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An Egg on a Stump

May 4th, 2009

How did we slowly transition from winter to spring, and then Bam!… all at once everything blooms, grows and needs planted, cut, started or fixed?  And then it rains for what seems like forever!  Well, the rain is finished, for at least a couple of days, and we’re drying out for now.   A good thing too or the garden seedlings would rot.

So many happenings…  The more interesting story the past week was that pair of wood ducks that were here.  I thought they might nest, and apparently they were thinking about it.  They seemed to have a particular affinity for this stump for a couple of days, swimming around and climbing up a few times a day. 

wood-ducks-on-stump

Then the rains came, and they just disappeared.  I don’t know if was because the larger canada geese showed up too, or the rain, or why else they decided to leave.  But around that same time I noticed something white on the stump from quite a distance away .  I didn’t think anything about it at first, and watched it for a couple of days.  Finally the young boy and I walked down for a closer look- and wonder of wonders, Mrs. Wood Duck left an egg on that stump!

wood-duck-egg

I was amazed but also disappointed because I knew the egg had been sitting there unattended for over two days and nights in cold rain.  Just an egg on a stump, sitting by itself for several days… and the ducks have never returned to the pond.    So we went down this weekend and decided to get the egg rather than let it be eaten by some other critter.  That was a story in itself… the water is a few feet deep there, so we had to decide what to do.  We ended up using a long cane pole and a plastic grocery bag to noodle the egg into the bag, and lift it off the stump.  Of course the bag blew away in the wind, and we had to go get it… then back to try again.

bagging-egg-on-stump

Finally successful, we looked at the little egg, about the size of a medium grade A chicken egg. 

egg-in-hand

It was semi-transluscent, and I wondered if it would have been healthy or not even if the wood ducks had remained. We could have left it there of course, but I know it would have been food for the turtles and such with the next warm day.  It’s now sitting nestled in a towel in a box, why I don’t know.  Maybe we should try to incubate it anyway… it would take all of 30 days or more to hatch if it was still viable.

On the subject of waterfowl, I spotted a migrant Pied-billed Grebe on the pond today.  This little dude was frolicking on the water, and diving and fluffing its feathers all about.  When it saw us trying to get a better look it dove under the water, finally reappearing some twenty or more yards away.  It was amazing to see how far these birds can swim under water! It then poppped its head above water first like a periscope clearing the area, and then it popped up again, perched on top of the water.  I didn’t know what it was until I could get the picture zoomed in for a closer look. 

pied-billed-grebe

I also wanted to share the fun of last Friday.  On a lark I stopped by a particular area to look for morels, even though they should be nearly finished popping out of the ground in our area by now.  With so much rain I figured maybe we’d have some more.  I looked for a half hour, and then did a double take walking along the edge of a field, looking under some brambles and vines.  Lo and behold I saw a large morel!  I had to fight my way through the vines, and I finally came upon it, amazed that it was as big as my hand.  I was speechless, and once there I found another morel five or six feet further on, and another… fighting through the vines… it was almost like one of Ed’s mushroom machines! 

fresh-morels-2009

I had visions of the day being filled with bags of morels… I was lulled into a false sense of fortune however, because after continuing to search for more than an hour I didn’t see a single other morel.  It was simply a lucky find, yet one that I really appreciated.  Altogether I found nearly a dozen, and cut them carefully just above the ground.  These were good size chunky morels like I’ve never found before.  I share the story because it was neat, and hopefully to serve as inspiration not to give up!  The last two years I was skunked… but Ed motivated me to head out more diligently :)    And no, I have no idea why they grew in that area… I didn’t see any elm or maple trees, no rotting logs, or anything else significant. The leaf litter was thick under the vines, and conditions were just right I suppose.  That and someone else probably missed them. 

fried-morels

On Saturday morning I split them into halves and thirds, and they cooked up beautifully with a little breading and parmesean cheese mix.  Incredibly tasty (if you like mushrooms) but I couldn’t eat them all, and ended up freezing most of them to save for another day.  If I ever find bushels like some folks, it would be nice to dry or dehydrate them and use for cooking throughout the year.

