Herbicidal Hens

An Herbicidal Hen is a Healthy & Wise Ol’ Hen

Dedicated to Granny Women & Mountain Lore


There is something magnificent in many of the older women with their stern theology — part mysticism, part fatalism — and their deep understanding of life. …”Granny” — and one may be a grandmother young in the mountains — if she has survived the labor and tribulation of her younger days, has gained a freedom and a place of irresponsible authority in the home hardly rivaled by the men of the family. …Though superstitious she has a fund of common sense, and she is a shrewd judge of character. In sickness she is the first to be consulted, for she is generally something of an herb doctor, and her advice is sought by the young people of half the countryside in all things from a love affair to putting a new web in the loom. — John C. Campbell in The Southern Highlander and His Homeland

ozark-witchThey were Folk-healers, Midwives, some would even go so far as to call them “Granny” witches, although, given many of the superstitions and such that those ol’ gals had, I doubt they would have shined to brightly on that term.

I call them Mountain Mommas because a Mother signifies a woman of any age, who takes care of others. And that’s what these women did. They took care of entire communities. And while they were clothed in their superstitions, they had a deep and vast knowledge of what Nature offered. A knowledge they passed down from one generation to the next.  But lets talk about those laughable superstitions…How close were they to the truth of medicine?

History cries endless and unknowable numbers of accounts concerning the horrific murders of these types of women, who were punished for things like witchcraft. When in truth, they simply had a knowledge to use the things in Nature many overlooked in order to heal. In certain communities, like those of the Appalachian Mountains and Ozarks, how many would have died if it were not for these Mountain Mommas, Folk Healers, Granny Women and their knowledge of plants, roots and such? Doctors were not fallin’ from the sky in abundant buckets. They were few and far between. And with so many women burned, drowned or tortured for their “knowin’ of things” could it be there was somethin’ more to these superstitions than just silliness? Did they protect that knowledge by camafluagin’ it with absurd things such as carryin’ a leaf in one’s pocket to avoid pain or to bring about wealth?Just a thought.

I have dedicated Herbicidal Hens to the ways of these women. To their skill and knowledge and precense which now, sadly, seems lost. Lost to progress and present day.

Every time I mention an herb, I will include whatever Mountain Lore I can find. This is dedicated to all my Mountain Momma Ancestors and to all my sisters who may be reading this now….whoever and wherever you are. May we all find that much long-for balance in a place in time that constantly leaves us danglin’ between past and present, progress and the way things were….

Neither here nor there.