Bear in the Woods

Since we have the dogs we don’t see as much wildlife near the house as we used to.  BC (before canines) we often watched the deer feed in the evenings and saw bear fairly often – usually just darting across the clearing to get back into the woods.  With Molly and Grizzly on patrol the wild animals have learned to stay away from the house and yard and sometimes you kind of forget they are out there.  The other day when we were out in the woods looking for mushrooms, we were reminded as we came upon some recent signs of bear.  This woods area is one of my favorite places here; the tree canopy doesn’t allow any direct sunlight to penetrate and the forest floor is covered with moss. It is really beautiful and peaceful – and it grows wonderful mushrooms.

The bear(s) found this dead tree and opened it up quite well.

After splitting firewood, I can tell you that sometimes when you crack open a piece of wood all kinds of grubs and worms and creepy crawly things come out of the holes inside.

I’m guessing that is what the bear(s) are after in the tree?  Doesn’t really seem to me like a few worms and creepy crawlies are enough nourishment to sustain a big bear – but I guess that is why they eat berries and salmon too.

Of course our canine companions were with us mushrooming.  They love to chase each other in the woods.  Grizzly is so fast he’s just a blur! Not.

We also found a downed cedar log that the bear(s) had been into.

The Hunt is On

Autumn has definitely arrived here.  The leaves have started to show their beautiful fall colors and the air is crisp and clear.  Fall means, among other things, it is also mushroom season again, so we went out the other day searching for chanterelles. Before you can really effectively hunt for mushrooms you must have your mushroom stick.  The stick is helpful when climbing over stumps and logs and to move leaves and low hanging branches out of your way and generally poke around in places you don’t want to put your hand.

Larry and Karla – previous owners of AAR – very generously showed us where the mushrooms grow here and left us mushroom sticks, which I believe are old ski poles.  Unfortunately they are not in as good a condition as Larry and Karla left them because we had puppies who grew into dogs and they chewed on anything they could find.  Hopefully they have now outgrown this chewing, but our mushroom sticks are a little worse for it.

With your mushroom stick in hand and a bag to gather your mushrooms you are ready to begin the hunt.  So now we’ll have a little “Can you find the mushroom?” game.  Sort of like Where’s Waldo?  I promise there are chanterelle mushrooms in this picture; actually three or four.

Did you spot them?  The mushrooms we find most commonly this time of year are the golden chanterelle; almost exactly the same color as the fallen maple leaves.  This is yet another confirmation to me of a divine creator – if the natural world was left to chance those mushrooms would be pink or blue or green or who knows what color.  Anyway, back to spotting the mushrooms, I’ll give you a clue.  Look along the mushroom stick.

Now do you find them?  See how tricky it can be to spot the mushrooms?  Sometimes you step on them without even seeing them as they blend in so well with the leaves.  Here’s a closer look.

Now you see them right?  Wonderful, expensive to buy, delicious to taste chanterelle mushrooms.

 We went around to all the sites where we have found the chanterelles  growing before and were rewarded with two bags full.  The chanterelle’s grow in different locations from the spring morels, and luckily most of them are not on the edges of our property so we don’t have as many issues with trespassers stealing them.  I really hate it when people come onto our property illegally and steal our mushrooms!

I sautéed some fresh for cream of mushroom soup and dried the rest to use later.

Man’s Best Friends

I haven’t commented much about our two dogs lately; but that doesn’t mean they aren’t involved.  Pretty much whatever we are doing, Molly and Grizzly are here (and often in the way).

They are an affectionate pair and I don’t think it has ever occurred to either of them that we might have anything more important to do than pet them.  Grizzly in particular is convinced that he should be at the center of anything that is happening – no matter what you might be trying to accomplish.

When he can’t be directly involved in whatever is going on, Grizzly has the uncanny knack of always being in the way.  Sitting in the hay you are trying to rake up.

Sitting in the gravel you are trying to spread.

In the doorway you need to walk through – he is consistent.

Grizzly is also pretty sure that any visitors who arrive must have come expressly to see and pet him, and he will be glad to help out by climbing in their lap.

I would like to point out that he is WAY too big to be a lap dog and I don’t let him climb on me – others however have reinforced his bad habits. Without casting negative aspersions on Grizzly’s intellect, let me say that Molly is definitely the brains of the operation.  She is a lot faster than Grizz too and I think she enjoys outrunning him every chance she gets just to remind him.  The only time he could outpace her was just before she gave birth to the ten puppies; but she has long since regained her form and is lean and fit.

Molly is a sweet-natured and very affectionate dog, but she is willing to be petted without climbing all over you.

When we are not entertaining enough to suit them they play and growl and wrestle together.

After they wear themselves out they take a nap on their bed on the porch.  Last fall when the weather started turning cold I felt sorry for them and convinced Rick to help me build a dog bed on the porch for them.  They already had their insulated doghouse, but they only go in there at night, so they needed a warm spot during the day.  Not fancy, but a warm, insulated bed with a soft blanket on top.  You would think they’d appreciate it?

This is what their nice dog bed looked like after they had chewed up the cover – the second one.  I’m hoping they have outgrown that urge to chew up everything and have plans to put one more nice warm blanket down for them.  If they chew that one off, they are on their own.

The East Side

I’m sure you all paid a lot more attention in geography class than I did and you already know this, but I was very surprised to discover how dry the east side of Washington (and Oregon) is.  When I thought of  Washington ” The Evergreen State”  I pictured the area around Seattle and the Puget Sound.  Lots of water, lots of trees, very lush and green.  And it is . . .

on the west side of the Cascades.  On the east side – that is another environment entirely.  A lot less rainfall, trees, and green.   Much more dry. desolate and huge expanses of agriculture – all irrigated.  Wheat fields that go on for miles.

There is water on the east side, but only in the rivers.

The hillsides are dry and barren – at least during this time of year.  There are also a lot of rock outcroppings which look to me like they are volcanic.  It reminds me a lot of the area around Lone Pine and Bishop in California.

 The reason we went over to the east side was to attend a cattle show at the Spokane Fair.  There were Lowline Angus  there from all over the northwest.  We learned a lot more about these cattle and got to know several breeders of lowlines.

We have met a lot of very nice people who are involved with Lowlines, and they have been really helpful to us beginners.  One thing I learned this weekend:  the view down a bull’s back is very important when checking his conformation.  Who knew?

On the way back from Spokane we drove through more wheat fields and apple orchards.

I’m not sure what this particular variety of apple is.  I do know we bought some Akane and Honey Crisps from the stand at the edge of the orchard and they are wonderful with very good flavor.

While we were there, Rick made a new friend.  Looks familiar doesn’t he?

They were fast friends – at least as long as the turkey sandwich lasted.

Happy Anniversary

Today is our wedding anniversary.  It really doesn’t seem possible, but pictures don’t lie and these two youngsters have been married 31 years.


We have been blessed beyond measure and we know that.  We look forward to 31 more.

I wrote more of our story a couple of years ago, so if you read it then this is a re-post or re-tread or repeat 🙂  Hopefully this link will get you there.

Hodge Podge

You have probably already figured out that I have been a very lazy blogger lately.  We have been busy doing lots of things, but I just haven’t blogged them very well.  Believe it or not, I usually try to have a blog with a theme or story or some thread of continuity that ties it all together.  Not so today.  To get you somewhat caught up here is a very eclectic recollection of the activities of the past week or so in no particular order and with no theme at all.

I met a princess; her name is Lauren.  You can see from the tiara she is the real deal.  Her Grandma Dottie is a quilting friend of mine, she must be the Queen?

The sunflowers I planted very late from seed are blooming in the flower garden.  I’ve never grown sunflowers before.  The package said these would be 4 – 5 feet and these are at least  7 feet tall.  I’m beginning to think you can’t trust seed packets to have very accurate information, but I love the sunflowers.

