Search This Blog

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Time to Start Bowhunting Practice (Blog 196)

The past few days I have been practicing with my Matthews compound and Parker crossbow.  Usually, I don't start until July 4, but I wanted to begin earlier this summer.

It has been two weeks since I have been out of school and I have been doing writing work of some kind for over 12 hours a day every day.  I have written five magazine articles and planned book signings, which means I've been on the phone a great deal, for my new Upper Potomac book and the revised edition of the Shenandoah one.

Frankly, it has been a relief to go shoot the bows for 20 minutes or so.  Shooting a bow, especially a compound, takes so much concentration that there is no room in my head to think about article deadlines or book signings.

The other day I placed a bunch of my bow-related gear on the bed in my writing room.  There is so much to organize and decisions to make, do I need to buy new arrows and bolts, do I need to buy more blades, and, of course, both the compound and crossbow need to be sighted in.  How do bows that have not been shot in months become out of whack so easily?

Anyway, as always, I look forward to bow season.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hen Eggs Fail to Hatch (Blog 195)

Elaine and I had hoped that some of the 13 chicken eggs we had been incubating would hatch earlier this week.  But, unfortunately, none of them did.  When we opened up the eggs to see if any of them had developed, we found that only two had partially begun to form a baby chick.

This was most disconcerting as recently we have lost our alpha rooster Boss, had a bear attack the run, and had Sweetie Pie run away (only to be captured hours later) as a result of the bruin trying to break down one of the walls of the run.

We believe that the reason the eggs did not hatch is because they became too cold when we stored them in the downstairs refrigerator.  We turned the refrigerator's dial as warm as it would go - 50 degrees - but that apparently was not warm enough.

Tomorrow, we will begin another incubation period, hoping that we have learned from our past mistakes.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Spending Father's Day with My Son (Blog 194)

Sunday, Father's Day, I spent much of the day with my son Mark.  In the morning, we went float fishing on the Roanoke River.  Although the fishing was poor (we only caught one small smallmouth between the two of us), I don't think either one of us minded too much.  It was just good to talk about fishing, sports, school (both of us are school teachers) and life in general.

That evening, we watched the NBA finals game between Miami and San Antonio.  Neither one of us is a fan of either of the teams, but that didn't matter.  We analyzed coaching strategy, play selection, and fantastic - and poor - plays.

The poor fishing and indifference to who won the game are not what I will remember about this day.  What I will remember is experiencing one of my best Father's Days ever.  I have been extremely fortunate in my life to have a wonderful wife Elaine and two wonderful children in Sarah and Mark and now even a fine son-in-law David and grandchildren, Sam and Eli.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fly Strike Fells Rooster (Blog 193)

Last week, we sadly lost our alpha rooster, Boss.  Boss was the biggest Rhode Island Red I have ever seen and gentle as he was huge.  We had just finished gathering eggs fertilized by Boss for incubation when he apparently developed the flu or a bad cold; we are not sure which.  He was lethargic on a Tuesday and very sick on Wednesday.

I removed him from the rest of the flock on Wednesday and gave him water, which he periodically threw up.  I noticed that flies were buzzing about him, but I figured that was because of his droppings which were quite moist.  On Thursday morning, there were several hundred maggots around him and an hour later he was dead.  When I removed him from the chicken tractor, hordes of maggots were writhing in his vent area.

After talking to some other folks and doing research, Boss appears to be a victim of the original ailment that struck him, as well as the flies finishing him off by breeding on him -called Fly Strike.  Elaine and I would appreciate any insight on this.