Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 29, 2012 Last minute chores!

Winter seems to be settling in for the season.  The deer are settling into their routines too.  The rut seems to be mostly over.  But, I am thinking the bucks are still out there looking in case anyone got missed.  All my girls seem pretty well settled again and there haven't been any big bucks in here to check out the situation since this guy on Thanksgiving morning.  The little guy with the bottle opener antlers is a regular with all the girls.  At some point, a big buck will be here to keep him in his place, I'm sure.  But, for a buck, little or not, he is pretty well behaved.  Some of them can be really rammy when they are young. 
I have been cross country skiing on my trails every day now.  I walk some trails in the morning with Toby.  In the afternoon, I ski.  He  follows.  If he doesn't follow, he gets run over.  Dogs learn about that pretty fast.  Anyway, we finally could get across the creek yesterday.  And....what do you think I find......3 big windfalls.  Just barely got across the creek and there were two large balsams together across the trail.  Had to pussy foot around them in the brush because with two together, I wasn't getting over them with skis on.  Just a bit farther down the trail, a big popple had snapped off and had everything messed up.  However, the butt end was by the trail and I could side step over that.  Well, I guess you know I didn't intend to put up with that all winter.  Evidently, they went down in the storm that started Thanksgiving night and ran most of Friday.  The trails had been clear!  So, today, it is load up the chainsaw on the 4 wheeler, and of course, Toby......and off we go......spinning through the to cut the trees.  That dang popple was frozen and froze to the ground.  It is a wonder that I didn't saw half the ground up trying to get that darned thing loose.  Then, extra heavy and frozen to the ground, I had a heck of a time getting it moving and rolled off to the side of the trail.  Chain was so dull when I finished that, it's a lucky thing those balsams were almost sawdust already.  They were really rotten.  But, not so rotten they didn't need sawing!  Anyway....we have clear sailing again for a while.  Toby had a wonderful 4 wheeler ride....something he doesn't get often this time of year. 
We got home and it was nice out, relative, the sun was shining and it was 15 degrees with no, just switched boots for ski boots  and off skiing we went.  Toby loved the nice, packed 4 wheeler tracks to run in when we got over that far.  We also made it across the creek without breaking the ice today.  Yesterday, I was almost across when Toby came on and with both of us, it cracked.  Cold this morning, near zero, so it was all frozen up again.  Without getting some strange and unusual weather, we should be all set for the season now.  Fingers crossed!
There are a number of cardinals in the area right now.  I was hoping maybe one would show up here too.  So far, no luck.  The regular birds are busy eating sunflower seeds now though.  And.....what they spill, the deer eat.  The fawns love to stand under the feeder and pick those seeds. 
Time to get back to some of the end of day chores......before the light is all gone!  :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25, 2012 Settlin' In!

It is 10:00 a.m., the sun is peeking through the snow flurries, laundry in the dryer, credit card machine taken apart and put away for another season.....lots of pick up and put away things done....already this morning, besides a walk with Toby and feeding my deer friends.  My "art" season is about done for the far as the selling part goes, I imagine.  I have to go to the Art Colony tomorrow and pick up some items.  The Garage, in Grand Marais may still sell odds and ends, but my big push is over. 
It has been a busy week with getting ready for Thanksgiving and the Hovland Arts Festival sale.  We had a good turnout of people from the area and Thunder Bay, Canada.  It was a time to visit and make conversation with old friends.  You would be surprised at all the people who show up for this event.  A good day was had by all.  When people all cooperate and help, it is amazing what we can do. 
Now, besides cross country skiing, which I intend to do this afternoon, and watching critters....and of course taking photos of them.....I need to decide what I am going to do with myself this winter.  Mind you, retirement in time for summer and all the outside time......working on trails...all that daylight was fine.  I really enjoyed my first summer off in over forty years.  However, there are a lot of things you can't do in the winter time.  And, since I am not good at sitting extended periods of time, I hardly think I am going to sit down and read my whole winter away.....although, I will catch up on some of that too. of my thoughts is about what new avenue of art I would like to explore getting in to or back in to.  I had a piece I made for the spring Art Colony show at the sale.  I received a lot of nice compliments on was out of my usual niche most people think of me doing....and two....they saw some of what else I can do besides take photos.  People who haven't known me forever don't know I used to paint or draw.....all things that take more time to do well.  Working full time all those years didn't lend well to oil painting.  One person was going to buy it, in fact, she liked it so much.  However, she got to thinking too some of us are prone to do.....and didn't know where she would put it.  That is a problem for a number of us.  We live in an "arts" community and a lot of us really appreciate it......which probably means we have more pieces than we have room to display it.  Rotating your art for the seasons is an interesting concept.  However, it takes time and storage space.  As much as we might like the just doesn't always get done.   So....another of those "what to do-what to do" things in our lives.
Well, the dryer just buzzed done.  I have a bit more clean up to do after the busyness  of  the past few days.  Then.....on to the decisions of "what's next" in my life!  :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012 Finishing old, on to new!

