Saturday, December 16, 2017

Mr. Morris has a new clock



Mr. Morris decided that I needed to take a walk the other day. I wanted to check the mailbox on the ridge and any excuse to get out for a bit is a good excuse. Fresh air is good for you.
However we happened to pick one of those days that the winds were roaring overhead on the ridge.

I put on my fur fox hat and grabbed my camera bag [of course!]. Even though we'd had some very light snows, the overall color of the season right now is dull, drab, and dirty looking.


Dingy ~ Gloomy Drab Dark Dirty Shabby Squalid

This is the view down the private drive of the neighbor. Dull, dingy, dank, dark, and dirty looking. However to avoid the raging winds, I walked this way as the trees protected Morris and I from the biting cold.


Morris keeps having some pretty decent days. Most of his time is spent sleeping. He has a routine that he now keeps.
Up between 4AM and 5AM. Outside immediately. He wears a pet light so I can see him in the dark.
Breakfast must be served between 5 and 5:15 or he gets frantic.

One more outside visit and the couch is his for napping.

Between 2:30 and 3PM, it is time for activity. He walks around the house and grunts until I get dressed. He bounces around playfully and shoots out the door when I open it.

I have been keeping him on a leash since his last little adventure when he went home after about a 20 minute hike into the woods.
I brought the leash but let him off when we headed down the neighbor driveway. He was more of his old self. He'd trot ahead, then stop. Smell. And when I'd whistle he'd come on the run.


Since the view up the driveway seemed SO drab I thought it appropriate to edit it with some grunge textures. I used Topaz Studio to edit my files quickly and very easily. I actually didn't walk past the tree on the right as the winds whistled fiercely across the open area beyond.


I thought to myself that this was so ugly, it was almost beautiful in a way.

I watched Morris sniff around at the coyote tracks and the 'possum tracks. He trotted back and forth. I bent down to pet him and put him on his leash.

And this is what I got!


The little turd!

However to be honest, he does love to walk on leash out to pick up the kids at least once a week between 3 and 4PM. The route is the same as is the timing.
I can now count on this being a part of his routine. As soon as 3:30 hits, he will turn and head home.

I didn't mind this at all as I could see him trot up ahead. He went to the mailbox and made a turn down the hill. He sat on the porch and awaited my return patiently.

When I arrived, he calmly walked inside and stood next to his feed bowl.
He stared at me while I got undressed. As if he was trying to mind meld with me to let me know "food" was urgent.

Precisely at 5PM, Morris will stand in the kitchen and then walk to the couch. He goes back and forth. Eventually he makes a nest and settles in. If we walk into the living room to watch Netflix or something, he sighs deeply and gets off the couch.
He is adamant about laying between the two of us after we settle in.
I think he wants us to know that the couch/love-seat really belongs to him.

Morris still rules.
The Little Old Mr. Morris has a set of rules that must be followed by the rest of the members of 'his' family.




Friday, December 15, 2017

Sunrise, Frost, and Mules







Yesterday morning started out with a huge Wow!
I looked out the window when I could just see the animals. Stella had jumped through the electric fence again. It seems she gets crowded next the the bale feeder and jumps through. She manages to do this whenever I am not looking.

So I got dressed and went out to move her. I got her put back in where she belonged rather easily. This is becoming very routine for us.
I don't mind so much, she is such a nice heifer.

I glanced up at the sky and saw the sliver of the moon. The metal gates and the electric lines all had hoar frost on them.
So I grabbed my camera and decided to walk up to the ridge and see what the predawn light would reveal.
I didn't intend on staying on the ridge. I didn't intend on walking through the fields. But I did.
The sky was amazing.

The frost was amazing.

The colors were non stop and brilliant.


And I took a lot of photos. A lot....

I didn't bring a watch or my cell phone with me as I hadn't intended on staying. I was just going to look. Yeah, well that didn't work out did it?

I hurried home and was relieved to find out that Rich wasn't awake yet.

