Monday, August 24, 2009

Turkey Chuckles

There's a gang of five Wild Turkeys that live in the area in and around our place up at Hasty. I call them a gang because they've been known to chase our construction guys around the site. They seem particularly possessive of our yard and driveway. Last month when Art and I were up there Art heard them clucking and chuckling outside the camper. I started taking photos through the screen door but moved quietly out the door to stand about ten feet from them. This male in particular was so engrossed in pecking at the chrome on the bottom of Art's truck that he didn't mind my being so close. He'd make his funny mumbling noises, looking from every angle and then would haul off and smack his beak into the truck. Clang! Others in the gang crawled under the truck looking for the rival. You can see one peeking under the truck and one under the truck looking back. I think the one by the driveway is the look-out. The big guy in the middle puffed himself up, spread his tail feathers and dropped his wings in indignation.
The nerve of that truck-turkey!
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Construction Part Two

August 1, 2009

Art and I made a day trip up north to talk to the builder and look around. The slab was in!

This angle is from our current campsite, roughly where we'd like to build a house some day. We had hoped to build the house shell this summer but had to change plans. Building a house would have required new home financing and we would have had to have the house, inside and out, nearly completed within a year. We wanted to do some of those jobs like finishing the kitchen, baths, flooring, wiring etc. over time and we didn't want to spend that much money in so short a time. So, after much thought, we abandoned the plans of building a house for right now. We could build a garage though. We had been approved as part of our variance, to build a 32X32 garage with a maximum height of 25 feet. The garage would be Art's dream garage with lots of space for building whatever he wanted. I wanted a bathroom with shower so he could clean up before coming back to the house (in the future...). I also wanted a little loft area for a workshop/office for him. We'd add a little cantilevered balcony for me to watch over Hasty Brook. It's all we talked about last winter. We wanted to make the most of the space we were allowed to build. I hoped we could use some of the garage level as a relaxing living space over the next several years. Then Art got the idea to enlarge the loft area to a second story. Using an inexpensive software package (by Better Homes and Gardens- $60 at Costco) Art put together the plans keeping in mind our 25 foot height limit. We'll have plenty of room for a small kitchen area, a long bedroom (or two smaller-haven't decided yet) and a good sized living area facing the balcony and my Hasty Brook.

This is our future bathroom- sink, stool and shower. The red tubes are for the in-floor heating for Art's garage so he can eventually be out there all winter. We won't install the boiler for the heating until later but it'll be all ready to go.

Here's the view from the garage toward the septic tank and mound. Tommy seeded the area and in two short weeks the grass has taken hold and it looks pretty nice. Wouldn't this be a nice spot for wildflowers? I've been grabbing up wildflower packets (on clearance!). Should I spread them this fall or wait until spring?

Before the rain drove us away Art and I laid down some long, skinny aspen poles to give me an idea of what the usable space will be like on the upper floor. Yes, Richard, it was lots bigger than I expected! My vision of this space changed and I could see that there was room for a kitchen area and sleeping area too.

On our next trip up: walls!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Construction Part One

July 3, 2009
When we arrived for the weekend the excavating equipment was here. We had all ready cleared most of the big trees in early spring before they leafed out.

July 14, 2009
More heavy equipment and the septic system is being installed.
The stakes are out and the county approved the building site.
Art got quite the workout hauling big rocks out of the construction area for us to use later for landscaping.
A huge truck and trailer backed into the cleared line to drop the septic tank into the waiting hole.

I ran down the driveway to get a shot of the tank being lowered into the ground but missed it. The worker in the white shirt is standing on the concrete tank. The trench leading away from the tank is for the pipes which will lead on to the mound system.

The tank is in. It was a little tricky for the septic designer to plan the septic system keeping it all away from the creek. We actually bought our second 10 acres last year in order to have room for a septic system site that would meet all of the set-back requirements.

Tommy the septic/excavation guy uncovered some huge rocks during his work. I asked him to save them, explaining sheepishly that I really like rocks. It turns out that Tommy likes them too and he offered to set them aside and later move them to a scenic location.

It was so nice of Tommy to spend some extra time helping me find the right spot and then set the rocks so they'd look the best. This is the largest of them.

It's nearly as tall as me!

More rocks appeared as he worked to bring the grade down to prep the site for the slab.

Skimming just a few inches over a large site makes a lot of dirt.
Next visit: the slab!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My View of Hasty Brook

We made a quick day trip up to Hasty today to deliver the shower. The plumber is coming tomorrow and the electrician on Friday. When we pulled up the builder shouted out right away that the stairs were built! Finally I could get upstairs to see the view.

I'll be posting the photos of the building progress over the next few days but I can't wait to share the view that I'd been longing to see.

In case you didn't know, the river is actually called Hasty Brook on the map.

Pardon the rain spots on the camera lens. It was raining buckets.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Birders Who Blog Tweet and Chirp and Talk and Laugh...

Sorry for the delay in getting this post out. I've been having computer issues that prevented me from downloading photos to my laptop. Thanks to some fine tweaking from Art, I finally got them ready. Last Saturday Dawn and Jeff Fine brought their RV through Minnesota on their way west. It was Dawn's inspiration to put together meet-ups of birders who use various media to communicate about birding, Birders Who Blog Tweet and Chirp. A wonderful group of birders assembled Saturday morning at the Lowry Nature Center in the Carver Park Reserve in Victoria, Minnesota. Roger Everhart of the blog Minnesota Birdnerd was on hand to demonstrate bird banding. Unfortunately, the windy,warm weather did not bring birds to the nets but Roger spent time explaining the banding program and telling of his experiences in banding.

