Large coons, dirt, and Play Doh

Honey Creek winters are not so terrible.
Or I’ve been in the mountains a long time and gotten used to the forever winters. Think of it, I’m only a month away from starting seedlings in the basement!
We did have a couple of nasty cold days where the upstairs was awfully chilly at night, but we made up a cozy bed in the hall for the kid whose bedroom is the draftiest.

A week before the hard freeze, the kids were out in the woods and one came back with a stunned expression.
“I got a tick, Mom! A tick!” It was surprising to me, too.

We’re realizing we need to be careful about the ticks here. Our dog Minnie has already had a bout with ehrlichiosis, which isn’t something to mess around with, so says the veterinarian. We got Minnie a better collar (Seresto). Maybe I need to order collars for the kids, too.
Hopefully we will be tick-free now that there’s been a solid chill.

Farmer Joe is on me to get a garden planned. He ordered some dirt (a funny thing to order dirt when you live on acres of it)–he has a plan to grow the best vegetables in the whole state. We will see if the enthusiasm peters out mid July. I tell him all I need are a couple beds so the armadilloes won’t bother my blueberries, but he reminisces of summers past where his family had bees and chickens and rich manure and all the things that makes gardens explode. I’m more the miracle-gro and put pavers in between the beds kind of gal myself.

We got a massive coon in the traps yesterday. I say “we” like I had anything to do with it. Ha. I assumed it was a pregnant mama coon but it was a daddy boar. This guy had to have been the grandaddy of coons on Honey Creek. We are talking coonskin tux, not just a dinky cap. It was as big as our almost-eight year old.

And now for something completely unrelated: We’ve been making playdoh. This is one of the tricks I rely on when kids are home from school sick—I guess that’s why I bother to mention it along with the coons and garden updates.
We have not outgrown the play-doh years.
When my neighbor on the mountain passed down her play-doh toys, we couldn’t believe our good luck. The pasta factory toy was the best hand me down we’d ever gotten. Twist the cap on and press down on the sides—magically, a stream of spaghetti burst out of the top like a fountain. It never got old, and like all hand me downs do, the pasta factory died at our house, busted at the sides, a fateful product of over eager hands and dried bits of dough not yet cleared of the pasta tube.

Our neighbor was a working mom and had wrongly assumed that play doh was for preschoolers. She was eager to get rid of the messy stuff and move on to academics (ha!). I can vouch that forty year old dads can shape a pretty good playdoh Yoda (Doh-da?) that can ride through the fields on his motorcycle to harvest pumpkins (I only made green and orange dough, per kids’ request).
For hours of fun, playdoh, in my opinion, has always been worth the mess. Plus, when you make it, you really can’t care if they mix up the colors. This is the cheapest way to spend a couple hours at the kitchen table–let’s not be picky about colors!

I found this recipe a long time ago online. I tried looking for it but cannot find the website, and I’ve memorized it by now anyway…and I figure copying a playdoh recipe isn’t exactly plagiarism. Right?

Farmer Yoda’s pumpkin patch. Hmm, harvest pumpkins, I will!

home-made playdoh

1 cup flour

¼-⅓ c. salt*

2 tsp. Cream of tartar (I buy this by the bulk for playdoh alone)

1 cup warm water

1 tsp. Oil

Food coloring of your choice

Mix together dry ingredients in small soup pan. Add water and oil and food coloring, mix. Stir constantly over medium heat with wooden spoon until dough pulls away from sides of pan. Remove from heat, knead hot dough till cool enough for child to handle.

*about this nebulous amount: I have found I like more than a ¼ c. salt, but not quite ⅓ c., which causes it to dry out quickly and not be quite as soft. I use a ⅓ c. measuring cup and fill it ¾ of the way. You could do some quick math and figure that’s still ¼ cup of salt. Do you see what I’ve done here? Caused complete confusion. I’m just saying you want a hair more than ¼ c. and in my mind this does the trick. After you’ve made a few batches yourself, report back and let me know if I’m crazy.
Also, to be perfectly honest, I eyeball this recipe all the time because I generally can’t locate my 1 cup measuring cup. It will be fine. You’re making playdoh, not pie crust.

Some websites and pinterest mavens will make you think you need to add additional sensory ingredients, like glitter or baking spices or flavors/oils. I’ve tried all of this and concluded that kids do not appreciate this adult version of upping the ante. Playdoh smells weird, period, but we like the smell better than playdoh trying to smell like pumpkin pie. Just probably don’t waste your spices, that’s all. Or glitter, because glitter adds texture, and kids don’t want your texture. They want to add their own–grubby fingers, marbles, toothpicks. Let sleeping dogs lie.
(And put a Seresto collar on them if you live in Ticksville.)


  1. Amy C says:

    I heart play doh around here too–mostly. Glitter not so much. Ha, raccoon tux is a great visual, that’s sounds so stylish! 🙂 We have a raccoon fiend on our spacious .18 acre property….his most delightful trick is taking giant bowel movements in my bird bath. Literal piles. What happened to raccoons are so persnickety and clean….I need an accountability partner for my gardening. I’m very neglectful, but have such high ideals.


    1. EPStegner says:

      I found so much raccoon poop in my barn that I was really astounded. You need to trap that sucker! Joe is going to set up a fort knox of a garden for me this year, hot fence and everything. He is no accountability partner but he does enjoy investing in ideas. lol


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