Friday, July 31, 2015

A little fun in the woods

Around Christmas last year, my Grandaughter Ariel and I thought it would be fun to each take some toys and photograph them.  We'd set them up and take the photo, then send it to each other with an explanation of what was happening in the picture.

See Making Up Stories from March of this year.  Of course I began to add little toys to the My Little Ponies we both had started to use.

The one character we've had the most fun with is Doe.  Doe is always trying to find a good place to live and she is always making terrible decisions.
Like the time that Stinky was 'horrified' to find out that Doe had decided she would live in a parking lot.

Well things happened this year and I sort of dropped the ball on hiking in the woods with a pocket full of toys.
I just didn't have time.

The other day I went to get groceries in town and I decided to check out the resale shop.  I wandered around their 'new' store front  and thought to myself, boy it stinks in here and everything is crammed in.
I was looking for jeans, I like finding them for $2.  For farm work, they are just fine.

Anyway I turned around and a display amongst the clutter caught my eye. Trolls.
I hadn't had trolls since I was in Jr. High.  I'd gotten my first troll in 1965 and it had coal black hair.  They provided endless hours of play.

Well that brings me back to this display.  Everything flashed through my mind and suddenly I found myself carefully looking at the trolls.  I wanted the old ones, not the newer soft mushy ones.  I ended up... with two.   At $1.00 per troll, I was pretty tickled.

And this afternoon I thought I'd take Morris for a short walk and look for Indian Pipes.  I grabbed my camera bag and the trolls off from the table.

I paused when I put the trolls into the bag, sitting in the extra space was Doe One and Doe Two.  Doe Two filled in when I temporarily misplace Doe One for a couple of months....

Picture me carefully crouching on the forest floor and trying to figure out if the canopy of leaves will make the scene too dark, or will the breeze blow the leaves and brighten things up?
I set everything up and then....

Morris who is never interested in anything I am doing in the past 11 years, decides to smell the trolls and then push them over with his nose.

I take Doe One and Doe Two and set them back up with the trolls and chastise Morris.  He blinks at me and then marks a plant to tell me what he thinks of me.

We achieve success and the lighting cooperates just fine.

I'm finally happy to say that Doe has found a home with the Wood Troll and the Wild Troll.  I don't know...does the look on the rainbow haired troll just look a bit crazier to you? Wild Troll looks like he is trippin'.  Just saying.

Wood Troll seems more sane and subdued.

I put the Trolls and the Does in my camera bag and stood up, brushing my pants off.
I smiled and zipped them up safely and began to think of what sort of adventures they may all have together.

The sun was low in the sky and it was time to go home.  I smiled to myself, half expecting to hear my mom call me in for supper.

No, I was all grown up.  Well let's think about that, who is all grown up that plays with toys in the woods?

I whistled for Morris and we started down the trail that would lead us back to the farm.  Both of us were happy.

I'd also found what I'd originally came out to find.  Indian Pipes....

It was a good afternoon after all.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

On my mind...

Since I last posted there was quite a few things that had been going on.
My work hours have been a bit insane for a part time job, but that isn't very interesting to say the least.

I seem to be either at work, or at home trying to catch up on household duties and farm duties.

I woke up the other morning to some incredible fog.  I decided since it was before sunrise, that I'd go up to the ridge and take some photos.

I really wasn't prepared for the incredible heat and humidity at that time of the morning.

I pulled my Nikon D3200 out of the camera case and used it for a bit, then noticed that the long lens hood was damp.  It was 'sweating' for crying out loud!

I dared to use it several times for a few choice shots, but was careful to make sure that I stuck it back in the case.

I was pleased to get the actual 'break of dawn' shot and felt that was good enough.  I didn't want to ruin my cameras with the humidity so I headed back to the house with a quick stop to 'shoot' the oats as the sun rose.

That evening the humidity broke a bit and Morris and I went out to explore the garden and see the new round bales of hay that had been delivered.

I did the evening chores and Morris came along, panting. He requested some fresh water when I went over by the hydrant and I poured him a small bucketful.
Even Morris was 'done' in by the time chores were finished.

Yesterday our humidity 'broke'.  We had incredibly beautiful weather!

It looks like today is going to be another beauty.  So it looks like yard work is in the works for today, along with a bit of laundry.
Next week looks to be busy as we will be having a visitor next week.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Welcome Stormy & Stella

Our weekend was a busy one.  Friday was a long day heading to Madison for a follow up appointment.
The follow up went well and things are moving along as expected and a PET scan is scheduled for September.

