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Garden Garter Snakes and Garlic Cream Kale

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Turkey Tracks: July 5, 2020

Garden Garter Snakes and Garlic Cream Kale

I was in the garden all day yesterday, the 4th of July. The weather was overcast, the temps cool, and the ground was so soft that weeds just leaped into my hands. Restoring order is going quicker than I would have thought. And I hope to get back into the garden today.

It was my first big day in the garden this year, since the Brown Tail Caterpillar hairs have been so toxic that it has been impossible to weed without encountering the discarded hairs that were on all the plants. The hairs make a rash that is filled with blisters and that itches like mad, for days. My arms are only now healing up.

AC was “on it” with me.  He is fascinated with the garden snakes and is getting braver about grabbing them.  He has come close to catching them several times now and almost got one the other day with me looking on. The snake was hiding under the spent daffs by the strawberries—it was a longer one—about 18 or so inches.  I stepped in to give the snake some time to retreat across the path and into the growth and rocks on the other side. I think AC did grab it but jumped back with his mouth open as if the snake had shot it with some sort of noxious fumes. These snakes can do that, actually. It is a protective measure.

I uncovered a little one yesterday—6 or 8 inches—while trimming back the climbing hydrangea on the wall along the path—s/he was up by the house and went under the lower set of shingles above the concrete strip on the ground.  So, AC spent most of our many hours outside going from one “snake” place to another.  And, of course, checking on “mouse” at the compost bins, and “squirrel” on the upper porch, and “chipmunk” on the stone wall in back.  He was really tired after his dinner.  But happy.

Garter snakes work hard in the garden. They are a sign of a healthy garden, I’ve always been told. They eat insects, among other things. I know I have several here. And each year I see new little ones. The female snake gives birth to live little snakes. They don’t hatch from outside eggs. These snakes live together in a den. In the wild they can live to around five years. Some online sites say much longer. It probably depends on each snake’s habitat. Anyway, here they love the rock steps and the stone paths, where they lie in the sun. That is, until AC arrived. He does not allow such snake displays.

Yesterday I really wanted to grill something—it was the 4th after all. I wound up grilling chicken thighs for a salad lunch and, later, a little steak for a dinner that included corn on the cob, kale in garlic cream, and a bowl of summer berries (raspberries, blueberries, cherries, and strawberries from my garden).

Kale, garlic, and cream are a magic combo. Add nutmeg, for an even more magic treat.

Kale in Garlic Cream

Remember that it takes a LOT of kale to make enough food for more than two people. I count on one bunch for two people.

First, prep the kale. Put the kale in a sink and run water over it to knock off any sand or other debris. Start a big pot of water to boil—you only need about 3 or 4 inches of water. (This method is good for collards, too, but not chard or spinach, both of which are more delicate. Chard and spinach are better pan wilted in a good fat with only the rinsing water clinging to the leaves.)

I strip off the leaves with my hands. They come away from the central stem easily. Keep the leaves in big pieces for now. Some would lay the leaf on a cutting board and cut away the stem with a knife. I think that’s too much work for kale, but that is good for collards which have a tougher leaf. But, whatever.

When the pot of water is boiling, throw in the kale leaves and push them under the water with…something. Let them cook until they wilt really well—no longer than 5 minutes, which is probably a bit too long for kale. You don’t want to cook kale to death.

Drain into a colander and run cold water over the hot mass. When you can pick it up, ball it up with your hands and squeeze out all the water. Put the mass on a cutting board and cut it into smaller pieces—about one inch along the mass, then turn it, and cut the other way. Don’t cut it into tiny, tiny bits. You won’t some texture.

You can prep the kale at any time—even the day before. I prepped my kale at lunch while grilling the chicken.

Second, chop as much or as little garlic as you like. (You could do this step while the kale is cooking.) In my world, there is no such thing as too much garlic. Heat a knob of butter in a smaller size frying pan—enough to allow a generous coating and warming of your kale. Add the garlic and let it just simmer until it smells lovely. That will take only 30 to 40 seconds. Add the kale and turn it all around until it is coated and is warm.

