Walkin' With the Wild Woman

Come go for walk with the Wild Woman and see what you will find .....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just in Time For October

October - when deer archery season opens in Illinois, October, when we are working hard putting all the finishing touches on our decoys, blinds, and boats in readiness for waterfowl season opener in November. October, drenched in pink and breast cancer awareness.

Now I am all about the  opening day of archery season - and being neck deep in decoys and reeds and rushes in prep for waterfowl season, but I am increasingly finding the whole paint the town pink  campaigns  difficult to tolerate.

Perhaps I should back up and explain -  I am well aware of breast cancer. It killed my sister,  maimed my other sister, and caused me to end up filleted like  a catfish.  I don't need a pink ribbon, or shotgun, or label, or pink anything to remind me. I am angered by the number of firms who slap a pink ribbon on a product with the vague assertion that " a percentage of proceeds go to breast cancer awareness and research"
Where exactly do those proceeds go? How much exactly is that firm donating?

It seems to me, that slapping a pink ribbon on something is no nothing more than a marketing tactic for many firms.

I don't want to take away from those that do make a real difference - organizations like the Pink Whistle Society - the ones that are transparent and very clear  about how much money goes where and why.  But  I am just not enthused about pink and October first this year.

You see my winter hunting seasons  will not be happening this year, and I am little miffed and perhaps even a bit pouty about it. In a matter of one afternoon visiting the assorted doctors and technicians and hospitals  this week we discovered that one of the implants that was us used as part of my reconstructive surgery after  my mastectomies (yes plural )  has failed. In a nutshell, that means both implants will need to be removed, the reconstruction  redone, and new ones placed. 

That's a big surgery. That means no hunting this year. Dammitt.

That means all this October Breast Cancer Awareness stuff is going to really be sticking in my craw. Trust me.. I am aware right now..very aware!

What I'd like to see these pink ribbon bandits  do instead of slapping a pink ribbon on a product is is slap a guide to breast self exam on their products, put a list of signs and symptoms that should send a gal scurrying off to her to her doctor for a closer look. A list of resources for low income and rural women.

Why can't we do that instead of proclaiming it "Booberday"  or some equally offensive thing? If it is truly about education and awareness then lets  educate - lets make young women aware that breast cancer happens before 40 (the American Cancer Societies age that we should begin mammograms) let's talk prevention and early detection.

Lets start asking for funding for the non insured and under insured who are fighting breast cancer.
It should be criminal that in a country such as ours women still die from breast cancer due to the lack of funds for diagnosis and treatment.  Yes there are programs to assist - but how many low income or  uninsured women are aware of these?

Yep - I'm cranky as October  approaches. No hunting season this year and way too much  pink in my face.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Beauty of Waterfowl

Today at my "other" blog  - Through The Lens - graciously hosted by Heartland Outdoors; I had a little bit of a high speed come apart over the recent sentencing of Jeff Foiles, a "celebrity" waterfowl hunter who committed numerous and heinous violations of the fish and wildlife codes a both here in the United States and in Canada.

While there are many reasons why I'm angry about his sentencing - mostly it's the abject cruelty that he displayed to the waterfowl he "hunted" - and I'm using the term hunted loosely...very loosely in this case.

All I can say when I look at my collection of thousands of waterfowl photos  is "Why Jeff? WHY?!"

Even my joint custody retriever Piper wants to know Why Jeff ? WHY?



















Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Shiitakes Are Sprouting!





Shiitakes emerging from a log plugged two years ago


Yesterday afternoon as ambled out to the turtle tank (where I  keep the snappers to “clean out” before we clean and cook them)  I was shocked to find that my shiitake logs were spouting mushrooms! I had given up on having shiitakes. Not only were they starting to pop out, there were very good numbers, and very good looking shrooms. 

I was shocked because my shiitake saga started almost two years ago to the day, when I was the guest of a father and son team who have made an art out of raising shiitake mushrooms at their homes near Tamms, Illinois. 

The Borens preparing to begin the plugging process on a fresh green log
Knowing my penchant for all things fungal, Brent Boren, along with his father Roy invited me to visit during their October mushroom log plugging activities. 

The Borens began raising shiitake mushrooms at home approximately  6-7 years ago. It’s not a business, and they don’t sell them. “We have a big enough circle of friends and family waiting for them; we really don’t have any to sell.” laughed Brent Boren.  Boren also pointed out that “selling them would turn this into work and a job and take all the fun right out of it.”  Roy Boren also took the time to explain his process for canning the excess. “If you put a mess of them in with a roast, when everything’s done and you take your first bite, you’ll want to just throw out the roast and keep the mushrooms.”  he smiled. After cooking the beautiful specimens they so kindly sent home with me that day, I have to agree. 

