Troutbirder II

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Mountain Story

A good vacation book to read. Check out the details on Troutbirder II reviews by clicking on Mark Twain and Troutbirders picture above.
Happy Holidays everyone....:)

Friday, December 18, 2015

End The Gun Epidemic in America

When I established Troutbirder blog many years ago, I vowed to keep it upbeat and noncontentious by avoiding political and religious "debates." Talk radio kind of "discussion" usually makes me sick. So it was with some foreboding, when I read several of my favorite nonpolitical  blogs recently to find that they had  broken that same self imposed line. And then I was shamed.  Midlife Roadtrippers recent post on guns comes to mind. Here is a link to her post.
Her words touched me to the core yet I knew my own outrage over these never ending  murders would leave me inarticulate at best and sounding like the wingnuts who swarm the media and the moneyed interests in Congress.

From  The New York Times whose motto remains "All The News That Fit To Print."

"It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.

Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.
But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.

It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.
Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

What better time than during a presidential election to show, at long last, that our nation has retained its sense of decency?"
Yes, I hunted for sixty years waterfowl and upland game. I like a challenge and took  up bow hunting for deer for a few years. The deer won that one. My sons followed in my footsteps and we had a great time. It was a bad knee and falling that finally ended it for me.

 Let's begin with something simple and common sense. Military style assault rifles  should only be in the hands of our military forces.




Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How The Pelicans Saved My ..........

Muffy, Yes "Muffy" the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Muffy it was. It seems when I brought her home as a puppy home some years ago, I had to go someplace for a few days. When I came back she was already named by my sons and spouse. When I pointed out it might be a little embarrasing calling back "Muffy" in front of  my hunting buddies, the reply was "but we always wanted a kitty." A few years later she  and I were fishing a small bay on Lake Pepin. Lake Pepin is a huge widening of the Mississipi River, caused by the silt laden waters of the Chipewwa River. Huge sandbars, deposited by that river in the Mississippi, keep the Army Corps of Engineers busy maintaining an opening for the 12 ft. river channel. The bluegill fishing was good that day. Real good. So good, in fact, that I forgot the time and my promise to Mrs. Troutbirder to be home by 7 P.M. When I realized that I was running late, Muff and I scooted out into the main part of the lake and headed south to the landing at Lake City. I mention incidentally that we had seen a few eagles, some pelicans and lots of seagulls that afternoon. Pelicans always have fascinated me. They are somewhat awkward looking except for their majestic soaring habit. Hardworking, blue collar types, actually busy seining the waterways for fish. Yup, they are definately cool.
I've seen them play follow the leader floating by as well.

I was tearing down the lake at full speed. On the main channel one must keep at lookout for the river buoys. The river is full of sandbars, deadheads and rocky wingdams, all designed to tear open the bottom of a boat or wreck a lower unit. Stay within the marker buoys to be safe is the rule. With the lake widening to a mile in places that didn't seem to be an issue that day.
It was then that I spotted a bunch of pelicans and seagulls floating calmly in the waves. I whipped out my handy little digital, to get a group picture floating and flying, as I rushed towards them.......

It was then that I realized THEY WERN'T FLOATING - THE WERE STANDING!!!
I managed to kill the motor just in time... coasting to a less than elegant stop. Muff gave me that "what the heck was that all about look" and the birds still seemed quite unconcerned. Whew!!

No doubt about it a bunch of resting white pelicans saved my you know what that day!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Animals I have known....

Yes, I love wild animals, zoo animals and several varieties of  domestic pets. Naturally, they have been the focus of my little point and shoot camera over the years. Take a look at a few...
Nope, I didn't go swimming.
When I caught him looking at me out of the corner of his eye... I'm outta here!
Black Hills Moochers
Mrs. T. & Tiger
A highway rescue. And  you have pick up a snapper very carefully by the tail. :)
Angel the Bald Eagle - she is my "special  angel."
Bull elk keeping an eye on his harem at Mammoth Hot Springs Y.N.P.
Mom and baby porcupine cut right in front of me on our local bike trail.....
Our next door neighbors the goat family.
Working on the mosquito population in our back yard.
Sleepy screech owl is hard to spot.
In Colorado visiting our grandchildren we spot some sheep.

Baron and I spot a wild something in a nearby woods. Maybe a coyote.
An early morning coyote stalking jack rabbits outside our place on the golf course in Mesa, Arizona.

Miss Lily the GSD chases a raccoon family up a tree in our woods.
Colorado sanctuary for retired and rescued large felines. Wait a minute. That's a rather flimsy looking fence......?




Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lone Wolf

Click on Mark Twain picture above and jump to the book review....:)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Black Earth The Holocaust As History And Warning

A new book review on Troutbirder II. Click on the picture of himself and Mark Twain above.....

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I Heard A Barred Owl Last Night

I tottered off to bed last night with a cold. Darkness settled all around me till I heard the soft call of a Barred Owl around ten o'clock. "For sounds in winter nights, and often in winter days, I heard the forlorn but melodious note of a hooting owl indefinitely far; such a sound as the frozen earth would yield if struck with a suitable plectrum, the very lingua vernacula of Walden Wood, and quite familiar to me at last, though I never saw the bird while it was making it." Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist When I reawoke this morning I remembered that call and wondered what the message had been. Looking out the window into the backyard I knew. Friend owl had been announcing the coming of winter overnight.

