Tuesday, March 29, 2011

About those plans....

Remember those plans I wrote about yesterday? They got scrambled a little today.

I drove up to the Bolt Hole this morning (220 miles). The snow at the Aerie disappeared when I reached Watkins Glen. There was absolutely nothing on the ground until I got above Utica. There, I found the high land north of the Mohawk contained more and more snow. By the time I got to the Bolt Hole (elevation 1800 feet) there were huge amounts of snow still on the ground. The lawn was covered by 18 inches of snow with a nice hard crust on top. Luckily there's a group of rabbit hunters who use my yard as a staging area AND the DEC Ranger who works our area of the state also uses my yard as a place to park his vehicle with its trailer. Combined, they see to it that access to the yard and house is kept pretty clear even when neither Mark nor I are around. As a result, I could drive right up to the door.

I also found that Mark was there. His car was parked at his gate and there was smoke from his chimney.

But first, I noticed my chimney was missing its cap but there was a metal paint bucket turned upside down over the top of the chimney. Inside, all the furniture had been shoved to one end of the living room, a tarp was draped along the eastern wall, the ceiling light fixture behind the wood stove had been cut out, a blanket hung across the door to the kitchen and there was no electricity to the kitchen lights. Oh, and Mark's kerosene heater and tools lay all over the floor of the living room.

I went over to see if, perhaps, Mark could shed some light upon what the heck was going on. He could, and I was disappointed to learn that there had been another electrical mishap. Something caused a short in the section of old canvas covered wire I did not replace last fall. That happened to be on a 25 amp circuit breaker, which 1-fried a connection in a junction box in the basement, 2-caused the fluorescent bulb in the kitchen to explode, 3-resulted in Mark shutting down of the over large circuit. Mark had an electrician in to help diagnose the problem. Only cost a short cord of wood from the shed. As for the rewiring job, we can do that.

Mark also said that, in February, there were two weeks during which the temperature did not get above 0 degrees. Meltwater seeped into the living area and icicles 2 feet long hung from the log roof purlins when they dripped lots of stuff got wet. When the chimney cap blew off (he's not sure when that happened) snow and water accumulated in the stove. (He cleaned that up and dried everything out.) Frost heaving/settling has caused the old and new sections of the house to separate slightly and that helped the snow meltwater to gain access.

We concluded that we need to rewire the old section of the Bolt Hole. We walked through and made a short list of the materials needed fro the rewiring, recapping of the chimney and more. Then I decided to head home to the Aerie since I had no light and couldn't build a fire to keep warm.

So it was another 220 miles to reach home. That made 440 miles round trip. Approximately 9 hours behind the wheel and another 3 or so inspecting the Bolt Hole with Mark.

As I told Mark, I'll be back in about two weeks with tools and supplies and with a desire to 1-get the chimney capped so I can heat the place and 2-run some wire to create at least two new circuits--breaking the demand upon the one large circuit that now exists while, at the same time, restoring power to the old portion of the cabin. Hopefully, there will also be less snow and warmer temperatures come April 10th.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Future Plans

I believe I'll take a ride on Tuesday to see if the Bolt Hole is still standing. I haven't heard a peep from my buddy Mark since he returned from taking a test down in Tennessee for a gas company job. (He did will on the test but they gave him and a bunch of others the "We'll call you" routine and sent them home.) And that was back in early January...I think. (Kinda fuzzy on just when.)

Any how...the weather is supposed to be moderating a bit even up that way and the overnight low--there--may only be around 15-20 degrees instead of 5-10 like the last few days. With just a wee chance of snow flurries in the offing. If all is well, I'll only spend the night and head home on Wednesday. If anything is seriously amiss....

I can't wait for this bloody snow to disappear! There are a dozen things that need to be done--Out. Side. Things like setting up a garden; building a pole barn/shed to store the tractor in; cutting, hauling and splitting firewood; (re)building a shed up at the Bolt Hole (one's got to be either rebuilt or demolished and replaced); building some doors for the BH barn--finally; cutting,hauling and splitting firewood at the BH; and building covered deer stands both at the Aerie and the BH.

And I'll have to get it all done around three weddings: one on Memorial Day weekend in Milwaukee, on the 4th of July weekend in Maine, and one the Friday after Labor Day in New Jersey. oh, and then there's the clam bake in Massachusetts on Labor Day--assuming Bruce and Sue extend an invitation. Plus, somehow I've got to squeeze in two or three days a week for bird walks in April and May and--or so I've promised myself--two days of fishing each week. Add the time I'll need to improve by archery and shooting skills (something I didn't get to do last summer because we were on the road for nearly three months) and I'd say I'm going to be busy.

And once September gets here, the college football season and hunting seasons collide. This year I'm hoping for a big improvement by my Scarlet Knights of Rutgers and in my deer harvest. (They only won 4 games last year. That was 4 more than the number of deer I killed and 2 more than the number I saw. As the saying goes, "Tough to do worse.")

So those are my plans, immediate and otherwise. Ya think I'm:
1-too ambitious?
2-taking a big chance letting God know what I want to do? (After all, they do say, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.")

More Aerie Birds

Another frequent visitor to the feeders is the Black-capped Chickadee. This one wouldn't turn around to face into the wind--and the sun--but I think it still makes a pretty picture with the neighboring birch tree.

Black-capped Chickadee

The tray feeders are often sites fro a mixed bag of birds. Some, like the Blue Jays and Mourning Doves can clear the tray of any competition. Others like the Dark-eyed Junco and Common Redpoll are slightly more tolerant and will share the bounty. (Although the Junco can get pretty territorial at times.)

Common Redpoll and Dark-eyed Junco

The little Common Redpolls are far northern breeders and should be leaving us soon--I hope. While many of the "rare bird alerts" for central PA have listed two or three of these birds at a time showing up at feeders and being "news worthy" I've had hordes of the little buggers since before Christmas. They hit the feeders like locusts on a ripening wheat field. When they decide they've had enough, there's usually very little left. Sometimes I've had to fill the feeders twice in one day which explains why I've gone through 400 pounds of sunflower seeds so far this winter.

I do like the little red beret, however.

Common Redpoll

Then there are these guys. The Little Brown Jobs (or LBJs for short). Identifying sparrows has never been my forte, but even I can name a few. This little guy and about half a dozen of his close kin showed up last week just before the latest snow storm hit. They seem to be doing all right living off the seeds the other birds and squirrels spill from the feeders. Identification is made even easier when one starts singing.

