Monday, February 28, 2022

Time for silliness


Bear on right: These hats are silly!

Bear on left: Don't worry, they look just fine. Almost like jester stocking hats.

Bear on right: They are human knit gloves.

Bear on left: Um, yeah but they keep my ears warm!

Well, what do you think about crossing here?

Um. No, the ice looks mushy to me.

Speaking of mushy, you are a bean bag bear.

Yeah, so what?

Seems to me you'd have a harder time hiking....

Um, yup, you are absolutely right! I think I'll just lay here for a bit.

The End

Sunday, February 27, 2022

We all Fall Down

Sometimes I wonder about the careless blasé attitude I have towards certain things. Yesterday's hike was great. I left the snowshoes at home and elected to not wear my YakTraks. 

The temperatures were climbing and the snowshoes would have gobbed up with ice and compacted snow after crossing the creek. I headed down the steep trail towards the creek and realized that snowshoes would have been a good choice.

The fresh snow that covered the trail was full of hard lumps and bumps from previous walks and they were hard uneven and still frozen under the fresh snow.

No matter, I slipped and slid and carefully negotiated the nasty footwork. 

I marveled at my own balance and footwork. I was careful and steady. I did not have one misstep at all in a two-ish mile hike through the valley and back up the steep slopes towards home.

I spooked up a huge herd of deer and watched them leap effortlessly through the underbrush. I lost count after 15 deer. 

They had good trails that were easy to follow up and down the hillside. Great for deer and coyote, but a bit bumpy and lumpy for the human foot.

My walks often take to on changes of elevation of nearly 200 ft from ridge to valley. 
On a terrain map it looks like this:

I made the whole trip with a few stops to admire the creek, listen for birds, and track coyotes.
I ended up gathering the mail on the ridge and headed home without any incident.

Perfect right?

At chore time I was in a hurry and pulled the deep sled full of hay out after filling it. I spread it out in different feeders and spots so there was no arguing over piles.

I decided to be really well prepared and got all the hay set up for in the morning. I bent down to pick up a feed bucket in the shed and hurried around the front of the Subaru to put it away.
My foot caught on the rope from the hay sled.

Trying to hang on to a bucket and is stupid mistake. I think. Well. There I went. 
In order to stop a face plant on the shed floor I shot out my left arm. It immediately felt like I'd been stabbed in the shoulder. 

The fall doesn't hurt as much as the sudden stop.
However, I did a fantastic roll....
I would have won an Olympic medal for form.

I spit dirt and stopped moving. Was I alive?
OH yes.

Could I move?
Slowly. My left arm hurt like the dickens, so I rolled to a sit, then to a kneel and rose. 
All I could think was 
oh damn, what pickle this was.

Actually I think my first thoughts were all curse words.

I made it to the house and made Rich come out and get the dirt and snow brushed off my coveralls. 

He immediately wanted me to go to the ED. I made supper and did some icing and resting in a neutral position instead. I said if I was immobile come Monday, I'd go in.

Sunday morning was a surprise. The shoulder still aches but I'm beginning to feel what I did. I have incredibly sore triceps, and a tender bicep, and shoulder blade pain. 
I have good range of motion, but very slow.

Lifting something heavy is not an option.

Ice is nice.
We'll see how the next few days pan out.

Lesson learned. 
be in

And stop marveling at my great balance and footwork. Seems it failed me!

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Friday all day

Most mornings, Charlie and I go up through the woods and take a round about way to go get the previous day's mail. We get out for fresh air and take our time following trails that the deer and other critters make.
Sometimes it requires rerouting because of the underbrush and low limbs. 
Charlie is on the look out for squirrels, he loves the chase but generally loses them in seconds.

Hey, I give the guy an A+ for effort anyway.

Later on in the day after doing chores and the usual stuff we went for a second walk. I get cabin fever if I am stuck in the house all day. 
I chose to hike across the snowy crop fields and down to the tree pictured below.
I was looking to get out of the thick woods for a bit and see just what it looked like from the huge dip in the field.

Charlie wasn't in a hurry to go anywhere. He was checking for mice, I think.

The walk was rather uneventful and by the time we got down by the old oaks, I was warm enough to take off my hat and scarf.
The hollow blocked the northeast wind and the sun was extremely warm. Things were melting all around us and in places I could see corn stalks and parts of the soy bean plants from last year.
The temperature when I left the house was 16 F.

This area of the cropland is called a 'waterway'. It is left with grasses and plants growing all year round and when there is a hard rain, the water runs through the grasses and trees which slows down erosion.

I marveled at how warm I was and after admiring the large twisted oak's shadows, we headed north and towards the top of the ridge to cool off.

We walked up the waterway in the shot shown above. By the time I reached the ridgetop, I had to put my hat, scarf, and gloves back on.

We crossed into another field that had been planted in corn last year. I hope they rotate to soy beans this spring. I love coming here in the summer to watch the sun come up.

It an was interesting hike. I plan to go back and explore more of the field to the east of this spot. If my memory is correct, the farmers who once lived here would park their old machinery in the the woods on the edges of the fields. 
I wonder what I might find?

