What happens when the bobcat comes back?

What happens when the bobcat comes back?

bobcat comes backWhat happens when the bobcat comes back? All photos are from the game camera.

Part One  bobcat comes back

Part Two  bobcat comes back

We hadn’t been to the game camera to look for bobcat pictures in a week. The melting and compacting snow made it easier for the bobcat to move, and I’d stopped feeding him. The last visit to the site was on March 10 when he walked through. Parts of the carcasses were left beneath the snow but he wasn’t interested in them. He could hunt again. I saw him (I think it was him…) when I was out for a run on the afternoon of March 10 as he walked the tree line of a field three-quarters of a mile up the road.

On Saturday morning, March 21, Steve and I snowshoed out to the site. I got excited when we reached the short trail to the skidder road and saw his tracks. He’s a creature of habit. When he comes in from the east he always,always walks in the same way, between two young maples and around a small balsam. There isn’t a snowmobile trail in the deep, fresh snow for him to follow this time. He walked four feet to the left of the snow-covered trail to stay at the edge of the trees. Steve cut through the woods to get to the site and I stayed with the tracks. I’m driven by curiosity – where did he go? What did he see when he stopped and turned a full circle? What did he do? What was there first, the cat or the ermine that left tracks behind? I followed his tracks to the site.

bobcat comes back

He hovers over the carcass with energy and enthusiasm now.

I’m not excited that he’s back. I wish conditions were better for the wildlife. I’m excited that he’s still alive and healthy.

The camera reads 6* higher than the real temperature and is one hour behind because I didn’t reset it with the time change. It’s slow to wake up when it’s below 20*. He did a lot of digging that first day back. You can see how far away from the coppice he buried pieces of the carcasses. He’s sometimes so careful of those buried pieces that he keeps a paw lifted over them rather than standing on them.

The hares and partridge disappeared when the bobcat first arrived. They came back when he hadn’t been here for a day or so, and now that he’s back, they’re gone again. There are no new tracks.  bobcat comes back

bobcat comes backThree and occasionally four crows are at the site to clean up bits and pieces left behind as the snow melts. They hadn’t been there after it snowed on March 11 or 12 but returned after the cat dug down to get to the carcasses. Note the time on the camera in the picture above and on the one below.  bobcat comes back

bdn 4

The bobcat hasn’t been in my yard, which means he hasn’t been near the hen house, since the day he found the first beaver carcass. He’s gone from a desperate cat that clawed through a soft board to get to my birds and walked on the roof of the hen house in search of a way in to staying away. This is his territory. He lives here. He’s here off an on throughout the year but we don’t see him because he doesn’t need our poultry to stay alive – until we have winters like this one. I’m going to leave one of the game cameras on the trail he uses most often to get an idea of how often he’s here when he’s not coming to the site. I’m not feeding him now. He’s in good enough condition to get through the rest of winter (30″ of snow on the ground today, 4*, -16* windchill, it’s not spring) without help. He’ll probably keep digging to get to what’s left of the carcasses but with the snow compacting with all this wind he’ll be able to hunt and sustain himself. It’s been a great privilege to watch him.

bobcat comes backWhy do this? Why feed a predator? Good questions. We’ve killed two bobcats attacking our poultry in past years. One was a long time ago, the other last winter. Both were starving. “They’re just trying to survive,” someone said to me. And he’s right. Feeding them didn’t occur to me. I thought, as most people I talk to about this think, that feeding a bobcat will make it dependent upon this food. That’s incorrect. If they wanted to be here in my yard after easy meals they would be here year round. I raise chickens, ducks and turkeys for meat and eggs and they’re outside, sometimes not even in pens. We have a working farm dog that stays with them but she’s really no match for a full grown bobcat. The cats are here only when they’re desperate, when they’re just trying to survive.  bobcat comes back

bobcat comes backHunters and anglers are deeply involved in conservation. We pay for our hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and spend hundreds of hours a year in the woods doing unpaid work. We pay for the seeds, the tractor and diesel and other fertilizers for our food plots and then spend hours working the ground, spreading the seed, watering and mowing to provide quality food for the wildlife we will never harvest. We don’t kill animals for the sake of killing. It wasn’t hunting season and someone suggested I give feeding him a try. It worked out well for the cat, my birds and yes, for me. I’ve learned a lot.  bobcat comes back

 bobcat comes back

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin, Erin and Michelle often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Come cook with all of us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

Making sourdough starter is simple but then what do you do with it? You can use the starter as soon as it bubbles but it will lack sourdough flavor. I like to let my new starter develop for five to seven days before using. Use what you have! This is a favorite whole wheat sourdough bread recipe. whole wheat sourdough bread recipe

Whole wheat sourdough bread recipe

Whole wheat sourdough bread recipe – it takes time but it’s worth it!