Song Sparrow

Downy Woodpecker

Small ladder-backed woodpeckers have been with us all winter. I've counted as many as five Downy Woodpeckers and three Hairy Woodpeckers in the trees behind the feeders or along the side of the powerline right of way at one time. It can get pretty contentious at the one suet feeder I've got hanging out there!

While snapping photos of the Goldfinch, a couple of Downy WPs came calling. This male (note the red on the back of the head) was intent upon getting to the suet and didn't give a fig that I was standing on the deck 5 yards away.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

These little woodpeckers are actually quite tame. You can coax them to eat out of your hand, if you care to give it a try. I've had them come to the suet while I'm standing there refilling on of the seed feeders just a couple of feet away.

While they chase one another around the trees behind the feeders and sound pretty mean doing it, once their larger cousin, the Hairy shows up it's time for all to flee. (The hairy looks exactly the same except it's half again as large: 9 inches versus 6 for the Downy.)

Goldfinch Photos

I mentioned that yesterday I spotted the first American Goldfinches of the spring out by the feeders mixing it up with the Common Redpolls. While I didn't get the camera out rapidly enough for the first sighting, the birds did return later in the afternoon and I was able to snap a few photos of them. Only one Goldfinch had noticeably begun to change into his mating plumage, however. The others were still rather drab except for their very black wings and very white wing bars.

Whether these birds will stay around here or fly further north to breed is academic. Like the Robins, they should have been here all winter but those that do stick around often fly further north to do their thing. And, as they fly further north, birds that flew further south often take their place on the local scene.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch. Note he's still got an olive-green back.
That will gradually change to bright yellow as we move through
April and into the May nesting season.

American Goldfinch stocking up on sunflower seeds at the feeder.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Return of the Goldfinches?

This morning around 11 AM we got a phone call from my buddy (and Terry's cousin) Joe. It was a return call the subject of which was his son's wedding taking place this July 4th up near Portland, Maine. We were curious as to any recommendation regarding accommodations and activities and such as it is time to start making summer plans.

One thing lead to another and Joe, who moved out from NJ to an area about 60 miles south of here in southeast Clinton County near I-80 last spring, started castigating me for not warning him about how much snow there was here in central PA. I had to laugh since the area he moved to got lots more snow than the Aerie last year and we've had even more than he has this year. He says he managed to plant his strawberries and rhubarb last weekend but they are now under a blanket of white. Meanwhile his tomato and pepper seeds have sprouted and are doing real well on his windowsill. (If I were to plant either tomatoes or peppers at the Aerie, I would have to either wait until the end of May or think of cloches to guard against frost.)

Any who, we went on to talk about birds. I lamented I hadn't seen a Goldfinch since last Thanksgiving but had hordes of Redpolls and Dark-eyed Juncos raiding the feeders every day. He, on the other hand, said the Goldfinches were all over his feeders but he only had a couple of Redpolls and Juncos. This just 60 miles south of here.

We said our good-byes and wished each other well and added a prayer for a rapidly arriving spring.

I'm sitting in the living room and glance out the window at the birds at the tray on the deck expecting to see the usual crowd. But, wait! That is a Goldfinch in there with the Redpolls! Ever so slightly larger than the Redpolls with very black wings sporting two very bright, white bars. There was even a little hint of yellowish green beneath the chin. And then there was another. I got up to look over on the side where the other feeders hang and there were a couple more mixed in with the Redpolls. One was definitely a mature male just about half way through the molt into his bright yellow mating plumage.

I reached for the camera, but by the time I had retrieved it and fitted the proper lens onto it, ALL the birds had disappeared. And the Goldies did not return when the Redpolls and Juncos did.

That's okay, though. All is right with the world. The Goldfinches are still about. (Or maybe Joe just shooed a few this way.)


Meanwhile, it was just 12 degrees this morning at 7 AM but even that was up from yesterday. Could have been much worse since the breeze is still blowing out of the north-northwest and there wasn't a hint of a cloud in the sky all night--or today, for that matter. Bright, bright sunshine but precious little warmth (only got to 34 yesterday and 33 degrees today at 2:45 PM). Tonight will be another chilly one with 10 degrees a possibility by morning. Looking at the long range forecasts, the precip is out of Wednesday but a possibility on Friday/Saturday. Then things start warming up for the first full week of April. (By warming I mean we get back to the average high temperatures.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Aerie Report, March 26, 2011

Terry made it home safely from South Carolina late Thursday evening arriving at the Aerie at 8:30 PM. She drove straight through and reports that she didn't see any snow until she reached Williamsport. She was thoroughly spoiled by the 70 degree days in Columbia.


The sun has been shining since noon on Thursday. It's a welcome sight after the dreary, snowy days earlier in the week. In fact, we've nothing but clear, cloudless skies.

Of course, there's a down side as well. Those clear skies are the product of an absolutely arctic air mass that has caused the temperature to plunge into the "oh my God it's cold!" range. This morning it was just 10 degrees outside at 7 AM. Daytime highs haven't gotten much above 35 degrees either. (The average highs are supposed to be around 50 degrees this time of year.)

While the sun has caused some melting where the snow has been thinned by plowing, the stuff on the lawn and in the woods has simply become ice encrusted. Mud season is on hold--or at least limited to the afternoon hours when the sun has managed to melt a wee bit of the snow along the edge of the road.

The cold and the snow cover, as you might surmise, has forced the birds to once again rely upon my largess. The common redpolls continue to hang around, perhaps instinctively fearing even colder and more sparse food supplies to the north.

The robin I saw eating a worm on the lawn last Tuesday evening is probably hunkered down somewhere mumbling about the sudden turn of events that has put his amorous activities on hold. And as for the poor Phoebe ai saw eating flies on Sunday? I hope he can find takeout somewhere.

I've seen a song sparrow or two in the yard under the feeders picking up seed tossed about by the redpolls, chickadees, and super sloppy eating blue jays and squirrels.

I'm still waiting for the goldfinches to return. They are usually wintertime visitors and have been mixed with the redpolls. Last year, when the redpolls didn't show, they were our primary visitors all winter long. I was able to judge the approach of spring by the shifting color of the goldies. This year? Nada. Zip. We haven't seen a goldie since Thanksgiving.


I noted the swelling of leaf buds on the aspen trees on the hill in front of the Aerie and the appearance of catkins on the birch trees this morning. I can see wet spots on the maples where the activities of woodpeckers or the rubbing of branches have caused a leakage of sap. This is the second weekend of the maple syrup open houses throughout Tioga and Potter counties and, for once, the producers have things timed things perfectly. The super cold nights and somewhat warm days must have the sap running like the streams during spring thaw. The longer the cold nights last, the happier they (the syrup crowd) will be.

