Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Who Doesn’t Give a Hoot

Posted by: Rick

A few posts ago I mentioned that one of our evening pleasures was sitting on our front porch with a whiskey in our hand (which occasionally makes its way to our mouth), while watching for moose and listening for the Great Horned Owl that has occupied the land for many years. This year, our efforts were disappointing. Even depressing as the owl's silence led us to think that perhaps he was gone--for one reason or another.

However, as this rare game camera shot shows, the owl is still around. And, hunting in our meadow. 

I walked out on the porch for some reason and spooked the owl who was sitting in the meadow near the salt lick. I suspect he had a mouse, vole, or chipmunk cornered. He took off and flew north toward the woods, and luckily triggered the game camera pointing at the meadow. I know it is not much of a photo, and I've enlarged it some, but it does prove that he is still around. And, we hope, will soon grace us with his hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo.....hoo-hoo message.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Wildflowers Galore

Posted by: Rick

Since it is a cold and snowy day (as predicted in my last post), it is a good day to catch up on our wildflower posts. The purpose is to not only show the great diversity of wild flowers, but do chronicle when we see them for future reference.

First, however, here is the scene out the window as I write this post:

With this weather, the satellite Internet connection is pretty unreliable, so it may take a while to complete this post. Bear with me.

Okay, here we go with the recent wildflowers. Now, keep in mind that wildflower identification is an art, not a science. Well, to botanists I guess it is a science. But, for a couple of amateurs with a few apps and a stack of books, it is an art. Many of the flowers look alike and are only distinguished by their size, leaves, habitat, season, etc. And, most have many variations. All have multiple common names. So, this is our best stab at these, feel free to comment. Also, I am not a very good photographer with my phone. Lynne does much better with her camera and she tends to remember to get a couple of shots from different angles and include the leaves and stems, etc.

This one is pretty easy. It is Arnica. It grows prolifically in the forest around here. It seems a bit early to be seeing it, but there were only a few.

This is also pretty easy. It is a Ball Cactus (it has other common names).

This one is a bit trickier. Sure is pretty. We are pretty sure it is some kind of False Dandelion. There are no leaves along the stem, only at the bottom. May also be known as a Cat's Ear of some kind.

This one has us scratching our heads some. We are pretty sure it is Lambstongue Groundsell. We have obviously struggled with this in the past also since there is a dried version from years ago on the Lambstongue Groundsell page of one of our books!

We think this is a Lanceleaf, also called an Alpine Spring Beauty, although there are other types of Spring Beauty.

Another pretty easy one: Larkspur.

Loco. (Don't let your horses eat this.)

Oregon Grape Berry

Slender Fringecup.

This is a patch of Wild Strawberries near the cabin. These plants will produce tiny strawberries that pack a huge flavor. Unfortunately, we hardly ever get to harvest them since the local critters love them too!

And, finally for today, a beautiful Yellow Violet.

A note of comments left on the blog site. While the commenting seems to work, notifications don't. So, you won't get notified if someone else also comments, etc. The software platform that runs this blog is now very, very old and frankly, I'm a bit surprised it still works at all...

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Quick Update to Yesterday’s Post

Posted by: Rick

Glenn L gets the "win" for identifying one of the wildflowers from yesterday's post. We believe he is right in thinking the daisy-like flower is a Hooker's Townsend Daisy, aka Townsendia Hookeri. It is a member of the aster family, so at least I got that right.

There was more struggle with the yellow flower, but Lynne finally recalled it is Golden Smoke or Corydalis Aurea. The photo on the linked website is not great, but be careful if you decide to Google "Golden Smoke". You will end up with a lot of smoke shops in Colorado! Try adding "wildflower" to the search.

We had a nice long walk "around" this morning, after a breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes. The dog's should sleep well all day.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Just Another Pandemic Monday

Posted by: Rick

We have been exercising our "extreme social distancing" at the cabin for a few days now. Spring is definitely starting to spring. The birds are getting more plentiful and there is more variety. The aspen trees are just starting to leaf out--we can see the difference each day. Bart's Creek is running pretty good from the snow melt. We still can't drive down Hidden Meadows Lane, but there has been significant melting. I think one could probably drive it in another couple of weeks.

One thing we are seeing is the wildlife. I gathered the memory cards from the three game cameras closest to the cabin. And, while there were some image of a moose and some elk, there has not been much activity. We sit on the porch at sunset each evening listing for the Great Horned Owl, but no hoots heard yet. I'll go gather the memory cards from the three other cameras later today, and post photos of anything really interesting. We have heard some loud crashing noises in the bottom of the valley a couple of times and assume it is a moose or maybe an elk crashing around as they walk along the creek.

Some chores are getting done, too. I've cleaned up the "shop" side of the barn, even vacuuming the floor! The porch swing and also the swing in the yard have had their wood treated. Bird houses have been repaired and moved as necessary.

After we returned from the cabin a few weeks ago, we groomed the dogs. They were so clean and fluffy and smelled so good. They are now a little dirty again. At least Destin has not rubbed in anything foul yet, so they smell okay. They sure love it here--especially when they find a remaining snow bank on our walks.

We take a long walk almost every day, weather and wind permitting. And, we are keeping track of the wildflowers we find on our property. So, here is the latest installment:

We are not really sure what this is. It grows in the disturbed areas of decomposed granite and is very prolific. It looks like something in the pea family. We will continue to work on identification, but if you know what it is, let us know, please!

