Ottertail Country

Ottertail Country
Ottertail South

October 31, 2008

I went hunting, and it was O.K......


I've put in a few photos of the Ottertail Lodge as we enter the deer hunting season. Last year I first went bow hunting on October 28th (season opens about 2 weeks into September), as I was busy finishing garage items and getting ready for winter. This year I first went on October 28th, three days ago. I hope this isn't a permanent pattern....

The stove is set, I swept the floor and put away all the junk I stored in the middle of the floor for the last 8 months.... But I digress.

I went out to the Hemlock tree on Tuesday afternoon. It felt good to climb up that tree and settle into the tree seat that I have spent so many hours in over the last dozen years. The sun was shining, the leaves are all down and smelling like autumn in the forest. I heard the familiar cheep(how do you describe that sound?) of a nuthatch, and watched it hop headfirst down a nearby white ash tree. It and it's mate flitted about for quite a while, testing a kernel of corn once in a while.

Here is that wonderful bull skull that Liz and Dennis provided for the lodge. I call it the "biggest spiker you'll ever see". But I digress....

Also active around my Hemlock were three gray squirrels. They are very busy right now collecting as many acorns as possible. There are 4 or 5 big oaks within 30 yards of my hemlock tree, and right now they are the only deciduous trees with leaves. They are dead leaves, brown and crunchy and they make the nicest rustling in the faint breeze that still comes and goes in the early evening. The squirrels are non stop, making sounds in the litter on the ground... not unlike a deer walking through the leaves. Except when a deer does approach, the sound in unmistakable. I saw an 8 pointer, maybe 12-13" inside spread. I watched him for quite a while, content in knowing that this was not the night. Later I saw a spike horn buck, he actually bedded down under my hemlock!! As darkness gathered, I dropped a glove that landed a few feet from the deer and he bolted and disappeared into the brush. I climbed out......

The walk back to the Ottertail was like any number of other similar trips, but each time is also a new experience. Tonight the leaves in the low lying places were frozen into a crisp layer on the ground, all attached by that little layer of ice forming in the rapidly cooling evening. The quite little crunchings from those leaves are the only sounds. The trees were rapidly loosing any contrast in their appearance, and by the time I reached the Sugar Woods near Horse tree, the big maples were no more than black skeletons showing themselves against the dying light in the West. I often just stop and stand staring at the ever changing sky, trying to embed the images and colors in my brain. By the time I break out into the field, I am completely in silhouette land. The gap in the trees that shows the western sky is ruddy orange at the sky line, gradually fading to yellow, pale blue and finally to dark blue. It's the time when only a few stars are showing, the brightest ones out there, and tonight the fingernail moon was just above the horizon in the layer of yellowish sky. Soon I'm passing through the 15" tall white pines in the field, now nothing more than solemn, fuzzy sentries guarding the gateway to the Ottertail. A few more steps and the warm lights in the lodge can be seen in the gaps in the trees, and soon I'm getting out of my hunting clothes in the cold night air under the lean-to roof on the shed. By the time I get stripped down to long johns and tee shirt, I'm starting to shiver.... a quick walk to the house and warmth, and the evening is now another Ottertail memory.

I really like this one. I hope to be in that situation someday about 20 years from now, gradually working on getting some firewood, taking a break and admiring the tree.....

I gotta go, Carlo


October 25, 2008

October is nearly gone!!


Now here is a topic I debated even talking about.... multicolored Asian beetles. We all know and love 'em, especially in an older, somewhat leaky house. These critters have plagued this house since about what, 1997? '98? Somewhere in that zone. Lucy was really not happy about them, I tried to ignore them (it worked for a while). There is an Ogema area guy that has a setup for spraying houses to prevent these bugs from getting in. We knew that. Did we call him? No. Why? Don't know. I once bought a bottle of bug killer that had a little spray handle with it and I sprayed the inside of the shed door with the stuff. Beetles died and fell on the floor below that door for years. Did I make a connection between that and the house? No. Sometime in late August of this year, I called the Ogema bug man! Would he spray our house? No, too many to do already, sorry. Swede and BJ (fellow workers) and I have talked about these bugs alot lately. Swede gets his house sprayed and gets (almost) no beetles. We talked to a few people who get their houses sprayed. We talked to some people who SPRAY THEIR OWN HOUSES!!" We researched bug sprays on the internet and found the one's that we know work. We discussed getting a sprayer setup. I went home early and found the remainder of that bug killer, dug out my 'deck sprayer' (in the photo above) and went to work. Ran out of killer and made a trip to Rib Lake hardware for 2 more gallons. I spent about an hour total in the spraying mode, coating all the lower floor walls, eaves and windows. I could not reach the upper level without getting ladders out, and I was not sure this was even going to work. In a few hours the bugs showed up, and in a few more hours there were hundreds (a conservative estimate) of dead beetles on the deck and front porch. Obviously, this was happening all the way around the house This continued for a couple of days until the weather cooled off and the bugs stayed away. We have had maybe 10 beetles in the house so far..... I apologize, Lucy, for not getting this started years ago.

