Troutbirder II

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

Friday, October 31, 2008


At Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865. Halfway through Act III, Scene 2, the character Asa Trenchard (the title role), played that night by Harry Hawk, utters a line considered one of the play's funniest:
"Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal—you sockdologizing old man-trap..." Fortunately, beautiful Mantrap lake in Northern Minnesota has no connection to the sad event that happened in Fords theatre that day. Instead, the name derives from the fact that a boater may be easily trapped (lost) in the myriad channels and bays of this large lake. I have been fishing there each fall since I retired. The first few years I went tenting, with my buddy Muffy, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Then more recently in the camper with Mrs. Troutbirder and our good friends Gary and Rosie. A nearby German restaurant is an evening treat.

The campground has forty very nice wooded campsights (no electricity though), and two concrete ramps. It was first recommended to me by son Tony, who had worked at the Boy Scout camp at nearby Battle Axe lake.

The ladies, not always interested in the fishing end of things, seemed to enjoy just "cruising" the lake.

Every twist and turn in the lake brought a new and beautiful vista.

I must say the fishing was great from the beginning. The lake is noted for huge muskies and northern pike.

This past year the fishing wasn't as great as usual. That's why the old saw goes "they call it fishing not catching."
Still you can tell from a certain smile that Troutbirder had a great time anyway.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Flower Garden Terrorists

Relax folks. This is not a rant trying to scare you into voting for any particular candidate. It's more in the vein of frustration over a pest I've fought a losing battle against for a number of years now. The HATED Northern Corn Rootworm beetle. This is their story.

I've pretty much given up on flowers that require a lot of sun or bloom in late summer. The first reason is that the yard surrounding our new house has a lot of oak trees. The second reason is that the El Qaida of the cornfields emerges in late August to do its dirty work on my flower gardens. I do, however, have a few sunny spots, such as the circle garden I planted with zinnias this year.
Northern Corn Rootworm beetle
Biology: In general, the female lays eggs in the soil which hatch into larvae. Corn fields are especially preferred. All the larvae feed on roots and other organic materials in the soil. Eventually, the larvae pupate, emerge as adults and begin eating the corn silks. Northern corn rootworm adults also feed on reproductive tissues of the corn plant, but rarely feed on corn leaves. Northern corn rootworm adults are more likely than western corn rootworm adults to abandon corn and seek pollen or flowers of other plants as corn matures (Wright).
In plain language, from the corn field they can migrate into your garden and begin looking for other victims. The Beetle just likes to nestle in your blooms chomping away at the petals!
Control: Atrazine and a variety of other chemicals is used to control the pest in the fields. However, a narrow band is sprayed, which protects the roots but leaves much of the soil available for rootworm reproduction. For the nearby gardener this means a future horde will be ready, willing and able to attack in late summer and early fall.

I know a picture is worth a thousand words but the one I took of my zinnia patch last week is just too ugly to foist on anyone. The flowers were utterly destroyed and even the buds of newly emerging flowers are under attack. In years long past, I tried to counter-attack with chemicals. Even on a daily basis that proved largely ineffective. Today, I am of the opinion that there are just too many chemicals (especially for agricultural purposes) in our environment anyway. That's a subject for another time though.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Hills Are Alive....

with the sound of "leaf peepers", their tour buses and clicking cameras. We joined them. A highlight of our trip to New England was a two night stay at the Von Trapp Family Lodge in beautiful Stowe Vermont. Come on along we'll take a walk.

It's very early in the morning and many tours are in the works for today including Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory and the Old Cider Mill in Stowe. I look out the window of our room and decide to take a hike up one of the many trails behind the lodge.

It's very quiet as I take a last look over the valley and slip outside.

The lawn is wet as I find the path to the trails. There are signs and many choices. "Chapel Trail" sounds intriguing so I follow it uphill.

It seems very quiet at first. Just me and a nature at its best.

Then I hear an owl and see small birds flitting among the bushes and conifers. Without my binoculars, which I left back in Minnesota, I am helpless to identify anything. I find a bench, sit down and enjoy the sights and sounds.

Hiking further up the trail I come to a small rock chapel. There was a bolt on the door. I slid it open and looked inside

Arriving back at our room I step out onto the balcony for one last look over the valley before our bus arrives for the days's outing.