Picked huckleberries at the cabin last evening and today. Kurt helped me haul home parts to an old hatchery net pen I bought on Craigslist. It would have taken me 2 or 3 days to do myself. Good to have good friends. We launched the skiff and anchored it off the launch ramp dock to use the trailer to haul the net pen parts. Then we got tools. We dismantled the walkway planks from the 12 inch plastic “float log” pipes. Then cut the plastic pipe at 20 foot lengths with an electric chainsaw. We made two trips hauling the pipe and 2 x 12 pressure treated planks to the house. Then bulldogged them into the back yard, where they will become Sara’s requested deck. I gotta get in shape. It was late afternoon by the time we got done. Kurt went home and I went to the boat launch, pulled in the anchored boat, and headed to the cabin. I picked berries till dark after eating a jar of canned pinks salmon with mayo and onions on ritz crackers. The banana slugs are at a 20 year high at our cabin. They are eating the huckleberry and devil’s club leaves. For some reason, they make my gag. I decided I was going to see if there was a way to use them for something – maybe duck food. Sam said ducks like slugs. I could get him a 5 gallon bucket of them. The berries on the plant with the leaves eaten by the slugs seem light pink while those the slugs haven’t got to seem ruby red, but might just be my imagination. I picked on Sunday, too. I followed a trail I’d never been on and found good berry picking. Near the other side of the island, I had a doe snorting at my, not far away. I tried mewing like a deer call but could not get her to come to me. I heard her running, but never saw her. Need to carry the deer call when I’m out picking. I tried coho fishing on the way home. Got the gear out, then thought – hey, I’ve got gallons of berries to sort from the green berries and leaves. I sorted for about an hour and half and not a strike. At one point I looked down at my thigh and – gag me- I had young banana slug on me. I picked it off and there was his trail of slime. Nasty. The blue and blue huckleberries are still booming and a wonder how much food is in the woods. We need a good cold winter this year for slug control, spruce aphid control, and good exercise skiing and trapping.
Back from the east coast Thursday and 4 trips on Friday – 9 hours total – of whale watch boat captaining. Had jet and boat lag on Saturday and slept in. Then Kurt called and said I was going fishing, so put down my fish business paperwork, grabbed a rod and some gear, and met him and Jeff at the boat launch. Lots of boats behind Douglas Island, and everyone catching fish. We got 2 cohos. I thought I’d go pick berries at the cabin later and Jeff decided he’d go. His first time on the berry rake as we picked red huckleberries. They were there but a hair less than prime, which will start in about a week is my guess. We fished early the next morning in the same area and not even a strike. I packed fish orders when we got home and made a crisp from the berries to take to coho salmon dinner at Jeff’s.
| Went to NY state for a wedding party for my cousin Emily. We flew into Dulles. I have to say with all the bombings I was eager to get out of there and was watching my surroundsing. On day 1 we stayed with a friend, Smiley, from Bolivar who lives in VA not far from Dulles, where we flew in. He had whitetail deer and cheese sandwiches and great company. The next day we headed to sister Julie’s in Pittsburgh. Sara stayed and I took nephew John with me to Bolivar the next day. He changed his mind several times on wanting to go or not. We drove to classmate Pat’s place. John fished in Jeff and Sue’s pond then we went to dinner at Carl and Amy’s, who sell our fish and own a beautiful little farm that looks over much of Allegany County. It’s been dry and they needed rain. The next day John shot a .22, .25-06, some pistols, and a 16 ga shotgun. Pat is a good coach, and soon John was regularly hitting the clay pigeons with the shotgun and Pat inviting him up to deer hunt. John fished again at Jeff and Sue’s ponds, then we headed to Short Tract and Geneseo. John fished the Genesee River at the turn to Angelica for about an hour while I got gas. At Paula’s, Glenn made a great meal and we got outfitted with sister Paula for our trip the next day to Lake Ontario for a fishing date with Bill, Dave and Rick. We traveled there the next day, met Dave and set up a tent, then fished for bass till after dark. John caught 1 and Dave one or 2. We had a campfire and ate some bass and perch and venison and cheese dogs from Smiley and some hot dogs Rick brought and talked to the early morning hours. Bill has worked and lived in our hometown for most of the past 35 years so caught us up on gossip and history. One kid played football at Davidson and was Steph Curry’s roommate for 4 years and SC was in his wedding. Another kid was a bodyguard for a recent US president and had dinner with the family. Bill was also floored to find out a track star – Blake Eaton – was my cousin as he’d known and watched him succeed in high school and at Penn State. We saw the only rain in a week in NY for 5 minutes on the way back to Paula’s, where we stopped for dinner with John, Maggie and Eaton. We traveled on to Olean, where we met Sara and Julie and lots of family in town for the wedding receptiion. The reception was fun, with great food. This is the first family gathering I’ve noticed that mom and all here siblings are gone and my cousins and my siblings are quickly becoming the family elders. John relentlessly asked everyone he could think of to take him fishing. The next day I went looking for fresh corn and found it outside Olean. The clerk asked if I was taking it somewhere, and of course, when she heard my name – well, she was my cousin from Portville. So we caught up on her family. I’d left the sausage at cousin George’s freezer, and he was gone when I was ready to collect it so I went out to his parents to get the spare key. On the way, I stopped at cousin Polly’s when I saw her sitting outside her house and caught up with her. I got the key, got my meat, and took off for VA and arrived at Smiley’s in the early evening in a 6.75 hr drive through 90+ degree weather. I didn’t leave till late the next day, but had to air freight the meat, corn and a rifle I’d bought for John, and I didn’t know how long it would take. It was not pretty. A contractor at Dulles for Alaska Air cargo had a crabby rep, which made me crabby. We both settled down and managed to get my goods booked and I just hope they end up in Juneau and in good condition. I had to travel down to see Dad before going back to Juneau and would have had to pay several times for the rifle to travel so found it best to send it air freight along with the meat and corn. Back in Juneau Thursday and 4 trips of whale watching today. The gun, meat and corn made it in just fine and we ate corn and sausages last night and I handed out corn to other friends. So good to be home. Don’t plan on leaving for as long as I can. 60 and rain suits me just fine. |
This was a full weekend. I drove whale watch boat as usual on Friday, and was asked to help out on Saturday as well. I also had to schedule a fish delivery that day, so did 2 whale trips till 2 pm then Sara helped me deliver fish in town. I went to the cabin in the evening. I picked a bit on Saturday evening then picked most of the day on Sunday.
