So many thanks…

The first big holiday has come and gone and we could not feel more blessed. Spending time with those we love and who love us in return, all while sharing gifts from a lot of work has been the greatest gift of the year. Throughout the summer and fall, we have been collecting, harvesting and infusing so many goods from the farm. It has been 6+ months of work and joy to make holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas more than just cheap toys or gifts to wrap.

We recently harvested our sweet potatoes.

We have used some, saved most but excitingly made a family tradition, Sweet Potato Crunch, for our family at Thanksgiving.

We added some of our eggs and some homemade butter from The Farm and Fiddle. This was a great gift for ourselves and to share with family but, that was not all. We also brought our Asian Persimmons, boiled peanuts and gift baskets full of goodies. We had some homemade ricotta cheese, yogurt and fennel from The Farm and Fiddle.

One of our favorite discoveries from the veggie garden was how much we enjoyed growing peanuts. Not only are they so yummy but they are also great for the soil (any legume will bring nitrogen to the soil). And with us being from Mississippi & Louisiana, with boiled peanut stands on the sides of most roads, we had to make some.

Add some kosher salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper flakes, Cajun seasonings, 10 cups of water and 2 lbs of raw peanuts its to a crock pot and after 24 hours on low, perfection! They also made great snack bags for those we love.

If the peanuts weren’t the best thing ever, the Sweet Goldenrod & Plantain Jewelweed salves, blackberry/blueberry spiced jams and 3 pepper flakes all wrapped in a basket made us all feel comfy and joyful to use and share.

While putting all this together, we never had that tense feeling of what to get everyone. We were proud to be able to give a portion of our work to those we care most for.

One of our favorite parts of the holidays is sharing time with those we love. We have realized how important that is and we hope to make stronger efforts to continue visits, within farming limitations. Our past 3 years of starting this journey has been full of starting over, risk taking, faith in ourselves, a strong family unit, humility, learning and contentment. When we handed over our work as a gift, we saw that it all has come to this point of true joy. So today, we are thankful, we are content and we hope for joy to touch you all. Thanks for following us on this journey, this far. We have more growing and learning to do so stay with us, we hope to have a fun ride! Happy Holidays to all of you!

Jewelweed Salve

I was driving down our Fly Hollow road and noticed these beautiful orange flowers peeking up from the ditch and creek on either side of the road. As I slowed down, I realized it was Jewelweed. I have been looking all over our property for this wonderful flower, with no luck. So, when I saw it, needless to say, I was ecstatic. (I knew it was ok to harvest by the roadside because I know they do not use any chemicals in this particular spot, always be sure where you forage is chemical free.)


So what is this orange flower? Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is an herb native to North America that has been used for many, many years as a natural remedy for poison ivy and poison oak.

Jewelweed loves moist soil and can usually be found in wooded areas near water, like creeks and ditches.

So, I gathered my scissors, bag and went out to gather some jewelweed to make a salve. And here is how I did it. There are links at the end from where I found the recipe.

First, you gather enough of the leaves, stems and flowers of the plant, to have at least 3 cups chopped. I read the best time to harvest is when it blooms, late summer to early fall is it’s bloom time here in Tennessee, so we were all set here.

Once bugs are off, roughly chop the plant and measure to see how much you have. The recipe I used said for every 3 cups of jewelweed add 1 cup of carrier oil (I used olive oil). Then add it to a double broiler. I do not have a double boiler so I used two pots and placed the smaller one in the larger one, with the larger one having water in it. Gives the same effect. It was suggested to use a double boiler to prevent the plant from having direct heat on the bottom of the pan.

Once you have your pot ready and your oil and plants in there, put the stove on low heat for an hour, with the lid off, stirring occasionally.

When the hour is up and the leaves and flowers start to lose a little of their color, turn the heat off and place a lid on top of the pot, removing pot from heat. Let cool. When pot is cool, gather your beeswax, essential oils (lavender, tea tree, orange) and cheesecloth.

Strain the oil from the leaves using a cheesecloth. Compost/discard plant. Measure your oil and use a 4:1 ration (8oz oz oil to 2 oz of beeswax) *some recipes call for 1 cup of beeswax to 2 cups oil, I will try this next time* and add the oil and beeswax to a pot, you can add the essential oils at this point. I had recently made plantain oil so I added some of that to the mixture for added benefits.

