Saturday, September 14, 2013

For the Turtle Lovers

Once again this year, I have quite a few regular turtle visitors.  This is one that I recognize from last year.  She came around daily and you saw her featured with watermelon several times during the long, dry summer.  This year, she is enjoying peaches.  The peach crop has been pretty good and I've been able to get hail damaged 'seconds' for a really reasonable price.  (The turtles and I don't care if the peach has a blemish here or there...)

I saw her foraging in the back yard for something tasty (and wet), so I went out and offered her part of a peach I was slicing up to have with my breakfast.  She immediately turned toward me and started marching my way with purposeful little strides.  

She thought the peach looked and smelled pretty good.  

So, she nabbed it! 

Then, she marched away to enjoy her prize.   

Yes, she did get more than one little piece of peach!!  :) 

Friday, September 13, 2013

No Egrets...

Baloo and I have been getting up early for our main walk of the day, since it has been so hot and humid.  He wilts in the sun later in the day and it's not good for him to get too hot and bothered.  So, I've been bundling him into the car and going off to the wetlands area not very far from the house to take him adventuring.  

Baloo loves to explore the new territory and I love watching the migrating shorebirds that have stopped off for rest and refueling.  The wetlands aren't as wet as usual (although they're much better than last year, when there wasn't anything but a little mud left by the end of the summer), but there still seems to be plenty of good fishing available.    

There are herons, ducks, geese, terns and other shorebirds (and songbirds) taking advantage of this little rest area - but there really are no egrets.  I thought I would share my favorite pictures over the next few days. 

There are dozens of great blue herons and little green herons wading in the shallows.  I was trying to get some good pictures showing off their mirrored reflections as they  patiently stood awaiting breakfast delivery.

Today, it's all herons, all the time.  I'll post pictures of some of the other birds (and other creatures, as well), but don't be surprised to see more of these excellent fishers.  They're so much fun to watch and try and capture in their various poses that I expect to have a lot of tries before they fly on to their next stopover!!  :) 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

He Flunked!

After all the treatments, care and convalescence, Baloo flunked his heartworm test.  Can you sense the frustration and discouragement???  

The good news is that there are no longer any baby heartworms floating around in his blood.  The bad news is that there is still a fairly large load of adult heartworms.  On the slim chance that we are seeing a false positive result due to decomposing worms in his system throwing off the antigen the blood test looks for, we're going to wait a while and retest again before subjecting him to a double-whammy treatment of extreme horribleness.  

We'll just have to study  and "bone up" a lot harder to be ready for the next one!!  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Critter Reports

I don't have a new photo of the Lucky Chicken, since my brother hasn't had a chance to send one to me, but she has made a pretty thorough recovery and has lived to moult her remaining feathers all over the floor and grow a whole new set of them.  Go Chicken!!  

As for Baloo, keep your fingers crossed for him.  He's having blood tests this morning to see if he has to have two more heartworm treatments (Nnnoooooooooo!), or if he's in the clear.  I'm really, really ready for him to be given the clean bill of health so that I can let him have more fun - and I'm sure he is more than ready, too!  

I just love this picture of Baloo - I don't know if I'll be able to get it right or not, but I am going to have to try carving that big old foot of his (the nose, too, of course).  Look for it on an upcoming Stampeaz invoice, if I'm successful!  :)   

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Two Generations - Birds and Beasts

Sweetpea, as I have dubbed the matriarch of the little herd in my back woods, had triplets this year!  Either that, or she adopted someone's abandoned or orphaned youngster.  The fawns have started to lose their spots and the fawn color is showing through the bright white that they started with. The smallest of the three was particularly alert to my movements and was starting to raise her tail in alarm.  You can see that she was also raising her front leg to stomp at me and let me know I had been busted.  Cuties!!

I usually see the does wandering around with their fawns from time to time, and more frequently as the season progresses, but it was a particular treat when Jenny Hen came by to show off the young poult she managed to rear, in spite of coyote packs and fox families - not to mention raccoons, opossums, hawks and other predators (okay, so I mentioned them).  Well done, mom!!  

 It was amazingly hard to get a picture of these two that wasn't a complete blur.  The little one was lightning fast, picking up every stray sunflower seed it could find before somebody else could nab it!  Bugs beware! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A New Fable

It's not quite the same as the tortoise and the hare -- but it sure is cute.  And yes, the turtle got a peach. 

I took this picture through the basement window, so that I wouldn't startle the doe.  She got up after a couple shots, anyway, so this isn't the best photo ever.  I had to share anyway, though.  :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

They're Baaack!

Baloo pointed this colorful fellow out to me as we were returning from our (very leisurely) morning walk.  He is recognizably one of the turtles that frequented my yard last year throughout the drought - I recognized the markings on his shell.  It was fun to see that he has actually grown noticibly since last summer.  

