Two years of not enough rain left our farm ponds low and that killed all our fish over the winters. Last summer with all the rain we had, Bruce restocked two with baby fish from Beemer Fisheries at Bedford, IA. We were happy to go into winter with all the ponds full and we have had abundant rain this year.
Rosanne, Peter and Kaiza were up a week ago and Rosanne was telling Bruce about the bass and crappie that Carri and Kaiza were catching in their pond so Bruce asked if he could catch some to bring home to stock another pond here, Rosanne said by all means! Catch away!
Tuesday she called and said the morel mushrooms were out and that they had never been so prolific, it's been years since I've had a morel and my mouth was watering. Friday morning Bruce and I loaded a stock tank in the back of the pickup with a lid, fishing gear, coats and camera and headed south to Smithland.
Rosanne had dinner ready, chicken enchiladas, salad and rhubarb crunch for dessert, we wasted no time in eating and were soon bumping down the road to their pond. It's long and narrow, widening out at the highway and it's about 20 feet down an obstacle strewn path to the canoe Bruce and Kaiza would be fishing out of.
Rosanne and Bruce, with his ginormous tackle box lead the way....
...followed by fisherwoman, Kaiza. I'm bringing up the rear, recording the action with my camera and trying not to fall on my face.
A confab at the canoe...
....catching Bruce in an awkward moment...
.....Rosanne pushing them off....
"......Stroke, stroke, stroke...."
With Bruce and Kaiza in the water, Rosanne handed me a mesh potato sack and we set off in the search for the elusive morel, a delicacy that is only available for a few short weeks and commands prices from $15 - $30 a pound. It's been 22 years since I have gone mushroom hunting but I haven't lost my touch, I soon spotted this baby trying to blend in with the surrounding flora and fauna.
Mushroom hunting, as in beekeeping, is not for sissies, we were climbing up and down the steep bank, hanging onto small trees to keep from tumbling down into the pond and swim with the fishies, and trying to avoid the prolific poison ivy that is everywhere.
Then I heard Rosanne shout, "I found an orchid!!"
This is a tiny plant growing in the side of the bank, not quite open yet and is called a showy orchid. When Rosanne first found it years ago, she couldn't identify it but finally found a professor who told her what it was and that hers was the first sighting in the state of IA, WOW!
After duly admiring the tiny plant, we went back to our hunt, each finding a few mushrooms but it was a hard fought battle. Soon Bruce and Kaiza paddled up with a stringer of fish for us to transfer into the tank in the pickup and that was no easy job.
Rosanne made her way down the bank with a tow rope, hooked the bucket handle and hauled the fish out of the canoe, up the bank where I grabbed it and dumped them in the tank. One of the crappies was laying on it's side so we drove up to the house and put a pump in the water to circulate and add oxygen while we waited for the Bruce and Kaiza to catch another load.
Rosanne also has a broody hen, Aussie, so she bought her some guinea and chicken chicks to mother. Aussie wasn't quite sure she was ready for such a brood but after a day of forced captivity with the family, she decided they were okay.
There is nothing more fun than a mother hen with chicks and we were drawn to the 'outhouse coop' just watching as she fluffed her feathers and fussed, teaching them where to find the tastiest morsels in the pan of food and to drink oh so daintily out of the waterer.
But there is a dark side that no one tells you about, Broody Poop! The hen only gets off the nest once a day to eat and poop and things build up. I've only dealt with my bantam hen but I always knew when she had dropped her load.
Rosanne and I were hanging over the dutch door of the coop when Aussie got up from where she was sitting, waddled over to us, squatted down and deposited a HUGE, the size of a double yolker egg, smelly, steaming pile of broody poop! We both heard her sign of relief and then the smell hit!!! It would have cleared a city block, police could use it for riot control. Our eyes were watering but Rosanne bravely scooped up the offending pile and deposited it outside the coop where I marveled over it's size. Since I'm too polite to show an actual picture, I did my best to draw one.
It was getting on in the afternoon and I decided it was time for us to head home so Rosanne and I drove the pickup back down the hill where Bruce and Kaiza had the canoe with a few more fish, one was a huge bass that hardly fit in the bucket. We hope she is a big mama full of eggs. Besides the fish, Rosanne sent us home with leftovers for dinner today, filled the rest of the pickup with plants and gave me a sack of mushroom to enjoy.
Back at home we drove to the first pond, lifted the lid and saw with relief that they all weathered the trip well, Bruce had to dump some water out just to find them.
The first crappie and bass.....
....and then the Big Guy, or mama we hope and another crappie.
I transferred them to the pond and watched them all swim away, looking great. It was a very successful day, Bruce has been chomping at the bit to fish, Minnesota is still two weeks away and I got some mushrooms!!!
To top it off, on the way home, Janet called and said the whole family, home for granddaughter, Jessie's, graduation were going to Germantown for chicken, WOO HOO!! The perfect ending to a fun filled day with no ticks or poison ivy to mar it.
Bruce was humming the song, ♫I Want to Check You for Ticks♫ on the way home, he didn't get the chance.