Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28, 2013 Spring has sprung......I think!

I think we finally are on our way to spring.  It made high 50s yesterday and I don't believe it froze last night.  It was 40 degrees when I got up.  It started out with 10 drops of rain and mostly blue skies.  But, it has pretty well gotten all overcast and cloudy.  Rain in the forecast, now, for several days. 
The geese were flying during a good share of my morning walk....honking springs arrival, I hope.  The flickers were out in large numbers.  I saw only one yesterday.  I have around 100 juncos covering the yard and singing.  I saw a woodcock and a snipe on the morning walk.  There were lots of robins.  I saw the first white-throated sparrows and fox sparrows yesterday after having had a tree sparrow for a week.  I had two of them now.  There was a rusty blackbird mixed in with the grackles and red-winged blackbirds.  I won't even mention how many starlings....can do without them!
The roadside ditch was running nicely this a.m.  There are "creeks" running now, where there aren't any there is so much melt happening so fast.  I am hoping "my" grey foxes don't move out for fear of getting wet.......
Here is the ditch this morning right by my driveway, which you can see mid-photo.  It isn't often there is so much water you get nice reflections in them.  So far, the ditches are taking the water and it is managing to go through the culverts nicely.  The culvert just behind where I am standing, that goes under the Moose Valley Road, has washed out more times than I care to talk about in the spring.  There was more than one time I wondered if I was going to make it across and out to work.  Since the school bus goes out earlier than I do, I sometimes had caved in a good section  or two of roadbed before I would leave.  A few other times I parked on the west side of the culvert to be sure I could get to work on time.  So far, this spring, so good.  Plus, this year, I don't have to worry about getting to work on time either if the road does wash out.  Given all the snow we have ...that is now melting at a pretty good pace......and the fact we are supposed to have rain for four days straight, things could happen. 
Here is a close up shot of the neat ice/frost form in the ditch this morning.  I thought it to be interesting enough to take a close up of it.  Nice reflection.  I saw a couple of really cool ice sculptures along the ditches too.  However, I didn't have my camera along and didn't walk way back there to take photos.  This was in the ditch by my house so didn't take long to go back and take these. 
Shadow was out and about following me around this morning too.  People many times take photos of critters looking at the camera.  I was wearing mine around my neck.  She came up to me and put her nose right on the camera lens, checking it out.  She has always been curious about the camera.  She doesn't like me pointing it at her either.  She knows what she likes.....or doesn't like.  P.S.  to those of you new to this....Shadow is my pet deer, soon to be 6 years old. 
Right now, Shadow and the fawns are finding plenty of water to play in too.  That most certainly inspires them to get wild and crazy.  Shadow's little girl, soon to be 1 year old, came out of the water last night and was spinning hookers around the house as fast as she could go.....pretty fast.  She's too funny!
Here's the pond the deer were playing in last night.  The mallards, that were out interacting with the deer in the field last night, are in the creek/pond this morning.  There is still some ice in it, but getting better.  Maybe some of the wood ducks I saw on the shore of Lake Superior can join them.
Here is one of the photos I took late yesterday afternoon of the deer, in this case a buck, following the mallards around as they looked for tidbits to eat.  The fawns first watch....wondering what the heck is that thing....I think.  Then, they would follow the ducks around as well.  Nature can keep you entertained for hours. 
"My" raccoon came back again.  It was 2:30 this morning.  I had the camera all set.  I even set lens to where I needed to focus and had it all set.  As soon as I flipped the light switch for the porch light, it got off the deck railing and off through the big bird feeder, dropped on to the flower pot, on to the deck,  and padded off down the steps.  Hmmmm....what's with that.  Two nights ago, when I flipped on the switch, it sat and looked at me so darned cute.  It was eating out of the bottom port of a bird feeder each time.  The other night, I had the camera on a tripod and a long lens on it.  I couldn't get it into position because of the angle and wasn't fast enough to get it off of it and a small lens on.  The raccoon moseyed off before I could accomplish that.  Last fall, when the two came together, I flipped on the switch and watched them for half an hour at a time.  I wonder why I didn't think to take a photo then!? 
This week, besides all the birds....we had the fisher back again too.  I was down playing my weekly Scrabble game with my mother.  My husband took a couple shots with the earlier 6 megapixel camera and the short lens on.  You could see what it was, anyway.  The grey fox made an appearance again a couple nights ago while it was still light enough to see.  So, life is staying interesting. 
With that....I'm off to go take a walk around and see what's up, by now!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24, 2013 Was that winters' last hurrah?!

