Top photo: Morning sun through the pines south of the house.
This little antenna, our first ever experience with an outside antenna, brought us great results - on two channels.
A deer left a little of himself on the barbed wire along the east fenceline.
Sun shining on the dark oak leaf had helped it melt an impression of itself into the snow.
This is one of the big old oaks in the former pasture north of the house. Several of them are probably more than 100 years old.
The new kitchen is ready for some cooks. We had lots of great meals served at the old tree farm house, but we're really looking forward to the possibilities in the summer of 2012, with much improved facilities and a cooking deck off the back of the house.
Waiting for spring February has by and large kept us out of the woods. Not because of too much snow, but because the visits have been limited, in number and time. Our latest, on Feb. 24-25, was mostly just to a quick overnight (arriving at 2:30 Friday and leaving the next day at noon) to check on the house and see how the propane supply was holding up (The tank was still 45 percent full).
Progress continues on the house, with just a few details to be finished. The stair rail lying on the floor in the photo above (lower left) needs to be stained and sealed and then re-installed on the stairway. There is still a good deal of trim painting to be finished, and a few other little details like some plumbing concerns and a lock that doesn't work quite right.
On the latest visit, we got the last of the towel racks put up in the downstairs bathroom. The builder had been back to caulk in the countertops, and we're just down to some painting of the window and door trim and that room should be complete. We brought up new towel racks and a toilet paper holder for the upstairs bath, and hope we can get those up on the next visit - as well as the rod for the shower curtain.
There was still quite a bit of squirrel activity this trip, but nothing like our earlier Feb. 6-7 visit, when there were sometimes six or seven chasing around underneath the walnut trees. I did see some chickadees and a woodpecker on the more recent visit, but I'm not a good enough birder to tell with a quick look what kind of woodpecker it was. Something to work on this year. We used to have more red-headed woodpeckers, which were easy to identify, but I haven't seen any at the farm in recent years. They're like the ruffed grouse and flying squirrels, something we used to see frequently but that haven't been in view for years.
It was very cold and very windy for the late February visit, so we didn't get outside much. But I was out in the garage long enough to move things around and create space to pull the Pilot in out of the weather, should be happen to be up for another visit when there is snow or freezing rain. It's the first time it has been that open in almost a year. The earlier visit was a little longer, and I did manage to get out in the woods more. The first afternoon, I headed to the north valley and hillside with a pole saw. I'm trying to get improve the view along the fenceline along the road so it looks nice when you drive by (and I should add for the DNR's sake, while adhering to standard forestry practices). Several of the white pine I planted there have taken off and the one redbud I planted is large enough that its flowers show in the spiring. But today my focus was on a low-hanging branch from one of the old white oaks, and I wanted to cut it while it is still safe to do so - before the start of the oak wilt season. I thought maybe I should have brought my electric polesaw, but it actually went well with the manual version, and in less than five minutes the offending limb was on the ground.
While I was in the area, I also cut down buckthorn that I had discovered and marked a year ago. I will still need to come back with some Garlon and treat the stump later. I walked on east through the woods to the fenceline and checked out possible areas where we can mow paths through the woods, which was once grazed by the neighbor's cows and horses. I'd still like to keep it fairly open while encouraging better trees, mostly red and white oak and a few hickory as well as a mix of red and white pine and white spruce. I want to get rid of some if not most of the red maple and the ironwood and elm.
The second day I took a hike down through the pines for about an hour. I didn't see any deer, but I did scare up a turkey back behind the house as I returned from the outing. I saw where deer had jumped over the east fence and left a little souvenir on a piece of barbed wire near a well-used trail through our pines. I enjoy the hikes, but I always see so much work I'd like to do, whether open a new trail or attack a patch of invasives.
We also got some inside work done, putting up the first of the bathroom towel racks and doing some more painting of trim. We are still in need of that two- or three-night stay, but it still hasn't worked out.
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