White-tails in Red Beach

I spied them on the side of a hill in Red Beach, slowed and found a place to park. They saw me but I was so far away they didn’t seem to care. There were five or six white-tails. Four stayed close together, two wandered through.

I turned off the radio and pulled the keys from the ignition to avoid the annoying ding when the door opens. But dammit, I forgot the turn off the headlights. DING DING DING. The buck (at the tree line) looked up but the others didn’t seem to hear it.

White-tailed deer on a hillside in Red Beach

White-tailed deer on a hillside in Red Beach

It’s easy to see how thin this doe is with the patch of missing hair. She doesn’t look terrible. There’s a little green grass now and she’ll fatten up again. The yearling stayed with her for the 20 minutes I watched them.

White-tailed DeerI watched for 20 minutes while cars buzzed by on Route 1. They looked up a few times, watched me, then continued to graze. We still have snow in this part of Washington county. These deer don’t know how fortunate they are to be on the coast where winter wasn’t as harsh.

White-tailed deer at Red BeachWhite-tailed deer

White-tailed deer at Red Beach

A yearling white-tail

I continued on my way to the coast. I doubt they noticed I was gone, not even looking up when I closed the Jeep door or started the engine. When I drove by an hour later they were gone. It’s good to see them, some of the first deer I’ve seen this spring.

9 Great Days, 9 Great Ways to Celebrate National Park Week

9 Great Days, 9 Great Ways to Celebrate National Park Week

Washington, D.C. (April 15, 2014) From April 19 – 27, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation will host National Park Week, featuring special events in parks nationwide. This year’s theme, “National Park Week: Go Wild!” invites visitors to celebrate all that America’s 401 national parks have to offer. With free admission to all parks on April 19 and 20, and exciting activities and programs scheduled throughout the week, National Park Week is the perfect time to discover the diverse wildlife, iconic landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history found in America’s national parks.

There are countless ways to enjoy National Park Week. Below are nine great suggestions happening April 19 – 27 in national parks.  A complete list of National Park Week events taking place across the country is available at www.nationalparkweek.org.

Go wild for bears. This year the National Park Foundation has teamed with Disney on the new Disneynature film, “Bears,” premiering just in time for Earth Day and National Park Week on Friday, April 18. For every ticket sold during “Bears” opening week, April 18-24, Disneynature will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation to protect wildlife and wild places across America’s National Park System.

Go wild for Junior Ranger Day.  On April 26, young visitors can celebrate National Junior Ranger Day by taking part in special family-friendly activities.

Go wild for a walk in a park. More than 100 free, ranger-led walks are offered during National Park Week. Hike to a cloud forest, take a sunset stroll, wander through John F. Kennedy’s neighborhood, and more.

Go wild for Earth Day. Tour John Muir’s house in California and take part in a combined John Muir Birthday/Earth Day Celebration with music, food, and family-friendly events.

Go wild for Hawaiian culture. Experience first-hand the traditions of Hawaiian sailing and Hawaiian crafts! Join a sailing expert guide for a ride on a double-hulled canoe and learn interesting tidbits about Hawaiian sailing techniques, history, and culture. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian crafts such as lauhala weaving, coconut leaf weaving, and lei making.

Go wild for Patriot’s Day. Commemorate the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War with parades, reenactments, and special ceremonies in Massachusetts.

Go wild for waterfalls. Take the Whiskeytown Waterfall Challenge at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in beautiful northern California and hike to Brandy Creek, Boulder Creek, Crystal Creek and Whiskeytown Falls!

Go wild for national park road trips. Enjoy a self-guided tour to historic places, most of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Each trip takes you to a variety of places significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.

Go wild for wildflowers. Spring has sprung and it is the perfect time to see nature in all of its colorful glory in parks across the country. Parks including the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and Cumberland Gap and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky will have wildflower walks and talks.

Using the resources on the National Park Week website, visitors can plan adventures, share national park photos, videos, and tips, and learn about all the ways to help support national parks.

National Park Week also offers many opportunities for the public to explore local parks, trails, and architectural gems sustained by National Park Service programs such as the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program and the National Register of Historic Places.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service.  Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards.  Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.

Common Goldeneye Ducks

More fowl from Maggurewock Marsh, Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. Common Goldeneye Ducks.

