31 October 2011

Happy Halloween

Our son Brad attended a pumpkin carving party and sent us this photo.

28 October 2011

First Snowfall

The following photos of the first snowfall for this year were captured by my game camera. This is the first time the fawn has seen snow.

20 October 2011

The Woolly Bear Report

After three seasons (Spring, Summer and Fall) of unusual weather I decided to check with some widely accepted consultants on forecasting the coming Winter, the Woolly Bear Caterpillars.

The Woolly Bear Caterpillar (Pyrrharctia isabella) is the larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth and some people believe the Woolly Bear can predict the Winter weather by the size of the black bands on its body. The more black bands, the worse the winter will be.

While a good share of the Woolly Bears I consulted had 5 to 6 black bands with 5 or 6 brown bands (~50% black), more than half of the Woolly Bears had a greater amount of brown.

This one had mixed black/brown at the head, 2 black bands, 6 brown bands and then a black band.

This one had 60% brown in the middle.

This one was ~75% brown with black on the head end and no black on the other end.

This one was brown on both ends with very little black in the middle. It was ~80% brown.

We will see if these weather consultants are correct predictors of this Winter but in reality the size of the color bands are more reflective of the Woolly Bears previous weather and food supply.

16 October 2011

Cabin Project Update

As mentioned in the 19 July posting, we have been working on "fix-up" projects at our cabin this year. We didn't get all of our work completed at the cabin but with the colder weather approaching we have shifted to other jobs such as winter firewood.

We did manage to replace all the supports under the cabin, reinstall the front porch, replace and stain the decking on the porch, install new porch steps, install gutters and downspouts, install drain lines and do some landscaping.

12 October 2011

Fall Fungus

While the colorful fall foliage gets the attention of most people there is a smaller display of color on the forest floor. Fall is also a peak time for members of the fungus family.

It's hard to miss a bright orange maple tree in the fall but a lot of the fall fungus is just as colorful, just smaller.

The following image may look like a large orange mushroom in a pine forest but the mushroom is less than an inch across and the "pine forest" is a carpet of moss.

Russula emetica (Poisonous)

Yellow Spindle Coral (Clavulinopsis fusiformis)

Clavaria zollingeri


The fall foliage of this year will soon fall to the forest floor where it will decay and feed next year's crop of fall fungus.

11 October 2011

Fall Colors

With the weather for the past several days being warm and sunny, the color of the fall leaves is starting to reach its peak. A view of our barn from the cabin property (click on image to enlarge view).

Two geese swimming on Miner's Pond.

10 October 2011

Wild Asters

As the Autumn daylight hours grow shorter the number of wildflowers in bloom get smaller. Insects, like these bees, checking out the wild asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae).

04 October 2011

School Time for Bears

I had set up one of my game cameras in the neighbors back yard and got this picture of mother bear showing the cubs the location of a food source (bird feeder).

01 October 2011

Autumn Olive Jam

The Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), which is native to eastern Asia, was introduced to the U.S. in 1830 and is now listed as an invasive plant by the USDA. This bush was introduced as an ornamental and used for wildlife habitat but many farmers and landowners know this plant can quickly take over fields in a couple of years.

This year's weather has produced a bumper crop of fruit and I found a recipe for Autumn Olive jam on the "dreams and bones" web blog.

Recipe for Autumn Olive Jam

Gather 8 cups of ripe autumn olive berries. (Be sure to taste test the berries as you pick. I've found the bright red berries to be more tart than the dull red berries.)

Add 1 cup of water to the 8 cups of berries and bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Run the mash through a sieve and you will have about 5 cups of pressed fruit.

Measure out 3 ½ cups of sugar. Take ¼ cup of the measured sugar and mix it with the contents of a package of no-sugar-needed Sure Jell. Mix it in with the pressed fruit and bring to a rolling boil. Add the remainder of the sugar to the boiling liquid and return to a rolling boil and let it boil for one minute.

Then can according to canning directions and cool.

This will make about six 8 oz. jars of well set jam. Nice and tart.