Take Control of Your Soul

“Don’t let them take your mind, man.”  Conspiracy Music Guru (aka Flat Earth Man)

That tablet, that TV, that hand-held radiation device.  Put it down.  Take a walk.  Let me try to inspire that action.

A68FCAFD-D6B5-4566-826B-5C44594BCB59Texas squaw weed, the bees like it, stop mowing it and spraying it with poison, please.

This sh*t, my greatest garden/forest nemesis, I pull it, smash it, dig it up, even spray it, with sadistic pleasure.  Luckily, sheep and goats love it, so soon it will go from invasive weapon of torture to practically eradicated effortlessly on this wee homestead.

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Poison ivy, run for your life!

Don’t let them take your mind.  You think Flat Earth theory is weird?  What about that which you are living right now, seem weird at all?  Natural?  Normal? Do you like the world you’re co-creating all around you?

There’s another world.  There’s another way.  It doesn’t have to be like this.  Trade your prison walls for a glimpse of what’s really REAL.

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Serviceberry, Juneberry, Amalanchier arborosa, ‘discovered’ on our property for the first time, always something new!

Pretend for one hour the earth is flat, right beneath your feet, the screen is an illusion, cyberspace is just that, space.  Walk on the flat earth under your feet and feel what life on a flat earth feels like, just for an hour, just because, really, what else of consequence are you really doing right now?

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Vetch, another spring-blooming so-called ‘nuisance’ weed the bees like, but the farmers don’t.

Mullein makes great toilet paper, fyi.  Try shopping your local forest.  😉

mullein

 

Slow and Low

Not only do I show my age with this line, I also show my very poor taste in music during my university years.   But, I did always love that line from the Beastie Boys:  “Slow and low, that is the tempo.”

I repeat it to myself now because I know after a year like we had last year, this year for us on the wee homestead needs to be less work, no new projects, and more deep diving into those tasks, learning and activities we deem most necessary for the critters and the gardens, and most conducive to our own personal well-being.

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This old fart agrees—slow and low!

This morning I stood for a while under our beautifully-blooming old pear trees bursting with lively buzzing—so much noisy activity was actually soothing, peaceful, motivating— there’s such a calm diligence in the bees’ seeming frenzy.

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Now there’s some happy worker bees!

Winter’s not over yet, and we had what seems to be now the new-normal of continual weather whiplash, still I’m thrilled to report all our hives have made it so far, on a completely treatment-free program. Yippie!

In slow and low tempo we make a big stink of every success, small, medium, or large. 🙂

This is my favorite time of year for making pesto and chimichurra from foraged ‘weeds’.  Making pesto in summer when everything else in the garden is demanding attention is not nearly as pleasant as crawling through the flourishing green beds snipping chickweed, violets, henbit, and more.  Here’s an old post with links and recipes, if this is the year you want to try it for yourself.

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Don’t see weeds, see pesto!

Handy Hubby is soon on vacation for six weeks—the best time of year for us here!  He’ll be wrapping up the fencing for the second pasture, and helping me redo the garden drip irrigation (neither being his preferred jobs by a long shot, thanks lovey, our greatest and most necessary trooper!)

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Downed trees from the spring ‘tornado’ opened up our view to the corral, a definite silver lining.

In tough times it helps me to focus on the big picture; it helps Hubby to put his proverbial nose to the grindstone—that’s a damn good recipe for wholesome collaboration, and the perfect environment for talking past each other.  All the more reason that slow and low will be the tempo.

Philosopher-homesteaders, don’t know this man yet?  Appalachian wise man for deep thinking.

 

Just Do Better

Happy Holidays, y’all!  The passing of this year is quite welcomed for us.  It’s been our toughest year on the wee homestead by far.  There were even a few times we discussed giving in and packing up.

We moved here in 2009, after Hurricane Ike, having purchased raw land in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina.  It’s the new normal, I guess, that our memory is set by weather disasters.  Now 2019 will be marked as the year of the manufactured storm bombs: crazy tornado and giant hail.

