St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wildlife at the Cabin

Sap hasn't been running since Saturday, so been doing some odd jobs.  Our son Scott is up for the maple season to help out.  He has been taking some highly zoomed photos on the frozen lake.  
The pictures here are highly compressed, so the originals are better.  This is at 42 optical zoom plus some digital zoom --the birds are at least 1/8 mile away.  

Pair of Trumpeter Swans have been doing their head bobbing spring dance.  Brother Everett says if the collar is green, then it is a very old bird.  Couldn't quite tell the color at the distance and with the overcast day. 

An otter popped up through a hole in the ice and did some sliding around.  He (or she) made a short run and then slid on his belly for his own entertainment and ours too.  Scott is going to try a video next time.

Two pairs of sandhill cranes were screeching around the lake.  I think it must be mating, although the call was not the mating version where one chimes in after the other.
Generally speaking, I am pleased with the camera.  However, it is a little grainy at the max zoom and max resolution.  Have to see if I am using the right settings.  There are about 2 million different settings I can use--but so far I have done the automatic where the camera makes its own decision as to what it thinks I want.  
   Not pictured yet, the black squirrel who gnaws son the porch each day; the owl that hoots in the evening; the deer that I spook up as I walk over the hill to check the pails; the ducks in the small open ponds throughout my woods and fields; and the woodcock who entertains us in the evening with his mating rituals.  
   Although the robins showed up in Pine Island 2 weeks ago, not a one has appeared at the cabin.  Sunday at Mom's place, the big pople tree had a cluster of singing redwing blackbirds (a cluster, a cloud, or a merie are also names for a flock of blackbirds).  Brother Marv claims to have seen a single robin about Easter.  Pine Island is about 125 miles south of Cushing.  
   The rain and frost coming out of the ground has made the woods muddy and the footing poor.  I expect the otter to some out on the shore and watch Scott and I slide through the woods for his entertainment. 
  Today looks like a no-sap day too.  So it is off to the laundraumat to catch up on clothes; over to Mom's to deliver some yeast from the Luck Natural Alternatives Co-op (Mom, age 91, says their yeast is the freshest when you want to bake bread) and to fill the water containers (can't start the shallow pipe water system until the frost goes out of the ground), and maybe to the Library to do some research for the Sterling 75th Old Settler's Picnic Book (need grocery advertisements from each decade 1930s-2010s).   We are doing part of the book by decades, and part by family histories contributed by the families (not enough in yet!)
    Have been reading up on property mineral rights to explain it to the Polk Men's group a week from Wednesday.  It appears you can sell off different rights to your land--including the right to mine the minerals, conservation easements, and so on.  I am thinking about selling the pocket gopher rights to our sand land along the River Road.  With conservation, the 50 acres there should produce 100 gophers worth $300 per year.  Probably sell the rights to trap for $100 a year or maybe $10000 in perpetuity!
   When I sold 10 acres to my nephew, I added a right to the deed that says "Everett and Russell Hanson have the right to access and use the sawmill on this land."   It turns out that not only allowed us to run the sawmill when we wanted to, but obligated us to keep it in running condition according to my nephew;-)  Last time I worked on it, fell off the roof and broke my leg ending up with a 2 year problem that needed a new knee.  Not that I am back OK, have to tackle it again this year.  I miss those fresh boards from our own trees. So Ev and Bryce, we better take another expedition over there and see if we can't get it going, or we may never get the ambition and crew again!
   Margo is resting up before radiation next month.  She is feeling good, working on stretching her arm to reach straight up--something that is difficult after the surgery.  She sent Scott and me up to the cabin so she can have a break from us for a couple of weeks.  Today she and her neighbor, Nancy, are headed to town for medical appointments, lunch and shopping.  Both have been fighting cancer, Margo since last August, and Nancy for nearly 3 years (chemo every three weeks).   Both are doing well.