Friday, September 2, 2011

When It's Mushroom Picking Time in Minnesota

Back in the 1980's, I had a husband who knew his mushrooms, at least four different kinds, and one of our favorite things to do in the fall was head into the woods to do some picking. Rotten logs on the forest floor were prime real estate for those honey capped beauties. Depending on the year they could really be out in abundance.

One of those years a farmer we knew had a pasture full of them and we were invited to come over and pick to our little heart's content. The cows were guaranteed not to bother us. And so we arrived with brown grocery bags at the ready. We aimed to fill them up.

Within a very short time I realized I'd died and went to mushroom heaven right there off County Road 113. Mushrooms seem to like growing where there's poop and cows provide it in spades. No, they don't grow out of the cow pies but very nearby. Okay, they may grow out of cow pies but I have my standards. Actually, I did load up an old jeep with dried cow pies once for fertilizing my garden, but that's another story.

So much for standards.

Anyway, on this day my head is down close to the ground, I'm moving from mushroom to mushroom when I think my hubby has sidled up to me and is infringing on my territory (we mushroom pickers can be very territorial), and so I start talking to him without looking up. I say his name. No response. I say it again with a bit more of a questioning tone. No response. I try it one more time, this time with an edge of panic because something is definitely right in front of me now and I'm not sure I want to look up and find out what it is. But I do anyway. I raise my head, very slowly, only to come eyeball to eyeball with a large cow. Not a bull, mind you, but who's checking? I put on my happy face to show her there's no interloper here but she's not buying it. She's not mad, she's just not sure what my business is.

By this time we've drawn a crowd. More cows have shown up to see what Bossy is up against and are standing around waiting for the action to begin, see what the little lady is going to do.

I slowly start backing away from the gang of cows, trying to make nice, but my feet want to hurry and my feet win every time. I'm off and running, dropping my bag of goodies en route, heading for the gate. The cows seem to think it's a good idea to run, too. And so they do.  I don't know what they're thinking, can't read their minds. I just see cows out of the corner of my eye. And they're chasing me.

Out of the corner of my other eye, I see George practically rolling around in the pasture with uninhibited glee. He's yelling, "Stop Running!"  This does not sound like a good idea at all and a little mean-spirited if you ask me. He repeats this, with the admonition that they will stop running when I do. Not to be dissuaded and not entirely sure he's correct I push on, all the way to the gate. Up and over I go. No time for niceties involving latches and such. Safely on the other side, I turn to check my back trail and see cows standing around looking at me as though I'd led them on a wild goose chase. This did not end in any way they might have imagined. They go back to being docile bovines and I feel foolish for about ten years, maybe more. After all, I grew up around cows, brought them in from the pasture many summer evenings and should know better. Amazing, how quickly it can go from,  "No problem, just cows," to, "Feet, don't fail me now."

What brought this on? That darn Annie and Roxanne over at  have posted pictures of a mushroom and a cow along with all sorts of other cool stuff so I threatened to tell my own mushroom and cow story.  Next thing I know I'm back here doing just that.  Now I have to go get my clothes off the line.

Just for the record: I went back and got my bag of mushrooms with my hubby as escort. As soon as he stopped laughing. When we got home we dried most of them in the sun and then a low temp oven and ended up with a big glass jar full of very pungent mushrooms. And they were very good.

No, these are not my photos. I borrowed them from Mr. Google.


  1. That was such a cute story Teresa...and then i got side tracked by the link to the goodluckduck and almost forgot to get back here to tell you so.
    The RV life sure sounds fun. They've got it all figured included. Now if I could just unload my house...better yet maybe put IT on some wheels.
    What did you do with those mushrooms btw? Soup?

  2. You had me laughing aloud here picturing the cows chasing you across the field. I would have done the same thing, but it is still funny to think about.

  3. Karena, Yeah, and they have good senses of humor, too. Always make me chuckle. Soup, yes, plus stews and those good old Minnesota casseroles.

    Towanda! Hey, it's good to laugh. Glad I could do my part.

  4. Mushroom spots around here are big, and I mean big secrets. No one, tells anyone their secret locations. They leave early in the morning and don't come home till evening with their bags. This continues till their secret spot is depleted and new spots have been surveyed. It's considered rude to ask "where"... ha ha ha!!!

  5. Lynn, Yes, three things you never ask people:
    1. How much do you make?
    2. How much did it cost?
    3. Where did you get those mushrooms?

