Spring view

Spring view
A View From Our Deck

Monday, July 10, 2017

Band of Sisters

Sometimes living so close to nature is very exciting.  We don't have easy access to malls and the excitement the city brings, but we are able to take advantage of things I never knew about when I lived near a large metropolitan area.  Last week we learned that they were putting identification bands on some Osprey babies.  We decided to see what it was all about.  Unfortunately the banding was cancelled.  The process relies on Alliant energy and due to storms, the truck was busy with downed power lines.  It was rescheduled for today.  Our time was not wasted last week.  While at the park we did see the pair of Osprey nervously flying around the nest.  One had a fish in it's talons and was waiting for us to leave so it could feed its babies.  In fact, when one of the babies was being weighed, a fish bone fell out.  It was picked clean.

The city of Green Lake Wisconsin on Green Lake the deepest natural inland lake in Wisconsin.  Which name came first?

This morning we headed back to the City of Green Lake on the north side of Green Lake in Green Lake county.  There are several platforms installed in the vicinity of the lake for Osprey's to nest.  Ospreys travel north to nest and then migrate in the fall.  They winter far south even wintering out of the country in Central America.   Several years ago a pair of them built a nest on one of lights on the baseball diamond in the city.  After a few years, a new pole and platform was installed behind the diamond.   From that point, the birds have used the platform for their nests.

This is the original nesting spot on the ball diamond lights.

 A local group built a platform to fit on an old power and the power company lifted it all in place.

As we approached the baseball field, we could see the Alliant energy truck had arrived and was already in place.

A Biology professor from Ripon College was also there as was a well known wildlife artist who lives in the area.  The professor has banded hundreds of bluebirds and spent several years banding local Ospreys.  They band them in order to identify them if one is found dead or seen in an area and to track locations.  She teaches ornithology.  Tom Schultz is the artist who has illustrated several field guides to birds.  He started a Green Lake county bird and wildlife group and is on the committee of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas project. They know what they are doing, so it was fun to watch.

Several crew members from Alliant got into the lift bucket and raised themselves up to the level of the birds.

At this point they discovered there were three baby osprey.  No one knew how many birds were in the nest because there is no camera installed to view the nest.  They estimate the birds are six weeks old.

The crew member picked up each bird and carefully placed it in a plastic bin.  The wings of the birds are very fragile at this stage, and they have to be careful not to injure the bird.  Then they lowered the bucket and brought the baby birds over to be weighed and banded.

Since the birds can't fly yet they can be placed in a basket to be weighed.  All three were in the larger range so it was determined they were all females.  They weighed between 3.5 to almost 4 pounds.  Apparently male birds are lighter than that.


After they were weighed, they were banded.  The bands have to be put on with a pliers.  In the past they banded with a ring that didn't overlap, but the raptors have such strong beaks they could pry off the bands.  Now they have a band that can't be taken off.

Even baby birds have strong and sharp talons.

The band is on her left leg.  The bands have a number and contact information in case the bird is found.

Quickly returning the birds to their nest.

Up, up, up

It was an awesome experience to witness.  I hope next year we can bring our grandchildren to see the process.  It is something I won't forget.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Spiralize Your Fruits and Vegetables

A new trend the last few years is spiralizing.  Pinterest is full of recipes using spiralized vegetables.  All that means is that the vegetables are cut into long ribbons or strips.  People use them in place of pasta or to make salads.  Both my daughters have done this for quite a while, so I thought it was time for me.  The first one I bought was a hand held device where you twist the vegetables through a blade.  This worked but it was hard work, and it didn't give me the results I liked.  Recently I ordered a spiralizer from Ebay.  It was made to fit my Kitchen Aid mixer.

It looks like a complicated tool kit, but it's pretty easy to use.

The first thing to do is attach the attachment to the front of the mixer.  Then choose the blade.  There are four to choose from.  Each blade has a different function depending on what you are making.  Some of these photos are from my daughters house.  She showed me how to make them before I actually purchased my own.

The recipe I'm making uses sweet potato and zucchini.

