Harvest, Horehound (Marrubium vulgaris)

In a morning lull from my daily thunderstorms, I went out to collect Horehound seeds. I am also collecting leaves from one shaded plant that is now blooming.



I like collecting in a five gallon bucket.  Loose, it is not close to 5 gallons of material,  but will give me plenty of leaves and flowers to dry and plenty of seed to save for next year.  Perennial Horehound will come back next year too.

Horehound Leaves

Horehound Leaves

Just a smaller bowl of leaves and flowers to dry.  If I wanted a lot of intense product, I would have collected earlier in the year.  I got busy with rock beds and didn’t get er done.  I decided some Horehound is better than no Horehound.

Horehound Seeds

This includes the chaff, but seeds are already dropping to the bottom of the bowl.  I will give it a few days then store the seeds in a small paper envelope.

I also dug more Iris rhizomes and will process the roots for Orris Root.  The first batch is air drying.

My pharmacopeia is small but will grow.


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Preparing Orris Root for Perfumes

Orris root used in many perfumes is the dried rhizome of German Bearded Iris (Iris germanica).

German Bearded Iris

German Bearded Iris

This is a photo of mine blooming in the spring.

I promised my neighbor about 30 rhizomes so today I dug them for her to transplant to her garden.  Iris are easy to share since they multiply easily from even small pieces of rhizome.  I gave a friend in Albuquerque a few of these and they have outgrown their space.

Everything I have read about processing Iris rhizomes into Orris Root for perfumes has gone on about how labor consuming and time intensive the process is, so I just dug up a couple for processing.  This is an experiment!

German Bearded Iris roots

German Bearded Iris roots

I removed the tops with a bit of rhizome on each one and expect all to regenerate. This wasn’t strictly necessary because my original 300 rhizomes are about 900 already.  I gave about 30 to my neighbor, still a lot!  Then again, I have 5 acres, an Orris Root crop is a good thing.

Roots Ready for Processing

Roots Ready for Processing

Here are the first roots ready for processing and drying.  A small first test batch.


As you can see, I used a standard vegetable peeler to remove the skin.  At this point I can set the roots aside for 3 to 5 years for drying.  They have no smell, but I am assured I will know when they are fully dry and ready by the amazing scent.

Grated Orris Root

Grated Orris Root

Other information suggested thin slices or grating to speed up the process, suggesting 1 to 2 years for drying.  I decided to take the extra step and grate the roots for quicker drying.  I will also dry some roots in slices to check the difference in end product one of these years.

Clearly I have not prepared much root this afternoon.  Even so, I don’t see it as particularly onerous.  Waiting years for the final product is almost unAmerican, but I am not concerned much about that.  I admit that Orris Root is part of all my favorite perfumes, and it is free-to-me for a small effort.  Once it is deliciously scented, I will steam distill it to a thick orris butter.  Then I am good to go.

Orris Root doubles as a fixative for other scents as well and some call it a heart note, others a base note.  I will now get to explore those for myself.

If my care to leave enough roots to regenerate more Iris plants is successful, I now have an endless cycle of beautiful Iris blooms and perfume components.  Its all good.

I will process more this month and get my dream of making my own perfume moving forward, baby steps at a time.


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Fall Corn?

My painted mountain corn produced so fast that I decided to try a fall crop.  It is cooling off at night and they are barely up, so I figured it for a no go.

Fall Corn

Fall Corn

This morning two of them appear to be thinking about setting corn at only one foot.  If I get fall corn I will save every seed for next year.  How sweet if I could double crop corn at 7500 feet.

I love playing in the garden.

My bbolivar beans already cropped and I replanted.  They are up too.  Spring came early this year so my short season crops came in early.  Be nice if I get late season beans, too.

Beans and turnips

Beans and turnips

These beans are planted where I grew turnips in the spring.  I left two golden ball turnips in place hoping for seed.  You can see the new bean plants.  I hope this second round also produces beans.

I still have thunderstorms.  Not as much rain as would be appropriate with so much lightening and thunder, but enough to water everything.


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Mouse Trap

Little Guy has been such a good mouser since he moved in that I stopped catching mice outside the house. A few days ago I saw a mouse run behind the stove.

Oh no, not having that.

I do not use poison, but water is the most effective lure I have used.

Water Trap

Water Trap

Five is more than I have caught at any one time, tells me I am overrun with mice.

I caught a lizard yesterday, darn.

I fill the bucket 1/3 full of water and butt it up against the house wall.  The mice come for the water and can’t get out.  I feel mean, but no toxins.

It has rained so much I wasn’t sure it would work, but there is the evidence.  I reset the trap, and will likely stop there.  I threw the bodies in the woods for others to eat, used the water on a shrub, and used fresh rainwater in the trap.

As it gets cold, Little Guy should keep my house free of mice again.  One little Papillon can only do so much.


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Plain Jane

I have not worked outside much lately. Brutal heat first, then daily thunderstorms that have me not want to be outside on the hill.  Hopefully that will settle down in a few days.

I have taken the opportunity to go through my possessions and simplify.

For a non shopper (except books) I have a lot of unnecessary stuff. The neighborhood is waiting for decent weather for a combined garage sale, and we are all going through sorting out the accumulation.

A gal in Seattle who was a manic clothes shopper loaded me up with boxes of clothes just as I moved to New Mexico. Size okay but our taste in clothes is so far off that I have never worn the stuff, no matter how well made. I am a plain plain plain and she is a flaming flamboyant. She would so like me to get flamboyant but I like plain… redhead or not.

