Heather Sharpe

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since Feb 05, 2019
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forest garden fungi foraging trees urban chicken medical herbs ungarbage
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Central Indiana, zone 6a, clay loam
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Recent posts by Heather Sharpe

Cats and many other animals possess zoopharmacognosy. That's just a fancy word meaning that they can sense what plants have medicinal benefits for them. It sure is fun to say. I have watched my own cat do this many times. She has had problems with asthma and when she did, chose to eat hackberry leaves and ragweed, both of which are good for respiratory health and allergies. My dog does this too. She's been going around my yard eating goldenrod and hackberry, again, for her allergies. She even ate white vervain, which is intensely bitter tasting and also a nervine, which is interesting, since she has anxiety. There are tons of other instances of animals doing this if you observe animals with access to plants or if you read about it.

I wonder if cats and dogs eating grass is them trying to exercise their zoopharmacognosy, but because most often, people have monocultures of grass and/or tend to keep their animals away from any unknown plants, they just settle for grass? Most people aren't growing lots of wild or medicinal plants in their yard, so most cats and dogs probably don't have other options.

You can give your cat the chance to practice this inside by laying out some fresh or dried cat safe herbs for them on a towel or blanket with some space between each herb, that way they can investigate and choose what they like. Here's a website with a little more information and lists of cat safe herbs to offer: https://drjudymorgan.com/blogs/blog/supporting-your-cats-healing-through-self-selection-principles
I'm sure something similar could be done for dogs. Or of course, if you have a garden full of medicinal plants and you know what is safe for your pet, you can just walk around with them and see what they choose. I think we can learn a lot about our animal companions and plants this way!
1 year ago
I wish I had a female yew. I have a male that is about 20 feet in diameter, right next to my house. Makes a lovely scene and bird hangout spot, especially in winter. However, in the spring time, it's rather brutal to be near. The pollen is also toxic and causes my partner and I to have chest pain (yew is cardiotoxic), headaches, brain fog and fatigue for about a week or so. We're going to wear N-95 masks and take other precautions in the future. I really hope that it's true that they can change sex and he turns into a she, but I digress. Yew is apparently one of the most allergenic plants around. Just something for folks to be aware of before planting, especially if they already tend towards pollen allergy.
1 year ago
Pumpkins are amazing, indeed! Those are some great sounding recipes, thanks for sharing! I'm too lazy to preserve right now and don't have tons of freezer or fridge space, so I tend to grow long storing moschata squashes rather than the pie pumpkins (C. pepo). I like Musquee de Provence as I've had them store in the house for over a year just hanging out on the floor or on a shelf. That way I can just cook them as needed. Bonus is they are great decorations in the meantime, creating a sense of abundance until I eat them. I think Butternuts and some of the maxima squashes will store similarly long times.
1 year ago
That's an intriguing question and I shall look forward to seeing what answers you get! I don't think pumpkins would stand much of a chance against most dogs. Mine loves to roll in plants and I saw her munching on a pumpkin leaf the other day. You might be able to grow them if you created some kind of trellis, like a cattle panel arch and protected the base of the plants with a small fence or rocks and logs? Then it would create a nice shaded spot for the dogs to hang out under whilst still getting you some vining crops. Maybe get some wood chips down so the ground isn't totally bare? That would also make it easier to grow anything you might want to in the future, since it will start improving the soil and retaining water.
1 year ago
That is quite the situation under the eaves. Sorry you have to sort through all that. I had to do some similar work in my own house and it was incredibly back hurty. So please make sure that you're paying heed to your ergonomics and taking frequent breaks to check in with your back!
1 year ago

Joylynn Hardesty wrote:Thanks Heather. I'm hoping he got all the bits out. I can't see anything at any rate. The wound site has a dime sized whitish area that is slightly swollen.

We do have activated charcoal. I'll put that on him next bandage change.

I know usually when I get puncture wounds/splinters, they are sore, but if the soreness persists more than a couple days or gets worse, it usually means a tiny bit is still in there. Hopefully not the case here. That there's no redness makes me think you probably got it all. Just mix the charcoal with water to get a wet paste and sandwich it between two pieces of gauze. That'll keep the charcoal from getting into the wound. Keeping the paste on the wetter side will make it more drawing and keep it from drying out and getting charcoal dust everywhere.  
1 year ago
Ouch! That has to be rough, locust is no joke! Do you know that you got everything out? I know sometimes, little bits can splinter and stay in the wound, causing soreness and swelling to push them out. It really sounds like you're doing all the right things. I would think some soreness would be normal. I think just continue with the salve and watching for signs of infection and stepping up your approach if you see them. Maybe try an activated charcoal poultice if you have some around. That stuff is darn near magic at drawing out infection and yuck. I'd probably also just put some extra gauze over the wound to cushion it a bit. Elevating the legs for a few minutes a couple times a day would probably be beneficial too. Either legs up the wall or a bit more relaxing is to have the knees bent to ninety degrees and lay the lower legs on a couch, bed or chair. Hope he gets feeling better soon!
1 year ago
Can't believe I'd never seen that either, thanks for sharing and illuminating the mystery of chickens!
Here's some further supporting evidence, though a more permie approach than mining:

1 year ago
That was a seriously brave and important thing to do! Well done, Michael! That had to be really hard. Sending some virtual hugs your way. I could imagine you might have something of a vulnerability hangover! Sharing those sort of experiences is so helpful for normalizing talking about difficult feelings and experiences. And obviously, being able to talk about them is essential to getting support in moving through them.

Even though it's a bit different, your post made me think of this talk and wonder how many lives you may have profoundly affected (maybe even saved) by having the courage to talk about that.
1 year ago
I would also love to figure out a seed raising mix that doesn't require bought inputs. I have had moderate success with roughly half finished compost and half leaf mold. The leaf mold helps add some fluffiness to the mixture. It still doesn't behave quite the way I'd like. Might actually be too much leaf mold? The moisture retention isn't quite what I'd hope. I need to experiment more with making very small batches (like a pot-worth) then watering the mix to see how it behaves, and continue experimenting til I find a happy medium.
1 year ago