Add a LOT of heavy cream—what looks good to you. For my one-bunch of kale, I probably added 1/2 cup of heavy cream. You could also add some nutmeg if you like it. Nutmeg on greens is magic. I can’t do it, so I added tarragon to my butter and garlic. Tarragon is sweet and adds a kind of licorice taste. Definitely add some sea salt. Pepper wouldn’t be bad either. Hmmm. I’m wondering if adding some heat wouldn’t be nice? Something in the hot pepper range? Then you would get a sweet/hot taste. Cook until everything is combined and is warm.

Enjoy!

My batch left me with about half the batch for another meal. I’m going to put it into an omelet for a meal today, probably with some mozzarella cheese added, since I can eat that cheese. Ricotta might be nice too instead if I had some here today. And maybe more tarragon.

Written by louisaenright

July 5, 2020 at 9:20 am

Turkey Tracks: Live Living Beside Covid19

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Date

Life Living Beside Covid19

We are still in a modified Stay At Home up here in Maine.

The out-of-state visitors or returning Mainers must quarantine for 14 days in their place of abode. This is NOT the Stay At Home dictate; it’s a hard quarantine.

It’s been over two months for me, as I started self-distancing before the formal Stay at Home state mandate that started about 2 months ago. Some of the restricted places are opening up again. I made an appointment for a haircut and then cancelled it. I’m just not ready to take risks I don’t need to take. I’ll know more about how we are doing in Maine in a few weeks.

I’m ok. I’m an introvert anyway, and I have lots and lots of projects, to include picking up inside and outside jobs where I got help from others. I’m BUSY!

BUT, I miss my friends, and my very rich life where it involved other people. And my family will not be coming this summer. I have not seen them in a year now. Nor will any of my usual visitors. So, I’m thinking of where I can cut back on some of things I would normally do—like all the flower pots I plant each summer.

Meanwhile, my house is cleaner than it has probably EVER been. And I’ve been sorting through “stuff” and culling a lot. It’s a good time to do that kind of work.

AC and I get out into the woods or to the beach at least once a day. It’s good for both of us, and I probably wouldn’t be as good about doing this outing if it weren’t for this little dog.

We have a little quiet break around 3, especially after a long walk. I have a coffee, and we watch one episode of something on tv. Sometimes I fall asleep for a short nap afterwards. This time is so special, but it is also cutting into my sewing time…

Still, I am making progress on the sewing “to do” projects. More pics of those down the road.

I am so grateful for my health. There is a way this time alone has been good. It’s been peaceful, for the most part.

Written by louisaenright

May 7, 2020 at 1:03 pm

Turkey Tracks: AC Slater’s Fish Food

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May 13, 2020

AC Slater’s Fish Food

The main reason I have to go to the grocery store about twice a week is that I need to buy white fish and sardines for AC Slater’s diet.

I can’t buy more on each trip because our local fish has been frozen at sea and then defrosted locally. It needs to be cooked and not refrozen.

Packages of frozen white fish, like cod, come individually wrapped, which is a pain to unpackage and an environmental nightmare with all that plastic. Plus each packaged fish piece is full of water or some solution, which makes the resulting mixture really watery.

So, why does AC Slater need white fish. Since last summer, AC has been struggling with MASSIVE food allergies that resulted in him chewing and clawing holes in himself as he was itching so badly. It has been a nightmare for me as I cannot bear to see him suffer. EVERYTHING I fed him caused him to react.

To make a long story shorter, I finally took him to a terrific holistic vet who tested him for the foods that were the worst offenders—five foods, some of which are in pretty much in all the commercial dog foods—and started him on a holistic remedy protocol that has stopped the reactions for the most part. He is not out of the woods yet—and we are taking things a day at a time—but his sores are healing and he is not going at himself tooth and claw. When he starts to react again, I give him the remedy.

Here’s his food, which I make fresh about twice a week. I put broccoli and carrots (chopped pretty fine) in a big pot, add about an inch of water, and lay the fish over the veggies. I cover the pot and cook the fish and veggies, and then break the fish all apart. I add to this mixture, a cup of blueberries or some peeled and chopped apple and 4 tins of sardines. Sometimes I add a few tablespoons of good coconut oil. Each bowl is topped with a vet product that helps heal the gut (Antronex) and two squirts of Dr. Mercola’s krill oil for pets.