I was up bright and early this morning....I had mentioned earlier.."before breakfast."  However, I am always up and out for a walk before, wrong terminology.  I was in the pickup with Toby and on the road, in the dark, to drive 10 miles to a beach I have never been on for sunrise.  That means, get there early so as to get in place for the sunrise, because you don't know where it is going to come up.  We made it in plenty of time and got some nice shots.  Sky wasn't over all spectacular this morning.  The early sunrise was subtle.  Then it got bold and beautiful just in the vicinity of the sun.  It was too clear for major sky color up.  It was definitely worth going for.  May have to try this spot again sometime, in fact, I was so impressed. 
Here is an early morning photo of Toby, waiting with me for things to happen.  It was pretty frosty out there this morning so that added another dimension to the photos too.  Plus, there was an old rotten fish laying on the beach that Toby thought smelled just great and had to roll on both directions.  Luckily, he didn't get too stinky.  Thank heavens for cold weather.  :)
Here is another of the subtle color photos after the sun got up a bit.  It was just so pretty out there.  I was on that stretch of beach for an hour this morning and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.  Of course, once I got home, it was back to work. 
When I got home, I made breakfast and then we got to finishing up with the venison.  I got it all vacuum sealed as my husband got it cut up.  Then, I left him to the kitchen for the day.  He proceeded to can all the scraps for dog food.  Canning in the pressure cooker takes a while.  Anyway, that is mostly done now too.  I think he has one more batch of dog goodies to do in the  morning. 
I, on the other hand, spent a goodly amount of time in the basement today....working on photos and such for the Hovland Arts Festival holiday sale which is on Saturday, November 24th.  It rained during that time too, so all the more reason to be busy doing computer work.  No bright cross lights to distract me or make it hard to see the computer screen.  Only a deer, or two, to put their noses against the window and watch what I am doing.  Shadow had that job today.  A couple of days ago Fancy's Girl did that.  I couldn't believe how long she stood there and watched me print photos.  Funny!
On another note.....all my girls and their families made it through deer season!  Yay!
On one other note, when I took Toby for his afternoon hike, the wolves were howling in the vicinity of Hellacious Overlook on the Superior Hiking Trail.  Maybe.....celebrating end of hunting season! 
This is the first time in many years I didn't have a wolf howl, or see one or more, during deer season.
I leave you with a "golden moment" from this mornings' photo expedition.  Enjoy. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Beautiful November Skies - November 17, 2012

