A week or so ago a new feathered creature showed up at our suet feeders. My wife first noticed it by its song, one we had not heard before. Finally, she tracked it down and we identified it at the feeder. Our conclusion was that it was a red-headed house finch but we’ve since decided that may not be correct.
We didn’t have a good photo of the bird so on two occasions this week I sat on the deck with my best lens and found a very different creature than what we first thought was paying us a visit. This one has far more colors and is truly a bird we’ve never seen before. After lots of digging in our library of bird books, the closest thing we can find is labeled an immature summer tanager, which is a migratory species and more commonly found in South Florida and the tropics.
We’ve fed the birds in our woods for decades. But, this winder we decided to put out some corn in hopes of drawing the squirrels in. We have a large heard this season and they are great fun to watch.
So, I stopped at Tractor #and brought home a corn feeder, a 50# bag of shelled corn, and a bag of eared corn. Long story short, so far the squirrels have totally ignored it. I see them run down the tree and a few minutes run back up; showing no interest in the goodies offered. My only theory is that the corn feeder is hanging on a hickory tree and there’s got to be lots of hickory nuts on the ground that the squirrels prefer over corn.
My old friend Bobby Everhart and I took a quick 4-day run to Emerald Isle, NC for some pier fishing. Early October, in a normal year, would have been a perfect time for catching coolers of spots and sea mullets, both great food fish.
However, these are not normal years and the air temps were in the high 80s and the water temps near summer norms. The result was, we went, we fished, we caught a few dinks, we ate good restaurant seafood, we did a little sightseeing, and we had a wonderful time retelling old stories and making a couple of new ones.
Going back to 2001 Sebastian Inlet along Florida’s East Coast has been a favorite saltwater fishing destination for me. It is arguably the best fishing locales in the Eastern United States.
The inlet connects the waters of the Atlantic with the waters of the very large Indian River. It is a very narrow man-made inlet and with every tide change, large numbers of sea creatures move back and forth between the sound and the ocean.
Back in 2004, I was in the Big Bend area of SW Texas. That area is about as unwelcoming as a place as is yet it has a kind of beauty unlike anything found here in Southern Ohio. I was watching a video taken from the veranda of an old abandoned ghost town mansion that was being used as a two-room B&B. The sunrises and sunsets were spectacular and even during the day, the light changes the color and shapes of the hills and canyons. Every day is different as is every moment of every day. Except for the heat that veranda would be a wonderful place to sip a cold one and watch it all unfold.
Back in the ’50s, it was quite common to see bent willow furniture sitting on people’s porches and patios. A childhood friend had two chairs on their porch and I always loved sitting in them. They were handmade by an older man who lived in a small shack along a nearby creek. The creek and surrounding wetlands gave him all the raw materials he needed.
He would build single chairs as well as couches and side tables. The fellow didn’t have a car or truck so he pushed a large two-wheeled cart loaded with his furniture up and down the village streets peddling his wares. On days he didn’t have furniture to sell he would push his cart around town hauling away people’s scrap metals and newspapers.
I believe the only piece of willow furniture we ever had was a small child’s rocking chair that one of our daughters used for her children.
Several years ago I was driving through the Florida Panhandle and came upon a large pickup truck with a cab-over rack. The vehicle was heavily loaded with beautiful bent willow furniture. I don’t know where they were from or where they were going but I sure wish I’d chased them down and brought a couple of chairs home.
It’s been a long time since I gave the subject any thought but today I came across a video of a young man in Kentucky who’s keeping the craft alive. If I wasn’t so damned old now I’d look the guy up and place an order. I’ll post the video below and hopefully, this will bring back some pleasant memories for you.
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Late last summer the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was struck by two major hurricanes, Irma and Maria. Along with the US Virgin Islands these American territories were devastated. The physical infrastructure and economies of these islands remain far from recovery. NPR recently reported:
“Puerto Rico still has areas contending with terrible living conditions following Hurricane Maria and the lackluster response to the storm from the mainland United States. Even the deadly effects of the storm are far from over: With many still living without power or their lives otherwise disrupted, particularly elderly populations, the overall suicide rate in Puerto Rico increased 27 percent in 2017 compared to 2016 levels.”
These people are American citizens yet, in many ways our government has turned its back on them. Somehow America’s president appears to think that flying into the scene and tossing a few rolls of paper towels is all that’s needed. It gave him his photo opportunity.
Back in the 1960s me and some guys I worked with took a hunting/camping trip into the Sierra Nevada Mountains east of Fresno, CA.