Before I went in the house I put the camera in a plastic bag and sealed it, then put it in a camera case. This allows the camera to warm up slowly so it doesn't get condensation on its sensitive electronics. The Olympus camera I have is supposed to be 'weather' resistant. However, I don't like to take chances.

My day went as most days now. I got phone calls from the VA for setting up appointments for Rich, started a venison roast in the crock pot and made out a grocery list. I studied the living room and figured out that I should probably move the couch into a place where we could do a small family portrait when the family comes.
I ran my errands to town and told Rich after making us some nice omelettes for our noon meal, that I intended to make some chocolate chip cookies.

Intended was the key word.

The day warmed up nicely from the 5 degrees that it had been at sunrise. I did the stock tanks and intended to go in the house to start those cookies.
I intended.
Really I sort of did.

But then I had a thought. I used to always ride an equine on Christmas and New Years. Back years ago I would ride with a couple of my 4H kids and their horses. We'd done some incredibly cold rides. I rode Badger when I moved to this farm but rarely would anyone go with me. I convinced my husband one year when it was fairly warm.
Yes, Morris came too!


And then there was the huge snowstorm and temperatures that dropped below zero.  I still rode Badger, however only for a very short while. My hands and feet got numb!

So I thought since Ariel and her family were coming to the farm after Christmas to celebrate with us it would be nice if she could do the honors of the Christmas ride with me.
It wouldn't The Christmas Ride.

But it would be the next best thing.

So I caught up Siera and we went for a bareback adventure up through the woods. I think we lost the good trail I used to have and ended up brush busting. I know that briers and thorny bushes untied my hiking boots.


When we reached the road, we rode out onto the field where I'd taken the sunrise photos.

Our shadow photo is downright awful looking! Looks like Siera is a 50 gallon drum!

She told me she did not like that photo what-so-ever. Nor did she like this one. I got off at the mailbox and collected our mail.
When I returned her to the pasture, Sunshine came up and nudged the halter.

Well if one mule ride is good, then why not a second one?

Bareback riding in the winter is the way to go. The heat of the mule keeps your legs nice and toasty.
The only drawback to that is that I tend to grip harder with my thigh muscles so the next day or so I have tender muscles.

I'd say that was so much better than baking any way.

Today.
I promise to make cookies.



Thursday, December 14, 2017

Stella and the rest


Stella. My favorite little Dexter heifer. She is just down right adorable and sweet.

I think this is Belle. Not as Sweet. She likes to chase Stella.



Bunny. Our first born on this property. Grumpy Bunny. Always looking to be lead heifer.


Vanessa. Queen Cow. Three time mom. She has attitude. And she runs the lot of them.  She is an original.  I didn't get a shot of Beauty. But she looks much like Belle. I'm not sure I can tell them apart.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Afternoon walk

I wanted to see if I had marked the trail well enough. There is a spot in the trail that gives the hiker two choices.
Either choice is good and will lead to the same place.

Once marked it seems they are so easy to follow. Well, they really aren't. But I had redone some of the notches on the trees anyway.

Down in the valley the snowmobile club folks had taken a bulldozer to the creek. They must have retrieved the culvert and put it back down as a crossing.

This will hold until the next big snow melt or flash flood. The dozer filled in the area with loose soil. Erosion was never an issue until they started moving the earth around.
Here is the hole that they filled in again. It was about 6 feet deep.

I followed the valley to the end and searched out the spot that used to have a 'waterfall' of sorts.
I found it. Of course everything had changed drastically since spring. We'd had a few mild flash floods and as with this area, it rearranged the land. The shot below is the current version.

This is from 3 years ago.

I love how things never really stay the same.

After I visited what I call 'the spring falls' [a large spring is above this area and flows through water cress and rocks before it burrows into the land and joins the main creek] ~ I went to the Long Rocky Dry Run.
It is one of the harder places to get to.

Here is a view from above it after I climbed out.

