Fire in the hole!

Last night we took my new rifle to the gun range to test her out.

20160922_173200

I hadn’t shot in over a year so it took me a moment to remember what went where and how to load the cartridge and everything.  We placed the target out at 100 yards, I shot four times and when it came back to us I saw the glory of…NOTHING!

20160922_174245

I had not hit the target even once.

Shooting my rifle was a trip!  It was so loud, and the cement tunnel we were shooting down had this crazy reverb, it was frickin’ LOUD!  Having my face so close and being able to see the flash-bang coming out of the barrel, and the wind blow back was intense.  I’m not sure I would experience the same thing if we were shooting outdoor.

It also took many shots to get used to the trigger.  It was so smooth!  There was literally no way to know when the shot was going to go off so I was pulling super slowly, but then my breathing would move the barrel and I know you’re supposed to exhale on the shot.  Eventually I started pulling the trigger more quickly and that felt better.

Jesse shot and then Dustin and the kids were there by then.  I tried it again at 100 yards and still nothing.  It was getting embarrassing.  We all took turns and then next time we brought it to 25 yards and I still wasn’t hitting it, except for one hit at the very bottom of the sheet.  Now, I knew I was lining it all up appropriately so I had Jesse try it out and he missed at 25 yards as well.  That’s when we decided there was something wrong with the sight.  I knew I wasn’t bad at aiming!

Dustin and Jesse fiddled around with both sights for a couple shots and it slowly started bringing the shots more into alignment.  Finally I took the helm again at 50 yards and hit the sheet so then at 100 yards and hit the mark over and over.  I was so happy!  It turns out I have mad skills, at least when it comes to a non-moving, no-wind-influencing target.

20160922_182333

Lowest shot was mine, next was Jesse’s, next two are Jesse’s while they were fixing the sight, then the top six are mine!

 

 

Happy birthday to me

I woke up the other day when Ezra came into our bedroom.  He was standing next to my side of the bed and we started giggling about something and he said, “Mom, you’re adorable!”  It was the best thing, EVER!

Leo and Ezra get along so well, I’m loving it.  Hopefully it lasts.

20151022_163420

Jesse’s brother shot a deer and he dropped it off for us on Monday so we spent a few hours piecing it out and bagging it up.  Luckily we were able to fit in between the freezer upstairs and the upright freezer downstairs.

20151019_191802

It was quite a bit smaller than the elk and we made really good time on it.  We got a lot more scraps for dog food as well as about six more bags of ground deer and a few steaks and roasts.  We also kept some meaty bones this time and the dogs have been enjoying them immensely.

My birthday was on Thursday and it was great!  I had the day off work and we spent it hanging out and shopping.  I also discovered that Leo is teething.  He has long tried to put our fingers and hands (and cheeks, necks, hair, whatever) into his mouth whenever he could, but lately it’s been more than usual and he is so drooly!  I was not surprised when I felt a tooth had broken through his gums, and the next day the second one had broken through.  So he is on his way to having his bottom two teeth come in.

Because he is now 5.5 months and he’s teething, we decided to get some of those mesh bags that you put food in so they can gum it down/suck in it and learn how to eat more solid food.

Trying pear for the first time

Trying pear for the first time

He was not quite sure what to think about the pear.  On the one hand, it was cold from having been in the fridge so probably felt great on his gums, but on the other hand pears have a pretty strange flavor if you’ve only had formula.  Last night we put some banana in it and Leo seemed to like that better.  Not sure if it was the more mushy texture or the flavor he liked more, but he ate/sucked about half of it out of the bag.  Win!

Jesse also put together Ezra’s old crib because Leopold was busting at the seams in the pack-and-play we had been using.  I think Leo likes all the space; the trouble now is that with the PnP he would try to roll over but hit an edge and so would sleep on his side, but now that he has more space he is able to turn over fully, and I’m so scared of SIDS that it freaks me out and makes me want to turn him over any time I see him on his belly.  Also, he gets frustrated of being on his belly and not being able to turn back over so I have to get up out of bed to move him.  He’s also gotten legs stuck between the slats and that pisses him off as well (rightly so) and then we have to unstick his limbs.  I’m always worried that I won’t be able to squish his legs back through even though I know logically that if they got through one way they should be able to move in the reverse.

Last night we made elk steaks and asparagus and it was delicious!  The elk wasn’t gamey at all and the asparagus was buttery and still had a nice snap to it, perfection!