I know nothing about these ducks now but I’ll learn when I build their page in the library. If you’d like to share what you know in the comment section I’ll include it and credit you. If you have a blog please feel free to share the link with your comment.

Common goldeneye drake

Common goldeneye drake

Common Goldeneye duck pair

Common Goldeneye pair

2014 Maine Trappers Association Rendezvous

The Maine Trappers Association Rendezvous will take place on September 19 & 20 at the Windsor Fair Grounds in Windsor. The event takes place rain or shine, just like trapping. The gates open at 8 am. 

The MTA has been very dedicated to raising and donating funds to Save Maine’s Bear Hunt and Rendezvous profits and all proceeds from their Saturday auction will be donated to the cause. As you know this is a fight for all sports people in the state and a united effort is what it will take to meet this challenge. This isn’t just about our scientifically proven bear hunting methods, it’s about everything related to hunting and trapping. HSUS is out to end all hunting and trapping.

MTA is inviting all sporting clubs in Maine to join them for a small fee of $15 for both days in the tailgating area to promote their groups and sell items for fundraising. You can get in touch with Butch Tripp for more information. His contact info is on the flyer.

You can print this flyer in its full size by right clicking on it.

2014 Maine Trappers Association rendezvous flyer

2014 Maine Trappers Association rendezvous flyer

SWL Recipe: Turkey Sausage

Turkey sausage and a duck egg

Turkey sausage and a duck egg

I love having breakfast for supper. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, especially if we’re going out to eat or if someone else is cooking. I adjusted a recipe for turkey sausage from Skinny Ms. You can find fat, protein, etc. on that link.

Turkey Sausage Recipe

1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 – 3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp finely chopped fresh or 3/4 tsp dried sage
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp pizza seasoning
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
salt to taste

Mix well. Form patties. Pan fry with coconut oil. Turn once, and don’t over cook. The meat is lean and doesn’t have extra fat and juices to spare. Considering how lean it is this sausage browns up nicely.

We’re going to raise two pigs this year. Before slaughtering day I’ll buy a meat grinder so that we can make a lot of sausage. We eat it for breakfast, supper and in spaghetti sauce. I’ll be testing recipes between now and fall to find our favorites so that I have a starting point when we make mass quantities.

Oh my aching hands

Oh how my hands ache this morning. I’m waiting for Aleve to kick in so I can get back to work. I’ve been pruning and cutting and thinning and releasing for the last two afternoons and my hands are paying for it.

I’ve pruned 200 feet of raspberry canes, or what would be 200 feet if they were stretched out and properly tended. They’re in two 50 foot rows that are four feet wide; I’ve been up one side and down the other on each row. Choke cherry trees were growing in the rows and because of our neglect they’d reach the point of being too big for the bush hog. They’re gone now. Their new purpose – mini tipis. I’ll tie them together with twine, create webbing with the twine, and grow something on them. There were more of them than I’m going to admit. At the end of raspberry season the row that is most overgrown will be mowed down. The canes that produce annually will have berries next year but two-thirds will not. Next year, at the end of the season, the other row will be mowed. I’ve taken ownership of the raspberry patch and will whip it into shape…if it doesn’t get me first. I’m hoping for enough berries this year to make two  years worth of jam and wine. The wine will help me forget the thorns that poked through my gloves and into my skin.

It’s late in the season but I’ve been pruning and releasing wild apple trees that grow at the edge of the woods. Most have been easy to do and take ten minutes each but today’s work is much more involved. I’ll need the bigger saw, safety classes, and a hat to keep my hair from getting tangled in the branches. I’ve been doing five or six small trees a day but these are so bad I’ll be happy to get one or two done.

I put the two old dogs in the house for some rest time while Ava and I went for a stroll around the property later in the afternoon. Snowshoe hare tracks kept her busy for ten minutes. She didn’t find the hare but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

English shepherd tracking a snowshoe hare in the snow

Ava followed snowshoe hare tracks for 10 minutes

Closer to the road, where the sun has melted the snow, I found these holes in the ground. Do you know what they are? <hint: peent>

Woodcock holes


Comfrey was growing under the snow.

Rhubarb has emerged

Rhubarb has emerged

The chickens will have to be contained when I start working in the garden. They know no boundaries when it comes to eating and dust baths.

Sillkie rooster

Sillkie rooster


The answer to what made the holes in the ground? A woodcock (but not this one).