Just push the vegetable onto the attachment.  You can choose to peel the vegetable or not.  Zucchini cooks just fine without peeling.  Squash would need to be peeled.  The ends need to be flat and the piece can't be more than 3 or 4 inches long.  Turn on the mixer and the blade cuts the ribbons of veggies.

After you get to the end of the vegetable, all that is left is a small core.  They are small and about the size of a pencil.  It is a little wasteful, but I just eat the little piece that's left.

There is also a peeler and corer blade that comes with the kit.  It works the same way except it peels, cores and slices at the same time.  It works great for apples and pears.  The slices are nice and thin for apple recipes.

Tonight I made a recommended recipe which my daughter and son in law like.  Our grandson Ewan isn't as crazy about it, but he is polite and eats a small portion.  It has peanut butter in it, and I'm not sure if he likes peanut butter.  My dad used to like peanuts, but not peanut butter.  Maybe he inherited that trait.  The recipe is for Pad Thai made with zoodles (name for spiralized vegetables), and it came from this blog.   http://chelsealeblancrdn.com/sweet-potato-zoodle-pad-thai/

Pinterest has several Pad Thai recipes but this looked very easy.  I added chicken to the recipe, and it made it a little dry.   As you can see from the recipe, there isn't much liquid.  I think I would add a little more water to make it more saucy especially if chicken or other ingredients are added.

Sweet Potato Zoodle Pad Thai
  • 2 heaping Tbsp peanut butter
  • ¼ tsp rice wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 heaping Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 zucchini
  • chopped basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp chopped peanuts
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sriracha sauce, salt, pepper and water.
  2. Spiralize 1 sweet potato and zucchini.
  3. On medium high heat, heat olive oil in a large saute pan and add your spiralized veggies. (You may need to cook the sweet potato in two saute pans)
  4. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes or until noodles are cooked and golden brown.
  5. Toss in the sauce and serve with basil and peanuts.
I know that the last thing all of us need (especially me) is another gadget, but this one is worth it to me.  Using spiralized vegetables is much lower in carbs and calories plus it makes an interesting texture for a change of pace.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Discovery of More Storm Damage

Every other week during the summer we watch our daughter's two boys. They are old enough to stay alone, but it's a good chance to separate them from their sister and a chance to spend time with them. Today while Sam and Papa left on a mission, Jack (9 years old in 3 days) and I went for a walk to the river. We wanted to see how high it was after all the rain. There is an access point down the road from us. As we approached the path, we saw a downed tree ahead.

It had fallen across the path, but we were able to get over it.  Jack thought it might a little hard for me because I was a senior citizen.  I managed without too much difficulty. 

Once we got across, we saw another tree down.  This one I walked around instead of going over.

Usually from this point you can see the river but not this time.  As we looked ahead, all we could see was tree upon tree.  There was no way we could go any further.  


This must have happened during the storm two weeks ago.  I wrote this blog about that scary day.  http://www.thecabincountess.com/2017/06/a-severe-june-thunderstorm.html

I knew it was bad, but not this bad.  It could easily have taken out our woods or even our house.  Jack was disappointed that we couldn't reach the river.  I told him we would go to another place next time and maybe do some fishing.  As we were walking home, we met the homeowner across the road from the path.  He was getting his mail.  He lost many many trees on his property.  He told me he was in his workshop when the storm hit and that suddenly all the air was sucked out of his workshop and actually lifted him off the ground.  He thought he was going to die.  He thinks it was a tornado although it was never declared as such.  I hope that doesn't happen again.

When we got home,  Jack and I took the metal detector.  He wanted to search for treasure in the woods.  That didn't work out either.  By the time we finished, Sam and Papa had returned.  We finally got rid of our old heavy 32 inch television.  It still worked perfectly, but it was time to join the modern world.  We found a place to take the television for a small fee.  

