Thursday, April 22, 2010

Colony Collapse

Some people say that the bee is in danger. You bee people out there know all about it. Here is a short clip about the problem.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday morning reading

There is lots of information out there worth reading. A little summary may be in order.

Know your food -

The separation between people and their food gets ever wider. People don't know what meat is, they don't know how to make a loaf of bread, and way too many people don't know what an actual vegetable looks like.

It is one thing not to hunt (or be aware of hunting),it is another to be oblivious about foods that don't come in neat little packages on the store shelves. Way too many kids only ever see foods that come in bags.

I read this article this morning about the evils of prepackaged food. The message is good - eat healthier, know what you are eating. On a deeper level, I like to think that maybe people need to become more connected to their foods. Maybe even eat whole vegetables some times.

Do You Know What a Radish Looks Like?

Have you seen this video? It’s the one where British chef Jamie Oliver walks into a first-grade classroom and asks the kids to identify fruits and vegetables he holds up. He’s not trying to stump them it’s not as if he’s holding up bok choy or kumquats or other items outside the average six-year-old’s culinary repertoire. No, it’s tomatoes, cauliflower, eggplant and mushrooms and the kids couldn’t be more confused.

I guess I shouldn’t be shocked. And not just because he’s in Huntington, West Virginia, which was recently named the unhealthiest town in America. I recently went to four different corner stores within walking distance of our office right outside Washington, D.C., in search of some vegetables. There certainly weren’t any fresh vegetables (only one even offered a few lonely bananas), and the frozen food cases were stuffed with pizzas and ice cream and…that’s about it.

Let’s face it: We’re a society who eats out of boxes, bags and bottles.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Bird

A couple of weeks ago I received an email that the local rehab center needed someone to help out with one of their birds. I was more than happy to volunteer. Around this time, I start getting the falconry itch.

I want to get out and go hunting - so I figured that I could work with another raptor and that would help me through the worst of my withdrawal.

I was out in Charlotte last week and I stopped by the Carolina Raptor Center. April was there and she gabe our group a great tour of the facility. What a great set up they have. I'll be posting some pictures of some of the 200 birds that they house there.

At the end of the tour, April took me back to the "Hospital" and we jessed up a little Red Shouldered hawk. She looks like a small red tail, and she has an attitude to match. The one thing that surprised me about this little bird is that she is a biter.

She nailed me.

In February, she had been hit by a car and suffered some broken bones and eye damage. the bird is healed now, but the raptor center needed someone to work with the bird and asses whether it is able to see well enough to hunt or not.

So that is the plan. I'm training this little girl like a miniature Red Tail. Get her on the creance, see how she flies to the fist, then we go out and hunt.

I plan on planting mice and "critters" in the leaf litter for her to find. We'll see how she does. I've had her since Monday and she finally ate off the fist on Thursday. Training will begin now in earnest. I really appreciate the opportunity to work with the bird - I'll keep you posted.

Be aware

Friday, April 16, 2010

Digging on dogs

There are a couple of good articles over at Born to Track about digging on groundhog and fox. They are using dachshunds to dig, but everything else is essentially the same as the way we use terriers. I especially like the one by teddy Moritz. Her dogs are versatile as she uses them for both groundhog as well as under her harris hawks.

Digging woodchucks with dachshunds

by Teddy Moritz

The woodchuck, or groundhog is a seven to ten pound rodent which lives in dens it digs in soil. A large groundhog can be up to 15 pounds, usually in September when it has eaten all summer and is getting ready to hibernate. This solid little species of marmot eats mainly vegetation and thrives on farm crops of all kinds, including orchard fruit. It will eat the bark of young trees and is not above some meat in its diet occasionally. It breeds early in the year and there are four to six pups, cared for solely by the mother animal.

Because it is considered an agricultural pest almost everywhere it is found, the groundhog has few supporters and is controlled by many methods. Most game departments consider the groundhog a varmint, therefore permitting them to be dispatched at any time, while other state game agencies set generous seasons. It is wise to check game laws if you are considering digging groundhogs with your dachshunds. Also, be aware that some states, particularly those which list the groundhog as a game animal, have laws forbidding digging animals out of their dens. These laws were originally aimed at people who dug fox out of dens, but those who wanted to dig groundhogs also ran afoul of these laws. Try to find a farmer who will let you do 'pest control' on his farm and you'll be set. Or talk to horse breeders, they always want the groundhogs out of their pastures.

Teddy writes well. Take a minute to check out the rest of the article.

You'll also find Moritz over at Terrierman. Here is a link to another peice of writing. She definitely loves her dachshunds and Ihear they are great little dogs.


I'm not afraid of anything.

At least that's what I tell my kids. Really, what is there to be afraid of?

I don't mean startled, like you might be by a spider in a corner. I don't mean startled, like you are when Freddie pops out of the sheets - I mean real fear.

They don't always believe me - so I explain. Fear is about the unknown and there is a difference between having a healthy respect for an animal and actual stark terror.

I respect snakes. I realize that certain venomous snakes can cause damage - and I treat them accordingly. I don't fear them, I don't avoid them - I treat them with due respect and caution due to their individual species. My wife makes fun of me because i am the only person she knows who will "relocate" live cottonmouths by catching them live and moving them. Everyone else just chops them up. Makes me sad.

