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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Best Wife Ever (Blog Fifty-seven)

There are so many reasons I love Elaine, and several of them manifested themselves today.  October 29 was opening day of Virginia's fall turkey season, and I asked Elaine to do my morning chicken rituals (bringing food and water to Little Jerry and his hens) so that I could go hunting.  Of course, she did so willingly.

Later while she was at a Tupperware party, or whatever those things are called that ladies go to where one lady hosts a function and other ladies buy things from her, I called her to come home and take pictures of me with the turkey I had called in and killed.  Of course, she did so willingly.

But it is not just Elaine's sweet nature that is so appealing about her; she also has a delightful sense of humor.  When we walked out to the backyard and woods to take pictures of the turkey and me, Violet, our most vocal hen, began squawking at me.

"Relax, Violet," quipped Elaine.  "That turkey is nobody you know.

Tomorrow, Sunday, Elaine will spend several hours cooking for me...on the menu is venison tenderloin and cherry cobbler (from our organic cherry tree - the berries which I picked and Elaine pitted - she had the much harder job).  And, of course, as always her lunch will be sublime.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Four Egg Days (Blog Fifty-six)

While Bruce went hunting on Saturday, I spent a great deal of time with the chickens.  Our five hens are developing a four-a-day habit, since Ruby and Little Spotty Hen are laying.
The first time we found a fourth egg in the nest we became quite excited and discoursed long and hard on who was responsible, Little Spotty or Ruby?  A week went by before a fourth egg appeared again.   And again we wondered.  Now another week has passed, and almost every day we find a fourth egg, distinctly different in size and color from the other three.  Number four is quite a bit smaller and paler in color, and is often more speckled compared to the jumbo sized rich brown eggs of the “big girls,”  Tallulah, Dot, and Violet.

Bruce is convinced Little Spotty is the responsible party, but unless we catch them in the act we might never be sure.  And if we go out too soon to the coop and disturb a chicky sitting in a nesting box, we feel quite guilty as they chastise us severely with lots of squawking and feather flapping.  Once we have a “Five Egg Day” all doubts about who is doing what will be cleared up for good.   

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ruby or Little Spotty Hen? (Blog Fifty-five)

Last May 4, Elaine and I began our chicken rearing career when we received 10 straight run chicks from the local Southern States.  As is common, two chicks perished within five days, and we raised the remaining eight chicks to maturity, along the way learning that six of the eight were roosters.

To supplement the female contingent, consisting of just Ruby and Little Spotty Hen, we purchased chickens that Elaine (she names all of our chickens) named Tallulah, Dot, and Violet.  Elaine said Tallulah received her moniker because of her big, white tail, Dot hers because of a white dot on her back, and Violet her appellation because "she's no shrinking violet." In short, Violet is constantly whining, clucking, or yapping about something being almost as vocal as our sole remaining rooster, Little Jerry.

On August 18, our new trio of hens began laying, depositing two eggs in one of the nesting boxes, and have been doing a great job ever since.  In fact, most days we find three eggs there, indicating that every one of the trio is doing her share.

This past Thursday was like every other day, as three medium size dark brown eggs were laid in the nesting box before noon.  But around 5:30 that evening, I found a small, light brown egg at the upper corner of our chicken run near the solar powered station.

Apparently, either Ruby or Little Spotty Hen has produced her first egg.  As of today, neither has taken credit nor has one or the other produced another egg.  Elaine and I are all anticipation about how many eggs will be found on Sunday.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Long - and Fascinating Day - of Bowhunting (Blog Fifty-four)

Saturday, I spent almost an entire day in a Craig County black oak, bowhunting for deer.  The only time I debarked from the tree was between 1 and 3:00 P.M. when I went to my vehicle to rest, eat, and call Elaine.

And during that time aloft, I never loosed an arrow, although between 4:30 and 6:40, I had nine different deer around me.  There's an old saying that "close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades," and close certainly doesn't count in bowhunting.  The deer just wouldn't come within the self-restricted 20-yard range that I have with my Matthews Switchback compound.  They stayed on the opposite side of the logging road that I was set up along (picture below) and just wouldn't cross to my side.

And, yes, I was frustrated and exhausted at the end of the day from being constantly ready to prepare to shoot but never doing so.  But the day was not a bad one.  Before the deer arrived, I observed a number of fascinating events.  Two mature turkey hens and I engaged in chatter, the three of us purring, clucking, and yelping at each other, but they never came within bow range either.

Later, a raven came flying in and perched right above, until it became alarmed at the blob, me, below it.  Several hours later a red-tailed hawk did the same thing, terrorizing the chipmunk population before the raptor, too, became alarmed at my outline.

I didn't sleep well thinking about the missed opportunities.  This afternoon, I am returning to that Craig County property and moving my treestand to the opposite side of the logging road.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bowhunting Blunders (Blog Fifty-three)

Yesterday was the first day of Virginia's bow season for deer, and I committed a series of blunders, making me think that I wasn't quite ready for prime time.  My first snafu started around 5:25 A.M. when I had one last task to complete before hopping in the Xterra and leaving to hunt in Craig County.  All I had to do was put on my safety harness.

 I don't like putting on a harness in the dark at the base of a tree because I always seem to become entangled in all the various belts.  I struggled for a good five minutes trying to put on the harness before giving up and waking up Elaine.  She was not amused at my incompetence at such an early hour, but as always she sweetly helped me put on the device.  I am so fortunate to be married to her.

My next mishap took place at the base of the red oak where I wanted to position my treestand in the dark.  While I was putting on my headlamp in preparation for ascending, somehow the battery compartment opened and spilled its contents onto the forest duff.  I spent several precious minutes groping along the ground for the batteries, before giving up the search.

I didn't have a spare headlamp so I was forced to put my flashlight in my mouth and put up the stand with the aid of that light. I began to fear that the outing was going to be one of those proverbial bad days.

With all of those blunders and time loss, I was not secured in my treestand until 7:11 A.M., a good half hour later than I had intended.  But at 7:18, a mature doe ambled by, I loosed an arrow, the shot was good, and I was home for lunch.  Sometimes it truly is better to be lucky than good.