Mix oils and wax together in pot over low to medium heat, until wax is melted and all is mixed well. Pour in desired containers and let cool. There you have it! A natural itchy relief salve. Check out the links below. They have a lot of additional information on Jewelweed. I look forward to perfecting this recipe and hearing from you too. Enjoy!


Reclaiming your roots – jewelweed salve

Druid Garden – Jewelweed salve

Shafer Springs Farm Jewelweed salve recipe

Foraging reflections

Another school year has started and another season of changes on the farm. Since the summer garden is coming to an end and we wait, again, on the new seedlings for the next veggie season, there has been more time to take notice of what is growing in our ‘grasses of mystery’ as I like to think of them. I am starting to love the possibilities as I start out learning what is popping up at my feet, with only the help of natures gardeners (birds, squirrels and so on).

The best parts of a food forest/permaculture farm is seeing the results of patiently watching the “weeds” grow. It is probably no secret that we love our winged sumac here on the farm. With the American Indian Lemonade recipes we have posted, it is obviously a favorite. But as we explore the grounds in our 4th summer/fall season here, the abundance of the winged sumac is just glorious. They are everywhere and they are all at different stages of growth. Although they are considered an aggravating invasive plant, to some, I mean one Sumac bunch seems to have 1000 seeds, I can’t help but appreciate what all they can provide, once you take the time to research them and use them.

So, here is what we have come to appreciate about this plant. First, as the spring flowers fade into summer and the veggies start producing and stop flowering as much, the sumac flourishes with flowers. And the bees are very thankful! The ‘dearth’ period, when bees have small amounts to forage, was not so harsh for our buzzing friends. Next, you get to see the white flowers fade away and a crimson berry form. The tall branches with their winged leaves stretch out to provide shade for our chickens and a welcomed napping spot for our dog. Now the fun begins, harvesting their sticky berries. We have been harvesting the sumac berries going on a month or so now and the prime time is still coming. We have been making so much Sumac Lemonade and it is being perfected with each harvest. We have learned that the darker the berries and the juicier they look, the tangier the flavor. So yum! We have now perfected our identification of the exact moment to pick them to achieve the best flavor. That is when there has been a hot, dry spell and the berries are deep red with a white glaze over them. The rain washes away the wonderful lemon flavor and the beneficial vitamin C so harvest before a big rain.

So yesterday, as the weather appeared to be starting to storm, I rushed outside to collect the best looking berries. As I walked around, I noticed the different stages the Winged Sumacs were in. Some were at their very end, with dried black berries, some were just turning a red color, some haven’t even started producing berries. I stopped and realized how thankful I was to have this “invasive” surrounding our farm. What a rewarding gift. Then I found other recipes and uses of this plant. I made Sumac Lemon Pepper and ground Sumac for seasonings. I found that the young shoots of a sumac are edible, still need more research on this. Then there is the spice blend to make Za’atar, an eastern Mediterranean spice blend which uses ground Sumac. I am in heaven! And to think none of this would have been discovered if we didn’t patiently let the farm grow wild.

And this is just one moment in the year of seasonal surprises. We have so many favorites on the farm, our wild blackberries, the purple violets in the spring, native persimmons that are coming soon, the wild hazelnuts, our newly discovered Elderberry and more! Each year we learn more, discover more and we all grow taller for it. Patience, persistence and perseverance have been our strategy and there is more to come! We encourage you all to go out there and explore, just make sure you wear bug spray, sunscreen and bring along field guides for safe identification.

Cheers to happy foraging!



Here at Forest Gully, we have fallen in love with them all. The unique plants of each season and the importance of the process throughout the year make it hard for us to answer that simple question. However, we know many people do have favorite seasons. So, here are just a few things to expect on the farm during each season.

WINTER (December – February): Snuggles by the fire, sounds of nature, hikes…


SPRING (March – May): Flower forager’s delight, goumi berries, butterflies, hikes…






SUMMER (June – August): Blackberries, blueberries, flowers, veggies, creek fun…





FALL (September – November): Oh the colors, hazelnuts, persimmons, muscadines, hikes…

When imaginations are set free

Our recent guest left us a very creative story in our guest book. We had to share.

