Friday, January 27, 2017

Update on the Fox!

For a while I thought perhaps we had lost 'our' fox as the stock dog, Bob, drug in a pretty dessicated fox carcass about 3 weeks ago.  I had not seen the fox hunting in front of the house in quite a while so I thought........................

Then about a week ago, the dogs started having an evening ruckus every night about 9 pm.  Oh, I thought, the fox is back.

And sure nuff, he was as I saw him yesterday sitting by his apparently favorite prairie dog hole, patiently waiting for said varmit to pop up and become a meal.  I really don't know how many he has caught.

I was glad to see him!  I suppose the carcass the dog drug in was probably a relative, perhaps one of his kits.

Red foxes range throughout North America.  They are a fairly common sight here on our place.  I can absolutely guarantee you the cutest thing you will EVER see is one of these:
Red Fox kit
Kits are very playful and we have watched quite a few litters being raised on our place.  It's really fun to watch them wrestle and play with their siblings.   One time while riding we came across two kits who had obviously strayed from their mom.   Tony was scolding them and they would cock their ears and heads as though trying to grasp what he was saying.  TOO cute!

In Wyoming, you are allowed to capture and keep red foxes as pets.  I cringe whenever I see one as it was certainly captured as a young kit.   They never become very domesticated and most eventually escape to the wild.   Hunting is a skill that is learned from their parents.  So that escaped fox probably is doomed to a horrible death by starvation.   I wish the game and fish would end the practice of allowing them to be kept as pets.

Foxes have been the subject of literature in the US for a long time.  Who can forget Uncle Remus and his Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit tales from 1881?

We've really had no other wildlife visits this winter other than our resident 'Brer Fox' and the usual troupes of deer and antelope.   We've not seen the elk for quite some time so they must be somewhere else this winter.

The phrase "Wyoming Wildlife - Worth the Watching" is certainly true!  One of the great perks of living in the country.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Wyoming Winter Visitor

The cold continues at 60 miles North of Nowhere.  A whopping ZERO this morning at 8 a.m.  But at least this morning the wind has abated.  Instead of 40 mph it's only 9 mph which seems like nothing.  Last night when I went to bed the wind was clipping along indicating a new front was moving in.  I guess the cold was the new front as the wind is out of the north instead of the usual southwest.

I've read accounts of how the wind would drive people insane in frontier Wyoming.  I believe it.  It's darn near had me there a time or two.

One of the perks of living here is the wildlife and now we have somewhat of a mystery on our hands.

I first became aware of our winter visitor when Bob, the stock dog, began throwing barking fits in the morning.  When I went to investigate, I found this:

Can you spot the visitor in this photo?

Oh here he is!

A fox! He was sitting intently watching for prairie dogs to devour. Hey Bud,
 I wish you great success. Eat all you can.

I think he is a red fox as he is unusually large for a fox. Isn't he beautiful!!!
We also have swift foxes in Wyoming but they are smaller and because he 
is larger and red, I believe he is a red fox (Vulpes vulpes). It took me a
couple of tries to get a photo of him. I had to be sneaky because as soon as
 I stepped outside, he would look over his shoulder at me and move into the 
drainage ditch behind him in the photos. 

He didn't seem very afraid though. The dog did not bother him at all.
Maybe just camera shy? He visited quite regularly for a couple of
weeks but now seems to have moved on to better hunting grounds.

Several years ago, one of the stock dogs, Brookie, would play regularly 
with a young fox. She would chase it, then it would chase her. This
went on for the course of a summer. Since the dog does not bother
this guy, we are wondering if this is the fox who used to play with
the dogs? A mystery we probably will never solve.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Wyoming Winter Hints for the Woefully Under Informed

We are deep into a cold snap which seems to have lasted since well before Thanksgiving.  Christmas Day at Sixty Miles North of Nowhere arrived with snow and temps of 24 below zero.  A nice white cool day....

