Fly Fishing 101

Saturday morning, I got up, had my coffee, and hopped in the car as Matt headed off to his office’s event. He headed east toward his office, and I drove over towards the west side of town. I had a Fly Fishing 101 class to attend. Continue reading

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Daily Prompt: Goals

Once again, I came to WordPress during my morning internet jaunt, aware that with the return of only romping outdoors on weekends, I have much less to write about during the week. And once again, the Daily Prompt was something that wouldn’t seem out of place here. I swear they know exactly when I’ve gotten all excited about writing and put my posts up immediately, instead of patiently spacing them out.

So, the Prompt asked- did I set any goals when I started this blog, and if so, have I achieved any? I think the only concrete goal I really set, besides Matt wanting to get Internet Famous,  was that I wanted to keep doing my outdoors hobbies, only I wanted to write about doing it. And put up pictures, obviously.

These posts are the equivalent of me sitting on a log, staring at the water, and swinging my feet.

These posts are the equivalent of me sitting on a log, staring at the water, and swinging my feet.

Looking at the topics I’ve covered over the last 5-6 months, I would say yes, I achieved that goal. I’ve written about fishing (ice, fly, and otherwise), turkey hunting, and what we do with the animals we end up harvesting. On top of all the activities actually done outdoors, I’ve also sort of expanded the blog to include covering things like refinishing our old camper, reporting on the new things Matt dragged home from various outdoor retail outlets (see the Toys tag), and writing in detail about the acquisition and renovation of the Ditch Boat (see the What Have I Gotten Myself Into tag and the Boat Renovation category). That’s fortunate, because otherwise I’d only be posting once a week, if that in winter.

As for goals I didn’t spell out in writing? I think a big one was that I like to write about successes, even if I am a total beginner at so much of this stuff. So, in that arena there’s some room for improvement. Just take a look at my Fail tag, and you’ll see that more often than not, the critters win. Which is why they call it fishing, not catching, etc. However, it’s still a small tag after 5 or 6 months. Just wait until deer and duck season, particularly archery deer. And we’ve got the entire summer of fishing to do yet.

Another unwritten goal I had was to improve upon my writing and possibly my picture taking (I wouldn’t call what I do photography). I’d like to get this blog to a point where maybe someone would find it Freshly Pressable. Admittedly, I would need to have a big tick mark to put into the Big Success Story column to make that easier. It would be easier to write well and in an excited way if I had a big success story to tell. I’m not at a point yet where I can write eloquently about big fails.

I think keeping it simple and continuing my goal of writing about my hobbies as we do them is a good idea. I’ll keep the Freshly Pressed goal simmering, though.

Weekend Plans

In spite of turkey season ending, May is a very busy month for us, and we have another busy weekend ahead of us. Part of the weekend is yet another work function Matt and I have to attend. It’s a pretty fancy cocktail dinner event, and there will be at least two generals in attendance, one a former Joint Chief of Staff. I still haven’t found out what the dress code is, and I haven’t found a dress I like anywhere nearby, which is making me pretty crabby.

So, we’ll be getting a hotel down in Milwaukee, but Sunday we plan to finally fish for salmon on the Root River in Racine. We’ve been hoping to get that done for two months. Now that the flooding is done, we can give it a shot since we’ll be closer to Racine anyway.

I’m excited both to get fancy and to try and catch some fish. Semi formal attire one day, worn out jeans, fly rod, and hip waders the next. We’re versatile people.

We’re Really Good at Filling Up a Weekend

This weekend was a busy one at Play Outdoors central. The weather gets nice, and suddenly the guy I could barely drag off the couch since deer season is bouncing off the walls and flitting from neglected project to neglected project. What with getting the boat home Friday evening, and spending time both Saturday and Sunday working on it, one would think we wouldn’t have had time to do anything else. We got some yard work done, though. Planted some apple trees, and I got pallets and the rest of the makings for those pallet gardens you see all over Pinterest. We also tried to get our little fishing boat back, but somehow Discount Tire gave me the wrong info when they said they had the tire on Friday. Hopefully it will be in today, because Matt and I both very badly want to bowfish, and I really want to make a post on it.