American woodcock, photo by Robin Follette

American Woodcock

The sun is out and I should be too. Enjoy your day.

The Magurrewock Penquin and Canada Geese

I spent six weeks on limited activity after having surgery in February. No ice fishing, only a little snowshoeing in no more than a few inches of fluffy snow, and certainly no snowmobiling. A girl gets fidgety when she can’t do much. I’m making up for lost time as much as possible these days. Maggurewock Marsh has been my go-to place since the migrant birds started to return. There’s little snow there compared to here in the northern corner of Washington County.

canada goose flying

Canada goose flying in Maggurewock Marsh, Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge

Canada geese in Maggurewock Marsh, Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge

There wasn’t a lot of open water while I was there Monday morning. Three warm days later, I’m sure a lot more is open. If you’re looking for waterfowl in the area, this is the place to go. I saw Canada geese, Mallards, Woodies, and Hooded and Common Mergansers. I even saw the elusive Maggurewock Penguin pictured below.

Hooded merganser in Maggurewock Marsh, Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge

Maggurewock penguin, you ask? Some people call it a common merganser.

In other bird news – the Bald eagles on Route 1 in Baring, which is in Moosehorn NWR, are still incubating eggs (assuming there is more than one). And the loons have come back to Lewey Lake in Princeton/Indian Township. I saw two there Wednesday morning. Woodcock returned to my neighborhood by Tuesday evening of this week. I stood on the porch semi-bright and early to listen to three males peenting at 4:45 Wednesday morning. I count woodcock for the Singing Ground Survey in Danforth and Amity. This spring I’m adding a third route in Lambert Lake.

Hooded Merganser

Long-term plans (Yup, I have plans) for Robin’s Outdoors include building out the libraries. Animal Tracks & Signs is growing slowly. There are pages built with a photo or two, a word or two, and not much else. They’re stunning photos well worth waiting for. Seriously – who doesn’t want to see porcupine poop? If only I could find a porcupine (live, not road kill) to photograph the page could be published. Birds are on my list. They’ll get their own category soon…soonish. Till then, I’m sharing the photos I’ve collected so far. None of them are great quality. Birds make fast escapes when I get too close so I’m pushing the camera further than it can comfortably go.

Hooded mergansers in Maggurewock Marsh.

Hooded merganser

Hooded merganser – hen

Common goldeneye and hooded merganser drakes

Common goldeneye and hooded merganser (standing) drakes

Pickle-Pro and Sourdough

Pickle-Pro and sourdough…because it’s fun to say.

Full disclosure – I am the social media goddess manager at Homesteader’s Supply. Jerri, the owner of Homesteader’s Supply, gifted me with the Fermenting Kit. I’m not writing about it because she gave it to me. I’m writing about it because I used it, and I’m a writer, and this is what writers do.

Whole wheat sour dough bread

Whole wheat sourdough bread

I made sourdough bread for years but was never completely thrilled with the results. It was good but it wasn’t spectacular. I often threw out the starter because it was too strong. I swear someone could have gotten drunk on the amount of alcohol produced if they’d been able to choke it down. I decided to try using a Pickle-Pro Fermenting Lid from Homesteader’s Supply when I mixed up a new batch of sourdough starter.

Fermenting Kit, pickle pro

Fermenting Kit

I used the recipe in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon. It’s included in the Fermenting Kit. It’s 3/8 cup organic whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup water. Harmon explains in the book how to take care of the starter. Bubbly? Remove half, add 3/8 cup organic whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup water, and stir well, scraping the sides. You must use organic whole wheat for this, and it must be as fresh as possible so that it still has wild yeast.

My sourdough starter is in a pint canning jar with a Pickle-Pro lid. I’m very happy with the results. I usually have a layer of dark alcohol on top of the starter. That hasn’t happened this time. The airlock allows carbon dioxide out without letting air in, eliminating oxidation. Related? I dunno exactly. There’s an earthy sourdough aroma that’s pleasant. It smells wonderful baking, like bread I couldn’t wait to eat.

Today is bread baking day. Here’s the recipe I tried.

Organic whole wheat sourdough bread

3/4 c sourdough starter
1 c warm water
2 tsp yeast (this batch of whole wheat flour is exceptionally heavy so I added some yeast)
2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon raw sugar
Up to 4 cups organic whole wheat flour

Mix everything but the flour together. Incorporate the flour into the mixture. Mix but don’t knead.

