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Monday, May 2, 2016

Toughness


Some things go unnoticed and unappreciated but not this little tree. When we first moved here and started to clear our lot this little tree was only 3-4 feet tall and now it is over 8 feet tall. It was all by itself and seemed in the way but as I looked at it and decided if it needed to go or not - I decided not.

Now it is often buried under snow during the winter and each year I marvel at how it managed to survive with all that weight of snow on it. I look at it often and admire its toughness and desire to survive. It has survived not only the heavy snow, spruce bud worm and been buried for months at a time but survived drought, bag worms, and everything else nature could throw at it. I helped it out with the bag worms but it has fought and survived everything else. I have really come to admire this little tree.

It has survived everything that has been thrown at it and made this little tree stronger. I know - pretty silly to admire a scruffy little tree when we have 11 acres of them but this tree has earned respect. Some day when someone else lives here they will probably cut it down but as long as I'm alive it will be untouched. It has taken on the harshest of conditions and become stronger and I have watched it grow from a small tree to a real tough tree. It has more than earned its place on our property. Some would call my admiration for this conifer tree nuts and they may be right but I appreciate toughness when I see it and this tree is as tough as they come. Bent over but not broken.....

Danger

This time of year when we get wet snow fall that can range from 2' to 4' at a time it can be hazardous when working outside. There are snow bombs that are heavy, semi solid, and when falling from 30-50' high can really do some damage to you if you are unfortunate enough to be underneath one when it gives way. they are very heavy so I don't work under the trees until they have unloaded their cargo.

Our home also has a very steep metal roof so it is best to wait until after it has come off the roof before working along side the house. I have been swept completely off my feet with heavy snow that pins you to the ground before and now I don't get close enough to run the risk. In the last two weeks we have gotten a total of 73" of heavy wet snow. It is not only dangerous to property but it can be dangerous to people too if you happen to be in the way.

While people in other parts of the country are enjoying their tulips, daffodils and crocus and planting their gardens we are subject to heavy wet snow that can collapse decks, roof and damage vehicles. If you happen to be a little careless it can damage people too.

My garden is pretty well shot and I'll have to replant one more time. Sometimes I can get away with planting in early April but not this year. We enjoyed two pleasant months in March and most of April but then the bottom fell out of the weather and now we have deep slush and snow that is very heavy. We may not be done yet. There isn't much we can do with this snow as it is so wet it clogs the chute of the snow thrower, sticks to the shovel and each shovel full weighs a ton. It also fills up the broom where it is not effective. All we can do is sit and wait for it to melt which it will in a few days. In the mean time we will stay out from under those trees and the snow bombs.

Check Codes/Permits First

If you plan to build and be your own contractor it is wise to check the county codes and permit process BEFORE you start. Each county is different and you need to comply as they generally all have the power to shut you down and/or force change that can be costly. Check out the link below:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/homesteading-with-code-requirements-zbcz1605.aspx

I have had several people ask me about building their vacation home or dream home locally. This is for their benefit and hope they will check out the county land use codes first.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Snow Must Go


It is time for the sun to appear and for the snow to go. We had bare ground for almost two months and so I planted my garden. Last week we had 49" of fresh wet and heavy snow and so far this week another 24" and it has been snowing  almost every day. These gloomy days are starting to get to us and we need SUNSHINE. Snowing when we go to bed, snowing when we get up. For a guy like me that loves snow it is even getting to be too much. I'm running out of places to put all this new snow.




Saturday, April 30, 2016

Game Time

We have a little game we play with the dogs called "cereal". Not an original name but fun for the dogs. We toss several handfuls of puffed rice cereal out on the carpet and they go to town scoffing it up. It was a dark gloomy day out today so I decided they needed a pick me up so cereal was the choice. After they have it all eaten up they will still look for more that may have escaped them initially.

Bozley was pretty uncertain to play when he first came with us but now he gets right into the game with the others. They share well and enjoy the game. When they start to get cabin fever and need something to get them up again we will play 'cereal' or 'hide and seek' with miniature marshmallows. One of us will take them outside while the other one hides the marshmallows around the house and then we will tell them 'hide and seek' and they will go in search of those tiny marshmallows. Sometimes we will have to guide them with directions and they know exactly what we are telling them so it is a learning experience too.  Try it with your fur family members and I'll bet they will like it just as much as ours do.

