{this moment} Blue Jay

Blue Jay

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see. Thanks to Soule Mama for bringing us together.

blue jay in snow
This blue jay looked a little cold while waiting for his turn at the bird feeder. Blue jays are usually pushy but this time he was willing to wait until other jays moved away.

Reblogging? Let’s Talk!


reblogging, reblog

Some very nice people have asked for permission to reblog some of my posts. I’ve said yes to all. It’s easy to do. I send you the text with a link back to my blog. If you’d like to use a photo I can send that to you, too.

There aren’t many rules.

  1. Don’t change anything.
  2. Leave the link back to my blog in place. I’ll check from time to time to be sure it’s there.

If you’d like to trade blog for blog just let me know. As long as your topic fits my blog I’m happy to trade, will leave the link to your blog in place, and won’t change anything. I’ll send the link out on my social media to send some traffic your way.

  • Build links
  • Share information
  • Gain readers
  • Have fun

Need a suggestion of what to share? Understanding the USDA Hardiness Zones is one of the most popular entries.

Email me!

venison vurger, venison recipe

Stuffed Venison Burgers

Stuffed Venison Burgers

Venison is versatile. I can do anything venison that I do with beef. Last week I craved a burger. I didn’t want just a cheese burger, it had to be something really good. It took a few hours to think of something different while the burger from my deer thawed.

I had cheddar in the fridge. That would be a nice center. Onions and bell peppers seemed too meatloaf-ish. The Mason jars of mushrooms, Jalapenos and sun dried tomatoes gave me an idea. We wild harvested Lobster and Chanterelle mushrooms earlier this year. The Jalapenos and tomatoes are from our garden. I pulled them from the cupboard and soaked them in warm water to rehydrate.

dehydrated chanterelle mushroom, venison burger

Rehydrating in warm water

sun dried tomatoes, venison burgerstuffed venison burger, venison recipeI drained them well, patted them dry, and chopped them together. I added pepper but no salt, and powdered garlic. There’s a piece of cheddar inside each burger. I didn’t need to add egg or bread crumbs as a binder. The butcher added beef fat for moisture when he ground the meat. Wild game can dry out easily while cooking if you’re not very careful, and really, a little fat in food makes it taste better and more satiating.
venison burger, venison recipevenison burger, venison recipevenison vurger, venison recipeThe cheese melts as the burger cooks. Flip venison burgers three or four times to keep the cheese from melting through. It probably will leak a bit before the burger is cooked (unless you like it rare) but that’s alright. The only thing that would have made the burgers better is homemade hamburger rolls, and I didn’t make any. I ate mine without a roll. Bread takes up a lot of space in my tiny stomach and doesn’t add as much nutrition as the meat and vegetables so it’s better to skip it. I’m still working on a recipe for good, healthy burger rolls. I’ll get it figured out eventually!

I had leftover uncooked burger that I used in chili the next day. Also delicious!

How to Get Started in Hunting

How to Get Started in Hunting

I’ve been asked how to get started in hunting lately. It’s encouraging to see a lot of people showing genuine interest in hunting and healthy meat on the table. There isn’t one best way to get started. These suggestions should be helpful. In my opinion the items in bold should be requirements in all states.

  • Hunter Safety Course
  • Firearms Safety Course
  • Shoot. Practice, practice, practice. I’m doing something that surprised me. I went to the sandpit to be sure my rifle was sited in and was baffled by how far off my first shot was on the target. I typically hit the bullseye or an inch to the left and an inch low. On my first shot I was a good foot to left and a foot high. What? How? HOW did my scope get that far out? I’m very careful. Turns out it wasn’t the scope. On my second shot I caught myself doing something ridiculous. I flinched and pulled to the left. I don’t know why I’m doing it, and I keep doing it if I’m not 100% focused on NOT doing it. I did it when I shot the bear, though by inches, not a foot. I did it when I shot the deer, again by inches, not a foot. I do it only with my rifle. I’m dead on with the shotguns. I need to work with someone. And I need to make an effort to shoot a lot more often. I try to shoot 100 arrows a day before archery season opens.
  • BOW. Becoming an Outdoors Woman (if you’re a woman). They offer the Hunter Safety course in Maine as well as firearms safety, rifle (.22) and shotgun workshops.
  • Apprentice license. If your state offers an apprentice license I suggest getting one. Try this out. See if you like it enough to invest the time in Hunter Safety and getting a full hunting license.
how to get started in hunting

Taylor looked for the partridge.

