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Category: Robin Writes

Tree Stand Life – what happens around me

Tree Stand Life – what happens around me

Tree Stand Life

Bear hunting isn’t going well. Remember when I had so many bears coming to the barrel? Except for one bear, they are gone. Blackberries are abundant but starting to dwindle as they ripen and fall off, are picked by people, and eaten by the bears and other animals. There were substantially more mushrooms than usual after decent rain in September. If hyperphagia has started the bears aren’t coming to our bait barrels to gorge on food. Chubby shows up off and on now, often walking past the barrel on his way to somewhere else. I’m living a tree stand life these days and loving it most of the time. This leaves me with a lot of time to think, plan, and observe the natural world around me.

tree stand life, observe nature, nature notes

Turkeys

I was able to watch Eastern Wild turkeys the first two days of tree stand life but after being “busted” on day two, they haven’t been back. Turkeys have excellent vision and the biggest tom spotted me in no time. One alarm call and they were off, not to be seen again so far.

Whitetail Does and Fawn

When the wind isn’t blowing I can hear what’s going on for miles around me. Early in the season I listened to two deer walking slowly up the gravel road behind me. Ten minutes later I heard cracking in the woods and feet scuffling in the dry leaves this time inside the tree line. The deer slowed its pace as it approached stand. It came out of the dense woods into a clearing that’s filling in with wild hazelnuts. Deer stomp when they’re alarmed or angry. It stood 20 feet from my stand and stomped non-stop for two or three minutes, and then blew so hard I was startled. I laughed to myself. It’s like knowing the toaster is going to pop up and jumping when it does.

A big doe, so big that if she were a buck people would say “nice buck,” blew 103 times in the first 15 or 20 minutes. She startled me twice because I thought she was done. Listening closely, I could follow her movements without seeing it. Eventually I knew she was far enough away that I could slowly turn my head to the left and strain my eyes in her direction. After bursts of 17 to 20 blows at a time, she gave up on finding what (me) she knew was there but couldn’t see. She “got” me on Monday when I was looking for a bear at the barrel instead of paying attention to all that was around me. A sudden noise made me think a bear huffed at me, and it took a second to realize it was her blowing as she ran away.

Two days later, while sitting behind the ground blind, cracking in the woods to my right caught my attention. A doe and yearling browsed 100 feet away on grass and raspberry leaves. I could see parts of them but never their entire bodies at once. This time, the deer didn’t know anything was “off.” It was easy to watch them, and good to know I could sit so still they didn’t know I existed.

Owls

Barred owls start hooting each afternoon at 4:30, give or take a few minutes. I can almost tell the time based on the owls. Steve can do the same from his stand. One or two barred owls start hooting there at 6 pm. Some days it’s only one, other days there are two. And one day, a great horned owl started to hoot leisurely at first, then frantically for quite a while. I wanted to know why but of course, sitting on the side of a tree no where near the owl, I’ll never know.

Mobbed by Birds

Chickadees mobbed me many times. Dozens of chickadees surround an offender, flying between trees and hopping among branches until their curiosity is satisfied or they’re convinced the threat is over. The mob got me in the first week of the season. It started with noisy blue jays and grew to chickadees and other small songbirds I couldn’t see without turning my head. Were bears close enough to hear the ruckus? mmmm…I don’t know. After a while I moved enough to use my phone and record the racket.

Skunks & Squirrels

tree stand life, skunkThe Three Skunkseteers keep me amused part of most days. Each skunk is different. Three sizes, three stripe patterns, three personalities, three feeding patterns. The largest skunk balls up something with its front paws and then scrambles backward, rolling whatever it is it has across the forest floor. I can’t tell what it has even after inspecting the ground where this happens.

Red squirrels are a big part of tree stand life whether you’re hunting bear, deer or something else. I’ve watched chase scenes that would make Hollywood envious, fights that make bar room brawls look like child’s play, and a little sex, too.