12108873_10153124462160264_7820457482088985336_n

Ezra has been on a cereal kick again lately.  I make such good-looking babies!

20151024_201106

Happenings around the house

It has been a busy couple days!  Jesse got an elk tag this year (spike elk) and has been up to Strawberry Reservoir multiple times hoping to fill his tag but didn’t get anything in that location.  He left for La Sal mountain range on Tuesday because he wanted to try his hand up there and his brother and family would be going up at the end of the week to try and fill their deer tags.  Well, Jesse filled his tag on Tuesday night!

Jesse's first elk!

Jesse’s first elk!

He drove back home on Wednesday and he had already field dressed and quartered the elk so I started processing.  Holy moly, that was a lot of animal!  Ezra met Jesse at the top the stairs and greeted him with, “We’re so excited you got an elk, daddy!”  It was adorable, especially because I didn’t tell him to say that.

elk ready for processing

elk ready for processing

Our knives weren’t very sharp so it took me awhile to get through the processing.  I was able to finish the backstrap and some organs before Velvet and kids came over for dinner that night (we had Chinese food night!) and then after they left I started again and finished the organs then got through the tenderloins and one hind leg before admitting defeat and going to bed around midnight.

loin steaks

loin steaks

huge hind leg

huge hind leg, probably about 50+ lbs

We found a knife sharpener and the processing went much more smoothly the next morning.  When we sharpened the knife edges during processing, I noticed that one of our Cuisinart knifes has a crack in it!  It’s near the base but I was a little miffed because Cuisinart is supposed to be a decent brand I thought and we’ve only had the knives for a couple years.  Maybe if I contact them they will send me a new one.  But I’d probably need the original receipts…hmm.

I think I finally finished up processing around 1:30pm and Jesse ended up leaving for camp again a little bit later that day.  (I say *I* did the processing but Jesse helped me bag it up, thanks honey!)  Our deep freezer is stuffed full of elk now.  We probably have a few hundred pounds total of steaks, hams, ground, stew meat, organs, and dog food (scraps and overly tendon-y pieces).  If Dustin and his son are able to fill their two tags, we won’t have the room to store it all, but Velvet said we can use her freezer and there are a couple other family freezers we can store with as well.  As much as I’m not looking forward to processing more animals (because it’s somewhat trying), it’s totally worth it to spend three days processing if it means a year’s worth of meat.

stuffed freezer

stuffed freezer

I was all kinds of irritated last night because I had cleaned everything up earlier in the day only to find a large bag of meat meant to be ground still in the fridge from the night before.  I had to get out the grinder again and put it together and grind the meat (we got another six stuffed quart bags) and then I had to disassemble and clean everything again.  I may still have some grinder pieces soaking in the sink.

With ground elk, I know most people grind it with the addition of some kind of fat (either pork or beef) because elk is so lean and if you try to make burgers with it it will just fall apart.  However, we like the beef patties we get from Costco and really just wanted ground to use in things like burritos, taco soup, stroganoff,  that kind of thing, so I didn’t add anything to it when I ground it up.

We really try to utilize the whole animal when we kill anything.  We kept the spike antlers to give to the dogs as chew toys.  We usually buy antlers from Best Bully Sticks and they like them well enough but these two antlers are super fresh and I have a feeling they will go crazy about them.  We kicked around the idea of keeping and tanning the hide as well but we don’t know enough about that process to really do anything worthwhile with it.  Maybe we can learn more this year to be better prepared for it next year.

On Tuesday while Jesse was gone, I decided to swap our bedroom with Ezra’s room.  I thought it was a smidge larger than our bedroom and also my closet was in that room and Jesse hardly ever uses his closet that was in our (old) bedroom.

I was able to get a lot of stuff cleared out of the bedrooms, but then I needed Velvet’s help to dismantle the bunk bed and move our heavy bed base to the new room.  I was right that the room is a bit larger, we definitely have more room for Leo’s portable crib and when we put together the big crib (which we need to do in a couple days because he’s way cramped as it is) that extra room will come in handy.  Not sure what we’ll do when Leo is old enough to stay in his crib and share a room with Ezra, there’s not a lot of leftover space in that room.  I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

In any event, the majority of our stuff has been swapped around but there are still little odds and ends that need to be moved around and some shelves need to be put up still.  The first night in the new room Ezra kept getting up and he told me that he heard a scary sound in the bedroom, and he did the sound for me.  I tell you, it sounded like something straight out of a horror movie.  Ker-ker-ker-ker-cha-cha-cha-cha.  Koo-waa!  Freaked me out and I was home alone with the boys so I just said, it’s nothing, just a new room, takes some time to get used to.  But man, it took me awhile to fall asleep that night.