Me? I'd as soon we get on with the business of Spring but these things can not be forced. The sun--and cold--will be with us until at least Wednesday when there's a slight chance of some snow flurries. Then, as we turn the calendar page to April on Friday, there's a prediction of slightly warmer weather and rain/snow showers for a a few days. Figures, New York's trout season opens on Friday as does the season in a dozen PA counties to the southeast part of the state. (The rest of Pennsylvania doesn't start trout season until the 16th.)

Until then, I'll enjoy the sun while pondering where the heck MY global warming is.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Well, as Paul suggested last evening, the weathermen were wrong when they said there would be an inch of snow/sleet/wintry mix overnight. Very, very wrong.

Snow on the corner of the deck.

Snow on the deck rail and tray feeder.

Snow on the Tundra.

We got a wee bit more than the called for "inch." There's more like 8 inches of the stuff on the ground this morning. We are currently in a lull between bands of precipitation but AccuHunch says there's still 4-5 inches to come--with sleet and freezing rain this afternoon just for good measure. Winter Weather Warnings remain in effect until Thursday morning.

And we were just about free of the damn stuff. Only the greatly reduced and nearly gone heaps of snow created from plowing/blowing/shoveling remained yesterday afternoon. Now I'll have to enlarge those. Right now, I've got to go out and hang the bird feeders and clear off the deck. I shall refrain from doing the driveway until I'm relatively certain the weather gods (small "g" as a sign of disdain!) have finished their tormenting. In any event, it looks like I'll be playing with my toys again.

If this keeps up, Terry just might want to stay in South Carolina where her cousin told be they got "chilly" when the 70 degree temperatures fell to 55 the other day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

As the saying goes:
"Don't mess with Seniors!"

From a friend in Massachusetts by way of Alaska:
A lawyer and a senior citizen are sitting n ext to each other on a long flight.

The lawyer is thinking that seniors are so dumb that he could get one over on them easily .

So, the lawyer asks if the senior would like to play a fun game.

The senior is tired and just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and tries to catch a few winks.

The lawyer persists, saying that the game is a lot of fun...."I ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me only $5.00. Then you ask me one, and if I don't know the answer, I will pay you $500.00," he says.

This catches the senior's attention and, to keep the lawyer quiet, he agrees to play the game.

The lawyer asks the first question. "What's the distance from the Earth to the Moon?"

The senior doesn't say a word, but reaches into his pocket, pulls out a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the lawyer.

Now, it's the senior's turn. He asks the lawyer, "What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?"

The lawyer uses his laptop to search all references he can find on the Net.

He sends E-mails to all the smart friends he knows; all to no avail. After an hour of searching, he finally gives up.

He wakes the senior and hands him $500.00. The senior pockets the $500.00 and goes right back to sleep.

The lawyer is going nuts not knowing the answer. He wakes the senior up and asks, "Well, so what goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?"

The senior reaches into his pocket, hands the lawyer $5.00, and goes back to sleep.

Oh, crap!

Why play CDs and not listen tot he radio? Well, first of all, I was traveling through a mountainous region of the state. In and out of valleys, up and over ridges, etc. makes for bad radio reception and I didn't feel like having to search for new stations along the way.

Besides, I had heard the weather forecast and didn't care to hear it repeated very often, damn it!

The Aerie will see snow and a wintery mix starting after midnight on Tuesday. A possibility of an inch by morning. Snow all day Wednesday and into Wednesday night. Three to six inches of snow possible. BUT it could be more or less. Only a slight shift in the track of the storm could make a big difference. Or so say the folks at AccuHunch.

Yeah, that 6-12 inch blob is just a tiny bit to the northeast of here. And I do mean tiny. Looks like it starts around Corning, NY which is just on the other side of the state line. I can almost see it from my front yard. (Well, I could if it weren't for those other hills in the way.) And, being at 2100 feet in elevation and one of the first places to get snow while the valley gets rain, yada, yada, yada.

Sure looks like I'll be shoveling once more.

Then again, where the heck was the "mostly sunny" they were forecasting? I saw the sun--I think--for something like 5 minutes today. If they were wrong about that....

Traveling Music

While traveling today, I listened to a couple of CDs: The Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers 2000 and C.W. McCall's Greatest Hits. I consider all of them traveling music.

Whether on a "mission from God" or just in search of a Battle of the Bands competition outside of New Orleans, Jake, Elwood, and Mack spent a lot of time in their vehicle. Usually being chased by someone. Cops, Illinois Nazis, disgruntled and angry country bands or even more cops, it didn't seem to matter. Someone wanted them. Bad. I guess Everybody Needs Somebody. ya just gotta go Looking (for a Fox)

And the Blues Brothers' Show Band and the characters they met up with could play some mean licks, blow a hot horn, or belt out one hell of a tune. I find their songs bewitching.

And C.W. does a real fine job in the story telling line.

A prime example is this:

And this one's pretty good, too:


I went for a ride today. A 300 mile ride.

There was a need for someone to travel south to Thompsontown to meet up with a person (Julie) traveling north from Baltimore. The object of this movement was the transportation of some 30,000 tiny little glass eels from the shores of Maryland to the fish labs at Asaph. There they will be kept to grow larger and--hopefully--more robust before being released into Pine Creek in late June.

I've mentioned before how the Tiadaghton Audubon Society (TAS) has linked up with the USGS Fish Labs in Asaph for the purpose of trying to get a healthy population of eels and thence mussels (which use the eels as hosts for their larvae) to the stretches of Pine Creek that run through Tioga County. The mussels would, in turn, help keep the creek water clean for trout species to thrive. (See previous posts here and here.)

Glass eels are very small, baby eels looking to make their way back into the streams along the eastern seaboard. They travel up those streams and pack on the grams before returning to the Atlantic to meet with and mate with other eels somewhere in the great Atlantic gyre. Dams along many rivers make the upstream trip problematic. The little guys (and gals--one assumes another eel can tell the difference) cant get over the dams and shun the easy solutions such as fish ladders. Hence, the taxi service.

In the past, members of the TAS have helped transport larger eels caught below the dams on the Susquehanna River. These were outfitted with a radio tag injected beneath the skin and set free in Pine Creek. But the capture of large quantities of these larger specimens (12-18 inches in length) is now always possible. Glass eels, on the other hand, are extremely numerous along the Atlantic shore at this time of the year. Tiny little things measuring approximately an inch or inch and a half in length and about as thick as a 7 mm pencil lead, they are, with the exception of their digestive tube, nearly colorless, hence the name glass eels.

