More Foraged Favorites

Our dear Tori is a master forager.  She’ll steal unreservedly from the melon and berry patches to the fig and mulberry trees, to even the unripe cucumbers and squashes.

Equally in the forest she is clearly divinely inspired–the perfectly ripe passion fruit she’ll scout, the bones get unearthed as her possessions no matter who has buried them, and she leads me to all the best bramble patches.  The forest and our garden are her perpetual oysters–and while to see my melons walk away makes me want to cry, to her happy prance with edible treasure, well there is only to laugh!

And, apparently she’s not the only astute forager.

I love seeing how many foraging sites and blogs are currently flourishing.  They inspire me to add on and spread the wealth.

Indian Strawberry

indianstrawberries

We have a big patch of these amiable volunteers just adjacent to the asparagus patch, natural companions, perhaps?  In Scandinavia I met gardeners who insisted on planting their strawberries and asparagus and dill in the same space. I  While these taste pretty bland compared to our cultivated varieties, they are still quite pretty, which is enough for me to spend the time to gather and prepare them.

I toss them in a salad with mulberries coming ripe at the same time. Or use them as a garnish with a spring weed pesto, along with the leaves, in moderation.  Here’s a variation using chickweed, but it’s fun to get creative with whatever is in abundance.

https://nittygrittylife.com/eat-weeds-wild-weed-pesto/

 

Honeysuckle

honeysuckle1

While it is an invasive species for us in the southern U.S., at least it’s a useful one!  While I’ve only made tea with it, some are patient enough to make jam.  Maybe this will be the year I give that a try.

It’s also prized in traditional Chinese medicine.
(From: Dr. Mercola https://articles.mercola.com/herbs-spices/honeysuckle.aspx)

In TCM, the honeysuckle flower is commonly used to help ease the flu, colds and sore throat. According to Science Alert,11 this plant has the ability to prevent the influenza virus from replicating. An animal study published in the journal Cell Research supports this, as it found that honeysuckle, when combined with a plant microRNA called MIR2911, was able to suppress swine flu and bird flu viruses effectively.12
Xiao Er Ke Chuan Ling Oral Liquid (KCL), an herbal preparation that uses honeysuckle and nine other plants, was found to help treat acute bronchitis in children. A study in the Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine said KCL has antiviral, antibacterial and potent pharmacological actions.13
Honeysuckle was also found to have wound-healing properties in rat models, according to the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal.

Sassafras

A quite undermined tree of the South, considering its illustrious origins and conspiratorial fate.  It is a tree widely cultivated in Asia-Pacific as an essential ingredient to the popular drug, or versions of it anyway, generally called “ecstasy”.

At first, like cannabis, it was classified among the most harmful of substances by the FDA, though our ancestors had previously been very acquainted and attached to these and so many other suddenly ‘dangerous’ plants. Then while they were deemed “carcinogenic” by our government, simultaneously expanding was its cultivation in foreign countries.  This was actually before “Poppy Bush” but perhaps setting that very precedent for the former president?!

While I’ve no idea how to make the popular street drug, I can assure you it makes a deliciously fragrant tea, traditional root beer, and gumbo filé powder.

Mullein

mullein

One of the few things growing strong all winter in the South is one of the classic remedies of the typical seasonable winter ails–upper respiratory infections,  cough, sinus, and so on. Go figure, mother nature to the rescue.

Yaupon

yaupon

As a tea it rivals the Lipton or Lausanne you are paying good money for, it really does.  It does contain caffeine and was used among the native populations regularly and as an alternative to coffee in hard times among new settlers.  Drying it for a just a couple of days before roasting makes the process quicker, but roasting isn’t necessary if you like a more mild ‘green tea’ taste.  The beauty is, it’s prolific and harvestable all-year-round for humans, and for the bees they have a reliable early forage in spring.  Just don’t eat the berries!