One thing I have always enjoyed about November is the beautiful skies in the evenings.  November, is without a doubt, a very cloudy month.  However, without clouds, we wouldn't have the gorgeous skies either.  This one, two nights ago, which would look better in a larger format photo, looked like someone did crosshatching with colored pencils.  The blue lines all went one direction and all the pinks another.  I took it as kind of a reference photo for some art work.  However, I have to wonder if I could pull it off in a color pencil drawing as well as it actually looked.  The sunrises are something to behold also.  If there is some cloud cover, that with the brilliant red sun rise, it can be pretty darned spectacular.  But, again, if there is too much cloud cover and/or fog, you get nothing.  The big red sun barely made an appearance through both of those things this morning.  Yesterday, that big red sun painted a glaze over everything when it came up over the beaver ponds.  Wow! 
It is the season for making a mess in the house too.  Once we have our venison, it has to be processed.  This means canning jars and chunks of meat all over the kitchen in various forms of being made ready to preserve.....or cut some more, depending on what piece of meat it is.  Then, into the vacuum seal unit to get it ready for the freezer.  By the time Thanksgiving comes around, I am getting entirely ready to be done with making messes all over the kitchen.  Then, I make more messes.  Anyone who ever made lefse will know what I am talking about here.  You can not make that without making one and it takes a lot of counter space to do it. 
This pretty boy walked through the yard a couple of nights ago while I was working in the kitchen.  As is true with most of the bucks this time of year, he was always moving and busy looking at what was happening around the yard.  You take a dozen photos to get one decent one because of poor light and too much action.  But, they are sure fun to see.  His big blocky head reminds me of a big buck we called "Big Boy"....for obvious reasons, a few years back.  He managed to make a lot of years, given all the hunting pressure and wolves in the area.  I have many sheds of his and many photos too.  He was probably a good 12 years old when he died.  I am quite sure someone had shot him during the hunting season that year.  He arrived back with a bad front shoulder and couldn't use that leg.  He made it through the whole winter and was here regularly and then, end of April, when he was getting ready to go back to the woods for the summer.....the wolves got him.  I found him, what was left, two days after they got him.  A sad ending for a proud old buck.  I have since tried not to get so attached to the big boys...because, they always end up having something or somebody catch up to them.  Some of the girls do pretty well.  Some of our girls have lasted a good dozen years, or more, too!
I will leave you with one final sky shot...taken 3 or 4 nights ago when it was mostly clear but had a few scattered fluffy clouds.  The few that there were .....were really spectacular.  :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 13, 2012 Sunny November Day!

You know......sunny days in November are often so few and far between, when you have one, it makes you pretty inspired.  You also know, if it is clear, it is probably not warm.  20 degrees this a.m. but the wind is what is cool.  I was out the door early for my 2 mile hike with Toby.  Home, made breakfast, cleaned up things, and got on with daily chores.  Filling the bird feeders for the expanded selection of birds eating out of them is one of the early chores.  Of course, there is Shadow's girl fawn to stand under the tube feeder a good part of each day and eat what the birds drop.  She spent a good share of the day there while Shadow was out chasing with the boys.  My husband is cutting venison today so I have had the vacuum sealer busy and putting it in the freezer.  We had part of the liver last night and it was good and tender.   If liver is ever good and tender (anyway), it was that!  Then, off to the local store to use their high speed.  I was told of a new e-letter that advertises in Thunder Bay so I thought I might just as well try to get an ad in that since people from there generally show up at our art and craft festival and holiday sale.  One thing leads to another, as always.  I was there, so I headed over to my brother's to take their dog for a walk.  Being his kids are off early,  and he was in the big city recuperating from a burst appendix that he had last night, I knew no one would be around to walk that big, loveable dog.  So, off we went and did another couple of miles.  Once home, after stopping at the post office, we had to look at the news and mail just a bit before getting back with the processing of the venison.  But, we have that part done for the day.  Husband is off trying to find a deer worthy of making more venison out of.  I am doing this before we go for our final walk of the day.  I am sure Toby will be hunting hard for a grouse today, since it is so pleasant out right now. 
So, now you in the north woods isn't only fun and games and taking photos.  Although, that is a nice thought.  But, since I wasn't born rich and famous, I guess I have to continue on with the daily chores and putting up food for the long winter months ahead.  I guess, in another time and place, I would have made a good homesteader.  I don't mind doing all those things one needs to do to get by.  I would, though, miss not having electricity.  Freezers are so much handier that doing all the canning one would need to do.  So, as long as our gadgets work, life is good.  When you depend on the electrical gadgets and things don't work, things can get nasty and frustrating in a hurry.
Well, the sun is shining....time for a walk.  Toby is waiting.   :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November 10, 2012 Blustery snowy day!