I feel compelled that perhaps I should explain a few things about Wyoming Winter to you:
My car after a few flakes of snow.........

1.  The term 'breezy' in the local weather report.   This means you will have category 1 hurricane force winds.  Be prepared to experience this from October 15th through April 24th.  Every day will be 'breezy' with sustained winds of 75 mph.

2.  Gusts - here again the weatherman will refer to breezy with gusts.  Gusts are a short burst of wind that will blow you, the dog, and your car into the next state east.  Usually Nebraska.  Sometimes South Dakota depending on your locale.

3.  Chilly - anything below zero degrees farenheit is 'chilly'.  Minus 24?  Your nose instantly froze shut and your lungs won't work? Chilly.

4.  Wind Chill - you multiply chilly with either breezy or gusts to get a minus degree temperature 'feels like' that is somewhere way south of the lowest point your thermometer reaches which is usually minus 50 degrees.  If you bought a wimpy outdoor thermometer.
2 below zero

5. Dress Appropriately - You look like the michlen tire man from wearing so much cold weather gear. Only look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy dressed for a Christmas Caroling?  Put more on, you are woefully under dressed for the 'chilly' weather.

6.  Pacs -  Term used for snow boots with felt liners and worn universally by men, women, children, and Yeti's in Wyolming.You don't need to go to the gym because you get plenty of aerobic just walking with 20 lbs of PAC boots on each foot.

7.  Block Heater - A handy device which attaches to your engine block on one end and your electrical outdoor outlet on the other.  It will warm the engine block enough in 'chilly' conditions to let it turn over and start.  It also warms the heart and pocketbook of the local electrical electrical company.  You make sure your engine heater is plugged in till the 4th of July. AND the horse who 'will unplug it in the middle of the night' is IN THE BARN.

8.  Christmas list - Your Christmas wish list included a new set of tire chains. What, Santa did not bring you tire chains.  Sorry, you are screwed.  Most certainly you will spend the winter 'high-centered'.

9.  High Centered -  Stuck, like up past your vehicle frame in snow.  Never to be 'unstuck' until mid-summer. Proper useage in a sentence: "((&#(&#@!! I'm high Centered!! (*&#@*#@!!!"

10. Gurneys - A gardening catalog every Wyoming household received about October. The Gurney people know ALL ABOUT impluse buying in the winter.  You are obsessessed with the Gurneys catalog beginning in January knowing they don't sell anything neat for a zone 3 climate zone. But you will order the zone 4's ever hopeful......................

11. Goals  - You don't dream about anything other than moving South, anywhere south as long as it's at least 2 climate zones.

12,  Native - Someone born in Wyoming who never achieve their goal of moving 'south' as they are still froze to the ground.  Here's my native when I snagged him 45 years ago.  It was both 'chilly' and 'breezy' when this picture was taken.  We are still frozen to this spot even though I'm not 'native.'

And that's my handy tips and definitions for the Woefully Under Informed about our Wonderful Wyoming Winters!  Hope you enjoyed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Flying in the Face of God .......

The death of John Glenn has flooded me with a lot of memories from my childhood in the fifties in northeastern Iowa.


I distinctly remember a crushing feeling that all of my grade felt when Russia 'won' the space race. We felt betrayed, like our scientists has let us down.  Since it was October of 1957, I would have been in the first grade.

My group of kids were the first generation raised with the new invention of television and I remember watching it on the old Philco TV that my parents had recently purchased within the last year.  I also remember them advertising that Disney's Mickey Mouse Club would soon be airing and my mother commenting that Merideth will really like that. I believe it's first airing was in 1955 but maybe our ONE local television channel only began carrying it in 1956.