During our last storm we of course had a calf.  Annie finally had her calf and the next morning as we were checking fences and picking up branches we were delighted to see 'Stormy' up and about.

Speedy who was born in around June 1st was checking him out.

Speedy likes to think of himself as the tough kid on the block.  Well he is as he is fully almost 8 weeks older than the others!

Then Speedy had another adjustment to make.

Stella was born during the hottest spell we've had this summer.  The heat and humidity were incredible and nasty.  Yet Stella was born.
She is our only heifer this year, but she is Dun colored and seems to be polled.

I have to admit, she is a knock out. 
Speedy and Stormy will become future meat projects and Stella will become one of the 'girls' eventually.  She and Bunny are both polled heifers.  Bunny is about 15 months old and is pure black like her father Black Bart.

It is a delight to see healthy calves in the pasture.

I imagine when the youngest calves get a bit of age on them, there will be plenty of running and chasing in the pasture.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Let's Hike ! By Morris

I am a very observant dog.  I knew when SHE went to the drawer and pulled out her belt and ... and her pistol that my chances of going for a walk would increase if I did certain things.

Look charming.
Look silly.
Look sadly at my crate.
Wag my stub furiously.
Get underfoot.
Bounce some more.
Help tie her boots.  [Really, just get in the way and pant heavily while wagging stub tail.]

Bounce some more and add a bit of whine to it.
Jump at the door.
Spin around a few times, maybe SHE will get dizzy and fall down.
Oh, that wouldn't work well.
Okay calmly put my front paws on her knees and look intensely at her.

Yep.  That worked.
Out the door we went and through the Merry Meadow.
I ran and ran and then trotted.
Wow was it ever hot!  I wandered around looking for plants to 'water' and kept an eye on HER.  We were going down towards the creek!

Of course She found some nice pretty things to take photos of while I busied myself by smelling things and marking my territory.  Boy that can be one big job for one small Jack Russell!

Every once in a while She would have to call my name and being the ever obediant dog that I am, I trotted up for a pat on the head and a "That is a good boy!"
I like it when she tells me I am good.  I'm always good.
Well, sometimes I sneak up on the bed and lay down and old Grumpy yells at me.  I suppose that is being 'bad'.

We found some berries.  I love black berries.
After a while though we were far beyond the creek and to the place where She said the snowmobile trail was.  I don't know, there was a sign with an orange marker on it.  I peed on it.  One would hate to get turned around and not be able to smell their way back home, right?
Besides, I saw NO snowmobiles.

She was thirsty and so was I.  I am glad She has learned her manners and shares well.

I tasted great.  She can be useful for things like carrying the water...and

...carrying ME.
From her hip I can get a better view of the lay of the land.  Don't you think?

When I have to walk in the grass I can't see very far.

We didn't spend too much time at the berry place as it was so over grown and thorny.  In a couple of spots She used her machete to clear the thorns out of our way.

We headed towards home finally!  Whew!
We got back to the creek.  This summer the creek is overgrown with weeds.  I like it when there are flash floods and it cleans all the weeds out of the bottom.

I stepped into the water and took another big drink. Time for some cooling off.

I even think She was happy to be at the creek.

We ducked under the apple tree and around a great big bunch of golden rod plants then She hacked her way through some briers and viola...we were at the trail that led straight up the hill towards the Merry Meadow.

I know this trail very well and kept running up ahead of her and then waiting.  She said that I was getting old!  Harrumph!  She sure took Her time coming up the hill!  In dog years She would be...
Gee, I don't think there has ever been a dog that has lived THAT long.  I mean She'd be more than Ancient.

Anyway, I know She was happy that I had come along.  After all, I know these trails by heart and could guide her to the Meadow.

Once we climbed the steep hill and crawled under the electric fence, we both walked rather slowly towards home.
I don't know if it was because we were so hot and tired or was it because we didn't want our walk to end?

I don't know, I'm a dog.  I don't really think much.
I know I was interested in 'marking' anything any more.  I just wanted to get home and lay in the cool air on MY couch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What about ME? By Morris

I bet you think I've gone and disappeared off the Earth.  Nope, I still am doing my duties.
Did you know that I turn 11 yrs old this July?

According to some sort of funky pet calculator I am a senior dog.  Huh. I only feel tired and worn out after a long day checking pastures and nosing around. SHE says the chart says that I am aged equivalent to a 60 year old person. 
Imagine that I am about the same age as HER!  She isn't quite 60, but darned close enough, and SHE still runs around like she thinks she is a pup.

