Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Sending to you and yours around the world a heartfelt wish for a wonderful New Year 2013 from Timber Life.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

I wanted to share my post Christmas greetings with you... My hope is that you were able to spend time with those who make your holidays special.

Sadie Says - "Let's Play!"
We have spent Christmas Day away from home for many years. So this was the year to bring it back and share the snow with our kids and grand-kids.

Now and then I travel back in time to pursue memories of or maybe resurrect a tradition I would like to continue from my childhood. One thing that made Christmas, Christmas is the tree my Mom would go cut out of the road ditches in southwest Iowa. At the time I was a child the Red Cedar was a common occurrence along our country roads.The cedar scent released by the tree when it came to room temperature would fill the room. I would often rub the scaly leaves to release the oils onto my hand and sniff the refreshing pungent unguent.

Until last season we had some very nice trees in close proximity. The weather remained fair through the winter and our county had the road-crews cutting down roadside trees in our immediate vicinity, providing a task to be done since the roads weren't in need of scraping.

When our kids left home we rarely put up a Christmas Tree,because our current situation lacks in space.. I do like the trees you find on the tree farms, or at the local grocery store, but it just didn't mean the same.

Thanks to the help of my hunting mentor I was able to go about  finding a tree in our neighbor's horse pasture, I found several potential trees dotting the landscape. Decisions! Decisions!

However, what I needed was to make sure I was able to handle it by myself once I got home. Finding one that stood about three feet taller than me,my mentor sawed through the trunk. I caught it as it came loose and pulled it up the hill to load in the pick-up. Eventually, I whittled a couple feet off the bottom and trimmed up some sparse branches to reach the best shape.

The afternoon light left the center of the tree in the shadow since the wall was still a support.

Once Hubby helped me tackle the task of straightening the the poor little tree, I went about getting out the decorations.

My taste in decorations isn't extravagant...more rustic you might say.

I have this notion that you can create a pleasing display with mementos from the past. It was fun pulling them out of the storage tubs to see the sunlight reflect off them again.

My tree topper was an artistic creation - a snowman sack that once delivered a gift to my Hubby , tucked away into my storage tub to call upon once again.

Do you see that green object under the snowman? That was a 2nd graders rendition of a reindeer. Our oldest grandson, now 14 yrs. old, needed to borrow the foot of someone bigger to trace to make the head, but his hands were the models for the antlers. What a nice way to remember when he was a little guy!

Under the tree are items I hold dear ...some special people gave them to me as gifts.

I have given my tree a name this year,"My Charlie Brown Tree." I liken the transformation from sprig to pleasing as it happened for Charlie Brown and Linus on their search for just the right one.It took the help of Charlie and Linus' friends to make their project complete.

Christmas has passed-the message is one that remains the same from one year to the next. 

Thank you Charles Shultz for your timeless message shared by Linus. Still touching no matter what time of year we hear it. I hope it will touch your inner child too...

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Iowa Shotgun Season Two

Saturday morning, December 8th, the first day of shotgun season two,I was rousted out of bed by my dog Sadie, around 5:00 AM. She was ready for a trip outside and eat her breakfast to get her day in motion.

Our 8 year old granddaughter who had come with her brother to participate in the morning deer hunt, took the air mattress in the living room last night. So, it wasn't hard to wake her up since the front door wasn't far from where she lay. Sadie couldn't resist the temptation of showing affection to a little person, so she pounced as we passed, even though the little person wasn't ready to give the attention back.

Granddaughter, didn't climb out of bed right away, but we talked awhile before it was time to get the guys up so they could get ready before the sun got up too far. All three of them wrapped up,the guys donned their hunter orange even though they would be sitting in the blind. Time passed, the deer passed. The morning hunt ended without bringing home a deer. My  hunters came inside to defrost since the temps were in the mid 20's and they had been sitting about 45 minutes in wait.

I didn't participate in the hunt - instead  I remained inside to prepare breakfast. We ate some freshly made deer sausage from my deer I had gotten on Monday of that week, and a few pancakes served with Maple Syrup.

The guys finished up and went on to do other things. I was still working on frying up the leftover batter when granddaughter and I talked about what I saw for my future whitetail deer hunting experiences. I referred to a post You're Never Too Old to Hunt on a friend's blog of an 85 year old woman who still enjoyed being apart of the  hunting activites in her neighborhood. I smiled at granddaughter's reaction as our conversation continued.

 Granddaughter, still sitting at the table eating her sausage and pancakes, the topic moved  to her desire to learn to use the bow. We touched briefly on how we would go about getting her started in that direction due to her age and stature.

Subsequent hunts didn't happen for me until Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.

Thursday - December 13th

I went out at  3:30  to get situated about an hour and a half  before what has been considered the normal  evening deer movement out of the timber lately. Getting all my hunting garb on and heading for the blind I kept running through my mind where it would be good to go...Sitting there for a few minutes, and second guessing my choice, considering another location, planning an ambush on an east/west transition ; I hurriedly unzipped the door and took off for a spot closer to the drive-way/soybean field.

The family tractor, which sits outside in the same place most of the time allowed for a good place to camouflage my position right by the front tire, eventually becoming my gun rest.

