Friday, May 29, 2020

Misery Loves Company......

Miserable, absolutely miserable. That is how we have been finding ourselves this week. Those that know us know how much we love hot weather. Not! For us the perfect weather would be 60 during the day and cool, even frosty at night. This week started out fine with highs in the mid to upper 60’s. Then one day it got hot. I don’t remember what we were doing but I remember telling Barb it was getting too hot. I looked at the temperature on the truck….72. The following several days were in the mid to upper 80’s! Ugh! I see some of our Arizona friends are dealing with 100’s, even 110’s .  We would just melt into the pavement. There would be a pool of goo on the ground and you would walk by and say something like “Hey, that pool of goo looks like Jim and Barb”

We tried to limit our outdoor activities to the morning and evenings. I have been shooting my bow a lot in the hopes that we get up to Alaska and can go moose hunting this fall.

We also tried to escape the heat by going kayaking and nature hikes. I have been continuing to refine my nature photography skills. 

Forrest trying to hook the big one!
On another outing everyone got their kayaks and we headed to Spring Creek just outside of Klamath Falls. The water was so clear that you could see the bottom even at its deepest point. And cold, just what the doctor ordered on a hot day! Lily has her own mini-kayak and is quite the paddler. Until she gets tired then she just tied herself to the back of her dad's kayak and gets towed around. 

See how clear that water is?

Papa mallard

Mama mallard

This mama merganser has a hitchhiker!
 I got some other cool and unique shots over the past week as well.
Hen sitting on a nest

Snake in the brush!
Of all the pictures I took this is my favorite of the week....
Mount Shasta
I also received a couple of tips on how to take pictures of flying birds from my last North Dakota post. (Thanks Dianne and Ingrid!) Both were very helpful and improved my shots. Here are a few example of ones I got this week. 

They actually turned out a little better than they appear here for some reason when I attached them to the blog they were a little distorted. 

Forrest was fishing while I paddled around and took pictures. He caught a pretty nice Rainbow trout the other day, he wanted his picture taken with it so I paddled over there just in time to get this shot as the fish jumped out of his hand and back into the water!
During the heat of the day we have been working inside on a remodeling project. It is a rather big one that will take several weeks to complete. I am not going to take pictures of our progress but will share before and after pictures when (and if) we get done. One smaller project we got done this week was the installation of a new exterior door downstairs. 
Things are starting to open up around Klamath Falls. Hair salons opened with week so Somer and Lily went in for a cut and whatever else women get done with their hair. 
Lily's new hair cut
Daisy gave us a little scare the other day. She had not been eating all her food so we started to get concerned. She is 12 ½ years old (like 87 in people years). She is also slowing down a little but still pretty active. We found two things that might be the cause of her not eating all her food. She has a broken tooth that is just kinda hanging there. I tried pulling it out but it is pretty tight and I did not want to yank too hard. We have a vet appointment this Saturday to get that taken care of. We also did a little experiment and she will eat steak, bacon and other people food with great excitement and the tooth does not seem to be bothering her so we ruled that out as the cause of her not eating.

Then one day I saw her out in the yard eating something. Forrest and Somer have about 5 acres fenced in to keep the sheep in which is also nice as we can let the dogs wander outside all day too. So I wandered over to see what she was eating and she was going to town on a pile of sheep sh#t like it was a filet mignon! No wonder she is not eating, she is eating Sheep Snacks all day long! I laugh now thinking of all the times she has licked Barb’s face over the past week!

I too have a health issue I have been dealing with. Now, I don’t typically talk about my aches and pains but this one is particularly annoying. For the past two weeks I have had shooting pains from my elbow to the tips of my fingers and there is a spot on my elbow that hurts like hell when I touch it. I am sure it is just a tendon issue that will go away with time but I went onto the Google and see if I could figure out what caused it. After extensive research I was able to find this flow chart which I think pretty much nails down what I have……
I guess there is only one thing left to do, go have a beer!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Dealing with Circadian Rhythm Disorders in Oregon

Before you start sending flowers, sympathy cards and planning benefits I should probably explain what Circadian Rhythm Disorder is.....Basically it is when your internal clock does not match the actual time of the day where you are. During our 4 days, 3 night trek from North Dakota to Klamath Falls Oregon we covered almost 1,500 miles and 3 time zones. Three time zones you say? Should not be an issue, but for some reason this trip really messed up our internal clocks. We are typically early rises but with the time changes we found ourselves waking up earlier and earlier. 