  • Go with someone. I can’t stress this enough. As you learn about hunter and firearms safety and are becoming proficient with your weapon, go hunting with someone. Preferably, hunt with several people. You’ll learn something from each person. When Steve said we’d go hunting together I thought we’d be together hunting. He sent me alone into the woods in the dark. We’d already been to the spot I knew I was going to sit but I thought he’d be with me. We were hunting at the same time. Before parting ways that morning we discussed where he’d be. We weren’t in danger of shooting each other.
    • I knew nothing. I needed to learn from Steve. He sacrificed some of his limited, valuable hunting time to teach me when sending me out alone didn’t work.
  • Get landowner permission to hunt on land you don’t own. Talk with the landowner, preferably face to face. If the landowner is a hunter you will probably be able to ask questions. Listen closely. Hunters generally enjoy helping new hunters.
  • Scout. Learn how to look for signs. Bucks make rubs and scrapes. Bulls make rubs and wallows. Deer browse at one height, moose at another. Bears leave few signs. Learn the tracks of the animal(s) you plan to hunt. Scout even when you’re not intending to hunt.
  • Hire a guide
  • Decide what you want to hunt
    • deer
    • moose
    • bear
    • elk
    • caribou
    • Upland game birds
    • Waterfowl
    • coyote
    • hare or rabbit
  • Learn about tree stands, ground blinds and shooting huts

treeless tree stand

[NeighborWoods] Cattails in Yacolucci Woods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

Cattails in Yacolucci Woods.

Cattails, Yacolucci Woods

Cattails in Yacolucci Woods

Deer Tracks Disappearing Into the Snowy Woods

Deer Tracks

Day three of the Black & White Photo Challenge is a photo of white-tailed deer tracks disappearing into the woods. Few deer will stay here for the winter. The deer been slowly moving to their winter feeding grounds since the November 2 storm. These might be the last tracks I see along our road until spring. With today’s current logging practices in this area there’s little winter habitat around our homestead that give the deer a place to live. We’re working on a plan to expand their options on our land. I found a straight line of balsam trees that blew down over the summer. The roots are in enough water to keep the trees alive (temporarily) so there’s a lot of forage available for deer that happen to stay here. I’ll be looking for signs of them having been here before each storm this winter.

Deer tracks, deer tracks in the woods, deer tracks in snow

Deer tracks disappearing into the woods

Ridge on a Foggy Morning in Maine

This ridge at the end of my road is beautiful. On a foggy December morning it is both beautiful and dull. We are surrounded by ridges, valleys and water. Black white photography.

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see. Thanks to Amanda for bringing us together every Friday.

black white photography, overlooking a ridge, Maine, fog

The view at the end of my road. I would love to live here.

Why Raise Your Own Chickens?

Why raise your own chickens?

Why raise your own chickens? It’s a question I’m asked a lot lately. You can substitute chickens for pigs, cows and any other farm animal. I believe in humane treatment for all living creatures (even spiders and snakes) all the time, not just when it doesn’t inconvenience me.

I believe in karma.
Why raise your own chicken, factory farming

In a conversation on the Maine Birds group. Ignorance is not bliss.

This mess below is absolutely avoidable. If consumers refused to buy the meat it would stop. I raise the same hybrid chicken shown in this video. They certainly are not raised this way. There are alternatives. It’s not hopeless. We can fix this problem! We can do better! We can. We don’t all have to raise our own meat. Farmers market, friends, neighborhood farmers. It’s possible.

Have questions? I’m happy to answer. There’s an article to go with this video. Please do watch the video. It’s only five minutes long.

Women and Our Woods

Women and Our Woods

Tanya Rucosky from Downeast Lakes Land Trust emailed me about Women and Our Woods (WOW) early in the fall. Great timing! I’m looking for a connection to our 45 acres of forest. We’ve lived here for 16 years. I’ve raised two children here, grown and raised my family’s food here, heated my home with firewood harvested here, and yet, I don’t know my land as intimately as I know other forests. I’m on a mission now. Taylor, our youngest daughter, just completed a wildlife management plan that focuses on whitetail deer and grouse. I have a to-do list now and with the help and fun of Women and Our Woods, I’m going to develop a new appreciation for my woods.

I’m very excited about this program. There isn’t a lot of detail to tell right now, no event descriptions or dates just yet, but I want to share what we have and get an idea of how many women might be interested in joining us. We’d love to hear from women who are interested in participating from something as simple as a potluck lunch in someone’s home to a weekend event at a formal location roughly north and east of Bangor toward Grand Lake Stream. Old Town, Lee, Talmadge and nearby.