About an hour and ten minutes later I got restless and I couldn't see any deer, so I went into the house for a few minutes after taking a brief survey of the area to check for activity. After my momentary absence,I decided to get back out there a second time.

Returning to the same spot I waited another ten minutes, came around the back of the tractor and was busted by deer standing watching me from the garden. A buck was in this group tonight, one that has been hanging close by the whole season. My buck tag already filled all I could do was watch him. I tried to smooth things over by hugging the big burr oak tree next to me and pretend I didn't move. I braced the shotgun  against the tree in case I should be so lucky as to have a doe continue in my direction, which by the way didn't happen.

Knowing my opportunity for further chances was slim to none before legal hunting hours were over, I  walked the short distance back to the house to put my gun away for the day.

I wasn't unhappy and even amused by the turn of events. The weather has been a plus, just to be able to be outside in almost 50 degree temps in December is unheard of in Central Iowa.

Friday - December 14th

Late Friday afternoon I used the same spot I had picked yesterday. I stood for probably a half an hour before seeing a deer sprint from the south to the north across the field, well out of range of my shotgun.

Hearing the deer conversing with one another behind my present location, I turned around to go look. My immediate reaction was an internal chuckle as they stood watching me from the tree line in the ravine. You guessed it! Today they didn't tarry long with all the gunshots that had recently been sent in their direction.

The weather was cloudy and the wind was out of the south.

Saturday - December 15th

 Late afternoon rolled around and I got all my hunting garb put on. Heading down the drive by foot I took a cut-off to the ravine on the outside of the fence. I didn't want to leave a scent trail in the area where I had witnessed the deer congregating yesterday. Weather conditions were reminiscent of yesterday so that is why I moved in this direction at the start of the hunt.

While I stood in a spot outside the fence on a trail in the vicinity of where I took my buck, the shotguns were sounding all around. I kept watch, because that usually meant the deer would be immediately on the run. Well, in this situation it didn't happen, it was longer for the deer to reach my location than I expected, and they didn't seem hurried by what was happening elsewhere.

I was standing at a north/south fence looking eastward, when I saw a doe hop the east/west fence to get on the northside and continue on her westward movement. Another deer was following, lagging a little further behind, still on the southside of the fence not in a hurry to move forward.

The first doe moved closer to the north/south fence, but stopped to assess the wind before reaching it. She moved forward a bit then retreated to a point where I am sure she was zoning in on my presence. I didn't move a muscle...However, the slight breeze most definitely wafted around me and carried my essence in her direction. That was the first time ever I saw first hand how important it is to have the wind straight in your face. This doe wasn't sticking around for a future show down and took the other deer with her back southeast from whence they had come.

I am no match for running deer so I headed home.

Reaching the homestead via the drive I froze in my steps. Does and fawns were scattered across my yard. There was one young doe who challenged me with her stomping and head swinging before she took off, taking all the others with her.

Time to go relay my hunting experience to my Hubby as he worked ...then to put the gun away until the last hunt tomorrow evening.

Sunday - December 16th

Sitting at the computer at 7:30 AM, working on a post, I turned around to look out the sliding glass door. It was time for the deer to be moving through the backyard on most days, but we haven't had a normal schedule since the end of  Bow Season. Today seemed back to normal because they were eating the dead flower foliage and grazing on the green grass.

Again, I had to chuckle. The smaller one had been closer to the edge of the flower bed chewing the grass, a sibling had been to the right...and the camera didn't want to focus in the low light. Mom Doe stood her ground until my activity, going back and forth , raising my arms with camera  in hand made her extremely nervous. I was glad to get this image to remember the morning of the last day of Iowa Shotgun Season II 2012.

One last late afternoon rolled around and I got all my hunting garb put on. My choice for hunting today would be in the timber north of the garden where the deer disappear beyond my view on a regular basis.

I was standing  inside the limbs of a fallen tree when Miss Kitty came sauntering up to get petted. This was not what I had hoped for at this point. She wouldn't leave me alone as long as I was  there, or anywhere I would try to hide. Sadie wasn't around,I was front and center to try to fill her attention meter.

My concentration on deer hunting wasn't what it needed to be. So, I came into the house to watch what would move passed.

Eventually, the deer arrived from the southeast. Three of them,a doe and two fawns, went charging beyond the house in expectation of being made targets...stopping to look back from a safe distance. Two more young does took their time, standing by one of the paths I had just returned back to the house on.

Standing at the window watching, a comic moment erupted in the animal kingdom. The two does became skittish as they stared down the path of my return. I wondered what had them intrigued? It was Miss Kitty running towards them full bore with tail high in the air doing her best Mountain Lion impersonation as she charged forward. The deer took two separate directions to try to avoid the little cat with a big  presence. Their shock didn't last long,they weren't sticking around, and took off back to the comfort of the timber,far away from this situation.

The day and shotgun season II came to a close here at Timber Life, as the light was waning on December 16, 2012 .

Pleased with this year's buck and looking forward to Bow Season next October 2013....

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Iowa Shotgun Season One - Days Four and Five

The weather has been really nice for December. Deer hunting hasn't been as much of a challenge as in past years where snow and wind  created slippery footing, and -20 below windchills.

Other hunters say it makes the deer blend into the surroundings when we don't have snow on the ground, but I haven't had any troubles seeing where they think themselves invisible .

