Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Afterglow

A few days ago, just after sunset, I witnessed a beautiful afterglow.



Monday, March 26, 2012

Housing the birds

Yesterday, I remembered that we had some bird nesting boxes stored in the shed. When we moved to our new house, we put them there... and then forgot all about them. It seemed like a good idea to put them up in the trees right now.


This one is hanging, only six more to go. The one on the left is a bat box.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Signs of spring

Once again, we experienced a beautiful day during which we witnessed a great variety of signs of spring.

While the mercury rocketed to 20 degrees Celsius and more, we saw this year's first butterflies, spring flowers and Woodcocks. And yes, the mosquitoes have started to come out of hiding, too.

Coltsfoot - the first spring flower.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mud bath

Now that the roads are no longer frozen, at last, I can take a mud bad again. And it's really easy, too. I don't even have to roll through the sludge on the defrosting road surface. Just taking a walk works fine. Take a look and see how I am looking after having walked only a few hundred metres. I'll stand still and pose so that my human can take some pictures.


From a distance it doesn't look that bad.


That is why we take a close up of my hind legs,


of my front legs,


and of my coat.

I hope the pictures came out well. When my human wants to check them out on his camera, I get bored and get ready to sit down in the mud. "No!", my humans shout in unison. I don't get it. Do you?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feeding the birds

Last Thursday, we got a new guest at our bird feeders.

It was Nicôle who saw the bird first, when it, like a thunderbolt, struck a beautiful Bullfinch which was enjoying a meal of sunflower seeds at one of our feeders. Before Nicôle knew it, the bird of prey was on it's way again, with the Bullfinch in it's claws, leaving nothing behind but some little fluffy red feathers trailing behind in the sky. And leaving Nicôle both bewildered and impressed at the same time.

Since it's first surprise attack, we have seen the Sparrowhawk almost every day. It is clear that our yard has become part of his hunting ground. Luckily, the bird's assaults are not always successful. Despite the hunter's speed and determination, about two thirds of it's intended victims succeed to escape. And the rest of them? They become food for another bird which - just like themselves - has to eat in order to survive.

Although it is a bit sad, we can not be too sentimental about it. If you are feeding the birds, you are feeding the birds of prey, too. It is as simple as that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring equinox

Today is the first day of spring.

Well, at least by one of it's definitions it is. As I am writing this, the spring equinox has already occurred. From this moment on, on the northern hemisphere, daylight will rule over the darkness of the night. Each day, the time between sunrise and sunset will increase, until the sun reaches it's maximum elevation at the summer solstice which, this year, will occur on the 20th of June.

And what did we get to celebrate this special day? A very appropriate present. This morning, when we opened the curtains, we were surprised to see a beautiful white world out there again. Everything was covered by a few centimetres of freshly fallen snow.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Choose wisely

Choose your dreams wisely,
for maybe, one day,
you might be able to fulfil them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Freshly split

Early this morning, it seemed a good idea to take advantage of the beautiful weather and start splitting a new firewood supply. Later on, it also seemed a good idea to push on and finish the job. The result is a big pile of freshly split firewood.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Prolonged warmth

Today, the mercury rose to twelve degrees Celsius, in the shadow! In the sun, a t-shirt was all I needed to keep my upper body warm. It felt great, but we may not forget that this kind of warmth must be considered very extreme, this time of year. Because of the prolonged warmth, the frost is clearly starting to loose control over nature, now.


Creeks and little streams have shed their ice cover and are running freely.


The lakes are still covered with ice though. But on the ice: a lot of melt water.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Having fun

Today, we take the car with the intention to find a place where my feet still have grip, so that I can run around freely without hurting myself. After a short drive, we discover an unplowed road with a snowmobile track going over it. The track is firm enough to bear us and, because it is covered with a little bit of snow, not slippery either. It is exactly what we are looking for.


We have just got out of the car. All my attention is focussed on what my human has got in her hands: her gloves.


Before she knows it, I tear one of the gloves out of her hands. I run away with it, and, after some twenty metres, I drop it on the ground.


Then, I walk away from it, pretending I am no longer interested.


But, as soon as my human gets ready to pick the glove up from the ground, I quickly turn around and snatch it back again.