Friday, April 29, 2016

More Spring Snow

 About 16" of wet snow in the past two days which is very normal for our area. Our last snow is usually around the end of May. It is hard to measure the snow because it is so wet it compresses and so wet it settles right down. This is our necessary snow for moisture for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why Am I Like I Am?

The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty. 
Zig Ziglar

Do you ever wonder why you are like you are? Why you react the way you do to circumstances? I do and I have given it some thought and done some introspective searching. It could come from my past when I was growing up. It could come from my heritage and it could come from making mistakes along the way, my environment and life lessons. I have friends from different cultural backgrounds and while they think and react differently than I do we have many of the same core values and respect each other for our differences. I think it boils down to core values and while I can see many Irish traits as I go through life and the experiences it throws my way I think it is the core values that determine your success and happiness. 

I remember when I was a child that my mother used to tell me if I told the truth I wouldn't have to worry about remembering what I said. I hear that on the TV show from Judge Judy all the time and it is good that she imparts that life principal to others because some people never do learn that. Sig Zigler has it right in his quote above. What he describes is a person with good character. All life lessons culminate into his quote and along the way there are choices and some will be good choices and some not so good. The goal is to learn from making the bad choices and not repeat them again. 

I believe that being of Irish heritage has much to do with my current behavior and the way I conduct myself. It is something ingrained within me that I can't run or hide from. I have a very strong sense of justice and I rail and push back against injustice. I can't seem to keep it hidden and it surges forward and for me to deny that would be like pushing the ocean tide back. Us Irish are friendly and fun loving and don't take life too seriously. It is just the way we are. It is claimed that we Irish like to fight and are heavy drinkers and that is not true. We mostly try to avoid fighting but when the fight is brought to us we will most certainly fight back if the problem can't be resolved peacefully. In short when pushed too far we will fight and we fight hard. 

It is claimed we Irish are all heavy drinkers. Another myth. In our culture we gather at pubs for a little ale to socialize and have fun. Only those Irish who buy into the myth that our breed are heavy drinkers do such. Normally we simply enjoy a brew and good conversation without over indulging. It is also claimed the Irish are a little on the ignorant side but that too is false. Because the Irish are fun loving and don't take life as seriously as some others might that dog just won't hunt. Some of the most brilliant people I have met have been Irish. My roommate in the Air Force was Irish and went to MIT due to his brilliance. 

I think being Irish plays a role in who and what I am and to try to run from it or muffle it only tends to make me something I am not. Like being Italian, French, English or Native American we all have ingrained characteristics that have been bred into us from birth that we should acknowledge. It is this individual uniqueness that we need to be true to and I personally find it refreshing and welcome those who may be different than I am. It is in combination with them that I find growth and value in life. We compliment and contrast each other and in the end make each other a better people. 

In today's culture where diversity is promoted it is easy to lose your personal culture by striving to be like everyone else and hence lose your real identity in the process. I think that is a huge mistake to buy into that falsehood and I'm proud to be Irish and understand how that plays into who I am and why I'm like I am. We can't go through life in a bubble or only surround ourselves with like people and expect to thrive. But that doesn't mean that I have to pretend to be of another culture to prosper. I accept who I  am and surround myself with those who embrace those same core values and also stay true to who they are as well. One only has to look around to see life can be full of illusion and false values but to remain true to who you are as a person will lead to happiness and fulfillment. I'm therefore happy to be Irish and have the core values I have developed over the years. That is just who I am....and I plan to stay true to myself. Chasing after false identities takes a person away from what and who they are. Character can't be bought and has to be earned and learned and your heritage plays heavily into that if you but embrace it.    