I still have bric-a-brac from my good friend in Texas who covered every surface and every wall with fiddly little cute items I would never enjoy cleaning, and which over the years she gifted to me.  They are cute but I am so very plain plain plain… in comparison.

Now my older neighbor has started bringing me things….

I have my final cabin design and the small size means I will need to size down again.  I am delighted with it and excited to get started building, hopefully in the spring.  I have more lovely things than will fit inside, so here I am, sorting and downsizing.  I do love beautiful things but just like them spaced farther apart.

As small as my home will be, I included a Japanese style art display niche in the bedroom.  Simple and satisfying for me.

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Windbreak to the North

I started planted the north berm adjacent to my Deep Forest. The berm averages about 3 feet and pushes the wind up enough that my small evergreens diffuse it. However, it almost gives my Deep Forest visual privacy from the neighbor and the road/driveway. I decided to plant the berm with Banana Yuccas with their defensive spikes, for an additional 3 feet of windbreak and visual privacy.

Banana Yucca and One Seed Juniper

Banana Yucca and One Seed Juniper

As I cleared a few weeds back, I saw this tiny One Seed Juniper seedling, yay!  I planted the Banana Yucca next to it.  I rescued the Banana Yucca from under a large Juniper uphill, where it would not likely bloom.  These two grow well together.

Banana Yucca

Banana Yucca

Here is the second one, surrounded by weeds indicating a slightly moister spot.  I will stagger the Yucca plants so they look natural in this spot.  I think 12-16 plants.  Transferring them grom deep shade means at least a dozen more to mature, bloom, and bear fruit, another goal I have.  I am pleased to find a Juniper seedling to match the Pinyon Pine seedling also on the berm.

It has been unbearably hot the last couple weeks and even getting up early has been hot.  It rained yesterday and dropped back to the 80s, for which I am grateful.  I even dug up a couple rocks and got back working on the Southwest Gate path.

I have clouds now and hoping for another rainstorm.


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Externalizing Costs and Arsenic in Soil

Arsenic in soil is widespread and extremely toxic in part because it accumulates in our bodies.  It is just one way businesses externalizes costs onto others, and is so widespread it is hard to calculate the damage.

I bought acreage in a county in Texas slated for Superfund remediation, where the government comes in and taxpayers pay for cleanup after the corporations destroy land and water with toxins.  The government is way behind on Superfund cleanup due to lack of funds; however,  both parties refuse to force corporations to include toxic clean up as as a cost of doing business.  This is called “externalizing costs” in business schools and considered a huge plus to maximize your profits at the expense of others.

It is part of why the Trumpster feels like he is a smart negotiator in business, because he routinely externalizes costs.  Four bankruptcies left others holding the bag while he skated out of paying for his bad decisions.  Pretty routine.

In my county in Texas, cotton farmers were the Market Economy big boys that externalized the cost of cotton farming as they chose to do that.  Picking cotton was harder if the leaves were still on the plants.  It slowed the pickers down and left more hidden boles unpicked.

Defoliation with arsenic was allowed even though all concerned knew how toxic it would be in the soil and to the workers who produced it, the cotton pickers, the balers, etc.  The Market Economy boys selling arsenic and the big cotton farmers made money.  The poor workers and their children paid the price.  Eventually the taxpayers will pay too.

So the arsenic producers and cotton farmers moved on.  In that county, about 60% of the poor people living around the train station offloading arsenic in leaking and sometimes broken bags, are seriously ill even today.  They are on government assistance and their medical bills are paid by taxpayers.  This is about the third generation that has lived and died in low level arsenic poison because it is widespread.  They have brain damage and will never be able to make decisions that would save their children.

Another Market Econony businessman used to externalizing costs bought thousands of acres of this depleted and toxic acreage at a very cheap price, divided it up into ~10 acre parcels, and owner financed it to thousands of folks out of Dallas wanting to live the country life dream.  Their yard dogs get sick and so do their children, because decades after the arsenic was dumped, it persists in the soil.

I bought 14 acres from this man.  To be more accurate,  I bought two 7 acre pieces that gave me a mild north slope (cooler by a few degrees in Texas) and control over my miniature watershed except in major flooding.  Before I moved there, I dug a 40×60 runoff pond and planted Sunflowers.  Sunflowers are arsenic accumulators and bird attractors.  The Sunflowers cost less than $20.  I remediate 14 acres.  The federal government could disseminate this information and not spend billions one of these days.  But the Market Economy boys will one day get million dollar contracts for a cleanup that maximizes damage to the area so that more million dollar contracts will be given to fix that new damage.

There are many more ramifications and there is a lot of information about arsenic in southern soils and how even low levels lowers IQ.  Recent scandals about deep south farmers switched to rice farming.  Rice is another arsenic accumulator.  Instead of burning and containing the arsenic… they chose to “externalizes the cost” of remediation by selling the rice for human consumption instead of burning and removing the arsenic safely.  Rice is a big portion of Market Economy babyfoods.  Now that they have been selling arsenic-laced rice for a few years, their websites piously proclaim lowered arsenic levels in the soil.  Sure, it is now in the water supply.

All justified and glorified in our taxpayer funded colleges and universities that promote “externalizing costs” in the business schools as if it is a desirable and essential component of capitalism.  This one concept is behind 90 percent of lethal business practices and it is not an inherent component of capitalism.  The Earth is a closed and circular economy and externalizing costs is not possible; the pretense is a death dance.

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