Rick got a new toy.  I mean tool, Rick got a new TOOL.

I don’t know what the official name of this thing is but it looks like a blowtorch to me, which is attached to a propane tank.  He got it at my request actually, because I didn’t want him to use Round-up or some other form of poison on the weeds in the gravel next to the garden.

Flames shoot out and burn those weeds to a crisp.

This is probably another tool you will never see me using because I might burn up something important – like a building.

Daisy the heifer went for her first ride in the stock trailer.  Her mom, Dusty was with her.  I won’t tell you how long it took us to get Daisy in the trailer, but it was a loooong time.

We moved them down to our neighbor Marjorie’s pasture where there is lots of nice green grass.  Our pasture was eaten down to the nubs and we had been feeding the girls hay.

Nick the bull and T-Bone are also there so the whole herd is together again.  It is time for Nick to perform his bull duties so Dusty will have a calf  – hopefully in late spring next year.

I was interrupted while working on this entry by a trespasser riding his motorcycle up the gravel road from the  back pasture, past the shed and garden and right up to the house.  He saw me through the window so he stopped to turn around next to the sign post.  I didn’t have time to snap a picture as I chased him off.   He had on a backpack and was just out for a ride on a beautiful day he said.  The fact that he was on private property and rode literally into  our front yard was not a concern to him.  The audacity of these people is unbelievable to me.   It is enough to make you dread holiday weekends. . . and hunting season. . . and mushroom season.  I must admit when Rick announced his intention to have the entire perimeter of our property fenced I thought he was paranoid; now I can’t wait.

Rick dug up some of our potato crop.  That is one of his favorite things to harvest.  This year we planted some blue potatoes which did very well.

We had never tasted blue potatoes before.

The texture is just like the white potatoes we are more familiar with.  The flavor was great!  I am amazed at how much more flavor home-grown potatoes have than the ones you buy in the store.  The zucchini was really tasty too.  We have a good crop of squash this year – last year’s was awful so that is a nice change.

My friend Mary Lee is making this quilt in class.  I love the vintage look of it.

I have made two of these new (to me anyway) 15 minute table runners.  It is a cute pattern and it goes together very quickly which is nice for a seasonal item you are only going to use for a few weeks a year at most.  I personally am not a fan of Halloween – it is certainly my least favorite holiday.  Maybe because it involves huge amounts of my least favorite color, orange?  I don’t know, but this Halloween table runner for Megan is done and did turn out nice if you like Halloween – which she does.

I also made one with a fall look.  Still way too much orange, but better than Halloween.

We finally got the metal roof on our little cattle shed.  It was a beautiful warm, sunny day.  Almost hot up on the roof with all that metal reflecting in the sun.  I actually screwed down almost all of the metal sheets on the roof which Rick handed up to me, but Rick does not take pictures so it always looks like he does all of the work.  Oh well, at least I have editorial control.  The day after this it rained for hours and hours and we got an inch and a half of rain which we really needed.

Molly spent her time chasing critters in the woods while we were working on the roof.  It is starting to look more and more like autumn around here with the bracken ferns turning yellow.

Another flower that I planted from seed is blooming in the garden next to the daisy I transplanted from the edge of the woods.  I didn’t mark this one either and don’t know what it is – maybe phlox?  I do know it is a color I approve of.

After Rick used the torch to burn the weeds crispy, we put down more gravel around the front of the garden and shed.

We don’t know if the weeds will come back up from their roots or if burning them will kill them completely?  I guess we will find out when the rains come.

My summer flowers ( and I do know what these are: trailing petunias, alyssum and snapdragons) I  planted in the old wagon in front of our porch were just beautiful two weeks ago.  Now the are looking leggy and overgrown and I need to replace them with fall mums.

And finally, my picks to win the US Open this year:  Rafael Nadal and Elena Dementieva.  Rick chose Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova so we will see if either of us is correct.