Bears - not afraid, but i also know better than to get in between a mother and her cubs. Grizzly's - I avoid (actually - I live in the East - but I respect them none the less.)

Spiders - are just spiders, they won't attack.

But I found out that fear can strike suddenly. It was bees. I don't fear bees. I don't run from bees.

But when I installed the hive - I was afraid. It didn't make sense. I knew better, but it hit me all the same.

I got the box from the post office and had a little tingle of thrill as I carried it to my car - bees thrumming inside contently.

We checked them out inside- then took them out to the hive. We soaked the three pounds of bees with sugar water, then opened it up. I worked quickly, getting the queen out and pouring the bees into the hive. I pounded the box to get them out of the little hole and bees were swarming around me.

My breath got short and sweat rolled down my temple. Bees were landing on my clothes, my hat, my hand - they were everywhere. I had to control myself.

I placed the combs back into the hive, letting them settle as the bees moved out of the way. I put the cover back on, all the while feeling something crawling down my neck. the bees buzzed around my head clouding up from the hive. I slid the roof back into place, and pushed it gently forward to block off the extra entrance.

I placed the feeder back in the front access, beex crawling up my gloves and across the net over may face.


Then I slowly stepped away from the hive. I waited for my breathing to slow, to gather myself. the bee crawling on my neck was sweat the soaked into my collar.

It was the most squirrly feeling I'd ever had. Fear.

I love the bees. I go out and watch them multiple times daily.

I only need to get over the fear.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Busy week

It's been an incredibly busy week this week as I took off with the family to Pennsylvania for spring break, swung through west Virginia, landed in Charlotte, NC for a few days and then finally came home to stuff, stuff, stuff.

PA was great. We saw family and got all the cousins together. The kids are all around the same age, and get along great. One of my favorite days was when we took all the kids to a big park and played in the water. We took off our shoes and waded through the cool waters of a rocky stream and made (tried to make) a rock bridge for future use.

It was hard for me to fathom that some of the cousins had never learned how to skip stones. So it was my son's mission to teach them how. It was a great day.

We also spent a day at the Pittsburgh zoo.

I couldn't have asked for better weather.

We left and headed down through WV on our way to Charlotte. There the kids were competing in a state championship for Odyssey of the mind. I had to see someone about a bird, and when we got back here we were welcomed with bees and babies - I'll post on those later.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Would the world be better if we were vegan?

Well, apparently not. It doesn't look like it makes much difference at all. Instead, we need to stop consuming so much.

ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2010) — If everyone became vegan and so ate only fruit and vegetables, then the reduction in greenhouse emissions for the whole of food consumption would be a mere 7%. The widespread adoption of vegetarianism would have even less impact, while organic food production actually leads to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Those are the conclusions of a research paper published in the journal Progress in Industrial Ecology.

So, eat meat, get less stuff - read the rest here.

Lots of love

The birds are busy with eggs in the nests.



The hawks seem like they are spending more time in close, but I haven't actually observed any lovin'. I like to think that Tess has been more territorial in her cage, but it may just be wishful thinking. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Dogs go to ground

My younger son and I took Gordon on a trip up to Maryland to wander the fields and look for groundhogs with Patrick, Terrierman.

It was the perfect day for hunting.

My son manned the camera so all picture credits go to him.

We started off at a familiar farm. This piece of land has changed over the years as the owners have modified their management style from corn to cows.

A stream meanders through the bottoms of the field and generally groundhog holes dot the shoreline of the brook. The dogs gamboled through the thick grass on the edge of the creek looking for their first scent. It didn't take long.

Five minutes and Mountain had pinged on his first hole. The other dogs piled in. Mountain had opened up in the hole and Pearl was on her toes with excitement.

Gordon still hasn't quite got it yet. He's interested - but not sure what to. He will get into the holes and sniff - but doesn't go all the way in with reckless abandon, like Patrick's dogs do. I'm working on exposure here.

We dug one hole and exposed a corner of the set, Mountain was on it, in and out the holes, then digging at where he thought it should be.

There was definitely something in there. I pole the ground. It was hard to tell where the tunnel was because the ground was so soft after all the snow they'd had that the pole went in like it was butter. We found the tube and then dropped another hole. We ended up behind the groundhog.

Pearl engaged it from one side, and Patrick tried to tail it out with the other.

We spent the rest of the morning following the creek, but realized that the recent flooding had evicted most of the wildlife out of their holes in this area. We moved spots and tried another farm. We saw lots of beautiful scenery and plenty of holes, but no one was home in most of them.

I couldn't have asked for a better day.

Near the end of the day Gordon was getting it. He located a hole and knew that it was occupied. He was on his toes! He was active, engaged - he wanted to proceed, but the hole was impassible. It was a layer of rocks, crossed with more rocks, and no way the dogs could fit.

My boy and I thanked Patrick over a pint. I had Cookie Dough, Luke had Mint Chocolate Chip.

We headed out to spend the night at the campground, then came home the next day.

Gordon is going to need more exposure to this ground work thing- but he's going to get it, I have no doubt.

Happy Easter.