Photos by Sue Weaver
Mom likes lots of plants most folks call weeds. We do too, because they’re yummy!
Thistles are some of Mom’s favorite flowers, but here in the Ozarks she spends hours grubbing them out of places we animals graze. We like to eat them when they’re young, like Oran is munching Bull Thistle in this picture.
We love young Nodding Thistles too. Our mouths are tougher than you think!
If you have a fast Internet connection (it’s a big file), you can download an 88-page color guide to Arkansas’ Pasture Weeds that Mom says is better than most of the books she buys.
Or, visit the Weeds page at the Maryland Small Ruminant Pages (one of Mom’s favorite online resources) for more great links to pasture plant identification guides than you can imagine.
Some pasture plants most people think are weeds are valuable herbal plants, like Mullein. That’s the fuzzy leaf that Oran is eating in the second picture.
Mom has dust allergy, so in the winter when she feeds hay, she tends to get congested lungs and that makes her cough. When she does, she makes Mullein tea. She crunches a small handful of dried Mullein leaves into her teapot, then covers it with boiling water and lets it steep for a half hour or more.
Then she strains it through cheesecloth (ingesting hairs from the leaves tickles her throat) and drinks up. Ahhhh! It’s tasty. Better she says than commercial tea. Uzzi and I don’t know about that, but to us, the young leaves are delicious eaten raw.
You can chew up a piece of Mullein leaf to poultice a bee sting and it helps. Mullein flowers, Mom says, can be packed into a little bottle and then filled to the brim with olive oil. After six weeks the oil sooths earaches. Mullein parts are used to treat many simple ailments. Read more about using herbal Mullein here.
Humans also use fuzzy Mullein leaves for toilet paper when they’re out camping. But what they may not know is that some people get itchy rashes when their skin comes in contact with Mullein leaves. They should test it on the inside of their arm and wait 20 minutes before using it for toilet paper. Yow!