Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We would like to wish you a very wonderful holiday season, and all the best in the new year!




Jeff & Karen Lewis
(and Roux!)





Friday, November 2, 2012

Pimiento Cheese

I've tried several versions of pimiento cheese over the years . . . some store bought, some from the farmers' markets, and some at friends' parties.  One thing that is consistent with all versions is that all versions are different.  The same holds true for recipes I have researched.  One recipe said it best:  pimiento cheese ingredients are quite personal.  I am sure she was referring to ladies in The South.

I gathered several recipes and melded ingredients together to come up with our personal recipe.  We think it is pretty good . . . however, I am open to other ingredients you may use.  Take a look and let me know what you think.


Karen’s Pimiento Cheese 

1 package cream cheese (8 oz.), room temperature
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
½ cup mayo
1 teaspoon garlic pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
10 tablespoons diced pimientos (8 tablespoons blended)

Use electric mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Add all other ingredients and beat until well blended.

Blending the pimientos will make it seem watery, but refrigerating the mixture will improve the consistency.




Monday, September 3, 2012

Today's adventure with a fawn

My blog entry today should read:

I saw a beautiful young fawn today.  I stopped momentarily to gaze upon it with wonder, then continued on my path as the fawn bounded through the field to meet it's mother in the woods.

Unfortunately, that's not what happened.

We have a fenced-in area we call The Pecan Orchard.  While it has pecan trees, it is mostly a large field, and I take Roux there several times a day to chase birds and get his exercise.  This morning, I had already opened the gate and Roux was off running after birds . . . and I was outside the opened gate standing by the golf cart when I heard what sounded like a baby's cry.  I looked to my right and saw a beautiful young fawn bounding toward me.  I assume something else in the grassy field alarmed it, as we were too far away to cause a cry for it's mother.

I was contemplating taking a photo with my phone, but as the fawn got closer, I started to get alarmed as it took a hard turn into the fence.  I should have quickly left . . . but I didn't recover fast enough and the poor thing was so upset about the fence, it ran toward me instead of away . . . and ran right by me and directly into The Pecan Orchard.

This is a bad thing, as the gates are always closed unless we are working in the area or I am taking Roux for a run.  The fawn was running away from the only way out.

The fawn knew to go to the woods, but it was now inside the fence and couldn't get there.  It kept running into the fence and crying.  I immediately went into "mother mode" and had to do something.

I drove into The Pecan Orchard, trying to stay away from the fence, to get ahead of the fawn.  I had to go through a low area, which was full of mud and water thanks to Hurricane Isaac.  I got ahead of the fawn, and thought I could chase it back out the gate to safety.

It did turn around and start back, but it was still trying to get through the fence and was wearing itself out running into the fence.  Then Roux decided to come see what all the fuss was about . . . oh boy . . . he immediately went after the fawn.

I got out of the cart and started running toward the fawn, yelling at Roux to stop.  I lost a shoe in the mud, but I was able to get to them both and Roux did stop.  The fawn was in shock and had bloodied it's nose on the fence.  I picked it up and held it to my chest.  I've never held a fawn before and I have to say it was so awesome to hold that beautiful animal . . . but the circumstances certainly dampened the awe.

I am so proud of Roux for getting in the golf cart and sitting in the seat while I cradled the fawn and drove outside the fence.  That took a lot of restraint for him, but he did it.  If only he could have maintained that discipline . . .

I brought the fawn back to the grassy area outside the fence.  It was breathing hard, which I took as a good sign.  At least it was alive.  Looking back, I like to think being held against a warm body helped calm it a little.  I laid it in the grass and went back to the golf cart.  The fawn jumped up and started back for the woods, and that's when Roux lost his discipline.  He went after the fawn and knocked it down before I could stop him.  He knew I was mad when I approached him and he quickly assumed that submissive position on his back like he does when he's in trouble.  I dragged him away and we went back to close the gate . . . oh, and to find my shoe.

I handled it all rather calmly, except the yelling at Roux, but now my heart was pounding and my hands were a little shaky.  After giving Jeff all the details, which were confirmed by the mud all over me and in my hair, and the deer hair all over my shirt, he assured me how tough deer are and that the fawn was probably fine. I also knew from our state wildlife biologist (thank you, Johnny!) that it is better to leave the fawn because the mother does leave it at times and it is not abandoned, despite your instincts telling you to "save" it because it was abandoned.

