Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Favorite Coffee Bean Provider

Smokey Row Coffee Company
 Last Saturday, I was out and about in the South Central part of Iowa, Pleasantville to be more specific.

Having some time to fill before attending a family Bridal Shower, I drove around town looking for a few things to capture on camera.

Ah,yes! And to stop by a coffee shop  for which I had become familiar through a retail grocery store in Des Moines, and then online

I like grinding my own beans fresh every morning, mid-morning, and um yes...just after noon. You could call me a caffeine junky.

I am not into the sweet coffee mixtures,except maybe a splash of cream, and some stevia occasionally - brew it for me mild roast, please!

My Preferences at the Moment
From left to right: Peace Organic Blend, Ethiopia Yergacheffe, Organic Green Truck and Tanzania.

There is one other I have used, but need to wait to bring it back into the cupboard. It is also another organic blend called "Blue Truck".

So, if you enjoy trying new coffee, stop by the shop, or visit them online.

This is simply my take on a product I enjoy...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Afternoon Timber Walk

Today turned out to be another beautiful day! Extremely windy, but temperature wise we had another absolutely gorgeous day!!!

This morning I removed the memory card from my trail camera to check the activity and  took some pictures on my other camera before reaching the trail camera.So I ended up bringing both cards home before lunch to transfer pictures to the computer.

This afternoon before the day got totally gone I headed back to get the memory card situated in the trail camera for the night.

Thinking back to a couple of my trips last week I saw turkeys in fields to the south and got some distance shots - might decide to share them later. It probably would be a good idea for me to put more time in between visits to pick-up the memory card. Too much traffic might be causing the turkeys to seek more privacy elsewhere, because I haven't seen them for a few days. All is quiet where they are concerned.

Trout Lily
Last week I saw the mottled leaves for the White Trout Lily erupting out of the ground and remembered a post by Casey Harn at Wandering Owl Outside. He has moved over to The Countryside Round now...still enjoy his posts when he has time to publish.

Turkey Vulture
The Turkey Vultures came back a couple of weeks ago. I told you I would keep you informed of their return, they seem to be one of indicators that the weather should remain good.

I didn't have my camera in hand this morning, or I would have had a picture of one riding low on a thermal over the house.

Last year I had some good photo ops with one that I will post some time in the future.

On my walk this afternoon I caught an extremely sweet scent wafting on the stiff winds - I would prefer the poetic lilt of gentle breezes, but that wouldn't describe the West winds at 18 gusting to 26.

The trees have been rocking all day - The Ides of March?

Timber Violet
Antler Shed
Kneeling on a deer trail to get pictures of the two White Trout Lillies, I wasn't concentrating on anything else. Sadie came up beside me, that is when I looked to my right. Another shed! Wouldn't you just know it, after I had quit looking for them. This one is really a victim of chewing.

I brought it back to the house to see if it matched anything I already had in my inventory. No, it doesn't seem to correspond to those already in my possession...

The trail camera should prove a valuable tool this summer. Maybe, I will get to see the owners of the sheds left behind.

Virginia Bluebell
All the flowers in bloom now are leading up to another yearly event, that of morel mushroom hunting. The only flower yet to open up is the Mayapple. I am told that is another flower that helps indicate the right conditions for the search to begin.

We need more rain to get the mushrooms to pop. The heat is already here...

Iowa's relative of the Prairie Dog -Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel

Isn't that  a cute little face?

Popping out of the burrow to check on Passersby

Adaptation for Camouflaging
This morning I caught this individual as it turned it's back on me. Color adaptations for remaining illusive seems to be working here. These little four footed creatures have taken over from one end of the crop ground/pastures to the far ends of the timber.
It is hard to believe that they can be so prolific with the predators and raptors that call this area home.

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel Doe  

This picture was taken September 28th, 2011 along our drive as I went to pick-up the mail. She sat and stared - changing position occasionally. Tiring of my visit she returned to the safety of her burrow.

Statistically they say the little does have one litter of pups a year, in the spring.

My curiosity about how the family units and individuals are titled sent me on a web search.

I found out that the babies are called 'pups, kit or kittens'. The female of the group is called a doe, the males are bucks. Goodness! They sure do have a size difference from Whitetails we usually associate with does and bucks.

With the unseasonably warm temperatures I am wondering if they will start their families soon?

A few years ago I started hearing what I thought was a different bird around the house, only to find that it was their call, a high-pitched trill. I now know what to look for when I hear it...

This collection of ground squirrel mounds is only a small representative of the total picture. I have discovered they like the shorter grass of the lawn along the drive.

Their burrowing has created some slow going when driving in a strip of ground between some  fields. It is wise to drive at a snails pace in case the opening have been covered by taller grass growth...don't want to flatten the tires.

The ground is lacking in moisture and makes digging a very easy task...These are freshly disturbed openings to additional tunnels. New mounds in the spring are the first indications they are waking up for the season.

Our property is also host to the Ground Hog, which I had associated with some of the larger holes. However, my observations revealed a different story.