Spring weed pesto and/or chimichurra sauce

Of course we love our traditional basil-based pesto with pine nuts, such a classic.  But, whatever’s available in our time/space, we use it!  Walnuts or pecans can replace the pricey pine version, or skip the nuts altogether.  I often leave out the parmesan too (my own homemade of course), and either add that last minute, if appropriate, or make more of a  chimichurri-style sauce, so yum!

We both love a combination of wild and cultivated plants and I let them blend altogether in the garden and in the sauce.  Chervil, parsley, cilantro, or maybe arugula generously and gorgeously partnered with wild violet, chickweed, wild rose petal, or whatever is out there! Once prepared it’s a delicious condiment for meats, a base for dressing and marinade, or a sauce, stand-alone or blended, an instant topping for eggs or toast.  It freezes really well too.

https://draxe.com/recipe/chimichurri-recipe/

Let your local, seasonal nature be your greatest guide. 🙂

A few favorite resources:

Idiot’s Guides Foraging by Mark Merriwether Vorderbruggen, PhD
http://www.foragingtexas.com

https://www.growforagecookferment.com/forage

https://sustainabledish.com

Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer

 

 

 

Collective Utopia vs. Private Idaho

I lost my last hive just a few weeks ago, mysteriously.  They dutifully pollinated the pears before their departure, sweet little creatures they are.  Unfortunately, they didn’t leave a note, or much clue.  I hope they swarmed and found a suitable new happy home, but I believe from what little evidence remained, that this was not the case.

The drama of the bees has been droning on now for decades.  But of course, have no fear, technology comes to the rescue!  First create the problem, then try to fix it while creating 3 new problems–that’s the modern, strategic, scientifically-advanced model at work.

Problem with disappearing bees?  Solution, robot bees!

http://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-robot-bees-farming-patent-2018-3

The next big thing according to TV’s famed Dr. Oz, is the RFID chip.  Keep losing your Alzheimer parent? Get ’em the chip!

Steve Hoffman gushes over the new tech which will allow our minds to merge with one another.  He calls it ‘almost like heaven’—a state of all-inclusiveness with others where our individuality is traded and usurped by the collective, to the extreme degree we can actually feel another’s pain as our own.

But, only if we choose it, of course.  Right.  That’s good, because mark my words, I don’t want to be in his mind, and I certainly don’t want him, or anyone, invading mine at will either.

 

Will we get to choose?  I’m pretty doubtful on that point.  Right now, do I get to choose whether my region is cloud-seeded, or not?  Nope. https://weathermodificationhistory.com/

Do I get to choose whether Walmart creates robot bees? Nope.

Do I get to choose whether scientists experiment with technology meant to replace nature, meant to manipulate the environment beyond measure, meant to research consciousness with the intention of controlling it, even replacing it? Nope, nope and nope.

Dr. Andreagiovanni Reina, Research Associate in Collective Robotics in the University of Sheffield’s Department of Computer Science, said: “This study is exciting because it suggests that honey bee colonies adhere to the same laws as the brain when making collective decisions.

“The study also supports the view of bee colonies as being similar to complete organisms or better still, superorganisms, composed of a large number of fully developed and autonomous individuals that interact with each other to bring forth a collective response.

“With this view in mind, parallels between bees in a colony and neurons in a brain can be traced, helping us to understand and identify the general mechanisms underlying psychophysics laws, which may ultimately lead to a better understanding of the human brain. Finding similarities between the behavior of honey bee colonies and brain neurons is useful because the behavior of bees selecting a nest is simpler than studying neurons in a brain that makes decisions.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22616-y

Is it for a love of nature and mankind that science and technology seek to study it so thoroughly and in this particular direction?  Or, is it with the intention of replacing nature and mankind for the benefit of god knows whom?

Do they ever ask themselves if we all have the same vision of a collective utopia?

As they preach for the essential Oneness of humanity, the love and light of unity, the exalted state of community, the Kumbaya collusion of the hive, the higher consciousness of the collective, do they consider as well the famed quote by a character in one of Jean Paul Sartre’s most read plays, “L’enfer, c’est les autres.” (“Hell, it’s other people.”)

