Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Eclipse From Where I Live

What you see above is about as much of the eclipse as we got around here. It wasn't the complete and total thing, but it was a very interesting experience anyway. And as usual, I don't just have pictures. I will describe my pictures in my little story because that is the best way.

I was lucky just to see what I got to show you here. The weather forecast said it was going to be cloudy here with probable thunderstorms. I planned to try to see it even though I figured I'd only see clouds. But when I went outside the sky was very clear. I was extremely lucky.

I had already planned out my viewing location. I went to a very quiet place I often visit in North Sioux City, South Dakota. I chose it because it is surrounded by cornfields with nothing to obstruct my view. And very few other people ever visit this place.

After I got there I did a few other things for awhile because I was kind of early. But when I finally got into position to look for the eclipse to begin, I saw that it was already well underway. The picture above is one of the first I took after getting my phone camera adjusted enough to see it well enough.

I used my phone camera because I had a filter for it to see the eclipse through. I think it did okay for just a phone. I did have to manually adjust some of the settings though. Maybe I could have gotten it a little better with some practice, but how often is there time to practice this?

It was right after I got that picture at the top that the expected clouds moved in. Now I couldn't see anything through my filter, so I took it off. The sun was now dim enough through the clouds to see with the naked eye. So I took a few pictures before the clouds hid everything all the way. What you see above is the moon moving the other way across the sun. The eclipse was now ending.

It didn't get very dark here, but the light did dim quite a bit. It kind of looked like the day at sunset. As I was driving home the clouds turned almost black, and the sky opened up and we had a huge thunderstorm. I almost couldn't see the road as I traveled home.

I delayed my post that I usually deliver Monday just so I could bring this to you today. I hope you like it. It's not something you see every day. I'm sure you've seen better pictures of this eclipse on the news. But these pictures are from someone just like you. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Just a Turtle On A Log

I visited that pond where I see water birds from time to time. The birds haven't shown up in a while, but I found something just as good. I found a turtle on a log!

Oh, you think, "So what? It's just a turtle." But I don't see many turtles around here. I have seen other turtles in this pond, but these are the first pictures I have of one from here. Who knows? Maybe I'm the only person ever to get a picture of a turtle from this out of the way country pond.

So think about that for a second or two. Now you're not just seeing a picture of a random turtle. You're getting to see something only a few people in the whole world have ever seen. Maybe that makes you special in some way now. You are part of a rare few.

This idea is maybe the main thing I love about nature. It's the thought that I'm the only person to get to see the things I see. That's much better than sitting home watching a ball game or something just like everyone else. No. I want to explore the unknown. And that's what I do every time I'm out there.

Now, this turtle didn't know it was helping to make me unique in any way. It was just sitting there on that log enjoying the sun. I'd guess that it didn't even know I was there. If it did it would have dropped itself back into the water with a plop. That's what they usually do.

And I'll go back to this pond again. Maybe I'll see another turtle. I probably won't feel quite as special about it when I do. But maybe I'll see more than one. Or maybe I'll see something completely unexpected. That last part is why I go. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Photographing Daisies

I found this field of daisies while I was out driving around the countryside. The sun was burning really bright that day so it was difficult to get any pictures. Sometimes you just want a few clouds to help you get better pictures.

Besides the bright sun, I decided to try and use my big camera to get some of these pictures. I have discovered that my phone camera is much better for close-ups than the big camera, so I take both from now on. The phone camera also does better with bad lighting, bright or dark.

If I had a big zoom on my phone, I'd probably just use it for everything. It has such a good camera that I prefer it over the big one for most things now. Most of my flower and plant pictures are now done with the phone because it's just so much better.

But I used the big camera for these daisies. You can see that it did a good job. That was only for these pictures that came into focus. I have tons of others that were unusable. Once you get the big camera to focus, the pictures actually come out great. But it is kind of a process to do that.

With the phone, all I have to do is point and shoot. It focuses right on whatever I point it at. And if I want to use special settings, it can do that too. And the view screen on the phone is bigger than on the big camera too.