Here's our group proudly holding a copy of WildBird Magazine (Hi Amy!) . Maybe you'll see our photo in the magazine in the future!

Left to right, front row:
Virginia from Bees in the City
Penny from Penelopedia
Jeff (Dawn's hubby)
back row:
Hap in New Hope
Richard from At the Water
Ruth from Nature Knitter
Dave (Penny's hubby)
not pictured:Sharon, aka "the other Sharon" or Hellziggy (who came later)

Volunteer handlers showed us the education raptors including this beautiful Merlin-

and this lovely mellow Barred Owl.

I believe these serious looking birders were gazing at an American Redstart high in the branches. After a leisurely morning at Carver, we all headed over to a local restaurant for a fabulous lunch. Laughter and lots of chatting filled the time and a delish lunch filled our stomachs. Our plans for the afternoon were to drive east to Bloomington and the Hyland Park Reserve for more birding. Right away in the parking lot as we arrived we got to watch an Eastern Kingbird hunting for dragonflies.

After the dragonfly was caught the Kingbird spent a bit of time trying to bash the wings off before it could be eaten.

We spent a lot of time on the dock overlooking the turtle pond. There was lots to look at and talk about. Sharon let me try out her 2X converter on my camera and lens. Here's a photo of a pair of Mergansers and a Mallard that I took using Sharon's converter. The auto focus wouldn't work on my lens with the 2X in place so I had quite a bit of trouble focusing. I have not used my camera on the manual focus mode so I felt like I was all thumbs, but maybe with more practice...

Turtles chillin'.

Some of our group had to leave early but most of us went to dinner at Merlin's Nest to meet the Birds and Beers folks. Another great meal and more conversation and laughter, it was a perfect ending to a wonderful day. I learned something from every person throughout the day. Birders are fun loving, big hearted people. We're planning to get together again for more birding and talking and laughing...
Thanks everyone for coming, some from long distances to make this day so wonderful.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

BwBTC Meets Birds and Beers on Saturday,-93.293152&spn=0.679355,1.167297&z=9&source=embed

Here's a link to a Google map with all of our birding destinations for Saturday. I tried to imbed the map on my blog but I'm a bit to challenged to do it!
We're leaving for Hasty Brook to check on progress this morning and won't be back until Friday. When I get back I'll email everyone that I've heard from and send out my cell phone number just in case anyone needs extra help with directions.
I checked the weather forecast but I think we're too far out to predict so plan on any kind of weather. I've got lots of bug spray and will bring coffee (regular, not decaf) and some breakfast treats to get us through the morning.
I can't wait to meet you all-

Monday, August 03, 2009

Birders who Blog, Tweet and Chirp Meets Birds and Beers!

All right Minnesota birders- it's time to get together for a fun day of birding and socializing, laughing, learning and maybe a beer or two.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
is the day. We're meeting at 0800 at Carver Park Reserve for bird banding with Roger Everhart, host of the blog Minnesota Birdnerd. Roger is a terrific birder and experienced bander. It's certain to be a fun and informative morning.
Here's a bit of information about Carver Park quoted from their website:
"This is a 3300 Acre Park Reserve, located west of Chanhassen. Carver Park Reserve supports a large wildlife population of trumpeter swans, osprey, mink, white-tailed deer, barred owls and numerous waterfowl and songbirds. The park reserve is home to the Lowry Nature Center, the first public environmental education center of its kind in the state.
Park visitors of all ages are delighted to discover the park's rolling wooded terrain and interconnected lakes and marshes. The park features miles (8.5 miles of paved trails, 12.2 miles of turf trails and six miles of horse trails) of trails that wind around the nature center, historic Grimm Farm and the King Waterbird Sanctuary. The trails also provide a valuable link to the Southwest Regional LRT Trail. Boaters and anglers can explore four lakes within the park reserve, and campers can enjoy a relaxing stay at the quite Lake Auburn Campground. The park continues to thrive in winter for cold-weather enthusiasts who treasure mornings and afternoons spent on miles of groomed cross-country ski trails that begin at the Springview trailhead. More than 1,700 feet of boardwalk takes you through marsh and tamarack swamps."
Bird banding runs from 0800 until noon. We're free to watch and/or explore the park to see what birds are to be seen.
There's a great place for lunch in nearby Victoria called Victoria House.
The plan for the afternoon is to head over to Bloomington and the Hyland Lake Park Reserve. Hyland Lake Park is home to the Richardson Nature Center. A quote from their website:
"Richardson Nature Center is the largest of Three Rivers’ nature centers. Come inside and enjoy an interactive wall-to-wall clay sculpture, view live animals and raptors, or relax in a rocking chair while watching birds from the wildlife viewing room. Outside, take in the abundant wildlife of the ponds, prairies, and forested areas found along the nature center’s 2.5 miles of trails. Or grab a spot on the dock and simply enjoy some peace and quiet."
We'll finish up the day with Birds and Beers at Merlin's Rest on Lake Street in Minneapolis at 6PM.
SO- come on! Join the fun!
Tell your friends. Bring your friends! You don't have to be a blogger, Twitterer or Chirptracker or Facebooker. Anyone interested in birding and meeting other birders to share all or just part of the day is welcome.
Here are a few of the people we're expecting:
Ruthie Johnson the Nature Knitter
Roger Everhart from Minnesota Birdnerd
Hap in New Hope is my birding mentor- he's an absolutely amazing birder
Virginia from Bees in the City
Dawn and Jeff from Dawn's Bloggy Blog
Sharon aka HellZiggy
Everyone is welcome.