Saturday, January 12, 2013

Squirrels Living in Harmony

The first winter we purchased our property and even before we moved in, we saw a white squirrel running around in the yard.  I had never seen one before and was just amazed by it.  I assumed it was an albino and we would never see one again.  I was wrong.  A few miles from us lives a colony of white squirrels.  They are not albinos, just a different color.  Only a few areas in the country have them and we are fortunate to be near one of those areas.  I don't know the science behind them.  I know black labs can have chocolate and yellow puppies.  Maybe it is the same with squirrels.  Maybe gray squirrels can have black or white babies.  I thought I should look it up and this is what I found.

Most so-called white squirrels in North America are genetic color variants of the gray species, not unlike the fairly common black squirrel. They breed normally and may have gray siblings.

I don't know if that answers any questions, but we also have many pure black and gray squirrels. 
 They all live in harmony.  
 Gray Squirrel
 White Squirrel
 Black Squirrel

In winter the white squirrel blends in with the snow,  but the rest of the year they stand out.  This is a problem because it makes them an easy target for predators.  I have seen them with blood on their tails and pieces of fur missing.  Unfortunately we haven't had one last for more than a season.

From these photos you can see how they stand out in the fall.

So far I haven't had any white squirrel visitors in 2013.  If one arrives, I will be sure to report.


We also have red squirrels but they are nasty little buggers.  I only see one of them at a time.  I don't think they get along with any other squirrels.  They don't share and they chase all the others away.  Whereas we see the gray and black squirrels on a daily basis, we don't see a red squirrel very often.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pellets or Wood - Another Source of Heat

Although we have a perfectly good furnace in our home, we prefer the heat of fireplaces.  The configuration of our home makes it difficult to heat every area evenly with the furnace.  The supplemental stoves we have chosen are environmentally sound and have low impact emissions.  We actually have three.  One is a stone fireplace which has a wood burning insert.  The insert makes burning the wood more efficient and keeps the critters out.  It provides so much heat that we can only burn it when the weather is quite cold or we will be too warm.

Woodpile dried and ready to burn

If it's above 20 degrees outside
we won't burn this fireplace.
It gets way too warm in the house.

 Our second stove is a pellet burning free standing stove.  Pellets are compressed from the sawdust which is a byproduct of saw mills.  This process keeps the sawdust from going into landfills.  Fuel pellets come in bags and are put into a hopper.  Then they burn a little at a time providing constant heat.

 These are the pellets.  They look like rabbit food.

Pellets are sold in bulk or in these 40 pound bags. For us
the bags are easier to store.
We have the bags delivered in the spring and then recycle
the bags after we empty them.

Our third stove is a brick fireplace with an insert that also burns pellets.  This is in our lower level and keeps it nice and cozy downstairs.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fishing Bag, no it's a Knitting Bag

What do you think this is?

I know that most of you think this is a fishing tackle box.  That is what most people use it for.  I do not.  I use it for all my knitting equipment.  I learned about this several years ago from a knitting group.  It is wonderful.  Everything is in one place.  I can't put my long knitting needles in, but the double pointed needles as well as the circular needles fit perfectly.  It is amazing what can fit in this little bag.  I mark each zip lock section with the needle size so it's easy to find whatever I need and it's easy to put things back where they belong.  This would be a good storage system for other crafts also.

These bags are a little pricey on the Bass Pro website, but I received this as a gift.  My wish lists are a little different than the normal person.  Shortly after I received this, I found another one at a garage sale for $1.00.  From my blogs you can see that I very rarely pay full price for anything.  If you are patient, almost every you want and need will show up. 

 Included are heavy duty ziplock bags.  More can be added
if necessary.  Just like a notebook.
 As you can see, I have several pages.
The whole bag zips to close and to hold everything 
in it's place
 There is this mesh pocket on the outside.
Inside on both sides, there are these sectioned and
zippered pockets.  Great for little items.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Healthy Broccoli Sprouts

For many years I have been sprouting off and on.  Right now I'm on again, so I am writing about it.  When I first started, I sprouted alfalfa seeds, mung beans and wheat.  I had three jars going at the same time.  I used the alfalfa and bean sprouts on salads and the wheat in bread.  After a while, as with a lot of things, I got out of the habit.  The last few years I have been doing it again.

Sprouting is so easy.  Basically you soak the particular seeds overnight, drain the water off and rinse them once or twice a day until they are sprouted and ready to eat.  Some seeds sprout very quickly and some take a while.  Right now I'm just doing Broccoli seeds.  I really like how they taste, although they do have a strong taste.   They have many health benefits.  There are many contraptions that you can buy to grow them in, but a jar and a way to drain the water off is all you need.  If you google 'sprouting', you will see more information than you care to read.

Broccoli sprouts are much higher than broccoli heads in sulforaphane.   This compound  produces enzymes that protect against damage-causing chemicals and inflammation.  The seeds are slightly bigger than pepper and a tablespoon will produce at least two cups of sprouts.  I make them more often and only use a teaspoon of seeds. 

These sprouts are almost ready to eat.  Another day or so.  Sometimes I use a salad spinner to spin out the empty seed hulls.  Once sprouted, they keep in the refrigerator for quite a while.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jack Reacher - A Series to Consider

Today I went downstairs to take a shower. I opened the shower curtain to turn on the water and nearly fainted. There on the shower wall and the floor were streaks of red and a red puddle on the floor. All I could think of is the movie Psycho or the Headless Gremlin had come in during the night to wash up. Only those who have read a previous blog of mine will understand the headless gremlin reference. Imagine my relief when I discovered it was only a bottle of strawberry shampoo that had fallen over.

