Monday, March 28, 2016

Bird Watching

 We hit the road early this morning and drove down to the Green Island Wildlife Unit to do a little bird watching.

Birds are key indicators of the health of our natural resources and provide significant contributions to our economy through birding, wildlife photography, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

I had a few that I had hoped to see this morning.  We did pretty well.   Bird of the day was the Northern Shoveler.  Many of the dabbling ducks use their flat bills to strain food items from the water, but the big spatulate bill of the Northern Shoveler is adapted to take this habit to the extreme. 

As we enjoyed our breakfast on the go.

A hot ham and pepper jack cheese on one of Susie's pitas, warmed on the manifold and a fresh cup of Joe.  While we enjoyed the cool morning filled with bird calls.  

We saw lots of Canadians, teal, hooded mergansers and woodies.

And a single sand hill crane.

Mart and I hit Mill creek for a little kayak time
 I love to see the Mill from the water.

Marty is always doing an inspection of the building.   A year or two a go we worked on the windows up on the top floor.
 The fishing was good as always.  It's nice to get out on the water and explore.  The catching?  Not so good.  But, I'm sure it won't be long before the water temperatures warm up some and the fish start to work their way up these little tributaries of the Mississippi.

 We did have some great wild life sightings.

 A squadron of Pelicans flew overhead as well as a Peregrine that was hanging along the bluff chased off a young Bald Eagle 

A Whistle Pig nibbled on some fresh green nettles along the stream bank and we also spotted and otter a little further up stream.

 Back home,
Susie was busy mulching the rhubarb.
 And tending to the lavender bed.

Great day out!  So, I guess I'm ready for a few more weeks of school

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Just Another Walk....

 I racked up a few more miles yesterday am walking around the neighborhood.  Hitting all kinds of terrain going places that very few people, seldom walk.

The allure of finding a spring time shed leads me to the next ridge, across the deep ravine or through the next patch of set a side.  
 Scanning for a flash of white.

A bone
Another bone.
 The dogs don't seem to care as they find a wallow and explore the spring time smells.  

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Cress Run.

 After our watercress run out to Roly proved to be unsuccessful Tuesday, Mart invited me out for a hike to gather some cress and to look for a shed.  When I came over the ridge I thought I had hit the jackpot but alas it was just a cow bone yard.
 We continued down the valley checking out all to little nooks and crannies along the limestone bluffs. 
 Imaging how the early people in this valley may have sat here on a sunny afternoon working on arrow head as they pursued the abundant wild game that lived in these valleys.
 I'm going to have to settle for a bag of watercress because I didn't find any sheds or arrow heads.  But, Mart did find this one that the squirrels had gotten to before him.

We found a good  spot out of the wind, snow and sleet in the bottom of the valley.

 Across the valley a pair of Red tailed hawks nested high above the valley floor with one on the nest while the other called out shrill cries as a pair of crows came down the valley.

Red-tails  are monogamous and may mate for life. The female lays one to five eggs each year. Both sexes incubate the eggs for four to five weeks, and feed the young from the time they hatch until they leave the nest about six weeks later.

 Mart and I made plans to come back and check on them later on.  Maybe after the mushrooms start poppin.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


 Fermentation, now that's my kind of science and I'm so lucky to have several former students (Peter, Mike and now Christian) who really LOVE science or at least Beer!

Well, I gave brewing my own beer a try once, years ago.  With no success what so ever.  But, I know honey and these guys have got the beer brewing process down an I've been fortunate enough to have been part of their quality control group.

So, here's a pictorial guide to Christians latest "Science Project".

 Tonight we celebrated St. Patrick's Day at Mike and Maggies with some of Mikes Irish Red Ale.  There’s no need to bother with artificially colored beer when Ireland’s brewing heritage has so much to offer with its red hue and a toffee-like caramel malt and a great pairing with Mikes Corned Beef and Cabbage.

Below is Mikes two tier, three burner brewing set up.   Thanks for great friends and great beer!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Final Run for the Season

 Maxine explores among Native American Hazelnuts early Saturday morning which are found though out the Driftless region of Midwest.

It's short sleeve shirt weather.

This beautiful weekend brought the sugar season to a close.  With the temperatures creeping to near 70* and no fluctuations, dropping down below the freezing mark.  The sap flow has come to a stand still.  Fortunately I had about 50 + gallons of sap back from the previous week.
 Mart and Joan made it back North after wintering in Florida.

Jazz and Maxine got to do some exploring while Mart and I got caught up on things
 We spent most of the afternoon sitting back in the sunshine enjoying all the sounds in the timber.

As you sit you can hear birds of all kinds as the timber comes to life.

Cardinals are some of the earliest each morning.  Downy woodpeckers, nuthatches and a pair Palliated woodpeckers flew in tandem vocalizing the entire time. 
 When the sap gets to a full roll the pan will pop and hum as the water evaporates leaving the sweet, caramelized sugars behind.
 Sap and stoves in various stages along with my tapping drill.

When I got busy cleaning up I made a few good finds. The drill was a major discovery.

 I also found my rasp which is good to have for a few fine tuning projects.

Hot and dry conditions led to a little fire behind the stove.  A guy can get sidetracked when you have so many projects in the mix.

As the weather changed to rain
my last visitors  made it down in the bush.

David and Maple came down from DBQ with their three kids and a buddy from Chicago.  I had a few bags of sap back for the kids to empty and some sap to sip.  We also had some marshmallows to roast for smoors.

I've got to get this crew down earlier next year because they were full of energy and they'd be a great help breaking sticks and burning things.  Having them stop by was a lot of fun.