This was one of the sights that greeted me on the shore of Big Bay, Lake Superior, yesterday.  The last trip on that beach, recently, had all the ice gone and the sand beach bare for Toby to walk on.
There were all sorts of treasures being made and washed ashore with the waves and all the new snow we had.  I was so impressed by the beauty of some of the pieces.  Unfortunately, it was mostly overcast and they didn't show off as well as if we had a sunny day.
Here's a close-up of one of the ice gems in the sand.  The textures and designs in some of these ice pieces is really quite amazing.  You would almost like to take them home and display some of them.
Toby, of course, was enjoying some time in that wonderful Lake Superior water and sand.  He sure likes this spot.  Frisbee time will be coming before you know it.
I stopped on the beach for about 5 minutes and picked a few heart shaped stones....just to see how many I could find in that small space.  One would be surprised! 
Seems a lot of the photos I take lately are more just about daily walks and what I see as the seasons change.  Haven't taken anything in a couple of weeks....probably....that would really be considered a wall hanger.  But, we go out.....we get what we get...people get to see the change of the seasons and what is going on.....they can't all be "wall hangers."  But, we could wish, I guess. 
Later in the afternoon, the snow buntings were busy in the yard.  There were four of them that were pretty busy.  I took a number of photos.  I liked this one best because of the nice, smooth, unmarked piece of snow bank they were sitting on.  Fun to see them in their mating plumage. 
Later yet, the deer were back out getting their afternoon alfalfa and treats.  A few stopped to get drinks in the afternoon snow melt puddles instead of heading all the way over to the water hole.  Here is a close up of one of the bucks, showing his newly growing velvet antlers.  He will be long gone before they get big enough to look impressive.  He already tried to leave once....when we thought spring was coming.  Week or so later, when all the snow came, he was back.  He still likes to go to the basement door when he wants some favorite treats.  I oblige him.  Love seeing him around. 
This morning, after a breakfast of alfalfa and corn, some of the bucks were out in the field walking around on top of the hard snow.  With all that snow and  20 degrees this morning, as long as they walked.....out in the open, they could stay on top.  They looked mighty tall and impressive "up there" on top of the snow.  That doesn't happen all that often that the deer can do that.  Plus, usually they have to start playing their games and running and then they cut through.  Not fun.
Anyway, it's been an interesting few "wintery" days.  Hopefully, now.....we will be back on to more spring like weather.  I actually saw a few pussy willows trying to pop on my morning walk.  We will see what the day brings. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19, 2013 April Blizzard!

