Look at that face...it's a face only a mother of a stoner kitty could love! This is Birch (aka Berke) in her early spring catnip patch...last year. I did catch her rolling around in this patch today, over top of a layer of leaves. Instead of raking away the leaves in this blistering cold wind, I decided to come in by the fire, make some catnip tea and post this photo instead. Anyway, the catnip IS awake and apparently it's some good stuff, according to Berke. meeeeeoooooooooowww.
With the start of the sixth season of the Homestead Herbalism course set to start in a few weeks, I am excited to meet a brand new group of students and bond with them over the course of the next 8 months...or much longer, as is very often the case. The first few classes are always friendly enough. People called together by a common love of plants always have alot to talk about, you know. But after a few months of shared gardening experiences, getting caught in a downpour on a weed walk or hearing an inspiring herbal healing case study, the bonding grows deeper. Add to that a few personal or physical challenges shared and these new friends and their new herbal allies rally round and bond us all in an irreversible way. No denying what magic occurs when bringing sensitive people and plants together. It is life altering. I'd like you to meet two former students (Class of 2005) that have surely continued to grow their herbal wings since their time here on the Farm. Robyn, on the left, helped me at the Farm at Coventry booth a few summers at the Phoenixville Farmer's Market, had her own line of herbal infused vinegars, and continues to be diligent about creating and using her herbal remedies to keep her family well during the cold and flu season. Robyn and her family recently moved north to the Schuykill county coal regions to lead a more simple life, homeschool the kids, have a bigger garden and wildcraft elderberries and anything else she will surely find. Jenny, on the right, is a beautiful free spirit who in a few short weeks is heading west to jump feet first into a 10 week work/study position at Oregon's prestigious Herb Pharm, an 85 acre certified organic herb farm. She is not afraid of hard work, and loves her people and this earth passionately. These young women lead different lives, but their bond is their strength, their passion, and their hunger to learn. oh yeah. I am so proud to know that they each carry a little piece of the Farm with them wherever their lives move them. ..no matter how far they fly. Amazing women, both of them.
I was out rustling around in the greenhouse this morning and came across a few things that stirred up my spring fever... again! This morning, the bright sunshine reflecting off the snow caused the temperature in the greenhouse to reach over 60 degrees! The temperature shift has helped the potted elderberry bushes inside the greenhouse to come out of hibernation. This was quite unexpected considering the greenhouse has a layer of ice and snow over it. A few steps away from the greenhouse I inspected a few more southern facing 'warm spots' and discovered some vigorous nettles forcing themselves throw the snow. Oh Boy, it won't be long now! By March 15, the class may just be having their first taste of Spring Tonic Soup. I sure am craving it today! SUE'S SPRING TONIC SOUP 1 bunch of leeks, cleaned and chopped (dark green leaves removed) 2 carrots, grated 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced 2-3 Tb butter 2 quarts good chicken stock (or water) 1 cup oat flakes salt and pepper to taste large colander full of spring nettle tops (rinsed) large handful of dandelion greens (rinsed) (you may add other assorted wild greens: a few small violet leaves, chickweed, garlic grass, small garlic mustard greens, dock greens, etc.) Saute' leeks, carrots and garlic in butter over low heat until soft. Cover with chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add oat flakes, stir and cover. While broth is simmering, grab a pair of scissors and a colander and go harvest your greens. To avoid the inevitable nettles sting, snip off the young tops with the scissors and allow them to drop right into the strategically placed colander. Then use the scissors again to snip the tops into smaller pieces while they are still in the colander. You never have to touch them this way. Rinse to remove any soil and add to the simmering stock. Rinse, chop and add any other spring green you have collected. Let the greens and soup simmer until all the greens are wilted completely but still vibrant in color (15 minutes). Just before serving add a splash (or three) of heavy cream. oh so yummy!
Hoo Boy, If you could see my face right now...it is a lovely shade of crimson. You all caught me sleeping on my blog! I had no idea that anyone was reading this thing...harhar Ah well, good intentions, right?Well, now that I know that I have a captive audience, I better have at it, eh? So great to see all of you gals from distant farms! What a nice warm surprise. Okay,onwards, as they say...