Troutbirder II

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

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Baron and Me

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap into a pickup truck in a single bound. Look! Over in the ditch racing me on my bike. It's Superdog!

Baron is almost two now and doing very well. Once I learned from the Vet that he had congenitally bad joints, I've kept him away from roughhousing with other dogs. The twisting and turning always left him limping. Now we do birding hikes, swimming and lately biking and running full speed straight ahead.... till Friday that is.

We were racing down Oak Hill, me on the bike on the road and him in the ditch, flat out sprinting. Then two rabbits appeard from the woods, ran across the road in front of me with Baron hot on their tail. The ensuing crash left me on the road wondering how I got there and dog and rabbit headed back into the woods. It was a few minutes before I was able to get up but being somewhat dizzy (a natural condition of mine according to Queen B) I had to sit down again. Baron was nowhere to be found and my expectation that he would do the Lassie or Rin Tin Tin thing by coming to check me out and then go for help was not met. Thinking that laying in the middle of a blacktop road very long was not a good idea I managed to limp back home pushing the twisted bike in front of me.
Upon my good spouses insistence (Queen B), I visited the local urgent care clinic. X-rays showed no permanent damage to go with the scratches, bruises and badly sprained shoulder. Of course, as the doctor checked out the head gashes, she took the opportunity to chew me out for not wearing a helmet.
Or as my Uncle Walter used to say "ve gets too soon alt, unt too late shmart" Amen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bean Bonanza

I really should have gone fishing this morning. Really. But something is holding me back. I AM LITERALLY BURIED UNDER A MOUNTAIN OF BEANS!!! How did this impasse come about. It's simple actually. It called "gardener stupidity syndrome." Let me explain.

It's due to my love of history actually. In the depths of winter I ordered a packet each of string and wax beans from my regular supplier (Burpees). Fine. Then a catalogue shows up from Seed Savers near Decorah Iowa.

HGTV explains "Heirloom gardening is becoming popular with new and seasoned gardeners alike. To be classified as antique or heirloom, a plant must come from a seed family that has been grown in a garden for at least 50 years. What makes heirloom gardening so special is that in most cases the seeds have been handed from generation to generation over the centuries.

One of the largest heirloom gardens in America is Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa. It is also home to the Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit seed saving program that is dedicated to passing heirlooms on to the next generation of gardeners."

The bottom line is that Seed Savers is about preserving biodiversity. Many of the thousands (over 18,000) preserved so far) of seed varieties come with a history. That's the hook that did me in. For instance, the Arikaras, the Mandans and the Hidatsas. All native Americans tribes associated with the epic journey of Lewis and Clark. The tibes grew beans and squash and corn and sunflowers. The seeds were handed down from generation to generation in the Dakotas. Being a major fan of Lewis and Clark I went crazy and ordered up numerous varieties, especially beans and squash.

Some examples: Arikara Watermelon . A small, pink-fleshed, and sweet melon. Descendant of small Spanish watermelons brought by traders from St. Louis in the late eighteenth century.
Hidatsa Beans . These are dark red and good for chili and salads
Omaha Pumpkin . It is very prolific and sweet. Dr. Melvin Gilmore originally collected this from the Omaha Tribe in the early twentieth century.
Arikara Squash . This large blue-green squash is the earliest winter squash; it will set fruit and out yield all others under drought conditions.
Mandan Squash . This is the earliest squash and was obtained by Oscar Will from the Mandan Indians. It is a small, round, striped summer squash that will ripen anywhere and is drought resistant.

I ended up, for example, with four additional packages of beans. Not exactly an intelligent way of planning ones gardening needs for the following summer. Thus today I'm picking tons of beans and furnishing the neighborhood. They smile, they nod and I regale them with stories of Lewis and Clark, depending upon the kindness and hospitality of the Mandan villagers through the harsh Dakota winter. Feasting upon beans and squash as it were.

They are very tasty I might add and I'm looking forward to their squash this fall.

Troutbirder - "the history gardener"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lilies On Parade

Since our move into the woods, lilies have replaced roses as the prima donna of my flower gardens. Here are a few on parade. Starting with one of my favorites wild "Turks Cap Lilies."

If I was better organized all the domestic varieties would be known by name. I'm not so when I talk to them its usually just to say, "how ya doing gorgeous!"

These gems make wonderful bouquets.

Lilies On Parade. I love them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008


In the depths of the Minnesota winter my boat and my dreams lie waiting for spring. This year I intended to take them both down to the Father of Waters several times a week. I will learn the Big River much better then and catch large walleyes each and every time...... Now in the midst of July she (boats are always shes) has been out but once and the prospects look rather slim for the next few weeks. Why does it always seems to work out this way?

Reality often intrudes upon our dreams and fantasies doesn't it? I can rationalize that this boating disconnect is caused by the price of gas, the distance and effort involved, health issues, the weather, family obligations, my spouse's busy schedule and on and on. There is truth in all of these and more but the bottom line is most days having gotten somewhat older, with a little less energy for such enterprises, I am content to potter in my garden, walk my dog binoculars in hand and take each day one hour at a time. Is this what they call "growing old gracefully?"

On the other hand its 5 a.m. and some of the best trout streams east of the Rockies lie only 15 minutes from my door. Perhaps I should....

Dreams. Sometimes a few minor adjustments are all
it takes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Bluebird Day

It's a term skiers use a lot. It means after snow storms and nasty weather in general the skies have cleared and perfect skiing conditions exist. Well after a cold wet spring the weather has been generally pleasant the last few weeks.... till late Monday afternoon. Then a storm front brought rain and heavy winds which knocked down trees all over town. Having just returned from Colorado late Sunday night I found the gardens buried in weeds. The rain and wind pretty much eliminated the prospect of weed removal till the skies finally cleared late afternoon on Tuesday. It was a "bluebird afternoon."

As the sun slowly settled in the West the yard took on a warm golden glow. Weeds began to fly as they pulled easily after the rains. The spinach and lettuce crops were at a peak. Surely the rain and cool spring had helped a lot. It was then that the singing of a male cardinal, high above the yard in a mighty oak tree, refocused my attention. The vibrant red in the mellow light seemed to radiate his joy. Another cardinal responded in the distance and I searched for this singer as well. It was then that I saw the bluebirds perched on the house that I had fixed along the property line next to the cornfield early last spring.

I think I was bored when I bought it. Being dragged along on the "hundred mile" garage sale in the small towns by the Mississippi is not my idea of how to spend a fruitful Saturday. It was mid-afternoon before I saw the table of newly minted birdhouses. I had always believed that putting up bluebird houses next to an atrazine drenched ethanol (I mean corn) field was a waste of time. Still it was such a neat and well constructed house and... well... I can be an impulse shopper. I bought it for the bargain basement price of $15.
Now I know seeing a bluebird is not that big of a deal anymore. Earlier in the spring I had counted more than fifty as I parked on a gravel road next to the Goethite Wildlife Mangagement area. But having
a pair nesting on my property was something else . The male sat perched on the top
The he entered the house and the female appeared. Over the next ten minutes
I saw the take turns apparently bringing insects to their little brood. Of course, I
didn't have anything but my garden hoe in hand. Today I'll try to get some pictures.
A "bluebird day" full of bluebirds. What a day!