Saturday, August 3, 2013

Working with Jewelweed

The year 2012 taught me many things, the first and foremost was that nature does it's own thing and if we humans can't adapt to it...well...that might be too bad. 

2012 was a drought year.  I have survived through several droughts since I took over this farm in the 1980s but I have to admit that 2012 was probably the harshest one I've ever dealt with.  I watered and watered, but even so I lost the pumpkin patch and the corn.  I stood in dry fields with the dust swirling around me as the wind picked it up.  I was thinking that THIS must have been how the farmers during the Dust Bowl must have felt.  A dull kind of fear settled on the farm as we watched thousands of dollars of crops shrivel up and die.  I look at the clouds differently now, even with our above average rainfall this year, with a short term flood that happened in June, I still look up with gratitude when the clouds let loose their life-giving rain.

One huge blow to my way of life was that several of the wild medicinals that I always gather never even broke through the dry crust that was the ground last year.  The mad dog skullcap has still not recovered completely this year, and I will not harvest that plant ally.

However the jewelweed was probably the one I missed the most.  I traveled to many springs last year, places where I have always found jewelweed, even in other drought years, and very little was to be found.  Certainly not enough to harvest without worrying that I would wipe it out.  That, above all else, made me know how bad of a drought it was. 

So this year, when I began seeing the large stands of it again, I rejoiced.  It is such an important medicine to those of us in Lake Country where mosquitoes can be as big as cows and black flies are known to strip a man to the bone in 3 minutes flat.  Okay, those might be some slight exaggerations but really, we need our jewelweed medicine.