Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Llama Drama!

At one of the campuses I work at we have large groups of oak trees and generally forested areas. Recently maintenance has been bringing in sheep and goats on the weekends for vegetation control. Everyone praised the idea saying that it was the "green" thing to do. I find that statement funny since we're renting sheep and goats to get rid of the green... but whatever.
 I'm in favor of the idea because GOATS! We're a decidedly pro-goat household even though we have no real reason to be. We're never owned goats, used goats, or been closer to them than at the state fair. But we certainly enjoy the idea of them, their babies are super cute, their milk makes great cheese and since we appreciate them from afar, we think they are nifty.
Back to the college... I teach a class on Fridays and Saturdays when there are few, if any, other classes on campus. While driving on campus I came upon the sheep and goats munching away in a movable gated area. The way they were situated put them right up against the parking lot I wanted to park in and I smiled at them as I  parked and unloaded my books to go to class.
Later, when I came back to the car I noticed that they had really eaten down all the tall grass and taken all the new growth off the underbrush. I could see a handler setting up fences to make a new pen for them to move into, one that would bring them right up against my car. The animals knew what to do, starting to crowd the fence leading into the new area and I saw he had a couple of llamas with the other animals.
As he got closer I said "I see you have llamas too.. are those for the high brush?".
He opened the new pen and the llamas came through first. He said "No, those are gaurd llamas".
I laughed out loud, "Ha! Guard llamas! Funny!" because, of course he was kidding.
The llamas were getting pretty close to my end of the pen now.
 "No," he said, yelling over the sounds of the herd coming through."Really! Guard llamas!"
I heard the warning in his voice as the first llama started getting very close, making a low throaty sound.
"Really! How long are you going to be here? You should probably get in your car!" He yelled as the llama finally reached me.
 I jumped in my car quickly but my window was rolled down a little and I was faced with a llama staring at me, chewing and getting ready to spit.
"You should go now!" I heard the man say.
I pulled out and watched the llamas following me around the perimeter of the lot..always putting themselves between me and the rest of the animals.
So..I'd never heard of guard llamas... but after googling it, I guess it's a thing. They use them a lot in Canada and wherever they need to protect sheep from coyotes.

I guess they're pretty good at protecting sheep from chemistry teachers too.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stuffed with everything good

This last winter, with a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket, I bought myself a beautiful french cookbook by Dori Greenspan.
I had heard an interview with the author, but when I got to the bookstore I couldn't remember the title of the cookbook...  
I did however remember the author because her name is Dori... 
which is the name of Meeshmellow's Parent's pug - a sweet, round, little sausage of a dog.
While listening the radio interview I kept imagining the author's voice coming from a little pug dog in a beret, talking about pumpkins and bacon, licking her little chops... 
It's the kind of image that sticks with you, and the reason I was able to find the book. 
Since it was winter, and sugar pumpkins were available I tried "Pumpkin stuffed with everything good".
Boy is it.
The recipe calls for bread, cheese, bacon, garlic, and heavy cream. Oh, and a pumpkin to hold it in.
I followed the instructions but substituted 2% milk for the cream with great results.
 It smells so good cooking, it's hard to let it finish. 
 Since then I have made it a couple times as a casserole with butternut squash as a base. So good... a new fall/winter tradition!