T. Bobby Quail (Part 1)

T. Bobby Quail
T. Bobby Quail

Preface

Bobby is our resident quail.  Seemingly, out  of nowhere, he showed up one morning in the chicken run.  Quail are not native to Northeastern, and so he most likely was purchased from a local feed supply store or even mail order catalog (which is how we purchased our chickens).

Given that we have no real idea who raised Bobby, which direction he arrived from into our yard, nor do we have knowledge of the purpose for which Bobby was purchased (e.g. fielding training dogs, food for someone, etc), I have thus been handed the main subject of a short, anthropomorphic work of fiction.  This is T. Bobby Quail’s story; perhaps this would make a good children’s story.

Foxes

Bobby lurched and hopped his way through the brambles on the edge of a patch of wetland.  He paused briefly to catch his breath; he perched on the branch of a fallen tree.  He listened.

Off in the distance, toward the northeast – along the edge of Mogie Lake – he could hear them, two of them.  The crisp fall leaves could be heard underfoot as they were trampled on by a pair of foxes.  The pair zigged and zagged across the path that Bobby had taken.  They were on his trail and Bobby knew it.

Bobby broke through the brambles and into an open area. A large, open area; He was at the edge of the rail yard.  Pairs of tracks stretched out in front him for what appeared to be forever.  Bobby began hopping; over one rail, hop…hop…hop, and over the next rail.  He felt he might never make it to the other side.

Hop…Hop…Hop…

The two foxes arrived at the edge of the rail yard as Bobby was nearly half way across.  Bobby ducked behind a rail.  Each fox looked around, sniffed the ground, sniffed air, and then sniffed the ground, again.  They glanced at one another as if silently saying, “Yes, I agree, he went this way.”

Bobby jumped up, and flew a short distance before he got into a rhythm; hop, fly, run – hop, fly, run.  Distance was gaining between himself and the foxes, but the foxes had seen him while flying and were quickly attempting to close the gap.

The foxes zigged and zagged across Bobby’s trail.  Hop, Fly, Run…  Bobby made his way across the rail yard and was back into brambles; there were more trees on this side – he quickly hopped above the brambles and up into a tall birch tree.  The foxes circled the tree; sniffing the air, sniffing the ground and then air, again.  No low hanging branches were on tree the for the pair to use as climbing steps.  They continued to circle the tree.  Sniff.  Sniff.  Sniff.

Bobby rested.  He caught his breath while he watched the pair of foxes circle the base of the tree.  A hour went by; night was coming.  The foxes, realizing their meals plans would not include fresh quail, moved on toward the northwest.  Bobby watched them leave and follow the edge of a creek.  The pair disappeared into the brambles.

Birds

Off in the distance, beyond the creek, Bobby could hear other birds talking.  These were not wild birds and they were certainly not other quail.  He thought to himself that an investigation of these birds would need to wait until morning.  For now, he would rest and be thankful he did not end up a meal for two foxes.

Part 2 – T. Bobby Quail →

 

Marmalade

Blood Oranges
Blood Oranges

Seville oranges, Blood oranges, and Meyer lemons are all in season and there are fun and tasty things you can make with them, including marmalade.

In the English language, marmalade is any fruit preserve with bits and chunks of citrus peel in it. This would include such creations as lime marmalade, lemon marmalade, the traditional orange marmalade (using Seville oranges), sweet orange marmalade, mandarin marmalade, or even grapefruit marmalade. You can mix, match and combined, as well.

The process of making marmalade is relatively simple – boil fruit juice that contains bits and chunks of peel. Nuances lie in the amount of pectin (for the curious, pectin is a polysaccharide – long carbohydrate molecules of repeated monomer units joined together by glycosidic bonds). Pectin is needed in the marmalade (or any jam or jelly) to give the final product a firmer, less liquid (semi-solid) consistency. Commercially, pectin is produced from citrus peels — so, we are in the right realm for marmalade jelling or setting just by the fact we are using citrus fruits.

