Along the Natchez Trace

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Oh Dear.....

Those of you who have traveled with me in the past know that I have several "game" cameras (those that automatically take photos when triggered by motion) that give me a hint as to what goes on when no one's around.  We've been here in Ohio 2 months, and yesterday I finally dragged out my cameras and mounted 2 of them on trees close to my deer-feeding area.

This one captured me at 7:04 this morning...  it was 46 degrees F.  I had put the cameras out yesterday and last night was my first sightings.  Here, I'm carrying a bucket of sweatmix (horse feed) to replenish the feed box.  I have clean memory cards in my pocket to trade out the two cameras that saw action during the night.

I cropped this one...  the date and time on this camera are wrong anyway, but I think I put the cameras up in mid-afternoon.  I'm guessing it was early evening that this buck stopped by.  Look at his antlers... velvety...  beautifully formed.  He has a long way to grow until November so by then he should have a very respectable rack.

During the night we had another visitor.  This buck is older...  his rack is quite impressive even now, just at the end of May.  

It appears these 2 guys are traveling together....  
There is no competition for the ladies at this time.  The does are busy with their new-born fawns about now and it may be a few weeks before we see any females at the feeding area.

Probably the buck saw the red light on the camera as it recorded his photo....  but it's pretty obvious that he's noticed something unusual going on.

Although there is a State Park just across the road from our farm, we do not allow hunting on our property.  I'll never forget the time, years ago when we still lived here, I came home from work and there were hunter's vehicles lines up along the road leading to our house.  I pulled into our driveway and there were 13 deer herded up in our field just below the barn.  Guess they were waiting out the barrage of gunshots before they ventured back into the woods.

So, yes, we feed the birds here....  and we also feed the deer.  We really enjoy watching them when we get the chance.  Who needs a TV when we have great entertainment right outside our windows?

The End!

That's All For Today!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Endangered Species?

This may come as a surprise to some of my faithful readers, but...  I confess...  I wasn't always the nice person I am today.  (cough, cough)....   In my last blog I wrote a little about birds passing through...  how here in the Ohio River Valley birds that we see only for a short time in the spring or the fall, we simply don't see the rest of the year.  If you look at..  say, the Sibley's bird map that accompanies each bird listed, you'll see that where our farm is here in Ohio, there's a thin strip where birds like the Rose-breasted Grosbeak for example, just don't summer here.  I've seen them in West Virginia (my very first siting was at Seneca Rocks when I was on a college field trip)...  and I've seen them north of here.  But you have to keep your eyes peeled to see them as they're passing through my particular area here.

Now..  back to the story....

Back in the 1970's,  I was vacationing in the fall...  heading up to Maine (I REALLY wanted to see a moose) and on into New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  As it happened, that's how this Appalachian hillbilly gal found out she got seasick... crossing the Bay of Fundy on the ferry.  

This was with my first husband...  the one who carried a whole arsenal of weapons no matter where we went.  Yes, I read with trepidation the signs saying no weapons as we drove through Massachusetts, but I kept my mouth shut and on we went.

I should add here that at this time I worked for the State of Ohio...  for the State Park System.  Actually I worked in a State Park that was close enough I could bicycle to and from work quite easily.  Even though it was a seasonal job, I knew the manager and the rangers...  the maintenance guys...  the whole crew.  (which probably numbered around 6 in total... it's a small park).  My kids were great friends with the Park Naturalist and attended all the park programs.  So did I....

Back to the story...  So...  here we are... in Maine... heading into New Brunswick.  Woweeee...  I'm loving it...  seeing places I've never been...  seeing sights I've never seen.  And...  of course while I'm watching for moose, I do check out the roadkill.  Hmmmm....  they have porcupine up here.  We sure as heck don't have these guys in Ohio.  Well now...  apparently they are somewhat nocturnal...  why else are they roadkill we see in the morning, but never see a live one?  Hey...  this one looks almost intact!  

My little ole pea brain gets to working...  Let's scoop up this nice, quite obvious porcupine...  put him in the cooler and take him back to Ohio......  Then...  I'm going to lay him down on the park road..  let's see...  the one by the beach where he won't get smooshed real soon and if I put him down early enough of a morning the park rangers will be the first to drive by...  and... hmmmm...  a porcupine in Strouds Run State Park in SE Ohio?!?   No Way!   Ike, one particular ranger, was nobody's favorite.  He was a jerk...  maybe I'd get lucky and he'd find this guy.

