Dog Escapee?

Dog Escapee?

Dogs visiting our house in Kentucky are pretty rare, but my mother brings hers off and on.  My son, who doesn’t normally watch dogs stayed with the dogs for the day while we went out for a while.  The beagle (who is huge) decided to try to escape!  He normally digs looking for rabbits all over our backyard, but this was a new one.   Growing up, our dogs were generally let to run around the yard and not kept in cages. When they were put in cages – the cages were made of wire from corn cribs. Apparently the wood just doesn’t stand up to a beagle.

So the question is, do we need a stronger fence or a dog sitter that knows more about dogs?  And how do I keep the dogs in?  I’ve been placing chairs over every hole in the yard to stop the dogs from escaping.

Morels

Morels

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I LOVE morels!  With the odd weather this year, I expect morels to pop up early this year.  We have a pear tree flowering in our backyard so I wouldn’t be surprised if the morels are up very soon. I think they actually pop up after the group reaches a certain temperature for a certain amount of time in the spring…. but as a kid I thought they came up under may apples.  I would look under all the may apple plants searching every time we went out.

Searching for morels was a spring activity for everyone in our family every year!  All of my aunts for sure had their secret spots (they still do), and we all would track where the mushrooms were found last year to know where to search next year.  Every possible story was followed, including making sure to pinch the mushrooms off so that the stems were left in case that would cause more to grow.  We would find them growing in our large yard also and my mother would insist no one mow during the whole mushroom season.  My parents would push sticks into the ground near each mushroom to see if they would grow larger.  As the season went on, sticks would mark spots in our yard and we would have daily trips out walking through the wood to find morels. Dinner every night included mushrooms, and there was always a bowl of salt water in the fridge with mushrooms to get the bugs out before washing and cutting up the mushrooms.

My aunts, uncles, and cousins that lived in the non rural areas would all come visit and we would visit the not so secret spots.  The mushrooms marked in the yard were saved for little kids to have some mushrooms that were easy to find –  Almost like mushroom hunting training!  Some of the spots were easier to walk through and access, some tougher, and some led to discussions with trespassers who were found sneaking onto our property.

One year while taking my middle son who was probably about five, my mother had told him that the land would one day be his.  Shortly after they ran into people that had trespassed to come hunt on our land….  My middle son proceeded to confront them…..  luckily it turned out OK, but that usually doesn’t go well.   My father has confronted people in the past that have told him they had the owners permission to be there.  I always have to wonder if they are that bold or just that confused about whose property they are on.

People go through extreme measures to keep their spots hidden.  Long before I got my drivers license, my aunt would give me her car to drive and have me drop her at her mushroom spot with instructions when to come back and get her.  She would hike in to her mushroom spot, but didn’t want anyone to know where the entry spot was.  Luckily living on a farm I learned to drive really early!

To cook the mushrooms, we usually just roll them in flower and fry them in butter a little salt and pepper.  My mother would first dip them in egg if she wanted to stretch the amount of mushrooms.  I’ve tried to reproduce them, but mine never come out the same as my mothers.  – Of course I’m sure I’m using a little healthier oil and probably less salt for sure…..  My family still eats them.  Every year we start with just a few for the first meal, and then eat more the next meal…..  According to family stories anyone can be fine one year and allergic the next, so start small.  There are also some people that are allergic their first try, so anyone having them the first time, we just let have a few…. Also from the same family stories.  My mother tells about being pregnant with me, and my grandfather Richter refusing to let her eat morels, just in case.

Personally I love them though!  My husband doesn’t seem to like them, which for me just means MORE for me!  Two years ago during a mushroom hunt our family got our first pet tree frog.  We now have our toad, but mushrooms are completely to blame for the fire bellied toad in our house.

Bugs

In high school for Biology class part of the class required us to catch bugs.  Somehow I still have my bug collection.  – It was in somethings from my mother’s house and my husband was enthralled by it when I tried to throw it out.

Collecting bugs during the 80s included a jar filled with poison and a net.  We would catch the bug and then put them in the poison jar until they died.  The bugs then having suffocated would not be damaged.  My bugs were then attached in the case with thin bug pins and assigned their latin family and classes.  – I’m not even sure that’s still taught in Biology anymore, but when I was in school it was as semester.

We also spent a semester dissecting a cat.  Each muscle had to be separated out! I’m fairly certain I’ll never forget the smell of the formaldehyde.

High school was tough for me, I was in a high school that focused on sports and had no social skills… but I did enjoy science. (Not the teachers who seemed to cater to the kids that fit in better, but definitely to the classes)   I spent high school overloading my schedule with math and science.  All that being said, I became a first generation college student.  I actually think in another time, my father would have enjoyed college.  I’ll never forget when he came to my college graduation and my grandmother declared that h**l must have frozen over!  Even without him ever having said it, I’m fairly certain that he was proud that I finished.

