THIS POST CONTAINS ADULT BIRD CONTENT.
PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
If there is one thing I don’t need it’s to get kicked off Word Press for posting burd porn!
Spring is in the air and the critters is actin’ like wild animals!
This pair of Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura ) landed in the maple just above me and the small horses this afternoon.
“You burds need to get a room!”
“You heard Buddy, get a room! He’s so embarrassed he’s blushing from head to tail!”
* Actually, Molly had a cat treed in this shot and that’s what she was staring at but the expression on her face seemed to fit the situation so…………….
I don’t speak Burd but I could swear this guy was saying “WOO-HOO!”
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web page for Mourning Doves it looks like we’ll probably have a few new additions to the flock in the near future………..and that’s all I have to say about that!
BTW: As most of you know I have been known to get into trouble when left without adult supervision. With that in mind I showed this to THE BOSS before publishing it and asked if I should publish it. She said “Yes, most assuredly!” ……so any complaints should be directed to her. I will be more than happy to provide her e-mail address and/or cell phone number upon request.
Our plans to take a ride out to Crockett’s Cove this afternoon got side tracked by a chest cold trying to put Frankie out of action. She stopped on the way home from work and picked a box of Alka-Seltzer Plus®. That, along with my mom’s sure fire cure for what ails you, Lipton® Chicken Noodle Soup , will have her right as rain and back behind the viewfinder in no time.
One of the big attractions in the cove, especially this time of year, is the beautiful scenery. The other big attraction is the herd of whitetail deer that flocks to the open fields at sunset. My brother in law, the world famous Fish Hook, and I have watched scores and scores of deer wander out of the tree lines. One of the drawbacks to shooting in the gloaming is not enough light for decent shots unless you’re using a tripod. Setting one up and waiting for the deer to appear is usually out of the question because of the single narrow road and signs prohibiting stopping in the road. I guess the folks who live out there have had enough trouble getting home in the evenings.
The day was not a total loss. Just as she was getting settled down in bed with her book, TV remote, Mini-10 netbook and dual 4 legged self propelled foot warmers she happened to spot one of the “big dawgs” through the bedroom window.
I apologize for the grainy images. The light was fading fast so I didn’t bother with the tripod. I’ve missed catching images of this guy several times because by the time I did get the tripod set up he was either gone or I couldn’t pick him out of the background as the light failed.
The first frame was shot through the window using the window frame to brace my left arm and my left arm to brace the 150-500MM telephoto lens. The last two were shot using the clothesline pole for a brace after I managed to sneak out the back door without A) spooking the buck, B) falling on my face and C) having the dogs bolt past me and scare him off before I could frame a shot. All three were shot from about 75 yards.
Now, to get back to catching up on the backlog of blogs I have waiting for me. Man, I’m tellin’ ya; veg out for a couple of days and it takes forever to get back on track. At least the dreams from the pain meds were entertaining! Somewhere I read an article about dreams usually being in black and white. I don’t know where I read it but I do know for a fact that I dream in color, VIVID color, when deep in the grasp of a prescription narcotics buzz!
After a cold, blustery, drizzly start yesterday the sun finally came out in the afternoon and Frankie (aka THE BOSS, Baby Duck, Duck Butt, my darling bride, my better half, Shotgun, she who SHALL be obeyed, Meanness, that wild little woman with the cast iron skillet, bringer of headaches) agreed that a ride in the country with the cameras was a great idea….much better, in fact, than emptying the kitchen cabinets and re-organizing the canned goods as she had planned! Yes, it was my idea and yes, I am a bad influence MWAHAHA! but I digress. We had fun, the livestock enjoyed the ride and the cabinets can always wait for a rainy day.
Old Glory was really whipping in the stiff breeze at Sheetz while I was doing my part to keep OPEC happy, putting $65.00 worth of regular into Godzilla’s
bottomless pit gas tank.
The leaves are changing colors as Autumn sets in. If you’re a follower of this blog be prepared for a lot of leaf peeping shots in the next couple of weeks. Frankie has laid claim to one of my DSLRs and is learning how to use it. Her little point and shoot is great for snapshots and small enough to carry in her purse but “her new” Canon EOS Rebel XS can do so much more, including accepting all of my lenses! Now all I have to do is get her hooked on blogging………..
Naturally, we took the livestock with us. Molly is more laid back when it comes to going for a ride. She usually curls up on the seat or in the cargo area of the truck and catches a few Z’s……when she’s not chewing the corner off the door trim or eating the protective plug for the auxiliary power port in the back seat.
Adult Labs are used by waterfowl hunters because they have a “soft mouth” and don’t damage the birds. Lab puppies can and will chew up everything in sight! At about a year old Molly is still a pup and we’ve got a good 6 months to a year before she stops chewing. That’s why there are rolled up newspapers stashed all over the house; a swat on the nose with one doesn’t really hurt but the noise gets the message across.
Buddy, on the other hand, loves riding with his head out the window, ears, lips and tongue flapping in the breeze. He’s about 3 years old and pretty much matured. After eating 2 power cords within a week of our adopting him, both of which were plugged into the wall outlets at the time, he got over his chewing spell. He still does his best to become invisible when Molly screws up and one of us reaches for a nose whacker.
