Thursday, July 26, 2012

16-25 July, 2012 - Fishing, Kayaking, Biking and Eagle Watching

Ugh!  Back to mosquito country!  We took some more time off and spent it along the shore of Lake Koocanusa (or maybe along the Tobacco River depending on where they draw the boundary line).
I actually remembered to bring some wood with us this time.  Although it was warm and we never needed the stove it was nice to have some on hand for the camp fire.

We found a developed camping site with a great view of the lake/stream and mountains so we unloaded everything and set up camp.

This was the view to the east.  The channel is filled with water because the lake is at full pool.  Normally there's a river channel out there.

It was hot in the camper so Susan turned on the fan as she placed things on the shelves as she wanted them.  A lot of stuff is taken down and stored in boxes while we're in motion.

These are wild (Oregon) grapes.  They're everywhere around here and make good grape juice, grape jam and, I'm told, wine.  They're about the size of large peas.

One of our river friends perched in the tree.  I didn't know these long-legged critters perched in trees.  I'd only previously seen them in shallow water.

Diapers and plastic pants!  Susan washed them all by hand (with some help from Scott).

She decided to wash his pants too so he obligingly took them off.  (He's much better at taking his clothes off than putting them on.)

Now he decided to help wash his favorite cams.  Actually he'll take any excuse to play in the water.

We left Scott with his aunt for the afternoon and Susan and I took the kayaks down the Tobacco River.  The water was up a little and much faster than normal.   We loved it because we didn't hit bottom anywhere.

You have to watch ahead.  White water like that in front of the kayak usually mean buried obstacles.  Going directly over them will get you upside down. 

I had to stop a couple of times to dump the water out of my kayak.  I forgot the spray skirt and some places were rough enough to splash water over the front and into the kayak.

One of the placid stretches with some nice rock cliffs to look at.

Those cliffs are nothing but clay. The water has cut some interesting features into it.

We took some narrow channels out to the main part of the lake.  We came back on the main channel where the skiers and power boats played.

Susan making pizza from scratch.  We eat well when camping (and at home).

We had omelets with eggs, cheese and bacon.  The bacon was home canned and tasted great.

Getting Scott down for a nap was a real challenge.  The best way was to take him on a stroller ride.  Of course we usually had to walk about 45 minutes before he went to sleep.  Here he crashed with one of his favorite night time teddy bears.  We covered the stroller with a blanket to keep the sun off of him and he'd sleep a couple of hours usually.

He found a comfortable place to "read" where he'd get a good breeze coming through the window.

Some one spun their tires here and mounded up the sand.  I saw it on a morning walk and brought Scott up there with his shovel.  It kept him occupied for about an hour.

I took him on a 45 minute walk and couldn't get him to sleep then as soon as we got back Susan got him to sleep in about five minutes.

The fishing was good ... not!  We saw only one fish caught the entire week and it was only abut three inches long.  (And I didn't catch it!)

The eagle did okay though.  We watched this one catch two.  The first one went well but the second was larger and almost drowned the eagle before he let it go.

Same eagle as above. There was another immature one flying around the area also.

You got to be careful around these parts!

Odie rolled in some very smelly stuff so we went down to the lake to give her a bath.  I had Scott watch and I let him wade out into the lake about two feet.  It was water so he had a blast.  The water temperature was about 55 degrees so we didn't stay too long.

Odie, on the other hand, didn't care for her shampoo and rinse at all.  She sure smelled better though when Susan was finished.

Scott and Susan got back from a bike ride about the time I finished washing dishes.  Scott wanted to play in the rinse water so I left that tub on the table.  He rinsed out the jars I'd already rinsed out.

Then he decided to go wading!

We had some thunder storms move through the area.  We were pretty sheltered at our campsite but a lot of trees got blown down and a few power lines bit the dirt.  The only damage at home was this large poplar tree.  We were very happy.  I've been trying to work up the courage to take it down all summer because it was leaning towards a storage shed.  The wind sheared it off about 15 feet above the ground and dropped the trunk exactly where is would do the least damage.  That was a relief!

