Monday, August 3, 2015

More of Summer Miscellany

Miscellany - A group or collection of different items; a mixture.

Synonyms:  assortment, mixture, melange, blend, variety, mixed bag, grab bag, mix, medley, diversity, assemblage, potpourri, pastiche, mishmash, ragbag, hodgepodge, hash

Ya, that pretty much explains this blog post.

Summer continues, and no hawking activity.  Sassy has finished dropping her 12 tail feathers, now they just have to all grow in.  Flint continues to resist my attempts to speed things up.  Ah well, in the absence of any hawk stuff . . . how about pretty stuff regarding summer?

Rich and I met up with my friend Patti this last week and went to Madison for the never before attended by me Wednesday Farmer's Market, and also to visit the Olbrich Botanical Garden.  I usually visit the garden in the spring, but wanted to see what it looked like mid Summer.  They also have a butterfly event going on right now in their Conservatory.  I'll post some of my pics, as well as Rich's with his much nicer, newer camera.

There are many spots you can sit for awhile and enjoy the serene beauty that has been created with plants and flowers.

I like the color palate of this grouping of annuals above.  Even the green plants have a warm, red hue.

Summer flowers are at the height of bloom.  The fountain below you can even see the lake in the distance.

Inside the conservatory were butterflies, brought in as pupae and hatched out.  They are mostly native to North America.  They were pretty, certainly, but not nearly as dramatic as the ones I photographed when I visited Florida.  Still, between Rich and I we got several fairly nice pictures.

The little guide sheet they gave out said this one is a Julia, Dryas julia.  The one above was taken by Rich, the one below, by me.  As you can see, Rich's camera can take a much sharper image, however, I think I centered my subject a little better.

Another of the same kind of butterfly.  This one taken by me.  These are three different butterflies, but the species must have been rather photogenic, as we have several pics of them.

Below is a Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor.  Rich has a few pictures of this species, but they are all fuzzy, and not in focus.

This is a White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae.

The guide identifies this one below as a Question Mark, Polygonia interrogationis.

The butterfly below is a Queen, Danaus gilippus, and a rather dark one too compared to my guide. The overall image is a little hazy, as it was taken with a pane of glass between myself and the subject. The display of carnivorous plants was attracting the butterflies, although I think they may have been too big to slip down inside and get eaten by the plants.

I like the picture below simply for the composition of it.  It was taken with Rich's camera. You can see all the tiny details of the flowers.

Rich caught me taking a picture of a most interesting species.  I didn't find this one in my guide anywhere.  One of the volunteers at the gardens playfully wore giant butterfly wings, and directed visitors and answered questions.

Some of the flowers seen that day.  These lilies below taken by Rich's camera.

Same subject, different cameras.  Who did it better?

And finally, enough with the flowers, I really like this composition of daisies taken by Rich.  This picture is nice enough to be a screen saver, with the sharp foreground image, and soft faded background.

It was a nice day with my guy . . .

And my girlfriend!

OK . . . how about some birds?  Below are some of the canaries I bred this year.  I've not bred canaries for probably 10 years.    Soon, I'll see if I can find some homes for them.  They are not any specific breed, just average 'mutt' canaries.  Still . . . it has been a little fun breeding them again.

Mmmmmm . . . they say . . . . fresh spinach!

No leg bands, that is, no closed and registered leg bands.  Just plastic family bands, so I can keep track of who was bred by which adult birds.  All these pictures are of the babies from this year.

Dare I go back to flowers?  Yes, I dare, if only for a quick comment.  At the farmer's market, I bought myself these nice summer flowers on the left. The next day, my friend Liz came to visit from La Crosse. She always had a very nice garden.  She brought me a nice arrangement as well, on the right, and some plants in pots to add to my yard.  Thanks Liz!

How about we go for fish?

Rich likes to go to auctions.  Last year, he found and bid on a fish tank.  He got it for $7.  He's always looking for tanks for me, as I breed rats for hawk food.  Fish tanks make really nice enclosures for rats.  He brought this one home, and it lay on the floor all winter during hawking season, as I had no time to really do anything with it, and I don't breed rats during the winter, as we are hunting and catching plenty of fresh food for the birds.

