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Eating Your Way Through The World

| 5/8/2013 11:52:51 AM

Spring is the time of the greatest collection of energies on a farm. The long death of winter creates massive amounts of anticipation for the renewal season, and the marking of fresh foods to be found abroad. Seed planting and harvesting the fall sown kale and spinach really gets a homesteaders palate whetted for the wild foods bounties laying just beyond the garden fence. 

  Dandelions are a blessing and a curse 

The first one I see is inevitably the dandelions. While this sends a great deal of people scrambling for digging contraptions or flailing to get to the spray bottle of ACV, I get to picking. Firstly, there is not a single animal on my farm that doesn't LOVE dandelions. Especially the new shoots, and the younger, the better. I pick them for my rabbits, pigs, turkeys and chickens, then I let the goats out on their tethers (always supervised, of course) and watch them clean every last yellow spot in their reach before even contemplating the grasses that also fill the yard. I also enjoy the young dandelion greens, but I prefer them in a mixed green salad. And then there's the accounts of nearly mythical dandelion wine. I make a lot of wine every year, and I love to experiment, but I still haven't tried making a batch of this yellow miracle... I can't even fathom how potent it would be.

  Asparagus is one of the first wild foods to emerge in the spring 

Next comes the asparagus around the Forgotten Forty, and marks my favorite time of the season, hands down. I take the evenings to hunt around fence lines and the edges of woods, in fields and along the dirt road in front of the farm. This time is particularly meditative for me, providing quiet time in the woods right in the middle of the busiest time of the year around here. I take my phone with me to snap pictures of sunsets and anything else of interest on the way, grab a pitcher with a little water in it to keep the stalks fresh, and hit the trails. I always keep a mesh bag with me just in case I should stumble across some Morels or Maitake mushrooms on the way. 

Often, I'll set up a meal around one item, and work my way over the property looking for other complimentary ingredients. Chives and ramps for just about any meal, the odd meal of nettles thrice boiled, eggs from the hen house to make a morel mushroom omelet breakfast the next day. With a little imagination (which deserves a good workout too) any meal can have wild elements, with just a little forethought and preparation. I've even had dinner parties that started with a wild food foray and ended with a glass of wild mulberry wine while recounting the sunset and the beautiful places we found this or that. Beautiful memories are crafted this way.

11/18/2013 7:43:41 AM

Great article! Stinging Nettle is one of my favorite greens - I live on "Eggs Nettletine" in Spring, when the hens start laying again, so the eggs are a-plenty, & when it's still too early for anything but the "weeds" to be poking their brave & hearty selves out. :) Sarah/Lost Nation Farm/south-central MI

5/11/2013 1:03:24 PM

Anthony, watching nature awake in the Spring is indeed a special time, isn't it. Finally, here in Nebraska the weather is allowing us to wander out and begin to work the soil and enjoy the warm sunshine. Usually, my first hint that Spring is here would be the blooming Crocus. They will actually push up through the snow and bloom telling the world that Spring is not too far away. They, of course, are long gone now and so are the daffodils which brings us into the tulips season. Soon the Peonies and Iris will usher us into summer. I did spend some time out in the garden yesterday but alas the soil is just not quite ready for planting yet. The seeds and seedlings await for their debut. Never fear there is still much to accomplish in the garden that doesn't require digging in the dirt. Have a great day in the garden.

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