Despite all assurances, I went back to the area about an hour later to check.  I am happy to say the fawn was not there . . . therefore, it had not died but made it to the woods and it's momma calmed it down, cleaned it up, found a safer place to hide, and all is well.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

And next time I see one of those beautiful creatures bounding in a field, you can bet I will not stop for my own pleasure, but enjoy the glimpse and keep going so nature can do it's thing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The cats of Agriana

Before there was Roux, there was Gracie Lou.  I found her at a shelter in Baton Rouge and immediately knew I had to take her home.  I struggled with a name, and finally came up with Gracie . . . she is gray and white . . . yeah, I know, not that creative.  As she got used to her surroundings that first week, she woke me up during the night to "talk".  I was particularly frustrated one of those nights and gave her my best chastising voice . . . "Graaacieeeee . . . " and at that moment I had a flashback to my childhood . . .

I was always just "Karen" growing up . . . unless I was in trouble or aggravating my parents . . . then I became "Karen Sue".  Using my middle name made me perk up and pay attention.  Plus it's a good Southern thing to do.

So as I drawled out "Graaacieeeee . . . " something in my brain told me I had to use her middle name.  She didn't have one, and "Gracie . . . Lou" just came out.  I think maybe I was thinking about that Sandra Bullock movie.  Anyway, it stuck and she was Gracie Lou after that.


This is Gracie Lou that first week at home.  This was about a month or so before Jeff and I started dating.

For the next four years, Gracie Lou made weekend trips to Agriana with us.  She didn't like the car ride so much.


The white towel in the picture was for when she got car sick.  Happened almost every time.  After four years, we moved up here and she hasn't been in a car since then.  Yes, she is very happy about that.

After we moved here, we had to send a piece of equipment to Monroe for repair.  When the machine came back, it had a cat in it.  It took me six months to get her to come within a foot of me, and eventually I was able to pet her.


We had her checked out at the vet and then spayed (catching her required an inventive scheme a la Jeff), and she has become our "Outdoor Kitty".  She is a great predator and definitely keeps the field mice in check.  One of my friends gently suggested that maybe referring to her as "Outdoor Kitty" wasn't appropriate and I should name her.  Coming up with another name is easier said than done.  We finally settled on Jamie, after the man (James) that owned the repair shop in Monroe.  He is a cat lover, too.

So Gracie Lou is in the house with us, and Jamie is all alone outside . . . and I decided she needed a friend.  I put a note on my facebook page, asking if anyone had a feral cat that needed a new home.  Jamie was still very skittish around humans.

A high school friend answered the call and gave me Purdy.  Kristen is much better at names than I am . . . she named Purdy after a brand of paint brushes because her coat color reminded her of soft paint brush bristles.


Purdy and Jamie became fast friends, and Jamie would even hang around the porch with all of us.  I think Purdy taught her to be more social and less afraid of humans.

Then we got Roux . . . and it all changed.

Purdy decided she likes the dog door and hangs around inside more than outside.  Jamie is scared of Roux and prefers to hang out at the shop these days.  Gracie Lou doesn't like Roux and prefers to stay on her high window perch.  Roux has definitely changed the cat dynamics around here.  Ah, but those are stories for another time.



Monday, July 2, 2012

Roux and the Black Bear

We were working outside this weekend near the lake.  Roux loves that area, as there are lots of birds for him to chase.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a black figure running along the lake, and I thought "there he goes again" . . . then I saw another black figure right behind that one . . . and I knew immediately one of those figures was a bear.

You can imagine my relief when I realized it was Roux chasing the bear and not the other way around.  However, that relief was short-lived . . . I quickly went into "momma mode", fearing the bear would turn around and get my dog.  He was in such hot pursuit, he couldn't hear my screams of "No!" or "Here!" or even his name.

Side note:  The Dog Whisperer says they can't "hear" you when they are in that prey mode . . . but I still think they hear just fine and choose to ignore you :)

The bear was an adolescent bear, small but larger than Roux.  Roux had absolutely no fear and, as it should be, the bear had fear.  He ran fast and Roux chased him up a tree.

