Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pioneer Skills

There was a time long ago and far away when I learned how to garden as a new homeowner in the country.  I nurtured the soil and tended all the vegetables with care and √©lan. Mrs. T. canned and froze them to more than provide for a family of four.  Forty five years later, still  enjoying my wildflower gardens I retired from vegetables. And yet thanks to the great generosity of our friends and neighbors Dick and Sharon and John and Joanne , we have more sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, peas and egg plants than ever.  Here is what a typical preserving for winter, sweet corn operation,  looks like as photographed by Mrs. T. and described in her own words..... 

Here's the recipe:

 

Get up early and husk numerous bags of sweet corn.

Blanche the corn on the cob for seven minutes.

Place cobs in ice-cold water for two minutes.
 

Order your spouse to get the board with the nail sticking thru.

Put an electric knife in his hands, reminding him not to cut his finger off.
 

Ignore his whining and complaining that he is "retired."

Tell him he is not done until he places all the corn in Ziploc bags and puts all 50 pint bags in the freezer.

Oh the poor man and kitty are taking their afternoon nap. They must be exhausted from all the hard work!
 

 

 
 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Do Eagles Do For Fun?

One of our favorite things to do is look for Eagles.  From their near total demise in the lower forty-eight to their present removal from the "Endangered Species List" their story is quite remarkable. For the first time in history eagles have spread inland in southern Minnesota away from the Mississippi. We see them year round in Fillmore County.  As a matter of fact, a pair have nested successfully less than a half a mile from our home! We've even seen them on the ground feeding on a deer carcass in the field adjacent to our backyard.
 
 

One of our favorite places to visit is the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota. This wonderful place has several rehabilitated Bald and Golden Eagles.  Unable to fly, they are ambassadors for there species.  Mrs. T and I have meet them up close and personal several times, especially during their favorite enrichment activities. I'll let the Eagle Center explain:


"Our eagles enjoy a variety of enrichment activities specifically designed to ensure they are healthy both mentally and physically. For example,  their is  Beach Day enrichment - when the eagles go down to the river for access to the Mighty Mississippi River - just like their wild cousins!  Beach Day engages all the birds' senses. It's auditory, visual, tactile, and sometimes dietary, if they are lucky enough to catch a fish! It's an ideal enrichment activity."
 
Harriet and Angel enjoying a day at the beach!
Several times when we were in the park along the river watching our eagle friends exercise, some wild eagle cousins from the Wisconsin flew over and landed in a nearby cottonwood tree. There was some calling/squawking back and forth.....  It was both beautiful and heart rending at the same time as we wished our friend Angel could fly once again.  Here she is greeting the Troutbirders. What a magnificent creature.
 
 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Max The Wonder Dog

He was our first dog.  We got him that first summer after we got married. Like all "firsts" he has kept a special place in our hearts.  He trained us rather than the other way around as we had never owned a dog before.  I do have a million stories about him but lets just say I'm sure Marley of book and movie fame had to be modeled after Max. They were kindred spirits.  He was a mutt.  Half Golden Retriever and half German Shorthaired Pointer and all hunter. Today he would be an expensive "designer dog."  He could flush, point, retrieve and win your heart over.
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Joy and Disaster on the Bike Trail



Mrs. T (Barb) and I went for a hike today on a state bike trail to look for the culprit.  We found it and therein lay the tale.  I’d better go back to the beginning. About a month ago, let’s say mid-July, I took off alone, camera in my pocket and binoculars around my neck for a bike ride.  It had been cold, wet and miserable for weeks but on this particular day the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the prairie was covered with wildflowers in all directions. In a word… it was glorious. Take a look,  all in the way of explaining my euphoric mood on that particular day.
 
 
 
 

I had biked about 15 miles so far that day and was heading back to the little town of LeRoy where my truck was parked.  There was, perhaps, another four or five to go when I was so enthralled I think I literally forgot I was on a bike.  That’s when the culprit we found today jumped up and got me.   It was a small crease and crack in the asphalt trail. To a biker who was paying attention it wouldn’t have bothered at all.  To me,  who wasn’t paying attention and daydreaming,  it found me losing control and pitching over.  I managed enough to fall off the asphalt trail and into the tall Big Blue Stemgrass, which I hoped would provide a slightly softer landing.  It all happened so quickly. What took maybe ten minutes was my effort to get up.  Two jammed shoulders and some very painful ribs didn’t help a bit. Finally able to get up with both legs functioning I made it back to town.