Of course, he was delighted to get half of a fresh peach as a breakfast treat.  There was also a slightly smaller female who came in when she smelled the peach, but she was shy and I didn't want to scare her away with camera work, so I just gave her some peach and that made her very happy.  :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Coming and Going

There's a beautiful little lighthouse at the end of Old Mission Peninsula.  One year, my sister gave my brother and me each a lighthouse replica birdhouse for Christmas.  There's a delightful family living in one of them this summer. 

While they may not be meeting themselves coming and going, they certainly meet each other from time to time, as they busily feed their brood.  

Here's a picture of that sweet little chickadee emerging and you can see the beacon tower on top of the lighthouse.  Obviously parents with good taste in housing! 

Friday, July 19, 2013


It wasn't even Pi Day!  This is overdue, since I've been living a dog-centered life, but I just had to share the adventure. 

My family and I have a tradition that has developed over the last few years (ever since I discovered the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes tricks) of creating fun, interesting and delectable pizzas.  I make up the dough and have it ready and then we all go into a frenzy, chopping and preparing all the things that will be used for toppings.  We have a few favorites, but we usually try and come up with several new ideas for pizzas we haven't done before. After the flurry of preparation, I'm usually left to decide exactly what goes with what else and assemble things (and occasionally cry for a little more of this or that to go on top).  Then, my brother takes them out to cook on the grill.  This is our crop of artisan pizzas.  

I had heard of making pizza with wild ramps and since we had some growing out in the woods, my sister gathered them and I cleaned them up and sauteed them to use as one of our main focal points. My brother was a little skeptical - he thought we'd be overwhelmed with the flavor of too much onion, but we were all pleasantly surprised with the fresh, delicate flavors. This one has just a brushing of olive oil, ramps, a little tomato, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and Romano cheese.  It reminded us of leeks and spinach, since we used both the stem and leaf parts of the plant. 

My sister's husband grilled some of his famous wild grouse breasts to use for this one and it has fresh mozzarella, just a touch of tomato sauce, a little Romano on top and a sprinkling of fresh scallions when it came off the grill.  The grouse speaks very well for itself.  Yum! 

 This one was simple and deliciously fresh tasting.  It's an idea I read about this spring.  The asparagus is prepared by using a vegetable peeler to shave thin strips of the stalk and head (you can hold the woody end while you're doing this and not have to worry about breaking that part off). Toss in a sprinkling of kosher salt and let it sit while rolling out the dough.  Then, just use a light brushing of olive oil, some fresh mozzarella and the asparagus. 

Mexican pizza is a longstanding favorite.  It can take a lot of different forms, depending on the ingredients at hand, this one had salsa,  some refried black bean dip we had on hand, onions, jalapeno and poblano peppers, cheddar and jack cheeses.  We top these off with fresh tomatoes, scallions and avocado slices (and sometimes black olives, sour cream and anything else that sounds good) when they come off the grill.  

Here is the final wreckage, after we'd all eaten our fill.  Of course, these are all great as leftovers, too, so it's fun to be extravagant and make a bunch of different varieties, as long as the dough is made and the grill is hot!  

I hope that's an inspiration for a summertime dinner or two.  Leeks or shallots and spinach or kale would work well in place of the wild ramps, and chicken or turkey could be substituted for wild grouse, if you aren't lucky enough to have a game hunter in the family.  There are no wrong answers with artisan pizza!  :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Have a Heart....

Protect your pets from heartworms.  It's so easy to prevent and so horrible to have or try to cure!  

This sweet guy is Baloo - he's got a bad case of heartworms and the attempt to cure him might actually kill him.  It has been painful, exhausting and debilitating for him (not to mention emotionally painful and exhausting for me).   He's on week two of eight starting today and I thought I might lose him again this morning when he was coughing, gagging and having spasms.  He's well worth fighting for (and he is fighting for his life with every breath), but it's hard to see so much suffering that could quite easily have been prevented by giving him a single, tasty treat of a pill every month (liver flavor, I think!).  So, please protect your animals from this deadly disease.  If you harbor any doubt about the horror, look it up and read about it - it's seriously ugly.  

Speaking of animals that have been fighting for their lives - the chicken made it through her dog attack and is growing new feathers on her back.   Go, Lucky Chicken!!  Er.... Rooken... Chooster?  Long may she crow!   :)

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Bird in Ten Thousand

What's the title about?  Well, that famous chicken is actually one of a kind, but there is another statistic that applies to her.  Apparently, chickens can rarely (you guessed it, about one in ten thousand) take on the characteristics of a rooster, if they have something happen to their ovaries and the balance of hormones tips into the high testosterone camp. They aren't truly roosters, since they can't fertilize eggs, but they come pretty close. 

When this happens the chicken's comb and wattles grow larger. 

