Monday, November 19, 2012

Baby Blue

                  “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
                                                   ~A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh~

     I had forgotten that the deer were called White-tailed Deer.  Usually, they don’t run from me, but for the last few weeks, they have. I suspect that someone has been in the woods, probably hunting, but their trust in humans is gone. That is probably a good thing..for them, but I enjoyed their greetings every morning.  They are starting to come back…a few does and their growing spotties come up for breakfast, and I have notice a single little guy that hangs around the horses and the cabin. The deer can be hard to identify, although some have faces that look almost like llamas, some are more of a tan color, some have scars or jagged ears, and of course the bucks can be identified by their antlers and coloring.

     Last week, while drinking my morning coffee and waiting for the sunshine, I saw the swirling circle of a group of buzzards.  Now buzzards seem like disgusting creatures, but they play an important role in nature.  If there were no scavengers and cleaner uppers, the woods would reek! They are interesting to watch.  It seems that they have spotters that report back to the pack when something is discovered, but to one who has ancient horses, it was a disturbing way to start the day.

     Arriving at the barn, I saw that the horses were fine and hungry.  I went about feeding them, and I was relieved to hear Shadow meowing from under the cabin porch. After morning chores were finished, I decided to investigate a little further.  I took the trail above and behind the cabin.  I didn’t have to go too far before I spotted the frenzy of eaters…and a deer on the ground.  I didn’t go too far, but I could see that it was a doe.  I don’t know if she had been shot or hit by a car or what caused her death, but I knew she was one of the girls.  They had been too scattered lately to know who was missing.


     Tonight at the barn, the little spring spottie was at the barn, and again, it was by itself. By now, I had decided that it was the baby of Little Blue, one of my favorites.  Deer have personalities just like people and pets.  Some are grumpy and selfish, and some are gentle, giving, and loving.  Little Blue was the doe that befriended a little mallard duck. (She got her name from her hound dog like face and big brown eyes.) The duck had an injured foot.  It could fly, but it was hard for it to stand or walk.  Almost every morning, it would fly up to where Little Blue was eating, and she would run off the other deer and ducks so the little guy could eat.  I posted about them several times. She had her baby late in the spring, and I had worried when she stayed in labor for several days.  This little guy had spots up until hunting season, and Blue was very protective of it…She would never leave it alone for so long. I’m sure she taught Baby Blue well (a name I gave it as I sat on the cabin porch tonight in tears)…and I’ll do my part to watch over it.

Nature can be both beautiful and harsh.  Death is a part of life, but it seems that there have been too many losses lately…and it has taken some of the most loving and gentle souls…I sat on the cabin porch until it was almost dark. I realized that my tears weren’t only for Little Blue, but also for my sister and for friends that I’ve lost this year, but like Pooh, I’m lucky to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard. 

                                              Little Blue and Baby Blue back in the spring.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blue Mushrooms

Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
 Class: Agaricomycetes
 Order: Russulales
Family: Russulaceae
 Genus: Lactarius
 Species: L. indigo
Me:  That Blue Mushroom

Over the weekend, I discovered some blue mushrooms.  I did not remember seeing any before, but now that my eyes are watching for them, I have found them in many different areas around the lake! I called on my friends from the  Mushroom Club of Georgia, a group that has visited TCP several times. They quickly identified it as Lactarius indigo. Fascinated by the rich, deep color, I decided to read up on dyes and mushrooms, and I began experimenting with a batch! If all goes as planned, I hope to dye some cotton squares for new prayer cloths for the labyrinth cove.  I am planning to use natural plant and mineral dyes found around here, and blue will be a wonderful addition!

I started with the mushrooms.  Immediately, I was surprised by the oozy blue “milk” all over my hands from simply picking it.  I knew the mushroom was edible, so I was not worried about any toxins, but it reminded me of an almost permanent blue medicine I once used on horse cuts and scratches.  (I was thinking I might have to hide my hands for awhile!)

I boiled 2 cups of water, and I added about ½ cup of vinegar.  I sliced the mushrooms and added them to the pot of hot water.  I let them steep until cooled, and then I poured them into jars to “age.”  In reading more about these mushrooms, they turn greenish when exposed to air, so one of the mushrooms may have been too old…the batch seems to have a greenish tint, but I’m learning!! In looking at the paper towel I used to clean the dirt off of the mushroom, I saw that the dye is that bold blue…maybe I need to use my mortise and pestle and smash them up and use that for stamping….maybe that’s tomorrow’s project!  Here are some pictures from today:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mushroom Club of Georgia

The Mushroom Club of Georgia had a mushroom hunt here at The Cabin Path!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Dam Beavers


     Sounds like a few thunderstorms for the afternoon, so the dogs and I set off to check on the spillway. Yup, the beaver has been busy again, and we have decided that before summer, we need to get a tractor in here to scoop out all of the beaver's handiwork so the spillway for the lake will not be such a daily worry. As I dug, I began remember an article that was sent to me several years ago when we were dealing with another clan of beavers on the lake. Laughing and digging in almost knee deep water and mud, I decided to hunt up that article..and I found it!

This is an actual letter sent to a man named Ryan DeVries regarding a pond on his property. It was sent by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality, State of Pennsylvania.  