It was definitely one of those "wish I had my camera" moments.  No, I haven't learned that lesson yet.

Here are some iPhone photos, which are not that good.



In the first photo, you can barely see the bear's ears between the branches.  In the second photo, the bear is climbing down the tree.  He didn't wait long . . . we walked far enough away and he quickly came down and high-tailed it back into the woods.

Later, Roux spent some time retracing the bear's path by the tree.  I think he was learning the scent . . . at least that's what he did the first time he found an armadillo.  He chased the running creature, then came back and learned the scent . . . trotting all along the ground, nose to the ground.  Now he can smell an armadillo before he sees it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Maw-Maw's Pie

I am making a pie today . . . my Maw-Maw's pie she used to make when I was a kid.  I was a Guest Blogger a while back, where I shared her recipe.  Here is the post:

There are many things from my childhood that bring back sweet memories . . . this particular memory comes with something I can still touch (and taste!) today. I was a teenager when I watched my Maw Maw (that’s “Grandmother” to us in the South) make this pie. It was never written down, and I remember calling her while I was in college so she could tell me how to make it over the phone. My friend, “Make Roux”, inspired me to take pictures and document this wonderful memory. Maw Maw would be proud to share her recipe with you.

Maw Maw Odette’s Banana Pie
My Grandmother made this pie when the bananas were too old to eat and, of course, she didn’t want to waste them. She made this with butter and sugar and a homemade pie crust. I modified it slightly to make it a little healthier using spray margarine and Splenda and a little faster with a pre-made pie crust. 

I hardly ever measure ingredients, so I took a few pictures to help with the recipe.



6-9 very ripe bananas (brown, almost black bananas that are very soft)
Splenda
Spray butter
Cinnamon
Pie crust (I use the pre-made Nilla Wafer crust, and sometimes the graham cracker crust pre-made pie shell.  A regular pie shell works well, too)


  1. Spray butter in the bottom of the pie shell. 
  2. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and Splenda.

  3. Add a layer of sliced bananas.
  4. Repeat the layers again.

    spray butter
    cinnamon
    Splenda
    sliced bananas
  5. Repeat again!



    The bananas are mushy; you can pack them down a little after each layer. Each layer is 2-3 bananas. The pie is about 3 layers.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes until a gel forms along the sides.
  7. Let it cool slightly and harden a little before serving. 




Sometimes we like it hot out of the oven. We call it “banana bisque” and eat it from a bowl with a spoon. 

It is great cold for breakfast, as well as reheated.

In the recipe pictured, I used 1 or 2 bananas too many, so the gel ran over the crust. Fewer bananas would also allow the gel to cover the center of the pie.

It isn’t a “pretty” dessert, but it sure tastes good! 

You can see my Guest Blogger post here:

http://makearoux.blogspot.com/2009/04/guest-blogger-karen-and-maw-maw-odettes.html

Thanks, Erica, for allowing me to share this recipe with your readers.

UPDATE:  Here is my pie from today.  I used 6 medium bananas and baked for 40 minutes.  The "gelatin" part looks great!  As soon as it cools a little, we are digging in!



Friday, June 15, 2012

I'm in love with a dog

Jeff and I have always been dog people.  Our lifestyle, however, has not been conducive to dog ownership.  Since moving to Agriana, and to the detriment of our cats, we now have a lifestyle that is perfect for a dog.

Since we moved here, Jeff has had a vision of me with a dog . . . walking to the garden to collect veggies, riding around in the golf cart, and protecting me from some wildlife.  We weren't sure about the breed, though.  Jeff started researching dog breeds last year to see what would make a good fit for us.  We wanted an active dog to enjoy Agriana, a companion breed, and especially wanted a tracking dog for deer hunting.  We also knew we did not want a dog that likes water (for swimming) due to the alligators around here.

We settled on the Texas State Dog, the Blue Lacy (sometimes called a Lacy Dog).  Jeff spent hours on the phone with different breeders . . . and one thing was for sure . . . Blue Lacy owners love the breed.  Even if the breeder didn't have any puppies available, they would spend 30 minutes on the phone with Jeff, praising the breed and telling stories.  We learned so much, and we felt confident in the breed.  

