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Spring Foraging

May 7th, 2014 was the latest first turnout to pasture of the milking herd that I can remember. No doubt it was caused by the prolonged winter.

Walking perimeter fences with a pail of fencing tools is one of my most anticipated tasks of spring. The perimeter wire along our forest edge is a smooth 17 gauge wire that can easily be broken by a Whitetail buck during the November rut. After I find a broken wire I envision the buck anxiously awaiting January to shed his antlers and the wiry mess they contain.

As I succumb to the overpowering urge to check the forest floor for any edible greens I find a carpet of delicate white flowers called Bloodroot. Named for the crimson liquid in it’s stalk, Bloodroot is considered poisonous.

I also find the wild leek called Ramps. A member of the lily family, I have no idea why they are called Ramps. I put some chopped ramps in my omelet yesterday – they are delicious. I remember my Grandfather telling how unpleasant the taste and smell of the milk was after the cows found wild leeks in the pasture. Up until the late 50’s almost all the forests in our area were pastured. Can you imagine how hungry the cows were for something green after eating hay all winter?

I needed to share my adventure and my newly found treasures, so I asked Florence, son in law, Eric, daughter Laura and granddaughters Charlotte and Lillian to join me in digging some ramps. A small gardening spade is sufficient to dig them up. The entire edible plant is about 4 inches deep and has a very good root system. We only dig the largest plants, always leaving the small plants to re-propagate the forest.