Saturday, May 14, 2011

Day 27 DP - A couple surprises

Had a couple surprises today - both in a good way.  I'll start off by saying that one of my chickens laid her first egg!  How about that.  It was a cute little brown egg.  My daughter, Jamie was with me at the time of discovery and we were so excited!  Needless to say it hung around long enough for a couple pictures, a couple thank yous to the chickens and then into the frying pan - over easy.  The freshest egg I have EVER eaten.  It tasted really good.  I'm not sure I would have been able to really set it apart from other eggs all together (Debbie always gets farm fresh eggs anyhow) but it was better because my chickens laid it.  And that's all there is to it.

In my experience, the chicken came first - then the egg

Guess who wanted to eat MY egg?
In 5 minutes - from chicken, to pan
I have been thinking a lot about my chicken coop construction today.  I purchased the book "Raising Chickens for Dummies" and after reading through it I think I need to redesign their shelter/home.  Right now it's basically a fenced in square with a small over hang for weather protection.  That's not going to protect them much - from weather or from possible predators.   I have another idea for their pen in mind but it's going to cost me some cash.  So far their coop has not cost me a dime - built from scraps and pieces of fence I scavenged from the beach.  This new idea has some potential and I may just build it because I feel like it.  We'll see.  They will have to weather some storms coming up and their present shelter is not really fit for that.  I hope they are ok.
We haven't come up with names for them because we can not tell them apart.  They look identical right now but perhaps after a week or so they will start to become more identifiable through their actions and behaviors.

Surprise number two - I had planned on waking early and trying some spearfishing at the beach.  The weather is forecast to start acting up again late Saturday and most of the day Sunday and even into mid next week.  So if there's going to be an opportunity to catch another striped bass - this may be my last chance for a while.  However, when I got up I looked at the beach cam online and saw that the water was pretty rough already.  Too rough to spearfish.  I decided to give up that idea and sleep in.
I was woken up at 9:00 by the kids saying that one of the chickens is missing.  Crap.  It only took them a few minutes to find her but she had ventured into the neighbor's yard - probably over the fence.  Time for some more fishing line reinforcements.  While I was patching the holes in the so called roof, I got to talking to my other neighbor about his unbelievable fishing day Friday morning.  He caught tons of fish right in the spot that I spearfish.  He got me so pumped up that I decided to pack up my gear and go take a look at the surf.
I finally got to the beach at about 3:00 in the afternoon and it was rolling pretty good.  I took a few casts with the fishing rod and contemplated jumping in to hunt for some big fish.  Sometimes the big ones like it rough.  Well, after a long deliberation I decided to give it a go.  I put on all my stuff and headed out into the waves.  That's a challenge in itself - just to get past the big breakers.  I was tossed a few times but then I made it through.  It took a lot of energy to get past the waves so I had to spend a lot of time relaxing in order to catch my breath.  When I finally felt comfortable enough to go down for my first dive, I took a deep breath and headed for the bottom.  I knew I was in about 20 feet of water but as I descended I couldn't see the bottom.  It just got darker and darker.  Not a fun experience.  All of a sudden the tip of my spear hit a rock on the bottom and I couldn't see a thing!  WAY too murky.  I went back to the surface and was pretty pissed that I had come all the way out here just to see that there was nothing to see.  And at this point the current had taken me out pretty far so I knew I had a long arduous swim back to shore ahead of me.
I relaxed at the surface for a while just trying to compose myself when suddenly I saw the faint shadow of a fish the size of a small striper about 4 feet directly below me.  I pointed my spear at it but it disappeared from sight in an instant.  Was I imagining things?  I really didn't know.  I took another dive down but this time I only went about half way down - before it got too dark to see anything.  Still - at this depth the visibility was zero - couldn't even see the tip of my speargun.  A fish would have to accidentally bump into me for me to see it and I knew that wasn't happening.  Again I went to the surface and relaxed there.  I patiently waited and looked as carefully as I could into the murk to see if any fish would come by.
To my amazement, another striper started swimming underneath me.  It didn't look that big so I wasn't sure if it was a legal 28 inch fish to keep.  I have finished all of the meat from my previous two fish so I really needed another - especially if the weather is predicted to be uncooperative for a few days.
I have NEVER shot a fish from the surface - it's a really difficult shot.  It's tough to aim correctly and because of their shape it's tough to get a decent penetrating shot.  I didn't want this fish to disappear like the last one and I knew that I was basically heading in because of the poor visibility so I decided to give it a try.  I did the best I could to line up a good shooting angle and I fired away.  As soon as I fired, everything disappeared from sight.  But a second later I felt the tug of the bass pulling at my speargun - it was a HIT!  Calmly I started to pull it in and as I got the fish closer and closer I started to see that this was a pretty respectable sized fish.  It turned out to be 37 inches!  Even larger than the last fish that I got from that spot.  It just looked smaller because of my angle and the water clarity.  In addition, it was a PERFECT shot.  My spear went right through the top of the head and right out the gills at the bottom.  No meat will be wasted on this fish.
This instantly turned my mood from terrible to ecstatic.  That's such a strange moment - going instantly from very bad to very good.  Everything seemed better.  Suddenly the long swim back didn't seem so bad - knowing I had a really nice fish to take home.  It was now all worth the effort and hassle of getting all of my gear on and pushing my way through the rough surf.  It CRUSHED me again on the way in too.  Rolled me over in a sandy tumble right at the beach.  Ahh - who cares.  I got my fish.
Lucky for me - for the fish, not so much.
 Back home shortly after to clean all of the sand off my equipment (and out of my ears and nose).  Put the fish on ice until tomorrow.  All in all it turned out to be a good day.  I was just finishing up the last of the fish jerky and ate my last of the sushi for breakfast.  Perhaps I need to make this fish last a bit longer than the previous two.  I will try to be smarter about this one as I clean it tomorrow.  Maybe I'll be able to coat a piece in egg whites, cook it in butter and make a buttery egg yolk sauce using my fish stock - now we're talking "Advanced Survivor 102" - stay tuned for tomorrow. . .

"Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: NOW."

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