At the end of November, we spoke to a couple outside of Beeville, Texas that happened to have a puppy available.  They were thinking of keeping the puppy for their own family, but after talking to Jeff and thinking we had a great environment for a Blue Lacy, a deal was made.  We took off for Texas the day after Thanksgiving to pick up our new family addition.


He was such a cute puppy!  He is a tri-color Blue Lacy . . . mostly "blue" with "red" markings and a patch of white on his chest.  He was about 12 weeks old when he took his first plane ride to a new home in Louisiana.  We named him Roux (pronounced ro͞o) -- a good South Louisiana name.

Hunting season was in full swing when we got home.  Even at such a young age, Roux had the instinct to track deer.  Here he is with one of the first deer he found.  The doe was about 130 lbs. and Roux was barely  4 months old.


We gave him the tail as a reward and he quickly buried it, like the treasure it was.


Roux is fast and enthusiastic.  With all the palmettos here, we quickly realized we needed something to track HIM.  A light on his collar worked a little, but the thick palmettos blocked the illumination if he got too far ahead . . . which he did.  We bought him a GPS collar that works great . . . and we have two handheld monitors.  Why two?  One for me to track Roux and the other for Jeff to track me!  Roux takes off after the deer, I take off after Roux and . . . well . . . sometimes we get turned around and get lost in the woods.  With the second monitor, Jeff can track us :)

Here is Roux wearing his GPS collar after finding a deer, and another picture in a deer stand waiting patiently.



Yes, I took the trouble to bring one of his dog beds with us.  Am I spoiling him?

Needless to say, Roux has been an excellent addition to hunting season. 

He is also a great companion.  He goes most everywhere with us.  We took a trip to Texas to visit family not long ago.  He got along great with our nephew, who is just over a year old.  Here they are playing.


One of his favorite pastimes is chasing birds.  Roux bounces and runs and barks, but hasn't caught one.  I learned that his Momma also chases birds around her house in Texas . . .she hasn't caught one yet either.  This is one of my favorite pictures of him chasing birds:


He's in the middle of our growing sunflower crop amid the pecan trees.  Is he having fun, or what?  After such a workout, he enjoys a little time in his pool:


I'm sure you can tell I am totally smitten with this dog.  He is such a joy to have.  And, yes, I spoil him.  Maybe I spoil him too much . . . Jeff just purchased The Dog Whisperer series on DVD for training.  Not that Roux needs much training . . . Jeff seems to think I need the training.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Crawfish!

We have really been enjoying crawfish this season.  Our "special seasoning blend" consists of a spicy Swamp Fire mixture from Oak Grove plus our friend, Wayne's, blend he uses for catering.  Yummy!

But you know when crawfish taste the best?  When they are caught here at Agriana.  We do not have a crawfish farm or anything like that . . . but we do have a few spots that have proven to be great crawfish holes. We have found that mid-April to early May is our Agriana Crawfish Season.  That's not to say we do not try earlier in anticipation.

We tried something different this year . . . we put hay in one crawfish area to attract bugs, hoping the crawfish would come out early to eat.  We put some traps out last weekend, but caught only a handful.  They were a good size, but not even enough for an appetizer.

The first year, I learned just how "dangerous" crawfishing can be.  Jeff is usually the one picking up the traps.


As you can see, he made it look easy.  So while he was out working in the shop one day, I thought I would go run the traps by myself.

One of the first traps I tried to lift with my pole was heavy.  I thought about all the crawfish that must be in it!  Imagine my surprise when this is what I found:


Not a snake.  Not quite an eel.  Just a heavy, ugly, slimy thing called a mud-puppy.  Yeah, not cute like my real puppy, Roux!  Because my pole is long, I was able to move it to the ground without fear of it touching me or getting out.  I took a quick picture of it, then pushed the trap over into the water.  The thing slid off into the mud and I decided I wouldn't put my traps in that area anymore.

Side note:  Jeff thought it would be fun to catch another one and try to cook it.  Thank goodness there are no mud-puppy recipes to be found online!  Trust me, I wasn't going to eat it.  I wasn't even sure I could watch him prepare it or eat it.  Thankfully, we have not caught another one.  Yet.