On the morel hunt that day I came upon one of the largest red oak trees I have ever seen.  I could tell it was a red oak species of some kind by the pointed lobes on the leaves far above me.  But this tree was massive!  My hat provides a little perspective, and I became a literal tree hugger for a time wrapping my arms around it to measure its size. 

big-red-oak-tree

The tree’s circumference came to over fifteen feet measured by my reach- and I wish I knew what the exact species was, but I couldn’t determine it.  I love seeing big trees like that… the stories they could tell us.  I’m always on the look-out for a new Missouri Champion Tree.  The state has quite a list going, but I’m willing to bet there are other really old trees out there that no one has measured!

12 Responses to “An Egg on a Stump”

  1. Pabloon 05 May 2009 at 6:03 am

    Sounds like an excellent ramble.

  2. Sageon 05 May 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I love reading about your adventures…

  3. Edelweiss Transplantedon 05 May 2009 at 2:58 pm

    What a treat for your son to find that egg. And for you to find those morels — they look delicious! I am envious. It’s been raining for six days straight here in VA, but no morels to be seen anywhere near our house. Am tempted to head west into Loudon County and poke around a bit.

  4. Ronon 05 May 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I share your sentiment… Spring has certainly erupted now.

    Those morels looks fantastic… I console myself with the thought of chanterelles and corral. :)

    That’s a funny place to lay an egg.

    That tree is huge!

    Ron

  5. Pengaliaon 05 May 2009 at 9:43 pm

    What a fun post!
    I was right there with you…snatching the egg, finding the morels, and hugging the tree.

  6. Beauon 06 May 2009 at 5:38 am

    Pablo- Ramble… it was indeed. The dictionary says “ramble” means to “move aimlessly from place to place,” or to “explore idly or roam.” That sounds about right… of course it goes on to say ramble could mean “to write in a desultory or long-winded fashion…” :)
     
    Sage- Adventures… that may be a bit optimistic :) Maybe an adventurous ramble?!
     
    Edewlweiss- He was enthralled, actually running around the pond chasing the bag, and so excited… Sage is right- in the mind of a young boy (and his father) it was quite an adventure.
     
    Ron- I’ve never found chanterelles or corral, or at least tried them. I hope you write about so I can learn :)
     
    Pengalia- Glad you came along!

  7. R. Shermanon 06 May 2009 at 10:09 am

    Good job on the morels. I’ve often wondered if someone could collect the spores and grow them year round.

    Cheers.

  8. Monteon 06 May 2009 at 11:33 am

    Beau,
    I haven’t had the opportunity to visit your site in some time now. I always enjoy reading about your experiences in/on Fox Haven. Keep spreading the “Green” philosophy and I will visit again.

  9. pamelaon 06 May 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I can’t believe you retrieved the egg without breaking it. Good job.

  10. Beauon 06 May 2009 at 7:09 pm

    R.- Good question! Wouldn’t it be neat to have your own “morel garden” somewhere…
     
    Monte- Great to hear from you, I’m glad you stopped by… :)
     
    Pamela- I thought for sure we would knock the egg into the water… then I would have had to get wet… :)

  11. Ed Abbeyon 11 May 2009 at 11:18 am

    To my knowledge, morels are still a mystery on how they grow and they have yet to be grown domestically. I’ve tried flagging spots to visit on subsequent years to see if a mushroom reproduces and haven’t found any evidence to support it. All my experimenting shows that they are just there and whenever conditions favor it, they pop out.

    Let me know if freezing works for you. I’ve tried several different ways and none with good results. The best way of preserving them that I’ve found is to dry them and store them in an airtight container. I haven’t found enough for the last couple years to do so unfortunately.

    I did get out the last two weekends briefly and find quite a few. I am still working on my first batch of gray morels. My wife cooked some in a white sauce with homemade pasta and I thought I died and went to heaven.

    I’ve got a couple places where I find morels for no apparent reason other than they just grow there repeatedly year after year. However, if you want to consistently find them year after year, you have to know how to spot a mushroom machine. Sadly, I didn’t find any this year. All the elms were either too far gone or still alive. But I’ve got a couple ID’d for next year!

  12. Beauon 11 May 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Ed- Thanks for your thoughts and experience. It is a mystifying undertaking- and other than sheer luck I’m not sure if I’ll ever find them in a given year. This year a little extra hoofing around did the trick.

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