They will grow spurs.  (She has some pretty awesome spurs for a chicken - especially since she's short on toes from her earlier frostbite trauma.)  

And they crow.  She gets up in the morning and gives a very earnest, but not terribly musical, 'cock-a-doodle-do'. 

Even so, she's still the same sweet chicken that likes to sunbathe and take dirt baths.

 She still likes to pose in picturesque locations.

She's very fond of string cheese.
 Seriously - she can eat the whole stick!

And she likes a dish of morning tea. 

These are all photos I took while visiting earlier this month, because she has only one tail feather and no feathers on her back right now.  

Here's the update after the dog attack.  The chicken is still valiantly fighting for her life.  Her wounds are very bad, but she's a tough little bird and we hope for the best.  Unfortunately, it looks like there might be some infection setting in where the deep puncture wounds are and it's hard to get antibiotics into her.  My sister and sister-in-law gathered worms and centipedes for her last night and she ate them all, so she still has an appetite, but she's losing weight.  Today, she went out for the first time since the dog attack and got to look under turned rocks and logs for her own tasty bugs and worms.  

Many thanks for the good thoughts you've shared and sent her way.  Please keep them coming - she's a well loved bird.   

Monday, May 27, 2013

Good Thoughts for that Chicken...

I was going to try and post a fun chicken update this week, since I got some good pictures and there's lots to tell.  Unfortunately, I'll hold off for now and hope for the best.  My brother and sister-in-law's pet chicken was attacked yesterday by a dog that was running loose through the yard.  He bit her back and pulled out all her tail feathers.  My sister-in-law had to pull the chicken out of the dog's mouth and she's pretty badly injured, but she made it through the night with lots of ministration, antibiotics and determination.  That's one tough little bird.

So, hope for the best along with me - and if all goes well, look for a chicken update or two.   

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring - Tra La!

The spring ephemerals are some of my favorite wildflowers - and they're one of the many reasons I enjoy wandering around the woods in early May.  They don't last long (hence ephemeral) and are delightfully brave splashes of brilliance rising from the dull brown leaf duff that's been beaten down and leached of color by winter snows.  They are a promise of warmer weather when nights can still be frosty and days can sometimes still bring snow.  So, hum along with me as I indulge in a small celebration of the flowers that bloom in the spring - tra la!

Jack-in-the-Pulpit captured my imagination as a child and still has the power to make me smile every time it blooms.

The bellwort is shy and tries to hide its beauty by nodding under its leaves.  

If you were reading my blog last year, you know I love wild phlox - I still carefully mow or trim around each plant blooming in my yard.  After all, if a beautiful wildflower wants to grow there, I'm going to encourage it any way I can! 

The trillium was one of the first wildflowers I remember learning to identify as a child - they're easy to spot and very distinctive.  There are several varieties of trillium, but only this one was blooming in the forest while I was wandering this year. 

The trout lily ushers in spring fishing, since it begins to bloom just about as trout season starts on the river. 

If you look sharp, the tiny dwarf ginseng might catch your eye.  I love the lacy flowers that look like early fireworks for the wee folk.

There are, of course, many other spring ephemeral flowers, and they may be the subject of another post in the future, since I'm always admiring and snapping photos of the little beauties, but this is probably enough for one day.  :) 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The first day on the family property, this little fellow was saved from courting death and parked on a nearby tree.  My sister nearly lost sight of him before she got the photos taken, because he blended in so well after being placed out of harm's way.  

You can see why she almost lost the rascal, can't you?  First of all, it's a tiny frog, just about the size of the pad of my thumb and second, it knows the value of great camouflage clothing when hiding or hunting!    Mossy oak breakup has nothing on this outfit!! 

I loved this photo, too.  My sister caught the perfect Gollum pose!   :)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Leaps of Faith...

Okay, so I just had to share this one!  Remember Max?  The big, sad, starved white German Shepherd that fostered at my house?  (Incidentally, his carved portrait is currently the Stampeaz invoice image.)  Well, Second Chance is having a fund raising event this weekend where people register to have their dogs dive off a dock into a big pool and they get prizes for longest, fastest, etc.  I couldn't believe it when I saw this picture posted this morning on the Second Chance Facebook page!!  Sweet Max got airborne!!  I'd say he's come a long, long way!  

Don't you just love it??  

I'll have lots of vacation pictures and stories in the next week or so, including a.... um.... chicken update.  (And that will make more sense once you see the what I'm hemming and hawing about!  LOL!)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Welcome Guests

I only see these beauties for a few days each year, when they stop in for rest and refreshment on their migratory way.  They are so beautiful and remind me a little of pinwheels when they fly.  

I wish the rose-breasted grossbeaks found my neck of the woods a hospitable place to nest -- or even spend the cold months, but they prefer further north and further south for most of the year.  I'm just glad to be on their flight path.  :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Thanks from Charley - and Me...

