Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

For Fox’ Sake…


That may be my favorite blog post title EVER.

On Sunday July 6, Mr. Wonderful, Male Spawn, and I took a day trip to the Vermilion Falls and Vermilion Gorge hiking trails. Northern MN has been getting a lot of rain and so I hoped there would be lots of photo opportunities. The weather didn’t cooperate, but the wildlife did!

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Next time we’ll take video, too. On the short walk back to the car, someone pointed out a dragonfly.

Dragonfly, mn, pajari girls, cook's country connection, photography, pretty bugs

Then Danny grabbed my arm and pointed up the trail…

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

 

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

 

Could it be a Red fox? They come in many colors…including Silver, which is different from the Gray fox,  which are one of only 2 members of the Canidae family that can climb trees…but the Gray fox has a black tail. Crap.

This was driving me nuts! (I really really really hoped that it was a young Timber Wolf. That opened another can of worms. )

I sent the photos to my friend Colleen who works at the USFS, LaCroix Station. The biologist there said it was a Cross fox. 100% sure. At first I didn’t understand. Was that a cross between a Red and Gray? Nope, it is a TYPE of Red fox. At one time it was thought to be it’s own species, but DNA study changed that. However, “fur farmers and trappers continued to treat each red fox colour form as a distinct species long after scientists concluded that they were variations of the same one”, according to Wikipedia. Well, that clears things up!

I have hauled my Nook around everywhere with me, even to a Little League game. Jeremiah’s dad (John) said he would look into it, too. He works for the DNR. **JUST IN** The DNR says Cross Fox, too! Thanks, John V.!

 

I posted the pictures on Facebook, too, getting several different opinions.

At this point, my vote is Cross fox.

What’s your vote? Please Like, Comment or Share…for fox’ sake!

 

 

PS: If you liked this post, check out Cook’s Country Connection’s Wild Neighbors page. Chop chop. Tell Lois The Employee of the Year sent you. Loveyabye!

 

 

Another Mysterious Burrow


We have been seeing a new critter in the pit at the House On The Hill  and became mostly sure after consulting  my North American Wildlife book and Wikipedia that it was a pine marten or a woodchuck (aka groundhog, aka the critter who lies about winter almost being over EVERY. YEAR.), yet it moved like a beaver. However, when the trail cam captured the photo below, we all got a little nervous, thinking a woodchuck might not be the only new neighbor.

badger, woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

I tried and tried to zoom in with all the photo editing software at my disposal, but this grainy crop was the best that I could do; he was just too far away.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

I don’t know about you, but that looks like a badger to me. This made us all nervous, because badgers will eat your face off! (Plus, they don’t care; they don’t give a SHIT. This link goes to the Honey Badger video, but they are closely related to the regular badger, whose link is here.)

Then another mysterious hidey-hole appeared behind the barrage. (That’s a barn/garage combo.)

hidey hole

getting this shot made me nervous, because on

This was a little closer than I should have been, but the only way to see the hole through the equisetum. Threw out my ankle some, too. You’re welcome.

ANYWAY…I had managed to get a few grainy shots of this little guy with the Canon, so when I found the hidey hole I placed the trail cam on it to be sure it was him living there, not a badger.

woodchuck

 

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

He or she is very cautious, pausing regularly to stand up and take a look- and sniff- around.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

She or he seemed to have gotten used to us, and even has a shortcut through Squirt’s playhouse. The white metal to the left is his gate.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

Hiding in the Lupine…

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

And in front of the barrage.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

These are my favorite facts from  the wiki link.

  • weighs up to 10 pounds
  • burrows are up to 46 feet long and five feet or more underground, with several exits
  • the average woodchuck (groundhog) moves 35 cubic feet of dirt when making a burrow
  • they are perfect for Hep-B -induced cancer research
  • they do NOT chuck wood…the Native American word for them just sounds like “woodchuck”
  • that does not stop people from yelling out my back door, “Hey you dang woodchuck! Stop chucking my wood!!”