Imaginary Bears

Bears do show up while I’m living the tree stand life. They’re imaginary. As the sun drops and moves to the west the shadows change. I strain to see the large black spot behind the barrel, the black space that appears for a few minutes as the sun is behind a large balsam tree. As the sun fades the black space grows. Movement? A bear? No, just the breeze blowing a hazelnut bush to the right of the barrel, along the trail Chubby uses when he shows up a7 9:30 pm and again after midnight. By the time I have to climb down and make my way through the woods to gravel road the imaginary bears are gone, too dark to exist.

 

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Sheet Mulching – What, How, When, Why

Sheet Mulching – What, How, When, Why

What is Sheet Mulching?

Timing is everything! I have “research sheet mulching” on my to do list. I’ve been told a couple of times in the last week that I should be doing it. Dan went into great detail and answered a lot of questions. I like the idea but I’m not sure I have the time. If you use sheet mulching how much time does it take you do an area about 10′ x 10′? Do you spend a lot of time gathering the materials? Is it worth it to you? The timing was right on – I was asked to share this graphic and I happen to think it’s pretty great.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not going to plant a garden outside next year. I’ll be relying on the high tunnel for everything I grow and a local farmer for a few things I won’t grow. I have to get control of the weeds. It seems like sheet mulching might do a good job of this while improving the soil at the same time. I can’t possibly sheet mulch the entire garden at once but I’ll most likely give it a try in one spot.
sheet mulching

Where I’ve Been – Five on Friday

Where I’ve Been – Five on Friday

Where I’ve Been

I’ve been in beautiful places and seen interesting things while away from Amy’s Five On Friday for a few weeks. You may join us if you’re a blogger by following the link. It’s a good way to meet other bloggers, see places and things you’ll likely never see in person, and be part of a blogging community. If you’re not a blogger you’ll still get to see new things. Here’s where I’ve been.

This Old Tree

This old tree with a puzzling rectangular hole lies on the shore of East Musquash lake. I think the hole was cut so that something could live in the dead tree, but what? What would live there that needs such a large hole? Duck boxes have small round holes. Any ideas?
five on friday, log, bird house, nest box, duck box

Lake Champlain

A ferry across Lake Champlain between Ticonderoga, NY and Shoreham, VT.  A farm tractor and tedder rake were also on the ferry. That’s something you don’t see every day. The ferry is fun to take and it saves about 20 minutes. When I’ve been on the road for nine hours every spared minute matters.
Ticonderoga Ferry, where i've been, five on fridayDowntown Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I hadn’t been there since I was 16. It’s changed a lot, and not for the better. You can barely see the pier from the road now. It was fun getting there. I was with a new friend, in her tiny BMW convertible with the top down, holding my camera out like a tourist.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

old orchard beach, where i've been

Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake, Paradox, New York. I spent six days here at a writing retreat. This was my third year at the retreat and my first 1,000 mile trip as the driver. Having a new truck with Onstar has given me a new sense of freedom. I know the truck isn’t going to break down (under 4,000 miles) but if I happened to get a flat tire I have roadside assistance to rescue me as long as I’m on pavement. Onstar gave me turn by turn directions. I didn’t love five lanes of rush hour traffic Friday night but I did it.
where i've been, paradox, NY, Pyramid Lake

Upta Camp

Best of all, Camp Sweet Family Camp. Built in 1951 by my then nine year old mother, Great Grampa John and other family members.
upta camp, camp, upper sysladobsis, Maine, Lakeville, where I've been
week of wildlife, five on friday

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Silent Writing Retreat

Silent Writing Retreat

Silent Writing Retreat

My pointed effort to unplug from the internet and phone started in 2014 when I attended a silent writing retreat. The location doesn’t have wifi and cell reception is sparse; if you walk through certain spots at the right time your phone might connect long enough to download a text or two.  Texts are mostly left to be read when I get home. Unplugged 2016 starts tomorrow when I leave for the same silent writing retreat.

Bear Mountain, Pyramid Lake, Pyramid Life Center, Women's Writing Retreat, silent writing retreat
Main House, Pyramid Lake, Pyramid Life Center, Women's Writing Retreat, silent writing retreat
canoes, Pyramid Lake, Pyramid Life Center, Women's Writing Retreat, silent writing retreatTwo years ago I sat down with pen and paper and wrote my heart out. Holed up in a cramped, homely bunk room by myself, I wrote almost every free moment, and what I churned out was excellent, especially for a first draft. I less involved last year as I worked through a couple of more difficult things. This year I’ll be fully immersed again, writing like a madwoman, and taking two workshops rather than one as I was last year.