The ones I was helping to move upstream were swimming off the sand at Ocean City, Maryland on Monday. Scooped from the surf, they spent the night in oxygenated bags of water set inside coolers--in Baltimore. From there, Julie (USGS staff member) transported them north and handed them over to me. I, in turn, brought them to the labs in Asaph. From Ocean City, MD, to Asaph, PA is approximately 370 miles. And they made the trip in just about 36 hours. Not bad for a little worm-like creature just an inch or so in length. (We could save time and gas money, however, if the little buggers would just evolve and grow a thumb so they could hitch hike on their own.)

Not only should they be thankful for the ride, but many of them would have fallen prey to stripped bass, sea trout, blue fish, and quite a few birds as well. Not that they'll find it much easier Once released into Pine Creek. At least they will get a comfortable place to rest and grow (I was told they will probably double in size) for the next three months without having to run the gauntlet to get to the upper reaches of Pine Creek.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The 39th Iditarod Has Ended!

The 2011 Iditarod has just finished with Ellen Halverson doing something no one has ever done before. She became the first person to be the Red Lantern (final musher to cross under the Burled Arch in Nome) twice. In the previous 38 races dating back to 1972 there has been a new face in that position 38 times.

Ellen Halverson was the 47th musher of the 62 that started in Willow on March 6th to complete the journey to Nome. Nine of her 16 dogs completed the trek with her.

She and Heather Sirtola left the final checkpoint at Safety just four minutes apart at shortly before 7 AM (AKDT) this morning after an all night trip under the light of the Super Moon from White Mountain, and arrived just minutes apart in Nome just shy of 11 AM.

Congratulations to all the mushers and their dogs who participated in the 39th Iditarod.

Time for all to shower and rest before tonight's big awards banquet!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Aerie Report, March 19, 2011

Man, oh man, what a difference a day makes. Yesterday we had bright sunshine and a high temp of 69 degrees although the sun made things seem even warmer.

The temperature went down all night. The high at midnight of 43 degrees became 30 degrees this morning at 7 AM and it's only risen to 33 under a cloud sky that has, on occasion spit some snow.

Yesterday there was a Phoebe in the yard plucking errant flies out of the air. Today it would have a difficult time finding a fly willing or able to take flight. Lady bugs crawled out of the nooks and crannies in and outside the house. Today they are again napping--somewhere. The redpolls have thinned out and the robins are a little less conspicuous. (Although the juncoes--also called "snowbirds--seem to be a little more numerous.)

Forecasters were saying that the skies would clear and the temperatures would rise. Ain't gonna happen. Perhaps tomorrow the sun will come out as they promise. Even so, we won't see those teasing 68-70 degrees.


One thing that was the same. The bear came back last night just after dark. I had already taken the bird feeders inside, however, so he didn't get much. I did watch as he lay down on the spilled and shelled seed beneath the poles and proceeded to lick up what he could get. It must be tough to wake up after sleeping for several months and find that there's a very limited menu at the breakfast bar.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Visitors

Yesterday was a real spring day. Lots of sun and a temperature that broke the 60 degree barrier (and didn't fall below 49.8 over night!) caused huge amounts of snow to melt, robins to appear in abundance and the earth to give off that heady aroma that promises growth--soon.

In addition to our daily horde of common redpolls (Why haven't the headed north to their boreal forest breeding grounds yet?) I had some exciting visitors. Late in the afternoon a group of five turkey vultures coasted over the hill, caught a favorable breeze and surfed their way along the ridge heading northeast. At twilight there were half a dozen male robins establishing territories nearby. I suppose I'll have to be on the lookout for their mud and straw nests on the log ends at the corners of the Aerie. I could also hear several woodcock doing their thing with their "peent" calling on the ground and the flutter/whistling of wings in the air. As the snow melts, I expect their mating flights and calls will increase.

I listened for the calls of spring peepers and American toads, but they must still be buried in the mud of the streams and marshy areas. Terry did say she heard them down in Maryland, however.

Oh yeah, about Maryland. Thursday, Terry left to travel to Maryland for a stitching class, and then to South Carolina to visit her cousins. Usually, whenever I take off for the Bolt Hole and leave Terry and the kitties to fend for themselves at the Aerie a bear shows up at the bird feeders the first night I'm away. I guess turn about is fair play as I got a visitor of the bruin persuasion just after I went to bed at 10 PM. I was wondering when I would have to start taking in the bird feeders at night and now I know.

The noise he made when he pulled one of the stick feeders off the shepherd's crook pole alerted me to his presence and I redressed in order to go save my feeders. By the time I got to the sliding door heading out onto the porch, he had yanked the full suet feeder off the crook and was trying to puzzle out how to get the suet cake out of the cage and into his mouth. This was a big fella. Somewhere in the 350-300 pound range upon emerging from his winter sleep, I imagine he could reach 350 or more before the fall hunting season. I flicked on the outside lights, shone the flashlight at his eyes and shouted. He headed off--slowly--as I walked toward where the feeders were on the ground. I heard him stop about 25 yards or less away in the darkness as I gathered up all the hanging feeders to bring them in. As I turned to head back to the porch, he let out a grunt and a "woof" that helped me move a wee bit faster. Getting the hanging feeders in, I went to the front of the deck and dumped the seed from the tray feeder on to the lawn.

I forgot about the covered tray on the lawn. Mr. Bruin didn't. This morning it was tossed and damaged. The damage isn't extensive but is certainly annoying. This is the third time I'll be rebuilding the "roof" over the tray. Between bears, raccoons and even deer sticking their heads in to get sunflower seeds, it's been taking a beating.

Bear damaged covered tray.

So the three season routine of bringing the feeders in at night will have to resume.

Today we are supposed to see the 60 degree mark again before a bit of a drop into the 40s on Saturday. Temperatures rebound a bit Sunday and then settle into the normal spring range of high 40s and low 50s for the remainder of the week. No snow is to be seen in the forecast but there are a few showers and the occasional night time lows in the 20s. Tempted as I am, the snow shovel will remain on the porch. After all, it's only March. We had to shovel snow off the deck in late April in 2006 when we were building this place.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Technology

From an email my Florida cousins sent:

Ancient Phone Networks!

After having dug to a depth of 10 meters last year, Scottish scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Scots, in the weeks that followed, English scientists dug to a depth of 20 meters, and shortly after, headlines in the English newspapers read: "English archaeologists have found traces of 200-year-old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the Scots."