We spotted a small herd of these funny looking deer (gazelles?) just down the road from Frankie’s alma mater, Fort Chiswell High School.
Actually, there’s an exotic animal zoo on the other side of the hill from where I shot these. Oh, and the camera is level in both of these shots. I told you there was a hill!
As I was trying to frame a shot of wildflowers along Frankie’s side of the road I realized there was something moving behind the flowers. (She was driving and I was on the passenger side using a 500MM zoom lens aiming through her open window.)
I handed her the camera and she found this spike whitetail deer (a yearling buck with very short antlers) hiding in the weeds. At first we thought he had been injured but when we turned around and came back to this spot a few minutes later he was gone.
The gravel road leading through the woods made for a smooth ride while the surrounding ridges blocked a good deal of that stiff breeze I mentioned. It was still chilly enough that we needed the heater, especially with my window down so that I could shoot pictures and the back windows partially down so the dawgs could give their sniffers a workout.
One of the last things one would expect to find way back in the woods along a gravel road is a stately old mansion. This is the Major Graham Mansion which is reputed to be haunted and is currently open to pre-Halloween tours.
Just down the road from the mansion is this abandoned house which causes a chill to run down our spines each time we pass it. No, we didn’t get out for a closer look. To coin a phrase, I ain’t afraid of no ghosts. However, they’re probably bullet proof so I’m not pushing my luck!
A Hedge Apple (Maclura pomifera) on the side of the road. I had no idea what they were but Frankie did. A small deciduous shrub also known as Osage-orange, Horse-apple, Bois D’Arc, or Bodark and native to parts of Texas the plant is commonly used as a windbreak in prairie states. The fruit is also used as an insect repellant and, now that we know, will be getting a test run in our house next year because they are said to be very effective at repelling fleas.
These were also tons of baseball size walnuts scattered everywhere long the side of the road. The abundance of walnuts, acorns and other natural signs we’ve observed recently have us convinced that we’re in for another hard winter. I guess it’s a good thing we stocked up on ice melter when it went on sale this past spring.
Cattails (Typha) in a creek bed just down the road from where that spike had been hiding. We used to whack each other with these things when I was a kid and catch hell when we came home and had puffs of white fuzz (the seeds inside the brown cover) all over our clothes and hair.
Yep, that’s why these are called the Blue Ridge Mountains but it will only be a week or two until they’re a riot of color. I can hardly wait! Of course, not too long after the color fades and those ridges will be white and I hardly wait for that, either! The kid next door knows my back and legs are all screwed up and he has already volunteered to shovel our walk and parking area when he does his!
THE BOSS started hollerin’ at me to get the camera and come a runnin’. Not being in the mood for getting that cast iron skillet of hers upside my headbone (which I have dubbed BANGY! BANGY! ) I grabbed the closest camera at did my impression of a crippled old fart running. I think I may have sprained something in my haste but it was worth any damage done because I’ve been waiting for this.
THE BIG DAWGS ARE BACK!
While I mounted a lens, got everything turned on, found a perch to shoot this buck in our back yard and even remembered to remove the dust cap Frankie ever so slowly and gently opened the window to give me a clear shot.
Just as the shutter tripped for the 5th or 6th time I caught movement at the corner of the frame and there were these little guys just coming out of the trees. These are the first fawns we’ve seen this season and we’ve been wondering where they all were.
Then I panned left a little and there was Mama Deer!
Try as I might I just couldn’t manage any decent shots of the fawns romping around the yard. The light was poor and I was shooting off hand so they all came out badly blurred but now that I know they’re around I’ll keep one of the cameras set up on the tripod with my long lens so I’ll be ready when they show up again.
It’s downright comical to watch the little ones romp. Once I get this posted I’m getting out the manual for my T3 and read up on shooting HD video with it.
“What do you mean them ain’t dogs? They look just like me, don’t they?”
The brutal heat continues but our humidity plunged this afternoon, enough so that I could breathe comfortably so Frankie loaded me and the dog into the truck and we set out to look for deer in Crockett’s Cove.
We were not disappointed!
It was a fine ride!
At my mom’s house there are two large white oaks in the front yard. Squirrels in the yard were a common site, especially after she began putting peanuts out for them. She eventually stopped doing that after my brother came home to discover that a squirrel had chewed through the screen on his bedroom window and was sitting on his bed, waiting for a hand out.
This is when I began calling him Squirrel Boy. Frankie and I even went so far as to make him a T-shirt that read “They call me Squirrel Boy!” across the back and had this image on the front.
Being the oldest, and arguably the meanest, of six siblings I have been known to saddle each one of them with nicknames, usually after they’ve done something spectacularly funny…..or stupid……and made the mistake of letting me find out about it.
He didn’t seem to mind the new moniker too much at first. In fact he was happy that people finally stopped calling him Gorilla Lips. (This being a family blog I won’t go into that.)
Then his drinking buddies began asking about the real reason that rodent was in his bed.
I thought that was hilarious!
He did not.
But I digress.
In June 2004 my family moved to Southwestern Virginia where Frankie, our daughter and I settled into small town life in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Squirrel Boy stayed behind to try to live down his perceived perversion earn another nickname so people would stop looking at him that way! in the hope that people would stop asking how he came to be known as Squirrel Boy.