Whole wheat sourdough bread recipe.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe - Honest Kitchen
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 2 loaves
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups whole wheat sourdough starter
  • 2 cups room temperature water
  • ⅓ cup honey or molasses
  • 2 large chicken or one duck egg
  • 6 tablespoons butter, very soft but not melted
  • 6 cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour for kneading
Instructions
  1. Standard sourdough practice - start your bread in the evening if you're going to bake it in the morning.
  2. Mix the sourdough starter, water and 3 cups of flour. This is your sponge. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel and let it sit in a cool spot.
  3. In the morning:
  4. Stir the sponge then add the egg(s) and honey or molasses.
  5. Mix in the butter, salt and a cup of flour. Sprinkle some of the ½ cup of flour on the counter, remove the dough from the bowl and knead in a little flour at a time. Use your hands! Get a feel for the dough. With experience you'll learn where your dough is in the process by its feel. As you get close to using the last half cup of flour the dough will still be sticky and will start to develop a stringy texture. This is gluten. The dough isn't going to be stiff.
  6. Cover the dough and set it aside to rise for two to four hours. Sourdough rises much slower than commercial yeast.
  7. When the dough doubles in size divide it into two and put it in lightly buttered or oiled bread pans. Set it aside again and give it two to three hours to rise again. This isn't a tall and "fluffy" bread. When the dough rises one inch above the pan it's ready to go into the oven.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375*. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Cool the bread in the bread pans for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans and cooling on a rack.
  9. If you want to keep the bread moist for a longer time you shouldn't slice into it until it's completely cool. Good luck with that. Who doesn't love warm bread with butter? You've made two loaves so you'll have one to slice into and one for later. You can compare to see how much difference it makes.

 

How to Keep Life Simple

A long time reader and online friend sent a message last week that said she missed the days when I wrote things that show who I am and what I think now and then. I write about me all the time – what I do, how I do it, what’s going on in my woods – but not so much about who I am. Here’s a glimpse of how I think.

Do you ever feel like there’s a big shift coming? Life is full of changes. Wouldn’t it be boring if everything stayed the same all the time.

keep life simple

Keep life simple.

I’ve re-adopted a new habit. “No, but thank you for thinking of me but I need to pass.” No’ing what my answer needs to be and being secure in why I’ve made the choice makes it easier to say. Saying no to some things has given me the time to say yes to others.

I’m going to keep this short and simple today and get back to “the book.” I will have the first draft of the book of short stories finished by March 31 with one exception. I’ll be fly fishing with friends in Grand Lake Stream and will include that story in the book. I said a year ago I wanted to be there this year – and I will.

Honest Kitchen

Have you noticed Honest Kitchen here the last two Wednesdays? I want this to be a “thing.” I hope a lot of you will join us by sharing your made-from-scratch recipes with us each Wednesday in Honest Kitchen.  We can always use a new idea. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, appetizer, dessert, preserves – whatever honest food you’re preparing is welcome.

What is honest food?

Please read to the end. I don’t want anyone to feel left out, like they’re not doing enough or have any other reason to not participate! Honest kitchen. Honest food.

honest food, how to make salt pork

Simple, unpretentious meals made from whole, minimally or personally processed foods. Homegrown and raised, hunted and gathered, wild harvested, locally sourced. Honest food doesn’t exploit people in its production. It takes time and a lot of effort to get to this point. There’s a sharp learning curve in gardening, raising animals, wild harvesting and hunting. Being able to turn to local farmers and backyard growers is a big help. Now and then I turn to a #10 can of tomato sauce from the store when I’ve used all I put up. We do the best we can and few of us are perfect when it comes to honest food.

What is Honest Kitchen?

Our honest kitchen is where we prepare our meals. We hope you’ll share your honest kitchen with us.

You can write your recipe out or use a plugin. Whatever you’re already doing is great!

Post your recipe first thing on Wednesday (I set mine to publish at 12:01 am when I’m on the ball). Come back here to post a link to your recipe in the comments. Click on the links others have shared, comment on their recipe and leave your link their comments. You’ll build links, meet new friends and gather new recipes.

Put this paragraph in the at the top of your entry, then you’re recipe.

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin, Erin and Michelle often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Come cook with all of us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

Living Seasonally

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write today until I read Yanic’s blog this morning. Living seasonally.

Living Seasonally

snow bank out window, living seasonally

An eight foot high snowbank is all I can see from my writing desk.

