Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Second Favorite Place in the Whole World!

Has got to be Turkey Run State Park. My most favorite is our own home. I've been going to visit and explore the park since I first got a driver's license, and took my kids there frequently from the time they were tiny. They first saw the trails from the carrier on my back, and graduated to walking them hand-in-hand with me and finally on their own, scrambling along ahead of me as we strode the hills and ravines of this beautiful place.

In recent years, I haven't been here much, busy with life and grandkids, and getting old and stiff with knee problems makes it tough to get anywhere in the park. Everywhere you go it's up down or across something that requires balance and agility and it was just too tough to do. I've had both knees replaced now, and the past few months of exercise has improved my strength and flexibility. This week we needed to get away, so packed up the motorhome and headed south for the park.And the rains came, and they settled in to stay. We ended up staying at the Inn, comfy and dry, and enjoyed a dinner in the dining room and a book by the fire. I walked down past sunset point and into Turkey Run Hollow for a slow stroll among those ancient rock walls. It's always so peaceful in that canyon, and I love to just stand, and soak it in. This trip the water was running so high that I couldn't get all the way into the end of the hollow, but skirted the mud and got as far as I could into it, for a marvelous evening walkabout. The Canada Geese provided a neat show of property guarding as they warned me away from their nesting sites on top of the cliff opposite Sunset Point, and geese up and down the creek echoed his cries, making the whole canyon echo with their calls.

The next morning it was a bit drier, so Jim headed out for a long hike to Camel's Back, while I took the back trail down into Turkey Run Hollow to see if I could find Kim's missing letterbox hidden there months ago. The trail starts past the guest cabins, on a boardwalk with handrails and steps.Past the boards, mud rules, and with the clay, it's slippery in that canyon, but as always, just beautiful, and I had the whole place to myself. I spent a lot of time walking the bank of the little stream, trying to find the best place to cross over without getting wet, because the letterbox site is on the other side. The water's not deep, but deeper than usual, and cold this time of year if you slip off the mossy stepping stones.I love this sign, that shows trail 6 just ending at the blank cliff wall.I finally got across, with only the front half of one hiking boot wet, and came to the entrance of the side canyon where the letterbox was supposed to be.Here's the rock where it was, and it was gone. Shame, it was such a good hiding place, right beside this little waterfall, but I suspect spring rains just swept it away.As always, I love the wonderful bright green ferns that grow out of the tiniest crack in the rock. Someday I'm going to get busy and make a painting of this fresh beauty, in the meantime, I have a LOT of pictures.
Can you believe how this tree grew? Right out of the rock and very little soil?
Back across the stream, and this time I got the other toe wet, and it's back up that big muddy hill and back to the comfort of the room to get warm and dry. I'll need to work harder on those exercises before we come back again, just wore my tired old knees to a frazzle. It was another great visit to Turkey Run to see the beauties of rock, wood and water.

If letterboxing is a new idea to any of you readers, you owe it to yourself to check it out. It's a fascinating semi-sport, hobby that stretches world wide and adds fun to exploring what's out there. Check out for the history of the activity and what's near you. You never know where the next box might be hidden!

Friday, May 14, 2010


Oh, Boy! What a day! I had to fast for an upcoming test, so I was just grumping around the house feeling a bit sorry for myself and working at the computer when I saw the first hummingbird of the season right outside my window! We've had one small feeder up for a couple of weeks, watching for their arrival, but this was the first one we've seen this year.As I was heading for the rest of the feeders to put them up, Jim called for me to come outside with the camera. He'd found a nice big morel mushroom in our favorite picking spot and wanted me to come help look for more. We love harvesting wild foods, and morel mushrooms are our absolute rare treat favorites. Of course, I went right away.What a bounty! We found more and more, all over. I planted them in this spot over 20 years ago by throwing out the soaking water of shrooms I'd found elsewhere and they've come up every year since.These were the big yellow ones that almost seem to glow when you spot them hiding among the sticks and leaves on the woods floor and we found them in the original spot and about 20 feet away in each direction. Nice!That means they're spreading, a wonderful thing to happen.We had enough to put some away for another day, and a generous amount for today. While I was having my test done-(which turned out fine, by the way) Jim went out and bought a small steak and a vidalia onion. What a feast!
For dinner we had fresh morel mushrooms, dusted in wheat free flour and quickly sauted outside in olive oil. That's followed by Sirloin steak, roasted red potatoes, a baked vidalia onion with a little butter, a huge salad of our own greenhouse grown lettuces and spinach, and accompanied by an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz blend, deep, rich and delicious.
For dessert we had slivers of edam cheese, red seedless grapes and a tiny bit of dark chocolate. While enjoying dessert, we had a front row seat to watch the hummingbirds at the freshly filled feeders. We're always delighted to watch these tiny flying jewels, and to think of their flight all the way from Mexico, across the Gulf to return here each year is just mind-boggling, especially to think that they had to cross the path of the oil spill this year! Amazing.