So far they haven’t.
It wasn’t until we had been here for a few months that I realized I hadn’t seen many squirrels even though our yard backs up to a heavily wooded ridge. We’ve seen a lot of whitetail deer, chipmunks, possums, raccoons and even the occasional coyote or black bear in the backyard but never any squirrels.
That changed this afternoon.
I’m not making the same mistake my mom made. This little guy seems content to eat sunflower seeds that have fallen from the feeders in Burd Town.
We’re not putting out any peanuts!
I’m not waking up with any squirrels in my bed!
Mom’s house is well known amongst the wildlife living in the vicinity of her home. Her neighborhood is located next to one of the city parks and the critters know Mom is always good for a handout so squirrels, rabbits and ducks are frequent visitors.
This pair shows up every afternoon and they’re not the least bit skittish around humans.
The male usually stands watch while the female grazes.
Once she’s had her fill she takes her turn at watch while her mate eats.
One afternoon the visitors got a rude surprise when I turned Buddy loose in the backyard to take care of business. I had forgotten about the ducks but Buddy hadn’t. He had a ball chasing them out of the yard. I think he may have been trying to play with them and was puzzled when they took flight. I also think he was trying to figure out how they did that because it looked like a lot of fun.
The next afternoon I was taking a short siesta when I was awakened by quacking that seemed to be coming from just outside the open window. Looking outside I didn’t see any ducks so I went outside to see where the noise was coming from.
Yep, they were on the roof! First time I ever saw ducks perched on a roof but they were definitely “Buddy proof” up there.
“Hey, Fat Boy, toss the feed up here. we know that big red dog can’t jump this high!”
I’m not really here right now. This post is set to publish all by itself……I hope. Frankie and I are busy trying to pack everything we’ll need for the next couple of weeks. We’re also getting an itinerary together because there are people to visit and places we want to go. This time there are several sections listed as “GO TO THE BEACH!” I intend to spend a lot of time just loafing.
By this time Tuesday I’ll be relaxing on Chic’s Beach wondering what the poor people are doing. Of course, considering the size of my monthly Social Security Disability check I am one of the poor people except when I’m on vacation. When I’m kicked back on the beach money just don’t mean a thing!
Before I go, here’s a shot of the first deer we’ve seen in the yard in some time and a buck at that! We’re used to seeing plenty of does but this yearling buck is a rare sight. The quality of the shot leaves a lot to be desired. It was hurried and shot through two panes of glass but it was the best I could do before he vanished into the brush. Hopefully, the does will be bringing the new fawns out to graze by the time we get back.
Y’all take care and I’ll be back blogging in a couple of weeks. Man, is my reader going to be packed full!
Part 4 of my journey through the images I’ve been lucky enough to capture since taking up photography as a hobby two years ago. Nearly all were shot in and around Wythe County, Virginia, many of them in our back yard. Some evenings we have whitetail deer within 10 yards of the house and my wife’s feeder collection (I call it Burd Town.) always draws a crown to the maple tree right outside our bedroom window.
For larger views of any image just click on the thumb in the gallery below.
Around these parts mention The Cove and people know you’re talking about Crockett’s Cove. Frankie had the day off and I guess Buddy and I have been acting a little stir crazy lately so she took us for a ride in The Cove to get a little fresh air.
This is some of what we saw:
She was probably 150 yards away when I shot this from Godzilla’s passenger side window. That new lens really brings ‘em in close!
At sunset there are hundreds of deer in the fields lining each side of the road. When we were there (mid afternoon) only one came out to pose for me. Local lore says the redder the coat on the deer is in the spring, the hotter the summer will be. We’re in for a scorcher!
Fire tower at max zoom w/ 18-55MM IS lens, handheld
Same as above at max zoom w/55-250MM IS lens, handheld
Last but not least using 150-500MM stabilized lens, handheld
Heavy traffic on Cove Road
They even have warning signs
I think the guy driving that tractor even posed for the sign!
Don’t know if it’s still in use but I like it!
Uh, oh…..time to go home!
You know, writing this post brought up a couple of points to ponder.
I’ve noticed, not for the first time, that I must be turning into a country boy. Why else would I equate the aroma of fresh cow manure with clean air?
I also wonder how Frankie could tell I was going stir crazy.
Have I been acting crazier than usual?
Is that possible?
Is she collecting evidence for an imminent commitment hearing?
Should I start practicing getting out of restraints?
Am I really gonna want to escape from my restraints?
Another day in the yard, experimenting with lens and camera settings. The lens is actually very user friendly and I’m at the point now where I can find the controls by feel and feel very comfortable using them. I’m even getting used to the weight of this beast!
Today I managed to get a few shots of this pine siskin before the finches chased him off the thistle sock.
He got a few seeds before retreating and there’s no danger of him starving because there are tons of thistles growing along the tree line behind the house.
Maybe the finches are dealing a little payback to the siskins. Normally they’re the ones arriving in droves and chasing the other birds away from the free eats.
Frankie has the day off tomorrow and the weather forecast looks spectacular so we’ve made plans to load up Godzilla and go on a little photo trek. The price of gas has even dropped to the point that we don’t feel guilty about burning a few gallons for a ride in the country.
