Friday, April 03, 2020

Foraging for Fresh Forest Food

say that 4 times very fast!

I thought I'd hike back and check on the leeks...or wild ramps. They were too small to dig near the creek, so I headed towards the back of the property that was nearer to the ridge top.

Still not prime size, but I was hungry for forest food. Fresh forest food and if it took all day, I'd find some. I found enough leeks to flavor a dish and decided to come back in a few days when they were larger. I'd pick enough and leave enough so I wouldn't clean out the patch. I could dehydrate them to use next winter.

Charlie and I spent a long time looking for Wild Parsnip. Well, Charlie sniffed around and did dog stuff. I took the leeks home and cleaned them.

I was able to find one parsnip that was on the bank of the creek.

So I grabbed a long shovel and started a hike along the roadside on the ridge. I was pretty disappointed not to find any along the north south ditches. I crossed the neighbor's contoured crop land and hiked along the road side that had south exposure.


I found just enough for a good taste.

These roots are as ugly as ugly can be.

I used an old toothbrush to scrub them and cut out any spots. A peeler helps clean them up too.

And I tossed it all in a bowl with my frozen carrots and added a few morel mushrooms.

We'll see what this mixture ends up like tasting.
If nothing else it sure is colorful!

I also made Nettle Tea with the first leaves of nettles in the garden that I still need to clean up.

The warm tea tasted pretty good after wandering about foraging for forest food!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Things are quiet at our place.
The weather was nice yesterday and it will be today too.

Not much going on other than practicing Safe at Home, Stay at Home,...Isolation.

I have gone hiking with Charlie almost each day except during the thunderstorms.

For fun, I took the Infrared camera with me.  I tried a different filter that gave me a different light spectrum range for fun.

Hike around home:

The reddish color is from the greens reflecting light with the 550nm filter.

I've finally gotten a handle on the process since ON1 software added a mode in its Develop section that allows you to pick how the image looks on the LCD of your camera. This means the program will select the white balance I set instead of picking a white balance that the program would like to select.

This makes a huge difference in Infrared Photography and is a great work around.

Kudos for ON1 for doing that and adding a selection for color channel swap.

Yesterday since it was still too wet to do any yard/garden work, I took Charlie for a walk down in Tainter Hollow.

Here is Charlie on the trail which disappears about 1/4 of a mile down stream. I had to wade through downed golden rod and other weeds to continue our hike and on deer trails.

Charlie had a rough go of it with his short legs. He is quite the trooper. I did carry him through the worst of it though.

We enjoyed walking and watching trout.

Aside from getting my mules feet trimmed this week and then I can go another 6 to 8 weeks without having anyone come to the farm.
This is a good thing. The mules need trimming and I need them for foraging for leeks, parsnip, and later on...morels.
Stay safe.
Be well.

Stay at Home.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

It rained today...all day!

...and I cleaned the house already and got supper stuff ready...
Laundry is put away...

So... Time to get out the toys and play. Here is "Creepy Baby" with his Funky Frogs imitating the Pinky and the Brain Show:

Whaddya wanna do tonight Creepy?
What we do every night! Take over the World!

[Some won't recall this show, but my kids loved it and so did I.]

....And they said Social Distancing Did NOT matter!!!

Think about it.

And this Dragon is practicing...Safe at Home.

The Unicorns didn't listen once before...but they are now.

These were shots from yesterday before I headed down the valley to look for skunk cabbage and marsh marigolds with Charlie.

 How it sometimes feels....

And lastly? I'll get around to working on my next set of Infrared Shots. I used a different filter this time and am finally getting the 'hang' of it.

Here is a teaser:

Good night all...

Friday, March 27, 2020

Stay At Home is not new to me

When we were kids, mom packed us up in the car a few days after school let out and we made a long drive 'Up North' to spend the summer in a small cottage on the same property as my Grandparents, Fred and Pearl.

From our cottage you could not see any other house other than Grandma and Grandpa's place. My Uncle and wife...and kids for a time lived on Grandpa's old place. We could walk there to play with cousins.

At first, my Grandparents had a party line for their phone. It was a few years later that you could actually dial direct. I recall sitting in the their kitchen and Grandpa getting on the party line to catch up on the gossip going around.

It was the Facebook of the early 60's!

