Monday, December 31, 2012

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 afternoon...in 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.