Now we just had to do some cleaning up with the chain saw to clear the driveway.

We had several friends come visit while we were out there and one neighbor came out with their tent and spent the night.  It was a good time and a great place to camp.

Now that we're home we have lots of work to do.  The galley for my book is ready so we need to go through that.  The finished book is scheduled to be in print around the first of September.  They've done a nice job on it.  The cover is a collage of photos taken during our time here. 

Susan has another book almost ready and I've got a couple of queries out for books and articles. 

The grass needs mowed again.  We have another mower now.  It's a small gasoline powered mower we were given.  It didn't work.  They'd left it outside for a long time and the safety cable was rusted through so I bypassed that.  The gas tank had water and very old gasoline in it so I cleaned it out then took the bowl off the carburetor and dumped the water out of it then fired it up.  If started on about the tenth pull and ran well for a while.  It's going to need some more carburetor work to smooth it out but runs okay for now.  I tried a round of cutting with it and while it did okay I thought the blade probably needed sharpening.  It turned the mower over and it had a brand new blade on it but someone had installed it upside down.  I turned it over and it cuts great now.  It'll get a good workout the next day or two.

Now, where should we go next week?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Watch the garden grow ...

It's been an interesting week.  We had several days of scorching heat (up in the 90's - okay, that's hot for us!) followed by three days of cold rain.  The main water storage tank is full as are those in the garden so I fired up the generator today and pumped 200 gallons out of the main tank and into barrels. 

Our son is back from fighting wild fires in eastern Montana.  He said he didn't like the snakes there.  Especially those with the rattles on their tails.  It was his first time working as a wlidland fire fighter and he said he learned more in a week in the field than he had in all the classes took to qualify for the position. 

I took  some pictures of wild flowers on the property.  I'm no expert on what kind they are.  I just like looking at them.

This one was growing in the garden so I suspect that it's a weed of some type.

Susan spread some old sheets over the U-Haul to keep the heat down inside during the day.  These are some of the sheets we use for row covers in the garden in the spring and fall when the danger of frost is high.

With the rain giving us a break we had some major weeding to catch up on in the garden.  Here Susan is weeding some of the onion plants.  The weeds are thrown into the compost pile.

Just a comparison photo.  The left side is the one she just finished.  The right side hasn't been weeded yet.

Scott got up from his nap so Susan brought him out to the garden to see if he'd entertain himself while we worked.  He played on the tiller for about fifteen minutes then began wandering.  Susan left to take care of him while I continued working in the garden.  Having small children around sure cuts into your productivity.

Our corn adored the hot weather and doubled in size in just a couple of days.

The potatoes like the heat too.

This photo was taken on the 10th right after I tilled between the rows.

This one was taken on the 15th after a day of rain.  See how much the plants grew in 5 days?

The potatoes are starting to put out blossoms.

The little chickens are growing fast.  I let them into the fenced run this week now that they're big enough that they can't escape through the wire.

We heard a noise and saw some grass move under the chicken house so I stuck my camera down and snapped this photo.  (The camera was upside down!) 

I weeded the peas and mulched the rows.

They're putting on some blossoms too.

The raspberries are doing well.

The woman who runs the food bank called us and said she had some things for us to take so we stopped by while we were in town.  This is all food that the dates have expired on and they can't give it away.  The pasta will be rancid and the paper packaged food will be inedible so we'll give it to the chickens. Any suspicious cans of food or any that have been expired too long will also be used as chicken food.  We'll use the rest for our own consumption or give it to those who need it and don't mind eating food with expired dates.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

2-8 July 2012 - Garden work, feed grinding, bike rides, and more ...

