Tending Vines and Foraging Medicine

I was able to get out to the woods on Monday after a long hiatus. Every time I made plans to go, something came up. There was lots to catch up on. I was hoping to plant some persimmon seeds, but couldn't find them, so I just cleared out thorns and dead growth before going on a walk. I like to do work there before getting any recreation time, just to show some intention.

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Stopping for a sip at my favorite watering hole

The water here is always clear, but I still use a filter to drink. This little Sawyer filter is good for all pathogens and metals and such, so I don't have to worry about environmental toxins and pollutants.

It rained all last week solid, so there was some new erosion and litter and such. I was able to pick up some trash and haul it out, but there wasn't a lot. I did a decent job over the summer of getting out the bulk of it. My water filter screws onto a Coke bottle, so there's always a "canteen" to pick up. Snazzy little piece of kit.

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Cool erosion in the creekbed

It's really obvious that these thorn vines aren't helping anything. Goes back to the quote I like to bring up from an old native american, "the white man hasn't helped nature here, it's turned back to wilderness." I forget where I heard that or who said it, but it rings true I almost any halfway wild place you go. Things are so overgrown and disheveled, and it creates a space that's unsafe for people and the landscape.

The idea of "wilderness" in native American culture was a negative one, meaning land that isn't tended or cared for. I'm hoping I can help this place here be cared for.

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Dead tree and so many thorny vines

The thorn vines keep dead brush from falling, and then die there, making a dangerous tinderbox that keeps organic matter from getting back to the soil. With a little tending though, it can be put to good use. This kind of thing contributes a lot to wildfire danger. When people don't interact with an area, it goes bad fast and takes a lot of work to catch up with.

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Two dead hackberry trees and deadfall, tangled in thorny vines

It looks like the thorns use smaller trees and lower branches to climb up higher, so I pruned off lower branches where I could. If there were small branches a meter or two up on a big tree, I just cut them.

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Deadfall branches, tangled in thorny vines

My idea with most deadfall that I collect like this is to put it in gullies and draws to slow down water flow. Y'all know me, I like slowing down water. Every gallon that doesn't go in a damn lake fifty miles away is a success in my book. Keep that water where it falls, Texas! You won't be in a drought all the time.

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Felled tree for a basket berm

I took down two trees, one with the tomahawk (lots of work) and one simply by pushing it over. Each one had so many unreachable vines that it was a danger to nearby trees, and both tried hard to pull down other trees as they fell. I cleared out vines under about a dozen trees in this small area. Doesn't make a dent in the overall woods, but it'll be a good start for this immediate area that I'm working in.

All of this is along the short route from the spa to the clearing. Soon I'll be trying on the clearing itself, which has mats of thorn vines that are sometimes a meter thick. I'll wear pants and boots that day, cause these thorns are mean. One of them cut my knuckle while I was working and today my finger is swollen and hard to move. Ouchie.

All in all, I spent about an hour and a half on this project. There's many hours left to put in of course, but I yad other things to get done, so I went for a slow meandering walk to check up on the creek after working.

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Cleavers on the creekbank

On the walk, i found a couple good patches of cleavers! I've been watching at the house, and it just hasn't been cold enough for cleavers I think. These were in a couple of draws that got a lot of shade, so it stays cooler there. I harvested a small bit to take home for a tincture.

After I got home, I went to the liquor store and the garden store.

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A handful of cleavers

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Cleavers, rinsed and chopped

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Cleavers labeled and tincturing

At the garden store, I picked up fertilizer and insecticide.

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Omg, he bought what?!

Next thing you know, I'll be growing GMOs!!! Nah, this stuff is good. Meets my requirements for safety, and works biologically instead of chemically. The insecticide is BT, a microbe that attacks caterpillars, so it's supposed to be really good for corn ear worms that took all my corn last year. It's safe for bees, earthworms, and anything that's not a crop-eating caterpillar. The blood meal is an animal based fertilizer that I read is super good for corn as a slow release nitrogen source. That's what I primarily bought these two for, and I'll likely need more as I add corn patches every which where.

Quick little update. I'm glad I've gotten to post more this week than usual. Maybe I'll be able to pick up with the posting now that my schedule is steadying. Spring vibes are high, and I'll be harvesting pine pollen any time I think.

All action for the good of all.

Nate.


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These are the type of NM posts I adore... a journal about whats being learnt, consisered, reflected upon in natural healing world. Id LOVE one of those filters!!!! Where did you get it?

I love the thought of you tending the land. How big is 'your' bit of nature there?

I picked that one up at Wally world a while back. They're on Amazon too, it s a Sawyer mini and runs for about $20. Great little thing to have around, and they used to do a cool charity thing where they'd send filters to places with bad water. Good folks!

The bit I'm working is probably just a few acres, but I'll spread out more as I get one place under control. There's hundreds of acres out there, but I doubt I'll get that big. I'm just one Nate after all. Maybe I'll get shot out there for trespassing and nothing will be left for my scratches and scrapes after a year of two lol

Just a heads up on nitrogen: Too much will actually weaken the plant, thereby attracting pests.... There's a reason why farmers who put down a lot of NPK have to use pesticides....

Also be aware that as the soil warms up, the biological activity increases, thereby releasing more nitrogen.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us!
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Loving to see how the cleaver tincture evolved out of a ramble in the woods - all as it should be.


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