Sunday, 24 April 2011

Fleeced in the Cotswolds!

Yesterday we had this month’s herb workshop at the Herb Sanctuary. I helped in the new herb bed we dug last year and did some digging and sowing. We sowed chamomile, yarrow, milk thistle and calendula seeds. Amongst the weeds we found an abandoned pheasant’s nest, mother pheasant was probably scared off earlier in the week when the grass was cut. It was sad to see the nest abandoned but interesting to be able to have a look.
Pheasant's nest

 Sarah has a crab apple tree in full blossom which looked beautiful and she made a flower essence. Blossoms were floated on top of spring water for four hours in the bright sunshine and then the flowers removed. The water is added to brandy in 50:50 proportions and then we have a mother flower essence that can be diluted further if required. The bach flower remedy of crab apple is known as the "cleansing remedy" used when there is a feeling of having been soiled by a physical item, self-disgust or self-loathing and a mind full of trivial matters which excludes the important. Dr Bach described it as "the remedy which helps us to get rid of anything we don't like either in our minds or bodies".
Crab Apple Blossom

 The most amazing thing we did yesterday was an attempt to extract lanolin from a sheep fleece. The wool was from a Jacob sheep that must have been thankful to have been sheered on such a hot day. We boiled the fleece for five hours over a wood fire and then removed it. We had to leave the water to cool but it looked like plenty of lanolin was settling on the top which Sarah will use in salves. Lanolin is absorbed easily which helps with delivering herbs to the skin. The fleece was left to dry as it can be used still, maybe carded and spun or perhaps made into felt as it was a bit matted – another workshop story to come!
Simmering the sheeps fleece

Removing the fleece after simmering for 5 hours

The removed fleece
A leaf dipped into the pot came out coated in lanolin

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