Friday, February 10, 2023

Is It Spring Yet?

 So Joe and I got down to Harrisburg yesterday for the Great American Outdoor Show. Our primary goal was to book a fishing trip with Caesars North Camps. We've been going there almost every year since 1994. Missed a few because of health or other commitments or the border being closed but we've been to nearly ever one of the lake/cabins surrounding Gouin Reservoir. 

After an uneventful drive down and a near perfect timing for arrival, we managed to locate Oliver and the rest of the crew at the same place Caesars has occupied for a number of years. We'll be going back to Hanotaux on June 22 for seven days of fishing for walleye and pike. 

Our business concluded, we than strolled around for an hour or two. (Well, Joe strolled. I kind of hobbled. Totally different walking a hard floor than shoveling snow or cutting grass. Even with the cane, my feet were killing me!) I picked up some summer sausage (wild boar and elk), some jerky sticks, two hundred feet of paracord, and a new pocket knife. Thinking back, that was my usual shopping at the show although I think I got rope and a canvas duffel bag last time.

Joe got some paracord, too, but that was the end of his shopping.He said his wife would skin him alive if he bought another knife. Neither of us wanted anything from the archery or firearms areas. (Though, I did look to see if they had an across the chest holster for my Redhawk. Just in case I should run into any bears while walking out back. I'm getting too old to stand up and scare 'em away.) Nor did either of us want to drool over the ATVs, boats, or trucks.

We departed the show after going back to Caesars' table to say hi to Jean Luc, Ollie's partner who had to shuttle his wife to the airport earlier. It was only a little after two in the afternoon when I headed back to the Aerie from Joe's home and around 3:30 pm when I pulled into the driveway. 

In all a fairly productive day. And a reminder that I need to do some serious walking on hard surfaces to harden the nerves in my toes so they don't interfere with my mobility.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Spring Is Right around the Corner

*tap* *tap* Is this thing still working? Yes? Okay then. Where to begin... 

Ground Hog's day has passed with Phil forecasting six more weeks of winter. That's actually a pretty safe bet for Ground Hog's Day--or Candlemas as it is also known--is half way between Winter Solstice--the first day of Winter--and Vernal Equinox--the first day of Spring or the last day of Winter. 

We had a second blast of super cold air last week (minus 8 F) to match the not quite as cold air we got around Christmas time, but things are warming up! The day after the low of minus 8 things got up to the low 40s and then the 50s for a day. We won't see the 60s anytime soon, but there's no snow in the forecast for the next twn days so there's that. We still have a scattering of snow on the ground around the Aerie, but if we go down the hill to Route 6 there's nary a flake to be found. 

With the warmer temps, I'm getting itchy feet. I've spent the last three (?!) years sitting around the house doing not much except mowing grass, cutting firewood, shoveling snow, and assembling jigsaw puzzles. To say I've got a touch of cabin fever is an understatement. Some of my reluctance to get-up-and-go has been due to my peripheral vascular disease (PVD) that has seen me get a bypass in each leg so there's only one artery feeding blood to each foot. Should either get blocked, I could lose a foot. 

But now, my vascular surgeon has given the okay to take some chances to get out and about. With that in mind, I'll be attending the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg on Thursday. Joe and I will be looking to book a fly-in fishing trip with Caesar's North Camps in northern Quebec Provence. We've been fishing with them since 1994 and have missed very few years. In fact, while I've not been fishing for four years, Joe has gone with his son and granddaughter, and his wife. (I think he wants me back because the ladies out fished him!) 

In addition, Terry and I have been thinking of doing some traveling together also. The travel trailer has been woefully underused. But Florida may be calling too. 

More to come.

Friday, September 02, 2022

Wood Heats Three Times

The saying is that wood heats you three time: Once when you cut the tree down and into fireplace lengths; once when you split and stack it; and a third time when you burn it. After taking a couple of days off after completing Step One, it was time to get back to working on the wood pile. I took advantage of the coole temperatures and went to work splitting the cut ash and stacking it for use this winter. Having been a standing dead tree, it ws already pretty dry and, being ash, it split easily along the straight grain of the wood. There were only one or two pieces that had significant branches that needed to be split just so. The splitting took only two hours and the stacking another hour, I didn't even break a sweat. Two or three dead ash trees becon me as they stand either on the edge of the trail or a few yards into the woods. There's one giant that is a significant distance off the trail but on the edge of the field. I don't think I can get either the tractor or the ATV into it should I fell that tree. I'll have to check it out though, It's too damn inviting. I don't need any of that wood for burning this year. I think I've got enough to keep us warm and significantly reduce our use of propane. Still, I could fell it, cut it to length and stack it along the side of the trail for next spring.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

A Busy Week at the Aerie.


Last Friday I felled a third ash tree. This one didn’t go as planned and I needed the help of a second chainsaw (the first got caught in the tree when it insisted on going the wrong way!) and the tractor when that second saw also got caught. I managed to get the tree on the ground and got clipped by some of the upper-most branches in the process when my rope was five feet too short for the task at hand. (My son, Rick—the urban forester who once worked in felling trees—then told me of the 1-1/2 rule. Always pull from a distance 1 and ½ times the height of the tree to make sure you are clear of those upper branches.) Anyway—as the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail said—it was only a scratch.

