Archive for May 7, 2013

Stinging Nettles in Pesto and Zombie Defense Barrier

If you have ever touched stinging nettle, you likely have a vivid memory of the event.  It hurts!  When I was about 12, I was riding a friends pony and he walked me through a dense patch of stinging nettle.  I thought I’d been stung by a swarm of bees, and my bare legs felt as if they were simultaneously enveloped in flames.  Poor old Copper, he didn’t know why I was screaming, he just kept plodding along.  Don’t you think stinging nettle would be an excellent boundary plant to keep zombies out?

I recently discovered from a local mushroom expert, that stinging nettles are delicious!  They can be sauteed in salt and butter and eaten, still slightly crunchy, like asparagus. The leaves can be dried and made into a tea that is said to help allergy sufferers, alleviate arthritis and regulate high blood pressure.  According to, “it promotes milk production in nursing mothers. Stinging nettles reduces PMS symptoms, processes estrogen to relieve menopausal symptoms and curbs excess menstrual flow. It’s often used in herbal tonics to remove fibroids and regulate the menstrual flow.”  Oh.  And it tastes good too.

After the morning dew dried, I cut the top 6″ off our patch of nettles- about 3 cups wilted.

Die!  Vile nemesis of bare legs everywhere!  Die!

Die! Vile nemesis of bare legs everywhere! Die!

That evening, I blanched it for about 90 seconds in boiling water and then strained it.

Isn't it pretty once all the stingers are gone?

Isn’t it pretty once all the stingers are gone?


I popped it in my mini Cuisinart with some Parmesan cheese, a heavy handful of slivered almonds, 1 T. of garlic and 2 t. of sea salt.  I drizzled olive oil in while it blended.  I’m not big on recipes…. pine nuts are traditional, but I had almonds on hand.  Walnuts are good too.  Basil is the traditional “green” part of this recipe but we usually use cilantro because it’s got a little more zip to it than basil and it’s super healthy- very good at detoxifying heavy metals.  I’m not sure  if I really liked the flavor of nettles better than cilantro, or if it was just the sweet, sweet taste of revenge that I was enjoying so much.


Voila!  It's pesto!

Voila! It’s pesto!


Top the pesto with a little pasta….er, top the pasta with a little pesto…I guess it’s all a matter of perspective which should be of higher volume.  Do you have a favorite “weed” that you use?  Do you use it medicinally?    What is your favorite pesto recipe?


I'm not sure if FlyingBoy has more noodles or pesto on this plate!

I’m not sure if FlyingBoy has more noodles or pesto on this plate!

Heat, hormones and heifers

A bunch of the cows were in heat today. While it can be comical to watch these feminine, giantess beasts mounting anything that moves, it can be very dangerous business for their keepers. Imagine: intentionally positioning your knees directly under an 1100 lb behemoth. Now add enough hormones to make her wild eyed and skittish. Now add two or three more cows in heat waiting outside the barn. We scooted behind the big metal bars twice while milking Isabelle. The first time was because she backed out of the milking shoot and exited the barn. For no particular reason other than she had something else she wanted to sniff and wasn’t really “into” being milked when there was so much passion in the air. The second time because another cow-in-heat was trying to mount a third cow right in front of us. They were a combined weight of slightly over 2000 lbs- “dancing” in the most clumsy foxtrot imaginable. My mantra is: respect the cows, respect the cows space.

When we were leaving, I saw this beautiful young heifer, placidly chewing her cud in a different field. So young and innocent of the flood of hormones that will someday make her behave like the love crazed ladies just one pasture away. Isn’t she pretty?


Spring Jelly Making

Have you ever made home made jelly? We made wild violet jelly last spring and it was a big hit. The neighbor boy, a friend of my eldest son, liked it so much he picked another 4 cups of violet heads just so I’d make him a batch. I’ve never tried dandelion jelly. Any pointers from those of you who have?


Spring Honeybees, Summer Fruit Trees


A handful of our honeybees congregated on the lid of their hive as we were racing the sunset to finish our work. DearHusband had split some of our hives to prevent them from swarming and we were “re-queening” at dusk. The newly split hive hadn’t had time to rear a new queen, and we were providing them a darling in a box. She arrives in a tiny screened box, 1/4 the size of an Altoids box, with a couple caretaker bees. This new queen is held captive in her tiny windowed room by a plug of bee food that will be eaten away in the two or three days necessary for the hive to accept her. Once she has begun laying eggs, we will breath a sigh of relief and begin to enjoy the view of our tiny orchard being pollinated.


Fun at the Farm


We drive once a week to my mentors farm to help him milk his herd of cows and visit with him and, when the weather is nice, we walk out into the pasture to see our cows. This week, FlyingBoy went with me. He loves petting the calves faces, but mostly he loves that he can RUN. He spent some time “decorating” me with burrs. He carefully placed some on my t-shirt as if he were pinning on a delicate corsage, adjusting and re-placing until he got it just how he wanted it. He also seemed to think they looked lovely in my hair. The dry cows are in a pasture about a quarter mile down the dirt road. He ran the whole way there and back, arms alternately outstretched like an airplane or clutching the imaginary handles in front of his chest to steer the jet pack he frequently uses to 3-2-1-blast off. Farm life is especially good for little guys!

Horns serve a purpose

One of the herding dogs was laying down in the pasture in the middle of the herd of 20 or so dairy cows when we walked out to see some of our favorite cows. She was preoccupied with a very enjoyable ear scratching, and making a rather odd, repetitive motion so a curious calf snuck up from behind her to investigate. When the ear scratching ended, the calf was stretching her neck out to sniff the dog. The dog didn’t realize the cow was there and leapt to her feet, snapping at the calf and in turn startling HER. Honey was one of the cows we were in the pasture to see and we were still standing fairly near her when this happened. Had we been between her and the dog, I’m fairly certain she would have trampled us. The calfs mama was far away, and Honey was the closest cow to this calf. She raced toward the dog and lowered her horns……within seconds the entire herd of lumbering, giant beasts had risen to their feet and began to encircle the dog. Do not mess with a cows calf!