Friday, April 22, 2016

Some Tough Pea Plants

 These are some tough pea plants. They were buried under 49" of snow and after I shoveled them out they are laying on the dirt but alive. Green leaves and they have been buried now for one week. The other plants did not fare as good but these pea plants hung in there until I could get the snow off and they could get some sun. I was prepared to pull them out and start over again but they are much tougher than I thought.
 Below are some of the slush/ice/snow piles that I pushed as far as I could with the tractor and blade. Tomorrow I will hook up the front end loader and scoop them up and put them down hill where the run off will go into a ditch and not wash out the driveway. I should have known better than take the snow thrower off but once off it got buried and I can't get to it to put it on again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Day Three - Snow Stopped

 Photos from our back ground floor windows after 3 days of constant snow. According to my best calculations we received close to 44" of heavy spring snow over the last three days. Today the sky is blue and we are finally able to get outside and start moving some of this heavy snow. The photo's depict how deep the snow is as it came up about 6-8" on the window and in the photo below the fence is a 6' fence and the ground was bare before the storm hit. Typical spring snow storm.
 Our average snow fall for the winter is around 264" according to the HUD report when we bought our property. So far we have 216," and we can and do get snow until the end of May so we will probably reach our average. Just another spring snow in the mountains.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spring Storm

Generally the weather people miss when it comes to our area of the mountains. This time they got it right. I had taken the snow removal equipment off the tractor and now we have between 19 -22" of heavy wet snow and it is coming down with no let up. Yesterday we walked down and sat in the swing for a while and today we are in the middle of a blizzard. This is typical for life in the mountains. When the storm passes over and has finished we will be left with much needed moisture. The sun and rain will melt the snow and it will be gone in a matter of a few days. I'll willing to let nature take its course with it and not hook up the snow removal equipment again.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Covenant Communities

Check out my latest blog at http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/organized-community-homesteading-zbcz1604.aspx

We have been living in a covenant landowners community for 19 years and have made certain observations during that time regarding associations. We have owned property in at least five different covenant communities. Rarely have they functioned as they were designed to do. Covenant communities sound good on paper but fail to take into account being governed by your neighbors.
Often neighbors do not have the temperament or experience to govern their neighbors and don't want to admit it hence causing friction. They also take any criticism or suggestions poorly and become very defensive.

I believe that covenant associations work for condos but not neighborhoods where people interact and don't like to give their neighbor power over them even though they are voted into office. Check out the blog and if you are thinking of living remote I would suggest that you first check out the community that you plan to live in if it is controlled by an association.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spring In The Rockies

 Outside working most of the day in shirt sleeves and came in to take a break. Looked out the front window and large wet flakes of snow were falling. Wet enough to stick to the trees and create all the beauty of the mountains. This time of year the weather can change every few minutes.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Saving Trees

 Last November I was walking down the road a couple days after the grader went down the road. I heard the grader straining like it was stuck and as I went down the road there were large rocks ripped out of the ground and the road was torn up. It appeared that the operator may have missed the road and ended up in the ditch. Among all the rocks and dirt I saw the above little tree which had been ripped out of the ground and it appeared to be still alive. I brought the tree home and put it in some dirt and watered it down good. I then put the bucket in another larger bucket and packed saw dust around the smaller bucket. I have nursed it along all winter and it hung onto life. Today I took it out and found some rich soil and planted and watered it. I'm hoping it will continue to grow. Since trees only grow a few inches or during a good growth year maybe a foot I will never see it mature but hopefully someone will and it will give them shade and wind protection. I planted it in with some other trees (below) that I planted several years ago. Grow up and be impressive and strong little tree....


Sunrise

Another glorious morning in the mountains.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Head Tilt

Better known as the German Shepherd head tilt. It will melt hearts, get results and lots of treats... Beware it is dangerous for humans to look upon this tactic....It is how our fur family trains and controls us.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pannus -Joe Cool

Echo and Bozley both have pannus in one or both eyes. This time of year it is nice outside so we like to sit on the deck and of course the dogs like to be out with us. Echo wears his Doggles to block the suns rays which accelerates the pannus which can if left alone blind a dog. The description of pannus follows. He actually likes his Doggles and we praise him for wearing them and he leaves them on. In the summer it is not so bad but in the winter the sun is directly overhead and also reflects off the snow which is hard on their eyes and aggravates their condition. Sarah and Bozley don't seem to have a problem with it but Echo and Bozwell don't like the direct sun. Bozwell likes his walks in the morning and doesn't like to go out in the direct sunlight. They go out in the back yard which is shaded so it doesn't bother them in the back yard.

