Friday, December 31, 2010

Grinding Day!

Today, Trish's kitchen turned into Bill's venison processing center.  Earlier this year Mother Nature allowed me to take two of her critters for food.   After the intial processing, we ended up with six to eight package of meat meant for grinding, which was set off into the freezer waiting for further processing.  Well, today was the day to start the project of turn meat to burger with a newly gifted grinder attack for a Kitchen Aide blender machine.  The grinder attachment connects to front of the Kitchen Aide mixer, worked very well, until I started loading too much meat at once.  After learning the proper size of meat and how fast I could load the hopper, the grinding went very quickly.  After cleanup, which took longer that the grinding, Trish got her kitchen back, only to learn that tomorrow I will set upon the kitchen for more grinding.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A storm is promised!

My knee, this morning which doesn't bother me much, is paining today as a winter storm bears down on us in the Northern Plains!  Freezing rain, many inches of snow and the wind is to drive the moisture into every nook and cranny.  There are very few tree on the prairie to knock down the wind, so the snow is pushed into great drifts, which can be many times larger than the actual amount of snow that fell from the sky.  Prairie Home is located in on the eastern side of a small wooded lot of less than one hundred acres.  But, it is enough to protect us from the full strength of the wind.  Once the storm is to pass, below zero temps are to settle in and test our winter steel.   We survive the cold, dark winter with projects that are put aside in the warmer weather and picked back up again when Mother Nature sends Old Man Winter back in for another long visit!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Digging Irish roots!

This weekend I was scanning some old documents that my grandfather wrote many many years before.  After scanning quite of few files and uploading them to a new blog, I got a bit bored with this project and set it aside for the moment.  Instead, for whatever the reason, I opened the Family Search website to start searching data.  I know, I know, scanning and upload files isn't much different than searching data.  But, it was a change of pace and thought processes that I was looking for.  Upon opening the Family Search website, I notice that they had made some major changes to the appearance to the site.  I was hoping that they changed the search engine too... I entered the search data and was surprised with amount of data that came back.  I then tweaked the search data a bit and BANG, I found a record I hadn't found or seen before.  Upon opening the record, I verified the information I had just discover.  It was another piece to the puzzle of where George F Herrick's birth place was actually located.  George for some reason had told his family that he was born in Washington state.  In which, it could have been Port Angeles or Bellingham Washington.  I have records stating such locations, but when I tried to get a birth certificate, none are available.  Which is not uncommon, since record keeping has not been of great importance in the past.  So, I have always been, since 2001, suspect of his actual birth location.

Here is my evidence, thus far, for a totally different state for his birth.

1869  his mother is born in Freeport Illinois.
1873 his father arrives from Ireland and settles in Freeport Illinois.
1887 his parents marry in Freeport Illinois.
1892 his birth according to US census of 1900
1900 US census for Freeport Illinois, has him and his older bother being born in Illinois.  His is eight years old at this point, so I am pretty sure his parent knows his birth place.
1910 US census April, he was enumerated in Hawaii while at boot camp.  This is the first record of stating he was born in Washington state.
1910 US census June, he was enumerated again at his parents house in Chicago Illinois. This census records his birth place of Illinois.
1917 he marrys Grace R Whitfield of Chicago Illinios in Chicago Illinois.
1918 birth of his first born, Grace F Herrick in Illinois
1920 US census state his birth is Washington state. But, both Graces are born in Illinois
1930 US census state his birth is Washington state.  This is, thus far, the first evidence I have with George actually being in Washington state.

I have presented my evidence and conclude that George was born in Freeport Illinois in the year 1892.  I will continue to dig for his birth record.  I am hoping other family members who read this can shed some light to this puzzle from the past. 

What say you?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Desert Rat

The Desert Rat
by George F. Herrick
circa 1930s

A stake of grub and a heavy pack
A desert trail and a long eared jack
No human friend, but for all of that
I'm contented to be a desert rat.

A shelter of rock and a grease wood fire
A mountain peak for my temple spire
My alter of worship a sage brush knoll
Where the Great Voice speaks to my faltering soul.

The evening stars in the firmament
Speak to me when day is spent
In a language that I learned from them
Not spoken by the tongues of men.

The book of life is mine to read
It speaks not of a sect or creed
Therein is writ in prose and verse
The secrets of the universe.

I follow the trail long ages old
Toward the rainbow's end and the pot of gold
Though failure is mine for my labor spent
I am recompensed; I am content.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Chickens

Well, its mid winter, but only a few days into the official winter season.  The temps have been steady in the tens above with a few venture below zero and few spikes beyond 20 above.  The chickens, guineas and geese are no worse for wear.  Through, Rudy the rooster has lost a bit on his comb and most of his waddle, he is getting along just fine.  The geese spend most of the days outside.  They have a path going between the coop and the watering hole they created this past fall.  The water is from the sump pump in the basement, we have had so much water up this year, the sump is still running.  So, the geese wonder over to it to bath and hang out.  The ten hens are still laying about 5 to 8 eggs a day, which is enough to pay for their feed.  The geese received a gift of two alfalfa bails, which is keeping them busy and the chicken are enjoying the dry green stuff too.  The guineas are doing their best stay warm.. they however are aloud bunch, inside and out.  We all are looking forward to spring... which I keep hearing is just around the corner!

Wild bird feeder!

This morning, as many morning  of late, the Chickadee are taking advantage of a free breakfast of sunflower seeds.  Their numbers very from one or two on the feeder to as many as ten, with many more waiting their turn to steal away with a seed or two.  It is a regular circus sometimes with the coming the growing, the chasing and fighting. And if another species is mixed, well all the better, except for the Jay.  Who is the master at the moment of this feeder.