I have one destination on the agenda that will really allow me to put my new glass through it’s paces. On past trips I’ve discovered a nesting pair of bald eagles but could never zoom in tight enough for decent photos. Now that I have the big lens I can’t wait to pay those magnificent birds a return visit!
As usual, pictures to follow.
After mowing the lawn this morning Buddy and I spent some time outdoors enjoying a summer like day and experimenting with my new telephoto lens. I think I’m getting a handle on it but I’ll continue to practice, practice. practice. At least my forearms aren’t aching too badly from holding that 4 lb. monster up.
Incidentally, with the steep corporate discount, courtesy of the company I was working for when I had my accident, combined with the close out discount offered by the supply house I purchased this lens from my actual cost was less than half that quoted on the Sigma catalog page the first link takes you to.
Frankie had Godzilla today so Buddy and I were sticking close to home. These are a few of the best shots I managed to capture from the front porch at an average range of 15 to 20 yards. I can’t wait to get out and about with my new gear, especially on the beach next month when we go home on vacation.
If you’d like to see larger views of today’s images just click on the images from the gallery below.
If you would like to insert slide shows into your WordPress posts a step by step tutorial can be found here. Puzzle, a talented, creative and prolific blogger gave me the link a while back when I was still learning my way around here. I have followed her blogs since my first post on Windows Live Spaces a little over two years ago. Thank you, Heide for your friendship, knowledge and inspiration!
Yep, cabin fever and too many hours staring at the laptop monitor during online classes yesterday got the best of me. Even if it was pelting down rain and Buddy and I were on foot we were out looking for something to shoot this morning. Here are a few of the over 700 frames I shot before deciding that wandering around in the rain with $1,000+ worth of electronics and lenses in my hand might not be the best idea.
Frankie’s Sea Lavender
Columbine, or so I’m told
Buttercups (I didn’t have to ask anyone what they were!)
These go in the ground soon. Mom sent them home with us and they somehow ended up under the front porch. If Buddy hadn’t partially destroyed the porch we might never have found them!
At the rate this critter was moving he’ll be a butterfly before he reaches the end of the flowerbed,
You can always tell when a Blue Jay is nearby. These guys are LOUD!
Our lonesome Mourning Dove. This species mates for life and he has apparently lost his mate. He always arrives alone, feeds a little and waits for the rest of the flock. When they arrive to feast on the seed spilled from the feeders by the other birds he’ll fly up to perch on the shed roof and keep watch for marauding cats.
I actually shot this one late yesterday afternoon when the sun broke through the clouds for a few minutes. We’ve had a few stray sunbeams today but they haven’t lasted long enough to produce any rainbows today.
Now to see how long I can stand sorting and editing the photos I downloaded from the memory card. I’ve posted a few of the better ones I’ve already done on my Blogger page, Virginia Through My Lens.
Frankie (aka THE BOSS) hasn’t relinquished the keys to Godzilla since I pulled over on a country road two weeks ago and told her to get behind the wheel because it was high time she got over her fear of the big green beast.
Friends and family tell me that I must have lost what’s left of my mind.
I definitely lost my truck!
Since Buddy and I can no longer roam far and wide we decided it was high time we taught Momma some bad habits. Today we talked her into taking us on a photo trip through a section of the Big Survey Wildlife Management Area.
We had just turned onto the access road when I spotted a flicker of movement and there, about 20 yards away, stood the first whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) I’ve seen in several weeks!
I was very lucky to have my 55-200MM image stabilized zoom lens mounted on the camera.
It wasn’t until after he had started to move that I realized he was a yearling buck, also known as a spike. His antlers are still in velvet.
While I was shooting the deer Frankie pointed out the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) tom (adult male, also known as a long beard) just a few yards behind him. Can you pick him out in this shot?
How about in this cropped version? The term long beard refers to a tuft of feathers hanging down from the chest of the adult male.
Wildlife wasn’t enough for today’s excursion. We were actually out looking for mountain laurel in bloom but that’s a subject for another blog….or more accurately, my other blogging page, Virginia Through My Lens.
How’s that for shameless self promotion?
In case you haven’t heard, I managed to slam a storm window on my left hand a couple of days ago which means I now type with 2 fingers instead of my customary 4 and sometimes as many as 5 or 6 (2 on each hand and even a thumb now and then). The hand is not fractured but the deep bruising makes typing a very slow process and shooting pictures involves setting the zoom with my camera in my lap, picking it up with my right and hoping auto focus saves the shot. Since I do a great deal of my shooting from behind the wheel………. and Frankie scares easily………and I’m afraid of what she might do to me in retaliation……when I’m asleep……… I’m not doing much shooting lately.
THE BOSS has decided we need some fresh pictures on the walls so I’ve been digging through my portable hard drive……How did I mange to shoot over 40,000 frames in just 2 years?
Anyway, from the archives, I present a selection of some of the critters that roam in and around our backyard. Hope you enjoy.
Seeing a piebald deer, like this one, is supposed to bring good luck. We had 2 making nightly visits last year and Frankie still hasn’t hit the lottery! She must be buying defective tickets.
See? There’s another one and still no lottery jackpot!
Peek a boo!
In addition to shooting bird photos from the bedroom window, I also shoot deer photos when the opportunity presents itself. I shot the frame above as well as the next 4 while sitting on the foot of the bed with the window open.
