Search This Blog

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Mornings with Elaine and Mad Men (Blog Seventy)

For the past few months, one of Elaine's and my Sunday morning pleasures has been to sit by the wood stove and watch Mad Men from 6:00 to 9:00 A.M. This morning I arose early to start the fire, so the living room was warm and cozy before she came downstairs for her morning oatmeal and Sunday dose of Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Roger Sterling, and the gang.

Elaine likes to analyze the characters and I enjoy listening to her commentary. She can't stand Pete Campbell, is ambivalent about Ken Cosgrove, and disapproves of Betty Draper.

As for myself, I relish just being in the presence of Elaine's warm personality.  She did so many nice things for me today from fixing lunch (venison burgers, baked sweet potatoes, and wineberry pie) to watching the chickens as they wandered around the yard to planning a Scrabble contest for tonight before the North Carolina basketball game tonight (I'm an avid UNC basketball fan).

Every day, Sunday or not, with her is a joy.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chickens in the Straw (Blog Sixty-nine)

Several blogs ago, I wrote about how Elaine and I placed a bale of straw in our chicken run.  The chickens have relished destroying the bale, scratching and pecking their way through it.

In about two weeks, the hard-packed bale was reduced to scattered straw.  Elaine then spread the straw evenly around the fenced in run.  And then the chickens had more fun, delightedly scratching through the duff every day.

Every time we bring the birds a treat (their favorites include scratch corn, Cheerios, Total Cereal, and bread of any kind) they enthusiastically scratch for hours looking for the last morsel.

We have decided not to free range the birds, knowing that they would last less than a week in our wooded 38 acres.  At least 13 different predators would make short work of them.  What we have done instead is let the birds out of the run in the evening and under our supervision, the chickens scratch their way across our yard.

The five hens are still producing well, providing us with three to five eggs daily.  However, they are moulting now and we expect egg production to suffer.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Day as a Squirrel Hunting Guide (Blog Sixty-eight)

I spent all day Saturday taking youngsters and their parents squirrel hunting on the 38 acres behind our house.  I was working on several articles about young hunters, and our place is usually overrun with squirrels.

Not yesterday, though.  In the morning, I took a father and son hunting.  The wind howled, the trees shook, and the squirrels hunkered in their dens.  We only saw two squirrels all day, and they were in the process of fleeing from us.

That evening, Elaine and I hosted two parents and their daughter and son.  The dad and daughter went to one end of the property, the mom, son, and I went to the other.  Results similar to the morning were the result.

The whole, misbegotten day set me thinking about the vagaries of hunting.  I once went squirrel hunting with a wildlife biologist in the Jefferson National Forest.  The gentleman had picked the locale because of its bountiful supply of bushytails.  We never saw one all day.

Two things are certain after yesterday.  One, my career as a squirrel guide is seriously in jeopardy. And two, I expect to see hordes of bushytails every time I walk out the door today to tend to the chickens today.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Deer Season Over (Blog Sixty-seven)

Yesterday, deer season concluded and I was fortunate to kill a doe during the last half hour of the late muzzleloader season.  I started the season in September by bowhunting in Alleghany County, North Carolina and finished it yesterday in Franklin County, Virginia.  I ended up killing 10 deer, 9 in Virginia and 1 in West Virginia.

Elaine and I don't buy any meat from a store, so freezing a good supply of venison is essential for our 2012 food supply.  We easily eat 8 or 9 deer every year, plus share some with family and friends. 

It is always sad when deer season ends, as it has been such a big part of my life outdoors for the past 3 1/2 months.  On the other hand, I am going squirrel hunting next Saturday and am looking forward to the change of pace.  I also have to give two smallmouth bass seminars this month and that too will be a nice change.

Meanwhile, today, I have to clean much of my deer hunting gear, much of it has been piled onto my work room bed - and that is a real mess.  Today, for lunch Elaine and I are dining on venison tenderloin and wineberry pie - celebrating the bounty of the season.  Then it will be time to clean the chicken coop and let our birds free range in the yard for several hours.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best Christmas Present Ever (Blog Sixty-six)

Last Sunday, Elaine gave me the best Christmas present I have ever received - a fly that she tied herself and that came from a feather from a turkey I called in and killed.  I am not ashamed to admit that my eyes became misty when I found her creation in my Christmas stocking.

A little over  three years ago, Elaine was diagnosed with breast cancer.  As part of her recovery, she attended a Casting for Recovery ( retreat in 2010.  CFR is a national organization that offers retreats for women with or recovering from breast cancer. Those retreats combine fly fishing, counseling, medical expertise, and breast cancer recovery.  It was at a CFR retreat that my wife learned how to fly fish and tie patterns.

The joy of having Elaine healthy again and with me during Christmas is something that is hard to express.  The joy of her taking the time to hand tie something for me, especially combining two activities that I enjoy - river smallmouth bass fishing and turkey hunting - is equally inexpressible.

What a wonderful person and wife.