We spent Friday and Saturday nights in a very primitive campground at about 6,000 feet. On the first night we built a nice fire and sat around until pretty late drinking beer and telling lies. None of us had a tent so we slept out in the open with nothing but sleeping bags.
Most people know that the secret to turning tough cuts of meat into tender, juicy, and delicious barbecue involves cooking it in a smokey, low heat environment for a long time. Low and slow as the saying goes.
Over the years I’ve tried lots of different smokers and seen many more being used by others, including competition BBQ teams. Just about anything can be used if the temperature can be controlled while introducing smoke. At the Georgia State BBQ Championship I even saw a guy using the interior and front trunk of a VW Beetle for a smoker. You couldn’t see what was inside, however, because the windows were blacked out by layers of smokey residue.
Several years ago I got tired of tending to hours of charcoal and wood fires and began trying to create smoke with my Weber propane grill. The problem is, wood won’t smolder and smoke at the low temps needed to cook a pork butt slowly.
My solution turned out to be creating a separate “hot” fire for the wood chips, and a “low” fire for the meat. I took an aluminum pie pan, punched some ventilation holes in it, built a small charcoal fire in it, and once the coals got hot enough I piled on the chip. I then lit off the gas burners, adjusted for a temperature of about 225 degrees, and let it do the low and slow magic while the charcoal kept the smoke rolling.
Been a couple of years since I dug out a rod and went fishing. But in late May a friend and I dragged my boat to the ocean and fed the fishes a little.
I was so busy getting the boat cleaned and ready I had no time left for packing a tackle box. Luckily my rods were still in my van from the last time I went to the saltwater.
During the week I had to stop at a tackle shop a few times and was floored over what has happened to the price of terminal tackle. Lead sinkers are triple what I remember, hooks double, and a spool of good 8 pound line that commonly sold for around $6 was not $15.
Making matters worse, I had everything I bought, and much more, back home in my garage. Where in my garage is another question but before the next trip I’m digging it out.
Wanna buy a duck? Well you can buy one duck or six hundred for this years McClain High School Band Boosters annual Duck Race. Tickets are on sale at Jett’s Embroidery and the Corner Pharmacy for $5 each. First place pays $300, second $200, and third $100. The race, which is part of G3’s annual Paddle on Paint Creekfest will begin at 2:00 pm at Greenfield’s Felson Park on Sunday, May 17th.
Advanced reservations for kayak and canoe trips during the Creekfest may be made at…
My wife and I were near Bainbridge this past week and spotted a pair of bald eagles perched in the top of a tree along Paint Creek. We’ve seen a single eagle in that area on several occasions but this was the first for a pair.
Today I sat in a meeting with representatives of the Army Corp of Engineers and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The topic of our area’s eagle population came up and it was reported we have three nesting pairs and a fourth that “may” be trying to nest.
Specific locations weren’t revealed but one pair is near Bourneville, another near Bainbridge, and the third at Rocky Fork Lake.
A truck driving friend of mine reported being along the upper Mississippi River and spotting a grouping of around seventy-five golden and bald eagles. Wouldn’t that be a traffic stopper?
If you live in our area of Ohio you know that every spring many locals come out of hibernation and proceed directly into the woods in search of morel mushrooms. The morel chasers will begin showing up in coffee shops with great tales of shopping bags full and pictures of large finds will fill the social media sites. It’s worth noting that mushroomers aren’t as big a liars as fishermen but only because their season is so much shorter.
I’ve never been good at finding mushrooms. When I was building my house in the woods a woman walked through the woods and told me very pointedly that I was destroying one of the best mushroom plots known to humanity. In following years I and friends walked these woods and came up empty every time. I’m pretty convinced I couldn’t find a morel if one walked up, kicked me in the chin, and barked.
Earlier in the winter my wife and I were on our way to Bainbridge and saw a mature bald eagle sitting in the tops of a sycamore tree, surveying the waters of Paint Creek. It was the first time either of us had seen eagles in the wild in Ohio. A week later we saw it again, sitting in the same tree top.
Today on Facebook a friend posted a couple of photos of eagle activity around Rocky Fork Lake. I don’t know who took the photos but I’m pretty sure they were taken very recently. I knew there were eagles at the lake but wasn’t aware there were so many.
My friend Dave Allen is a commercial artist and operates a Cincinnati company named Greenbird. His specialty is environmentally safe products for increasing bird and butterfly habitat around one’s home. I recently received an email from Dave about a new line of products that would make a wonderful Christmas present for the birder or gardener in your life. For further details about these new products click here. Dave’s complete business website is at Greenbirdhouse.com.