“We needed to go to the bathroom so my siblings and I walked to the bathroom in the dark. SNARLING coyotes were just stumbling just meters away. Luckily with my quick wittyness, I tripped my dear sister for I could get a chance to get into the bathroom. Sadly my dear ol’ sister was eaten by the hideous torn apart with her shrieks cutting through the silence of the night.” – Michelle (12), Nick (14) & Micaela (8)
Very creative! lol

The Gingerich Family from Indiana

Celebrating the summer, we recently had the pleasure of hosting the Gingerich family. Driving from Indiana, they each got out of there car and instantly their two excited young ladies ran to the playhouse and of course the bathhouse. 😉 With 3 ladies who were not interested in camping but all about our underground “glamping” accommodations. To quote Mr. Gingerich, “my wife and daughters who don’t like to camp or I should say (glamp)Lol that they actually enjoyed it and wanted to stay” 

When they first arrived, one of the girls mentioned not liking chickens much but, I see in some of their pictures they managed to at least open the coop door. They also seemed to enjoy the hikes and our quaint waterfall. 

It is always nice to see the huts being lived in. We are so glad this wonderful family shared their experience with us. Picking  blueberries, waiting for breakfast, s’mores by the campfire and even finding some fun Halloween decorations. We are honored to host families like the Gingerich. Thank you for the pictures and the words in our guest book. 

Video fun!

Seeing how it is summer and we have been so busy, we decided to have some fun with the boys. So I wanted to share their acting debut and some visuals of our Gully Huts. Just some summer fun. Have a great day everyone!​

The Great American Farm tour

The Great American Farm tour decided to drop by our farm and look around. We are just one of many great farm adventures this family is experiencing, follow them to see their journey.

While they were here they made this cool video of the farm, check it out!

Summer is here!

Believe it or not, it has been a year since we started this blog. A year since we officially went underground! A year of so many changes, new friends, new places! It has been a year blessed!

We have had such wonderful experiences with the people who have stayed on our farm and who have fallen in love with the farm, the woods, the huts, the stars!

Photo by: Philip Murphy

We have photographers (thanks Philip Murphy for this stary night). We have families, birthday celebrations and just weekends needed away.

It has been such an honor to host all these wonderful people and we have so many more on the way. So many people have taken on the farm as their own. People care for and feed the chickens, people try the new fruits and berries, even if they are not their favorite.

There is a feeling of a reboot from people that has made us all overjoyed. I like to think those who come stay with us might come to Forest Gully Farms for the “hobbit” huts but leave falling in love with nature. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you! This has been a year of growth, work and blessings! Come fall in love with the outdoors all over again and again! We can’t wait to see you all.

Going Underground – A “Hobbiton” adventure from our guest

Our time at Forest Gully Farms felt nothing short of a gift. We live in an area ever-growing and over-growing, and the options for land and space seem to get further away every day. So yes, it felt like a gift to be handed 15 acres for a day and night and the welcome invitation to explore and enjoy. Not to mention it is 15 acres of land where creativity and beauty and bounty exude at every turn, and we didn’t even get to explore the whole thing!
Our stay could not have come at a more perfect time as my oldest daughter and I had begun reading The Hobbit together the month before. I read it in the 4th grade and have been a devoted fan since.IMG_5954 My husband actually visited Hobbiton in New Zealand just last month and as he was showing me photos I noticed a particularly beautiful spot on the hillside and said to him, “I would have just sat there all day long” to which he said, “They don’t let you. They have too many tours coming in.” I thought about how disappointing it would have been to be in such a magical place and not get to drink in my surroundings but to be herded through without time to savor. And right there is the reason Forest Gully is so incredibly special for any Hobbit/LOTR fan.You get to savor, to imagine, to take time and make it the experience you want without rush without interruption, without distraction.
That being said you certainly don’t need to be a Tolkien family to enjoy the farm. We went with our 3 girls, only one of which had Hobbit knowledge so far, and they all had the most amazing time. We even had off-and-on rain showers all afternoon and evening the first day and it was still totally enjoyable. We brought games, made a nice dinner, played in the rain, and even got a decent fire going (thanks to the large umbrella provided). Between imagining at the huts, playing in the playhouse, visiting the chickens and collecting eggs (a definite favorite), to spotting a Tiger Swallowtail, a Zebra Swallowtail, a Rosy Maple Moth,  a salamander, and a turtle, they were in Heaven. We all were. 4 days post-visit and today my middlest brought me a picture she drew of the hobbit holes. We are officially Forest Gully fans.
To quote Henry David Thoreau, “A taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors.Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature.” So incredibly thankful for our unforgettable “one day”.