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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Babysitting the Grandchildren on a Saturday Night (Blog 235)

Married couples go through various stages in their lives together.  The Saturday date night when we are young, the Saturday night baths when the kids start coming, the Saturday night waiting for the kids to come home stage, and the empty nester period.  Now after nearly 38 years of marriage, Elaine and I had the Babysitting the Grandchildren on a Saturday Night experience last night.

The evening began around 4:00 when we arrived to babysit Sam, who will be three in June, and Eli, who will be one in April.  Elaine's game plan was for her to work mostly with Sam while my task was to take care of Eli.  Eli only began crawling a fortnight or so ago, but already he has metamorphosed from someone who seemingly had to think about putting one hand in front of another to someone who is aggressively scooting about.

Matters went reasonably well until it was time for us to put our respective grandsons to bed.  Elaine read and talked to Sam, who quickly and willingly settled down and went to sleep.  I was not as successful with Eli.  The bottle feeding went well as Eli drank almost an entire one.

Then it was time for the rocking and singing stage.  I have a terrible singing voice and really only know one tune, "You Are My Sunshine" which I used to sing to our kids Sarah and Mark when they were toddlers.

After about 30 renditions of "You Are My Sunshine," I deemed Eli ready to be placed in his bed.  He was not ready and let me know so with loud sobs.  This resulted in more rocking and more choruses of the tune and another trip to the bed, which led to more sobs, though they were not as loud this time.

Finally, Elaine entered the room and told me to let him "work it out on his own," so I left.  In about five minutes, as we could tell from the monitor, Eli was asleep.  So I guess I did okay after all.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Target Shooting on a Sunday Afternoon (Blog 234)

One of many reasons why I enjoy living out in the country was in evidence Sunday afternoon.  I had received a new Redhead Bi-Pod Shooting Stick in the mail and wanted to try it out.  So I asked my son Mark and son-in-law David to come over and test it.  
Once they arrived, we discussed where was the best place to set up and the result was the driveway, as our test gun was a .22 rimfire rifle. The driveway has a downward slope and a woodpile is at the end of it.
We each took turns and the consensus was that the shooting stick performed well and the rifle was on target.  Imagine doing what we did in suburbia.
This morning I awoke and while feeding the chickens, I heard both woodcocks and turkeys.  I hope one of those gobblers behind our house has my proverbial name on it.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Woodcocks Return (Blog 233)

This week, the woodcocks returned to our 38 acres in Botetourt County, Virginia.  For the first 22 years that Elaine and I have lived here, we never heard or saw one of these game birds.  But in December of 2010, we conducted two small clearcuts, and these birds have responded.

I first heard those chirped, whistling sounds of a woodcock's aerial display on Tuesday, followed up by the diagnostic peents while the male is earthbound.  Within a few days, I heard what may have been as many as four males performing their mating dance.

Several years ago, I encountered a woodcock in our front yard during the day.  He did not fly when I came near, apparently secure in his camouflage.  I quickly went inside and returned with my camera and was able to squeeze off one photo before the bird decided that this odd nearby creature might be a threat, which, of course, I wasn't.  Perhaps, I will have another opportunity to photograph another one this coming week.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

First Gobble of the Season, First Egg (Blog 232)

Tuesday, March 3 while walking at dawn, I heard my first gobble of the season.  Later that day, our Rhode Island reds resumed laying eggs for the first time since late November.  Coincidence? I don't think so.

Both turkeys and chickens have a pineal gland, that remarkable gland that has to do with photo period functions.  As the days grow longer and the nights shorter, toms begin to gobble and hens resume laying eggs, which they had stopped laying when they began to molt in late fall/early winter.  All of this regarding the life cycles of turkeys and chickens, the pineal gland has a great deal to do with.

It hasn't happened yet, but in a few days to a week, one morning behind our house, some roosted hens will break out in some serious yelping.  Toms on our land and upstream and downstream from us will break out into a paroxysm of gobbling in response.  The entire scenario makes me want opening day of spring gobbler season to come soon.