Monday, June 29, 2009

A year ago today!

It is hard to believe it has been a year since my accident. We drove to the site today, or should I say Lee drove, I didn't want to tempt fate. The first picture shows the spot I landed in 53' almost straight down from the road.
I am pointing down to the location not wishing a repeat in this lifetime. I feel fortunate to have survived this and it reminds me to pay attention. When you travel these roads everyday you get complacent about their danger. They are constantly changing downed trees, rocks, washouts, changes in vegetation. It was good
weather and the lack of concentration on a road traveled often. I looked away at the wrong time and my tire found a narrow, break away spot. The car was quick to remind me, I am not in control as I was tossed over and over four times landing in the creek and breaking my back in multiple places.
I climbed out in a rush of adrenaline through a broken window, slowing working my way up the nearly vertical hill. Cell phones are of no use and my car could not be seen from the road. Lee drove right past it until told where it was returning to the cabin. It may
have been best she didn't see it before she saw me.
My kids sent me this monkey after I got home from the hospital. It visited the site and attempted to climb one of the slippery rocks. But monkeys like trees better than rocks. It's helmet and parachute did protect it from falling.
It has taken me a year to feel like I am beginning to recover, emotionally and psychically. So many people sent me support in words, deeds, and money. I don't think I would have made it through without their loving support. I can never think there aren't great people in this world whenever I remember that day!
The roads haven't changed, but I will never be the same living through that event. Thanks to you all.
Mountain girl, Paula, logging off, and staying out of the ditches.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Snakes and flowers

Just had to post this snake skin I found on the front porch. It was fully intact and 46 inches long. Probably just a black snake or rat snake, still impressive in length. I got Lee to hold it against the door so you could see it. I don't mind having the snakes around since they eat up a lot of mice. It looks like this one has eaten its fair share.

For those of you who hate snakes, my daughter especially, I posted some nice daises I picked outside. A nice mountain flower arrangement to help cover that nasty snake picture. I remember picking many of these flowers for my grandmother as a kid and she always acted like it was the best thing in the world. Sometimes it is the small things kids remember and this one is freely given by nature.
During these hard times it is good to remember how many things can brighten our lives for free and they are right outside our door. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off.

Forest Tent Catapillar

This year Potter County and parts of Tioga County have been hit hard by the Forest Tent Caterpillar. You can see the maples in the first picture looking like early spring instead of late summer. And the second picture shows the top of a ridge browned out by the pests. The one thing I didn't know was all the large flies we have had lately are called "friendly flies" and they actually fest off of the Tent Caterpillar larvae. The flies don't bite, but they are extremely annoying when you are working outside.
The stress on the trees affects their growth and sap production for
the next year. So maple syrup production may definably see a difference in 2010. When the caterpillars become moths they stop eating the trees at which time the trees regrow their leaves. This should be happening starting around now and for the next few weeks. The following is a DCNR article about the pests for your information.
No sign of the injured bear lately. Enjoy the information. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off.

What is Forest Tent Caterpillar?

Forest tent caterpillar (FTC), Malacosoma disstria HUBNER, is native to North America and is a defoliator of hardwood trees in Pennsylvania. Like other species of Lepidoptera, it undergoes a complete life cycle and has four life stages- egg, larva, pupa, and adult. This is a cyclic pest in Pennsylvania with populations occasionally reaching outbreak proportions. When populations are high FTC can cause complete defoliation of affected host species. Unlike the similar eastern tent caterpillar, FTC DOES NOT make a silk tent as its name suggests.

Photo of Forest Tent Caterpillar egg massDescription and Lifecycle
FTC completes one life cycle each year in Pennsylvania. Eggs are laid in a cylindrical mass surrounding a twig in early or mid-summer. Egg masses contain an average of 150-200 eggs and are coated with a foam-like substance called spumaline. Egg masses are preferentially deposited on upper canopy twigs. The egg stage is the over wintering stage for FTC, and egg masses are present until larvae hatch out in early spring.

Three photos showing the camparison between Forest Tent Caterpillar, Eastern Tent Caterpillar and Gypsy MothFTC larvae first start to hatch out in April in Pennsylvania, often at the same time the leaves of host trees first start to appear. Local climate variation may hasten or delay the hatch in certain areas. The larval stage is the main growth stage for FTC and is also the life stage that causes damage. When a caterpillar larva grows, it must periodically molt to accommodate its new size. The periods between molts are referred to as instars. FTC larvae complete five larval instars over a five to six week period. The larvae are generally dark in color, have long hairs, blue stripes, and white markings. The white marks can be variable in shape, but are often described as "footprint-shaped" or "keyhole-shaped", and are dorsally located. These markings are the main diagnostic feature of FTC larvae. Photos showing Forest Tent Caterpillar Coccoon and adult mothThere are many similar looking caterpillar species including the eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum, and the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar. The eastern tent caterpillar can be identified by the presence of a "white stripe" in place of the "footprint-shaped" marks. Gypsy moth can be recognized by its' paired red and blue spots.