In October I was invited to get together with Tanya, Amanda Mahaffrey and Sherrie Sprangers. Amanda is a Maine licensed forester and works for the Forest Guild, an organization that promotes and practices forest stewardship. She’s very excited to be working to revitalize a critical resource for Maine’s women woodland owners – Women and Our Woods.

This program is not limited to women who own woodlots. Your interest in the woods is enough. And we are not limited to the area around Downeast Lakes Land Trust in Grand Lake Stream. WOW will branch out.

Women and Our Woods

In Amanda’s words: In Maine, 85,000 small woodland owners own over 4.6 million acres of land. Of these owners, nearly half are over age 65, only 17 percent have a management plan for their land, and less than a third have sought advice on woodland management. Many women who traditionally left the details of taking care of a woodlot to their husbands find themselves faced with a steep learning curve on how to manage their land. Other women may find themselves as new woodland owners and unsure of where to turn for helpful information.

To meet these needs, Women and Our Woods is a program designed to educate women woodland owners on all aspects of woodland ownership-setting objectives, meeting with resource professionals, and harvesting timber thoughtfully to achieve desired outcomes. Women and Our Woods offers training workshops in a learning environment that empowers women to take action and make informed decisions about our land. Licensed Maine foresters
can help you map out forest ownership goals, choose the right logger, or navigate forest taxation laws. Local organizations such as the Downeast Lakes Land Trust host workshops and events that put women woodland owners in touch with information, tools, and resources to help guide forest management decisions – and perhaps most importantly, connect women woodland owners with each other.

You may email Tanya Rucosky for more information.

homestead pigs, raising pigs, pastured pigs

Update! Meat on the Grocery List

Early in the year I wrote about the meat I planned to raise this year. It’s been a great year and I met all but one of those goals.

Khaki Campbell - Young drake

Young Khaki Campbell Drake

The Khaki Campbell ducks are great. The hens started laying eggs much earlier than I expected. In spite of the short days and early winter they’re still laying and some of the eggs have double yolks. I’m very happy with them. We don’t have room in the freezer for the four extra drakes so they’ll be around a while. I’ll have to have them butchered before mating season starts. Six drakes will be hard on three hens. By the time we have room in the freezer for them I’ll be eager to have something new to cook. I’ll let a hen raise a clutch next year so that I have more eggs and meat.

As always, the Cornish Rock meat chickens were a success. A dozen of them and a side of pork will be bartered for organic, pastured beef. There’s nothing I can say about the chickens that I haven’t already said.

The pigs were a disaster in the beginning and fantastic in the end. They were afraid of everything, filthy, mean and generally difficult to deal with. They were biters. White bit out of curiosity; he wanted to know what things were, including our legs. Red bit because he was a jerk. He’d stick his head through the fence to bite me while I filled the food bin. I stopped going into their pasture and pen with them because they were unsafe.

homestead pigs, raising pigs, pastured pigsThey did well in the snow, venturing out to sunbathe on warmer days. When the temps dropped drastically we gave them extra straw for their bedding and flakes of hay to eat. I eventually gained their trust and they mine. I’d lean in head first to get their food bin and know that they might nudge me for a pet but wouldn’t bite. I went into their pen, through the barn and out to the livestock trailer with them on the day they went to the butcher and didn’t worry about my safety. They loaded easily. The butcher expected the hanging weight to be a combined total of around 500 pounds. I’m going to cure the bacon from one pig. My plans to smoke all of the bacon and hams has gone by the wayside because it got so cold so early this year. I did order a small smoker that I’ll use for some of the bacon, chickens and some cheese.

In addition to the meat we raised we have deer, bear, moose, turkey, partridge and fish we wild harvested. My plans for meat in 2015 are only turkey and duck. We won’t need more than that.

Storm’s Coming – Storm Preparation

Perk coffee pot, old fashioned, storm preparations

Better than drip and always available when the power is out

Our day started at 4:15 am with Ava pacing in the house because of a predator outside. I don’t know yet what it was. Predators are looking for their last meals until after the storm ends. We have a fox, a coyote and a fisher hanging around. Whatever it was woke the roosters and caused all four of them to crow. Storm’s coming and it looks like it’s going to be rough. We’re in the 1-4″ area with and up to a quarter-inch of ice thrown in for good measure. Heavy snow will build up on the trees before the ice starts so we’ll most likely lose power. We’ve had a lot more trees falling on power lines than usual the last two years. I have little to do to get ready for the storm.


