Sunday, January 25, 2015

Some days it is just the air I breath

That makes it all so worth while.

I took a very short walk and was sort of sad to find that so much snow had slowly melted into the ground.

Tracking by the creek revealed activity by some raccoon, and some deer, but that was about it.

I just sat for a while by these rocks that I like so much and listened to the cardinal and the chickadees sing.

Today I'm looking forward to more work on some of the beautiful 'bones' in my collection.

I revamped an old shed and it looks like an exotic piece of driftwood from the light antique stain I used on it.
Now I'm going to polish it a bit and see what it looks like.

I'll have to photo another one that is grey and weathered to compare what I've done.  I didn't think to do a before and 'after' shot.

I may even walk out again through the forest looking for more antler sheds.  It is a nice way to get exercise and enjoy the fresh air.

Yesterday afternoon was quite warm and I spent most of it just taking it all in.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Afternoon tracking and a visit to the ice cave

I wanted to hike back to a place we call the 'ice cave'. Depending on the amount of snow and melting and freezing that occur during the winter, this rock formation can have some incredible ice formations.

Hubby thought he'd do something different also.  He got his varmint rifle and camouflage on.  He was going to hunt coyote, while I tracked for coyote in different parts of a large tract of land.

We parted ways at the our creek and I continued on.
I was going to look for raccoon, coyote, deer, and any other tracks I could find while we still had snow.

I was still hunting the elusive coyote dens.  I wanted to know where the coyotes were the busiest this winter. With good reason, they would see Morris as nothing more than a mere snack and an impostor now that it is coming on to the mating season for them.

Not far up the trail that leads to the top of the ridge I did come across very a large coyote track.
At least I think it was.

I'm not sure if this track is similar in size to the one I found last week.

Here is a shot of that one again.

From now on I'll bring my mini tape measure.

The track got quickly mixed up with deer and other tracks including squirrels and rabbits.

Rabbit track:

I crossed what we fondly call the 'Velodrome' which was planted last year, but I'd call the crop a pretty miserable failure as it never made it to harvest.

I hurried down to the ravine where the ice cave was. There was a small 'ice falls' but not much of one.  I found a safe area further down the ravine to climb down and study the tracks at the bottom.

I thought that I'd finally spotted a coyote den.

When I walked up above it and peered at the tracks, it was obvious that it was another raccoon den.

But the 'falls' were still worth the trip.

I circled the ravine and came up so I could walk across the small section of rock that made the top of the ice falls.
I looked down and was able to see the well traveled trails of the raccoon in the dirt and snow.

It is hard to tell the depth and steepness of this ravine but it is deep

The view from the top is pretty deceiving.  But at this point I am still half way below the ridge behind me.
The back valley creek lays at the very bottom of this ravine.

The weather folks had called for rain/sleet/and ice so I turned around and headed back home.

I took the snowmobile trail down into the first valley so I could find my husband without disturbing what he was doing.

Imagine my surprise when I found the 'hot spot' of coyote tracks.

I found so many tracks where I hadn't seen any just a few days before.  The coyotes were on the move and it meant that I'd have to either leave Morris at home or keep him very close for our hikes for the next two months.

I think I actually enjoyed walking slowly and trying to figure out the tracks of animals more than anything else.

I found hubby and we headed towards home together. He'd used the e-caller and nothing had come in. We both agreed that our long afternoon in the woods had been very enjoyable.

If the weather holds, I plan on hiking to the back valley to walk it and perhaps get some nice photos.
It is another difficult place to get to, but well worth the hike.

I used to ride back there with Badger all of the time. The cattle are now long gone from this land and the brush is taking over making it difficult to get through unless you are on foot.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Date with the Contractor....

We are doing an addition and remodeling to the little red house in the woods.

I was sort of thinking along these lines...

But I am fairly sure that this won't happen.

In fact....

I'm having all sorts of thoughts...

I'm thinking the addition will look like this?

Hopefully we get all of our communications straight!

Time will tell!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Back to the Ice Flow

Morris convinced me that it was a good day for a hike.  As long as I took him, that is.