This is what my yard looks like today.  It was 20 degrees when I got up.  So, the cooling temperatures from the 29-30 degrees we had all day yesterday made for a lighter, fluffier snow on the upper layers.  It also makes for more drifting.  And......that's exactly what it is doing.  The three deer in the foreground are standing in my driveway right in front of the deck.  I shoveled out in front of the door this morning on the way to go feed the deer.  I didn't shovel any more than that as it wouldn't have done any good, what so ever!  It is drifting that fast.  Deer were coming in from the east and they were belly deep in snow.  Out where I put the alfalfa each day, it is really hard packed and I packed it some more and so did the deer before I took this.  I was anywhere from knee deep to thigh deep in snow all the way to the garage.  There's a lot of snow out there!  A LOT!
It isn't letting up, either!  So.....I don't expect to get out of the house and do anything until late this afternoon, if this keeps up.  Toby won't be complaining either.  Our walk, this morning, was short.  It was, however, hard work.  Do you know how hard it is, when you are a dog.....and have to go out and do your business.....when the snow is deeper than your body!?  Toby wasn't too happy. 
We had originally planned on going to Duluth and Superior for more deer feed today.  The weather this week hasn't been too conducive to wanting to travel.  We thought we  had enough to last to spring.  However, lately, a lot more deer have showed up and they are needing the, we have been a bit hard on what we had, including the alfalfa.  I think we still have enough of that to get through the month.  However, the corn will run out by Monday morning.  So......not to mention the "wild" deer.....we have some "pets" that expect to get their treats.   We can't be running out of food when we have this kind of weather out there.
The one Myrtle warbler and one Tree Sparrow were busy with the juncos in the suet this morning.  I think the warbler is even finding it hard to find cluster flies this morning.  I don't believe I ever saw the warblers in the suet before.....that I can remember.  Cape May Warblers at the hummingbird feeders tho....other years.  A bit too early for that.  I don't generally put my hummingbird feeders out until Mother's day. 
So......I guess everyone can sit inside and watch the snow.  Many have a day off or a half day off.  I did see that the county court house was closed until noon.  I think a lot of services are closed today as people just can't get around.  We can be thankful, whether we like it or not, that it is extra moisture for the ground so we don't have extreme fire danger this spring.  I saw in Chicago where it is flooding something awful.  I am very happy that isn't us.  I believe there is always a positive out there.....if we want to find it.  Some can just be difficult.  It's easier to say.....$#*&%! .....which I did on my Facebook page about today's weather.  At the time, just having come in from wading around in all that....which I forgot to mention......when I went back out to sweep off my dish so I could use the internet....the snow on the south side of the house was up to my crotch.  You got knee high boots I slipped on to run out there and do that filled up.  Yes....about that time, my attitude about the fresh snow wasn't real positive.  But, I'm trying. 
I will leave you with a peaceful photo from yesterday...that I took in the afternoon during a break from the snow.  These two deer were laying under that tree on a bed of old alfalfa for over 6 hours.  In the early morning one, it's snowing seriously.  This had quit for a while.  There were deer laying under all the spruces around here yesterday. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16, 2013 It Ain't Over........

This was yesterday morning, April 15, 2013.  It was snowing like a son of a gun and heavy snow to boot!  We had 8" on the ground, already, when I took this in the morning.  The deer are doing a lot of laying around the edges of the yard, 50' from the house or so....under the spruces, in the wind break, in the open, wherever.  Snow is getting difficult, especially this heavy stuff that crusted a bit on the top today.  At about 29-30 degrees, it made it just hard enough to make things difficult. 
Toby tried to go check something out across one of the snow banks this morning.  He got up there and once he started, every other step he went thru.  He soon came crawling back to a hard surface on his belly.  There is more snow in the forecast too.  We maybe had a pretty mild winter.  But, we are making up for lost time lately.  There is a lot of snow in the woods. 
Yesterday, I was out walking my brother and sister-in-law's dog.  He is a big, long legged yellow lab.  So, he was bounding along through most of the snow with no problem.  Toby, on the other hand, was not having an easy time.  He is much shorter than Kirby and twice as old.  I had to take the west loop of the trail out of the walk yesterday, as I wasn't sure Toby could handle it.  He even was letting me know he wasn't happy when we walked on the county road in the school.....short a grader operator out here right now.....road not plowed......not a happy Toby in that heavy snow.
The forecast is for more snow yet.  I had the snowshoes out for the first time in quite a while yesterday.   I probably will be wearing them again today.  I am hoping by the time I go walk Kirby, it warms up enough to soften that snow.  Otherwise, both dogs will have problems today.  Yesterday, in some of the shady areas....the bottom had gone out on the trails, being it was so warm.....and even Kirby went in past his belly.  It has clouded up already and trying to, time will tell.....
I have been thinking about all the people from the county who have gone to Mexico, or other warm places, on their vacations.....and are returning this week.  They are returning to more "winter" than they left.  That can be a bit disheartening.  Before they left, the road restrictions had gone on for spring and we thought maybe it was coming; but, not yet.
Here is another photo I took, a couple of days ago, when it was snowing.  This was in the afternoon.  It is a photo of one of Shadow's twins, the girl, who will be one year old this spring.  I have gotten more comments on this photo of her looking in the window at me and watching what I am doing than just about any photo I have ever taken or posted.  The close up of just her face, right after that was right behind. 
She is doubt.  But, it was interesting to me to get this much attention on a "deer" photo.  I have taken a lot of deer photos.....because I can.  Because.....they are around year around and they are fun to watch and interact with.  But, it is really hard to get a photo of a deer anyone will react to.  So, I guess that was interesting to me this week.  Anyway, Shadow's little girl is now a star.  Her little boy is awful cute too....but, he was in a lazy sleep mode at the time.  So.....the girl got all the attention.  I will post the close up of her too!

