Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Squirrely Christmas Present For You

Here's a special Christmas present from me to you. This picture is for all of you who have decided to visit me on Christmas Eve. Click on the picture to make it bigger for the best effect. Take a close look at Santa's reindeer. There's something very strange about them.

I guess this is why Santa Claus was looking so closely at those squirrels Friday.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Tracking a Christmas Mystery

After finding all of those rabbit tracks in my last post I decided to find some tracks for animals that most people look for. I went to the back of the nature park to a meadow where I knew there would be some good tracks. This is where the deer live, and I knew I could find their tracks here.

All I had to do was go to the part of the meadow that's farthest away from the hiking trail. No humans go here so I knew the deer tracks would be here. It wasn't too hard to find the tracks when I got there. They were all over this part of the meadow.

The first thing I did was take plenty of pictures so I would have a record of the deer tracks. Then I took a very close look at the tracks to see if there were any fresh ones. How recently had these deer been here? There were some older tracks, but there were also some very new ones too.

I must have just missed a whole herd of deer by only a matter of minutes! I knew what I had to do. I was going to follow these fresh tracks to see if I could find the deer. As soon as I began following them I noticed something very strange. There were other tracks.

Somebody else had been over here even though I was the only human who ever really comes out to this part of the meadow. Whoever it was had very big feet and he was here about the same time as the deer.

I continued to follow the tracks and saw that they lead right into the forest. The big footprints went right in after them. I really didn't want to follow them on the same path so I went back to the hiking trail. I was going in the same general direction, but I figured my quest was over.

After I got into the forest I saw some movement far ahead to the right of the path. There looked to be over half a dozen deer purposely moving away from me through the forest. These were the ones that made the tracks I was looking for!

As they turned and cut through the forest in front of me, I excitedly tried to get a few pictures but they were very far away. I got a few bad pictures that showed deer, but it was very hard to see them through the trees. I thought I knew where they were headed but I would have to run to catch up.

I did my best to run through the forest without alerting the deer that I was there. I thought my chances of catching up with them weren't good, but I still had to try. I stayed on the hiking trail, and that may have been my downfall because I never did catch the deer.

When I realized that they were long gone I slowed to a walk and sadly began to make my way back to the front of the park so I could go home. And when I turned the corner to the path that leads to the parking lot I found something amazing!

There he was! The person that was standing in the meadow with the deer! I recognized him by the size of his feet. There's only one person who wears this kind of red suit that I know of, and there he was in front of me! He didn't see me because he was standing there peering through the trees at a black squirrel. I guess he had never seen a black squirrel before because he seemed to be fascinated by it.

I got this one picture right as he saw me standing there. After only a second after turning my way he just vanished as if he was never there! The only thing I was left with was this one picture and a bad Christmas story.

Tune in on Christmas Eve (Sunday) to find out why Santa Claus was really so interested in squirrels. I'll have a special Christmas present for any of you who can find the time to stop by for a visit!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Wabbit Twacks

Do you notice how busy the trail in this picture looks.Judging by all of those tracks, there must have been a lot of people walking through this busy nature park. Right?

Actually, that's not right. Take a closer look at these tracks. None of them are from humans. I was the only person to enter this park since it snowed. Every one of the tracks in this picture are from animals, mostly rabbits.

So, what does this tell us about this park?

First of all, there are a heck of a lot of rabbits running around in this place. I already know that part is true because I've gotten my best rabbit pictures from here. If you come here at the right time you can see literally dozens of rabbits running around. Seeing that many means there could be hundreds.

The second thing it tells us is not many people like to come out to a place like this when it is cold and snowy. Obvious? My point here is that I like this kind of weather and I love being in a place like this all alone. So this is the best time for me to get back to hiking again. It all makes me happy.

Without the people crowding this place, the animals can thrive here. That's good for the animals, for me, and for you because I'll share the pictures of them with you.