  • Done
  • refill the wood rack. I filled it Saturday so there’s little room for more firewood. I’m going to fill it today to get more firewood off the back porch to keep it from being covered in snow. What won’t fit inside will be tarped. I’ll close up the woodshed to keep snow from blowing in.
  • charge the Luci I’ve been using at night so that we have two with full charges.
  • bring meat up from the freezers in the basement. If we lose power for long I want to roast chicken in a cast iron Dutch oven inside the woodstove.
  • make a loaf of cinnamon raisin oatmeal bread
  • refill suet feeders for the wild birds
  • give the ducks and chickens fresh hay. Their hopper is already full of food.
  • scrub the bathtub and fill it with water. No power = no water pump. I have gallon milk jugs, two gallon kitty litter jugs and five gallon buckets. I’ll also fill the “old-fashioned” stove top perk coffee maker and make a pot of coffee in the electric maker. The electric maker has a heavily insulated pot that keeps coffee hot and tasting fresh for 12-18 hours. The dogs’ water dish and bunny’s bottle need to be filled. I’ll top off the pot on top of the woodstove.
  • charge the cell phone and camera batteries, leave the laptop plugged in.
  • empty ash can onto the garden. Let the fire die down and clean out the ashes.
Luci Portable Solar Lantern

Luci Portable Solar Lantern

There’s no worry about the freezers. When we take out food we refill the space with water jugs. Full freezers run less often and stay frozen much longer. Thawing won’t start for several days.

We have food, water, heat, two means of cooking, light (Luci, headlamps, flashlights, candles), and plenty to keep ourselves entertained if the power goes out.

I’ll bake a pumpkin pie using homegrown pumpkin and maple syrup. It’s nice to curl up on the loveseat in front of the woodstove with a piece of pie and a magazine even if the power doesn’t go out.

Stay safe and warm!

[NeighborWoods] Snowy Kayaks

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors.
Created by Robin’s Outdoors.
Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

Instructions to participate in [NeighborWoods] are here. Don’t forget to come back again later to follow more links as we build links and community!

snow, kayak, winter,

Snowy kayaks. I’m missing summer.

12 Things to Never Say to a Photographer

Tammy is a photographer. When I reposted a link to 10 Things to Never Say to a Writer she asked if I had one for photographers. Some of the things she hears…seriously. I’ve offered to have bake sales to raise bail money but she always keeps her cool.

12 things to never say to a photographer

Are my pictures ready yet? It’s been three days.

12 Things to Never Say to a Photographer

  1. Great picture. You must have a really nice camera. (Oh yes! I bought the Talent attachment!)
  2. I bought a camera and now I’m going to be a professional photographer. It’s the one in the photo above. (You should buy a scalpel, too. I hear there’s a shortage of surgeons.)
  3. Are my pictures ready yet? It’s been three days.
  4. How much money do you make? (You! Back under your rock.)
  5. Why are you so expensive? It only took an hour to take the photos. (It’s a really fast process because I bought the Editing attachment that makes you look so good.)
  6. You took my pictures THREE DAYS AGO. Are they ready yet?
  7. You’re so lucky you don’t have a REAL job. (You’re so lucky I don’t smack you.)
  8. My best friend’s uncle’s mechanic is coming with us. He just needs a few pics so he didn’t want to pay for a session.
  9. Why did you make me look so fat? (Sorry. I couldn’t afford the Liposuction attachment.)
  10. Can’t you just do this for free for me? It’s not like it costs you anything. (You buy my cameras, lenses, gas, internet access, laptop, editing program and groceries, support my kids, and pay my bills and then YES! I’ll work for you for free.)
  11. I need these photos now but I can’t pay you until spring.
  12. Three days. I can’t believe my pics aren’t ready yet.

Book Review: neither Mountain nor River by Mike Freeman

neither Mountain nor River

By Mike Freeman
Fathers, Sons, and an Unsettled Faith

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Riddle Brook Publishing (September 30, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0984792783

neither Mountain nor River, Mike FreemanMike Freeman’s passion for the outdoors is clear in his memoir, neither Mountain nor River. It’s always been and will always be a part of his life regardless of where he lives. In Mike’s move from Alaska to New York City, then from NYC to Rhode Island with wife Karen, he is never disconnected from natural history. He shares the outdoors experience as only someone with experience and a great love can.

Freeman blends vast life experiences – family, love, difficulty, success, challenge, relationship highs and lows, roll reversal and more with the natural world. He sets the scene well, giving the reader a good base to spark their own mental image as he tells the story. I was able to feel as tough I was there for a portion of the experience. Words flow smoothly and trigger memories and emotions you might have forgotten.

