Total Pageviews

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Another First

 In all our years here (23) we have never had tumble weed blow up around the house. I suspect this is the result of our high wind (40+ mph) and the wildfire. Something new for us because it has to be coming from quite a distance away to arrive at 9,800' elevation. The trees are just black sticks without branches with needles to stop tumble weed so I'm sure that has something to do with it. The wind blew so hard a few days ago that it froze the wind meter on our weather station.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Remembering Our Past Fur Family - Gypsy

Last but certainly not least in our past fur family is Gypsy who is the bottom left corner of the photo above. She is the one with the huge smile which was indicative of her character. Gypsy came to us at two years old and lived until she was 14.5 years old. Prior to her coming to live with us full time (we had previously doggy set her) she was mostly kept outside by her prior owners. She had to deal with coyotes, bears and mountain lions living outside. She was not chained up nor did she have a fenced in area to keep her safe. She was allowed into the garden room on very cold nights but was outside most of the time. A friend finally convinced her prior owners to surrender her to us.

She had a close encounter with a bear having been chased. With her prior owners they didn't know she had gotten out of the vehicle at the post office and they pulled off without her. They were a few miles down the road before they realized she was gone. Fortunately when they went back she was huddled up and shivering but safe. They she was involved in an auto accident with her prior owners. We were able to keep her safe except when I was walking her down the road on leash and a coyote ran out after her. Our dog Ben who could be very frightening dissuaded the coyote immediately.

With us she was an inside family member and safe. Gypsy in spite of her being in a roll over accident was a good traveler and she was always happy like she is in her picture. She had a wonderful personality and was never out of our sight. She did exact her revenge on a bear that had wandered up and was right outside the door that goes under our house. She could smell a bear a long way off and when she would get excited we knew there was a bear around. On that occasion I went on the front deck to see where the bear was and she went out with me. When she saw the bear she ran along the slanted overhang and leaped off and landed in the middle of the bears back. I have never seen a bear as scared in my life. It bolted and ran up the nearest tree wondering what happened. I quickly retrieved her to the bears delight and it came down and ran (actually ran) off and never came back.

Gypsy was an important part of our fur family and I hold a special place in my heart for her and will always miss her. She ended up with a long,happy and healthy (and safe) life until the very end. We miss that smiling face of hers and having her curl up in my lap.

For now this is the end of our past fur family.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Life's Hazards

Let the dogs out in the dark and this time of year is difficult. It melts during the day and freezes at night leaving the ground slippery. Feet slid on the ice and I fell landing on my hand. The ice is like little razor blades and since it is ice it is hard. My hand is all puffed up and swollen but everything seems to work. Glad it wasn't worse.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Remembering Our Past Fur Family - Sarah


Sarah is in the bottom right of the photo. We adopted Sarah when she was 4+ years old. We did learn a little about her because she was a surrender to local authorities in the mid-west. She and her sister had gotten loose and chased a calf into a fence where it was injured. The husband told his wife that if Sarah and her sister Misty were still there when he came back from his task at hand he was going to shoot both. The wife called a local rescue and they came immediately and took both dogs into custody. Sarah was transferred to the rescue here in Colorado and Misty was sent on to Utah.

Sarah apparently was an outdoor girl kept in a pen and had been traumatized or mistreated and abused probably by the husband. When we got the call from the rescue to see if we would take her we jumped on the opportunity and went to meet her with Bozwell and Gypsy. She was excited to meet us but then her fear kicked in and she ran and hid under the porch of the rescue. We spoke softly to Sarah, tried to carefully introduce her to situations that would build her confidence.  We did not force situations on her and after a few months she came out of her protective shell and started to act like a new confident girl.

It breaks my heart to see a sweet girl (or boy) like Sarah so broken like that. It was only through gentle handling, not making sudden moves to her and speaking softly that her true self finally broke through. It took over two years but when Sarah came out of her shell she was an absolute wonderful girl. I miss not having her jump up and lay in my lap and her rare but  tender sweet kisses.

