Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wild and Free

It is no secret that I really want to learn native skills and to accumulate ancestral lore.  I try to take time, on this MooseBoots trail, to learn and gain proficiency in the skills that allowed people to live, and thrive, in concert with the land in this area a mere 300-400 years ago.  I am studying shamanism and participate in nature classes with some of the folks at the Maine Primitive Skills School.  And, I excel at seeking out information in all forms - Google is an amazing tool.  As such, I tend to gather books, web sites, and videos to further this end.

This past week, we had our latest nature class.  We had plans to do certain things and harvest certain plants, but the Universe had other ideas.  Instead, we wandered a bit.  It is amazing what you can find if you take the time.  The turkeys had visited a near-by field, as had the deer.  Their track visible in the soft sand, in spite of some recent rain.  We also found frog eggs in various stages of hatching - one clump was half hatched, another was just started, and yet another had not yet begun.  Mike was most excited, however, by this.

Stinging nettles.  I have not even begun to stratch the surface of their usefulness.  I have taken the first step to being introduced.  I gather some and tonight, we ate them.  I sauteed them in butter and lightly salted and peppered them.  Then, I scrambled some eggs and mixed them in.  They were delicious.  As a side, I also harvested some Japanese knotweed and steamed it.

Big, Little Sister made a custard to go with it.  Here is dinner in all its glory.

It occurs to me, as I type this, that the meal could have been gathered completely within a 4-mile radius of here.  The eggs are from our hens and ducks, the milk is from a local farmer, and I've already talked about the wild foods.  The only outside of that radius was the sugar, which we could have switched with some of our own maple syrup.  It is very empowering to know that we can have such control over our food.  Granted, only a small portion of our food is foraged at this point.  But, we are moving in the right direction.

Wendy and I talked about trying to forage at least a part of one meal a day.  It might be a lofty goal, but it would be good to try, especially since there is nothing in the garden ready to harvest yet.  This will certainly help to further my position along my MooseBoots path.


  1. Stinging nettle also makes a wonderful tea, great for cleansing in the spring, or any time your system needs it. I bought some from a fellow vendor at the market a few summers ago.
    Last night, I gathered a large bowl of young dandelions greens and added them to bought spinach for a delicious salad. Foraging is fun!
    Like Wendy, I really enjoy serving a meal when I know EXACTLY where every item came from (and probably grew or cooked most of them :D)
    I didn't get any wild leeks this spring, but the fiddleheads will be next...

  2. Julie, we will have to try the tea. Wendy and I have been talking about the dandlions, too ... we are going to gather dandelions, chives, violet leaves, perhaps some mustard, and perhaps some maple, basswood, or beech leaves for a nice salad. We haven't found the right fiddleheads or leeks yet. It is a blast.

  3. Violet leaves? We have lots of those! Thanks for your encouragement and enthusiasm...nice to be on the sidelines of your journey :D

  4. The leaves and the flowers are edible. Here is a link to Steve Brill's website. I also found it in "Wild Plants of Maine" by Tom Seymour.


  5. Thanks for the link, Deus Ex Machina...I found out to avoid the yellow violets, which we have plenty of down by the creek. Luckily, there are plenty of blue violets, too. I will certainly add some to our greens this weekend. Oh, and I nibbled on a few fiddleheads last night when I went exploring down by the creek! I will post some pictures (when I find some time;)'s such a magical spot, a creek that gurgles over the stones with beautiful clean water, in the middle of a cedar bush, with my own fern gully!

  6. Julie, enjoy. I look forward to the photos. Your creek sounds lovely!


Thank you for leaving a comment on MooseBoots.

If you have not, please follow this blog by clicking the "Follow" button.