Here's miss cute stuff, in all her glory, chewing away on her food.  She has no fear and is so adorable.  Since the twins are the first of Shadow's "kids" to be so friendly, it will be interesting to see what happens when Shadow has her new fawns this spring.  I imagine the little boy will be gone.  Usually the buck fawns get kicked out and the girls, tho they are chased off for a while when the new fawns are born, generally become part of the family unit and stay together.  As mentioned previously, I have 4 generations of Shadow's family here now.  The same is true with a couple other families of deer....tho most of them are 3 generations. 
Here's to an end of winter.....sometime this month!
But.......I can tell you about a time when I was a teen, we had a snow day in May....and, my brother went over and fished steelhead in the nearby creek.  Didn't want to hear that.....did you.  But then, that was before  "global warming!"

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12, 2013 Snow, snow....go away-come again some other........

This, is Shadow's almost one-year old daughter, one of the twins.  She is staring at me in the basement  window....about 6" from my face.  They watch what I am doing in my basement office on a regular basis.  They also look hard at me when they want some treats! you can see, it's snowing!  It is snowing a lot harder since I took this and the snowfall has doubled.  It was 2-3" when I took this and was out for my morning hike with Toby.  It is seriously snowing now....and still blowing.  My......I don't think the deer are appreciating the "non-spring" we are having either.  More of the deer that had left, are back.  We have enough alfalfa to last the month.  But, the corn is just about gone...will go in to next week....then what!?
Here is a photo of both of Shadow's twins by the window.  She is in the background.  What to do......
kind of day for them too.
I, on the other hand, have one plan for around noon or one.....taking Kirby, my second favorite dog, for his daily walk. When "mom" can't do it, I do the honors.  Both Kirby and Toby love their outings together.  So, it is good for all of us.  Usually, I take the camera along.  However, if it keeps snowing like isn't going out the door today. that snow coming down!
I would have liked to take the camera and gone to one of the beach spots for a wave photo, or two.  They were coming all the way, into even the sort of sheltered bays, yesterday.  Well ......   the wind hasn't let up.  I am quite sure the waves will be big enough to be noticeable again today.
 Here is a shot of the waves in the stormy grey weather we had yesterday.  I stopped on my way back from dog walking and took a couple of shots just before heading back up the hill...home.  They had pretty well taken care of all the ice and snow that had still been on this shore the day before.  All you see now are the odds and ends of ice chunks.  From up the hill, you could see breakers and white caps as far as you could see.
One other thing that was so striking was the beach gravel and rocks itself.  Usually, you are walking on dry beach.  Today, the waves were splashing way up so you could walk on wet rocks and the colors sure stand out a lot more.  It sure made for a pretty beach to walk on. 
I am sure the snow coming down over Lake Superior and the big waves would be interesting today.  However, we will wait and see.  I just am not inclined to watn my camera out in this stuff.
I have also heard that the next week is supposed to give us more snow.  At the rate we are currently going, it will be one of those years that spring fishing opener will find us with ice on the lakes and no way to get a boat on them.  It won't be the first time....but, it will be the first time in a while.
In the mean time.....think spring!  :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 9, 2013 Signs of Spring