In May of 1961, the US finally sent a man up in space.  Alan Sheperd went up briefly and back down never making a complete orbit.  On the 20th of February, 1962, John Glenn became the first person to orbit the earth.  It was Tuesday and for some reason, after school, I was at my grandmother DeSotel's house.   We watched the video and narrative of the Glenn flight and after it was over, my grandmother turned to me and stated, "If God had meant for us to be on the moon, he would have put us there!"  I was slightly shocked by her comment as those of us in the fifth grade thought space flight the most natural thing in the world.  At least half of the boys in my grade had astronaut aspirations.  Probably the remaining half wanted to be corn/hog farmers. (North East Iowa)

Later,, as an adult I had the opportunity to view a Mercury capsule just like the one Glenn orbited in. It was at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln in front of the State Museum on 14th street.  (If you have kids, be sure and stop and visit their natural science section with the rhinos and mammoths and oh my!)  The capsule was unbelievably small with barely enough room to sit,  Every square inch was accounted for.  I couldn't imagine riding across the street in it, let alone orbiting the earth.  Glenn must have been a man of extraordinary courage and faith to have gone into space.

By 1972, when man stepped on the moon, we were living in Wyoming and I never asked my grandma what she thought of that when we visited her.  

Godspeed John Glenn.  America needs more men like you were.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thoughts on 2016 and the arrival of Winter

I just spent over a week in the Denver area.  I took a friend down to the Anschutz Medical center for some medical testing which lasted for a week.

The complex is huge but well planned and we found where we needed to go quite easily.
Here is an aerial photo of the complex I found on the internet.  We were in the building on the far left on the 7th floor.

For the first time ever I tried Airbnb and was well pleased with the experience.  Much cheaper than a hotel/motel for sure.  I had to switch mid-way in the week because of the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was a nice switch as I went from a shared bathroom with the hosts to a private bath!  Both places were clean and pleasant and I will definitely use Airbnb again!

I also discovered (much to my surprise) that I can drive in this.........

Who would have ever thought a country girl who thinks it's a busy highway if she meets 3 cars in 10 miles could navigate in this kind of traffic?  I actually found the freeway almost easier than Colfax Avenue (where the medical complex is located).  Trying to read street signs to navigate a left turn is difficult so I'd slow down and then they would honk.  FYI - that was slowing down to 30 mph!!!
But I got better, started knowing my turns so they quit honking.

One of the Airbnb places was located near this corner.  Dayton and Colfax and it sure looks a lot easier in 1921 than now!!!  I think the building that says Drugs/Soda on it is the Mexican restaurant that is there now.

I had the occasion to go out and shop several times.  Once to Hobby Lobby down past Alameda and discovered it looked just the same and was the same size as the one I shop at in Central Wyoming.  Well it made finding the knitting stuff easy.  I did some boot cuffs and a set of SOCKS!! (first time and one of my knitting goals) plus started a scarf to pass the time.

Then a Dollar General store that was absolutely the dirtiest, messiest store I've ever been in.  Empty shelves with aisles lined with cardboard boxes waiting to be restocked to the shelves.  I felt like I was shopping in some third world country.  
Add about a dozen large cardboard boxes sitting in front of these shelves and you pretty much get the idea. A homeless person begging in front of the exit door was the coup de'etat. The Kmart I later went to wasn't much better but it was a little cleaner. Notably most of the shoppers at the last 2 stores were hispanic.   
Cold and some snow has now arrived at North of Nowhere.  Our lovely warm extended fall is a thing of the past.  I'm just glad I did not have to drive home from Denver in a raging blizzard.  Although we did hit some snow around the midway point.

I have become quite creative at using ground beef recipes.  Why?  Because Hubby had missed a testicle on the butcher steer when he banded him.  Then when I went to take him to the butcher's I found out he had gone out of business although the phone was still working.  So by that time it was end of the season with the butcher shops only taking wild game.  By the time I found a new butcher place, this thing was 20 months old and a bull.   So I hamburgered all of him (and a few roasts which you HAVE to crockpot or you will be chewing that roast into the next month!).  But boy is that hamburger good!  Grass fat, antibiotic free beef is the BEST.  