Which may or may not have something to do with why we haven’t been seeing it up as close to the House on the Hill, but did show up on the trail cam when we placed it near Pajari Pond. But that’s another story.

You wanna watch that Geico commercial now, don’t you? So do I.

PS: Do you have a trail cam? What kind of creatures have you seen on it? I’d love to see the pictures!

Horse Driving– Another How-to Not-to


This story is embarrassing. But it’s also so damn funny that I can’t not share it.

It’s been two three years since I last harnessed up my mini horse for a drive. (This is Laura by the way, not Lois.) He recently came back to my house from Lois’ for some “retraining”. That means he was being a bully to the other, older animals. Click here  for part of that story.

 

miniature horse, pony, cook's country connection, pajari girls

The training has been going well–mostly re-teaching him manners with leading and doing some longe line work. Where before he was impossible to catch, now he comes willingly.

Ok. So. We had to walk him next door to have his shots for the Petting Farm, and Danny thought we should drive him instead. I decided we would see how he did with harnessing and hitching up to the cart first.

 

squirt harnessed

He had grown, so I lengthened the harness as needed and he stood just fine. So far, so good. Even without a sturdy hitching post, we were gettin’ ‘er done. I was feeling confident that driving a horse was similar to riding a bike; you never forget.  The bridle was tougher to put on (always has been with him) but I figured out how to make that bigger too, and was finally able to get it in his damn mouth. (THIS is why I have a mini instead of a Belgian.) I attached the lines -called “reins” on a riding horse-, so we had steering and brakes now too. Check, double check.

 

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This is what I pictured: My Little Pony trotting up the driveway to Lois’s, with me and Danny riding comfortably. That is not even close to what happened.

Danny and I walked him down to the bottom of our driveway. There was a lot of traffic, so we waited patiently. I had the lines in my right hand and the longe line (aka emergency brake) in my left. I gingerly stepped into the cart and as soon as I sat down, I was flipping backwards. Next thing I knew, I was looking UP at the Norway pine, the sky, little hooves flailing and horse teeth.

My life flashed before my eyes, then I realized I wasn’t mortally injured– just banged up with a little road rash. When I regained my feet, there was the cart, with the harness and bridle and lines still attached, and the pony munching clover a few feet away. He looked at me like, “And you say I’M FAT??”. I became aware of cars passing and all I could do was laugh, now that nobody was dead.

This is what the cart looked like when I stood up:

driving horse 003

…except the harness was still attached. By some miracle, Squirt aka Elmer just slithered right out of all of it! I was sure I would have a terrified horse tied up in knots right there on the shoulder of Hwy 24. Or worse yet, on my head. Apparently I forgot something critical.

driving horse 002

Standing at the end of the driveway, all I could do was laugh. And laugh. And guffaw. And wave back at the cars passing.  All I could think of was the hearse from Disney World’s Haunted Mansion ride.

haunted horse

 

 

*HA! I almost published this without answering the question, “What the hell went wrong??” .

I forgot to snap the cart to the breeching. I think the strap I neglected is called the Tilbury Tug. Horseman Ed calls them  “holdbacks”. I now call it “don’tforgetthekeepthecartfromtippingnoverdumbassthingyclip”.

 

 

 

 

Pajari Girls Shark Week


I know what you’re thinking…but we don’t mean the one on Discovery Channel.

This week  is even scarier. Maybe it’s best illustrated by a conversation I recently had with a male friend of ours. We’ll call him Mr. No-Fun.

No-Fun: What IS it with you girls and car problems this week??

Me: I know! And it’s shark week, to top it off!

No-Fun: (Stops walking, and turns around with a wrinkled brow.) What the hell does that have to do with anything? It’s the Discovery Channel; it’ll be on again. And again. And again.

Me: No, no, no. This is worse. PMS week.