This experience reminded me of one of my favorite authors and mystery book series. I know it's a stretch but bear with me. Although I don't read many books, I love books. My entire family reads real books all the time, but my personality does not allow me to do that. I listen to my books so I can do other things at the same time. I knit or cook or just wander around. There is a clinical name for this condition but I prefer to call it multitasking. We have a small WMA player which will play protected WMA files.   I can download books from our library website to the computer and then transfer them.  This tiny little device holds many books.  You don't have to leave the house and all the books are free.  I either listen directly from earphones or in the car.  We have a FM transmitter which plugs directly into the player and the car socket (used to be called the cigarette lighter socket).  Then we tune in to a preset radio station and everyone in the car can listen to the book through the radio.

One of the series we like are the Jack Reacher thrillers by Lee Child. My sister introduced us to this author many years ago. Although I haven't seen the movie, Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher. The voice of Dick Hill, the reader, is Jack to me. Jack is tough, 6'5”, 250 pounds, ice blue eyes and dirty blonde hair.. If you haven't read or listened to these books you might enjoy them although they are a little violent at times and he always has a tall thin blonde to entertain him. I am such a non violent person, but this character and his personality outweighs the violence and I vacuum or hum during the interactions with the blonde.

For Christmas we received the latest Lee Child book signed by the author called “A Wanted Man".  It is the 17th Jack Reacher thriller.  My sister and niece had the pleasure of seeing Lee Child in person and obtained this signed copy.  Although I haven't read it yet or listened to it, I'm sure it will live up to the others.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Trail Camera, Primos TruthCam 46

This is for those of you who have an interest in our trail camera and the photos it takes.

Yesterday, January 6, 2013, I posted some nighttime photos that were taken from our Trail Camera. This is our second camera. Several years ago I had an interest in seeing what wandered through our property at night when we are sleeping or when we were away from home. We started out with a Cuddeback brand trail camera. It wasn't long before we discovered many things we didn't like about it. I won't go into all of them, but the main thing was that it blew through batteries very quickly, particularly in the winter. Then it stopped working entirely but the company wouldn't do anything about it because I didn't have a receipt and the camera couldn't even hold a charge long enough to access the camera to see the date of purchase. I'm not saying all models of this camera are bad. We may have just gotten a lemon, but we won't buy another Cuddeback. There are a lot of cameras on the market at all price points, but I really didn't want to spend a lot of money on one. I started researching. My main criteria was battery life, high enough pixels to have a good quality photo and an infrared flash. If the camera is close to a road, you don't want people to know you are taking photos by seeing a flash. The infrared flash doesn't show and doesn't scare the animals either. I put my camera on trees and pointed where ever I wanted to photo. Then it became a pain to move all the time, so I mounted it on an old mosquito zapper on wheels. The mosquito zapper was not very effective at killing mosquitoes, but it works great to move the camera around. Sometimes when it is very dark outside, I have to edit the photo slightly to remove the shadows. The daylight photos are great.  You can check it often or whenever you want. Mine is close to the house and I have a lot of activity, so I go out every morning. I take out the SD card and put a new one in. I save the photos I want and delete the rest, so everyday I start out with a empty card. 

Don't Laugh this is my System

I will end the suspense. The camera we purchased was the Primos TruthCam 46. I have had it a year and have only changed the batteries (4 D batteries) three times. There is a read out on the screen that tells the percentage of charge left in the batteries. I got it online from Walmart through Ebates and it came with a free mounting bracket and no shipping costs. I paid $99 minus the ebates rebate. I believe there is a external solar charger available, but I have not used that.

You can see at the bottom of the picture information.  The moon phase, temperature, date and time.

These are color photos from the camera.

Here are the specs:

Primos Truth Cam 46:
  • 46 adjustable infrared LEDs
  • 1 second trigger speed
  • 200 percent better battery life
  • Tested beyond 30,000 photos with 4 D cell alkaline batteries
  • Allows you to adjust the number of active LEDs from 46 to 25
  • 5.0MP resolution photos or videos
  • Date, time, temperature, and moon phase information
  • Backlit screen
  • Large, easy-to-read menu settings
  • All settings are adjustable
  • Low-profile design with Realtree APG camo finish
  • Includes quick tree strap
  • Easy to understand quick instructions are printed on camera door
  • Molded security cable hole through case

    I hope this information helps.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Critters of the Night

I really don't have anything to post or report today, so I am posting a couple of photos that I have never shown before.  We have these Crows or Ravens.  I'm not sure what they are but they are as big as chickens and eat any type of stale food or leftovers that I care to put out.

At night, we also have a striped cat who comes to visit.  I don't know where he lives or if he is a feral cat.  He will not come anywhere near us so I believe he is wild, but he isn't afraid of the deer who also come to the feeder.  

 Next we have rabbits at night.  Tons and tons of rabbits.  I don't know what they eat at night.  Maybe they eat bark or sprigs of leaves that poke out of the snow.  The little pellets in the snow show me that they eat something.

We have fox, raccoon, possum and various other critters that come in the dead of night.  

The only one that I can't identify is this headless critter.  Like the abominable snowman, we will probably never know who or what it is or if it will ever show up again.