As strange as it might seem these little Ground Squirrels are related to the Prairie Dog,

I had the opportunity to catch this Prairie Dog sunning in a colony, while my Hubby and I drove through the Black Hills of South Dakota, back in September of 2007. They too had created some problems for farmers and animal grazers at the time of our last visit. It appears maybe now they have gained some acceptable populations.

I am always grateful for October to arrive in this case, because the Ground Squirrels, cute as they might be, disappear for a few months...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shed Hunting Comes to an End

Yesterday was the last day of shed hunting here at Timber Life.

We found our last antler on Monday, along with the top side of  a canine skull. I may have seen it last year in my rounds, but left it. This year I brought it back to the house to do some research to define which predator species coyote, or fox had found it's rest among the trees.

Coyote Skull - 6 3/4" from back to jaw tip

Back to the final tally for the active shed hunt season: Sadie- 2 - CDGardens - 3, plus 3 in cooperation for a total of eight. I would see something, head in that direction to check it out, and Sadie would run ahead to confirm it with the sniff test.

I have four antlers in good shape and four antlers in various states of gnaw or rub damage. I stated it was the ratio of three good and five damaged on another website, but looking things over again, I need to readjust the number by one.

Now that I have recorded the take Sadie will get to add the damaged ones to her stash of chew sticks for as long as they last.

Plans for antler art = chandelier are coming together with each yearly addition...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patty's Day!

How many years ago was it now that Michael Flatley and Jean Butler were on tour with Riverdance? It never gets old...

I want to share a toe tapping start to St Patty's Daywith you!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Movin' On Down the Line

I am sure you probably have opportunity to watch trains glide through your area...You too might wish that they weren't cutting your path in half.

This was the second time in that week that I had to wait for a train to get through the same crossing. The time of day didn't make a difference. I don't know if they have a schedule that you can set your watch by or not. It was just interesting that the two times I came past that week I got to sit  for a few minutes, and wonder how far they would need to go to reach their closest destination...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Decorah Eagle Cam 2012

                            Decorah Eagle Cam Live Feed

Video streaming by Ustream

The Eagles are setting again...The first egg was laid on January 17th, 2012 and the tentative hatch date is March 25,2012.

Once again The Raptor Research Project is providing the 24/7 coverage for all of us to enjoy Eagle watching - the upbringing of another majestic bird...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tailgate Art

Yesterday , Hubby and I took off to do some shopping for supplies.

The parking lot was busy with others of like mind, must be the sunshine, and warmth, spurring us all to get started on Spring time projects.

We had loaded our purchase out in the yard, but needed  a couple more things from inside before we left for home.

Passing a brilliantly decorated tailgate on one of the pickups, as we pulled into a parking spot in front of the store,piqued my curiosity. It had pheasants and hunting dogs on 3/4 of the tailgate, and the other 1/4 was painted with a picture of a house.

Rolling down the window on our pickup, I twisted around,pointed the camera in the direction of the tailgate, and took different zoom pictures so I could read the writing.

I LOVE it!

This picture is a beautiful artist's rendering of the Iowa fall landscape  - Pheasant hunting season.

I did some sleuthing ...

What I found for the lindenhouse  and  local attractions... A Lynnville, IA  Bed&Breakfast.

This is what I found for bigsprings at Searboro east of Lynnville on IA Highway 146.

The more I read the more connections I make - Brownells Inc., located at Montezuma, owns  the Big Springs Range to support all aspects of legal gun ownership.  Take a minute and checkout what they are doing  in association with their retail operation.

Ah, for the eye-catching  design on the  tailgate of a pickup  for advertising purposes. Definitely made me look!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Deer VS Car

We keep hearing about cars finding themselves on collision courses with Whitetail Deer on commutes in and around our capitol city, Des Moines.

The rut is over, but for some reason the deer haven't realized they don't need to be in a rush to run across the road in front of the headlights, or for that matter just stand in the middle of the road.

The other night my Hubby arrived home with a new crinkle to his little Geo; his Whitetail collision occurred just roughly 1 1/8th miles from home.

This is his third encounter over a fifteen year period. The first encounter happened during the mid-day, clipped a side mirror off our Honda Accord, the second event took place July 16th, 2008, and left a calling card on the hood,scared the poor deer, most likely to death. It happened after dark in the fog...

The present situation occurred as the sun was setting low. So we weren't able to find the animal in the ditch on our return to the vicinity, darkness covered the scene. I did see some deer standing at a fence line and should have taken that as my cue to where we needed to look.

Morning revealed the location and the state of predation of the unfortunate occurring in less than 12 hours. It makes me wonder who found the deceased first...Coyote,Bobcat, Eagle, Hawk???

Hubby was lucky that the radiator and drive train of the car weren't damaged. He had another hood that fit, but will need to get a headlight shroud, and turn signal cover to get things back to normal.

We are grateful nothing more happened...

Time to Spring Forward!

At 2:00 A.M. Sunday morning, March 11th, we will be finding ourselves with one less hour of sleep. Time to move the clocks up to get us started on longer daylight hours to work and play.