Don't be fooled by the photo, the steep sides are challenging. Rock and mountain climbing are good skills to have here.

As I went home I stopped by another place that had changed quite a bit with the freezing temperatures.



One of the places I like to jump over the creek is here. This was Sunday.


The above shot is in the same place but on Friday.

The volume of water has changed in certain spots too. Here it was again on Sunday.


And here it was on November 11th.


The heavier flow of water has shifted to the opposite side of the rocks changing the whole look of the little pond area.

However, the trout didn't seem to mind a bit.

I could have spent hours exploring more. But daylight fades early and chores must be done.
I headed home.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Polar Plunging in creeks


Okay, so I didn't strip down and jump into the waters.
Nope, too darned cold for that.

I call this activity "Creek Leaping".
It is an acquired skill set.

I used to do it without a walking stick, but since my good friend Daryl made one for me, I now use it.

Creek Leaping is an art form of its own. You have to be well balanced ~ not in the head though, as who in their right minds would jump from icy rock to rock in the winter? ~
Of course one cannot always leap over a deep section.  Waterproofed boots are a must. Neoprene Muck Boots that are tall, are even better.


I just love how this stream tumbles over the rocks and splashes water above it creating ice formations.

I went to two places along the same creek/stream. The old timers call it Black Bottom. That is the name I will use.


There is so much to see and explore in any weather.  This creek changes with each flash flood. But the beauty is never marred.


There are wonderful little spots to explore and photograph.
Or...just sit and watch for the trout.



I only had about an hour to explore, so I took a quick look around and hurried from interesting spot to spot.


So much to explore.
I do love these cold temperatures!

Another hand item to have is hand warmers and a pair of mitten/gloves.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mr. Morris scares the crap out of me


In the interest of not struggling through my 'point' trail with friends on a night hike, I set out yesterday with my machete and some trail tacks that are simply tacks with a reflective coating on their heads.

Mr. Morris was nagging me and it was about time for his new routine of the 3pm walk. I grabbed a leash and decided to see if he'd come along.
Indeed he did.
The cold air didn't seem to bother him a bit. He ran around the meadow, sniffing everything he could. I'd have to call and wave to him so he could catch up. He bounded past me and down an old mule trail avoiding the long grasses.


The meadow can be pretty even in its winter doldrums.




The Mr. Morris sure enjoyed it.

He hesitated when I dove into the woods on the old cow path that is mostly used by deer now. In places trees have come down and multi flora rose bushes have grown up.

Over the years the deer and I adjust to different obstacles to get up and down the steep hillside. Last winter the first time I used this 'trail' at night to bring along my hiking buddy, I got sidetracked. There wasn't enough snow to show a good trail and everything looked similar in the headlamp.

Where the trail went straight, it now zagged around a nasty deadfall.  So I marked the tree with a little tack and used the machete to clear the debris above my head. I normally just duck while going through, but I know that one of the hikers that will go with me later this month is much taller than I am.
Mr. Morris stopped and then backed away. I stopped what I was doing and explained to him what was going on.

He was not impressed, but he gave me a glance and walked past me. He eyed the machete.

I marked the next tree where the path made a 90 degree turn. I freshened the small marks I'd made a couple of years ago.
Morris either walked ahead or followed, stopping to smell things and be just like the normal Morris I've always known.

I stopped marking just above the creek. I could see the Mountain Dew can that hung on a branch further down. I wouldn't mark all the way down to there but set a reflective tack up on a stump so a headlamp would catch it from the Dew Can.

I dropped the box of tacks and bent down to pick them up. I realized that I didn't hear Morris's jingling tags.

I turned around.
He was gone.
I called.
Nothing.
I called louder and heard my voice echo off the valley walls.

Okay. Either Morris wandered off, or decided he'd had enough of hiking. We were actually pretty far from home and it was getting colder down near the creek.
Damn.
"MORRISSSSSS"
Yes, there was a bit of panic in my voice.
I should have leashed him.
Dang it.
I called and called.

Then I stopped. I looked down in the dusting of snow and found some tracks. They were his, but they went in circles and back and forth then off into the leaves on the forest floor.

I stood for a moment.  Did he go home? It would only get colder, so I turned and climbed quickly up the hillside trail. My clearing and marking sure made it much easier, plus my feet had disturbed the leaves and the light dusting of snow.

I got to the meadow. Tall grass. Morris doesn't like tall grass. He'd follow a trail. Those trails had a dusting of snow.
I searched and found his tracks heading towards home. At least I hoped they were. I lost them several times and found them again.

Then they were gone.
However I know that Morris has traveled this way for nearly 14 years and he seemed to know the way home better than I did!

Please Morris. Be home.
Be home so I can be angry with you for causing me this anxiety.

Because if you are not.
I had a headlamp with new batteries in it. I would search and call. I couldn't bear the thought of him being out in 'the wild' on his own. Not with all of the coyotes that hunted at night.
Coyotes. Little dog, nasty coyotes.

I hurried and then ran.

When I walked towards the house Mr. Morris was sitting in the sun behind Rich's truck. He finally noticed me and casually trotted up to me and then walked over to the porch, as if to say.
"My how I had to wait for you! You are so slow! Please let me in so you can feed me."

Did I ever say how punctual he has gotten lately for his feed times??

Morris. He wagged his tail as if our hike was just another successful journey

I was happy. He was happy.
The old dog does know his way home. But he won't be going with me on any hikes again soon.
We will be back to leashes and trails, not wild wood hikes.


Friday, December 08, 2017

Farm Life




The past few mornings and nights I have run outside in pj's and slippers to 'grab' shots of the sunrise or sunset.
The colors have been absolutely brilliant.

I also went on an short excursion to find some dried weeds in the valley. Of course I got sidetracked by the "Ice Fingers" clinging to the grass on the banks of the creek.


I'm trying to scout out the best trails to take some friends on.  We will be doing a New Year's Eve Night Hike.
Hoping to make it an annual event!

The Kenosha Gang left me some 'tack' markers. I'm going to work on one of the more difficult trails to follow ... in the day... or in the night and clean it up a bit. I will use the tack markers that reflect light.

That should help.

I collected the items I needed and spent a few minutes sitting by the creek admiring Mother Nature's ice sculptures.


Same Ice Fingers, different angle.

Sometimes I have to place the camera in the creek itself.

For whatever reason...I think I could spend the whole day just hunting for these little fingers of ice on the grass.
So many beautiful possibilities.


Again. This is the same little formation of ice. Just another angle.

I didn't have much time, I had to get back to start chores and supper.
And wouldn't you know it!
I put the bouquet I'd picked down for a moment while I picked some burrs out of my scarf...and left them there!
[A good reason, I believe to go back today???]

So I went up the steep trail to the Merry Meadow.

Out came the pink fugly camera.
My photo group was doing Silhouettes for our weekly theme.

The sun was so low in the sky. I couldn't resist.


Not a pure shot by any means. But I like it. It depicts a winter version of a scrub apple tree.

I made it home in time to do chores.

I make it a point to visit with each of the mules and 15 [our horse] every day.
The Redheaded sisters took advantage of the last rain and covered themselves in mud. I let them be covered like this as it adds a layer to their already very thick winter coats. I will groom them for riding later. Any grooming is always a love fest on our place.
Last but not least.

Stella. Our youngest Dexter heifer. She is such a doll. However she is on the bottom of the 'totem' pole in the girl's herd.
But she is also the most tame and friendly heifer we have.

For whatever reason, she loves to pull on my gloves.

Dixie reminded me that Gun Deer Season is over and she would love to help me mark trails.
Hmm.
Morris reminded me that he likes very short walks in the cold and prefers more than one blanket to burrow into on the couch.

And...
so begins another day!