Sarah lived until she was 13 1/2 years old and died of congestive heart failure. We had her for 9 1/2 years and I will never regret bring her to our home to become what she was capable of being. Her prior owners never knew what a great potential she possessed and for that I'm happy as they don't deserve to know how wonderful she was. They don't deserve anything but contempt or worse for what they did to her. To me there is nothing better than bringing the best out of a previously abused dog.

We had never adopted a seriously abused dog before but Sarah still makes my heart swell to overflow. If you have a chance to adopt a seriously abused dog all the training you need is patience, more patience and compassion. To have the trust and love and adoration from an abused dog is beyond description. As with all our past dogs I miss Sarah tremendously. I would not hesitate to do it all over again. RIP my sweet girl - you are whole now......

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Early Start On Firewood

One of the biggest tasks we do here is get in firewood for next winter. We have a start and have found it important to start early. A tree here and a tree there is a start. The wildfire has killed many trees and if not cut down they will in time fall over and pose a danger.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Remembering Our Past Fur Family - Ben

Top Right of the photo is Ben. We adopted Ben from the Shelter in Harrisburg, PA.  Ben was around 6 months old when adopted and his prior owner had cut his collar off him and turned him loose in rural PA. He was picked up as a stray and when it came time for him to be adopted Carol was at the shelter when it opened. He actually adopted us and wanted to go with us when we first met him at the shelter but we both had to wait.

Ben was so smart he could tell his left from his right, read the time on the clock and had a very large vocabulary to the point we had to be out of his hearing range to discuss going camping, dogie doctor etc.. Ben was referred to by friends who knew him as Dr. Ben because his intelligence was so great it was easily seen. Ben led a life of luxury and constant pampering. Ben actually taught us much of what we know about German Shepherds. If the average dog knows 200 words, Ben knew over 1000.

Ben also had a terrific sense of humor as he would come over almost every day when I was putting my boots and socks on and plant his big foot on my sock to keep me from pulling it on - smiling all the time.  Ben was terrified of snakes and when we encounter one on our hikes he would literally jump 3' off the ground straight up. One time I was fishing trout along a creek in PA and Carol had Ben on leash and he slipped off the bank into deep water. I rushed in to rescue him and he never forgot that rescue. After that he would not go into water over ankle deep.

Ben holds a very special place in my heart and always will. Ben died at 12 1/2 years old of a brain tumor at home. I miss Ben to this day and wish often he could still be here to know Bozwell, Ruby and Lucy. He would have loved them greatly.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Remembering Our Past Fur Family - Clarence

Top Left: Is Clarence the basset hound golden retriever mix. Clarence used to draw comments from others as what kind of dog is he. We used to tell folks he was a mix and very loving and gentle boy. Clarence was an easy going boy who we adopted from a shelter. He was in the very last stall Sasha and I came to having viewed many other dogs. Clarence was laid back and looked pathetic in his stall waiting for someone to adopt him. He was with us many years and moved with us from Tallahassee, Fla to Ohio then to Harrisburg, PA. He even made a trip to our property here in Colorado so Clarence was a traveler and stayed with us for many years before he started to have strokes and finally lost all ability to control himself.

Clarence was a loving boy who had ear problems most of his life. He therefore had many visits to his vet and we spent many hours cleaning his ears. Clarence  liked being an only child and when we adopted our German Shepherd Ben he pouted for days. We kept them in crates initially and Clarence would sit in his crate and stare into the wall. After a few days of this Ben went over to his crate and grabbed his rug and literally pulled him out of his cage and into the middle of the room. Clarence sat on his carpet all that time stoically looking the same as he did in his crate. Ben went in front of him and lay down in a submissive position until Clarence looked at him.

