Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Foraging for Fresh Veggies

I wondered how long it would take me to find enough fresh food in the woods.  I had some Wild Parsnips in mind.  I wanted to stir fry them up with some Ramps ... also known as Leeks.

So Morris and I took off with a shovel and a couple of plastic bags.

Morris was very pleased to be able to get out and run.  He'd suffered too many days of staying in the house.  In fact one of those days he simply acted as if he were very depressed.

It was good to see him run happily around!

When things begin to get hectic around here, Morris will be going on vacation at a couple of different places.  He will go stay with my ex boss and his wife for a bit.  That means he'll be able to hang out at the Chiropractic Office and greet patients as he used to when he was younger.

Other arrangements include visiting with his beloved 'kids'.

Anyway, off we went in a hurry.  We were going to go pick up our new ride later in LaCrosse so I wanted to hustle and get some very fresh natural wild ... food!

I laid a 'picked' parsnip next to one that was still in the ground.  Doesn't look like much does it?  
Well when the Wild Parsnip which is an invasive species is in full bloom, they are nasty wicked plants.
In the spring, they are tasty wild morsels when cooked up right!

After gathering enough for a meal, rinsed the dirt off from them and broke off the tops.  I stuffed them in a bag and headed off to the patch of Leeks.

I took a quick glance around the creek bottom area.  There were a lot of deer tracks in the mud mixed in with some raccoon.  I saw no sign of coyotes.

I was pretty warm by the time I climbed into the Leek Patch.  
A few weeks ago they were just emerging.

Now it was a full fledged patch.

I climbed up the steep bank using the shovel as a walking stick.  Then I set to work.

I stuffed those in a bag and checked my watch.  I had to get home and walk up hubby from his nap so we could get a move on.

Of course, I did get sidetracked by the 'Pinks'.  I think the proper name is Spring Beauties or perhaps 'Virginia Pinks' which is their official name.

These are incredibly small and hard to notice if you really aren't looking for them.  But once you find a patch, it is incredible and awe inspiring.

I made it home with some time to spare.

I'd found fresh wild vegetables in the woods, rejoiced at finding Virginia Pinks, and delighted in finding several patches of Mayflowers coming up.

I didn't have time to seek out the trillium I'd found the other day to see if it was going to open or not.

That would have to wait at least two more days.

We'll be travelling for appointments today and tomorrow I'm busy with deliveries and my own doctor checkup.

But spring is here finally.
Which means I will go Morel hunting soon.

Even if I don't find them, it is fun to look.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

No The Red One.

"Do you want to go to LaCrosse and look at Subaru's?" my husband asked.

I'd finished chores and was tired.  The week had been exhausting with his PEG surgery and all the phone calls and appointments that we'd made.

I'd sat in the house awaiting one call or another it seemed, all week.  Yes I have a cell phone, but where we live, we can't always get reception.

The weather was cold and dreary.  I was prepared to snuggle down on the couch and sleep all day.  But hubby's question perked me up.

"Yes!" I answered and changed out of my chore clothes and into jeans and a sweatshirt.  I wanted to get going before he changed his mind.  I hadn't owned a new car since 1995.  Well, not that we actually needed one, we were pretty frugal when it came to vehicles.  His 2003 diesel truck was a new purchase but we had needed a power house to haul hay and the 'mule' trailer.

We'd been looking at getting something to replace our 2002 Subaru Outback.  It had been a purchase we made used from a friend a couple of years ago.  20K miles later and lots of $ in repairs we'd decided that it was just going to nickel and dime us until it dropped dead.

I'd purchase my son's Jeep Liberty a few years ago and I still like it, but it does have 145K miles on it.  It gets 19 miles to the gallon period.

Hubby wanted something that wasn't going to need constant repairs and that would be dependable for driving back and forth to Madison this summer.  The vehicle we were interested in averages 34 miles per gallon on the highway.  It is also AWD. What I'd learned from driving the Outback, was that I liked how the Subaru handled in all sorts of weather and road conditions.

Off we went to the Dahl's Subaru in LaCrosse.

After the test drive we got back with the salesperson and the haggling began. Call it wiggle room, haggle, negotiating, or whatever.  My husband can be a frightful person to deal with.

We had driven a red XV Crosstek that had a light colored interior. Hubby preferred a dark colored interior.  He felt we ought to consider the Charcoal colored Crosstek that was 'in transit'.  Our conversation went something like this:

Him:  I like the Charcoal color, dark interior.
Me: I like the Red.
Him: I am buying it for you, so I want you to be happy.  I like the Grey color.
Me:  I like the Red.
Him: Well dark interiors are easier to keep clean.
Me: I like the Red.
Him:  I like the Grey.

The negotiating gets done and hubby looks at Alex.
"We'll take the Red one.""

Little things in the woods...

I had to have some fun in the woods.  I found these Star Wars Figurines in box of things that my youngest son left at our place when he moved out after a brief stay.

The figures are metal and actually quite heavy and very small.  I thought it would be fun to place them among the new growth in the woods.

While doing that I found some beautiful ferns that were just beginning to come up.

And I found groups of Blood Roots!

After my walk in the woods, I went home and did some work in the flower beds, moving some iris plants and hostas, along with some chives.

I noticed the Creeping Charlie was beginning to blossom.

I know that many people try to rid their yards of these plants as they are considered a nuisance to some.  I don't mind them at all, the tiny flowers are pretty and we simply mow over them.
They are pretty drought tolerant too.

Then lastly, one of my favorite yellow flowers!

The Happy Dandelion.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Wild Parsnip ~ delicious!

Well if you like to experiment and get FREE food there are some great things to be found in the woods.

Yesterday I found Wild Parsnip which is an invasive species and when it is blossoming in the summer, the juice from the plant can give you a nasty burn.

This is a shot from a year or so ago on a very warm spring day.  

I was doing yard work yesterday, digging out thistles when I spotted some wild parsnip tops in a pile of dirt.  I've not seen them ever in the yard yet so I decided to get rid the ones I saw.

I was very surprised at how long and huge the roots were when I dug them out. They didn't look like much when I tossed them on the ground so I twisted off the tops and brushed the dirt off from them.

I took them to the outside pump and rinsed them.

I used a peeler and then diced them up and tossed them in the frying pan with some olive oil and pesto and a dash of garlic pepper.

I really wasn't quite sure as to how it would all turn out until we sat down to eat.
It was super!  I realized then that this weekend I'd be out foraging the creek bottom for more spring wild parsnip and some wild ramp/leeks to go in the fry pan.

There certainly is no reason to go hungry for fresh vegetables in the early spring.

I'm not certain I am ready for looking for Fiddleheads which is a type of fern that can be cooked up.
Soon enough it will be time to search for those delicious and elusive mushrooms, the Morel!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Busy as a Bee...Blood Roots!

I didn't expect to find anything coming up in the woods at all.  But it was warm on Saturday and I was taking a break from working on cleaning up the veggie garden so I took a walk and found these on one of the rock outcroppings.

These Maiden Hair Ferns were just barely above the moss!

I cut across to the place where I figured that the Blood Roots would come up and Lo and Behold!

The Blood Root was up and looking very good!  I'm sure after this rain we'll have more popping up on this hillside.

We have Barberry growing like crazy in the woods.  Personally I dislike it.  It is sharp and an invasive species.  I clip and dig up all that I find on our own land.
But this is the first year that I've seen Barberry keep its little fruits while leafing out.

It is pretty but it sure is sharp!  I hate trying to wade through these when they are intermixed with berry briers...unless there is fruit on the berry briers!

My short interlude into the forest brought me some much needed 'peaceful' time to collect my thoughts and attitude before returning to the vegetable garden and transplanting perennials so the would be out of the way for when the house is re-sided.

However, I do love Nature's Gardens even if they are not always so easy to locate.

Today we have much needed rain so it looks like a good day to pack up things for Good Will and finish cleaning out the extra bedroom.

Hubby will be in Madison for a procedure and will be back some time on Tuesday.

Our elder Subaru is taking a quiet and slow road to engine death and our Jeep has a lot of miles on it.
This summer looks to be a real crazy one as far as travelling.

Hubby suggested that I get something new or near new because of the miles we will be putting on this summer.  Plus he felt I needed a 'better' vehicle for getting back and forth to work.

Hmmmm.  I haven't had a car that was less than 10 yrs old in I don't know how long.

Looks like the rain will jump start our tulips and daffys into blossoming.

Well off to chores and some whirlwind cleaning inside the little house!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Seeking Bloodroot and Leeks.

I hope to find these pretty soon!  One of the very first flowers to come up in the woods in the spring.  That is ... after the Skunk Cabbage which doesn't look anything like a flower but still technically is.

These I found on the 15th in our creek bottom.  They are just emerging here so the ground must be much colder in this area.

That means in order to find Bloodroot flowers I'm going to have to find some hillsides that get a bit more sunlight.

You'd think after years of looking for them each spring, I'd have figured this out.  Nope, it didn't occur to me until the other afternoon while I was out with Morris.

Who posed for a cookie!

Look carefully in Morris's eyes.  You can see me holding up a dog treat to get him to sit still and look up!
He was too busy to stop and let me take his portrait otherwise.

I've looked back in my photography records on Flickr and the earliest I've ever found Blood Root in these woods has been April 20th.  So, perhaps I have to be a bit more patient.

it is only two days until the 20th!

The leeks are coming on strong though and I may collect some young ones to chop up and mix into some scrambled eggs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hamming it up for the camera

Well he gives us a reason to laugh.  I wanted photos before he shaved off his beard for today's appointment at the UW Madison.

He is going for a CT scan and 'mask' put together today, so he thought it would be fun to do a before and after shot.

