19 March 2018

Early Garden

Soon after New Years the gardening catalogs started arriving in the mail and racks of vegetable seeds started to appear in stores. For us in the northeast this is way too early to start gardening ... or is it too early???

Back in January I took a couple of plastic tubs, filled them with potting soil and placed them in a sunny location. In the one tub I scattered beet seeds and in the second tub I scattered two types of lettuce and some spinach.

The beets are now ready to thin out ...

The lettuce and spinach is also ready to thin and we had our first salad from the garden today.

13 March 2018

Snow Geese

On our recent trip to Iowa, while traveling on I-29 near the Nebraska City exit, we got to see tens of thousands of snow geese staging for their spring migration north to their breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra.

11 March 2018

Change of Command Ceremony

We recently traveled to Topeka, Kansas for the Change of Command ceremony at the 190th Air Refueling Wing of Kansas Air National Guard.

Lt. Col. Robert (Chuck) Beebe and son Henry.

Chuck's wife Nikki and Henry.

Mr. Henry will soon be 1 year old and is dressed for the occasion.

Almost show time...

Chuck presented his daughter Myra with some flowers...

And Myra had to let everyone know who her Daddy was ...

Start of the Change of Command ceremony

Outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Beebe, transfers the unit flag and authority.

Family photo

The official mascot of the 190th Air Refueling Wing, Willie Coyote.

03 January 2018

Bear with Insomnia?

It has been very cold in the neighborhood, with the temperature at or below 0F overnight, for the past week. So when a neighbor called to tell me a bear had destroyed their bird feeder it was time to investigate. Most people assume that bears hibernate during the winter, but they tend to slow down during the winter, they are not true hibernators. The damaged bird feeder.

With an inch or so of snow on the ground it was easy to track the bear as it went into the brush behind the neighbor's house. I started to follow the bear tracks to see if it visited any other neighbors. Since this brush lot had some trails mowed through it I took the easy path around the brush and looked for where the tracks came out of the brush. These tracks went into the brush, but didn't come out. The bear was still in the brush.

I went back to where the track entered the brush and followed the tracks in. Within 20 yards I found this nest the bear had made from dry goldenrod. I had walked within 15 yards of the bear on my first pass around the brush lot. The bear waited until I had walked past it before it ran out of the brush and over the hill.

This shows how the bear gathered the goldenrod to make its nest which was less than 200 yards from the neighbor's house.

02 December 2017


It is with deep sadness and sorrow that I announce the passing away of our daughter-in-law Alexandra, known to friends and family as Lexi. After a long battle with cancer she passed away Thursday morning at the age of 36.

Lexi made her first appearance in this blog in October of 2013 when I met her for the first time.
A Bird in the Hand

On May 31st, 2015, our son Matthew and Alexandra (Lexi) were married on a hilltop vista on our property.
Matt & Alexandra's Wedding

In September 2016 Lexi gave birth to our grandson Evan Reed (known as Reed).
Evan Reed Beebe

Lexi's first Christmas with new son Reed in December 2016. It was only a week after this joyous Christmas gathering that Lexi was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer.
Christmas with Reed

Over the next 11 months Lexi received surgery to her neck, radiation treatment and chemo, while enjoying time with Reed and family.
Keeping Up With Mr. Reed

Throughout the year Lexi tried to maintain a positive attitude and keep family life as normal as possible.
Reed's Check-up

An art lesson for Reed on his first birthday.
Mr. Reed at One Year Old

Sadly she didn't win her battle with cancer and this wonderful person will be missed greatly by her friends and family.

22 November 2017

Thanksgiving Turkeys

As I was driving down Joyce Road this morning I had to stop and let a flock of turkeys cross the road. I had an unsuccessful fall turkey hunting season this year and with the hunting season currently closed (season reopens tomorrow for three days) I think the turkeys may be mocking me. Maybe this is their own version of a Thanksgiving parade.

Why did the turkeys cross the road ... Because hunting season was closed.

16 November 2017


I was driving around our cabin property in the late afternoon checking out our neighborhood deer when I spotted this grouse at the edge of the brush. Grouse are a somewhat elusive bird to see and photograph since they spend most of their time in the thick brush. Grouse are very good at camouflage and will stay motionless, as this one did, until you walk past them and then take off with a thunderous roar of its wings as it flies to the next hiding spot.

