Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 27, 2013 Deer and other things....

Skinny Butt....with his the "magic door"....this morning.  I was just wondering about what people observe when they look at deer, or other animals, for that matter.  Do they just see another deer?  Or, do you ever notice the differences in the individual you can tell them apart.  Look at the legs on the narrow the legs are to flare into bigger feet.  This one has a swelling in his front left knee joint too.  I had another favorite buck, for years, who had the same swollen knee joint.  They are all so individual! 
This is a young doe, that I haven't named, one of "Red Doe's" daughters...that will have her first fawn this spring.  Notice the difference in the leg to hoof!  It isn't at all, the same.
Back to "Skinny Butt" now, who is an older buck....notice his "toupee" on top of his head in the area where antlers will be.  You can also notice the antler bumps.  But, besides his nice, colored hair piece, have you ever noticed on the larger bucks, in particular, they seem to build a heavier skull area there, to support a big set of antlers.  I could go get a book on the issue.  Seems to me I remember they even have a term for it....but, I forget what it is called.  Anyway, I was watching my friends this morning after I fed them....and observed them....and wonder what other people notice when they see them.
Also.....first time here in about 3 years, I think it is now......I have a doe that didn't get bred.  I had noticed one of the bucks tearing around here like he was nuts yesterday, tongue hanging out, the works.  I kept an eye on him and how he was behaving, especially around the other bucks.  It wasn't until just about dark yesterday, I saw him again, now following a specific doe....soon, mounting her.  I guess by now, with all the deer I have watched for so many years, I have a pretty good handle on what is going on.  Well, he is still guarding her from the other bucks this morning.  .......which brought me to my next thought.....once a doe doesn't get bred on time......and has her fawn really, really late.....does she ever get back on schedule again?  I am curious.  I know one year some people just over the hill from me had a fawn born in the fall. It went through winter so tiny.  Just a few days ago someone else was telling me about the tiny fawn they had hanging nearby. 
Am expecting my husband will be back from Thunder Bay within the next hour, if all goes well.  He had to go visit the farmer up there and get another load of alfalfa to keep all our friends happy until snow melts and green up happens.  That first big load we got in November was really exceptional this year and the deer sure have appreciated that.  I believe it is the nicest we have ever had.  Plus, it is nice in the fact they eat it up.  We usually have huge piles of stems left to clean up in the spring.  Oh, there will still be some....but, a lot less. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 26, 2013 Beautiful February mornings!

I have taken so many gorgeous sunrise and before sunrise photos these last three mornings, I didn't know where to start.  So, you have the first one I took this morning.  Different!  However, it was there and I decided to use it. 
The last two mornings, not having curtains in our bedroom, the bright moon woke me up at 5:00 a.m.
This morning, it was 4:30.  Sunday, I had a place scoped out and was ready to do the sunrise bit if the wind wasn't howling...which it wasn', off I went.  Next morning was a repeat of another place I had checked out.  This morning....well, there were still a couple of places on my, since I was awake, what the heck.  Off we went.  Toby has been right there, ready to go each morning.  Mind you, the dog sort of looks at me as I pet him on the way by to get critter food each morning.  He doesn't stir until I am done and ready to take him for a walk.  He has been ready early all three mornings. 
And, since the colors have been so gorgeous, I am giving you the big version, even tho it runs off the edge of the blog.  When I am typing and getting it ready, before publishing, it fits perfectly, with margins and everything.
Both yesterday morning and this morning......I had some good color.  Yesterday was the most brilliant of the three mornings.  Today was the actual "red sky in morning, sailors take warning......." kind of bright red sun morning.  I took closeups of the sun and color in the sky immediately around it....really giving an intense look and they sure have taken hits on my site.  So, I will show you one of those too.
Of course, once it is more than halfway up, the camera doesn't take the red color any more.  The first two this a.m. actually did show more red.  That seems to be really hard to capture.  I wonder if they can turn it red in PhotoShop.  Since I don't have it and have never used it, I don't know.  In fact, the sky has been so gorgeous the last few mornings....why would anyone need PhotoShop?  I always say "Ain't Nature Grand?" all by itself without the use of PhotoShop? 
Speaking of such....I may take a class, one of these days...just to learn some new tricks.  I would like to learn the one where you are able to take something ugly out of a photo and replace it with some weeds......or something to that effect.  I have taken photos of critters in the yard, a number of times, where it would be soooo gorgeous....and there is a septic pipe, or electric box, or something in the photo.  I would take them out and have it perfect!  We shall see.......
I will leave you with one more of the anchor...because I can...sailor's warning and all.  I don't have props like this available every, enjoy it!   I just couldn't resist playing with the sun and the angles of it. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

February 22, 2013 Ladies Day Out!

