Thursday, May 31, 2012

eating common lambsquarters - chenopodium album

I've been on a salad kick lately.  In the winter months it's all hearty soups and bread, but when the weather warms, you know how it is, you crave food that is fresh and light.  I had noticed some plants in the yard that I was pretty certain were lambsquarters (or lamb's quarters or goosefoot...some people call this pig weed too, a name assigned to several weeds...let's just call them chenopodium), and knew them to be edible.

I compared them to my field guides and checked them on Wildman Steve Brill's website, and it seemed I did indeed have myself some chenopodium.  You can see by the shape of the leaves why it's also called goosefoot. 

The youngest leaves have a waxy powder on them that is easily wiped off, and the plant has no discernible scent when crushed.  Epazote, a look-alike, smells resinous.

Chances are, you've seen these because they seem to grow everywhere...even in my potted plants.  (by the way, those are the onions I re-grew a few months ago)

As for taste, they're really good!  They're mild and green and perfect in salads.  You can use them like spinach either fresh or cooked.  I like them well enough that I added a row of them to my garden.  Adding weeds to my garden?  Of course!  Any nutritious and free wild edible as tasty as this can hang out in my garden.  Even though there isn't exactly a shortage of it in my yard...

When I pick, I take a few younger leaves from this plant then that plant...never pick all the leaves from only one plant if you want to keep them growing in your yard.

We were in the mood for a sweeter salad last night so we tossed our chenopodium with some lettuce from our greenhouse, a handful of wood sorrel, wild rose petals, one whole apple, a handful of nuts, and dried cherries.  Delish.

Have any of you tried chenopodium?  If you haven't, do you think you will?  It's amazing to me just how many "weeds" out there are so useful once one starts to identify them.

p.s. We gather only wild plants that we can positively identify and only from areas that we trust to be free of pesticides, run-off, and other ickiness.   The occasional bug or clod of dirt is okay with us, but chemicals are not. blech. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

sun and rain

Mother nature delivered a mix of weather this weekend.  Torrential rains then gorgeous blue sky, hail then gorgeous blue sky, rain, sky, rain, sky...

Lying in bed, I listened to the rain pound the earth, trying not to obsess about the 80 little tomato plants I had just planted in the garden that were being pummeled.

Or the seeds that have likely washed out.  Who knows where I'll find my plants growing now.

Or about my basement that is sure to flood, even though 3 sump pumps are going, and all the work that entails. (I really thought we'd make it this year without that ordeal)

But there's no sense in raging against nature.  You can't change it, you can only react to it.  Cope, deal, re-plant.

When she decides to play nice and bring out the sun it's amazing to see what that rain brought with it.

Happy ducks in newly-formed ponds, frogs chirping in every corner of the yard, and mushrooms!

It's about perspective, like anything.  My house is still standing, most of my garden is still there.  I still have my things, even if they're a bit soggy.  It could be a lot worse.

I used to have a friend who would say these kinds of problems are just "lumps in my oatmeal", and that's true.

Life is what you make of it and you can choose to make it good.  Even if it's hard, sometimes, to find the blue sky.  Even when it feels like the rain just keeps pounding.

Surely there's blue sky there if you look for it.  It might be hidden in moments, snippets, of happiness.

My blue skies were these moments... happy boys with frogs in their hands, lunch gathered by those same grubby-handed kids, glistening mushrooms, the heady aroma of lilacs in the air, delicate fluttering wings...

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

(I needed a little pep talk this morning, hope you don't mind a little bit of sappiness)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

poultry playpen

Though the weekend has been rainy, earlier this week mother nature gave us some lovely warm days, perfect for letting the new chicks have time out in the chicken tractor.

The chickens are already starting to hit that "awkward" stage, aren't they?

A chicken tractor, for those that aren't familiar, is just a pen that is moveable.  Kind of like a poultry playpen.  Ours is nothing fancy, just a frame of pvc pipes surrounded by netting and wire.  I pull it around the yard a few times a day, giving the chicks new patches of ground to explore, dig in, and sample bugs from.  It keeps them from wandering off and safe from predators.

