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June 3, 2011

Nature’s Spring Food and Bears

Dandelions and Nettles are some of natures first herbs to show up at our place with abundance this year along with a few bears.  As gardening is barely underway due to the cold and wet spring here I try to take advantage of what nature has to offer in her food source.

Nettles (Urticaceae)
Just touching this plant you will know you have found stinging nettles.  Fine tiny hairs cause a stinging and itch when in contact with skin.  So when harvesting where gloves. I have found it even goes thru light garden gloves.


I just use the tops of very young plants.  Older leaves contain higher contents of crystals of calcium oxalate which gives a gritty texture.  The young plants are very rich in Vitamin A, C, minerals especially iron; it also contains indoles (mainly histamine and serotonin) and large amounts of chlorophyll.


I often cook with stinging nettles in the late spring in many recipes that might call for spinach.  I also dry the herb for use in teas during the winter mixed with wild peppermint.  Never eat nettle raw.  Some possible benefits from the properties of nettles are as an astringent, diuretic, tonic herb that controls bleeding, clears toxins and slightly reduces blood pressure and blood sugar levels.


Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Oh that poor dandelion with such a bad reputation in peoples yards and gardens.  Oh but what a special herb it is. 


The leaves of the plant are very rich in vitamins A, C, D,and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron and silicon.  The young leaves can be used in salads and also sautéed or used in many different recipes calling for greens.  The flowers can be used to make a wonderful tasting wine, something I did one year, but requires a lot of flowers and a lot of work.


The roots of the plants are lifted in the autumn and used for infusions, liquid extracts, and tinctures.  All parts of the plant have a diuretic, laxative, and antirheumatic effects, stimulates liver function, improves digestion and reduces swelling and inflammation. We try and eat in the spring at least 10 flower stalks a day straight from the lawn as a great liver cleaner and improve digesting after a winter of eating heavy foods. 


Never pick or eat any herbs in areas where pesticides or fertilizers are used and never next to roads.  With all herbs you may use make sure you do your research on them.  They are not all safe and can have interactions with other drugs you may be taking or in too large of quantities have adverse effects.  Many people assume just because it is natural it is safe.  Always do your research.  Nature’s pharmacy is filled with many wonderful proven herbs that are safe, effective and even delicious and nutritious to eat.

Here is our lawn and field down below the house filled with the color of yellow.

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For weekend breakfast or just as a side dish I like sautéing in butter a bunch of nettle and dandelion leaves with chopped garlic, onions and tomatoes with a bit of seasoning.  What a healthy natural spring dish. 

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Our yard is filled with dandelions at this time of the year.  They have their cycle in the yard then the grasses and clovers soon over take it. 

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All that yellow has helped brighten what has been the worst spring we have experienced here in 20 years.  We have had nothing but rain, clouds and lots of wind. 


The seeds are sought after by many birds especially finches, but also chipmunks.

Always trying to get closer.

Ok everyone all at once…. Blowwww……

Lisa thank you for reminding me to get down and get focused...

Dandelions and Nettles are not the only thing that was in abundance this spring.  We have had 3 bears as well.  There was the mother bear I mentioned in my previous blog that had twins a year ago last spring near the beaver ponds on my nature trail.  Well I found out they only have young ones every two years so she still had her cubs from last year.  I never did see the cubs this year, but my hubby did.  I only saw the sow a few times without them.  I am around 2 or 300 feet away from her in these photos with the creek between us.  She finally caught my smell with her nose in the air and ran off.

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Well about the same time another bear started showing up in our field we look down at from our house.  He has been coming now for almost a month.  We believe it is a 3 or 4 year old one.  Every day he or she spends hours grazing on the grasses and dandelions.  So from a distance I have been able to observe it.  Also some geese spend a lot of time near the bear also grazing on the grasses.  These are taken from my deck around 3 or 400 feet away.

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One day I was able to stay in a wooded area along the field and get some closer shots of the bear in the field.  I am about 200 feet away with the creek between us. He had discovered the left overs of a dead beaver from the winter.


Well now doesn’t that smell lovely I think I will just roll all over it.  He or she finally ended up with it draped over it’s head.

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Well big surprise the other day a very young bear showed up in our yard.  It could be one of the twins from last year who may have gotten separated from his mother.  Or perhaps another that wondered down from the mountain.  He was enjoying the lush green grass and dandelions in the yard when hubby spotted him.  I then came out with the camera.  He hardly noticed me.  I followed about 20 feet behind him.  Then when he reached our driveway just when this photo was taken I hollered and screamed to scare him away.  He just looked at me with such sad lonely eyes. 


I had to charge him screaming and yelling to get him moving.  He just didn’t want to go.  Finally hubby join me in running him off.  As cute as he was we had to make his first visit here as unpleasant as possible and establish our territory.   This will be the 3rd bear in 20 years that we have ever seen come into our yard and we have always let them know this is our territory and they are not welcome here at the house.  With or without dogs if they have enough room to establish their own territory they will move on.  But you have to make them very unwelcome at the very start.  I would have loved to continue taking lots of photos of him but knew I had to react quickly with his first meeting of me.

There is of course a million other things I would love to share, but only have so much time, I am just so glad I finally got to share some of my favourite herbs and bears.   My garden isn’t doing really anything yet, too much rain and cold.   Also I wish they would get things all fixed here at blogger.  I hate when I have so little time for visiting and I do can’t seem to be able to comment or it takes me signing in over and over again to get it to take.  Often I will write a long comment only to loose the page when trying to get it to show me signed in even though I am .  Sorry I have left many blogs in the end without commenting as it was becoming to difficult.  Well I know many of you are also experiencing these problems as well.  It was this time last year when spaces got all messed up and I found myself having to come here because no one could even comment on my site all summer there even before I found out they were going to close the blogging.  I guess when you are dealing with all this computer stuff nothing seems to be a for sure thing.

So let the summer begin I am so ready for some sun.  All these cloudy days were beginning to have a serious effect of me. Suppose to have a beautiful weekend so we may be off camping.  All we will do if we stay home is work.  It is time for a break and a change of scenery.  May your coming season be a pleasant one with a

Good Morning…   Good Afternoon…  Good Night…
Whatever it is to you. 

Photos & Words

Here I Am/Carrie