Writing & Reading

Plans change. The piece I wanted to write before I leave wasn’t written. There were too many other things I had to do in writing and life to get to it, and now I don’t know what I’ll read. There will be writing assignments in each workshop so choosing one of those pieces is an option. I used to be excited about reading my work to an audience because it was nerve wracking, something I needed to take a deep breath and dive into. Now that I’m no longer nervous it’s lost its edge. Maybe I’ll find something new about reading to an audience that excites me this year.

Silent Writing Retreat?

Silence. Not completely, but the right amount of silence to not interrupt anyone. We’ll be laughing and talking in places like the beach and dining hall but in our cabins, on the trails and in other places where writing happens, it will be quiet. We nod to acknowledge each other on paths but there’s no talking because someone you pass might be writing in her head.

Unplugged

Unplugged 2016 – no outside news at all. I see a little local news in the morning when Steve has it on.

Can you imagine being completely, totally away from the news and outside world for seven days?Click To Tweet

I keep the television and radio off stations that carry the news but I can’t get away from news and negativity of this modern world but still see it on social media. It’s wearing. It’s depressing. Being unplugged will do a lot for my heart and soul. Each year I’ve come home to spend less time on social media and more time unplugged, and I’m sure this year will be the same. Maybe more so.

Do you unplug for a while? Could you? What do you do while you’re not being dragged down by the outside world?

Finding Peace of Mind Outdoors

Finding Peace of Mind Outdoors

Finding Peace of Mind Outdoors

I wrote this yesterday morning when I was disappointed and disheartened. The state of the world and the inability to visit with friends online without having a lot of hate and discontent thrown at me is upsetting. I needed to set some boundaries with people who are not used to me saying “sorry…no…” Self-preservation is important, and that involves not setting myself up as a target in some topics that get ugly fast. I headed outside earlier than normal because finding peace of mind outdoors is the best way to ground myself again.

Finding Peace in Beauty

Buff Silkie Hen with chick

I went outdoors early this morning. The much needed rain stopped during the night. I think we’re probably still two inches below normal but we got enough to give the pond and garden the boosts they needed. The Silkie hen and her three checks spent their first night loose in the hen house so they needed to be checked on first. I took food and water and spent a few minutes leaning against the wall, watching the interaction with the other birds. Sweetie’s a good mother. When the other birds get too close to her babes she lets them know it’s time to back off.

Finding Peace on the Homestead

The turkeys have outgrown their small overnight box and moved into one that’s 30 inches tall. There are seven now, down one quickly when the failure-to-thrive poult died. These seven are growing like weeds. When their box tipped to let them loose they emptied out like popcorn, running around the pen, flapping and “flying.” Happy, healthy birds. They’re amusing.

Looking toward the pond as I left the turkeys, I spotted momma snowshoe hare eating clover beside the clump of trees where the kits were. I didn’t harm the when I held them last week and said a little thanks for that.

Finding Peace in the High Tunnel

gourds, vertical growing, high tunnel, peace of mind
finding peace, peace of mind, small warted gourd
finding peace, tomato, vertical growing, high tunnelIt was still chilly in the high tunnel. I opened the door to let the breeze in, nature’s way of pollinating tomato plants while the pollinators are still too cool to move early in the morning. The gourds, cucumbers and tomatoes needed to be pruned and attached to the twine. Snipping the vines, weaving some of them into the twine, and watching a baby garter snake help me put my life into perspective. I took the scenic route back to the house to make a mental note of what I wanted to pick for a fresh bouquet.

Finding peace of mind outdoors. You probably don't owe anyone an explanation when you walk away from the ugliness.Click To Tweet

Next week I’ll be at a silent writing retreat, out of reach of a signal and away from the ugliness of the world. I’ll spend the week with wonderful, creative women as we hone our craft together. I’m looking forward to finding peace of mind outdoors with them.