Naturally, princess poplar was soon to be found inside tending her flock.  Sorry birds, the tractor isn't going to protect you from the huggin'.

The turkeys are pretty good sports about it, the chickens are too slow to avoid being held, but the guineas don't care for it at all and make a racket that belies their tiny size.  They take off like rockets across the pen when they see her coming.

Though I'm eager to see the sunshine return, the rainy weekend has given me a little time to felt. (what with me not being able to work in the garden or haul a chicken tractor around and all...)  I'll have a few new pieces to show soon.

Happy Sunday, all.

Friday, May 25, 2012

a naturally dyed piece and his tiny friend too

I mentioned the other day that I had been working on a new needle-felted scene, and here it is completed along with another tiny piece.

Using only naturally dyed fibers in this piece was a fun challenge for me.  You'll see red onion, acorns, cedar, creeping charlie, strawberry leaf, bedstraw, pomegranate skins, all blended in here along with some natural grey wool.  The colors are subtle and well, natural.  You can bet you'll see more of this from me in the future.

And of course there are sporophytes.

I dried a piece of oak for the base on this piece and I love the scruffy texture of the bark.

The other piece I completed is much smaller.  So much so that it makes me giggle to look at it.

It's only 4" tall and about 2" across.

This one has two little white mushrooms, a tiny stone, and yup, sporophytes.  I dried a piece of poplar for the base of this one.

I love being amongst the moss and mushrooms.

These two pieces have already found their way to my shop.  I'd love it if you'd stop by and have a look or share with your friends.

Thanks so much, everyone.  Have a fantastic long weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

jelly beans and false morels

On the way to feed the chickens this morning I saw a Chipping Sparrow's nest with little speckled blue eggs, no bigger than jelly beans.

I saw momma sparrow too, but only for a second.  I dare not linger too long, lest her eggs get too cool.

I saw that the Pineapple Weed is starting to grow.  Soon the wee ones and I will be picking.  I'd like to dry much more this year for tea since last year's "lemonade" was so tasty.

I saw a couple of False Morels but never the tasty true morels here.  Though I've read it can be done if properly prepared, the false morel is not one I'll try to eat.  Rocket fuel, anyone?

I also saw a big Cecropia moth but he fluttered off before I could fetch my camera.

After a sleepless night, I'm fluttering a little today too.  Another cup of coffee and let the day begin.

Happy halfway day, all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

a little work

As predicted I hit a point where the need to make something was too strong to ignore.  I sat down the other night and started needling a little scene out of my naturally dyed wool.  I'm in the process of drying a piece of wood for the base and hope to have the whole thing completed soon.

It felt good. (no pun intended)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

a wet pant legs kind of woods-wander

I love a rainy Sunday morning.  Especially when I can sneak off to the woods for a little quiet time.

Nibble on some columbine.

Smile each time I find more bedstraw. (you'll see why in a few days)

Marvel at the carpet of trilliums beneath the trees, knowing they'll soon be gone for the season.

Squeal at the tiniest red mushroom in the moss.

Wonder at the bellwort with their twisted beauty.

Stretch with the worms.

Get lost in a forest of sporophytes.

Finally see some of those plants in flower that I've been wondering about.


Wild Geranium

Bring home a little appetizer for dinner time.

Anticipate tea in my future (wild sarsaparilla),

and grains (culry dock seeds).

Think about the abundance of "weeds" we're so lucky to have here.(absinth wormwood, I think)

And think about how useful this haphazard yard of ours is.(mullein)

Catch the aroma of chokecherry blossoms.

Spot the beginnings of plums on the little trees we brought in from the woods.

And revisit the photos of my walk over a hot cuppa and a rhubarb shortbread bar.  (recipe here) (mine are orange because my girls' egg color overpowered the rhubarb) (lastly, oh so tasty)

Have a wonderful end to the weekend, all.


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