Thursday, February 26, 2015

Let's Go! by Morris

Who said that little dogs didn't like snow?
I love snow!
I love to leap and run in snow.

I like to bury my head in snow.

I like finding voles and mices to munch on.  It makes Her holler ICKY!  I think that is the funniest word humans can make. Especially when She repeats it over and over really fast like it will make me drop the 'icky' thing.

If She would just stop one time and try Icky herself, she'd realize it really isn't that bad.
Maybe Her tastes are just not as refined as mine.

She kept telling me that I should take it easy, after all She says I am getting to be an elderly dog.

And my answer to that is.... are only as young as you feel!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pewitt's Nest

On the same day we hiked Parfrey's Glen in the Baraboo area, we found Pewitt's Nest.

I was told about the place but didn't really know what to expect and neither did my friend's but they were up to exploring the 'Nest'.

Pewitt's Nest is a nature reserve.  The gorge was formed by Skillet Creek which runs through the gorge.  The water's depth and  strength depends on the rain fall in the area.

We didn't know the history of the place.  Before we walked up the trail we didn't know what to expect.

But we chose a perfect time to visit.
During the summer Skillet Creek runs through it and the only way to enjoy most of the gorge is by hiking around the top of it and looking down from various perches.

The depth of the gorge is supposed to be 30 to 40 feet.  For me, standing in the bottom on top of the frozen felt much taller.

We walked up through the big pool of water.  There had been holes drilled through the ice and we were able to see that the ice was at least 6" thick.

[View from the pool of water ~ next shots were taken from the top of this ice formation]

But we had no idea how deep the pool of water encased in this rock was.  We did get an idea that it was fairly deep as my friend who is 6 foot tall demonstrates with his walking stick.

This point of view was from above one of the first frozen falls.

We could hear the water underneath us and it was a bit spooky sounding.

We made it to the second set of waterfalls and climbed up its frozen surface.

Again, we could hear the water flowing beneath us.

As we moved up the creek the gorge widened.  The hiking was easier also.
Apparently when the creek is flowing, the public is supposed to stay on the trails above the creek.

This is an easier hike to get to than Parfrey's Glen and it is apparent that it gets more foot traffic as it gets more popular.

The rock formations are incredible and quite beautiful.  Well worth the short hike.

The view from the trail on top of the gorge is also stunning.  

I have seen photos of this place taken during the summer and it is breathtaking.

However when I come back to see and photograph it, I'll make sure to come early in the day and in the middle of the week.

We only encountered a couple of other people at Parfrey's Glen, but we encountered many people at Pewitt's Nest.

Perhaps it was because it was much later in the day, but I prefer my hikes to be a bit less populated!

Next on my list are Ableman's Gorge, Baxter Hollow, Durward's Glen, and Fern Dell Gorge ... which is supposed to be very hard to get to.

However that makes it so much more appealing to me.

Until then I enjoy our own natural wonders in the valley and the 'Hollow' or 'Rocky Glens' that we have even though they are on a much smaller scale in some spots.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Parfrey's Glen

I went to meet with a former 4H student of mine who is now ALL grown up...and married!

We've kept track of each other over the years, but finally decided to get together and do what we both love.

They guided me first to Parfrey's Glenn in Devil's Lake State Park.

We came to the cedar grove and began to explore.  The kids were fascinated by the formations of ice. And how slippery it was.  We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the small frozen stream.

I loved the textures and colors of the cedar trees by themselves.
I made a mental note to come back again.

We went on to explore Parfrey's Glenn.

I learned that walking sticks are probably the most helpful item one can have to check your footing before you take a step.

And I found out the hazards of having friends who have cameras also....

This was what I was taking a photo of....

The water was running under the ice and we could hear it and were constantly checking if the ice was thick enough. It was very slippery and I'd wish I'd brought my ice cleats along.

We hiked all of the way up to the falls and then spent time just enjoying the place.

The weather really came through for us.  It was temperate enough to be comfortable in good winter gear and wonderful for hiking.