The birds were coming and going... they definately need an air traffic contoller today.

Cold Morning!

A cold clear morning after a frosty night!  This westward view, out the bay window, over looking the waiting garden is one of the many special treats that awaits those that care to look .  As all things that stand still during the night was coating with a layer of frost from the cold night air.  And with the rising of the sun, we are in proper position for a bright  display only Mother Nature can provide.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Writings from the past!

This evening, December 25  2010, I created a new blog to host a collection of writing that my mother had in her possession when she passed away in 2001.  These writing were created by my grandfather George F. Herrick.  The blog will be by request only and only open to family members.  On the right side of this blog you will find a collection of pages, of which one is labled "Writings from the Past" There is direction on this page on how to enter the George F. Herrick blog.  All Herrick and Reynolds family members are welcome!

I will be posting a story a week at least until all are posted.  Some of George's writings are in pencil and are fading, so I will be retyping them on the blog for easier viewing.  Others are typed and are easily scanned and posted.

Our roof is old and leaky
The floor is splintered too,
Out S.E stock is soaking wet,
Now what are we to do.

The lightening struck our motor,
The compressor's on the bum,
We get our air here and there,
For each service run.

The old Ford cars are balky,
And are alway in the shop,
When the No. 5 gets started,
It doesn't want to stop.

The rest is posted on the new blog.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blue Jay Study

I have always had a love hate relationship with the Jay, which stems back as far as I care to remember. The call of the Jay brings a flood of memories in which I would be fishing, hunting, camping or just working around the forest in the fall.  Memories like sitting in a deer stand being scolded, in which ever deer in the near county knew exactly where I was hiding. Or memories where I would be hiking into a hidden creek to fish for fall brook trout, with the smell of  decaying leafs under foot, the warmth of the falls sun on my face, the color of all the trees shining into my eyes. Now, the memories of capturing these images will become part of the recall someday in my waning years.  For now, the call of the Jay means its dinner time as they are heading for the feeder posted just outside my bay window.  The call of the Jay speaks to me like that of the crackling of the campfire.  Both are old callings of another time, which are in us all!

Image path:  Flickr

Saturday, December 11, 2010


It's a mear three degrees below zero outside this morn!  The wind, she has come up from the north, driving the temps further down.  The watering pale was froze solid and to the ground a fixed, it was.  The geese droppings, a pile of  froze shiit, blocked the inside door to the chickens. Plenty of stuff to do for the birds, I say.  The cold, she has changed the routine of wildbirds too!  They have yet come into for breakfast.  Aye, the adventures of the frozen north!  I dream of spring! I hear its just around the corner, it is!  Which corner I say? Which corner?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bitsy Babe

1952 Bitsy Babe
My dad was in the military during WWII and the Korean War. Today, I recently found images of him posing with the aircraft that he helps maintain, a F-84 Fighter/Bomber named Bitsy Babe. This fighter/bomb was flown with the identifcation numbers of; FS-115 A.  I did try to find the flight records for the aircraft, but was only able to find a basic fact sheet about the F-84.  The picture of Bitsy Babe and my dad as taken in 1952 somewhere on Japanese soil I am sure. The F-84 Fighter played a major role in keeping the enemy's fighters at bay.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

War Camp!

Yesterday, as I was wading through old family documents and pictures, I came across some photos of my time in an old prison of war camp.  Well, actually I was going through USAF Base Defensive training at Camp Bullis in 1976. Camp Bullis is just north of San Antonio Texas and part of Fort Sam Houston.  The camp has been used as a military training site from WWI through current times.  It also was  a prisoner of war camp in WWII.  We lived in semi permanent Mash style tents, where each morning we needed to shake our clothes before putting them on, inspect the inside of our boots before sticking our feet within and quickly look around the floor before stepping out of bed with bare feet.  There were many a morning, where someone would scream out because they had an unwanted visitor in their bed with them.  The reason for all this morning active was the many bitey, stinging and poisonous critters that call Texas home; scorpions, spiders, and snakes.  Each day we would patrol around the 17,000 acres or set up a defensive position and then waiting for enemy forces to attack.  The latrine was an open bay with twenty toilets in a row and across the aisle another twenty.  No privacy here!   There was an old pool that was reportedly built by WWII Germany soldier while they were encamped here.  They dammed up a creek and hand plastered a pit to hold the water.  We stayed in camp for six week, and some  stayed longer for more specialized training.  The guys in the picture are all Military Police buddies with long forgotten names.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blue Jay

Blue Jay
I have been trying to photograph these Jays for weeks and was getting nowhere.  This past fall I setup a new feeding station for the wildbirds in the area.  I set the post about eight feet in front of the bay window, which face west, ideal for morning photo sessions. For the longest time not a bird visited the feeder, which made good sense, since theres not been a feeder here before. It takes time for the birds in your area to recognize  the feeder as a food source. But once they do...  the Chickadee were first showed up, then Nuthatches, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, some Dark-eyed Junco and a stray Goldfinch..With all that activity, it wasn't long before the pigs of the woods would show up;  Jays.  The Jays have been the most shy of the group, each time I approached the camera, which is setup at the bay window, they would fly off.  No matter how slow I moved, they didn't like my presense and would depart with a crop full of seed before one click of the shutter button.  Well, this morning I tried setting up a simple blind made up of two bath towels clothes pinned to the curtain rod.  Only the lens of the camera parted the two towels, which allowed me to move more freely..  The posted image of the Blue Jay is the results of my make shift blind.  Gotta love it!  See more birding image at my Flickr account.  