And it won't be just rabbits, even though most of these tracks are from them. I saw squirrel tracks too, which are similar to rabbit. There were some deer walking this trail. And I even saw tracks from at least one coyote.

But there were other kinds of tracks I found on my next trip here. Those tracks were a bit confusing. I eventually found the culprit. The creature that made them was different than any other I'd ever seen before. I'll reveal what I saw in my next post this Friday. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Finding Happiness On A Winter Hike

I have a new attitude about the local nature where I live. It has taken me years to adjust from the plentiful trees in Michigan to the open areas of this part of Iowa. But I think I may have finally decided I like the way nature is around here.

Adjusting to the fact that there aren't nearly as many trees here has been a huge problem for me. All I have been able to think about was all those fields of nothing but grass. How would I explore in the grass? I felt so lost.

But then not too long before I discovered that my back was finally getting better, I realized that some of my favorite adventures from Michigan were from the few open areas of my old nature parks. Those new thoughts began to open something good in my mind. I began to realize that the same thing could happen here.

And then this winter as I began exploring my closest nature park I looked around and remembered that there are also some trees there too. There aren't nearly as many, but there may be enough. And there are other reasons I can like this much more than I thought.

One of the things I missed from Michigan was all of the squirrels. If you read some of my past posts from then you'll see that I'm somewhat of a squirrel expert. But here with no trees, there are also no squirrels. At least that's what I thought.

It took winter and the bare trees for me to discover that there are actually a lot of squirrels. I just didn't ever see them before because these country squirrels don't trust me yet because I haven't been to this park enough. I saw plenty of them on my most recent hike, but they stayed a little too far away for my camera. They will come closer with time.

So I'm happy to walk these snow covered hills as often as I can. I need to make new friends with the animals here. They will begin to come out the more I come to this place. Squirrels are curious little creatures. They won't be able to resist coming out to investigate this new two-legged creature walking through their home. Maybe the other animals will investigate as well.

Now that I can hike a little bit again I'll be visiting this little nature park many times this winter. Maybe my pictures might be a little repetitive, but my adventures will be all new. The adventure is the fun part.

I never knew this park was so busy with wildlife until now. In one of my next few posts I'll tell you what other kinds of animals I found here in this park. Maybe by then I'll even get some pictures of some, but the story is what's important. And for now, I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Back On The Trail

I'm kind of excited to be back out hiking again. Even though I was out on my nature adventures a lot during the summer I didn't do much actual hiking. It wasn't that I didn't want to go hiking. It was that my bad back wouldn't allow it yet.

I've told you in the past of how I've been working to strengthen my back enough to do at least normal activity. It's been hard the whole way. Everything I do seems to not quite work. But now I think I've finally begun to make some progress.

You may think it's the wrong time now that it's coming up on winter time. But I kind of enjoy winter. I know that during winter there will be nobody out there bothering me every few steps of the way. I like the solitude of nature the most. And I know how to bundle up against the cold.

I thought that I was making no progress until I decided to try once again to go hiking at a smaller nature park in the area. The last couple of years I haven't even been able to go as far as a normal person, but this time it was finally different.

I was able to travel through the whole park this time! So many times before I was only able to get to the end of the first trail before my back told me I had to turn around. And those times I was only barely able to get back to my truck completely exhausted. But this time was finally different.

Now I'm excited to get back out there and keep going. I have one problem though. The weather around here has been kind of bad since this big turning point of mine. We started out with rain that has now turned into snow. Hiking all of these hills is not a good thing when the trails are slick with moisture. I'll have to wait until the weather gets better.

The temperatures have taken a downturn with all of this foul weather, but that part is okay by me. It seems winter has arrived here now. I can handle it. I deal with winter much better than with my unreasonable dislike for fall. So I'm hoping to get very busy in the upcoming weeks and months. I can't wait to be out there again! I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

My Fun Bison Encounter

I have a herd of bison to share with you today. There are pictures and a video that shows what I found on my newest adventure. These bison are the completely wild ones from Broken Kettle Grasslands that I've shown you before. But I think maybe I have better pictures this time.

