28 September 2017

Shaggy Mane Mushroom

It has been hot and dry for most of this month and very few of the fall mushrooms have developed. I was surprised to find this Shaggy Mane(Coprinus comatus) mushroom growing along a road on our property. This mushroom is also known as a Shaggy Ink Cap mushroom. The gills beneath the cap are white, then pink, then turn black and secrete a black liquid filled with spores (hence the “ink cap” name).

26 September 2017

Button Buck

The neighborhood fawns from this spring have grown rapidly over this summer and this male fawn is starting to display "buttons" that will develop into antlers next year. These fawns are known as "button bucks".

24 September 2017

Rose Hips

Rose hips are the seed pods of roses. I found these brightly colored rose hips along a road on our cabin property. They are actually very ornamental, looking like small crabapples. Roses are in the same family as apples and crabapples, so the resemblance of their fruits is not purely coincidental. Rose hips also have a bit of the tartness of crabapples, and are a great source of vitamin C. Rose hips contain the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene, which are under basic research for a variety of potential biological roles, such as inhibiting oxidation of low density lipoprotein

Rose hips are used for herbal teas, jam, jelly, syrup, rose hip soup, beverages, pies, bread, wine, and marmalade. Rose hips are edible. They can also be eaten raw, like a berry, but the seeds inside have an irritating, hairy covering, so it is recommended you remove them prior to eating. Picking Rose hips can be a thorny job. The large, curved thorns of this bush indicate it is a wild Multiflora Rose.

21 September 2017

Monarch Butterfly

The Zinnias are blooming and this Monarch butterfly was more interested in the flower than escaping from me.

20 September 2017

Mr. Reed at One Year Old

Our grandson, Mr. Reed, is now one year old and has developed from a baby to a little boy.

Mr. Reed has been walking since he was 10 months old, but now his walk is more like a run and he loves to explore the outdoors.

During Reed's walks he likes to stop and examine new things.

He will soon be ready to climb mountains, once he conquers his slide.

Reed loves to eat fruits and vegetables, and will soon help in the garden.

Time for a "pre-rinse" before going in the house.

Time for an art lesson with mommy.

Check the channels on the TV in the comfort of the dog bed.

Back outside checking the new sandbox.

Yes, this sand is ready to work ...

Let's dig a hole.

Time for another "pre-rinse" before going in the house.

Time to clean up in the bathroom sink. Which one is the hot water and which one is the cold water.

19 September 2017

Ruffed Grouse

I was traveling through a wooded area on my tractor when this Ruffed Grouse jumped into the road in front of me. I'm not sure if it thought the sound of the tractor was another grouse, but it had the neck feathers raised as during its courtship display.

I was only able to get two very quick photos before the grouse flew off (maybe it didn't like my tractor).

17 September 2017

Stinkhorn Mushrooms

Stinkhorn Mushrooms are group of mushrooms that get their name from the fact you may smell these mushroom before you see them. We were at our son's house for a few days and I found several of these Ravenel's Stinkhorn (Phallus ravenelii) in the new mulch. The body of this mushroom emerges from a pink or lavender-colored "egg" to form a tall, cylindrical, hollow and spongy white stalk with a bell-shaped cap. The cap is covered in a foul-smelling olive-green spore slime, which attracts insects that help to spread the spores.

Once these mushrooms emerge from the ground they are short lived and will wilt within a day or two.

14 September 2017


The temperatures at night are now dipping into the low 40's(F) and the pumpkins have turned a bright orange. As the warm days of summer are replaced with cooler fall weather it is time to start cleaning up the garden.

11 September 2017

Io Moth Caterpillar

Today's "Critter Encounter" was with a Io Moth (Automeris io) caterpillar while I was mowing our lawn. It was easy to see this bright green "fuzzy" caterpillar crossing Joyce Road.

I didn't want this unusual looking caterpillar to get run over so I helped it out of the road for further examination and photos. I later found out this "fuzzy" caterpillar is covered with venomous sines and shouldn't be handled with bare hands. When the spines penetrate the skin, the tips break off and release the venom which causes an immediate painful nettling and itching reaction. Luckily my hands are tough as leather.

A close-up view of the Io moth caterpillar's spines shows the sharp, dark colored tips that can penetrate the skin, break off and release the venom.

09 September 2017

Red-Spotted Newt

It was another day in the woods cutting firewood and another "critter encounter". This time the critter was a Red-Spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), also known as an Eastern Newt.

This bright orangish-red color indicates it is a juvenile Red-Spotted Newt, which is known as the red eft stage.

During the red eft stage the Red-Spotted Newt is a land-dwelling sub-adult. As Red-Spotted Newts grow into adulthood, their color turns olive to dark green and they leave the land to become aquatic.

It has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years in the wild, and may grow to five inches in length.

07 September 2017


The colder weather will soon be here and it's always nice to have a supply of firewood ready. Multiple storms this summer blew down several trees on our West Hill property and it's time to convert the fallen trees to firewood. While this photo looks warm and sunny, the weather changed to cold and wet on my 2.5 mile trip back with this load of firewood.

Most of the fallen trees were snapped off 20 to 30 feet above the ground and are clustered in a small area near my road.

This one maple tree was a trailer load of firewood.

06 September 2017


It was another damp day and I came across a couple of these black and orange millipedes known as Apheloria virginiensis.

Millipedes on the whole do not bite, but they possibly excrete the toxin cyanide through their “skin.”

Millipedes differ from centipedes mainly by the number of legs per body segment. A centipede will have one set of legs per segment whereas a millipede has two sets of legs on most segments. Centipedes are carnivores that primarily eat insects and spiders- while the millipedes usually consumes plants or rotting wood and leaves.

05 September 2017

Boxelder Bug

It's not often when you drive down a road and notice some bugs on a tree 40 feet away, but these bugs got me to stop and look. The bugs were masses of Boxelder Bugs(Boisea trivittata) sunning themselves on a fallen Boxelder tree.

These insects are found primarily on boxelder trees, as well as maple and ash trees. During late summer and fall, Boxelder Bugs start to leave the trees from where they were feeding to find protected areas for the winter.

As the weather cools, Boxelder Bugs push into cracks and spaces where they can overwinter.

Many different stages of Boxelder Bugs, from nymphs to adults.

04 September 2017

Wood Frog

It rained most of yesterday and our woods was very damp, but I still decided to clean up some dead trees. While driving along the muddy road in the woods I noticed a small Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) jump out of the way of my tractor (I may have splashed some mud in the frog's eye). This was a very young frog and only about 1.5 inches long. Wood Frogs are easy to identify by the dark mask around their eyes and ridges that run down their back. Wood Frogs can survive long cold winters since they can tolerate the freezing of their blood and other tissues. They are one of the first amphibians to emerge for breeding right when the snow melts.

01 September 2017


I was checking one of my wildlife food plots today when I noticed some movement in the field next to it. The movement was a couple of hen turkeys with about a dozen poults (young turkeys). I waited in my truck as the turkeys made their way across the field catching grasshoppers.

At time the grass was taller than the poults, which made it hard to see the poults and photograph them.

The turkeys soon walked into the food plot and were more visible.

The view looking down the valley from the food plot.