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hoary Frost!

Hoary Frost
No, not a cheerleader for some sport team or a stripper on some pole, rather the white builded up of moisture on anything out of door on a cold morning.  Prairie Home is covered with a new coat of frost this morning.  Everything that stood still is blanketed from top to bottom making for a wonderful morning to wake up to.  The temp is hovering at zero, the skies are clear and there is no wind to speak of, so the frost remained to be seen by those of us that are up early in the morn. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Our winter friends!

American Goldfinch
I was left to myself today and had no desire to go into town on black Friday, so after chores I set a tripod, cleaned the camera lenses, washed the bay windows, and then got ready to snap a few new images of the wild birds that hang around for the winter. Right outside the bay window I have set up a feeder made of a fence post, a 2x4 box with hardware cloth bottom.  The hardware cloth allows the rain to past through without damaging the seed for the birds.  Now, I have been snapping photo of wildlife for years as an amateur, of which most shots are at close range due the price of zoom lenses.  Today, I am using a 55-200mm lens on a Nikon D40.  The subjects, birds, will be about ten feet away. I am letting the camera handle all the settings, will I handle the shutter button and focus. We have a number of birds that over winter here at Prairie Home, of which the Black-capped Chickadee seem to be the most common.  For most of the day there was a steady stream of blurs coming and going from the feeder; Blue Jays, American Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Chickadee and even a quick visit by a Pileated Woodpecker. I've always enjoyed being in the outdoors, being around wildlife and yes hunting them.  I also enjoy taking photos and sharing them.  To see more images visit my Flickr site and please let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Below zero!

A promise a ThanksGiving blizzard was posted and on its way, but after a bit of snow and no wind the storm passed by without a lick of fowl weather.  This morn, as walked through the freshly fallen snow, I notice a bite to the wind.  On the coop's outer wall, I took notice of the temp; -10.   Upon entering the coop and all were just fine, cept for one frozen egg.   Outside, the geese are enjoying a water hole they created with the help of the water we are pumping out of the sump hole in the basement. Yes, the water is still open and the geese wade most of the day.  Though it is cold here on the prairie, thus far no one is worst the wear!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Silly hen pt2

At 5:00 this morning its amear 5 degrees above and I wondering about the hen in the tree.  You know, the one that decided she would rather camp out in the pine tree rather than walk on the snow to get into the coop.  Did she survive the cold?  Will I need to climb the tree to get her down?  Well, at 6 the lights in the coop come on automatically and I will go out to do my morning routine.  As Gurl and I stepped out the front door we were welcome by a blast of cold air! We rounded the corner of the house heading for the coop, suddenly a large dark figure flew up from the ground under the pine and headed to the roof of the salt block shed.  I knew immediate what it was and what it meant.  Gurl on the other hand was off after the big bird and chased it into the woods.  Good Gurl!  The large figure was a Great Horned Owl, which came for breakfast of chicken. Can't blame the owl much, they need to eat to survive too, however there can feed elsewhere. I am down to ten layers now and a rooster!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Silly hen!

Just prior to sundown, I went out to check on the chickens, put down some feed, gather up the afternoon eggs.  If all the chickens and guineas are inside roosting, I close up the coop for the night.  However, sometime one or two are late to go in.  Most often I can just guide them and close up.  With the temperature falling, I really wanted to make sure they all were in.  Well, I found three of the mixed hen roosting on the frame of an goat pen. I told that there is no way they were going to camp out, not tonight!  So, as I started to herd them to the coop, they decided to play a game of ring around the goat pen. We did this until two flew to the coop's roof and the other desperately tried land on a long died stalk of giant ragweed.  I gathered that one quickly and off to the coop with her.  The other two were going to be a challenge.  The silly birds refused to walk on the ground with new white stuff all about, but for some reason the snow covered roof of the coop was OK.  I got a long pole and was able to usher one of the chickens off the roof and inside.  The other, the last one, decide we were going to again play a game.  After a few trips around the coop, she changed the rules and flew up into the large pine that over looks the pen and coop.  There was about 40 minutes til dark, so I left her be in hopes she would see the errors of her ways and get inside.  After a great pork roast supper, I was back out to lock up for the night.  The silly bird is still in the tree.  I fear she is a goner, for the night air is heading for zero and maybe lower.  As I end this post, I peeked at the thermometer.  It reads 3 above!  Hang on silly hen! Hang on!

White or Brown!

I lay white eggs!
Are white eggs healthier than brown eggs?  Are the egg's color a pruduct of the health of the chicken?  Does the egg color have more to do with the quality of feed they are getting?

The answer to the above questions is NO!  The eggs color is based on species of chicken.  The rule of thumb for the most part, if the hen has a light colored ear flap, the egg will be white.  And dark colored ear flat will be brown eggs.  There is an exception to this rule, with the so called Easter Egg chickens.  The Araucana and Ameraucana will lay eggs that are colored from pink to blue.

Routine a fowl!

The snow is affecting the chickens normal routine, which was to patrol the yard starting off with the wild bird feeder.  There was always a few black oil sunflower seeds that made their way out of the feeder by way of either wind or a picky woodpecker.  From there they would head for the Lilac bush and yard beyond.  Soon, they would make their way to the garden and work over the ground, leaving fresh fertiziler for next year.  Next, its was off to the compost pile and the salt block shed.   Today, they barely got out of the coop and that because of my boot bumping their butts out the door.  Most of the day, they have been idle, just sitting in one place, like they are in shock.  Rudy made his way to the roof, but here too was several inches of snow.. He wasn't a happy rooster today... very little crowing.  The guineas too made their way to the roof, where they roosted for a few hours before heading back into the coop.   I am sure that as they get uses to the snow, the patrol will be back.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I don't know why! Or why now, but my thoughts are racing towards memories on my grandmother Edith Reynolds.  It has been a busy day here today as I finished off a major database move from one server to another.  Lots of updates, broken links, users not able to log in and now I am taking a break as the phones are quiet... This is when my grandmother came to mind and I don't know why!  I didn't know her very well at all.  I did meet her in the spring of 1968 when she came to visit us in Arkansas.  I don't recall her voice, her appearance or her eyes, it was such a short visit there just wasn't time.  I do remember that she could recite the alphabet backward faster that I could forward.  She taught me to spell Mississippi with humpback, dotted and crooked letters.  She tricked me into a game of  "Who could count to one hundred" the fastest!  She said start and off I started counting as fast as a 12 year old could.. 1,2,3...21,22,23.  But! But, she wasn't counting yet... I got to 90 and she rang out 10, 10, double 10, 45, 15. And then declared that she won...  Sitting there confused, she had me add up the numbers... we laughed!  She was with us for three or fours days before she passed away. She had seen me as a baby and a boy, as we traveled with the military to an oversea duty station and back.  She, however had not met my youngest sister to this point, who was now about 6 years old. Grandma made sure that she was able to see us all again and then left.  The only other memory I have of my grandmother Edith R. Reynolds is, she loved the song Old Rugged Cross, which was played at her Wake.  We laid my grandmother to earth in the Edson Cemetery in Lowell Massachusetts. One of these days I will revisit my grandmother and tell her that I love her.

First snow!

The first snow of the year is resting on the ground now. Though not enough to messure, it does change the appearance of the yard as I look out the kitchen window towards the coop. There is promise of additional snow throughout the day to what depth I don't know. I can't help but wonder what the chickens and guineas are going to think this morning as they exit the relative warmth of the coop and see snow for the first time In years past, I have had many hens that refused to walk on the snow, packed down or not.  A few would not come out all winter, some I hand carried the first few times until they got use to the white stuff.  

A few days later!
This morning we recieved a nice blanket of snow, which caused the chickens and guineas to remain inside the coop. I literally had to chase them out into the snow, which was not something they want to do all. I had to bump butts with my boot to get them out, which they immediately went for high ground; fence post, trees, Burdock stalks, and the roof of the coop now had either chickens or guineas attach to it. An hour later I found them pretty much in the same place, with the exception of Rudy on the coop roof with the guineas. Now, on the other hand, the geese are having a good time in the snow and the cold doesn't seem to be bothering them at all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cold Days ahead!

So far so good as the temperatures up here in the northwest of Minnesota go.  Its been a good year for mild temps, reaching back to last March.  But, now it seems we are sliding towards zero and soon.  Last week, we were in the 40 and 50 for daytime high, this week we might reach 30.  However, the chicken coop seems to be a steady 15 degrees warmer than the outside temps. I hope it's enough later in the winter.  Each night and morning I check Rudy's comb and waddle for frostbite and to give a little massage. He is starting to get use to me reaching up and petting him. He does seem to enjoy, but who knows whats happening in his little brain.  I do wish he would remember the pettings during the day light hours, as he likes to attack from the rear right as I am walking across the barnyard.  Typical rooster!   The hens are laying good and we have more eggs than we can handle, so the EGGS FOR SALE is out.   So far, we all are doing good, but winter is long, dark and hard.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken coop raider spotted!

This morning after downing my buck, I walked the 1/2 mile back to the barnyard and entered one of my outbuildings where I keep my outdoor gear.  I was in need of a pair of surgical gloves for the upcoming field dressing chore.  As I approached the shed noticed an odor that was not normal to that shed. I entered and immediately heard rustling within and to the rear of the shed, which is where I was heading. I was thinking, damn mice.. I will have to place some traps.  But, upon reaching the back of the shed, I saw a blur of movement to my left and only got a glimpse of what is a much bigger animal than a mouse!  Now, I was thinking a stray cat.  I knew our two cats were in the house.  So, quickly I moved toward the hiding animal... hoping to scare the s...t out of the cat and send it packing to parts unknown.... but to my surprise it wasn't a cat!  FOX! I thought loudly in my head!  After all, why yell when there is no one there to hear ya! The raider of the chicken coop is a Fox.  Off he ran in a bur towards the front of the shed and through the open door.  As I reach the doorway, all I saw was a reddish and gray fox, high tailing across the yard and into the woods.  Now, I warned him, don't come back.. but I have a feeling he will not heed my words.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Did you know....

Do you know who Passaconaway is?  I bet the answer for most is no! Passconaway is an anglicized translation of Papisse Conewa which means Son of Bear.  He was the Sachem of the Pennacook tribe of the New Hampshire and the Massachusetts area back in the 1500's.  Passconaway is one of the most important Sachem in the Americas, but few have ever heard of him.  It was his people that kept the early Pilgrims from starvation and from being over run by the powerful Mohawks.  For some time, the Europeans and Pennacook lived in peace, traded goods and knowledge, until the Europeans started to get land greedy.  

