Prairie Dogs

… are known as  herbivorous burrowing rodents with no relation to canines.
The black-tailed are a member of the squirrel family,  NOT one of my husband’s favorite animal families!  According to the National park service they are an important species to the native mixed-grass prairie ecosystem at Badlands National Park.
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Art in the west!

They have many purposes! “Several federal studies indicate that more than 160 species of plants and animals can be found associated with prairie dog colonies. They serve as prey for black-footed ferrets, swift fox, badgers, coyotes, bobcats, and many species of resident and migratory hawks and eagles.

“They also create habitat for black-footed ferrets, burrowing owls, tiger salamanders, mice, voles, and insects. Burrowing also helps aerate the soil which helps to recycle nutrients.

”Foraging on grass and keeping the vegetation short provides better protection from predators. The constant clipping of grass also creates nutrient-rich forage for bison, who are attracted to prairie dog colonies for dirt wallows.“

Below is perhaps Jabba the Hutt of the P Dog world? Seriously, well fed!

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What! Being stepped on by a bison would be bad enough, but wallowed upon! Stop! Stop I cannot take the truth!

“A plague began to appear in the park in 2008 spread by flea bites. Several colonies of PDs have been dusted with an insecticide to kill the fleas. An oral vaccine is also being tried by scattering peanut flavored pellets throughout the prairie dog towns.”

Great Granny Calls it Paeh!

My mother was a Pie Queen. Apple, rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb, gooseberry, peach, mincemeat, coconut, pecan, lemon meringue, pumpkin. If you could make it into a pie she was all over it! For years she made her own crust. A year or so before she died she declared that Pillsbury could do a refrigerated crust as nice as hers. As far as I know, she never made another crust. I use Pillsbury, too.

One recipe she used was from a McCall’s cookbook. I have never heard of anyone else making this pie. If you like Welch’s grape jam, this is the pie for you! When I bake it the house smells like Mrs. Welch’s kitchen.

My husband used to grow Concord grapes. If our crop did not produce well, there was a farmer lady down the road where we could sometimes purchase grapes by the pound. When we moved the grapevines stayed put. We found an apple orchard that also sold grapes. Last year we waited in expectation, but their crop failed due to the weather. This year we got the call! “The grapes are ready if you want to come pick your own!” We went there the next morning.

Hauling bucket and clippers and gloves to protect against any competing insects, we approached the vines, realizing too late we forgot to take our camera! Suffice it to say we picked many more than we needed and delighted in doing so. After washing the grapes someone needs to “slip the skins.” That just means squeeze the grapes over a bowl until the skins slide off and the grape innards pop out. Bob did all of that for 15 cups of grapes! It takes 5 cups of grapes per pie. We froze the other two fillings. He ate the remaining grapes.

25C36DC1-3C68-4EC7-BA78-DC60665928E2Slipped skins shown above in two containers. Then you bring the grape innards to a boil for a couple minutes. This will make it so you can separate out the seeds from the juicy “meat.”

F5815940-59D6-489E-B466-5825795C8F50CD4AC857-D55E-4310-954A-3E727F9DEC3CMeanwhile, mix the sugar, flour and spices.

Then strain out the seeds from the hot grape pulp.

00AE3AA8-ED9C-4B00-A47C-89BD5700C79FWhen the seeds are removed, mix the strained pulp with the skins and add it the flour and spices. Put in a pie crust and top with butter and the top crust.

Bake and wait for the magic of Mrs. Welch’s aroma to fill the house.

Remove and cool on a wire rack. Try not to burn yourself if you are tempted like I always am to taste the goo leaking from the edges (best part).

Serve with vanilla ice cream or gelato. If you forgot the ice cream, eat the “paeh” anyway! The filling is so rich that a small slice is all one needs.78491F63-D01A-495F-9CC6-23E39642F810Shown below are the ingredients:

Pie recipe

Ya Sure, You Betcha!

Minnesota saying for certain! Found myself saying “You betcha” before we left Minnesota. We ate at Kroll’s Diner. It looked just like Cruisers Diner near our home.

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Way different things on their menu, though! Fleischkuechle, kuching, and knoephla soup. Sauerkraut and cheese buttons do not appeal to me, but I tried the soup and chicken wrap. The soup was a  rich chicken broth with potatoes and dumplings cut in rectangles. Also called lumpy yellow soup! It tasted good, but my body protested the next day! Billed as authentic North Dakota cuisine with a logo of “Sit down and eat” just like your Mom might tell you!

Hill City, South Dakota

If you see enough signs, you have to stop and see what Prairie Berry Winery is all about!

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The billboards advertised Red Ass Rhubarb wine. Mom made rhubarb pies, not strawberry rhubarb, but plain rhubarb. But rhubarb wine??

Another billboard said, “ Wine is simple. If i like it, I drink it. And if it’s award-wining, with free wine tastings, even better!” So we stopped!

Red Ass Rhubarb was not my favorite, but Pumpkin Bog was pretty good! It was a semi-sweet with a blend of pumpkin and cranberry. No cinnamon and spice in it! Lovely pumpkin flavor.

Near theMissouri River in South Dakota

At the Chamberlain Rest Area we found the Dignity sculpture. This 50 foot sculpture of a Native American woman is depicted wearing a traditional star quilt. The 128 stainless steel blue diamond shapes were designed to flutter in the wind, but were not moving when we arrived. The quilt represents respect, honor and admiration in Native American culture.

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I love the fact that even her leggings are decorated as most formal wear among Native Americans.51865E6E-C826-4DEE-A1A1-361BB02BAC2A9897A2CC-55EB-4C69-A06F-4DDD043354C6