One week later, "The Kerrymen," a southwest Irish newsletter, reported the following: "After digging as deep as 30 meters in peat bog near Tralee, Paddy O'Droll, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Paddy has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Ireland had already gone wireless."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Iditarod 2011

I spent this morning following the Iditarod...again. It looked to be an exciting finish with John Baker leaving White Mountain and heading to Nome (about 77 miles) followed closely by Ramey Smyth 51 minutes later. In the past, Smyth had average times during this stretch that was faster than Baker's. If the averages played out, then the two of them would be getting off the ice and into Nome at just about the same time.

It didn't work out that way. Smyth pushed Baker early on, but Baker and his team kicked it into a higher gear and opened up his lead from just five or so miles at the start to nearly 8 miles by the time they reached Safety, 55 miles from White Mountain. The last 22 miles was a formality. John Baker of Kotzebue, AK finished just over one hour ahead of Smyth as he set a new record of 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds. That eclipsed Martin Burser's record by over 3 hours. (Story here.)

That doesn't end the race, however. What it does is mark the beginning of the end. The race continues until the last musher and his/her team crosses the finish line under the burled arch in Nome. They will be several days in getting there. Eleven mushers and their teams have scratched.

You can see who is finished and who's still out on the trail by checking the current standings here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The 2011 Iditarod's unseen musher

The Iditarod is often about much more than the hopes and dreams of the mushers and their dogs. Sometimes there's a real, heartrending story. Such as this one about the Iditarod's unseen musher.
Hagen, the Seavey family's veteran dog handler, died in his sleep two weeks before the start of the 2011 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, an arduous 900-mile journey across the wilds of the 49th state. His death came as a shock to everyone in the Seavey family. They had all expected Hagen to be joining their post-Iditarod celebration in Nome.

For all of the hard work Hagen did around the Seavey kennel in Sterling, one of his rewards each year was a vacation to Nome to watch the Iditarod mushers cross the finish line. It was a trip Hagen had planned to make again this year, Seavey said.
"He was one of the unsung heroes of the Iditarod," Seavey said, noting all of the behind-the-scenes work it takes on the part of dog handlers and kennel managers to help mushers do what they do. Seavey worried not only about his finger in Ophir, but about what would become of Hagen's ashes if the musher dropped out of the race.

Fortunately, about an hour after Seavey cut himself, a musher arrived who Seavey knew could take over the mission to get Hagen's ashes safely to Nome -- Seavey's son, Dallas. Mitch carefully turned over to Dallas the responsibility of getting Hagen's remains up the trail.

"He's now continuing his journey with Dallas," Seavey said.

A fifth-year Idiatrod musher, Dallas is the winner of this year's 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada to Fairbanks. The 24-year-old dog driver was flirting with a top-10 Iditarod finish on Sunday as he steadily moved Hagen's ashes ever closer to Nome.

"The bugger's going to get there again,” the elder Seavey said. “We're gonna miss him."

Go read the rest of the story. Dallas Seavey is running 4th as he approches the next to last checkpoint (White House) with an 8 hour mandatory layover and about 77 miles to go.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Aerie Report, March 12, 2011

Not much going on around here. The rain stopped Thursday night. The sun came out for a short time Friday allowing the temperatures to rise into the mid 30s while the winds blew some light snow this way from the west-northwest. You could actually follow the snow on radar as it swept down over Lake Huron and across Lake Erie into Ohio and then east to PA.
Today the temperatures rose to near 50 degrees although we had little sunlight and even a brief flurry around 1 PM. Even so, there's a great deal of melting going on--again. The fields in the valley are all brown once more and the only snow is above the 1900 foot line on the northwest side of the hill--which is exactly where the Aerie is located. Aside from the mounds of snow piled o the side of the parking area, driveway and edges of the deck where it has been placed by thrower, shovel and tractor, there's about a six inch compacted layer on the lawn. If the sun comes out tomorrow, even that may disappear leaving only the mounds.


I'm amazed at the number of Common Redpolls that are still hanging around. Perhaps they're waiting for Daylight Savings Time. (PSA: Tonight, Saturday, March 12th, turn your clocks ahead one hour as you go to bed!) I've got flocks numbering approximately one hundred of the little guys swarming about the feeders like locusts on a ripening wheat field.

Today I saw my first Turkey Vulture soaring over the hillside. That puts me three days ahead of Hinckley, Ohio. The "buzzards" don't officially return there until the Ides of March. (That's the 15th for those of you from Yorba Lindo.)


Well, that's about all for now, Got to get back to following the Iditarod. The leader, one John Baker, of Kotzebue, AK, has traveled some 772 miles and is currently at Kaltag, AK.

The race is getting real interesting for both the leaders and the guys and gals to the rear. And for those of us following it on the Discussion Boards.

Mush! Dogs! MUSH!

(Come to think about it, we have a lot of that around here. Mush, I mean.)


Friday, March 11, 2011

On the Trail

The Last Great Race is on the move again. Things got bogged down with warmish weather. Ah, but "warm" is relative. A temp of 20 degrees can cause the trail to deteriorate and the dogs to over heat. Thus mushers stacked up waiting for night fall in the ghost town of Iditarod. But they are on the move since around 11 PM EST last night and it's been quite a race to the Yukon River.

I've been following on the Race Talk: Iditarod Updates discussion board. It was on page 225 when I hit the sack last night. This morning it was on page 269! Lots to catch up on. But as of 5 AM, the leaders are.... Neff, Baker, Buser, Gatt and Mackey. All are with in striking distance of one another and nearly to Shageluk, 65 miles out of Iditarod.

Now excuse me while I catch up on the message board and the huge earthquake(s) off Japan.

(Jeez, a guy can't sleep for a minute around here!)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rainy Day...

It's been a wet, soggy, gray day here at the Aerie. A few snow flurries last night quickly turned to rain and it's been rain ever since. Initial forecasts said we might get 2-3 inches of rain but there seems to have been a split in the clouds. It's pouring to the east of us in the Pocono/Catskill regions and pouring to the west of us in the Allegheny area. But here we are in a slot between the two heavy boys. Sort of in the DMZ between rain systems.

We're still getting rain, but it's mostly the slow, steady soaking kind that a farmer would love--if it happened son after planting. Instead, it's happening on top of the 15-18 inches of snow that fell last Sunday night. And, with temperatures in the mid 40s that spells flooding and road washouts.


