the plant.

Broken Arm
Make a mixture of red clay and water. Put splints on each side of the arm and plaster it up with the clay. When the clay dries, put the arm in a sling.

Boil chestnut leaves and place the resulting ooze on the burn.
Bind castor oil and egg whites around the wound with a clean cloth.
Linseed oil will draw the fire out.
If the person has never seen his father, he can draw the fire by blowing on the burn. (??)

Chest Congestion
Apply a mixture of camphor, mutton tallow, soot, pine tar, turpentine, and lard to the chest.
Make an onion poultice by roasting an onion, then wrappign it in spun-wool rags and beating it so that the onion juice soaks the rags well. Apply these rags to the chest.
Render the fat of a polecat. Eat two or three spoonfuls. This brings up the phlegm. (Skunk oil again, methinks.)
Eat raw honey.
Wear a flannel shirt with turpentine and lard on it all winter. (And make lots of friends :)

Make a tea from the leaves of boneset. Drink the tea when it has cooled. It will make you sick if taken hot. Leaves of this plant may also be cured out and saved for use during the winter months.
Make a tea from powdered ginger, or ground up ginger roots. Do not boil the tea, but add the powdered root to a cup of hot water and drink.
Boil pine needles to make a strong tea.
Parch red pepper in frount of the fire. Powder it, cook it in a tea, and add pure white corn liquor.
Drink whiskey and honey mixed.
Drink red pepper tea.

Tie an asafetida bag round a baby's neck for six months to keep away six months' colic.
Drink sampson's snake root tea.
Boil two or three roots of ginsend in a pint of water, then strain and drink.

Put some ground ginger from the store in a saucer and add a little sugar. Put it on the tongue just before bedtime. It burns the throat and most of the time will stop coughs.
Dissolve four sticks of horehound candy in a pint of whiskey and take a couple of spoonfuls a day. This is also good for TB.
Boil one cup of wild cherry bark in a pint of water. Add some syrup and cook until it gets thick.

Squeeze the juice out of a roasted onion and drink.
For a baby, pour a mixture of turpentine and white whiskey into a saucer and set it afire. Hold the baby over the smoke until he breathes it deeply. This loosens him up.
Put some groundhog oil on some hot flannel rags and place the rags on the child's chest.

Take a tea of red oak bark.
Drink some blackberry juice.

Tie a bag containing the sufferer's nail paring to a live eel. It will carry the fever away. (This has got to be my favorite of the zanier suggestions!)
Boil two roots of wild ginger in a cup of water, strain, and drink.

Gather some boneset, put the leaves in a sack and put it in the sun to dry. Make sure it has air or it will mole. Then cook the leaves in some water, strain and drink.
Chew rabbit tobacco.
Fretful Child
Boil catnip leaves to make a tea, and give the child about a quarter cup. Use one cup of leaves to make him sleep.

Bind wilted beet leaves on the forehead.
Tie a flour sack around your head. :)
Pour hot water over mustard leaves to rouse their odor and strength. Bind these leaves in a poultice to head with a cheesecloth strip.
When you get your haircut, gather up all the clippings. Bury them under a rock and you will never have a headache. Old-timers would never allow their hair to be burned or thrown away as it was too valuable.

Heart Trouble
Eat ramps and garlic. You can eat them cooked or raw.

Take a teaspoon of peanut butter.

Whoops. Gotta go do some chores, feeding cats and ducks and getting snow off my car. Stay tuned for part two.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

100th Post

Well, well, well. This is my 100th post. Wish I had something really mind-blowing for y'all, but I didn't notice until I saw the 99 posts so far.

We've been showed/iced in for seems like a century. It has been less than a week, and I did make it out of the valley one day. We're all suffering cabin fever, but walking around our little lake and visiting has been fun. We've got great neighbors, very helpful with stuck cars and trucks.

It is, of course, Superball Sunday. I heard on the radio that Americans usually spend some astronomical amount of money (in the billions!!!) for their superball parties. Most of it on junk food snacks. Amazing.

And amusing too. My husband tends to talk to me about football on this kind of day or when there's some other Football Game of Note. I got interested the year the Colts were in the game, but football just ain't my gig. I've never paid enough attention to understand how it works and it usually bores me. A typical female reaction perhaps. Anyway, Michael talks to me about the game, who's who, who does what and why. To be honest, it usually goes in one ear and other the other and I say "Uh huh" or "that's interesting." Or whatever will do the trick to show that I'm listening, sort of.

In lieu of my having prepared anything or thought of something to write about, I'll send you over to Survival Topics. This is a terrific post on survival foraging on the move. I both enjoyed it and it made me think again about eating bugs and worms and such. Cooked in a wild food stew, I can see they might not be so bad. I'd probably want to grind them up first, maybe take off the legs if they have any. :) But this is a fun one and will give you ideas. Check it out!

I'll try to produce a more inspirational post manana. Today I'm sore from shoveling out my car and the arch-enemy post nasal drip is post-nasaling once again. Time to go clean out the sinuses again (1 dropper hydrogen peroxide, pinch salt, pinch baking soda, pinch cayenne powder--put in a 2 oz size medicine bottle and add enough water to make the 2 ounces. Put droppers of the stuff up your nose, one nostril at a time, roll your head around and upside down to get it all over the sinuses and be prepared to suffer the sting and then blow your nose.) Effective, if a bit weird.