Election Ink or Berries?

July 21, 2013

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This is my thumb after picking and eating three different berries:  Black raspberry or Rubus occidentalis, Gooseberry or Ribes hirtellum, and Mulberry or Morus (unsure which species).  We managed to get ahead of our mouths enough to bring Mulberries home where they found their way into corn mufffins, pictured below.

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Milkweed, Doe, Fawn

June 13, 2013

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Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca.  This is the unidentified plant from my last post.  It looks quite different denuded of its leaves.

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This doe was nursing her fawn close enough to the road that I could snap a distant photo.  The fawn is just ahead of her.  When I stepped out of my truck, the doe ran, but the fawn dropped and froze.  So I walked carefully and took this photo a couple of paces away.  One more step and the fawn knew she was no longer invisible and jumped up and ran like a deer.

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I’m Still Foraging

May 31, 2013

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I’ve known plenty of doctors and lawyers who want to be farmers.  I’m the only farmer I know who wants to be a hunter-gatherer.

I’m still foraging, but haven’t written about it lately because I haven’t added any new plants to my diet.  It’s intimidating and takes time to learn and harvest and try a new plant.  Sam Thayer says learning four of five new ones a year is a manageable goal.

The plants above took only fifteen minutes to harvest and prepare.  The greens on the left will be eaten in a salad.  The stems on the right will be diced and cooked with hamburger.

For the thrill of guessing, no prizes this time, what are the plants pictured above and the main one pictured below?  These wild edibles usually grow so profusely, they make our gardens look like a wasteland.

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Apples in Rented Pasture

August 16, 2012

I was fortunate to rent a pasture this year, close to my farm.  I had a vet preg-check my sixteen fall-calving cows this spring, then vaccinated and fly tagged the twelve which were bred, and put them in the pasture May 1st.

They have done really well, even in the drought, because  I under-stocked the pasture.  I wanted some experience grazing the pasture before I put too many animals in and then had to feed hay or destock.

Now they’re enjoying the wild apples which grow in the woods and in the open.  The cows have a route they walk everyday, checking for down fruit.

The tree above is strange.  Half of it has no apples, the other half is loaded with apples.

I usually eat a few every time I check the cows.  Each tree’s apples taste different, but they’re all good in their own way.


Seeing is a Muscle, Newly Moulted Dragonfly

July 10, 2011

Shepherd and I found this newly moulted Dragonfly while picking BlackCap Raspberries.

It was nearly invisible and we probably wouldn’t have seen it, if it wasn’t sitting on a ripe raspberry.

You never know what you’ll find if you go outside, but if you don’t go, you won’t find it.


Alternate Pollinators

July 5, 2011

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)  flower.

If you click on the picture above, and blow it up, check out the winged pollinator flying in for a meal in the upper right corner.  The picture below shows a closeup of the flies.

This got me to thinking about alternate pollinators.  I shouldn’t even call them “alternate”, but that shows my thinking before I researched.  There are an estimated 200,000 wild pollinators, mostly insects, not one of them considers itself an alternate.

Everyone gives a lot of credit to honey bees, and the media was in an uproar over “Colony Collapse Disorder,” CCD, but I found out bees are not native to North America.  There are no native plants which require bees for pollination.

Bees are valuable for agriculture.  Some crops are highly dependent upon bees for pollination.  Some beekeepers are paid more to place their hives in Almond orchards than they receive for the honey produced.

A beekeeper friend of mine thought CCD was overblown.  He said, “Get the government to stop allowing the Chinese to import corn syrup mixed with honey, and the price of pure honey will go up, and beekeepers will find a way to combat CCD.  I for one don’t truck my hives all over the country chasing big dollars.  You know the bees mix with other hives and they come back home with every disease known to bees.”

The media turned a human economic problem into an environmental disaster.  The only real problem is to large-scale agriculture.  Plants will be pollinated, fruit will grow, some bees will survive.  To quote Jurassic Park, “Life will find a way.”


Milkweed and Monarch Caterpillar

August 1, 2010

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) pod.

Milkweed is an incredible plant.  According to Sam Thayer, there are six vegetables available from Milkweed, (shoots, leafy tops, flower buds, flowers, immature pods, and white).  I’ve only eaten shoots, flower buds, flowers, and pods.  It’s fun to mark the summer season as one part of the plant goes out, and another comes in.

It’s also fun to look for monarch caterpillars (Danaus plexippus).  Look at the little guy in the picture below.

What an amazing life he is going to have.  All he does now is eat and poop.  Pretty soon he’ll form a chrysalis and take a nap for a fortnight.  Then he’ll crawl out and wait for the new things on his back to dry.  Then… fly!