The last larval instar seeks a protected area, such as a bark crevice, and spins a whitish, silk cocoon, about an inch long, and pupates within. The pupal stage lasts about three weeks and is usually complete in mid-June in Pennsylvania. It is during this stage that metamorphosis into the adult form occurs.

Adult FTC moths are small, with a wingspan ranging between 1 to 1.5 inches. FTC moths are pale yellow-brown, with two thin, dark-brown, vertical stripes on the forewing. Sometimes the area between the two lines on the forewing is shaded brown. Adults live for about five days, and in that time mate and deposit new generation of eggs.

FTC will feed on a number of tree and plant species throughout its range. In Pennsylvania the preferred host species differs by region. Historically, outbreak populations have occurred on sugar maple and aspen in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania, and on red and scarlet oak in southern Pennsylvania. FTC will feed on species such as ash, birch, cherry, and basswood, but they are less preferred. Red maple and coniferous species are avoided FTC.

FTC causes damage during its larval stage by defoliating host species. Most trees recover from one or two seasons of FTC defoliation. Resulting damage includes severely reduced growth, some branch dieback, and reduced sap flow. Multiple seasons of defoliation can lead to mortality. When combined with other stressors like anthracnose, drought, or other defoliators, mortality can occur in as little as one season. Even though historically, more oak has been defoliated in Pennsylvania, sugar maple is the species most severely affected.

Damage to host trees is most severe during outbreaks. Major outbreaks have been recorded periodically in Pennsylvania since the mid-1930's. The most notable include: a 204,800 acre event in Southwestern Pennsylvania on oak from 1969 to 1972, a 29,000 acre event on sugar maple in Northeastern Pennsylvania in the early 1980's which caused 50 percent mortality of over story sugar maple, and 180,000 acres in 1993-1994 on sugar maple in the north and oak in the south. Again, in the 1993-1994 outbreak, sugar maple mortality was high in Northeastern Pennsylvania, with some landowners reporting over 90 percent mortality. This was attributed to impact of additional stressors in the form of anthracnose and an early season frost.

Outbreak populations usually collapse after a few seasons due to the buildup of populations of natural enemies like parasitic flies and wasps. One fly in particular, Sarcophaga aldrichi, or friendly fly, is extremely important in hastening an FTC population collapse. Friendly flies parasitize the pupae of FTC, disrupting completion of the life cycle. In FTC outbreak years, numbers of friendly flies can reach nuisance levels, and they are readily noticed when they swarm on people, animals, and property.

Some naturally occurring pathogens like nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV) and the fungus Furia crustosa have been shown to negatively affect FTC populations. However, these pathogens are not usually considered be significant in the collapse of large FTC populations.

Sometimes, conditions for all factors that affect FTC populations allow for an outbreak population to last as many as six years. Because many factors influence the longevity of an outbreak, it is difficult to accurately predict how many years a given outbreak will last.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Getting the mail

Well, I had a little surprise today when I opened my mailbox. It was filled with tiny shreds of paper. The kind you find in a mouse or squirrel nest. There were two small boxes in there and I was almost afraid something might be behind them when I moved them, but there was just a bunch of shredded paper. Now the mystery is: How did something get in there to chew it up? The box is metal and it was closed. The only thing I can figure is the box somehow was open enough for a mouse to get in long enough to chew up the mail. I am wondering when it left. When the mail person put more mail in or before. Guess I will never know and this is the first time in seven years my mail has been shredded. I have worried about bears getting food sent in parcel as gifts, but never thought the little mice would chew up my paper. Fortunately, nothing important was mauled by the little critters.

