Susanna Hammond

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since Feb 01, 2016
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forest garden cooking medical herbs
In 2015 I started my permaculture project and forest garden on the South Shore in Nova Scotia. Looking into what I can grow in our ~15 acres of boggy black spruce. Focusing on biodiversity, harmony and good medicine.
Nova Scotia, Canada, Zone 6a, Rain ~60"
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Recent posts by Susanna Hammond

Hey Doug.
In hindsight, we were very naive about the plumbing, although we were willing to shut off the water all together and do what was necessary for the pipes if needed.... we just had no idea what that was!

It's just sheer luck/grace that we had a mild winter and the house had a full depth, well insulated basement. Most of the plumbing was on the side of the house we were heating, too. We had no problems at all when we started things back up again. Likely there was angelic help involved!  = )

And our landlord was posted in Germany. Never knew.
1 month ago
Hi Denise.
My husband and I, during a tough financial time, decided to stay in our semi-rural rental house in Nova Scotia, Canada, but let the power go as we couldn't afford it.

It was a 2 story 4-bedroom, so we used vapour barrier plastic to make a small living space out of our main floor kitchen and living room, moving our bed down to the living room where the wood stove was.
OF course, the house was already insulated in our case. But given the Canadian winter temperatures, the situation is comparable, I think. We lived that way from August through the following March, with outside January temps from about 10 to 38 F.

Creating the smaller space allowed our woodstove to heat the area quickly to a comfortable temperature. I totally echo the dressing in layers comment above. We added and subtracted our layers as needed. We had 5 layers of blankets on top of the bed, including a sheepskin mattress pad and a sleeping bag. In January we got ourselves a set of thick fleece sheets that made a huge difference in our warmth at night. Worth every penny!

My biggest surprise was how well my body adapted to the cold! I was surprised to find that I grew to feel more and more comfortable at around 45 F without a lot of layers. Trust your body, your blood will thicken! This is why you see crazy Canadians in LA, Miami  and Las Vegas in shorts and T-shirts in January, lol!

The house never dropped below about 38 F, so the plumbing was fine, but we had no use of the pump from our well. We were able to keep using one downstairs toilet outside the vapour barrier, filling the back of it with a bucket. We were lucky that it was a particularly rainy winter, and we set up a rain barrel outside the front door and filled the toilet from that.

What are your plans for water? Does it stay above freezing in your area?
Wishing you good success  with it and keep us posted!
1 month ago
I'll ditto the general prescription of reducing acid producing foods in the diet - meat, sugar, alcohol, especially.

I had a roommate who has gout. It was usually alcohol that brought his attacks on.
2 months ago
Hi Rebecca.
I have a friend in Nova Scotia who grows stevia. Her favorite way to use it is to make a glycerite by chopping the leaves very finely, placing them in a jar and covering them with vegetable glycerin.

It doesn't matter much if the leaves are fresh or dried, as long as they're healthy. So you can do a quick harvest if the plant doesn't make it.

You can leave the jar to steep for several weeks or longer (shaking regularly) or you can steep it faster by warming the jar. I used to steep my lemon balm glycerite on the coolest corner of the wood stove for a week or in a sunny window. But you can also use a water bath, double boiler or slow cooker on low filled with water with a tea towel lining it, and steep the jar for a day or more.

I usually put my finished glycerite in a dropper bottle and if it's too strong, just dilute with some plain glycerin. I've bought stevia liquid drops at the store and they've worked great for baking, as long as I add them to the liquid ingredients and mix well.
Have fun with it!

2 months ago
Hi Antonio.
I just wanted to pass on something I read about how ants are dealt with in the tropics of the South Pacific, where I guess the ants could carry a small house away if they wanted.

Every morning as an "offering" someone places a small dish of cooked rice outside each of the 4 corners of the house. This is to keep the "gods" happy and these natural forces could very well include the ants! I'm not sure if this kind of offering, of rice or grain etc, nearer to the ants nests or away from your planting area would give them something better or closer to carry away.

In the south Pacific, this ritual apparently keeps the ants from entering the house and seeking food inside, as all they want is available outside it. It takes them roughly a day to empty each of the dishes and they are refilled every morning. I like this idea of making it a "ritual" to be in a supportive relationship with the ants too.

If you're not in residence there all the time, perhaps you could find someone with some spoiled grain or corn that is no good for planting and leave a huge pile of it near any ant nests you can find. Enough that it will keep them busy for a long time!
Just a thought.

Blessings on all your seeds!
2 months ago
My husband and I have had good success with plantain for toothache. Plantain is considered a "specific" for tooth pain in the herbal world. It's a drawing agent for all wounds, including pulling out splinters. And it's prominent leaf veins show it to be good for nerve pain specifically.

Here's a good reference:

From this page:
"The cooling properties of Plantain will clear toxic heat and reduce inflammation as seen in allergies, eczema and even boils and abscesses. Matthew Wood has found Plantain to be particularly helpful in infections around the teeth where there may be abscess or root canal sepsis. He says 'It is a specific here and it will almost never fail to draw out the pus and stop the infection, sometimes even saving the tooth where it was thought to be lost'."

The way to use it is to harvest a leaf or two, wash if needed, and chew them up slightly to make a wad of it. Then stuff that wad in the cheek next to the tooth in question. You can replace the wad with a new one after several hours or half a day if more treatment is needed.

My husband caught a goat horn in the cheek one day that jostled a molar and plantain completely cleared the pain and inflammation in a couple of hours. I've heard of plaintain pulling out infection after a wisdom tooth removal as well.

Best thing about it is it grows literally everywhere. It's one of a couple of plants I kept whole in the freezer for winter use "just in case".
2 months ago
Just pledged for the paperback. You're at 91% already - congratulations!!!
2 months ago
I love this latest version.
That sub-header is SO important, it tells me why I want this book (and I do!). It's great to have it large and readable.

I think you've nailed it, Kate!
2 months ago
Yes! It's really getting there!

I really like your name moved to the stove photo and the script font. And the narrow lines look much better.

And now I would love to see the title in the green panel widened a bit to take up the extra space, perhaps using a font for "Off Grid Kitchen" that has a little more width to it - not so tall and narrow?? And then you could go up a size and widen the line below it to match the width.

I also keep wondering what it would look like if the outside border only was the same green as the title box. Might not work, but I keep trying to picture it. I agree that the brown borders didn't pop as well.
2 months ago
Hi Kate. First, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book!

I also agree with the choice of the green title box. And for me, Option D was way too busy, but I'm much more drawn to the food pics you used in that one.
I really love options E and F, because I just love feeling like I'm looking right into your "off grid kitchen" with the large stove pic in the bottom panel.

So my top fave is E and my next fave is G. The black borders in G feel just a little too heavy, esp the middle horizontal ones. But I really like the bottom right pic in option G (spoons and all!)
2 months ago