No-Fun: Holy Christ, you don’t ALL cycle at once, do you??? Omigod….Poor Big Guy and Paul…Can’t you do something about that??!

shark cage

photo credit: www.discoverhawaii.com

Later, relating the above convo to my sister (aka The Queen of Poo, Lois, and the witch who volunteered me for the play), she laughed so hard, I bet tears ran down her leg. “That’s a terrible idea!! What does he want us to do—all four take turns so the whole month is hell?!?! Better to get it all over at once!”

I agreed, “Holy crap! You’re right!! Kinda like a nuclear blast….give the community three weeks to recover in-between!” There is no doubt in my mind this is why women who spend a lot of time together also cycle together. Mother Nature is no dummy.

shark attack survivor

photo credit: nbc news

It’s not that bad. Usually, we are more bark

basking shark

photo credit: Discovery Channel

than bite.

nemo sharks

photo credit: Finding Nemo, where the answers to ALL life’s questions can be found.

Usually. 😀

It wouldn’t hurt to tread lightly, though.

Cabin Fever Cures


Friday and Saturday, the winter blues were encroaching. Then my friend Kelly sent me flowers at work to thank me for helping winter suck less. 🙂

winter bouquet

“Thank you for helping me embrace winter.”

AWWWWW! How sweet is that?? Thanks, Kelly! You brighten my winter, too. 🙂

The big gravel pit banks looked kind of intimidating to the 5  year-old, so I broke out the food coloring and some spray bottles. Also reeeeeeeally brightened up the winter landscape.

winter fun, snow art, food coloring, spray bottle

Water and food coloring in spray bottles.

food coloring, snow

Names in the snow. Hygienically.

I always wanted to write names in the snow...

I always wanted to write names in the snow…

Avi's Hippie Snowball

A psychedelic snowball!

writing in snow

There’s always one in every group…

Also, there was some awesome sledding on the gravel pit banks.

Before...

Before…

During…

Hear the fire crackling in the background? We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

Sledding

Photo credit: Eldest Spawn

clint and avi

Again, Eldest Spawn took this one.

Everybody wants to kill that one bush in the gravel pit…

After

After.

Also, Jill stopped by to model her newest in Funny Farm Fashion. 😉

Baler twine as a hair accessory. True story.

Baler twine as a hair accessory. True story.

All in all, it was the perfect day to ENJOY winter. 30 degrees above zero was reason enough to celebrate. On a related note, the Finns allegedly have more words for “snow” than the Inupiat. Check out the link…Finnish words for snow.

As usual, please like, share, or pin to spread the joy. 🙂

Playing With Water at -25F


One of my latest self-discoveries was that hating winter doesn’t make it shorter, and it certainly doesn’t make me any happier. So, after making ice candles, candle rings, and ice gems/marbles, I went hunting for more crafty ideas on Pinterest and found this genius named Tracy Lynn Conway who had pinned ice sun catchers using a cake pan and/or muffin pans. I was inspired.

The best thing about this cold snap is that I can stand at my kitchen door and watch water freeze. Shut up–it’s verry interesting. Stop judging me!!  Mr. Wonderful found it pretty chuckalicious too, until I sent him a picture.

ice suncatcher

Eat those words, Larry.

This is a fast, cheap, and easy way to fight cabin fever, depression, and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is also Parent of the Year stuff. Youngest Spawn is learning all about frostbite and how ice forms.

Tracy made her sun catchers in the freezer, but I had a blast watching the ice form outside. (And at -20, it was waaaaay faster. See her pin/blog for more on using the freezer.) My favorite effect is when the food coloring freezes while dissipating in the water…it looks like psychedelic snowflakes.

TIP: If you want to use multiple colors, wait until the water is almost ice. Otherwise, you will end up with brown sun catchers.

I’d tried making my ice marbles into hanging ornaments, but the curly ribbon always broke when I tried to remove the balloon. (And they were kind of heavy, which is tough on winter-brittle branches.) That’s where the muffin pan came in. I used magnets to hold the curly ribbon where I wanted it.

muffin pan, sun catcher, ice

I like the way the silver curly ribbon catches the light.

