Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Must be construction season around here. Every single road between here and Sayre was either closed for construction or was reduced to one lane for bridge work/reconstruction. Even the back roads. Still, I managed to get the Tundra over to the dealer's for its oil change and checkup. Now it can sit in the driveway for a few days as we take the Jeep to Yarmouth, Maine.

We get up at the crack of doom tomorrow. Feed the cats. Take out the garbage. Pack the Jeep. Then it's off to Yarmouth for the second of four weddings this summer/fall. Most of the trip will be via back roads or rarely traveled ones. I like to see new places. (That's why today's detours didn't really bother me...too much.)

Any way. We'll take just one day to get there. Then we get to enjoy the company of family and meet the bride's as well. Maybe do a little shopping at L.L Bean, too. I know. Over priced yuppie stuff...but still....

There's a rehearsal dinner on Friday night to which we have been invited. The ceremony is on Saturday and then the bride's Mom wants to feed everyone breakfast on Sunday. We'll head for home right after and should be back at the Aerie late Sunday night.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Aerie Report, June 28, 2011

I waited all day for the rains to come and watched the forecast drop from 60% to 40% chance. The radar seemed to confirm that as there were just a few spotty and small storms down here in the Northern Tier. It was the Southern Tier in NY that was getting hammered. All the way up to the Adirondacks there were big, violent storms brewing. Not here. So, with the temps in the 80 degree range and the RH around 70% but the sun shining I went out and cut the lawn.

Got done around 4 PM and saw on the radar a line of small storms off to the west heading our way. As they approached it looked like they were going to skirt just to our north on the other side of Route 6. I prepared to go out to water the gardens. Just as I got to the door, the sky opened up. It poured for 15 minutes between 6:45 and 7 PM. Enough that I postponed my trip out with the garden hose. About an hour later, with the sun that much lower in the sky and shining under the clouds, the sky opened again for 10 minutes. It's weird to be seeing it rain like the dickens and have the sun shine at the same time.

So the grass is cut (by me) and the gardens are watered (by Him), All is right with the world.


Tomorrow I take the Tundra over to Sayre for an oil change and check up. Haven't been that way for a bit but there are reports of construction on both Routes 6 and 220. Have to plan for detours, I guess.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back to work!

After a lackluster weekend of overcast skies and cool verging on cold temperatures, the sun came out today and the temperature soared to 78 degrees late this afternoon. That, however, may be the last we see of the sun until Wednesday. Forecasters are saying we may get some severe thunderstorms tomorrow; the kind of storms that bring strong winds and large hail. I could do without the hail and wind, but we do need a little rain. The last two days promised some rain but didn't deliver more than a sprtiz now and then.


Looking at the forecast, the Tundra needing an oil change on Wednesday (1:00 PM), and our departure for Yarmouth, Maine for this weekend's wedding on Thursday morning, I decided it was time to fire up the log splitter and go through the wood I had stacked on the side of the house. I checked the motor oil and hydrolic fluid in the machine and then gassed it up. The splitter fired up on the second pull of the cord. It then ran like a dream for five hours as I got all the large logs split into smaller pieces. There were lots of pieces that didn't need splitting as they were skinny wood. And a lot of the old stuff was dry and split easily, but all the grey birch--blown down in a spring wind storm--needed to be split so it can dry before I need to burn it this winter. That birch wood was the largest in diameter and, naturally, the heaviest because of its water weight.

Split wood at the Aerie 2011_06_27

I worked up quite a sweat despite the low temperatures and being in the shade for all but the last hour or so. I also made an enemy in the robin which nested on that corner of the house. Let us say the bird was NOT pleased with either my presence or the noise form the splitter. I half expected to get dive-bombed at any moment. If it had been a blue jay I'm sure I would have scars on my head this evening. As it was, I would take a ten minute break every hour (union rules) so as to give the adult a chance to get back to the nest and set for a while. I didn't hear any cheeps coming from the nest, so I'm assuming that there are eggs and not baby birds up there.

Somewhere, however, there is a robin's nest with babies for I've watched an adult bird collect worms from the lawn before flying off with them dangling from its beak. We seem to have a huge number of robins on our little patch of grass. I can stand on the deck and watch five or more hopping about or chasing one another off a particularly promising patch. While watching those five on the lawn, there may be two or more flitting about in the trees either chasing or foraging on caterpillars or shadbush berries. I've watched birds collect nesting materials and head off into the woods. Makes me wonder what's wrong with the other corners of the Aerie. We've had three different nests in the past but this year we've only got one.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Aerie Plans

No work in the woods today. I may head back out tomorrow to cut some more firewood. And it was such a lovely day to be outdoors, too. Clouds hid the sun fro much of the day but they didn't produce more than a few little sprinkles. And the clouds helped keep the temperatures in the low 70s all day, too. The slight breeze made it feel even cooler.

But, today I did some shopping and played with the tractor for the afternoon. I've got a considerable amount of firewood in the yard all ready for splitting. Any additional wood that I cut will probably be left stacked in the woods until next year. Remember, part of this cutting process is to get the smaller limbs on the ground where they can decay and where they will be out of the line of sight for any stray deer and/or bear come hunting season. And by taking the ATV through the woods I'm also opening trails the deer and bears will walk.

Wood Pile

This morning I went down to A.J.'s Outdoor Power Equipment and asked about the prefab metal roofed car ports they sell. (Terry wants one of the slots in the garage back. Right now I've the ATV in one and the tractor in the other.) This seems like a sensible alternative to building a pole barn in which to store the tractor. They are made by Carolina Carports, Inc.

The price is a fraction of what a pole barn would cost and includes the cost of a crew to erect the structure. All I would need to do is have a level, open site on which the thing could be put. I looked over the information and figure a 21' long by 12' wide structure would suit my needs. For an extra $50 I can have the sides raised from the standard 6' height to 7' which would provide added headroom on the sides as well as in the center. You can get the sides enclosed for an additional cost. On a 21' long building with 7' sides that would be $350. Because they are "temporary' structures that can be taken down and moved, most places do not require building permits nor do they tax them.


I got so psyched by the idea, I came home and started leveling a place for the car port using my tractor. I had already figured it would have to go in the area near the garage and where I had been stacking firewood. In fact, I had used the front loader of the tractor to move some of the slash (mostly bark and a few branches and such) that had been heaped up there from previous years of splitting wood and cleaning up around the yard. Today I went in with the idea of taking the slightly sloping area and making it more level.

First problem: hard packed clay and stones.
Solution: instead of using the front end loader like a grader, I turned the tractor around and used the backhoe to break up the ground and remove any larger rocks.

Second problem: buried logs that hadn't rotted
Solution: I grubbed them up with the backhoe and moved them to the rear of the site to form a weak retaining wall of sorts.

Third problem: what the hell is that?


I hooked this thing with one of the teeth on the backhoe and it was like I had hooked a whale while fishing from a 12' dory. It wasn't coming out of the ground. No way. No how. I think it was the windmill the previous owner had on the property. The telephone poles and concrete anchors for the windmill are on the west side of the yard...the other side of the cabin. I assumed they had taken the damn thing out to the dump when they demolished the camp that was here leaving only a few cinder blocks that once were the foundation. Well, you know what they say about never assume anything.