The tasty ready to harvest shiitakes

In the cool morning air at Roy Boren’s home nestled in a valley outside of Tamms, the gentlemen set to work, explaining each step of the process in detail. 

A batch of logs of various ages placed in the filtered shade for optimum results

Green logs of an appropriate size are used, mostly oak and gum. The elder Mr. Boren explained that while the flushes of shiitakes were larger on the sweet gum logs, they didn’t last as long as the oak. Each year they add new logs in preparation to replace spent logs the next season.  Some logs I was told will produce as longs as four years, and that equals at least eight flushing of the shiitakes. Roy Boren had me pick up different logs of varying ages so that I could feel the difference, as the logs age and the mycelium trails and mushrooms use up the logs. The older the logs become lighter and more fragile feeling, the oldest and those close to being spent feel almost crumbly.  

Drilling the holes that will hold the shiitake plugs


During the drilling and plugging process the gentlemen explained the growing cycle. They plug them in the fall and the water the logs three times a day for two weeks, after that they soak them in a trough of water for about 24 hours, then they are placed on a rack in filtered sun at the edge of the tree line and left to let mycelium trails infiltrate the log.

Sealing the plugged logs with thin coat of paraffin
Log selection is an important part of process I learned. Logs roughly 3-4 feet long and about 4 inches in diameter are selected and holes are drilled 4 inches apart, around the log and the length of it. Into these holes, dowels inoculated with the mycelium and spawn are hammered in and then the “plugs” are sealed with brushing of melted paraffin.
Plugged logs ready to go


A closer look at the plugged logs



Roy Boren carries a plugged log to my car



Usually in May the first tiny shiitakes will start peeking their heads out.  I waitied with bated breath  the spring of 2010 – and I had one tiny shiitake struggle to the surface. I was crushed and called the Borens wailing about what I could have done wrong.

Be patient they advised me. Just be patient.

The initial spring flush is small and second that follows in the early weeks of autumn is bit larger. It’s the next year that one sees the good flushes…. the large flushes of the tasty, meaty, sought after mushrooms.  Fast forward to spring of 2011 – again just a few tiny little mushrooms peeked out from the bark. They didn’t grow.

They dried  up and fell off.

Another frantic phone call to the Boren men. Again –  I was told be patient, and that I shouldn’t worry too much as their crop wasn’t as good as usual this year either. Too much strange weather activity perhaps.
 
My excited shriek of "Mushrooms!!!"  sent the  big grinning snapper  scurrying to  bottom the tank. Finally! Being patient has paid off, the weather and fungi gods have cooperated and this year I have that shiitake flush that I’ve been waiting on! 
One of the logs with the long awaited shiitake flush!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pickin Up Pawpaws...

Picking up pawpaws - put 'em my pocket...save 'em for a rainy day ....
A few of today's paw paws ~ photo courtesy Bob Rutkowski

The old children's folk song ran through my head as I walked through the wet and rain drenched patch of bottom woods.I could remember walking in the bottoms with my mother singing the song in the early fall as we sniffed out the sweet banana like scent of ripe fallen pawpaws.

It's the time of year for pawpaws to start ripening and falling. Pawpaws  are always ripe right behind the first early flights of teal that come balled up and blasting into the same  low bottom pot holes and damp places where the pawpaw trees thrive.
Right behind the teal, right ahead of the hen of the woods, and right along side of the elderberries.
Clumps of still green paw paws hanging heavy in the trees

It's good foraging right now - better temperatures, enough moisture, it's time to wander the neighborhood harvesting enough of things for a few treats now and if there is plenty, enough to put up for the rest of the year.

Today was check the pawpaw patch day. Sadly there trees didn't seem to be holding as many this year as in the past couple of years, but the trees that are producing well are making bigger ones than usual. Mother Nature's compromise for us I'm thinking. They aren't quite ripe yet, some are just coming on, but I still grabbed a few to take home and ripen on the counter.

Sill a little on the green side. The dark spots on the rind don't hurt a thing.


Ripe pawpaws don't last long in the woods. Virtually every four footed creature likes to dine on them, and many times I've seen a stack of them tucked into a brush pile or against a log by some enterprising creature stashing the sweet treats.
Some four footed friend had been snacking and stashing with this pile

Pawpaws have sweet creamy almost banana custard like taste and texture. They are good simply split open and scooped out with a spoon, made in a custard sauce, pies, cakes - the list of culinary uses for the pulp is long.

