Wildcrafting In The North

We live in the Northern Rockies of British Columbia, Canada. Short growing season, super long days in summer and short days in winter, but we love it here! The days we get in the winter are short but very sunny. The more southern warm regions of BC are usually rainy and rarely sunny in the winter.

We live in a very small town in the wilderness, the "bush" as it's called. There is little up here but wilderness and this gives us a great deal of access to the wild things.

Bearberry leaves drying under a tarp outside 
I am constantly amazed at the number of medicinal herbs and berries that grow up here! I spend much of my summer time gardening and collecting plants from the surrounding wilderness. I gather as many herbs as I can and hang them to dry out of the sun and rain. Sometimes in the house, sometimes in the shed and some on the porch. I make herbal salves in the winter. 

I recently lost a large amount of yarrow to a bunny rabbit who lives nearby. We occasionally leave things out for him, but this time I didn't leave the yarrow out on purpose. I just didn't think about it and left it outside on a rack to dry under a cover, out of the rain, just until I could get it properly hung to dry. The next morning it was all gone, every last piece! He ate all the fireweed (willow herb) flowers too, not the leaves, just the flowers. I guess he likes fireweed flowers and yarrow. He likes spinach too...

Yarrow drying in the shed
I have learned a lesson here and put all my herb bunches up out of the rabbit's reach, if I don't hang them right away. I don't bother with the feverfew, as I know he won't eat it. Nothing eats feverfew! lol! It's fabulous for headaches, even migraines, but it's the most awful tasting stuff growing. I have gotten used to the taste and am thankful for it, if I have a migraine. If you have migraines, you know what you will go through to get relief! Feverfew doesn't grow wild up here. I plant it on purpose. 

I love yarrow! It's one of my favourite herbs and is good for just about anything. It's particularly good at healing and preventing infection in wounds. It also makes a good herbal tea base. We use a lot of it. 

I guess I will have to collect more fireweed flowers too. They make excellent tea and jam! Fireweed is also called "willow herb" and has some good properties. We may sell the dried fireweed leaves, and the flowers, if I have enough to sell, after the rabbit's visit.

Another herb that grows up here in plenty is usnea, sometimes called "old man's beard". It's not really an herb. It's a lichen that grows on the trees. It is, like yarrow, a marvelous antimicrobial dressing for wounds. It goes into the healing salve, along with the yarrow and several other healing herbs. 

We hope to have our herb and seed store up and running this winter. When we lived in Ontario, we had a successful online seed store and we hope to start it again, selling the seeds along with the dried leaves and salves.