And I am gone again. My human just misses out.


Not before we are on the way back to the car, I return the glove. I have had a jolly good time. And I hope my human had fun, too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Drumming

Woodpeckers communicate by shrieking - they can call in many different ways - and by drumming. Usually they drum on wood, but this clever bird uses the zinc cover plate on top of an electricity pole to amplify the sound.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One more time

Spring seems to be almost here. According to the weather forecasts, the daytime temperature will rise above freezing, every day for the next ten days. On some days, the mercury might even reach ten degrees Celsius. That's good news, but Jack Frost isn't giving up without a fight. He has just dumped about fifteen centimetres of fresh snow on our doorstep, so it looks like we'll be shovelling snow one more time. Hopefully, it will be the last time, this winter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Making a Swedish torch - 1

Last weekend, we made a so called Swedish torch. This is a piece of log which is burning from the inside. You can use a Swedish torch to cook on, or to grill sausages above. You can also use it to warm yourself by or just to create some atmosphere - preferably when it's dark.

To start with, you need a piece of log. Any kind of wood will do, as long as it doesn't come from a freshly cut tree.


Place the log straight up on the ground and use a chain saw to make two cuts in it - at right angles to each other - from the top down. If you're using a log with a bigger diameter than we're using in this example, you can make three cuts - star like - in stead of two.


This is how the log looks like after that.


On top of the log - in the middle, where the saw cuts cross - you put some kindling (small pieces of dry wood, little branches, bark etc.).


Now, it's time to light the fire.


If all goes well, the kindling will start burning.


To be continued...

Making a Swedish torch - 2

Once the fire on top of the log is burning, all you further need is patience.


And to add some fuel every now and then.


After a while - sooner than you would expect - the fire kind of sinks into the log.


Once the inside of the log is burning, you can stop adding fuel. The saw cuts work like a chimney, causing an air flow which keeps the fire burning. At this point, you've made yourself a real Swedish torch.


On top of the Swedish torch, you can place a kettle or a pan. You can also wait until the inside of the log stops burning and starts glowing and then grill sausages - like we did this time.


Have fun!


Please note: don't use paraffin, petrol, gas or something like that to light the fire.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Goodbye Julbock

With only three weeks left until the start of summertime (daylight saving time), Nicôle considered it about time to dismantle the Julbock. She removed the spruce branches - all still as green as the day we cut them - from this huge Christmas decoration and took them to our biodegradable waste dump in the forest. Unfortunately, she couldn't take the frame and place it in the shed, yet, because it's legs are still captured in a thick layer of solid ice.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Seriously knocking

Although at least a few weeks too early, spring is seriously knocking on the door.

Early this morning, after having climbed halfway up the hill, I'm standing still and looking out over the valley. Everything is beautifully lit by the sun which has just risen above the top of the hill. Only the deepest part of the valley - where, far below me, a small river runs - is deprived of the sunshine by a layer of clouds.

Then, even before I hear their characteristic cries, I see them. Three majestic birds, flying just above the tree tops, their white plumage turned into gold by the light of the early morning sun. A few moments later, they pass almost straight over my head, their wings beating loudly and their throats producing that beautiful trumpeting sound. What a way to start the day. It's a fantastic feeling, witnessing the arrival of this year's first swans.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wake up call

When I wake up, it's still dark in the bedroom. I have no idea what the time is, but judging by the amount of light pushing it's way past the curtains, it isn't long till sunrise. I turn over to my other side and stay in bed. Dozing in a world of silence.

Then I prick up my ears. Through the windowpane I hear a bird calling. High and clear the piercing tones are breaking the silence. The bird increases the volume, and then turns it down again. After a short break, there seems to be an answer. Pitch and timbre are totally different from the call. And the volume is more at a constant level, rather than going up and down. Then all becomes quiet, but it doesn't take long before the initial call sounds through the air again. While the sun rises and more light finds it's way into the bedroom, the two birds continue their duet. Until, all of a sudden, four or five - as far as I can judge by their different sounds - other birds join the concert.

It is the first time at the end of this winter - it isn't spring by a long shot - that the birds start the day with an early morning concert. And I am enchanted by this beautiful wake up call.