Poke Salad Annie

September 9th, 2010

Beautiful mornings with cooler temperatures. The days are becoming noticeably shorter, and the light just changes somehow. I love how the sun is lower in the sky, especially in the afternoons. Light filters through the trees and reflects off the pond in different ways, shimmering as the wind drifts across the water…

 The nights over the past week have been interesting too.  I’ve seen glow worms in the grass… I know, most people say, “Glow worms? There’s no such thing!” Ah but there is.   Really they are just firefly larvae, but most people have never seen them.

When you walk along at night, with dew on the grass at this time of year, you think you may be seeing things.  As you walk along you begin to notice little sparkles of light, almost like the stars above, yet twinkling all around you.   It’s natural magic I tell you…

As I write early this morning, Captain Jack is outside crowing like a banshee.  Or, um, a rooster I suppose.  Good thing we live a few hundred yards from our neighbors! If I listen carefully, there’s another rooster crowing a good distance to the south, so maybe he’s just keeping up appearances :)

I have to say the eggs these little birds give us each day are really wonderful.  I’m officially spoiled now with having fresh eggs and store bought cartons will never seem the same.  So in the name of enjoying such bounty, I’ve decided to encourage the girls to continue laying this winter by adding a little artificial light.

There’s a host of passions on the issue, but honestly the chickens I have are bred to be decent winter layers anyway. But I realized an extension cord into the nearby shed would be too simple, and perhaps it will give the girls a little extra heat in the winter. I’ll keep the light going for a few extra hours each evening, and that should be just enough to keep their egg production going well. I have to admit I also like the idea of the chickens earning their keep!

So the cool thing about how the coop fits together with the shed is that the window in the shed serves as both the “feeder door” and as a window for the light to shine through.    I put the food into a 30 gallon galvanized can to minimize the mice or other critters getting to it. When it’s time to feed (which seems to be all too frequently lately!), we just scoop it up and reach through the window to their feeder.

Makes it so much simpler, and I’m soooo glad I built it there.  Between the shed and the nest box door outside the coop, we don’t have to go inside the run and coop itself very often.   Of course if all the hens laid their eggs in the nest boxes, we’d only have to go in the coop every few days to change water.   There’s a couple of hold outs…  those hens seem to lay their eggs wherever the mood strikes them!

The light works well enough, although I may run it into the coop this winter to provide a little extra heat.  Or maybe the inherent heat within the shed will help keep the coop warm.  Either way most of the walls are insulated, and when I figure out what to put over the screen windows the chickens should be fine.

Otherwise it’s time to clean up around here.   I’ve been battling weeds and grass, and thinking of preparing for winter.  Summer’s done gone…   The cycle begins again it seems.   I did come across an interesting plant, way up high in a dead tree.    This snag has been around for a long time, and this year a Pokeweed plant (Phytolacca americana) decided to grow about halfway up on the right side…

Have you ever had poke salat ?    Lots of folks in the south have made it a staple, at least in the older days.   I tried it last year, not bad… if you like cooked greens.   When the little head and shoots are coming up around 6 inches in the spring, you just cut them off at ground level.

Then you boil the heck of them (two or three times is a good idea) and maybe saute them like spinach with butter or garlic and olive oil.  Pretty tasty, although I was a little hesitant because just about the entire plant is poisonous!   You can’t eat the plant or the berries in their mature form at all.

But if you never ate it before… then maybe you’ve heard the song.   Remember Tony Joe White’s Poke Salad Annie?   Here’s a grand ‘ole duet with Tony on the Johnny Cash Show from April, 1970… think I was in third or fourth grade, somewhere between California and New Jersey…

That’s just plain good stuff…


8 Responses to “Poke Salad Annie”

  1. I remember that @#&&*#$@ song! because I was teased unceasingly after it came out! lol! It didn’t help that we lived out in the country with poke salad growing everywhere. Even now my brother or sister will sometimes sing a line or two just to aggravate me. But you know, I have never tried to eat the stuff.

    Your chicken house looks so cool; makes me want to hurry and get chickens too.

  2. Yep, remember the song and my grandma has fixed them… When I saw the title, I was thinking, “he ain’t eating pokeberry now, is he?” Not only do you boil them in 2 pots of water, you throw out the first water, unless you want to poison someone, then you recycle it :)

  3. Ed

    All though I have heard of the phrase, “Poke salad Annie, gators got your granny” I thought it was just that, a phrase of a silly poem. I never knew it was a song. Learn something new everyday.

    I love this time of year and I consider it fall. Why are the calendars so far behind?

  4. I remember my grandma talking about poke salad…not sure I like greens enough though…still, very cool!

  5. oh. my. gosh. i’ve always known poke to be a very toxic plant, with the ability to provide dye from the berries. i had no idea people ate it! of course, we eat rhubarb, so there goes the extent of my knowledge, lol. i turn on the light for the girls in the winter; their coop is painted a bright yellow (think school bus) and it’s just a nice way to extend the day. otherwise, they’re in bed by 4:30 in the winter.

  6. and also, the poke is such a magnificent and distinctive plant! you know it when you see it. and then those berries come out…

  7. Annie- You know I could say I thought of you when I wrote it… :) No, but after your comment I understand … And you’ve never had it?! I hope you get things to where you have chickens one of these days too.
    Sage- I guess this time of year makes Poke even more toxic! The deer eat it here… I probably won’t have it again, that whole business about boiling it several times just makes you wonder :)
    Ed- That’s great that you connected the song/saying and plant. I have to agree with you… it just feels like Autumn again.
    Warren- I guess it was something folks ate just about everywhere. Heck it grows so abundantly it’s no wonder!
    Chook- It is a cool plant… every time I walk by those berries I think, “Those berries sure look good enough to eat… ” and at least the critters enjoy them. A yellow coop… that’s a wonderful, bright color for chickens. I went out tonight at 9:30 pm and turned the light off. I need to get a timer :)

  8. I’ve been away with work stuff and am catching up.

    This is a comment to your 9/11 post:


    Cheers and thanks for your service.

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