Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bear Grease and Prairie Grass

I had lots of questions about our bear hunt.  Yes, we ate bear meat.  No, it isn't horrible.  I tentatively cooked up some of the back straps when we got home.  Despite what most people stated, it tasted great.  I'm sure part of that is because I was careful butchering and made sure there was no fat. The meat was marinated overnight, then seared in a frying pan, and slow cooked to perfection.  Bear meat must be completely cooked, so no medium rare.  I can't wait to finish butchering the rest of the quarters.  I am anxious to make summer sausage using casings for the first time.   

Next, I followed our guides advice and rendered the fat to make a type of bear lard.

I took cleaned chunks of bear fat.  I put them in a pot with 1/4 cup of water and put it on medium for several hours.  It slowly became a beautiful amber liquid.  I strained it through cheesecloth and after it had cooled poured it into jars.

After it had cooled more, I put it in the refrigerator and it is now a solid white.  Our guide said it makes the best pie crust.  I will let you know how that goes next week.   I have also learned it is good for waterproofing leather, great for hand lotion, and can be used to make candles.  I will also try a few of those projects later.

  Bear grease wasn't all I was busy with last week. My husband and I recently acquired some land on the Belle Fourche River.  We couldn't wait to see the opportunities provided on the prairie property.   
We were greeted by a newly born lamb in the pasture next to us.  It didn't take mom long to get him cleaned up and moving.  The river wasn't so welcoming.  All of the rains have the Belle at full capacity.  She was roaring.  We did manage to catch one channel catfish.  
Of course, the first thing I had to do was plant things.  It is hard for a girl who spent most of her childhood planting trees to live in the forest.  Here I was right at home.  The first trees in were some little cedars for a windbreak.  Next was an orchard of apricot, current, aronia, black walnut, and elderberry.   Can you tell I love berries?  Part of the draw of the property was the wild buffalo berries, chokecherries, and I also found a huge gooseberry bush.   In the photo below the chokecherry is on the left and the buffalo berry on the right.  Also if you look closely at the picture on the right, you can see hoards of ticks crawling onto my sweatshirt, while it hangs on the steel post:)

 Everything is green and lush.  There are several stately cottonwoods.  I'm afraid there are also a plethora of ticks.  Despite all caution we were inundated with them.  Luckily all were found before they got anchored.  I guess with everything good comes something bad.  
 Well, it was a busy week.  I am excited about our new property and projects.  It is always good to have something to keep a person busy.  Is anyone else having a problem with ticks?  This is the worst they have ever been, both in the hills and on the prairie.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Birds, bees, berries, blooms, and BEARS!

My husband and I went on a great adventure last week.  We went to Saskatchewan on a bear hunt and fishing trip.  Wow was it ever a fun. I am reminded of something I saw that said, "When was the last time you did something for the first time?"   It was a whole trip of firsts... 
The first time I was lulled to sleep by the loons.

 The first time I had ever fished for Northern Pike.  
We caught many and now I am the one hooked:)
 The first time I have been to Canada.  It is beautiful country with wonderful people.
                    The first time I watched beavers at work, while I peacefully fished.
 The first time I've been on a lake that was so big you needed a map to get around.

The first time I have been lost on a lake, despite the map. 
The first time I have seen a spruce grouse.

The first time I watched a bear in the woods.

The first time I have hunted a bear and I was successful.

It was a phenomenal trip of firsts and I was lucky enough to experience them with my best friend.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It comes and it goes...

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that life is fleeting.  Enjoy it while you can.

Appreciate it when the sun shines and you can see the intricate things that make this world an amazing place.

 Before you know it there is a blizzard and one thinks all is lost.

 The snow melts, you brush yourself off, and bravely trudge on. Maybe with a limp.

Sometimes you can't recover.  All you can do is enjoy things while they last and understand that nothing is forever.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Love is in the air part two...

It isn't just the tree frogs feeling frisky.  The tom turkeys are prancing around in their full regalia, trying to tempt the hens. 

The thing I love most about turkeys is the fact that those feathers aren't brown. They are every color of the rainbow.  Do you see the red, blue, and green in the hen's feathers?  
The colors of love may be crushed under a slough of snow for awhile.   I'm sure this will melt quickly, but it doesn't make it any easier to swallow.

Are we the only ones getting snow?  I hope the rest of you have greener pastures.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Love is in the air...

Love is in the air.  This week the treefrogs have serenaded us with their mating calls.  Today I went down to our pond and investigated.  I was honored to not only witness an amorous male and interested female, but also see the results of their affair.  

 How such a little frog can make so much noise is beyond me.   He is literally the size of a half dollar, but you can hear them 1/4 of a mile away.   Below the female is quietly listening.

Above is the results of their endeavors.  I wish I could sneak down and check the pollywog progress, but we have some ducks homesteading down there and I don't want to disturb them.  I will just have to listen from afar.  

It is great fun watching nature close up.  I felt very lucky that I was able to see those little frogs and the eggs.