Yesterday was our monthly girls out to hike, snowshoe, whatever  And, what a day it was.  The sun was out and it was a balmy 15 degrees without a screaming wind.  After the past few days, that was saying something.  Yesterday, we were out on snowshoes.  The group was smaller than usual as a few were out of town right now....including one lucky gal in Hawaii right now.  Nice place to be when the weather has been so blustery.
Anyway, when asked, I suggested we try this river bed that goes up to a deadwaters area which used to be a heck of a nice place to snowshoe.  I have taken my dogs, previously, when the snow was not so deep and sugary.  Toby couldn't have managed this.
Speaking of Toby.....I was sneaking around getting ready yesterday.  No outside clothes on when I went into the basement to get the snowshoes.....very quiet about getting the camera out and packed....etc.  I thought he was napping contently in the basement.  I had given him some pats when I was down there.  Anyway, time to go.  I sneaked quietly out the door and walked down the driveway to catch my ride.  Off we went.  Well, he later found out he was home alone with my husband and that I had gone without him.  He was miffed and had to sit around and pout for a few hours. 
The above photo is where we first came out of the narrow river bottom into the more open area leading to the deadwaters.  This was the first beaver dam, now washed out.  It had been a heckova  pond at one time and it pretty steep coming up it as you can see.
Here is a photo I took up in the deadwaters.  We had just come across the second beaver pond.  It was decent sized but not as large as the first had been.  Just before the second beaver pond came into sight, on a narrow section of river again, I went through the ice.  I was, all of a sudden, with no warning whatsoever, standing knee deep in dang cold water....with snowshoes on.  Boy....what a thrill!  I hadn't exactly planned on that in my day.  Funny, had a group with me this time.....and in the water I go.  I hardly ever, ever....have anyone with me but my dog....the old hermit that I can be......and, I have never done that up there.  I did go through an old beaver pond east of my house about 5 years ago....with just my two dogs along.  I wasn't on snowshoes either.  I was just walking on ice, through the cat tails, on the edge of the beaver pond.  That was cold and wet too....just less so.
Anyway.....the ladies were worried about me freezing and thought we should go right home and get some dry duds.  No way.....we were far enough up and into this expedition.....I was going.  I told them if my feet started to freeze, I would let them know.  We didn't go as far as we probably would have because of this issue.  But....don't we need a little excitement in our lives?!
Here, we actually ran onto the ski trail made and maintained by one of the people who lives in this area now.  I had to say I wouldn't mind skiing on that some day. 
Anyway, we all have had a chance to see what this area now looks like and decided to go back...before my feet did decide to freeze. 
We got back to the vehicle....and guess what.  My boots are frozen in my snowshoes.  The newfangled snowshoes we were all wearing have plastic buckles on the harnesses.  They were big ice balls frozen solid.  I had to take my boots off to get in the vehicle.  Then, when we stopped at the little store for beverages and visiting, in I went in  my sock feet!  Wet sock feet....remember!  I left tracks of wet feet across the cold cement floor.  By the time we left, my feet actually were cold because it isn't all that warm in there.  Home again we go after a fine outing. 
Toby was very happy to see me and ready to go for his walk....which had to wait til I got out of my wet duds I had on.  My legs hadn't gotten cold because the pants had instantly frozen.  But, getting out of the cold, clammy socks did feel good. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 19, 2013 NASTY! out there.....