As they profess their profound compassion and concern, do they care that some of us don’t care to live with robotized nature?  Have they considered putting their intellectual efforts toward saving nature, co-creating with nature, relating equally to it, rather than commanding it, deconstructing it, subjugating it, destroying and replacing it?

Do they tread so shallowly in their own individuality that they cannot conceive of the notion that one’s relationship to oneself and to nature is by far greater, more fundamental and essential, than one’s relationship to any other?

Keep your robots, your synthetics, your hive mind, your Internet of Things, your technological collective Utopia, I don’t want it.

Many of us don’t want it, but we seem to have no choice in the matter.

If I weren’t an optimist, I’d feel we are doomed here on the wee homestead; doomed to watch as we are driven from the heaven of creating our own private Idaho into the hell of another’s version of ‘progress.’

My idea of progress:

Companion planting 3.0 (gardening by aesthetics) — cultivars co-existing with native volunteers (yes, I mean weeds); edibles among poisons; annuals with perennials with crops, seasonal ‘layering’.  More on all that coming soon!

Handy Hubby’s idea of progress:
Spending his entire vacation building!  Color me impressed. 🙂

 

 

 

Signs of Spring!

This post contains farmish photos that may be offensive to some readers.  But it also contains some images that could inspire you, too!

newmama
A new mama and our first lambs!
twins
Twins!
bubba.buttercup
The puppies have gotten so big we can hardly call them puppies anymore!

 

henbit.jjack
Jumping jacks surrounded by loads of henbit.  Nature is telling me where to plant the tomatoes this year.  Henbit can be an annoyance to some who like well-manicured grass or doesn’t like weeding, but it’s also a sign of high nitrogen in the soil.  A great sign for your heavy feeders like tomatoes!

 

peartreebloom
The old-fashioned pear trees are the first to bloom here, by a long shot.  We’ll have some happy honey bees very soon, and if weather permits, another huge load of pears to make our delicious hard cider.

 

bigchop
Slaughter time is man’s work on this wee homestead, a blessing for which I regularly thank my luck stars.

 

processing
Bye, Big Chop, thank you!

 

bacon
There will be bacon! 🙂

 

seedtrays
I love seeing the seedlings emerge under the grow lights.

It’s a wonderful, miraculous world, truly, or at least our little corner of it is.

Silent Weapons: A Crazy Conspiracy Theory

Please excuse my long silence, but I have come down with a bad case of the flu, along with a good portion of the U.S. and Europe, according to our mainstream news.  I haven’t been this ill in about a decade.  It includes the usual symptoms: annoying cough, incessant sneezing, miserable congestion.

Some crazy conspiracy theorists speculate this is a ‘chemtrail flu’ and is a form of biological warfare against the population.  I have no way of knowing, but I do know our government has a long history of using biological agents, including by spraying them from planes.

morningspray

Of course folks all over the globe are taking such photos and videos and asking questions, demanding answers, while the mainstream media pretends nothing is happening.  Geoengineering is nothing more than a proposal, the lines in the sky that turn into cobweb haze are just normal water vapor trails from normal aircraft just as they’ve always been, normal, normal, normal.  Oh, except for the snow in the south, that’s the arctic blast bringing crazy low temperatures, and that’s ‘climate change.’  For which we are going to need ‘climate remediation’ which is our rebranded geoengineering.  You see a bit how the smoke and mirrors work?

https://www.npr.org/2017/03/29/521780927/scientists-who-want-to-study-climate-engineering-shun-trump

Nothing to see here.

https://stopsprayingus.com/one-day/

 

heavyspray

 

chemclouds

cobwebcover

This morning on the way to feed the flocks I found this hawk on the ground, disoriented and barely able to fly.  I picked it up and perched it up in the tree away from our playful predatory pooch.

prowling

torihawk1

There are those crazy conspiracy theorists who claim the radio and microwave frequencies currently being deployed to create the 5G network and the Internet of Things are killing us all, at worst, putting us all under mass surveillance, at best.