Shannon, Mike and Karen’s first born, has Autism. Her connection to and interaction with nature is touching. They allow her to explore, interact, handle and fully experience her natural surroundings right down to eye-poking and up-close investigation of a dead gannet in ways most parents wouldn’t imagine.

While this memoir is deeply rooted in the outdoors you needn’t be an outdoor lover to appreciate the story and connections between people. Freeman writes about spirituality in a way most readers will understand. He has questions. God? Hell? What happens after death? His quest isn’t overwhelming. Surely he’s searching for the same answers as most of us. Even the most faithful sometimes wonder.

Read this book. Give it as a Christmas gift. And then read it again. It’s worth it.



Taxidermy: My Buck & Bear Mounts

Delaite’s Taxidermy

Let’s talk taxidermy! I shot my bear on September 4 and my deer on November 22, 2014. The bear hide/head has been in the freezer and I’ve picked up the deer from the butcher. So, let’s talk about taxidermy…now that I can do it without fighting tears.

Dear friend Erin Merrill had a horrible experience with the butcher when she shot her first bear this year. I talked with Jared Delaite of Delaite’s Taxidermy before I called a butcher. Jared came highly recommended, and I wanted to talk to him before I took my buck to a butcher. I didn’t want to leave room for anything to go wrong. Jared made a recommendation for a butcher and even offered to pick up the head and cape on his way through. It didn’t work out because the butcher was booked. Taking no chances, I called Jared back. “I want to take the deer to _____. What do you think?”

Jared wasn’t familiar with the butcher. He told me exactly what to tell the butcher. I needed to be sure I told the butcher I was having a shoulder mount, be sure he knew where to cut the cape (behind the front legs), and on my own decided to ask for more than enough cape. Better to have extra than not enough. I felt like I was being a little obnoxious but repeated “shoulder mount” and cutting far enough back to have more than enough cape. I said it at least three times. I felt confident when I left.

Steve and I drove to Woodville to bring the deer’s head and cape and my bear’s head and hide to Delaite’s Taxidermy. I asked Jared a million questions. He’s a patient man. The only choice I had to make for my 2014 turkey was what plaque I wanted. I chose the pose, a combination of the post I like most and the way the deer was turned to look at me when I pulled the trigger. I was so excited! I avoided looking at the head. Unmounted, I thought it would be creepy.

Whitetail shoulder mount, Jared Delaite, Delaite's Taxidermy

NOT my deer. This is a shoulder mount. Photo courtesy of Jared Delaite, taxidermist.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the bear. I was debating between a shoulder mount and a rug with the head left on. After talking with Jared and Steve I decided on the rug. No ruffle on the felt. I can’t have the ruffle. Ruffles remind me of clowns, clowns are evil and creepy, and a bear clown in my living room would give me nightmares. Poor Jared. He laughed. We were ready to leave.

raccoon mount, Delaite Taxidermy, Jared Delaite

One of the raccoon mounts at Delaite’s Taxidermy. Look at the blue ribbons!

Ready to leave but Steve had a request. He asked Jared to look at the deer head to be sure everything was all set. Jared slipped the black trash bag off the head. The look on his face said it all. I gasped, covered my face with my head, and couldn’t speak. If I’d spoken I’d have cried. Steve turned away.

The hide was cut before the end of the neck. There wasn’t enough to do a shoulder mount. Jared felt terrible. I squeaked out “It’s too short. Even I know that.” I fought tears. My first deer is a 188 pound, eight point buck (around 218 pounds live weight) with bark and moss on his antlers, and it couldn’t be mounted the way it was.

“That’s where you shot it,” Jared asked, touching a hole in the neck.

“No. No, that’s not where I shot it. I didn’t touch the neck. I hit it behind the shoulder. That’s not where I shot it.” I looked at the hole in the neck, below an ear. It’s not just a hole, it’s a three-corner slice. I have no idea what in hell happened. I was specific. Shoulder mount. And there was a big three-corner hole made by two slices of a knife in the neck.

Most of my friends are learning about this as they read. I’ve told a few people in writing. I couldn’t speak about it. If you know me and noticed I was in a lousy mood this week, you now know why.

I take this very seriously. Hunting is not a hobby or sport to me. This is food on the table and reverence and gratitude for the animal. Through taxidermy this deer is supposed to be on my wall as a reminder of the seriousness of what I do, of the beautiful animal, and to never stop being grateful. It’s a reminder of the story of my first deer.