A little sniffing by Clarence and the bonding took hold. They were fast buddies after that. Clarence was always up for food and never missed a meal. Having  moved with us as much as he did he was very resilient and adaptable. Clarence will also be missed and what I miss most is when I would come home for lunch he would always be sitting on the steps to greet me.

I will post the other fur friends in the photo above separably.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Corona Virus

This virus from China came on us rather rapidly and caught us unawares. Now we are experiencing a form of life we hardly ever expected. Self quarantine and keeping away from others by 6', not shaking hands which is a natural function for us. We are facing a disease that is potentially deadly and has normal people very concerned. Our lives have changed and businesses, churches, schools, restaurants, malls and any place where up to 10 people congregate are closed. For most of us we are just now realizing the potential of this virus and what it is doing to our society.

It is something we have not experienced before. People in a panic have emptied store shelves and are buying far more than they can possibly use for the duration of this epidemic. There are lines to get into stores to stock up on food. This reminds me of a time during world war 2, when food, gas and supplies were rationed. Families were provided the bare minimum to get by on but Americans are flexible and they pulled together and did get by. It was a time when people had to rely on each other. I remember those days even though I was just a child.

These are similar times. We need to rely on each other to each do their part and trust each other to comply with the requirements so we may all survive. What we don't need is hoarding or not following the requirements to keep us all safe. We have to put aside our 'me first' mentality and adopt for a little while at least - 'together' mentality.  If we all pull together as a large combined unit we will survive this virus and move on together. That will require putting religious, ethnic, political, and racial differences aside and working together to beat this virus.

If we do that and come together as Americans at least for the duration of this virus we will prevail. If not we will all fail together and that will be disastrous and fatal for many. There will be many families that suffer when it is unnecessary and needless. Let us decide to pull together and put this virus behind us quickly and move on with our lives as we were used to. United together we are strong. Let the rest of the world see our strength and true fabric. That is my hope for us as Americans.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Pet Peeves

Here is the blog that has gone live on Mother Earth News. I hope that this blog changes some peoples attitude toward transporting their pet in the open bed of a pickup and confining them to their back yard. With the readers of Mother Earth News reaching up to half a million each day I hope it will resonate with some readers. https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/pet-peeves-dog-abuse-and-neglect-zbcz2003


Monday, March 16, 2020

Donut Day

Donut day today...Yumm...

Saturday, March 14, 2020

New Blog Coming

When I submitted my last blog to Mother Earth News my assistant editor suggested I do another blog about dog issues. I have been working on that blog which will be titled "Pet Peeves"  and it should  be done soon and submitted for publication early next week.
Doing a blog requires much research and memory recall. It also takes up to 5-6 revisions and sometimes more before it is ready to submit. These blogs are read by half a million or more people around the world so they have to be done to satisfy varied interests. 
Keep an eye out for it and don't let the title fool you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Choosing the Right Dog

Check out the newest blog for Mother Earth News about choosing the right dog for family and homestead. https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/choosing-the-right-breed-of-dog-zbcz2003

Remembering Past Fur Family - Priscilla

Priscilla was a young Basset Hound female given to us by a prior owner and she was all Basset Hound. She didn't do much in the way of a guard dog except lay in front of the door where any intruder would trip over her. She loved us and was a good family member. We lived on a lake but she didn't particularly like the water so rarely went down to the water.

Actually she was pretty aloof and while she loved the family she wasn't into playing ball or anything. One day we had her outside on her run for some exercise and it was a bright sunshine day and out of the blue a bolt of lightning struck in the lake right in front of our eyes. She was thrown about 6' in the air and lay lifeless. I ran out to her and gave her CPR and after a while her eyes came back down and she was weak but able to focus. I carried her in the house and called the vet who advised us to keep her warm. Her back legs didn't work but soon she was able to function again and was back to her normal self.