The first leg of our journey took us from Douglas, North Dakota to Lewistown, Montana. This 427 mile trek took us a little over 8 hours only stopping for fuel and dog breaks. We stayed at the Kiwanis Club Campground/Rest Stop on the west side of Lewistown. The Rest Stop and all the facilities were actually closed but the sign posted informed us that self-contained campers were welcome to stay for the whopping sum of $0.00! 
Lewistown Airport with the mountains in the background
Nice grassy campsites
Like most rural areas we have been through life seemed to be going on like nothing was going on. Bars, restaurants and other businesses were open with very few people wearing masks. Some of the restaurants were take-out only while others offered inside seating. We opted for a great American staple….McDonalds. 

The Kiwanis Campground is right next to the airport and has a great view of a mountain range to the south. Shortly after getting settled and tired from our long drive we hit the hay pretty early. With the time change from the Central Time Zone to the Mountain Time Zone I remember it being somewhere between 7 and 8 when we went to bed.

The time change means nothing to the dogs so they were up, hungry and ready to go at....wait for it....3:30am!  After they took their walk outside and were fed I forced myself to go back to sleep but Barb was up for the duration.

Our next leg was another long one from Lewistown to Superior Montana. We took Highway 200. The scenery west of Lincoln Montana on 200 was some of the prettiest we have seen in quite a while. Definitely an area we would like to explore (and fish) in the future. Barb found a nice little camping spot near Superior on at the Clark Fork River Big Pine Fishing Access Site. Big Pine was named after…..can you guess? A big pine tree! Standing at almost 200’ tall, this 350+ year old tree is the oldest in the state. Imagine what that tree has seen in its lifetime!
The "Big Pine" behind Barb and Daisy

Our campsite along the river. That is the "Big Pine in the background in front of our truck
Our truck is the white dot in the trees

 We were the only ones there and had our pick of the 5 sites there. Not big rig friendly with a 23’ recommendation for max length but a great place to stay for a few days (up to 7) if you are in the area. 

We again woke up at 3:30am but a light rain lulled us back to sleep. Even with that we had an early breakfast and were on the road just as the sun was rising. A few miles later we crossed into Idaho and changed time zones yet again. So after our breakfast wore off we were ready for lunch at 9:40! (Hey, it had been almost 5 hours since breakfast!) That is one bonus of getting up early, you get to sneak in another meal!

That was our 4 state day; Montana, Idaho, Washington and finally Oregon where we spent the night at the Threemile Canyon Campground/Boat ramp. Under normal conditions this campground has about a dozen free campsites but they were closed so we camped at the boat ramp with 3 other rigs. Another nice place to spend the night. So that made 3 nights, $0 in campground fees!
Columbia River in the background
Our camper is one of those white dots along the river
The next morning we drove two knuckle whitening hours along the Columbia River. We have never experienced winds that strong while on the road. It had to be 30mph sustained with gusts over 50. We were very glad we were not driving the big rig! There were a couple of times we were blown right into the other lane of traffic! We finally turned south towards Bend and eventually pulling into Forrest and Somer’s about 3:30pm on Wednesday. Lily ran out to greet us, we had not seen her since last fall and she has grown quite a bit in the last few months!

We quickly got the camper settled into its home for the next month and Lily gave us a tour of their property showing us what was new. The most obvious being the pair of sheep they bought last month. Snowflake and Frosty follow Lily all around like she is the leader of the pack. Either that or she is the one who feeds them!
I am not sure if this is Snowflake or Frosty
They also got 12 chickens. 6 layers and 6 meat birds. Unfortunately there are only 4 meat birds left, the other 2 have moved to a cooler climate (aka the freezer).
Farmer Somer letting the chickens out for the day

Last week Forrest and the family went hunting morel mushrooms up in the mountains and we wanted to give it a try as well so the next day we headed to a burn area about 40 minutes from their house to see what we could find. We missed the peak of the morel season but Forrest thought if we tried a little higher on the mountain (5,000 feet) we might find some. 
Headed up the mountain!

Barb, on the hunt!
It did not take us long and we started finding some...
A trio of morels
Not sure what this one is but it was not edible

A pair of morels

Lots of pretty flowers through the area. 

Lily by a burnt out tree
We spent about 3 hours wandering the mountain side picking up about 2#’s of mushrooms. That night we wrapped some of the bigger ones in bacon, stuffed them with jalapeno and cream cheese and baked them. Delicious! The next night we finished the rest with some ribeye steaks.