We’re pretty good about living seasonally. We’re always working to prepare for the next season or two but living in the season is fairly easy. In January I’m reading to go ice fishing as soon as the ice is ready, bake bread in the morning to take the chill out of the kitchen, and read, read, read. In March I’m still curled up by the fire, reading and writing, and looking forward to spring. Spring through autumn is the time to grow and put up the majority of our food and get the firewood split and stacked to dry. By August I’m looking forward to the cooler days and chilly nights of October that let me pad around the house in a wool socks and sweater in the morning and evening. Living in the moment and thinking ahead is what you do when you seldom step into a grocery store, call the oil company to deliver your means of heat

It’s difficult for me to live seasonally right now. I like to work at my writing desk in front of a dining room window. The bird feeders are usually a few feet from the wind. My fingers fly over the letters while I watch blue jays, chickadees, nuthatches, red polls and dark eyed juncos eat seeds. Not this winter. I can’t see anything but an eight foot high wall of snow on the other side of that window. Rather than watching the birds while I write I lose concentration and catch my mind wandering off to the woods where I’ll pick mushrooms or Spednic Lake where I’ll catch a few hundred smallmouth bass this year. I had to move so I could get my work done. I’m tucked away at the big desk in the corner, five feet from the side of the woodstove I’m still loading off and on all day. (The sides and back of the stove are not hot like the front and top.) By now I’m usually letting it go out mid-morning. By late afternoon there are just enough coals to catch two small pieces of birch afire. I enjoy the feeling that comes with the warming of a chilly house. It’s nice in the morning and again in the late afternoon when the fire catches as the sun goes down. We’re half way through March and the fire has died down only twice.

Little Miss Silkie isn’t into living seasonally either. She’s ready to hatch anything she can set on. If I could find a rock in all this snow she’d be happy to sit on it for however long it took to hatch. This box is meant for the ducks but she’s claimed it and she’s not sharing. The longer days have told her it’s time to hatch chicks. Three weeks from now, four weeks if I let her keep a duck egg, we’ll be dealing with melting snow, freezing nights, mud and no place to raise offspring. This isn’t the time for her to live in the season. I don’t think she’s going to get to raise offspring this year. I don’t need more chickens. living seasonally. living seasonally.

They say spring’s coming. I say “not soon.”

Chicken Marsala Recipe

Honest Kitchen

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin, Erin and Michelle often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Regardless – come cook with us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

Chicken Marsala Recipe

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare chicken. We raise our own chickens and occasionally have a large, older rooster that is a little tough. The wine and slow cooking break down the fibers and make it fork tender. This is great with domestic and wild turkey.

I used thighs and legs but Chicken Marsala usually calls for breast. I’m just not that fussy. ;)

chicken marsala, chicken marsala recipe, chicken marsala ingredients

Some of the ingredients for Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala Recipe
This Chicken Marsala recipe is a winner. It's simple, delicious and easily adaptable to serve more people and in cooking time. Great for wild game birds.
Author:
Cuisine: American
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 6
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs chicken
  • 1 cup strong chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp shallots, chopped
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz assorted mushrooms.
  • 1 tsp rubbed sage
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (I like pomace)
  • ½ cup Marsala wine
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Chicken Marsala is usually made with chicken breast. I used legs and thighs. I'm definitely a cook, not a chef!
  2. Saute shallots, mushrooms, sage and salt in half of the butter and olive oil until the water from the mushrooms evaporates. I used dehydrated Chanterelles I picked last summer for half of the mushrooms, and didn't rehydrate before sauteing. They rehydrated quickly. Remove from pan and set aside. You'll use this pan again.
  3. If you use breast meat, pound the meat to ¼" thick. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, dredge in flour and shake off excess flour.
  4. Heat the remaining half of the olive oil and butter (same pan) over medium-high heat and brown each side of the chicken. Remove chicken and set aside. Leaving the heat on medium-high, deglaze the pan with ¼ cup wine and enough chicken stock to cover the bottom. Simmer and scrape the bits from the pan for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the remaining Marsala, chicken stock and cream, return the chicken, mushrooms and shallots to the pan, and simmer until done. If you've used ¼" thick breast meat you'll need no more than 20 minutes now. For legs and thighs you'll need approximately 40 minutes. Adjust that time for the size of the pieces.
  6. Need to be more flexible? Place mushrooms and chives and the chicken in the slow cooker after sauteing and browning. After deglazing and simmering the bits from the pan, pour the liquid ingredients into the slow cooker. Put the cover on, turn it on low and you've got a couple of hours to do something else.

As usual, I forgot to take a picture of the plated meal… I’ll catch up next time I make this dish.

Goal Without a Plan

Goal Without a Plan

A goal without a plan is just a wish. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Or is it? Maybe you’re overthinking your plan. Maybe you’re making achieving your goal harder than it need be. Do you really need a plan?

I am without a plan this year. That’s unusual. I normally have the year’s to-do list set up on a page here and have crossed a few things off before the end of the previous year. Normally there’s an announcement of my word for the year. My word reflects a lot of my plans for the year. I do have a word. It’s book. That one word says a lot about my plan for 2015. It’s all I need to say to know what I’m going to do.

Normal is redefining itself these days. I’ve changed.

goal without a plan

Are you making life harder than it need be?

Disclaimer: I wouldn’t go into or go about business without a plan. A business goal without a plan is unstable. If that worked well there wouldn’t be so many people starting over and over and over again in business, or worse, completely failing. I have a plan for my writing. I know where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. The path changes from time to time to adjust for road blocks just as any business plan changes as it’s updated.