So, I'm sitting here with no desire to go out. Just following the Iditarod on the web. Several of the leaders have reached the half way point in the race, with Trent Herbst being the first to arrive at the ghost town of Iditarod to claim the purse of gold nuggets awarded at this point each year. Not bad for a school teacher driving a sled built by his students--in fourth grade. But he's still got a mandatory 24-hr rest to make and that will quickly put him--and several others--back in the pack as the real leaders move on.

The front runners area also in Iditarod and will probably be moving out as things cool down and the trail firms up. They include four time winner Martin Buser, Hugh Neff, and defending champion and winner of The Race four consecutive years--Lance Mackey whose team is down to just 10 dogs with half the race to go.

Things are about to get real interesting.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Bird Before Its Time

Stepped out on the deck a few minutes ago and heard a Woodcock peenting out in the back. Poor guy. Probably took advantage of the steady winds blowing out of the south-southeast and over shot his mark. The ground around here is covered in a foot or more of snow so he's likely to have a tough time finding any insects/worms in the soil.

Then again, if he can hang on a few days.... We're supposed to get 2+ inches of rain with temperatures rising into the 50 degree range tomorrow. That is, after the little bit of snow we're getting at the moment.


On another bird related note. A Redpoll met an early demise today. I was sitting in the living room following the Iditarod online while a group of 30 or so Redpolls were on the deck feeding on the sunflower seeds there and in the tray. A commotion made me look up in time to see a calico cat leaping up and off the tray feeder with a Redpoll in its mouth. The tray was propelled over the side to the snow bank below while the stray cat took her prize off to the covered porch. It was there that I scared her into running--still in possession of her prize--around the front of the deck and off to the top of the snowbank lining the parking area and away.

The calico came back later but this time Julie saw her and started scratching at the glass sliding door while Miss Calico scratched at her side until I showed up. (Big Bad Chester sat back and watched the whole thing. He probably wanted to play.)

Ice Sculpture

This is not just the time of year for sled dog races, it's also the time of the annual ice carving display in Fairbank's Ice Park. Elaine at Arctic View has been covering the show and has posted some great shots of the artists' work on her blog. You can see some of it here and here. Previous years' works can be found at this link if you scroll and scroll and scroll some more.

The work is really amazing. And, of course, some of it is saved in the Ice Museum in Fairbanks so even if you can't get there until summer time, you can still enjoy it. (Just remember to bring a coat. The building is quite cold inside!)

Idiot in the Wild

Rev. Paul links to a story about a woman who got the bejeezus kicked out of her in an attempt to pet a moose in an Anchorage's Town Square Park the other day. (What Part of Wild Didn't She Understand?)

In the comments he further opines about the stupidity of people thusly:
It just gets worse. The numbers of people who think that wild freakin' bears are Winnie the Pooh or something. Oh, well; to paraphrase a good friend, Alaska can replace "stupid" with "dead" very quickly.

All I can say is:

see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Shadow Knows....

...what ailed her. I certainly don't.

I mentioned that Shadow was having issues keeping food down over the weekend. That, apparently, fixed itself on Monday when she began eating anything that wasn't nailed down or being sat upon by Chester. And, more importantly, kept it down. Today she finished her breakfast and then cleaned up the remains of both Chester (surprise--he does leave crumbs in his bowl!) and Julie. Then she did the same with lunch four hours later. And in between she was begging for snack crunchies any time either Terry or I went in the vicinity of the jar--which means when we grabbed a cup of coffee or tea.

One odd side effect of her illness: She has regressed to being a lap cat again. I held her in my lap stroking, petting and scratching her for half an hour Sunday night before she slid off to curl up on the other recliner near me. Today she voluntarily climbed into Terry's lap for some more loving AND FELL ASLEEP THERE! She hasn't done that since we moved into the Aerie in December of '06.

Snow- pocalypse

As I said, we woke up Monday morning to between 15 and 18 inches of fresh snow on the ground. And, while the white stuff certainly made for a beautiful picture, enough is enough already!

Looking out to the parking area in front of the Aerie I could view the nearly buried Aveo sitting next to the Tundra.

Vehicles beneath the snow.

I got the tractor running and started to use the front end loader to move the snow off the driveway. There was a wee bit of a learning curve involved. I had looked at the manual and paid attention when the delivery man pointed out the controls, but, never having run a tractor before, found the actual operation of same to be...well...interesting.

First off, let me repeat that 4-wheel drive does not guarantee that you will not get stuck in deep snow. I did. On the first attempt. I had pushed snow out from the garage door with the front end loader but then made the mistake of trying to lift the loader and dump the snow off to the side instead of just, you know, continuing to use it as a plow. Not that that would have helped. The snow, although light and powdery when in situ, compacted nicely. (It would have made one hell of a snowman!) Pushed into a mound it proved rather obstinate in its ways. Trying to back up on the sloping driveway proved futile so I had to park the tractor where it was and get out the snow thrower.

The thrower did a fine job in moving snow about and cleared a sizable chunk of the driveway and the borders of the parking area. But could not reach the edges from the center of the parking area. No problem. It did manage to clear enough of the area immediately around the tractor so I could get IT moving again. (Plus, I learned how to use the front end loader to propel the tractor backwards using the tipping mechanism. Learning curve.)

Once free, the tractor was able to move the snow now mounded by the blower and I managed to clear the parking area. And it proved invaluable in moving heavy, wet, compacted snow at the end of the driveway after the plow finally made an appearance. ( Side note: The tire tracks of vehicles on the sloping road--and the fresh scraping on the trunks of several trees along the sides of the road--told some interesting stories as did the pickup sitting in the ditch just up the hill from us. Why people thought they could get up the hill in anything less than a dump truck loaded with grit--such as the town plow--is beyond me.)

I spend the better part of 8 hours using the snow thrower, tractor and shovel clearing the driveway and parking area. As the temperature rose and snow melted under the bright sun and upper 30 degree temperatures (it reached 41 on the deck)I moved snow and dumped it over the edge of the hill so any melt water would not flood the driveway any more than it will already. I played with the tractor and had a ball doing so. In the end, I parked it and the thrower in the late afternoon sun so the snow on the surfaces would melt off and then put all my toys away--something I seldom did when I played with my Tonka trucks on the sand pile way back when.

Vehicles sans snow.

Viewed from the deck.

Mound at the end of the driveway.
Said mound is over 5' in height.

A view down the road.
Usually 1-1/2 lanes it's narrower now.

Snowy Aerie.

A peek under the deck.
Heh, won't be walking out this way for a while.

We're supposed to have another beautifully sunny and warm day today so there should be plenty of melting happening. Not that that will help at the end of the driveway. Yesterday's melting produced lots of rutted ice this morning and a thin sheet on the road where water had washed out over the surface. I expect that will be the story for some time to come.