Compared with grain fed beef from a feedlot (which is almost all of your grocery store beef) meat from a grass fed animal has health benefits.  There is less total fat, saturated fat, calories and cholestrol in the meat.  It also has more beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, more omega 3 fatty acies and conjugated linoleic acid.

Course there is a certain downfall to having known your meal while it was living but this guy was a relief to drop off at the butcher's.  He was becoming an agressive butt head!  Did not mind saying good-bye to him at all.

I finally found a solid broke driving mare and picked her up late September.   She is Amish broke and a registered Morgan of course.   I got her from a friend in North Dakota, and she had gotten her through a Morgan rescue.  We had just gotten a harness fitted to her from parts of 3 harnesses we own but hadn't driven her yet when I decided I needed to get ready for winter and started on some yard/mtn property work.   I do have a cute sled so hopefully we can get to driving her in the next few weeks.  Her name is Brandy and she is a real sweetheart.
JBS Brandywine with the trainer, Jenna, before we picked her up.  We will probably not ride her a lot but they said she was good with kids so maybe the grandkids will ride her some.  I am hoping to just drive her!

Off to do some sewing for gifts!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Special Cowboy Visits

When we shipped our calves (we don't have many) #2 Son came out to help and brought along our #1 Grandson.  It was so fun to have them.   You could tell Grandson was excited to be included and he had a brand new cowboy hat.
Getting Saddled up.

#2 Son and Grandson

Enough with the Pictures Nana!!!

The 3 of them with Bob the dog.

Grandpa and Grandson talking over things.

Fizzy is a pretty big horse for a cowboy!

He was the fifth generation of our family to ride on our little place!  I had the photo of him and Grandpa printed on metal and it turned out really nice.  I had it done at AdoramaPix.  I recommend them.

This is his daddy at the same age.  I really wish I could resurrect that old Appaloosa horse. He was the best kids horse we've ever had.  A real babysitter.  They were dressed up for a local parade.

A running joke between Grandpa and Granson is Grandpa will say 'Your Uncle is a two-bit cowboy.' and Grandson always responds, 'No YOU are!!!'  He never ever says his uncle is a two bit cowboy  HA HA.

Grandson said his butt was getting a little sore after a couple of hours but he rode to the end!  And after they were done the calves loaded they all came in and Nana fed them all ribs and potato salad.

It was a fun fun day and one we will remember for a long time.  And I hope Grandson does also.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Time Lapse of Fall

Here's the series of photos I took of one tree on the mountain this fall.
September 18th - just a hint of color at the top and one branch midway.  Other trees were showing more color on this date; but this one has just started.

September 21st - the color is starting to 'pop' now and you can see it progressing on the trees behind it also.

September 25th - the whole tree is colored now, only a slight hint of green shows.  Almost at it's peak color.

First of October and it has hit the peak of it's color.   How beautiful.

By the 10th of October, most of the leaves have blown off.

And it's threatening to snow.

Which it did.   In fact it started snowing so heavy we thought it best to go down the mountain!

By the 29th of October not a leaf remains.  The tree is dormant awaiting winter.

So from the time the color started it was a mere week and a half to the peak and only another 10 days till the tree was mostly bare.   Short time indeed even in good weather conditions.  No wonder I've always thought Fall was a quick season in Wyoming.

I had my niece with me the day it snowed and before it started snowing heavy we took an excursion down Strube Loop since it was apparent the weather was not going to cooperate with us for our painting plans.

It's at a slightly lower elevation and on the other side of the mountain.  Strube Loop still had some color and it was nice drive of about 2 miles around the Loop.   We enjoyed it.

I took a ton of pictures of the Aspen this year.  Both of these are from the Peak of the color.  Quaking Aspen are interesting trees that spread from their roots.   You are actually looking at ONE tree in each photo.   A healthy Aspen grove cannot be looked through as there are many new shoots coming up.  I think our activity has supressed that in our Aspens so they are not reproducing as they should.           

Next up - a special day  for  Grandpa and our grandson on the ranch.

Happy Fall Y'ALL