Friday, December 25, 2009

Puppy update

Chigger and Bear in one of Chigger’s calmer moments. These pictures were taken yesterday (Christmas Eve).

Chigger and Bear

Chigger and Bear 2

Chigger continues to grow, but he hasn’t outgrown his puppy foolishness by a long shot. He torments his Uncle Bear something awful. Bear puts up with it, at least most of the time, although he has sent the pup rolling a couple of times. Old Sadie still won’t have anything to do with him, and Chigger knows better than to push his luck by pestering her.

There is a formula that says if you weigh a pup at 4 months old, then double the weight, you will be pretty close to the expected adult weight. The only way I have of weighing a pup is to pick it up and stand on a bathroom scale. Then put the pup down and weigh myself. Subtract my weight to get the weight of the pup. When I weighed Chigger he was actually 4.5 months old, but that should be pretty close. He weighed in at 40 pounds. If the formula holds true, he should be right up there with Bear when fully grown. Bear is a guesstimated 75 - 80 pounds. I wouldn’t attempt to pick him up and weigh him as I do a puppy. I’d throw my back out and be laid up for a month!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I took the dogs out for a little exercise today, and to set up a couple of calling stands. I hiked to one of my good spots, tied Bear and Sadie to a couple of trees, and put an electric caller across a small gully from us. Had the video camera on a tripod as usual. It didn’t take long to see that this just wasn’t going to work. As soon as I turned the e-caller on (remotely) little Chigger had to run over there to see what was making those strange sounds. Then he came running back and jumped squarely in the middle of his uncle Bear; biting, chewing, and rough housing for all he was worth. A few minutes of this and the older dog made it plain that he wasn’t going to take it anymore, so the pup spent the rest of the time on the stand digging holes and attacking some bushes. He was having the time of his young life! Like a fart in a skillet, he couldn’t stay still for a minute. It’s ok at this point, as the main object right now is to get him used to being out and to hearing the distress calls, whether coming from an electric or mouth blown call. At least he didn’t start howling at the sounds as some pups do when they first hear them. A little hard on his uncle though, who was tied and couldn’t get away from the puppy attack. Chigger knows better than to try this with Sadie. She doesn’t like puppies at all, and she wouldn’t have tolerated his foolishness for a minute.

After spending awhile on the first unproductive stand I gathered up my toys and walked back to the truck. I loaded Sadie and Chigger in the pickup and roaded Bear ahead of the truck for awhile to give him a chance to stretch his legs. For the second stand I picked a spot where I could set up right next to the truck with the camera aimed down an old fire break, and the caller parked in a bush several yards down the hill. Bear and Sadie were in the back of the truck, and Chigger was up in the cab. He was tired by then, and content to take a nap on the seat without trying to eat it. This is a good spot, and I have called in several fox and a bear from here using exactly the same setup, but no such luck today. Not even a bird came to the call, so I ate my lunch there then poked along home. I fed the pup, and as soon as he had his belly full he crashed. It was an exciting day for him, and he was plumb tuckered out. So far I like what I see, even if he is full of puppy foolishness. That’s to be expected. He isn’t a bit spooked about being out in the woods, and on the walk to that first stand he was running right along with the older dogs; not trying to walk between my legs (and tripping me) as some puppies do.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Catching up

I’m finally getting my mailbox cleaned out and catching up on the news I missed while my computer was down. I’ve already introduced the new pup, so here is a little about his introduction to life around here.

Chigger is smart as a whip and learns fast. Now if I can just get him through the puppy stage before I kill him. He will tear up anything he can get hold of, and those puppy teeth are sharp as needles.

Chigger is his name (they get under your skin and irritate the hell out of you) and he has already been to the mountains just like a big dog, and has been hunting too. The first time I took him out I roaded Bear and Sadie up toward a trailhead for exercise. I had Chigger up in the cab with me, and when we got to the trailhead I let him out and walked around with him some. Pretty soon I felt the urge to use the outhouse. When I went inside and closed the door he panicked. Thought he had lost me. I could hear him raising heck, but he had sense enough to go back to the truck. When I finished my business and went outside I could see him down the hill, sitting next to the truck, and howling like a lost puppy. I called him, and he came to me on a dead run. He had found me, and he was happy as he could be. Then he sat down in front of me on his little butt, and I swear he called me every name in the book. I can’t remember ever being cussed out like that by a dog before. LOL.

