Sunday, December 20, 2015


It is a fine, late December day.  The brilliant sun and mild temperatures meant that I could work in the workshop at the river house.

I have been working on a mallard decoy.  I watched the Canadian geese in the river for inspiration as I worked on the decoy.

I have spent a few hours here and there shaping the head and body.  The cork body was mostly shaped with a rasp, while I had to carve and sand the head.

After a few hours of hand sanding, I had the head ready to be fitted to the body.  I ground the head off a long deck screw and screwed it into the base of the head.

I glued in the tail board and screwed and glued the head.

Next step is a final sanding and then onto filling in the small voids in the cork body.

Given the coming cool weather, it will take some time before I can finish this project and get the decoy painted.

I need to figure out if I want to paint this as a drake or hen mallard . . .

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Steelyard Scales

I was cleaning out the garage and came across a few items I bought years ago at an action.

I had picked up a few steelyard scales.  These were very popular for hundreds of years (they are also known as Roman scales).  The items to be weighed hangs below the fulcrum on one side, while you slide a counterweight across the long arm on the other side of the fulcrum.  They came in either a single range, or you could flip the scale over and hang from an alternate fulcrum to read on a different range.

I have 2 of the smaller scales.  These look to be made the same.  Neither has a mark.  You can weigh items from 10 to 50 lbs . . .

. . . or down from 0 to 10 lbs.

One scale has a little surface rust and uses cast hooks for the fulcrums . . .

. . . while the other had a black painted surface with rings for the fulcrums.

As you flip the scale over to use one range the arm is graduated for the lower scale . . .

 . . . and when you flip it over for the higher range it will be graduated for the higher range.

Surprisingly, these were accurate to within 1 notch.

I also have a larger one which can be used for much larger weights.  I still need to check this one out.

The wife has some packages she wants to mail out.  These would work great to help estimate the postage!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Rare Sighting

I travel a lot.  I mean a lot.  This year I have been to Brazil twice, India four times, Australia, Germany, Belgium, all about the United States.  I get to see a lot of things, but nothing so rare and unexpected as what the wife and I saw this weekend.

We went for a walk on one our new favorite nature trails - the Seneca Meadows Nature Preserve.

There are miles of trails through reclaimed marsh and forests.  The preserve is a habitat for many waterfowl, hawks, birds, muskrat, beaver, reptiles and amphibians.  The trails are well surfaced and flat.  The woods and fields are quiet, except for the sounds of the birds.

As we got the the Blue Heron Trail, we were surprised by a pair of Sandhill Cranes.

They are not common here.  They migrate from Canada down the great plains.  This is not part of their flyway.  There has been a nest reported in the Montezuma Nature Preserve.  That is just a few miles away.  Maybe it was that pair.

Wow!  This is a sight I never expected.  What a treat!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Edges

A quiet, calm morning.  The grass is mowed, and I had finished pushing back the weeds.  The dew covered the lawn and the plants in the yard.

Weeding is sometimes an indiscriminate battle.  You get a mower, trimmer or scythe out and just cut down everything.  Sometimes I am more careful.  Keep some plants, like daisies or a  few of the dame's rockets.  Leave ferns, but take out the chicory and thistles.

I don't always stop and look at the wonders of the wildflowers.

Maybe I should stop and look at the wildflowers more often.  I was glad I did this morning. . .

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Here is the Heron

Most of the painting on the great blue heron is done.

The body was painted with 2 coats of white primer.  The neck is colored tan, with the main body in grey.  The yellow bill and black cap and shoulders finished the trim colors.  I have a little touch up to do (including the eyes).  I need to let the current paint to dry before I finish the touch-up work.

What do you think?

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Most mornings as I walk out to my garage I am greeted by a variety of visitors.  The large light on the garage attracts a cast of nighttime wanderers who decide to land on my garage doors.

Yes, it is May, and I am visited by mayflies.

I get a number of varieties depending on the time of year.  Sadly, I don't remember the types and classifications any more (I was better at recognizing them when I was actively fly fishing for trout).

Not be be left out, we also get an occasional caddisfly.  Both the mayflies and caddisflies live in the creek.

