Tank the Trail Finder: Finding ‘shrooms’ is worth the trip!

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  • Photo by MOLLY GEIGER Kiff doing a little “shrooming” while out on the trail.

  • 1

    Ella offering Tank a trailside mushroom treat.

  • 2

    Ella proudly gazes on her Morel harvest.

  • 3

    A real fungi find! A hidden morel!

  • Photo by MOLLY GEIGER Kiff doing a little “shrooming” while out on the trail.

  • 1

    Ella offering Tank a trailside mushroom treat.

  • 2

    Ella proudly gazes on her Morel harvest.

  • 3

    A real fungi find! A hidden morel!

I know it goes without saying, but goats are really funny.

Although they are very intelligent, loving, and intuitive, part of what I find hilarious about them is the fact that there are some concepts that are completely impossible for them to understand.

One of these is the concept of a dog chasing a ball, only to return it to it’s master, and as I found out this last weekend, they are also confused by kids hunting for Easter eggs!

The look of confusion on Tank’s face as he watched kids run around feverishly hunting for something he considers to be “brightly colored stink bombs” was a complete crack up!

However, one “hunting season” that Tank can really understand, and looks forward to along with his human counterparts, is morel mushroom season.

Lucky for us, it is upon us now!

Even when Tank was just a little “kid” he had a nose for mushrooms that could have rivaled any trained truffle hunting pig!

I’m not sure if his ability to find Morels came from instinct, or if he was accidentally trained by Ella, who was always on the quest to see what a goat will eat or will not eat. Either way, once the hills were filled with a stunning variety of fungi, Tank found it to be an undeniable buffet of gourmet goodness and each variety deserved a try.

To this day, it makes Ella and I laugh as we recall last year’s first overnight camping trip.

In the six miles we hiked to our camp spot, Tank must have eaten 10 pounds of an unidentified white mushroom which he found irresistible.

Ella, of course, also got in on the fun by picking every mushroom of this variety she could find and continued to stuff our bottomless pit of a goat with his new favorite treat. Well, right about the time I was done setting up camp, all these mushrooms must have hit Tank’s system; because he became a wild nut job!

As he ricocheted off the trees and boulders around our tent with stunning speed, Ella and I looked at each other with wide eyes and began to wonder if perhaps these mushrooms were having a psychedelic effect of some sort.

Although Tank eventually worked through his “shroom madness” and settled down for a good night’s sleep, we can all learn a bit from this experience as we head out into the hills in search of delicious fabulous fungi.

If you are a beginner mushroom forager I recommend starting with morels because they are easy to identify, and quite delicious (The easiest way to be sure you have an edible morel is to examine them by cutting them in half. A true morel will be hollow from the tip of the cap to the bottom of the stem).

They start popping up once the ground warms to around 50 degrees during the day and can be found on the edges of treed areas.

Look for ash and aspen trees growing on a south facing slope in a fairly open area.

Often the coveted little morels will poke their heads out from beneath last year’s crispy leaves.

As the season progresses and temperatures rise, venture deeper into the woods and into the north facing slopes.

Morels can be fried, sautéed in butter, and even grilled. They add an impressive flair to everything from steak to macaroni and cheese.

They can be stored in a paper bag for up to a week, or can be dehydrated for future use.

Besides their culinary attributes, probably the best thing about morels is their health benefits!

Unlike store bought mushrooms, morels have the power to get you out of town and onto the hiking trails!

Hunting them is fun for both “kids” and adults alike, and may just become your new favorite spring tradition; So, get out there and enjoy the trip!

• • •

As always, we love to hear from you and welcome any comments or questions you may have. You can contact us via email at goattrekn@gmail.com or follow our daily adventures by liking our Facebook page Goat Trek’n! Happy trails!

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