Back in 1899, the Improved Order of Red Men of Massachusetts erected a bronze statue of this great sachem, which others theft upon.  My first introduction to the sachem was 1968 when we laid my grand mother, Edith Ruby Heaney Reynolds to earth.  I was a 12 year old at the time. My elders (aunts and uncles) told me about the sachem's statues, that stands in the same cemetery where my grand mother rests; Edson Cemetery, Lowell Massachusetts.  They said that we are related to the sachem through my Great Grandmother; Elizabeth Anna Waters Reynolds.  Thus far, I haven't been able to prove this link at all, but it is an interesting story and possibility.  The sachem's statue over the years has been vandalized; tomahawk, spear, hand and other parts carried off to no regard at all who he was and what he did in life.  I can only imagine that on some bookcase somewhere a green patina hand, or spear standing in a corner collecting dust. And no more a thought!

Provided by
Edson/Westlawn Cemetery

The good news is that the statue of the Great Sachem, Passaconaway has been restored this year 2010.  Though an incorrect depiction of the a Pennacook of the time, it is still a good thing.  It's a good thing to remember our past and those who made it possible for the rest of us.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Friend!

Yesterday a friend had to put her dog down and know very much the pain in the heart that can be. I know she will get through this in time, but will never forget.  Roni you will get through this, the pain will subside, but the brain will always remember.  And do remember Antsy...

The thought of her pain got me thinking about my own buddy that I had to lay to earth just a few years back. This morning with Britt in my thoughts, I went looking for the memorial I wrote about him.  But, I couldn't find the website where I posted it.  My daughter, being the wonder person she is, had a copy.  The following is the memory I wrote the day after laying Britt to rest.
RIP Britt

I layed my friend to rest yesterday, August 26, 2008. I am not going to get into the why's of it. I would rather speak to what a good friend he was and is. Britt was my friend from the time I brought him home in May 1998. In just a few days the guy learned his name and not to pee in the house. I don't think I have ever known such a smart dog in all my life. Britt was a Brittany. Some know the breed as Brittany Spaniels, however they not spaniels any more than a mule is a horse. The breed orginated in Brittany France many many years ago. Here they crossed a spaniel of somekind with a pointer of somekind and got this hard working, intelligent dog that had quality from both breeds. Spaniels and Pointers are both hunting dogs as is the Brittany. They all have a ton of energy, which should not be confused with hyperactive. Now, Spaniels hunting by flush the game out and Pointer will lock up in a point, showing the hunter where the game is hidden. Brittany hunt in the same manner as pointers, thus a number of years ago, maybe 15 years by now, the spaniel part was dropped off of the breeds name. Thus Brittanys are just Brittanys. Enough said about the history of the breed.

Britt was a large dog, somewhere around 65-70 pounds. Yes, that is large for a Brittany. None the less, this guy could run all day and about 26 miles an hour and maintain 15-20 miles an hour for miles.

We never did a lot of hunting together, rather Britt was just my friend. At one point in his life, he was a snow plow manager. He would make sure I plowed the snow just right from the long snow bond driveway we had. At another time, he was a beekeeper. Though I have to admit he didn't care for the bees that much, but he would watch to make sure I did it right. Most often that was from the safety of deck. Isn't that just like a manager! He was a barnyard manager, keeping the raccoons and deer out of the yard away from the chickens, ducks geese and fruit trees. Yes, he was a chicken farmer too.... he didn't like the geese or the turkeys though. He thought the turkeys were weird as they thought they were dogs. They would follow him around the yard, much the way a puppy would following his human.

Britt was the father to twentyfour sons and daughters that out there somewhere with their families. He also helped to raise two cats.  Britt was the type of dog that took most things in stride and trusted that I wasn't putting him into harms way. I remember the first time I took him to be groomed. It was actually his son Duke and Britt that needed the grooming. Duke freaked out... where Britt just stood there, allowing the groomer to do her thing. He would occasionally make sure the groomer was doing it correctly, but mostly he just stood there with the majestic look about him. He was the same way whenever we would go to the vet. He often received comments on how well behaved he was.. not just from the vet, but from the other pet owners too. I can not take credit for this... this was just the way it was with Britt. Just about everyone that met Britt would comment on what a good dog he was.
One of his most favorite things, besides a doggy treat, was to ride in the truck. Britt loved to ride, at one point in our lives, we lived out of a mobile home that had more hole than roof, so he spent the nights with me swatting skitters and trying to stay dry. And during the daytime, he would ride with me to work. There he most happily spend part of the day in the truck...yes with the windows open.. waiting for me to come out on a break. We spent breakfast, lunch and dinner together everyday for almost two years. These days we spent together were the best, though our living conditions were not.

I will always miss the way he would look at me when ever he was trying to communicate a need of his. Whether it was water, letting him out, food or to just to pet him... He would just lay his chin on my knee and look up at me with those big brown eyes. He had other communication skills too. He would grunt in the morning, expressing his need to go out, when I wasn't moving fast enough towards the door handle. Often the grunting would sound like a monkey grunting.

Yesterday, I had to say goodbye to my friend. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. To look into his eyes for the last time, knowing that soon he would not see anymore. As with everything in this dogs life, he took this to in stride. If there is another life I hope we met again and continue our friendship. If not, Britt will never be forgotten. He will live in my memories for the rest of my days as few or as many as that might be.

Britt I miss you!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


August and Rosalie Fenske
 I 've been working hard as of late getting back into my genealogy.  I have recently discovered new branches of the tree, knocked down a wall, and started a scanning project of 100 year old photos.  My guess is that most to the family have not seen these photos and its time they did.  I am scanning the images in high resolution for maximum affect.  I will be posting the photos on Flickr or some other web gallery to share with family members.  This, I hope, will allow easy access to the photo for all family members that want a copy or print a high quality photo.  Stay tuned for upcoming post of the gallery creation and postings.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Guinea Roosting in coop
While away from home for few days, the predator showed up again.  Yes, this is not the first time it has been here.  I fear it has hunted here many times this past summer, however the first visit that I am aware of was just a weeks back. It came in on the setting sun.  The dark sky is its camouflage.  When hunting there is not a sounds, or a whisper, no not  a clue its afoot. Just the after math the following day, where one finds the feathers and wings of  the butchered bird laying about in the yard.  My guineas have been slowly disappearing, though I figured on a few losses throughout the summer as they were growing up and free ranging about the property, but I didn't expect so many.  They roost in a tall pine tree that stands next to the coop where the chicken roost at night. In the past few weeks at least four more of the guineas are now gone.  Dinner for some predator of the night!

As I pulled into the yard yesterday evening, I spotted a wing laying in the middle of the yard, between outbuildings.  Concerned, I scouted about the yard and the coop area, where I found more feathers.  A quick count of the guineas revealed two more were missing.  I suspected an owl, but I've only heard one this past spring and have spotted not a one.  After feeding the chickens, guineas and geese, the guineas did not head for their normal roost in the big pine, but rather into the coop with the chickens.  Did they understand that the tree is now dangerous, since it has become the hunting grounds of an owl.   Yes, I am guessing the predator is an owl.  A hunter of the night like no other... the clues are many; totally eaten birds, fur and feather pellets at the base of the telephone pole in the yard, no foot prints other than the chickens, guineas and geese and all killings are a night.  Then last night the most solid evidence was witnessed.   An Owl in the pines that tower of the house... hooting just after the fall of the sun.  There are number of owls that are in this area; the Great Horned, Grey Gray, and the Barred Owl. All are big enough to take a chicken or guinea, but they will leave the geese alone.  The hooting call that I heard was that of the Great Horned Owl.   This morning I went out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website to confirm the call.. and indeed it was the Great Horned Owl.  Now, I don't have any images of this owl to share with, so here is a link to see an image and call of the owl... click me!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pond Reflection

Was heading home on Hwy 169 when I spotted this small pond with great flections.  It was early morning as I was heading east from Buhl Minnesota, with sunning coming up over my shoulder this little pond was in its glory.  I had to drive another three miles before I was able to make a U turn.  It was well worth the slight delay of my morning travels.  See more at my Flickr gallery .

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


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Watch Guard!

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Wooly Bears in the shed!

No, not a bear from the Cenozoic era, in which the Wooly Mammoth walked.  But rather a caterpiller most of us are familiar with in the fall of the year.  The Wooly bear is the caterpillar stage of the Isabellla Tiger moth of the night.  The Wooly bear or Wooly worm is thought by some to be able to predict the come winter.  The longer the band, the milder the winter, the shorter the band the more serve.  All the caterpillers I spotted today had bands that were at least an inch in length, which is three quarters the over all length.  Now, I don't know if this is considered short or long... I am hoping its long.  This time of year they are easy to spot as the Woolys are crawling about looking for a place to over winter.  This afternoon as I was preparing the chicken coop for winter with a good amount of oat straw, I needed to move feed bids around, as I did, many woolys were found that were already settled in for winter. I tried not to disturb them, but after all I needed to straight things up and stack in the straw.   While looking at data about the Wooly bear, I found a reference noted that the Wooly worm can survive temperature of -90 F. On another site, they lived through being frozen in an ice cube.  I just love learning something new about nature each and everyday!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


From somewhere within the dark places of my mind, I remember being inside of a large cuckoo clock, where there were hundreds of clocks ticking, ticking, ticking!  No, this is not a night mare, but a memory from my childhood some forty years plus ago.  Today, as I was rambling through document and working my family genealogy, I came across (again) and old post card of the Worlds Largest Cuckoo Clock, which I thought I had missed placed.   Yes, this is the clock I remember.  This is the clock that was talked about, back in the day, around the dinner table or in the living room.  I don't recall the actually conversations or where it actually took place, but I do recall the clock being talked about and I remember it was so cool to walking into a working clock.  Cool, may not have been my word of choice back in the 60's, but it works for now.  Back around 2003 is when I initially came across the post card. Upon looking up the address on the web, I found the owners of the clock.  Soon after writting to them I recieved a reply back in the form of an updated post card.   I thought, and still do, that it was very fanastic that I receive a reply in the new card.   Some forty years seperation in time, but the clock still stands. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Old fence!

I came across an old fence, post and rail, weathering away in time. A fence standing, marking, protecting the sacred grounds beyond.  A fence many have seen, but yet is unseen.  An old fence, post and rail now seen and captured for all times!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Two Rivers
Lake Bronson MN
  No not the deer like creature that roams the arctic regions of the world or the Minnesota based coffee house, but rather Caribou Minnesota.  Where is that you ask?... Well, let me tell you! Look to the top of a Minnesota map, find the part that extends into Canada... turn west along the border about 60 miles or so and there is Caribou.  What you can't see it, here some help... The town doesn't exist any longer but for a house or two and an old Church.

Garter snake
This past weekend, Trish and I took a road trip north 86 miles into Minnesota territory that the deer out number the people that live there.. actually the garter snake out numbered the actual people that we saw.  The Garter snake is a friendly sort and is very beneficial to have around.  We saw many snakes on the roads warming themselves in the sun.  This mornings temperature started off in the uppper 20's.

