Friday, September 3, 2010

Fuzz Bucket

While sitting at my desk at work, I received a phone call from my hubby who is home packing for a camping trip.  I don't know why he said, "I found your Tommy."  I don't know a 'Tommy' nor have I had an animal named 'Tommy.' 

After a while I realized that he was talking about "Fuzz Bucket."  A male cat born around the first of October last year to the stray "Ginger" who adopted us.  "Fuzz" was one of those little kittens I am holding in a photo in a previous blog post.  He was the 'runt' of that litter.

My hubby found "Fuzz" dead in the barn.  Fuzz Bucket had missed dinner and breakfast for about the last two day: very unlike him. Hubby said that he could see no bite marks, but that really means nothing living way out in the country like we do.  The way that cats roam, it is very hard to say what he got into or what got him. I will miss him and will the inside cats.  Fuzz always came to the tall skinny window by the door and put his nose there and meowed for Abby.  She would go to the window and the two would sit nose to nose with only the glass in between them.  When the door opened, Fuzz would come into the house, but only as far as the entrance way.  Both, Abby and Shy hissed at him, but never once did he hiss back.  I figured eventually he would end up a house cat.  I was wrong :-(

Out of (the stray that adopted us last year) Ginger's four kittens, he stuck around the longest.  Franky and Lucy Diaz left the farm about March and the last time that Scamper was seen he had a sore foot then disappeared in July. 

None of the cats, including Ginger, would let us get near them, except Fuzz.  He loved being held and petted.  A medium/long hair solid orange cat, he never once tried to bite or scratch- very unusual for a ferral cat.  For the last couple of weeks Fuzz has been a surrogate father-really big brother to Ginger's latest 5 kittens which will be 2 months old tomorrow: they were born July 4.


These kittens were being held when they were only 4 weeks old.  Then Ginger didn't like the fact that her babies would let humans pick them up and love them all over.  So, she must have given them a big talking to, because now they run when they see humans.

Back to Fuzz.  Hubby said that he buried him this morning outside the blacksmith shop.

To my skinny little Fuzz Bucket....may you rest in peace sweetie!





Friday, June 18, 2010

Joy

"Joy is not in things; it is in us."
Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813-1883)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tips on Finding the Mysterious Morel Mushroom

Sources: Ari Jumpponen 785-532-6751, ari@k-state.edu
Pronouncer: Ari is Are-ee and Jumpponen is Jum-pone-en


K-STATE MUSHROOM EXPERT AND MUSHROOM HUNTER SHARE TIPS ON FINDING THE MYSTERIOUS MOREL

MANHATTAN, KANSAS -- The great outdoors, pleasant weather, the thrill of the hunt and the delectable taste are just some of the many reasons hunters take to the woodlands in the spring in search of the mysterious morel mushroom.

"Hunting morels is a great excuse to get outdoors during a nice time of year -- and they are pretty tasty, too," said David Rintoul, an avid morel hunter and interim director of Kansas State University's Division of Biology.

Morels are the fruiting body from mycelia found in the soil and are typically produced during the warm, rainy season of early spring, according to Ari Jumpponen, K-State associate professor of mycology in the Division of Biology. The morel is difficult to produce commercially because the exact environmental conditions have yet to be fully understood. Thus those who love the taste must search for the morels themselves, Jumpponen said.

"There are a lot of people that think they know what makes a good season for the morels, but we have not yet been able to pinpoint the exact environmental conditions, so no one really knows," Jumpponen said. "In general terms, if it's been warm and if you've had enough moisture, there is going to be something coming up."

Some hunters will swear by searching around the base of large trees or after a flood or fire, Jumpponen said. However, a symbiotic relationship between the morel and plant roots is uncertain, as the morels are rarely found in the root, though it can be forced in a lab setting. It is possible that the relationship with the tree roots is nothing but a lab artifact; however, a disturbance of the land by flood or fire is likely to be true, he said

Rintoul has enjoyed hunting for morels since he was first introduced to it by a colleague many years ago. He has gotten his daughters involved as a way to get them outdoors and active. Rintoul also has his own theory for finding the best morels. Although the exact local of his prime hunting ground is top secret, he recommends that hunters search for them in areas with loose sandy soil forested with large trees, usually cottonwood, when the soil and temperature are just right.

"I've already been out searching many times recently and had pretty good luck, Rintoul said. "Ideally, what you need is a good rain and a warm night. There is a critical window between where there are not any mushrooms out yet and where the ground cover becomes too tall to be able to see them."

The morel mushroom has a unique head that is convoluted like the surface of a brain; this allows experienced hunters to easily identify it, according to Jumpponen. The false morel, some of which are poisonous, somewhat resembles the morel. To be on the safe side, Jumpponen recommends that the inexperienced hunter take someone with them who can accurately identify authentic morels.

Both Jumpponen and Rintoul have some additional tips for beginning hunters:

* When hunting for morels make sure you bring a basket, paper or mesh bag to carry your harvested morels. Morels are delicate and moist, so if they are crushed or left in plastic they can easily spoil.

* Using a knife, cut the morel off at the base instead of picking it out of the ground; some people believe that if you pull the mycelia out of the soil there will be fewer morels the next year. In addition, cutting the morel keeps the dirt out of your harvest basket.

* Always clean and cook wild mushrooms prior to eating them. If unable to eat all that you have collected, dehydrate the mushrooms in a food dehydrator and store them in a cool dry place.

Once you have collected your mushrooms, here are a couple of recipes to try:

Chicken Breasts Baked on Wild Mushrooms

Rich, creamy port and mushroom sauce makes these chicken breasts special. A little more work than a weekday meal, but worth it. Great served with plain rice or simply flavored risotto -- lemon or Parmesan would be nice to soak up the flavors. Adapted from the "Silver Palate Cookbook."

* 3/4 cup chicken broth
* 1 ounce dried wild mushrooms -- such as cepes, morels, etc., all one kind or a mix -- thoroughly rinsed under running water, and drained
* 1/2 lb fresh cultivated mushrooms, such as button, wiped clean with damp paper towel
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup finely-chopped shallots -- or three green onions, finely-chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
* Salt and pepper, to taste
* 1/3 cup medium port wine
* 1/3 cup heavy cream
* 6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1. In a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil; pour over the wild mushrooms in a small bowl and let stand for about 2 hours.
2. Thinly slice cleaned mushroom caps, discarding stems.
3. In a skillet over medium to medium-to-low heat, melt butter and gently saute shallots or onion/garlic mixture for about 5 minutes -- do not brown.
4. Drain liquid from wild mushrooms and reserve.
5. Finely chop the wild mushrooms and add them and the fresh mushrooms to the skillet with the shallots (or onion/garlic mixture) and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 7-10 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
7. Add the reserved mushroom liquid, port and cream to the skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
8. Pour mushroom mixture into a shallow baking dish and arrange chicken breast halves in a single layer on top of the mushrooms.
9. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.
10. Bake in the middle level of the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until chicken is done. Serves six.

Mushroom Tomato Lasagna

* 10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
* 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
* 7 garlic cloves, minced
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1/2 cup pure olive oil, plus more for the noodles
* 1 and 1/4 pounds wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
* 3 medium leeks, white and tender green parts, coarsely chopped
* 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
* 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 quart milk, at room temperature
* Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
* 1 pound dry lasagna noodles
* 1/2 pound mild goat cheese, at room temperature
* 2/3 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta (6 ounces)
* 2 tablespoons chopped basil
* 1 large egg, beaten
* 1 and 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with the parsley and 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomatoes skin side down on the sheet and bake for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, or until wrinkled and slightly dry. Let the tomatoes cool, then coarsely chop them.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add one-third of the mushrooms and cook over moderately high heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in one-third of the remaining minced garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to a plate. Repeat twice with the remaining mushrooms and garlic, adding 2 tablespoons of oil for each batch.
3. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the leeks and cook over moderately low heat until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Add the leeks to the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
4. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderately high heat for 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer over moderately low heat, whisking frequently. Continue to cook the sauce until thickened and no floury taste remains, about 5 minutes. Remove the white sauce from the heat and season with salt, pepper and the nutmeg.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles, then toss them with a little olive oil.
6. In a bowl, combine the goat cheese with the ricotta and basil. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the egg.
7. Spread half of the white sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and top with a layer of lasagna noodles. Sprinkle the noodles with half of the mushrooms and dollop half of the goat cheese mixture on top. Cover with another layer of noodles and spread with half of the remaining white sauce. Spread the tomato and leek mixture over the sauce, cover with a third layer of lasagna noodles and dollop the remaining goat cheese mixture on top. Cover with a final layer of lasagna noodles. Spread the remaining white sauce over the noodles and top with the remaining mushrooms.
8. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the lasagna and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown on top and bubbling. Let the lasagna stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Keep Easter Lilies Away From Cats and Dogs

K-STATE VETERINARIAN SAYS KEEP EASTER LILIES AWAY FROM CATS, AND THAT OTHER PLANTS AND FLOWERS CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO BOTH CATS AND DOGS

MANHATTAN -- If the Easter Bunny happens to leave an Easter lily in your basket this year, make sure to keep it away from your cat, according to a Kansas State University veterinarian.

K-State's Dr. Kenneth Harkin, associate professor of small animal internal medicine, said there is an unknown water soluble compound in the Easter lily, as well as in the tiger lily and the Asiatic hybrid lily, that makes it harmful for cats.

"We know the lily is dangerous and cat owners should never have lilies in the house," he said. "Never give someone a gift of a lily if you know they have cats."

According to Harkin, consumption of the Easter lily has no effect on dogs, rabbits or small rodents. However, he said there are other types of plants and flowers that are hazardous to these household pets. Some examples include the lily of the valley, oleander, kalanchoe, azalea, rhododendron and tulips.

If a household pet ever consumes a toxic plant, Harkin advises owners to identify the type of plant and get their pet to the veterinarian immediately. He said that consumption of a toxic plant without immediate treatment could ultimately lead to the pet's death.

"If your cat or dog has a habit of eating plants, check out the toxicity of the plant before bringing it into the house or planting it in the garden," Harkin said.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowbird

This morning with snow still on the ground at 
my house and listening to the birds singing, 
I got the song Snowbird by Anne Murray stuck 
in my head. Here are the words for those of 
you who may know the tune but do not remember
all the words.
 
(words & music by Gene MacLellan)
 
Beneath this snowy mantle cold and clean
The unborn grass lies waiting
for its coat to turn to green
The snowbird sings a song he always sings
And speaks to me of flowers
that will bloom again in spring
When I was young my heart was young then too
Anything that it would tell me, that's the thing that I would do But now I feel such emptiness within For the thing that I want most in life Is the thing I can't win Spread your tiny wings and fly away And take the snow back with you Where it came from on that day The one I love forever is untrue And if I could you know that I would fly away with you The breeze along the river seems to say That she'll only break my heart again should I decide to stay So little snowbird take me with you when you go To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Daisy Investigates





Hi Ya All!

I'm Daisy.  Mom calls me Daisy May.  I am 10 years old.  I will be 11 on April 1.  I am part Rottweiler and part Terrier.  Long story, that I will not go into.


On my morning walk with Dad, I found this mound of dirt in the middle of the field.


Wonder what critter dug this?

The entrance is the top photo and the exit is the bottom photo.


Ummm, a rabbit?  a coyote?  a gopher?  a ground hog?

I am not sure.  I am new at being a farm dog and haven't seen lot of other critters.

I hear the coyotes howl at night and I worry about the four little kittens that live in the barn.  There mother, Ginger, takes really good care of them.  I even let them slip into my kennel for water when they drink their bowl dry.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Drift Morning



The pole closet to the front is the third one from the house.  You can see that we started out okay, then hit some small drifts.




Here you can see the road in front of us.




The road behind us.













From the angle of the photo it is hard to tell that the drifts are up past the wheel well and up to the door.

The wind is still howling and the snow is still drifting and the road grader has not been out yet today and we don't know when he will be by.