Whole wheat sourdough

Whole wheat sourdough, ready to rise

Let rise until it doubles itself (60-90 minutes). Shape (don’t knead), and allow to rise a second time for another 60-90 minutes. Time varies according to the room temperature. I baked my bread on parchment on a pre-heated pizza stone at 350* for 35 minutes.

It smelled delicious baking. It tastes good but it’s not spectacular. It’s the flour. It’s too heavy. I’ll buy a new bag next time I’m at the Natural Living Center. I’m sure it will be delicious next time! I’m eager to try another batch of sourdough starter with the new flour using the Pickle-Pro.

Whole wheat sourdough

Whole wheat sourdough bread

Wardeh made a short video about Pickle-Pro. Have a watch!


My Early Morning Spring Routine

4:30 to 4:45 am. It’s still dark but not pitch black. The house is cool, usually less than 55 degrees. Not a fan of the cold, I pull comfy clothes on quickly and make my way to the living room. Open the damper to let air into the wood stove, open the door to wake the coals up with the poker, and leave the door open an inch. Early morning is the only time I’ll tend the fire; it’s warm enough outside this time of year to keep the house from cooling down quickly.

Off to the kitchen to make coffee. The water coming out of the well is 44 degrees so I fill a gallon pitcher while the hot water makes its way from the on-demand heater in the cellar to the tap. Coffee grounds go to the composting worms or into a container to be used in the garden.

I’m done side stepping and stumbling over the dogstacle course that has made its way to the kitchen to be pet, and let them out. I step out to the back porch in my wool-socked feet, no jacket, and check the temperature. Now early April, I can stand out there for a few minutes instead of dashing back to the kitchen door.  The birds start singing before sunrise now. I take a deep breath and spend a moment being grateful to have survived winter. This year “survive” seems to be an appropriate word; we had five more weeks of winter than usual.

The roosters rose with the “sun,” which is really the kitchen light, and are crowing. There are no turkeys gobbling within hearing range; that’s disappointing. Back into the house I go, the old dogs on my heels. Ava is on patrol around two and a half acres she calls hers. She sniffs around the hen house to be sure nothing has bothered the birds during the night.

The gallon of cold water goes into a pan on the wood stove to keep moisture in the air. I poke at the coals again to spread them out a bit, now red and ready to go. Add a few pieces of cedar kindling and close the door, leaving the damper open. I feed the goldfish, the dogs, and the cats while the coffee perks.

Dishes from the counter and sink get washed or moved to the dish washer while the coffee does its thing. Dishes done, I return to the wood stove to load it. The fire roar will soon, taking the chill out of the house and making it cozy and warm. Ava woofs at the door, ready to come in. If I’m not there to open the door soon enough her woof turns to a demanding bark.

I pour a cup of coffee, have a seat at my desk, and write a few words in my journal or get to work on “the book.” “The book” gets most of my writing effort these days, and the blog gets neglected. Winter and surgery put a damper on doing things worthy of writing about.

Opening Day of Fly-Fishing in Grand Lake Stream

At the boat landing and parking lot in Grand Lake Stream:
IFW signDedication. And passion. It takes dedication and passion to go out into two feet of snow, wind blowing, 26*, and cast a line into roaring water. It was the opening day of fly-fishing and approximately two dozen fly-fishermen braved the April Fool’s Day weather to fish in Grand Lake Stream. They went through two feet of snow to get to the high, fast moving water.

Grand Lake Stream, opening day of fly fishing

The water was high and fast

“Don’t bother to cast a line until the first duck flies,” was the advice I was given this  morning. I’ll remember that in case I learn to fly fish well enough this year to be among the fishermen next spring. It’s good advice. I’m told the first salmon of the season was caught right after the first duck of the morning flew. I listened to the Maine master guide as he spoke and watched intently as he demonstrated proper technique, imagining that he really had a rod in hand and that the line was floating back and forth. It was a morning of watching and day dreaming.

The first fisherman started just after midnight, or so I was told. I’m not sure if that’s a fish tale or truth. Others started fishing at 4:30 am and 6 am, and the rest soon after.

