Monday, November 26, 2012

A romp through the hemlock's

As is our annual tradition we went to a local tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree. This year we ended up in Ellington at Dzen's newest plantation on Sadds Mill Road. There were so many great trees that it was hard to choose one. Rebecca tends to move our living room around every couple of years so the location of the tree moves which dictates the size and shape of the tree we cut down. This year we were looking for a thin tree as it is going in the corner of the room. While we always find one close to the parking area we try to make the most of our outing and search all over running to and fro until we find the perfect tree. This year about 30 minutes into our adventure we found a tree we all liked but thinking we might find one better we kept looking. Once we realized that we should have stopped with that tree we all began to search frantically for that tree again, usually I will place a hat or glove on it so we can find it again but this year I only put a mark in the ground which turns out is a lot harder to locate. Because it was the perfect tree I was able to find it amongst all the other trees and seeing my mark on the ground verified it was the correct one! As is the norm we all posed for pictures with it, unfortunately I forgot my tripod so we didn't get one with all of us at the same time, a mistake I promise I won't make next year.

Alex asked if he could help with the sawing down of the tree this year. The only thing that would have made our outing better was if there was some snow on the ground but we still had fun making memories and even stopped for mint hot chocolates before going home which I think will become part of our annual outing from here on out too!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Day of Thanks and Family Fellowship

This year for Thanksgiving we had a small group which was out of the ordinary for us. Usually we have a full house and it felt a little strange using only one table for lunch.It made for a relaxing afternoon of food and fellowship.

 Turkey #1

 Thankful she is not a turkey!

 Turkey #2

 The Hottest Hostess in the world - I love my wife!

Patiently waiting for some scraps

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving two days early!

Last week I was on vacation and despite getting some much needed rest and the pile of wood in the side yard split I was disappointed that I didn't succeed in harvesting a deer. As you all know I missed a doe on the first day of the season and the deer just seemed to disappear the following days. On Friday night I decided to sit out back and it didn't take long before the deer were all around me. I had 5 does and the biggest buck I have ever seen while out hunting. After what seemed like an eternity they were finally coming close enough for me to take a shot and just as I was calming my self down to do so my neighbor's kid came screaming down the hill on his quad and in disbelief I watched all 6 deer disappear over the ridge line.

Despite it being a short work week my schedule is packed solid with customers wanting to get their maintenance done before the long holiday weekend. While I love this time of year leaving for work in the dark and after a long day coming home in the dark really cuts into my hunting time, actually it completely eliminates it!

Yesterday and today I began counting down the hours until Thursday morning when I could once again settle into the woods with my daughter for our annual Thanksgiving tree hugging convention. And yes Rebecca doesn't even flinch anymore at the mention of Thanksgiving morning hunts despite the never ending memory of our first turkey day as a married couple. If you don't know that story let me know I am comfortable with talking about it now that we have been happily married 18 years!

Today was going well and before I knew it I was on my way home. I was sitting in traffic on the Parkway watching the deer taunting me on the side of the road for what seemed like an eternity. But once the trucks picking up all the road kill cleared the right lane traffic began flowing and before I knew it I was almost home. I called and had Ariel check what time sunset was and much to my delight I had an entire hour to sit in the woods when I pulled in the driveway. In a flash my work shirt was off and my hunting jacket was on, I grabbed my trusty .35cal and ran to my tree stand. It wasn't going to be a long hunt but the fact of the matter is we had entered into the magic hour and I couldn't wait to see if there were any deer in my neck of the woods!

It felt good to be in my tree stand, all my thoughts and concerns from the work day were distant memories and the crisp air with a hint of smoke from peoples wood stoves made for a relaxing, stress free outing. I kept watching my right flank expecting to see the deer to appear at any moment but they never came. Today they decided to surprise me and came from the left. It was a rare occasion in that I heard the deer before I saw them - they sounded like Captain Caveman stomping through the woods and I half expected to see people due to the amount of noise. I waited for the doe to jump over the stone wall and when she was only 15 feet away I took aim and gave thanks that my family was just provided with fresh, healthy venison for the upcoming year. As I was composing myself I turned to see that there was 2 more deer coming over the wall. Once again I calmed my breathing, took aim at the front deer and gently squeezed the trigger. Once again my aim was true.

I realized that I still had my cell phone in my pocket so I called to share the good news with my kids. Shortly after Rebecca called me and once I told her the good news I asked if she would take a walk out back to assist with getting the deer to the house. Not only was I blessed with 2 beautiful deer to feed my family with I have also been blessed with a wife who appreciates natural food and is willing to assist with the processing of the animals and this time she actually helped with dragging them out of the woods - There is no man luckier than me and that's a fact!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Preparing for a long cold winter

Today I decided that I would work on splitting some more of the wood I had in the side yard. Ariel had the day off from school to go to an all day event with some friends so I decided that Alex could have the day off too. I would rather look at it as he was out of the class room and learning one of life's important lessons - how to put in a hard day's work and embrace the challenges of becoming a man. Well maybe splitting wood doesn't really make you a man but it can teach you a life skill that will be used to keep your family warm in the future and it can always be used as part of obtaining the required credit in PE!

When I was a kid I can remember my father getting a big tri-axle of logs dropped off at the house every year for my brother and I to split. And we did it the hard way with an maul no gas powered machines to aid in our chores. I admit I was younger and didn't really do a lot of the splitting I did most of the moving and stacking of the logs. I of course was also the one who was responsible to get the wood down stairs and stacked on the far wall so there was never a shortage to be fed into our stove.