I do have to say that my phone actually cost me more than the camera did. So that probably factors into the quality of the pictures. Not every phone will do. I use a Samsung Galaxy S7, which is one of the most expensive phones out there, and also one of the best cameras. But try any smart phone you might have. You might be surprised by the quality of the pictures.

So, what about the daisies? I found them by the side of a country road very near one of the many farms scattered throughout the area. I don't like to take too many pictures if I think people might be around, so I took what I could and left.

I find that it's usually easier to not have to deal with other people while I'm taking pictures. And it's usually an annoying complication to have to explain why I'm taking pictures to someone who isn't interested in them. Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe I'll never find out. I'm Grumpy Ratty, and I'll talk to you later.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Butterflyweed

I didn't know what it was when I first saw it. The plant was so small, and the sun was so bright, it was too hard to see what I was looking at. All I knew at the time was that I was seeing some kind of small orange flowers. And I hoped I'd get some presentable pictures.

These two pictures are the best I could do under the circumstances. And I never claimed that this blog was all about the pictures. I think I'm just an okay photographer who sometimes gets some great ones.

The important thing is that I try to share real life with you. That definitely includes the pictures that most people won't show. I'll share the great ones, and I'll share the terrible ones. These pictures today are okay. Not the best, but they have some beauty.

So after all of that talking, and you didn't figure it out from the title, you may be wondering just what it is that I'm showing you. This plant is called butterflyweed, sometimes known as orange milkweed. Yup, it's a kind of milkweed plant.

And since milkweed is one of my very favorite kinds of plant, I just had to share this with you. And you knew I wouldn't do it in a straight forward kind of scientific examining way. I'd give you something a little odd. This way you might remember this plant a tiny bit better. And everybody should know about milkweed. Did I tell you how much I love milkweed? I'll talk to you later.

Friday, August 11, 2017

These Are The Elk I Was Looking For

I could tell you that finding these Elk was a surprise, but I would be lying. Even though I do love to lie, I won't do it this time. I went to this place, called Hillview Recreation Area, just to see the Elk.

I was taking a little bit of a chance because they're not always out where you can see them. But I got lucky this time. That's not always the case. This time I was able to see this big male and a couple of females too.

Above is the first Elk I got to see. She was right up near the fence. There was another one near her, but I couldn't get a clear picture of her. I tried several times, but I had no luck.

You can see what this is in the picture above, right? I couldn't see it that clearly when I took the pictures. I thought it might be a male with antlers, but I also thought maybe I was seeing something else. I've been tricked before.

There was one time when I began furiously taking pictures of what I thought were antlers, but it turned out to be a strange looking feeding rack. This time I suspected the same, but I hoped I was wrong. I'm glad it was a real animal.

Here's that second female. I almost forgot about her. I guess I got a better picture of her than I thought.

You might have noticed that they're all behind a wire fence. That's the way it goes sometimes. I would normally try to fool you into thinking there is no fence, but the fence is unavoidable this time. I wouldn't out and out lie about it, but I just wouldn't mention it. It makes things more fun that way.

And if you look very closely, you can see that each one has a tag on its ear. So while these Elk may or may not be wild, they are confined to the area within the fence. They seem happy enough though.

So that's my Elk post. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Flowers In My Backyard

I typically brag that the land around my house is overgrown with weeds. It's something that most people would consider strange. Why would I brag about something so negative? I can't help it. It's a trait that I get from my dad.

My dad would tell people that he could live without modern conveniences, like electricity, easier than anyone else. And he would go about proving it to everyone, including himself. There is still an outdoor wood stove attached to my house, and I use it every winter. It makes things a little more difficult, but it saves lots of money.

I like the land around me to look wilder than is normally accepted by lots of others because it gives me a sense of being more natural. I don't really care about a manicured lawn. That looks kind of sterile to me. I'd live in the middle of a forest if I could do it. But unlike my dad, I do appreciate modern conveniences like electricity and computers.

But this whole concept brings us to these phlox flowers. In all of the weeds, I found these flowers growing. Uncharacteristically, I was going to cut the weeds down and mow the area. But when I found the flowers I had to get a few pictures first.

So by the time you read this the flowers will be gone. I kind of had to do it because the weeds were getting a little too close to the house. I try to keep the area near the house straightened up just a bit. I still like it kind of wild though.