Morel hunting is a big deal out here as they have the proper climate and a lot of burn areas as that is where they tend to grow the most. Morels can go anywhere from $50-$100/ pound and as much as $250 for a pound of dried ones. 

So here we are for the next 4 weeks or so. We are going to wait here until Canada and the U.S. decide to do with the border on June 21st. In the meantime Forrest and Somer have a handful of project that we can work on so there will certainly not be a lack of things to do!

By the way, heard from Farmer Bob yesterday in North Dakota and they got the rest of the crops in this past week. And here I thought they could not do without us! 

Monday, May 18, 2020

If You Could Change the Weather, Would You?

Don’t like the weather today? Then just change it. Well, it is not quite that easy but that is what weather modification is all about. The Finken Farm is spread across two counties here in North Central North Dakota, one of which is Ward county where there is a debate brewing on weather modification.

Weather modification occurs by “Cloud Seeding”. Aircraft fly into clouds and seed them with Silver Iodide which according to the Weather Modification Association say can increase precipitation by 5-15% and can suppress hail damage by 25-75%. 

Here in Ward County the county commission helps fund part of the program and that is where the debate is. Proponents say that it provides much needed rain and reduces hail damage. Those against it say it is fake science and it doesn’t work and if it does work you are stealing that much needed rain from other farmers. Besides the fact that you should not be messing with Mother Nature. 

Whatever side you stand on, it will be decided at the polls when they vote on whether or not to continue funding the project with public money. Personally, I am on the “Don’t mess with Mother Nature” side of the equation. 

This was our last week at the farm and as I write this we are somewhere in the middle of Montana underneath that big Montana sky.

We have been gone less than 24 hours and we already miss our farm family. That’s what the Finken/Sobieck crew has become to us, an extended family which means of course we will be expecting birthday cards and Christmas gifts from them!

We had one day of rain which kept us out of the fields that day and the day after. As much as they would have liked to keep going to get the field work done, it was a much needed two days of rest. It gave me a chance to get out and play with my camera a little. I had two goals; one was to see if I could master the art of taking pictures of flying waterfowl. The other was to find a pair of moose rumored to be in the area and see if I can get a couple pictures of them. Both proved to more difficult than anticipated. 

One the waterfowl front, I did not know what setting to put it on nor did I do any research so I just put it on AI and hoped for the best. It is a method I have perfected over the years called "The Point, Push and Pray Method". I am somewhat pleased with a couple of them. The others are a bit blurry and these were the best ones that actually made the cut!

With the moose. I had seen them several times early on in our stay but did not have a camera. I went out several times specifically to hunt them down but to no avail. Farmer Bob and I went out another time with no luck. Then one night we went out to dinner in Ryder. 
Bob said the Ryder Bar has the best burgers and we just had to go before we left! They call it the Ryder Bar because that is the only bar in Ryder. With a population of 34, it is pretty much the only thing in Ryder! 
When we were on our way back from dinner we saw two shadowy figures in a field….there they were! Sadly I did not have my camera and it was too dark anyway. The next morning Bob and I hit the roads just before 7:00 to see if they were still in that field. They were not. But we did find them about a mile northwest of there in a small wood lot! They did not fully cooperate by posing for the pictures but I got a few decent ones. It is still hard to believe there are moose up here in this vast open country!

I also got some shots of some wildlife on the ground that I thought were pretty cool. The hardest was the pheasants and they tend to run as soon as you see them. 

Pee Pee Le Pew!

Blue-winged teal

Yellow-headed blackbird
Nova and Dakota waiting for Dylan to throw the ball
There are still a lot of old telegraph poles, some of them even still have the wire and insulators. I wonder how old those are!
Telegraph poles alongside the railroad tracks

These have their original wood supports and glass insulators
 The nice thing about the rain is that some of the early crops are really starting to show themselves! 
The wheat is already a couple of inches high!

Chris checking out the wheat field
We hit the road the morning of the 17th. But not before Bob and I had one last breakfast together in the office. What's for breakfast you ask? Apple Crisp of course! Barb made a pan the afternoon before we left and Bob and I could not think of a better way to spend our last morning together!
Apple Crisp and ice cream, the breakfast of champions!
The crops were not all in, they got down about 3,600 of their 5,000 or so acres. If the weather cooperates and the wettest of the fields dry up they could be done by the end of the week. 

So we said goodbyes and pulled out of the driveway pointing our camper to the west. We have a 23 hour drive ahead of us. We are going to take it slow and easy, it has been a while since we have had any leisure time on the road. Let the adventures begin!