I am certainly getting into the Spring part of it already...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

From Morning 'Til Night

The morning started off with a fresh layer of snow on Monday the 5th, and the deer were foraging around the backyard looking for acorns.

Several individuals were caught on camera, but my imagination led me to envision this particular doe thinking,"Shhh, maybe if I hold still she won't see me", as if the wisps of ice laden weeds would add to her incognito mode. Definitely a smile maker as the sun came up for the day.

Deer weren't the only ones looking for food. Squirrels were in the front yard... Squirrels in the backyard,  kept Sadie on alert at the windows. Those little critters have been harvesting acorns off the ground consistently since the drop last Fall. You would think by now with all the acorn eaters in the neighborhood the supply should be exhausted; apparently not. Their tunneling skills has created a symbiotic relationship with some of the birds when it snows - the squirrels loosen the snow for the birds to reach the ground.

After lunch ,walking down the drive to get the mail led to dodging mud, and running water, as the sun heated up the ground.

The return from the mailbox took me to the trail camera ; then a visit to the fence line nearest the neighbor's pond. I was out to catch some migrating birds again.

Standing, watching the birds gave me the chance to watch flocks on the move. A few dropping onto the pond in front of me.

This group of Mallards took off, circled to get into formation, and headed for another pond in the next field.

I stayed around for awhile to watch a bunch of Mallards return over the pond,  they didn't take time to drop down to the surface. It became apparent to me why they were  agitated, and headed away in an extreme hurry towards the Marsh, an Eagle was in close pursuit. From my vantage point I didn't witness any close calls.

This day started around 4:30 A.M for me....heading outside for the first time I watched the moonset;  I tried my skill at catching it before it  totally disappeared below the horizon. No success at that time as it slid swiftly away.

In the evening Sadie wanted to get some time outside as the sun was setting, deer in the field grazing, geese in the air looking for a place to set down; all spurred me to get camera in hand once again.

My attempts to catch the moon led to different settings ,with the best exposure on automatic this time around.

The Canon PS3 IS camera I use has moments when it performs well outside of its capabilities. At those times I can only give God the credit; must be the picture he wanted me to get.
Moonrise at Timber Life 3-05-2012

 So went the day at Timber Life, March 5th, 2012 ....


Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Snow has Arrived

The big flakes began falling before noon and with no wind they floated straight down.

Ah, what a lovely snow we have been blessed with today.

I have become accustomed to the on/off type winter we seem to continue to enjoy this year. It has been about seven years since we last saw similar weather; if memory serves me correctly.

Please forgive the picture quality...gray skies and snow aren't lending themselves to perfect image catching conditions.

I believe however, you can probably discern the object of this shot.

You are correct! That is if you guessed a Robin...
They have been hanging around for some time now, and for some reason unbeknownst to us it always has to snow at least once, or twice after their return.

Visibility varied from minute to minute.

I didn't find it totally unpleasant to be out and about; going from our mobile home to our new house.

Hubby and I are putting some time in today cutting wood and building some wall frames in our new house.

This picture was taken from the doorway of our new house when the snow was peppering down.
A Red-tailed Hawk came back to sit in the same Cottonwood, where I saw one this morning, but this time a lower branch was more to it's liking.

He stuck around during the lull between shots of the fluffy white stuff.

Cardinals could be heard  singing their sweet spring songs, which started the other birds to join in the chorus. Overall it seemed a welcoming to whoever might be close enough to listen.

This afternoon is ending with about two inches of new snow on the ground.

Not a good wet snow for making snowmen I don't think...Maybe I should go give it a try.

I can still smile, because this will all be gone tomorrow.

Spring temperatures are forecast for our week with rain a possibility come Wednesday.

The gardening bug has placed a thought of early crops that might profit from being put into the ground soon. Even if it snows again......

Sunday Morning Walk

This morning I decided to get out to check the farmer's pond adjacent to our pasture for the increased populations of migrating waterfowl passing through our spring  flyway.

                  Light of day was just beginning to rise as I caught these pictures in a valley like setting.

           Coming out of the house I spotted the Eagle across the cornfield perched in a fence line tree.

Then in the opposite direction I caught this Red-tailed Hawk making use of the frequently used Cottonwood perch. It's brilliant white contrast against a darkening cloud bank was awesome.

It turned out I was not alone in surveying the activities of our little part of  Iowa. Sadie and I had company peering over the fence at the opposite side of the pasture. I only became aware of our visitor when I turned to look around before moving to a different location for pond viewing; adding another member of the fauna to put in the daily picture log.Once it realized it wasn't alone it disappeared.

The temperature was extremely frosty just after sunrise - I didn't stay out for long. Snow is showing up on the weather map since I came back to the house, but again not a huge event.

Spring temps this week should continue to add to the return of Timber Life residents that call the south home for a few months. So far I have heard Killdeer, Red-winged Blackbirds,heard and seen Robins during our fluctuating weather.

What really signals spring for me is the return of the hummingbirds,orioles, and vultures. Keep checking back...I will let you know when that happens.