After that she was pretty normal but she could hear thunder far off before we could even hear it and she would find a safe place to hide. Pris never was one for walks and spent most of her life just lounging around the house. She is the only Basset Hound I ever had so I don't know if the breed is like Priscilla or not.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Remembering Past Fur Family - Ching

When I was just a young boy my uncle thought every boy should have a dog. He bred Chow's and those dogs seemed to have a mean streak and were not friendly and a poor choice. One day he showed up with a Cocker Spaniel with golden fur named Honey. We lived one house off a very busy traffic street and I had Honey on a lead on the front porch and went inside to use the bathroom. When I came back out a few minutes later someone had stolen her right off our porch.

Then my uncle brought over a pekingese named Ching that someone had shot with a BB gun and hit him in the eye. He only had one eye and he had black and white fur like in the above photo. He was my companion for years and later died of heart failure. I taught him tricks and he not only had a flat flat face but a flat butt as he could sit up for the longest time. A young boy with a fairly large paper route and school didn't leave much time for Ching but I cared for him and made sure he had plenty of water and food.

One day I was out with Ching and heard him gasp and I ran over to him and he had died. I was heart broken and at a young age learned how much you can love an animal. Ching was not the brightest bulb in the box but he was loyal and most of all he was mine. Looking back now I wish I had known more about dog behavior like I do now. Just giving a dog without some basic training on how dogs behave is clearly not right for a child. People need to teach children how to care for and handle a dog before one is brought into the house.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Remembering Past Fur Family - Sheba

When I was in the military I was in a combined unit of all four major branches serving together. While I was Air  Force an Army buddy asked me if I wanted a dog his brother had brought him when he hitch hiked down from Alaska. He said it was a husky but to me it appeared to have more than husky in it. He didn't want a dog and hoped I would take her. She was super smart and made a good member of our family with one exception. She did not like my ex wife but the feeling was mutual. Sheba avoided my ex wife so all went fairly well.

Sheba was only a few months old when we got her and as she grew I realized there was far more than husky in her. My buddy's brother said he bought her as a husky but I quickly noticed her eyes were yellow and she did not have anything that resembled a bark. She was very strong and very protective of myself and the children. Also she could crunch up cow bones easily.

Sheba was very smart: I taught her to heel, sit, stay, come and lay down in a single morning and she never forgot these commands. As she grew older it was more apparent that she had significant timber wolf in her as well as husky. As it turned out she was a very protective and loyal, intelligent family member. She always slept curled up on the floor next to my side of the bed. Sheba was sometimes good around other dogs as long as she was on heel and under voice control and leash but if one wandered to close to her she would try to kill or harm it.

My military dog trainer friend wanted to mate her with his large male German Shepherd dog but she would not even allow him close to her and he withdrew him for fear of his life. Even though he was much larger than her she was far more powerful. It is because of her that I do not recommend anyone trying to raise a wolf dog. The dog doesn't know if it is wolf or dog and switches from one instinctive trait to another. It is unfair to the animal as she was dangerous to other animals but highly protective of our family. Most people do not understand the characteristics of a wolf nor are they skilled to handle this strong animal. I was always having to warn people to keep their pets away from her and not to try to pet her unless I was present and prepared her first. Life was unfair to Sheba and she deserved far better than to be conflicted whether she was wolf or dog.


Friday, March 6, 2020

Remembering Past Fur Family - Bozley

This is Bozley who was an owner surrender. The owner brought him down to us from the Denver area as she had to move and could not find housing that would take a large dog. He was an absolute delight to our family and kept us entertained with his herding of squeaky balls.  I would wake up each morning with him about two inches from my face with his big smile.