He sort of promised not to eat really icky things.  
So I loaded up my camera back pack and we set out for the ice flow on the east side of the valley.

I put ice cleats on my boots and was happy that I did. The extra traction assisted with going up and down hills and in the areas where the snow was soft.

It was even more important to have these cleats for when we got to the ice flow.
I had decided to walk up the ravine on the ice.
Well, I was able to in a few spots, but the going was slippery even with the cleats.

A few times Morris stopped ahead of me.  Or attempted to stop.
His feet slipped even when he was standing still.

However he seemed perfectly content to be my camera assistant.

When things got too slippery for his taste, he simply climbed the side of the ravine and watched me from above.

I'm sure he thought I was an idiot.

If that dog did not have on that red collar ... I wonder if I could have found him?

However, it was worth the walk and the hike.  Thank goodness for the cleats.

The spring in the upper part of the ravine was still producing water.  The spring is in an area that sun can get to while the rest of the ravine is in the deep shade.

So water keeps running over the formed ice and building. It looks as though waves of water were instantly frozen in this shot.

And yes the colors were blue, green, and brown in the ice.  I imagine from the minerals in the soil and rocks.

Lastly, a shot of the Adventure Dog/Assistant standing in the middle of the ice flow.

My next goal is to get to the 'ice cave' not at Wildcat Mountain, but here ... in the back valley.

And Morris kept his promise.  He didn't eat anything ICKY, but he did roll in something really nasty and got an immediate bath when he got home.

I know I wrote before about Morris going on a long hike with me and then it seemed he felt bad or perhaps stiff the next day.

He suffered no ill effects whatever after this hike.  I'm pretty sure that the warm temperatures probably had a lot to do with it.

It was 40 degrees when we took this walk.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Yesterday was very temperate for January.  After morning chores and going after small bales of hay, I thought I'd take a hike.

I just took a small backpack, some water, and the varmint rifle.
I was going to look for coyote sign and see what the other animals have been up to in the woods.

No DSL camera, no dogs, just me and my little point and shoot.

I went up the dead end road.
I stopped to look at some tracks.

I want to believe that these are dog tracks although there has been two sightings of a wolf.  Our neighbors have some dogs that run loose and I am assuming that these tracks belong to one of them.

My first goal was to check out The Hole.  When I was out with Dixie a few days ago we had come past what we all fondly call PeeWee's Hole.  It is the entrance to a cave ...and when PeeWee and his brother were young they had a ladder to get down into it.  The brothers are gone now and the hole more of a memory than anything else.

When I went past The Hole last time with Dixie, she was so curious that I was afraid she'd go down the hole. 
Knowing that her main goal in life is hunting, I got hold of her and dragged her off.  
I wasn't about to have her go down there.  
Two years ago another one of our hounds went down after varmints and hubby had to climb down and get the dog.

Here is a view of The Hole from yesterday.  A lot of snow has melted and I was able to get close enough to check it out.

Clearly it is being used as a den.  
But I couldn't tell if it was coyote or raccoon.  
So I followed the melted down dirty trail into the woods.

Clearly, it was a raccoon den.  

And the raccoon had been active withing the past 24 hours.  The other trail led into the picked corn field, the trail through the woods led directly down the steep hillside towards the creek.

I walked on.
I decided to go to one of the more remote locations on PeeWee's. I call it the East Ravine.  It is located on the far eastern portion of the property and is not very easy to get to.
It is a what we call a dry run.  Flood water and snow melt pound down these ravines and flow into the creek in the valley.
This one is unique because the sun rarely touches it.  
In November my son and his wife had visited and we hiked through this ravine.  We found a small spring.

Here is a shot of my son's dog, Teslin, near the small spring in the 'East Ravine'.  This was in early November.

Here is what it looked like yesterday.

I was quite surprised.  The spring must put out a bit more water than I thought.  We've had quite a few thaws and freezes which probably explains the build up of the ice flow.

However I don't recall this ever being like this in any past years.

The waters seem to be frozen in motion.  I could hear some water trickling under the ice and the top of the ice was wet also.
Of course the temperatures were above freezing.

The color variations in the ice were also interesting. 