European mount, moose, Jared Delaite, Delaite's Taxidermy

If I ever get a moose permit I’m going to have a European mount.

It took a couple of minutes for the feeling of being punched in the gut to fade.

Make the best of a bad situation. I like European mounts. If I ever get a moose permit I’ll have a European mount. That would work. Taxidermy

Okay. It will be okay. I couldn’t have my shoulder mount but a European mount would be good. I could be happy. We talked a few minutes. My buck field dressed at 188 pounds. Jared has a cape from a 182 pound buck. Oh. Oh! OH! The six pound difference is workable. He’ll use that cape. Everything will be fine thanks to Jared.

When Jared works his magic the hole in the neck and missing cape will be another memory of my first deer. I’ll have my shoulder mount. It won’t be entirely my deer but I’ll have my shoulder mount.

I am extremely grateful to Jared for saving my mount. I’ll bring them home some time next summer and I will bombard you with lots of photos. I’ll have lots of photos of Kenny Jipson’s eight point buck he shot a few days after I got mine. He took it to Delaite’s Taxidermy for a shoulder mount, too!

I haven’t spoken with the butcher. I’ve thought about it and decided against it. I don’t want to melt down on him, and honestly, he’s not worth my energy. He knows about hole in the neck and chose to not tell me face to face. He carried it to the Jeep while we talked. There was ample time to tell me. It’s been nearly a week and he has not contacted me. If he’d been honest and told me he didn’t know how to cut the cape I’d have taken the deer elsewhere to be skinned and brought the carcass back for butchering. There’s nothing he can say or do to make it right. And that’s that.

Field Gordon Setter – The Bird Dog for You?

Field Gordon Setter

Our Field Gordon Setter, Tori, is getting older. She comes from great hunting and field trial championship bloodlines and has the best natural point and retrieval skills we’ve ever seen in a hunting dog. She’s a natural in the field and LOVES the hunt. She’s also an amazing pet and a loving part of our family. She’s a bit spoiled and has NO idea she isn’t lap dog size anymore. Just try stopping her from coming and curling up in your lap…sprawling out all over you…totally blocking the view to the T.V. with her big fuzzy ears. Sleeping in our bed right up against us, pushing us out of her way if we don’t make enough room for her. Yep, just a bit spoiled. We thought we may want to continue her line, but it was a big decision to be made after weighing all the facts.

Field Gordon Setter, bird dog


We decided last fall to add a male pup to our family when we happened to stumble on a Field Gordon Setter breeder with a litter ready to go. We weren’t even looking but couldn’t believe our luck when an acquaintance told us of the breeder. Upon further research, we found that his line closely matched Tori’s, including the well-known champions in her background. There was enough distance between them that we knew we could safely breed her if we chose to go that route. If not, we knew the male we chose would be excellent in the field and would be a perfect addition to our household. We went to visit the breeder and see his pups. Gunner stood out to me right away with his adorable personality and sharp nose. I watched his nose in the air, quivering, sensing everything around him in the woods while we walked through trails with the litter in tow. We brought him home that day and knew he was the perfect choice from Day 1. Within a few weeks, we had him solid on point, following scent trails without deviation, coming on command, staying right at our feet, pointing and flushing partridge and woodcock in the middle of the woods.

Field Gordon Setter puppy

On point!

Field Gordon Setter


We welcomed a litter of eight Field Gordon Setter puppies on October 8, 2014. One male and two females were chosen for new homes a few weeks before they were ready to leave the kennel. We’ve all had a blast with the puppies, and they are being very well socialized by our children and grand-children. One little boy stands out in the crowd and continues to amaze us daily, recently being the first to learn how to scale the fence and escape the pen. He’s decided he’s a big boy and much too special to stay locked up away from the couches and hearth, so he has gained pretty much full run of the house.

Field Gordon Setter

Gunner and Tori

He’s the spitting image of Gunner! All black and tan. He’s really sweet. He has a name, because when he was a few days old, Tori laid on him and smothered him. We took him out and laid him on the bed, not breathing at all. We were sad to have lost one. We were cleaning up the pen, and I just happened to glance over at him and saw him make a little gasp. Then nothing again. I picked him up and started rubbing his chest. His tongue was still just hanging out, mouth wide open, and he was limp, but I felt his heart beating. Dennis picked him up and gave him mouth-to-mouth. Yes, he did. He breathed little shallow breaths into his mouth, and he took several breaths. We took turns breathing and rubbing his chest and back to stimulate him, and at about ten minutes, he started taking steady shallow breaths. It took a while of holding and working with him, but an hour after we found him, we had him to Tori’s belly, and he was starting to try to eat again. I ended up spending another hour or so trying to warm him up and get him eating, and I finally decided he’d either keep trying and stay close to her and survive or he wouldn’t. We had done all we could to revive him. Now, he’s eating like a champ and is rolly polly playful! You’d never imagine he was brought back from death! So, I named him Boomerang.