Since our kitchen is in the back of our house I would ask him if lunch/dinner was ready yet and he would bound off to the back of the house to check and come back and let me know by his body language. It is important to be able to read a dogs body language and Bozley passed away suddenly on Dec. 19th one year ago. He was perfectly fine in the morning and just collapsed suddenly. There was no hope he would recover or get better and it was with deep regret that we said our last goodbye. When we got him to the vet - withing one hour - he was just too weak to lift his head.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't miss him and how he would come over and lay his head in my lap for ear rubs and attention. We only had him for three years but he will forever be remembered in our hearts and we miss him to this day. He was very intelligent and understood most of what we said to him.  He was always as happy and smiling as the photo above reflects...Rest in peace Bozley until we will meet again.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Heavy Snow

We just keep chipping away at the heavy snow. We chop it into blocks and haul them off in the sled. Very heavy work and this pile is about 7-8' high and it is all hard packed.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Heavy Snow

The snow slides down the roof of our A-Frame and piles up several feet deep. About two times a winter we have to shovel it out of this area and push it down hill. Today was the start of the second time this winter. We have a long way to go yet but I calculated we probably moved around a ton of hard packed snow/ice. We will keep chipping away at it until it is out of the area, making room for the snow still coming. The depth of the snow pile is over 6' deep and we only just started.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Murphy's Law

Murphy says if something can go wrong it will go wrong. I'd like to add that it will go wrong at the absolute wrong time. Measuring snow in our community depends on where you are located. We may get 8" of snow and the back of the park can get 12" and the front of the park can get 2".  We received 4" one day and 5" the next day followed by 2-6 degree temperatures and wind with gusts up to 25 MPH,  The wind redistributes the snow and when it gusts it is white out conditions as drifts form and grow. Maybe we should refer to it as socialism snow because the wind takes it from one person and redistributes it to another who may have just cleared their driveway. 

Anyway - back to Murphy:  Our association has two pieces of heavy road equipment and Murphy is in charge as both pieces of equipment have broken down at the same time. Parts are to be received today and they will be repaired but it couldn't come at a worse time - thanks Murphy. With the winds and snow being redistributed the roads are pretty much drifted in and going out or coming in is highly risky. It is brutal to be out in this wind and drifting snow and while the temperature is single digit the wind chill is negative numbers. Getting stuck in a drift could end up in frost bite or freezing to death. 

Best option is wait until the roads are cleared once again (maybe tomorrow) and be careful then. So far this year in the middle of the park we have received 170" of snow and it is waist deep on the ground. We had a family stop in the road in front of our house recently to look at a lot for sale down the road and I went out to make sure they were alright and they had only walked about 100 yards down the road and were totally exhausted. They were young and in good shape and the wind had blown much of the snow off the road so they were only wading through about 1-1 1/2 feet of snow. You can get in trouble quickly in the mountains in the winter so if you are inclined - use extreme caution and go prepared. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Finally A Break In The Weather

 Finally a break in the weather so we could cook cowboy breakfast out on the cook stove. Potatoes with my special spice, fried spam, eggs over easy and cinnamon rolls and coffee. Yum.....

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Remarkable Aspen Tree

We have several aspen trees on our property and these trees are very remarkable. After the wildfire they have sprung up in large numbers everywhere. There is no single aspen but they are all connected by their extensive root system. The root system can survive underground for thousands of years while the tree may only live to 150 years.
After a wildfire the roots that have been dormant and waiting for a disaster like a wildfire come to life when they can get sunlight. Last summer we had small aspen trees spring up quickly. We had some that grew as high as 4-5' in a single summer. The conifers tend to block out the light and as soon as a wildfire has occurred and sunlight can get to the ground the aspen spring forth. These are remarkable trees that show patience definitely is a virtue when it comes to aspen trees. When they do spring up after a disaster they are all connected to a common root system and has laid dormant just waiting for a wildfire. Last summer they came up everywhere - in the ditches - the roads - area's of our property that have not previously shown signs of aspen.

While the tree may only live 50-150 years the root system which connects all the aspen trees can live thousands of years. I wondered about the hundreds of aspen shooting up last summer and now I know they were waiting for just the right conditions to shoot up. They grew so fast in one summer it was simply amazing.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Snow!!