Crazy?

Are you sure?  Because it sure seems like they’ve been conditioning us for this for a long time now.

 

ruralsign
According to this sign there are security cameras in use on a dirt road in a large forested area with only a handful of residences and some recreational property.

Who is actually crazy, those discussing such documents as these, or the ones who wrote them?

 

Despite my efforts, the hawk did not make it.  Whether from natural causes, or man-made, I guess I’ll never know.

deadhawk
Rest in peace my feathered friend.

Life Skills Stolen: A Lesson in Hurricanes

About an hour’s drive south over 50 inches of rain has been recorded.  Here, we had two inches, barely enough to moisten the parched topsoil, not enough to create even a small puddle for the ducks to romp through.  The creek remains low, the pond empty.

Of course Houston is no stranger to floods, or Galveston, or anywhere or anyone who has lived along the Gulf South for any short length of time.  While we lived there we were so fortunate as to experience two so-called “100 year hurricanes” in just three years — during Hurricane Katrina we were living in New Orleans, during Hurricane Ike we were living in Galveston.

I refused to live in the Gulf zone, anywhere, after that.  The folks that remain must really love it there, or be more resilient than I am, or have lives and jobs and loved ones they can’t bare to do without.  I respect their preferences and choices, but I chose that we should get the hell out.

Sometimes a woman has to put her foot down.  Or at least, compromise, with pleas and tears.  No my dear, we cannot move back to Spain, Hubby concluded, but we can move north of Hurricane Zone and south of Tornado Alley.

OK, it’s a deal!  I wonder, maybe more women should be making that sort of deal for the good of their sanity and pocketbooks?  I don’t want to give unsolicited advice, but if you choose to remain in the Gulf, it’s only logical and pragmatic and wise in every way that you are emotionally, financially, spiritually capable of living in dangerous regions.

I had long had a respect for self-reliance, having lived in Eastern Europe, where to be Šikovnyý (handy, skillful)  was taken to an art form.  They didn’t take their Skoda to the mechanic, if they couldn’t fix it, a neighbor could.  They cooked from scratch, they mended clothes, they had gardens and grew vegetables in them usually, not grass.  There was scarcely any packaging, the waste–I remember that as most impressionable of all–there was hardly any waste.

Of course that changed fast as soon as the Soviets left and the new Big Brother took over.  This was progress.  Goods filling the shelves, boxes and cans filling the garbage.  It was as fascinating to watch as it was hard to watch.

It’s amazing how fast life skills can be lost.  Or maybe I should say stolen, because that’s what I really think.  The skills that kept cultures thriving and self-reliant and community-driven are being stolen from right under our noses, and our parents’ and grand-parents’ and now even great grand-parents’ noses. For the U.S. at least, this goes way back.

Commodify everything, even the very air we breath and water we need to survive. You are not a good capitalist unless you are willing to drown cities at will in order to profit nicely and have the added benefit of restructuring at will.

See, what ends up happening in these recurrent disasters is those folks who are not self and/or community reliant, are not independent and are most often not the least bit Šikovnyý get in dire circumstances every few years and the government and their communities and extended family and distant friends and loads of complete strangers feel absolutely compelled to help them out.  Usually through agencies and funds that are syphoning and squandering these do-gooders’ money.  There is not only here what Dr. Phil would surely call “enabling” unhealthy lifestyles, but also in some cases, even a dose of pathological altruism.

I saw after Hurricane Katrina that actually what was happening in New Orleans was a land-grab.  I suspect the same and similar is happening with every weather event, and, to go even further, these events, weather and otherwise, are being manufactured.

If you find this preposterous, incredulous, impossible, you need only spend a few hours at these sites to uncover exactly how this is done and has been done for many decades.