If I have extra pulp, I simply fill freezer bags or boxes with it and put in the freezer to use later in the year.
Paw Paw Pulp - ready for the freezer

While just scooping it out of the rind with spoon (and occasionally my fingers )  and slurping it up is actually my favorite way to consume paw paws, here are a couple of recipes from Kentucky State University Pawpaw Program that I particularly like. Many nuts are starting to drop now too, so don't forget to gather up a few batches of those too!

The cookies are good snack tucked into a pack while your out hanging stands, checking trail cameras, roaming,  wandering and foraging in the fall forest.The dense moist bread makes a good breakfast or bedtime treat , slathered with butter and served with a good cup tea or coffee.


Pawpaw Bread
  • 1 c. pawpaw puree
  • 1/3 c. shortening
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¾ c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cream shortening, add sugar gradually, and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in pawpaw puree. Sift together remaining dry ingredients and add in four portions, beating smooth each time. Pour batter into a greased, floured loaf pan (8x4x3-inches) and bake in a moderate oven (350o F) for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Cool on rack before slicing. Makes 1 loaf.

Pawpaw Cookies with Black Walnuts
  • ¾ c. pureed pawpaw pulp
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ c. butter
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ c. black walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350o F and grease one large cookie sheet. Peel and seed fresh pawpaws and process in a food processor until fine. Sift together the flour and baking powder, and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg. Add the flour mixture and then add the pawpaw pulp. Chop half the nuts (reserve 16 pieces) and blend them in. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet and press a piece of black walnut onto the top of each cookie. Bake 12 minutes or until brown across the top. Makes about 16 cookies.

It's Started....

It's officially started.. that segue into the fall and winter hunting seasons, when the household activities, the time schedules, and the body clocks reset themselves  for the upcoming months of harvesting .
I'm awakening even earlier each morning 0400 at the latest - coffee, check e mails, blogs,  need a sweater and warm fuzzy slippers on the hardwood floors. Packing snacks in the gear and blind bags while the dogs circle antsy. It's time..it's started.
The pups wolf down their breakfast - Willie drags my boots to the desk -
Hurry UP  he seems to say- daylights coming.
The tote in the back of the car has been switched out from fishing gear, bowfishing arrows, and slingshots,  to rain gear, extra warm clothes, dog supplies, and fall mushroom hunting and root digging tools. Duck calls and a lanyard hang from the rear view  mirror now instead of a fish stringer.
Dark predawn drives to the hunt club - listening to NPR - and anxious to see and hug all the good men and women, boys and girls there. The warm and welcoming feeling walking into a club house fragrant with Chef Roy's breakfast of the day. Hugs all around, sweet coffee wafts through the air as camo clad hunters, playful retrievers, and wide eyed newcomers share friendship, fellowship, good news and bad. 
It's started.
And I am glad.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pssst. It's me....Willie

Pssst....it's me ..Willie. Shhh.. Don't wake the human. I've made a break for it.
It's been a hard day around here. Medcine Mama /Wild Woman  got allllll freaked out because I went on a little unsuprvised jaunt around the neighborhood. She is sooooo touchy about that. Sheesh.

I'd show you the photos from the melee that ensued on our walk back home, but she will not let me touch those precious cameras.  Very touchy about that lens licking business she is.

She called me a criminal and put me on lockdown. I was crushed. Criminal is so harsh. Sigh.

She took away my Facebook. 

She took away my Facebook just when those fun Prois  Outdoor Sisterhood gals Kirtsti and Katherine start a contest between me and BunBun.

Is Medicine Mama nuts? BunBun is clearly going to take me on this one. There goes my shot at fame! BunBun still gets Facebook.

But I'm crafty, you have to be with the Medicine Mama.Let's just say looking after her afield presents some unique challenges and leave it at that. If I tell you some of those stories tonight I'll never get out of lockdown.  She's not too happy with me today. Ahem...

But being the crafty canine that I am I nosed when I brought her lap top to her.

She didn't lock me out of her blog! Score!

I kept taking her a pillow til she got the hint to get up from that darn desk and go to bed. I know when she's tired better than Madame WAAAAY TYPE A does.

I curled over her feet, I snuggled, and nosed, and nuzzled until her tight old muscles could relax, ...she had her bedtime tea and meds.