Today was a day to be thankful.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Agility Is Lost With Old Age

Some say getting old is not for the faint of heart.  Truer words were never spoken.  Stuff happens as the famous bumper sticker reminds us.  Some things are very very serious and a lot of people have a lot to contend with.  After spending the past three days moving furniture out of three rooms and finding a place for it, we went out for supper.  At the restaurant I saw a man in a wheelchair struggling with his ketchup.  His right arm didn't work, and he had to do everything with his left hand.  We weren't sure if we should offer a helping hand, but we also know people are very proud and he probably wouldn't want the help.  Later as he was leaving, he managed to put his own wheelchair into his van.  Yes, he drove.  I'm not sure how, but he did.  My husband offered to help load his wheelchair but he declined.

Lately we have had stuff happen, but all of our own makings.  Sometimes we forget that we aren't as agile as we once were, and we really don't have any reason to be in such a hurry.  We are retired, if it doesn't get done today then that's too bad.  Rushing and being in too much of a hurry usually causes problems.

It all started with my husband Mike.  This Spring he was cleaning out a Martin house we have.  We don't get Purple Martins but several other birds like it.  It is on a pole that is telescopic.  He had our grandson's with him.  They lowered the first section and were working on lowering it further.  A bolt that secured the pole snapped as he was trying to loosen it.  The section came crashing down and the bird house hit Mike in the head.  He was fine, but it looked terrible.

Next it was my turn.  Most of you who read this blog know that one of my pastimes is watching the birds and wildlife.  Whenever I get a glimpse of something out in our marsh, I run for the binoculars to get a better look.  If it is worthy, I get the camera.  Well, one day I heard a whooping crane.  I was so excited, I grabbed the binoculars to look out the patio door window.  My first mistake was that I forgot to take off my glasses and my second mistake was that I got too close to the window.  I hit the window so hard with the binoculars, I jammed my glasses into my face.  I saw the crane and ran out for a photo just as it was flying over.  I forgot all about jamming the glasses.  A couple days later while I was brushing my teeth, I noticed a black eye.  I don't look in the mirror much so it took that long to discover it.

Next it was Mike's turn again.  He has a new project going on with our son in law.  They had purchased a piece of equipment, and Mike offered to unload it.  He had to unload a very heavy motor but is usually very good at using simple machines like levers, fulcrums and gravity to do the work.  He had a hand cart and was using a pry bar to ease the motor onto the cart.  He was rushing and didn't have the bar secured.  It slipped and hit him right below the eye.  He was lucky it was closer to his cheek bone than his eye, but again it looked very sore.  People stared at him and then me.  I guess they thought I had a mean left cross.

Ok, enough is enough.  We have to be more careful.  Pretty soon we will be reported for elder abuse on each other.  But no, it wasn't enough.  This morning I got up early and went out to do my usual chores.  I always bring fresh jelly out to the birds.  I fill up the other birdfeeders and check out my plants.  I went to the garage to put away the birdseed containers.  I had jelly on my hand and I didn't want to get the door knob sticky.  Somehow I slammed the door hard rather than turn the knob.  The trouble is I didn't get my hand out of the way.  I caught finger in the door.  At first I thought it was cut but then I saw the finger nail.  It had already turned purple and hurt so bad.  I ran into the house and put it in ice cold water.  It didn't help.  It was throbbing like crazy.  I put some lavender oil on it and jumped up and down.  I was feeling a little woozy so I laid down for a minute.  Mike didn't hear a thing.  It still hurts and I will definitely lose my finger nail.  It is bruised too.  This is not turquoise nail polish, it is the color of my nail.