My goal: finish the first draft of the book of short stories. My plan: Butt in seat and write. Just do it. Just. Doooo. It.

My goal: Tear down, build up, clean up, throw out and conquer the messes. My plan: Butt out of seat and do it. Just. Do. It.

My goal: Pay off a rather large bill. My plan: quit the freelance gigs I have to chase down payment from and work for people who are honest, fair and respectful about pay. That’s all. Quit – so I can spend my time earning more money.

A goal without a plan is just a wish unless you’re wasting time planning when all you have to do is get up and do something. Are you overthinking your plans? I sure as heck was and it was wasting my time. Since I’ve stopped spending time planning and put that time to productive work I’ve accomplished a lot. What brings this on? I’ll be 51 soon. A lot changed the year I’ve spent being 50. I’m going to continue doing and not planning so I can reach my goals and have my wishes.

 

Do ermine eat moose? Why yes, yes they do!

I think the bobcat has been talking, telling the critters in the neighborhood that this is the go-to place for good food. Our sun porch is off the dining room. It’s enclosed but by no means tight. The porch shifts with the freezing and thawing of the ground and there’s a gap beneath the door that opens to the front yard. It’s easy for a small ermine, not much wider around than a field mouse, to squeeze in. ermineMovement through the window between the dining room and porch caught my eye.

I was delighted to see the ermine! As long as they stay away from my poultry they amuse the heck out of me. They are curious and want to get close up and personal. I sat on the ground behind bushes while hunting one November afternoon in 2013. An ermine rustled through the dead leaves, still mostly brown but turning white, and stopped near my feet. He stood, ducked, stood, slinked around, stood again, and checked me out. I wiggled my foot a little each time he looked ready to hop onto my boot. I’m sure they have needle sharp teeth and had no need to inspect them.

Back to the mice! They’re here to eat the bird seed I store on the porch. They dine on whatever spills to the floor when I’m filling the pitcher, and sometimes a few clever mice figure out they can climb the bag and gorge themselves on the fattest sunflower seeds. The ermine must be catching at least a few of them on the porch since it keeps coming back. I saw it first on Friday and the burger I put out on Saturday disappeared. Nothing during the storm on Sunday but it was back bright and early this Monday morning.

This winter I’ve fed the birds as usual, the bobcat, wild turkeys and now, of course, I’m feeding the ermine. He or she likes moose burger. No…it’s not going to become dependent on moose burger or turn into a moose killer. ;) I want it to come back to eat the mice and keep me amused.

 

 

Old Factory Candles, review

Old Factory Candles

I received a set of Old Factory Candles for review. My opinion wasn’t influenced in any way by receiving them for free.

Old Factory Candles

I’m usually not doubtful about a product when I first open the package but this time was different. I hadn’t read the description well and was not expecting such small candles. Shame on me for not paying better attention. I wasn’t sure this was going to work for me. One-half of my house is an open floor plan. That’s a lot of space to scent.

Old Factory Candles, reviews

I shouldn’t have been skeptical. These little candles are great! Yes, they’re small but the scent disperses very well without being overwhelming. I’m highly sensitive to smells but had no problem with Old Factory Candles. I kept one behind my laptop when I was working or beside me when in my rocking chair and enjoyed the aroma as well and the soft light. This is the first time I’ve burned soy candles so I wasn’t sure of what to think. They burn clean, never smoked. Old Factory Candles burn for 20 hours! Wicks are cotton so there’s no concern about lead.

The scents I tested were Candy Cane, Christmas Tree and Gingerbread. Each candle was true to its name, smelling exactly the way candles with those names should smell. It’s a very nice product. I won’t hesitate to buy them.

A strong point with me – they are handmade and Made in America.

 

Fantastic Simple Recipe for Venison Marinade with Lime

Honest Kitchen: Honest, whole food cooked from scratch. Simple, delicious and sometimes from the wild side. Robin, Erin and Michelle often prepare wild game, mushrooms, berries and other foods they harvest, grow or buy locally. Regardless – come cook with us. Copy this paragraph (please leave the links) into your blog and leave your link in comments each Wednesday so everyone can visit.

Venison Marinade Recipe

I never tire of eating venison. Every time I reach into the freezer for another package I go back to the day I sat in the stand with Taylor and harvested the deer. I don’t get tired of eating venison because I change recipes often. This is one of my favorite venison marinade recipes.