  6. Har! Ed, quit that. Ed, for goodness sake, we're in cow pies. Look, I said ... COWS!!! I confessed over there that I'm afraid of cows. I know they can steal my soul, or just disapprove of me really hard.

    Good for your for getting your mushrooms back. Those cows cannot be allowed to BULLy with impunity.


  7. Roxanne, It's that disapproving look they give, sort of the stink eye, soul-stealing cows that they are.

    There must be a Gary Larson cartoon in there somewhere.

  8. Do you ever wonder what they thought when they saw you come back for the bag of mushrooms? You gave me a good chuckle with this one, Teresa, and had me from the time you were eyeball to eyeball with the bovine character. Thanks.

  9. Then there's always the possibility that cows are a bit touchy about their mushroom stash too. Can't be too careful!

  10. Ha, I just got some goose bumps cause I posted about mushrooms too. That cow must have been curious as to what you were doing.

  11. Omigawd, Teresa, that's a really funny story. And you got to retrieve the mushrooms! I have a friend who picks morels, but I don't know a safe mushroom from a toxic one, so I'll stick to the plain ones from the store. And yes, I realize they are lame.

  12. What a fun tale, I have never went fall mushroom hunting, except for puff balls.I have been chased a few times, usually young bulls are very inquisitive.

  13. Hello Teresa:
    In your position, we think that our response might well have been the same. Cows always seem so very, very big when they are at close quarters.

    In Budapest there are offices to which one can take one's gathered mushrooms to make sure that they are edible. For a country that seems to be on the brink of insanity much of the time, this seems to us very sensible!!

  14. What a funny, funny story. loved it! I can only imagine those cows thinking "What is she running from? oh god it's after all of us!"

  15. What a fine, amusing story for my daybreak. No mushrooms here, but I'm leaving early for the Farmers Market before it gets too crowded.

  16. Penny, By the time I got my gumption back and went to retrieve them, they'd lost interest. Something about greener pastures.

    Montucky, Ha! I never thought it might be possible that they were just protecting their stash! Makes perfect sense!

    Linda, Same page, again. I'll be over to see what you're doing with those mushrooms, you mad scientist, you.

  17. Nancy, There's no such thing as a lame mushroom. They're all nummy. I am partial to the wild,though. They sell packets of "wild" mushrooms in some stores. I found a single morel in my back yard this spring. I wasn't positive, so.... False morels have their differences, but one wants to be absolutely certain.

    Steve, Puff balls are great! I think that's what Annie and Roxanne had a picture of. I have a friend who just went mushroom picking in the mountains of Utah a couple of days ago. Puff Balls in large quantities.

    Jane and Lance, It seems very sensible. I'm so cynical about government right now, I'm not sure I'd trust them. :)

    Neighborlady, Nice twist. They were just following their trusty leader, perhaps. Silly cows.

  18. I have never eaten wild mushrooms because I just don't know one from another. But I have been told that they are magnificent if you know what you are doing. Great story, well told. I'm glad to know you got your shrooms back after all that! Kudos to Hubby!

  19. Kate, Way to rub it in. :) Off to the Santa Fe farmer's market. I bet they have some good mushrooms right about now.

    DJan, I like mushrooms more than chocolate, I think. And that's a lot. Former Hubby is a good man. I'm glad we're still friends.

  20. Awesome story. Love wild mushrooms and love cows, not necessarily in that order. We had lots of both where I was raised, on a farm in Indiana. I even had a pet steer, he'd come running to me whenever I got near the pasture.

  21. Hi Annie, Glad you liked my cow and mushroom story. I like cows, too. They just caught me unawares. I've heard steers can make good pets. Cows need love, too.

  22. Hilarious! I could just picture the scene you described so vividly. My God! That has never happened to me. But then, I do lead a sheltered life. lol.

  23. gigi, Being "chased" by cows doesn't happen every day, but then, look at the video Tony posted, below. It happens outside the pasture, too. :)

    Tony, Too funny! It gives running with the bulls a whole new slant! A bull on the lam. Love it! Thanks so much!

  24. Ha ha this is interetsing and at the same time could have been dangerous too.
    Like those cows in a line (as if wearing different coloured coats)

  25. Oh, dear; cowed by a small herd of cows! And someone who had grown up cattle. I'm a city guy, and even I know that if you try to pet them, they'll back off.
    But a wonderfully funny story. Thanks for sharing it.

