Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Season's of Life

Been snow shoeing some lately. The snow is perfect for it. Right now there is a frozen crust just beneath the surface that holds you up perfectly. We still have between 2 and 3 feet of the white stuff, depending on the drifts.
(The photo is of our good friend Ken and me, taken a few years ago. We had just gotten back from a snow shoe hike, about the same time of year as now.)

We have a lot of swamp land on the back 40's and you can go places now that is difficult when things are all thawed out. I enjoy exploring places that I don't usually go and checking out all the tracks in the snow.

On our last outing we saw many tracks. Grouse, squirrel, rabbit, coyote, bobcat, fisher (I think), dog, a couple tracks I couldn't identify and of course white tail deer.

Dog tracks differ from their wild cousins in that their feet are not usually as compact. Their toes tend to spread out a bit more especially when the dog is large. There are lots of Retriever mixed breeds in this part of the country. The tracks we saw were from a large dog possibly a Labrador or Golden Retriever.

I'm always thankful when I can walk right out the back door and go out into the wilderness. You can literally go for miles on 120 acres. We have three 40's, with each forty being 1/4 of a mile across. If you walked the outer perimeter you would travel 2 miles. If you wander about the interior walking along the winding trails you can go for miles and never leave home.

When we lived in the city I felt like a caged animal. Back then we used to like going to the zoo. We used to go either to Brookfield Zoo or the Milwaukee Zoo. That’s when it dawned on me, when I saw some of the animals pacing back and forth in their cages that, that was me. I could see the anxiety in their eyes as they paced back and forth, back and forth. I was like those caged animals.

I never take for granted the freedom I now have. All the while being out in the woods going anywhere and exploring any place and going out when ever I please is something I greatly appreciate. I'm the type of person that needs a little elbow room. This is a great time of year to take advantage of the blessings of now having that.

In years past when we didn't have this freedom, we used have to seek out places of refuge. I spent many an hour along the shores of Lake Michigan looking out over the water and exploring the dunes. There is a wilderness area called Illinois Beach State Park with a number of nature trails. A favorite place, where we used to walk our dogs.

Also there was a pond called the Lagoon, in the middle of town, which was home to scores of ducks, geese and a few swans. That is where my fondness for water fowl was developed. We used to sit in the parking lot over looking the pond every chance we got be it eating lunch or just relaxing and enjoying watching the antics of all those noisy birds.

Those where things we did to get by. To have a taste of nature while being surrounded by the artificial man made environment that we where born into.

As time went by I had to do lots of things to cope while living in such a place. I'd take long walks. I used to walk or ride my bicycle back and forth to work and in all weather conditions. It was like a game I played. It was something I had to do to keep from going stir crazy amongst all the hub bub and activity of a place that never sleeps.

In the winter I equipped my mountain bike with studded tires. I used small sheet metal screws which I screwed into the tires from the inside out. I then inserted a liner to keep the tubes from being chafed from the heads of the screws. I could ride that bike in any ice storm and never slip once. You should of seen the looks people gave me as I tooled along without even losing a beat.

All the things we did then where in preparation for how we live now. Didn't know it then though. And now it seems we could say the same thing. It seems like we are being prepared for something yet to come. And I guess that's how life is. One season preparing us for the next.

Until Next Time

Sunday, March 19, 2006

An Interesting Notice From Murray McMurray

Below is a letter we got yesterday from Murray McMurray Hatchery ( regarding the possibility of them not being able to ship day old chicks through the mail. It looks like they are trying to pre-empt with legislation the banning of shipping baby birds through the postal system.

Whether this proposed legislation is a good thing or not I don't know, I don't speak "legalese". Nevertheless there must be a significant threat to the ability for hatchery's to ship birds, for McMurray to issue this letter. Personally, we are working towards maintaining our own breeder birds but, until then we still appreciate the having the ability to be able to purchase day old chicks from various breeders from around the country.

"We Need Your Help, The ability to ship poultry to you is being threatened by unwarranted accusations from animal rights groups AND the inability of the Post Office and their aircarriers to deliver our products in a timely and efficient manner.

On the Bird Shippers of America website
( ) is a summary of the legislation Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced in the U.S. Senate on Friday, March 10th. The three points Senator Grassley makes, as well as information regarding avian influenza (Bird Flu), are extremely important to the continued success of shipping live poultry through the U.S. Postal System.

We need your help, and the help of your friends, to make this proposal - law. For your convenience we have set up a webpage on the Bird Shippers of America website
( where you can print acustom letter to be Mailed or Faxed to each of your Senators.If you feel strongly about your right to receive birds through themail, or your business or hobby would endure severe hardships ifyou could not receive birds, please take the time to submit your letter.

All of us in the bird shipping business greatly appreciate your help inthis most important issue.

Thank you.Murray McMurray,
ChairmanBird Shippers of America

Chicken Feed Up Date
It's confirmed that our chickens are not eating the barley that is in the whole grain mix. They eat everything but the barley. There is uneaten barley all over the place now. Next time we order grain I'll try having it rolled with the oats and corn and see if that makes a difference.