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Twwweet Tweet Lil Birdies!

The dull overcast light of Tuesday's winter weather was actually pretty nice for bird photography. This is a subject I always avoided because I thought 

1. It was easy

2. It was boring

3. It wasn't exciting

I was wrong on all 3 accounts.

It is hard, interesting to watch, and challenging to get a decent shot.

I'd washed my windows on Sunday when it was warm and took the screens off in hopes of being able to 'shoot' through the glass. 

I was thrilled when this Titmouse huddled under the porch roof out of the pelting sleet. It took several shots but this is the one I liked because it looks like he/she has Attitude and he is staring right at me. He was also within 10 feet of the window.

None of the shots will be 100% clear and perfect. But it was a fun learning experience.

The cardinals came by to brighten the scenery too. All the birds like to perch on the same general area of the pines that are in front of the house. This male cardinal sat for a long time unlike the Juncos and Chickadees who were darting all about.

One of the things I wanted to do was get a Titmouse in flight. I watched a video on tips for shooting birds in flight. My reaction time is slower than the birds. Fortunately, after a ton of misses, I got a Titmouse launching. 

Ideally, according to the experts, I should have had the camera on a tripod and should have had  Continous Tracking AutoFocus set with the multi shot setting on. I used multi shot, but the CT-AF wasn't on. 
Oh well, it was exciting to see how they fly anyway. There is also the option of Pro-Capture on this camera which starts to take a shot before you press the shutter. I'm not sure how that works, but it is wicked fun.

And I started to watch carefully. I think I can almost predict a take off. But I miss most of the time.

The Titmouse quickly flew out of focus. 

I watched the birds interact. This Junco sat quietly on the branch for a long time before he/she decided that the Chickadee was too close.
Fight Club!
The Chickadee moved higher into the tree.

To celebrate the 2-22-22 event, I kept watching and decided to give up. I started to put the camera away when this happened!


So you ask. How many shots did I take just to get a few? Hmmm. Do you want to guess or should I tell you?

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Snow Day


Charlie doesn't need YakTraks or ice cleats obviously. Look at those feet! We decided to go for a nice morning walk to the ridge and down through the woods and around the neighbor's meadow.

The snow in the area is compacted and very rough on the deer trails. I had to walk carefully, but Bigfoot darted all around the place like a wild man. He had chased two squirrels and was on a roll.

The road on the ridge was covered in a layer of snow and under that was ice. This is one of those times where the ice wasn't thick enough to bury the gravel underneath so traction wasn't too bad. The mist was still coming down and icing all east facing branches.

I had trees on my mind. The light was dull and pretty gloomy but I enjoy days like this for different types of photography.

You've seen this boxelder before and for whatever reason, I stop often in the winter and summer to photograph it. The kid in me wants to make a fort here.

Funny how you can take the same route over and over and see different things. I never saw the shape of this particular tree before. The light and the misty atmosphere stopped me in my tracks. 

Here is the full tree, and below that is a cropped version of what I really found fascinating.

Cropped version

Everything seems to be moving to the right in this shot. Strange right?

Soon enough Spring will arrive and the trees will have leaves which will hide their incredible features.

After lunch we had a grand time watching the birds at the feeder. I tried to hone in a skill of 'catching' a bird in flight while leaving a branch.

I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Monday Mondays...can't get me down...

Good Monday morning. 
[Yes, a day late but I was unplugged yesterday.]

Some mornings I get greeted by this friendly crow. Well, I'm not really sure it is the same crow each time. But there you are.

Crows often appear as

The light was terrible Monday. Dull and dreary. Nothing at all like Sunday which was sunny and bright.
I got things set up for the big ice/wintery event that was supposed to happen.
The birds were quite happy when I refilled the feeder.

Below is a female cardinal. I've been trying like the dickens to get birds launching off the branches and in flight. I use rapid shot mode and most of the time I fail. However it was fun to see that the cardinal launches herself willy nilly towards the ground and opens her wings to slow to a graceful landing at the last second.

Here is Charlie's nemesis eating a hickory nut he/she dug up from the base of the pine tree. Charlie can't see the squirrel unless I lift him up to a window or let him out.
He enjoys the chase.

When I do chores with him he hunts in the big shed for rabbits and chases them out. He has never caught a rabbit or squirrel but he sure tries. Voles are his specialty. He is quite good at laying like a cat next to a hole in the yard and patiently waiting for the vole to poke its head out.

The Chickadees have been absolutely crazy at the feeder. 
I had pushed the shutter speed up and still didn't get the wings of this Chickadee. It looks like a fuzzy missile.

I moved the mules to another wooded area that is not icy. It is another section of their wooded pasture and since they haven't walked on it all winter, it doesn't have compacted snow which has turned to ice in their winter area.

They took a break from eating hay and all but the 37 yr old bucked, farted, and took snow baths.
I was making breakfast so could only shoot at them out the back door.

It was a grand time that lasted about 20 minutes and then they all went back into the woods to work on their hay.

They were delighted with the change of scenery. 

