A Sad Tail …

rambling ratz

photo of minnee mouseLast Friday evening I set off to the back garden to refill the water bowl for the birds and hedgehogs, pausing briefly to pay my respects to the pile of pigeon feathers that the sparrowhawk had left behind and continued up the path. I spotted a little brown ball in the middle of the path. As I got closer I realized it was a tiny little mouse sitting very still and looking a bit poorly.  I couldn’t see any other mice around and thought that something bad must have happened to it for it to be where it was. I decided to pick it up before one of the many neighbourhood cats that were patrolling the garden got their paws on it.photo of minnee mouse

The mouse did not react at all to me picking it up, so I assumed it to be very ill. Warming it in my cupped hands I took…

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What I Know about the Lagoon Field adjacent to Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve and SSSI

The Wilden Marsh Blog

The camera trap video below shows an otter on Hoo Brook bank, close to the McDonald’s fast food outlet and Lagoon Field.

For many years I have worked, wandered, and poked about on Wilden Marsh, looked in many nooks and crannies, and investigated nature in areas surrounding it. I’m a volunteer wildlife warden. I manage the on-site conservancy, facilitate and schedule volunteer workdays, plan how, where and when the cattle graze the marsh, and physically move and supervise them on the reserve and in the new WFDC’s Falling Sands Nature Area. There isn’t much happening on the marsh that I don’t know about, and there isn’t much fauna and flora that I haven’t seen or watched there at one time or another. So, I walk through and around the Lagoon Field boundaries frequently: seven days a week when the cattle are grazing the north marsh. I’ve seen it at its best and worst in the mornings, afternoons, evenings and at dead of night…

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EASY White clover Jelly

Homestead Heroine

White clover. Yes, the kind that is covering your yard. It makes a phenomenal jelly that tastes like honey.

IMG_20140519_134714-1

Here is a simple recipe to make white clover jelly.

Makes 5 half pint jars.

2 heaping cups of fresh clover flowers, rinsed.

2 cups of boiling water.

4 cups of sugar (I prefer Morena Pure Cane Sugar. It has an amazing flavor all its own and it is much better for you.)

1 package of liquid pectin (I prefer Liquid pectin. It does cost a bit more, but the consistency is always perfect! Totally worth it!)

5 half pint jars and lids sterilized.

Collect 2 heaping cups of white clover flowers. Rinse gently.

Place the flowers in a large mason jar.

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the flowers.

Place lid on jar loosely. Let sit for a minimum of 4 hours or over night.

Strain the water from…

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1950’s Lucky Clover Cake Recipe with Fluffy Icing Recipe

McCallum Vintage Recipe Divas

1950's Lucky Clover Cake 1950’s Lucky Clover Cake

Lucky Clover Cake Recipe Follow directions carefully, be sure to use Crisco, and we promise you a lighter, richer, moister, more tender cake. The Crisco Quick Method cake recipe is different – that’s why it’s easy and sure-fire!

All measurements level. Measure into bowl:

  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 squares melted chocolate
  • 1/2 cup Crisco

Mix thoroughly by hand or mixer (medium speed) for 2 minutes.
Stir in:

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsps baking soda

Add:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix thoroughly by hand or mixer (medium speed) for 2 minutes. Pour into two deep 9-inch layer pans (1 1/2″ deep) which have been rubbed with Crisco and lined with heavy waxed paper. (For smaller pans, fill half full, bake cup cakes with remaining batter.) Bake in moderate oven (350 F)…

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Red Clover Wine

wildpickings

A number of people have asked me for a  recipe for red clover wine, so here it is.
As with most of my wine recipes, it is adapted from Roger Phillips « Wild Food » this is one of my all time favourite books on wild food and I thoroughly recommend it.

 

 

2 litres of red clover blossom – I pick them into a litre jug to measure them. Press down lightly & add more til you get the amount.

2 oranges

2 lemons

1 litre white grape juice

1kg caster sugar

wine yeast

Pick your blossoms when they are freshly opened, with no brown bits. You need to use them immediately or they will turn brown.  Scrupulously clean a bucket – I use sterilising powder. It will need to be large enough to hold a gallon of liquid ( I use a very large tupperware style 15 litre container…

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To be in Clover

rambling ratz

You may have heard the expression « to be in clover », it is a happy, prosperous state to be in and refers to the cattle fattening properties of clover.photo of honey bee on clover

To a lot of people clover is a nuisance plant, spoiling the look of their lawn, which it does if you like your lawns uniformly green and devoid of insect life. It is actually grown as a crop, providing excellent fodder for livestock. It gives us an example of farmers and bee keepers living in harmony, the clover needs pollination from bees and the bees need the clover to make their honey.photo of clover

As clover is a member of the legume family, which also includes peas and beans, it is an excellent nitrogen fixer for soil. Such plants obtain nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it into the soil benefiting other plants as well as themselves and meaning the farmer doesn’t have to…

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Poison Ivy Remedy: Jewelweed Infused Witch Hazel

The Druid's Garden

Jewelweed and Poison Ivy Like Each Other A Lot Jewelweed and Poison Ivy Like Each Other A Lot

As I spend copious time in the outdoors, I often end up covered with poison ivy at least once or twice in the summer.I happen to like poison ivy as a plant a lot–she is beautiful, she is powerful, and she teaches us awareness (more on her soon).    But the contact dermatitis that I get from her on a regular basis kind of sucks.  Given that, I have a simple recipe that I make and keep on my shelf that seeks the healing power of two other plants: witch hazel and jewelweed.  This jewelweed infused witch hazel is a great remedy for poison ivy and clears it up very quickly.

If you can’t find jewelweed, I believe this recipe would be fairly effective with plantain or chickweed.  But Jewelweed is really the best.

Harvesting Jewelweed

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)…

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July in the Woods

rambling ratz

woods-1If I had to describe the British woods in July with one word, it would be « green ». Everything is just so … green.

All of the ferns have unfurled, giving the woodland floor as green and leafy a look as the canopy above. Ferns are some of the earliest and most primitive plants. They reproduce by spores rather than seeds. Fern fossils have been found that date back 360 million years when trilobites filled the oceans. There is childlike joy in the tactility of fondling fern fronds as you walk through them.

Well, okay it isn’t just green. There are lots of woodland flowers in bloom at the moment. These are really testing my amateur flower ID skills, so please do let me know if I have got them wrong!

Photo of St John's WortFirst up, St John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum. This cheery yellow flower is associated today with the treatment of mild…

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