Venison marinade, lime, cooking with cast iron

Pan frying in cast iron

venison marinade, cooking venison

Venison, sweet potato and green beans

Fantastic Simple Recipe for Venison Marinade with Lime
Author:
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice (I prefer lime)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper (1/2 tsp if not fresh ground)
Instructions
  1. Mix together and marinate meat for no more than two hours. The acidity in the lime or lemon juice will help tenderize the meat. You don’t want it so “tender” it becomes mush. For this short time I leave it on the counter as long as the kitchen is cool. I wouldn’t do this in August. The meat should be room temperature when you start cooking.
  2. Strain all but ¼ to ⅓ cup of the marinade from the meat. Cook meat in a well-seasoned cast iron fry pan on medium to high heat. Remove the meat from the pan and allow it to finish cooking with residual heat. I used thin slices of eye of round for this dish. I wish it had been cut thicker but you use what you have, right?

 

 

Typical Monday Morning

Typical Monday Morning

It’s just a typical Monday morning. Shower, dry my bangs so I don’t have horns all day, pull it up into a bun, dress in favorite jeans and shirt, add a scarf because I’m chilly, and zap my cold coffee in the microwave a half dozen times before breakfast.

Feed and water the ducks and chickens, toss bird seed out for the wild birds, look out the window three times to see if the bobcat is hanging out in the yard (it hasn’t since the attack). Clean the ashes out of the woodstove, clean up dog puke, push puking dog out the door before he does it again, clean the cat’s litter box, feed the cat so he can use the fresh litter box, bring no longer puking dog in the house, and give Ava her epilepsy meds. Zap coffee in microwave one more time, take three sips and dump it down the drain. Old coffee is not good coffee even on a typical Monday morning.

Make a fresh pot of coffee and empty the returnable bottle bin. Take the bag of bottles to the shed and bring in an armload of firewood. Bottle drive, anyone? I hate taking bottles back. They give you a look for not having the big opaque plastic bags they use. They can’t see if there’s broken glass in the bag. Since the returnable containers are plastic, no, there isn’t any broken glass. “Did you have a bottle drive,” they ask. No…I just hate returning bottles. Anyway… typical Monday morning

Next I load the dish washer. While hand washing the big things I watch for the bobcat and think about Pretentious Bitch (we’ll just call her PB from now on) and how I will write her into my novel. Wouldn’t it be funny to send her on a three hour tour and have her land on Humble Island instead of with Gilligan, and leave her there for a while. A lonnnng while.

I get a clean mug and realize I forgot to turn the coffee maker on. Apparently I could use a couple of days on Dumbass Island. I warmed up quiche (coffee isn’t the only thing I use the microwave for but it is what’s in there most of the time) and ate breakfast while reading blogs. After breakfast I fool around with the antenna wire on the old radio so I might be able to pic up MPBN and listen to the classical show but as usual, the station won’t come in. I put a Vivaldi CD in to play. typical Monday morning

typical monday morning, oatmeal bread, pullman pan

Organic oatmeal bread rising in a Pullman pan.

I make a batch of oatmeal bread and put it in the Pullman loaf pan (not an affiliate link) to rise. I’ll have a chicken salad sandwich for lunch tomorrow. Homemade bread and homegrown chicken. I’ll use most of the leftover chicken for tonight’s soup. While kneading I think about the number of people who doubt what I’m doing with the bobcat (more on that later) and remind myself for the ninetieth time that their lack of knowledge doesn’t make me wrong. I catch myself kneading the ever living hell out of the bread and back off. Yes, I’m aggravated. What they think is about them, not me. What they think of me is none of my business until they make it my business, and on this topic they are making it my business. I remind myself that what I think is about me, not someone else most of the time. Back to the bread…it feels good to knead the loaf. The thoracic strain is improving. It’s the first time I’ve kneaded a loaf from start to finish since mid-December.

Finally. It’s 10:50 almost and I’m just now getting my head where it needs to be to work on the book of short stories. Today, I’m writing about the bobcat and thinking about how PB will survive on that island on her typical Monday morning.

Feeding the Very Hungry Bobcat

Part two of our bobcat issue. We are feeding a very hungry bobcat.

Feeding the Very Hungry Bobcat

living with a bobcat

Monday, February 23. -9*F. I put the beaver and game camera in the JetSled and followed our snowmobile trail into the woods. My first thought on where to place the carcass was a poor choice. It’s not as far from the hen house as I thought. I left the sled and snowshoed around to find a good spot. I needed a clearing, a set of tracks so I’d know where to set up the camera, and a place to leave the beaver that I can see from a distance. I wanted to be able to check the carcass using binoculars.

living with a bobcat, bobcat trail

The bobcat’s most used trail runs below the red line.

Set up was simple. The carcass is leaning against a maple coppice. There’s a game camera ten feet away. The bobcat came into the clearing from behind the tree I’ve attached the camera to.

beaver carcass against treeTuesday, February 24. -15F*. I didn’t note the windchill on these mornings. Knowing doesn’t make it easier. I couldn’t see any signs of the bobcat finding the carcass but there are tracks through my first choice for a site. The tracks leave there and walk directly to and around the hen house and into the pig shed. It looked like the cat tried to jump up to two of the windows.

