Recognition should be given to all those who have gone before; family members, friends, and others that may have influenced me in their own quiet way.

Special recogition should go to my father Kenneth (Kenny to all who knew him) and my grandfathers Selby and Chester (Jake), both born in the 1890s. All of these gentlemen influenced me in their own way...with time fishing, hunting, trapping, or just time spent togeher.....

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wild Plants for Tea Update

Back in November of 2010, I had a post labeled Wild Plants for Tea. This is just a quick and brief follow-up to that. At that time I gathered numerous plants...all detailed in that post.

I made a comment that the plants should have been gathered earlier in the year. If my schedule had permitted, those plants would have been gathered earlier........and if so, I would not have the appreciation for Blackberry leaf tea that I now have.

I found that the Blackberry leaves developed a very pleasant smell as they were stored in a sealed tin container. The flavor of the tea, in my opinion, was better than herbal teas that I have purchased...and was free!

Late last summer, as I saw my supply dwindling away, I decided to go ahead and replenish my supply of Blackberry leaves. I picked a nice supply, dried them, and recently began using them when the older supply was gone. To my surprise, the flavor was not nearly as good; more bitter and not as pleasant.

The first supply that I picked were already beginning to drop from the vines and were turning red or brown. I now believe.....after learning quite by accident....that the best time to pick Blackberry leaves for tea is in the fall after several frosts when the leaves are ready to drop.

It is amazing what nature has to offer us for free isn't it?

If possible get out, explore, and learn.............until next time...............

Monday, February 13, 2012

February in the Woods

Well we have had an unusual winter so far; temperatures above normal (up to 60 degrees in January) and of course very little snow. The last few days we have had about normal temps, but predicted to go up again soon. While those temps make it easy on you when going out, I am concerned about the effects later this year. We need the good, long freezing temps in my opinion so that nature can go through the normal yearly cycle and that some insects and microbes can be contained at normal levels.

I have been out a few times the last few weeks. On one outing, I found some new plants beginning to emerge. Those may have been frozen out by now with recent temps.

One weekend, I ventured out in an early morning fog with temps probably around freezing. The fog gives a unique look to things.

I stopped for a while and watched the geese. A couple ventured close enough for good pictures.

I ventured on out into the woods and stopped above a large valley. I have been here numerous times at all seasons. It is one of my favorite spots just to sit, relax, and enjoy the view. With snow cover, it is beautiful. Early spring with new green growth is also impressive. Even now, with bare trees and brown leaves, it is a nice view with the stream below. This time with the fog gave it a look new for me...............and also for Emma.
As you can see there is a bit of green in the woods. Most of what you see is there even when we have our normal winter temps. The wild ferns seem to be pretty hardy and I have seen them green when covered with snow. Of course the moss is pretty tough also.

We ventured on down the hill to the stream. Emma always enjoys wading along in the water.

From the top of the hill, I had spotted several bright red objects across the stream. When I got over there, I found these growing in several places. Not sure what they are, probably some kind of mushroom of fungus that was fooled into thinking it was spring because of the warm weather we have had.

Emma and I continued our hike about another mile and came across this old cemetery in the woods.

I wonder about young Amanda; married to Mr. Giles McGee. She died at just 18 years old in 1848. What kind of life did she have? Did she have any children at that young age? What caused her death?

From here we hiked on back to the car..............and then over this past weekend we ventured out again with more normal the teens when I started out, but warmed up to the high twenties while we were out and about.

We headed to a different area, probably just about 3 miles from the last outing, but on the opposite side of the Middlefork River. We started following a small stream that was frozen over enought for Emma, but I did not feel it was probably strong enough to support me. This area was just behind an old beaver dam (visible in the top picture).

Emma could smell something interesting inside this hollow tree.

The only visible green was moss on old dead tree trunks.

We continued on until we came to the Middlefork River. I sat in the sun, just listening to the water and enjoying the view and feeling the cold wind. I took out a small thermos of hot blackberry leaf tea (made from leaves I gathered); poured some out and drank it along with some snacks. I called Emma over and shared the snacks with her.

Below me the river was flowing, just a bit above normal levels, with ice floating along.

I climbed up a steep embankment along the edge of the river to where I could enjoy one of the nicer views in our area.

..............and following are some pictures that were taken surprisingly just down the street from our house.

How many Turkey Vultures do you see? I count 13 in this picture. A large group of Turkey Vultures have moved into our neighborhood and stay in this tree. Double click this (and any of the pictures) for a larger view.

This immature Coopers Hawk stopped long enough on a tree across the street for me to get a nice picture. I had to research on the internet to identify it for sure. I thought it was a Coopers Hawk, but the brighter colors made me unsure. What I learned was that the immature hawks are more reddish in color and have the stripes on their chests. Quite an attractive bird in my opinion.

And with that.........I believe I will close this post. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoy it, and perhaps learn something.

Until next time..........see ya....

Friday, February 3, 2012

Farewell to a Hiking Companion

February 1, 2012; I said goodbye to one of my hiking buddies. Shiloh was close to turning 14 years old, and her time with us came to an end. She was not suffering, but gradually growing weaker, so we decided to just let her pass peacefully at home as long as she was not in pain. Even to the end, she would slowly go outside, look around and wag her tail.

Over those 14 years, we covered a lot of miles and had some great times. She had been showing her age for a while and began a rather fast decline over the last couple of weeks. I knew her time was short, so last Saturday decided to take her on what I was confident would be her last outing.

She was happy to be out again, but stayed close to me the whole time. I walked slow, waited for her, and stopped for lots of breaks.

Shiloh had quite a curiosity and it was very common for her to come over and investigate what I was looking at, when I found something that I thought would be interesting to photograph.........such as this old and very weathered log.

She loved to swim, but this time she just did not feel like it, but did take advantage of the river to get a drink.

We came across the remains of a deer carcass; quite well picked over by scavengers...probably coyotes. Shiloh nibbled a bit on it.....a little raw venison....

Standing among the scattered deer hair.

I stopped along the river bank in a nice sunny spot for a rest. Shiloh decided she would curl up and relax also. We stayed there for about 20 minutes before continueing on back to the car. Of course Emma was also along, and spent the time we were resting, roaming about and exploring.

By the river.

Earlier times............

 With Emma..

........and my favorite I have taken of her..........looking into the sunset a few years back...

........gone but not forgotten...........Shiloh............

Tomorrow, Emma and I will continue the tradition.............thanks for stopping by....