The next time out was uneventful. I drove up to the Lovers Camp trailhead as I wanted to look at the new corrals that the Forest Service had built there just before the fire broke out, and to see if any sign of the fire could be seen from there. It couldn’t. There were about a dozen head of cows and calves in one of the corrals but no one around. I let the dogs run around some and ate lunch there, and just as I was getting ready to leave one of the rancher’s daughters drove up with a stock trailer to pick up the cows. These were the last of the bunch that had been grazing in Red Rock Valley right through the fire. She caught me up on the news of where the fire had burned, and said the cattle had no trouble staying away from it.

A few days later I took all the dogs up on the hill behind my house and set up a couple of calling stands. Nothing showed up but a few blue jays, and Chigger spent most of the time bugging the older dogs. A couple of days ago I took Bear and Chigger out and set up a stand close to home, behind a ranch just down the road. I had the video camera set up on a tripod, an electric caller a few yards out in front of me, and Bear tied to a tree just behind me. Chigger was either bugging Bear or laying under the folding stool I was perched on. Only a minute or so into the call, Bear came to his feet and started growling. He was telling me plainly that something had come in the back door. I swiveled around as best I could, and there was a coyote standing there looking at me. Kind of a poor looking coyote, and may have been a young one. No way I could swing the camera around to get him on video, and pretty soon Bear couldn’t stand it anymore and let out a roar. That ended it. The coyote put it in high gear and beat feet out of there. I turned Bear loose for a little run, and he was back in about 15 minutes or so with his tongue hanging out. Of course Chigger had no idea of what was going on, but he has plenty of time ahead of him to learn.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Meet Chigger

If anyone has been wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been right here. It was my computer that was sick and spent over 3 weeks in the hospital. It’s all better now and I’m just beginning to catch up.

The only major event to take place while I’ve been off line is the addition of a new puppy; another Airedale of course.


Chigger on lawn

This is Chigger, grandson of my old Kelly. I knew from the first day that I heard about this litter that I would have to have a male from it. He is a little live wire, and has been keeping me busy, but puppies are fun to watch as they discover their world.

Chigger investigating the chickens:

Chigger and chickens

Soon after this photo was taken, he caught 3 of the birds in less than 5 minutes. He got a mouthful of feathers from each one and looked like he had grown a beard. Got his little butt paddled for it, and so far that is the only time I have had to lay a rough hand on him. He didn’t like it much, and although he obviously still has an interest in the chickens a sharp “NO” is all that is necessary to stop him.

Chigger discovers Sis:

Chigger discovers Sis

It’s a good thing my mare is good with dogs and puppies. A mule would have killed him by now! They don’t take kindly to puppies who snap at their heels and pull on their tails. Lots of horses wouldn’t tolerate it either.

Old Sadie will turn 14 years old next month, and she hates puppies almost as much as she hates other females. She is doing her best to ignore the new pup. His Uncle Bear will play with him some, but I can see that he is getting tired of being a chew toy. Those puppy teeth are sharp, and nothing is sacred. It’s the old story, “If you want it, keep it out of reach”. He will tear up anything he can get hold of! He is growing like the proverbial weed. He’s been here less than 3 weeks, and I’ve already let his collar out 3 notches.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Small predators

A few days ago I missed a chicken. A neighbor had told me that he had shot at and missed a coyote about a week ago, so that was the number 1 suspect. Last night, after dark, I heard a commotion outside, so I grabbed a flashlight and shotgun and headed outside to see what was going on. A skunk had dug its way into the pigeon coop and killed a bird. When I saw it, it squeezed out the way it had gone in and was trying to drag the dead pigeon out with it. I gave it a load of number 6 shot and figured that was the end of that. I didn’t want to deal with the smelly thing just then, so I left it where it lay and went back in the house. Sure looked dead to me. Later I went back out to take some garbage out, and the striped kitty was gone! I can still smell it pretty strong around the coop today, and can’t help but think it is laying dead around here some place and I just haven’t found it yet. Sure hope it didn’t get into my woodshed or under my hay stack. I’d have a heck of a time getting it out of either place. Today I filled in the hole where the skunk dug into the coop, and used the dead pigeon to bait a cage trap that I have sitting next to the coop; just in case.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Big predators

I received this in an e-mail from a friend today.