Field Gordon Setter, bird dog,

Field Gordon Setter

He is a special boy, and we want him to have a special home. He reminds me so much of Gunner, I was already somewhat drawn to him in the beginning, but even more so now! The setters are extremely intelligent and have sharp instincts. I’ve heard they house train themselves, and we already have them litter box training to a box of wood pellets. They’re doing great with that! When we brought Gunner home at 9 weeks, he was the first puppy I ever owned who never had an accidents in the house! I was amazed. They’re smart and have fantastic, loving personalities. They run like lightening, but they run to chase balls and such, not to wander away from home. A back yard or park is great for them, but they are definitely bred for hunting in the field and love being in the woods.

If you’d like more info on adding a Field Gordon Setter to your family, please feel free to contact us Thunderwing Kennel on Facebook.

Thunderwing Kennel

Thunderwing Kennel

Boston Baked Bean Pot, baked bean recipe

Baked Beans Recipe – Saturday Night Tradition

Baked Beans

Baked beans are a Saturday night tradition. Usually served with brown bread or yeast rolls, it’s a hardy, filling, high protein meal that’s satisfying.

A two pound bag of beans is more than enough for the two of us but I use the entire bag anyway. What we don’t eat never goes to waste. It’s a great high protein and carbohydrate treat for the chickens before sunset on particularly cold nights. And, they freeze fairly well.

This Baked Beans Recipe can be downloaded as a pdf, sent to the printer and picked up on your way to the kitchen.

baked bean recipe, bean pot

Parboiled and ready to go into the pot

Baked Beans Recipe

2 pounds of dry beans. We prefer Yellow Eye. Use your favorite.
1/2 pound salt pork, slab bacon or partridge breast
1 cup molasses or real maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1 T dry mustard
2-3 cups boiling water
1 medium onion, chopped (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Soak the beans in cold water overnight. Cover them with at least two inches of water. They will absorb the water and swell so be sure the pan is large enough to hold them.

Next morning, pick out any beans and skins floating, then parboil until the skins crack. It takes longer than you probably expect. Don’t be alarmed if it takes an hour. If it takes much longer than an hour the beans are probably old and won’t be good.

salt pork, baked beans, recipe

Score the salt pork

Chop the onion and score the salt pork while the beans parboil. If you’re using bacon you can cut the slices in half. Mix the remaining ingredients in the boiling water.

baked bean recipeDrain the beans, mix in the onion and place in the bean pot*. Pour the water over the beans. Add the scored salt pork or bacon to the top of the beans. If you’re using them, don’t add the partridge breasts yet. If the water doesn’t cover everything you’ll need to add more. Be sure it’s boiling so you don’t crack the bean pot. Place the cover on the bean pot.

Bake at 300* for six hours. Check on the beans after the first two hours. If needed, add more water. Check again in two hours.

baked bean recipeBaked Beans Recipe

Boston Baked Bean Pot, baked bean recipeBrain cramp – I forgot to take pictures of the finished beans. I’ll add one next time I make baked beans.

*If you’re using partridge breast you’ll add it for the last hour of baking.

Ten Reasons to Have a Real Christmas Tree

Ten Reasons to Have a Real Christmas Tree

A real Christmas tree is a thing of beauty even when it’s not quite perfect. I can think of a lot of reasons to have a real tree but I’ll limit myself today to ten.

10 reasons to have a real Christmas tree

Taylor with one of our Christmas trees

  1. Real Christmas trees grown by North American tree farmers employ local people. Eighty-five percent of artificial trees are “Made in China.” We employ American and Canadian workers when we buy a real, live tree.
  2. Real trees clean the air we breath. An acre of Christmas trees cleans enough air for 18 people to breath easily every day by absorbing carbon dioxide. The production of artificial trees pollutes the air we breath.
  3. Real trees are 100% natural and biodegradable. Many communities chip their trees for mulch.
  4. Artificial trees are made of non-degradable materials that add more to landfills.
  5. Some livestock eat the boughs of real Christmas trees when we’re done with them. (Be sure they haven’t been sprayed with artificial colorant.) Do you know someone with goats? They’d probably like to have your tree.
  6. Sinking our tree in the pond creates breeding ground for the bait fish.
  7. Real trees are PVC and lead free. Artificial trees can contain both. We work to protect our children from lead yet bring it into the home with our tree.
  8. Real trees are carbon neutral. As they decompose they add back to the soil. Artificial trees contain plastic, a petroleum byproduct. They add pollution to the soil.
  9. Real trees provide wildlife habitat while they grow and again after they’ve been used. We have plenty of room to pile our trees (one indoors, two or three outdoors) in the woods to create a place for snowshoe hares and other critters to live.
  10. There’s a story to choosing a tree each year. It might be as simple as time spent together when driving to a lot or as detailed as a little girl’s Charlie Brown tree.

