« Obscure, plain and little… »


0709171135 My memorial painting of Anastasia, with her sister, Sugar. JSS

A few weeks ago, we lost the smallest member of our family, the timid but trusting albino rat, Anastasia. She doesn’t have much to do with trash or the Monocacy River, and I realized about a month ago that I was dwelling on my pets, and maybe even death, perhaps a little too much for my stated goals for this blog, but, with the passage of time, I’ve begun to see that to let her death go unmentioned is almost a form of dishonesty. Small as she was, we all miss her warm, little body, the strong, quick beating of her heart, and her ruby-red, curious eyes.

Of all the pets I’ve kept (and, oh, there were many in my childhood), rats have elicited the most vehement and divisive responses: either « Gross! Those tails! » or « Oh! Aren’t they the…

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Evening Primrose

rambling ratz

As the name suggests the evening primrose, family Onagraceae, flowers during the evening and throughout the night. The flowers are supposed to last until noon. These particular flowers in my garden look just like evening primrose, but they flower all day and all night. Unless someone can tell me otherwise I shall assume that they are indeed evening primrose, but perhaps a variety that flowers all blooming day!

They are American natives that were introduced to the UK in the 1600s. They are also known as « Sundrop » or « Evening Star ». I believe that all of the plant is edible, but the roots were particularly favoured as a meal. Native Americans also used the leaves to make tea. The seeds are a source of Gamma-Linolenic Acid and the oil from the seeds is used in many herbal preparations.Photo of evening primrose

They are an important food source for moths which feed on the…

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Coming Home

The Druid's Garden

Rocky shore of Maine at sunrise Rocky shore of Maine at sunrise

My heart sings as I look out upon rocky shores where the clean waters meet the rising sun. I watch as the waves crash upon the bladderwrack-encrusted stones. Further inland, the land is vibrant, wild, and beautiful. The rivers and brooks rejoice as they cascade down from the mountains. The stones covered with lichen and mosses dripping with the recent rain. The lakes are so clear you can see 40 feet down. Visiting such pristine places are like a balm for my weary and tired druid heart. And yet, these wild places are not my home. The rocky coast of Maine is not the land of my blood and birth. Despite the singing in my soul, the healing and energy pouring into me from this beautiful landscape, I know I’m not home.

On my train trip back to Western Pennsylvania, my spirit grows heavy. I know that…

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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.


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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Homemade Pink Clover Jelly

faith, hope, & love, but the greatest of these....

Recently I’ve been on a « foraging » kick. I’ve always been interested in being able to live off of nature, and while it’s pretty straightforward up around Schefferville (with the tons of wild blueberries, cranberries, tea, etc) I’d been wondering what kind of foraging I could do around here in new England. So, I found a recipe for making jelly out of clover! And since I just learned how to do my own canning last year, I figured, why not!

I’d link you to the original recipe, but it’s a bit spotty and leaves things out (which meant I was cooking blind here and there), so here’s my adapted recipe:

(You’ll need:

4 cups worth of clover blossoms

4 cups of boiling water

a little extra water

lemon or lime juice

6 cups of sugar

2 packages of liquid pectin (powdered would probably be fine too)

canning supplies)

Eric and I took a…

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