COUNTDOWN TO SAMHAIN DAY #4: THE FINAL HARVEST

I live in Rockingham County surrounding Harrisonburg City in Virginia back in one of the most remote and rural areas. You won’t see any subdivisions around here and I love it like this! ┬áThere are vacant fields, crop fields, large farms, large wooded areas, mountains and rivers surrounding my home and it fits me just right and makes me smile! I can just take a walk outside to get in tune with nature and the seasons! I’m also thankful to live in an area in which the change of the seasons is heavily marked with changes in temperature, plants and animals. I can take a scenic drive any day in any direction; I can go up to the top of Reddish Knob or just tour the backroads of the country. The West Virginia line is just a few miles from my home and I can have a drive through the heavily wooded areas and see deer, bear, red foxes and many more types of animal life.

I can truly see the final harvest of the growing season where I live because I can watch the farmers cut the crops and clear their land for the winter. We have a heavy population of hunters where I live and they strive to bring in squirrel, deer, bear and fish to store for the winter. This area is very busy at this time of year! People here also reap the final bounty of their gardens and either freeze or can the fruits and vegetables. If you’re like me, you try to reap the final bits of herbs and plants and dry them to use during the winter season. I grow Sage, Lemon Balm, a variety of mints, Comfrey, Basil and plants such as Red Clover, Plantain and Mullien grow wild out here. It is time for me to make my Four Thieves Vinegar which I use to ward off winter sicknesses such as the cold and flu. For my Four Thieves Vinegar, I use a half gallon of apple cider vinegar, about 1/2 cup minced fresh garlic cloves, 1 cup dried rosemary, 1/2 to 1 cup dried thyme, 1 cup dried sage, the peels of about 2-3 lemons and I may try some cayenne pepper this year. I put all of the dried herbs, the garlic and the lemon peels into the half gallon canning jar and pour the apple cider vinegar over them. When I have everything put into the canning jar I have two options: I can either put the lid on the jar and let it sit in a dark place for two to four weeks, or I can dump it all into a big pot on the stove and heat it without boiling it until I feel I have gotten the precious oils and liquids out of all of my ingredients, strain it and put it into the canning jar and store the liquid in a dark place to take as a tincture during the winter to ward off illnesses. I have recently learned that I can add honey to the mixture as well! I believe adding honey would be a good thing because not only is honey another natural preservative, but it would tame the flavor of the vinegar mixture which I already take as a tincture and marinate chicken in! I think I will try mixing honey into my Four Thieves Vinegar this fall as well!

I will leave you with a few pictures of our scenic land: