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.....

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Collecting Mullein Leaves...and hiking

I ventured out over the past weekend for a few hours. It was a nice winter day, with temps in the 20s, so not bad to be out and about. I chose an area that I normally do not go to that often. It is just across the river from where I was on New Years day, but to get there adds about 8 miles or more to my trip; with the exception of last summer when it was so dry that I was able to cross the river easily in many places.

Getting to the area; I had to drive through a wooded area and up a hill that was quite snow packed and slick, with the rear end of my car doing a bit of fancy movement before I got to the top. That hill was on my mind the whole time I was hiking, but coming home, I took it very slowly going down it with no problem

I cut through a campground that is designated as a horse campground, for people that use the local horseback trails that are on the public land. I would normally avoid that, as the people and their horses do not really appreciate the fun my dog has scaring the horses, but on this day the place was totally abandoned, so no problem with that.

As I walked through the woods, I detected the odor of decaying flesh. I moved back and forth, worked my way upwind, and located the carcass of a doe.

The river is running nicely, but was freezing over wherever the current was not moving fast enough. In the time since then, it has began warming up, so some of that ice will break up and disappear soon, if not already. Emma loves to go out and walk or run along on the ice. She made me nervous though venturing out on this ice, that was just downstream a short distance from faster moving water.

I would not walk along this tree trunk with the snow on it!

And as noted in the title, I did collect some Mullein leaves. I dry these and use them to make tea; for use when I have a cold, sore throat, or respiratory problems. I have read of people that smoke it or inhale the smoke vapor to treat the same conditions; and they say it is helpful. My personal opinion is that I see no benefit to myself of inhaling smoke when I have a respiratory problem.....but perhaps it does help some people.

Mullein is a very hardy plant, and as I did on this day, you can sometimes find plants with florets of green leaves even in the winter.

This is a typical dead Mullein plant with the trademark stalk full of seeds. The stalks are a very attractive yellow during the summer months, and we have some planted at home as landscaping.

Close up of the stalk.

Close up of the leaves on the dead plant. It did not occur to me at the time, but I could have gathered these
 leaves for use. I have done that with dead Goldenrod plants with good results.

Typical wintering plant.

Some of the leaves that I collected.

And just a picture of the dead flowers/seed head of a plant. It somewhat resembles Goldenrod, but I do not know it's identity.

It was a nice relaxing day. As always, it was nice to be out there, no one else around, with just the sound of the wind and flowing water. I headed back home, downloaded pictures, and spread my leaves to dry. They will soon be dry enough to make tea.

To do that, I normally will just put a leaf or two into a teapot, bring to boil, let simmer, then drink; sometimes adding sugar or honey. Too many leaves makes a very strong and bitter I have learned to start with one or two and add as needed.

Have a great day! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Day 2013

Yesterday I was able to continue a tradition I started several years ago; of starting the year by spending time out in the woods; prairie areas; and streams.

We have a bit of snow cover this year, probably just a couple of inches right now. Further west and also south of us, they got up to 12 inches of snow.

The temperature started in the low twenties yesterday and only rose to perhaps 26 degrees, before falling into the single digits by this morning.

I picked a location that is quite easy to get to, provides some nice views, the opportunity to hike through the woods, river bottom, and along the river.

I have taken quite a number of pictures from here, and will likely continue to do so. This high bluff above the Middlefork Vermilion River, showcases a nice view out over the river bottom and wooded areas beyond.

New; over about the last year, is a group of wind turbines in the distance. This picture is cropped and zoomed tighter to show them better.

Red Cedar tree and saplings in the snow.

The Oak leaves will hang on to the branches, sometimes until the new buds force them to drop in the spring.

After spending time atop the bluff, looking about and taking the above pictures; I began working my way carefully down the steep hill to the river bottom. The leaves laying on the ground, covered with snow, can sometime provide treacherous footing. I planted my walking stick carefully to stay on my feet.

At the bottom of the bluff and near the river is the remains of what was probably once a very nice cabin in a nice sheltered location. I often wonder at it's history, who built it, how long it was used, etc. It is perhaps 12 feet x 16 feet; not large, but would have been a nice manageable size. It appears that there had been a small fireplace built into one side of the brick wall.

A view of the bluff, from the river near the old cabin foundation.

The bare woods, especially with some snow cover added, has it's own unique beauty. You are able to see off through the woods, quite easily.

Of course Emma accompanied me. She spent lots of time roaming about, inspecting every hole and hollow tree or log....searching for that elusive raccoon or possum. I hope she never finds a skunk. Many years ago, I had a Black and Tan Coonhound that caught a skunk and it was not a pleasant experience. My parents would not let me back in the house when I got back that night, until I left my clothes outside!
Emma spent considerable time covering a lot of area. I did not know where she was most of the time, but she would eventually come snuffling along following my trail.

Passing through a corn field, the snow cover provided evidence of the activity that had taken place. There were lots of deer tracks, that I did not think to photograph and areas where they had dug up the snow to get to green plants under the snow cover.

An Opossum had also passed along, leaving it's very distinctive tracks.

There were also Turkey tracks. I wish that I had laid one of my gloves down to show how large they are.

I came across very large patches of Goldenrod in the river bottom. If you do some research, you will learn that this is an important medicinal plant. I presently have a nice supply of leaves that I collected about one month ago, just before they dropped from the stalks. I use them to make a tea, which I find very helpful when I have a cold. Please do your own research and learn about this remarkable plant.

This plant and several like it, were out in the open corn field. I do not know it's identity, but feel I should. Perhaps if I saw it in the growing season, I would know it.

The Middlefork River is not a very large stream. It is popular for canoeing and kayaking, but this past summer, we had quite a drought, and it was so low there was not much of that activity, unless you felt like walking and pulling your water craft. I have a kayak and enjoy spending time on this river.

This past summer, I was able to easily cross the river in spots such as this. It was very convenient and a nice opportunity to cross back and forth whenever I wanted, without wading; but I am happy to see the river back at a normal level.

This bend in the river holds a lot of memories for me. It has changed a lot over the last 25 years or so. It is fairly easy to get to from another parking location than I had used today. Our daughter used to go fishing with me here; and caught a catfish that won first place in a fishing contest in the Indian Guides and Indian Princess program that we were members of. Our son later came with me for quite a number of fishing expedition here and all up and down the river. We often waded. It is a great area for Smallmouth Bass.

This tree, whose roots can be seen in left hand side of the above picture, once stood just at the inside of the sharp bend. We often sat on the sandbar (no longer there) across the river and cast our lines into the deep water at it's base. It washes out several years ago as the river changed course and has been pushed up alongside the bank. Over the past summer, it provided a nice seat as I took a rest.

Also this past summer, I was very delighted to bring my 4 year old granddaughter to this location. We walked along the sandbar visible on the right hand side of the river; picked up rocks, looked at small aquatic life, and had a snack and water break....quite a fun day!

And thus concludes my somewhat disjointed, rambling, and out of order description of my New Year's Day; as well as my trip down memory lane.

Happy New Year to all readers!