Monday, September 06, 2010

FourMile Canyon Fire Update

News updates can be found at

Aerial and viewer slide shows at

Below is a video taken from the old growth tree where I had a bird's eye view of the whole area. The 19 second video sweeps across the horizon and follows the smoke cloud.

Four Mile Canyon Fire

The following pictures were taken from the top of an old growth tree on Winiger ridge.

The camera was pointing approximately north. Forsythe Rock is in the foreground, and Sugarloaf is on the left on the second picture.

The fire is reported to have started in the Emerson Gulch area of Four Mile Canyon.

A news helicopter reports that dozens of structures have been destroyed as of now. About 3000 acres have been burned. About 100 men are now battling the blaze, along with air support.

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stinging Nettle Soup

This stinging nettle soup seems to have that almost magical quality that it cures my hay fever (seasonal allergies) with just one "dose" every few months.

2 cups water
1 veggie bouillon
1 pat of butter
1/4 onion
colander full of stinging nettle tips.

Bring water to boil .
Add butter, bouillon, onion and stinging nettles to water in that order. Be careful not to get stung, although that may be therapeutic in its own right.

Remove from flame and pour into blender
Gradually bring blender up to speed and blend for 5 minutes.

Pour into cups or soup bowls and enjoy

My seasonal allergies come to a halt within minutes of eating the above and do not come back for weeks.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Danger: Hail, Frost and Pests.

Deon asks:

I'm not sure the entire group is interested in the topic, but I'd love to get advice and commiserate with other gardeners (or those of us that attempt it anyway) here along Magnolia. For example, take ground squirrels. Please! Someone take mine, at least. ;)

Or how do you get anything but green marbles from tomato plants.

Does anyone grow perennial lavender up here successfully? What variety? I'm really interested in getting it started on a south-facing soil slope with poor soil.

My Answer:

Hi Deon,

My big disappointment most years is when a passing hailstorm totally shreds my garden. It's a real heartbreak when my squash leaves get torn into little pieces by the hail stones and then quickly rot, killing my crop.

Getting shredded by hail is a problem for most broad leaf plants up here. This is why most plants up here have narrow leaves that can deflect hail stones.

Also, frost can come early, stunting growth.

And yes, there are lots of pest too that think that you put up the garden just for them.

So, those are the three big dangers I've experienced with gardens up here: hail, frost and pests.

On the flip side, there is a lot of sun. As a matter of fact, I've had seedlings get sun burned once I've put them outside after starting them inside.

This year, I'm experimenting with hanging the tomatoes upside down in planters. That way they are shielded from the hail a bit, I can hang them inside in case of frost, and it is difficult for pesty mammals to get to them.

Also, I have a Goji berry plant that is doing really well in a 5 gallon bucket. I started it indoors and it is currently loaded down with hundreds of berries.

About the chipmunks... I had one that caught it's head in the chicken wire around my flowers the other day. I ended up having to cut the wire loose around it's little head to set it free.

The little guy was just to cute to let him die of thirst.

- Mike

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bear Alert

A bear came by yesterday while I wasn't looking.

Then how do I know?

... because the bear likes to roll over boulders that are about a foot in diameter as he searches for edible insects.

... and yesterday I found a bunch of rolled over boulders.

Case closed.

In other news: it just sprinked a bit. This has pasted down the thick layers of Ponderosa pine pollen. That should close out the pine pollen season at this altitude. However, I can see that the wind is still kicking up the pine pollen on the north flanks of Thorodin.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Puff! Goes the Ponderosa Pine Pollen

Every altitude has it's Ponderosa Pine Pollen day.
It is usually a warm, windy day. Today is that day here on Lazy Z.

While this is usually as exciting as watching paint dry, it get's more interesting when a gust of wind come by. Then in moments, the air turns a yellowish orange, as the pine pollen lifts off the trees. Sometimes, you can even watch a yellow "shadow" of a tree fly away with the gust.

When I see this, I know it's time to run around and close all the doors and windows for a while , before a yellow layer of pine pollen settles all over everything.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Wildflower Season Has Started

There are now more then 3 different colors of wild flower blooming. It's only been 3 weeks since the last frost.

Wildflower season lasts until it gets to dry in August.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Humming Bird Alert

George and Yvonne, neighbors, report:

The hummers are back!
Keep in mind that the bears are probably not far behind - and they love sugar water as much as the next life form.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Amazing Snow

The unusally deep snow pack in the yard is gradually receding.

At this point, I can run two inverse mazes through the 4 acres that is in the trees.

The first maze is to go from one snow to another drift by x-c ski without touching soil.

The second maze is to stay on soil without having to go through snow.

Currently, both mazes work with only a couple of "cheats."

But soon, the snow will be gone. The, I can finally get to the firewood I meant to pick up last fall before the snow came early.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A bit of Magnolia Road History

John asks:

Does anyone know the history of the log structure ruins just off the east side of Magnolia in the large meadow at about mile marker 8.5? I was told once that it was the ruin of a school, but I doubt the logs are more than maybe 40 or 50 years old and I can't picture a log school here in the 60's or 70's??

Just curious (I pass it almost every day and wonder)...
Vivian Long has the answer:
The ruins (foundation) of the schoolhouse are on the same side of the road as the boy scout trails and it was erected in 1912-13, which would be NW side of the road. It was moved to Nederland in ~1970. The log structure is older than you think; things don't decay here very quickly. It was the Wing's barn, part of the Wing's sawmill, which was just downhill from the school site and provided the lumber for the school. The barn was used by the students to shelter their horses
Finally, the current owner of the property that the ruin is on adds:
Hi John,
That structure was an old hay barn that Dick Skates built years ago, now on the Kellogg property. About 30 years ago, my dad (Will Kellogg) and a few others repaired the roof and a bit of the wall, but ithe roof blew off about 10 years later - remains of it are still lying in the field - and all that's left now is essentially the foundation and a few wall logs. Will died in December, 2007.
Karl Kellogg

The area they are talking about is at:

View Larger Map

More Snow Flees

I've been having computer problems, this is a delayed post.

Three observations from the end of March
1) the snow flees are back
2) the elk came around
3) The "National Forest Boundary" by the power-line was still buried to the top in a snow drift. I've never seen a snow pack like this before.

Monday, January 11, 2010

They're Called Snow Fleas

Thanks Ken Hobson for letting me know what that large swarm of small bugs on the snow are.

They're snow flees.

He further notes:
"The Collembola or spring tails are fun to watch in the winter. The snow fleas are out on cold days feeding on pollen and spores laying on top of the snow. Odd group once thought to be insects.. now considered more like shrimp or crustacea.. enormously abundant. "

From Wikipedia:

"Snow flea"

In sheer numbers, they are reputed to be one of the most abundant of all macroscopic animals, with estimates of 100,000 individuals per cubic meter of topsoil, essentially everywhere on Earth where soil and related habitats (moss cushions, fallen wood, grass tufts, ant and termite nests) occur; onlynematodes, crustaceans, and mites are likely to have global populations of similar magnitude, and each of those groups except mites is more inclusive: though taxonomic rank cannot be used for absolute comparisons, it is notable that nematodes are a phylum and crustaceans a subphylum. Most springtails are small and difficult to see by casual observation, but one springtail, the so-calledsnow flea (Hypogastrura nivicola), is readily observed on warm winter days when it is active and its dark color contrasts sharply with a background of snow.[2]