Like the other ice crafts, it’s all about catching the light. A Bundt pan has a ready-made hanging hole, as well as ridges.

ice, bundt pan, suncatcher

I only filled it 1/3 of the way..less weight for the string.

Because I didn’t want all the colors to bleed together, I didn’t add the drops of food coloring until it had started to freeze. Therefore, the color only shows from one side. I dribbled more food coloring on the other side like a glaze.

Glazed.

Glazed.

We have these sets of 3 plastic heart containers at The Barn ($.50 per set), and I just knew they would be good for something. Adding lace (also on clearance), and some foofy colored ice cubes I made from silicone baking molds…

sun catcher, ice, heart. rose,

Ice Valentines to hang in a tree.

Looking forward to seeing this in the sunlight.

Looking forward to seeing this in the sunlight.

On the thicker sun catchers, my color didn’t go all the way through, so I finger-painted a quick heart on the back of this one.

sun catcher, ice, valentine,

This is why my fingers are red.

Again, thank you to Tracy Conway for the great tutorial! Here are some other fun things to do with water in the winter:

ice marbles/gems

Make ice gems/ marbles with balloons. And spray yourself and kitchen blue.

Cool-Whip, Ice candle

Make ice candles with Cool-Whip bowls.

Bundt pan ice candle

Ice candle ring from Bundt pan.

Comments? Questions? Tips? Please “like”, share or Pin it! Better yet, vote to make me Employee of the YEAR!! Loveyabye.

Guinea Capture Part 6a


At 1:34 pm today I received the following  text from my sister:

“We have a date…6:00pm  ‘Guinea Capture Part 6’.  Carol has a plan.”

Shit.

Parts One through Five summary here.

 

Fire Starters


Usually, our projects are like what we eat: fast, cheap, and easy. This is not one of those. The good news is that it’s way simpler than it sounds.

It’s fast if you have the supplies already and don’t have to gather the pine cones now and wait two days for them to thaw, warm, and open. Just collecting them was an adventure… (See that one here).

pony, pine cones, fire starters

He wanted to eat the basket. (He gets his head stuck in things a lot.)

It’s cheap if you have wax and a few common kitchen tools that can be dedicated to wax projects.

It’s easier than making candles from scratch.

You will need:

A large pillar candle

Candle, fire starters

This was a huge three wick coconut cake-scented pillar candle.

Double boiler (or a small pot and a glass 2-cup measuring cup, OR a small pot and a wax pouring pitcher)

melting wax

This is a wax melting pitcher, but a large glass or metal measuring cup will work, too.

Wick from pillar candle or pre-waxed wicks

Cupcake papers

firestarters, wax, pinecone, muffins

muffin papers from The Barn

Muffin pan/s (disposable aluminum pans from the Barn would have been smarter than using my real pans.)

Scented wax (optional)

Pine cones

Directions:

While the wax was melting in the double boiler thingy, I set up the papers and wicks.

pine cone firestarters in muffin cups

These are pre-waxed wicks, aka primed wicks. Leave two inches hanging out.

Pine cone firestarters

Also had some pre-made votive wicks with the little metal thingy attached.

pine cone fire starters

Next, I added the pine cones.

pine cone fire starters

Slowly, carefully, and gently pour the melted wax into the papers

pine cone fire starters

The cupcake papers came with foofy picks, so I added them, too.

pine cone fire starters

Let them set for a few hours in the pan, until hardened.

To use: place under kindling and light the wick.

Notes: I did two kinds; the larger fire starters are made with leftover green wax from an unscented pillar and a few balsam scented wax tarts, the smaller starters are made with the already-scented coconut cake candle.

These are easier than real candles because you won’t need to have the wax at a certain temperature or monitor the stearic acid content. They were made with pillar wax so they will hold their shape longer without needing a holder.

As usual, if you found this useful, or have something to add, share, like, comment or Pin it!

Loveyabye!