Mountain Snow Update: To date we have received 159" of snow this snow season according to my measure. The snow blocks the burned area and makes it look better in my opinion. If we get our average snowfall this season we only have another 100" or so to go. To me that represents the downhill of snow season. Last year we received snow right up until the end of May so in 3 months this will all most likely be melted away.

The snow in the driveway is mostly drifting snow from the 20-30 mph wind we have been getting. The trees that used to block the wind somewhat are now just black sticks pointing toward the clouds so more in the form of snow drifts. The snow banks along the driveway are only 2-3' because I use the snow thrower on the driveway and it throws the snow further out. The level ground snow however is between 3-4' deep and difficult to walk in.

When I go out at night and the moon is out the snow appears like millions of diamonds have been spread on it. It is so beautiful it will stop you in your tracks it is so dazzling. Also when the wind blows the snow crystals and they are in a shaft of sunlight it is just stunningly beautiful with the millions of sparkles glittering. The other good thing about snow is it is presently stored water which we will need in this semi arid state. It will provide moisture for subsurface insects, vegetation, trees, and most of all water that will keep the aquifer abundant with water that runs through this mountain.

Snow is the major ingredient in the life cycle here in the mountains but sometimes I tend to forget that when I am shoveling it so often. I needed to remind myself plus when I go out after a snow storm to start the snow removal the silence is beyond description. I know many people don't have much good to say about snow but as for me: I love the snow. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Mountain Chickadee Wipe Out:

This little guy took a hard crash into the window. That doesn't happen often but it does occur on occasion. It took a while of keeping him warm, talking to him and stroking him before it was able to hold its head up. I could tell that it was having a hard time focusing its eyes but after several minutes it did recover. Had I not picked it up and kept it warm and slowly bring it back into focus I have no doubt it would have died.

We have lost only a few birds over the years and today was not this guys time to die. He finally flew off and we were happy. When I put him out on the railing in the sun a Junco went after him so I had to rescue him a second time. He finally recovered and off he went.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Shaving Soap

I thought I was ordering 3 bars of shaving soap and in reality I ended up with 5 which I will most likely never use. I have shaved with a mug and brush for most of my life and when I can find it I have always used Williams mug soap. Possibly because growing up in Michigan our governor when I was a kid was Soapy Williams a liberal democrat whose family (mother side) was a part of Mennen who made Williams mug soap.

I have always knew him as Soapy because of his nickname and I never heard anyone refer to him otherwise. I like Williams shaving  soap because of its lather. It has been my go to shaving soap for many years when I could find it. Apparently not many shave with a mug anymore as shaving soap is hard to find and I got this through Amazon.

I prefer Williams shaving soap much as I use Gillette blades as I met Mr. Gillette at his home in Naples, Fla. when I worked for Hartford Ins. and was impressed with his welcoming, easy going and friendly manner. I just like to use products that I know are consistently good and I stick with them. Just my nature I guess.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Mountain Snow

We woke up to 8" of fresh snow this morning and that brings the total snowfall this snow season to 157" to date. We are only 7' shy of last years snowfall on this date. That means that we are about half way through our annual snow fall.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Crazy Rabbit

The snow is about level with our back breakfast nook window and this rabbit likes to sit about 2' from the window and watch what is going on inside. He drives the dogs nuts because he knows he is safe and their antics don't bother him at all. When I'm outside I can walk up within about 4-6' of him and he shows no fear.

Presently he has tons of food as the tips on the pine trees are all falling (off and we don't know why) and he seems to love them. They litter the snow everywhere and so he has plenty of green pine needles to feed on. Sooner or later an owl, hawk, eagle, bobcat or coyote will spot him and we will be less one rabbit. In the meantime he is pretty safe right outside the window.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Fog or Cloud?