That piebald spike was a regular last summer but we haven’t seen him all winter. We’re not too concerned because bucks are far more skittish that does. Nobody hunts our ridge because local wisdom says there are no deer on Pine Ridge. He’s probably just hiding behind a tree until I put the camera away…….
No, she’s not striking a pose. this doe injured her right foreleg a couple of years back. We were worried that she might not survive but she has and she showed up with her fawn last summer. I spotted her a couple of weeks ago and she’s still favoring that leg…..and she’s very pregnant!
Hard to tell how many points the rack on that buck has but he was a large animal.
Okay, time to hit the pillow.
Well, it looks as if I’ll survive, despite my best efforts to do myself permanent injury……….or any more than I already have. I’d like to thank everyone for their prayers, advice and good thoughts. Please rest assured that my doctor and two of his nurses gave me a thorough a** chewing for being too stubborn to slow down and take it easy when my physical problems get in the way of something I want to do.
The back and legs are on the mend but I’m far from 100% so I’m still taking it easy and staying close to home. Just in case I do injure myself again I am well prepared. My doctor had Santa Claus stop by in his big brown truck this afternoon with another 90 day supply of WOO-WOO pills. I still had about half of the last 90 supply left so I now have enough prescription narcotics on hand to get the entire county as screwed up as a soup sammich……..if I was so inclined.
As you can see, I finally pulled the camera out of the bag again.
This is what the eastern sky looks like when I’m trying to sleep in and THE BOSS remembers something I did back in 1994 and decides to cut me a little pay back by sending Buddy in to wash the entire left side of my head with a big ol’ slobbery “kiss’”. I was not amused but I was awake……instantaneously!
I took this shot so that I’ll be able to remember what the sky looks like without clouds. There is a weather system moving in as I type and the TV weather guessers are saying the drought we’ve been under recently will soon be a dim memory, not to be confused with my memory which is always dim. They are also advising people to begin building a large boat and start rounding up two of every animal.
This Tufted Titmouse was having a fine time watching the four legged clown roll around in his yard.
Ahhhhhhhhh…..that sure feels good!
In the past some readers have commented on the harness Buddy wears. That’s more for my benefit than anything else. As a result of my injuries I am sometimes less than sure footed and occasionally need to use a cane. As a matter of fact I have earned a doctorate in falling on my butt from the School of hard knocks! The old black hats at Jump School in Ft. Benning (those sadistic ogres who made me jump out of perfectly good airplanes) would be very proud if they saw me fall because I always execute a perfect parachute landing fall with the camera tucked into my stomach and wrapped in my arms. Broken bones and bruises heal. Camera lenses don’t!
While Buddy is usually well behaved on a lead he is still a pup……an 80 lb. pup……and he’s strong as an ox! When something grabs his interest he has a tendency to forget I’m on the other end of the lead and take off after it.The harness allows me to maintain control without strangling him and/or getting jerked off my feet and dragged to my death. I’ve learned, the hard way, that a collar does not provide that kind of control.
This female Downy Woodpecker must have decided I posed no threat because she was so close to me when she let out her cry that she startled me! When I recovered I captured this image from less that 10 feet away.
My brother in law, Fish Hook, and I are trying to raise enough money for a new squirrel gun. Personally I don’t really have any problem with squirrels. My plan is to park it in the front yard, pack that rascal with a homemade 155MM blank cartridge, point it at the front door of the miserable bast***d across the street and give that dirty, rotten, low down, poster child for retroactive birth control a massive and hopefully fatal heart attack when the muzzle flash sets his hair on fire from 100 feet away the first time he sticks his head out the door! I’m still convinced he had a hand in poisoning Sam but I can’t prove it and that’s why the jerk hasn’t had a hunting accident……yet.
Anyone interested in making a donation should send it to:
Roket Man and Fish Hook Need One of Them Big Ol’ Guns Fund
c/o The Keeper of the Flame
Big Ethel’s Exotic Dance Emporium, Tattoo Parlor & Bait Shop
Beautiful Wythe Vegas, Virginia 24382
Donate $50 and we’ll send you an autographed set of 8X10 color glossy photos of the festivities……as long as you agree not to turn ‘em over to the police should they contact you concerning evidence of the aforementioned event. If asked, me and Fish Hook plan on using a temporary insanity defense based on years of mental abuse by our spouses (they’re not only mean, they’re also sisters!) too many Road Runner cartoons in our youth, processed sugar in our breakfast cereal, repeated abductions by space aliens and maybe even global warming.
Much needed rain is falling and the cloud deck is hanging close to the ground. The flat light was just right for a few monochrome shots.
The high winds we’ve had the past couple of weeks have really done a job on the older, disused buildings in the area. Many have sections of metal roof peeled back while others have collapsed.
I can’t help but wonder what became of the workers at the feed mill when it was shut down and abandoned. I’ll have to ask Fish hook if he knows because it shut it’s doors long before we moved here.
Rain or shine, life goes on in the natural world. Even though it was so wet that the “beards” on these two wild turkey gobblers were plastered to their chests they were on the prowl for food as well as hens. mating season is just about to get under way and they’ll be rounding up their harems soon.