Well, as you can see by the photo, there is no shortage of snow around here.  We had about 8" over the weekend followed by another inch or two.  It was looking like serious winter again.  I half expected the whole deer herd to return.  We were down to about 30, give or any given time.
Skinny Butt had been gone over a week.  I figured my favorite boy was gone til next winter.  Well, I just finished breakfast and here he came, charging in to the yard, tongue hanging out.  I looked, no wolves in sight....hmmmm.  Pretty soon, here were two other good sized bucks, neither of them young, walking into the yard.  I guess he found a couple of buddies on his roamings of late.  But then, we always have some "new" deer show up as they move back toward their summer spaces.  I don't think they are going to be too pleased with getting back in the brush yet.  There is still a lot of snow!  He moved over to his favorite door, as usual.  I brought him out some treats.  He was a happy guy!
Food in his belly....time for a rest.  Not every day I get to see this.  I see the does and fawns laying out here all the time, usually quite a few at a time.  But, getting to see the bucks laying down is rare.
Here is one of the new guys.  He isn't a spring chicken, by any means.  He had some hair rubbed off his ribs on both sides.  He got busy, promptly, eating some of the alfalfa.  They can always use a bit more quality foods in their bodies this time of year. 
Here is another shot of him going to check out the other alfalfa patch.  In the foreground, you see a crow with its mouth wide open.  It has been hanging around a couple of weeks now.  I finally got a really good look at it this morning when it got close to the house.  The left bottom half of the beak is seriously broken.  It has to put its whole face on its side to pick up some food.  I watched it try to pick up some pieces of corn and it couldn't as it can't close its beak.  Outside of the always open mouth, it seems to be doing fine.  It is pretty amazing what some of nature's problems can bring and they still manage to get by. 
Back to signs of spring.....I saw my first chipmunk on the deck on Sunday.  I also saw the first pussywillows out.  I thought about picking some, but didn't.  Today, as I started on my morning walk with Toby, I saw my first woodcock.  It seems like, a good many years, the woodcocks arrive before there seems to be any food for them to find.  This one was along the county road, trying to find some stuff along the ditch.  Anyway, since some of them are arriving, spring might be coming. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

April 4, 2013 Memories of yesterday.........

Yesterday, Toby and I took a walk down memory to speak.  I was at my mom's in the morning and we played our usual Wednesday Scrabble.  Good for both of us to keep the mind in shape!  Plus, we've both been Scrabble fans a long, both my grandmas also liked to play!
It also gives us quiet time to visit and talk world events without so much noise and interruption.  But, after Scrabble, Toby and I go on our daily adventure.  Since I was there....and didn't know what I should do for the day.....I thought, why not walk the whole bay like I used to when I was a kid.  The river is frozen so we can walk across and keep on going.  So, we did.
I had forgotten, until I got across the river, about the sand that had washed in from somewhere.  And, such nice, fine sand it is.  I discovered it early last year when I was out on the paddleboard, having left from my mother's place.  I thought, wow....where did that all come from.  Now, with the lower water levels.....there is a sizable sand beach and more to come when the snow and ice finishes melting.  Toby absolutely loved it.  Can you tell?  He ran up and down the sand beach, because he could.   I will definitely have to take him to this spot a lot more once the snow is gone and he can seriously swim and also play with his water frisbee.  He loves that toy to pieces.  There were even some fresh deer tracks on the nice sand.  I guess they like the feel of that under their feet too.
Anyway, off ...... down the beach we went.  We got down in to the corner of the bay and around to where the commercial fisherman used to live when I was a kid.  It is kind of hard to see these neat old places go into disrepair and ruin.  So many memories there.
When I was a kid, besides the old dock here....mostly gone.....there was also a fishhouse.  Kenny or John would clean fish in there and all the cats would be sitting around waiting for their treats.  In fact, I remember one Halloween going to the house and Dolly showing us the baby kittens in the dresser drawer inside.  They were so cute. 
Being fishermen, and our neighbors across the bay......they sometimes brought us treats like some fresh smoked herring or some pickled fish they had made.  Homemade, fresh pickled fish is so much better than what you will buy in a store.  For one thing, it isn't mushy.  It is soooo good!
I also remember the summer day they got in from picking nets and called us to come and see what they had caught that morning.....a sturgeon.  Wow!  We were so excited to get to see that before they released it back into Lake Superior. 
Anyway......things don't remain the same.  There is just change, and more change....constant, never ending.  It is the one thing you can count on these days......change!
We continued out to the  area at the end of the point where the new houses begin.  They used to own that land out there too.'s big houses.  Different.  So....Toby and I turned around and headed back toward "home."  (My old home as a kid!)
Of course, part of the rest of the bay is different now too.  There are houses along here that weren't there when I was a kid.  All that sand wasn't there either.  If it had been.....I wouldn't have forgotten about it.  Anyway, Toby was taking full advantage of this wonderful play spot....just in case he never gets there again.  But....he will.  I promised!