 We have been in an inversion almost all day where the clouds have been low at this elevation. The temperature has been in the mid teens and it is a poor day to drive anywhere. The cloud/fog blends in with the snow and it is hard to see where the road is and to stay out of the ditch.
The weather forecaster has said we will get 3-6" of new snow but I have filled the bird feeder three times today when normally I only have to fill it once. The birds have been going non-stop all day eating the suet and sunflower seeds. If I have to believe the weather people or the birds regarding the coming storm I think I put more trust in the birds. They always seem to know when a big storm is coming and today they have really tanked up.
 Above photo of the fog/cloud is so thick we can't see the end of the driveway. Below photo shows the visibility through the trees is better but still very limited. Not a good day to be driving about as visibility is so poor if you get stuck with the 99% humidity and snow if you get stuck you could freeze to death or in the least be very miserable. Best to just stay put and make sure there is enough firewood for the stove. The humidity also creates black ice and makes even dirt roads slippery. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Garter Snake

Just when I think I can leave this topic of how cold blooded animals survive the winter and move on Carol said what about our garter snake that for the past couple years has hung around our garden box?

Back to the research and I found that they will use a rodent tunnel or hide under a pile of rocks or a stump to hibernate. They get their moisture through their skin and don't eat as their metabolism has slowed down so much that they can't digest their food. The live off stored fat and ours had a good hiding place under our garden box. We haven't seen this snake though since the wildfire.

If they can find other snakes they coil together to conserve body heat. I doubt our lone garter snake had any snake friends as rattle snakes and most other snakes don't generally go above 9,200' elevation in cold climates. There are plenty of them in the valley but we have never seen one at our elevation.

When I was in Junior High School as a reckless kid I had a garter snake that stayed around our house so one day thinking like a kid I put him in my tee shirt and took him to school for a later science class I had. I didn't want him squirming around next to my body all day so I put him in my locker. Later that morning I heard screams coming from the hall way when he got out of my locker. He was finally corralled and located at a new location which I hope he liked. Fortunately school authorities thought it funny but today I would have been expelled or worse. Garter snakes are harmless and beneficial to keeping mice and other small rodent populations in check.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Our Disappearing Frog.

After the blog on turtles and fish surviving the winter my mind just would not stop and I thought of what happens to frogs. We have a spring on our property that runs all year long and where it runs down and goes into a ditch by the road we used to have a frog. When I would walk along the road I would hear its ribbit several times and then splash it would hide in the water. It had been in that small puddle of water for years or its offspring and following the wildfire it has not been seen.

I often wondered how it survived the winter to come forth each year so my previous blog got my mind to working again (not exactly what I wanted), so I looked up how frogs survive the winter. Our winter can last for up to 6 months and the pond freezes over but a trickle still runs underneath the ice. I have previously posted photos of where the ice freezes coming out of the 18" culvert as it forms a pretty sculpture of columns of ice.

I had wrongly assumed that frogs buried themselves in the muck and mud to survive. They actually stay in the fresh water flow because their skin is permeable and they can absorb the oxygen they need through their skin. They hibernate and their system slows down enabling them to survive the winter. So turtles breathe through their butts and frogs breathe through their skin and get the required oxygen they need for survival.

Since the wildfire I have missed seeing our frog and while they can adapt to the cold and freezing winter they can't survive wildfires. I miss seeing our frog but it was likely it was boiled alive in his small pool of water when the temperatures reached 4,200 degrees. RIP mister frog. Maybe now my mind will settle down and focus on more important things like snow removal.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Thoughts

 Sometimes I think of the craziest thoughts when I wake up at night and have trouble getting back to sleep. Sometimes I can trace these random thoughts to a specific occurrence and sometime I just wonder where did that come from. This thought came from a bible study I read a few days ago. It was about painted turtles surviving the winter so I thought I would research just how they do survive.

Turtles are cold blooded reptiles so their temperature is the same as their environment. We have been in the single digit temperatures for several times this winter and ponds, streams and lakes are frozen over so I was curious how turtles survived. Our waterways will be frozen for several months and where do the turtles and fish go to survive freezing cold.

