A Drome herbarium: a sheep’s feast and shepherds’ expertise

DSC00550

DSC00546DSC00529

I collected the plants sheep were eating as we made our way up the Drôme mountains in France. Knowing nothing about their appetites, I built up a flower menu during the walk. I also needed a way to communicate without the language barrier. These shepherds speak a French with a dialect, and with my grade 12 Canadian french, I needed all the help I could get.  Asking shepherds what the plants were was a collective event, and as we rested at the top of the mountain, shepherds joined in filling in all the blanks. In doing so, they created a quick edible mapping of the landscape and account of shepherd expertise of the landscape. Not surprising for those so close to the ground and in tune with moving sheep to various pastures throughout the seasons.

DSC01327

Tips for using plants were noted. For example, gaillet is used in the cheese making process to help transform the milk into curds, and thyme for colds and rheuma.

DSC01252

More moments of beauty: the individual clusters on a brize plant are called bird’s hearts.

DSC01284

 

In very few cases the shepherd did not know what a plant was. It was often because I cut the plant incorrectly as an amateur, without for example, a flower.

DSC01279DSC01291DSC01293

A drawing by Fabien Candy of ADEM (Association Departementale d’Economie Montagnarde) explaining where plants grow in the Drôme mountains according to elevation.

DSC01333

DSC00615Photo: Fabien Candy with a mushroom during our walk with the sheep.

 

Whilst naming the flowers, the shepherds brought out homemade sausage. Lucky me.

DSC00607DSC00608DSC00609

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s