Friday Afternoon

Friday Afternoon

Friday Afternoon

friday afternoon, radish, cherry belleIt’s Friday afternoon after a busy week. This morning I was up and out early, weeding and watering, transplanting onions that needed to be thinned, pulling carrots and radishes that are ready to be eaten, clipping tomato and gourd vines to twine, and glancing out the door of the high tunnel now and then to make sure Zoey Monster was still waiting patiently for me. She ran off a while ago, was gone for four hours, and scared herself so bad she hasn’t done it again. There’s a water bowl in the high tunnel so the dogs can get a drink but it’s too warm in there for either of them to want to stay long this time of year.

Sweetie and her three 11 day old Silkie chicks are in a pen in the high tunnel. This is the last night they’ll stay there. They’re by the edge of the tunnel with a constant breeze blowing in on them to keep them cool, but tomorrow the temps start to resemble summer by climbing into the 80’s. By day’s end, as long as everything works out, there will be eight poults (baby turkeys) peeping in the house. The meat chickens will be here in late July. The pig is being raised by Wayne and Joe. We have more than enough eggs between the ducks and chickens, and ducks to send to freezer camp. I’m going to shoot a bear in September and a deer with my bow in October,. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

Unrest in the World

You’ve seen the news about Britain leaving the EU, right? It affects the entire world. I’m grateful to live the way we do, where we do. We can take care of ourselves, something a lot of people can’t do these days. That’s a scary thought.

Ooops  Steve’s home already. Gotta run. I have more to ramble on about but I’ll save it for another day.

Boston – Five Things I Enjoyed

Boston – Five Things I Enjoyed

Boston – Five On Friday

I haven’t been home for the Friday fun in a few weeks. Last week I was on my way to Boston to spend the weekend with Kristin and Matt. It was a much-too-short trip. We spent hours on Kristin’s screened in porch, knitting and talking. I hated to leave and can’t wait to go back. I’d be happy to stay right there in the porch, drink coffee and visit, have lunch and supper delivered, and stay longer.

Here’s a little of what we did Saturday.

Kayaking on Charles River

Charles River, Kayaking, Boston
kayak, rental, Charles River, Boston
Boston Public Market

I love Boston Public Market. The booths are owned by real farmers working real farms. You can buy eggs (Duck eggs are $1 each), cheese, cured meats, mushrooms, vegetables and fruits, artisan crafts and prepared foods. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something…like chocolate from Taza. I passed up a hot cocoa drink and now I regret that decision, and I’ve been thinking about it all week. Maybe I should order from Taza’s website. Kristin’s drink was delicious.

It was after lunch time when we got to the market and we were hungry. I had Fancy Mac ‘n Cheese, good but not as good as I expected. Kristin had a cheesy baked potato that was okay but dripping with oil. It’s funny how fussy a person can get after cooking with the best fresh ingredients for so long, right?
Taza chocolate, Boston Public Market, Five on Friday
Chestnut Farm Eggs, five on friday, Boston Public MarketWe came home from our day in Boston (Kristin lives outside Boston) to change clothes, then we walked to an Irish pub to have supper. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too windy, and cool in the evening so it was great sleeping weather after a busy day.

Next Week

Lemon Balm Sugar Cookies – good enough to share the recipe!
Lemon Balm Shortbread CookiesYou can join in by following these links!

week of wildlife, five on friday

Free Bald Eagle Photo as a thank you

Free Bald Eagle Photo as a thank you

Free Bald Eagle Photo

Here you go. Do as you please. You’re welcome to edit this free bald eagle photo to suit your needs. I cropped it for Instagram. The photo is full sized so it’s almost 7M. With a little editing (or not, your choice) it’s suitable for print. If you use the photo online please link back to A Life In The Wild. It’s http://alifeinthewild.com. You don’t have to use my name on the photo, only the link if you use it online.