Yep......  into the cooler.  We took our roadkill porky all the way through New Brunswick and into Nova Scotia...  then about week later headed back into the Maine.  I get to thinkin'.....  get a little worried......  for some reason those guns we were carrying didn't even bother me...  but what if Border Patrol checked our cooler?  How in the world do you explain you're carrying around a dead porcupine?

Somewhere, before we headed back into Houlton, Maine, I got cold feet and ditched my little hitchhiker along the way.

I don't even remember if the truck got a cavity search crossing the border...  all I remember is that I'd lost my opportunity to play a joke on my ranger friends back at the park.

That was about 40 years or so ago....  I never did see a moose on that trip (finally saw my first moose on our Alaska trip in 2001)....  but when folks talk about what you're likely find in various places, whether it be birds, flowers or whatever, I always think of my porcupine buddy....  who would have created a real stir in this part of Ohio.

That's All For Today!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Exit: Rose-breasted Grosbeak; Heading North Enter: Summer Tanager; From the South

There is a constant drama going on right outside our windows.  As we move through Spring and on our way into Summer, the actors (and actresses) in this play keep changing.  
We had 3 or 4 weeks of daily visits of the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  I could even see the male's winter feathers  change to their brighter, more colorful summer attire.  I'm not sure how many of this species we actually had, but I did see at least 4 males and 2 females at the same time.  Last Sunday was the last day I saw them.  That Sunday night we had some rain and it got colder.  Monday their absence at the bird feeders was quite apparent to me.  I don't pretend to understand how or why birds decide to move on when they do, but since our motorhome is so close to the woodsy area around us I think I'm more aware of what's here on a daily basis.

We have several kinds of woodpeckers and at first, when I saw this guy, I thought it was a Hairy Woodpecker...
He'd been hanging around on the poplar tree right outside our window for several days.  I got to looking a bit closer at the holes he's been drilling in the tree.  Hmmmm...  those sure look like a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker pattern.  Birders will know what I mean, but these birds drill holes that end up looking like a screen door mesh...  all in evenly located spaces and fairly close together.  So...  I started watching a bit closer.  Saw that he wasn't a Hairy, nor a Downy...  so got out the camera and tried for a decent shot.  Again...  I'm in our motorhome and this guy is outside the window.  I think that he, too is just passing through...  but he left his mark on that tree before he left.

Also last week I heard a bird song...  way up in the treetops.  Wasn't sure... got out the binoculars and yes...  there was a male Summer Tanager singing his little heart out.  I'm sure he was trying to attract a mate....  and I think he succeeded....
That's the male on the left...  the female is at the far right.
We are currently re-doing the rental (the house Bill & I lived in) and the sliding door in this picture will be replaced on Tuesday.  So I've never taken the time to clean the glass.  Had a heck of a time trying to get my camera to focus on the birds... it loved the dirty glass... even the screen on the left.  But since the birds have been flying from the nearby trees to the deck... back and forth all morning....  I did clean the glass later hoping for a better shot.

The female apparently is playing hard to get....  she lights on the deck..  flits up in the tree...  flies off to the trees across the field...  back and forth...  all the time making a "come hither" call.  Of course the male follows...  he'll hang out in the tree a while... swoop down on the deck to woo her... she flies off...  he follows...  it goes on and on...
This is the female...  totally different plumage than the male.
Not really drab, but certainly not the brilliant red of the male.
I'm not sure how long this courting will go on, but tomorrow morning I hope to get up there again and see if she's still being coy.

We heard the Cuckoo a few times this week.  Haven't seen one yet, but know that he, too, has returned for the summer.  I still see the Yellow-throated Warbler at the feeder now and then.  Also, the Bluebirds seem to have a nest in the nesting box closest to the house.....  we'll see.  And, the Robin that built her nest under the deck may already have hatched her eggs.  I haven't checked with the binoculars for tiny heads peeking up, but will when the weather get nicer.

Yes...  everyday is another act in this Summer Play that the birds are putting on here.  I just watch and listen... waiting for the next set in this wonderful cast of players.

A followup on my Cauliflower Crust Pizza....
I got the recipe for the crust from George - he's the Awesome Travels blog with the Weber Q.
I had my Cuisinart Food Processor in storage here...  got it out, cleaned it up...  and put it to use.  Got a big head of cauliflower at Kroger's and ground it into very small bits.  I kind of did my own variation...  used more than 2 cups of cauliflower so added 2 eggs, the mozarella cheese and Italian seasonings...  then made almost a puree out of that.  I love it that George suggested using parchment paper on the pan...  kept the crust intact and easier to serve.  I spread the marinara sauce over the baked crust.  Of course I go overboard on the veggies...  peppers, garlics, spinach, mushrooms, onion...  and topped with Feta cheese.  I baked it all about 45 minutes at 350 (another variation) because it was so thick I figured it would take a bit longer get done.  It was delicious!  We had half for dinner last night and the other half tonight.  And yes, it was filling enough that we didn't need any other side dishes either night.  (Okay, a glass of wine...  but, hey.....)

