A Bear In There

Since our hillside is very steep, logging cannot take place during the wet season because the dozer simply cannot get up and down the skid roads. We conclude our logging season, which was more just a cleaning up season this year from all of last winters damage, when the rains begin.

A tree with bear scratchings on the bark.The plan was to be finished logging with the last log truck load that went out last week. Mike took the dozer up the hill to get one last turn of logs for the load. He moved across the hillside from where we had been cleaning up and found a patch of trees that had significant scarring from a bear or two or three.

In this picture, the dark spot about 10 feet up the tree shows where a bear had ripped a hole through the bark, past the cambium (where the life-blood of the tree flows and what the bears are after) and into the wood. This example has already scarred over so this gouge is most likely happened a couple of years ago. Continue reading

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A Beautiful Morning

Moments come along that can simply take your breath away. The beauty that jumped at me this morning was the bright blue sky with just enough clouds to enhance the brightness of the blue in the back ground.

A bright fall morning with clouds painting the sky above the barn and woods.Although the animals were antsy and waiting rather impatiently for their breakfast, I just had to take a moment to capture the beauty with a snapshot and another moment for me just to absorb the wonder around us.

The rapture did not last long, Crazy Uncle Boaz (the cat) contorted around my legs, the young bull #18 started with a teenage bellow, and the cows began clanking the head stanchions in the barn. The sound reminded me of those old prison movies where the prisoner would bang his tin up on the cell barns to tell the jailer he needed attention. It was most assuredly time for the morning meal.

The clouds were the precursor for the heavier rain clouds that were moving into the area. Those are pretty in their own way, just not as dramatic as these were.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I had a request for recipes for the mushrooms that I have been harvesting from the forest. Reminder, picking wild mushrooms should only be done with experience and err on the side of caution if any mushroom cannot be 100 % verified as non-poisonous.

My own version of this soup is made with fresh picked Chanterelle mushrooms but any mushroom will do, white button mushrooms sold in stores work well with this recipe.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

12 oz. chopped mushrooms (this amount can be doubled)

2 cups chopped onions

1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)

1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (optional)

2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil

3 Tablespoons of Flour

1 cup milk

1 Tablespoon Hungarian paprika (I prefer smoked paprika)

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

pepper to taste

1/2 cup sour cream

Saute onions, celery and pepper in butter or olive oil until onions are opaque or slightly browned add to chicken stock. Re-use saute pan to give the mushrooms a quick sear, just enough for them to release their moisture (you do not need to add any oil or liquid), I like to add mushrooms and their moisture in the soup but some like to drain at this point and add to stock. Heat through, I prefer to use a crock pot, low setting for 3 hours.

Whisk together soy sauce, paprika, milk and flour and stir into crock pot mixture. High setting for 1-2 hours for the flour to thicken soup, then back to low setting until ready to eat.

Just before serving stir in sour cream, or a dollop can be placed in each bowl at serving time.

Times are flexible with this recipe and can be done on the stove top in about 1 hour.

Stay Or Go

A black and white dog follows the bulldozer as it heads up the logging road.Jackson the dog seems to have a hard time knowing just what his job is on this day.

I had the Gator sitting along side the log landing and Mike started to move up the hill with the bulldozer.

Jackson would walk behind the dozer for a short distance, come back down to the Gator then back up behind the dozer again.

Finally, I put him and his brother out of their misery and started up the Gator. It was game-on and the second that I put the rig into low gear both dogs knew we were heading up the logging road. Since I only carry essential items to keep the payload as light as possible, the dogs are on their own and they would not have it any other way.

Going into the woods means a day of freedom for the pair and they prefer as little intervention from us humans as possible, unless we stop the dozer, the Gator or the saw for a bit and sit down. That’s when they want to be as close as possible, snuggle up when we are looking for a little quiet time, and want to place themselves in exactly the spot where we are.

Peek-A-Boo

Our cat population soared this spring with both Momma Cat and Grandma Cat delivering on or near the same day, but survival rate around here is hampered by a booming coyote population.

We have lost all but one of the four that we imported to the farm a year and a half ago leaving Crazy Uncle Boaz to be the one survivor of that group. Remaining out of the six kittens from this spring from Momma and Grandma babies are Frick (male), Frack (male), Fuzzy Zeller (female) and Peg Leg Pete (female). We lost Momma Cat sometime during the long, hot summer. She would take off for days at a time on hunting expeditions and one time she did not return, she was our best mouser.

Then Grandma Cat kicked it up a notch and delivered a new batch of kittens about 5 weeks ago. I had only heard one or two on occasion, Grandma had them stowed away deep into the hay stack. Two small kittens showing themselves for the first time in the barn.Today I finally got a glimpse of a new addition, make that two additions, I saw a little striped kitten with white around his eyes and ears and an all black kitten taking some of their first forays into the main part of the barn.

They are very skittish and I could not get close to them. This gives me a good reason to spend more time in the barn than usual.

 

Mushrooms For Winter

A batch of dried mushrooms are ready to take out of dehydrator.The first batch of dried mushrooms are ready to come out of the dehydrator.

I prefer to eat the mushrooms fresh, but having them dried and handy in the pantry are good to have when the rain is pouring and the cold winds of winter are blowing.

I add mushrooms to soups, stews, casseroles in these large pieces. I crumble them or grind them into a powder to add flavor to roasts or steaks.

A five-gallon bucket of mushrooms dries down to a one-gallon bag of dried mushrooms.

To Bread Or Not To Bread- That Is The Question

Over the years I had tried the fine art of baking bread. Many, many, MANY attempts failed. My family would resort to categorizing the failures with names like hockey pucks, cinnamon swirl rocks and Flintstone bread. Most of my bread-making was not edible, not even to the dogs. They would leave the mounds scattered about the yard, after rains would soften the bread slightly it would grow glorious forests of mold and mildew in colors ranging from light gray to vivid green to vile black. Continue reading