After a visit to the clinic where x-rays showed nothing broken, time and a little therapy got the sore shoulder, ribs and stiff neck working again….. Except that wasn’t the worst of it.  One doctor a week later determined I had landed in a bed something which caused lots of itching.  As that apparent problem mushroomed into welts, bumps, a spreading rash, according to another doctor it was all due to chiggers or some unknown mites requiring antibiotics and some high powered salve.  It’s now been a month since this all started. Today with our walk we have officially declared “light at the end of the tunnel day.”   With that I informed Mrs. T. I would no longer whine, complain nor surreptitiously scratch anything.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Husband Store


 
 A STORE THAT SELLS NEW HUSBANDS HAS OPENED IN NEW YORK CITY, WHERE A WOMAN MAY GO TO CHOOSE A HUSBAND.

AMONG THE INSTRUCTIONS AT THE ENTRANCE IS A DESCRIPTION OF HOW THE STORE OPERATES.

"YOU MAY VISIT THIS STORE ONLY ONCE!

THERE ARE SIX FLOORS AND THE VALUE OF THE PRODUCTS INCREASE AS THE SHOPPER ASCENDS THE FLIGHTS.

THE SHOPPER MAY CHOOSE ANY ITEM FROM A PARTICULAR FLOOR, OR MAY CHOOSE TO GO UP TO THE NEXT FLOOR, BUT YOU CANNOT GO BACK DOWN EXCEPT TO EXIT THE BUILDING!

SO, A WOMAN GOES TO THE HUSBAND STORE TO FIND A HUSBAND.

ON THE FIRST FLOOR THE SIGN ON THE DOOR READS:

FLOOR 1 - THESE MEN HAVE JOBS

SHE IS INTRIGUED, BUT CONTINUES TO THE SECOND FLOOR, WHERE THE SIGN READS:

FLOOR 2 - THESE MEN HAVE JOBS AND LOVE KIDS.

THATS NICE, SHE THINKS, BUT I WANT MORE.

SO SHE CONTINUES UPWARD.

THE THIRD FLOOR SIGN READS:

FLOOR 3 - THESE MEN HAVE JOBS, LOVE KIDS, AND ARE EXTREMELY GOOD LOOKING.

WOW, SHE THINKS, BUT FEELS COMPELLED TO KEEP GOING.

SHE GOES TO THE FOURTH FLOOR AND THE SIGN READS:

FLOOR 4 - THESE MEN HAVE JOBS, LOVE KIDS, ARE DROP-DEAD GOOD LOOKING AND HELP WITH HOUSEWORK.

OH, MERCY ME! SHE EXCLAIMS,

I CAN HARDLY STAND IT!

STILL, SHE GOES TO THE FIFTH FLOOR AND THE SIGN READS:

FLOOR 5 - THESE MEN HAVE JOBS, LOVE KIDS, ARE DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS, HELP WITH HOUSEWORK, AND HAVE A STRONG ROMANTIC STREAK.

SHE IS SO TEMPTED TO STAY, BUT SHE GOES TO THE SIXTH FLOOR, WHERE THE SIGN READS:

FLOOR 6 - YOU ARE VISITOR #31,456,012 TO THIS FLOOR. THERE ARE NO MEN ON THIS FLOOR.

THIS FLOOR EXISTS SOLELY AS PROOF THAT WOMEN ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE. THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING AT THE HUSBAND STORE.

PLEASE NOTE:

TO AVOID GENDER BIAS CHARGES, THE STORES OWNER OPENED A NEW WIVES STORE JUST ACROSS THE STREET.

THE FIRST FLOOR HAS WIVES THAT LOVE SEX.

THE SECOND FLOOR HAS WIVES THAT LOVE SEX, HAVE THEIR OWN MONEY AND LIKE BEER .

