06 July 2015

The bears are back

A couple of weeks ago some bears (2 or 3) were spotted in the neighborhood and I placed one of my game cameras in an area where I'd seen a bear. I checked the game camera after a week and got pictures of this bear.

This bear stands 6 foot tall and has an ear tag which means it was caught by the PA Game Commission and released.

Ear tag.

05 July 2015


In past years, by the 4th of July the weather would be getting hot and dry, farmer would have their haymaking almost done, and lawn mowing would be every week or so ... This past month's weather was cold and wet, the farmer can't make hay, and the lawns are out of control.

We got almost an inch of rain last night and the mushrooms are popping up all over. I took a short walk in the woods near our cabin and here are a few of the mushrooms I found:

04 July 2015

Dragonfly - Eastern Pondhawk

I was walking around our pond and found this Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) dragonfly in the tall grass. Because of its green color, this is a female Eastern Pondhawk, whereas the male has a blue abdomen with a green face and green and blue thorax.

03 July 2015


I have a game camera near the pipeline valves on our cabin property and noticed a photo of a possum (opossum) in the area. I decided to trap and relocate the possum since there are young turkeys in the same area.

The next day after setting the trap for a possum, I had caught 3 young skunks.

I have a game camera set up to watch the trap and see the skunks were trapped about 10:30PM. The game camera took 1,500 photos of the skunks in the trap and their mother trying to get them out.

The skunks had been in the trap for about 12 hours before I arrived to check it. I opened the trap door to release the skunks, but they didn't want to leave the trap. I tried to coax the skunks with food but no luck. After moving the trap, they started to leave one at a time.

After leaving the trap, this little guy wouldn't leave the valve assembly so I had to give him a little help to rejoin his family.

Just like puppies and kittens, a young skunk will remain calm if picked up by the scruff of the neck. The young skunk was moved to a wooded area and released.

02 July 2015

Honeybees & Orange Milkweed

For the past couple of weeks I've posted several photos of insects and common milkweed, but there's another milkweed blooming in the neighborhood, orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa).

The orange milkweed plant may not look like the common milkweed, the individual flowers are the same shape.

Orange milkweed is also known as Butterfly Weed and Butterfly Milkweed because it attracts butteries, but it aslo attracts honeybees.

It may have been a little too cold or windy for the butterflies today, but the honeybees didn't mind the weather.

01 July 2015

Ctenucha Moth

While photographing the flowering milkweed this year I noticed an abundance of dark colored moths with a yellow/orange band around its neck. This is the Virginia Ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica) moth which is a day-flying moth.

Unlike butterflies with narrow antennae, the Ctenucha Moth has large feathery antennae.

Two Ctenucha Moths fighting over a milkweed blossom.

30 June 2015

Wildflowers - Roses

There are two wild roses in our neighborhood, multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) and the Carolina rose (Rosa carolina).

Multiflora rose is a small-leaved shrub with sprays of one-inch white single roses in June. This rose is native to Japan and Korea, but was introduced in the U.S. as a "living fence." It has become an invasive pest that is beautiful in bloom, but a real problem to contain.

A close up view of a Multiflora rose blossom.

The Carolina rose is a small, scrambling shrub with 2" wide-open single blooms with five bright pink petals and stems with straight, needle-like thorns.

A third type of wild rose in the neighborhood may be a hybrid of the Multiflora and Carolina roses. The flower of this rose is a light pink single bloom with the same size and shape as the Carolina rose, but grows on a large upright bush with large hooked thorns similar to the Multiflora rose

A close up of a neighborhood hybrid rose.

A close up of Multiflora rose thorns. The Multiflora rose bush is very friendly. Every time I get near one, it will reach out, grab me, give me a big hug and not want to let go. (Ouch!)

29 June 2015

Wildflowers - St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a perennial herb that grows up to 32 inches tall and is found in many parts of the world (including the Joyce Road neighborhood). The yellow flowers appear from June to September.

St. John’s Wort is a medicinal herb with antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties, but commonly reported adverse effects include gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and diarrhea), dizziness, confusion, fatigue, sedation, dry mouth, restlessness, and headache.

St. John’s Wort gets its name from the tradition of harvesting it on St. John’s Day (June 24).

28 June 2015

Summertime Deer

The harsh days of winter have faded away into the warm days of summer and the local deer are enjoying the change. The deer are enjoying the summer grazing and the bucks are developing a new set of antlers.

At first glance I thought this deer was cooling its feet in the pond next to our cabin ...

but it appears the deer is after some vegetation under the water since the deer has its head in the water up to its eyes.

27 June 2015

Bats in the barn

Earlier this spring I posted a photo of some bats that were living in our barn, I decided it was time to check on the bats again and get some better photos.First I need to mention that the bats live in a mortise (a hole cut into a beam) on the underside of a barn beam. The bats in the photos are hanging up side down.

This time I counted at least 6 bats, including at least one young one, seen on the bottom right in the photo. It was hard counting the bats since they were moving around trying to avoid my light.

Another shot of the young bat on the bottom right.

26 June 2015

Bears in the Neighborhood

For the past week our neighbor's bird feeder has been visited by a bear. The neighbor started putting the bird feeder in his garage at night and out during the day, the bear changed its schedule to daytime visits. The neighbor then only put the feeder out while he was home and the bear then came to visit in the evening. My neighbor sent me this photo of last evening's bear visit.

This morning I found the bear's calling card ("dump") in our lawn a few feet from our front door!

Around 11:30AM I drove to our cabin property and found two bears crossing the gas pipeline right-of-way and got a photo of one of the bears.

The neighbor, with the bear problem, took a half days vacation and stopped at my barn around 12:30. He stated that the bear must know his truck since shortly after he arrived home the bear walked up his driveway looking for the feeder but his dog chased the bear away.

The two bears I saw were a half mile from the neighbors house and heading away from it. There's at least 2 or 3 bears in the neighborhood.

25 June 2015

Project Fergy (Ferguson)

A year ago we purchased a 1955 Ferguson TO-35 tractor at a neighbor's estate sale. The tractor had a front end loader, which the neighbor used to plow snow and gather firewood. I never knew much about the tractor's history, but it had been painted several times with different colors.

The front end loader on this tractor was big and bulky and since I already have a tractor with a front end loader, my first job was to remove the loader from the Ferguson. With the loader removed the tractor handled much better, but I noticed some problems with the engine and hydraulics.

I started out working on the hydraulic lift system and then the engine. Before long I had removed a lot of the parts from the tractor.

The engine had broken piston rings on 3 of the 4 cylinders. Even though the tractor is 60 years old I was able to find all the engine parts I needed and I ordered an engine rebuild kit.

The engine rebuild require the removal and replacement of the cylinder sleeves. With the cylinder sleeves removed I found the engine water jacket for the number 4 cylinder to be packed with scale and rust. Which needed to be removed.

With the inside of the water jacket cleaned I was able to start reassembling the engine. A view of an old cylinder sleeve on the left and a new cylinder sleeve on the right.

With the engine rebuild complete a new coat of gray paint was applied.

A new coat of red paint was applied to the sheet metal and missing parts replaced. The restored Ferguson TO-35 was displayed at the tractor show in Rome, PA this past weekend.

24 June 2015

Milkweed - Part 3

This is part #3 of some of the butterflies, bees and other insects attracted to milkweed flowers.

The milkweed patch was buzzing with honey bees ...

and other insects ...