We are very fortunate that we have a lot of woodland as part of our farm. In fact, the vast majority of our property is woodland that is surrounded by two creeks on either side. Bryce has cut trails throughout and I take our dog, Rosie, for a walk every single day. She loves it so!
This year, I’ve found that I’m spending more time in our woods and have made new discoveries that have been exciting. Normally, by this time in the year, we have stopped going into the woods on a daily basis because we are scared off by the ticks. We have a lot of them and I don’t think Lyme disease is anything to take lightly as both Bryce and Harris have had it (before we ever even bought the farm). But this year, I’ve been loath to give it up as it’s as good for me as it is for Rosie.
My most exciting discovery this year was that we have thousands of ramps down by the creek. After I saw a post about ramps being foraged, I thought it would be so fun to have some on our land and even looked into buying bulbs! Several days later, I wandered over to an area that I don’t frequent as much and was stunned and delighted to behold thousands of ramps. Ramps are in the onion family and are considered by many to be delicacy. Its allure is enhanced by the fact that they are only available for a couple of weeks in April or May as they ephemerals. Here’s a fun timeline of ramps popularity (doesn’t even touch on the past 7 years!). I made ramp pesto and served with chicken for my first foray into cooking with ramps. It was very good but very potent!
Unfortunately, our woods aren’t filled with beautiful bluebells (I’m working on that!) and stunning, old growth trees. About 60 or so years ago, this was still grazing land for animals so the forest has grown in since then. Therefore, our biggest trees are by the creek, and in danger from erosion, and the rest of the trees are not that large. We have many ash which are either dead or dying due to the Emerald Ash borer. It’s breaks my heart and makes me wonder what will happen as the canopy disappears and the overpopulation of deer continue to browse on new saplings.
We also are dealing with a tremendous amount of invasives, including multi flora rose and vines. Some of the vines we’ve cut have been as large as tree trunks! It makes me so happy to find natives on our walks like this jack in the pulpit and trout lily.
I’ve also spotted a few morel mushrooms. Not enough to harvest and make a meal out of but one can hope!
This past spring, we were able to surround some of the woods with deer fence. We needed our flower field to be enclosed and we also wanted the envelope that includes our house, barns and workshop to be included. Fortunately, we were able to get some of the woods as well. I would have loved to fence in our entire property but that is in no way economically feasible. It will be interesting to see the difference in the two areas as the years go by. We are planting many saplings to start replacing lost ash and also we are cutting vines and pulling multi flora rose as much as possible but I will admit that sometimes it feels overwhelming! However, no matter how imperfect it is, I’m so thankful during this quarantine to have an escape in the woods. Be well and stay strong!