Life is very good. Slainte'

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Update On The Girls

These baby chicks are growing so fast. They were a week old on Monday and that box at my feet when I sit at the desk is getting noisier all the time. They've begun scratching in the box constantly as their foraging instinct comes into play and they're taking practice flights as their wing feathers grow in.The two light brown ones are Rhode Island Reds, and will grow up to have glossy reddish brown feathers and lay brown eggs. They're my idea of a classic farm hen, fairly calm and a reliable layer. The yellow and dark brown ones are Aracanas, which come in various color combinations and lay green to blue eggs. They're not so traditional, but such fun to have these Easter egg chickens as part of our little flock.I've added some sand from Anna's sandbox, since they need some grit in their craw to digest their food and that seems to satisfy their need to scratch and peck at something. It sure is interesting having those lively little beings in the house.They're very much aware of anyone walking into the room and they all pop their heads up, make alarm sounds and scurry around as we walk near. Anna was here yesterday and spent lots of time talking with them and holding them gently one at a time. She's named them, of course, and explains each of their traits and emotions to me in long rambling monologues. Leaving for home took forever, since each had to be picked up, carefully hugged and kissed goodbye.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

It was a day for the chickens!

You know all that stuff about best laid plans? Well they do have a way of going astray on you from time to time. I've been wanting to get some chickens again, just a few hens so we'll have our own delicious home grown eggs, enough to let the grandkids enjoy feeding them, gathering the eggs, and making the connection between reality and the food they eat.

So I ordered four pullets, two Rhode Island Reds for brown eggs, and two Aracanas for green or blue eggs. Now the word pullet means a young female chicken, just about old enough to lay eggs. I thought that would be great, they'd be past the chick stage when we got them, and old enough that if we set them up with an automatic feeder and waterer and good strong clean pen, we could do our traveling and only have to ask someone to stop by now and then to check on them.

We cleaned up the old coop that we've been using for storage, Jim reinforced it with new paneling, and cut hatch doors for gathering the eggs and adding water to the automatic font I've ordered.
Today was the day to pick them up, and of course we were running behind as usual, but we thought we'd have it all ready by this afternoon when it was time to pick up our half grown hens. We kept Anna overnight so she could help us paint the outside of the coop. Jim picked up some almost florescent lime green paint that's really fun and three brushes and we set to work.The old wood soaked up the paint like a sponge and we had to put two coats on parts of it, but Anna had a ball, talking non-stop, like any excited 5 year old, and actually put a lot more paint on the coop than on herself, but did manage to get a lot on her butt, somehow.I scrubbed out the inside of the coop and Anna scattered wood shaving bedding around for them, we added the waterer and feed dish with layer pellets, jumped in the truck and off we went to bring the girls home.What a shock when we found our box at the feed store to realize that what we got were day-old female chicks! Of course, Anna promptly fell in love, and there was no way we were going to leave that store without those babies, so we added a bag of chick starter and a waterer and off we went.So now, my office floor has a big box with brooder light, shaving bedding, water and food holder, and four peepers, sitting right next to my desk. Not sure what's going to happen to them when we travel, but we'll eventually have our eggs--in about two months, I think. In the meantime, Anna's a very happy girl--with a lot of green paint left on her toenails, in her hair, on her arms, and a big smile on her face.