St Nicholas Church
Caribou MN
 So, what was this road trip all about?  Well, we went looking for three very old buildings; a church, a 1860 trappers cabin, a school house with chalkboard still attached to wall.  Unfortunately we found only one.  The church was easy enough to find.  A small bright white church nestled amongst the tree just south of the Roseau river.  The roof has three dome peeks with crosses attached.  Next to the church, immediately to the south by just a few feet, the cemetery lies.  Within the cemetery are some very old head stones dating back into the 1800's and the most recent of 1983.  To my understand, most the of parishioners are living in Canada; .

Rusty away!
After signing the guestbook, we were off to find the trappers cabin.  The directions that were given gave us the sense that finding the old cabin was going to be some what easy too do, but after a few hours beating the bush and driving down old roads and passing through a few gated pastures... we found nothing but empty stomachs and an old Chevy truck rusting away in the Minnesota weather. 

Back to the church for a picnic lunch, which Trish was so kind to prepare the night prior.  We talked over the directions for the school house and headed out!  Again, what we thought were easy directions turned into miles of driving and talking for the only living people we saw in the Caribou area.  Two young men working on putting up a new barred wire fence.  A mire 800 hand pounded T-post were set the day prior, and now they were working on the wire.  My arms immediately started aching when the 800 T-post were mentioned... I have pounded my share of fence post, but never 800 in a day.  I still ache today as I write this blog and thinking about the possibility. Now, in the process of looking for this old school house, we wandered up onto an old falling down hunting camp, a shack and an old wagon of some sort, that was used at one time as a bunk house.   Both had seen better days.  Check out the old axles...

Old Wagon

We ended the day slight disappointed about not finding the school house and cabin, but the day was not a total loss.  We did find the old church.  I posted the images I took of the church yesterday morning and today I find a request to have them added to a worldwide organization that is trying to find and document all churches name St. Nicholas.  If you would like to read the request and see their web pages... Click on St. Nicholas.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Beaver Hut

Beaver Pond

A long drive back to eastern side of the state filled my eyes with great color and beauty. Out here on the prairie, the colors are not so bright and or of many shades.  I finished the last 100 miles of  the 500 mile round trip in the dark,  so I didn't notice the growing amount of open spaces and the lack of red in the trees.   
Supporting leaf

Maple in Red

 To see more images, please visit my Flickr site

Monday, September 13, 2010

A quiet morning start!

Its a quiet start to the day. Its 35 degrees this morning, the sun slowly gaining a foot hold of a dark sky, turning it blue. The bluster winds of yesterday are no more, instead quiet trees greeting the morning light as the sun rises to brighten my day.... I hope for you a day filled with the wonders of Mother Nature and you stop long enough to realize you are apart of her world!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Frost!

This morning the old thermometer read 34 degrees for the first time this fall.  There is nothing like the first couple mornings of brisk cold air to renew one primeval spirit.  Upon exiting the house, on my way to the chicken coop for morning watering and feeding, I noticed the car windows had a thin layer of frozen dew and each step bought a crushing sound to my ears.  Yes, even the grass had a thin layer of the frozen cold stuff.   About half way across the yard the geese spotted me.  They are normally pretty talkative in the morning, but this morning was more like; "Hey! Who turned off the heater?".   The Guineas too, were more talkative from their lofty perch on the coop's roof.  Geese looking up at me, the Guineas looking down at me, egad I'm surrounded! The Guineas are roosting in a tall pine next to the coop, which offers a good amount of protection.  But my guess is that they will elect for the warmth of the coop soon. Now the chickens, they are more quiet than the rest, after all they were in the relatively warm coop.  Only Rudy the rooster is noticeable from the outside. As always all the birds are eager for the morning feeding.  There is quite a bit of geese chatter, chicken clucking and whatever the Guinea sound is called....then its Rudy that breaks the setting with a crow and the chase of one of the hens. He's ready to mate, but they are not.  Once fed, they are then turned out on the grass, whats left of it, for the day.   The morning sun is coming up now and the warmth of its rays are unthawing (for you Trish) the frozen dew that fell over night, releasing a fog that hangs upon the awakening world.  All is peaceful at my prairie home!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Barn yard critters!

Rudy is the name of our Rooster.  Actually, Rudy has not reached the status of rooster yet, as the title will not be bestowed of Rudy until he reaches a year of age, until then is just a cockerel.  None the less, Rudy thinks himself very much a rooster as he chases the geese and is very actively trying to mate with his hens, which are about five months old.  Picture this scene, a squawking hen racing around the yard with the streaking Rudy closely behind her.  As soon as he realizes that he isn't going to catch her, he breaks off near a hen that is not involved in the chase... but all too soon she because the object of love in Rudy's eyes. And the race is on again.  This will go on for many minutes each morning and then in the evening.  Something about a bit a feed to get this young rooster all worked up. 

Rudy has yet to try spurring me, but I have seen him race up behind me and stop short.   I know the rooster little tricks and am waiting with a quick spin and the bottom of my boot.  I just hope there isn't ice under shoe when I spin around.

The hens are coming close to the time they will start laying eggs, so I gave them a brand new place to lay in peace.  The box is 40"Hx14"Dx36"W with six nest site.  As of yet I haven't seen a chicken roosting in the nests or even checking them out.  With only fiveteen chickens, six nest should be plenty.

The geese are all grown up now and are looking pretty handsome if I say so myself.  We raised six geese this year of which four will be butched for food soon.  Having geese free range the area is a messing experience indeed.  Though they are great a keeping the grass short and feeding themselves, they are also great at leave behind a green cigars everywhere.  They also test every plant to see if they are eatible.  In doing so, the plant good eating or not is beat down.  So, garden with geese are is not a good thing at all.  Either they need to be fenced or the garden does.