This is a new little buck who showed up in our yard two days check out the girls.  He is cute.  Most of the mature does are bigger than he is too.  So it goes.....I go out and hike all over heck and up the hills.  I come home and walk in the house, a buck walks in the yard.  This morning, the regular 8 point buck beat me home.  He has been laying under a tree, watching the girls.  The little buck fawn is so curious about him.  He has been following him all over the yard.  Shadow went for a hike yesterday afternoon and isn't back yet; so I guess things are going to start to happen.  The boys have been ready.....but, makes no difference if the girls aren't. 
I always enjoy seeing all the end of season flowers glowing in the sun this time of year.  These are asters.  The goldenrods are pretty and have such huge seed tops.  The virgin bowers probably have the most interesting seed heads here....I do have photos of them......just not current.  They can be quite a sight to see when you find a big vine of them hanging all over the trees.  It is just fun being out, seeing what you can discover.
I discovered this wonderful stump top of fungi growing in an old clear cut the other day.  It was so pretty I actually went back with the camera the next day (yesterday) when the sun was shining and took some photos of it.  They aren't as bright on this blog photo as they are, but you get the idea.
Well....I think I am going to take advantage of this nasty weather today and bake some cookies and do some other chores too.  Maybe the wind and snow will let up later and make it a bit more pleasant to be outside.  :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 6, 2012 Rainy November Days is day 4 of hunting season.  The girls are all well and staying close by.  You see various poses like this all around the house and on the mound.  They do seem to look pretty much at peace with the world when they are laying out here.  The "boys" are hot to trot......but, not seeing any evidence of the "girls" being ready yet.   It is always a pleasure to go out the door and be greeted by all their faces.  If someone is late for treats, they generally come looking to see which window they can spot me in.  If I go outside, they come running.  Miz Spectacles and her look-a-like fawn were late today ..... so, when I came in from my walk with Toby, she was waiting.  I went and got the bucket of treats and held it out to her and she started gobbling.  Most won't go for that, but "my" girls who rate, will......and if they don't.....they go without.  Because!? ask......if they don't get it that way,  and I put it on the ground......everyone wants more.......and, that isn't going to happen.  Some of the "pets" are the less aggressive deer.  They get kicked out of their spot and the more aggressive deer gets the treats.  Shadow, after all these years, and 4 sets of fawns, has finally gotten the idea.  Zoe is about the only one she can't run off.  They all get to live and learn, I guess.
As I am typing, the buck....who I have taken photos of twice now, just showed up.  No one seems too interested in him today either.
I am....maybe I should go hunting.....wonder where he is going from here!!!
I took advantage of the rainy day to go to town and do errands and get a freezer.  Since I am now retired, I have more time to do the home things....gardens....etc.  I filled the old freezer with vegies and fruit.  I have NO room for venison.  So....on the chance one of us is going to get lucky out there one of these time like the present to go get that done, clean up a spot for it and get it going.   Got it done!  :)
On another note, the wolf hunting season is going better than I expected.  I believe we are at something like 50 wolves taken already.  In the cases the paper wrote about...there were multiple wolves when one was shot.  This means, I hope, we are on the way to our "educating the wolves" again about what it means to be around people.  The guy who registered the first one had 4 come out in the bunch.  The one he shot had mange.  The second one I saw written up had two in the group he shot one of.  Hopefully, the others also were multiples also.  Then, we are accomplishing something beneficial.  The article today actually admitted that our population of 3.000 wolves probably expands to 6,000 in the spring when they have pups!  Duh.....I was wondering when that was going to occur to someone.  A population of 3,000 doesn't stay that number indefinitely.  When you consider that a good many packs are 4 animals and then multiply that by how many pups the alpha female has.....guess what.....that adds a lot of wolves each year.  Yes,  I realize some die.  Some get hit by cars.  Some are killed by government trappers each year.....but, not that many.  As far as I know, nobody has shot at "my" area pack yet.  I'm hoping. appears the rain isn't going to quit for some time yet....and it is pretty dark and, I might just as well put on some rain gear and get in the afternoon walk.  Maybe I will sneak up on a that the rain quieted down the noisy leaves. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November 4, 2012 Deer season