SUBJECT: DEQ File No.97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County 

Dear Mr. DeVries:

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: 

Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond. 

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department's files shows that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated. 

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming t he dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2006. 

Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.. 
We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions. 


David L. Price
District Representative and Water Management Division.

Here is the actual response sent back by Mr. DeVries:

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County 

Dear Mr. Price,

Your certified letter dated 12/17/02 has been handed to me to respond to. I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget Lane, Trout Run, Pennsylvania. 

A couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood 'debris' dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natures building materials 'debris.' 

I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

These are the beavers/contractors you are seeking. As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.

My first dam question to you is:

(1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers, or

(2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request? 

If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. 

(Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.)

I have several concerns. My first concern is, aren't the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation -- so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer. The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event, causing flooding, is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling them dam names. 

If you want the stream 'restored' to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers -- but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English. 

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers' Dams). 

So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2006? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality, health, problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persec uting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! The bears are not careful where they dump! 

Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.




                                                       Enough said!!!!  ♥

Friday, March 30, 2012

Native Azaleas

The Native Azaleas have been beautiful this year.....(click on the Full Screen Mode at bottom right!)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Wildflowers 2012

                                                      Spring Wildflowers 2012

     A walk around today looking for the spring wildflowers!  It's been a strange year...a very warm winter and early spring, but it seems as though the wildflowers aren't enjoying the warmer temperatures! Early spring wildflowers, like Hepatica, began blooming in February, but they were nipped by a cold spell.  Very few are blooming now.  Bloodroot and Trillium seem stunted and fewer than usual. I'll keep watching.  The treasure hunt is just beginning!

                                            ....and an early flying wildflower!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Preparing for the Storm

There is an unsettled feeling this morning.  Storms are suppose to move in overnight.  One of the jobs here at The Cabin Path is to make sure that the spillway (overflow creek) of the lake is open and flowing.  In the last few years, this has not been a problem because of the drought. Also, a neighbor thinned the beaver population ( not my idea!...), so I did not have to constantly undo his handy work before every rain. Well, we've had rain, and we have a new beaver, so I noticed on my walk yesterday that he had once again stopped up the spillway!

Not that bad, just some sticks and packed mud, but it was enough to stop the flow of the water, and we are  in for a night of heavy rain! I removed the sticks first, and the mud can then be dug out.

(My pile of sticks..notice the chewed ends)

Of course I had my helpers, Jessie, Dahli, Maddie, and Jack!!

Jack is the supervisor...he doesn't really like to get his feet wet!

After some digging, the water is once again flowing!!!

Meanwhile, the dogs have found one of the beaver's escape holes just down from the beaver dam....and they are digging.  One day, maybe I can channel their efforts to help me!!

It feels stormy, and the wind is blowing, but I love to watch the water....

one more task checked off.... with a little help from my friends!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Sculptures in the Woods



                                                          Sculptures in the Woods

     An old rotted pine tree full of woodpecker holes caught my eye for this picture. It looked as though it was adorned with a steeple of sorts…a design touch with a rustic twist! A closer look revealed that it was the backbone of the old pine, or heartwood, but it seemed to set this nesting spot apart from all the other ones. My own picture made me wonder....what was that part of the pine tree called and how was it formed?

     There are many of these sculptures around in the woods...a pine tree will die and rot away, and the center will remain standing with twists and knots and gnarls...I always called it "wood art" without much thought.  I found that they are the results of the pine resin in the tree. If a tree receives a wound, the resin will rush to that spot to protect the scar. Resin also collects in the heart, or center of the pine tree, and it resists decay.

     Some folks call it fatwood, stump candy, lighterd, lightern, lighter knot...many old time names. I remember my Grandfather having a bucket of "lightern."  He used it to start his fires, and it would light with a match.  I remember finding stumps that he would chop up and save. Most chunks of lightern are sticky and smell like crushed pine needles. They will light even when wet, and it has been a valued firestarter as early as prehistoric times. I also read that too many pieces in a wood stove can cause damage because of its extreme heat (something I’m glad to know for the cabin!)

     I always look for lightern on my walks. It usually resembles stalagmites or little gnome hats! Most are found in stumps, but evidently sometimes it will stretch up the tree, and I have found many that are as tall as six feet.


     In my readings about fatwood or lightern, not every fallen pine tree will make lightern. Pine resin will become more of a solid, and if the tree falls or is cut at a certain time of the year, or if the ground soil is a certain acidity, and if the tree is just the right condition and had the right amount of sap when it was living, it will leave lightern. In other words, it doesn’t happen all the time!

      Search fatwood. There are many very interesting forums and stories about it out there.  I do know, it is wonderful kindling... better than those store bought wax logs, but I think I love their art work in the woods even more!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I promised an update on Nanna's Leaf!!  I have had other requests to come and remember loved ones and pets.  I always envisioned a Remembrance Tree on the hill overlooking the cabin.  I would love to have copper stamped leaves, but somehow, the simple Beech leaves do seem more appropriate for The Cabin Path!

I am hoping to start my workshops back in the spring!! Oh, the trail work that needs to be done!! Be watching for my announcement for Earth Day!!