Here are some really bad photos, but I had to try to get them. Notice the tractor has three axles behind the cab, then a small trailer with three axles hooks to the fifth wheel on the tractor.

The main trailer then attaches to the first little trailer's fifth wheel via a long gooseneck. The item on the trailer is huge, yellow, and very big. Heavy, too, I would guess, not to mention it must weigh a ton. Don't know what it is, but it was made by Le Tourneau machinery company.

The back end of the trailer had SIX axles!! The trailer itself looked to be only a few inches clear of the roadway. This truck was at the Travel Center in Prentice.

Moving on......

I recently visited the Taj Mashack near Wintergreen lake. I helped Pat and Dan put some wood paneling on the loft walls. I noticed this somewhat glitzy hanging light, looking very nice against the wood paneling, curved windows, etc, in this "hunting shack"......

Most of the wood is now on the ceiling and upper walls, sheet rock will go on the lower areas.

A couple views of the cathedral ceiling on the east end....

and the loft on the west end.

Don't know if I used this photo before, but I really like it. It's in the window at Ball Amoco in Phillips. Not often you see a sign prohibiting 'flinging'.

Last Wednesday Ivan and I went to Chuck's house to help him get his steel roofing put on his house. Chuck had taken the old shingles off and prepared the roof for the metal panels. By the time we quit on Wed, we had the north side done.

On Thursday Ivan and Chuck had the steel panels on the roof by the time I got there. We discussed how to put the ridge cap on, and Ivan and I started on it. This photo is kind of fuzzy, but that's just Pat moving too quickly, as usual. By this time it was cold enough that we could not maintain a grip on the roof with our running shoes, so Ivan tested the traction barefooted. I asked him how it was and he replied, "Just like a pat on a cold tin roof...."

It worked pretty good, so I took off my shoes and socks and we got going on the cap. We did not feel like we could leave it for the next day, because it was supposed to rain (and it did rain quite alot on Friday). Note the bare feet on the guy touching up the paint job on the ridge cap when we were done installing it.

What a dunce I am. I'm on Chuck's steel roof, barefoot, in low forty degree weather and Chuck is on the ground, shoes on, using my camera. Doh!!!

Today, Saturday, I sawed and split the remainder of the old Maple tree that I cut down about a year ago. It's all on the trailer now, eagerly awaiting a chance to satiate the appetite of that wood fired boiler.....

We thought that we would be wise to provide an alternate power source for the wood heat system, so we retrieved Peggy's generator from the storage shed on her forty in Lugerville. I noticed a few bits of insulation peeking out from under the cylinder shroud, so I took all the outer parts off. Found a large pile of inslation inside, evidently from a mouse/mice habitation. So I'll need to clean it all up, get a new air cleaner element and see if I can get it running.

No matter how much of this junk I do, the list of 'to do' items never seems to dwindle....

I gotta go, Carlo


October 19, 2008

Mid-autumn in Price county.


Hey, it's really autumn!! Most of the trees are bare in Northern Wisconsin. Only the silver maples retain about half their leaves, and some shrubs still have yellow leaves. The flowering crab has again turned an amazing degree of red. Thousands of little crabbies are waiting for birds and the deer will eat more of the ones on the lower limbs.

Peg spotted the last apple on the tree in the yard. It must have dropped and gotten skewered by a twig below. I'm sure it's well past it's prime.... the tree looks pretty desolate right now. There were so many apples this year, and the acorn crop in the woods was huge. Deer really like acorns, and oak woods are good hunting spots in the fall.

One of the few bright spots around the place is the flower bed that contains the Japanese lantern plants. They are really bright.

It's too late for any of you to get us an anniversary present... well, in a timely manner anyway. We just had a visit this weekend as Peggy's cousins from Florida and Ohio were in town to visit Donna and the rest of the family. That got me to thinking of our wedding gathering, and above are Peggy's mom, siblings and neices and nephews.

