Welcome to Week 4 of Wild Cub Weekly!
“Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life."
Man, has it been windy out there lately!
The cold weather has made the ice amazingly thick on some the ponds near me. Great for skating and investigating through the clear glass-like ice. You can see lots of activity down there - some amphibians and fish survive under the ice through the winter. We can talk more on that soon...
This week, I am introducing an edible plant for you and your family to try while out for a walk or hike. Foraging is great to get to know our native plants and our land better. I also have a recipe to make some winter food for our feathery friends! Enjoy!
I would love to hear about last weeks activity, or anything you would like to share from your Sit Spot. Sharing your knowledge with friends is so much fun!
Above is the hill at Nippo Lake Golf Course in Barrington.
A great place to go sledding when we have snow...
Let's all wish for a good snow storm, soon!
In late January or early February
the Hopi Indians (whose traditional lands are in what is now Northern Arizona)
celebrate the Powamu Festival, also called the Bean Planting Festival.
In the tradition, their ancestors come down from the caves
to bring good luck to the coming growing season. Isn't it interesting that in other parts of the world, the growing season starts in what we still consider "winter"?
Reminder- Later this week, January 28th,
will be another Full Moon, or Wolf Moon.
This is when our moon is fully illuminated,
this helps animals move around and communicate at night!
Photo: Tilda and Nippo Lake Country Club sled hill - Barrington, NH
While there is not much snow on the ground, this allows easy access to some ground-cover plants to forage from!
Here, we have Wintergreen or Tea Berry (Gaultheria procumbens), part of the Ericaceae family.
The bright red berries didn't quite make the photo, as most have probably been taken already by deer, rodents, and even bears or foxes.
These low growing plants are usually found beneath pine and hemlock shaded forests - having highly acidic and sandy soil. A lot of the time found along wooded paths. It is a native plant to the northern part of our country and into Canada as the berries need cold temperatures and are the most sweet after the first frost.
Native people to these lands use them for poultice or put in teas for relieving pain. The flavor can be strong and slightly sweet when harvested at the right time, but also very bitter in the off season.
Take one of its vibrant and leathery leaves and fold and pinch it to smell its aroma. It is safe to chew and freshen your breath with. I usually end up spitting out the chewed leaf, but it is not harmful if swallowed.
Partridgeberry is this plants "look-a-like". It is more vine like and the leaves are smaller with a white stripe down the center. These are also edible, so don't worry if you mix them up. They don't have a minty flavor, which will also help you distinguish between the two.
Remember: We must always practice respectable and safe foraging. Rule of thumb, just take enough to sample when trying something new. If you end up harvesting something from the woods you plan on using for consumption, be aware of any endangered species in the area, and make sure you leave plenty on the plant for wild animals to eat and for their seeds to reproduce. There are lots of plants that look a like, be 100% sure what you are harvesting. If you are not quite sure, send me a picture, I will help you identify it!
This week we are making Suet Bird-feeders (you can substitute coconut oil for suet).
Parents- we will need your help for this one!
After you gather your ingredients, start by cutting up your tomatoes (or other fruits and veggies) and display their seeds at the bottom of your muffin tin. Cover with bird seed, leaving a little room between the ingredients and rim of muffin tray. I then put the remaining tomatoes at the top of the seed layer, too. Use old chop sticks by cutting them in half and placing them in the center; this will be for a bird to perch on.
Render the suet fat or coconut oil on low heat. The suet will take much longer, so make sure you have plenty of time to let it slowly "melt". I combined some coconut oil in with my suet. Once it is cooked down into liquid form, pour it slowly into each compartment, allowing it to disperse evenly. Place in freezer or in a safe, colder part of the house/ outside while the fat solidifies. Once hardened, take out of molds and tie with twine to hang on low branches or off your porch.
What bird species come to eat? Do they eat while they are at the food or do they fly away with mouthfuls? If they fly away with food, are they eating it somewhere close or are they hiding it for later?
Bird ID Resources
The Sibley Guide to Birds of Eastern North America (book)
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (website)
Audubon's birding app
Parents: This helps with your kids development in science and math, fine-motor skills, patients, and social team-building abilities. Watching the birds come and eat your gift for them, is a wonderful feeling as well!
Book ($18.95 Target online)
The Organic Art For Kids! By: Nick Neddo
-Grace Bailey, Education Consultant