She is down for the count. I have prevailed!

Now help me out here humans, dogs, ducks, deer whoever or whatever you are. Go checkout the contest on the Prois facebook group and Vote for Willie!

Checkout all of Prois - they make the BEST outdoor and hunting apparel for women out there. I'm really glad my human gal wears it - not only does it work like it should, it fits like it should, and I am no longer embarrassed to be seen with Miss Messy Pants in left over, hand me down, ill fitting, camo. Thank heavens she finally caught on to Prois!

The Dog Ladies

Just about a year ago a fat, yella, fella came into my life..Willie ..Will He? Officially named Steele's Golden Hoss Will He? Oh what will Will He Willie become?

In my heart and in my gut I know that he will come into his own. In  the very fiber of my being I just know that he is going to be the best companion, helper, entertainer, service, and working dog for me.


Although at his current 12 month old raging hormone, no brain cells, selective hearing, ain't life a party attitude, it can be difficult to hold that thought.


The  endless training saga however is beginning to beg the question - Is Willie a pea brained dunce with a poor short term memory like me or is he still just brainless a pup? Where is Willie's memory and retention some days?

Seems like if Willie and I don't train daily we lose ground. If I'm down for a week or two and we don't train, he reverts right back to "gee ain't life a party" mode.

What to do? Well, what you do when you have a question is you ask your knowledgeable dog friends, you know those "Outdoor Sisterhood" chick dog lady friends.




Friends like Deb West, Founder of BrownWater Dogs and The Pink Whistle Society, Owner/trainer/handler/breeder of HRC Grand dogs.




And friends like Gigi Strauss, owner of Rainforest Costal Labs, owner /trainer/ handler for beautiful, tender, loving, and joyous therapy dogs. Therapy dogs that are also damn fine hunting dogs; with their own stacks of HRC ribbons and awards.

These two gals epitomize my favorite Annie Oakley quote, " "Any woman who does not thoroughly enjoy tramping across the country on a clear, frosty morning with a good gun and a pair of dogs does not know how to enjoy life." 

These dog ladies know thier stuff. They know dogs, training, the health, and souls of dogs. So we discussed, we thought, we came up with a plan .

The dog ladies are going to help me fix this business with Willie. They were quick and generous with their thoughts and knowledge. It was agreed all around that consistent daily training is key and that if I can't train because I'm out if commission or because I'm out if town; I need a partner who will train him for me. Luckily I think may have that part licked.



Stay tuned as the "Is Willie a pea brained dunce like me?" saga unfolds. Time will tell. As for me.. I think Willie's a pretty smart cookie.


To quote one of my favorite well known trainers, J Paul Jackson,  Owner of Lone Oak Retrievers, Host of Drake's Migration Nation, and Retriever Editor of Delta Waterfowl Magazine - "There ain't  nothing wrong with that dog - he just hasn't lived long enough yet. "

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Girls With Guns Make Good Friends!

One of the great things about being part of TeamWON, The Women's Outdoor News, and the bigger "Outdoor Sisterhood" is all of the wonderful, smart,  and talented outdoors  people that I've been blessed to become acquainted  with along way.

Girls With Guns Clothing are certainly no exception!They offer a fresh hip style of clothing that not only makes a statement, but does it with flair and fashion. 

While I might be just a little too long in the tooth and thick in the middle for some of their great creations, they look smashing on the younger set of outdoor sisters roaming about this household. What I do LIKE and LIKE a great deal, is the style of their hats! 

I especially appreciate that longer front bill, I'm always fighting sunlight in my eyes, and I need that shade! The other  part of the fantastic looking hats is they are classy looking. 



Never one to do much with a hairdo other than oh say a braid, bun  or pony tail, I live in a hat. Seriously ladies, a good hat hides a multitude of hair do fashion sins. I can clean up, go out, and look my best in one of the stylish GWG hats. Dare I even go so far as to say I look classy? 

This would be my pick - love the classy looking logo!


Well here's YOUR chance to win one of the classy good looking hats form Girls With Guns Clothing!

Our shooting friends from California and proprietors of Girls with Guns Clothing, Jen and Norissa, are offering a Girls with Guns’ brown trucker hat with its special logo to two winners. To win, pop on over to Women's Outdoor News and answer this question:

Where, other than the range or the woods, would you wear this hat to make a lifestyle statement that you promote the tradition of shooting in this country?