Now as much as I love splitting wood by hand there was way too much for me to do in one week without cutting into my hunting time so Uncle Tony made it easier on my by letting me borrow his log splitter again.

At first Alex was less than thrilled to be spending his morning performing physical labor but once we got going he cheered right up and we got into a steady rhythm taking turns running the machine and placing the logs. Before I knew it the pile of split wood was growing and the whole log pile was shrinking at a steady pace.

I realize that this next part may cause some controversy but I can remember getting a forbidden treat once in a while growing up such as nip of blackberry brandy at breakfast after a cold morning spent in the woods bow hunting or one of Aunt Concetta's flammable rum balls at Christmas. While I may not have benefited me in any way it sure didn't cause me any harm. This is the same reasoning that I used today when I let Alex have an ice cold Monster Energy drink. As you can imagine he ran up the back stairs to get us each one and partook of it throughout the morning and early afternoon, savoring each tasty sip!

I must admit Alex surprised me today. He really stepped up to the plate and showed me that he is willing to work hard and actually requested that we keep going until all the wood was split. He worked hard loading the truck when we picked up and moved the wood and like a champ assisted with stacking the first cord and a half several weeks ago and proved to me again today that he wasn't afraid of a little hard work. I am proud of my children but today was special in that I watched my son act like an adult and was rewarded with a sense of accomplishment when all the wood was done.

Thankfully we have 4 cord of split wood for the winter ahead, hopefully Gabriel will allow us to use it considering he claimed it as his own before we could finish!

Next week I just might give the kids another day off from the classroom to teach them about stacking wood which of course can be turned into a math lesson about how much wood is in a cord, or the science of proper stacking and defeating the powers of gravity! Plus stacking wood and drinking Monsters beats running laps around the soccer field any day!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Penelope's Grand Adventure

I am going to start from the beginning  in order for you to get the full picture - so please bear with me!

Today was the first day of my Vacation. I woke at 04:00 I headed out for some relaxation with my .35cal rifle as today was the first day of deer season for me. I settled into my tree stand while watching the sun rise and the forest started to come alive with the sounds of birds and other small critters. Shortly after 08:00 I was surprised to see a large doe stand up from her bedding area off to my right. She took a few steps into an opening and I took my shot. She immediately laid back down and I figured I would wait before I climbed down and seeing that she went right down I decided there was no need to take another shot.

Fast forward 5 minutes and my decision not to shoot again would begin replaying over and over in my mind. You guessed it, she stood back up and began to walk away. It was at this point I realized I never cycled my gun and as soon as I did she made for the hills. Turns out I missed her - when the gun went off she decided to lay down to wait and see what all the commotion was. When I finally got down to see if there was any sign of blood or hair she must have finally decided to head from the hills to the next county and almost ran Seth over in the process. I took some time to survey the area from where I originally shot to where I last saw her just to be sure.

As you can imagine I was quite upset and decided to call it a morning and headed home. At 10:00 I headed to the gun range to see if there was something wrong with my gun and was both happy and sad that it still was shooting tight groups at both 50 and 100 yards. I packed up my things and headed back home.

Once home I needed something to distract me from beating myself up over missing a deer and the 3 cords of wood in the side yard waiting to be split was just the cure. Before I knew it I had almost an entire cord split and decided that I would go sit on the other side of the farm for evening stand. I put back on my hunting pants, kissed the family and before I knew it I was back in the woods and despite the morning events I was grateful that I had the day off to get some much needed rest and relaxation.

The afternoon went by in a flash and at 16:35 I climbed down from my tree stand and headed for the truck.
As I got closer to my truck I saw something moving under it. I quickened my pace and when I was within 30 feet of the truck I was greeted with much joy and song by Penelope!

Who is Penelope you may ask...She is a Chicken! I began looking around to see if there were any others because at this point I didn't realize she was one of my chickens. I reached the truck and she came running out from under my truck clucking as if to say "Hey - I know you, are you surprised?" I looked down and saw the purple leg band and realized that it was one of the girls from our newer flock.

It seems that while I was splitting wood she found that my engine compartment was warm and cozy and roosted in it for an afternoon nap. I am still amazed that she was able to hang in there for the 16 mile ride from our house to the farm. I can only imagine what was going through her little bird brain as we went down dirt roads to paved roads and then down Rt.191 before turning into the field at the farm. It's a good thing I decided to hunt where I did because I considered hunting the upper portion of the property which would have meant a trip across the river where she more than likely would have been swept away!

I am glad it was dark out on the ride home because I'm sure there would have been lots of strange looks if people realized I was driving with a chicken roosting on my leg!

Hopefully this is the last time she will hide out in the undercarriage of my vehicle but if she ever does it again and survives at least I will have another great story to tell you all about and hopefully put as big a smile on your face as I have on mine!

Monday, November 12, 2012

From stilllife to wildlife

I started learning how to use my new camera by taking pictures of objects that wouldn't run a way from me - I am proud to say that I have graduated to taking pictures of living creatures. Ariel has taken an interest in the camera too and the pictures of the cat and bunny below are hers. Since taking these I have discovered many more settings so I will be experimenting with them over the next coupled days.

 Sadie - our house rabbit
 Annabeth - Queen of the castle 
 One of our many betta fish - Thank you Seth and Sara
 Gabriel supervising play time
 Navarre and Alex playing keep away with the ball
 Our sweet lady at the door looking for a snack
Watching Alex unwrap crackers for them
Sadie looking for a treat
 Annabeth is not pleased her nap was disturbed!

My little old man

If I close my eyes maybe you will go away!