So, what would you do? Would you have cut down these flowers like I did? Or would you have left the weeds growing? I feel like I had to do it. There are still lots of weeds farther away from the house. But only in the places I don't need to go very much.

We'll see if the birds deposit seeds of flowers in some of the more overgrown areas now. That will be a little better. Then I won't have to get rid of them. It's a big area and I'll keep looking for interesting plants. Who knows what I might find? I'll talk to you later.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cool White Wildflowers

I found some very cool looking wildflowers the other day. They're growing all over the sides of the roads at Broken Kettle Grasslands. I would also share the name of the flowers with you, but I can't identify them. I've looked everywhere and found nothing.

I always admit that I'm not the best at identifying flowers, but these have me particularly stumped. I tried really hard this time. And I am sure these should be easier than this. In the back of my mind, I seem to remember seeing these somewhere before, but I just can't remember anything more.

Oh well. I still have lots of pictures of them to share with you because I think they look so cool. They looked even cooler while I was out there seeing them myself. That's always the best way, but the pictures are good too.


The flowers look kind of big at first. But on the second glance, you'll see that it's the leaves that look so fancy. The flowers are actually very small. They are tiny and white with five petals. It was these fancy leaves that attracted me to them.


These plants stood kind of tall. They were about one to two feet in height.


I liked this one with the bug on it. I took several pictures of this plant because of this bug.

Not exactly related to the flowers is that I like the routine I've fallen into. I'm able to kind of patrol the nature areas near me and report on the current changes. I'm really getting to observe the small details of the natural world around me.

This is what I was able to do back when I was living in Michigan. I felt like I was part of the natural world, and it seemed to welcome me when I would visit. I'm beginning to get that feeling back. Now if I can start to be able to coax deer to come right up to me again, I know I'm on to something. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Wild Bison Closeup

I had a strange feeling I should go over to Broken Kettle Grasslands and look around a bit. I've been going there a lot this summer, but I had a special feeling this time in the late afternoon. I didn't know what I'd find, but I thought it might be something special.

There is an area there where a lone bison has been hanging out for some reason. I shared pictures of that one with you before. So this time I slowed my truck down a bit to see if he was still there. Maybe I could get some better pictures of him. Yup, he was there.

But when I looked off to the distant hills in the background, I saw what I was really looking for. There was the whole herd on the top of the hills. It was easiest to see them at the top, but I saw them everywhere on the hill. Some were coming down too.

My newest episode of Rat TV features these bison that I saw this day. I made this one a little more entertaining, like the last one. I've decided that I'm going to produce many of my videos in this way from now on. I'll still share some raw video from time to time, but I think this new way is more fun for everyone.

On my second drive through on my way back through the road here I saw that the other bison had made their way down the hill. It looks like they had come all the way down to retrieve their lost friend. He had been gone from the herd for many days. Now they had come to take him home.

I'm not sure these wild bison are very used to humans, so I tried to stay as quiet as possible and tried not to disturb them. Even though they never really came very close to where I was standing, they were close enough for some decent pictures.

I haven't been back there since this visit, but I'll go back in a few days. Who knows? Maybe they're still there. Maybe the rest of the herd has even come down from the top of the hills. Or maybe they have returned to the wilder parts of the grasslands. I guess I'll find out then. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Deer On The Side Of The Road

You wanna know something I really like? Small pictures in my blog posts before some smart person goes and clicks on them to see the bigger versions. My pictures today benefit greatly from this concept.

I took several pictures of this deer through my windshield as I was driving towards it on a country road. It looks like I was very close to the deer, but I was actually very far away. The deer only looked like a speck. I had to use the maximum zoom through a dirty windshield while in motion to get these pictures.

I wouldn't have even bothered, but I see so many deer and I get so few pictures. And the truck was moving very slowly at the time. That's why the deer stopped to look at me. It was wondering what I was doing driving so slowly. You can do that on a forgotten dirt road.

Most of the deer I see are near the busy highway right before it gets dark. That means there's no way to get any pictures. This was very different so I thought it was a rare chance to show everyone that there is indeed deer around here. Now I have absolute proof. Ha! I'll talk to you later.