When I come home at night the visitors are gone.  Did they leave to mate?  Food for birds?  A small mystery to ponder.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Grumble, Grumble

It's that time of season.  The warm weather has given the plants a much needed boost after the bitter cold this past winter.

What does this mean?

The knotweed is back!

No problem.   I grabbed the scythe, gave the blade a quick sharpen with a file, and mowed the knotweed down.

The battle begins . . .

Monday, May 4, 2015

Blue Heron Project

I have been working on a small project these last few months - a blue heron statue / carving.

I started with a good photo of a great blue heron.  From it, I sketched the outline of the heron (to full scale).

I transferred the outline to a large board.

I composed the heron in three parts - one being the basic body, neck and head with the other two identical wing and body parts.

Once cut out with a jigsaw, I had a general form of the great blue heron.

I screwed the wing sections on each side of the main body, and then drilled two holes in the base to support legs (the legs are simple 2 foot sections of rebar.

A little sanding, and I have a statue of a great blue heron to place by the water.  Next step - time to paint!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Lost and Found

I seem to spend all my weekends doing yard work.  I've been delinquent with my posts.  Having two homes means I have twice the yard work.  Mowing, trimming, raking, planting, etc.

I spent some time by our river house transplanting plants.  Daffodils and irises have been moved about.  As this property is new to us, I am not sure what else will come up.

The daffodils by the river house are in full bloom.

I was surprised to come across a large group of yellow trout lilies.  They are in a part of the yard that is kept more wild (i.e., not organized and difficult to mow).  These were a nice surprise.

The best yards are not just big expanses of lawn and turf.  They need quite spots where one can find unexpected groupings and a mix of plants and textures.

Back around the farm, Spring is coming later (the farm is at a higher altitude).  We even had snow flurries last weekend.  I did rake out the gardens, remove the plow blade and put on the mower deck, and trimmed a few plants.  The daffodils have not bloomed yet, though the tiger lilies and peonies are emerging.

Sadly, my one lone trillium hasn't emerged.  I keep watching for it, but I don't see any sign of it.

To my amazement, we have a large group of trilliums at the river house!

I lost one old friend, but found many more!


This post was originally published on May 2nd.  Today (May 4th), I found that the single trillium at the farm house has indeed emerged.

I have been nurturing this plant for over 8 years.  They usually flower around Mother's Day.  I hope it will finally bloom!  Lost, but found again!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Possibly My Favorite Bird

I enjoy watching birds.  There is nothing more thrilling than seeing hawks and eagles.  Ducks and geese are always a favorite due to their variety, behavior and numbers.  The beautiful hummingbirds and dainty little songbirds are pleasant to watch.  Then there are the larger songbirds.  My favorite of these are the redwing blackbirds - the harbingers of Spring.

However, the American robin may be my favorite.  It was one of the first birds I could identify.  It is a common bird and can be found in backyards, fields and the woods.  It has a splash of color on its breast, but it is not too flashy.  They are always in the yard looking for worms.  They are not pushy or noisy.  They seem civil and quiet - like a good neighbor.  They are also a messenger of change.  It's call in the Spring lets me know that the winter snow is soon to depart.

I used to think that robins were fair weather friends, but I am always amazed to see them with the ice and snow around.   I remember a flock of them standing on the ice by the shore of Lake Champlain a few years ago.

I still like watching them.  They are amazing.

Yep - I think the American robin might be my favorite bird.

What is your favorite bird?

Monday, January 12, 2015


As I was going out to the barn to do some chores when I noticed something odd . . .

Yep.  The old bat box is still there (and as you might know it has never been used by the bats - they prefer the hay mow in the barn).

If you look carefully, you will notice that there is now a large hole in the front.  Something has decided to remodel this box.  Not sure what it is, but I will keep an eye out in the spring to see what may have moved in...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cold - Hot - Cold

It is now 2 degF.  Just 3 days ago it was over 40 degF.  The snow from the previous week had melted revealing the sign of little mice and voles.

The thaw had the creek running fast and angry.  It guess it did not want to get wakened from its winter slumber.

As the cold came back yesterday, we got an inch of snow; covering signs of the varmints.  The creek is icing up quite quickly.

If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes!