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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Scouting for Deer in Virginia Mountains (Blog 352)

Today, Elaine and I drove up into the mountains to our Craig County, Virginia land on Johns Creek to do some pre-season scouting, but mostly to check on the ladder stand and trim some shooting lanes. The ladder stand needed a new belt as the old one was quite worn and the proverbial accident waiting to happen.

I can't stand waiting until the week before bow season to check on stands, stand sites, and to cut shooting lanes.  Do those chores now and don't return until the season begins is my philosophy. I have three weeks before Roanoke County's urban archery season begins and then another month until the regular bow season begins.  I am looking forward to both seasons.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My first fiction novel, Ninth Grade Blues is Published (Blog 351)

Like many people, I've had many goals in life: marrying a great woman, having children and now grandchildren, being a high school English teacher, becoming an outdoor writer, and living out in the country on land where I could hunt and fish. Because of marrying Elaine, everything fell into place over time.

But I never had a goal of writing a novel, and to my continuing surprise, my first work of fiction, Ninth Grade Blues, came out a few days ago. It's a Young Adult novel, following the lives of four ninth graders, their hopes and dreams, successes and failures, their freshman year of high school. If you're interested in learning more, please contact me at I wrote the book for students who don't particularly like school and who are often indifferent readers. Below is the cover.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Rhode Island Red Chicks Move Outside (Blog 350)

It was moving day on Monday for our heritage Rhode Island Red chicks. The mother, Mary, and her three chicks moved to their new henhouse outside after spending their "youth" in a pen in the basement.  Long ago, I had named the young cockerel Don, Jr. after his father Don who resides in the adjacent run with his six hens.

Elaine finally decided what to name the two pullets, she is going with Thelma and Louise. Thelma is the more agressive of the two and is quite willing to square off with Don, Jr. Louise, meanwhile, is more timid and quite content to be off by herself when Don, Jr. and Thelma start squabbling. I imagine Thelma's days of fighting with her sibling will end in another month or two, as soon Junior's inevitable growth spurt will begin, and he will be much bigger than she is.

Here's a picture of their first day in their new home.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Stop Mowing Your Front Yard (Blog 349)

Where are these beautiful purple coneflowers in the picture below growing? Perhaps in a field or meadow somewhere?

Actually, they are growing in our front yard. A number of years ago, I decided to stop mowing  a small section of our front yard and "just let it go." The result has been a profusion of growth of wild plants whose seeds were present in the seed bank: purple coneflowers, daisy fleabane, Virginia creeper, ragweed, black-eyed susans, and many others.

My "overgrown yard" patch may look seedy to some, but I think it is beautiful and far better for the environment than those closely cropped fescue deserts presented as the norm.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Locavore Meals (Blog 348)

One of the many great things about summer are all the great, simple locavore meals. The other day for lunch, Elaine and I had venison burgers (from a deer I had killed) with Cherokee purple tomatoes and onions from our garden.  Dessert was blackberry cobbler from blackberries that I had picked behind our house.

Tonight for dinner, the menu is eggs frittata (eggs courtesy of our Rhode Island Red hens) and blueberry cobbler.  The blueberries come from our land on Potts Mountain. These are true feasts that mean summer to us.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Our Heritage Rhode Island Reds (Blog 347)

Right now, Elaine and I have three groups of heritage Rhode Island Red chickens.  What we call the "Old Reds" are our Rooster Don and his three hens that are a little over two years old, the "Young Reds that are 16 months old with Al and his three hens, and the "Baby Reds" which live in the basement and consist of the hen Mary and her three chicks that are about a month old.

Soon, it will be time to move Mary and her little flock outside to one of the runs.  However, we have heard that older chickens will sometimes kill the chicks of other hens.  Mary used to be part of Al's flock, but she has been gone for a month, of course, and will not be greeted warmly, nor likely will her chicks.

We truly do not know what to do, but Mary and her chicks will soon be too big to stay in the basement enclosure, and they obviously need more outside time than what they have been receiving.  We will have to come up with an idea soon.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Surf and Turf: Mountain Style (Blog 346)

Today for lunch, Elaine and I had a locavore lunch of Surf and Turf, mountain style.  Our two entrees were venison burgers from a deer I had killed last year and rainbow trout, from fish that friend John Loope caught on our trip to the Smith River the day before.  Modesty compels me to admit that I had seven bites but failed to catch any of them, but that's another story for another day.

The locavore theme was made better by the fact that also on the menu were green beans from our daughter Sarah's garden. Tonight for dinner, our centerpiece will be wineberry cobbler, again from berries picked near our house.  So far we have gathered a little over five gallons of wild berries this summer, and the blackberries, the main focus of our picking, have not started to come in to any degree yet.