The next area had an even bigger surprise.  I picked up the trap and heard this interesting "eek! eek!" sound.  In my trap was the cutest baby alligator.  It couldn't have been more than 6 inches long.  I didn't get to admire it long . . . did you know that "eek! eek!" sound is a baby's way of calling it's Momma when it's in distress?  Momma not only heard, but was coming to it's rescue.  Mouth opened, swimming fast on top of the water.  Talk about a scary sight!  I dropped the trap and the pole and ran.  Thankfully, the trap landed on it's side and the baby gator crawled out.  Momma was appeased.  I didn't go back.  I went straight to the shop and chastised Jeff for letting me go on such a dangerous mission on my own.  We get a good laugh about it now . . . but it certainly wasn't funny at the time.  Not to me, anyway.

My favorite crawfish hole is a cypress swamp.  Some friends from Virginia came to visit last year and Jeff took Joan for a ride to check the traps.


This is our best to catch them.  We can put out about 30 traps and catch a sack of crawfish easily.  This is the area where we put the hay.

I am really looking forward to the next few weeks!  And, yes, I will be careful this year.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Deer Season

Next week we are taking about six more deer. Sort of a one-day gun season.

And we're not going to be outlaws.

Our local department of wildlife biologist, Johnny Berry, is coming to work with us in harvesting some does for biological analysis. Pretty much to assess their overall health and reproductive activity.

I have never seen an official deer autopsy. But next week I get to participate in six of them. Apparently Johnny is going to do it all except for some special liver analysis that will later happen in Baton Rouge.

The actual deer will remain in our cooler to age. Then then meat will be charitably donated by a party other than us.

Johnny and another state biologist will do the actual shooting. Roux, our tracking dog, will be on standby to help with the retrieval.

It sounds like another learning adventure.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cooking a la Karen

Those of you who have known me for many years, know that cooking is not my best quality.  Growing up, my Mom did all the cooking.  It never occurred to me to help out in the kitchen to learn and, hey, she didn't ask.  Bless her heart.

So I go off to college and there's this great option your parents can purchase where someone else cooks 3 meals a day for you in a cafeteria.  Awesome.  Count me in.

After I moved off-campus and got my own microwave, I quickly became friends with Budget Gourmets (remember those?) and cereal bars.  There was always cheap fast food for lunch.  See?  Who needs cooking? I'm over 21 years old at this point and I haven't seen a need for it yet.

In my first job out of college, I learned about business lunches.  I was making money and spending it at restaurants.  That became a way of life . . . and I liked it.  I still had the occasional heat-n-eat, but I preferred restaurants.  Nice ones.

As part of the business world, Jeff and I traveled a good bit.  We dined at some fabulous places and, let's just say, we were a little spoiled.

Fast forward to Agriana.  Did I mention we live in a rural area?  Even if we had all the restaurant offerings of Baton Rouge or Lafayette, we are still 10 miles from the nearest small town (St. Joseph),  35 miles from the nearest fast food place, and an hour and a half away from any sizable restaurant.  I don't mind telling you, I was a little panicked.

It was touch-and-go at first.  As an example, I will share with you our first Thanksgiving up here.  For just the two of us, I decided on a turkey breast rather than a full turkey.  I didn't notice it was already cooked.  Trust me, you can't add flavor to a store-bought, already cooked, generic turkey breast.  I found a sourdough and sausage dressing recipe . . . doesn't that sound good?  I used venison sausage and was so excited about making this dish (the excitement was before I knew the turkey was precooked).  The recipe called for something like 3 teaspoons each of fresh sage and thyme and something else.  Did you know that if you didn't have fresh herbs (which I didn't find at the local grocery), you could use dried . . . in about a third of the amount?  A THIRD.  Yeah, well, I didn't know that.  I dumped 3 teaspoons of each dried herb in there.  It was horrible.  I tried to fix it but it only got worse.  It was inedible.

And it's not like I could easily run to the store for more supplies, or to a restaurant for take-out.  We suffered through it, and I got a new attitude about cooking.

Cooking is on my terms.  Not some recipe.  I've decided that recipes are only suggestions.  I was never good at following directions anyway.  I'm definitely one of these "a little of this, a little of that" cooks.  I buy lots of cookbooks and magazines and scan them for ideas.  Then I improvise with what I have on hand.  And so far it's working for us.