Solution: dig. Dig. Dig. I went down a couple of feet around this thing and then got out my Sawzall. Couldn't find my long enough extension cord, however, so I called Terry--who was down at the Mansfield Farmers' Market--and told her to pick me up a 14 ga. 50' cord. Then I waited. And as time went on I started rearranging the stuff in the shed so I could get to my archery target block. And there was a 50' extension. Was it the one I fried in the campground last year? Didn't look fried, so I gave it a try. It worked without tripping any circuits so I was about to use it when Terry arrived. Rather than use the smaller (in diameter) cord, I plugged in the new cord and in minutes had cut the head off the windmill. I removed my tools and hopped on the tractor to use the backhoe bucket as a hammer and pound the ends of the remaining windmill into the earth. (Or at least 2-1/2 feet of it.)

I then did my leveling best with the loose soil I had created. The front loader going forward to scoop up the soil and put it where needed. The front loader as a scraper as I backed up to level things out. And the weight of the tractor as a compactor. Not too bad. I'll take a rake to it and try to make it even better.

Carport site.

Then I've got to get the firewood out of there. Oh well, most of it has to be split anyway. And I've got a couple of days before we have to leave for the next wedding.

Oh, almost forgot. When I went to put the Sawzall away, I found by heavy duty extension cord in the workshop. When I hadn't seen it earlier, I had assumed they were all in the trailer from last year's trip. (There's that "assume" word again.) Hey! It's green, not orange or red or bright yellow. It was easy to miss. Honest.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Woods Work Again--still.

with the forecast calling for scattered T-storms and showers, the temperatures in the high 70s and a humidity to match, it was back to the woods this morning to haul out the wood I had cut the other day as wells as some that I had cut last September. Many trips up and down the hill with the ATV got me a pile of firewood--most of which needs splitting. I do believe I've got enough to get us through the winter now. We only burn to supplement the propane heat when the outside temperature remains below the freezing mark for a day or two. Last year, that amounted to about two cords of wood. I've still got one left from the 2010 vintage and I estimate two-plus in the round, so to speak. (I'll try to remember to take a picture of my accomplishment tomorrow.)

I also hauled out nearly all of the skinny hickory poles, too. The trees had been knocked down by the loggers back in the summer of 2009 but the wood is dry and hard with nary an insect bore hole in sight. I'll have to take a close look at it for signs of branches and such to see if I can cut some three or four foot lengths for splitting into table or chair legs or some other project. I might even be able to use the band saw to turn the pieces with the largest diameter into narrow boards.

One thing I noticed as I worked in the woods is that there are a lot of youngish hickory trees still standing in my work area. The loggers took maples, beeches, a couple of cherries and lots of ash which opened the forest considerably. The tops of those trees have shown very little sign of decay which is why I'm happy to cut them up for firewood even two years later. Unfortunately, even the smaller branches which I've left in slash piles have shown little decay.

There are still a few large (12"+ diameter) logs in the area that I want to cut into firewood lengths which I will leave stacked in dry spots along an access trail for next year. THEN I will move to the other side of the property and see what I can do about the tree tops still present over there.

Oh, yeah. Those showers finally arrived around 2 PM when I was finished working outside. It poured for all of 30 minutes. Then at 8 PM a weak line of T-storms approached from the west-southwest, reached Route 15 and the end of Armenia Mountain and promptly divided like the Red Sea. One strong storm cell traveled eastward along Route 6 to our north while the rest followed the south side of Armenia Mountain. We might have got a dozen drops--maybe--before they moved on. I see on the radar that there are similar little stormlets all over the map out into the Ohio Valley so we may still get more rain overnight and tomorrow. As the radio announcer said yesterday, "The forecast through Sunday is like a broken record. Highs around 80 with scattered showers and T-storms possible in the afternoon and evening." Seems to be a pattern for now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eel Release in Pine Creek

Overnight we had a little more thunder and lightning but hardly any rain fell on the Aerie. There was just 0.05 inches in the rain gauge when I checked it at 3 PM.

I got off to the eel release this morning at around 8 AM and ran into a few showers (and lots and lots of trucks) as I headed out to Wellsboro and on to Asaph and the USGS Research Facility (aka The Fish Labs). What normally takes me just 35-40 minutes ended up being a 50 minute ride because of all the tankers carrying fracking fluids or water and the flatbed semis hauling heavy equipment. But, being a US Govt. run operation, the fact that I arrived a wee bit late meant that I was still early.

Eight of us were going to participate in this release of eels--besides the thousands and thousands of eels, that is.

Baby eels await release.

We had three folks from the Fish Labs who had been raising these eels from the tiny glass eel stage. Captured off the Maryland shore and shipped north via auto and truck relay in which I participated, they were only an inch to an inch and a half in length, completely colorless and had a mass of just 0.01 gram. Today, most were in the three inch range, were darkly pigmented and massed out at around 0.5 grams. Okay, the last isn't so impressive, but that's a fivefold increase in their body mass in a little over two months. You try it!

Robert Deems (USGS)

Heather Galbraith and Carrie Blakeslee (USGS)

All three were probably very happy to see these eels out in the wild. Caring for tens of thousands of the little guys can be tiresome. First, as with any aquarium, you've got to keep the water clean and cool. (Around 20 degrees C is what these eels like.) You've got to feed 'em. Then, as they get older, you've got to watch out for any that grow too big. See, they are cannibals. Big guys eat little guys. Quickly. And often. So any "big" eel has to be put in a tank with other eels that are the same size. Luckily, since these were only held for a few months, the sizing was not a real issue, but they have some eels in tanks that have grown to fifteen to eighteen inches in captivity.

Down in Maryland, the USFWS provided the eels from the ocean and started the relay to bring them north above the dams. Presnet for today's release was Steve Minkkinen (no photo) who leads the project and Julie Devers who helped to transport the eels north.

Julie Devers (USFWS)

Finally, there were three of us there from the Tiadaghton Audubon Society (TAS). Only Bob Ross donned waders and put eels in the water. I stayed behind the camera and Phil Krajewski, who was responsible for obtaining grant money to fund this particular project, observed.

Robert Deems (USGS) and Bob Ross (TAS and formerly of the USGS)

Casual observation showed that the women did most of the releasing. With Robert D. doing much of the rest. Bob R. handled three or four bags of eels.

Julie Devers (USFWS), Heather Galbraith (USGS), and Carrie Blakeslee (USGS)

Here's a shot of everyone except yours truly.

Approximately 50,000 eels went free today. As many went out into Buffalo Creek south of Lewisburg yesterday. hopefully they will live long and prosper in these headwaters of the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay Watershed. And with their success, may they also prove to be hospitable hosts for the larvae of mussels who will in turn keep the water clean for trout and smallmouth bass.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No Woods, Just the Lawn Today

Happy Summer!

We had 1.35 inches of rain from yesterday at 4 PM until sometime just before 6 AM this morning. Needless to say everything outside was drenched this morning. And, with temperatures forecast for the low 80s and the humidity between 75 and 80%--although it did drop all the way to 65% as the temps went up, I opted to give the ATV and chainsaw a rest. (My knees and back thanked me as well.)

Instead, I spent a (small) part of the day just lounging around and checking the internet. Not a hell of a lot there to keep me glued to the lap top.

Weatherman said we might get more T-storms late this afternoon and through the night so when the sky cleared a bit, I went out this afternoon to cut the grass. I could tell it needed cutting because the plantain seed heads and clover flowers were abundant. The former stuck some five or six inches into the air and the latter dotted the lawn with their creamy white goodness. My knees protested but they were overruled by the long range forecast. (In a word: "wet") didn't take me long to get the lawn done but once more, I was soaked to the skin--or maybe that should be "from the skin" as it came out of me and not the sky.

