Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wild Blueberries and wild Blackberries

It is kinda cool to be able to walk into your backyard and pick fresh wild blueberries and take them right from the woods to your cereal. But I must admit that they are much smaller than the ones at Krogers and not quite as good. I thought that I remembered from years past that "Huckleberries", as wild blueberries seem to be called, were much sweeter than the store bought ones - but these aren't. It is the "wild" and "free" part that makes them taste good.
The blackberries just started to ripen in the last few days. They are not in the backyard but they are within a 5 minute walk of our house. There are more of them and they are much bigger than the blueberries. Too bad I don't like them as much.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Deer fawn.

Although we have lots of deer here in Fairfield Glade, this picture is not from the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. It is from Aurora Ohio. This is our granddaughter Marissa with a white tailed deer fawn that showed up in her neighborhood. The deer walked through yards and even walked up onto Marissa's front porch. It is very rare for a deer fawn to show little fear of humans like this one. It is probably (hopefully) just temporarily separated from its mother. After following the neighborhood kids around for awhile it scampered back into the woods. This was such a cute (and rare) picture that I couldn't resist posting it.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Bluebird babies at last!

Well, here is the story.

As a refresher, you will remember that the bluebirds in the nest box in our backyard back in early May built a nest and laid an egg. The books say that they usually lay one egg per day until 5-7 eggs are complete. Well each day for 5 days our nest had only 1 egg total. And then on the 6th day there were two. But, on the 7th day there was only one again. The only explanation was that a snake was probably climbing the pole each night and eating that day's egg. In the morning the female probably laid another egg and then that night the get the picture. This is not that unusual. The bluebirds abandoned their nest.

After I installed a predator guard on the pole and threw out the old nest, the persistent bluebirds built another nest and laid 5 eggs. The eggs hatched on May 22. It usually takes 16 days or so for the baby birds to fledge (leave the nest). Supposedly, the more food they get the earlier they might fledge. After $30 worth of mealworms these babies should have been well fed. Unfortunately we were out of town for 5 days during that time and missed the grand emergence. When we returned everyone was gone. No babies were to be seen and not even the male and female were coming to our deck for mealworms as they did within 5 minutes. That was Tuesday.

But on Wednesday the parent bluebirds returned for mealworms and by watching the direction that they flew we spotted the babies in the high trees nearby. We can't tell exactly how many are around because the babies hide pretty well among the branches and they move around alot. They also stay pretty high in the trees.

But this evening the babies were in the trees close to the deck and one precocious fledging (out of the nest but still relying on their parents to feed them - the equivalent of a college student) flew to the deck railing when he/she saw where dad and mom were getting all of the mealworm goodies. The male bluebird is a little fuzzy in the picture because he was moving, but it is a pretty good first picture of one of the babies. Soon the youngsters will have a degree in Entomology (insects) and the bluebird parents can retire to a place in Tennessee and play tennis and golf. Not a bad deal!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

House pictures........finally!

Well, finally I was able to take some pictures of the new house. The delay was because our lawn and landscaping was just completed a week or two ago. We had elected to go with an independent landscaper instead of through the builder and we had to wait until we got to the front of his schedule. Earlier pictures had dirt for lawn and mud for shrubs.
The top picture is from the street on the left side of the house. The bottom picture includes some of my neighbors driveway and shows the right side of the house and the recently added sunroom near the back. The sunroom was previously a screened in porch but the rain and wind caused us to rethink our plan after we moved in.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wild Trout in East Tennessee

On Wednesday, my fly fishing buddy Ray and I hired a guide for a little wild trout fishing in far Eastern Tennessee. We had to leave Fairfield Glade at 4am in order to cross a time zone and meet our guide by 8am eastern time. We actually drove into Damascus Virginia (a famous stopover on the Appalachian Trail) before crossing back into Tennessee to access a wild Brook Trout stream.

Wild trout are trout that spawn naturally in a stream without having to be stocked. Brook Trout are the original inhabitants of the Eastern United States before Rainbow and Brown Trout were stocked in the streams many years ago. Brook trout normally live only above 3000 feet elevation in the tiny mountain streams that are cold enough and free from larger rainbow or brown trout. A nine inch brook trout in these small streams is comparable to a 20 inch Rainbow in a larger stream.
Because the stream was small and tight there was very little back casting and we had to flip and sling our fly lines into the stream.

Nearly every small pool held a brook trout. Because these fish live in small steams with limited food they voraciously strike any available food, or any fly that looks like food. We probably caught 20+ between us and missed that many more. One miss and that pool on the stream was done for the day. The little buggers are spooky.
Our guide provided lunch in a small town restaurant appropriately called Mountain City. A thunder and lightening storm happened mostly during lunch, but we had to revise our plans because the heavy rain muddied up a couple of streams that we had planned to fish. But it worked out OK, as our guide knew streams in different drainages that weren't affected by the localized rain. We caught wild Rainbows in 2 different streams in the afternoon and on the last cast of the day Ray landed the best fish, a wild Rainbow that was about 12 inches.
Miles driven...a lot, cost of a guide, even more, wild Brookies and Rainbows.....priceless!