And here are my mom, siblings, neices and nephews. We really had an awesome day and evening, and were glad so many relatives could be there.

Here are Peg's mom and cousins. The couple on the left, Patty and Mike, came up from Florida. The gal behind and between Peg is Jeanie, her cousin that lives in Montana. We visited out there once. On the right, next to me, is Joey from Pennsylvania and Jeanie's sister. The couple at the extreme right in the back are Michele and Steve Ford. Michele is Patty's sister, and next to Michele is Rachele, her and Steve's daughter. Whew, I'll have to check with Peg to verify all this information....
Anyway, Patty and Michelle and Steve were visitors in Phillips for the last few days and we spent time with them on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening. They are fun people to be around and we really enjoyed the visit.

Below is the reason that you need to keep track of your jack-o-lanterns!! Keep an eye on them, know where they are going, who they will be with, and above all, DON'T LET THEM DRINK!!!!

I gotta go, Carlo


October 12, 2008

This, that and the other thing...


Oh, yeah! That's the kind of wood pile I like to see by the mailbox. It means that almost all of the wood is now piled near the outdoor boiler.....

I wondered what the pile would look like from above, so the ladder was near and I climbed up onto the shed roof. Yes, the wood is all there now, just have to fling it all into the stove. I glad that doesn't have to happen all at once.

Reminded me of a paper mill yard. Only not as big. As long as I was up there, I decided to document the view from this angle.

Looking straight east, the yellows of the aspen and the green of balsam is quite a sight.

Southeast gets this view of a variety of trees and grasses.

A new view of the house. Last fall we saw some pictures taken from the roof of the house as Ivan and I worked on re-building the chimney up there.

The flowering crab is LOADED with those little red bird candies. Lot's of feathered visitors, including a couple of patteridge.

Sunday afternoon was spent at the home of Sherburn (Sherb, as he is called) and Virginia Mabie, in the Kennan area. A couple of years ago, Sherb built this wonderful wooden windmill! He bought the top works, got plans for the tower and went to work.

A close-up of the top platform shows that it's not very large when compared to the ladder, which is of normal proportions. Of course, I could not resist climbing the thing to get a better look at the mill and a look at the surrounding country.

This is what it looks like straight down to the ground 25 feet below my feet.

I got a few pictures of their house and surroundings and incorporated parts of the windmill in the photos.

I like this one the best with the sun directly behind. It was a great afternoon with a chance to see all of their projects and crafts. A very interesting couple.

I gotta go, Carlo


October 4, 2008



I swear this will be the last episode of this durned boiler! Actually, two good things happened today. Going to work this morning was not a good thing, but the outcome was. I'm finally done with the design, building portion of the 'project from hell' that has plagued me since last March. I finished the last few items that needed attention, and it will leave the premises next Monday!
We got home from work about 1:30 this afternoon and started in on starting the boiler. We added the anti-corrosion goop to the boiler, partially filled it through the pipes running to the house to push the air out of them. Then we stuffed the hose into the top and turned it on....

While we waited for the thing to fill, I gathered some kindling, small wood, etc in preparation for the first fire.

Yeah, I built a nice one with some pine kindling, small hard maple limb pieces and some blocks of well seasoned hard maple.

Meanwhile the water was running in, here we see that we only have about 5" space left in the water level gauge. Peg was cleaning some dead lilac bushes out of the hedge and we added these to the firebox as well.

It took about an hour to fill it, and then we set the kindling ablaze, closed the door and hoped for the best.

First smoke from the Ottertail outdoor boiler! We've been waiting a long time to see that...

So I sat there and monitored the temperature increase of the water in the boiler. It started out at 49°, the temp. of the well water that was put into it.

Smoke drifted into the silver maple and created this scene.

I yelled and cheered as the temperature display neared 185°, the temp we would use for the upper limit.

Hey, hey!! It took 1 hour, 45 min to get 200 gals of water up to 185°. I was surprised it didn't take longer. I turned off the power to the water heater, it's also hooked to the outside boiler. The house is toasty warm right now, no sound of fuel oil vaporizing in the furnace. I'm liking this bunches right now, I wonder how much wood it will take to keep us warm all winter???

Couldn't resist this tree in Phillips. It is unusually dark green in areas, dark red in others. I don't remember seeing such contrast on one tree.

Now to get going on bowhunting. Oh, yeah, and hauling the firewood closer to the stove.....

I gotta go, Carlo