Sunday, February 28, 2016

February Draws to a Close.

 Even though the sun was shining bright it was still cold and crisp along the trout stream Friday evening. 

Over the past few weeks I traversed many miles over different terrine.

From secluded cedar ridges.  

To 30 year old white pine plantings in search of a shed antler

Finding a skull here or a scapula there.
 Yesterday I hit a maple timber on a western slope.  Here's a tap and a line that someone forgot to pull last spring.

Notice how the critters have chewed on the end of the lines.

I think I know this tapper.
 Score?  Well, it's better than nothing.

It's a shed from last spring. Small and chewed up from rodents looking for a nutritional meal.

I spent the rest of the day and into the evening down in the sugar bush taping a few more trees, cleaning up wind fallen trees and firing up the stoves to boil a little sap

Saturday, February 20, 2016

First trip down to the Sugar Bush.

 After hauling some supplies down to the sugar bush I was ready to unpack some gear and tap a few trees and see how the sap is flowing.

In the past years the first sap run has hit at the start of the second week of March right around the 8th or 9th and  I've always had a good snow base for the first run.

No snow, leads to a problem of how to keep the sap and beer cool.

 Taps and a couple a hand drills.  Still trying to track down my other drill from last spring.
 This just shows how an old scar can heal with time.

A couple of years back a large wind fall branch slammed into this maple.

 The winter winds have dropped a lot of old widow makers that have grown weak in the roots. 

I would much rather block up a fallen tree than drop a tree in the timber and it's mighty handy when it drops just a few yards away from the sap stove.

 First bag on.  Let em drip.

Stove is a little iced up.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


I took the back road out of Charlotte on my way home.  It took me a while to figure out just where I was. 

But the rugged terrine said driftless region.  
The Joseph’s Church Sugar Creek 1855 - 1980 must have been some construction project back in the day.
Starting with a small church that they built for $1,500 and followed by a small school about 50  years later for around $6,000.
 The look of the stream has changed but it still has a good head of water rolling through these valleys, on its way down to the Wapsi.
 Here's a great looking homested which sits in this broad valley.

Looks like a stream that would produce a few small mouth.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

He Said, She Shed...

 It's Super Bowl Sunday and the sun is shining, the temps are in the low *40's.  So, I start thinking about spring projects like getting my bee hives set up and maple syrup equipment ready for a run of *40 days.

I was happy to see some activity when I went down to check out my hive.
 I opened up the top and check things out.  They had a good supply of honey and they were quite active.
 I hopped into the car to check a couple of other hives.  Ann's hive which swarmed twice last summer looked strong.

 While Donnie and  Nick's hives both struggled to make through the January cold snap.
 He said jump the fence and walk under the cedars.

She said I'll just walk along the fence line.  

As I slid on patches of ice I heard "oh my god, oh my god!"

The result was this BIG 5 with a small kicker at the base.   Way to go Susie.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


 Time to heat things up, again.

We just got our new wood stove from our buddy Greg at Dubuque Fireplace & Patio.    

First step was to remove the quarter round wood trim on the pedestal and replace it with ceramic tile quarter round.  With the cuts all made, Susie piped out the adhesive and laid it down in place.

We also added a tile surround to catch any cinders that pop out of the stove.
 Last cut made and set into place. 
 Some more ceramic quarter round and we're good to go.

The Craftsbury is perfect for our smaller home,  heats with the classic good looks of embossed cast iron. Offering medium heating capacity and small dimensions, the Craftsbury is remarkably functional and adaptable. The Craftsbury is lined with soapstone instead of firebrick, so it continues to radiate for hours after the fire dies down, which is a great feature for a stove with a small firebox. Big ash pan and nice looking castings. One of my favorite features is its big stay-clear viewing window for a small stove and a decent size cooktop, if we ever need to use it for cooking.

But, for now we're content to just sit back and enjoy the view from our cozy living room

The first weekend of the month is our martini night in honor of Kendo.

So, my martini of choice was a Pomegranate  Kicker with Sky Vodka, Pom Wonderful, Grand Marnier, fresh squeezed lime juice, rimmed with granulated raw sugar and garnished with pomegranate seeds and an orange.   CHEERS!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


 The caucus system is not a perfect system but it got the job done. Not with secret ballots like the Iowa GOP, but a stand-up-and-be-counted ballot. Having said that, the Caucus tonight was very engaging and exciting.  I am proud of this state and proud to be first in the nation.
Last night we caucused just down the road in Springbrook.  We had just over 30 folks/neighbors show up form our township and the adjoining township, which meant two delegates.  It only took us a bout an hour to do the horse trading and it ended up with Bernie and Hillery each getting one.
 In Maquoketa they used the science room for the caucus center.
The final results of the 16th Precinct Jackson County: Hillary 45 (two delegates to the State Convention); Bernie 22 (one delegate); O'Malley 13 (one delegate).

My friend and coworker at school Iowa State Senator Tod Bowman  stumping for O'Malley.