Deer flies were a bit of a problem but the successful biters must have had snorkling gear or been able to hold their breath for a really long time. Luckily, the allergy shots I once got (Worth. Every. Penny!) mean that I'm not as sensitive to their bite as I was as a kid. Now it just hurts when they bite and as the blood seeps out of the wound. Moments later there is no swelling or itching.


Tomorrow I'll be participating in the eel release along Pine Creek in the western part of the county. Those thousands and thousands of eels caught off the Maryland shore and fostered by the Asaph USGS Fish Labs will be set free to forage on their own. It will be interesting to see where they are turned loose. Four sites are to receive a portion of Pine Creek's allotment. More will go down to Buffalo Creek south of Lewisburg near Bucknell University.

Terry has a group of her lady friends coming over around 10 for a sit-and-stitch. They will be here fore several hours so even if the eel thing doesn't take that long (we meet at the labs at 8:45 AM--I will find something to do away from the house until at least 2 PM. That's why I've got a backpack with fishing ear and my camera sitting by the door. Plus, there's a set of binoculars and my bird books in the truck. I'm good to go!

Now all we need is some cooperation from the Big Guy upstairs. Little or no rain would be nice. Widely scattered showers are okay--as long as they're over yonder from wherever we will be. Since we'll be moving around, it doesn't mean You can't hit a spot earlier or come back later to hit a spot we will/have visited. Okay?

Monday, June 20, 2011

More Work In the Woods

I ventured into the woods again today. Not with the .44 mag, but a chainsaw and an ATV. I figured if that big bear wasn't put off by the sound of the ATV, then at least I could cut him into manageable pieces. He didnt show.

I made 8 or 9 trips up and down hauling most of the wood that I had cut the Friday and Saturday as well as some of the stuff I left in the woods last fall. Then I went back with the chainsaw to cut some more and put some of the smaller branches on the ground into slash piles.

I worked until 4 o'clock when the rains showed up...just as the TV forecaster had said they would. By the time I packed my gear up and got back to the house, I was soaked. Weather permitting, I'll be back in the woods again tomorrow doing more cutting in the morning then hauling in the afternoon. I'm getting pretty close to the pont where I'm satisfied I've got enough wood for the winter.

Time for a PSA (Public Service Announcement)

Don't know about you, but *I* am switching!
This is something we all should know! Beware!

Shampoo Warning:

I figured out why I have been gaining weight. The shampoo I use in the shower, which runs down my body, says: “for more volume & extra body."

So now, I am going to switch to dishwashing liquid. It says: "dissolves fat that is otherwise difficult to remove."

So glad I figured this all out

We Had Another Visitor at the Aerie

We had a new visitor last evening. A BIG black bear. And I mean HUGE.

It came down the powerline right of way just at dark--around 8:50 or so. Julie and Shadow were sitting at the screen door watching the fireflies in the yard and suddenly went on point. I was sitting at the dining room table and turned to see what had their attention just as the bear stood up and scratched on the telephone pole--the one of three in the yard that actually has power lines on it.

The head was the size of a basketball and the ears were round and on the side of the head in the 10-2 positions. Unlike other bears that have come into the yard and had a white V between their front legs, this one was all black. His snout was dark and a bit pushed in instead of pointed and he was at least twice as wide as I am but just as tall. The scratches he left on the pole and plastic conduit that carries our power down underground and to the house, were just above where I can reach.

When I called for Terry to look out the window, the bear dropped to all fours and looked at me. He didn't run away or bolt for the woods. He just looked. Then he turned and walked back up the powerline. Did I mention that he looked HUGE! and very, very healthy. He had beautiful, glossy, jet balck coat of fur

I've never seen a black bear in the wild as large as this one. I'd estimate his weight to be some where between 450 and 500 pounds. A big ole boy for sure. And with all the blackberries ripening on the hillside, he's sure to get a good deal bigger in the coming months.

Maybe it's time to get a holster for my .44 mag Redhawk. Just in case.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another Day Sawing Logs.

Did I miss anything?

I spent another six hours in the woods today cutting up some maple and oak tops from the logging two years ago. The difficulty is that these tree tops all have lots of undersized branches that I've got to get out of the way. I spend half the time just trimming the small stuff and stacking it out of the way so I can get to the branches that are 4" in diameter or more. Then, once I've gotten to the larger stuff, I have to stack the cut pieces for later pickup.

Today's weather was a little warmer than yesterday but still pretty nice for working in the shaded woods. No rain showers in the area and just the slightest of breezes. Don't know if it was the lack of breeze or the slightly higher temperatures, but the mosquitoes were out today. I don't think any of them got up the nerve to bite me--probably took one whiff and said, "I'll pass!"--but I could hear them buzzing around my head even when I was wearing ear plugs. (That's a safety device I forgot to wear yesterday--ear plugs. Ears were buzzing, even without mosquitoes, all night long.)

Chainsaws didn't behave well today at all. The Homelite doesn't have a working oil pump for the chainbar oil and today it started to really over heat the bar. I finally figured out that I had to use my little oil can every 15 minutes and give the saw a chance to cool down for at least 5 minutes before returning it to service. As for the Sears Craftsman saw.... It ran for 30 minutes and then quit. Could not get it to restart.

I had both saws in the shop last month. That's when the repairman told me I had no working pump on the Homelite and he couldn't locate a source for one.

Maybe it's time to go get that Husqvarna Rancher. Three sources here in the area and every one of them had it for $399.

Well, I'm pooped after two days of saw work and tossing logs sections about. (Must be the Scots-Irish from my Mom. Every once in a while I get the urge to go out and toss telephone poles around. I do this despite the bad back. Stubborn.... That's the Scots, too, plus the Dutch from my Dad.) I think I'll just have another Yuengling and follow the Mets on the internet. Might even be able to stay awake until the ninth inning. Maybe.

Friday, June 17, 2011

No, it doesn't warm you twice...

...more like three or four times by the time it's cut, hauled out of the woods, split, stacked, hauled into the house....

Got a bit of work done out in the woods today. Since the chainsaw was sharpened and running, the ATV ran like a charm once I checked the air in all the tires (one was quite low), the widely scattered rains were happening elsewhere for the most part, and the temperatures never got much above 70 degrees, it was a good day for outdoor work.

I found a recently blown down beech that was some 18" plus in diameter at breast height. The part that I could reach--it was snapped off and still hung up at about 5 feet off the ground at the stump end--was a wee bit less. Still, it was big and long and I got considerable amount of potential firewood out of it. Cut it all into 16" lengths and left it stacked where I cut it for future hauling out. There was also a small maple that came down with it and I cut that up too. Anything over 4" in diameter is fuel for my fire. The rest gets heaped into one of the many depressions created by past uprooted trees.

I cut two long, straight hickories into manageable lengths for transport back to the cabin. I got three or four 8 to 10 foot poles out of those two. They measure from the minimum of 4" in diameter to about 6" or 7" at the thickest. I hate to burn this hard wood since it can be used in so many other ways.

There was also one larger maple felled by the loggers two years ago. They took the long straight portion of the lower trunk but left the branched upper sections that was still well over my 4" limit. I started cutting that up but will have to go back for more.