I am also known as the weed commissioner:

Spot me?  I am counting thistles and Queen Anne's Lace and also checking to see if there is enough 'pickens' for HER to rotate the pasture for the gals.

It looked pretty good to me.

In fact I had to do some leaping to get through parts of it!

I do enjoy my inspections!  Can't you see?

It is an incredibly important job on a farm and it calls for someone like me.  A Jack Russell who lets nothing get by without notice.  I am always ready for something, even if I don't know what something is.

I even know the girls.  Strider sure was interested in what SHE and I were doing.

After a couple of hours out 'inspecting' SHE took us back to the house.

I immediately decided that I should find my red blanket and adjust it 'just so'. The love seat looked like it needed some serious 'holding down'.  I promptly laid down and got comfortable.

Geesh, and she worries that I am getting old.


Do I look OLD to you?

Beautiful end to the day

This storm cell develped to our east as the sun went down in the west....

We'd had an incredibly hot and humid day and as things began to cool down, storm cells began to pop up all over according the the radar.  I believe this was the storm cell we saw heading toward LaFarge, WI.

Lucky me.  My Nikon lens steamed up from coming inside the house...I'd brought my FujiFilm FinePix 30 EXR, which is a point and shoot, with a very long lens and was able to catch these shots!

Behind me thick mist rose out of the valley...

Yesterday was too hot to really do much outside other than chores and some other things.
Since I'd had a brutal work, work was not bad, just long hours that I am not used to....

We napped when the afternoon storm came through.  Yesterday's total rainfall was 3/4" of rain for our little area.

I am hoping that I get some time to go and look for fungi today.  Warmth, moist, humid air, rain, and more warm weather seems to be a real bonus for fungi! 'cheapo' point and shoot did very well I think.  I think I have over 10K clicks on it and it is still shooting!

Monday, July 13, 2015

I like detours..

Normally I am not one that likes to have routine broken and changed.

But I can't control when there is construction on my route to work.
The highway I normally take to work is now closed about 8 miles from my destination.  The bridge across the Bad Axe River is closed and well, gone right now until it is reconstructed.

At first I took the 'other' route to work, which doesn't involve back roads.  It really wasn't a bad route at all, but I just don't like the highway, it seems narrow and rough.

So some co-workers told me how to 'get around' the construction.  It involves a little known detour that takes a few extra minutes, but I love the drive.  It is extremely scenic and the road is so twisted you can't drive...or shouldn't drive very fast at all.

This road just asks to be photographed.

The other morning, I left home early so I could take my time on this road and get some photos.

I was not disappointed at all.

Moving from the sunlit ridge I headed into the valley and dipped swiftly into the Bad Axe Valley... and fog.

The hill is steep and the road unblemished by pavement markings.  When I dropped to the valley floor, I was in fog.  I expected it as I've driven through Romance Valley for years now.

I was able to catch sight of the cattle grazing in the morning with the cranes on the bridge construction site silently waiting for the weekend to be over so they could continue work.

The next day the fog on the ridges were terrible.  It was hard to see 1/4 of a mile or more.

This was at the beginning of the drive.

Most of this drive was rather unremarkable until I headed down into the valley. This time the valley was clear of fog and exact opposite of the day before.

I'm going to look into a route that goes around the construction on the opposite side of the valley.  Who knows what other treasures I may find?

I guess I will find out soon!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

One photo, 3 edits

Here is the original photo.  The road presented with a nice curve to the tree and to the clouds above.  So I stopped the car and stepped out to take the shot.

This is a road that I travel often and it is a route I take home.  I noticed the really fantastic sky while driving home from picking up my new glasses.

So I thought about how this road appears to go 'nowhere' and right into the sky.

I used Corel AfterShotPro to for my RAW processing.  I don't always shoot in RAW because it often entails an extra step or two to process a shot and sometimes I just feel lazy.  But since this was a sky shot, I wanted to be able to deal with bringing out the clouds a bit better, the shot in camera was pretty dull.

Most people use Adobe Lightroom, but I like the fact that I don't pay a monthly fee to edit my photos.  I also think this product for me is much faster.

I then edited this shot with Topaz Adjust 5.  I added a bit of detail, enhanced the clouds and reduced some noise.

Now this is a bit more fun and exciting.  More of what I saw in my mind's eye when I was taking the shot.
I was also thinking of how nice it would look in Black and White.

So I used Topaz's BW Effects to process the photo.
My photo editing software is now Corel also.

I made the change because again, Adobe which I've used for years is now a monthly fee basis for photo editing.  I suppose I could have gone with the latest Elements, but the price comparison was not even in the ball park with Corel's Paint Shop Pro X7.