The bison have been coming up kind of close recently so I've been able to get pretty good pictures. I feel lucky about this because most people that drive that road never see them at all. Most people don't even know the road is there because it's just an old unremarkable dirt road in the country.

Here's on that was standing off a little by itself. I thought you might like a good close-up of just one.

This picture shows you what I saw while I was standing there looking at them. You can see they weren't very close, but I could see them pretty well. I'm glad I have a good zoom on my camera.

Notice there is a pond separating them from me. That pond might be the reason they've been coming down to this area of the grasslands. There are other ponds in their home, but maybe they just like this one right now.

If you look closely you can see a couple of the bison hiding in the tall grass. There were lots more standing in that grass. It was kind of hard to find them all. Every time I looked again I'd find another one.

The herd is kind of big. You can't really tell that from the pictures. I think the video does a little better job of that.

I did a little better job with this episode of Rat TV than the last one. This video is the second one where I used the Windows 10 Photos app to create it. This time I added a little special effect. Can you spot it?

If you like bison then you'll like this video. As you can see by the pictures, there are plenty of them here.

Since I've been a little slow with my blogging recently my words here are a bit clumsy. I'll be getting back into things now that fall is over. I wish I could solve that fall thing I have. But it's too late to try again this year, so I'm just going to enjoy the winter.

I've been out a bit more lately so I have plenty of material to share with you now. I'll have more on that in my next post. And I now have a good reason to go out to some good places to explore a bit more, so I'll have lots of good stuff in the future. I'll bring that all to you soon. And until then I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wild Turkeys At Broken Kettle Grasslands

Today I'll share with you some genuine wild turkeys in their natural habitat. These aren't city turkeys that I've shown you before or turkeys that lurk by the side of a busy road. These turkeys live inside a place called Broken Kettle Grasslands, which is the largest area of free wild prairie left in America. These turkeys are truly wild and free.

I thought with Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow this would be a perfect time to share these turkeys with you. For those of you who are not American, we celebrate Thanksgiving here every year to show our thanks for what we have. We think of it as part of what being an American is all about.

As you can see in the top left of this turkey photo, there is that mysterious object from my previous post. Before I go on I have to admit that I lied to you again. I do that much more often than you'd think. I'm a terrible liar. I knew what this was all along. I just wanted you to find out for yourself. It's more fun that way, and now you'll remember it longer than you would have otherwise.

But I'm still not going to come right out and tell you. Where would the fun in that be? If you really want to know the answer to what the mystery object is, then go to my last post and read the comments. It's there that you will find the answer. When you're finished you will feel happy and exhilarated because of that fun little quest I sent you on.

My newest episode of Rat TV is an interesting experiment I'm trying. The Windows 10 Photos app has a new feature where you can make your own videos with a few simple clicks of your mouse. I made this with a combination of pictures and a video. Let's see how it turns out.

The app to make the video is pretty cool. It enabled me to do in a few seconds some of what it took me hours to accomplish before. I think I'll still use my main video editing software for special stuff, but this quick app is good enough for most things.

I've been telling you recently how I've been having a bit of trouble with my nature stuff. Some of it came from a bit of fall depression that happens to me every year. But much of it also came from just being too busy for any of this fun stuff.

I think I may have solved this problem now. I have now finally found a time in the day to set aside for my blogging activity. I don't usually do much of anything else during this time so I think I have plenty of time to get my blogging done. So after a short time to organize everything just a bit I think I may be able to get back up and running like I want. And with that, I'll talk to you later.

Friday, November 17, 2017

What Might This Mystery Object Be?

I know. I know. It's another one of these one picture posts. But this one picture is kind of interesting by itself, and necessary for the post. That's because I'm not exactly sure of what we're looking at here. Maybe a more rural person might know. My experience is in more urban outdoor stuff.

