Friday, April 25, 2014

Bev Doolittle Llamma

When I was a kid, my friend and I spent an entire summer trying to catch a feral horse who, in the end, won the battle of wits and lived out his life on the North Edge of Nowhere. For years after that we would see him once in a while as our school bus would careen past his stompin' ground. If he had had hands, the thumbs would have been in his ears, his fingers wiggling and his tongue stuck out.

Now at the Homestead, there seems to be a Llama who is taking the same route to freedom. Jailbreak.

I have no idea where this Llama came from. My best guess is about 4 or 5 miles over the back hill, where there are more houses. He is not from around here, but he has decided he belongs here. He has been popping up every couple of months for a year now. He hangs out in the woods at the back of the Homestead, mostly on the neighbors side where the road to town winds down through Christmas trees and second growth timber, and NO fences.
He grazes along until he hears my car coming, his white head pops up and he skitters to the shadows and watches me pass by. If I slow down or look too long at him, he beats it into the dense woods. I guess he's not taking any chances of being re-domesticated!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dog Vitamins

I hate to waste a single morsel of our home grown food. When I make chicken stock I drain off the first liquid and put it in the fridge for some yummy chicken soup. Then I put the bones and skin back into my pressure cooker along with all of the carrot and celery scraps and anything else that might be languishing in the fridge or the garden like kale that has gotten just a little too tough.

What comes out is a nourishing and yummy soup that the dogs go crazy for. All the bones are now soft pulp. This stuff is pure ambrosia for the dogs. We pour a little over their evening kibble. 

When I have time, I make little treats out of some of this soup.

1 cup soup
2 cups flour, more or less
1/2 cup cooked and diced bacon or grated old cheese
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Put all into low pot and begin kneading like bread
Add flour as needed to create a stiff dough
Smash onto cookie sheet to a 1/4" thickness
Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes
Pull out and score with pizza cutter to treat sized squares
Put back in and bake till dry and crisp, about 20 minutes 

 Feed to your VERY GOOD DOG!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bugs Bunny Cartoon

I have a problem. An underground problem. Gophers! Unlike Moles, which are strictly meat eaters (and very few kinds of nuts), gophers eat mostly vegetation. Unfortunately, this spring, the vegetables on the menu are the same vegetables I want to eat.

They are eating the roots to my overwintered chard.

The result is very much like the Bugs Bunny Cartoons where Elmer Fudd watches the carrots in his garden disappear into the ground.

There is no reason to bother exterminating this Gopher. It will just cause a population explosion of gophers in my garden. Gophers are very territorial and if you get rid of the one who is bothering you, several will move in for a turf war. Who wouldn't want the 'penthouse' of gopher living? Until they worked it out, I would suddenly have several gophers. I'd rather just live with the one I have. Better a devil you know.

When dealing with gophers I find it more effective for me to just plant plenty to share and to make the garden a less pleasant place to be. I have had success with burying 1/2" hardware cloth at the bottom of my raised beds. It is a couple days of work, but it makes gopher proof beds in which I can reliably grow carrots and potatoes, their FAVORITE foods.

Some people recommend putting hair from the barbershop in the holes, but that creeps ME out.

I had a cat once who was very good at discouraging them. He used an interesting technique. He would methodically pee in all but one of the gopher holes and then sit by the one hole he didn't pee in, and wait...

Apparently the gopher would stay away from all the holes in his tunnel network that the cat peed in and then eventually end up at the hole my cat was waiting at.

Sadly, my gopher catching cat is no longer with us. But I am considering using his strategy.

Only, I'm not sure Buck will cooperate.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


I spent years and years wandering the hills around the Homestead while growing up.
I sat quietly on top of old growth stumps while deer walked unsuspectingly below.
I army-crawled up to small creeks so I wouldn't spook the Cutthroat trout that was lurking in a shallow pool.
I slithered down rabbit trails to hunt for Quail.

And during all of these stealth activities, I have NEVER seen Elk at the Homestead.

But last week, I found an entire herd of Elk crossing the road that runs behind the Homestead.

That explained the GIANT "deer" hoof print we saw in the mud near the hay barn last week. I have asked my father what he thinks about their sudden appearance. He thinks it is a sign of over population in the higher elevations. It seems odd to have an overpopulation right now. It might have more to do with habitat changes like logging. At any rate they are such an awesome animal to see around. As big as a large horse, the lead male "Bull" looked as perfect as a Disney film.