Why do you have a real tree?

This entry may be reblogged at no charge (a link to my blog must be left in place) by contacting me for permission, photo and text.


Shooting Squirrels

Red squirrels. They’ve always been pests. They tear into feed bags, shred insulation, move into the attic during the winter, use the attic as a restroom, chew up bird feeders, distract the dogs, and poop on everything the crawl on. One particularly brave red squirrel carries apples to the top of the woodpile on the back porch. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Just an apple, right? It is bad. He steals the apples from the bushel baskets that are waiting to come into the house. The wood pile is tarped on rainy or snowy days to help the wood stay dry. There’s nothing like reaching for the tarp and grabbing squirrel urine or poop. Tiny but gees, it’s poop and pee and that’s gross.

Red squirrel, squirrel in the attic, shooting squirrels, squirrel hunting

One of many red squirrels that have decided to live in our house

The squirrels are out of control this year. I knew we had five hanging out here. I didn’t know there are a dozen. Squirrel Olympics 2014 began Monday morning. They had a massive opening ceremony. Red squirrels are small but they make a lot of noise when there are a lot of them. They found their way into the attic. That’s not difficult. We live in a 100+ year old farmhouse. The squirrels chewed a hole in the wall to get in. WHAT possesses a squirrel to think there’s something indoors they must see, have, explore or poop on? Anyway. They’re in.

Ava started racing through the house on Tuesday morning. She was the herding coach for the Olympics. Enough already. Drastic measures were needed.

Steve bought a .177 caliber airgun a couple of weeks ago because of the squirrels. I couldn’t bring myself to use it but with all of the chaos and filth coming together, it was time. It didn’t go well in the beginning. I pumped it up 10 or 11 times until it felt firm and shot at the first squirrel. It dropped to the porch and chattered at me. I missed. Ten feet from my target and I missed? The pellet landed an inch to the right of his head. After a self-taught lesson in siting in an airgun I connected on the next shot. Or I thought I hit him. Again, the squirrel landed on the porch. This time he shook it off and glared at me. What? I hit him. I thought I hit him. Didn’t I hit him?

Alrighty then. I turned my attention to another squirrel. It inched up the woodpile, chattering at me like I was hunting (they sound like elephants in the woods when you’re listening for deer while hunting), reached the top of the pile and turned its back to me in favor of an apple. The squirrel fell over, jumped up and ran off.


Right. Got it. I wasn’t pumping enough air into the system. I pumped until the gun wouldn’t take anymore air, aimed at the one of three squirrels sitting back to, and killed it. I waited patiently for the squirrels to sit back to, hit them in the back of the head, and killed them instantly. Just as I didn’t waste anything on the deer, I wasted nothing on the squirrels.

No, we didn’t eat them. I fed them to the crows. The pellet doesn’t embed in the skull so the crows aren’t being lead poisoned.

I feel a little bad about killing the squirrels. Ava has chased them for months. I’ve thrown whatever was in my hand at the moment at them (fyi, they are not afraid of zucchini), knocked on the windows, and even sprayed them with the hose. I stopped filling the bird feeders when the bears came out of hibernation. The squirrels didn’t go away. I don’t relocate wildlife.

I know. Some of you would like to ping me with a pellet from an airgun about now for killing the squirrels. Or maybe just throw zucchini at me. If you’d like to come get the remaining squirrels you are most welcome to them. They can be your problem.

Two of the squirrels I pinged yesterday are fast learners. They disappeared when I walked past the window this morning and haven’t come back (yet). Others haven’t learned but the airgun won’t fire. I have no idea why. I’ll figure it out later. Right now I have work to do and squirrels to ignore as they run through the attic.

[NeighborWoods] Crab Apples

[NeighborWoods] Crab Apples

([NeighborWoods] Instructions are here.)

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

[NeighborWoods], neighborwoods, crab apple

Welcome to the NeighborWoods! Wild crab apples