Ezra has been wanting me to make cakes so I tried my hand at a coffee cake and while it was pretty good, I think next time I want something with more spices and also maybe swirled batter.  Maybe what I really want are cinnamon rolls.  Yeah, that sounds good.  I used this recipe and the only difference was I subbed macadamia nuts because that’s what I hand on hand.

coffecake2

coffecake1 coffecake3 coffecake4 coffecake5

I sent the remaining pieces of cake with Jesse for him to share with his hunting crew, and then last night I made apple crisp using this recipe.  Velvet got me an apple peeler/corer quite a while ago for a birthday or Christmas or something and I finally tried it out for the first time.  I had to fiddle with some settings but was able to make it work pretty well.  MUCH faster than peeling and coring by hand, that is for sure.

peel 1 peel 2 peel 3 peel 4 peel 5 peel 6 20151015_185750

I like the recipe well enough and while all the reviews said there was a good amount of crumble topping to apples, I did not find that to be true.  It’s still pretty tasty but I want larger crumble pieces that are a crunchy-sweet contrast to the tart apples.  Looking back at the pictures maybe I hadn’t cut in the butter well enough because it was still pretty powdery.  Oh well, I’ll remain on the hunt for the perfect crisp recipe a while longer I guess.

Ezra has been very accommodating in the compliments sector lately.  Yesterday, Ezra gave me props for watching a scene of his cartoon, “Good job seeing it, mom!”  I aim to please, folks.

 

kissable cheekies

kissable cheekies

Leo is rolling over now.  And then he gets all frustrated because he doesn’t want to be on his belly.  *sigh*  He is growing up so quickly!

And a happy new year!

Oh my, this past month has been absolutely delightful in many ways and not so much in others.  In December, I came down with a bad cold and took off about a week from work because I was so sick and tired.  I went back to work for about two days, and then it was time for my sabbatical!

Velvet took her sabbatical at the same time, so we all went to visit Mom and Jim at their new(ish) house for Christmas.  We drove down and let me tell you, I’m still not a fan of car trips.  We left at slightly different times than Velvet, so we met up with her clan that night at the same hotel.  We stayed at the Best Western and I’m not sure if it was specific to that hotel or all Best Westerns, but they had a very good breakfast spread the next morning.  None of this prepackaged bear claw crap.  Well, they did have that, too, but they also had eggs, sausage, bagels, toast, yogurt, cereal, fruit, breakfast burritos, and a waffle station.  I was impressed.

While we had a really good time at Mom’s, the sleeping accommodations left much to be desired!  (Mom, get a new mattress on that bed!)  The first night, Ezra was supposed to sleep on the floor next to our bed, but the room was too “spooky” for him to sleep on the floor, so he slept on the bed between Jesse and me.  The next night Jesse slept on the floor in the kitchen area and Ezra slept on the bed with me.  The third night Jesse and Jim pulled out the king mattress from the RV and Jesse and I slept on that while Ezra got the whole bed to himself.  To top it off, I was still fighting my cold so I was coughing all the time.

The drive home was pretty uneventful, we stayed at the same hotel on the way back.  Jesse was awesome, he drove the whole way, both ways.  We actually ended up coming home on the 24th so Velvet and the girls could spend Christmas day with Carl, who had to work over the holiday.  Jesse and I went over to his folks on Christmas day to celebrate and to pick up the dogs (Jesse’s friend had watched them and dropped them off the previous day).

We had a couple days at home to do laundry and unwind before we left for Dad and Dani’s to spend the new year.  We left around the same time as Velvet again, and we all met up to spend the night in Vegas.  Dad and Dani met us there at the casino, and some of Velvet’s friends who live in Henderson came for dinner and to hang out for awhile.  It was good seeing them.  I will say the Sunset Station casino has a very nice setup.  The have a kid place where you can drop off the kids while you gamble away their college funds.  The kid place has a large jungle gym tube system, a tv area, a section for iPads, and other stuff.  The kids all seemed like they had a good time; Ezra basically collapsed when we told him he had to leave and one of Velvet’s girls had to pick him up/drag him out the door.  I didn’t win anything but Jesse did pretty well.