 Pannus or chronic superficial keratitis is an immune-mediated condition affecting the cornea or clear part of the eye. It occurs primarily in middle-aged German shepherd dogs, but other breeds may also be affected.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Eyes Of Your Dog

What do you see when you look into the eyes of your canine family member?  I see love, loyalty, admiration and respect. I also see attentiveness. If that is not what you see maybe it deserves a closer look.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Miracle Shot

Over 50 years ago when I had been reassigned to Offut AFB I was in the break room with some of other men from my flight and we were getting to know each other when one of the guys asked me if I liked to hunt. He said he had permission to hunt squirrels on some private property owned by a local banker. I told him I had hunted squirrels with my grandpa years ago and that led to an invite to go squirrel hunting with him. This banker who lived outside Omaha on several acres was having problems with squirrels chewing on his house and let this guy hunt them.

A date was set and since I lived in the barracks and he was married and lived off base he picked me up and we went squirrel hunting. As it turned out this banker had a beautiful home on quite a few acres. We parked his car and walked out into the woods and were sitting on a rock that was about the size of a large truck overlooking a gulch. It was about 100 yards across the top and about that deep.

He was obviously an experienced squirrel hunter as he had a squirrel caller plus a lever action .22 caliber rifle with a scope. I had an old .22 caliber iron sight bolt action Springfield. The clip didn't work so I shot it single action.  After we had sat on that rock with him calling squirrels we finally saw a squirrel across the gulch on the other side sitting on a limb. He tried to sight it in through his scope and confessed it was just to far away for a shot even with a scope. I tried to sight down the iron sights and the squirrel was totally obscured by the bead on the sight. I moved the sight back and forth until I had the squirrel where I thought  it was centered and then did the same going up and down. When I thought I had the squirrel behind the bead I squeezed off a round. I looked up and the squirrel just fell off the limb dead and bounced all the way to the bottom.

He was amazed that I hit it at that distance and was babbling what a great shot it was and to stay where I was and he would go to the bottom of the gully and fetch the squirrel . A few minutes later he was back up where I was holding  the squirrel huffing and puffing from the climb. He finally said I don't see where you hit it. I told him to check the head as he looked over the squirrel he stated WOW you shot it right through the ears. He said he had never seen a shot like that and with my wit I told him it really wasn't that much of a shot. I didn't expect to even come close to the squirrel.

He kept saying it was the most magnificent shot he had ever seen. At that incredible distance and I hit it in the head. I told him it was just an ordinary shot but would have been a good shot if it hadn't moved its head at the last minute because I was aiming between its eyes. He was astounded even though I was kidding him and had only hoped to come close enough to make the squirrel run away or move. Of course that story was soon all over the Air Base and people were asking me if I was the new guy that shot a squirrel at long distance with iron sights in the head through the ears all while aiming between its eyes.

I let the story have a life of its own and never did correct the story as it seemed the thing to do besides I was having fun with the story. "How did you learn to shoot that well?" was generally asked. I would tell them we would lay coke bottles on their side at that distance and try to shoot through the opening and knock the bottom out without hitting the lip of the bottle. Shooting that way was true (unlike the story) but not anywhere near that distance. At most a long shot would be half that distance. That story was pretty widespread at the time and it was right after that when I was sent up to do duty at the SAC Elite guard. I was then separated from the break room guys so did not see most of them again. I know that the story didn't have anything to do with the assignment but while it lasted it was a good story and I had a lot of fun with it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Time For Wildfire Mitigation Is Now

Check out the latest blog in Mother Earth News about having an individual wildfire protection plan. Our community has a plan in effect but regretfully when it is closely examined it has flaws that could cost lives. Our community is unique inasmuch as there is one way in and one way out which is controlled by an electric gate. Firefighters would be coming in while residents would be trying to get out. There are alternate routes but they are on very rough roads that are 4WD only and if a vehicle gets stuck those behind could be caught in the open during a wildfire.