AC is lean and full of energy and is quite happy. He loves his fish meals. BUT, I worry about the heavy toxins in big fish and that, long term, he is not getting the right nutrients.

Now…

What went wrong here?

I will go to my grave believing his 1-year rabies booster started this cascade of issues. And poking around the internet revealed that allergies like what AC has can and do follow a rabies vaccination.

I also learned that there is no scientific basis for the current, legally mandated, vaccine schedule. I know rabies is a problem. It is a serious problem here in Maine. I also know that it would be wiser to check for antibodies with a blood titer rather than mindlessly giving animals more and more boosters that can and do harm them—just so vets get a steady traffic into their businesses. And, that factor is the rational for the legal rabies schedule, not animal health. It was a deal cooked up between vet business people and public health officials.

I did try to work with our local vet at first, who is very nice and caring. But her toolbox didn’t work. That protocol was to use a drug that suppresses the immune system reactions in combination with a prescription dog food. I have since read that the drug used comes with serious side effects.

Also, the prescription dog food is one of the worst industrial products, in my opinion, I’ve every seen. Protein is broken up (hydrolyzed) into tiny bits that are meant to fool the immune system. The protein source is…wait for it…CHICKEN FEATHERS. And the first ingredient is corn starch. The product smelled terrible; it reeked of a heavy chemical odor. AC loved it, until he went off the drug and reacted to it. He thought it was candy, with its sweet, sticky nature.

That left AC with getting more of the drug and switching to the only other formulation of hydrolyzed protein, soy beans. As it turns out he is wildly allergic to peas, so that clearly was not going to work. And this whole fake, chemical food solution would cause other problems down the road.

The other problem is, as I said above, that other kibble concoctions all contain one of the 5 foods that AC is allergic to. So, fortunately, I’ve always fed my dogs real food anyway, and I don’t mind cooking for him.

And one of my unanswered questions is whether or not his immune system reacted to certain foods willy nilly or whether it was because they were in his diet as I tried to find food that didn’t make him sick.

I suppose time will tell.

For right now, he is healthy and happy.

The fish diet is EXPENSIVE, however. And in this pandemic, sometimes I have trouble getting the cheaper versions of available fish.

It’s time for a change in how we treat our beloved pets, from their food to their medical treatment. It’s time for science to prevail, not business models.

Written by louisaenright

April 23, 2020 at 10:21 am

Turkey Tracks: AC Loves Water

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Turkey Tracks:  April 24, 2020

AC Loves Water

It is impossible to keep AC Slater OUT of water, and, truthfully, I don’t try as he loves water so much.  

BUT, even though he has webbed feet, he is very cautious about keeping his back feet on solid ground.  He has yet to “launch” out into a real swimming adventure.  

I suspect he will this summer, but maybe not.  And whatever he does is fine by me.

This little series of videos tells its own story.

I have a “hammock” on the back seat of the Subaru, so it is ok if AC jumps back in with some dirt or sand on his feet and legs.  The hammock catches everything and can be shaken out or washed every now and then.  When we get home, I towel him off.  His coat is short-haired and thick, so it is easy to dry him up and knock off any remaining dirt.  

This dog is so funny.  He’s very, very verbal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by louisaenright

April 23, 2020 at 10:20 am

Turkey Tracks: AC is Tired

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Turkey Tracks: March 29, 2020

AC is Tired

After his morning trip to Laite Beach at low tide and his lunch, he has put himself in his “house.”

PS. I’m learning the WordPress block editor with this post.

We are meant to get some rain later today, so we may not get an afternoon outing. Thus, extra time at the beach this morning, and AC did a fair amount of swimming.

Written by louisaenright

March 29, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Turkey Tracks: Happy Birthday AC!

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Turkey Tracks:  March 26, 2020

Happy Birthday AC!

AC Slater, my rescue dog, was 2 years old yesterday.

He celebrated with a long walk on the still-icy Erickson Trail.  We had about 6 inches of snow Monday night.

Later, he breached his electric fence and went swimming in the beaver lake/wetland below my house and over a BUSY road.  When retrieved in the car, he was soaking wet and scared.  When we had both calmed down, he had a very nice tub bath and warm hairdryer rubdown.  He now smells delicious.

We went to Laite Beach this morning.  AC LOVES to go to Laite Beach.  He’s very vocal these days—in all kinds of fun ways.