And speaking of more.... There are several other tops of felled trees in this one small area that I can cut for firewood plus wood that I cut and stacked but didn't haul down last year.

Then there's even more on a steep, steep slope on the other side of the property. All I have to do is figure a way to cut it up and haul it out. Problem is that most of it is on the downhill side of the logging trail. Tough to pull it up even with the tractor and sorta dangerous to cut where it lays. What I need is a couple of big honking pulleys, a stout rope and a winch.

I'll be back in the woods again tomorrow afternoon. Chainsaw in hand cutting and stacking more wood for the fire. Hauling, splitting and final stacking in the yard will be for another day.


...TOFU burgers don't sound so bad. This story has been making the rounds of the interweb today. Haven't seen anyone comment positively about it yet.

Japan scientist synthesizes meat from human feces

Mitsuyuki Ikeda, a researcher from the Okayama Laboratory, has developed steaks based on proteins from human excrement. Tokyo Sewage approached the scientist because of an overabundance of sewage mud. They asked him to explore the possible uses of the sewage and Ikeda found that the mud contained a great deal of protein because of all the bacteria.


I believe I will stick with beef, pork, chicken, fish, venison, squirrel, and any other game meat I can bag. Thank you very much!

Oh, My!

From a Drudge link:

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana resident says an energy company has identified the cause of a brief power outage as "deer with wings."

Bad enough the sneaky critters can slip through the woods unseen, now they can take to the air?

Read the rest of the story (as Paul Harvey used to say) here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Blah day. Overcast all day with a spritz of rain every now and again. The temperature never got much above 65 with a breeze that made it feel cooler all day. Call it another down swing on the rollercoaster of a weather pattern we've been having.


Terry has headed off to New Jersey so the cats and I will be tolerant of one another. Julie will hunker down in the chair next to me looking for human contact (and warmth) while the other two will dog my steps every time I go over to the kitchen sink and/or coffee pot in the hopes that I will 1) fill their food bowls or 2) at least give them a crunchy treat. Then they will gather at the bedroom door tomorrow to awaken me around 6 AM so they can get their breakfast rations. Then they'll go back to the bedroom door hoping to get Terry (who isn't there, remember) to come down and give them some more.


I could have/should have gone out to do some firewood gathering today. The cool temperatures were perfect for that sort of work. However, I've got a strong case of the blahs. One might almost say a crippling case. So I sat around a read some Lindsey Davis (I'm half way through See Delphi and Die and have read all the others in the series up to that point) and worked crossword puzzles.

Tomorrow, if the weather permits and the ATV starts, I shall go cut and haul some firewood. If not I'll go into the workshop and build something to hold my fishing rods or fed the birds. Maybe both.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chores and Critters at the Aerie

Well, the forecasters got the weather correct to day. (Insert comment here about a stopped clock and all that.) The sun did stay out all day and the temperatures did rise to 80 degrees late this afternoon. Turned out to be a beautiful day and I spent nearly all of it outside in the yard with the tractor.

Kubota and I moved stones from the several piles I had around the edge of the yard and the huge pile I had built in the center where I once planned to build another raised bed garden. Those plans fizzled when I ran out of soil to fill the bed with. They may be resurrected again, however, as a small slump and the digging out of the slope to build the stairs last month have left me with a pretty good heaping pile of soil. Digging out the bank to create another raised bed would provide even more soil (and stone). And the digging would be much easier with the use of Kubota's backhoe.

This afternoon, I was in the process of moving some of the slumped soil and noticed one of Kubota's front tires was flat. I wrestled it off the tractor and hauled it down to the tire shop to get it repaired. Somewhere along the line today, I had run over a nail. That's not hard to imagine as even before we built the Aerie, there had been a structure here that had been removed. I'm not sure how it was removed, but it was gone when we viewed the property. Could be it was demolished on site. Could be it was hauled away. (It was a mobile home of some kind.) Could be I ran over a nail from that demolition or it could have been something from our construction process. I don't know for sure as the only evidence was a hole in the tire with nothing in it.

Any way...Got the tire fixed and put it back on the tractor and was back to work moving the soil and rocks that slumped in the heavy rains/snow melt of March and April. I'll have to think about some way of constructing a low retaining wall to hold back/slow future slumps.


After dinner, I stepped out on the porch to enjoy the cool breeze. There were some birds going a little nuts and I assumed they were screaming about a hawk or one of the neighbor's cats. Then, around the corner of the house where I had been digging up the slumping soil, came a black bear. I estimate his weight to be 250-300 pounds. I shouted to alert Terry and the bear bolted twenty yards into the woods. Then it looked back and slowly wandered off, totally unconcerned with my presence on the deck. Sure, my shout had startled him, but no more than my sneaking up on one of the cats and shouting, "BOO!"

So that's a deer this morning and a bear this evening. We also spotted a new neighbor's cat. That brings the number of different cats to five...or is it six? We had the usual birds in the yard despite not having any feeders out. But I did see an Oriole fly across the yard while I was moving one of the vehicle out of the way of the Kubota.

WARNING: Weather Rant Ahead

Was it just a few short weeks ago we were complaining about temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s? After the sun never made an appearance on a chilly, raw Tuesday, the sky cleared overnight. The light breeze continued to blow out of the north bringing some cool air to these here parts. The result? This morning it was 47 degrees at 7 AM. FORTY SEVEN DEGREES! On June 15th, one week from the longest day of the year. Sheesh! Talk about your yo-yo temperatures.

Must be very dull to live in places like San Diego or Hawaii where you get the same damn weather every single freakin' day. Dull. Dull. Dull. Around here, you can't be sure what it's going to be like in the next four or five hours. Forget tomorrow or next week.


I woke up to the sound of a doe deer snorting out in the yard at 7 AM. (Okay, I woke up the SECOND time. Chester and Shadow woke me up at 6 AM the first time but I ignored them and let Terry go feed them.) No idea what got her upset unless she caught sight of Terry moving around in the house.

On the deck looking around at 7:30 AM I heard and saw a pileated woodpecker flying over. Robins were setting in the trees and giving alarm calls. The wrens were chattering away. And an ovenbird kept screaming "Teacher! Teacher! Teacher!" like an impatient know-it-all student.

Down the hill, two rifle shots rang out and--I assume--another ground hog met its fate. Which reminds me the one I saw around here in the early spring has...well...disappeared. That is good!

A few cars and pick-up trucks went up the hill heading for construction and/or energy jobs on the wind farm or gas wells.

I guess I'll have to get out and do some firewood or stone work today. Just to get warm. (Kidding. The forecasters say we should get up to 80 degrees since the SUN is out. We shall see.)

Maybe after another cup of coffee.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Forget Global Warming (a hoax) and Start Worrying About Global COOLING!

Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That? has a breaking story from the AAS (American Astronomical Society): Sun’s Fading Spots Signal Big Drop in Solar Activity

Mr. Watts quotes on the three (3) studies which indicate that wee could be in for some global cooling and NOT warming because, you know, the SUN provides us with heat and it will be taking a nap for a short period if the researchers are correct.

Some unusual solar readings, including fading sunspots and weakening magnetic activity near the poles, could be indications that our sun is preparing to be less active in the coming years.

The results of three separate studies seem to show that even as the current sunspot cycle swells toward the solar maximum, the sun could be heading into a more-dormant period, with activity during the next 11-year sunspot cycle greatly reduced or even eliminated.