Grandma cooked on a woodstove. We had an electric stove in our cottage.
Grandpa had a tiny TV that was black and white...I think. At first I thought summer programming only consisted of baseball games.

I can recall my sister and I playing crazy eights and keeping a score for the whole summer. We used the back of old envelopes as to never waste a piece of paper.

A game we played
I'm the one leaping over the stick.

We created games to play and rarely told anyone 'there is nothing to do!' No TV, no real radio, no electronics. Just a lot of imagination and self entertaining.

So now we are are in what some people are calling a 'lockdown'. Well, it is a stay at home order. Or as our Governor says #SaferatHome. He softened the words.

We can go to local state and county parks, walk our dogs or other pets. Playgrounds are closed.
It hasn't affected me that much. Last week I was stressed out as I'd gotten into a routine going to CrossFit each day.

This week? My mind has turned to tasks at hand. Fencing, clearing burdock plants, worming the equine, figuring out how to trim feet on my own. Clearing the garden of weeds, fixing a flat tire on the lawn mower....

And I am doing it. I have buckled down and redone the front pasture just as I thought it should be done. And it works better than ever before...but just don't tell Rich!
I actually sat down and drew it all out on paper first. I spent a whole afternoon working on it. When done, I kept the drawings and stuck them in my journal. My drawings suck, but they are reminders of how I am learning to help myself get through a problem by working it out visually on paper instead.

We had a funny conversation the other morning.

Him: Can you shoot squirrel?
Me: Of course I can.
Him: Times get tough, you'll need to get us squirrel.
Me: Okay but I'm not sure how to clean it.
Him: I'll talk you through it.
...He winks.

I have eaten squirrel. I've even had mystery meat in a burger that Grandma cooked on a 'Smokey Joe' that my mom had brought for grilling while we were there for the summer.

I'm settled into a good routine now and don't miss the outside world that much ... like I did last week.
I have jobs to do.

And much more. The shed is waiting its next organizing effort too.

I did find skunk cabbage today on our walk.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

And so it goes..

Tonight as I sat out by the tiny fire I'd made for burning burdocks, I listened to the coyotes sing and off in the distance just as dark fell...

that male pheasant gave out on last loud call....

And the Hoot Owls began their nightly songs.

I'd gone to the store on Tuesday during the Senior Shopping hour at our local Quillians store.
I was the only human aside from the manager, check out person and a lady with her father.

I scored 3 potatoes and some apples and ONE onion!

A CrossFit friend of mine who is a Soviet Union Immigrant put things in perspective for me.

I still got potatoes. I still got groceries. AND I do NOT have machine gun fire nor do I have tanks rolling down my street.

We live out in the country which is pretty darned isolated. We live on a dead end road.

This morning my husband asked me if I could hunt squirrel. He then proceeded to give me a bit of a lesson of how you have to let them sit still in a tree and nail them in the head.
I recall my mother telling me the same stories. About how her dad gave her 3 bullets for the .22 and told her to come home with 3 squirrels. I think she never failed at her task.

I'm not saying that we'll have to hunt squirrels to survive. But I am saying that my hunting backround could help in a pinch.
And then I think about how lucky I am to live in such a place.

I was raised with learning the skills of fishing, hunting, and growing a garden. I was raised to learn how to put together a meal that did not come from a package or box.
[EWWW...I hate cooking!]
I learned how to make bread without a bread making machine thingy.

This week I have to mules hooves. Yes. Shelter in Place doesn't include hoof trims.
My eldest mule will help with spring foraging for parsnip roots and morels.

My other mules will be used for much of the same purposes. Foraging wild food. IF I had a harness and a plow I'd use them for turning over the garden. Alas, I don't.

I want Rich NOT to get sick. And he is perfectly happy being a Hermit. His VA Nurse called today and put off his visit with his PCP until October.

So tonight I set small fires to the burdock I'd pulled for hours.
I didn't think about all the world problems, I thought about Burdock and I thought about making supper.

And I did not think of all the what ifs....

And that is good enough for me right now.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Distance Hike

So my friend Mr. Bill was desperate to get OUT of the house and yard to do something different.

I texted him Friday morning and said I was still going for the 3 mile hill hike at about 1pm if he cared to join me.
He replied that even though it was cold and windy, he'd go.

We kept our distance from each other and I took him on the tour of our hills, valleys, and creeks. We crossed our little creek and he inquired if it ran down to join Readscreek and I found myself explaining our 'watershed' to him. I also told him that the locals, the old locals [as we are old ourselves] called Readscreek ... Blackbottom.

