Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fall Wildlife

The ground squirrels have gone into hibernation, but there are still lots of other wildlife to be seen. The bull buffalo are impressive after a summer of lazy eating, and they are looking to join up with the females again.
The little calves are getting bigger and less frolicsome. Perhaps they sense that eating is more important than playing with the cold weather coming on.
A bull elk keeps a close eye on a group of cow elk.
Here is another common species seen in the park in the fall; the photographer. This one is much too close to this bull elk in rut. Lucky for him, this guy seems secure and unthreatened with his harem nearby.
Two momma elk with their calves.
A mule deer with the largest ears I have ever seen.
A group of pronghorn antelope on a stormy evening. The male is in the rear, telling all the females to get moving. The males seem to be drivers, not leaders. This is probably true of many species.
This coyote seems contented. It must have been a good summer of hunting.
A bald eagle perches by its nest on a dead snag.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fall Colors

The fall colors this year have been outstanding. This first picture shows a clump of aspens with a lot of orange coloring. Right in the middle, between trees, you can see a patch of blue which is Henry's Lake.

This next picture is from the same area but looking away from the lake and towards the mountains. This clump of aspens sports orange and red coloring.

There are a lot of native mountain ash shrubs growing wild in this area, and they are likewise putting on a great show. Here is one that shows a progression from green to orange to dark purple, all in the same bush. The gas station in the background is Robin's Roost, which is a mile and a half down the road from my house. Like the one across the street from me, this one is also a small grocery store and lunch counter.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Helium Loses An Eye

Helium had to go into the vet last week because of what looked like an eye injury. There was blood just under the surface but no sign of what had caused it. The vet determined that there was no vision in that eye and sent me up to Helena, Montana to an eye specialist to have it double checked and then removed. Now he is back home and sporting a nifty plastic cone to protect the surgery site.
Here is a closeup shot. The dark patch is his skin pigmentation since they shaved the hair off around the surgery site. Who would have thought he'd be black under all that white hair!
The odd thing about this picture is that it looks like there is a gold colored eye in the middle of the dark patch. However, they sewed his eyelids shut, so there is definitely nothing there! It must be some funky glare with the plastic cone or the camera lens.
The eye specialist sent some tissue samples off to a lab to see if they could diagnose the problem. The results came back, and there was a malignant tumor inside the eyeball. Hopefully the cancer will not pop up anywhere else. Helium is one of my top dogs who raced with me at Ashton this year.

Monday, September 24, 2007

First Snow

We had our first snow on Sunday night, the 23rd of September. It was just a tiny skiff of snow. It had been raining all weekend, and then pretty much stopped by the time it turned to snow. This was a little bit later than the first snow last year, but not by much.

The footprints are from the cat, escaping out the front door to hunt mice under the deck. We try to keep her inside to avoid any tragedies with the dogs or the highway, but she knows there are mice out there, so she is always trying to get out.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Frost And Smoke

As I reported in the previous post, we had a hard freeze this week. It got down to 21F and has been in the 20s for most of the nights since then. I covered one tomato plant with a bucket, and it survived, but all the others perished. The corn and potatoes were also killed. I got half a dozen ears of baby corn, though! The edible spuds from the potatoes are in the ground, so of course they did not freeze with such a paltry overnight frost. I dug up the bounty from just one plant and found 25 spuds. Most of those were teeny, tiny, but there was one large one and half a dozen moderate sized ones. Success! Okay, I know that potatoes are supposed to be a natural in Idaho, but given our high elevation and short growing season in Island Park, my husband thought I would get nothing from my garden, not even potatoes.

On another front, this has been a particularly bad year for fires in Idaho and Montana. We have been fortunate not to have any closer than 15 miles from our house, and our valley has been remarkably smoke-free compared to many surrounding areas. However, there have been a couple weeks when the smoke blew in thick enough to make me stop training the dogs. Thick smoke can cause lung damage if you try to exercise in it. This week we had several days of thick smoke that made the mountains dim and fuzzy and left a strong smell in the air.
Here is a shot from last week, showing a team getting ready to leave the yard. The enthusiastic dog in the rear is Current, my main race leader. I do not use her in lead at this time of year because I like to train other leaders who have less experience. Her brother Charge is the white leader who is looking back at me.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Summer Is Over

Goodbye summer; hello fall. It is not that I am unhappy to see the summer be over. I hate hot weather, and this year was the hottest ever. The irony, though, is that just as we are about to get a hard freeze (tonight), I spot the first blossom on my tomato plant.

This was one of the few plants in my garden that was not munched to the ground by voracious critters, and yet it grew so slowly that it has now run out of time for growing. So sad.

Those hot, sunny, T-shirt days of summer may have gone by, but usually there are some beautiful days in the fall as well. Here my husband Mike is enjoying the view from the bank of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone Park. I expect at least a couple more weekends of picnic weather yet to come. (Translation: weather that is dry and warm enough to sit outside with ungloved hands.)

As a matter of fact, I have already gotten a good start on fall training with the dogs. I started the first week of August but was limited by the heat to two-mile runs. Now we are doing a five mile loop. Here is one team on the picket line, waiting to be hooked up for a run.