There was a blue tint to it in places and others had a reddish tint to it.

I took some shots then went down to the Big Spring and walked in the valley and up the creek to get home.

I really want to get back to the East Ravine today while the temperatures are still nice and the ice is still thick.

PeeWee's Ice Cave will have to wait until Tuesday.

Monday, January 12, 2015

An Afternoon at the 'Office'

After the morning's rather hurried hike through the western half of the valley before noon, I decided I'd like to go back and explore the eastern half of the valley.

The morning temps and sun had not yet warmed up the air when I first went out with Morris so it was still chilly in the creek bottom.

Cold enough for frost to form on anything just above the running creek water.

It was some of the most delicate 'artwork' that I'd seen Mother Nature do in a long time.

Actually it is no mystery.  The creek is spring fed, and it where it runs swiftly, it is warmer than the air above it. With the humidity at 85% yesterday and the morning temperatures still below 20 degrees, I was hoping to find just this sort of thing.

Here was a small stick.

For these shots I used my Nikkor 40mm micro/macro lens.  It is a nice prime lens and aside from the precarious positions I stood in, or kneeled in to get these shots, it worked well.
Frost is very difficult and in order for me to do it properly, I should have set up a tripod.  As it was, I dealt with the shadows of the valley as best as I could.

My assistant, Morris started to get cold and asked to be carried.  I did carry him until his feet warmed up enough for him to leap from my arms and race up the trail towards home.

But not before I got a shot or two of the little Ice Falls.

Morris and I returned home and after lunch I went back. The frost was gone, the valley had warmed up considerably with the afternoon sun.  A nice day considering the cold temperatures we'd been having.

I visited the Big Spring which never ceases to delight me in any month of the year.

This is actually a 2 second exposure.  The spring water comes from the hillside in the back of the photo and travels through these hodge podge rocks.  When the temps drop drastically the rocks are covered in fantastic looking frost.

The water joins up with the rest of the creek and makes a big entrance, adding to the volume of water traveling east towards Black Bottom Creek.

I noted the abundance of coyote traffic around the spring.  The deer had been there also as well as raccoon.

After standing in the creek to take some longer exposures of the water running, I decided that the day was getting late and I needed to head home.

However, I did have to make a stop at 'the Office'.

I couldn't resist.  This old broken chair has been in the valley for years.
I decided that I liked my new Office, however perhaps a new seat cushion would be in order.

And with that I headed up the wide trail towards home.

And with the sun leaving the valley, the crazy lady in the skunk hat made her exit.

What an extraordinary day.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Variations on one Photo, Coyote Skull

I'm a fan of bones.  I like finding skulls.  I'm also what is called a 'rock hound' ~ hunting cool rocks and bones is a great past time.

Last year I got a coyote skull that still was quite nasty as far as in the form of decay.
Other coyotes don't eat there own.

I placed the skull tied up with twine in a brush pile, hoping to let the summer bugs do most of the work.

I took the skull and placed it is soapy warm water and let it sit out in the sun for a few days.

Anything that was left on the skull I was able to remove easily.
Now I had the lower jaw in pieces and a bunch of loose teeth.  

I used some clear Elmers Glue to seal the bone.  Since the skull was not 'bug' cleaned it was a bit yellowed, but to me that looks more natural.
I glued the teeth back in place and after taking care of sealing the rest of the skull.

I then I used clear nail polish to 'shine' up the teeth.

Here is a photo of the complete skull after cleaning.

Photographed on a piece of black velvet on a folding chair.

The skull in this state is quite beautiful.  Since I haven't figured out how to attach the lower jaw properly, I have it just resting in place.

Next I adjusted the skull I wanted a black and white image with no yellowing of the skull.

I like this image on its own merits.  It is more like a museum display shot.

So I thought I'd try to do something different.

Wow.  I used Topaz Adjust and a preset I've never bothered with before. Polarize.
I didn't expect this as a result at all.

So I decided to go one step further and use Topaz Glow.
I didn't like the color streaks that it produced so I desaturated it.

Lastly I overlapped it with some grunge brushes and a photo of cracked mud.

I like all the versions but this last unexpected result is something I really like.