The next day we headed out to Dad’s and when we got their I realized we had left our pillows at the casino, so I had to call and tell them we’d be back in a few days to pick them up.  They were pretty understanding.  I guess they have a 30-day hold policy for lost/found items.

We spent a nice couple days with Dad and Dani.  We opened Christmas gifts and went to the rec center.  Ezra loved being in the water but he wasn’t sure about the wave machine.  He actually went down the big tube slide with the girls but did NOT want to go down it again after that one time.  I went down the tube slide, too, and I think it was probably the first time in over 10 years I’d been on a water slide.  The last slide I’d ever been on ruined it for me.  It was one of those really tall slides where you basically lean back, cross ankles and arms, and it feels like when you go over the bend that you are hurtling into an abyss and you’re going to die.  And it gives you insane wedgies when you hit the water at the bottom.  But this slide at the rec center was pretty mellow and fun.

On New Years eve I truly debated going to bed about 15 mins before the ball dropped, but I kept telling myself, you’ve already made it this far!  We let Ezra stay up and that kid was bouncing off the walls, loopy sleepy.  Oh man, there was this really inappropriate moment that night, it was HILARIOUS.  And an older Ezra would never want me to tell it, but that’s the joy of being a parent, embarrassing your children.

We’ve been following a relaxed potty training schedule with Ezra.  Basically he just goes without pants and a diaper when we’re home because he’s really good about taking himself to the bathroom that way.  Well, NYE he was running about without any bottoms, like usual, being all crazy from food and sleepiness.  He turns to us and says something and I was pretty sure I misheard him so I asked him to repeat himself.  He goes, “There’s a carrot in my butt!” and turns around and we see he had clenched a baby carrot between his cheeks.  It was so unexpected and just to hear him say that, we started cracking up.  He’s laughing, and I’m laughing, and I had tears running down my face and couldn’t catch my breath for the longest time.  I went into the other room to tell Jesse about it and just broke down all over the place; it took awhile for me to relay the whole story to him, and by the end I couldn’t talk because I was crying and laughing so hard.  Good, unexpected, times.

We did eventually make it to see the ball drop and made all the appropriate shouting and noise makers.  We put down Ez to sleep a couple minutes later and despite all his protestations, he was OUT in about 5 minutes.  We all drove home the next morning, with a little side trip back to the casino to pick up our pillows.

For that trip we had boarded the dogs at Diggity Dog Resort and I think they have a pretty good setup there.  They said by the end of the trip both our dogs were playing with other dogs and not just cowering in their kennel, so that’s good.  It would be beneficial to take the dogs there probably a couple times a month to retain social growth for them.  We are fairly bad dog parents in that we don’t socialize them too well with unknown dogs.  You can see Benny enjoyed coming home.

It's a hard life being a dog

It’s a hard life being a dog

benn2

After we got home we relaxed for a couple days and then I had a prenatal appointment so Velvet and Carl watched Ez for us that morning.  It was great because they also brought over their unneeded bunk bed and set it up in Ezra’s room while we were gone.  We’d just had Ez sleeping on his crib mattress on the floor but had decided it was time to get him an actual bed and they had this bed they weren’t really using, so it all worked out.  He really likes the new bed and I think it will be long enough between now and when the baby gets moved into the crib (we use a bassinet/cosleeper for the first couple months) that there shouldn’t be any leftover possessive feelings toward the crib.

new bunk bed

new bunk bed

Jesse and I were supposed to get our hunter safety certification so we can go hunting, but the prior couple days my cold had come back stronger than ever and I had been relegated to sleeping upright on the couch so on the morning of the class I decided to skip the class and go to InstaCare to see why I couldn’t kick this cold.  I had been taking elderberry syrup, and the honey/lemon/ginger mix, and huge quantities of vitamin C but it just wasn’t getting any better.  Turns out the cold turned into bronchitis which may have turned into walking pneumonia.   While I could have waited out the next month or two for my body to resolve the illness itself, I opted to go with the antibiotic route.  Within a few days I started feeling better.  While I really think homeopathic remedies work for most situations, sometimes you just need modern medicine.  I ended up taking my hunter safety class one week later and I passed.  Maybe not with flying colors, but I passed enough to get certified and really that’s all I was looking for.