First up on my marmalade quest, traditional Seville orange marmalade. In my opinion, this was the simplest form to make. What you will need (not inclusive):

  • Two (2) pounds (slightly less than a kilogram) of Seville, or Bitter oranges
  • Food processor
  • Large four (2) quart (four litre) pot
  • Cane sugar
  • Fresh water

Wash oranges, then using a sharp knife, remove any blemishes or dark spots that maybe on the peel. Do not remove the peel. Cut the oranges in half; remove any seeds you see. Cut each half in half, again, and remove any seeds (whether on the surface or just visible beneath); repeat the halving of pieces and seed removal until you have seedless, one inch (two centimetre) pieces.

Meyer Lemons
Meyer Lemons
Put a small saucer or plate into the freezer; you will need it later.

Next, in small batches, put the cut orange pieces into your food processor. (Helpful hint: make sure the cover is secured on your food processor; if not, you will end up with orange juice sprayed around your kitchen — like I did.) Pour the chopped oranges into your four quart pot; add a cup of sugar and a cup of water; begin to bring to a boil.

This is where it turns into less procedural recipe and more into cooking; without burning yourself, begin to sample the mixture. Too bitter, add more of sugar. Appearing too thick, add more water and turn the heat down slightly.

You will want to boil the delicious orange mixture for at least 30 to 45 minutes; this will give the pectin in the peels time to leach out.

Take out the plate you put into the freezer earlier, and take a teaspoon of your hot mixture and drip it onto the plate; if the mixture "wrinkles" up or appears instantly firm, your marmalade is done. If it still appears slightly runny, boil it down for a bit more.

Once you feel the marmalade is complete, put it into clean jars.

The other varieties of marmalade, I have not quite mastered, yet. The Meyer lemon marmalade had to be reboiled and pectin added; in the end the result is quite edible, but has a slightly gritty texture.

The blood orange marmalade required a little extra pectin, but the mixture frothed toward the end of the boil and resulted in air bubbles being trapped; it is not quite appealing in looks

When life gives you lemons…

Well, the last month hasn’t been the best month of my life as far as my health is concerned.  After multiple doctor visits, an ER visit and numerous tests I still don’t have any real answers.  I’m hoping that with the next two tests I will finally have some answers and will be able to focus on getting well.

One thing I’ve realized during this past month is that even though it is easy to say “why me” it is best to say “that’s ok, I’ll be fine”…or as Alex likes to say “meh”.  I say “meh” to illness and I’m not going to let it win or get me down!  I think that Henry is a perfect example of not giving up.  I am truly amazed as I watch him as he goes about normal doggie things on a daily basis.  With his peg like leg he can’t always do everything he would like (sometimes this is a good thing) but he always tries and never gives up.  He has more heart than any other dog I’ve known and I think us humans could learn from him.  So from now on I’m going to live like Henry…I just hope I don’t get as many wrinkles and have much saggy skin as him!!!!

Henry and Eve

On a positive note, Eve is finally eating!  Who would have thought that you would have a problem getting a basset to eat?! I guess she has now gained an appetite and was even caught trying to steal some food the other morning.  Hopefully this will help her grow and fill out a little more before our next show!!!

Henry and I are currently in obedience classes and it is going well so far.  With his leg it is a little bit harder for us to do all the commands as they should be done but he at least does them.  I’m just glad that he seems to be liking it and is following commands pretty well.

Alex is currently working on planning out our gardens for the spring.  We have big plans to turn a lot of our front yard into veggie gardens so he has been busy drawing up plans and ordering some seeds.  As soon as the frost leaves the ground we will put in fencing to enclose the front yard.

Balm labels

Another thing that we have been working on is adding to the list of things we make with beeswax.  Last year we started by making soap, which ended up turning out very nicely.  This year Alex decided we should try some balms and salves.  Once again, I think that they have turned out well.  So far my favorites are the Lavender and the Tea Tree balms.

Until next time…