I had enough cauliflower to put half in a baggy and freeze for another pizza later....  neither of us have gluten problems, but this is a great gluten-free pizza.  So, thanks, George for this idea.  This one's a keeper!

That's All For Today!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Deja Vu All Over Again....

I think we bought this particular phone May 4, 2009.  We've had others and now Bill uses a different phone.  I kind of inherited this old one.  I'm not much of a phone person so Bill's always carried the phone that everyone calls us on.  These days I've been using this old phone more... it has tons of minutes built up and we may as well use them.  I'm not even sure what the phone number assigned to it is...  I call it my "Walmart" phone because when I can't find Bill in Walmart I just phone him and ask him where the heck he is.

The other day I wanted to take some photos of those morels in the produce department.  I'd left my Canon camera in the car so thought I'd try to figure out how to use the camera in the phone.  After sorting out the right side of the phone etc I did manage to take some fairly decent pictures.  When we got home later that day I found a cable that would fit the phone and hooked it up to my laptop so I could download my photos.

Lo and Behold!

There were photos on that phone back as far as 2009!
Photos taken in places from Maine to California!  Photos taken in Spain!  Photos taken in Mexico!  Photos of family, friends, and people I don't even remember!

Taken October 24, 2009
We were on an RV caravan tour of the coast of California.  My records tell me we were near Monterey... probably in the Big Sur area.  Who is this person?  I just don't know....

February 15, 2010  Sevilleta NWR    New Mexico
Sierra Club volunteers planting some of the 6,000 willows we planted that year. 

March 22, 2010 - Palomas, Mexico
Bill standing outside a woodworking shop...  Palomas is a border town where gringos get dental work done and buy their prescription drugs at a low cost.

March 22, 2010 - Pancho Villa State Park 
Columbus, NM
Bill standing beside the statue.

March 25, 2010 - Ozona, Texas
Our good friends, Paul and Kathleen Smith
We met these folks on our first trip to Mexico back in 2004 and have stayed in touch with them ever since.  Now and then our paths cross, as they did along this stretch of I 10 in Texas.

 April 1, 2010 - Flamingos
I think this is at the San Antonio Zoo in San Antonio, Texas

 June 27, 2010 - Aroostook NWR - Limestone, Maine
Yep... that's me chewing out some ATV offenders at the refuge.

 August 24, 2010 - Aroostook NWR - Limestone, Maine
Our daughter Donna and son-in-law Glenn came up for a visit.  They were heading out for a moonlight canoe ride.

September 13, 2010 - Tamarack, West Virginia
That's our friend, Edie Owens.  Edie had had a liver transplant a couple of years earlier and was on serious meds.  We picked her up at her home in Florida and brought her to Ohio in our motorhome with us for a high school class reunion.  Tamarack is a wonderful arts and crafts gallery at a roadside rest area in West Virginia.  Edie is still doing fine back in Florida.

October 12, 2010 - Glen Rose, Texas
Don't remember the occasion, but that's me and Celeste cooking up something delicious.

 December 30, 2010 - Glen Rose, Texas
Putting the new water tower in place...  We watched this progress for several days, ending with the crane setting the water tank way up there.  I took a whole series of photos with my Canon, but Bill took a few with his cell phone as well.

 April 3, 2011 - Setting sail on the Nieuw Amsterdam
On our way across the Atlantic Ocean from Ft Lauderdale, Florida to the Mediterranean Sea.

 April 16, 2011 - Somewhere in Portugal
Our friend Norma and me looking at flowers outside a winery.

April 18, 2011 - Barcelona, Spain
Gaudi's "Sagrada Familia" Cathedral

April 18, 2011 - Another view of the cathedral - a works in progress.  Construction began in 1882...  it's expected to be completed in 2026.

 May 15, 2011 - Our granddaughter's high school graduation
At the end of the ceremony the graduates released balloons into the sky.  I hope all their wishes are coming true.

 October 29, 2011 - Marietta, Ohio
That's my sister, Cynthia, and she's gonna kill me.  I TOLD her I didn't know how to use the camera on this phone!  The Lafayette Hotel in Marietta has a colorful history as it is located at the confluence of the Muskingham and Ohio Rivers.  This area was settled when it was still the Northwest Territory before it became a state.  