Of course, this is the common dandelion--a really very pretty flower. Destin's nickname is Dandelion Boy because his identifying ribbon color as a puppy was Dandelion Yellow.

This is some kind of daisy or aster. There are so many varieties that I've not tried to ID it yet.

Finally, a flower genericly called a Snowball. It is the Western Saxifrage variety (there are 6 different varieties). You can tell because of the red stem

Some of the barrel cacti in the area are just strarting to bloom, so we'll get photos of those later.

We think we have a ghost. The other day, one of the rain barrels was knocked over. It has some water in it and so was quite heavy. There had been no big wind. But, there it was on its side spilling water. Then, this morning we heard a weird noise. It was pretty loud and, to me, sounded just like when an avalanche of snow slides off the metal roof. But, there is no snow. We ran outside and inspected the entire outside of the cabin and the grounds around it, but saw nothing that might cause the sound. We've also looked around everywhere inside for something that fell or slid from its normal place, but nothing is obvious. Very, very weird.

Okay, time for my COVID-19 rant of the week. Things are starting to open up some. There have been some businesses that have taken advantage of the minimal loosening of stay-at-home orders, as well as taking advantage of people's frustration with being shut in, and have opened their doors to customers without requiring masks, social distancing or limiting the number of people in the business.

We hear a lot about "rights" from the people to who take advantage of this. And, I get it. We do have rights, but they are not unlimited. And, when an action can harm someone or, even more importantly, lead to the harm of another, our rights have always been restricted. Speed limits on highways, for example. Still, I get it, people are frustrated and want things to go back to normal. They say "it is my life, if I want to take the risk of exposure and get sick, it is my decision." And, they use that logic to justify not wearing masks or observing social distancing. But, what they don't seem to understand is that those practices are not really in place to keep them from getting sick. They are in place to keep them from making others sick. So, I see it as a blatant disregard for other people's lives, especially those in the vulnerabe population. It is selfish behavior. Thinking only of oneself and not of others.

People who do expose themselves by flaunting the orders and recommendations related to masks and social distancing, could get infected and, if so, will likely be symptom free for at least 5 days, maybe longer, and they may even go forward symptom free. But, that is no justification for their behavior since they can then easily infect another person once they become contagious. So, it is not about our rights to make ourselves sick if we choose to do so, it is about how wrong it is to make others sick, maybe deadly so. Downright selfish.

Rant over.

By the way, I've turned commenting back on for this blog site. So, feel free to comment if you choose.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Game Camera Photos

Posted by: Rick

It is our second day at the cabin, having arrived yesterday. It is very windy. The dogs got a short walk earlier, otherwise we've just been hanging out in the cabin, stoking the fire, reading, playing some games and otherwise entertaining ourselves.

I did struggle through hip-deep snow to retrieve the memory cards from the three game cameras closest to the cabin. So, today's blog will feature four photos. The game cameras are triggered by either motion or heat. And, with the way the wind blows up here, I get lots of false triggers. These four shots were culled from over 3000 photos--mostly of blowing snow, but also some of elk or moose that were just not interesting enough to keep.

This first photo was taken on a snowy and windy day. You can see the mother moose and her "baby" have faces covered with snow. They are looking for what's left of a salt lick that has been knocked off the stump of a tree. It was taken on the morning of October 29, 2019. Note that the temperature was -5°F.

This next photo is only one of several hundred shots of this herd of cow elk. They spent quite a bit of time in the meadow. I kept this shot out because it is clear that a couple of them are having some kind of argument and sparing with each other.

This next photo is of a bull moose that has had part of the paddle of his rack broken off. Am including this because I feel sorry for the guy. However, he will lose both sides within a couple of months and they will grow back bigger and better than ever before! The rack of a moose will grow for about 5 months starting in late winter or early spring. At maturity, a rack can span 50 to 60 inches, making the antlers of a moose one of the fastest growing organs of any mammal.

Finally, the coup de gras, a bobcat. This photo was taken pretty early in the morning and was quite dark. So, I've boosted the exposure to get a better shot of the cat, but it makes some of the other colors a bit exaggerated. What a beauty. And, this was taken in early March, just over 3 weeks ago.

We have three more game cameras that are spread out over the property. But, without snowshoes it would be very difficult to get to them. And, the snowshoes are in the barn which is blocked by massive drifts of snow that I am too lazy to move. Besides, it is pretty windy and I don't like going into that part of the forest, where there are a lot of standing but dead trees, when it is windy. So, we'll save those for another time.

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  • Steve! Nice to hear from you! I still read you, but I just can’t comment.…

    Posted to: ‘Webcam Photos’ by Lynne on 05/28/2020

  • Coincidentally, I just came across a post on another blog that mentions hawkweed—and in this…

    Posted to: ‘Wildflowers Galore’ by Steve on 05/26/2020

  • Your cat’s ear (or whatever it is) looks almost exactly like our hawkweed, AKA fox-and-cubs,…

    Posted to: ‘Wildflowers Galore’ by Steve on 05/26/2020

  • I’m glad your owl is still around! We hear one every once in a while,…

    Posted to: ‘Who Doesn't Give a Hoot’ by Steve on 05/26/2020

  • Tom, no it is not a pac krat/wood rat. We are very familiar with those,…

    Posted to: ‘Just Another Pandemic Monday’ by Rick on 05/22/2020

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