THE THIRD, FOURTH, FIFTH AND SIXTH FLOORS HAVE NEVER BEEN VISITED.

 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Honeymoon West

We were married in the spring of 1967 the Saturday after summer vacation began from our high school teaching jobs.  Two days later summer session began at the University of Minnesota where I was pursuing my Masters Degree. When first session ended in mid July we headed west for a five weeks camping trip to Yellowstone, Glacier, and the Canadian Rockies.  Having recently converted some of our old Ectachrome slides to digital lets take a slightly faded look....



Here in Glacier National Park there were still hundreds of glaciers.  Sadly most are gone now.
 
Naturally,  I liked to take photographs  of my beautiful bride.  It was, after all, our honeymoon .  Still,  the West was magnificent.  Full of beautiful  landscapes and lots of  the wild animals.




















"Bear jams", of course, are a thing of the past.
New policies on garbage collection eventually made it safer for both bears and tourist.

Back then, though the interaction between people and wildlife was often quite close as this young grizzly bear showed when he approached our car.  As this pictures shows when the new Mrs. T snapped a picture, screamed and then threw herself into my arms for protection. Yah sure. Or as she said recently seeing this picture for the first time in forty some years,  "in your dreams Troutbirder...."
Along the Columbia Parkway and the Bow River in Alberta, Canada

We did a trail ride on horseback up to Cameron Falls in Waterton Lakes  Provincial Park across the international border from Glacier.
 

Ah! To be that young and full of promise.  We've had a good ride though.....

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Eye Test For Nature Lovers

SEE if you can find all of the various wildlife
in their environment, BEFORE you read where and what
it is.
Quite clever...........


http://tinyurl.com/ct2zzf5

So how did you do?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Shooting Star Trail (Part 2)


Once the Shooting Star trail leaves the Lake Louise State Park it continues to follow a former railroad bed across the prairie.  While corn and soybean field are abundant the right of way preserve in some respects the ancient prairie and its wildflowers.  Lets take a look at some more….
The namesake of the trail are the beautiful shooting stars. They come in colors but mostly white.
 
Easily recognizable because of the common garden varieties are the native prairie phlox.
Another vibrant flower along the trail are the beautiful pucoons.
Mrs. T wants me to make sure of the direction so we're not lost on the trail.  Therefore,   I stop and check a tall plant whose leaves
orient north and south - it's known on the prairie as a compass plant.

All in all we have had great ride traveling and photographing ten miles to the end of the trail. Then it was turn around and head back to our truck not stopping along the way. With a parting view though you can see that there are places were on could spend hours photographing  the myriad summertime flowers of the Shooting Star Trail. Next time we'll take a look at the Root River Trail.

 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shooting Star Trail




With the loss this summer of my friend and faithful hiking companion Baron, I was forced to turn to biking for my needed regular dose of physical exercise.  Fortunately there are a number of scenic bike trails in the immediate area.  Thus it was some weeks ago that I traveled to LeRoy Minnesota and the start of the Shooting Star bike trail.  The trail winds its way west through beautiful Lake Louise State Park and then further on across corn and soybean land just north of the Iowa border.  With Barb (Mrs. T) joining us,  hop on board and we’ll take a look…..
Along the way we see an unusual number of that quintessential prairie bird the dickcissel. From the front they look like a miniature meadow larks...
By mid July the prairie wild flowers in Lake Louise State Park are spectacular.
The Pale Coneflowers seem more vibrant than pale.
The Prairie Lilies certainly aren't shy. They stand out from quite a distance as you approach.
Some more Pale Coneflowers this time joined by a strangely named plant called the Rattlesnake Master. It's the tall one in front....
A whole lot of Rattlesnakes?
Along this bike trail if your "in the clover" your looking at our native Purple Prairie Clover.
Or it's close relative the White Prairie Clover.
Even the  
Swamp Milkweed takes on a new luster in this setting. I can certainly see why the monarch butterflies like them.
And speaking of butterflies here is Butterfly Weed.  They practically glowed as we saw them scattered along the trailside. We're about halfway down the trail.  About five miles more to go. I'll be back in a few more days with "the rest of the story."