  Hope you all had a great Independence day.  We sure did.  The fire season is in full swing with several major fires on the Eastern side of the mountains in Montana.  Our youngest son is on one of the fire (truck) crews working on containing the blazes.  They have extinguished several smaller ones (under 100,000 acres) and are getting control of the major fires as well.  We've been fortunate in the NW corner of the state in that we've had lots of rain so the fire danger is relatively low here.  However, we have heavy growth from all the spring rain so if it dries out later this summer and catches fire we'll have some seriously hot ones going.
The wet spring has given the grass a real boost.  I used the power mower because ours was too tall for our reel mowers.  After that I trimmed around the yard and garden.  Our trimmer uses short pieces of string instead of long rolls.  You can buy the string pre-cut to length but it's a lot cheaper to just cut it from a spool yourself.  I always cut a large handful when I get ready to run the string trimmer.  I'd never buy another string trimmer that uses the short strings like this one does.

Susan got the first harvest from our garden this spring.  This is mint.  We're drying it to use primarily as tea although it has other uses as well.

My potato patch needed weeding so when the ground dried out I gave the hoe a workout.  I'll let the ground sit a few days then hill the plants.

The raspberries are looking awesome this year.  The wild strawberries are ready to pick but our domestic strawberries will be awhile yet.

I took this photo of the polar panels to show the rainbow behind them.
It looked much brighter in real life.

We had a couple of the kids come up on the 4th to help us celebrate.  We spent the afternoon shooting then had a great meal and shot fireworks later in the evening.  We went through a pile of ammo in about two hours of shooting.

Scott had mixed feelings about the fireworks.  He didn't like the noise but liked the colors.  Here he's looking over the trash left from the night before.  It was easier to clean it up the next day than to try to pick everything up at night.  It was late when we finished and the mosquitoes were thick and hungry.

After mowing with the power mower and trimming we do the whole thing again with the reel mowers.  Scott got his "mower" off the porch and helped us out a bit.

We're hoping to take a week long bicycle trip soon so Susan found all the parts to put one of the bike trailers back into its original form as a child carrier.  She found everything, put it all together then we took Scott for a short run to see if he liked it.  He did.

The next day we took off riding to Eureka.  On the way there we lost a nut off one of the screws but I had a replacement in my bike bag so we stopped along the highway and I put it on.  We can't keep a helmet on Scott.  He's figured out how to remove it himself and won't leave it on.

He does like the trailer better than the bike seat.  He has more room to relax and play.  It has pockets where he stashes his bottle, books and toys and when it's nap time he just rolls over and goes to sleep.

He woke up when we stopped at the grocery store in Eureka.  We let him out to stretch his legs and he immediately climbed into the bike seat, pulled my handlebars over and tried to operate the controls.  All during this time he was making his "motor" sounds like it was a motorcycle.

It was hot (upper 80's to low 90's ... which is really hot for around here!) so we stopped for a break at a creek on the way home.  Scott took turns sitting on grandma and grandpa's laps.

I wet my bandanna in the creek and wiped it over my head to help cool off a bit.  The creek was almost back down to normal but the water was still just a little bit cloudy from snow melt and the spring rains.  Susan waded into the creek to cool down.  We rode about 26 miles round trip.

We parked the Cherokee at the Fortine Merc. and rode to Eureka from there.  When we got back we bought a couple of gallons of gasoline for the generator then stopped at the church for water and headed home again.  Scott fell asleep a mile from home so we brought him into the cabin while he was still in his car seat.  He slept for a couple of hours after we got home.

He and Odie are pals. Odie is very protective around him and enjoys the attention even when Scott is crawling all over her.

I needed to grind more chicken food so I got out the grinder and the beans, wheat and pasta, ground it all up and mixed it together to feed the chickens.  The pasta and beans are old and outdated so we needed to make room for some new food stores.  Chickens make great garbage disposals and it's a lot cheaper than buying regular feed for them.  I ground about 35 pounds of grain.

Susan and Scott playing the piano together.  Scott watched a movie with us last night that had a lot of teenagers in their own bands and now thinks he's a rock star.  Now he "sings" while he plays.

The first couple of times he played on the piano was while he sat in Susan's lap while she was playing.  I was just seconds too late for this photo today.  When Susan left to fix dinner, Scott got down and ran to get his bear.  He then put the bear in his lap while he played the piano.  He just took it off his lap a second before the camera took the photo.  (I truly hate that lag time!)