I discovered that the turtles go to the bottom and bury themselves in the mud and don't eat or breathe through their lungs. Instead they get their oxygen by breaking down a blood sugar (glycogen) that creates a lactic acid which can be deadly except they borrow minerals from their skeleton and shell to neutralize excess build up of lactic acid. The blood vessels around the tail are numerous so that is where they get the blood to maintain them over the winter. Hence they are called butt breathers. An amazing way to survive the winter months. Clearly a good trait to possess here where our winters can go 6-7 months but alas we lack that attribute so we must shovel, deal with frigid temp's to survive.

The fish go into a torpor state where they don't need to eat during in this semi dormant state. Their system slows down but they do need to breathe which they do at a much reduced rate. I like the term torpor as it reminds me of a few people I know. You can be conversing normally and suddenly you realize the lights are on but no one is home. Then they return and all is well.    God's creatures are amazing and so perfectly adapted to their environment when I consider their abilities it is mind boggling. Since we now live remotely and I see nature up close and can study it carefully it is even more amazing.



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Snow Photos

 6' high fence with only about 1 foot of fence remaining. Temperatures today have been hovering around -0- and it is 2 degrees as I post these photos.
 I had a path shoveled out to the outdoor cook stove yesterday so I could cook a cowboy breakfast when the weather was clear. Looks like it will be a few days before that can happen.
Trees holding new snow on their branches. It is still snowing and so far we have about two feet. More snow on the way for later today. The most we have ever received at one time was 6' of snow and I don't think this is that type of storm.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Outdoor Cook Stove

Been hankering for a cowboy breakfast but the deep snow between me and the outdoor cook stove was daunting. The snow thrower dumps the snow in this area and it is packed down and very heavy. Finally the desire for a cowboy breakfast over powered the extensive work to get to the cook stove. Another day or two of shoveling and I should be able to get the stove going to cook easy over eggs, my special country potatoes and fried spam plus monkey bread.
Today it was 55 degrees out so it was perfect to do some heavy duty shoveling but now the weather forecast is for snow the rest of the week and negative number temperatures. At least the heavy snow is out of the way and moving light snow will be easier so breakfast will be on once the weather permits.
This is not a black and white photo but there is no color except the deep snow and black tree trunks.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Carol On Her Sled

 Today we discovered that conditions were even better than yesterday for sledding down the driveway which is 100 yards long and then the road is still covered in snow so it was perfect. Faster and a good long run. Most of the time the road has no snow so when the sled hits it there is an abrupt stop...that takes the fun out of sledding.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Another Set Winter Of Photos


 When the sun comes out and the temperatures remain in the mid 20's icicles form...

















w

Post Wildfire Snow Photos

 Trees like this one continue to fall over every day post wildfire and some fall close or into the road and get covered with snow. The road grader comes along and the operator doesn't see the tree because it is hidden in the snow and the tree gets caught up in the equipment. I watched as the operator had to stop the grader, get out and lug the tree off to the side of the road
 Trees have cracked bark and many are falling over or leaning and each time the wind blows over they go. After the wildfire this view had no leaning or fallen trees but now they are everywhere.
 Trees like this that are burned half way or more through are just waiting for a good wind to blow them over. After the wildfire volunteers came along our road and marked trees that appeared to be at risk for falling into the road but many are still standing and adjacent trees that looked pretty good have fallen. While the trees have been marked no one ever came along to cut them down yet. There are so many trees and so few volunteers. I plan to cut the dead ones in front of our house down before long so they don't fall on us or our vehicles or garage. I don't like cutting trees in the winter but I have done it in years past and now it is to not being under one as we walk the road so it will be for safety sake.
Dead black sticks pointing skyward. These used to be trees but now only ugly vertical sticks. The bark is blown off the pine and aspen trees with the wind. As can be seen in the photo the burn scar is as far as we can see which is several miles. These are probably things that folks don't realize occur after a wildfire.