Day 4, of our first shotgun season found me making a road trip to southwest Iowa. My "BIG RIG" driving brother needed a little four wheeler to chauffeur him to a few business transactions where his 18 Wheeler wouldn't have been welcome.

He has babied his truck to keep him moving across the ribbons of highways,a purchase made on his return to trucking after almost calling it quits when he was placed on a heart transplant list 8 years ago.

With medication he improved enough to be taken off the list and was able to get back to doing the only thing he had done since graduating high school, driving a big rig.

My brother says that the engine has over a million miles on it, but notes it has been rebuilt once within that time.
It had been a couple years since I had been back to our hometown of Griswold.

The last time was when I took my Mom back to get things in order for the next step in her life, preparing her wishes for the time when she steps beyond the bonds of her earthly body. A wise choice to make...No second guessing by family members left behind.

While we were in town we stopped at the telephone office to get some information, visiting with two women - one who had been apart of our smaller community of Noble Center Twnshp. The other was a year ahead of us in school. However, I was apart of the same social circles, we both played flute in band, and sang in the same section in choir. It was nice to have made a brief reconnection on our stop and go day. To hear how the years had added to their families...

Mural on the side of local grocery store
I have started collecting pictures of murals painted on the sides of small town businesses.

Each one tells the story of the area residents that make- up the town and their surroundings.

The front of the semi-truck reminds me of one company in particular that I am aware of in town. I may be mistaken, but I believe it to be another one of my classmates who took over a family business when his father passed away .

The produce and fruits are representing what I knew as Glen Robins Orchard, now it is called
3 Bee Farms , owned by Mike and Donna Brahms who bought it three years ago.

Of course the tractor and cropland signifies a time honored occupation, farming. An important activity to many one way or another.

Our road trip took up the legal hunting hours, there wasn't a chance to be out waiting for the deer to pass, or out on a trail pursuing them to bring home.

Day 5, Wednesday, December 5th, I spent the day rendering the buck to get the meat in the refrigerator. Then the tedious job of cutting, chopping, grinding and blending began. Well worth the effort to have meat in the freezer. So, ended the first Iowa Shotgun Season for me this year.

I will be returning soon to share how the Second Shotgun fared for us here at Timber Life.Looking forward to your visit...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Iowa Shotgun Deer Season One - Day Three

Hunting the past two days of  deer season one left our tags still available to be filled.

Word of mouth information about day one had made a heavy decrease in the area deer population with groups hunting adjacent properties .
This morning I rambled out to the blind before the sunrise to get the day started. The difference this time  was the absence of a deer snort immediately alerting me to their presence , a change from the last two mornings.

The direction  of the morning deer movement shifted from a north/south direction at the start, to a south/north today.Which was curious because the wind was still coming out of the south. As I sat in the blind I saw deer of size just as the light of day was coming up, but of course they didn't stick around long enough for me to make sure the shot I would send in their direction made contact.

By 7:30AM,  with one last doe stopping to check the air long enough for me to finally send off a" first shot",  I sent her running without success...I closed up the blind windows, stepped out of the doorway, and headed back to the house. Getting back to the house I started my daily housekeeping activities, because I was scheduled to be away running errands for my Mom, and chauffeuring her to a Dr.'s appointment in the afternoon. 

Well, things took a different path about an hour later.

A call from my neighbor alerting me to a drive to flush out a big buck by other hunters west of us had me headed off to the ravine, just in case he ran this far...

I didn't immediately go clear out to the end of the ravine which is surrounded by open cropland, but stopped by a fence line, and hid behind a clump of trees. My initial decision allowed me to see a doe with a couple of fawns run across where I would later take a stand behind a fallen Cottonwood tree. Before I moved out I was visited by the sound of snapping and cracking ground debris under the foot of some creature in a hurry to get beyond it's current situation. Turning to look instead of holding my gaze forward , I saw a one antlered buck startled by someone standing on the path in front of him. He twirled around at which time I let go a shot. We were in a location where the brush and fallen limbs created a challenge for both man and creature to get around in a panic. His footing had him slipping and trying to gain his composure to high tail it out of there...I shot once more as he traveled back the way he came.

My first reaction was to follow him. Hearing the shots my neighbor who had come to try to move the big buck my direction in the event it arrived, came to see if he could help. I told him of my situation , it was then that  I moved out to the end of the ravine to wait for things to happen, since this was not the animal he had been told about.

After waiting and hearing shotguns go off to the west  it was decided the big buck probably wouldn't be headed this far east - time to go back and see if I could find that one antlered buck before I needed to get ready to leave for the afternoon.

Examining the trail the buck took there wasn't any blood to verify it had suffered any type of injury. However, I was still driven to see if it was okay, or if I could tag it. I kept going, surveying the terrain up and down . Sometimes you just have the feeling you need to keep looking.  Not changing trails, I came upon him laying down crosswise. He was slow to get up, but that he did. He was injured ...I followed him until he ran across the ravine with no signs of stopping. With other commitments looming in the time frame I had to make some choices.