I spotted the eagle while we were scouting for wild turkeys this morning. It sat on the edge of the clearing at the power line. We saw two bald eagles, a deer, only seven turkeys, and waterfowl. More eagles than deer. Imagine that. It’s sometimes hard for me to remember how many people have never seen a bald eagle. I don’t take it for granted in any way but they’re so common here now that we see them all the time. There are a mated pair and an immature here almost daily. Maine had a minimum of 630 nesting pairs in 2013. For comparison, there were 20 known nesting pairs in 1978. They’re thought to be killing a significant number of common loons in Maine.

If you see other photos you’d like to use as the blog grows please feel free to ask. The worst I can say is no, and most likely I’ll say yes. I appreciate you asking. Photos found on the internet are not “public domain” and free to use unless you have permission. “Borrowing” is the word I saw used in a blog this week. It’s not borrowing, it’s stealing. Think of photos as someone’s car. If you take it without permission you’re stealing. That makes it simple to keep straight.

To save the photo: right click and choose “save image as.”

free picture, photo, bald eagle, free bald eagle photo
You’re welcome to download and do as you please with this photo BUT please link back to http://alifeinthewild.com.
Five on Friday – April 15

Five on Friday – April 15

Five on Friday – April 15

I’m joining in on Five On Friday – April 15 this week. I’m chosen five highlights or activities of my week. If you’d like to join in you can find the information at the Five on Friday link.

I’ve been working outside and in the high tunnel, wrote a freelance piece for 1800Gear, and working on this new blog. We’ll be working outside this weekend. I think black fly season will start early so we want to get as much done as possible before they’re unbearable. We plan on taking a little time out to do some fishing. There are a couple of small streams I’d like to explore this spring. It would be nice to have fresh brook trout for supper.

Monday was off to a beautiful start. If you click on the photo you’ll get to see more photos of the sunrise.
sunrise over thebarn, good morning sunrise
I made whole wheat sourdough bread, as usual. I tried a batch of sourdough rye but it was a disaster. I didn’t have the hydration right so it stuck to the Banneton. I haven’t figured out how to get the dough off the fiber yet.

whole wheat, sourdough

The deer are coming to the food plot earlier now. They’ve been here in late afternoon. I didn’t see them but there are photos on the game camera. It’s time for antlers to start growing so I’ll be looking closely at the pictures.

whitetail doe, white-tailed, deer, food plot

I’ve been watching the amount of damage a porcupine is causing to trees on Democrat Ridge. Some of the trees are gnawed but others have been girdled and will die. There are at least two dozens trees damaged.

porcupine, damage, tree, girdle trees

Last night on our way back from looking for a place to fly fish we saw this yearling white-tailed deer. Do you notice anything unusual? Look closely. It’s a piebald, also called roan. It has white fur where white fur doesn’t belong.

roan, white-tailed, deer, piebald, piebald deer

Good Morning Sunrise

Good Morning Sunrise

Good Morning Sunrise

Good morning sunrise! When the sky is tinged with red to the west you know the sun is doing beautiful things as it rises in the east. I went out with camera in hand, Ava and Zoey ready to chase squirrels, and watched the sun come up. It’s the last I’ll see of the sun today as we have a couple of days of rain in store. It’s 22* this morning but later in the week it’s going to warm up into the low 50*’s. I’m looking forward to transplanting tatsoi, chard and beet greens in the high tunnel. It will be warm in there, hot if I don’t leave the door open. I’ll have my hands in the soil today as I finish transplanting seedlings into six packs and sowing more seeds.

Steve is on his way this early morning to Boston with friends to see the Red Sox opening day game. This is a yearly trip for them. For me it’s a day I’m up early to see him off and have the rest of the day to do my own thing. He’ll be very late getting home and I’ll be sound asleep. I won’t be cooking or cleaning today, have already had the dogs out to run around, and have only two more outdoors chores before the rain starts. I need to let the ducks and chickens out, bring them water and gather eggs, and I need to bring in enough firewood to last through tomorrow morning.

I think I’ll thumb through magazines to look for flower garden ideas. I’m going to start a long-term landscaping project this year complete with trees, shrubs, annual and perennial flowers and herbs, amphibian habitat, and a garden gnome or two. I’ll be asking for your suggestions and help as I know almost nothing about this project of mine.

Enjoy your day! What are you doing today?