Morel FrustrationMay 10th, 2018 at 5:23:16 am
For years now I have hoped to be able to add Morel mushrooms to the list of things I forage for. But I am so far foiled again this year; one of the things "they" say is to look at a place that's had a forest fire. Bingo! one near me took place in a state wildlife management area. This is the second Spring since it burned so this year I was checking it out even more carefully, but 'no luck'. I did mistakenly think they would be coming out late this year due to a cold Spring - apparently they are unaffected by that - and so I looked most intensely after the season had already started. On the other hand, it is supposed to be still going on for a while, I'll still be looking .
Seems to me I should have had success by now. It seems to be one of those things you can't learn from articles etc., you have to find somebody who knows where to look and learn from them. Being a forager, I look constantly at what is growing everywhere I go outdoors, and I swear by now you'd think I would have spotted some just by accident if nothing else.
Here is a list of things about them:
*I fear eating wild mushrooms, and would never think it was safe to think you've identified *most* mushrooms correctly without an expert to confirm it. The scariest part is you can eat poison mushrooms and feel just fine ... till a few days later when you then get sick, and could die.
*Morels are an exception: they are distinctive enough that foragers, though warned, only need to be somewhat careful. There is such a thing as a False Morel that you are not supposed to eat, but it apparently is not as dangerous as all that. In some places they eat them apparently due to less toxicity locally and for the exact species. It doesn't really look all that close to the same, so just having a pamphlet or a look at an article is enough to avoid it.
*Additionally, the Morel seems to be the only mushroom that comes out that early in the year. As for my own experience, during the peak season I see no mushrooms at all, whatsoever, of any kind coming out of the ground; even the types growing on dead trees look like last year's remnants. The False Morel season might overlap a bit, being deemed a spring/summer grower while the Morel is early Spring mostly. In that early period it seems the real Morel will be what you see if you see any [I'm trying to confirm that]. I have come across False Morels later in Spring [yep I can find those].
Our Current Clue VariantNovember 21st, 2017 at 3:13:20 am
Miplet's custom weapons/suspects/rooms distributor will be key
*the boardgame rules are the 2002 rules as there is a pdf file for them, see below. We have used these rules except as noted below.
*In a new variant, players solve suspect, weapon, room, and day of the week.
*Additionally, there are more secret passages. Such a passage exists now in our variant between rooms opposite each other, with a passage between Dining Room and Library but none connected to Billiard Room. Also, there are no passages between adjacent rooms etc.
*no dice, instead players move from one spot to another by declaring their move. A forum thread will be used for play and comments.
*We do not bid for which character we will play, this is chosen in a random process.
*The order of turns goes clockwise along the official board starting with Miss Scarlet as per the board game rules.
*In order that each person gets the full compliment of cards, none getting extra cards, dummy players will be used as needed. These will only say if they can or cannot disprove a statement. They donít move or make suggestions. Thus there will always be 6 players, including these dummies. This all possible thanks to Miplet.
*When someone makes a suggestion, Miplet's software is used and it nicely handles the disproving [or the confirmation] - this is done automatically but follows official rules.
*Play will stop when a person who is not present is supposed to take his turn... "what to do" in the event of someone failing to continue play? ... any 'official' way was dropped and there was never a case of intolerable suspension once we had Miplet's software, but it seems now by vote we can change the player to a 'dummy' if necessary.
*Once a player takes his turn , the results are to be posted in the thread.
*We don't use dice to move. To start the game a player begins in the corridor directly across from where situated on the perimeter. Miplet brilliantly realized this is all easier to understand if the corridor is placed outside as a circle around the rooms. A move of a piece down the corridor to get to rooms goes clockwise or counterclockwise, the only shortcuts being the secret passages. Otherwise a player moves from one "step" [in lieu of a better word] to the next adjacent step in corridor moves and can move 2 steps. Alternatively, a player could move one step and into a room if starting the move in the corridor or from the initial game-start position. Moving out of a room means moving out one step and then one more step can be achieved, but not a room since two steps in the corridor are thus taken. A player can just take one step if desired, but cannot step back into a room just vacated. Once in the room a suggestion and accusation can be made all as one turn.