Fly-fishermen on the opening day of fly fishing in Grand Lake StreamStanding on the dam upstream from the fishermen, I was envious. I wanted to be down there. I really wanted to be down there with them, in my the waders I don’t yet own, with the net I don’t have, in the vest that doesn’t exist. I have the pole; it’s a start. The wind blew in hard across the lake. My hair blew into my face, making it hard to see. Dammit. Why hadn’t I thought to pull it up? I made a mental note to have it up before opening day next year because if I can make it happen, I’ll be down there casting my line. The lines didn’t seem to be blowing astray. I assume being downstream, behind the dam, there’s a bit of shelter from the wind.

Fly-fishermen on the opening day of fly fishing in Grand Lake Stream

Got one!

As fishermen passed me on the dam on their way to their vehicles they cupped their hands and blew warm air into them. Cold hands…they didn’t act like they had cold hands while they fished. I wondered if they noticed how their hands might ache from being wet in the 26 degree air, or if they were so caught up in the moment it was unnoticed until they were done fishing. I shoved my fists further into my pockets as though that would help them warm their hands. Some wore gloves with their fingers exposed from the first knuckle to fingertip while others were barehanded.

Grand Lake Stream is known world wide for its excellent landlocked salmon fishing. Several fish were caught while I watched. There’s a one fish per day limit and all but one I saw being caught were released. Will I keep the first salmon I catch? Release it without taking it from the water? I don’t know. Time will tell.

They say that once you step into Grand Lake Stream you’re hooked. I didn’t need to step in. I’m ready to hire a guide and learn to fly-fish well. I did catch one fish last year. I was so excited – so proud – then I saw what I’d caught. A chub. That isn’t what I’d have wanted to claim as my first catch but it’s better than the birch and alder I caught first.

I pulled my coat up higher around my neck to help block the wind. Why hadn’t I thought to wear a scarf?

“Are you cold,” the guide asked. I regret not remembering his name.

“Not yet, but I don’t want to be. What I want is to be down there with them. I’m going to learn.” I scanned the line of fishermen. “I’m going to learn this year so I can be here next year. Maybe not on opening day but one day next year I want to be standing in that stream with the water rushing against my legs, casting my line and catching my own salmon.”

“You will,” he said. “Learn and practice.” And that’s what I’m going to do. I have time to learn how to do this right, to build muscle memory, and to practice. Just like I did as a child learning to cast my Snoopy pole 45 years ago, I’ll practice in the backyard.

The one downside of the morning lay on the ice on the lake side of the dam. A deer, half in, half out of the water.  It wasn’t being used a coyote bait. Coyote kill? Winter kill? It warmed up that afternoon and I’m sure that deer was pushed up against the dam before the end of the day. It was mostly unnoticed in the excitement of opening day.

Deer carcass on ice

Deer carcass on ice

Recipe: No Bake Energy Bites

This is a quick and simple to make high protein energy bar. If you’re taking it with you during outdoors activities you should keep it cool.

I’ve been trying a lot of new recipes lately. Being sleeved means having a tiny stomach that holds one-third cup of food at a time right now. I can’t eat a lot, nor do I want to anymore, so I do want to thoroughly enjoy what I do eat. These high protein energy bars are delicious! This is a combination of several recipes.

No Bake Energy Bites Recipe

No Bake Energy Bites

1 cup almond butter (peanut butter is also good)
1/4 cup Agave
1/2 cup coconut oil

Place the butter, Agave and coconut oil in a pan and melt. Turn heat off just before the coconut oil finishes melting. Stir in the following ingredients:

1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp salt (skip this if the seeds or almonds are salted)
1/2 tsp vanilla or maple extract

Line an 8″ x 8″ or similar sized pan with parchment, pour the warm mixture into the pan, and smooth out.  Refrigerate until solid. Keep refrigerated.

Getting Organized Might Drive Me Over the Edge

I recently guest blogged at Oh, Honestly! about that to do list of mine. Remember the organizer I bought?

Two thousand and fourteen. It’s the year of getting organized. Again. I have these years now and then. Just like every other year I’ve vowed to get too much done, this time I mean business. I’m getting organized. I bought an organizer notebook and made a list of approximately 65 things I need to do this year. Sixty-five should be written in flashing neon colors. That’s an awful lot but I really think I can get it all done as long as I get organized.

So who am I trying to convince? Myself or you? Maybe both of us.

I love lists!

I love lists!