Next stop, Pewitt's Nest.
And we had no idea what to expect there as none of us had been there before.

But I did know this.
Parfrey's Glen, I will be back!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mini Road Trip

The poor Subaru is soooo dirty!  It is a shame right? Well that is what you get when you live on a gravel road.
The dust covers your vehicle in the winter or in the summer.

In the spring you get mud covered.

Anyway, I decided to take the back way home from town yesterday.
I went down through Tainter Hollow.

I love the road.  Almost a road.  It is a gravel lane of sorts that winds back and forth between two hills.  When it rains, this hollow gets hit hard.

Along the road are two places.  One is a camper and the other is a cabin of sorts.

A small creek runs through this valley and when it rains hard this valley floods.

Last year the road the culverts washed out.  This happens generally once a year unless we are in a drought.

But some of the places where this little creek crosses the road are stunning.

Like this spot, where the afternoon light reflects off the hillsides and on the water.

This is one of the spots where the flash floods destroyed the road last summer.

I make my way through the valley and around the gravel roads back towards home.

I love the twisted roads, no matter how many times I take these roads I always find them beautiful.

My favorite place is where the red rock outcropping is.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

This and That.

Yesterday at chore time.
I just had finished taking care of the hounds, feeding, re-bedding them with fresh straw and temperate water for their bowls.

It was time to hang the laundry.  It really was a perfect day for it.
The laundry freeze dries at -5 F, but the winds were mild and if left all day, most of the moisture was 'snapped' right out of the clothes.

I brought the clothes and sheets in just as the sun set.

The winds were very bitter last night, but boy did the clothes and sheets smell fantastic!

Well I have to make a trip to town today to get some things before going on an over night trip to a place south of the Dells this weekend.

I haven't been there in a few years, and I have never been there in the winter at all.

My friends are going to take me to Pewitt's Nest and Parfrey's Glen which are two incredible natural areas.
With the temperatures we've had there are sure to be some fantastic ice formations in these gorges.

I can't wait.

It will be nice to catch up with my friends too.  It has been way too long since we've spent time together.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I relent, it is cold.

At sunrise.
I look outside and the mules are walking around and they begin to play.  They trot and then toss their heads and blow breaths of steam in the frigid air.

I see Siera has a frosty brow and back, but she is playing chase with Fred and Dyna.  It is fun to watch as they seem to push each other around and twitch their tales in mock anger.
Their heads bob up and down and their ears will lay flat against their skulls for a moment while they give each other dirty looks.

It is part of the frigid morning routine until the sun comes over the trees and they stand side by side quietly basking in the sunlight.

They become still as statues as they let the sun warm their heavy winter coats.

Chores will be done with face-masks and goggles today.  I relent.  It is cold outside.

At least the sun is shining.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fresh Air

It is interesting how many people think that winter air is bad for you.

Now having said that, extreme cold on people that have constant health issues...yes, it is not good to go out and breath subzero air.

Yesterday topped out at maybe 9 degrees F, when I decided to grab the My Little Ponies in a bag along with a toy skunk and a toy deer.  I stuffed my pocket camera inside my jacket to keep it warm and took off.

Sweet hubby thought I shouldn't go.  It was cold.  But then he knows that I love winter hiking so he relented.
Besides, I told him, fresh outside air is better than breathing stale inside air.

Aside from that, I'd spent two days stuck in the house with wicked winds. It was time to get out and get moving.

I guess one thing I haven't mentioned is why I like the winter hiking so much.
No bugs, no humidity, and I simply just like winter.
I don't like driving in snow storms, but I love going out and exploring in them.

So yesterday's hike was to take the toys and find a neat place to take a photo of them.  

The other purpose was just to follow trails and wander aimlessly in the woods.

I found multi use trails in which the deer, raccoon, and coyotes used.  In one area that was sheltered from the wicked winds yesterday, I found dozens of deer beds.

I found four places where I imagine, from the tracks and evidence left in the snow, that coyotes had caught rabbits and had a snack.