Jim Lee’s Weather Modification History

Dane Wigington’s Geoengineering Watch

I know it sounds odd, but those two hurricanes were perfect impetuses for positive change in our lives.  Hubby never wanted to live in New Orleans.  I never wanted to live in Galveston.  We both fancied the idea of having chickens.

And chickens, being the gateway livestock, led to ducks and turkeys, pigs and sheep, goats and . . .

I no longer send money or volunteer, as I had long done, to anyone affected by a disaster through any organization, especially the government.  The weather modification programs, and therefore the weather chaos, is a problem they are creating, which they want the public to bare the brunt of on the front end through taxes and the back through disaster relief.  It’s a con.

Yes, folks suffer.  I get that and I am feeling for them and sending them prayers.  Mostly my prayers are saying, “If you can’t handle living in an area that is repeatedly a disaster zone, do like me, and put your foot down, and get the hell out of the Gulf for good.”

It’s just not worth it. It’s not going to get better.

 

Homestead Love-Hate

I hate August on the homestead.  There, I’ve admitted it. I can’t stand pretending.  Sitting at the kitchen table looking at the last of about 250 pounds of pears, I could almost cry.

I’d like to sell it all right now and move to Fiji.  I imagine moving permanently into a rented beach hut complete with pool boy serving me colorful fruity cocktails all day.  Not processing pears.  Not plucking dozens of ducks.  Not gaping helplessly at the crops becoming engulfed, scorched, withering to their deaths.

Handy Hubby could even join me there if he wanted to, it’s not his fault after all.  The bugs, the heat, my aching hands, the better part of an entire nation on vacation, as if that weren’t bad enough.

Because then on top of it all is the garden.  Every year, the garden horror show, unrecognizable from a month ago, my annually recurring failure at keeping nature mildly tamed.

augustgarden

In anticipation of my August mood, this year I planted loads of flowers at the garden entrance.  Flowers and puppies are just about all that’s keeping depression at bay.  Some are miserable in the dead of winter; I am miserable in the dead of summer.

cowpeasMowing stopped mid-way for stabbing arthritic pain in my wrists and fingers.  I don’t care anymore.  I can’t care anymore.  There are plenty of cow peas and a few ripe melons in that mess, if you dare.  After weeks at work, this is what Hubby must come home to, and rescue me from, furthering my shameful failure.

okra
Okra successfully outmaneuvering the pernicious grasses, but I don’t like okra.

 

happypig1The pigs still have their wee escape, and I have mine.

Puppy love.

Puppy pics are way more fun than chemtrail pics.

bathday

I could be taking photos of the regular assault in our skies with the disgusting aerosols of climate engineering, as I was for a number of months.  Another failure it seems, because I can’t bare it, it doesn’t seem to be helping anything at all, except for normalizing abhorrent “science”.

nothingisreal

I simply have no more capacity or patience for folks who don’t, can’t or won’t see, or who don’t care, or who like, the whole-scale rape, murder and pillage of our planet.  When will it stop?  When will the madness heal?  When will a mass of mankind have had enough of bowing to their masters as they crack the whip on the laws of nature?

I’m on vacation alright, just like the bulk of a nation, it’s just a vacation on my window seat, directly under the a/c unit, where I’m grateful to continue my climate engineering research thanks to these more tireless and consistent deeply concerned citizens.

http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/

https://stopsprayingus.com/

http://zerogeoengineering.com/

Cheese-making: Science and Sensuality

Cheeses currently in our aging fridge, which is nothing more than a cheap beverage model sadly impersonating a cave in Switzerland: Swiss (of course), Tomme (another Alpine cheese), Munster, Camembert (wrapped in fig leaves), Pepper Jack,  Farmhouse Cheddar (cloth-wrapped), Gouda, Dill Havarti, Mozzarella (the old-fashioned way), Ricotta.  Plus, in the kitchen fridge: yogurt, kefir, Mexican queso, and chocolate ice cream–all homemade with the freshest Grade A, raw milk from small farm, grass-fed cows available for purchase in East Texas.