Our freezer is full of venison.  We plan ahead and season it when we package it, so it's ready out of the freezer.  I have a vacuum sealer, so I may buy several rotisserie chickens at a time to pick and seal . . . I have seasoned chicken ready out of the freezer for gumbo or soup or whatever.  I also have sealed packages of creole seasoning (chopped onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic) to pull out as needed.  And when I cook, I cook big batches . . . then vacuum seal portion sizes for dinners later.

So I'm figuring it out.  And actually enjoying it.

One friend asked for a recipe . . . I can't give you exact measurements, but I can give you my suggestions on venison spaghetti:  I start with browning my creole seasoning in olive oil.  I like to leave the bell peppers in larger slices for spaghetti.  Then I add my Italian venison (1/3 ground pork, 2/3 ground venison and Italian seasonings) to brown it.  Sometimes I do it in small meatballs, sometimes just bulk.  I gave up on sauce . . . too heavy.  I use a big can of diced tomatoes and a little tomato paste with water.  After tasting it, I generally add a little garlic powder.  Spaghetti needs garlic!  I've been known to add a little Tony's, too.  The lighter sauce brings out the flavors of the seasoning and venison more.  A friend taught me that.  I let it all simmer a while in my big cast iron pot and serve over pasta.

Not bad for someone who never learned to cook :)





Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Black Bear Adventure

It looks like at least one of our black bears is a little camera shy.  Or maybe he's just playful.  While Mom and Cub #1 check out the feeder, Cub #2 dismantles the camera.

video



Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday night

I often tell Karen on Friday nights to get out our boogie shoes. It's a joke because there is nothing to do up here.

Many years ago I was on a dive trip in Maui. (I was working, alright!) While looking at Pacific fish I'd never seen before it hit me that those fish and that reef are there every day of every year. Even though I never plan to return, beautiful fish are there waiting if I ever do wish to return. They are there. It's up to me to get there.

A similar thought comes to me each Friday night. The French Quarter is there, as loud and festive and alive as ever. It's up to me to get there.

As I sit here around seven PM writing this, my truck is full of gas. The credit card in my pocket could book a room at the Royal Sonesta. Karen would need about 30 minutes to pack. Donna could probably look after Roux, our dog, for the weekend.

It's Friday night. Thrills and joys are mine by eleven tonight. They are there. It's up to me to get there.

Post Script:

The only real vacation Karen and I ever took was to the French Quarter for a weekend. Every other trip had a purpose that drove the agenda, the schedule, and the mission. But on this one trip we had a wonderful time that Friday night. The kind of fun where you ask yourself why we don't do this every night.

Fast forward to five AM Saturday morning. I woke with a near-panic. We had no business being in New Orleans that day and the rest of the weekend. There's work that must be done. We must pack immediately and get back to my office as soon as possible. I have so many obligations and just plain doing the work is the only way to meet those obligations. I consoled myself and agreed with myself that I would at least let Karen sleep until she woke on her on.

Well bless Karen's little loving heart, she didn't buy into my panic at all. "Let's at least go have breakfast first." Fair enough. And maybe one of those champagne orange juice things. Then find a cafe for more coffee to discuss all of the projects. Then on to lunch with maybe a rum drink.  The next thing I know, we're singing along with the band in some club and the sun has long set. "You men are so easy", Yolanda Rabalais once scolded me.

I love living here

Since I was a very young boy I have seen myself retiring to a large tract of land. At seven years old we lived on 23 acres, which seemed like all the land in the world. When I was twelve we bought another 30 acres behind the original 23, to create a long tract of 50 acres. Again this was all the land in the world.

At 37 years old I bought this place. It's 2200 acres. At 48 years old I retired and moved here.   That boyhood dream came true.

It's surreal to see so few people during the week. I have one man who works here full time to help with general maintenance.  And yes, maintenance here is more than one full time person. I tried for about six months to do it by myself and it was exhausting while falling ever further behind. In the summer the grass grows. That requires cutting in the open areas and applying RoundUp along 12.5 miles of fence.

So outside of one hired hand, we have only one friend who visits.  She's very nice and like us, retired with the time to make the trip over to see us and participate in what we are doing.