We are in our second red flag warning and we still have 1 1/2" of snow on the ground. That would make alternate evacuation routes next to impossible to use with the snow and mud on them plus they have obstacles on them. The lakes are still frozen so that restricts water resources to drop on fire. That is why it is important to have an individual plan and be diligently working to have defensible space around your home. Without a viable plan to use a homeowner is subject to panic (yourself and others) and taking a less than wise route that could be the road to disaster. It is also important to have an information venue to make those in communities aware of the master plan.

The blog can be found at: http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/wildfire-preparedness-zbcz1603.aspx

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Finally Snow

 Here in the mountains we need snow for moisture that will hopefully last the remainder of the year and keep the wildfire hazard down. We normally receive an average of 264" per year of snow and up until today we had only received 140". We were starting to get  nervous whether we would get enough snow or not but today it is finally snowing. Those big fluffy flakes that contain lots of moisture. This was really needed both for the moisture and outdoor exercise in moving it. We were starting to get lazy. Only 5" so far but the storm isn't over yet.
At this time of year most people are pretty much fed up with the snow and are spitting and cussing when it comes. Not us - we welcome it for all the benefits it brings....

Like Bubbles - Truth Floats To The Surface - by Sakoieta'



This world is in the throes of change yet what people thought was buried is like the river that every so often brings what so many thought was hidden back to the top to be revealed as a truth that cannot be denied. We have the ability to choose to see the truth or cast it aside and later on it will come to the top again. but more than anything we need to be able to use the truth to seek peace of mind, body and spirit and speak words of truth that will deliver all of us. We have the power, we just need to use it.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Set Aside Time To Enjoy Life - by Sakoieta

Each new day is laid at our feet to form as we will. We have all been given responsibilities for life and living and as we awake each day we begin our daily task of taking care of our responsibilities to ourselves, our families, our clans, our friends, our communities, our nations and the natural world. We need to look after these but then we also need to include our responsibilities to take time for things that are enjoyable, to rest, to laugh, to be happy, to play and to give thanks. If we do not include these as well then our life is less exciting and enjoyable as we wake each new day. We were made to enjoy life as much as we can, not merely to work at life.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spreading Road Base

 It took three days to spread the road base on our driveway but the first part is done. This represents two dump trucks of road base and I held one in reserve so when this settles down and firms up I can see where the third truck full needs to go. The weather forecaster has us receiving either rain/snow later today and that will lock up the road base and then I can see where the third truck load will be needed.
Then again it is good to have some held back in reserve because when you live on the slope we do this summer the rain can wash some out and there will be adequate road base to replace it. Mostly done and the rest is up to the weather and driving on it to lock it in place. Even with the tractor it requires a lot of raking to get it flat and level.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Days Of Hard Work

 Three dump trucks of road base was dropped off this morning. Probably about 45 tons of road base which is crushed rock with an aggregate that locks together to form a solid driveway. Every several years we have to add road base to our drive to keep from getting muddy spots. I worked for 5 hours and did not put much of a dent in the road base. Tomorrow is another day but it is clear it is going to take days to spread this road base. And yes that is a snow bank behind the road base that is about 10' high. We are 50" below the snow pack that we had last year at this time. It looks like we are going to be pretty dry this year. It is good to get the road base spread this time of year as when the ground is soft it settles in and makes a solid driveway to drive on. This delivery cost $500.00, but it is worth every ache and pain plus the cost.
 I had to take off the snow thrower and sub frame to put the front end loader on the tractor which is a great help. The above photo shows where the road base has already been spread and the wet muddy spots are now buried well under the road base. That will make getting around much easier. If we get another heavy snow I will need to re-install the sub frame and snow thrower or blade.
Looking down the driveway the wet muddy spots are visible and if the weather holds long enough by tomorrow I'll have road base on those areas. As can be seen there is still a lot of snow that will melt yet so it is important to get something on those wet area's that will keep the mud from being a problem. Maybe by tomorrow I'll recover from all the aches and pain from raking and some shoveling some that can't be moved with the front end loader. We have springs that run in the spring time that can make the driveway pretty soft so a generous application of road base should eliminate that problem. The tractor with front end loader is much better than hauling it with a wheel barrow like in the past but there is still a lot of manual labor involved. I will sleep well tonight after all that hard work.