The Maunder Minimum, a period roughly spanning 1645 to 1715 when sunspots were extremely rare, is believed to have triggered The Little Ice Age. Alpine glaciers swept down valleys creating refugees out of the mountain people. And Hans Brinker skating on the Dutch canals?

How about the Dalton Minimum (1790-1830)? It too produced lower temperatures and, with the increase of volcanic activity, produced the Year Without a Summer, 1816.

So start knitting your sweaters now. Drive your SUVs as much as you want. Store up on 100W incandescent light bulbs. We may need all the warmth we can muster.

Early Report from the Aerie 06/14/2011
w/thoughts on GOP Debate.

Flag Day. Fly 'em if you got 'em!

Free Clipart


Were there any lamer questions than those asked at the CNN hosted New Hampshire "debate" last night? "Coke or Pepsi?" "Johnny Cash or Elvis?" Really? That was germane to a political debate? BTW: Who the heck is John King? And why in the world did the GOP agree to a CNN hosted "debate?"

I find "debates" like these tedious enough without some yahoo like King trying to sound cool. And the 30 second time limit may work in a quiz show but when dealing with complex matters it produces either truncated meaningless responses or equally meaningless sound bites.


I mentioned last evening that there had been little rain at the Aerie while I was up north. That has changed. We've had a gentle rain for much of the AM so far. A nice soaking, gentle rain that is sure to cause all sorts of growth int he garden and the grass. Now all it has to do is warm up a bit. It's just 51 degrees at 9:30 AM.


The chilly rain has put a damper on today's plans for outdoor work. Even if it should stop raining soon, everything is so wet and the temperature is so low, that even a walk in the woods would be uncomfortable to say the least. And the footing on wet leaves, rocks and logs would be quite slippery.

So it looks like it will be a day to do some indoor stuff. Decluttering is a full time job around here anyway. So many boxes of "stuff" to go through and what were once thought to be important essentials to discard. (Sort of like the candidates on the stage last night.) And there are boxes yet to be opened since our move with things lost or forgotten that may still be found and cherished.(Sorta like those NOT on the stage last night.)

Monday, June 13, 2011


One of the cool things about stepping out on the porch of the Aerie just after dark in the late spring/early summer is the number of lightning bugs or fireflies that can be seen over the lawn and in the tall weeds growing along its edges. Dozens and dozens of them are blinking their yellow-green tails on and off in hopes of attracting another firefly. Most are looking to mate. Some are looking to eat.

eNature lists two fireflies and both can be found in Pennsylvania. They are the Pennsylvania Firefly and the Pyralis Firefly. Its the former (the Pennsylvania Firefly) that will eat its own kind if the mood strikes it. The Pyralis adult doesn't eat at all. Interestingly, it's only the mated females that become cannibalistic. Guess they never heard of divorce lawyers!

When I was much, much younger, I and my cousins would run about and collect as many fireflies as we could. Forty or fifty of the little bugs make a nice--if somewhat flickering and short lived--night light. We would also take one of the bugs and squish its tail across the back of our hands just to see the glow of the phosphorescent chemicals appear and slowly fade. (Yeah, we were a blood thirsty bunch!)

Aerie Report, June 13, 2011

I made it back to the Aerie in time for lunch. Not a difficult thing to do when you wake up at 4 freakin' AM! A combination of restless and aching legs from running around with the brush hog between rain showers on Sunday and pushing the lawn mower through heavy wet grass--between rain showers--on Saturday. That, and having a list of things I needed to do and pack before I left running through my head, got me going early.

I was on the road south by 7:30 AM. Traffic was light and, despite staying (mostly) at the speed limit and making one stop along the way, I got home around noon.

Crazy thing is that even though the radar maps showed there should have been considerable amount of rain at the Aerie there was only 0.02 inches in the rain gauge. Terry said her friends said it rained hard down in Mansfield but up here on the hill we got squat. Terry watered the garden last night and the zucchini and cukes are really starting to look good. Some of the onions started from sets have developed flower heads which I told Terry to cut off. We need them to put their energy into the bulbs not the flowers.

It was mostly cloudy this afternoon with just a few moments of sunshine. Then, around 8 PM a few darker clouds came out of the north and we got half an hour of pretty heavy rain. I'll selectively water a few shrubs tomorrow morning IF we don't get any more rain. They say there's a chance of some through noon on Tuesday. Then it will clear and we'll have a couple of nice days--until Friday. I'm glad I don't have to depend on the weekend for out door chores.

I'll be looking to get the ATV and/or tractor out to cut/haul firewood and move some stone about during the next few days. With the temperatures staying in the low to mid 70s I should get some good exercise. Got to be better than running around behind a mower and brush hog in the rain.

Terry has a bridal shower in New Jersey on Saturday, but one of her old smocking groups is meeting on Thursday night so she may be heading east early. She'll stay at her Mom's though Sunday and come back after church services and, probably, one of her Mom's Sunday dinners.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bolt Hole, June 12, 2011 (10 PM update)

Managed to get the grass raked up between the rain drops late this afternoon. (Had to follow the Mets 7-0 defeat of the Pirates first.) Yard looks like it got a haircut from a 2-year old--with dull scissors.

Oh, and the patches in the ceiling are sanded smooth as a baby's butt. All praise the inventor of the sanding sponge for the ability to keep the spackle dust to zero!

All in all a pretty good--if wet--day.

I'll be departing the Bolt Hole (NY) for the Aerie (PA) tomorrow after breakfast--and coffee.

Color at the Bolt Hole

When we bought the Bolt Hole in the '80s the previous owners had put in quite a few perennials an were kind enough to leave a map of what they had planted and where. Unfortunately, they had left the place vacant for nearly two years and the deer, groundhogs and weather had done a fine job of removing many of their plantings. The goldenrod and other native plants had taken over the "lawn" and come spring, it was pretty near impossible to locate much of the work done by the previous owners.

One group of plants that could be easily spotted and which survived any depredation, were the poppies. Large, showy, orange flowers appeared in mid to late May and lasted about a month before the petals fell off revealing a pepper shaker of a seed head.

Despite my best efforts (not intentional, mind you) to kill them off, they continue to provide a springtime burst of color. The flowers are just about finished for this year, as can be seen from the photos, but they will continue to spread if left alone.

Full Poppy Flower Note the tinge of faded color on the lips of the petals.

Heavy rains have begun to take their toll on the large petals.

Almost bereft of petals, the seed head is exposed.

When ripe, the dried seed head develops holes along the top. Through these holes the seeds will be shaken about by strong winds and scattered about the parent plant. Self-seeding will take place and additional poppy plants will appear next spring. Or, I could harvest those seed heads and seeds and plant a new bed of poppies wherever I want.

Company at the Bolt Hole

I had a couple of lady visitors at the Bolt Hole last night. They hung around ont he porch this morning. Probably happy to get out of the rain.

The first one I noticed was the large, pale, delicate looking Luna Moth.

Luna Moth

As I went out to photograph the Luna, I discovered a second visitor. I believe this is a Blind Sphinx Moth.

Blind Sphinx Moth

Both moths are quite large and both have caterpillars that like to nibble on Birch trees. The forest around the Bolt Hole has many gray birches.

The Luna also eats hickory which can be found around the Aerie along with the white or paper birch. The Blind Sphinx also nibbles apple which ought to make it a fan of our orchard reclamation project here at the Bolt Hole.