This is a sight you won't see out the window today.  This is Shadow and her little girl fawn.  They had been grooming each other and Shadow was washing her fawns ear.
This morning, however....the deer want to come out and have some breakfast.  A few have.....a quick one.....but; it's just so dang nasty out there.  The snow is minimal, it's only -2 below 0...but, it's blowing a friggin gale out there.  Mosty, it is a white out outside the window.  The 2-3" of snow we got is blowing all over the place.  It is snowing just enough to see.....when the wind lets up for a second.  The little cups on the weather vane are just a blur they are going so fast.  The deer don't like it one bit.  And....they do tend to be creatures of habit. 
This morning, I was stalling going out the door.  There weren't that many deer and I just was not at all enthusiastic about going out.  My husband said...."well, the screen blew out of the upstairs window.  You probably should go pick it up before a deer steps on it."  Didn't hear anything about him going out!  Well....I figured that was true.  Wouldn't keep too many bugs out if a deer stepped through it.  So, out I went with the sunflower seeds to fill bird feeders and pick up that screen.  About the time I got to the screen, Skinny Butt....creature of habit that he is....had finally come out too.  He saw me picking up that screen and skeedaddled right back into the woods.  Usually, by the time I get out of bed, he is standing at his spot by the basement door, spot cleared of snow, waiting for me to put his treats there.  Well, I had to go over there to put the screen in anyway so put some cracked corn in his favorite spot.  Then, I went about getting alfalfa out for the deer that were gathering.  I didn't hardly dare to break the stuff apart today for fear all the good stuff would blow away.  Most of it is still out there as the deer eat a few minutes and tear back into the woods.  As I's nasty.
Shadow and her family were out under her favorite tree for a while getting something to eat.  A few others were too.  Skinny Butt did come to his favorite spot and get some of his favorite stuff.  However, no one finished anything this morning.  That says it all, right there.
Next, Toby and I head out for our walk.  He was prancing along, just as perky as he could be.  It seems Toby is the only one, this morning, that doesn't mind the nasty wind.  We headed  down the county road so he could do his morning business and check out what was going on.  By the time we were coming home, he was all of a sudden dawdling behind me so I turned to see what he was up to.  There was the county grader, right there!  What the heck......I darned near dropped my teeth.  I don't think I have ever not heard it for at least half a mile before I saw it.  I had no clue.  I grabbed Toby and we stepped to the side of the road as he went by.  Now, I really knew how nasty that wind was.
It is supposed to blow all day, too......I guess.  If this keeps up, the adventuring dog won't be having any today!  That's my story.....and....I'm stickin' to it!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mid-February what to dos! February 17, 2013

It has been a week of -10, up to 10, down to -20, already up to 20 this morning....what to figure on doing when one gets out of bed and how to dress for it.  It has been all over the charts.  We even had 30 degrees mid-week and got a bit of glazing on the ski trails.....on the second day of packing them after all the snow.  Yesterday, as you can see, Toby and I were out exploring some shoreline with nice ice for a new place for a sun rise photo.  I was up at 6:30 and did a walk around and could see it was much too cloudy for that too happen.  In fact, a few snow flurries were coming down.  I did all the early morning chores, fed critters, walked Toby.....back in and made breakfast......and still haven't decided whether there is going to be enough sunshine to make it worth the effort.  It is pretty cloudy out there, but at least there are a few blue holes.
And then.....yesterday.......I was so perturbed!  I was out there taking some of these nice ice and Lake Superior home to look at them on the computer.......I had been taking all the photos with a chunk of sawdust on the lens.  The upper left hand area, which didn't necessarily mean it would stay in the sky....which it didn't, left a big grey blotch in almost all the photos that couldn't be fixed.  Thus, they are almost square, cutting off some good scenery....but, still have the best part of the photo.  Sometimes, one is just so busy concentrating on the subject matter, they don't see the whole picture..........
Here is another view of the one pretty spot I was at.  The reflections were lovely and the sky so blue.
And a photo of Toby and his best friend, Kirby, out for a walk on Friday.  When my sister-in-law has things going on for the whole day, I go over to her place and take both dogs for a walk on "Kirby's" trails.  The dogs get along so well together and have such a wonderful time.  Plus, it gives Toby a bit of an adventure with someone besides me on a different set of trails.  He likes his adventures.  That is one thing I have always noticed about my dogs.  No matter how much they love their own, known spaces.....they love to have an adventure some place different once in a while.  It is just so exciting to get to go somewhere.  Below is another photo from Friday's walk with Kirby.  Here, we have Lake Superior in the background and are just starting down the hill.  The one on the right is where we have made the big loop and are just about back at the top of the hill again.  By then, Toby had been working hard enough to just lay down and watch me when I would get the camera out.  He hasn't got as long legs as Kirby and this one section of trail wasn't packed too well yet.  So, we were getting our exercise....which is what it's about.
Also this week, we had an anniversary potluck for my parents, who on February 14th, have been married 61 years.  All of us kids were there and a few of their grandkids too.  The grandkids are getting a bit more spread out these days so that is a bit harder to get everyone rounded up for a big event.  At any rate, we all had a nice evening visiting and eating good food.  One of my nephews made a nice comment about maybe some of the rest of us would be lucky enough to do that some day.  (Be married and happy 61 years and counting!)  In this day and age, it is just nice to even hear a  young person thinking that way.  There are still some good old fashioned family values out there.....they are just fewer and farther between, I think. 
So....back to chores......and wondering what the day will bring.    Cheers!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February 12, 2012 Snow!