Life in the mountains is never easy but some jobs are harder than others and this is one of those.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bird Houses

Check out the latest blog on Mother Earth News coupled with the story where the lumber for these bird houses came from 32 years ago.
http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/housing-for-nesting-birds-zbcz1603.aspx

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ready For Birds Return

I have been seeing and hearing song birds and just observed a red wing blackbird this morning so decided it was time to get a couple bird houses ready to replace some that are falling apart. I made duplex houses divided in the middle and each unit is accessible from one side  and the other is accessible from the opposite side. The weather has been good lately and the birds are coming back early.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Bozley And His Toys

You will never find Bozley very far from his toys - especially his squeaky ball. He carries it with him where ever he goes. He will leave it inside when he goes out to 'potty' but immediately picks it up when he returns. When he is surrounded by his toys he is one happy camper.....

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunrise

Looking out our front window we get some beautiful sunrises. We don't get sunsets as they happen on the other side of the mountain and out of our sight.

Faith by Sakoieta

I hear all the time that people will not believe what they cannot see and so they criticize. But in reality can we see gas, electricity, love, compassion. loyalty, friendship? Not at all but we see examples of people demonstrating some of these and feel the benefits of the others. So we do know they exist. Our people do many ceremonies for healing and life. We may not know exactly how they work or why they do, all we know is that they do. Faith is a word that gives people the willies. They seem to think it is some strange thing that removes them from reason, and they never stop to think how often they do trust their belief in faith. They put their faith in a car to start when they turn the key, their telephone to work when they dial a number, an elevator to take them to whatever floor they are wanting to stop at, without it falling and crashing back to the ground. Faith is not only looking at the source but understanding it and knowing it will not fail. Fear of Faith is one of our worst states of being alive and living.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Another Beautiful Day In The Mountains

 Temperature hovers around 11-12 degrees and the wind is gusting up to 25 mph but the sun is out so it will warm up. By clicking on the photo it will enlarge for a better view.
After receiving 24" of snow yesterday today is looking up. We still have all that snow to move but that will get done over the next few days and doesn't have to be done all at once. In the bottom photo the wind blowing the snow is evident and the top photo depicts the mountain chickadee coming in for some sunflower nourishment to help maintain his active status.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Lost Art



\
It is infrequent that we get a letter any more. With the advent of texting (which I do not do), Fax,, Email, messaging etc. the art of letter writing has gone the way of the dinosaur. I still write the occasional letter to close friends but when you write someone and don't hear back that too wanes..
They do not even teach cursive in school anymore or letter writing skills. "Back in the day" when writing a letter to family, friend or for business you would sit down with paper and pen and actually think of what you wanted to say and then put it down on paper. You would read it over and make sure it was representative of what and how you wanted the recipient to accept it.

You had to think about what you wanted to say and how you wanted to say it. Sometimes it would take several days to write a letter. In contrast with today's standards you type it out on your I-phone, tablet or computer and click on send and its gone. You can usually tell if the other person is on line or not so you expect an instant reply or dialog. If you don't get an immediate reply you become upset. It now seems everywhere I go someone is talking while walking through a store or while waiting for car repair on their cell phone. Those who are not on their cell phone are looking down at it sending text messages is modern day coded language.

It is little wonder that so many people are angry now days with the instant news flashes or communication. Little effort is made to insure the coded message is phrased right so not to offend the recipient. If what you said angers or confuses them you can instantly correct the mistake. If there is a set of proper rules for email or texting I have not seen it. It used to be we would look forward to receiving a letter from a friend or family. We could sit down and read it over and over and share the words with others. You also knew someone was interested enough in you to take time to get out the paper and pen, sit down and put their thoughts into order and then address an envelope and mail the letter to you. Now days if you get a card on special occasions it may have a single line with a signature.