Today looks like a snowy mix of stuff. Some places have reported Thunder snow and hail!

Have a great day and stay safe in whatever you are doing.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Easy Hike

My Buddy Bill had to dog-sit a friend's lab so we decided to take a short jaunt. We parked at Willow Camp and head down the Willow trail to old 131 and spend some time exploring a bit at bridge 16.

Charlie took the lead as if he knew where we were going. He is pretty good at being the trail leader for such a small dog. The temperature was a brisk 10 degrees with a slight breeze from the west.
Willow Trail is section #14 on our Trail Challenge and is a short .5 mile walk. In the summer months, it is a busy horse trail. Hiking is allowed on it all year 'round. Though during the summer the horses have the right of way and hikers are expected to have their dogs controlled so as not to spook the horses.

Willow trail is section 14 on the challenge form. Our plan was to just to take it easy as the trails were tricky and frozen with all sorts of rough tracks in it.

Willow Trail 
in IRChrome

Old 131 was much smoother. It is groomed for cross country skiing. Though it was too slippery and icy for that.
We wore our YakTraks and had no trouble walking on the hard flat surface.

At Bridge 16 we walked up and explored the old campsite H that has been removed and placed on higher ground.  This was done to protect people from getting trapped in flood waters from the Kickapoo in heavy rains.

A wise move since the campsite was on the bend of the river and at the end of a very steep valley with a small stream that runs through it. During a heavy rain event the water would flood the campsite from two directions during a flash flood.

Behind old Campsite H

Charlie had other ideas when we turned around to head south on old 131. He wanted to head over the bridge and continue on.

I do love the IRChrome filter. White is white and foliage that has chlorophyll in it is red and the sky is blue. I thought it would be fun to experiment in the winter with it and I was surprised by the amount of plant life that reflected red.

We walked south towards Star Valley Road and stopped to look at the ponds. We noted x-country ski tracks across the pond on the east side. Bill wondered out loud about walking out to the little island and taking a look at it.
I pointed out that if he fell in it would take ages to get help. We nixed that idea.

Here is Bill taking a break and sharing a bit of apple with Charlie.  It has become a thing in the past two years to bring an apple in our pockets or backpack and share bits with our little trail guide.

We made a discovery that could be fun this spring. If one were to walk back to Camp C, they could see into the back side of the west pond. This could be helpful while birding in the spring. I plan on coming back and exploring the ponds while the waterfowl come to visit. Last spring I saw a pair of Trumpeter Swans.

Star Valley Monument
taken last spring

The rest of the hike was rather uneventful. We enjoyed the walk up Star Valley Road. We tried to figure out a plan for next week, it would involve a point to point hike in an area we haven't ever seen in the winter.

It wasn't too demanding of a hike and only was a couple of miles, but we knocked off two more sections.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

More wooden model fun

Well, I had so much fun with the mannequin, I thought I'd sit down and try to think up another scenario or two. I had more phone calls to wait on. 

My cell phone does work, it doesn't get voice service inside the north portion of the house and rarely gets any service in the kitchen. It does receive texts and all the other good stuff. Just no voice service most of the time inside the house. We attribute that to living with hills surrounding our place and the steel roof.

I really had to work at thinking of things. I tried making paper flowers that would be tiny enough for the mannequin to hold. Boy was that ever a failure. Meanwhile, apparently little wooden dog got hungry and mannequin fed him.

I tried to get the mannequin in a nice sitting position, but it kept falling over. I wanted the tiny dog in his lap. That didn't work. Then I tried making a blanket and a pillow. 

That worked but I didn't like how the shot turned out. The color of the material I used took away from the feel I was trying to get.

I went to all white and tried this.

Bad dog. What happens when you let wooden fido get the mail!

I tried several positions and the light from the back door kept changing.

This was much harder than it looks! Light, shadows, and no distractions to take away from the subject matter. 
But it was a great mind exercise.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Wooden Stories

Over a year or so ago, I received a package from a childhood friend with a surprise inside. She told me a story about how her parents wouldn't let her have a pet so she saved up her allowance each week and went to this little store uptown and eventually bought herself a wooden zoo. She felt that her Zoo should move to a place where they would be used more. I inherited these beautiful little animals from her.

I picked up a cheap wooden artist's mannequin last summer on a whim. I wasn't sure what it would be useful for at all. I ended up setting it aside until a two Flickr friends posted photos of their very same mannequins. One was a study of shadows and light in photography. The other one was of the mannequin juggling peas. [He said he used wire and frozen peas and had to edit out the wires!]

With Valentine's Day coming up last week, I thought I'd do a bit of experimenting with light and what else? Hearts!

I learned something. I could work with the mannequin.

And then I thought about it some more and decided that I'd try and do something that had an emotional impact.

I thought the mannequin would be so hard to work with because it has no features. However. Having no features made the positioning and the composition more important than ever.





[Standing the mannequin on ice with a wind was tricky, but I got it done before it tipped over.]

This was a great exercise in creativity. I may do more. 

The weather is predicted to be nasty today. I wonder where my wooden friends will take me next?