Is it ever going to stop snowing? The best thing for the bobcat is a crust on the snow that is thick enough to support its weight as it runs so it can start hunting successfully again. This plan of mine does not include feeding this bobcat for long. There will eventually be crusty snow and without the food I’m providing the cat will move on. It won’t be so hungry that it’s desperate. This is a temporary boost.

Think about the number of times you see a bobcat when you’re in the woods. They’re not interested in being around people. The tractor is running while Steve moves snow, we’re riding snowmobiles, I’m snowshoeing daily and I have the dogs out several times a day. No bobcat wants to stick around here. It’s here because it’s struggling. Overall this doesn’t do much to help the wildlife but it makes a difference for this one cat.

“Just shoot it.” I’ve heard that a lot. I will if this doesn’t work. I think the hen house is bobcat proof now but I thought so until the cat got in. Crap happens. I don’t like to kill something I’m not going to eat and I’m not ready to try bobcat backstrap.

Wednesday morning. -3F*. My timing was poor. I looked 100 feet past the beaver in time to see the bobcat disappear into the alders. It’s exciting to see the cat but it’s also a little unnerving. I’m respectful of its power. I’m not going to approach it, corner it (which is impossible) or do anything stupid. There were claw and bite marks on the carcass. I left. There are no new tracks anywhere near the hen house.

hungry bobcat

The bobcat ate a lot more than I expected for a cat that weighs less than 30 pounds.

I was surprised by how much the bobcat ate in 24 hours. What you can see here is what’s left. It ate the entire inside of the carcass. There are several sets of tracks coming and going; the cat has been here many times. We found four spots where it crossed the road up to a half mile from here so it’s still hunting.

Friday. -13*F. It must have had a full belly. Nothing changed on the carcass in the previous 24 hours. There are no fresh tracks near the hen house.

Saturday morning. -19*F. The difference in the carcass was easy to see with binoculars so I went in. Part of the carcass has been moved but I can’t tell how much. Part of the head stuck out of the snow. There are fractured ribs showing but the cat hadn’t eaten much. There is one set of tracks in and out, and none near the hen house.

Sunday morning. -16*F. Nothing as far as I can tell.

Monday. 13*F. The bobcat was here Sunday afternoon.

hungry bobcat

hungry bobcat

The bobcat has not been back since Sunday afternoon. Wednesday’s forecast calls for warmer weather and heavy snow followed by very cold temps again. This should give the bobcat the surface it needs to stop breaking through. I expect the cat to visit the carcass until it’s gone. By then it shouldn’t be so hungry it risks coming into the backyard. We’ll see.

hungry bobcat

Another Hungry, Desperate Bobcat

I thought I was ready this time. I knew it was coming. A bobcat always finds its way to our backyard during February of a hard winter. We had our first snowstorm on November 2 and have seen little bare ground since then. The snow is between three and four feet deep depending on how much new snow we get and how much settling it does. Snowshoe hares and bobcats have a hard time staying near the surface even with their huge feet.

bobcat paw, living with a bobcat

A bobcat paw. NOT from the bobcat that killed my ducks.

Friday, February 20, I went out first thing in the morning to take warm water to the chickens and ducks. It was 5* and the wind blew. Inside the hen house, a duck tried to drag its barely attached leg across the floor. Did he go up to roost, as ducks sometimes do, and get his leg stuck? Odd. I did a head count by flashlight to be sure I could see all of the birds and came up short a chicken and a duck, not counting the wounded duck.

An end wall divides the hen house and old pig shed. The shed was attached to the hen house when it was built. The shed is empty except for a broken bale of hay and snow that blew in. Splattered blood marked a broken board between the two sections where a bobcat tore at the board to get into and out of the hen house. Blood and feathers littered the hay bedding. The cat worked hard to get in.

Steve put down the suffering duck, a drake, and set it aside for me to clean later. I showed it to our English Shepherd so she’d understand and took her around the hen house to look for tracks. She’s familiar with bobcats after last year’s attack. She followed tracks to the door of the pig shed, but I called her back in case the cat was still there. She followed more tracks through the soft, deep snow but she could barely move. I called her back again. She stood on a snowmobile trail and barked while I searched for the missing chicken , found a hammer, nails and board and made the repairs. She was still barking her when I went in for a much needed cup of coffee and to clean the duck. Later, I waded through the snow to get to the door of the pig shed. It looks as though the bobcat spent the night in there and left after the snow stopped falling, probably when I went to tend the poultry. Part of the missing hen duck’s wing stuck out of the snow and hay, buried for the later. I retrieved her and brought her to the house so the bobcat wouldn’t have another meal when it returned.

bobcat killed duck

I dug up the duck and took her away so the cat wouldn’t have another free meal.

There wasn’t any sign of the bobcat for the rest of the day.

Bobcats will kill several birds at a time, bury some for later, eat what it wants, and bury the carcasses.

bobcat buried duck in snow, living with a bobcat

The bobcat scratched snow and hay from around the duck to bury her.

