Thursday, February 7, 2019

A Break in the Weather

With a nice warm wave of weather here I've started pruning and cutting scion from my apple trees.


 
Slow work with my arthritic knees but these young trees need to be pruned into an acceptable form.  Deciding which limbs will be allowed to grow into main fruit bearing limbs and which limbs need to be pruned.  Bluebirds are keeping me company but refuse to pose for pictures. :)
 
 
 
Scion, packed up and ready to mail to other "apple addicts" across the country.  Swapping scion gets these old heirloom varieties spread out across the country.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Reason for my Absence

I haven't posted for awhile so thought I would explain why.  December 21 I was preparing to take Bliss for a hunt to look for the elusive grouse. But first I decided to write some checks for the bills that were accumulating. As I arose from the kitchen table a sharp pain shot through my knee and I fell back into the chair. The arthritis that had been developing in my knees over the years had finally reached the "breaking point".  Luckily it hit me when I was at home and not 1/2 mile from the truck up in the mountains for I would have been hard pressed to make it back to the truck without help. I hobbled around on crutches and spent a week in near constant pain until I could see a doctor.  X-rays proved my suspicions. My right knee was very "arthritic" and the left knee was not far behind. A shot of cortisone and a brace got me off the crutches and eased the sharp pain to a dull ache. Now I only sometimes use a cane to limp around the homestead. The surgeon that I went to is very much in demand and it will be April 8 when I go in for knee replacement surgery on the right knee.  It is only a matter of time until the left knee will also have to be replaced. The good news is that everyone I speak to who has had the surgery have been very happy with the results with many saying that they had wished they had done it sooner. I'm hoping with the help of my friend Russell and my nephew Jim that I will be able to take Bliss into some of my more gentle woodcock coverts this spring for she desperately needs bird contacts after last years dismal hunting season. I'm also pressing on with my apple grafting plans with 125 rootstocks ordered to graft to the rare heirloom apple scion that I have ordered.  So for the next couple of months I may have little to post about until after my operation. By then spring will have arrived and hopefully I'll be able to get out and about the homestead to enjoy the miracle that is Spring.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Random Pictures from around the Farm




 
 
Bottled up this years honey harvest from our one hive. 17 pounds. Not the best year we've had but considering all the rain this summer it's probably not a bad amount. Also we had the hive "split" this spring. The hive produced a new queen and the old queen took about half of the hive's bees and left to find a new home. So it took awhile for the hive to produce more worker bees to get it up to full production.
 
 
 

 
With many of my apple trees starting their 4th and 5th year of growth I am seeing many more fruit spurs. This is where the blossom will bloom and hopefully an apple will form. Then all the apple has to do is survive the weather, disease, and insects and I will have fruit to taste this summer and fall. Without the 20+ sprayings with pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides that commercial orchards adhere to any apples I produce will indeed be survivors. But from the start one of my main goals in growing apple trees was to find varieties which could produce fruit with little maintenance. Varieties that can not do this will be replaced with varieties that do produce fruit with minimum care.
The fruit spurs pictured are on a Swiss Limbertwig which originated with early Swiss settlers in the Cumberland mountains.
 
 

 
Some sort of fungi growing on a bird box made for an interesting picture.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

End of the Season

With freezing rain in the forecast for the last day  of woodcock season Bliss and I headed for the Piney Creek covert yesterday for one last hunt.  The woodcock have been strangely absent from my coverts this fall. Disappointing because Emma is in her 11th year and her hunting days are winding down and Thicket and Bliss needed birds to improve their skills. But this year turned out to be the worst year for bird numbers I have ever experienced.  Bliss was able to find and point two woodcock yesterday. I am astonished by this pup's natural ability to find and point birds right from the start of the season. Still shooting blank loads over her so her retrieving ability will not be tested until next year.  Here are a few pictures from yesterday's hunt.


 
 
Piney Creek running high.
 
 
The sign that quickens a woodcock hunter's heart. 
 


Bliss on point.
 

 
 
The Pa. Game Commission has opened the woodcock season back up on Dec. 10 until Dec 18.  I have not seen the reason why they have done this but I will be walking my coverts with the dogs and a hammer gun on the slim chance of finding a stray bird.
 


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A Long Time Coming

Into the 4th week of the Woodcock season and I finally found a few birds today.  Emma and I headed to my northern most coverts and moved 6 birds.

 
1st stop was the Muth covert.
 



The wind was blowing and the birds were running but Emma pointed 4 woodcock.
 



 
 
I had shots at 3 of them and managed to drop 2.
 
Next stop  was the Brady covert.  Nice looking cover that for some reason never holds many birds. Today it was empty.


 
 
The last stop was Black Slate Run.




 
 This cover is growing in nicely over the past few years and should become a favorite stop for woodcock.  I flushed one today and Emma gave me a nice point, but the bird flushed to my left and caught me off guard and I did not get off a shot.
 
So ended the day with the Muth covert once again providing me with some wonderful memories.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Quiet Start

Two weeks into the woodcock season and I still have not found woodcock in any numbers.  Hunting my best coverts has only produced a bird or two each time out. Bliss has been phenomenal pointing the only birds we have found 2 woodcock and 2 pheasants. I'm shooting blanks over her to get her use to gunfire so no birds for her to retrieve yet.


Not since my first setter Hattie have I had a setter pointing so well so young. I'm sure she will make some mistakes as I get her into more birds but she is off to a great start.
 
Thicket found one woodcock for me in the immense Blandsburg covert, which I missed with both barrels. Cover like this should hold birds but not on the day I was there.




 
Of course it's still a joy to be out walking the coverts watching a young dog's natural instincts develop.



 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Bliss's First Woodcock

Sunday at the Harrier Hawk Ridge Covert Bliss pointed her first woodcock.


We followed the bird and Bliss had another point.


 
This was the only bird we found in a 2 hour walk.  Cold weather is  in the forecast for next week so hopefully the woodcock will start to appear in greater numbers.
 
As always I look at the surrounding nature and spotted this fungi growing on a rotting log.
 
 
Some pictures of the Harrier Hawk Ridge Covert. Golden Rod, Aspen, Spruce and Locust make up the bulk of the cover.
 



 
The ground is predominately slate so this must be a resting area.
 
Two points on a single woodcock does not make a bird dog but you have to start somewhere. :)
Back at the truck I told Bliss what a good girl she is.