I knew I wouldn't be able to get back before dark to continue my hunt, and I didn't want to leave him to the timber overnight. So, I contacted the neighbor who had been on the buck watch with me to see if he might be able to take a look around. He had some troubles locating him at first - there wasn't a blood trail. I am grateful to him and his son for bringing the one antlered buck back to the homestead for me to claim.

Hubby helped to get him suspended up off the ground until I could get him skinned. Had to keep him high or I would have been inviting the coyotes to a feast

I can't say how much he weighed. I don't have a way of checking that statistic.

 I can tell you this about him - he is an old buck. After checking to see  what the condition of his teeth were, it became evident that all his molars are missing. The only teeth left were in the front and they still looked to be in good shape.

The base of his antler and broken stub have good diameter.

When I first came in contact with him
on the trail it was hard to miss he no longer sported a matched pair of tines.
Then of course the question came to mind,"How did he lose it?"

Was it absent due to a battle with the younger, bigger bucks inhabiting the area, or had he been running in one of the groups over the weekend, getting too close to another hunter?

Whatever the case, I am happy to have as my "bring home" buck, a wizened warrior of the timber....

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Iowa Deer Shotgun Season One

Whitetail Deer shotgun season one opened here in Iowa last Saturday, December 3rd.

The weather was cloudy with temps in the mid 30's at the start of the day, wind was headed out of the south.

This year I can say Hubby has picked up the bow, and the shotgun to try his hand at" bringing home" the deer to put in the freezer, and avoid losing them to the local predator populations, which has been my plight in the past.

We headed out the door at 6:30 AM on day one to get positioned in our respective locations,since it wasn't very far for us to go to try our luck at the morning deer movement back into the timber from their nightly grazing activities.

On the way to my spot I raised a startled deer snort, and wondered  how many were standing within my range just before the sunrise. I was trying to decide exactly where I wanted to get out of sight and out of the wind.

I waited for the does and fawns to come feed in the yard,which had been a ritual since about the middle of October, of course it didn't happen that morning. If a buck or two happened along I certainly wouldn't turn down the opportunity to put a deer slug in their direction. Ah, yes, and making a lethal connection to the whole affair would have made my day...

Hubby's observation for that morning from the hub-blind had the deer deviating from their normal path too, which seemed pretty constant during the now closed first archery season.

We had company in the vicinity and heard guns going off consistently throughout  the day.

During a lull in the afternoon I moved our pop-up blind to a spot where deer  travel in all four directions, during the morning it is usually a north/south  movement, and the evenings, east/west. However, as you well know variables do come into play and spur of the moment adaptations do arise.

The late afternoon, when many others were shooting whatever they saw, I didn't try. Instead I waited and headed for the blind on Sunday, the second day.

Day Two

The forecast for dense fog was extremely accurate for the second day of  Shotgun Deer Season One.

Both Hubby, and I headed for the blind to get out of the drippy, wet air hanging over the State.

We saw shadows passing as three deer, 2 does and one buck cast a silhouette when the wind shifted the heavy moisture at brief intervals.

As we watched you could see the buck with nose to the ground following a scent trail - one of the does that moved passed was wearing a provocative perfume; at least to a buck.

We ended our first  sitting session about 7:45, after we felt that was the end of the morning passage.The light came up; however,the fog remained  until almost 11:00.Throughout the rest of the day you could see residual effects of temperature and moisture hanging in the air, moments of  tree top clouds dotted the timber.

Onto the the 3:30 time period, I was trying to get Sadie satisfied with food and attention so I could escape awhile.

Four o'clock rolled around. I grabbed my gun and headed off to sit alone this time. Leaving Sadie with Hubby as he spent his time working on our new abode, still in the construction phase.

What I hadn't counted on was our Miss Kitty trying to get my attention shortly after I had pulled the doorway zipper closed half-way. She started batting at the bottom of the blind, testing the structure to find an entrance, or maybe to get a response from me. Well, I didn't attend to her advances at that moment. I didn't want to make any sound.  Whoops! Mistake!!! She came lunging through one of the open corner windows. The curiosity of a cat was  keeping her busy for a few seconds,ultimately I knew what she wanted. Time to eat! Silly me and keeping things to a schedule. Deviations are not allowed according to my animal charges, that is if I want peace and quiet.

So, I ended my extremely short evening hunt to feed the animals and get some knitting done on a project I need done by Christmas. (Hopefully done by Christmas)

Come back tomorrow and see the turn of events that happened during the second morning hunt on day three of Shotgun Season one.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Turnip Patch

This past summer I had a suggestion made to me from my hunting mentor who brings wild game for my table, about what I could do with a patch hand seeded a year ago with deer plot products. There were some perennials rooted, but not enough to thwart the weed population that had a good foothold. I am not a proponent of chemical burn down, nor do I wish to plant GMO seeds.

A great organic cultivation method that was implemented to eliminate the biggest share of weeds was super heated, dry soil turned over with a disc once,left to sit a week ,or so before it was disced, and planted with turnips the middle of August.
Two weeks after planting

The plot had previously been used by a cropland renter a few years for a small addition to the adjacent farm field. However, more times than not the crop was pre-harvested by our wandering wildlife. Certainly, no pay back on investment of seed, time, machine fuel, etc...

I didn't find the giant foxtail that proliferated in the patch this past season to be a total detriment to the location.

Observations provided information of deer bedding, trails passing in all directions, and they fed on the sparsely sprouted clovers, knocking down the surrounding foxtail. Having walked the patch many times,and hunting out of the giant  foxtail, I found glacier planted rocks of various sizes scattered over the surface, a few of those were also translocated to facilitate a smoother surface for us two foots to traverse.

Farming over some big buried rocks brought them closer to the surface during tilling.

 I finally  had enough with one that was very evident; so I took some measures to move it totally out of the way.

As I moved the soil around the  perimeter of the rock, the shape reminded me of a tooth.

My mind started playing with the paralells between my activities, with a child's experience of losing their baby teeth. Admittedly the technique I needed was a bit more heavy duty to get the geo-dentistry accomplished. It took a few tugs to get it lifted up and out of the hole.

After I let my mentor know of my accomplishment...he mentioned there was another rock further on that made the disc jump out of place when he was busy tilling. I will look into it next spring when it's time to think about preparations for planting once again.I haven't seen that one yet.

Sadie Says,"Good Crop"!
We haven't had an abundance of moisture, but the turnips have turned out really nice. The variety that was planted is human friendly. I have raided the patch a couple of times for myself, and then a couple of times I found some for people I know who didn't have some to harvest of their own.

Now, the deer and turkeys can join in  harvesting the greens and bulbs to supplement their diets.

Cold temperatures keep popping up. Soon the grass may go dormant, the deer will lose one of their last nitrogen sources that I see them dining on as they eat outside my window. I wish they would pay more attention to it during the summer when I need to mow it to keep it in order. I should be thankful they have a head start on next season.

On our last visit to the "Turnip Patch", I saw evidence of some nibbling going on, an encouraging sign since this would be my first time to have such an opportunity as this to see just how they will react.

Eventually, I want to plant perennial deer plot mixtures in this area.

I have become acquainted with the Whitetail Institute forage products  in my sample plots - the imperial clover and mixtures with clover and alfalfa have been a great draw. This year was the first year that I saw the deer actually pay attention to some chickory...could be it was a source of moisture for which we were greatly lacking.

I am excited to see activity even if it isn't first hand at the moment.

My trail camera has been keeping an eye on another location where another addition to the Timber Life list of animals has made itself visible.Check back for more to be shared on that subject in the future...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Iowa Bobcat Hunting Season 2012

Today, I would like to get some information posted about the Bobcat 2012 trapping season for Iowa.

Our season opened on November 3rd, and will go to January 31, 2013 or until a quota of 450 cats total are taken between hunting and trapping . If you are interested in seeing some specifics please click here to be taken to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources regulations for more information. The current count can be found here.

The season is open in the following counties: Adair, Adams, Appanoose, Cass, Clarke, Davis,
Decatur, Des Moines, Fremont, Guthrie, Harrison, Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Lucas,
Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Mills, Monona, Monroe, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Taylor, Union, Van Buren, Wapello, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Woodbury

These counties are located on the southern 3 tiers of our 99 counties, and  north of Interstate 80 on the Missouri River corridor...with Guthrie county in the 4th tier up from our southern border also being included.

Even though we have a Bobcat population starting  to take root in our neighborhood we are not included in the yearly Bobcat hunts at this point, and it would be illegal for anyone to take an animal outside the shaded area you would see indicated on the Map on the IDNR site .(Page 21)

Below you will find the rules described in the regulations for becoming a trapper or hunter of  Bobcat, Otter the State of Iowa.
Fur harvesters - All residents and nonresidents regardless of age must have a Fur harvester License to 
trap or hunt fur bearing animals.  Residents 16 to 64 years old and all nonresidents regardless of age must 
also have paid the Habitat Fee.  A Hunting License is not needed to hunt furbearers.  Coyote and groundhog 
may be hunted with either a Fur harvester License or a Hunting License. Nonresident fur harvesters wanting 
to purchase an Iowa nonresident Fur harvester License may do so only if their state of residence also sells a 
nonresident Fur harvester/Trapping License to Iowa residents.(Page 9)

My Personal  Thoughts

Photo Courtesy of  Mr. Titus
I really appreciate the sharing of  a photo by Mr. Titus, of a family - mom, and kittens, wandering a central Iowa timber. I think it would be a great time filler if there was a chance to sit quietly and observe the family interacting.

Last year, I caught what I would believe to be the hindquarters of a Bobcat on my trail camera, for some reason the camera didn't get the whole cat while it stood right beside it. The event didn't repeat itself ...So, the  photo wasn't able to verify the possibility that Timber Life had been host to the spotted cat. Can you say frustrated? I can! 

Judge for yourself. What would you say the hindquarter in the picture to the left should be associated? The legs appear to be those of a well muscled feline...However, the variation in the tail from what you normally picture gave some individuals doubt to it's owners species.

Having a growing Bobcat population may not be beneficial to the Pheasant count which has struggled greatly in the last 4-5 years, and the Turkey flock numbers, which once seemed more visibly healthy in our timber - changed it's dynamic, and the rabbits have basically gone nocturnal in their appearances on the trail camera,their numbers have decreased significantly; to have another predator in addition to the coyote gaining territory on top of stresses from weather conditions has me questioning the balance.

Iowa State University at Ames has done studies on the Bobcat dietary habits and writes in their findings that only 2% of stomach contents include pheasant, hawk, crow , turkey and flicker. However, I certainly would think  they would hunt whatever is closest when they get hungry. It is my wish that they could give us a paw up in bringing the crow, and thirteen lined ground squirrel populations under control in our area.

While I have mixed feelings about the growth of sightings of Felis concolor (Mountain Lion) passing through(?) and increases of resident Bobcats(Lynx or Felis rufus)...What will it mean for the local ecosystems in the future? That can only be answered as time passes.

Certainly, I would affirm they are stealthy in their movements since I believe my first encounter came back on November 14, 2007...the last time I went out after a Pheasant, it had the same intention as me - make a meal out of the experience.  I shot at the rooster and went to check a known travel corridor out of this particular situation. When I reached the spot, crouching on the ground with prey in mouth was a  little Bobcat, it turned it's head to look at me and took off. My actions placed the bird right in the cats strong jaws. I went to look for the wildcat to make sure of what I had just witnessed, but the split second to mull over in my mind what I just seen was a second too long. Since that time I have heard of  trail camera sightings, but no encounters of my own until last fall.

 Bobcat numbers seem to be growing everywhere, any place they can find food and shelter, even within some large city limits; Los Angeles, CA., Chicago,IL,Boynton Beach, FL.are all places seeing populations thriving.

Every time I go looking for additional information about Bobcat characteristics I find a discrepancy in what is considered their normal weights. I will chalk it up to what part of the country they are in and how good their surrounding provide for them. What I have seen mentioned in Iowa, 15 - 26 lbs.,  compared to Los Angeles Animal Services placing the weights between 20 - 40 lbs., of their suburban wildcats. 

In closing, I would like to say by no means am I trying to be an authority on the feline species that are establishing populations nationwide, or finding their way across our State. I am just bringing to light some tidbits of information that I have found interesting and hope you will too, while I search to understand a population that was reintroduced by the Department of Natural Resources to our neighborhood.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Does Bigfoot Live in Provo Canyon?

This morning I came across this interesting Youtube video. Tell me what you think these young men saw during their camping trip.

Decorah Eagles Return

The Decorah Eagle couple of camera fame have returned to build a new nest away from cameras to rear their new family come February.

A report by Bob Anderson with the Raptor Resource Project, said they won't be able to move the webcam to the new nest 300 feet away from the old one until after the new eaglets hatch and leave the nest.

It is my understanding at this point that attempts to keep the public informed about the future family will be done by taking digital still photos.

I will miss the opportunity to see the close-up shots of the chicks from hatching to flying away to start families of their own.

A little research has brought to my attention that eagles may build more than one nest within their territories and will build new nests if they lose a mate.

Something I wonder about in this situation is if they are aware of the webcam that had been keeping an eye on them? Maybe they were tired of the peeping public...

In any event I hope to bring updates in the future when the expectation of the new family is announced.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Timber Life Rut Report

Time to share some central Iowa info on a seasonal event. I don't know how many among you get emotionally charged like me when I  see the first signs that indicate the White-tail deer are beginning the rut season, but I am guessing a few with the search results I see on how people are finding my blog.

Here at Timber Life I start searching for buck rubs around October 17th, I was not to be disappointed with a change of date. The morning of October 17th, right on cue, there was a visible rub in the opposite corner of a pasture next to our homestead. A couple days later I headed off in a few directions to see how far the boundaries had extended from what I knew as the starting point. This is the second year for that particular rub, but it didn't become evident until December last year.
First Buck Rub

I moved a few hundred feet west of the first rub and found two more rubs not far apart, crossed over the ravine and found a concentration of small trees...some getting shredded to the point they had lost their tops.

 My comment at this point would have to be that I am seeing bucks and does with nose to the ground, or tasting the air, searching for that right scent. I have witnessed a few chase scenes during the early morning grazing of the soybean field as the deer pass back into the timber for the day.

I keep moving my trail camera in an attempt to catch the bucks making their mark, but so far it seems to take time off when things are heating up.

Other locations on our property have seen an increase in activity as well. I will make note in my record keeping that one of the most used rubs - one I thought would be the first to show any kind of attention, didn't until this past week.

I would have to say the deer are definitely on the move. Please remain aware of your surroundings if they commonly make your path, their path...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Facebook - My Passing Fad

Three years ago this past January I decided to follow some of my blogging buddies off to the world of Facebook. I am not one who would indiscriminately add people for whom I didn't know. My theory was to hang with the family,blogging buddies,circles associated with blogging buddies,and a limited number of past friends. One of the reasons I went was a chance to share my pictures,hear about what was going on in the family groups, and to catch other hunter's experiences in a centralized location. I have had my fill of individuals saying how positive they believe themselves to be and then a little while later they are battling with negative emotions about some issue, letting everyone know...Individuals who depend on the public for their livelyhoods, but so willing to express how they feel about those people if their patience is tested. My ability to filter all the emotions I see expressed have reached a boiling point;I need to take another path. Experiences on Facebook are what you make of them and could be a profitable use of Social Media.I cannot unequivocally say I will never return, but for now I am taking a vacation from the dramas,material that I don't believe is appropriate and widely accepted...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Deer on the Hill

Iowa has been seeing some warm fall temperatures and the white-tail deer crowd has been slow in making their mass presence known here at Timber Life.