Sunday night a snow storm blew through!  Boy, did it blow and snow.  This was the first serious, heavy snow of the season.  So, Monday morning there was no school and the snow plow operators were out in full force being very busy.  The snow was so heavy it was hard to move.  I was having a hard time to decide how much we actually got because of the drifting.  Even the grader operator had gone a bit off the road a bit Sunday night when he was plowing our county road.  It was a straight stretch and not wooded and it was blowing so darned hard, he couldn't see.  But, when all is said and done, the shoveling done, the thigh high snow drifts cleared......there was definitely over a foot of snow but how much, I don't know for sure.  Just that it was a LOT!  After an unusually long time to feed the critters Monday morning, I took Toby for a walk on the county road.  He had to wallow pretty good to get there.  Thus, when I asked him to come to our wind break, which is also the start of our woods trail walk, later.....he didn't want to go.  That is him sitting in the deep snow where we start.  He posed.  Then, he very happily went back on the deck!  :)
After all the exercise yesterday moving snow, we had both our walks on the county road.  Today, tho, after I had a few things done and the morning walk with Toby was done, I put on the snowshoes and off I went.  I told Toby what I was up to and he went and laid down in the other room again, just like he understood every word.  Boy, did I get my exercise.  Except for an open area on a ridge, I was knee deep on snowshoes most of the way.  In a couple of the worst places, I made several trips back and forth to fix it.  Several times, I almost turned around and went back the way I had come....thinking; well, then that part will be all done well.  However, then I still would have had to get there tomorrow to finish.  I went all the way around and the ski trail is open.  Tomorrow, I will go around again to finish packing.  Possibly, by the next day, Toby can go again. might take one more to do it. 
Of course, it was such a beautiful sunny morning, I had planned on taking the camera along.  By the time I left, it had really clouded up.  I have been out enough in that kind of heavy grey to know the pictures are for crap and opted to leave the camera home.  About a mile out, the sun came out so nice again.  Also, I came around a corner and there was a ruffed grouse head sticking out of the snow.  The sun shined on its beady little eye so nice.  There I stood, 3' away, looking at it looking at me.  Finally, it exploded out of the snow like they usually do.  I have had that happen so many times over the years.....never, ever, did I get to see it first. camera!  Drat....drat.....drat!
Anyway.....when I did get home, 2 and 1/2 hours later, Toby was now ready to go.  So, snowshoes off, off we went for Toby's walk on the road again...and he was a happy dog.  When Toby doesn't want to go out in the woods with me, you know we have snow.  And, he isn't a spring chicken any more so I don't make him go in that.
I will leave you with a recent sunset.  It was a gorgeous one Monday night.  I was out putting out the fox treats when it finally colored and I missed the best part.  I ran for the camera and here's what I got.  Looks like the woods is on fire! 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

February 9, 2013 Warming trend.....