I think some things are worth keeping and letter writing is one of those arts that should not be lost. Writing a letter requires good sentence structure, penmanship, and organized thought. Now the first thing that flashes in your mind gets sent at warp speed to the recipient. There is spell check and automatic correction that changes your message. Writing with a dictionary at hand is no longer needed. If you are having a bad day as we all do on occasion it is promptly transmitted to others in a text, tweet, face book posting or a host of other ways. When I would get a letter that was not right I was able to re-read it and actually give thought to whether the sender was having a bad day, was upset with me or some issue. I would then have time to think of how to respond. If my response was not good I would let the letter sit for three days and then re-read it and if I didn't like it I would change the wording to make it better.

Personally I miss the rapidly lost art of letter writing and perhaps the instant communications today has some contribution toward the anger everyone seems to possess. I found out from a friends son after he passed away that he had kept every one of my letters to share with his family when they visited him. It is sad that letter writing is disappearing.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Making An Environmentalist

When I was living in central Florida I joined a largemouth bass fishing club that was part of a nationally organized fishing network. I ultimately ended up as the president of the club and we had monthly fishing tournaments. We would occasionally catch a bass that had a disproportionately large head  compared to its body. The head would indicate a 5 lb. fish when because of the small body it would only weigh 2-3 lbs.  We caught enough fish with this distortion that we were concerned.

I heard of a group forming that was also looking into these strange fish. I found the group and went to one of their meetings and soon became a member. Next thing I knew I was voted in as a director and speaking to large numbers of people about the St. Johns River with the state biologist. While all this was happening some specimen fish were sent off to Auburn University to determine what was causing this anomaly. The technical term escapes me this many years later, but we found out from the reports that it was caused by pesticide/herbicide and fertilizer run off by local farms. The chemicals being introduced into the river by creeks and run off caused the cells in the fishes body to turn to liquid and stunt growth.

As I read expert report after report and learned more and more about what was causing the problems in the river and heard and watched the culprits lie and distort their involvement it became clear to me that trying to save a valuable resource was not easy. It further went against my natural instinct of right and wrong. The culprits with large money resources could influence an unsuspecting and ill informed public that relied on others to tell them what was wrong. How important it was to be fact specific when I would speak at gatherings or we would be marginalized as nothing more than rable rousers. Educating the public who probably wasn't interested in the first place was going to be very important.

I went back to college to take environment biology courses to learn how to back up facts with scientific documentation. It was often difficult when speaking to large audiences and I can sympathize with those who are yelled at or interrupted when speaking. It did help however when I would appear with the State of Florida biologist who could speak with absolute authority. I learned that doing my research and understanding my subject fully went a long way. Our environmental group grew to well over 100,000 members and ultimately far more than that. It was recognized nationally for its efforts and was well known.

That was what instilled a sense of protecting our resources and preserving them (conservationist) for future generations. I also found out what it was like to be disparaged for doing what was good. When I left central Florida I took all those lessons with me and have been involved in various like organizations ever since. I still fear that one day we will wake up and find ourselves in a totally toxic world because conditions have not only become worse but accelerated in my opinion. That in substance is what makes an environmentalist and I expect I will continue to be one until my very last breath.

Anyone wanting to take on environmental causes must be willing to do endless research, not be offended when people verbally attack you with labels or personally because often they have an agenda that is not in the public interest. It is always an uphill challenge but we need those who are willing to take on that uphill climb.  

Power In Numbers

 We have a flock of Rosy Breasted Finches that probably number 200 that raid our bird feeders. They come in as a flock and in a minute they will empty two bird feeders and a suet feeder.
Because of their sheer numbers they drive all the other birds off and if we fail to notice them we are constantly filling the bird feeders. 

Because of their large numbers they are hard to drive off and will swarm the feeders as I'm trying to take them down. We take the feeders down when we see them flock in so the other birds can feed too. In many ways they remind me of some groups of people who claim to have a cause. Impervious to anyone or anything around them to get their way through sheer numbers.