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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Witches Brew

Sorry, I've been a bit negligent of my blog readers recently - I blame the visitors!  I do have a few projects to show you once I've taken the photographs and got myself organised, but in the meantime here's a little something I threw together in my cauldron today.

This is a very easy to make ointment which is good for all sorts of things - Calendula Balm.  First grow your calendula officinalis flowers!  Then, harvest the flowers and dry them until you have a nice little amount ready to use.

Here's the recipe, and then I'll tell you what it's good for.

Calendula Balm

350ml (12 fl. oz) olive oil
56g (2 oz) beeswax
A good handful of dried calendula flowers

Dried calendula flowers

Gently warm the oil and beeswax in a double boiler and add the flowers.  Simmer for about 10 minutes or so.

Oil, beeswax and flowers in double boiler

Remove from heat and strain immediately through muslin into sterilised pots before it starts to set.
Leave to cool completely, and then put on the lids.

It's amazing how much it makes

OK, so what do you use it for?  Well, it makes a really good lip balm.  I don't know about you, but as soon as the weather starts to get cooler my lips tend to dry out and get a bit flaky.  This stuff is a perfect moisturizer for lips in the winter months.  It's also very good for rough and sore skin and also for scrapes or anything that isn't healing quite as quickly as it should.  Calendula is anti-fungal and once or twice has worked really well to stop the itching caused by athlete's foot when I was stuck without any cream.  The other thing it's been tried on was cold sores.  A friend came to visit us and forgot to bring his medication with him - sure enough, a little way into his stay he started to develop a cold sore.  In the absence of anything else, he used the calendula balm.  It didn't cure it, but it stopped it in its tracks and it didn't get any worse.

The main reason I make it though is for insect bites.  We get a lot of mosquitoes and other biting insects here and I found out quite by chance that if you treat them with the balm they stop itching very quickly.  Magic!  And just in time too - I got three bites this evening while we sat on the patio.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

F.S.M. (Foul Stinky Mixture)

Well actually, it stands for Fermented Suint Method, but I think mine's more accurate!

This is the offending article - I put it down in our subterranean greenhouse (well, the storage half of it) so it would be well away from the house.

For those non-witches amongst us, I'll tell you a little bit about why I started this noxious brew, and what I hope it will achieve.  If you have lots of sheep fleeces to wash it can be a bit of a lengthy process.  I've normally washed about 200g at a time - soaked, washed, rinsed, rinsed again - after two or three batches I've had enough.

With this system, you use a largish container (with a lid - most important!!!!  It doesn't have to be a tight-fitting lid, just enough to keep the smell in), fill it with rainwater, dunk in a whole fleece, the dirtier, smellier, greasier the better, and let it stew for between 5 and 7 days.

I put two Ouessant fleeces (these are miniature sheep and only grow to about 50cm high so the fleeces tend to be small) in zipped laundry bags, pressed them down so they were totally submerged, replaced the lid and beat a hasty retreat.  I checked the tub each day and the smell got noticeably worse after the second or third day.

So, after 5-7 days, your fleece should have worked its magic and be ready to remove. This is the nasty part because you have to be in close proximity with the highly reeking solution while you pull out your laundry bag(s).  It's important to let the liquid drain back into the tub so you don't lose too much.  After that you can take your fleece and rinse it in cold water.  I only needed to do 3 rinses before laying it out to dry in the sun.

I was surprised how clean the white bits had become considering I'd used no soap.

When I rinsed the Ouessant fleeces I was quite amazed that the water became a bit foamy, just as though I'd put soap in there.  Apparently the suint (sheep sweat!) makes a type of soap to clean future fleeces.

Right, so what do you do with the remaining liquid?  You put in another fleece (yes, really!) that you want to clean.  This time it will only need to be submerged for two or three days and you will then have another sparklingly clean fleece.  At least, that's the theory, I haven't got that far yet.  I've just put half of my new, precious, Maco Merinos fleece in there and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  I would be really upset if I messed this one up, especially as they seem to have sold out for this year!

You can keep this mix going indefinitely, but I'll probably get rid of it after I've done all my fleeces and any that Tammy wants to clean.  So, what will I do with this?  I'll water it down and use it on the garden - the plants will love it.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Baby has a Name

AT LAST!!!  Poor thing's eleven days old and has just been named :-

Presenting : Emberdot Ambrose.

Impala thinks it suits him perfectly

Uncle Impala
. . . and so do I.  Welcome Ambrose.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Photo Overload!

OK, here they come - lots of photos of "Baby".  He still doesn't have a name, Rob and Tammy can't agree.  It's going to be either Austin (as in Healey), Axel (as in Rose), or Ayrton (as in Senna).  I think they should call him Aggro, because naming him is causing a bit!

So, what do you think.  It has to begin with an "A".