Friday, March 25, 2016

Spring Snowstorm of March 23, 2016

We survived the dreaded Spring snowstorm of 3-23-16.  Spring in Wisconsin is interesting to say the least.  One day it can be 70 degrees and sunny and then the next day it can be 20 degrees with snow and blizzard conditions.  I think we get some of those nice days thrown in to give us hope of things to come.  It makes us appreciate the nice days.  It's kind of like life.  We are given challenges so we can appreciate the good times.  Yesterday morning we started the day with light snow.  The temperature was close to freezing (32 degrees F.)  The snow didn't accumulate for much of the day except on the branches and grassy areas.  The snow continued into the night followed by sleet.

The wind was very strong and if it had been colder, the snow would have drifted a lot more.  Instead the snow turned to sleet and put a crust on top of the snow that came down earlier.  We look forward to the snows in December and love having a white Christmas.  The March snows are equally pretty but aren't appreciated as much.

The original prediction was for at least 10 inches of snow, but we only received 3 or 4 inches because of the rain/sleet mixture.  Hopefully it will all be melted by next week.  I did see some fun wildlife though.  Early in the day I saw some big white birds fly over.  At first I was hoping they were whooping cranes.  I had read earlier they were on their way north.  The White River Marsh near our home is the summer home to some of the cranes.  Thinking about it, I was pretty sure that wasn't the case.  When they landed on the pond, it was a pair of swans.

Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small brown animal running across the snow near the water's edge.  I grabbed the camera and this is what I saw.

We have seen otters and beaver, but this was different.  I think it was a mink.  It ran across the snow and climbed to the top of a tree.  Then he climbed down and ran somewhere out of sight.  He returned several times during the day.

This is the beaver we saw last week.  See his flat tail.

This is a river otter.  He has a smoother tail and different coloring with a plumper shaped body.

Then last but not least, we saw some male bluebirds looking for something to eat.  I ran outside to give them some mealworms to eat.  I'm not sure if they got any.  The bluejays were all over the worms and can be aggressive at times.  Hopefully the bluebirds got a few.

Overall it was a good day.  We were able to stay home and wait for the roads to be cleared.  I hope those who had to get out stayed safe.  The good thing about spring snowstorms is that the snow doesn't stay around very long.  By this time next week, it will probably be completely gone.  In fact, by the end of today, the sun came out.  Mother Nature keeps us on our toes.

This is 7:00pm on March 24, 2016.  The sky has cleared making it possible to see the full moon.
The full moon near the end of March is called the Worm Moon.  This is the time of year when the ground begins to soften and the earthworms appear, inviting the return of robins.  It can also be known as the Sap Moon, because it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins.  We have seen many trees have been tapped in our area.  The robins returned a bit early this year so hopefully when the snow melts they will be ready for some fresh earthworms.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Making A Corn Feeder

Recently we were gone from home on vacation.  We were gone for three weeks, and we were concerned our birds and wild animals would miss us.  They depend on us to have the birdfeeders full and to have corn available for the squirrels and deer.  I wrote about feeding the deer in a previous blog.  Apparently corn is not good for deer.  I sure didn't know that.

I was really worried about feeding the deer corn that would kill them, so I went out to find something better.  I bought horse feed.  What a joke.  The deer wouldn't have much to do with it.  They would nose it and walk away.  The horse feed was kind of sticky and would clump.  We decided to create a special food delivery system.  We thought if the food was despensed a little at a time, it would be easier to eat.  My husband created a feeder from an empty drywall compound bucket, a funnel and some hardware.

He cut some holes near the bottom of the bucket and assembled the funnel inside with a long threaded rod, washers and secured it with a nut.  He attached the bucket to the table using washers and screws.

Then we put some horse feed into the bucket and put the lid on.  The feed spilled out the holes, and we thought this system was going to work beautifully.

Before we went any further, we set it out for the deer.  First of all, they were scared of the bucket.  For a very long time, the deer would stand back and try to figure out where all the easy access corn went.

Several days later the horse feed was still in the bucket.  Neither the deer nor the squirrels were eating it.  It clogged the holes in the feeder and created a mess.

It was almost time to leave on vacation.  We had our daughter and grandson come over to fill the birdfeeders, but didn't know what to do about the deer feeder.  I got some advice from others and came to the conclusion that a little bit of corn wasn't going to be enough to kill the deer.  My brother in law mentioned that harvested cornfields are often full of deer grazing away.  Others suggested that people who bait deer put huge piles of corn out to lure the deer to their property.  We figured a couple cups of corn was going to be fine.  The new fangled feeder would only dispense a small amount at a time.  We set out the bucket with corn in it.  The deer were still a little leery of the bucket but came close enough to discover the corn was back.  Even the squirrels were happier having corn to eat.

At this point we have a feeder that will hold a large amount of feed.  We painted it with plastic camouflage paint so the deer wouldn't be so afraid.  We cut off the bucket handle so they wouldn't cut their tongues, and it would be safe.  We were able to leave for a period of time and didn't have to worry about getting food out everyday.  As far as feeding corn, we have done it for fourteen years without noticing any dead deer.  I think it will be alright.  At least, I hope so.

He kind of likes it, but still isn't quite sure.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

St. Patrick's Day Celebration 2016

I have been writing about our St. Patrick Day celebrations every year since starting this blog.  With our Irish name, it is one of the holidays we celebrate with a special family meal.  This year was no exception.  Although part of our family was not able to come, our favorite Leprechaun hunter came.  He was in costume no less.  This year he was bound and determined to catch that elusive Leprechaun.

Ewan (an appropriate name for a Leprechaun hunter) has been preparing all year.  He had his dad make a special outfit out of an old pair of drapes.  It is green and blends with the colors in the woods.  He thought if he looked like a Leprechaun, then his odds improved to see one.  Last summer he even had papa dig holes to trap one.  Even before eating our dinner, we had to check the holes and search the house the Leprechaun used last year.

As he approached the first hole, he disappointedly saw nothing.  Then up ahead, he saw some green coins.  He ran to the next hole and there were the coins, but the smart little Leprechaun had built a ladder out of sticks to escape.

It's hard to out smart a Leprechaun.  Ewan's dog Piper took off so we thought he had the scent.  As we followed the dog, more and more coins and shiny objects were dropped in the woods.  The Leprechaun must had been in a big hurry and had dropped half of his treasure running away.

The trail of coins and dropped treasures led back to the house Ewan discovered last St. Patrick's Day.  As he ran for the house he found more signs of the occupant.  There was some lawn furniture with a hat hanging from a little walking stick.  It was sitting right outside the door. 

Carefully Ewan opened the door.  He discovered a little bed and baskets of treasures.  There were some openings at the back of the house to allow for a quick escape, if necessary.  Today, he definitely needed an escape plan. 

A messy unmade bed is proof positive.

At this point, Ewan decided to take the bed and baskets of treasures.  His mom asked if he wanted to leave some stuff for the Leprechaun.  He said "Leprechauns steal from people, and I want him to know what it feels like".  Mr. Leprechaun (we don't know his name) will be sad, but I imagine he will rebuild.  He has a pretty good gig in our woods and lives most of the year without interference.

Now it was time to eat.  We had the usual feast with corned beef, ribs, red potatoes, carrots, cabbage, green jello and deserts thanks to our guests.  It was another memorable day.  I don't know how many more years we will be doing the Leprechaun hunt, but we will enjoy it as long as it lasts.

Other St. Patrick's Day blogs: