Sunday, February 4, 2018

Winter Wildlife

I seem to have gotten lazy this winter about writing my blog articles, but there just has not been a lot to report.  The winter has been much colder than last winter, so there have been very few days when we felt like going out in the cold to prepare for the coming season.  Plus, it has been a very dry winter and I am very concerned that we may be headed for a repeat of 2012. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows our part of Oklahoma at the "severe drought" level.  

If this weather pattern keeps up, I may dwell on this topic again in the coming months, but for now I want to share with you some of the wildlife we've captured on our wildlife cameras this winter.

First, we have lots of deer to report.  We have the nice fellow below.  Also, notice the raccoon over by the tree.  

These 2 guys seem to hang out together.  The one on the right has already lost one of his antlers.  The one on the left has only a spike.

The younger bucks sometimes practice butting heads.

Then, of course, there are lots of does and yearlings that come.  Many of them even come during daylight hours.

Tom built the feeders attached to the tree out of PVC pipe.  The deer don't mind having to stick their noses down into the opening to get at the corn.

Occasionally, we get a close-up view.  I wonder if he was trying for a "selfie".

Squirrels are ever-present and probably eat a good deal of the deer corn, but we don't mind.  They are hungry, too.  There are 4 in the picture below.  Can you find them all?

We've been delighted this winter to have a flock of wild turkeys frequenting our place.  They enjoy pecking around the deer feeder and are not shy about coming up close to the house where our bird feeders are located.  They clean up whatever seed falls out of the feeders.  One day a car startled them when they were in the large grassy field in front of the house.  They all took flight and flew right over the house.  I was amazed such large birds could fly so well.  They flew quite a ways, too, over to the neighbor's property where there are more trees and brush.

And, one of the most exciting animals we have seen has been a bobcat.  He strolled right down the driveway in front of the house.  We've lived here 9 years and have never seen one of these.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Homemade Soft Butter

In my last blog entry, I showed how I make my own strawberry cream cheese.  The stuff you buy at the store may contain all kinds of artificial ingredients, such as food coloring and thickening agents.  If you missed it, here it is again:

This week I'm sharing how to make your own soft butter.  Here's what I used to buy at the grocery story.  Unlike the strawberry cream cheese mentioned above, this only contains butter, canola oil and salt.  

I like to use this kind of butter for several reasons.  First, it spreads easier than plain butter and, second, half the butter fat is replaced by canola oil which is healthier.  It is rather expensive, though, and I wondered if I could make the same thing at home cheaper.  Searching the internet I found several recipes and, with a little experimentation, came up with what I think is just as good.  

You need one stick of butter and a half cup of canola oil.  You can double these amounts to make a larger quantity.  You can also use olive oil instead of canola oil

Soften the butter and chunk it up in a container of some sort.  

Add the oil and mix it up with a hand mixer or an immersion blender, like this.  

Scoop this into a small bowl, cover tightly and store in your refrigerator.  

When you initially finish mixing the butter and oil, you may think it is too thin, but trust me, it will thicken up after it has been in the frig for an hour or so.  Then you'll have a product that is every bit as good at the store-bought kind.  See how nicely it turns out.

I've refined my method since if took these pictures.  I realized that I could avoid messing up the mixing container by mixing the butter and oil in the container I planned to store it in.

The container just needs to be deep enough to avoid having your mixer splatter it all over the kitchen!  I haven't put a pencil to paper to calculate how much I am saving by making my own.  But, I believe I can make this for about half of what I can buy it for.  Plus, if you live in a small community that does not have recycling facilities, there is no store-bought container to send to the landfill.