Christmas Adventure


Any activity outside when the high temp is one degree above zero and the low is 17 below zero is an adventure. Eldest Spawn and New Guy Clint took this lovely family photo on their way to their next Christmas, while  Middle and Youngest Spawn stayed in the house, and Lois, Big Guy and I watered and fed the herd.

middle finger, Pajari Family Wave

This is the Pajari Family Wave, aka “Say ‘Cheese’!” . PS: Thanks eldest spawn, for posting to FB…I can kiss the Parent of the Year Award away again this year.

big carhartts

I felt about 5 years old borrowing my sister’s husband’s Carhartt bibs. I’m an average 5’6″, but I still had a six inch roll on the bottom cuffs. The man’s a freakin Sasquatch..

winter clothes

This is my big sister Lois sporting her super warm South Park Kenny coat. She likes having her picture taken in this coat. Pretty sure she’s giving me the Pajari Family Wave; hard to tell with mittens though. Thanks, Husimann!!

South_Park_Kenny

Christmas 2012 022
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kenny coat

Smile, Sissy!! And Little Bit.. 🙂

She said “Climb up here and blow in this wet, metal fitting.” It felt like a trick…

I was pretty sure this was gonna be me.

I was pretty sure this was gonna be me.

winter fun

…but I did it anyway. It was that, or fight with a hundred-foot frozen hose tomorrow.

Winter, mn

See Big Guy waaaaay down there? He is the shorter tree between the two pines. Said the water shot outta the end of the hose EIGHT FEET.

Walli Pajari-Williams and GusGus love the snow. Here’s a short video of Corgis in Winter.

Twin black Alpacas

The alpacas didn’t seem particularly grateful.

Great Pyrennes, ginormous white slobbering dog, winter, barn, homestead

I’m sure Jai is part polar bear. He loves winter, and was playing with the lovely ice candle ring I made for Lois and Big Guy.

Next, we decided the herd needed some extra calories for Christmas and cold weather. I made a short video of their approach. This bunch is VERY food-motivated. I was pretty sure this video would end up on a 48 Hours Special as my death sequence.

winter, farm, llama, goat, donkey, pony

Christmas 2012 038

barn, farm, winter The pines in the foreground are the windbreak where I found Narnia and pine cones for a craft project. You can just barely see the huge pine (in the background) we visited on our adventure the other night.

    After that, we needed a kettle of hot water for hot chocolate and Ice Hole Butterscotch Schnapps. And a little nap. Merry Christmas from our barn to yours!!

Fast, Cheap, and Easy Ice Candle Ring


Ok, so all my ice-cream buckets are toast.  The ice pushed through the bottoms instead of the tops. 😦 And I have yet to master the five gallon bucket or garbage can methods. However, I did have one experiment that turned out great…an ice candle ring.

You will need:

A bundt pan

about three quarts water

3 drops food coloring (optional)

winter or a  freezer

votive or tealight candle

long fireplace lighter thingy deal

Ice Marbles/Gems, balloons, ice candle ring, bundt pan, cake pan
I was multitasking.The knobby balloons made weird marbles, and tended to burst.

This is almost too easy. I should check the Thrift Shop for more bundt pans and jell-o molds… Anyway, I just set the pan outside and filled it with water. If you want to add food coloring, rock on. The first ring I made popped right out of the pan, but the second one was tougher, so I asked myself,” What would Lois do??” She said to place the pan in a sink of hot water for a few minutes. It worked like a charm :).

Add a tealight or votive candle, and it’s probably best to light it with a long grill/fireplace/candle lighter. Unless you like burns and frostbite at the same time. (We usually have the candles, food coloring, balloons and lighters at The Barn if you’re local.)

Ice Candle Ring from Bundt Pan
Bring a little light to the cold, dark time of year.

Short video clip of candle flickering here. It was COLD out (-15 F), so it’s a short video. I recommend placing ice candles away from your house, yet visible from a window. It’s very possible they will freeze where they are placed, so make sure it’s not a tripping/shoveling hazard. Safety first, people! Or top five, anyway.

If you think this is a GREAT IDEA, like, comment, pin or share it. Please? If you know a way to make this idea even GREATER, let us know that, too! Loveyabe, Laura

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