Soon it will be July.  Hopefully we will not have anymore incidents.  I think we have to admit that we aren't teenagers anymore and even though we feel young, we are not.  Time to be more mindful of our surroundings and abilities.  It's a bitter pill to swallow but facts are facts. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Severe June Thunderstorm

Yesterday was an exciting and scary day.  I always write about our Wisconsin snowstorms, but I don't usually write about thunderstorms.  It started out as a normal day.  We did have a rain storm a few days ago as a result of unseasonable 90 degree temperatures, but yesterday was nice.  The temperatures were in the upper 70's.  The weather forecast mentioned a chance of thunderstorms, but we didn't take them too seriously.  Our television stations are from Green Bay, Wisconsin which is two hours away from us.  Even though we are in their viewing area, the weather is usually very different from what they predict.  At 1:00pm my husband headed down to the Senior Center to play Sheepshead.  He plays cards on Wednesdays.  I always take that time in the afternoon to do a project.  It isn't that he stands in my way, but I always get more done when he is gone.   I decided to clean my wood floors.  I was moving furniture and working away, when suddenly it started to sprinkle.  Then within seconds a huge wall of rain came through with high winds.  It got very dark.  There weren't any tornado sirens, but I went downstairs just in case.  It sounded like a low tone constant thunder sound.  We are surrounded by big trees and I thought if one blows down, it will come right through the roof.   I texted my daughters to warn them of the storm coming.  It was moving East, and we were getting it first.   I learned my granddaughter had taken her brothers for ice cream in a neighboring town.  Fortunately she saw the weather was taking a turn and got back just as the bad weather hit.  She hasn't had her license that long, and I worried about her driving in torrential rains. We were very lucky and didn't have any damage, so I relaxed.  I checked the rain gauge, and we got 1 1/4 inch in a very short period of time.

When my husband returned home, he said there were trees down all over town.  Being the old people we are, we went for a ride.  One of our neighbors had a tree down and a half mile down the road many trees were down and uprooted.  

This large tree is down in our neighbors yard.

This big tree was pulled right out of the ground.

This tree barely missed this house.  A small part of the porch was taken out.

I think you get the idea.  A lot of cleanup is going to happen during the next few days.  We aren't alone.  The entire northeast part of Wisconsin has similar stories.  Fortunately I haven't heard of any injuries or deaths.  Property can be repaired and replaced but people can't.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Wisconsin's State Bird

Anyone who lives in our part of the world, which is Wisconsin USA, has had experiences with the robin.  They are a very common bird, and they don't use very good sense when they are building their nests.  Most of us have had a robin nest almost everywhere.  They put them on outside lights, ledges, on eavetroughs, in trees and my latest experience in a hanging flower pot.  I hadn't even noticed her building the nest until I took the plant down to water it.  Lo and behold, there was a perfect nest with one oddly shaped egg in it.   The next day there were two eggs and then the next day there were three eggs.  All of the eggs looked cone shaped.

She laid a total of four eggs.  She sat on them patiently for two weeks.  Since the basket was hanging right outside our front door, she did get upset every time we opened the door.  We could come into the house but not go out the door without a big fuss.

On May 29th I checked the basket and found three of the eggs had hatched.  One had not but I didn't know if it was just a little behind the others.

In a couple days this is what I saw.  There is no sign of the unhatched egg, but I wasn't able to count how many babies there were.  It looked like three, but I wasn't sure.  If there were three, then I wondered if mama robin had removed the unhatched egg.

These are 3-4 day old baby robins.

Robins grow so fast.  Four days later the robins were starting to get feathers and had grown a lot,

8 day old baby robins

They grew very quickly and in ten days they were starting to grow out of the nest.  Mama was very protective and really didn't like us at all.  She would circle around, and she would make as much as noise as she could.

These robins are ten days old.

All this feeding and squawking has taken it's toll on mama.  She looks skinny, dazed and tired.  I guess it even happens in the bird kingdom.

Both the parents feed the young ones.

On Saturday morning I walked out the door.  There perched on the edge of the nest was one of the babies.  I don't know if I scared it out of the nest or if it was ready, but it jumped off.

This little one sat in the grass for a while and then took off.

The other two robins (yes, there are two left) waited until Sunday morning to leave.

When I took the plant down to remove the nest, there was the unhatched egg.  It was cracked.

I think it is amazing.  I have seen dozens of robin nests and baby robins, but I never realized that it takes less than a month for a female robin to lay eggs and raise the babies to full grown.  No wonder there are so many robins around, but even so we still get a thrill each Spring when we see our first robin of the year.