“I finally got a deer. First legal buck I have seen while hunting in the last three years in this area. Saw mountain lion tracks everywhere I went. The woods are full of them.Jess”

And that’s pretty much gospel! The northern states may have their wolves, but we have big cats. Two have been seen recently within 100 yards of where I hang my hat. Today I was hunting near home and saw a large track in the dust on the side of the road. It was badly dusted or I would have taken a picture with my pocket knife beside it for comparison. Big tom! I set up a couple of calling stands, but without luck. Nothing but blue jays showed up.

I did pick up a squirrel for dinner on the way home. I think I need a retriever! It treed right on the side of the road, but then fell down a gawd awful steep bank. Bear went down there and showed me where it was, but he won’t bring them to me. I sat on my butt and slid down there, but then I had a heck of a time getting back up to the road. Hey, it would have been tough when I was younger; but I ain’t young no more!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The fruit of my labor

The elderberries I brought home from the mountain cooked down to 1.5 gallons of juice. I used a gallon of it to make jelly. Twenty 12 oz jars and six 8 oz jars. I still had a half gallon of juice left over to put in the freezer for later use.

Normally when I finish this chore I pick a batch of blackberries for jam, but I still have a jar of processed blackberries and a jar of processed plums in the freezer from last year, so I think I’ll call it good for now. Besides, I’m running low on jelly jars.


Sometime back, maybe a couple of years more or less, I saw the first praying mantis that I had ever seen. I broke open a bale of hay to feed my horse, and lo and behold, a mantis popped out! I had seen pictures of them, so of course I knew what it was, but I had never actually seen one. Yesterday evening I was watering what is left of my garden when I felt something on the back of my hand. At first glance I thought it was a bit of a leaf or a twig and I almost brushed it off - and then it moved. Another mantis! I carried it inside and placed it on a neutral background so it would show up well and took this photo; then took it back outside and released it back into the garden area. They are tiny predators, good at catching and eating other insects, so they are good to have around. No wonder I haven’t seen more. With that green coloration they would be hard to spot among vegetation.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Not quite a dry run

Our cool weather was to nice to last. Temperature is right back in the 90's every day now. I took Bear over to Quartz Hill today and set up a couple of calling stands. Stayed a half an hour on each stand. On the first stand I started with a fawn distress sound and didn’t see anything. After 15 minutes I switched to a woodpecker distress and called in a few blue jays. I used the same sequence of sounds on the second stand and didn’t see a thing. Bear treed a squirrel in between stands, and we brought that one home for dinner.

Aside from the oak trees in my back yard, I haven’t seen any acorns anywhere I’ve been so far. There are manzanita berries, and that will furnish wildlife feed for awhile, but the closer it gets to fall and cooler weather the more the deer and bear will be looking for acorns. I’ve seen a little bear sign, but very little. Most are probably still in the high country, but when they drop down lower for the big fall feed I’m afraid they won’t find much around here.

Got hot again today, and there is smoke coming in from somewhere. Might be from a small fire right on the CA/OR border.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Opening weekend

Small game season (tree squirrel, mountain quail, and grouse) opened here yesterday. Normally it is hot on opening day, but Saturday dawned cloudy and cool with a slight chance of showers in the forecast. I had 2 things on my mind; the possibility of bringing home a little meat for the dinner table, plus it was time to check the elderberry bushes up on the mountain. The berries here at home had dried up in the summer heat and didn’t amount to anything. I put a big plastic bucket and some plastic garbage bags in the bed of the pickup along with the standard hunting gear, loaded Bear in the cab with me, and headed up the mountain.

Usually there are some squirrels active around the few houses I have to pass, and this was no exception. I saw 4 before we passed the last house, but once we started up the mountain we never saw another squirrel. I put Bear out in front of the truck and roaded him through some of the best squirrel country, but they just weren’t moving. After awhile I picked him up and headed for higher country and the berry bushes, keeping an eye out for grouse or quail, which were even more scarce than the squirrels. By now the clouds had dissipated, and the temperature quickly approached the more expected 90 degrees.