*in the boardgame it makes no sense to move down the corridor if an accusation was intended, however using the Miplet app a player has to move before he can accuse. Note that sometimes a player's only move is "out of the room" so this need to move in the corridor at times, even on a move with an accusation, now eliminates a rule we had prior to using the Miplet app.
* a move into a room always ends the player's turn, after any suggestion. An accusation ends the player's participation, becoming winner or loser [the Miplet app takes over for answering suggestions]
*There is only one door to each room in this version.
*The doors cannot be blocked.
*For an accusation, as opposed to a suggestion, the player need not be in the room, or any room. It only needs to be the player's turn. I mention this as I have seen this misunderstood.
Link below is a pdf file for the boardgame rules [as a reference] as of 2002 below. Of course we will play with the above necessary modifications [or whatever is agreed on].
BBB's printable detective notepads: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1CcsLnUGEQpQ1BVdUhiX1FOVDg/view?usp=sharing
Snakes and SpidersSeptember 4th, 2017 at 3:23:24 am
I wonder sometimes about 'experts" and the stuff they tell people.
They always say snakes "are more scared of you than you of them" and not to worry about the cowards, just let them get away from you.
The other day I watched a program about a guy picking berries who got bit by a big timber rattler. He is an old timer with old attitudes and talks about how evil the snake was; he shot it and said he did a good thing, the monster won't bite anyone else. The man got lucky or would have died of course. Now, I can hear the experts saying the guy's feelings were ridiculous, the snake isn't evil, just struck because it was defending itself. But I did ask myself just why that creature had to resort to that? A rabbit, mouse, deer, squirrel, any bonafide prey animal would have been long gone merely at the guy's approach.
We have a spider I see on our deck once in a while that is mean looking, it actually has claws on it that look like a lobster's. Some kind of hunting spider; I've never seen a big one, though, just little small guys, which makes it a joke. But I notice if you chase it away, it readily turns around and threatens whatever object you are chasing it with. Too funny, but where does that come from?
These kinds of creatures have an instinct other animals don't have - they know they can make other animals back off. When I was a kid I always killed any snake or spider I saw ... I am more live-and-let-live now.
Yesterday I was hiking in the woods and came upon about a 2 foot long snake laying across the trail. It seemed to be some kind of garter snake, and I instantly knew it was not a poisonous snake. I stopped and looked at it, but it was not taking advantage of its opportunity to skedaddle. I took my walking stick and encouraged it to move on, and was quite surprised to see it still be reluctant to go; it then shocked me by biting the stick! I used the stick to sort of pick it up and get it off the trail, at which point it moved a few feet and curled up, agitated and saying in snake talk "you want a piece of me, huh, huh!!?" Remarkable. There are certainly predators who would want to eat that snake, I thought the behavior was strange. No, I didn't kill it.
So I checked out snakes of Virginia on the internet, and indeed it seems to be the Eastern Gartersnake. From the description I eliminated the other possibilities, as those candidates are said to never bite, but the Gartersnake will, it says, if "molested". "Juveniles especially will perform this behavior and will strike so forcefully that they may completely leave the ground."
Wouldn't the snake be better served by fleeing instantly? At least readily move off the trail even if it was ready to turn around and defend itself? Why would it have an instinct to fight, to seem aggressive even? I just say snakes and such potentially have that instinct that comes from "they can make other animals back off". Just from their looks; it is an instinct to have some caution about snakes and spiders and, remarkably, even non-poisonous varieties retain in some instances an instinct to defend themselves in a way that is similar to aggression, as this proves.
Huckleberry MadnessJuly 29th, 2017 at 4:47:20 am
It is certainly fair to consider me eccentric in many regards; as tends to be the case with eccentrics, I can actually take some pride in that. My huckleberry picking "Jones" is a case in point. Now that I am retired, I really do have the time to try to learn as much as I possibly can about the plants. I'm confirming that you have to be nearly certifiable to try to pick them in the South - apologies to those pickers in, say, Montana and those states where I believe it makes a lot more sense. Nonetheless, I continue to take the plunge and go whole-hog for it here in Virginia.
