Tag Archives: finding your passion

My Inner Herb Song

So I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, and I expect it will be a rough couple more. Things started out rosy in March, and then I had a birthday—just my 49th, not a milestone or anything, and while I’m ok with my age, it reminded me of all those who didn’t make it to 49 with me. 

But I shook it off and kept moving forward in busyness–until I lost my main source of income teaching online. And I was sure something would turn up, but as the days turned to weeks, and nothing did, well, you can imagine how that weighed on me. (More about that saga in another post). 

Midway through April now, and I’m dealing with swollen and painful joints keeping me housebound, just when I thought to start planting my garden. And looming ahead is May when my son turns 20 (where did the time go?), and my mom will have been gone a year. 

In between, I’ve been working steadily on some plant studies. Yesterday I finished the thirtieth one, which means the first draft of a new herb book will be out soon. 

Chatting with one of my besties, who is also having a rough time of it (aren’t we all?), I mentioned how much I enjoy my herb research. I admitted I even have a little herb song that plays in my head while I look up Nahuatl terms and try to decipher yet another scientific paper on plant properties. 

It goes something like Rihanna’s “Work,” but instead, I sing, “Herbs, herbs, herbs, herbs. I really like them herbs, herbs, herbs, herbs…Digging in the dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt….” and so on. Anyway, it’s a happy little ditty with a lot of repetition and mumbling. 

You may be wondering how I pick the next plant study when there are so many to choose from. After all, Mexico is one of the ten most biodiverse countries in the world. 

Sometimes it’s random. I might see something in an article or in my Facebook feed about some plant or other, and I jump in with both feet researching. But mostly, it’s more of a personal connection that leads me down the garden path of investigation.

For example, last week, my sister-in-law was over, and I, of course, had to show her my plants. She pointed to one particular viney weedy thing with white flowers that sprung up from nowhere and said that that one was for coughs. WHAT! Now I have to look into la artemisia (the plant in question) and see what is to be seen. Very exciting!

Or take another instance. I expect this year to be rather difficult all around with rising food prices and now my unemployment. So I thought long and hard about what would be the best use of the limited growing space I had. While researching native plants, I came across huautli, outlawed by the Spanish conquerors. Now known by its European moniker, amaranto is hailed as a superfood. Well then, I could plant huautli and girasoles (also believed to be native to Mexico) along with maíz, frijoles, and calabazas. And it’s exciting!

Or maybe I’ve picked up another tea concoction for my son to try who still struggles with breathing two years after Covid, and it doesn’t work as well as the last tea. After looking at the ingredients and seeing that gordolobo (Verbascum thapsus) is in one but not in the other–and voila. Gordolobo is a plant that helps his breathing and I’m off to the indigenous herbalist in town to get some and at my computer doing some more research. 

Each plant is like a little mystery waiting to be solved. I try to answer what it is, how is it best grown, how it is used (fresh or dry), and ultimately what is its value. It’s fitting as I putter in my garden, sitting, of course, to spare my knees, with my hair faded to grey and the freshness of youth gone, I wonder: Who is she? What is her value? How is she best grown? And then my little inner herb song kicks in…and it’s ok.

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Discover how native Mexican plants can enrich your garden!

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Filed under Alternative Farming, Health, Mexican Food and Drink, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing

Surviving Years in La Yacata

La Yacata is more than a bug-out location for our family. It’s our home. Our quest to become self-sufficient is more than a temporary fix. It’s our lifestyle.

surviving all you get

At times, it’s irksome, inconvenient and downright agonizing. Sometimes, we want to just throw in the towel. We’ve had more than our fair share of disasters living here in Mexico, and most probably will experience even more disasters in the future.

So what enables us to continue this life which we’ve been attempting for 10 years now?

Here are some tips.

pleasure

Having hobbies. Each of us has our favorite pastime. My son and I love to read. We have a pretty good library of actual books and our Kindles.  My son has taken up the guitar. He’s taken some classes, but for the most part been self-taught. My husband’s main pastime involves caring for our ever changing livestock selection. Sometimes it’s chickens and rabbits, other times, goats and sheep. We’ve had horses, donkeys, turkeys, quail, ducks and even a cow for a time. We all like to watch movies on our rechargeable DVD players. We like to go on day adventures. There are so many beautiful places here to visit. I knit and sew. Having hobbies keeps us sane. (See also Finding your Passion)

Being flexible about our income sources. You name it, we’ve probably tried it. We are not yet self-sufficient and as such find it necessary to supplement our income with outside work. We’ve sharecropped, taught classes, done bricklaying, baked bread, sold fruits and vegetables, had a store, worked in a store, and even collected and sold aluminum cans and rusty metal. All of these have been learning experiences for us. And while some jobs pay better than others, we never consider ourselves too good for any work. It certainly adds variety to our daily routines. (See also Finding your Passion)

self reliance

Doing it ourselves. My husband built our house from scratch. It’s still quite a work in progress. It’s nearly an organic entity, growing and changing as our needs change. We’ve had plumbers, carpenters, and metalworkers come and do the things that are beyond my husband’s skill, but the bulk of the work he has done himself. We grow some of our own food, although that too is a work in progress. We collect most of our own water. Doing it ourselves keeps us from becoming too dependent on governmental agencies. (See also Homesteading and Prepping)

misson

Having goals. We have both short and long term goals. Getting solar panels is something we hope to be able to do in the next few years. Becoming totally self-sufficient is something that will take longer.  (See also Homesteading and Prepping) My son finishes formal schooling next year. Finding an apprentice type position with a carpenter or mariachi band is his next goal. My husband’s goal is to finish the second floor of our house. My goal is to move away from teaching in the Mexican school system and do more freelancing. Having goals helps us keep our focus on the bigger picture when day-to-day challenges present themselves.

change survival

Being adaptable. The key to making this lifestyle work is the ability to be adaptable to whatever comes our way. It’s either feast or famine sometimes. It has taken some re-orientation on our part to prepare for the worst while things are going well. It’s taken some attitude adjustment to get through the times when things don’t go quite so well. Being adaptable gives us the incentive to grin and bear it in gratitude.

survivor

I’d like to say that we’ve mastered the art of survival, but that simply isn’t true. We do the best we can with what we have at the moment and so far have been lucky. As you’ve seen in this month’s posts, there are things that are impossible to prepare for. So if and when they do present themselves, we will give it our best shot and hope for the best. If we survive life in La Yacata, well, great! If not, at least we tried.

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Filed under Alternative Farming, Animal Husbandry, Carnival posts, Cultural Challenges, Homesteading