These are the kind of cheeses one has a tough time finding where to legally buy, or sell, not only in America, but in quite a few other Western countries as well.  In most of the countries who consider themselves ‘free’ as far as I’m aware, acquiring licensing for everything dairy under the Federal sun will still not grant you the right to sell such cheeses.  Big Brother is so very worried about our health, after all.
http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/30/some-like-it-raw-the-state-of-unpasteurized-cheese-in-the-u-s/

Some of these are cheeses the way our ancestors made them–even using fig sap as rennet and kefir as starter culture.  Others of them have been made possible only with the help of modern science–freeze-dried cultures in order to create the holes and flavor of Swiss, for example, or the orange-rinded stinky varieties like Munster or Limburger, or the blue veins of the pungent Roquefort, the reliable white mold of a Camembert–which make it possible to imitate, with a reasonable degree of success, the most famous of region-specific cheeses we’ve come to know and love over the generations.

The first time I tasted cheese that did not come wrapped in plastic I was a teenager in France.  It was also the first time I tasted milk straight from the cow.  I was stunned to realize these products, considered the same from my own home to my host family’s home, had almost nothing in common.  To the eye they appeared congruent, but to the other senses they were not even distant cousins.

But it’s one thing to harness an appreciation for the depth and subtitles of a finely- crafted cheese, it’s quite another to think you can make one.  In Texas.  In an ‘aging fridge’ from Wal-mart.  With $7/gallon milk you drive 3 hours to acquire and sometimes using cultures manufactured in a lab.

Is it just for the love of cheese?  It’s true, while doubtless they can’t compete with their cave-aged predecessors, still available in their natural state to only a precious few, I’ve made some of the best cheeses I’ve tasted available in this neck of the Piney Woods.

Handy Hubby appreciates my rather expensive and quite time-consuming hobby, but that’s just a bonus.  I think these old skills and crafts are crucial to maintain and pass along to future generations, that’s for sure.  But none of these good reasons would be enough, even all together, if it weren’t for the pleasure of the process.

The sensuality of cheese-making cannot be over-stated and to describe it would take poetry far superior than is my capacity to create.  This is a hobby that touches, demands, cultivates every one of our senses and a fair amount of intellect as well.  A whole-minded approach is crucial for success, because process alone will only get you so far.

You may scoff and think a cheese is a cheese, it’s a matter of taste alone, and they mostly taste the same.  If so, you poor, poor dear.

“Those . . . from whom nature has withheld the legacy of taste, have long faces, and long eyes and noses, whatever their height there is something elongated in their proportions.  Their hair is dark and unglossy, and they are never plump, it was they who invented trousers.”

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin The Physiology of Taste quoted in A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman

You may laugh and say . . . “sound?”  If cheese-making requires a subtle practice of every sense than that includes sound . . . how silly.

Someday I will make the case for sound in good cheese-making, because I think there’s a case to be made.  In addition to my own experimentation, I suspect I need search no further than the many monasteries made famous for their cheeses for more supporting evidence.

Cheese is still more pleasure than exudes the senses in the thrill of retrieving and treasuring a fading art, and in marrying the inevitable couple of progress and tradition.

“We are all served more and more by factory machines, maybe inevitably, and by schedules, even our own, and in time, as has often been pointed out, we come to serve them.  Some of us are becoming chafed by it all.  We seek to reaffirm ourselves, to do and make for ourselves, to find new ways to do so–many of them admittedly old ways, but new and revitalizing ones to us and our friends.  We want to find out how the basic components of our lives are made and come to us to use.  We seek to become part once more of the processes, and possessors once more of the details of our own existence.”

The Cheeses and Wines of England and France, with Notes on Irish Whiskey

by John Ehle

cheesebooks

A few favorite references and a favorite resource:

2016quesocheesedip-1024x932
The Promiseland Farm

If you want to start somewhere, this is a super easy cheese even a picky American kid would surely like, think Velveeta, only healthy.  http://thepromiselandfarm.com/queso-cheese-spread-dip/