Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Today I had a fabulous day at the pond. I saw three, yes three, Green Herons. Previously, I thought I was privileged when I had seen one or two together. But, three! I could hardly contain my excitement.
|Look at that beautiful color...I still do not see the green, though|
So, I was a bit preoccupied on my return walk back to the house. I usually keep a roving eye looking for my next great experience. Today, my mind wandered but my eyes steadied on the ground where I was walking. The grass in my path is over a foot tall and I try to keep a constant eye so that I do not trip on a vine or wiry stem. I do that quite often and end up with a wrenched body for the pleasure – ugh!
Suddenly, a mere foot, I repeat…foot as in twelve inches, in front of my toe tips, a skunk wandered out from the taller 24” grass pasture into my path. YIKES! I think we scared each other.
|Bad tail day?|
I hate skunks. Actually, I hate the rank odor which seems to linger around for days. The smell makes me sick and I get a headache. Within a second, I made a 180 and moved away from the imminent danger as quickly as possible. When I felt I was out of spraying range, I turned. Both dogs had been behind me. Now, Buddy was still at my side, but Snowball had to investigate this creature nose to nose. The skunk’s tail rose rapidly and I saw Snowball tumble to the ground and try to rub the offensive spray off. The smell drifted swiftly to my downwind location.
I continued to yell to Snowball to come to me, but like usual, he does not listen to a word I say. He continued to follow the skunk as the skunk slowly moved away. I really do not know how many times Snowball got sprayed, but it was more than one time. Sadly, the odor did not deter Snowball one bit.
Finally, when I saw that the skunk was a decent distance away from me, I quickly proceeded to leave the noxious area.
I have never, never, had this close an encounter with a skunk in all my life. EVER!!!! What is the probability of this occurrence happening? Hopefully, only once in MY lifetime. But, I know I will be apprehensive from here on out when I take my walks.
I gave Glenn a call, mid-incident, and told him my predicament. He replied with, “Well, that is to be expected in the country.” REALLY. I do not think so. I could see I was getting no sympathy from him.
Snowball will smell like skunk for weeks. At least, we will be able to tell where he is hiding out.
Those three herons were wonderful!
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
The potatoes growing in our garden are ready to eat.
Freshly dug, new potatoes are never a disappointment. The taste is amazing. Not even close to the store-bought varieties. If you have never eaten a potato straight out of the garden, then you really haven’t experienced real potato flavor. Of course, taste is a huge factor in the reason for growing our own food.
Glenn dug up one plant. The harvest from this one plant was what I would call abundant.
|the leftover potatoes from the first dig - barely any skin|
I used only a portion of this first dig to make a double batch of potato salad. The skins on the early potatoes are so thin that no peeling is necessary. That is my kind of cooking potato. No peeling saves me time and, most importantly, saves me scraped fingers. I cannot remember one instance when I peeled potatoes that I came out completely unscathed. No matter how careful I am, I always end up with one or more cuts to my fingers. So, not having to peel, is a real plus.
Making hard-boiled eggs, an ingredient in my potato salad, is also a challenge. Usually, I lose a substantial amount of that firm egg white which remains firmly attached to the peeled shell. It does not go to waste, it becomes chicken food, but that means I have to peel more eggs to meet my recipe requirements - ugh! Deviled eggs are not possible because the resulting egg looks, quite frankly, unappetizing. Would you eat an egg that looks like it has been chewed by, let’s say, a mouse? Noooo. Also, using farm fresh eggs is more confounding to hard-boiling than ‘old’ eggs. Farm fresh eggs are delicious, but they tend to adhere to the shells even more than the aged store-bought eggs.
So, I keep trying new techniques for making hard-boiled eggs in order to find one that produces an easy-peel shell.
Well, I think I finally found a method that works. At least, I had success with my first attempt. The shells easily and 100% completely slipped off the firm egg whites leaving behind smooth and whole boiled eggs. I am hoping that this new-to-me technique becomes my go-to technique for making perfect and pretty hard-boiled eggs. Cautiously, I will need to replicate my positive results before I make a definitive conclusion.
Mountain Glen Farm fresh eggs -
beautiful and so tasty
The steps are easy…I placed my eggs in plain boiling water for 2 minutes, then turned down the heat to the lowest flame and simmered for another 11 minutes. I then placed the eggs into a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. I peeled the eggs effortlessly and cleanly. Even those hard-boiled eggs stored in the refrigerator overnight peeled with ease. Finally, a perfectly peeled hard-boiled egg. The taste was exceptional, too. Again, homegrown/home raised food is the best. Kudos to my chickens.
Now, I see a plateful of deviled eggs in my future.
This old dog is always learning new tricks.
Saturday, July 9, 2016
…is not really very typical as each day offers new adventure, new sights, new sounds, new feelings.
The weather has turned from comfortable to hot and humid. It was expected, but not necessarily welcomed. My comfort zone is quite limited, 70 degrees +/- one degree. I can tolerate the eighties. Temperatures in the 90’s are most disagreeable.
The increased temperature has prompted me to take my daily walk earlier in the day. I wake up, no alarm necessary, at about 4:30 AM to leave at 5:30. This pre-walk hour gives my body a bit of time to fully wake up, become operational, while I down a small bowl of Cheerios and tend to my usual computer routine of checking emails and such.
When 5:30 rolls around, I realize that it is still dark outside. I wait 10 more minutes and the sky lightens enough for me to take off. The dogs always meet me at the back door with excited waving tails. Heaven forbid that I should leave them behind. The cats get fed first, in the barn, so they can eat in peace without Snowball’s help. Off we go.
The birds started to sing about 5:20, so my walk is well accompanied with bird song. Just the way I like it. I recognize some of the melodies, but most I do not. I just enjoy the magic of the notes. My favorite songster, the reclusive wood thrush, belts out songs sounding more like a flute or piccolo than a bird.
The lighting is still very shadowy, so bird identification is challenging. Taking photos at this time is almost impossible. The images are more akin to silhouettes than to colorful renderings. They are interesting but not a bit detailed.
I surprise a deer who is grazing just beyond the chickens who are up and starting their egg-laying duties. The doe rushes off into the nearby woods snorting all the way. More deer are seen grazing downhill. A couple of young bucks with their prominent velvet-covered antlers mingle among the herd.
The sun is starting to rise higher in the sky. There is no colorful sunrise today. There is also no heron at the pond. But, I did notice a snout of a snapping turtle break the surface of the pond’s still surface. UGH! Though I have never personally encountered a snapping turtle bite, I am sure it hurts much more than the nibbles I frequently receive from our resident blue gills.
On my return, I spy two pileated woodpeckers in the bare branch of an oak tree. During the past few days, that snag had been occupied by a small, unidentified hawk. As I get closer, the woodpeckers fly off. Within seconds, I see a small hawk flying in my direction, steady and stiff. The hawk takes his place back on the tip of that snag. He does not seem to mind my closeness. One day, I will ID that hawk.
Back at the house, I immediately go to the deck and perform what is my customary routine, the one thing that does remain a constant. I remove my dew-drenched hiking shoes and socks and place them so that they can dry in the sun and be ready for me tomorrow.
Tomorrow…what should I expect? I do not know exactly, but I do know whatever presented will be wonderful!