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Friday, March 24, 2017

Two Weeks before Virginia's Spring Gobbler Opener (Blog 332)

The two weeks  before Virginia's spring gobbler season begins, I think, is when a season is made.  This is the time when scouting takes place, and I check out farms and national forest land where gobblers may be.

The first week is all about finding the gobblers, the second about determining which ones are more likely to respond to calling.  Tomorrow, Saturday, I'll visit the first place on my list, some property in northern Botetourt County.  I also have scheduled visits to Craig and Franklin counties in the coming days.  By the opener, I should have a good idea where my chances for success are highest.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Gobbling on a Snowy, Virginia Morning (Blog 331)

Tuesday morning here in Botetourt County, Virginia, I didn't have school as some snow fell, the winds were gusty, and the temperature plummeted into the single digits.  Yet, as I did my morning chores of taking care of our chickens, I heard a gobbler sound off in the midst of the snow, wind, and frigid temperatures.

Why would a tom be gobbling in absolutely terrible conditions?  On our land, I've heard gobblers gobbling during summertime afternoons, wintertime cold fronts, and rainy fall days. Turkeys never cease to amaze me concerning why they do what they do.

I've also not heard gobblers gobbling during absolutely glorious spring mornings when all the conditions were perfect and even when the hens were raising a ruckus on the roost.  It is simply a mystery.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Emerald Ash Borer and Ash Trees (Blog 330)

It's a cold March Saturday here in Botetourt County, Virginia, and I am preparing to go outside and cut down ash trees.  In the current issue of the QDMA magazine, Quality Whitetails, I have a story on how the emerald ash borer has devastated the ash trees in this country and such is certainly the case on our 38 acres.

Almost every ash on our land is sick, dying, or already dead, and I suspect the few that are not have the EAB inside them, just waiting for warmer weather to do their deadly work.  Most of our ashes live in our creek bottom, but there are a fair number in our hardwood hollow and one recently cut one was in our backyard.

It is a small comfort that the ashes will be firewood for years to come, but it is a tragedy that they will all soon  be dead.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Early Spring Wildlife Habitat Projects (Blog 336)

After being sick the past two weekends, I was finally able to start my spring wildlife habitat improvement projects on our 38-acres in Botetourt County, Virginia.  I started off the weekend Friday after school by spraying multi-flora rose and cutting and splitting wood.

Then Saturday, I sprayed more invasive species and planted clover in the upper food plot. Topping things off was a great meal, courtesy of Elaine, of deer burgers, baked potatoes, and blackberry cobbler.

  On the agenda for Sunday is to plant Yukon Gold potatoes and cut more wood.  I may be able to do some Timber Stand Improvement projects, too.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

First Gobbling of the Virginia Spring (Blog 335)

Thursday morning, I heard my first gobble of the spring while I was tending to the chickens.  The week before, I had witnessed the return of the male woodcocks and their mating dances, so I knew the tom turkeys would be expressing their virility soon.

What does it all mean? Well, to the male turkeys and woodcocks, I supposed their vocal outbursts mean the world.  To the females they are trying to impress, I would guess it means very little.  But that will all change in short order. In a few weeks, the ardor of the males will be matched, to a  degree, by that of the females.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Edith and Mary Square Off (Blog 334)

With our heritage Rhode Island Red chickens, Elaine's task is to name the hens.  With our flock, she decided to have a Downton Abbey theme naming our hens Mary, Violet, Edith and Daisy.  In a case of the chicken yard imitating life, Mary lately has been picking on Edith, running her away from the feeder and waterer.

I can understand that as chickens have a pecking order that must be settled among themselves.  But Mary has taken to running Edith out of the hen house at night when the hens and their rooster Al are trying to fly up to the roost.  This is unacceptable as Elaine and I have to wait long minutes in the dark for Mary to stop the bullying.

Tonight, I became weary of Mary running Edith out.  So I picked up Mary, put her in the yard, put Edith in the hen house, and then removed the gangplank running to the house.

Now it was Mary's turn to panic as she was on the outside wanting in.  She was unable to fly up to the door. I let Edith become settled inside then I put Mary inside.  Hopefully, I will only have to do this a few more times before the nightly nonsense stops.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Persimmon Bread on a February Saturday Night (Blog 333)

Back in the fall, Elaine and I gathered persimmons one cold afternoon.  Elaine made cookies and bread from our haul, and we ate the cookies over the next few days or so.  But the persimmon bread we froze for a winter weekend.

There is a joy in life based around anticipation of eating good things one day in the future. So we picked this weekend to reheat the bread and enjoy the especial nature of persimmon bread - a very dark bread with the sweet taste of persimmons and the nuttiness of walnuts proving a tasty tandem. It was a very fitting dessert for dinner, but I also confess that I had some for breakfast, too.