Like I wrote, I was really surprised to see these photos...  all for the first time.  Bill must have bought a new phone by 2012 because other than my morel mushroom pictures there were no photos taken after 2011.  Kind of fun to see these old photos and enjoy some memories of the past.

That's All For Today!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Morel of This Story Is.....

Nope, I didn't spell "morel" wrong...   Bill & I were at an Anderson's Store in Columbus yesterday.   An Anderson's store is something like a Walmart only fancier.  When I first found the Anderson's store it was more like an all-purpose store with emphasis on farm supplies.  Birds would be flying overhead in the store going after whatever loose bird or critter feed they could find in the aisles.  They sold everything from chicken feed to chicken brooders....  milking supplies....  horse tack...  that kind of thing.  But even back then the store had a wonderful wine and beer department along with gourmet grocery items I'd never even heard of.  However...  they've come a long way from loose bird seed....

So...  when I saw this item in the produce department, I guess I wasn't too surprised.... 
These Morel Mushrooms were packaged up...  labeled and ready to buy.
Morel mushrooms are kinda the king of the fungi ....  the truffle without the geese finding them...  the cream of the crop.  They are the prize of every mushroom hunter.  No one who ever finds a patch of morels will ever tell where they find them.  Everyone has their ideas of the ideal breeding grounds for morels and they'll take those secrets to the grave.

Look close at that package...  WoooHooo....  costs $28.20 for...  
less than half a pound!
Yes...  they really do cost $59.99 a pound!!!!!

If you've never seen a morel...
This is what they look like.
And these aren't even really clean (look at the stem)....  so you're paying for a little dirt here as well.
I looked the packages over...  some of them looked kind of old and dried up.  
Being a morel person myself, I know a good morel when I see it.  Yes, they can be dried and reconstituted later, but it's the fresh, plump, right from the woods to the skillet taste that is best.

I suppose you can buy the spores, insert those in the proper kind of woodsy stuff and grow your own.  You can do this with other kinds of mushrooms, so why not?  But it's a process that takes a year or so, so if these were "commercially" grown, it took some time.

They had about a half dozen packages...  I wonder how many will sell?

No, I didn't buy any.  I do think mushroom season is over down here in my neck of the woods, and it wasn't a very good year here for them anyway.  It was at least 25 years ago that I had my big year... found them by the basketsful!  Huge...  as big as a large hyacinth...  dense...  moist....  tasty!  And we had so many I sold them to a restaurant in town every day.  But not at $59.99 a pound...  more like $10.00 a basketful.

And the moral to my morel story...
Heck, do I really have to have one?

That's All For Today!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cold, Wet and Mostly Dreary...

At least that's just outside.  Our rig is well insulated and stays pretty warm.  I do remind myself that it is in the 40's, 50's and into the 60's and that's not really cold.  I lived here for nearly 60 years and these variable springtime days were very welcome back then.  I just put on another wool sweater, make sure I have on jeans and wool socks and think that it will be in the 90's with about 90% humidity soon.

I worked as payroll manager at a local non-profit hospital for 20 years...  started January 17, 1977 and retired January 17, 1997.  (you had to work 20 years to be eligible for your pay-off).  I am not one who lives in the past...  never went into my old office ever again.  I loved my job and since I did payroll I knew most of the 400 folks who worked there.  (since then that hospital has been acquired by Ohio Health - definitely NOT non-profit - and has a few hundred more employees).  Another retired employee Facebooked me and told me that former employees have a get-together once a month to keep in touch.  She told me the time and place...  I wrote it on my calendar.  However, I neglected to turn the calendar page over from last week to this one until Tuesday when Bill & I were having lunch.  Oh no... today's the day!  I made it in time...  Bob Evans restaurant at 1 pm.

I think nearly 30 people attended...
Did you notice that nearly everyone is female?  The majority of our employees were in the nursing department.  We had a few male nurses, but very few.  Same in the business office...  managers were mostly male.... especially upper management.  It was only the maintenance department that was totally male.   In the lower middle photo you'll see Dr. Gaskell in the blue shirt and I think the man with the white hair is the husband of one of the former employees.
Another thing....  that long table of women is composed entirely of nursing folks.  The table at upper right seats 6 business office and 1 lab person.  That's probably indicative of the ratio of nursing to non-nursing back then.
Where did I sit?  Well, I knew everyone there (except 1 nursing supervisor that I didn't recognize) and had a good time catching up with a lot of people I hadn't seen in years, I sat where you'll see my Coca Cola on the table.  Yep... I'd already eaten lunch and didn't want anything else.
I have always been thankful that I had such a good job and for the most part, liked the folks I worked with.  But I am also thankful for the life I've had after that job.  Life is indeed good!

