There was ice gleaming off the side of the Elephant’s Head mountain this morning. I breathed in the chillier air and wrapped my sweater around me, blaming myself for having looked at those photos from last winter and altering the temperature for the day. Whether truly my fault or not, you can feel the threat of snow in the air, but the breeze is not more than brisk. (I’ve misplaced my camera phone – so no pics, sorry)
I took to cleaning the field of horse and goat manure, before tackling the overgrowth of mountain and bog laurel present in the upper field. Both are poisonous. The horse thankfully avoids them, but I fear my goats may not; they tried to chow down on the apple tree in and my neighbours cherry trees. I found many high bush blueberries growing in amongst them, which I left to multiply. The chickens watched me with curiosity, one eye at a time.
I also removed some of the wild rose bushes, since they are full of thorns and I assumed my horse wouldn’t want to mistakenly take a bite full while eating the long grass next to them. But my horse did something quite strange in the other field; he ate an entire thistle plant, nowhere near anything else, bristles and prickles and all. Then he ate another. So perhaps I didn’t need to clear out the sweet smelling rosewood after all.
While I am lucky about the horse not liking the aromatic, lemony laurel plants, I do have to watch out for him gobbling up horse tails. They grow very quickly in sandy spots, along the roads, near the river, on pathways….and from what I can tell, they must taste good. But my plant books advise they are seriously dangerous for livestock, including horses. They make up a majority of the green I put in the compost pile. I consider it making my enemy work for me.
The compost pile at the top of the hill is almost nonexistent. That, is thanks to the chickens. You wouldn’t think birds who eat worms would be good to have near something that requires worms to make it decompose but it shrinks remarkably. Perhaps me adding their droppings and feathers to the mix helps; or it could be all the extra woody scraps that go into that pile.
I almost forgot, I was going to mention the difference between dogberry wine berries and dogwood berries. If you come to Newfoundland you will most likely be offered some hand made dog berry wine. Do not panic; they are not trying to poison you. These berries are from an Ash variant and are completely edible. Flowering dogwood is reportedly poisonous; however some dogwood trees have fruit that is harvested and sold. Always err in caution is my philosophy and take out the seeds. Cyanide is nobody’s friend.
I would advise you avoid Labrador Tea, if it is made from the Labrador Tea plant, which is related to Rhododendron species since preparing it the wrong way could release harmful toxins. Damage to eyesight and even death can occur in high doses. In fact most evergreen teas should not be consumed on a daily basis as they are medicines. Usually retina damage occurs from overdose. If you are sick, suffering from high fever and have someone experienced in such tea preparation it can be beneficial but it is not something you can substitute you morning or evening orange pekoe for.