I wonder if there will be many more of these lovely large moths flitting about since we've lost so many bats to the white nose fungus? If it weren't for the number of mosquitoes the bats eat in a single night, it might be worth it.

Bolt Hole, June 12, 2011

So. This morning at 8 AM I checked the site to see if there was any rain in the area. Forecast said 60% chance of showers but the radar looked clear. (Couldn't get to the interactive map. Slow connection? Or lots of folks trying?)

With the prospect of having a fair chance of getting some more mowing done, I downed a couple cups of coffee, laced up my boots, sprayed on some Deep Woods OFF, and headed out to the garage. The brush hog started up right away but the set screw on the choke/throttle keeps vibrating out of position. Constant attention to its position and things ran fine. (Note to Paul: Checked the air filter and it was as clean as a baby's bottom AFTER a bath. I think I just flooded things a bit when first starting the engine yesterday.)

And "ran" is the proper term. The D&R brush hog is a self propelled unit and runs best on high. Forget the boots, I need track shoes! At least at these speeds, I thought, the bugs can't even catch me!

Worked for two hours and wrestled 3/4 of the knee deep stuff into submission when it started to rain. WTF? Where was this when I checked the radar? Apparently just lurking off the screen to the southwest. I got the brush hog back to the garage and myself into the cabin just as it started to pour.

An hour later, it had stopped so I went out to finish up. An hour later, I had just managed to do that when it started to rain again. Now I've got windrows of grass forming lines across the backyard looking like newly mowed hay. A perfect place for insects and their predators to play hide and seek. Of course those piles of grass will also damage the grass trying to grow beneath them if not moved and they also harbor some matted down grass that didn't get cut at all because of the wet conditions. (Note to self: Take a flat file to the blades of the brush hog. Its easier to cut rather than beat the grass to death.)

Ah, rain. You need it for things to grow, but there are times you want to say, "Enough all ready!" Still 60% chance of rain through 5 PM today. I don't care if it stops. I'm soaked to the skin and have had it. I'll find something to do inside.

Makes me empathize with this kid:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bolt Hole, June 11, 2011

Another fun day at the Bolt Hole! Woke up to chilly air and the pitter-patter of rain drops on the roof at 5 AM so I knew I'd have to put off doing anything outdoorsy for the time being.

That was okay. After having some breakfast and brewing a pot of coffee, I slapped on another layer of spackle on the patches. They're looking pretty good right now. Strangely, the largest patch (some 4" wide by 8" long) looks the best. The two that are about 3-1/2" square are still a wee bit sunken in and may need one more coat before sanding begins.

I then went and straightened up the storage room. It was a complete mess and needed some organizing. First I dragged all the big items (a double bed's head and foot, the springs for that bed, two large storage bins holding camping sleeping pads, a ton of fishing gear, etc.) out into the open. Then I put a shelf that once held my TV and VCR way back when in the rear of the room. Into that went all the stuff I had pulled out (except for the fishing poles and bed) and more. The fishing rods were placed upright in a 5 gallon bucket. The bed was more neatly stashed--on end--next to the shelves. All the boxes of screws and nails were neatly stacked on the desk in there, and all the left over electrical stuff (wire, junction boxes, plugs, etc.) got sorted, stashed and labeled in old Cub Scout popcorn tins. Lots of really useless stuff got chucked. The place looks much better now. Still not perfect, but better.

Around 10 AM the rain stopped and I thought I'd go see if I could get the lawn mower started. Took the can of high octane gasoline out the garage and filled the tank. Pumped the primer half a dozen times and pulled the cord. VROOM! Started on the first pull. Love it!

Mark has been unable to capture any game camera photos of deer and a few locals say they haven't seen any around here at all. (Mark has gotten pictures of a sow bear with her triplets from last year and two boars including our friend Dufus who looks positively HUGE!) I mention this here because while I was in the garage filling the lawn mower's gas tank, I heard a snort from somewhere behind the barn. I waded through the nearly knee high grass and spotted a deer in on the edge of the woods looking over its shoulder at me. It gave another wheeze/snort and trotted off into the woods. Maybe the bugs (black flies and deer flies) have got the deer in hiding, too.

When the rain held off, I went out to cut the grass at 3PM. I set the mower on the next to highest setting knowing that the wet and deep grass would be a problem. Except for a few passes I tried to stay in the area Mark had cut a week ago. Even that was still a good 5 or 6 inches high and damp enough that it frequently clogged the chute when I cut it. The area Mark left uncut is closer to 12-18 inches high and could only be cut by taking tiny little widths. Even then it clogged the chute every couple of feet. Definitely wasn't worth trying to force the issue when there's a brush hog sitting in the garage.

Finished mowing what I could and went to get the brush hog. First order of business was to drain out the old gas that was sitting and separating in the tank all winter. I then put half a tank of high octane fuel in the tank, adjusted the throttle and choke and gave the cord a pull. No go. Pulled some more and it wouldn't turn over. So I took the air filter off. Pulled and the engine coughed and sputtered. Pulled again and it roared to life. I adjusted the choke and put the air filter back on. The engine would run but stalled often. Still I got to use it for a half hour or so. Constantly restarting and fiddling with the choke to keep it running was a pain, however. Finally, around 3:30 PM it stalled and in the ensuing quiet I could hear thunder. I pushed the brush hog back to the garage just as the sky opened up and it started pouring. I had to wait 20 minutes as the storm moved over before I could get back to the cabin. hasn't really stopped raining since, though the thunder and lightning has stopped--for now. Well, I didn't really want to do any more outdoor work anyway. I'll go out and play with the brush hog some more tomorrow. I'll have to see if I can't get it to run a wee bit more consistently.

So that was my exciting day. I got lots of things accomplished although there's plenty more to do inside and out. But they will have to wait until manana.

Rainy Saturday at the Bolt Hole
June 11, 2011

At the Bolt Hole for the weekend. The ride up went smoothly with only one longish construction zone on the NYS Thruway.

As soon as I arrived, I went right to work. Already filled the holes in the ceiling and applied one layer of spackle. I had to. There was a stream of heat pouring out of those holes into the bedroom. (Tin roof on a sunny afternoon. You get the picture. The patches really looked like crap when I put them in and covered with one coat of compound, but I put a second coat on the areas before I went to bed and they're looking better.

While waiting for the first patch cover to dry, I replaced the lawn mower blade. The one that was on there was NOT made for the machine but a quick replacement Mark had made to finish the job after he had hit a stump and mangled the old blade. Should be okay now but it will be a bit before I can give it a try. I got the gasoline last evening, but it's presently raining and will be for much of the day. (One report I saw said 1.5 inches is a possibility.) Cutting knee high grass when it's really wet just doesn't work.

I made arrangements for the propane company to pick up their two 100 pound tanks--when you're at a part-time camp and you only use it to cook on the stove, you only use about ten gallons A YEAR! Not worth their time or my $99/yr rental for the tanks. I do a lot of cooking in either the toaster oven or the microwave. Only bacon and eggs and the occasional pan fried pork tenderloin or chicken breast or boiling water for spaghetti require I use the stove.

Oh, and the blackflies are every bit as bad as Mark said they were. I've NEVER seen them this thick. Then again, the grass IS knee high. The rain has done wonders for the mosquito population, too.