A lot of the items on my list, like “pull up the fence around the old duck pen,” have to wait on spring’s arrival. As what I do on the homestead changes the layout of the garden and the poultry and livestock pens changes. Tear down the duck fence, erect the fence for the new pigs I’ll be raising this year. Some items are beyond my capabilities. “Dismantle greenhouse, recycle lumber to make drying shed for firewood.” I can’t even picture what the finished shed might look like but I’m certain there’s a way to make this work. Obviously I’ll need help.

One way or another, Baby, this list is going down!

It’s easy to say this on a 20*, sunny day in late February. I’ll still be gung ho and buzzing along at the end of March. I thrive on deadlines so as soon as I know I’m running out of time to work on the indoor projects I’ll work harder and faster. When I can start ticking off the outdoors list I’ll work hard and fast at first, then it will get hot, and I hate the heat. I’ll want to go fishing, to camp or hiking on weekends. Reality is starting to set in already.

In previous years I vowed early in the year to work through weekends, and did. We got late starts to visiting my parents at camp and missed out on a lot of fun. It wasn’t worth it. We got things done but we never got through the To Do list no matter how hard we work. Seems like I should have learned to pare down the list by now. Seems like I could have been more realistic years ago.

This year is different. I accept that everything won’t be done, and that I’ll probably have to give up some of the things I’ve already been waiting years to do. I’m not being ridiculously stubborn about it this year. We’ll probably hire help. The biggest difference is my acceptance of a new reality – it just doesn’t matter as much anymore. The hens won’t stop laying eggs if I don’t paint the hen house this year. I can buy a new bookshelf rather than ruin a lot of wood and possibly a few fingers by building one myself. We won’t starve if I don’t make 42 jars of strawberry rhubarb jam.

This To Do list is out of control. I keep thinking of more to do. There are now 72 items. I’m sure I put them there; it’s my handwriting. It’s time to prioritize. The idea of writing everything down is to get it organized and out of my head. I can’t remember everything…or half of everything on the list, and I don’t want to clutter my mind trying. Before I start working on the laundry room/pantry I’ll have the list organized. I have no intention of deleting anything yet. That won’t happen until late September or early October when I have to admit defeat.

So yeah Baby! The list is going down…as in some of this list is going to be written down in next year’s list.

The Meat Grocery List

Khaki Campbell Ducks

Khaki Campbell ducks

I’m working on my long-term grocery list today. Here’s what I have so far:

  • 15 Khaki Campbell ducks. Eggs and meat. Assuming I’ll get 50/50 male/female, I’ll keep two drakes (two in case one dies) and all or most of the hens, and eat the other drakes. I’ll have plenty of eggs to barter.
  • 40 Cornish Rock Cross chickens. Meat. I’m raising 10-15 to barter with a friend. She’s getting the chickens and a half a pig in exchange for beef.
  • 15 Broad Breasted White turkeys.  Sadly, disappointingly…off the list. I will be away for a week in July and have no one to take care of three week old poults. I’m very unhappy about this change of plans.

I ordered the two piglets. They’ll be coming to the homestead in July. I’ve forgotten what cross of breeds they are so I can’t tell you that now, but I’ll tell you all about them when they arrive. I’ll have things to write about as we get ready for them such as where they’ll live, how they’ll be raised and what they’ll eat. Since it’s later than originally planned (sow didn’t get pregnant on the first go ’round) I’ll have them butchered in December rather than October. November is deer season and the butcher can’t have wild game with livestock so December it is. We’re not going to do it ourselves. We could, but I don’t want to. Clayton is better equipped to do the work for us. I’m hoping to have a smoke house built so I can cure the hams and bacon. I’ll also cure some cheese and maybe a turkey.

We have pork, beef, chicken and duck on the grocery list.

On being a choosy bear hunter

Seeing a bear while hunting does *not* mean a hunter is going to shoot it. One hundred percent of the bears I’ve seen while hunting have walked away. We know what we’re looking for. Some hunters are willing to deal with tougher, stronger meat in exchange for a big bear. A family of two might not want or need as much meat as a family of five, and the hunter is willing to take a smaller bear. It’s a lot like choosing a roast in the meat counter at the grocery – you know what you want, the size you need, and what you’ll do with it when you get home.

Here’s a hunter who passed on a bear he could have easily shot. There’s much more to hunting than killing.