I found this object far away from me where the buffalo (bison) roam at Broken Kettle Grasslands. It looked like a giant shield from where I was standing. I took lots of pictures of it, but the camera's focus seemed to slide off of it. I think that's because it has that camouflage look to it. It looks to be maybe a tent or a trailer or maybe a shed. Maybe it's some kind of observation space to watch the bison. I don't know.

On an unrelated note, my fall depression seems to be ending now that fall is coming closer to a close. Hopefully, I can bring myself to begin posting more often again. I do have a few things to post now. Right now the only things slowing me down are some unexpected problems I've been having with some of my things around here, such as extra work and general mechanical problems with some of my property.

Anyway, what do you think? Do you know what the object in my picture might be? Or maybe you have a good wild guess. Even a humorous guess is welcome, and maybe even more welcome than something else. So go ahead and let me know what you think because it'll be really fun. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Glitches And Flowers

It seems like yesterday and it seems like years ago. When it was still warm I found these tiny flowers at the end of a dark nature trail under lots of trees. I always meant to post my best pictures of them but my phone glitched and my best pictures were lost.

I took this picture with my big camera and it came out okay, but not the best. I have found that my phone takes excellent close-ups. My big camera does not. And now because of that, I bring both cameras along while I'm out on one of my everyday adventures.

So now after a little bit of unrelated downtime, I've realized I have to become a bit more organized. So I'm making a plan to take along with me on my next little adventure. My problem has always been finding cool pictures I like in the fall. My task is to find them, and I'm going to look in lots of places. So until then, I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Large Milkweed Bug Nymphs

These pictures area few weeks old because I haven't had time to share them and I really haven't felt like it until now. I'm trying to conquer a bit of fall fatigue I get every year about this time. I really planned on making this a nice big complicated post, but let's just see if I can keep it a bit simpler than that.

What you are looking at here are Large Milkweed Bug Nymphs (young ones). I've seen small milkweed bugs before, but this is the first time I've ever seen the large kind. A simple search on this site can find some very interesting, and an even somewhat scientific post about the small ones.

I'm not going to bore you with too many details about these bugs here, but you can find plenty of information with a simple web search. You should do it simply because your fingers need the extra exercise. Go on, it's good for you.

This picture above gives you a pretty good view of these bugs. Bugs can look kind of disgusting to the human eye sometimes if you're not prepared for them. Don't you think? Especially when they're all huddled together like these.

Here's one boring its head into a milkweed pod. They're one of the few kinds of creatures that eat these plants. If you look closely you can see that those big black parts on its back aren't all the way attached. Can you guess why? You're smart so I'll let you figure it out.

Even though they are on more than one pod, most of these bugs huddle together with each other.

It's kind of interesting how I found these bugs. You wouldn't guess it, but I was driving along and I spotted them from my truck. The picture above is just about what I saw that made me stop. It's amazing what you can find when you are looking.

I posted this last picture just because I wanted to give you one last look at them. I'm fascinated by these bugs. Bugs can be disgusting, but they are also very interesting. There were ladybugs and boxelder bugs all over my garage this fall, like every year, but I neglected to get any pictures. Now I wish I would have gotten a few.

Most people like ladybugs, but I've noticed in the past several years that we have a new kind that bite. It only hurts a little bit, but it doesn't feel pleasant. I've written about them in the past and they are a new different kind than from long ago years past.

So anyway, I'll try to begin posting more often again soon, but I'm not promising anything just yet. I still need to find some inspiration to shake off this fall depression. It will happen, but I'm not sure when yet. and with that last negative note, I'll talk to you later...

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Just A Little Bit Of Nothing

I'm attempting to get back on the trail of a new adventure. But it's been kind of hard. The fall season brings me down for some reason. I try to overcome it every year, but it never seems to work. Now I'm trying to figure out a way to just work with it. We'll see how this plan goes.