A buddy of Mark's who likes to tinker with small engine repair has offered up two (!) riding lawn mowers for our use. They work but need belts and/or batteries. I've got the space in the garage so why not? Hopefully, they will be dropped off either today or tomorrow. Still won't be able to cut the grass in the rain, but when it dries out it will cut the time of cutting considerably.


So, here I am. Saturday morning at the Bolt Hole. And it's raining.

I'll do one more coat of spackle on the patches this morning. Hopefully I'll be able to get it as smooth as a baby's bottom so as to minimize any sanding that will need to be done.

Can't do anything outside because it's too wet to cut the grass and too buggy to do much else. Don't enjoy walking in the woods in the rain in any case.

Guess I'll have to do some house cleaning/straightening/sorting. Lord knows there's a lot of junk here to sort through! Some of it is just that: JUNK! Bag it and tag it for a trip down to PA where it can be discarded. Some just needs to be...well...organized. Organization would allow me to find it when I need it so I don't have to go out and buy some more of it.

Sound like fun?

Later. As long as something doesn't fall on me, the bugs don't drain me dry, or the drip, drip drip of rain on the tin roof doesn't drive me insane.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Storms in the Twin Tiers--Again

Quite the severe weather event here in Pennsylvania's Northern Tier and over the border in New York's Southern Tier. Not as severe as what happened over the Memorial Day weekend (tornados are difficult to beat!), but a little violent just the same. A cool front moved through the area between 2 and 3 PM and rapidly developing T-storms set off some pretty strong winds, some heavy rain, and a lot of rumbling.

Thunderstorms forming along a front often are spaced 10-15 miles apart since each cell sucks the energy from the surrounding area leaving little or no rain/storm activity in the gaps. The hooked western end of Armenia Mountain once again protected us some, as the storms, approaching in a line from the west, broke down just a short distance away. We ended up with no hail (Tioga County, New York had reports of 1" diameter hailstones) and just about 10 minutes of rain. The temperature did drop quickly from a high of 87 to a low of 70 degrees. Evaporative cooling will do that. That didn't last long, however. Once the line passed, the sun came out and the temperature began climbing again.

The watch issued by the National Weather Service continues until 8 PM tonight so we aren't completely out of the woods. THis last batch popped up on the radar screens within a thirty minute period so anything can happen...and usually does, weatherwise here in the Twin Tiers.

Lack of energy.

No, not me. Well...maybe a little after yesterday's 90+ weather. Or the overnight "low" of 72 degrees.

Actually, the power went out at the Aerie at around 5:45 AM today. That shut off the AC and the ceiling fan. The steady hum of the AC coming to a halt immediately woke Terry and I up. There was a period of flickering electricity and then all stayed quiet so we got out of bed and dressed for the day--much to the kitties' delight. As soon as we were ready to go downstairs, the power came on again. Total time of outage: approximately 15 minutes. (No call from the alarm company on this one. I think they must call only if power is out for a half hour or so.)

We've no idea why the power went out. There were no storms in the area. There were no strong winds. We haven't had any substantial rain since Memorial Day. We had the problem of kamikaze squirrels taken care of with a new transformer some time ago. About the only thing going on that might create a problem is the widening of one of the gas pipelines. I haven't noticed any digging yet, but they have been felling trees where necessary.

We went about our morning business of feeding the cats, eating breakfast and, since it is Thursday, getting all the garbage bagged and out to the curb. Terry went down to get the mail and then head over to Curves in Mansfield. It was there that she discovered the outage was still on...for the Penelec folks. No power at Curves or the adjacent store or other places along old Route 15. (Including WalMart?) Terry reports there was some digging going on near the Penelec facility just across from where there was some severe damage during the Memorial Day weekend storms. (Mansfield University reports "a power outage will delay classes until noon.")

We're serviced by the Tri-County Rural Cooperative and they are very good at restoring power quickly--unless overwhelmed by unusual circumstances. Penelec not so much. Of course, Tri-County has a lot of dairy farms on their grid and its imperative that they have power for milking and storage of milk. Penelec is more business/residential in its service area. Sometimes it's good to be out in the sticks.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Hot. Hotter. Hottest.

Here it comes! Here it comes!


(Suggested by Don Surber. Who also points out that it's been snowing...on Mauna Kea on the Big Island in Hawaii.)

The weather wonks said we had a 40% chance of showers and T-storms this morning and I watched the radar as they slide to the south of us. Feeling that it was as cool as it was going to get for the next few days, I strapped on my boots and took the lawnmower for a walk. It was only 75 degrees at the time but the sun that emerged after the storms past made it feel warmer. By late in the afternoon it was warmer. It reached 82 degrees. The next two days we're supposed to see temperatures in the 90s and high 80s. Days like these I wish we had put central air into the Aerie.

At least the onions and zucchini like it. The cucumbers are coming around too. Everything needs watering on a daily basis when it gets this warm with a breeze blowing. Heck, I need watering in this kind of heat, breeze or no breeze. Might have to break down and go get some ice cream.

(I've been off the ice cream since before Christmas. I had been going through a 1.75 quart container in three sittings. Not good. Well...yeah, the ICE CREAM was good. The scale said otherwise, however. I substituted crackers, cheese and scotch/bourbon on the rocks for a good while.)

Looks like it'll be basement time for me tomorrow. Have to go pick up some wood for bird feeders/houses unless I want to sit and do crosswords and jigsaw puzzles.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Trials & Tribulations

Seems like we jumped right back into heat these last couple of afternoons. The thermometer has topped out in the low 80s both days at around 4 PM. Neither the cats nor I are ready for this kind of heat. Terry brushed Chester yesterday with the Furminator (GREAT product, BTW) and came up with enough fur to spin into yarn for a sweater. Got nearly as much off Shadow as well.

Me? No shedding of fur (there's precious little of it on my pate as it is), but even the slightest activity under the afternoon sun and my ball cap and T-shirt are soaked. I need to get some adult beverage(beer: It does a body good) to replenish my metabolites after doing manual labor. That or I better see about hiring Manuel.

Seriously, if I'm working outdoors--cutting the grass or firewood, weeding the garden, moving stones and/or earth about--I have to stop every hour to drink a quart of water or Gatorade. And, if I'm not careful, I'll still get a little woozy from lose of salts. Until I get used to the heat and humidity again, I try to limit myself to a maximum of three hours of physical labor--preferably in the early morning or late afternoon. The 11 AM to 2 PM slot was made for either the basement where its cool or siesta.


Besides sweating, I really dislike the emergence of black flies in the spring. The females bite into your skin and suck up the blood that emerges. Their saliva contains an anticoagulant to allow the blood to flow freely. That's what produces the reaction in your body. Thankfully, their time on blood patrol is short IF the weather is warm. Hardly saw any today at the Aerie, but Mark said they were out in full force up at the Bolt Hole--which is why I'm at the Aerie. Even in rainy, wet springs, they won't be as troublesome after a couple weeks of warm temperatures. Ya either have to sweat it out, or don a bug hat/suit. And DEET. Lots of DEET.

Deer flies, too, can be a royal pain in the late spring. Buggers swarm around your head and until the buzzing alone drives you nuts. Then, in silence, they land and RIP a chunk of your flesh out. They'll slow down after awhile but some will be present all summer long if the dragonflies and phoebes don't get 'em. I find myself wearing gloves, a hat and a bandana to ward them off. Oh, and DEET. Lots of DEET.