The blueberries are still peaking and starting to drop some of their berries, and the blue huckleberries are still coming on. I picked about 15 lbs – 44 cups. I brought home the berries and got 5 of the 8 jars sorted last night before I called it a night as I also did all the billing for the Saturday fish delivery. This morning I started sorting the remaining 3 jars at 430 am and timed it. It takes about 50 minutes to sort the leaves and worms from a gallon of berries. It takes about 2 hours to pick a gallon, so about 3 hours total per gallon. I got them sorted, vac packed and into the freezer. That’s the last weekend of picking for awhile so glad we’ve got a good stash of berries in now. Beautiful weather again – in the 60’s and just a touch of rain. Hopefully the red huckleberries will be plentiful and ready when I get out again in a few weeks.
I’m pretty much drowning in firewood wood from all the free trees we got recently. Matt has wood at our place because he was maxed out his space. But when I saw free firewood on Craigslist yesterday. Well, free wood is free wood. I didn’t need more. Matt was down south. Erik had soccer with Jack and not much room anyway. Jeff didn’t want it. So what to do with it. I was first on the list so of course I said I’d be out to get it. Then I remembered. My neighbor KJ, who I split wood for because his doctor said after his shoulder surgery he could split no more. Maybe he’d want it. “Sure!” he said. So off to the valley to collect it. The wood was mainly spruce. Some unsplit 2 inch diameter stuff and some ready to burn larger split stuff, along with some old cottonwood rounds I’d keep for smoking. It took every inch of the truck bed up to the canopy top to fit it all in in one load, but I made it. The old 250 diesel hardly knew it was there. KJ looked like he’d opened a Christmas present when I pulled down the truck tailgate. Now he’s set for wood and my splitting for him taken care of. At least most of it. Maybe he can take another load, but not much.
The blueberries are in their prime right now at the cabin. I picked 30 lbs Sat/Sun and Sara helped me vac pack 19 packs of 4 cups each packages when I got home. My sciatica hurt so much when I started picking this morning I didn’t think I’d get a day in. But I came back to the cabin, popped some ibuprofen, drank some water, and rested for a spell. Then back out for more and then another rest. Finally, it let go and I was good for the rest of the day. It was perfect weather. 60 degrees and although lots of people over for the holiday, I didn’t see a soul.
The blue berries take nearly twice as long to process as the salmon berries. I use a berry rake to pick, so that collects quite a few leaves and green berries that have to be picked out. Plus it leaves lots of stems, but I learned I don’t have to worry about getting all the stems because they soften up and you don’t know they’re there if you are cooking the berries. Then the berries have to go into water to make any worms inside come out. Then it’s taking the berries handful by handful into a colander a from the water to remove any berries or stems and the worms. This part takes nearly as long as the picking. It was 8 hours for 15 lbs today, and I think it’s maybe 5 for salmon berries. In any event, we’ve got lots of berries now in for the year. There were a pair of wrens hanging around the porch of the cabin where I was processing the berries like they had a nest nearby but I could not find it. Ravens squawking up a storm like they were fighting over some kind of food, too. After the berries were done, I made blueberry pancakes and had a hearty lunch as it was my first meal of the day. The blueberries were nice. Then I packed things up and headed for the boat. I got to the boat about 6 pm and it was tided. Called Sara because I didn’t see my tide book. She said the tide was going out for another hour, so I headed back to the cabin. I ate some leftover cured Yukon chum salmon leftover from John Cox’s dinner. I fried it in some canola oil and salt and it was excellent. Although almost anything you cook at the cabin tastes good. After puttering around the cabin for an hour, I got back to the boat about 815 and it was dry but the tide flooding. I got on the bow as the tide floated the boat, waiting for it to float. There were oodles of little hermit crab and other crabs that looked like spiders that came out in the blue mussels as the beach turned to ocean. The kids would love that.
The boat finally floated. I idled out, got on step and came around the spit where I was surprised to see some 30 people on the beach for the 4th of July. Never heard them even though I was just on the other side of the spit. Funny. A great weekend at the cabin.