I'm in the process of setting up a new business which is taking up a lot of my time. So now I'm not adapting to the fall as well as I hoped this year. That leaves me with a bit of a problem. I'm looking for a good idea or two for my nature adventures. I need something that might inspire me.

I know I'll come up with something good eventually. I usually do. Maybe I need to get back out to trails like this one. That kind of thing usually helps a lot. I think maybe I'll practice my bird photography. When the leaves are off the trees it will be a little easier.

I also have some trees to cut down once they are ready. Maybe I'll show you my evil destruction of my small forest. It won't be pretty, but it will be interesting. Or maybe I could just get out and have some fun. Hmm, I didn't think of that before. That might be just the thing. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Why I Don't Eat Wild Apples

If you only looked at the picture above so far then what you are seeing is an apple tree by the side of an old country road. You may be able to tell by looking at this picture that the tree is just full of green apples. Normally that would mean that it's full of free snacks and pies for the owner of that tree. But there's a reason that isn't true.

I have to say that I do like free apples, and I do like the green ones, but sometimes there is just a good reason not to eat them. Maybe you know that reason. But if you don't then let's scroll down to the page just a little further to find out.

Here's a closer look at those formerly luscious apples. Now they don't look quite as good, do they? This shows the reason why I rarely eat wild apples. Most of the time they are rotten or full of worms. They might be good to give to the cows though.

I will say that every once-in-a-while you can find good wild apples. I had three good apple trees in my yard when I was a kid. The apples were sour, but they were very good. And they made excellent objects to throw at the other kids. I'll talk to you later.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Peace In The Country

Here's something I don't usually do. I have a couple of nice country scenes I captured while I was out. I was out on a normal everyday nature adventure and both of these scenes made me stop the truck so I could get out and get pictures.

I'm not so sure I was able to duplicate in these pictures the beauty I found here. For some reason, it never seems to work out that easily. Maybe you just have to be there, or maybe I just need to be better at taking the pictures. I'm not sure either one of those will happen anytime soon though, so this is it.

Up above is the farmyard where Old 79 lives. I saw this scene before I saw her. The buildings out there all alone among the trees just seemed so nice. This is what I like about the country. It's so quiet and peaceful. And if you look in the right direction you can see for miles and miles.

When I lived in the city I used to say that everyone can do this. But country living isn't for everyone. But you can visit the country from time to time. A good relaxing drive along some old country roads might be fun. You won't know that it's true until you try it. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Old 79

I've been a little distracted recently because I'm building a new business. So I haven't been able to do quite as much here. Even so, I was still able to get out and take some pictures of these lovely bovine creatures.

I wasn't quite sure what to do with these pictures until I saw Old 79 staring back at me as my camera clicked away. So I focused my camera right on her. I had to do it because she was the one who wanted to be a worldwide star.

Here's the whole little herd of cows that she belongs to. Most of them seem disinterested for the most part. They are just enjoying the trees on this wonderful sunny day. If I was a cow I would be doing the exact same thing.

That's strange. I don't think I've ever imagined what it would be like to be a cow before. It must be kind of boring, just standing around and eating grass all day. I'd go kind of crazy. What would I do without access to the internet? I'm glad I'm not a cow. How about you? I'll talk to you later.

Monday, October 9, 2017


I'm back after a week off. I got a little sidetracked there for a few days. It's been raining non-stop here and it almost flooded again. So I've had no nature pictures to post. So after a week I finally got out and got some new pictures to share with you. Let's see what I got.

Okay, look at the center of this top picture. Does that look like a fish there on the end of that log to you? It did to me. So I took a few pictures to get a closer look and to see what I had there. But what was this thing really?

I think it still looks kind of like a fish, but it's really just part of another log sticking up out of the water. This is the kind of strange and goofy thing that I like posting about. It seems like a normal stupid mistake look-a-like of a fish, and that's what makes it fun. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes an everyday adventure.

And this last picture shows you the view I had of this fake fish when I took the picture. Look towards the middle left of the picture. You can see a small red circle if you really squint your eyes. That's where I saw this fishy. Now you know why I didn't know what it was when I saw it.