Saturday morning. -14*F. The bobcat was back during the night. It tried so hard to get in that it scratched paint off the door. The ducks were a nervous wreck until they say it was me coming in. Bobcat tracks led out of and into the woods in two places and circled the hen house several times. We were busy enough outside on the tractor and snowmobiles to keep the cat at least out of sight for the day. Just after sunrise the missing chicken was waiting at the door to be let in. She was roughed up and a little bloody but will be just fine.

bobcat track in snow, living with a bobcat

Bobcat track.

Sunday morning. 8*F. I tended the poultry as soon as the first rooster crowed. There were new tracks from the woods and around the hen house but no new scratches at the door. Later in the morning, washing dishes, I glanced out the window. “Oh dammit!” There are bobcat tracks on the hen house roof I couldn’t see before sunrise. This is a first.

I started talking to people in the know about what I might do to convince the cat to move on. Hunting season is over. If I catch it in the act of harassing my poultry I can and will shoot it but we don’t want to go that route if it can be avoided. Before the bobcat broke into the hen house it seems to have hunted all of the partridge and snowshoe hares. There haven’t been signs of either for two weeks. The bobcat is hungry and having a hard time hunting in the deep snow. I’m ticked about my birds but feel bad for the cat.

Paul Laney, a Maine Guide from Grand Lake Stream, offered a beaver carcass. We’ve come up with a plan. If I feed the hungry bobcat away from the house it might stop trying to get my poultry. I can also have the bobcat live trapped and released elsewhere but I’m not comfortable with that. It’s already struggling to find food. Moving it to a new location doesn’t feel right because I have other options. I accept Paul’s offer and make arrangements to pick up the carcass Monday morning.

Monday morning, -9F. I talked with Brad Richard, our game warden, to find out how far from the house I needed to place the carcass and if I needed to label it as bait. Since I’m not baiting the cat for hunting purposes a label isn’t necessary. Brad will help me keep food available to the cat by bringing parts of road kill if he has one, and if this keeps it away from the house. And then I made the drive to Grand Lake Stream to pick up a rather bizarre looking beaver carcass.

beaver carcass, living with a bobcat

The beaver carcass.

Part two is here.

Greenbelly Meal Bar Review

Greenbelly Meal Bar

If you are a high energy, hard working person who needs high fat, protein and carbs to keep you going, Greenbelly Meal Bar is for you. A Greenbelly Meal Bar is almost like a Rice Crispy bar for grown ups.

Each serving (two large bars) is a third of your recommended daily protein, carbs, fiber, fat, sodium and calories. They are filling and they taste great. These aren’t a snack you should eat on the couch at night while watching television. The Cranberry Almond bar has 24 grams of fat with 7 grams of saturated fat, 790 mg of sodium (which sounds like a lot but when you’re hiking or otherwise working you need sodium), 17 grams of protein and 95 grams of carbs. Fiber makes up 9 grams of carbs and sugar another 42.

The ingredients are natural and tasty. I tried all three flavors – Cranberry Almond, Dark Chocolate Banana and Peanut Apricot – and liked all three a lot. They were great boosts before snowshoeing, running and hitting the rowing machine.

Greenbelly Meal Bar

Greenbelly Cranberry Almond Meal Bar

The Greenbelly Meal Bar is large but I’d still be willing to pack them in my backpack for camping and hunting while walking ridges or trudging through snow. You don’t need space for water or water purification items for an instant meal.

Cassani Fogless Shower Mirror Review

Cassani Fogless Shower Mirror

I received the Cassani Fogless Shower Mirror for free and agreed to use the product and write this review. My opinion is not influenced by receiving it for free. Cassani Fogless Shower Mirror 2 Steve has used the Cassani Fogless Shower Mirror more than I but I’m the one who put itup and who cleans the bathroom so you’re getting opinions from both of us.  The mirror comes with a stainless steel wall mount, a stainless steel razor mount and the shatter-proof, fogless shower mirror. It’s simple to install. Cassani Fogless Shower Mirror I was surprised by the size when the mirror arrived. It’s larger than previous shower mirrors we’ve had. It almost seemed too large. Once I stood in the shower and looked at it (admittedly before attaching it to the wall…) I realized it’s the right size to see your entire face at once. Cassani uses what they call Anti-Fog Nanotechnology, and it works. It’s very simple. It’s convenient to shave in the shower and avoid the messy sink, especially when you can see in the mirror so well. The mirror is easy to clean. You don’t need and shouldn’t use a bathroom or window cleaner. If necessary I spray it with the shower head and wipe it off. I wouldn’t mind taking this mirror camping. It’s shatter proof so I wouldn’t worry about it being a hazard in our backpacks. It’s lightweight and thin and wouldn’t take up much room. I like the mirror!