It's opening of deer season in Minnesota.  Yes, I am a deer hunter and I have been out....freezing my butt off this it is just damp and raw out there.  The temperature is 22 degrees, same as yesterday morning, north wind both days.....but, just hard to stay warm today.  It has been dry lately so my favorite form of hunting.....just wandering around on deer trails and areas they hang out in....doesn't work too well.  The leaves are all crunchy and noisy and no amount of pussy footing makes it quiet.  I also have found out, over the years, that acting like you are sneaking around just makes them suspicious of you.  Just walk like you know what and where you are going and they just keep an eye on you.  Stop and think about doing matter your thoughts.....and all of a sudden a deer jumps up and runs that you had just walked by.  So it goes.....always a learning experience when you are out in the woods and encountering critters. 
The chunky 8 point buck in the photo at the top of this page was in the yard trying to chase does two days before deer season.  It was so dark and gray, it was really hard to get a decent photo as he was always moving and the telephoto lens made them blurry.  None of the "girls" wanted to cooperate, so he went about having some grass and clover for breakfast. 
This girl above, though.....Miz Spectacles by name.....because of those big white eye rings.....just follows me around the yard wishing I would pay more attention to her and give her more treats.  It makes me wonder how I can even think about shooting some "venison" for my winter food supply.  I have always done it.....I guess, for the time being, I will continue.  But, I'll tell you what......having all these pets does make it difficult.  Saturday morning there were 14 does and fawns laying by the house and on the mound, all trying to be safe.  This morning, there were 16!  The wolves are making them really hang close.  My neighbor, the only non-hunting one anymore....said while I was gone, the girls all came over and laid around in his  yard to be near the people.  They had figured out we weren't home.  Did I ever tell you......critters aren't stupid.  Anyway, when I walk back into the yard, I always tell them, it's's just me.  Then, they settle right down once they know who and what it is.  They will lay and watch us work in the yard or the more tame ones.....Shadow or Zoe or Fancy's Girl or Miz Spectacles.....Red Doe too, these see if they can con you into another treat or an early one.  They are too funny.  So, I get plenty of exercise walking way up the hill north or way east of the house.....where none of my girls can hopefullly find me while I am trying to get one of the boys.  So it goes.....deer hunting is an interesting proposition anymore. 
Well, I have thawed out from the mornings hikes and sits.....I did have one walk by me this morning.....too many small balsams to see it tho it was, it's time to get back out there to see what else I can find. 
I should mention, yesterday while I was out I had a red-backed vole along side me, coming in and out of a rotten, hollow popple.  It was so dang cute.  It even did the wash his whiskers with his front paws thing.  It was going in and out of a little knot hole in the side and would watch me with just its face looking out of the hole.  It was so chubby it was just about round.  It made me wonder how its fat little butt even fit in and out that hole. did.  A cute distraction while waiting for bigger game!
Ain't nature grand.......

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nature's Beauty-November 2, 2012

Ok, the pictures aren't coming on like they are supposed to today, but rather than quit and start over, I will deal with it.  The pretty pink pods with orange seeds are spindle tree seed pods.  They are just absolutely beautiful and I found quite a few growing in Michigan.  This time of year, when most leaves have fallen and things tend to get rather drab, it is so nice to see bursts of bright color.  I even brought a stem home, hoping to preserve it and stand it in a vase.  However, all the seeds fell off and the pink got pretty dull.  So, that didn't work.  They are enough like a bittersweet, which I also found, that I thought it might work.  But, that was one fun discovery on my travels I enjoyed.
Above the spindle tree photo, you see the bark of a sycamore tree.  I like to call it "nature's camo" as I think that is what the pattern looks like.  In the trees up to about a foot or so in diameter, the pattern is pretty striking.  When the trees get huge and old, they don't have that particular characteristic any more.  While driving, I saw a number of them growing where the whole tree was camo colored all the way up.  No photos of them tho.  I took this close up photo on a street along a sidewalk in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  So.....even travels in more urban areas can give you unexpected surprises.
This one, I believe I took in Pennsylvania.  It is a sweetgum.  The dozen or so trees had leaves in every color from lime green or yellow to oranges and deepest maroons.  They are quite large leaves and the striking star shaped leaves made it very fun to see.  So, I have to report that the country girl did find plenty of new and interesting beauties of nature in a pretty much urban setting.  It is quite surprising to look back at the number of photos I took of nature's beauty.  I guess it is out there, no matter where you go.....if you are willing to look for it. 
Now, home again.......and back to my usual routines.  Vacations are always fun but the work is still waiting when you get home.  :)