Some people attract members of the opposite sex like moths to a flame. Terry is that way with mosquitoes (and here). She can be outside for five minutes and get as many mosquito bites. That's why we loaded up on Thermacell products (and DEET, lots of DEET) before heading to Alaska last year where, it is rumored, numerous humongous mosquitoes dwell. I've yet to try the Thermacell stuff. Terry got just a half dozen bites when we stopped along the Dalton Highway north of Fairbanks to walk in the tundra, feel the permafrost and pick blueberries. The mosquitoes there were laying in wait to ambush tourists. We ran into precious few insects in either the Yukon or Alaska. Lucky, I guess.


Another couple of things I dislike about the spring/summer are carpenter ants and carpenter bees. The large black carpenter ants are a problem because they start looking for food and shelter as the colonies awake in the spring. They, somehow, infiltrate the cracks and crevasses of our home and wander about on the hardwood floor and counter tops. They don't really do any damage (I've never caught them eating into the logs or wood trim although I've had them in some boards out in the shed) but they are creepy. I've purchased some spray that's supposed to work on keeping them out and killing any foolish enough to cross the line and applied it to the base of the house. Inside, we baited the area behind the garbage bin and sprayed--with a product safe for indoors--one spot we say where we've seen them emerge from between the floor joist/ceiling beam and the wall log. That's high enough the kitties can't get to it. Since then I've seen far fewer ants in the house.

As for the carpenter bees.... Not a welcome sight if you live in a pine home. They don't seem to bother homes made of cedar or covered in cedar shakes but the females seem to like the pine soffit boards despite the stain that was applied. (I've yet to see any boring into the logs but the deck railing--oh, yeah!) As a result, I've been forced to declare war upon the buggers.

The wasp and bee killer sprays with a 20 to 25 foot range are excellent for this with one exception: the very peak of the roof is closer to 30 feet--straight up. The spray can't reach there. So I lay in wait until the bee comes close enough and spray, spray, spray! Gotta watch the wind, though, you don't want to get hit with the back splash. Not unless you want to take a long shower. The stuff is potent. A direct hit will knock the bee out of the sky and put the bee down for good, but stomping on the downed bee is more satisfying. (Besides, if I leave a whole, dead bee laying about, the chipmunk may wander by and gobble it up. Who knows what the spray will do to the poor chippy?) Still there's that one smart a$$ bee w-a-y up there at the peak. I'll have to see about getting another can of spray and get the ladder out. And I'll have to caulk the holes they've already bored in the pine.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Wild Wierd Weather Week

It was a weird week here in the Northern Tier of PA. Weatherwise, that is.

Early last Monday morning, while Terry and I were still in Milwaukee, an EF1 Tornado struck in the town of Knoxville in the northwest corner of Tioga County. It did some serious damage but caused no deaths or serious injuries.

Then the heat struck and it reached into the 90s on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hazy, hot an humid were the code words for those two days, but that changed with Wednesday night.

It was then that the winds really kicked up. Blowing at 25-30 mph with higher gusts, and out of the north-northwest, they ushered in a bunch of drier, cool air--and, eventually, frost warnings for Thursday night/Friday morning. Sighting birds in the gale Thursday morning was difficult but the walk was very comfortable.

Some folks visiting from New Jersey didn't think the trail in Pine Creek Gorge was comfortable, however. Part of a senior citizens' tour, they were taking a covered wagon ride from Route 6 south to the Grand Canyon (probably stopping at the CCC camp along the way) and then were on their way back to the trail head when the strong winds caused an oak tree to fall on them. A big oak tree. (Citizens critical after tree hit wagon) Ten folks were injured with three women being taken by helicopter to Sayre. Two of them were in critical condition last I heard.

The winds calmed down late Thursday afternoon (triggering the frost warnings) and Friday was a beautiful day. Saturday started out gorgeous if somewhat chilly, but some light showers at the Aerie--and some scattered T-storms in the area--put a damper on the afternoon. Sunday promises to be a nice day once the early morning clouds get out of here. Sunny and mid-70s is what they say.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (sunny and 75-80) look like great days to be outdoors. I've got some firewood gathering to do and, who knows, maybe even a little fishing.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Thursday morning bird walk

We met at the spillway to the Hammond-Tioga Lakes dam and carpooled up to the lookout. From there we walked the 1.5 miles back down to the cars. It was a very, very windy morning but that didn't stop the swallows, ospreys and even an immature bald eagle from swooping and soaring above the east end of Hammond Lake. The smaller forest birds, however, seemed to be clinging to their tree branches and hiding from view. We could hear a few warblers, but sighting them among the waving leaves was nearly impossible. Today's list, therefore, contains only 23 species:

Location: Hammond-Tioga Lakes Overlook
Observation date: 6/2/11
Notes: Clear, brisk, very windy. Cool 58-61 degrees.
Walked the road from the overlook down to the spillway.
Number of species: 23

Canada Goose X
Great Blue Heron X
Osprey X
Bald Eagle X
Ruby-throated Hummingbird X
Downy Woodpecker X
Hairy Woodpecker X
Red-eyed Vireo X
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow X
Tree Swallow X
Cliff Swallow X
American Robin X
European Starling X
Yellow Warbler X
Chestnut-sided Warbler X
Chipping Sparrow X
Song Sparrow X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
Baltimore Oriole X
American Goldfinch X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

What a Difference a Day Makes!

yesterday and the day before we were in midsummer mode: hazy, hot and humid. Temps were up around 90 degrees and the relative humidity hovered in the 70% range.

The winds shifted so that instead of coming at us from the west, they were coming from the north-northwest at 20-30 mph. The skies cleared. The humidity dropped down to the low 40% range. And, although it's still sunny, we have temperatures in the 55-65 degree range. The weather service has even issued a frost warning for tonight into Friday morning for the mountain areas of north central PA.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Lazy, hazy day of summer at the Aerie

Lazy day after the epic travel followed by sweltering outdoor labor of Monday-Tuesday.

The overnight temps only fell to 72 degrees and the humidity was about the same so I'm glad I put the AC in the bedroom window. Terry was kind enough to allow me to sleep in until 8 AM or so. She says the cats started yowling at 5:45 AM and she finally conceded the field at 7:15 AM. Never heard them or her.

This morning it looked like we might get one heck of a T-storm. It was headed directly east along Route 6 and I followed it on the radar through Coudersport, then Gaines and right to the west side of Wellsboro, but it disintegrated before it reached us.

Cold have been worse, over the weekend Knoxville (northwest part of Tioga Co.) had a tornado. Not a big one--only a category F-1--but that's big enough. The same storm dropped trees all over the county from south to north. Power is still out in the Liberty area on the south end of the county. Driving around to run some errands today I couldn't help but notice a lot of downed trees along the side of the road and at least one mobile home in Mansfield had one end crushed under the weight of a big maple.

This afternoon, after the storm-line-that-wasn't passed over us, the humidity dropped from over 70% to "only" 50%. The only other change was in the speed of the breeze--up a good deal--and the total lack of clouds. The temperature did reach 84 degrees late this afternoon. That's about 10 degrees less than yesterday. Should fall to around 45-50 tonight.

With less heat forecast for tomorrow, there's a morning bird walk scheduled and then I'll do some work outside. Scout out any damage in the woods, move the toppled firewood, stuff like that. That's tomorrow.

For today: I did nearly nothin' and enjoyed every minute of it.