Whoops, I didn't mean to make this sound like an ad for either Topaz or Corel, but since I am talking about editing, I thought I'd let you know what I am using to get to these points.  
There are also some fantastic on line editors as well as free editors that you can download.  I'll have to do a separate blog for that.

Here is the black and white version:

I feel that black and white added a lot of drama and punch to this shot.

Then I decided to do something I haven't done in ages.
Add a texture layer and edit the black and white version to look as though it had been carried around in someone's wallet, and dropped a few times on the ground.
I thought it would be fun to see what it would look like 'aged'.

And here is the 'aged' photo.  It feels like it has some character to it.

And so there you go.  From my 'vision' in the car to my vision digitally 'remastered'.

Textures Created by Jerry Jones:

You can download them FOR FREE at:
My Official Blog.

You can also find some of my textures at
My flickr page.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Wild Flowers, roads, Lyme Disease

 Kolstad Road

I made my return to work this past week.  In truth I did actually miss going to work.  I like interacting with my co-workers and although our group is quite small and can be 'interesting' sometimes...I found that I missed them.

I was supposed to start back on the 4th of July but as nothing is ever written in stone, I responded to two call offs on the 2nd and the 3rd.  Easing back into the job with 40 hours in 4 days.

Hubby was feeling as though he could get through the day just fine as long as I made sure he had something to eat and helped arrange his meds.

I muddled through chores the first two shifts and then came home announcing that I probably had contracted a Lyme Diseased tick bite on my hike a couple of weeks ago.  I recall pulling a tick off me at late at night but never gave it a second thought.

Friday about 4am at work I got a horrid headache along with a stiff neck that quickly transpired into body aches and a fever.  My supervisor and told me to get some rest and he'd see me tomorrow as I was switching from night shifts to days shifts.

My night was horrible.  I woke up soaked in sweat and at 4am I had a fever of 102.1.  I got up drank a lot of water, took 2 Tylenol and took an Ice Pack back to bed.  I pushed the ice pack onto my face.  Finally after about 20 minutes I didn't think my face and eyeballs were going to explode.
In an hour my fever had dropped to 99.5 and the headache was gone, but I still felt like I had been kicked by a pro athlete.
I got up by then and decided to stay up.  I wanted in the worst way to call off as 'sick', but knew work would be hard pressed to cover my shift that close to start time on the 4th of July.

When I got back to work, the night shift super looked at me and raised his brows in question?  I shook my head.  He asked if I'd had a bug bite recently.  Then it hit me.  That tick, two weeks ago!
I went into the bathroom and took a quick look.  Yes there it was, the tell tale 'rash' or 'bulls-eye' red mark.

Monday I went to the clinic and was told I had classic Lyme's Disease symptoms and was given Doxycycline to take for 14 days.

My work route is currently under construction, the Romance bridge is completely gone and is being replaced.  For two nights I took and alternate route to work.  It is the same distance and about the same amount of travel time, but I dislike the twisted uneven narrow road. Some co-workers told me how to get around the construction and I immediately fell in love with the drive on this twisted road with breath taking views.

 Northridge Road

While at work I found some extremely beautiful wild flowers that grow naturally in our prairie areas.

I found these plants growing together and after doing some research with one of my co-workers we discovered that it was called Silk Prairie Clover or Dalea villosa.

 Silk Prairie Clover White

Silk Prairie Clover Purple

The purple clover would be easy for the casual eye to mistaken as Vervain which is another one of my favorite prairie flowers that have a beautiful blue/purple hue.


Another favorite, especially if you can catch it just beginning to open is Queen Anne's Lace.
 Queen Anne's Lace
Daucus carota
Wild Carrot

Actually, I've dug these up on wet days and found roots big enough to munch on.  They do have a very strong carrot flavor.  But the blossoms when they are just opening tend to have a purple hue to them.  This was also taken just after the sun was beginning to hit the valley and that may have helped the hue.
Well, between work and not feeling well at all I still managed to take some photos worth mentioning.

Of course there is a mystery plant that neither my co-worker or I can identify.  Neither one has seen this plant blossom so we don't know the color it might have been.  It is so unique that we are quite taken with it.

Edit and update:  This plant is called the Indigo Plant! The flowers are a beautiful blue.  My neighbor was able to ID it for me.

 Isn't this something else?

Anyway, that should catch everyone up my life in the slow lane.
I am having my first day where I actually feel quite normal and not as if I've been tackled or tossed around.  First day without a fever and a headache.

I am on the mend.