The beach was near high tide, but with enough beach left to throw his hard rubber ball with a chuck-it.  The beach is well below the park, so one climbs down a steep set of granite steps.

Here are some videos of AC chasing his ball.  He thinks this is his “work” I think.  He is deadly serious about chasing down his ball.  This pretty girl wanted to play with him, but he stuck to his work.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by louisaenright

March 26, 2020 at 1:44 pm

Turkey Tracks: AC Slater and His Yellow Ball

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Turkey Tracks:  January 28,2020

AC Slater and His Yellow Ball

AC Slater carries this yellow ball with him everywhere.

He carries it—or whatever toy he can find—to greet visitors.

But the ball is his “go to” toy.  His favorite.  It used to light up in the dark when in motion.  No more.  But it still squeaks—a high-pitched sound he adores.

I am asked to throw it for him many, many times each day.  But he does understand when I’ve had enough.

 

 

 

 

For the past 2 days I have not taken him to the dog park.  We have a warm spell, and there is too much mud.  And too much thawed you-know-what.  I get it that some people do not want to walk in the snow and risk slipping on underlying ice, but…

AC gets a fair amount of running in my woods—and he loves to go out to tree whatever squirrels have ventured out.  But he’s also VERY social and loves seeing the other dogs at the dog park.  And, the people.  He loves people.

The sun has come out and all is bright and shiny—but the snow has mostly melted away.  It is colder, so I will check later to see if the dog park mud is frozen.  If not, maybe I’ll take the chuck-it thrower and some balls elsewhere so he has some time dedicated to just him.

He may have acquired an allergy to meat proteins—but more on that for another day.  Meanwhile, he is happy, affectionate, and continues to enrich my life.

Written by louisaenright

January 28, 2020 at 9:13 am

Turkey Tracks: AC LOVES Water and to Swim

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Turkey Tracks:  August 2019

AC LOVES Water and to Swim

Who knew?

Apparently it is a Jack Russel terrier trait.

If there is a stick involved, AC is on board.

 

 

Written by louisaenright

August 19, 2019 at 11:13 am

Turkey Tracks: AC Slater and His Girls

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Turkey Tracks:  August 3, 2019

AC Slater and His Girls

He adored them!

He pined when they left.

He still goes to their beds and hunts for them.

They each wanted a picture with him, so we did that one afternoon.

 

 

AND NOW, he has new grandchildren that are playing with him.  He’s ecstatic!  They have him SWIMMING like a mad foo.

 

Written by louisaenright

August 3, 2019 at 6:51 am

Turkey Tracks: Mud Season, Cherished Walks, Happy Spring

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Turkey Tracks:  April 22, 2019

Mud Season, Cherished Walks, Happy Spring

I took these pictures a week ago at the Erikson Wellness Trail.  And yesterday, Easter Sunday, AC and I returned and walked, playing along the way, the whole trail, which is about 2.5 miles with the added spur.  We had “pea soup” fog here yesterday, and on the back side of the trail, rain started.  I had on a good raincoat with a hood and my LLBean boots, so I was fine.  AC didn’t care, of course.  He got a bath of sorts.

To recap, this trail has been iced over for much of the winter.  AC and I went in once, me with spikes on my boots, but mostly I avoided going.  The one icy trip was, however, lovely, and the boot spikes and walking stick support were terrific.  Still, it was…kind of lonely back in those woods.

My LLBean boots are PERFECT for mud season and have been much used this year as AC Slater has me outside a lot these days.

Last week, there were still patches of snow/ice deep in our woods.  But the trail was clear except for two spots that I could more or less walk around.

The rock moss is such a startling, rich green.

As the snow melts out, the hillsides are full of water moving downward.  The streams are filled and rushing madly.  AC has not figured out yet that he can swim, but he’s fascinated with the rushing water.  I throw sticks in, and he tries to get them.

This creek runs along side the path and crosses under in a culvert.

This bigger creek has a bridge over it.

My older grandchildren walked this trail with their father and me at Christmas.  I’m looking forward to taking the three little granddaughters here when they come in June.  They will love this stream, which does have the most enticing pools.

 

 

Written by louisaenright

April 22, 2019 at 8:34 am