Saturday afternoon, we brushed off all the flaking, old paint on our camper in preparation for finally painting the old girl.

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We used steel wool to brush off what’s left of the paint on the aluminum. I’ll take some Goo Gone to the pine tar, but a lot of that turned out to be honest to goodness roofing tar. We’ll leave that. It’s obviously there for a reason.

Sunday morning/early afternoon, we went trout fishing on Black Earth Creek. We saw trout darting here and there in the water, but it was my first time using spinnerbait, and only Matt’s second time out for trout. His only advice to me was “Don’t let the lure touch the bottom”. I learned the hard way to be glad for my waders. We worked up the banks in opposite directions for a little while. I found a nice wide area, and Matt came to practice with his fly rod. I caught a lot of sticks, some rocks, and quite the sun burn on my arms and chest. However, I think I found a new happy place. I’ll leave some pictures in lieu of words.

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Wild Food: Venison Roast + Some New Toys

Yesterday while grumbling and muttering curses under my breath attempting to use Windows Movie Maker for the first time, it dawned on me that I hadn’t made a Wild Food post in a while. That’s a series I’d like to keep rolling if at all possible. It’s not that I haven’t cooked, it’s that I forgot to take pictures. Before I get to that, though, a quick toybox dispatch.

On Monday, I bought my first flies. I had to pause just now to get new pictures, as the ones I took Monday night were all out of focus. In all, we got 3 different sizes.

Big ones- a frog and a baitfish

Big ones- a frog and a baitfish

Medium ones that look like bug larvae

Medium ones that look like bug larvae

Some teeny-weeny ones that look like winged insects, egg sacs, and more bug larvae

Some teeny-weeny ones that look like winged insects, egg sacs, and more bug larvae

If this weekend goes according to plan, we’re going to be stupid busy. The Root River is down in Racine, which Google Maps tells me is about two hours away, via Milwaukee. So, that will be a day trip on its own. And then Sunday we’re scouting more for turkey, and Matt also wants to attempt to call in coyote. I’m not too sure I’m ready to have even more hides in the garage, and predator hunting really weirds me out, but there’s really no stopping him when he’s fixated on something. Then, there’s an organized get together with Matt’s coworkers and their significant others/kids Sunday evening. Sometime in there we should also try to get the busted tired off the boat trailer since the lakes are really opening up now. Our favorite catfishing hole is almost entirely ice free. I’m really itching to get out and fish, even if it’s nothing but panfish until May 4th.

Anyway- This roast. I took some inspiration from The Deerslayer’s Wife (again, thanks lady!). I didn’t wrap mine in bacon, as the only bacon we have is pretty sweet honey maple smoked stuff. I don’t think it would mesh well with venison and garlic. The cast of characters:

Salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and some Costco Cab. Not pictured: Marjoram

Salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and some Costco Cab. Not pictured: Marjoram

I mixed up the salt, pepper, crushed garlic, and liquids to marinate the roast in for a little bit. Then, I filled the cavity with the minced garlic and some dried marjoram, and trussed it with cotton butcher’s twine. I drizzled the marinade over it.

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I let it sit while I prepared the veggies- red potatoes for Matt, a sweet potato and roasted broccoli for me. I let everything sit then, until Matt showed up. I would have set to cooking it all then, except he had some work-related errands to run, and wanted me to go with him. I agreed, and out the door we went. Before we left, I stuck the potatoes in the oven at 250. We didn’t get back to the house until well after 8pm. I threw the roast in at about 350, and took out the potatoes so we would have something to eat, at least. The roast wasn’t done until 9:30, and I didn’t want to eat that late. Internal temp was about 130-135 so it’s definitely a nice medium rare. I plan to cut into it today for some gourmet venison sandwiches for lunch after my workout.

Finished roast.

Finished roast.

I also apologize for all the theme switching going on lately. The original theme felt super clunky and not clean enough for me, but when I switched to an intermediate one, there wasn’t a post scroll and I truly didn’t like how it showed entire posts on the front page. After some searching, I landed on this one, and I really like it.