What the heck is are thinking!  Well, I found this while out skiing two days ago.  So, yesterday, since we had some sun and a bit warmer, before we got more snow and buried it, I brought the camera along skiing and took a few photos.  This one is a close up of a hummingbird nest in a bull thistle.  That is not a place I ever would have thought to look for a nest  It is only about 2-3" above the snow right now; however, there is about a foot of snow covering the bottom of the thistle stem.  I don't tend to take the camera along a lot when I am skiing because it is such a darn pain.  You have to have it in a padded case in your packsack, just in case you manage to wipe out on one of the hills.....which in certain conditions, I have been known to do.  It hasn't happened lately. never know.  Then, when you want to take the photo, you have to stop, put down the poles, take off the gloves, take off the packsack, take stuff out of the packsack.....and get serious.  Of course, then you have to do that all in reverse again.  I didn't take my skis off, so I did get in some interesting poses getting this with out taking my shadow, which I try not to do but sometimes miss it.
I also should have brought the macro lens along.  It would have done a better job.  Anyway, you can see the whole thing here.  They sure are tiny.  I am always amazed at how many bird nests I see in the winter when all the leaves are down. 
Since it was a nice sunny day yesterday, all of 15 degrees, the critters seemed to think it was a nice day to walk around and explore my ski tracks too.  The fox could walk the one ski track just perfectly.  It didn't sink in a bit.  The deer, not so much.  They did, however, stay in the general track/trail I had made.
Toby also liked it better because there was no fresh snow and he didn't get ice balls in his toes.  He hasn't been wearing his booties this week because I can't keep them on him in that crusty snow.
That was how I actually managed to see the nest in the bull thistle the day before.  Toby had stopped to chew the ice balls out of his toes and I was looking around while waiting and was standing right along side it.  So, though I have a good eye for details, some things are so small they are easy to miss.
Here is a shot of my ski trail yesterday.  It was such a pretty day out there.  The ski track stood out nicely in the sunshine too.  In the background is the big hill I took the ladies hiking on a while back.  We have another hike coming up in two, need to start thinking about where to go.  Still will depend on the snow.  It sounds like we may finally get a good dump here too.  So far, this winter, it has been very manageable.
The last snow did bring a lot of deer out of the woodwork though.  We had been having an average of 35-40 around.  Now, it is usually closer to 50 with days that have gone over 60.  That is a few.  I know some on the shore finally quit feeding so I think a few have migrated up here since we have a mild winter.  We are going through a lot of alfalfa.  They sure do love that stuff and it is such good quality this year. 
I start my day with my critters.  I start the coffee.  I talk to Toby.  Then, out the "magic door" to feed Skinny Butt his favorite treats.  Then, out the other door to fill the bird feeders with sunflower seeds.  Shadow comes on a run when she sees me as she wants first dibs on them.  Then, after getting her treats, we head for the bales of alfalfa on the trailer, under a huge tarp, by the garage.  She walks right along side me over to get the alfalfa.  She dearly loves that!  With all the deer lately, I feed whole bales at a time now.  She doesn't particularly like it when I cut the strings and the bales pop.  So, she stands back until I do that.  Then, she and the twin fawns start in on the choicest, greenest parts of the alfalfa while I distribute the rest.  By that time, I have a yard full following me around.  "Fancy's girl" always has to catch up a few times and get some bites of corn out of the bucket, as does Miz Spectacles.  So, it is an interesting, pleasurable start to my mornings. for a walk with Toby.  After that.....breakfast.  I am usually ready for that coffee and some food by then. 
The critters are a nice way to start off the day, for sure!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February 5, 2013 Days are getting longer.....