On any given week we see the hired hand, our friend Donna, and usually one of the oilfield people. Outside of these it's got to be someone with a specific mission to come through the gate. Today it was Bubba from Delta Fuel bringing 2000 gallons of diesel for the spring and summer. And the truck driver bring rock for some road repair. Tuesday it was the driver from Sol's Pipe and Steel bringing a delivery of steel for various projects on the agenda.

And then there's Karen. She and I have some critical common cultural components. We are both first-born, intelligent, and driven. She grew up in an area with about the same "ruralness" as I did. She was closer to the smaller town of Covington while I was further from the larger town of Baton Rouge. While she never would have imagined herself living in a place like this with its severity of isolation, it's become her cherished way of life to live here and take loving care of me. Chalk one up for love conquering all.

Living with Karen is divine. She's supremely competent, beautiful, active, diligent, funny, and my over the top loving wife. She was made for me. I am incredibly lucky to have her.  Well, we are lucky to have each other.

How long will I love living here? Who knows.

Beyond any personal choice of staying here, I am very concerned about what is happening around the world and our national debt. The vast majority of  sovereign debt, theirs and ours, will never be repaid. The western world just does not produce that much. And the other financial obligations here including Medicare and Social Security you can just forget. There is absolutely no way future workers in this country, of all income levels, will ever be productive enough for the government to confiscate that much money from them during their working years.  You can forget all of those touchy feelings about social contracts and such. Contacts, written and otherwise, are worthless if either side can't fulfill. And to be frank, your children can't fulfill. And why should they? They didn't pocket anything in exchange for the debt we are leaving them. Okay, that's all for another blog posting later, but the point is that the world live in now around here might become a FSU (Former Soviet Union) style pot of crabs.   And I'd prefer that the nearest crabs are down the road at least.

So yes, I love living here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wildlife

The wildlife here is really incredible.  If only I had a dollar for each time I thought "I wish I had my camera with me!"

Just a few days ago, Jeff came into the kitchen to get me . . . "Quick!  Come see!"  I ran to the porch and there was an otter playing in the front yard.  Before I could even think about my camera, the otter trotted off into the woods.

Here is a link to some pictures on my Facebook page.  Our friend, Paige, took the first half of the pictures and I took the second half.

The picture of the black bear by the food trough has a story.  A few days prior to the picture, we had spilled sunflower seeds just outside the feeder.  Then it rained and made the area and the seeds soft.  We were driving by the feeder, which is about 100 yds from the road, and saw the bear on the ground.  He was a cute little thing!  It was one of those moments when I had my camera and quickly started snapping photos.  The bear wasn't really interested in us, so we watched him for a little while.  He was using his front paws to work the soft seeds into a mash, then eating it.

Jeff urged me to get out of the truck to get a better picture.  My first thought was "no way!" as I'm not too keen on getting attacked by a bear . . . but Jeff urged me on, telling me it would be okay.  Since I trust him (or maybe I am a fool), I got out of the truck and walked a few steps to take more photos.  The bear didn't seem to care.  So I walked a little closer.  And so on . . . and so on . . .

Before I know it, I am closer to the bear than I am to Jeff, still taking pictures.  Funny how brave you become when nothing bad is happening as you try something that, just moments ago, scared you.  I was about 30 yds away from the bear when the bear finally decided I was bothering his mealtime.  He slowly got up and sauntered off into the woods.

I walked back to the truck, quite proud of myself.  Jeff was grinning at me, with his gun by his side (just in case he had to scare the bear away).  And, yes, I was also thankful I was still in one piece.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Welcome to our blog

What is Agriana?  Jeff selected the name for it's literal meaning, "a collection of farming."  Agriana is located in Tensas Parish, Louisiana.  We have beautiful hardwood trees, sloughs (swampy areas), a man-made lake and scenic paths.  We believe this area was once an old oxbow lake, as we have concentrated areas of underground sand as well as distinct high and low areas in a river shape.

The wildlife is abundant here.  A list would include (but not be limited to!) deer, black bears, coyotes, bobcats, otters, beavers, opossums, armadillos, ducks, doves, buzzards, crows, other birds, snakes, fish, alligators . . . and 3 cats and a dog.

We hope to share our adventures here with you.  We look forward to interacting with you through your comments and feedback.  Thanks for reading.

Jeff & Karen Lewis