Charley and I want to thank everyone who helped clear more space for him in the Stampeaz stock room by snapping up bunches of Grade B OZ Kut!  He's a smiling dog!  

There are thunderstorms again today and he has more space to stretch out in his chosen 'safe room'.  I thought it was interesting that he instinctively gravitated to the only room in the house (aside from closets) that didn't have any windows.  Smart boy!  He's all set for thunderstorms or even tornadoes. 

We also went to two Second Chance adoption events this weekend and met lots of wonderful dogs and people.  Two applications were filled out for Charley, so I am guessing that he won't be hanging around in the stock room during thunderstorms for too much longer. After all, who could resist his sweet face - especially when it comes with hugs and perfect manners??  I'm just glad I had the chance to help keep him alive and set him on his way better things.  He's been a treat to have around.  :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Red... and Blue and Red...

This first picture won't be the best quality, since it was snapped not only through a window, but through a window and a screen!  I had to share anyway, since fox sightings are not so very common in my little forest and even when I do see them, they usually disappear before I can locate my camera.  This hungry little rascal actually ran right under the bird feeder while trying to nab a squirrel.  The squirrel escaped and the fox had to find something else to take home to her kits.  

I also love watching the bluebirds pretending to be clinging birds while they snack on the peanut butter and cornmeal mixture I fill the feeder logs with daily.  Just about everybody loves peanut butter, but the bluebirds are particularly nice about sharing and I have seen five of them on the log at the same time, all pecking away in perfect harmony.  

We had major thunderstorms and chilly temperatures the last couple days, so handouts have been popular with neighborhood parents and parents-to-be.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yin and Yang - Canine Style

I just had to share this picture of canine relaxation.  Carmello and Charley (yes, Charley) got along beautifully and snuggled up together after they were finished playing. 

Carmello is on a sleepover in a possible new home.  I am hoping that his charming, enthusiastic (and somewhat boneheaded -- he is part beagle, after all...) little personality is a perfect fit so that he gets adopted and lives happily ever after!!  

Charley is recovering from his kennel cough and his surgery, as well as the wounds on his shoulders, so he should be ready to go to his first adoption event this weekend.  He is such a perfect gentleman - I can't believe that he was just dumped out in the country to make his own way.  

Seriously!  He heels on the leash, he sleeps through human meals and cuddles when given the least invitation.  He hates thunderstorms, though.  We had a very stormy day here yesterday and he hid in the Stampeaz stock room and napped most of the day (of course, he was probably still groggy from anesthesia and feeling crummy from surgery the day before, too).   Then again, maybe he just likes the smell of OZ Kut!  Oh, and incidentally, there is a big pile of Grade B OZ again, so Charley thought we should put the pieces on sale through the weekend to give him more space to stretch out in the stock room.  *grin*

Outside, the motley finches are moulting and fueling up for the next leg of their Spring migration.  It's amazing how much nyjer seed and sunflower chips they can consume!!  They'll soon be canary yellow flashes of sunshine against fresh greenery.  I'm looking forward to it!!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Egg Hunt...

While on a puppy walk out in my little woods, I discovered this camouflaged surprise peeking out from beneath the leaf litter.  His shell isn't dyed fancy colors, but his face sports bright patterns in yellow, orange and red.  :)

Of course, I shared my blueberries with him....  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Name that Dog...

First, the good news.  Both Max and Simone have found new, permanent homes with wonderful people.  My house got altogether too quiet without canine chaos.  

Then, last night and this morning I got a couple of desperate emails from Second Chance.  One asking if I could provide a weekend sleepover for a dog because his foster mom was going out of town suddenly.  The second one saying about a half dozen dogs were on death row at the Humane Society, because they had run out of space.  So, Second Chance stepped in to rescue them and begged any available foster folks to take them in.  I'm happy to say that they all found foster  homes in a huge hurry, in spite of so many people being out of town for Spring Break!!  

So, let me introduce Carmello - he's my weekend guest and will go back to his regular foster mom on Monday night.  

 Isn't he a cutie??  He's a beagle/spaniel cross and I can't believe someone hasn't adopted him already!! 

Then, there's my new foster dog.  They tell me he's a miniature chow and that he was a stray nobody ever claimed.  He's one of the dogs that got pulled from death's door.  Here's my quandary: he doesn't have a name - at least not one that anybody knows.  I've tried going through the alphabet with different sounds to see if he responds to anything and so far, there hasn't been a glimmer of recognition. 

He seems sweet tempered and is hungry for affection.  He wouldn't even eat his dinner tonight - instead, he just stretched out on his side and put his head in my lap while Carmello nibbled halfheartedly on his own meal.  After Simone and Max, who were both starved and very focused on food, these guys sort of surprised me with their complete lack of interest.  

So, help me out here -- what's this fellow's name?