Last night I was out chasing sunsets on Lake Superior again.  When I was up on the ridge for my late afternoon walk with Toby, I could see a light haze over the west horizon and a few interesting clouds.   It wasn't a lot; but, no heavy grey clouds which means no color up. you can see, by the time I got to a spot that works, there is that narrow heavy grey cloud.....just enough to keep from getting a beautiful evening sky.  There was a bit of color banding on the horizon, but not much.
That's the way the ball bounces....unfortunately.   You just can't always predict the sunrises or the sunsets.  You can just look at what seems to be there that may do it and go for it.  If you stay home, you may see a beautiful sky, but you won't have any nice scenery to put in the foreground.  It was a lovely evening on the beach with Toby, at any rate.  He was pretty relaxed as we had done our usual early morning -23 degrees below 0.  We went to Horseshoe Bay and had a little expedition at mail time.
Here is Horseshoe Bay at noon, yesterday.  I am in the corner of the bay where the creek comes in.  You can see it flooded up pretty nicely with that recent rain.  The ice has set in the bay out to the end of each point.  The ice was flocked with frost crystals and looked very pretty.  By later in the day, I saw the ice had gone out of all the big bays and was only left in the smaller bays.  But, if you are up on top of a hill, you can see the big ice packs as far as you can see.    So....since February is starting out cold, we may still get ice.  Last night, it snowed 2-3" so everything is white and fluffy again.
It was also a very pretty day for taking shadow photos.  I always find these fun.  But, it is actually more fun even later in the afternoon when the shadows get twice as long.  They make some fun pictures when they stretch out like that.
In the late afternoon, Toby and I headed out again for our afternoon adventure.  That is when I started paying attention to what the sky was doing.  It did look very promising.  So, we got home, loaded the gear, and off we went.  By now, it was up to 10 degrees.  That beats -23 degrees all to heck.  But, it is still pretty cold on the fingers.  I haven't found gloves that I can work the camera with, thus.....freezing fingers syndrome by the time you get done.  They barely had thawed out by the time I got home.  Toby....on the other hand, went promptly to sleep on the pickup seat and really crashed with his nose tucked under his paw when we got home.  All that play and no naps makes for a tired boy. 
I will say, tho, that he is "so far, so good" after quitting the antibiotics.  He is perkier and more playful than he has been in a very long time.  He will be 10 years old mid-May.  He was on the antibiotics for two full years.  He probably will never not register positive on a Lyme's test again.  But, as long as it doesn't flare up.....I guess that is the best we can ask for.  He's a happy dog.  :)
I will leave you with a peaceful, heading back to the truck, photo of a lovely late afternoon on the shore of Lake Superior.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 2, 2013 Lake Superior-Freezing!

I took this photo of Lake Superior this morning on my way back from getting the mail; 11:00 a.m. to be exact.  The big lake, to some, is always "freezing" as far as temperature goes.  However, it is actually trying to set ice.  That is something it hasn't done in this area in a few years.  As a kid, we regularly went skating on Lake Superior.  And.....what fun it was!  Such a nice, wide open expanse of ice, kept polished by the winds.....always made for skating til your ankles felt ready to fall off....or something.  We would get off the bus and always head right down to the lake to get with it.  We  always remembered to have our long plank down on the ice with us.....just in case.  My dad made sure to remind us never....ever....go on that ice without the plank.  We could go out on the ice after 3 cold nights.  Then, it was safe.  I remember when we first started skating on Lake Superior....we would have a lot of false "run for shore" moments because of all the groaning and cracking noises made by the ice.  It rarely froze completely over.  So....wind action caused it to make all kinds of noises.  For a kid......they could be rather intimidating some times.  Of course, there was the evening the wind had started to blow and the ice, quite thick at this point, was starting to break up.  We were busily skating back and forth over the moving cracks.....thinking....hmmmmm....this is kind of neat.  My mother always kept a good eye on us from the house.  She did ask us, when we got in, if, in fact, that ice was moving., kind of hard to say it wasn't.  Kids will be kids!
I did go on Coastwatch, just two days ago, to check the lake temperatures.  It is a handy site to have bookmarked for checking to see if it is worth going fishing part of the year.  Most of the lake was either 34 or 35 degrees.  I saw a spot by Pigeon Bay that said 33 degrees.  So, it is close.  Now....if the wind would die down for a few days......
Here is another shot I took while on the beach this morning.  Lake Superior is pretty dang low these days so there are interesting ice caps on a number of rocks that usually don't have them.  If this continues, I think I will have to get myself out of bed extra early one of these mornings and get some sunrise on the ice photos.  They can be awfully pretty.
Here's one of Toby I took this morning after our little expedition.  The place I stopped was right along the highway and not really a good place for a dog to be out.  So, he had to sit in the truck and kind of keep an eye on me, when he could see me.  He expects to get out and snoop the area when I do these things.  Anyway, we got home and he promptly went and got Casey's old hedgehog and wanted to play.  I got him one of his own, as the grunt in this one died.  However, he likes this one.  I think I have sewed it back up at least 20 times.  A favorite toy is just that!  Keep on sewing....