Each season has its own rhythms. For me winter is the time of repose. I set aside the energies of the outdoor life and enjoy nature from a warmer view. My reading chair, a warm blanket, and a stack of books waiting their turn.

Of course their are some outdoor duties. The sidewalk has to be shoveled, the driveway plowed and Miss Lily taken for her walk.

Thoughts of gardening, birding, fishing, photography, hiking and camping will lay dormant till cabin fever sets in, usually about January 1st!
It's 9.00 a.m. and the road is plowed already. People have to get to work. Not me though.
I trudge back into the house to look for my reading glasses. There is something to be said for being retired. The driveway can wait.

Seriously Lily. You don't want to go outside until I shovel the sidewalk?
Once again, Mrs. T. to the rescue....:)

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Last of the Presidents Men

Click on Mark Twain above to book review on Troutbirder II

Monday, November 16, 2015

Oak Wilt

When we bought our first home in Bluff Country it was located in a large woods about a mile out of town.  Our home built adjacent to a major State highway had a gravel road entering the woods behind us. There were just a couple of homes on that gravel road. It was called Oak Hill and our little three acre plot had dozens of those magnificent trees. They were mostly white oak with some Burr and a few Reds mixed in. Now, fifty some years later there are about 40 homes in the woods and far fewer oak trees. Something call oak wilt has been taking its toll in recent years. It has proven very difficult to stop....
Oak wilt is a fungal disease that can quickly kill an oak tree.  Symtoms vary by tree species but generally consist of leaf discoloration, wilt, defoliation and death. The fungus is spread from diseased to healthy trees by insect vectors or via connections between tree roots. Management of the disease consists mainly of preventing infection by avoiding tree wounds and removing diseased trees. Chemical and roots cutting methods are marginally effective in most cases. Oak wilt is an important disease of oak for timber production and of oak trees in urban areas.

With my trusty chainsaw I have removed several dead oaks over the years, but this year saw six large ones succumb to the disease. It was a removal job beyond my capacity this fall due to the size of the trees and my mid August shoulder surgery. The professionals had to be called in. Take a look at an unhappy day in my backyard several weeks ago.....:(


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Harvest Time

We live in rural southeastern Minnesota surrounded by corn, soybeans and friendly people. Both Mrs. T an I taught in the local high school when the majority of our students grew up on family farms. Today the farms are bigger, fewer and farther between. Smaller families and fewer farms mean declining school enrollment and hard times for small towns beyond easy driving distance to growing regional centers like Rochester with Mayo Clinic and IBM. Now retired we still follow the rhythms of the farming way of life among our neighbors and friends.  Spring  planting came early in 2015 with just the right amount of rain.  Summer followed the same pattern and with an early harvest the
reports are of record crops and yields. Its not always that way though and bad years are also known.
Take  2009 for example. It was  harvest time and me and my camera were invited to ride along with our  friend and neighbor. Except it rained and it rained  and the sun never appeared. Dick was smiling but it was kind of forced. The soybeans were waiting week after week and if they couldn’t be picked soon all kinds of problems would ensue. When the moisture content is too high the elevators won’t accept the crop. The beans will begin to fall off the plants or mold will set in. Drying is not a good option because of not only the great expense but the beans will shatter reducing their value. Then it began to snow, compounding the whole situation. Even for Minnesota, this is not normal weather for October. As the month turned to November, our most unpredictable weather time, it slowly improved.
Corn harvest should be beginning and all the local farmers were working furiously to catch up. The first fields being picked showed corn moisture at 35%. Fifteen or lower is the standard or drying is required. The price for propane is higher than ever and now shortages are being reported in Bluff Country and south into Iowa.. Farmers must stop the corn harvest with their hopper bins full until propane can be obtained.

It’s a beautiful November day when the phone rings and I hurry over to join Dick for the afternoon aboard the big combine. I never cease to be amazed at all the complicated technology. Satellites guide the machine, and screen and dials show vital information. Sometimes riding high above the field, looking out the vast windshield I can’t help but feeling that I’m riding along with Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.This whole operation can be somewhat mesmerizing. Fortunately, other than taking an occasional picture, I don't have to keep particularly alert. The words about "spacious skies and amber waves of grain" keep running through my mind. Well, this grain is golden and its helps to feed and fuel the world.

Sometime later Dick has a combination frown & puzzled look. "Do you hear something", he asks. "Lots of noise," is the best I can come up with. He shuts down the machine and climbs out. I follow. Its turns out that one belt among many has twisted and is in danger of coming off the pulley. Its not a big deal yet but needs to be realigned before something worse happens. I twist and hold it, while Dick goes to the other side and slowly turns the pulley with a large bar. "Watch you fingers," I’m warned. Farming is still one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. All is well and we’re back in the cab. There is some good news. The screens are showing what Dick says are "the highest yields ever." I’m surprised because much of the spring and early summer had been unseasonably cold. Everyone is surprised apparently. That’s farming though. Bigger, more efficient, higher costs, unpredictable markets and risk. "Kind of like Los Vegas," I ventured. Dick smiled, with a kind of wistful look, and shook his head only once. He didn’t say anything but I could almost hear him thinking..."damn right."
It's evening now and time for me to go. Great grandpa Bob is also calling it a day. He is "retired" now and at eighty-five only works the day shift. Sharon will be bringing supper out to the guys. They will continue the work on into the night. Probably not all night. though.. maybe ten or midnight. Then again tomorrow. First chores, then back to the fields for the harvest. So it goes here in the Corn Belt. Just another day on the the family farm.