And...  a blog of mine wouldn't be complete without a few photos of the critters here..
At first I thought these 2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak were immature or maybe first year...  but after reading up on them I realized they just haven't gotten all their summer plumage yet.  

I see at least 4 males and 2 females at the same time...  I think they are just passing through so I'll enjoy them while they're here.

And...  a critter I definitely don't like...
This young opposum was raiding the deer mineral block.  My intense dislike of them goes back to our chicken and guinea raising days.  A 'possum can destroy a whole flock of chicken in one night.  Guineas are fairly wild and usually roost high in a tree.  A 'possum will grab one...  they don't eat their kill, but will often move right on to the next...  Yeah, they eat some of their kill, but you can lose a whole flock of fowl in a very short time.
This guy?  Well, Bill fired the airgun at him...  I think he ran away unscathed.

Bill's follow-up eye appointment is in Columbus tomorrow.  Just a few more weeks until time to do it all again with his right eye.  
We've been here 5 weeks already...  time is passing really fast!

That's All For Today!

Monday, May 2, 2016

May Day, May Day... but no emergencies here....

Sunday, May 1......  it started out chilly and not real welcoming, but just got better as the day went on.  I went to early morning church service as the May Crowning would take place at that mass.  That's the celebration to honor Mary.  The best part for me is watching all the kids walk up to the altar with flowers in hand, and one kid gets to carry the crown to put on the head of the statue of Mary.
I got to church early so I could take my photos then.  I didn't take any during the procession...  although the kids were so cute (especially the tiny little girl clutching her big brother's hand) I do manage to control my camera sometimes.  Interesting thing...  this year a young boy carried the crown and placed it on Mary's head.  There was a time when this honor only went to girl.  Yes...  times have changed.

After lunch Bill & I went for a walk.  Well....  we actually went mushroom hunting as we've had some rain in the past few days and thought maybe that even though it's late in the season some morels might have popped up.  The State Park land is just across the road and up a few hundred yards from our farm.  Many years ago I found so many morels that I sold baskets full of them to a local restaurant.  This year no such luck.  We walked on trails that have been there only a short time...
Since Bill & I started our RV adventures in 2001 the nearby state park has changed in many ways.  One major change is that there are now about a dozen mountain bike/hiking trails throughout the park.  This particular trail is one we've walked on many, many times...  but never as an established trail.
Woods like these look pretty much the same year after year...  only the moss and lichen on the rocks gets thicker, the trees get a little taller...  some dwindle and break off... but they look much like they did 15 or 20 years ago.

We never found any morels, but came across some neat things...
Squaw Root
One of those plants that is a parasite, produces no chlorophyll of its own, and is just an interesting looking plant.  It's in the Broomrape family - often grows in clusters under oak trees.

These Fire Pinks were in bloom...
They gave a spot of bright color to an otherwise mostly green and brown landscape.

We didn't see any birds...  but did hear the Ovenbird and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  So back home we walked... back to the rig and the rest of Sunday afternoon.

When I cleaned the hummingbird feeder I'd re-hung it too close to the sock thistle feeder.  That Pine Siskin really wanted the thistle...  and that Ruby-throated Hummingbird really didn't like that big bird on his feeder.  

I have another thistle feeder out...
A few Goldfinch, but mostly Pine Siskin here.  You can see the yellow in the Pine Siskin's wings as he's trying to land on the feeder.  It surprises me how many birds can use this feeder at the same time.

We've seen some activity at Bill's new bluebird boxes...
This male was checking it out....  he hung out on a telephone wire for while, but returned and stayed in the box for a while...
I caught him peeking out....  
That's a predator guard right below the box.  We've not had too much trouble with raccoons with these boxes, but black snakes can slither right up a utility pole and into the nesting box.  Bill has hopefully solved that problem.

One last bird photo today...
I bought this window bird feeder last week....  it has suction cups that hold it onto the window of our rig.  That's a Tufted Titmouse grabbing a sunflower seed.  I'm sitting in the rig just a few feet from the window taking this photo.  So far we've had chickadees, titmice and a cardinal stop by.  
Looking in the background you can see a dogwood tree in bloom down over the hill.  I love the view from our windows...  it's almost like living right in the woods.

It rained again last night...  we need to buy a rain gauge....  but for now....

That's All For Today!