Friday afternoon I trimmed off all the branches and cut most of the main trunk into 18-inch lengths. On Saturday morning I got the rest of the main log and nearly all the branches over 2-inches in diameter cut. Unfortunately, one of the chainsaws quit on me and I couldn’t get it started again. Luckily, I had a second ready to go. I spent a goodly amount of time picking up the smaller slash and using it to line the path. I figure if I can build up the downhill side of the trail, I won’t feel like I’m about to roll over in that direction when I take the tractor out that way.

Sunday was a day off for the local Audubon Society’s picnic. Funny how we all ended up talking about our ailments!

Monday, I took the errant chainsaw down to AJ’s Power Equipment in Mansfield. The guy at the service desk said he wanted to try a couple of simple things before he put a tag on the machine which could have taken it out of commission for a week or more. While he went into the workshop, I picked up a hardhat, face screen and earmuff combo used to protect your noggin while tree felling. (My earmuffs are better at cutting the noise, but the scabs on the top of my head were begging for a hard hat.) I heard that magical roar of a chainsaw revving up in the workshop and started feeling hopeful. Sure enough, the service dude came out and handed me my saw.

“She’s good to go,” he told me. “Just flooded badly enough that pulling the starter and letting it sit overnight weren’t going to help. We used an air line to blow the fuel out and that’s all it took.”

“What do I owe you?”


The head gear, however, cost me ninety bucks. Eh. Better than a cracked skull or another visit to the ER.

On the way home I picked up a half bushel of Zestar apples and another of Honey Crisp apples. More about them later.

Back at the Aerie, it was back to pick-up sticks and cutting to length.

Tuesday, I was again engaged in pick-up sticks and dealing with the slash. I finally set that aside and started hauling all the cut wood up to be stacked for either burning this winter or to be split and later stacked. The Yamaha Prohauler did most of the heavy transport. I just had to lift it up and put it on the flat bed. That was enough! I got a real workout from that. 

Wood waiting to be split.

 (Did I mention it is raining? No? Well it is. Buckets worth at times. Sorry for the screen.)

Wednesday, the weathermen promised rain—and they were right for a change! So I stayed inside and converted the apples into apple sauce. I took 48 apples (24 of each variety) washed, cored and sliced them; cooked ‘em until the were soft; and ran them through the food mill to produce a delicious sauce. Terry insisted they needed a little sweetening so I let her add about ¼ cup of sugar to each eight-pints. Ladled them into pint jars and submerged them in a boiling water bath. 

Apples got a bath  first. Then they got cored and sliced. Cooked until soft.

Soft apples went through the mill to become



I got sixteen pints this way. And an extra quart for immediate consumption. I love it with roast pork and potatoes cooked in the pork’s grease. Heck, goes well with venison or beef roasts, too! 

Eight of the sixteen pints of applesauce I canned today.


While I was doing all this, Terry was busy, too. Granted some of her “busy” involved Embroiderer’s Guild meetings, but they count. I seem to remember two during the time I was felling trees and cleaning up the branches--in 85 degree heat.

In the times between meetings, she converted Early Girl, Roma and even some grape tomatoes into spaghetti sauce. She then canned that sauce in 10 one-half pint jars for later use. (She estimates that half the time she's using spaghetti sauce out of a pint or quart jar, she has plenty left over. Using half pints she figures she'll be right on the mark for most meals.)

She also converted zucchini into breads. She added six more loaves to our collection. By her calculations she has baked some 30 loaves this year and we have eaten/given away four leaving 26 in the freezer. A slice or two with a cup of coffee makes a fine breakfast. Unfortunately, once opened and the first slice is taken, there is a tendency to take another, and another, and…until it’s gone. A single loaf might , I say might, make it to lunchtime. 

Zucchini bread remnant. This one has only lasted so long (two days) because of all the canning going on. (And the cornbread made to go with yesterday's chili.) It got shoved into a corner of the counter and was ignored. But now it's out in the open. It will be tomorrow's breakfast for sure.


Since we just finished one from two years ago (They hide themselves well in our freezer!), Terry said she will bake no more this year even though the plants are still producing zucchini.

As I said we’ve been busy, busy busy!


Thursday, July 28, 2022

*knock-knock* Is this Thing Still On?

 I have been derelict in my duties vis-a-vis adding to this blog in a timely fashion. Again.

On one hand, there's not a heck of a lot to add on my part. I've not even been to New Jersey all that often. Heck, the new 2022 Tundra I picked up on March 4 hasn't had its first service visit yet. How's that for an indication of how house bound I've been.

Terry's been all over the place this past year including Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Hawaii all in one trip. (At least I got almost four weeks of quiet out of that deal!)

"House bound" doesn't necessarily mean inactive, however. Just this past month I've felled two dead ash trees and cut them into firewood lengths. That took a little longer than I had planned as I banged up my right ankle and had to wait for it to heal. (Two weeks of waiting!) 

I spent some time trying to determine why my second Yamaha ProHauler would not go into reverse. Turned out that there's a pivot joint in the linkage that is anchored by a 3/8 inch bolt which also serves as the pivot. It was sheared off in the frame. I had to drill (most of) it out before I could put a replacement in. Now it works fine.

Aside from the one day raptor survey Terry and I participated in last December, I haven't been doing much birding. The feeders were attracting bears and the outdoor cats were stalking the birds, so I took them down for an extended period of time and have yet to get them back up.

 Then there's that amazing sinkhole called "Facebook" which has made time disappear.