I would think to keep an eye out for a Toybox Dispatch soon- there was a snafu with Matt’s paycheck this week, it’s 5 days late and he’s got a lot of Shopping Energy all pent up.  Half of his errands last night were showing me the things he wants to buy.

 

Play Outdoors Had a SausageFest

This weekend we finally got all of the venison processed. I am well aware that this was basically a two week long project. Matt had most of Saturday off. So, after waiting in a Starbucks for him to wrap up a couple things in the office, we made the rounds to the outdoors stores and our local awesome PawnAmerica (a totally non-shady pawn shop), where we sometimes find gems in the form of nice, cheap powertools, fishing poles, and electronics. My next camera will probably come from there. Technically, there could be another Dispatch from his toybox, but honestly, I’d be doing one of those every two weeks if I recorded every single one. We each got a fly rod this weekend, though, and he picked up some more lures, and a heavy-duty rod to complement the other two or three we have so we can troll for muskie, and also catch giant catfish more easily. Onward to the meat of the story.

This is what 25lbs of summer sausage looks like.

This is what 25lbs of summer sausage looks like.

Matt and I took on the herculean task of meat grinding, stuffing, and curing on Saturday afternoon. I only got a couple pictures, as, again, my hands were too grody to really handle a camera. We were at it from about 4pm until after 1am. Luckily, we purchased a dedicated electric meat grinder for this season, since an errant bit of silverskin murdered my Kitchenaid with the meat grinder attachment last year.

The Kitchenaid is dead. Long Live the Kitchenaid.

The Kitchenaid is dead. Long Live the Kitchenaid.

So, after much grinding and stuffing with possibly the worst-designed sausage stuffer in all the world, we were finished late Saturday night. Before cooking any of it, we had 25 pounds of summer sausage, as pictured, 15 pounds of snack sticks, and 15 pounds of jerky meat before dehydrating it. I also had an upsetting amount of dishes to wash.

Snack sticks and the meat grinder.

Snack sticks and the meat grinder.

We turned the oven to about 200 degrees, loaded most of the summer sausage into it, and let it go overnight. We took those out in the morning, swapped in the last two summer sausages, and some of the snack sticks, and just rinsed and repeated this cycle. It’s still in progress as I type. Last night before bed we put the jerky in the dehydrators, and it was done this morning when I got up.

More jerky than you can shake a stick at.

More jerky than you can shake a stick at.

Even with all the scrap we had to grind up, we still didn’t end up making any into breakfast sausage or bratwursts. It all was cured into dry sausage and jerky. So, I have quite a bit of hog casings that I need to figure out how to store. Any recommendations are welcome.

Wanting to wrap up this deer processing once and for all, we also oiled the hides yesterday afternoon. We took them down from the line and rubbed a lot of canola oil into them. They soaked it right up, but are still quite stiff. I think we let them dry a bit too much, and hopefully it can be corrected.

Taking the buckskin down.

Taking the buckskin down.

With the oil on them and a heater pointed at them.

With the oil on them and a heater pointed at them.

We were hoping that we’d have a mild week with enough sunny days to melt off some of the snow so we could work on getting the old tires off the boat trailer. There’s still a lot of ice on the lakes (and snow on the ground!), but there are thin ice caution signs popping up everywhere, and it gives me hope for spring time and open water.

From being backed into the water as often as the trailer probably was (we bought it used), they’re rusted on tighter than anything, as well as possibly being cross-threaded. As I said before, that’s a post in it’s own right. The one tire is completely chewed up around the rim. Like, COPS-police chased, torn up tire. The other went flat over winter. However, it’s snowing right now, and the forecast has us right below the freezing mark for most of the week. Ever the optimist, though, I plan to pick up a lot of WD-40 to soak them with. If that doesn’t pan out, I can possibly pick up fabric to complete the camper.

Oh, and if you need summer sausage, you know the girl to ask. We have more than we could eat and expect our blood pressure to remain reasonable.

 

The array of dishes did get washed, and yes, by hand. That dishwasher doesn't work. A lot of stuff in this house is out of order.

The array of dishes did get washed, and yes, by hand. That dishwasher doesn’t work. A lot of stuff in this house is out of order.