Judging from the amped-up geoengineering agendas, who knows what next spring will bring—floods, fires, more ‘tornados’, unprecedented lightening storms, maybe a land cyclone or two—certainly continued weather whiplash will remain on the menu.

I don’t imagine it’s possible to prepare for every potential catastrophe, but still, we’re staying put.  It’s not that we’re gluttons for punishment, or like to live dangerously, or are too stubborn to see the writing on the wall.  It’s not even that we’ve come too far to turn back now, having learned so many of the essential homesteading skills, having devoted so much blood, sweat and tears, not to mention $$, into this lifetime project.

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We bought the neighboring property that had a nearly abandoned cottage, hauled off the old junk and then the real work began—paint, windows, doors, siding, deck, etc. And after the tornado, a new roof.

It’s for love.  Love of the land, the nature, the work, the critters, the learning, the lifestyle, and of course, love for each other.  Where else would two such misfits fit except in the woods, I wonder?

When there’s no turning back, and as we’re too young yet to sit still, but too old to start over, the best option left is to up-skill.  So, that’s what we’re doing.

Handy Hubby has transformed his butchering talents from mediocre to practically professional with the help of the Scott Rea Project.  It is truly impressive, especially considering  what big jobs he makes work in our very small space.

I’m following his lead by upgrading my own culinary crafts to include more traditional fare, like offal, which really isn’t so awful at all!  This’ll be my last bad pun in this post, I promise, even though I find them offally hilarious.

I don’t really follow recipes, but I’ve been finding guidance and inspiration from Of Goats and Greens and Weston A. Price.  I recently made a rather delicious Lamb Liver Loaf and an offal salad of heart and tongue. (FYI, it does not taste like chicken.)

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The upturned oaks have become the perfect microclimate for Jack-O-Lanterns (Omphalotus olearius), not edible, but an appreciated gift for a friend who dyes her own yarn.
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The hedgehog baked and the pulcherrimum as centerpiece
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An edible favorite: the hedgehog (Hericium erinaceus). And a ‘steccherinum pulcherrimum’ which means ‘appearing beautiful’

I’ll also be doing more foraging with the help of The Forager Chef  and a bookshelf full of expertise on mushroom hunting, wild plants and herbs, traditional cooking and healing.  I’m more committed than ever in holding space for, and gaining knowledge of, the ancestral arts and crafts that were missing from my childhood, and indeed for most of us for many generations in this country.

I’m not going to share any lame platitudes about silver linings and growth opportunities, because that’s slave-speak socially engineered by the faux-authorities to assure the rabble don’t complain about their lot in life.  I intend to continue my fair share of complaining, and then some.

But, I will offer this cliché instead—It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings!  And this lady’s got no plans to plump up any further, or join the choir.

May all your storms be weathered, and all that’s good get better.  Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you . . .”

 

Free Tea!

I had a bunch of ladies over from our community stitching group and offered them a taste of our homemade wine and foraged tea.  The wine was hit and miss, most of the ladies being teetotalers.  The tea though was a big hit.  Much to my surprise, while most of them were country-raised, none of them had ever heard of making tea from two of the most common sources imaginable: pine needles and yaupon.

Foraging health
The Amazing All-Purpose Pine Needle Tea – Dave’s Garden

A sure cure for scurvy; a remedy for cold, flu, obesity, dementia, bladder, and kidney issues; antidepressant; anti-hypertensive; anti-tumor; render chemotherapy less toxic to patients, and many more potential health improvements and nutritional benefits, can all be found in the Christmas tree you dispose of yearly!”

5 Incredible Benefits of Pine | Organic Facts

The most interesting health benefits of pine include its ability to boost the immune system, improve vision health, stimulate circulation, protect against pathogens, and improve respiratory health.”

The yaupon surprised them even more than the pine, because around here it’s so prolific they are treated like annoying weeds much of the time.  (Maybe that’s because they don’t realize how much the bees love them in their early spring bloom period.).