Grouse do not fly much and spend most of their time walking through the thick brush looking for food. This grouse may have selected this narrow section of field as a crossing point between two patches of brush.

As a side note; Grouse are very tasty to both humans and wildlife such as foxes and hawks.

13 November 2017


The weather is getting colder and some ticks in the neighborhood are looking for a warm blooded "Bed & Breakfast" to attach to. This tick on my fingertip is still looking for a host and hasn't attached and filled up yet.

This tick is engorged, filled up with blood from a warm blooded host.

30 October 2017

Mary's New Friend

Mary was working in her flowers today when I pulled into the driveway and noticed she had a new friend watching her. About 50 feet behind her, in our apple orchard, was a young deer eating apples.

The deer continued to eat more apples after Mary left and I was able to walk even closer until the deer was full of apples.

29 October 2017

Catching a few rays of Sun

In a few days it will be November and I found these 6 Eastern Painted Turtles at our pond trying to catch some sun and stay warm on an Autumn day. It was only a couple of days ago that the morning temperature was 27F, so the turtles won't have too many more days to enjoy the warm sunshine before the pond ices over

26 October 2017


I often see deer as I drive around the neighborhood and sometimes wounder how many deer I don't see are watching me. The only reason I was able to find this deer camouflaged in the dry goldenrod was because it had just crossed the road in front of me.

22 October 2017


The Autumn leaves are falling, but so are the walnuts. We have several walnut trees around our barn and I hauled away a front end loader bucket full a walnut before turning the job over to the neighborhood squirrels.

When most people in this area think of walnut trees, they think of the eastern black walnut(Juglans nigra) which is native to eastern North America. The nuts of the black walnut are food for many rodents and the wood is highly prized for its dark-colored, straight grained, true heartwood. The nut (fruit) of the black walnut develops inside a round, tennis ball sized bright green husk that falls from the tree in October or November.

While black walnuts are more abundant in this area, we also have some butternut(Juglans cinerea) or white walnut trees growing at our barn. The fruit of the butternut is a lemon-shaped nut, produced in bunches of two to six together with the nut surrounded by a green husk. Butternut wood is light in weight and is highly rot resistant, but is much softer than black walnut wood.

18 October 2017

Emerald Ash Borer

Last year we had an ash tree removed from our lawn because it had been infected by Emerald Ash Borers and died. I've monitored our ash trees this summer and have only found a few infected trees. Within a couple of days this tree went from looking healthy to looking like its bark was blasted off.

This section of bark on the ash tree has fallen off and reveals the cambium layer under the bark where the Emerald Ash Borer creates tunnels as it eats the inner bark layer.

17 October 2017


I planted some sunflowers in our garden this year and the seed-heads were finally ready to harvest. The next step is drying the seed-heads in our solarium.

Once the seed-heads are dry we will use them to feed the winter birds in the neighborhood.

16 October 2017

European Hornet

I started harvesting the seed heads of the sunflowers in our garden when I came across several European Hornets(Vespa crabro) on the sunflower stalks. The European Hornet is an introduced species first reported in the United States in 1840. The European Hornet is large and can reach over an inch long, with the queen reaching 1.5 inches. It is the only true hornet in North America.

European Hornets can be identified by the thin waist between the thorax and the abdomen. The European Hornets have "C" shaped complex eyes with three small ‘simple’ eyes, called "Ocelli" located on the forehead between the complex eyes. The Ocelli are used to detect movement.

European Hornets have large jaws that are used to chew bark from trees to build their nests. These Hornets have been known to "girdle" trees for sap and bark. The girdling may result in the death of the tree.

The Hornets were on the sunflower stalks for the sap. Here are two, much smaller yellow jackets trying to get some sap from the much larger Hornet.

A size comparison between a common house fly and a European Hornet.

Two European Hornets fighting to get sap from a sunflower stalk.

European Hornets will fight for food and to protect their nest, but they are also refereed to as “gentle giants”. I had this Hornet crawl over my hand and wrist for 5 minutes with no problems.