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1, 2013 April Fools.......Not!

I was out walking on the beach with Toby the other day, looking at remnants of what was some beautiful ice formations.  We had had some rain and everything up here that wasn't soggy, knee deep snow was, the beaches it was.  I was up on one of the old ice mounds and looked down at this puddle on the ice....the reflections were so neat.....   However, it was a foggy day and there wasn't much contrast.  So, in a photo they don't stand out as much.  If I tried using contrast on the computer, it just made it darker grey all, you have to look.....but, it was a neatly framed puddle with its own picture in it.  I thought it was pretty neat.  :)
I just mentioned to a friend.....I don't have any "April Fool" jokes anymore.  When I was a kid.....I think my mom got me every year.  Even when I remembered it was April Fools Day......even if she had to wait a while......she'd get me.  Sometimes it was something that  could easily be happening; like a deer in the yard.  Of course, we would come running to see the deer and hear......"April Fool!"
Sometimes....I miss some of those old tricks!
That same day I was out and took the above photo....I got back to one of the ice caves that was so neat too.  The snow was melting down and it was kind of wet inside.....but, now I could get all the way in to it, not just Toby.  I was inside of there, taking some neat photos of the view looking out.  It wasn't a big contrast thing since it was foggy......but, it still had the neat turquoise color inside and less icicles to bump my head on.  They wouldn't have been as showy as the last time I was barely in the entrance looking out.  But.....I was in....all the way to the now also bigger back.  After I got out, I had Toby come in and he did and laid right down where I asked problem. I took about a dozen photos from inside and then from outside looking at Toby laying back in there.....and.....they were all solid black!  Boy, was I perturbed.  The "best" stuff of the day....not there.  I still have absolutely no idea what happened or what I could have possibly done.  I had shut the camera off while I got out and Toby got in .....the cave!  So....what the heck!!  I could go back and try it again, on the chance that it is still there.  But, as windy as it was yesterday, who knows.  Stuff was breaking off right and left.  I saw a big ore boat coming at an angle towards shore yesterday we headed over to my brother's place for Easter Potluck.  That was some fierce wind!
Here's a photo I took that same day.  You can actually see the sun in that fog bank on a larger photo.  I was in the area and not too far away to not go see what this was looking, I did.  Late afternoon, waves, bit of sun, fog.....does give a certain mood to the whole thing. 
This morning, with 15 degrees out after several days of 40 + degrees and some rain thrown in, we had snow as hard as concrete.  It was such a fun time out going wherever we wanted on top of the snow.  Toby hasn't experienced this all that often.  But, he sure was enjoying it today.  No wallowing around in belly deep snow.....just go, explore....enjoy.  We had a wonderful walk to start the day.  The sun is trying and it is only partly cloudy out, maybe it won't get all that warm today.  That might mean an afternoon walk to meander wherever we darn please too.  I'll hope!