Recovering from the recent construction project has kept me close to home the past few days. There is still a little trim work to do on our new front porch but that will have to wait until I can get around a little better. After demolishing the porch rails, replacing the posts and installing new rails my already wrecked back has been giving me so much trouble that I’ve spent most of the last three days under the influence of prescription pain killers with my butt glued to my La-Z-Boy.
I’m thankful for the help I got from my wife, Frankie (THE BOSS), our daughter Laura and my brother in law, Barry (Fish Hook). Without the three of them helping the job wouldn’t have gotten done and it really needed doing. Besides doing most of the lifting they also kept a close eye on me and were ready to give me hell if I pushed myself too hard. It’s really frustrating for me to have the knowledge and experience to undertake a project only to have my physical limitations get in the way. That frustration usually leads to my pushing myself too hard and I end up paying the consequences. This was one of those times. I’m mobile once again but still taking it easy.
Today I pulled the card out of the camera, stuck it in the reader on my new laptop and downloaded a few images captured while making a few short trips to town lately. These are a few that I thought were worth posting.
The flocks of geese on two nearby ponds wintered over but that didn’t stop them from practicing formation flying. I think this gaggle needs more practice forming a V.
This horse seems a brighter shade of red each time I see it…..or it might be the meds…..my meds, not the horses.
I’ve shot this old place several times over the past couple of years. It must have been a grand home at one time..
If only walls could talk this place would have some tales to tell.
I spent several minutes waiting for this guy to wander across the road. He finally got out of my way just as I was beginning to think he’d look good in my kitchen……fried!
You have just been mooned.
Another tasty bird who wandered out in front of me. He’s lucky I opted for shooting him with a camera when my belly was growling handgun was close by.
Speaking of bellies; Buddy is beginning to get downright chubby! He actually waddles when he’s “leading” one of us around the house.
I originally thought he enjoyed rolling in the snow. We now know that he enjoys rolling around, snow or no snow! That dog is a clown!
On the way home from NOT GETTING my new lenses from the optometrist I spotted movement in a tree top. It’s a good thing I had my glasses in my pocket because, had I been wearing them, I wouldn’t have seen the tree, let alone the hawk in the top of the tree. More on this later.
I’m just about certain this is a Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) which is a common variety around these parts. Thanks to C.S. Miller for correctly identifying another member of this species I managed to capture, poorly, for my Grahams Forge Road post.
Isn’t that a gorgeous bird?
I was lucky to catch him highlighted by the late afternoon sun. If he had been a little lower in that tree the shadow of the ridge just across the road probably would have hidden him from view.
A little more movement under another tree a few dozen yards east of that one and I knew what had the hawk’s attention.
A flock of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) was holed up under that tree and they weren’t going anywhere as long as that raptor was perched nearby. A wild turkey is a sizeable bird, at least as big if not bigger than a red tailed hawk. I don’t know if a hawk would even tangle with a bird that size but these girls (they were all hens) weren’t about to press their luck!
Now, for the situation with the spectacles. I’ve needed new glasses for at least 2 years but, between Frankie’s salary and my meager Social Security pension there were other budget items we deemed more important…..food, prescription medications, utilities to name a few.
Lately my vision has deteriorated to the point where new glasses had become a necessity. Putting it off any longer would result in a spike in my car insurance rates because it has been getting difficult to distinguish between the idiots who actually need running over and the idiots who are just too slow to get out of my way.
I went in for an eye exam in November. After trotting out every fancy machine in the building and trying them out on me the doc gave me that look that said “You’re not driving with these on, are you?”
Then she sent me to her partners in crime on the other side of her office, the optical shop, to discuss lens and frame options. To be fair, I have been advised on several other occasions that I may be at risk fro glaucoma and a couple of the specialize tests are to keep an eye on the thinning of a portion of my inner eye.
As a matter of fact, one of her former associates had originally told me I had “stage 1 glaucoma”. By the time I was examined by an ophthalmologist and told that diagnosis was “a little premature” the aforementioned associate had moved on to practice elsewhere thus explaining why I didn’t need a cast for my hand which I fully intended to break on his face. But I digress…….
The optical shop people cheerfully flipped through my chart, went into the back room “to consult” (I know I heard them singing “We’re In the Money!”) and eventually came back out to where I was sitting.
Optical person: “Your vision insurance will pay up to $200 for new lenses and frames!”
Me: “Can’t you just put new lenses in my frames?”
Optical person: “Well, yes…..if you want to keep those frames.”
Me: “What’s wrong with these frames? I bought them here!”
Optical person: “Oh nothing…….I guess.”
Me: “How much for just the lenses?”
Optical person: “Well, progressive lenses with scratch coating, anti-glare coating, kryptonite meteorite resistant coating, ……..”
Me: “How much?”
Optical person: ”Mrs. Allen, your husband did leave his gun at home this time, didn’t he? We don’t want to have to call the police again.”
THE BOSS: “Well, he doesn’t have one on him but I don’t know if he has any out in the truck.”
Me: “I’m not getting down off of this desk until you tell me how much!”
Optical person: “Well, with all of those features and the portion of your exam that isn’t covered by your insurance………….$588.00”
Me: “588.00!!!!! Lady you better call 911 and tell them to send every ambulance within 100 miles because a whole bunch of us are gonna need a ride to the Emergency Room!”