Once the season was done, and I was cleaning up my home of all the collective clutter from the winter that didn't get put away or dealt with because I was hawking, I took a closer look at this tank.  It was an entire setup!  Well, rather than put rats in it . . . how about fish!  So I did just that.  The picture above is back in April, when I set it up.  I even purchased a sturdy little table to place it on.  The picture below is what it looks like today.  I changed out some of the fake plants above for real ones below.  Also, there are residents now.

I've lost a couple of the fish since I set it up, but for the most part, the community is doing fine.  Here below, on top, is one of my Gouramis.  Below it, my two Angel Fish.  These are the big bad guys in the tank . . . they came in just a few months ago as small fish, but grew and grew, until now they are the largest in the tank.  Other residents are some Neon Tetras, some Danios, a trio of Corey Cats, and one Chinese Algea Eater.  It makes a nice addition to my home . . . but one more thing to feed and clean.

How about we finish up this Miscellany with a dog.  Here is Monty, using, perhaps not completely by his own will, one of the other treasures Rich found at an auction, for just $25.  It's good to keep a Jack Russell tired.

Sunday, July 19, 2015



I Has Them!!

This is the view outside my dining room window.  Rich has a bird feeding station in the front yard.  It's not the best picture, but it is proof . . . I have a squirrel problem!

Just Wait . . . Hunting Season is Coming!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Shepherd on the Horizon

I am an ardent fan of the German Shepherd breed of dog.  I have always loved the look of this breed, their courage, and their intelligence.  I had a Big Boy many years ago, in my previous life.  I have wanted to get another one "some day".  But I have been well aware that a puppy takes time and work, and the way my career path has taken me has placed me firmly in a situation that keeps me away from my home for long hours.  However, this previous May I was fortunate to be able to accept a new job at Saint Mary's Hospital in Rochester.  Much of the world knows this place as "Mayo".  I am employed on the night shift, and this change in my life has now made it possible for me to consider bringing a new dog into my life.  Enter my friend, Brandon.

I made the acquaintance of Brandon several years ago, when I first returned to the Upper Midwest.  He has an interest in Falconry, which he may pursue some day, however now in his life he is a father to four girls, and actively putting into place the details of his future career.  He has been training to become a police officer, and hopes to combine that with his other passion . . . dog training.  Brandon owns and works with high drive dogs, Malinois and German Shepherds, for police work.  He knows people, and has good connections in the reputable dog breeding communities.  He contacted me a little while ago with information about a litter of puppies he would acquire through a training arrangement with another breeder.  He wanted to know if I was interested.  The pieces of the puzzle seemed to be falling into place.  "Some Day" had arrived!

This previous week I went to visit to see the puppies.  They are about four and a half weeks old.  There are seven in the litter, three boys, and four girls.  The males are spoken for, and frankly, I'm not interested.  I've had enough of boy dogs to suit me for a long time, with all their leg hiking and peeing all over everything.  I'm ready for a girl dog again.  Of the four girls, there is one that is top pup of the litter.  She is also spoken for, as she is showing the courage and drive to be a strong working dog.  Of the three remaining, one is more shy and submissive.  In the middle are these two girls above.  One of them will most likely be my new pup.  Brandon will continue to assess their personalities and drive, and help me to select between them when the time comes.  They still have a good month left in their natal pack.  The next few weeks have many important socialization milestones they need to experience to grow into healthy, well-adjusted dogs.  Sometime in August I will bring home a new baby. 

This is their mother, Carter.  She has a very pleasant temperament, and did not show any nervousness towards strangers near her pups.  In fact, Brandon said she is already weaning them, as she's probably tired of being nipped by all those mouths with sprouting teeth.  Brandon's children spend a lot of time in with the pups, holding them, picking them up, and touching and talking to them, so they are getting good experience of people, especially "little" people.  It will be up to me to continue those lessons once my pup comes to live with me, and to continue to give her opportunities to experience things, and to learn to not be afraid.

I am seeking out training resources as well, so I will have a well adjusted and mannerly dog.  Ultimately, it would be nice if I could get the new addition to the family to also become a falconry dog.  Monty failed at this, because Sassy hates him, and Monty doesn't respect Sassy's authority.  Sassy does seem to be better accepting of bigger dogs.  We'll see.