The elderberries on the mountain didn’t let me down. They are even more prolific than last year if that is possible. I could practically stand in 1 place and pick a bucket full, and in short order I had 2 sacks filled. While I was picking berries, a fellow I know came driving down the road. He had been farther up the mountain with his black lab in search of grouse. He said there were no goose berries or snow berries on the mountain, favorites of the berry eating birds, and grouse were few and far between. His dog had flushed a couple without him getting a shot. Quail are seed eaters, but they seemed to be in short supply too.

Having picked more than enough elderberries to keep me busy for awhile, I loaded Bear back in the truck and drove back down the mountain to a shady spot by a creek to eat lunch. Along the way I saw 1 lonesome quail run across the road, and that was all the game I saw the rest of the day.

Today (Sunday) dawned cloudy and cool again, but unlike the day before the clouds stayed. It eventually warmed up enough to be just comfortable in a T-shirt. I left Bear at home today and took old Sadie out, not that she would be of any great help. She is fast approaching 14 years old, and the years are telling on her, but she still likes to go. She still looks pretty good bouncing around here in the yard, but she tires quickly. I roaded her a little bit at first, but she soon ran out of gas and I picked her up; then just road hunted for a little while to see what might turn up. If game had been scarce yesterday, it was non-existent today. Even the squirrels around the houses weren’t moving. I eventually parked in the same place for lunch where I had been yesterday, having seen a grand total of 1 ground squirrel. I know the hunting will pick up as we move closer toward fall and hopefully get some rain, but this is about as poor as I have ever seen it on opening weekend. For now, I know what I will be doing the next couple of days. I have a heck of a lot of berries to turn into juice, which in turn will be turned into jelly and syrup, and maybe even a little elderberry brandy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A new begining

Looking at the date of my last entry here, I see that it has been a little over a year since my last post. I suppose I could blame that on several things, but foremost among them would be the loss of 2 dogs so close together, and nearly losing another. It kind of took the wind out of my sails. Losing Kelly was to be expected, he was an old dog; but losing Dove and nearly losing Bear too to poison was quite a blow. I never found out who did that, and probably never will.

Now, over a year later, things are looking up. Of course Sadie is the old dog now. She will be 14 years old in December. For a dog her age she still looks pretty good here in the yard, but she tires easily. She will never see the day when she can go out with a horse again, and who knows how much longer she will be here. Bear will turn 7 years old in November, so it is time to bring on another pup. The photo above shows a litter, 3 days old when the picture was taken. They belong to a friend in Oregon, and are sired by a son of my old Kelly. I am told that 1 of the males has my name on it, so this will be a grandson of Kelly. It will arrive here sometime in November, about 3 months old by then.

I have done some small game hunting, and predator calling to the camera locally, but I haven’t set up a summer camp in the mountains in the last 2 years. This is largely due to losing a good partner to medical problems. I camped all one summer and part of the previous summer by myself, and then decided to stay home for awhile. I planted a garden as much to keep me occupied as anything else, but when the triple digit temperatures hit here in the valley I was really longing to be camped somewhere in the high country. I miss the mountains too! I’ve pretty much decided to scrap the garden next summer and head back to the mountains. Now my old buddy is making noises about doing the same thing, so maybe we will get back to the old way of doing things. At least that is the plan at this time.

As of this writing, this year’s garden is winding down. The tomatoes are still producing, and I have yet to dig my potatoes. Small game season is just around the corner, and that is time to pick wild berries on the mountain too, for my year’s supply of jelly, jam, and syrup. Cooler weather will mean time to do some predator calling. Right now there is a fire raging in some of my old stomping grounds in the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area, a supposedly “controlled burn” set by the Forest Service that got out of hand. Hopefully we will have some rain soon, enough to put it out.

I really don’t know who, if anyone, reads what I write here, and maybe I am just writing it for myself; but I will make an effort to keep this journal more up to date in the future. If nothing else it is a diary of sorts that I may enjoy looking back over in the future. To those who might actually read this, I hope you enjoy some of my scribbling.