Give the deer and moose a break – delay shed hunting

Over the last three months I haven’t seen many deer or deer signs. They’ve had a hard winter with deep snow starting in December and continuing into April. Parts of Maine have had four or more ice storms, two of them significant.

I drove to Grand Lake Stream on Tuesday and Houlton on Wednesday, and saw deer both days. About a third of them look terrible. They are thin, their coats are ragged, and they appear to be listless. It’s a sad sight. Moose are dying this time of year to heavy winter (moose) tick infestations. I read about a man who found four young moose dead and covered in ticks in one day last weekend.

Deer shed

Deer and moose shed their antlers in early winter. This deer shed was found in 2012.

A sign at Old Town Trading Post last week offered $10 a pound for sheds. Sheds, in case you don’t know, are antlers shed by deer and moose. They’re found by following deer trails and visiting yards where deer  and moose congregate in December and January, the time when most antlers are shed. Shed hunting is a hobby that’s picked up a lot of interest lately.

I have a suggestion for this year. Considering how long and hard winter has been, how much snow we still have on the ground (30″ in my backyard), and how long it’s going to be until the deer have greens to eat, please hold off on shed hunting. Give the deer a break. Don’t make them burn more calories by running away from you. The antlers will still be there when the snow melts. They might be a little more chewed on by rodents but for the most part they’ll still be nice.

The deer and moose need a break this year. Let’s give it to them.


April 1, 2014

I expected to today to be quiet in spite of it being a big day. It’s my birthday. I’m going to Grand Lake Stream to take a few photos of the opening day of fly fishing. That was my big plan for the entire day.

Steve left for work bright and early. I planned to hit the road with the cameras. Showered, Jeep loaded with drinks, lunch, jacket, boots, cameras and memory cards, I set out to do one last thing – turn the poultry out into their pen for the day.

I made a quick side trip to see if any of the seeds in the high tunnels have germinated in this cold (they have not). A vole running along the side of a raised bed had to be dealt with. Voles are small farmers and my biggest pest. They harvest leaves from the greens and store them away for a later meal. I sprinted down the path, leaping over a bucket of hand tools, and stomped the vole like I was in the midst of a Saturday night hoedown. I picked it up, intending to toss it into the compost pile on my way to the Jeep.

Something caught my eye half way between the high tunnels and barn. It was a black bear. We don’t usually see them until the boars start roaming in search of a mate in mid-May. I stopped, stunned by what I was looking at. We’ve had three days of snow, sleet and freezing rain and still have more than two feet of snow on the ground. There isn’t anything for a bear to eat right now other than my chickens and ducks. He, and I say “he” only because the bear is so big, not because I know its gender, was big and lean.

The dogs were in the house. I didn’t know whether to be thankful that they wouldn’t tangle with the bear, or wish they were there to chase it away.

I stood still, barely breathing when it turned to look at me. They don’t see that well. Pantene shampoo and conditioner, rosemary scented soap, and laundry detergent gave me away. His nose went into the air briefly…and then he charged me, break through the crusty snow. I screamed “no” but the only thing slowing him down was the snow.

My mother’s warning from childhood ran through my mind. “Don’t run if you see a bear.”

He stopped abruptly only ten feet from me. He huffed and I trembled. I took one step back on the snowmobile trail that runs between the house, high tunnels and hen house, and watched. He didn’t move. Another step back, then another. His weight shifted to his left front paw as he slapped his right paw into the snow as a warning to me. Step by backward step I made my way to the hen house twenty feet away. I could close myself in and wait for him to leave. Almost there. A few more steps.

He charged again, waving my arms. “No,” I yelled. “No!”

Not here…not in my own backyard on my 50th birthday. The bear stopped, sat down, laughed and said, “April Fool’s! I wasn’t going to hurt you.”

And with that, yes, you’ve been had. It’s April’s Fool’s day and I got you! (I hope I got you!) There was no bear but I I really did go to Grand Lake Stream. ;)

Lifetime Hunting & Fishing Licenses are an investment in kids

Lauren Cormier writes Oh, Honestly! at Bangor Daily News. She guest blogs for me over there today, writing about buying lifetime hunting and fishing licenses for her sons. When her daughter gets a little older she’ll also get her license.

@bdnStop in at Robin’s Outdoors at Bangor Daily News to read Lauren’s story.