Ramps are a wild leek native to Appalachia. If you're unfamiliar with them, they're basically the offspring of a green onion + leek + garlic. We LOVE them. And we've been cooking with them a lot during this time of quarantine. It's the perfect time to enjoy them, as they do make your breath absolutely foul and - if you eat enough of them - your sweat will share that foul smell!
|My brother and his girlfriend digging for ramps. Will had done it before, but it was Leslie's first time! She loved it.|
One side of our mountain is an absolute treasure trove for ramps. There are literal ACRES of them. two of the other slopes also have patches, though they are not nearly as abundant.
Regardless of their location, however, each area is significantly lower in elevation than our house. It isn't the worst hike to get to the ramps, but to return home is a bit of a climb!
Enter: the horses.
|The horses tied and waiting. You can also get a sense of how freaking steep this area is. Oh, and look closely for a Kenai tushy.|
It's just shy of two miles to take the more meandering trek down to the richest ramp patch. There is a shorter approach, but it is steep AF, so I don't utilize it as often.
In past years, I wouldn't dig for ramps as often as I wanted to because of the return hike being such a bear. And often with my jam-packed schedule, I simply didn't have the time to hoof it down and back.
But now? Well, I've got nothing but time and I've also increased my horsepower threefold!
I've made weekly trips to dig ramps since early March. First with my brother and his girlfriend who fled NYC before the proverbial shit hit the fan, then with just my brother (this included a short stretch riding Staniel double which was hilarious - that horse is simply the greatest), and then multiple times on my own after my brother and his girlfriend took up quarantine residence in an even more remote place than my house.
It's been fun to head out with such purpose on rides. I get fresh air, the dogs get exercise, the horse gets exercise, and I'm able to collect some food for myself, my husband, and my senior neighbors who are hiding away in their house through these crazy times. (I dig ramps with gardening gloves and then bag them and throw them unceremoniously onto my neighbor's back porch. It's kinda fun.)
Ramps are just the start of my foraging for the year. I'm looking forward to collecting chaga (a fungus that grows on birch trees that helps support a healthy immune system among various other ailments), fiddleheads, morel mushrooms if we can find them (will need to be at lower elevation), oyster mushrooms, lions mane mushrooms, chanterelle mushrooms, and various berries later in the summer and fall (blueberries, huckleberries, blackberries, and cranberries).
Our weather may be unpredictable and often wet, but boy does it allow for some delicious flora and fungi to grow! I'm excited to be able to take greater advantage of all the area has to offer in the way of foraging this year.