Pack Goats First Multi-night Campout

Not exactly wilderness survival, but it was a ten-day sleepover at a secluded place away from home. We packed everyone up and moved to a high-vista ridge we have nearby in the Black Hills. We could see the sun rise over Chicago and set over Portland (well, kinda like that). Unlimited views in every direction, including Bear Butte/Sturgis to the north and the night-sky lights of Rapid City to the south.

On three different days, we saw violent thunderstorms coming from 20 miles away, which provided lots of sky-fireworks and lots of time to prepare. On one night, we had 80-90mph winds and torrential rains at 2am. I joined the startled goats in a small protective enclosure until it passed.
One morning we delayed going to work long enough for me to go up and take some aerial photo's of an adjacent campground run by a nice couple who let us take a hot shower each day. So I snapped one of the ridge where we were camping, too.
For the first time ever, we got our fill of rock hunting. She also found lots of petrified wood and pure white crystaline rocks. The goats, however, had a special interest in those strange new rocks, which you can see here.
Interesting, that we, and the four goats, and Sherlock loved it there and agreed we all want to return. To stay and live. But that's another story, of solar proportions. Stay tuned.



The family enjoyed a delightfully productive long weekend on a trout fishing expedition.  All five families stayed in a private log lodge within walking distance of some great rainbows and browns.  Weather was perfect with a surreal fog-shrouded stream at daybreak and near-full moon glistening on the trickling rapids at nightfall.  Of course, though, fishing was not quite as favorable as implied by the photo below, from a nearby hatchery. 

We all enjoyed our traditional Saturday night feast of deep-fried and grill-baked trout, and too many side dishes and deserts to admit.   Sunday morning we all took our matriarch, Grandma Donna, to the main lodge for Mother's Day dinner.

Trout fishing was stellar; but we can't wait until salmon season returns so we can fish right from our back yard in "Snohomish Country".

However, things were not all a slam dunk.  We did have some competition for the trout as shown at left (wink).



We had a thrilling, fantastically successful Kids' Fishing Day this weekend in Monroe, Washington.  
A proud kid and his buddy at the 2015 Monroe Kids' Fishing Day
 (Photo (C)2015 Snohomish Country Photography)
With several sponsors, including Trout Unlimited, Monroe Lions Club and Hagen Grocery, there were lots of fish, plenty volunteer help, various snacks...and Kids' Smiles Unlimited.  

I spoke with one of the organizers who said he had personally counted the many dozens of over-three pound trout included in the special stocking.  When I arrived there about 9:30 the place was already buzzing with hundreds of happy fisherkids and equally smiley adults...and only 15 of the whoppers had been weighed in so far.

Monroe WA 2015 Kids' Fishing Day
 (Photo (C)2015 Snohomish Country Photography)
 Interesting that every single one of the hundreds of kids I saw, and nearly every one of their adult companions seemed so happy and laid back.  Nothing like opening bell on weekends at some of the stocked "trout streams" I have visited in state parks elsewhere.

Four proud, successful anglers
 (Photo (C)2015 Snohomish Country Photography)
The Monroe Lions Club and Trout Unlimited had set up to clean the fish for the kids and to weigh each fish.

Congratulations Trout Unlimited, Monroe Lions' Club, Hagens Grocery and the many other sponsors.  A great day for kids craving a day of trout fishing in Snohomish country.  But, next year I'm going to find a kid to go with me.  

PS:  When you go next year don't be discouraged by the huge line waiting for their turn to get in.  Some of those were, according to one organizer, coming back through for the 2nd or 3rd time after they caught their limit.  Crowd coordination is stellar, allowing everyone a safe and relax.
Many fishing teams at 2015
Monroe Kids' Fishing Day were not "fishermen"
(Photo (C)2015 Snohomish Country Photography)
Aspiring anglers waiting in line (on left) at
2015 Monroe Trout Unlimited Kids' Fishing Day.
(Photo (C)2015 Snohomish Country Photography)

"Whoaaaaa...lookit these!"
(Photo (C)2015 Snohomish Country Photography)

Volunteers cleaned fish for any kid who wanted it
(Photo (C)2015 Snohomish Country Photography)

Monday Post

Lee's post content was here.  Here is a photo.
Fishing Derby Monroe

And here is another photo.
Waiting Line for Fishing



Click on images to see them enlarged.

One of Leez Bz stopped to sip from a water droplet.
She is taking a very rare respite
from day-long marathon of foraging
for a few more morsels of nutrient in the fall forest foliage.

Break time is over.
Time to return to the fields searching for
remaining bits of pollen in the fall forest.


Fall Equinox tomorrow means it's time for the Ladies' annual pre-winter home inspection. 

First step is just to sit quietly at the hive entry for a few minutes to observe patterns.  Patterns of how many bees are coming and going to forage.  How much pollen they are returning with.  What color (plant type) is the pollen?  How much, what kind of noise the colony is making.  How many dead bees are strewn on the ground below the hive entrance, and whether it appears they may have died about the same time.  Examine stain streaks on the exterior hive body walls for signs of nosema (which can involve diarrhea).

Sometimes I'll place a stethoscope gently against the sides of the hive boxes to determine how tightly clustered they are, if at all, and if so, where.  That will help guide which frames to remove, or not, for examination when I open the hive in a few minutes.
Leez Bz
(two sidebar boxes are from unsuccessful colonies)

Opening the top of the hive to examine the "super" (the third, topmost box...the bees get to keep all the honey stores they put up for winter feeding, in the lower two boxes).  The super is about 1/3 full, since I used it to replace the prior super a few weeks ago.  If the colony looks healthy today I'll hope to harvest this honey soon.  If not, I'll leave it for winter backup panty, then take it in the spring when forest flowers bloom with pollen to make new honey.

Just a close-up view of the super box.  Not much action up here because it's early and crisply cool still this morning.

I performed only a cursory examination in order not to keep the hive open too long. The Ladies seemed to be doing well, so no need to get them all upset with a detailed exploratory exam.  I had prepared a 50/50 sugar/water mix, and cleaned this plastic hive-top feeder, ahead of time in case of deciding to install it.  I decided to install it.  Partly because the earlier entry-point observation revealed rather little pollen arriving on the bees' rear tibia (corbicula).

Aluminum (water proof) roof installed, with rock to avoid wind blowing off the roof.  Note the hive tools in lower left.  (One of them thinks it used to be a roof repair pry bar).

Well fed, plenty room to maneuver inside the hive, warm sun rays on a crisp fall day.  What more could we do to comfort these incredibly hard working Ladies?