I even found a place where crow feathers were scattered. I couldn't figure that one out so took photos of it and showed it to hubby.  We ended up surmising that is may have been a hawk that nailed a crow.
I didn't think anything preyed on crow!

I walked on top of snow and ice following tracks through a rocky ravine and found the most delightful formation when I climbed out.

The log was hollow and you could see where squirrels had left acorn shells.

I finally glanced at my watch.  It was time I headed home!  I had no idea that I'd spend so much time wandering the west facing hills on Peterson's land.

Home was only 1/2 mile away and up a hill, so I hurried to find my snowshoe trail and hiked home.

Hubby was getting ready to do chores when I got to the house, he was bundling up.  I glanced at the thermometer as he bundled up.

It was zero.
But I still felt warm and cozy even though I wasn't in coveralls.

All that hard hiking had warmed me up.

By 10pm I was ready for bed.
That fresh air and exercise made me sleep like a baby.

I love fresh air!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Colder than a witch's...

Well you know the saying and if you don't, well too bad, I am not completing the sentence right now....

Yesterday the winds were so vicious that our little cottage creaked at times.  Snow was being blown sideways and into snow devils that danced around the yard.

Pine cones thumped against the house and during chores, trees were popping and moaning.

And, we live in a 'hollow' of sorts, not prone to getting the full blast of winds.  So I imagine it was quite brutal up on the ridge.

I decided that it was an 'indoor' day.  I started to read an interesting book called The Man Who Touched His Heart by Rob Dunn.  Normally I not a Science and History reader, but this sounded so interesting and fascinating.

The book is good, it is fascinating.  The Roman 'doctor' Galen seemed to understand the heart and the body quite well and wrote volumes about it.  Leonardo Di Vinci studied the human body and was even more accurate.  

Apparently he often dissected people or...did Autopsies to find out what killed them.  He even found the first evidence of Arterial Sclerosis.

The first heart surgery was documented by a black doctor in Chicago before 1900.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and I imagine a well celebrated one.  I'm going in to town today to grab a few things and pick up some 50% off candy and some radically reduced bouquets of flowers.

I thought today would be a good day to try some still 'life' photography with both my 50mm lens and my micro/macro 40mm lens.

I'll leave you with a fractal to admire...

Then I'll bundle up and put on the over the glasses goggles, face mask, and coveralls to do chores.
After all, it is all the way up to -4!

Looking forward to next weekend.  I'm going to Devil's Lake in the Dells area to go hiking.  Pewitt's Nest offers some awesome rocks, gorges, and ice formations this time of year.

Friday, February 13, 2015


I like things simple.

I like sunlight, snow, fresh cold air, and the blue jays and crows making a racket in the woods.  

The quieter birds like the chickadees can be heard in the valley where the winds aren't rattling the branches of trees and rustling the oak leaves that still cling to branches.

I enjoy the noises of the creek flowing of water across the rocks and ice.

Reading tracks of the hard to spot coyote or the trail of turkeys looking for food.

Or the tracks of mice running on top of the snow and around the base of a tree.

I note these things as I walk through the valley and hike through the woods.

Winter is the time of year that allows you to see what went on the night before, or the day before.

Animals leave their tracks in the snow.  I think I told the grand children last time they were visiting that the tracks are like stories imprinted in the snow and that is why I enjoyed snow shoeing and hiking so much especially in the winter.

Their 'highways' are shared by all when the snow gets deep or heavily crusted.

In the spring I look for wild flowers and interesting mushrooms or fungi.  In the summer I look for berries and wildflowers.

In the winter I love to follow tracks and see where they go or figure out who made them.

On this trip Morris stayed at home.  The snow had quite an ice crust on it and it would have been hard on his feet. 

I thought of taking Dixie, but I didn't want her to cut her big dog pads up either.  
Solo was fine.

I was able to stop and enjoy the noises of the forest and the bright sunshine.

It is mid February and by the end of March the snow will be gone.  I will miss the simplicity of just walking through the forest and finding so many tracks.

