Grasping the Nettle

It’s a term meaning: To tackle a difficult problem boldly. It describes a couple of recent goings-on here at Pinwheel Farm.
#1 The literal meaning Tim (other WWOOFer) and I went with a neighbor to harvest stinging nettles the other day from a spot near the levy just behind her house. The nettles were about 1 ft high at the time and we pinched off the top round of leaves much like one would harvest basil; except we were armed with heavy-duty gloves! Between the 2 of us, we brought back 2 grocery bags full of the nettles and I set about stuffing as much as I could into a mason jar then pouring 100 proof vodka over that to let it join the family of other tinctures in the closet. The rest (about a pound) went into a cast-iron pot with 1 pound also of butter. This I left heating overnight then strained through a wire mesh sieve. The strained green butter (full of the medicinal qualities!) went into containers for use spreading on toast or to grease the skillet for scrambled eggs, while the cooked nettles themselves went into a container in the fridge from which I’ve been pulling them out periodically to add to eggs, quiche, pesto or simply as a sandwich filling.

Quiche of the Day!

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is one of our most valuable medicinal herbs – every part has medicinal properties (stem, leaves, flower and root.) It’s superb at both blood cleansing and building. It is high in iron and is a good tonic (meaning it can be taken in regular, small doses over a long period of time) for increased energy, vitality and general body well-being. It’s been known to help with disorders from allergies to diabetes to leukemia. The tea can even be used as a hair rinse for thickness and relief from dandruff! Raw, fresh stinging nettle has been used extensively for arthritis; by lashing the arthritic area with the plant, the stingers release their properties and reduce swelling and pain.

#2 The figurative meaning. Natalya has been operating on less than 5 hours of sleep most nights since I’ve been here as she is working on obtaining a Conditional Use Permit for her land that would allow her to legally pitch a tent and have camping on her own property (yes, in Douglas County it is, in fact, illegal to pitch a tent even in your own backyard,) as well as be allowed to showcase a produce stand for selling vegetables and meat directly on-site. Both of these issues (along with a few other minor ones) will help increase the profitability of her farm by allowing more direct sales and potential housing spaces for volunteers. The trials and tribulations she’s been facing from a few disagreeing neighbors, and county officials has been tiring to say the least. The public hearing on the subject will be held at City Hall come Monday night at 6:30.

A potential 'vagrant' camper, aka: Tim

 I will be giving a short presentation on how allowing camping on the property will foster the sharing of education and experience for people like me who desire to learn all that they can and depend on shelter at each farm destination.

It’s a shame that so many people are up in arms over the CUP, saying that allowing camping will only invite vagrants and homeless bums into the area and degrade the value of the neighborhood. These are the very people who have refused to talk face to face with Natalya to actually find out what her intentions for the farm are. Fear of the unknown is a strong binding agent.

The very definition of a CUP, as opposed to a re-zoning, asks for and even invites neighbors, friends and officials to hold the farm accountable to the proposed conditions which include safety features, handicap accessibility, soil preservation and general farm upkeep.

On to more joyous topics now!

We have one sheep left that has yet to give birth. We’ve begun to rotationally graze them on pasture, bringing them in at night and taking them out first thing. The lambs are beginning to be interested in the solid food they see their mom’s eating and we’re gradually having to mix lesser amounts of milk replacer for the ones who’s mom’s have impaired udders.

Mustard greens, radishes, kale, carrots, beets, cilantro, chard, dill, curly cress and more potatoes went into the ground this week. All the beds except the potatoes (which are already mulched with a thick layer of straw) were given light layers of mulch of either compost, grass clippings or a Re-may cover (a light-weight, woven fabric, white in color and a super protectant against rain or too much sun.)

The spinach, tat soi, arugula, mizuna and romaines we planted a few weeks ago are growing and even beginning to get “leggy” from being too crowded. So yesterday when we were harvesting for market we “thin picked”; basically pulled up a few plants at the root every 2-3″, cut off the root portion and took the tops to market as micro-mix.

The weather has been more than agreeable almost the entire time I’ve been here. Sunny days with a light breeze and temperatures reaching into the 80s have been the regular so far (unseasonably warm, the bolting cilantro and lettuce concur!) But wonderful for biking, laying in the park and reading and taking picnics by the lake. There’s been only miniscule amounts of rain and almost nary a thunderstorm; though on the way back from Kansas City last night (where I had been invited to give a small tutorial on making kombucha) a thickness of low-lying clouds was all that shielded us from a major storm but at the same time provided a spectacular lightning show just west of the highway we were on.

Yummy meditation among the radish flowers


2 responses to “Grasping the Nettle

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