Today, after scrimping and saving and making payments since November, we were finally able to pay off the balance due thanks to our state income tax refund. I was all excited and couldn’t wait for Frankie to get off work so we could go pick up my new lenses and I would once again be able to read a book, or text on TV, or road signs!
We paid off the balance at one desk, were sent around to the optical shop, handed over our receipt and, after disappearing into the back (I swear I heard people singing “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”) the optical person came back out and timidly said:
“I’m sorry Mr. Allen but we weren’t sure you still wanted those lenses so we sent them back to the lab last week. I can call and get them here in a couple of days if you still want them.
“IF I STILL WANT THEM???? WE’VE BEEN FUNNELING EVERY SPARE NICKLE AND DIME INTO PAYING FOR THOSE THINGS FOR 4 MONTHS AND YOU WANT TO KNOW IF I STILL WANT THEM? LADY YOU BETTER CALL 911 AND TELL THEM I’M HERE AND WHAT YOU JUST TOLD ME!”
I must be getting more mellow as I age because I let Frankie lure me out of there before the police arrived. She promised to take me to McDonald’s. We haven’t been able to afford THAT for the past 4 months because we were paying on my glasses. Besides, she said if I got arrested I’d probably be in jail for years before she could save up enough to bail me out!
My new lenses are supposed to be ready for pick up by the time Frankie goes in for her eye exam, Wednesday. I’m going down to the courthouse Tuesday night and stealing that 105MM howitzer sitting out front…….just in case!
Clear, sunny skies brought on a terrific bout of spring fever today so Buddy and I went for a ride out on Graham’s Forge Road. We even talked Frankie into going along!
“How in the world did I end up on this side of the fence? The big metal monsters are whizzing past way too close for comfort. This idiot even stopped to point that long black thing with the shiny end at me and that can’t be good!”
“I’m telling you, Margot, if that boy had a lick of sense he’d be dangerous. Everybody knows geese are safer on this side of the fence.”
We’ve found several good paces to go fishing this year. Sitting on the bank under a shady tree, drowning worms is a wonderful way to pass the time away. I can’t wait for spring to arrive!
Every time I go past this old mill it seems like another little bit has fallen away or caved in.
After not seeing very many deer for most of the winter I rounded a bend in the road and found this doe looking at me, looking at her.
She stayed nearly motionless as I changed lenses to get a tighter shot.
Just a little further on I found another one watching us drive past! She was a little more bashful.
This one sure wasn’t, stopping to pose in the sunlight!
I’m not sure what species of hawk this is. In fact, when I first spotted it I thought it was an eagle because of it’s size. It was circling way out over the river and I got this shot at maximum zoom with my 55-300MM lens. Once again I’m drooling over that 700MM monster in the catalog but I’ll have to hit the lottery before Frankie lets me spend $4,000 on a lens!
We’ve had several days of nice weather recently and I have a bad case Spring Fever but winter isn’t done with us yet. The remnants of the latest storm to hammer the center of the country are moving in on us. We’re only supposed to get a couple of inches of snow out of this one but I’ve already had enough. My aching bones can do without the low pressure that accompanies bad weather.
The birds were mobbing the feeders this afternoon, always a more accurate predictor of bad weather than the meteorologists with their high tech equipment. The birds were so intent on getting their fill that I managed to get a few nice shots as they landed within just a few feet of my position just inside the shed door.
This Tufted Titmouse paused for a moment or two at my eye level. I was lucky to get a few clear frames of him because these little guys are speed demons!
The Northern Cardinals were more cautious so I used my long lens to get a few frames of them perched in the upper branches. Even though the female’s plumage (above) isn’t as brilliant as the male (below) I still think she’s a beautiful bird.
Carolina Chickadees are always the first to arrive at the feeders and these tiny birds are fearless! We’ve watched them gang up on European Starlings to drive them away when they try to bully the smaller birds.
Just as I was packing up to go back indoors this male Downy Woodpecker showed up. He spotted me and made a beeline for the woods. After I went inside he showed up again along with another male and 3 females.
The light was failing rapidly by this time and since I was watching them through the bedroom window I would be shooting through two panes of glass so I didn’t bother getting the camera out of the bag. There will be plenty of opportunities to shoot more woodpeckers as springs gets closer. It can’t happen soon enough to suit me!
As one weather system was moving out, and the next has yet to arrive, today was actually sort of pleasant. There were even blue spots between some of the clouds and that bright thing in the sky was visible now and then.
Budget constraints have put a damper on my roaming around the countryside lately but I filed our income taxes yesterday and was pleased to discover that will soon be a thing of the past……..for a while, at least. That horrible bellowing you no doubt heard yesterday afternoon was me wringing an incredible amount of money out of Uncle Sam, far more in fact that I could believe possible. So much so that I would like to take this opportunity to remind friends and family that smoking is no longer allowed in federal prisons so, rather that cartons of cigarettes I would ask that donations be made to my canteen fund should I find myself a guest of the government for a few years.
Anyway, Buddy is still learning how to read a map so that explains the roundabout path I followed on the way to pick THE BOSS up from work this afternoon.
He really blew it when he told me to take a right on Main Street instead of a left.