Tomorrow we'll start the day with some cloudy skies with a bit of rain in the afternoon followed by--ta-da!--2+ inches of snow overnight. (Or so AccuHunch claims. I hope like hell they are wrong this time.) That snow can lay where it falls, however, because there will be a warming trend and rain (heavy at times) on Thursday with temperatures in the mid to upper 40s.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Today's Bird Visitors

It's been snowing since 11 AM and we've now got about 2 inches on the deck. It's sent the birds into a feeding frenzy.

In addition, there are some newcomers coming in to fill up.

A couple of European Starlings came in to check the ground beneath the feeders and the covered tray on the side.

Then there was a small group of blackbirds at the base of the telephone pole. I could see one was a mature male Red-winged Blackbird but two looked like females--and that's just plain wrong. Female Redwings don't show up until the males have staked out territories, usually sometime around mid-April. Then I checked the Sibley's and there was a picture of the young males looking like the female. It doesn't say when they molt into breeding plumage, but these could be young males hatched last summer who haven't made the change.

One of the birds in that group just didn't look right. I saw no wing bars on the side of the very sold black body. So I picked up the binoculars and saw a yellow iris in the eye. Could it be a Common Grackle? No. The tail was too short and that eye was in a brownish head not an iridescent blue. I was looking at something much, much rarer. It was a Rusty Blackbird!

Oh and we had a Brown-headed Cowbird sitting on the post at the end of the deck. Which, at first glance looks a lot like the Rust Blackbird--except it's smaller in body and tail, and has a plain brown eye.

So we had Red-Winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and a Rusty Blackbird joining the 50 to 75 Common Redpolls, dozens of Black-capped Chickadees and Dark-eyed Juncos, a dozen or so Mourning Doves, five or six Blue Jays, and the same number of White-breasted Nuthatches and Tufted Titmice. One or two Red-breasted Nuthatches, American Crows, and a pair of Northern Cardinals rounded out the morning's visitors.

Off in the distance I and hidden by the falling snow I heard a small flock of geese. Probably complaining to their leader who brought them north yesterday.

Aerie Weather for Sunday-Monday,
March 6-7, 2011

It's going to be an interesting 24 hours. It was 47 degrees at 7:30 this morning with heavy rain falling. By 9:30 AM it was just 34 degrees and still raining but the wind had shifted 180 degrees. Instead of coming out of the south, it is now blowing--albeit gently--from the north. (A shift such as this usually means that the front has passed over us as it drifted eastward.) The rain is now starting to mix with a little sleet. The weather services all say it will become snow in a short time and that accumulations could be as much as 8 inches before it stops sometime around 4 AM Monday morning. That means that the ground that was bared by the warm air and rain will be covered once more.

Now, I realize that spring doesn't officially start for another two weeks and we're likely to have some snow showers through mid April but, damn it, I've had enough!

It could be worse, however. Forecasts for the area of the Bolt Hole are saying up to 15 inches of snow may fall tonight. I can only hope the place is still standing when I finally get up there the end of the month.

Oh, I nearly forgot. I did spot the first Robin around the Aerie yesterday. It (probably a "He") landed in the trees bordering the yard looking for some bare ground to explore and had to settle for a patch under one of the pines where the snow had already been melted away. I suppose it won't be long, snow or no snow, before the woodcock start showing up.

Also, yesterday afternoon and evening, while the winds were still blowing strongly out of the south, there were several skeins of geese flying north. They were too high for me to determine whether they were Canadas or snows but they were obviously optimists.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

A skunk by any other name...

Question of the day: How do you spell your name Colonel? (Speaking to the Libyan leader--at least at the moment he is the leader. Won't be much left if he keeps leading the way he has this last week.)

Gadhafi (according to the AP)
Gaddafi (from Reuters)
Kadhafi (from AFP)
Qaddafi (in the CSMonitor)

Why are there so many spellings of this guys name?
Are people afraid to ask him how to spell it?
Does HE know how to spell it?

Diamond Rio


Just went down to top off the tank on the Tundra. Cost me $3.57.9 per gallon at the Exxon--the cheapest in the area by a penny or more.

Sure am glad we went to Alaska last summer. Even so, we're looking at two shorter trips for weddings this summer: Milwaukee, WI the end of May and Portland, ME in July. Plus, Terry will be driving to Maryland and South Carolina later this month. Then, in September we're headed to a clam bake in Massachusetts--right Bruce?

Gonna be tough convincing myself to go to the Bolt Hole for any short stays. A 500 mile round trip from and at least half the gas to be bought in NY state. Well over a C-note each trip--minimum--and closer to two if I do any runs for errands once I'm there.

Didn't somebody say, "Drill, baby, drill!" and get laughed at?

Obama said he wanted $5 gas. He's got it but he may find it difficult to create any sort of recovery now that that $5 gas is here.

Visitors in the Yard

We woke up this morning at 6 AM (Thanks a lot Chester!) to a herd of visitors in the yard. At least a dozen deer wandered over by the bird feeders before making their way up the hill above the house. Some of them looked big enough to throw a saddle on while others were probably born last spring. In all likelihood, this was a group of does with last year's young. I watched as they browsed on low tree branches and exposed weeds along the powerline right of way and the second driveway.

Later, as I stood on the porch and watched, they reappeared coming back down the hill and into the woods to the west. One came within 20 yards of where I remained motionless but in full view just outside the door.

As I write (11 AM) there are still a few visible down the trail and in the field beyond where the wind looks to have exposed some of the ground. I'd not be able to see them if it weren't for the snow that still lays on the ground.


Currently we're enjoying a light but warm breeze coming out of the south that has raised the temperature near the 40 degree mark. Rain is supposed to follow but is staying more to the west of us at the moment. Terry spoke to the postmistress who's brother works on the road crew. He says they were told to be prepared for up to a foot of snow (!) this weekend. The folks at AccuHunch are saying 1.5 inches while Weather.com says nothing but a few flurries after the rain, the radio says a couple of inches are possible, and the TV out of Elmira claimed early this morning 1-2 FEET as a possibility. It's going to be an interesting weekend. Even if there's no snow, the flooding from over and inch of rain and the subsequent melting of the current snow pack will provide for excitement.


The Iditarod will be kicking off at 10 AM today in Anchorage. That's about 3 PM here on the east coast. Rev. Paul will be along the trail just north of the city watching the mushers go by. He promises to have photos and reports posted when he gets back so go on and take a look. This is the ceremonial start. The restart will take place at Willow Lake on Sunday at 2 PM Alaska time.

