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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve at Home (Blog Sixty-five)

Yesterday, Friday, was my first day off school for the holidays, and I eagerly went to muzzleload hunt for deer in Bedford County.  Arriving around 10:00 A.M, I went with the landowner as he showed me the best places to hunt on his property as this was the first time I had been there to pursue whitetails.

After taking a stand, I proceeded to fall asleep three different times in the first two hours I was there, which made me realize how exhausted I was from teaching school, writing, and going hunting every chance I had for the past three-plus months.  So at 2:30, I decided to go home and by 6:30, I had gone to bed.

Today, Saturday and Christmas Eve, I spent part of the day cleaning the chicken coop, putting wood in the garage for the winter, and cutting up a downed ash tree.  But mostly I just rested.  Sometimes that is what I need to do instead of pushing myself all the time.

Tomorrow, Elaine's and my son and daughter and her husband will gather for Christmas brunch and presents.  And per Sarah's wishes, I will have a fire going in the stove.

Thanks for reading this year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chicken Delight (Blog Sixty-four)

It was almost a year ago that I broached the subject to Elaine that we should try to raise chickens.  Understandably, in our then 32 1/2 years of marriage, she felt that my suggestion was made in jest as we had never even had pets let alone farm animals.

Now we are the proud owners of five egg bearing Rhode Island Red hens and their guardian Little Jerry.  Recently we have begun discussing how to make the sextet's lives more interesting, as they have consumed all the grass in their run.  This morning, Elaine had the idea of depositing a bale of straw inside the run.

So after I gathered the morning's eggs and cast about their daily treat of Cheerios, I hauled the straw inside the run.  The chickens immediately left their cereal and raced toward the bale. Predictably, Ruby, who will hop up or fly onto anything, first flew up to the bale and soon all members of our flock were busily pulling and scratching at the bale.

We expect the entire mass of straw to be levelled in a day or two.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Magic of Morning (Blog Sixty-three)

I have been mentoring beginning hunters this season and have really enjoyed not carrying a gun.  This morning friend Doak Harbison and I arrived at a Franklin County winter rye field and watched the sun come up and the night creatures be replaced by those of the day - with some overlapping.

From before sunrise until 7:40, we listened as two great horned owls belted out their "hoo, hoo-hoo," continuing their contest concerning which was the most dominant until well over 30 minutes past sunrise.  I found the verbal battle fascinating as I have infrequently heard the great horned continue so long past sunrise.

Of course, the reason for this duel is that the mating season is in full swing for this species.  Egg laying can begin sometime in January, and the males obviously have to settle issues about mates and territories long before then.

Joining the owls in a cacophony of sound was a mob of crows which chose sunrise as the time to harass a hawk of an indeterminate species.  The outcome was as  it usually is in such matters, that is, more and more crows rushing to the hubbub, more and more raucous cawing, ended finally by the raptor taking wing for a quieter neighborhood.  Of course, the hawk will likely be back tomorrow and the whole issue will have to be discussed anew, but not likely settled.

We went home without a deer, but the morning was a glorious and memorable one.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Two State Strike Out (Blog Sixty-two)

Every autumn, I seem to end up going afield in two states in the same day, and today was one of those days - indeed this was the second time this season it has taken place.  Back in October, I went turkey hunting in West Virginia in the morning and bowhunting in Virginia in the evening.  This act was fairly easy in that I went turkey hunting in Monroe County which borders Craig County where I went bowhunting.

That two-state adventure actually worked out quite well, as though I failed to kill a turkey in West Virginia, my friends and I did work a flock of jakes.  And that evening, I killed a Craig County deer while bowhunting.  So my success rate was an acceptable 50 percent.  I have this dream of killing big game animals in two different states in the same day, but that accomplishment still eludes me - and today was no exception.

During my morning hunt in Carolina, I did not even see a deer.  I then arrived home to see my favorite basketball teach, North Carolina, suffer a one-point defeat to Kentucky.  Then I took my son Mark hunting with the hope that he would kill a deer.  But as was the case in North Carolina, we did not even see a deer.

So my favorite basketball team lost and I drove several hundred miles through two states and never saw a deer - not a good day.