And, guys, you could wear this hat, too. And, don't forget to check out the other cool apparel and accessories – including the Sara Palin hat – as seen in her TV show. Yes, Sara's wearing the Girls with Guns bucket hat! Found only at Girls with Guns Clothing.

Deadline is midnight, Friday, Sept. 23. Winner will be chosen by Random.org.  Winners will have the opportunity to be featured at Women’s Outdoor News in photos, wearing the hat, of course!

We're looking forward to reading where you would wear a Girls with Guns hat.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Somedays You Have Soup...

sneaking into the duck hole before the teal arrive
I knew when I woke up this morning before dawn things had shifted - not only was I feeling better, the temperature had dropped, the rain was falling - the shift from summer to fall had begun. I could feel it in my bones. I felt as restless and stirry as the migrators that are starting to move.

I listened to the raggedy and ever enlarging flight of honkers head on their daily move from lake to lake and knew it was time to step outside. Teal might be moving.. maybe.. maybe I wouldn't spook them out going in. The light was horrible, the rain was falling and I'm still too shaky to hand hold 400mm in the chill - but they were there, and  they lifted off, and they circled, they bunched, and they balled, and they flew;  and all was well in my world for those few brief moments .

And they circle...

and they ball....
and they are here!

Soon as I was headed in the door ditching the cold, wet, clothes my phone rang; it was another one of the "Outdoor Sisterhood" Chicas ~  My pal  Gila - a talented photographer who now hails  from the Show Me State, We grew up together roaming, chasing crawdads, running dogs,  eating stuff out of the woods, tearing up dirt roads and chasing spirits.

After telling me that I was just a little nutty for slithering out the reeds in this weather she announced she was bringing me soup. Good Soup. Soup that will make you feel better. Soup made with compassion, care, and fresh and good ingredients to strengthen body and soul. The same soup her Granny and my Mother made 60 years ago.



And she arrives - full of goodness, grace and good food - She hugs my dogs, and tells me to eat. We laugh and talk about teachers, students, the vagaries of life as photographer, when the mushrooms will be popping, and we have soup. We brainstorm and talk technology ( She's light years ahead of me by the way) , and we have soup. 

And when the soup is finished an the visit comes to an end - we are both made better by the time together ....It's that Outdoor Sisterhood Chica stuff ya know, even if it takes place on the inside on cold rainy day.

~ special thanks to Buck Gardner Field Staff Jason Schlesinger for this mornings  teal tip  off - . Jason always keeps me posted on where the birds are!




Monday, September 12, 2011

Walk a Little, Meander a Little

Last post I just threw it all out there - the whole crazy Multiple Sclerosis thing, the Wild Woman Walkin" soul that I have , and also raised the question how to incorporate the two in a singular blog. I received lots of great feedback via phone, email, twitter - and from all that feedback, especially the spot on advice I received from Glynn over at A Reel Lady; I think I've got it figured out - The main page here - It'll be the same Walkin' With the Wild Woman - A title that I hope conjures up wild outdoor adventures, full of fun and excitement. A life full of power health and vitality.
However MS is an ever attached part of my life, and there always seems to be some part of it that affects the wild vibrant crazy wild woman in my soul - so to that end - When one of my wild adventures has a MS impact, it's likely be linked over to Meandering With MS tab with some further explanation or wild tale...
Make a lick of sense? Probably not - cause we MS'r sometimes have a little trouble making a lick a sense .

x
Meet Willie - Willie is my service dog in training - although at his present 3 brain celled age of 1 I'm not always sure how much service we're going to wring out of this high speed water loving lug.
He does a great job of fetching up what I drop, carrying the heavy stuff, helping me up and down out if the hills and hollers and is much better companion than cane.

But there's that water business..he just hates to stay out of the water, making it necessary for anything he's going to have in his pack in dry bags.

That ability I have for finding the one square inch of blue nasty mud and falling in it - Well, Willlie has the same affectation for water. (Not a bad thing for a duck dog though) .


It's important for any good service to have a good instinct about what's going on with their human partner. Willie is coming into his own and seems to know - he brings pillows to me at the desk when I am weary in order to tell me it's nap time, he brings boots and camo when he thinks I need a little trip outdoors. Here's a look at his recent decision to drag me out side and remind me that good fun, and good friends outside are good medicine !
When you get the opportunity to splash and jump DO IT!
Take your best friend and go outside to see what you can see!
Let your bigger stronger friend do the heavy work
When you get worn out - LAY DOWN and soak up some sun

Thanks to my best friends - Adam and Piper for playing with Willie and I when we need it most!