The trail camera started seeing some early increased movement the last of August with a small cool down , it didn't last. Things warmed up again and  water sources continue to be dry due to our drought.

One day this past week, on my return trip from gathering the trail camera card, I was greeted by these girls standing like statues while pausing on a make-shift  path through the harvested beanfield. I believe the dominant/grandma doe is standing in the lead, then great-grandaughter, grand-daughter, or possibly a second daughter, and a daughter following up at the rear of the line. A purely speculative thought, but sizes do seem to support that hypothesis.

My mind jumped to a post I had made in July of 2009, about the generational  home range of the White-tail  family groups.


My presence didn't seem to create an immediate flight response, but a curiosity. Our stare down lasted for quite some time.

   Eventually, since I didn't move along, they became uncomfortable and the chain reaction started within the  group. The dominant and youngest does in the group felt intimidated first.

           One of the most common modes of communication I witness is the muzzle to muzzle.

Kickin' it into gear!

The others had already taken off for a more sheltered situation, so, the last in line shifted into high gear to make up for being left behind.

As the cold fronts continue to move-in, I expect to see the deer return in grand fashion for we are what you would call a "winter deer yard". Looking forward  to seeing what might be wandering passed in the days ahead...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Memory of 9-11-2001

The lives and the history of this day will not be forgotten.
I,who have only witnessed this event by media accounts cannot totally grasp the enormity of the gaping holes left by the attacks on property and humanity. 

The lives and the history of this day will not be forgotten.
We can pick-up the pieces and build again. In doing so we are keeping the memory alive of what transpired there on that day.
The lives and the history of this day will not be forgotten.
Join others and become apart of the 9/11 Memorial Service today,September 11, 2012, at 8:30 a.m EST...
 God Bless the USA!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Saylorville Dam on the Des Moines River

Welcome!  If you are following my afternoon wanderings, or jumping in for the first time,thank you for your visit to checkout the remainder of our day below the Saylorville Dam.

My choice to use extra large images is to get you totally immersed in the moment.

Confluence of the Des Moines River and Saylorville Dam Spillway
Saylorville Dam from the  Fishing Pier

Cottonwood Recreation Area Fishing Pier

                                 The Blue Herons of  the Cottonwood Recreation Area

The first blue heron we came across in our adventure of the day was at the pond close to the entrance of the park.

Our ponds and marshes are suffering greatly due to a lack of water...if water remains it is filled with algae.

Driving farther into the park we came to one of the shelters where we decided to get out of the car for a closer look at the river. Our activity disturbed one of the local residents.

We climbed back into the car to move closer to the dam you saw at the top of the post and to another sandbar. 

This heron was the one that gave me an abundance of a bird in motion pictures as it flew closer to me.

The heron above came flying from the group of trees across from the fishing pier. I attempted to catch the heron while it perched in the tree, but I have yet to be able to provide an image for which I approve.
Our State Department of Natural Resources provides a weekly report to fisher people. The one below came out a couple of weeks ago when I originally started this post.

This may be of interest to local individuals-

Saylorville Reservoir
Channel Catfish - Excellent: Good size channel cats are being caught drifting cut baits.  The old river channel north of the mile long bridge is a good starting point.  White Bass - Good: The white bass are active are can be caught around the Cherry Glen and Sandpiper areas as well as the west side of the lake.  Some of the best action has come by trolling small lipless crankbaits in shad colors, along with small flashy spoons and twister tails.
Reservoir fishing continues to be very good to excellent right now for white bass, wipers, and channel catfish. Try fishing early in the morning or late in the evenings when fish are most active.  For more information on central Iowa lakes and rivers contact Ben Dodd or Andy Otting at  515-432-2823 .

As we hopped back into the car for our exit from the park, and escaping the increasing heat, we saw some young fishermen carrying heavy duty fishing poles down to the river. I speculated to Hubby that they would be going after the channel catfish most likely lying at the bottom of the river close to the edge of  the sandbar immediately before us...

My hope is to share a glimpse of the opportunities available for in-state or to out of state visitors,or inspire you to checkout your local wildlife sanctuaries wherever you live...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cottonwood Recreation Area

The Cottonwood Recreation Area was our third and final stop in our few hours spent checking out the lake and the river.

In our years together,Hubby and I have shared this park area the most with other people. However, we haven't been here for years.Passed by many times, but always committed time was different.

Before the floods,1993,2008, etc...etc.., the banks along the river were covered with big stately trees, wonderful shade for late afternoon picnics.

Today, we saw a lot of exposed sandbars due to low river levels.
Hubby scaled down the rip-rap onto the sandbar to explore, while I headed over to the fishing pier.
On my way to the pier I checked out the story board before spending most of my time taking pictures of the birds fishing the shallows.

Stop back soon and I'll share more about our relaxing day by the rolling water just below the Saylorville Dam.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oak Grove Recreation Area

After finishing our picnic at Shelter house #1,we left the Cherry Glen Recreation Area and headed up NW Polk City Dr./HWY 415 to our next stop at Oak Grove Recreation Area.

