Wednesday, June 26, 2013
For at least the last ten years, this was a field of grass. Most of the 25 or so acres are out of the picture and slope steeply up from this waterway. Last fall the field was plowed up and tilled down to bare ground. This spring it was planted to small grain and a "grassless" waterway was cut in after planting.
For at least fifteen years up until around 2009, this 80 acre field had been in perennial alfalfa. Most years three crops were harvested, baled and removed from the field with precise attention to how the weather dictated it be done. In 2009 the alfalfa was killed with herbicide, the field was plowed up and tilled down to bare ground. Corn was planted in the few inches of organic soil that overlaid the parent sand. One rain event turned the field from rich brown to tan, and gullies began to form in the waterways. Now it is in the corn/bean rotation with this year being the bean year. The gullies grow and the deltas of sand enlarge.
For at least twenty years up until 2010, this 80 acre field was the stuff of the sand plain - prairie smoke, big bluestem, Indian grass, and tumbleweed and a few stunted pioneering jackpine. The last greater prairie chicken that I saw on the Shell Prairie was here about twenty five years ago. Then in the fall of 2010 it was plowed up and tilled down to bare ground. The forty across the road got the same treatment. A center pivot irrigator was installed to make up for coarse sandy soil and the naturally dry climate. In 2011 it was planted to spuds maybe, 2012 to corn, and this year to beans.
I may be off on the timing of these changes by a year or two, but "Hey" its just an observation of my commute. I don't collect data on this stuff............I just watch shit happen.............................. Stewards?
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Saturday last, while riding the old mower out behind the barn, down one of the hiking trails on the home place, totally zoned out and listening to the music inside my head, I passed by one of those ephemeral fungi that I'm always on the lookout for - a nice looking puffball that was not there the day before. Being totally zoned out, I motored right past the thing and blasted it with all the myriad junk that spewed from the side chute of the mower - at about the same time that I decided I wanted to eat the thing. So it was covered with grass, raspberry stems, jack pine needles, red pine pollen, aspen seeds, leaf mulch, and whatever else makes up the general dust and dirt of the forest floor - maybe a dose of poison ivy oil for good measure, as I'd been chopping up a fair amount of that too, but I figured I would just wash it off and everything would be cool. So I cruised the rest of the trails and retrieved the puffball on the last loop of that annual mowing chore.
It turned out to be a dandy find, so delicious and nary a reaction to the poison ivy!! Dodged that one. I'm not advocating the consumption of fungi here, only relating my tale.
So here's a recipe for Zonation Puffball:
Wipe the shit off the puffball with a damp paper towel
Slice into incredible half inch slabs of white meat (if it is not snow white inside, don't eat it)
Saute the slabs in a tablespoon of butter (puffball, much like eggplant will absorb whatever lubricant that you fry it in, so use your favorite grease in your preferred dosage)
Place the slabs on a cookie sheet
Liberally coat with marinara sauce and fresh grated parmesan cheese
Place under the broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese melts
Now here's the weird part - while bouncing along on the mower in a half conscious state, the music that played in my head was Stephen Stills singing "Wooden Ships"- you know the line........
Say, can I have some of your purple berries
Yes, Ive been eating them for six or seven weeks now
Haven't got sick once
Probly keep us both alive..........
When Big Winnie goes flat on those very rare windless days, the bite tends to shut off. It's not a very common occurrence, but that's the way it went down on this year's annual June outing for the captain and his crew. No matter.
Time on the water in the Scirpus, a few meat fish, a bunch over the slot, sunshine, a fish fry with sting nettles on the side (thanks Wendy), the best crew, and a near empty bottle of Windsor. Twill serve !