Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So today I'm going to post some old photos from the past few months, to catch you up on some things that have happened and that we've seen. First off, we watched this snake slither along the bank of the river, then up this oak tree until we couldn't see it, high up in the top branches. It took several minutes, and was amazing to watch:

Saw this praying mantis, about four and a half inches long, late one night in September. The next morning, it was up on our roof, where Mike also saw it.

Some of you may know that the river flooded pretty epically during early September. In the picture below, see the picnic table with the deck chairs on top of it? The bank of the river is about 15 feet beyond that table. The river flooded over a huge area, and we were parking our cars about a mile away, and wading in and out. I left the cabin in a bathing suit in the morning, and changed in the car before heading to work or dance rehearsal. We kayaked our 5 gallon jugs of water in. One day, Mike kayaked to the 'river' from the door of the cabin and all around the property and back. Everything was flooded. I think Mike has a few more photos of this, but this was the best one I have right now. Maybe in another post, I'll take some comparison shots, so you can see the huge difference in terrain:

This little guy was hangin out on our trashcan.

About a month and a half ago, we went to Point of Rocks, out on the south side of Siesta Beach. Mike took out his cast net, intending to cast for bait fish. You can see the birds waiting for him to throw them whatever he didn't want (we saw other people doing this in the same spot on another day)

Feet of a snowy egret - I just love how brightly colored they are! And this on the bottom of a pure white bird.

Here are a few of the mullet that Mike caught in his net. Like I said, he was going for bait fish, but then a school of mullet swam by. Mullet are good eating, but are hard to catch on a line because they are vegetarians, so they don't go for bait. Mike's net was small, and not meant for larger fish, but he tried anyway, and caught 18 mullet (a foot to a foot and a half long) in a single cast! That evening I learned to clean and scale fish, and we raced the sunset to get the job done. We borrowed a smoker from a buddy of Mike's from work, and made smoked mullet dip. Huge. Amounts. Of. Smoked. Mullet. Dip. We still have a lot in our freezer.

Mike took this photo of a fox squirrel. I've never seen one, and it's hard to tell the scale in this photo, but they're much larger than regular squirrels, and darker in color.

Lastly, the first flower out of our seminole pumpkin patch! I took this the morning it opened, a few days ago, and two more have showed up since. I'm optimistic about getting some pumpkins out of this patch yet!

That's all for today, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving, brave vegetables, and our buddy the Barred Owl

First off, Thanksgiving! Mike and I had a gathering out at our house of a few friends for the day, and I must share. First, Mike carving the (locally raised, 17 lbs, bought the day it was slaughtered by the man who raised it) turkey:

Here's what the serving table looked like:

Back row: mushroom gravy, salad, okra and tomatoes (did you know? one of my earliest memories is of eating this dish when I was about three years old. obviously, an old favorite)
Middle row: a Polish rice-based stuffing by the elder Vidovics, chestnut-cranberry stuffing, cranberry sauce by Jared
Front row: turkey gravy, stuffing from inside the bird, turkey
Flanked by sour cream and scallion mashed taters on the left chair and mashed sweet potatoes (with orange juice and pineapple) by Jared on the right chair.

I should have taken a photo of the dessert spread, but I didn't, so I'll just describe it:
-Seminole pumpkin pie from scratch
-Apple sour cream pie (made by Jared's mom)
-Godiva chocolate chip cookies (by Andrew)
-fresh whipped cream to top it all off

This was the first time I'd ever made pumpkin pie from anything other than a can, and oh am I glad I did. I used local organically grown seminole pumpkins, bought from the man who grew them - steamed them, mashed them, and mixed them with spices and cream, poured into a handmade crust. Topped with fresh whipped cream, and I couldn't have wished for anything more, except that I had two more kinds of dessert that I absolutely had to indulge in!

Phew. So, Thanksgiving was an enjoyable, tiring, fulfilling affair, and I'm so glad that some friends wanted to come out to the cabin for it. It's always great to have people out, and it doesn't happen enough.

This morning I went on a walk down our dirt roads to walk off some of the post-food-coma-stupor:

Then I took some photos of some of our plants in the garden. Our garden got started late, because the first incarnation of it got completely flooded back in September. Also, we don't have any spots that get full sun for more than a few hours each day, so mostly these plants get dappled sun most of the time, so it's all an experiment to see how they do. That's why I call them brave in the title of this post.


Look at how huuuuge the seminole pumkin leaves are!

These pumpkins are growing so. fast. Every time I look into the garden they're covering more area.

Look at all the lil buds starting! All four of our sprawling pumpkin plants have buds all along the stalks. Hopefully they can grow before it get too cold for them :-\

And finally, our neighborhood barred owl. This guy was trying to catch a squirrel in a palm tree outside our cabin, but without success. In his defense, it was broad daylight, and owls don't see very well during the day. Mike and I sat watching him and taking photos for about half an hour.

That's all for now. I'll try to post some more things soon. Hope everyone had a fantastic and delicious Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Project: Blog

For those of you who don't know, I live in a 2 story wood cabin on the Myakka River, east of Sarasota, with my boyfriend, Mike. We live on 5 acres of river-bounded oak canopy. It. Is. Beautiful. We live in a little-populated area; most of the people who own the plots around us don't come out there very often. Only a few others live on our stretch of the river all the time. Most use their properties as holiday hunting/vacation spots.

Since I've been living in the cabin, over the last four months, there have been many things that I've wanted to share with many people of my acquaintance. Unfortunately, most of those people no longer, or never did live in Sarasota, and so keeping in touch takes a bit more effort. So I've decided to start this blog, and post about the things I'm doing that I am excited about and would like to share, but that are perhaps not so earth shattering as to elicit a phone call to everyone I know and love in the world. I am on my lunch break at work right now, so I don't have all my photos on hand to upload, but I will soon post again, with a general update on my activities of the last 4 months.

Here's what you have to look forward to: photos and descriptions of vegetable gardens, my first canning experiment, many exciting encounters with wildlife, the cabin surrounded by the swollen, flooded river, additions and improvements to the cabin, and more.

And that's just what's ALREADY HAPPENED! Now that I have this blog setup, I hope to publish photos and stories of my adventures in living out in the woods regularly, to keep any of you who is interested and inclined to check up on me. Please subscribe to my blog if you are one of those people! This will encourage me to actually keep up with the project.

Thanks for reading, and check back soon!