In the area here where I have lived for the last 4 years I have now reached the point where I know where to find nearby prime huckleberry patches that cover several acres altogether. Acres! I'd define a prime patch as one where the forest understory is completely covered with the plants to the near exclusion of any other plant; thick patches, in other words. I'm pretty proud of that, but it hasn't changed my mind as far as whether I think you have to be cuckoo or not. You have to realize that in the South, pickers are going to have to be out there in the hottest, nastiest time of the summer, fighting heat, humidity, ticks, mosquitoes, gnats, and even bears - the latter not really being a worry, they are hunted where I am talking about and fear humans along the lines of about 99.9%, but, "just saying." I suppose there's that one bear in a thousand to think about.
And furthermore, I am now able to confirm what I've suspected for a long time: they are stingy producers. Spending more time on research too, I recently learned that the plants do not rely on seeds to reproduce, they spread by extending their root network, depending on this to large extent. So if the berries get scattered far and wide, that's got to be the best thing for that method of dispersal. If a species wants the seeds to fall to the ground and *not* be eaten, as has got to be the case with acorns, then the plant is best served by overwhelming the possible consumers by ripening and falling close to all at once. On the other hand, if relying on being consumed and dispersed elsewhere, surviving the digestive track, then it is better to ripen in sequence slowly so that the birds and other creatures are not overwhelmed by numbers but instead waste no berries. There's plenty of evidence this is in fact exactly what is going on. A picker is constantly confronted with green berries, which nothing will eat, only to find when he returns that there are less berries but still few ripe ones on any plant. A plant with a dozen ripe berries on it can seem like the Motherload. Bear in mind I am talking about my experience in Virginia, someone else's mileage may vary.
Additionally, large sections of the patch can simply have no berries, green or otherwise. In fact, even where plants are producing, never do you see every plant with berries. One in five can be impressive. I used to be mystified by this, but now that I understand there is no imperative to produce berries, it makes more sense. The conditions in winter and spring I believe have a lot to do with whether plants fail as far as the berries. This spring did not have a late frost, which was good, but December had a warm spell that is said to have caused early blossoming with some other plants. My feeling this year was that this may have affected the large areas of the patches that just had no berries.
Another thing I learned this year is that the green berries stay green for a very long time, certainly every bit of 6 weeks green is possible. In the past I concluded you can't pick them green; once I even tried taking a bush home and seeing if I could simulate leaving them "vine on", so to speak, to ripen, but this failed. I realize now that I know it can be so many weeks before ripening that I possibly didn't give it enough time. This year I am trying again, giving them plenty of time. It sure would solve a problem if they can be picked green.
I'm still waiting for a patch of tall bushes to turn green; more on that later.
Expanding on an Edible LawnMarch 9th, 2017 at 4:01:05 am
My lawn seems to be a naturally good choice for picking wild edibles. I don't use any poisons on the lawn and don't go after weeds, concern about perfect golf green condition being a monumental waste of time in my book. I probably want to tick off anybody who wants their lawn to look perfect anyway, hopefully they will go away and realize we can't possibly be friends. Turns out a lot of these 'weeds' are edible, the wild onion, poke, and dandelion already seen on my plate, witness other blog posts, so I am expanding the menu this year.
Identified and ate what I think is "curly dock" yesterday and will also investigate "mallow". The words "I think" may alarm you, but I have the book Wild Edible Plants by Kallas, which has alleviated my fears for the most part. Basically, what grows naturally and looks anything like dandelions is not likely to harm you and is likely quite edible. The main concern is unpalatable result if the wrong thing is picked, and that you determine yourself. Additionally, eating a small amount the first time is just common sense. The book, extensive and with excellent color photos, mentions for low plants only 'scarlet pimpernel' as something to avoid. This plant is mostly a problem for livestock, being unpalatable to us, and is fairly easy to identify; looks nothing like the dandelions etc. I seem to have it in places, although it could be a false version; nonetheless it will be avoided.
If I was finding wild spinach - the author is nuts about it - I'd also have to look out for 'hairy nightshade', which also is a tall plant and a look-alike to be avoided. I seem to have the nightshade in places, but no wild spinach.
So I will keep you posted.