The past month has been busy with digging the last of the winter roots and beginning to harvest the tips of spring plants as they emerge from the sodden earth. We were finally blessed with rains late in the season and the plants, people and animals of the region rejoiced. While I often post single pictures and small updates on our Facebook page, I know not everyone uses it. This is for you all! Here are 5 different days featuring some of the medicines we have harvested and a look at what is happening at our own farmstead.
Neil digs first year teasel roots, second year growth in the foreground
Because I am the one who thinks to take the pictures, Neil is the one that is in them! We tincture fresh teasel root for Lyme’s disease symptoms. Prevalent here and in the Eastern states as well. The ticks are loving the moist 50 degree weather we’re having!
dried teasel head
Teasel heads can be used to tease wool and comb hair. They make lovely dried flowers.
Dipsacus first year rosette
Did I mention that Teasel’s latin name is Dipsacus? Well. It’s really fun to say. One of my favorite latin names. This biennial’s roots are only used in the first year. Notice the small modified thorns on the leaves? Very characteristic.
It takes quite a bit of roots to make a quart. They are not as large as their above ground portions would have you believe.
Mahonia's evergreen leaves
Here is Oregon Grape. Last year I broke a whole quart all over my office. The berberine in the plant is bright yellow and one of the active ingredients. Its staining ability is akin to turmeric. I was depressed, but now I have some new medicine!
Underside of the spiny leaves
I was pulling these rhizomes up in the snow. The nice part is the soft earth meant I didn’t really have to dig, which always makes things easier.
a spring amalgam
Nettles, Cleaves and Buttercups
I made a trip to the coast with two lady friends for a day of foraging. It was such a beautiful day in the forest, on the beach and by the river. We live in a beautiful place!
Alder forest with nettle understory. Can you spot Creasy Doggie?
My herb harvesting companion
Salmon Berries -- see how they look just like bundles of roe?
Lunch on the beach and we saw a grey whale headed north.
I was really excited to see the redwood violets abounding. This was the perfect day for them. I collect a lot of the aerial poportions for my Lymphomaniac formula. Great for lymph and breast health.
This is another berberidacea. Meaning it’s in the berberine family, just like Oregon grape root. I don’t actually harvest this for anything, but it is such a Pacific Northwest plant that when I see it I know I am being held in the heart of the forest. Here we are walking under new growth redwoods, padding over oxalis (pictured here surrounding the vanilla leaf with the purple flower) and weaving among redwood violets, thimble berries (my favorite berry) and elders.
Elder in flower
Here she is. Most of the elders here are the red berried one, which is not generally safe for use. I am still on the hunt for a treasure trove of blue/black berried trees. There are a couple sparse trees on our property, but as is typical they hang over drainage and other dangerous caverns. They also are closely watched by all the local fauna and I have very little chance of snagging a single berry.
we weren't the only ones interested in the nettles!
We saw more banana slugs this day than I have seen in my whole life. They were feasting on elder and nettle. Not a bad to gorge yourself!
Here’s some wild ginger. Just a small patch, but that is why I love this place. There are so many different microcosyms that you will always be suprised by who you run into. This is a different species than the one we were so accustomed to back in NC. You can use the rhizomes in a similar manner though. They have a very aromatic, spicy taste and smell; heating and stimulating just like its name sake. Wild ginger is in the Aristolochiaceae (one of my other favorite latin words) aka the Birthwort family.
Fred the rooster with the pullets
Back to our home. Here is Fred. We hatched him from an egg laid on the farm. He is the only survivor of those hatchings. We had three adult male roosters living in the same coop (I know, I know…) and Fred’s lucky day came recently when we was moved in with the 31 pullets. Bingo. The pullets didn’t know how to put themselves to bed at night and were just piling up outside the coop when it was finally dark. The adult flock likes to go to bed at twilight making it easy on us. These little whippersnappers required Neil and I to go out at 9 every night to pick them up one by one and toss their sleepy bodies back inside the coop. I decided they needed some parents, some role models. Although I was nervous about putting a full grown rooster and hen in with them, it has been a resounding success. The pullets now go inside by themselves, have learned how to roost and are very good grazers. Fred is in heaven. He has one hen companion and 31 hopeful admirers; like many of us he is thriving with his own domain.
Purple blooms of hounds tongue. So beautiful.
Clockwise from top left: valerian, elecampane, catnip, echinacea, lemon balm and love in the mist flowers just feathering up.
A bee enjoys the bright kale flowers
Poppies! I cannot wait.
Garlic in the foreground, Garlic in the background.
I’m expanding my garlic beds for next year. I love growing garlic.
What are you seeing in your neck of the woods?
What’s blooming in your garden?