Here is a video of the pups.  Watch it in full screen for best viewing of the video.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Lazy Days of Summer

Independence Day has just past.  So far, we have had a pretty nice summer.  It hasn't been too hot, and the bugs have been very minimal.  That being said, I've not posted much here as I've not had a whole lot going on, hawk wise.  Still, there are some things going on.  Today I got the camera out and took some pictures for a quick blog post.

Flowers are blooming!  Currently, my Clematis is looking pretty dramatic.

My Hydrangea is getting bigger!

To Rich and My complete surprise, we had "volunteer" Hollyhocks this year.  Neither of us have ever planted any seeds, yet they came up this year.  They are very pretty!

This year I'm growing our tomatoes in big pots.  The farm has lots of "lick tubs", previously filled with yummy, sticky, sugar type stuff the cattle love.  We picked up several of those, Rich put a few quick holes in the bottom, and Voila . . . instant planters.  It keeps the weeds down.

OK, enough on the plant side of things.  How about critters?

Clawdette is one year old now . . . and just as annoying as the day she arrived.  Her and Monty are buds, for the most part, until it is time for Monty to have a bath, and then she doesn't recognize him for about 10 days.

I did set up a fish tank this Spring . . . but I think I'll devote a separate blog post for it.

Two of the most recent arrivals are more goats.

Rich and I went up to the Sales Barn in Lanesboro on this past Friday, because Rich was off on a rare Friday.  There were several sheep and goat lots at the start of the auction, and these two were the last lot.  I immediately motioned to place a bid . . . I didn't even know what sex they were.  It turns out, they are wethers, which is a castrated male.  That is just fine, as I am needing extra mouths to chomp down my pasture.  They are quite cute, and friendly (the goats from last year don't like to be touched).  I have not yet decided names for them.

Between last summer and this one I did acquire a fourth goat.  He is also a wether.  His name is Cole.  He came with that name.  He's a very nice, friendly goat.

I acquired him to be a buddy to Biscotti, my young doeling from last year, as I separated her from my little herd when a stinky buck came to visit and get my two older goats pregnant.  I didn't want her to get pregnant just yet.  That seems to have worked, as both Oreo and Macaroon are showing signs that there are little kids in the oven.  So, if all goes well, I'm going to have anywhere from two to four, or possibly even more little kids hopping around I figure sometime in August.  Once the buck did his job, I sent him back home, and let Cole and Biscotti back out into our fenced pasture.  I've still got an awful lot of overgrowth.  I think my goats are too well fed with sweet grain.  They browse the field, but it is still brushy.

Macaroon is the roundish goat on the bottom.  Biscotti is her daughter from last year.  She does this a lot, stepping up on top of her mother so she can reach up and nibble leaves that are otherwise out of reach.  Macaroon doesn't seem to mind.  As she and Oreo get close to time to have their babies, I will be separating them, each to their own enclosure in our pole barn, to more carefully monitor their progress, and to make sure mother and kid(s) bond.

Oreo spends a lot of time resting in the goat shelter.  She is looking pretty wide as well.  Being pregnant may be very exhausting!

The only other major animal activity this spring and summer is our raising of replacement hens.  There are 10 of them.  We will keep 3, and I'm going to send 7 to the farm . . . soon!

How is the molt going?  Sassy has dropped 9 tail feathers.  Three more to go!

Flint has dropped 8 tail feathers, so he has 4 more to go.  And unless I lost it somewhere, I only count one deck feather!  He's a bit odd, so maybe his molt is not even.

Sassy's wing feathers are coming along nicely.  Of course, that right wing is short a couple primaries on the end, so her molt is a little mismatched, but she is making good progress and should be done in August, hopefully!

Flint's wing feathers are also mismatched, although some of those right sided feathers may not be primaries, but instead secondaries.  His feathers are much smaller than Sassy's, which you would expect since he is smaller than her.  Hopefully he too will be done in August.  He needs some rather intense manning, but for the molt I've just been leaving him completely alone, only tossing him food and changing out his water.

The only other hawk-related thing to quickly share is a picture of Justin's new baby.  This has been a couple weeks ago, so she's much bigger now and probably has lots more feathers.

I will need to get updated pictures, and find out if she has a name yet.

It's the lazy days of summer.  A nice time to get other things done.