This gives you an idea of what can happen with nature watching. Sometimes you think you have a fish, but then you only have a piece of wood. That kind of thing happens a lot to me. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, October 2, 2017

This Is My World

It's been hard for me here. I love this place where I live, but there is always something missing. It's the trees. Where I live there are endless grasslands and cornfields. But there aren't many trees. What made me love nature are the forests. But they are mostly missing here.

So, what could I do? Well, the first thing I did was I spent the first few years here in a confused and frustrated state. I didn't know what to do or where to go. Nature was so different. I liked it, but I loved my forests. And I had none here.

Then this year I finally accepted things the way they are. I love it here too much to go somewhere else so I decided to learn more about nature here and learn to love it too. So that's what I set out to do, and it has worked excellently. But I do still miss my forests. So I decided to do something about that too.

There are places I have found where I can go to be in the forest. This place in my pictures is one of them. It is here that I can breathe deeply and feel the complete joy of nature. Places like this inspired me to start this blog.

I often fantasize about building a shack in the middle of one of these forests and just living there forever. Maybe I should buy a big place with a small forest in it and do that at least part of the time. I don't have the means for that quite yet, but I am getting closer. One of these days I'll be ready.

But then I look down at my smartphone and realize that I need to get back home. Walking these trails was relaxing and refreshing, but it's time to get back to work so I can come back out here again.

And I love my computer too. Oh, and money. I love money. I can't make money on a nature trail. But I can come back out to the nature trail more often if I have more money. And one day I can just buy my own nature trails if I have enough money. So the practical world calls me to work. Then I can come back out here as often as I want. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Can Turkeys Fly?

Have you ever wondered if turkeys could fly? Many people think they can't. I remember years ago on a comedy TV show called "WKRP In Cincinnati" the radio station on the show did a promotion where they dropped turkeys from a helicopter. The turkeys inevitably thudded to the ground. It was a huge disaster. The last line on the show was the station manager saying, "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." So, is that the verdict? Is it settled then?

No. The turkeys in my top picture seem to be flying just fine. But wait! They don't seem to be very high off the ground, do they?

That was going to be my proof. I guess I'll have to go even further. Let's go to the next picture then.

This turkey above is flying just fine, isn't it? Maybe. It doesn't seem to be very high off the ground, does it? Maybe it's just hopping. Sometimes pictures can be deceptive. So maybe that's not proof then. Let's move to the next picture and see if I can finally show you flying turkeys.

You looked ahead, didn't you? I knew you would. So you already saw this picture above of these two turkeys in mid-flight. They are indeed flying. I'm not sure there can be any mistake about it now.

But they don't seem very high. Maybe they can only fly a little bit. And the first one doesn't look very graceful, does it? That second one looks like a regular old bird though. It's flying just fine. But maybe we can do a little better here. Let's move to the next picture.

Now this turkey here is up there pretty far. And you can see that it is indeed a turkey. Turkeys aren't the best flyers, but they can indeed fly. They like to sleep in the tops of trees around here. They have to get up there somehow, and they don't climb. Now you can call all your friends right away to inform them that turkeys can fly. Go on. Do it right now. I'll wait.

You're back from your call? Let me quickly tell you how I got these pictures. I stopped on this dirt road because I saw one lone turkey wander into the ditch at the side. I wandered over there to get a couple of pictures when all hell broke loose!

It wasn't just one turkey. It was an entire flock. As soon as I got near, turkeys kind of erupted everywhere. The flock went flying in every direction. I would have gotten video, but I was too surprised to do much of anything except get these pictures I have here. I hope you like them.

So that's my story. Turkeys can fly. And I am a close-up witness to this ability. This was another everyday adventure that I will never forget. This was a good one. I've wandered into some doozies in the past. I wish I could have described it a little better, but this will have to do. I'll talk to you later.