My generation was the generation that made it through college on the Richter side.  In reality it was mostly the women that graduated college… (my brother also finished!)  I have first cousins (women) that became teachers, nurses, sales, and I’m sure more.  The men mostly went on to become farmers like their fathers, a couple became sales managers, plumbers, some went into the service for a little bit.  – I say that but my amazing Aunt Linda (dad’s sister) went to EIU and became a teacher.  She was the youngest and taught until retirement.

Family Holiday Photos

Family Holiday Photos

Looking through my own family photos I find that many of my family photos were Christmas pictures!  Everyone dressed up – and apparently I liked to put the bow on myself sometime during the evening while at my Aunt’s house too!  I definitely remember those hot wheels, and riding them around and around the house. That’s house one corner of the fireplace bricks got broken off!  I’ve forgotten that red cowgirl outfit, but seeing it makes me want to make myself a new one to wear again!

Christmas and Thanksgiving were the times of year everyone got together in my Aunt’s basement.  There was no invitation that I ever remember seeing, we just all knew to go.  Coats were piled in one of the bedrooms down the hall, and I’ll never forget my father’s reminding us as we left each year to leave with a better coat than we came with.

Kids would get passed around and the teens would hang out by the pool table at the back around the corner in the basement.  The brothers and sisters mostly all sat at the one table at the end, though my aunt Linda, if memory serves was usually around the couch or moving around.  Most of the cousins as we got older would hang out by the fireplace. I have no idea if there was ever a fire in it, but I remember sitting on the floor near it and talking to everyone.

The kitchen was always full of potluck from everyone, and by kitchen I mean the second kitchen down in the basement. – Though when I think of it, I can’t remember what was there other than lots and lots of food.  My favorite was always my Aunt Tootie’s noodles!  I would look for them every year.

I know other parties happened at my Aunt’s, just not that many pictures were taken.  Parties also occurred other times of the year, but Christmas was the biggest treasure trove.  I especially remember cookouts with Lemon Chicken (turns out the main ingredient was beer). where everyone stayed gathered in the back yard and barnyard.

We also gathered many times at my grandfathers years earlier, and get together at the pond where my aunt Linda now lives. There were also summers at my Uncle Franks – that included all sorts of things like snapping turtle… and of course 4th of July at my cousin Buddy’s!

 


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Dad’s Pocketknife

Growing up my dad always had a pocket knife with him.  He used it for everything from cutting up fish to slicing apples right from the trees to take a bite.  I have absolutely no clue how many things that pocket knife went through, but my dad would use it for everything – including things to feed us.  Cutting watermelon up, apples, anything that seemed to need sliced, peeled or scraped.

I also remember the times I got splinters and my dad would offer to get them out for me.  I had seen my father dig them out himself with his knife, but my aunt had taught me the trick of using a straight pin and pushing a splinter out from the opposite direction.  So much easier than letting my dad near my hand with a big pocket knife that had probably been through more animals, wood, and anything else that needs sliced.

Surviving childhood always amazes me when I think of the things we did as kids.  Germs, dirt, raw food it was all just a part of our life growing up in the country.  I remember seeing a picture someone shared of some farm kids out all licking the salt lick from the cows in the field.  Growing up it wasn’t something we would have even debated as strange or dangerous to try it.  Carrying eggs that had come straight out of chicken and then immediately having them for breakfast, wasn’t something to find strange….  I even took a few hard boiled to school, including goose eggs.  Leaving eggs on the counter for a few days until we use them wasn’t abnormal. – Eggs unwashed will actually last quite a while.

I can still picture that pocket knife though I have no idea where it has ended up – brown with it’s gold trim at each end. My father’s hand around it as he closed it (it was one that you had to squeeze it to close).  I know the thought crossed my mind every time I tried one that I was for sure going to cut my fingers off trying to close it, but for my dad it didn’t even seem to cross his mind.  That pocket knife was a staple in his pocket as well as his wallet in the other pocket – that I’d swear would have moths flying if he had ever bothered to pull it out and open it.  I think I ever even heard of my dad opening his wallet twice in all the time I remember… once was to get a rabbit for my oldest…  That pocket knife though…. it was out every day!

Golf Course

As kids my Aunt once decided to teach us to play golf (my brother and I).  She showed us how to hold a club and some of the basics…  My dad, who normally didn’t do a lot with us – he was always busy with the farm, decided to build us our own golf course.  My dad went around our yard and dug little holes putting cups in them.  Our yard was fairly large, so by the end we had a pretty big ‘golf course’.  At other times we had used parts of it as baseball diamonds also!

So when trying to figure out what to do with my son for his birthday I decided since he likes golf – Let’s make a (mini) golf course!  So we got some parts, and put out a course all over.  We used lawn ornaments like gnomes from around the yard and made our own course for his party.

My dad also spent time during off seasons making things like race tracks for us – using a tractor, digging ponds for everything from fishing to ice skating, and making paths for snow mobiles.  There was never a dull moment.  I can’t give my kids all the same things, but hopefully we can do a little of the same type of fun.  The mini golf course was unique for sure!