Actually I think he just wanted to get a look at these critters in full sunlight. There’s something different about them but I don’t know what it is. Well, actually I do; both the cows and the bulls have horns and they’re shaped differently.
Then there was this thing. Damned if I know what it is or was but it’s probably pretty old.
By this time Buddy found his place on the map. Heading back towards town we got a decent look at Reed Creek thanks to the bare trees.The old bridge in the background has been posted against trespassing and it looks like an excellent place to break a leg. Guess I’ll have to go back and get a few more shots of it from a better angle. Maybe if I bet Walter a bottle of vodka that he can’t jump it on his motorcycle I can get some great action shots. He’ll never make it across with me shooting at him. I might even use the camera for a few shots..
I’ve heard trains using this line, seen trains stopped on either side of the crossing and even seen a rail maintenance crew driving a modified truck along this line but, despite using this crossing at least a couple of hundred times I’ve never had to wait for a train to go by. This is why I feel comfortable stopping right in the middle of the crossing and firing off a few frames. Now that I’ve said that I’ll probably never get across again without waiting for a train!
The weather has been cold and damp for the past couple of days keeping me close to home……and my meds, heating pad and Bertha, my La-Z-Boy recliner.
Today the sun rising over the mountains was a welcome sight so I took the long way home after dropping THE BOSS off at work.
You sometimes see the oddest things as the beams of sunlight cut through the mist and the trees.
Buddy didn’t know what to make of this critter! I love the way this guy’s coat gleams in the morning sun.
“What you lookin’ at?” The expression on Buddy’s face when he saw this said “What kind of dog is that?”
I need to start carrying my ladder on the roof rack of the truck. Apparently whoever owns this land thinks camels and llamas can jump like deer because that fence is at least 8 feet high! Even standing on the running board I still had to shoot through the chain link.
There are usually several horses in this field but they weren’t around this morning. Neither was that HUGE whitetail buck I’ve spotted on several occasions. That deer sure is camera shy!
The way the morning sun colors the rising fog and the trees along either side of the creek is deceptive. It’s really chilly out there, especially with the howling winds bringing the next blast of Arctic air down upon us. At least we’re not getting buried in snow the way most of the country is…..so far. Winter ain’t over yet!
After a nasty crash Friday evening I finally have my laptop functioning properly once again. I wiped the hard drive and did a clean install of Windows Vista Home Premium using the re-install DVD that came with the computer.
While waiting for all the updates and patches to download and install I spent some time at the bedroom window waiting for a cardinal to appear. My patience was soon rewarded.
I came out of this entire mess far better than some of my more spectacular crashes of years past. The portable hard drives the girls gave me for Christmas 2009 to store my photos on came with a very handy utility that puts a pop up message on my desk top reminding me to back up my files. All I have to do is connect the USB cable, click okay and the backup is done while I continue to wander cyber space, kill space aliens or do whatever it is I do when left without adult supervision. If the cable could attach itself this would be totally idiot proof!
In the past I had the auto update set to run Sunday morning but this past week decided to change the setting to run Friday evening while I’m busy yelling at the talking heads on the nightly “news”. Man, was that a good decision!
This week’s back up finished at 6:44. The crash occurred at approximately 9:30. As I had already done the day’s photo editing and written and published a blog for the day all that was lost was my web surfing history and my saved game progress from an hour or so of “Redneck Rampage”! Yes, I know it’s an oldie and it has to run in compatibility mode but sometimes a guy just needs a good first person shooter to keep the voices in his head happy.
As I said, I wiped the hard drive and did a clean install of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office. My re-install disks are 2 years old and did not include any of the service packs and “important” updates Microshaft has dumped on us in the meantime. I meant to disable the automatic install feature in Windows Update but once it started running I was a little leery of interfering so I let it go….and go….and go…. it took 46 hours and that was using a brand new DSL modem and letting the system run constantly!
At least I got a quick dose of Face Book now and then to stay in touch with the outside world now and then. By the outside world I mean out there in Cyber Space, not outside of my house. By court order I’m not allowed to touch any of the dirt bags miserable bastards pieces of s*** a**holes neighbors after that unfortunate slinging gravel across the street with the Dandelion Destroyer….every time I saw them outdoors episode. On the plus side we had the best trimmed lawn on this end of the street before the sheriff took the keys to my lawn mower. Little does he know that keys are for people who don’t know how to hotwire and engine!
Now I sit here with a fully functional laptop, Windows Live Essentials 2011 and even Internet Explorer 8! The latter is still too damn slow for me and I’ll stick with Google Chrome for my web surfing. As for the former, there are a few features in it (Messenger, Live Mail, Family Controls, etc.) that I’m going to uninstall but this thing does work and it’s even a little faster.
I still have to restore the backed up files but I have files to restore this time. I also have all the photos I’ve shot in the past 2 years, nearly 40,000 of them, as well as all the Mp3 files I’ve “found on the web”. I think that rates a WOO-HOO!
LEARN FROM MY EXPERIENCE FOLKS;
BACK UP THEM FILES!
YA NEVER KNOW…….
Oh, and I didn’t really use my riding mower as an improvised gravel chunkin’ machine gun to terrorize the neighborhood jerks who seem to take great satisfaction in doing everything they can think of to piss me off……..or did I?