Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day, 2010

We both had a day off work today and once the fog cleared late in the morning, Mr. Johnson decided it would be a good day for us to take down the 3 remaining deer stands still up from last fall. It turned out to be a really nice afternoon for spending an enjoyable couple of hours in the woods. Taking down the tree stands is a job that Mr. Johnson could certainly do by himself, but I believe he enjoys having me accompany him for the insightful commentary and helpful advice I provide from the ground. In fact, after struggling to get the padlock open on this particular stand, he vacated the ladder and allowed me to remove this stand and ladder all by myself! (I can't remember for sure, but I believe the words, "do you just want to do it?" were uttered somewhere along the line.)
While hiking from stand to stand, I had plenty of time to walk around the woods and look for signs of spring. I even remembered to bring my camera along this time and there were plenty of photo ops along the way. We've had enough warm weather and rain the past few days, but the only real signs of green in the woods so far was lots of moss. It was so nice to see this moss growing that I couldn't resist getting right down on the ground to take a photo.

By looking close to the ground, I managed to spot some other interesting signs of spring too. Thanks to a Google search on "orange cup fungus" I found out this one is called Scarlet Cup Fungus (Sarcoscypha dudleyi). Isn't it neat looking? I almost missed spotting this. Although it looks really large in this picture, it was only about the size of my pinkie fingertip. It was attached to a little piece of wood about the size of my index finger.

I was keeping my eyes open for birds, deer and squirrels, but the only moving creature I did see was this one small earthworm.

Another special sighting was this small feather caught on the end of a branch. It was mostly white with dark gray on the top edge and very fluffy. It didn't look at all like a turkey feather, so I'm thinking it might have been from a Cooper's Hawk or some other raptor.

Here's an old treestand Mr. Johnson built many years ago that we don't use anymore. It looked to me like there was a corncob laying on top (arrow's pointing at it). That got me to wondering whether the squirrels or raccoons had been using this as a convenient dining table.

Fortunately there were still a couple steps in the tree that allowed me to climb up for a closer look. Aha! Just as I suspected! Now I'm wondering.....was it raccoons or squirrels dining up here? And if it was squirrels, how did they carry those corncobs up this tree? This "table" was at least 10 feet up in the tree.

Finally, the last stand and ladders were all down and loaded into the sled for transport back to the truck. All this equipment is pretty heavy, so it was quite a workout for Mr. Johnson hiking back to the truck. I dutifully followed along behind to keep an eye on the load, while humming "I'll never be your beast of burden" to myself. (yeah, cuz I'm just helpful that way!)

Here's probably the most unusual sight we saw this afternoon.....the farmer who rents this field was picking last year's corn today! Due to the wet and cold weather last October and November, so many of the farmers around here were unable to get their corn crop harvested and are making up for lost time this spring.

And on our drive home, we saw a couple of happy ducks enjoying a sunny afternoon in their little pond that's finally thawed out after our long winter.

Happy Spring!


Mama Pea said...

As usual, this little excursion that you took us on was delightful. I could almost smell the woodsy aromas!

I don't think a squirrel would be strong enough to carry the cobs of corn up to the platform, would he? Maybe two of them rigged up a pulley system? Nah, probably 'coons, don'tcha think?

Anonymous said...

What a nice trip to the woods and you found green for St. Pats Day. Did you find any shamrocks? It would have been fun, but no work, just look.


Taos Sunflower said...

Ruthie: I laughed out loud at you singing Beast of Burden! What good news that spring truly is just around the corner. That poor farmer that couldn't get his corn that where all the squirrels or whoever got their corn to eat in your special outdoor dining room?

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Mama Pea. I was noticing all the delicious smells of the woods when I was out there too.
I don't know about those ears of corn though--I've seen some pretty hefty squirrels while deer hunting in those woods!

Hi Mom,
No shamrocks at all. I was looking for signs of other early wildflowers too, but didn't see anything except for the moss (not even any dandelions!)

Hi Martie,
I'm glad I got out to enjoy this nice day -- our forecast is back to "normal" for the next week (lows below freezing and highs only in the 40's).
We noticed already last fall as we were hiking in and out to the deerstands that all the kernels of corn had been eaten off the ears for at least the first 3 rows of plants. With all the snow we had this winter, it was a good thing for the wildlife to have that corn available.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a wonderful outing. Isn't spring grand.?. I bet that little earth worm wondered at the warmth of your hand. You were most helpful for the Mr. tee hee...

Jayne said...

Tee hee hee... you crack me up Ruthie! I am usually helpful to Mr. T in things like that too...ahem. :c)

How funny that the animals have been using that stand as a dining table!

Taos Sunflower said...

Although I am a member of a family of corn farmers, and sympathize with the farmer, it sounds like this was just the perfect year for that to happen to help te wildlife, as you said. Good news.

Heather said...

Looks like you and Mr. Johnson had a nice day out there. I'm glad he let you help! ;) About those corn cobs and squirrels: I really wouldn't be surprised. We put out ear corn for our squirrels, and they have managed to run off with full ears before. I actually watched one do it once, and it was pretty funny! And, he pulled it out of the feeder with his mouth, not his paws. Never underestimate the squirrel (although I'm surprised they haven't figured out a way past your baffle yet!). Happy Spring!

Cathy said...

Ruthie! I had to stop by after seeing the picture of you and Lynne - smiling so happily during that unbelievable bird outing.

You lucky duckies!

That picture you took whilst following your hubby and your commentary made me laugh out loud.

You do have a good time.