When we got to the old logging road above the Back Valley he stopped and stared and was in awe. I asked him if he wanted to go down and walk along the stream and he said YES!
I informed him that we would be doing some stream hopping and rock jumping. He said fine.

I remarked that all the balance activities we did in CrossFit really applied well to light jumps over rocks to criss cross the creek. Plus the steep hillsides were excellent leg and cardio workouts.

Bill asked me how the heck I didn't get turned around in this vast 'wilderness'. I said at first I did but that was 26 years ago and I'd been exploring this acreage ever since I'd moved to the area. I felt like I knew every rock and tree. I certainly knew just about every trail made by the 4 wheelers and the deer.

When I guided him to the edge of the largest ravine/dry run on the land and had him look down he simply just stood there.

And all he could say over and over is 'Wow!'

He went on about what a great place this was to explore and I reminded him that it still was private property but the owner let me have free run of the place and in a way I felt like it was my own playground/backyard. Especially since I've been exploring this land and mine for all these years.

This was a very safe way to socialize and practice social distancing. We didn't have to drive in separate cars to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, and we could maintain our distance and walk right out back, so to speak.

I had another person ask me if she could come over and go with me. I'm not sure about that. She has 5 children.
I'm certainly going to think long and hard about it.

I want to be polite but also safe. Open air hiking is encouraged but I think now they are recommending no one outside of your household.

That would just mean...Charlie and I.
Oh and Sven.

Things feel surreal.

Friday, March 20, 2020

New and different

So for my Master Naturalist Class, we had to have a daily...or weekly journal of things observed including birds, insects, wild life, get the idea.

I purchased a nice book with pages of 100lb paper stock weight so I could past photos of observations.
That came to a screeching halt last Sunday as the classes are cancelled.

I glued in the last photos I'd taken and decided to continue anyway and make it a personal journal as I used to keep one from Junior year in high school until I started a blog.

I find that getting OFF the internet is satisfying in so many ways. I won't be pasting any photos in the book for a long time now. I may resort to drawing again!

I think this will be my personal thoughts and observations for the duration of this Pandemic. Just notes, temps, observations, and random thoughts...that is good enough for me...
and it keeps me away from reading all that horrid news.

I've also decided to see what I had on hand and be a bit creative when I have to be quiet while hubby is napping and it is pouring cats and dogs outside.

Eventually spring will appear -- this morning it is snowing and blowing after an inch of rain yesterday.

The daffy's are trying to poke up in the yard and the tulips are making an appearance.

In the woods the leeks are poking up also.

I found some nettles sprouting and will gather them to add to our vegetables or make some tea.

As soon as I get another good sunny day I will be hunting wild parsnips in the valley. They are hard to clean, a pain to chop up and prepare, but taste wonderful when sauteed.

We are practicing isolation here. Yesterday I took Charlie to the vet and he got his shots updated. The vet was wearing a mask and gloves. Her eyes looked tired and wary.
It was an awkward situation. Normally she and her staff are so cheery and outgoing. Yesterday it was obvious that I was seen as a possible infection. I asked her if she was going to close down and she avoided my eyes and said..."It's and hour by hour situation."

I dropped by the feed store and picked up Senior Feed for the elder mules. The Ag guy and I too kept our distances. I said thanks and hopefully I'd see him again..and stay well.

Our community is however doing great things in town. Neighbors texting neighbors, "I'm going to the store? Can I get you something?"
The bike brigade taking meals to the elderly and leaving the meals at their doors.

McDonalds in town giving meals to children between the hours of 11 and 2pm. Free meals.

I'm proud of our rural community.

This afternoon a neighbor will come over and we will hike the neighboring land together. We will be out and distanced but still able to exchange conversation. Human contact is important.

In the mean time. My bathtub is now sparkling! Dust has been banished from all surfaces.
I'm actually trying to plan meals.

I'm looking forward to foraging.

The old mule will be my pack animal.
Life is different, but doable.

Our CrossFit community has set up a Zoom thing? We can all get on line and see each other at 5pm each day? I'm going to try that.

I'm also grateful that my MIL is now in a home. It is the safest place she can be in right now.

And this extra time will allow me to explore some more digital art.

Hope you are all well.

Stay safe.