The injured bear hasn't returned to the neighbors feeder. I am concerned it is off laying low trying to heal on its own. It is a shame to see things like that but that is part of nature and must be accepted as much as seeing a mother with twin fawns romping through the woods. I have seen quite a few fawns lately, which is good for the deer population as it is low. Trees have been falling right and left across the road the last couple days as we have had a strong wind. One of the trees a nice maple jumped into my truck after I cut it off the road. Well, working hard to get some projects done before the 4th. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Antlers,bear and Laurel Fest

A couple days ago Thor ran after a rabbit by our van. I didn't think much about it until he reappeared carrying a nice antler shed. There was four points on this side of the shed. The tips had been chewed up by mice a little and Thor had it in his mind to finish the chewing job for them. He seemed a bit disappointed when I retrieved his Pit Bull toothpick as a souvenir for me. I am sure he will find another one. He has quite a good nose.

W went to the Laurel Festival in Wellsboro yesterday. As I walked down the street a man stopped me saying he had been reading all the blogs with great fascination. He has a camp up on West Rim and I wish I could remember his name, but alas I have lost it. So you know who you are and it was great to meet you. It is nice to know that people appreciate this little connection to the back woods.
The Laurel Fest was a wet muddy affair, many people were there, but it didn't seem as many as in past years. I made one purchase to add to my Native American flute collection. I bought a higher pitched flute tuned to an A. Now Lee and I both have a flute and we are anxious to play them together on the mountain for the entertainment of the animals.
We returned around 8pm to the cabin and the dogs immediately found a bear close to the house. I should know better then to let them out the front this time of day. They chased it out onto the road; it didn't seem to be running away and was turned towards the dogs as they approached. I yelled at them to stop and come and thank goodness they listened. Perhaps it was the fact the bear was not running that slowed them. The bear was a good 300 lbs and was about 200 yds down the road from the house.
After I got the dogs inside I listened to my phone messages and was glad the dogs had come back. The next cabin up from me(Hookes) had left an urgent message for help with an injured bear. It appears the bear had most of its nose torn off and was near their feeder. I realized this might be the same bear the dogs just chased, since I couldn't see the details of its face from the distance and the amount of light it was standing in.
In talking to them more it sounds like a horrific injury, probably from fighting with another bear. They said the bear isn't moving very fast and just licked up the food with its nose hanging to the side. Brenda from the Hooke Cabin said she was horrified to see the bear get it nose caught on a branch as it moved around. She said the nasal cavity was exposed and it was still pink inside the gash. They contacted the game commission who told them they would try to tranquilize the animal and have it treated if possible. I am not sure how they will get here in time to do this as any call to them is a minimum of an hour or more to respond. This leaves us with a large hurt bear roaming around.
A injured bear is a dangerous bear and the dogs are now in lockdown until the situation can be resolved. If any of you see this bear call the game commission immediately. I will post further updates if there are any. I hate to see an injured animal suffer and it will be difficult not to want to shoot the bear if I see it has a fatal, suffering wound. However, I have been warned by Lee not to intervene so I am also stuck calling the Game Commission. Nature's way is often not pretty or easy and living here in the woods we see the hard tough things as well as the magnificent beautiful things. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off, and looking out for the bear.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Morris Rattlesnake Roundup

Snakes, snakes, snakes, softball, food, vendors. That pretty much sums up the rattlesnake roundup. I almost was eaten by a rather large snake at the beginning of the day. Fortunately it was made out of wood and easily released my arm. Every year people vie to bring in the largest timber rattler in the area. This year for the first time the contest was limited to male snakes over 42 inches long. Rattlesnakes are protected in this area, but I will have to say it isn't hard to find one especially in July and August crossing the road to get to a cool creek bed.

The snakes are all micro chipped, weighed and measured. There has been many snakes caught in previous years recaptured. The
snake catchers must return the snakes to the area they have been caught from and much care is taken to keep the snakes healthy during their short capture. Lee has threatened every year she will enter the contest...maybe next year. You can see her hands touching the snake in the second picture near the rattle. The handlers take the snake around the crowd with a plastic tube over their heads to keep them from striking anyone. Young and old look, touch and feel the snakes up close. Of course there are many who stay far back from any contact with the snakes.

While we were there two snakes were brought in a yellow and a black timber rattler. The yellow measured around 50" and was very impressive. It takes four guys to hold the snake straight enough to measure.

Then the black came out and measured 53" and weighed 5 lbs. The judges commented that this was a trophy sized snake by any standards. The black snake seemed particularly fat as well as long. He also was quite shiny having just shed before his capture. The snake experts explained that the snakes are born with a bud for the rattler every time they shed they get another link added to their rattle. They can shed many times a year if they are growing fast. This makes it more difficult to tell their age by the rattle links. Also if the bud is broken the length of the rattle will stop growing.