NaturaliDerm Organic Facial Moisturizer Review

NaturaliDerm Organic Facial Moisturizer

(I received a free full-size bottle of NaturaliDerm OrganicFacial Moisturizer to review. My review is honest and not influenced by receiving the moisturizer for free.)

I’ve been using NaturaliDerm Organic Facial Moisturizer for about a month. I typically never put anything on my face other than real soap that I make. The description sounded good enough to give it a try because the ingredients are all natural, and am I glad I did. I love it! Working close to the woodstove leaves my skin dry. NatraliDerm Organic Facial Moisturizer is light weight so within 30 seconds of applying it the moisturizer was absorbed and forgotten. It’s highly moisturizing and not at all greasy or oily. The scent is light, natural and pleasant which is very important to me because I’m sensitive to smells. It feels good on my skin. I watched closely for clogged pores or any signs of reaction since my skin is so fussy and not used to having anything on it – and nothing happened other than smoother, softer skin. One squeeze of the dispenser is all I need for my entire face including a second application to my dry spots. It really is very nice.

NaturaliDerm Organic Facial Moisturizer

NaturaliDerm Organic Facial Moisturizer

NaturaliDerm Organic Facial Moisturizer has aloe barbadensis to hydrate and restore skin moisture. Witch hazel tighten pores and really is working on my big pores. Shea and cocoa butters are providing protection from the frigid temperatures and wind we’ve been having this winter. My face isn’t as red and my skin doesn’t sting when I’m outside. D-Panthenol, which I had to look up, is vitamin B5. It promotes healing and is an anti-inflammatory. There aren’t any parabens, harsh preservatives, or any artificial fragrances or colors in NaturaliDerm Organic Facial Moisturizer. It’s unusual that I recommend anything like this but this is a big exception. It’s a great product that I’ll continue to use.

Winter Flowers in Black & White

Winter Flowers in Black & White

Evening primrose. Not the flower but the seed pods. In summer the flowers are light yellow.

winter flowersQueen Anne’s Lace, lacy and white in summer. It’s a member of the carrot family.

queen anne's lace, winter flowersGolden Rod. Not to be confused with ragweed. This probably isn’t the one that makes you sneeze. goldenrod, winter flowers

What a Hellacious Winter This has Been

Hellacious Winter

What a hellacious winter this has been. I had plans. I had PLANS, dammit. And then I fell down the stairs and broke myself. Not steps as in steps off the back porch (of which there is only one) but stairs. The entire flight of stairs. And everything changed. It has taken ten weeks to get back to almost normal. I’m still dealing with the torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder but on the positive side, it’s getting better thanks to my chiropractor. Another positive is the amount of time I’ve had to sit and contemplate people, places and things. I’ve learned that a couple of people I’ve met will sell their souls for a few dollars while others can’t be bought. I have places to go and things to do this year that I’ve never done before.

The snowshoe trail

A photo posted by Robin Follette (@robinsoutdoors) on

We’ve had a record-breaking amount of snow and cold this winter. Thinking I was going to be ahead of the game this year, I put up two extra cords of firewood. Ha! Joke’s on me. They aren’t extra, they’ll be burned. It’s been so cold for so long that we need extra wood to keep the house warm. Most days I work by the woodstove. We haven’t been above freezing for about six weeks, and then it was only twice, each time for about an hour. I seldom work at my desk in front of the window because I can’t see outside. On the positive side, we have two “extra” cords of wood and we are warm.

Being and feeling useless is humbling and hard. Until this morning it had been three months since I’d slung a 50 pound bag of food over my shoulder and carried it to the hen house. I had it open and was filling the hopper before I realized I had corn instead of layer pellets but what the heck, the birds were happy. I’ll try it again this afternoon and make sure I have pellets. I’ve been housebound when there’s ice or deep snow. On a positive note, thanks to Steve and Taylor, I was able to be housebound.

I haven’t stepped foot in the high tunnels since November. I haven’t started seeds for tunnel transplants. I haven’t seeded anything in there so there’s nothing growing. It’s too cold for anything to grow even now that the sun is high enough in the sky and the days are two hours longer than they were at Solstice. On a positive note, the seed starting medium has thawed and I’m starting seeds this afternoon. Better late than never. I plan to spend a few hours out there on Tuesday when it’s above freezing outdoors. If it’s sunny it will easily reach 70* indoors. I’ll start working on my tan!

In my time of contemplation about people, places and things I cut ties with a couple of publications that weren’t working for me anymore. I didn’t like letting one in particular go but when someone chooses to let their end of the deal drop you do what you have to do. On a good note, I’ve picked up two brand new publications that pay well and pay promptly.

There haven’t been many opportunities to be outdoors and collect material to write about because of my injuries and the weather. On the good side, I’ll meet my goal of finishing the first draft of the short stories by March 31.

There’s no down side to this one. I’m kicking off opening day of open water fishing by fly fishing in Grand Lake Stream with friends. More about that later!