Posted by: terrapraeta | October 14, 2009

Fall Foraging 1

Oh! Ohhhh yeeeh
I used to think maybe you loved me now baby I’m sure
And I just cant wait till the day when you knock on my door
Now everytime I go for the mailbox , gotta hold myself down
Cos I just wait till you write me your coming around

I’m walking on sunshine , wooah
I’m walking on sunshine, woooah
I’m walking on sunshine, woooah
and don’t it feel good!!

Katrina and the Waves, Walking on Sunshine

Took the dog for a nice hike in my backyard last night. It was one of those beautiful mountain fall evenings. The weather was warm, turning slightly brisk as the sun began to set. The sky was perfectly clear and the wind was mild. I took her up to my sit spot (the first time she has gone this far… she’s growing up so fast, soon she’ll be able to go further than I). Then we traversed a gully for another ¼ mile or so before turning around.

Just like last time we went hiking, she walked right at my heal all the way up the path – but then when we turned back she ran ahead, pausing when she got a certain distance ahead, waiting for me to catch up. Now, I have very good sense of direction, but this comforts me nonetheless. She followed our exact path back, including every divergence that we made on the way up. This leaves me quite confident that we will never get lost in the hills, so long as I trust her enough to lead the way.


I was hoping, on this hike to collect some interesting wild stuffs. I found a huge yucca and tried to get some root…. but the plant I chose was apparently an old granddaddy. I just didn’t have the heart to cut into it when I saw how huge the root system was. In fact, all of the surface roots were long dead, so I would have had to dig quite a ways to even get fresh root. Instead, I covered it back up with soil and looked for a younger plant.

Interestingly, the plant I did end up collecting from was a different sub species than I have found before. I didn’t realize it until I took a good look at the root. Where other yuccas I have harvested have had a thick, black bark on them, this one was much thinner, brown and had grooved rings around the root. Just as with the kinnickinnick previously, I looked around and realized that I was digging in fine soil, where previously the plants had been growing in almost pure sand. Now I will have to experiment with the roots to see if the sudsing is different between the two.

My backyard is also full of both Rocky Mountain Juniper and Pinon Pine. Juniper berries take years to mature on any given tree, but I noticed this year that quite a few plants had mature berries. So last night I went looking. Unfortunately, it appears that the mature berries have all already fallen/been eaten, so all I found last night was immature berries. I’m guessing that they probably should have been harvested in August or perhaps early September. I need to research this a bit.

Pinon Pine is the source for Pine Nuts: the same pine nuts you can buy in the store and are used to make pesto (among other things). I have been under the impression that pinon held onto their nuts through the winter – that they would be available to harvest in the middle of winter as a starvation food. Of course, they carry a tremendous calorie and nutritional content and they taste good – unlike most starvation foods. However, they also require very tedious harvesting. However, I found that most of the pinon cones were already falling, and all of them appeared to be open and devoid of nuts. Thinking back, I found a cone in my sit spot two months ago that was devoid of nuts, as well. Perhaps these are last years cones? I don’t know. More research for me.

Sometime in the next two days, I’m heading over to our local lake to see what I can find in the way of arrow leaf (wapato) and cattails. I’m afraid I am a bit intimidated about that, however. Reading about collecting it in the midwest is one thing – but even in the warmest months, our water temps rarely exceed 45 degrees. It makes a difference. Before next season I intend to get myself a pair of dry pants to go with the river booties I already have. But for this week, I’ll just have to wait and see whether getting into the water to harvest is at all doable.


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