Our chickens had stopped laying near the end of last year and then we got rid of maybe six of them so there has been more food in the yard and not as much competition.  Yesterday morning we heard the egg song and when Jesse went out to check the nestboxes they were full!  Not sure if it’s the less competition, or they were done molting, or if the days being slightly lighter for longer is the reason (or maybe it’s all of the above) but we are happy to have eggs once again.

first eggs of 2015

first eggs of 2015

I bought some eggs from the store a couple weeks ago for a baking recipe but we are now homegrown egg snobs and very reticent to use store-bought eggs to just fry up or scramble and eat.  Yay for homegrown food!  Except we do need to get more chicken feed…

The baby is doing well, he’s moving quite a bit these days and Jesse was able to kind of feel him kicking the other night.  I’m 24 weeks now so the end is somewhat in sight.  I’m a little nervous about the whole birth process since I’m trying to go natural this time and really don’t want to end up with another C-section again.  *sigh*  I guess time will tell, huh?

We recently bought a kitchen island because we have this space between the two tall kitchen cupboards that wasn’t being well utilized.  We went to Ikea with one stand in mind and ended up buying a different one that fit the space much better.

island1 island2 island3 isnald4

Now we have more space than I know what to do with.  Still trying to figure out what to do with the drawers but I’m sure we’ll think of something.

We have venison!

Jesse was such a tired man when he got home from hunting.  His nephew had shot a deer around sundown the day before but they couldn’t find it in the dark when they went looking for it.  Luckily they were able to find it the next morning pretty close to where they shot it, it sounds like.  Jesse told me it was gut shot, and I immediately started thinking the meat wouldn’t be good because it would have been stewing in its bacteria-laden fluids all night.  After doing some research, though, it’s actually recommended you leave the deer alone for a couple hours if you gut shoot it, because the animal can live for hours and if you pursue it will run whereas if you leave it alone it typically lays down in the area it was shot and just expires.  Not a pretty way to go, I know, but at least the animal doesn’t go to waste if you can get to it.  I suppose wild animals like coyotes or wolves would get to it as well so it wouldn’t be wasted, but you know what I mean.

They field dressed the buck and started on the way back home.  It sounds like Jesse was stressed on the drive to and from because he was driving another’s vehicle and trailer and wanted to be especially careful with it.  Then the motor home my BIL and family took locked them out so they had to break a window and everyone had to crawl in through the window because the door wouldn’t open.  Good times.

Jesse finally got home around 10 or 11pm maybe?  He was tired and dirty and stressed and he still had to deal with the deer.  He put it in the buck bag and strung it from our deck and called it a night.

After I got home the next night and we put Ezra to bed, we tackled the deer.  We had to refer to the YouTube video numerous times to make sure we were doing it correctly, and even then we probably butchered it more than was strictly required.  Have you ever butchered an animal?  I can tell you firsthand, processing an animal has a pretty pungent scent.  Definitely different than opening a package of meat from the store.  That was kind of a difficulty for us, not knowing what was an “off” scent versus what was just a normal death/meat smell.  But, I think we did pretty well all in all.  We got a lot of roasts from it that will turn into jerky somehow, and the back steaks looked great.

(The above video is the one we used; that guy moves so quickly!)

At one point you take off/break the skeleton carcass at the pelvis to leave you with the hind legs and we were trying to decide what to do with the carcass when we thought we’d just give it to the dogs.  They could eat what they wanted and we’d throw out the rest.  I thought maybe there would be arguing or snarling but no such thing happened.  They both went to town on it with no apparent aggression issues.  We left them outside instead of bringing them in for the night because I was unsure if there would be any digestive upset.  I mean, we raw feed, but that was A LOT of food.  The only thing I could tell was off the next day was they were so sleepy.  They snoozed a good portion of the day away like they were in a food stupor, it was awesome.

Anyway, we put some meat aside while we were processing that we knew would be dog food and had another pile for obviously bad areas, and the rest we put in a cooler with ice, layering towels between the meat layers to soak up any blood and juices.  That method seemed to work really well and we’ll probably do it again like that in the future.  We were able to let the meat rest/age for a couple days and didn’t have to take up any fridge space to do it.

It was a little daunting to process our own deer instead of taking it in somewhere, but I liked that we got to experience it hands on and that we now know it’s not impossible to do again.