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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


Anonymous said...

Hello Carrie! Wonderful post with nature. Beautiful pictures of the bear, and plants.

Gerry said...

Hi Carrie, I agree with the comment above. Great pictures of nature. I hope you have a nice weekend!

DaveOnFidalgo said...

Hello Carrie. The pictures of nettles make me itch and squirm. You can come and harvest all of mine. From a little distance, they do look beautiful.

What Karen Sees said...

What a lovely and interesting blog entry, and your photos are stunning as always. I would have never thought to eat stinging nettle!!!!

nita said...

Hi Carrie,

Great informative blog, I learnt a lot as I read. Oh and chasing bears off, gee whiz, I cannot imagine doing that.

God Bless - Nita

GreatGranny said...

Those Nettles look good and the dandelions as well. I've never eaten either. The dish you made sure looks delish.
The bears are so cute and it seems the bear was probably looking for food. I would have been scared being so close.
Take it easy and enjoy your paradise.

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Carrie, awesome blog today. Great images of the Bear. Be careful around the those Bear.

Anonymous said...

These are awesome photos Carrie !
We don't have bears "except for the koala bear :) " in Australia.
Do these guys pose a threat to you at all?

Wishing you a beautiful weekend Carrie x

Seth@ChaosHQ's said...

She writes... and beautifully too! I must say, I believe that almost everything that we have here on earth, was put here for a reason and that includes Dandelions, Nettles and bears... oh my! Dandelions and many herbs are here because they are supposed to be. They evolved with us for a medicinal, dietary, etc. purposes as you have clearly stated. Who dare to call them weeds just doesn't understand the beauty in them. I have a friend who makes his own Dandelion wine... tastes very much like a light white wine with hints of citrus.
I have another friend who made Nettle Spanakopita as a potluck dish for a dinner party that I attended! It was all eaten up by the time I made it through the food line... didn't help that I arrived late either. :( My mother used to steam some nettles, and serve them up with a little Parmesan cheese. Now you have me thinking that perhaps I could make nettle lasagna with my favourite spinach lasagna recipe. Hhhmmm! Yup, not only do you have me thinking but now I am hungry too.

Seth@ChaosHQ's said...

I absolutely loved your story about the bears. Nature continues to amaze me! Not to mention, that your photos are amazing... you certainly have the knack with that camera.

Janie2 said...

What a post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love everything about it, especially the TOP photo you have for your headliner. The colors so vibrant. The other thing I love is the BEAR. Can I come stay at your house? I want to see a real bear out in nature walking by my house.

Seth@ChaosHQ's said...

::Seth waves:: Leaving you a quick greeting and hoping that you are enjoying a relaxing afternoon.

Here I Am/Carrie said...

Well we have been gone for a few days since I posted this and the bear has returned. Was probably here the whole time we were gone so now feels quite at home here. There are so much green grass and danelions around our house he is eating. Sitting here at the computer yesterday he walked right past our window. He just isn't afraid of us. I think he was raised near the road and people must have stopped all the time talking to him. I am hoping he moves on when the dandelion is finished. We had a wonderful few sunny days but now the rain is back. Thank everyone for stopping in. Hugs Carrie

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Carrie, one can also use the whole plant of stinging Nettles for making great conditioner for hair, and will also stimulate new hair growth. I saw this on one of the native gardening shows on APTN.

Lisa RedWillow said...

That is a cute looking bear. Hard to believe that they come so close but I have heard and seen here they do. What a beautiful beautiful blog.
I finally after all these years saw a Lady slipper and thought of you.
Up close they look like they have teeth. Its beautiful. Hope your doing well and busy.
My garden is up. We have had our first good rain.
Before that I was watering it.
and now I might have veggies for the winter even if we stay home and dont travel this year.

Anonymous said...

Hi from Carrie my internet connection has come to a grinding halt. I am at a friends now trying to get thru to my provider. At this moment I am on with them and they show everything alright. So till I get it fixed I am not going to be around. I have a reblog from spaces coming to a God's Garden of nature that I uploaded before this all happened. AnywY TILL i GET THIS ALL FIZED WILL NOT BE AROUND. SORRY FOR ALL MY TYPING ERRORES AND WEIRDS STUFF BUT i AM TRYING TO HOLD THE PHONE AND TYPE AT THE SAME TIME. Ok I am back to normal. They did some resets and hope when I get home everything will be back and running. Also am getting sick of this problem here with signing in for comments. Hugs to everyone Carrie

Anonymous said...

Hi Carrie,
You pictures are always so beautiful. So crazy how wild animals are living close of you...
I'm flying definitively back home tomorrow.. hope will have more time now to write... to you and on my blog!
Take care,

Mei said...

Hi Carrie, can't remember i left a comment here or not. Something weird with my statistics, still don't understand what's going on... i hope its blogger's problem not from some weird do. Was so tired last night gone stright to bed after dinner and now i'm up early, another tired day today keep me busy busy, going back to school this morning to improved my english and working late afternoon, wish the day have more hours, so i can have a good nap in between! ;-)

You got panda bear in your garden! They look the same to me, just with out the white patch! :-) Hope you got your connection sorted soon. Enjoy your day! Mei

Seth@ChaosHQ's said...

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•` ¤ Just stopping by your little piece of paradise here to say hello! I am hoping that you are taking good care and enjoying the days as they come. The weekend is almost upon us... hope you are able to just sit back and relax! Cheers to you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the visit over at wp Carrie, I left you a reply there if you see it - they have a thing where you can subsribe to comments don't know. Georgeious headliner photo, this blog is keeping me up reading and enjoying all the nature scenes too!

Here I Am/Carrie said...

Well everyone I think I have fixed my commenting problem I had at so many other peoples blogs. I cleared out all my cookies from google and signed back in and am now able to comment at everyones blog again. Also had my dish realigned so my connection to the internet is pretty good again. Still not the fasted, but then it never was. So getting a little visiting in then have to work on a new blog. Wishing everyone a Happy Canada and 4th of July.

Seth@ChaosHQ's said...

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•` ¤ Just dropped in to say hello. No need to get up. I have been here before, so don't mind if I make myself at home. :)
Here's hoping that you are having a relaxing weekend! Cheers to you!

Seth@ChaosHQ's said...

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•` ¤ We all have our own reasons to celebrate... so let's do just that, and celebrate all we have because of where we live, in either of the two greatest countries there are!

If you celebrate the Fourth of July - Happy Independence Day. If you celebrate July 1st - Happy CANADA Day!
The love of one's country is a splendid thing.

Nancy said...

Carrie, 20 feet behind a bear....are you crazy? I would never get that close! You and hubby are used to the wildlife and I trust you know what to do. My heart pounded when I read 20 feet! You are so knowledgeable my friend on plants. I will have to harvest dandelion roots this Fall.

Anonymous said...

what kind of life you have Carie, it make me jealous to your convenience for wildlife watching... it seems to be a good time to equip a telephoto lens now.
what a coincidence, i was out of arctic on JUNE 3th.
looking forward your new post and update to those bears.


Janie said...

Scrolling thru some of your older posts was fun.

When I came across this one of the bear, I wanted to comment. I saw my FIRST black bear on this trip we are on. I have some photos of him. He was HUGE. I did not have any fear of him but gave distance. What an amazing thing to see. FOR YOU, however, this is your home. What a great post. I love bears too.