I love the Gabby look, I took some liberty in using the Dragan Effect on it to give it more character.

Next he went in and clipped his face.  He changed to a nicer shirt and his 'Mule Kick' Hat for the after shots.

He is one of my favorite people to do any sort of portraits with.  He is willing and has one of the more interesting faces I've seen.

Oh and he is not camera shy at all!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Sunrise Pajama Club

Do you mean not everyone gets up before dawn on a chilly morning and drives to the top of a ridge to watch the world awaken?

Pajamas required of course along with a travel mug of coffee.

Well at that time of day on a gravel road, predawn, we pretty much are not in any danger of running into anyone.

And those who live near us will know how crazy we are about doing this.

We listened to the birds awaken.  The red wing black bird, the robins, and then as the sky began to brighten, Ariel caught a flock of birds in the orange glow.

I thought they were specks of dirt on the lens, but upon a better inspection, ... birds!

I got lucky with this shot, I panned after the bird.

Budding photographer....

Later on that morning, Morris insisted we go for a hike.

And we had a great hike.

Our feet were tired after a few hours.  

And we came back with many fun adventures to tell about.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rain Rain Rain....and Sunshine

Maple Bud on Mossy Rock

We had nearly 4" of rain in the past few days.  It made all the paddock areas slop holes of muck and mud.

I spent most of yesterday raking and cleaning around the hound dogs in hopes of getting their areas a bit nicer looking and not so muddy.

Dixie has adjusted nicely to her new spot which is thankfully not in the wet spot it used to be in!

We made more trips to Madison.  Once to the VA and once to the UW Hospital.
The UW Hospital is like a maze of unending hallways and elevators.  You practically need a personal guide to get around from one department to another. However the staff and other folks guided us around with ease.

I Like Lichen

So about yesterday at 5 pm I decided to take a break from raking and yard work and grab my micro/macro 40mm lens and take a short hike to see what the afternoon light would show off to me.

The forest is just beginning to show signs of life but one really has to look hard for it.
Soon the ground will be teaming with undergrowth and wild spring flowers.

New Growth

Views of the Big Ravine which the kids call it, will disappear in green undergrowth, not to be seen again until next fall.

The Big Ravine

I didn't find a lot to photograph and searched for the elusive Blood Root to no avail.  I expect after the next couple of warm days they will start to pop up on places like the ravine or dry wash as we call it.

I made my way up to the road and headed towards the mailbox.  It was time to go home and start the chores.  Still the 45 minutes of wandering the north hillside near home was worth it.  The fresh air had a hint of warm air in it and the sunlight after days of rain was very welcome.

After feeding the dogs I went back to my project of cleaning up the piles of rock that had been pushed off into the yard over winter.  It has been a long grueling task, but I take it in small amounts.

It is really quite amazing how quickly the driveway dried out after all the rain we'd had.

And lastly but not least...
I was pleased to find a crocus that had come up in the yard.

And the Daffodils are making themselves known.  It is pretty obvious that this fall I need to separate them.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Take the Long Way Home

With so many appointments on our schedule with the VA coming up on our schedule, I took my camera and some favorite critters to go hunting for some beautiful signs of spring.  I probably should have been raking the yard or some such thing, but a 70 degree day in April?  

We found the skunk cabbage on the east end of the valley in 'its' usual spot and of course a mass of it growing around the spring.

Morris came along to help guide us of course, he knows all of the trails.  And since it was our one very warm day, he decided a walk in the creek was in order.

Siera was again extremely co-operative in leaving home with no issue what-so-ever!  Has she finally decided not to be herd sour?
Probably not.
I think she has learned that I take her out in the woods and travel all over my neighbor's 400 or 500 acres, and I always bring her home.

Here is a shot of our trail.  Yes it goes under that tree and curves around through the woods.
Well if you can't see it, that is all right too.  It is a path I keep cut out just enough for a person to walk through and mules to walk single file in.
You may even think of it as a deer path.

Years ago it was a cow trail.

Here is Siera's 'Trail Necklace' ... one of many I've made over the years.
I first started using a version of this with a mare named Cheyanne.  She was afraid of the noises of vehicles, so I bought bells and hung them on her.
It seemed the jingle of the brass bells calmed her.

Later I saw a fad of these being sold for horses.  I decided to find the old brass bells and make some 'necklaces' for my mules.

I like to put them on my mules sometimes.  I should do it more often.  Siera likes the bells and any wild turkeys or deer that are bedded down are long gone before we hit their area.

Less wildlife to contend with can sometimes be a good thing.

This view was taken when we used the deer trail to cross the gully above the ice cave.

Siera handled the mud-slop-slip-slide like she was an old pro.  I gave her lots of praise.

Which brought its rewards in the form of the first Marsh Marigolds in bloom!

We found these by a spring.

Our ride was fantastic.
Morris was tired.

We took the long way home up to the ridge top and down the road.