About Comments

Comments are, of course, always welcome.

That said, I've instituted comment moderation because of spam comments that are of questionable origin and that offer links to dubious offers for items I do not wish to promote or be seen as supportive. When such comments are made to posts that are months if not years old, flags are really, really raised. Recently, some comments of this type have appeared on more current posts.

I've also had a tendency to mark as spam comments that come labeled "Anonymous" for fear that they may contain viruses or trackers with which I do not wish to be infected. Even if those comments have a name attached within their content. Exceptions do exist IF I recognize that name, of course.

Lately, I've gotten several "Anonymous" comments that seem innocuous enough and that contain a signature at the end of the content along the lines of: "Sincerely, John Doe." (Although "John Doe" is not the name(s) attached.) For some reason, be it the grammar, tone, the down right generic phrasing, or the odd request contained therein ("May I use some of the material in this post if I provide a link back?" on a post that merely links to something I had seen elsewhere and which had minimal original content), these have set off internal sirens and I have either marked them as spam or deleted them entirely since I've no way of verifying who it is making the comment/request.

Should you read this and be one of those whose comments I've given the bum's rush, tough. Provide me with a reason to publish your comments, register with Blogger so you've got a semi-official ID (you can do so without having a Blog, you know), or don't waste my time.

That is all. I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Colorado Springs, through another's eyes

Have you ever visited Colorado Springs? Or, perhaps, lived there? Done any of the touristy stuff like visit the Garden of the Gods, taken a train up Pike's Peak, or done the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo?

If so, you'll enjoy this September, 2000 report from Dr. Mercury over at Maggie's Farm which tells his tale of adventure from a visit to Colorado Springs.

Having been there several times and had experiences that were virtually identical to these, I can vouch for Dr. Mercury's accuracy of conditions. One caveat, however: since 2000 the roads around Colorado Springs have become even more confusing--and crowded.

But, damn! I want to go back.

(On a side note, I see he left out visits to the Air Force Academy and Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum. Perhaps he saved those for a later time.)

New Toy

Got my delivery from A.J.'s Outdoor Equipment around noon today. A quick walk-thru for all the attachments and whatnot and then I signed for the Kubota BX25.

With rain in the forecast for the next couple of days, I've moved it into the garage, displacing Terry's little yellow Aveo. The Aveo could use the washing anyway no that mud season has started to rear its head.

Rainy Day Activity

So it's a rainy day and you've got nothing else to do. Perhaps you've been lucky at your penny ante poker night and you've got lots and lots of pennies laying around. Or maybe you've just got a jar full of pennies from your pocket change--or your kids piggy bank. If so, you can explore the wonderful world of civil engineering. "Huh?" you say? "Yeah!" says I. Here's an inspirational web site that does just that: Pictures of Pennies

Looks like fun as well as educational. There's lots and lots of photos of things from towers to bridges to build out of several dollars worth of pennies or poker chips or other disk shaped objects.

Mardi Gras is approaching...

...and many of our Alaska Crew are gathering in Louisiana to celebrate. The Wandering Woolfolks out of Tennessee are there and have started to make their reports. So far it seems they are having a ball and eatin' well!

Temperatures in the 70s, Cajun food, good friends, and parades.... What's not to like?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Aerie Report, March 3, 2011

Nice day today at the Aerie. Lots of sunshine but the temperatures ranged from a low of 6 degrees this morning to just over the freezing mark at 33 degrees in the afternoon. It's supposed to stay pretty warm the next few days but there's rain on the way for the weekend.


Took Terry out to lunch at the relatively new Chengos Cantina & Six-pack Store down in Mansfield. We were curious as to the quality of their Mexican cuisine. We got there around noon and had a very good meal of burritos (pork) and chimichangas (steak) and an side of onion rings. I grabbed a Dos Equis and Terry had an iced tea. The food wasn't what you'd find in the southeast, but it was pretty good. And the portions were just huge! So large, in fact, we needed only a light meal in the evening. And the prices couldn't be beat. The entire meal--including beverages--only cost us $20.

I was really impressed with the selection of beers they had on hand as singles, six-packs and 12-packs. There had to be 30 different brands in all price ranges. We'll go back again not just for the food, but also the beers.

One thing that surprised me was that we were the only ones there for the entire hour from noon until one. Based on quality of food and the price, there should have been more customers.


After lunch, we drove down to A.J. Outdoor Equipment to "look" at their Kubota Tractors. I really liked the compact model (BX25). It's a 23-horse, four-wheel drive subcompact that comes standard with a front loader and backhoe. And with 0% financing....

Let's just say, that I'll have a new toy to use both here and at the Bolt Hole. The loader and backhoe aren't industrial strength, but they're sufficient for what I have planned. I got the optional 3-pt hitch (with the thought of getting a blade in the future if the loader can't move snow or grade the driveway sufficiently) as well as a mowing deck.

Around the Bolt Hole, I figure the machine will be useful in cutting the larger and larger lawn area around the cabin, wannabe orchard area and the small field I've been brush hogging. The front loader will be helpful in grading the area around the garage, too. The slope of the lawn currently allows rain and melt water to flow into the front part of the garage flooding it with several inches of water every spring. I can also use it to groom the trails through the woods. There are several places where small springs drain across the trails and where a little ditching--and bridges--would make getting through the woods a great deal easier.

At the Aerie, it will help clear and grade some clearings created during the logging process a few years ago as well as the larger acre-and-a-half field to the southwest.

And at both places I can use it to haul firewood and stone out of the forest.

May need a larger flat bed trailer to haul it. The one I got for the ATV is only a one axle deal and may not be large enough. But that will have to wait until spring.

A.J.'s will be delivering either tomorrow or Monday. Then I'll be waiting for the snow to meld so I can put it to use.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Mmm. Must be part cat.

Euthanized Oklahoma puppy, Wall-E, rises from 'dead,' now looking to be adopted by loving family

The black-and-white pooch was one of five young dogs "put to sleep" Saturday at a shelter in Sulphur, Okla., News 9 in Oklahoma City reported. Each dog was checked and confirmed to be dead, then the 3-month-old and his four siblings were placed in a trash bin.

On Sunday morning, an animal control officer looked into the bin and discovered that the one pup somehow survived.

"He was just as healthy as could be," Scott Prall told News 9.

From the rest of the story, it seems Wall-E will have a chance to be adopted--as soon as he is cleared of the hookworm infestation that put him and his siblings on death row. There are a few hundred folks who have expressed an interest.