The Guineas are a bit slower in growing and we have lost five to predation of some kind. I suppect Gurl for at least one and the geese for another, but the rest are unknown. It wasn't long after releasing the guineas to start free range I started noticing a big difference in the tick poplutation that loved hitching a ride on Gurl's ears. I was picking daily ten or more ticks for Gurl... soon they wasn't any. To be real, I did put a tick and flea collar on Gurl and it was getting later into a hot summer. So, I will wait to for next spring to see how well the guineas and the chickens are doing on the tick population at Prairie Home.  The guinea in the pricture is upon the coops roof.  This is their first stop to roosting in the large pine next to the chicken coop and run.  They stopped roosting inside the coop a few weeks back.  The pine offers good cover from predators and rain, but I don't think it will protect them once the cold starts setting in for the winter.  The roof has become their landing area in the morning as well when coming from roost.  So, this is where I feed them in the morning and evening which allows them to eat without Rudy chasing them off the feed.   After all Rudy is the barnyard boss... well at least for the moment!

Monday, August 30, 2010


Just Opening

All another the area of which we live, NW Minnesota, there are fields and fields of Sunflowers.  So, why did I sow a patch of my own, who knows.  After getting my new garden space up and running this past spring, I started breaking ground to increase next years garden space. Why more space... Well,  I love to have enough garden to support our freezer and pantry and to sell at a local farmers market and to share with those that are in need.  But, I am getting off topic.  Well, after breaking the ground up, I decided to sow some black oiled sunflower seeds.  Yes, the kind that you would feed the birds.  I was hoping to get a few sunflower heads to share with my birdy friends this winter in their time of need.  So, yesterday as I was crusing around the yard with camera in hand, I came across the spot of sunflowers that are trying there best to bloom.  They were planted late in spring, maybe even early summer, so they are way behind their fellow sunflowers in the area, which are about done.  In the process of walking around the patch, my shutter found a few interesting images that I would like to share with you.  I have the imagies post on Flickr.  Please visit and leave your comment on the image... yes, you will need a Flickr account, but its free.

Click here is see the images at Flickr

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Waters or Watters! Muddy waters indeed!

while back I found my great grandmother in 1910 US census living Lowell Massachusetts with new husband and my grandfather (a boy at this time) and his sister Flossie. For whatever the reason, it wasn't until this past month I decided to request a copy of the marriage certificate from the state of Massachusetts. I was hoping there would be more information on the certificate than just the union of the two. So, after gathering the proper information and time frame of the marriage, I sent the request to Massachusetts. I was told to expect a long wait for the return on any documentations. Happily, I received the certificate in just over four weeks. Not long at all for government work. Anyway, I hit pay dirt and more confusion, at the same time, about my great grandmother's nee, in which this blog post is about.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wood Frog

Wood Frog
This past spring and early summer has been very very wet up here in the northwest of Minnesota.  So much so, the basement hasn't dried total out yett.  The humid level is in the 70%, the sump pump is slowly down, and the dehumidifier is still working on reducing the wet air.  The old cistern, which I am going to turn into a root cellar is about dry.  Dang thing was a constant flood this spring.  I am sure growing mushrooms would work in this basement right now.

Outside, the grass is growing like a weed, the yard has these small patches of mushroom popping up, the skitters are now thick as mud and the Wood Frog is happily gorging themselves on them.  I found this little fellow at the base of huge pine.  As I watched, it grabbed a few flies and skitters.  Just think about all the skitters these guys eat and yet there are thousands leftover for the birds, bats and to pester us!

The Wood Frog likes a wide variety of environments, woods (duh), prairies, and tundra.  It is actually the only frog living north of the Arctic Circle.

New tool in the kitchen!

I went into the store this evening to pickup some freezer bags, when I came across Ziploc's Vacuum Freezer bags and Starter kit.  The price was a bit high, but vacuumed sealed, I was in!   So, I started my test.  No, I am not working for or receiving any cash rewards for this post, but I wish I was. 

Vacuumed Sealed beans
The kit comprises of a small hand operated pump and 3 bags of the quart size.  Since I just pick a peck of green beans, they are my test project.  After snipping, washing, blanching, and chilling, I started the bagging process.  I bagged up the total peck first.  I then zip sealed the bags, which we all are familar with.  I notice that this process for these bags was pretty easy.  Some bags I have found a bit difficult to line up the zipper.  These, however were easy as heck. 

Before the vacuum!
After zip sealing all the bags, I then (following the instructions) used the small hand pump by placing it over the target area of the bag.  The target has a one way value, which allows the air to be drawn out with the pump. If you look close at the images there is a blue circle on the top right corner of the bags, this is the target area for the pump.  I then pumped sealed all the quart sized bags which I used for the peck.  Yes, I bought another box of bags.  Upon finishing all the bags, I noticed that three out of the ten bag were leaking air, as they were not holding the tight sealed look of no air in the bag.  Upon check the zip seal, I noticed that I hadn't completed sealed the three bags in question.  This time instead of pinching the zipper between my index finger and thumb, I used the counter and my index finger.  And I felt the zipper seal up.. so I tested all the bags this way and did find a few more not completely sealed.  I then pumped out the air, waited a few minutes prior to placing the bags into the freezer.  All held their seals.

The second part of this test will be tomorrow, as I move the bean from the small refrigator freeze to the large chest freezer in the basement.  I will let you know the condition.  You will just have to wait.
After the vacuum
A quick inspection of the frozen vacuumed sealed green beans this revealed that all the bags held their seals.  Off to a great start!  Next test will be later down the road as winter sets in and I get a hankering for something green from the garden.