  26. Haddock, These weren't bulls, but I didn't feel like reasoning with them. :)

    Rob-bear, I repeat, my feet and my head were giving me opposing information and my feet won. :)

  27. This is too funny, Teresa. I can just see you fast forwarding to the fence. Cows do get an odd look in their eyes if you stare at them.
    I think these guys were just having fun with you. They get bored standing out in the pasture all day.
    This story is probably still making the rounds in Minnesota cow pastures. The cows are probably still laughing...

  28. It's absolutely no fun being chased by a herd of cows, or heifers, in my case.

    Brother, did I run. I was scared out of my few remaining wits. I didn't stop to ask if they wanted to play either, I just ran. Those heifers kicked and danced about too and when I vaulted over the gate, they kicked and ran off to the other side of the field. Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.

  29. Farmlady, The tales cows tell. "Remember that lady we freaked out back in the eighties? Ha Ha Ha." Yeah, I can hear them now. See? It is a Gary Larson cartoon!

    Friko, Thank you for coming to my rescue. Another person who has experienced this. I don't know anyone who would just sit there and say, "Nice cows." I think for most folks running would be involved, so thank you for sharing your own story. I'm deeply grateful.

  30. This cracked me up, Teresa, not only because of its inherent humor, but because I had several challenging cow encounters on my recent walk of Hadrian's Wall. In my next posting on the walk, you will see a photo of my two companions heading for the hills as a herd of cows turned on us and someone mentioned the word "stampede."

  31. George, Now you have me laughing. Stampede is not a word one wants to hear under such circumstances. I am so looking forward to your next post. Following your journey along Hadrian's Wall is almost as good as being there myself.

    Isn't it interesting, when a theme seems to emerge amongst fellow bloggers?

  32. Oh what a wonderful story of you, mushrooms and the cows. Thank you for a wonderful laugh to start my Sunday with ...and also for bringing back my own memories of living on a dairy farm and the mushroom season.

  33. Hi Marilyn, I love the things we share from our different corners of the world. It adds a lot to my life and I thank you. Happy Sunday!

  34. Hi Teresa,
    I seem to be having blogger cramps or blogger doesn't like what I'm writing lately. ;) This is a really funny story. Thank you for the great belly laugh. I could hear the theme from Rawhide playing in my head as you ran full throttle for the fence and launched yourself to safety. Rollin', rollin', rollin'...

    BG had a cow crowd run after her when she was younger and still has the cow frights. I'm starting to think there may be mischievous cow herds roaming the US looking for just the right moments to spring pranks. For our sakes, I'm kinda glad that herd found you. :) Made a great tale.
    Yeah mushrooms,

  35. Hi Chris, The theme from Rawhide. I can see that, hear that. Now I've got a video with music running through my head. "Get those doggies rolling..." Thank you, I think.
    Glad you enjoyed my cow tale.. :) Maybe I should rephrase that.

    Oh heck, we'll just roll with it.
    Hugs to you, too.

  36. I'm cautious around cows, too. A few years ago we took an extended hike in the Lake District of England. There, the trails or "way" go through farmers' countryside. The farmers maintain the stiles for the walkers. So we were walking across pastures. Our guide had a dog, and before we'd climb over the stile he'd have his dog go and then start running. The cows would chase the dog and while they were distracted we'd cross the field to the next stile.

  37. Linda M, You have done some fine traveling. I'm so glad you know what I'm talking about. It's adding credence to my tale. And I appreciate that. That's a whole new twist on using cow dogs I hadn't heard of. Love it. You might be interested in George's journey along Hadrian's Wall over at Transit Notes.

    Chris, He was easy on the eyes and ears, still is, and has made some of the best movies to come along in years. We'll have to rewrite the script and make a new video! LOL

  38. Cletis: "Herd of cows, Teresa?"

    Teresa: "Hell yeah, I've heard of cows!"

    Hee Hee Hee

    Also, are you sure those weren't some of those psilocybin mushrooms?

  39. Hey Cletis, Close Encounters of the Cow Kind.

    Shrooms. Mmmmm, that explains why I thought I was being chased by cows.

    Give that Earistotle a scratch around the ears for me.

  40. Lol, I remember hearing this story a few times growing up. Great story and blog! Hopefully someday you decide to make a book outta your blog collection, that would be awesome to have~

  41. Coleman! Thanks for commenting! This tale has become sort of a family "heirloom." Glad you stopped by to read it.

    A book: perhaps one day, I will do just that.

    Thanks, son. I sure am enjoying and appreciating all your great FB quotes from Sufism, to Buddhism, to the Bible. That's my boy. :) Love You!