You will notice they have a double fence between the crowd and the snake in case one gets a little frisky. They said the snakes prefer a temperature between 65 and 75 so they must have been happy today with on and off showers the temperatures stayed within those ranges. My only wish was this snake handler had wore a shirt that didn't match the color of the snake so closely as it was difficult at times to tell what was snake and what was shirt.

I don't know the longest snake yet as the contest won't be over until Sunday, but I wouldn't be surprised if the 53" black rattler we saw takes it. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off.

Never a dull moment

Thor found a porcupine this morning and not the soft cute one in his mouth. In a flash he came back with quills in his face and foot. It looked like he had pawed at it and then it smacked him. The quilling wasn't too bad so we were able to get them all out. After his experience I gave him the stuffed one as a consolation for the pain he had to endure.
The second picture is a turtle that was crossing the road after we had a good amount of rain yesterday. I took his picture and moved him to a location he had less chance of being run over. One of my
customers said they were fly fishing on Pine Creek yesterday morning. The water was clear and low when they noticed it start to get muddy. They said within a few minutes the creek rose and turned into a muddy river. His wife had to walk a distance to a bridge to get back across the river. Even when it isn't raining here the water can come from up North faster than you think. Guess that is what they mean by flash flood warning.
Lee and I are heading out to the Rattlesnake Festival in Morris today so should have some pictures to share later. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Winter's wood lines up

Lee finished splitting and stacking the firewood for next winter this week. There is something that gives you a sense of comfort just seeing it line up to dry in the summer sun. This batch of wood is all from a Tri-axle load of tops we had delivered about a year and a half ago. They were lumbering just up the road from us which made it convenient to get. I don't know how many 40' logs there were but I know Lee is glad to see them all converted into small burnable pieces.
We have an old hand made splitter, which makes the work a little
easier, but it is still rough work. They say you get warm twice when you burn wood to heat: once gathering and splitting the wood and the second time burning it. I do know it is a constant task to make sure we get the wood cut far enough ahead to season well. Green wood will burn, but not very hot and it takes more of it to stay warm.
The chipmunks love the stacks of firewood to hide under and keep the dogs busy chasing them around and around the piles. Last night the dogs chased something a little bigger as we sat on the porch. A mother bear and cub appeared and I had to do some quick dog calling to keep them from getting into too much trouble. Thor, the three-legger is not at all afraid to give chase.

I told him when he came back, "You don't have many legs left you can loose, so don't be chasin that bear." He just panted at me not at all absorbing the consequences of his actions.

There is a mother bear with three cubs not far from here. It seems the bears have survived and thrived through the winter. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Road Rally Saturday

Saturday was the day of the race and the constant hum of traffic in front of the cabin was confusing at first to the dogs and annoying to the humans. The dogs are used to seeing a couple of cars a day and we saw more cars in one day than we will for the rest of the year. It didn't take long for the dogs to just sit and watch from the yard as the masses went by. They didn't bark unless a car slowed down or tried to turn around in the drive.

The amount of dust made by this constant traffic made it difficult
to work outside. It also made us glad we don't live in the city where seeing a constant stream of traffic is normal. Although, I doubt most city traffic drivers think they are part of a road rally and drive speeding around turns meant for 25 mph at about 50. You have to be so careful if you travel against the stream of traffic that you aren't run off the road. After last year's accident I was more than cautious. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off and glad the rally is over.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Leetonia Work

Scooter loves to help and is posing in front of the dumpster and on top of some drywall in the trailer. I wish I could get him to unload it for me. Everything in the dumpster has been torn out of this cabin. It don't take long to fill up a dumpster. All the carpet and much of the walls and ceilings in some rooms are now resting in the dumpster.
The second picture shows what a room looks like in progress. This one has been striped to the bones and is being wired and insulated next. Soon it will have a drywall ceiling and knotty pine walls.
The last picture shows some cabinets in a cabin I just finished working on. We put knotty pine on the ceiling, remodeled the bathroom, painted the walls in the entire camp, but on a steel roof, gutters, rewired, and replumbed most of the plumbing. It was quite a job. The owners will be seeing it for the first time today and I know they will be surprised. Doing the creative parts and seeing the finished product is the rewarding part of my job.
Tearing out the old, moldy, scratchy insulation not so much fun. But you can't have one without the other and Scooter makes sure
to keep track of us the entire time. He makes an excellent clock and lets me know when 5PM rolls around. He bugs me if I run long and I often must. He looks forward to going home, eating and sleeping the rest of the evening.
Today is the road rally up and down the mountain. I do not like the traffic or the noise. So I will be tolerating it as well as possible. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.