Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 31, 2016

Wow, we just entered 2016 and a month of it is gone already.  It is hard to think back over the month because I really didn't do anything significant, yet have been busy since my last post. 

Well, one thing for sure is that each January, there is the "Frozen Butts" workday.  This year was the 23rd annual FB workday and where there is always lots of planning and work, this one didn't seem nearly as stressful.  I had the pot luck that follows the workday at my house again but with the two tables I bought and lots of chairs that people brought along, things went very smooth. 

The workday went great as the weather was really decent.  We had a high in the 30's and no rain or snow.  There was little snow on the ground so we didn't have to "trudge" through deep snow and the other vans were able to get down the trail to transport participants in. 

We are continuing the work along the trail in the area between the trail and the tracks which is what I hope is the last major cutting event at Hickory Creek Barrens. 

We also had the annual Resource Management meeting that I usually have to attend to get my chainsaw safety training done.  There was also a workday at Sugar Creek Admin the next day that was brutally cold.  Very few people showed up so we only worked 3 hours instead of 4.  My chainsaw was giving me no end of grief too, so between the cold and the saw, the workday was very challenging.

At work they decided to have a chili cook off so I searched the internet for competition chili recipes and found a lot of them.  Most real competition chili does not have beans in it, but after a Facebook poll, I found that probably 95% of regular folks like beans in their chili.  So, I combined a bunch of those on-line chili recipes and added beans and cooked it in the slow cooker for 6 hours.  I then froze the batch and am ready to bring it in for the cook-off.  I have no usually don't do well in cook-offs.  The last time I entered a chili cook off I made Southwest White came in dead last as I don't think most people can get past the color.  Chili (I guess) should be red.

One of the other volunteers who is cleaning out his parents house offered me a potting bench that his mom had used.  Making a potting bench is something I always intended to do but never got around to make.  Now I don't have to.  The bench is 8' long and about 2' wide and was all in natural wood.  I decided to spruce it up a little and sanded the top plywood and shelf plywood and then painted it with some old exterior paint I had in the basement.  The pieces came out nice. 

I let it dry for over a couple weeks and yesterday I took my jigsaw and removed a square big enough to sink a plastic tub into so that I can use that to keep potting soil contained.  I will see how good it works later when I go downstairs to start seed for milkweed for this years Monarch project.

I also spent a weekend going through a lot of stuff in the basement and cleaning it out.  After reading the book "Lights Out" about the possibility of long term power outages, I felt it was time to put an emergency plan into effect.  I went through my camp gear to make sure my campstove and lantern worked and that I had fuel.  I also went to the store to stock up on "essentials" like paper and canned goods and even things like flour, rice and other staples that I put down there in mouse proof containers.  I also purchased water and filled some of my water carriers with water and looked at the condition of my water filter from my backpacking days.  I feel I am ready at this time to deal with probably a month of no electricity...perhaps longer. The basement is looking a lot more organized and I do hope to get most everything up off the floor.  I am also going to Home Depot this morning to get a much longer florescent light to put above the potting bench.

Also on tap for today is making blueberry jam as blueberries have been on sale.  Yesterday I made a batch of "Mega Berry" jam...I had a bunch of blackberries and raspberries in the freezer...I added some of the blueberries and some strawberries too.  It came out good...always unsure of flavor though.  Is there a too strong berry or do they mix well.  I have found strawberries to have a really strong flavor and only put a little of those in the mix.

 At the monthly Pot Luck for the Master Gardeners/Master Naturalists, I heard about an Eagle's nest at what was said to be "McClintock Woods".  I was given coordinates and never heard of McClintock woods so I found that McKinley Woods might be the right place. 

With very little money to spend the last years and high gas prices, I have been unable to just drive somewhere and look at things and do a little hiking.  Now that gas prices are (temporarily) low, I decided to just go to McKinley woods and take a look around. 

It really is a nice place.  I didn't find an eagle's nest but did enjoy hiking around the area and also the I & M State trail which is there also.  There are campsites at McKinley that look REALLY nice.  It might be a good place to camp a night and get away from it all.