But then again, my mind will be on Spring and with that brings such wonders as migrating birds coming back, shedding mules and donkeys.
The Dexters should be calving then.

The world will be busy again until the next time we are in deep winter.

I like winter.
I know, I'm an odd one aren't I?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Tracks Tell Stories.

I took a short walk yesterday afternoon after our trip to town.

It was late in the day and the winds were not howling. The sun was shining.

Morris started leaping around as soon as I grabbed the camera bag.

I figured he'd be okay for a short trip so I let him come along.
I also figured I wouldn't need the snow shoes.  

Hmmm.  Shouldn't 'figure' like that!

The coyotes are busy this time of the year, it is mating season and we found plenty of tracks.  All the animals right now are keeping to well worn trails.

I realized quite a while ago, that I like to take the same trails that the animals do.  Well, it makes sense, it is near the water and the going is easier.

After all the creek is the life-blood of the forest and its creatures.

In this trail there was quite the mix of raccoon, 'possum, coyote, and deer.  The animals were walking over each other's tracks and drinking from the same open areas of water.

Morris was not impressed.  The 'yote tracks must leave a scent and he really kept close to me.
I normally don't take him for long walks during the Coyotes' mating season for this simple reason.

He gave me this look and kept shivering.  I picked him up and we headed back towards home.  When we got away from the coyote tracks, he ran ahead plowing through the deep snow and the hard icy crust.

When we got to the 'Merry Meadow', I stopped to take some photos.  He was clearly in a rush to get home.

I had to call him back a few times to make sure he didn't get out of sight.
Lucky me that he is such a good ol' fella and he actually will come back. 
That is, until he reaches the shed, then no matter what he is headed to the back door and will leap on it until you catch up and let him in the house.

The deer have been out browsing and digging under the scrub apple trees in the evening or early morning.  I found several deer beds in the Dexter's summer pasture.

I wanted to go to look at these tracks better, but Morris had other plans.  Besides, I really did need the snowshoes!

By the time I got home I was quite warm and even sweating from slogging through the crusted snow.  I kept cursing myself for not wearing my snowshoes.

Today is supposed to be bitter cold.
But it is sunny and I have goggles and a face mask.

I want to go back out and 'read the stories' in the snow.
I can hike so I stay out of the wind so it won't be too bad.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How many?

Sometimes I get asked exactly how many animals I have.  And to tell you the truth, we have a few.

I...I on the other hand have exactly two of my very own equine.  Eddie the donk, and Siera a mule.  Sunshine is mine I guess by default as I owned the mare and trained her.  Princess is privy to me and I want to start her under saddle before I start Eddie.

We have donkeys, mostly jennets, and one gelding.
We have Bob who is a Jack.

We have a herd of girls.  

...and we have Dexter Cattle for eating and browsing the woods down and getting rid of nasty weeds.  They are nice and easy to keep.

Bart the black bull and 3 cows and 2 heifers and one little bull soon to be a steer.

I have Morris, the Jack Russell, and we have some hounds that are called black and tans.

I am often asked what, why, and all sorts of questions about our collection.  Most of the collection belong to my husband, this is his desire and love...his collection of animals to take care of.

I love the hounds of course, they are so willing and easy to train.  They are pleasers to the nth degree.  Morris is a typical Jack Russell he pleases himself and offers up obedience just to keep things peaceful.

I actually don't have interest in the horses at all.  I like the mules and donkeys. Although I did raise and train horses before I met Badger.  

The mares mostly just eat and do mare stuff.  Same with the donks, except those I have other plans for.  I ride Sunshine, Fred, Siera, and used to ride Opal who passed away of ancient-ness last year.  The vet felt she was well beyond 32 yrs old.

This year I think Fred should be 32.

And if you've read any of my blogs, you know my other interests are photography, and hiking..and graphic arts.

I'm thinking out loud here...I wonder if Dancing Donkey has any hints as to how well she thinks Princess would do as a tag along donkey on my long hikes carrying stuff for me?

Just a thought.

Well off to finish the watering the stock.