December 2016
The Herb Farm

Farm Art


Art is where you find it. Textures are interesting, even in a stack of bricks.

During the most non-productive time of the year, when it seems like the entire United States is either on a holiday or preparing for one, I tend to get very frustrated and tired of the humdrum of everything that is going on.

Plants dried up during the drought, people beat one another up over an election that seemed more like a football game in a bad part of town, and a friend of mine nearly started a fire in his garbage can that would have burned his house down if he hadn’t caught it in time. And all this ho-ho-ho nonsense really bites my shorts!

First of all: The almost fire. Here is my buddy’s story. He, like most folks that I know – myself included – has certain rituals he performs at least once a year on the weekend that daylight savings time ends for the year. We make annual checks on heating and air conditioning fan lubrication and change the filters; put a little chlorine bleach in the evaporation pump reservoir; and change all of the 9 volt batteries in the smoke detectors.

Well, he did all that. One thing he never realized until last month is one of the many reasons why we should never put batteries in the regular garbage. They should be taken to a recycling center, along with light bulbs and tubes. Another thing that should be observed is the way we recycle our refuse. Glass, tin, steel, aluminum, paper, plastic, etc. should all go to the recycler, nonmeat food waste goes into the compost piles and the rest is just garbage.

Shades of brown and gray add to the textural depth of the simplest subject.


OK. My friend disregarded those rules and threw his batteries into the garbage can along with other stuff like paper, plastic bottles, aluminum foil and cans. He has a 1-year-old toddler and she was walking through the kitchen, grabbed the trash can and tipped it over. She fell onto the trash and started screaming. When they got to her, they couldn’t figure out what happened. They got her calmed down and my buddy started picking up the trash. Thankfully there was no glass in the can, but … when he picked up the batteries; one of them was as hot as a firecracker! Apparently one of them had become attached to a piece of aluminum foil and had created a short between the positive and negative poles. He burned his fingers on one hand and his daughter got a minor burn on her thigh.

Had the child not had the accident, the battery could have exploded or, worse, burned the house down.

Folks, please do as I do. Save your batteries for a collection center. I wrap a piece of tape across the top of the 9 volt batteries and put tape on the positive poles of the rest; then save them in a plastic storage box until I’m going up town.

This time of year lacks excitement and not much gets me going, so mostly I just wander around the farm and look at all of the art that’s out here. Art, you ask? Yes! Art is where you find it and it can be found almost everywhere. Have a look at my photos and see what I’m talking about.


Left to right, paint peeling from old wood always makes me wonder when the first sign of aging was for the boards. Rusty metal is somewhat artful when you really wonder what the object is.


One other thing I do a lot of in December is cook. I found a recipe for bran muffins and it is about as boring as this month is long. After making some adjustments, I made a batch that is worthy of sharing. You know I love muffins? Want my recipe?



1 regular box bran cereal flakes
2½ cups brown sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
5 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon fresh ground cloves
4 eggs
3½ cups buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup apple sauce

In large mixing bowl, sift flour and combine all dry ingredients. In a separate mixing bowl, lightly whisk eggs. Blend the rest of the wet ingredients into the eggs. Use a mixer on medium/low and gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry (1/3 at a time).

Place muffin papers in muffin tins. Fill 2/3 full with mix. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes. Let cool. Top with your favorite topping, butter or icing just before serving.

Folks, this makes a bunch of muffins! The batter will keep in the refrigerator for a good two weeks, and the muffins freeze well.


The Winter Solstice is Wednesday, Dec. 21. Enjoy and stay warm.

Until next time, remember to watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water, and breathe in and out!

Thanks for reading!

For more information, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’ll answer your questions and I enjoy the emails!

Be sure to find me on Facebook at Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm.


As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.