The Ranger station was closed so we headed down the hill towards our objective - the water's edge.
As we left the Ranger Station the Picnic Area was immediately off to our left. Going down the hill further we approached the camping area off to our right, approximately a 1/4 of a mile from the beach at this access point.

We had started seeing sailboats gliding swiftly across the water's surface at the first lake access...the breeze was keeping the sails furled and captains on their toes. Reaching our second access at Oak Grove we were being met by several craft that had come north as we did, following the shoreline.

This picture has two boats far enough away from one another to be comfortable, but a third boat came within feet of the closest to us, headed in the opposite direction. I would say from our vantage point that those two boats  had a "close enough" encounter as they passed, one slightly tilted with underside exposed to the camera.

One of the outstanding features of Saylorville Lake happens to be the Mile Long Bridge west of Polk City.

Most of the time the bridge is a pleasant trip, but like all situations that could crop up in a twinkling of an eye; warnings are posted on the bridge to make drivers aware of potential hazards, such as wind gusts, and of course during the winter, icy conditions.

I have lived in the area long enough to have witnessed water up to the road decking on many occasions. When  I must pass over it with high winds, and water, I keep my eyes focused on the end, and my hands on the steering wheel. Once in a while I try to get a picture without focusing.Oh,and the results usually end up in the recycle bin to be tossed away in the next delete phase.

Come on along with Hubby and me.Time to be off to the next destination,the Cottonwood Recreation Area.

Check back and see what we found as we head in to another part of the Saylorville Reservoir territory to watch and listen for mother nature's treasures...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Recreation Area Visits Around Saylorville Reservoir

I got the opportunity to do a little bit of leisure driving with Hubby on Friday.We ended up grabbing a couple of sandwiches from Quiznos and headed out to one of the recreation areas located around Saylorville Reservoir here in central Iowa, just north of Des Moines.

We pulled up to a shelter house to take our picnic plans to the next level... as we pulled up, getting ready to park, we saw a Whitetail doe with triplets tagging along behind. 

Hubby and I were in awe! 

Living in a timber we hadn't seen triplets traipsing around, or at least we didn't correlate they were womb mates. Today's event was evident, no mistaking they shared the same family tie.
The little family is straight back almost to the rear treeline.

The third fawn lagged further behind as the family moved from left to right disappearing once again into thick cover

The other side of the treeline takes you into someone's backyard. Housing developments have sprung up on the perimeters of the recreation areas - tucked among the trees. A great place to  find quiet solitude, even with a busy world humming all around.

On our day out we found shade and a slight breeze around noon , just before the day heated into the upper 80's.

Stop back soon! I will be sharing a couple of other parks we stopped to explore close to the lake and a few accesses to slip into the water...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Vardaman Sweet Potato Vines

Last November, I put in an order with my truck driving brother.

He had some good luck getting loads out of Mississippi bringing back  Sweet Potatoes to the Midwest for our holiday celebrations back in 2010.

I thought maybe he might be able to do the same again for the 2011 Season ...I was extremely pleased when I found out he would get that chance.
 The fare was very tasty!

We tried a recipe by Paula Deen called
"Sweet Potato Bake".

Our daughter, Tamara, was the Chef and she used her top of the line culinary hobby skills to  please all of our palates on Thanksgiving.

The day before Thanksgiving last year my kitchen was transformed into an assembly line. One dish after another found their ingredients mixed and ready to bake Thursday morning, or baked ready to enjoy after the main course.

I have to add another recipe that was was new to us, but definitely one that I made over and over for Hubby and happens to belong to a blogging friend of mine, out of Mississippi. I thought,"Well goodness! How blessed am I to get sweet potatoes out of Mississippi and then to get the recipe from a Southern Lady Deer Huntress out of Vicksburg, Mississippi?!?" Did you click the link?? Did you find out who I'm talking about??? Please click all three and you will see who shared their recipe with me!

  Southern Lady's Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

3 large sweet potatoes cooked, drained, and mashed up. Will make approximately 2-1/2 to 3 cups.
 Add the following ingredients to potatoes while they are still hot.

1 stick margarine or butter 
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk 3 eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Place in uncooked pie shells. Will make 3 thin pies or 2 large ones. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

For a crisp pie shell, bake for the first 10 minutes at 425 degrees and then turn back to 350 degrees for remaining 40 minutes

The Start of Something Big

This year I am growing a few of my own Vardaman sweet potatoes  - vines started from the sprouts of one of the potatoes you see up at the top. Planting a couple of the potatoes to get shoots, eventually taking the shoots off,I placed them in water to root.  Choosing a couple of them, they were stuck in a BIG pot of soil-less mix.

The experiment now is to see how many pounds I might get 110 days from planting. 

                                                                           The only problem so far is an animal keeps digging the plants out looking for grubs and some little chewing insects riddling a few of the leaves. 

Since the weather has been extremely hot, I  have needed to check on keeping the mix hydrated.

I am pleased with vine development, but I always get impatient and find myself scratching at the ground line to see if anything is growing, other than foliage. 

Talking to myself ,I work at reminding me of the benefits of Patience!

Should my venture produce at least three large sweet potatoes, I will have the ingredients from Mississippi again for a delight from the south-enough to use the recipe of my blogging friend the Southern Lady Deer Huntress...