In some areas you’ll need to be sure not to confuse yaupon with Japanese privet, which is a popular landscaping shrub, but poisonous.

Benefits of Yaupon Tea

Yaupon tea is a tea made from the dried leaves of the yaupon holly tree, which is scientifically known as Ilex vomitoria. This type of holly tree is native to the southeastern region of North America and was once used as an emetic and a ceremonial tea for numerous Native American tribes. The tea is also closely related to yerba mate tea and has many of the same active ingredients and nutrients.

I also make tea with sassafras, mullein, rose hips, elderberries, sumac, and lots of other foraged goodies. Healthy and delicious, especially after you add the local honey, of course.

Foraging Texas has a great list with lots of common plants not just in Texas.

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A Spring Stroll

Little is finer than a country meandering to wake your spring wellspring!

Playing in the creek is still GOOD TIMES around here!

And to celebrate spring you just might have delicious, unadulterated, natural spring water closer than you think.

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A public natural spring near Frankston, East Texas

Www.findaspring.com

As I recently wrote, ‘taking the waters’ was considered a health and leisure pursuit in this area, and many others around the region. Taking the Waters

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The dogwoods are particularly showy this year

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The grapevines already coming in, this could be a good year for our locals wines!

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The ‘flare’ is part of the trunk, not the root, and should be exposed to air, which is a very common modern myth, according to Malcolm Beck.  The old adage rings true it seems: “Plant too low, it won’t grow, plant to high, it won’t die.”

I learn so much everyday just by traveling in tandem from nature to cyberspace! What miraculous times we have here to explore!

Spring foraging is lovely here, just made a huge batch of chickweed chimi-churri, YUM!

More Foraged Favorites

Happy Spring & Summer y’all!

 

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

 

 

 

Hunt-Harvest Happiness

There is a special kind of euphoria that comes from harvesting my own food that I have not felt in any other productive endeavor. I read somewhere that the worst day working in cooperation with the land is better than the best day in the office, and I must wholeheartedly concur.

If only I’d learned that sooner, I would not have such steep learning curves to navigate in middle age!

Mushroom hunting is certainly on the top of that steep learning curve list, not to mention a potentially deadly hobby. While there are actually only a few truly deadly mushrooms, there are many that will make you sick and quite a few choice species that are so similar to poisonous species that even experts are occasionally fooled.

For the novice mushroom hunter there are only a handful of no-brainer finds, and as the dogs and I walked our trails this morning, I spotted one of the choicest of these, the Hedgehog. Actually there were three, and I took the biggest, a whopping one pound ten ounces. Interestingly, the season of these mushrooms is winter, which makes me wonder, when it’s still an unseasonal 85 degrees Fahrenheit here and hasn’t rained in many weeks, how do they judge winter exactly?

hedgehog2

In the garden it’s the summer crops that are thriving—to accompany my Hedgehog mushroom I harvested some cucumbers, radishes, basil and Napa cabbage. The second crop of tomatoes this year are nearly ready too. If Handy Hubby were home I’d add to that some thinly sliced duck breast. Then I’d look at our plates and think wow, I can’t believe how often now our meals come from our own land, our own hands. What amazing peace of mind this is considering how unhealthful and/or expensive food in the grocery stores has become, with the distinct impression it’s only getting worse.

If I turn on the TV or read a newspaper I’m reminded I once considered the daily grind and the endless mindless consumption ‘reality’.  Now I often watch and read the various panic porn channels online and sometimes they get me pretty riled up.

Then I walk out to our garden or through our woods and I remember what is really reality. Civilization is not realty. And what we are currently calling civilization is about as far from reality as it gets.

Y’all can keep it! My happiness is in the hunt and the harvest and of course, Handy Hubby. All the rest of it is worth less than a hill of beans.

pttrail

Our faithful and exuberant foraging, hunting, harvesting companions. 🙂