Lincoln is winding up here, ready to leap into the fray. Doesn’t he know that 2023 is not a leap year?
A year has 365 and 1/4 days, but how do you have a quarter of a day? We make up for it by having 365 days in our calendar every year, but every fourth year we add one day to even things out.
Next year (2024) will be a leap year, so it will have 366 days (one extra day in February).
Lincoln is not going to leap this year. He’s just getting warmed up.
Only 28 days in February this year, so those poor fellows who were born on February 29 don’t get to have a birthday this year. Someone born on February 29, 2000, would 24 years old next year, but they will only have had six birthdays.
I’m told they celebrate their birthdays on March 1 on the non-leap-years.
Folks! Dickie here. I wasn’t going to make a New Year’s resolution, but something happened to change my mind. I’m sorry to tell you we’ve got thieves in the woodshed. Well, at the very least, they’re freeloaders.
Here’s what happened. Flossie and Flora Flicker and their brother Floyd were checking out breakfast joints….
“I’ve been picking at the ground for those ant eggs and beetles, but they’ve all gone into hiding,” said Flossie.
“Give it up. I know a better place,” called Flora.
“What did you say?” Flossie shouted. “I had my head in the sand there for a minute. Didn’t hear what you said.”
“I said, Flossie, there are easier ways to get a meal around here. Your brother, Floyd has already gone to look. So, are you interested?”
“I know the sunflower seeds are stashed around here, in the woodpile,” Floyd mumbled. “I bet Rufus Towhee knows where they are, but he hasn’t been very helpful.”
“I was just about to tell Floyd about the sunflower seeds in the jar,” said Rufus, “but then he found this big ugly bug. I just had to turn my back. Can’t stand to watch him crunching away on it.”
“And now for dessert!”
“I do feel a little bit bad, eating Dickie’s sunflower seeds. He’ll be so disappointed when he sees they’re gone.”
“Oh deardeardear! They found my stash. And Floyd is bigger than I am. Did you see that spear of a beak on him? Well … lesson learned. My first New Year’s resolution – I’m going to have to start getting up earlier and get my share.”
I think I see him. I hope he’s got my bag of grubs.
Yes, you’re right! And I see the big sack full of hazelnuts for me.
Er, ah, HERE I AM, Santa. OVER HERE!
Where? I don’t see anything.
When he does come, I hope he brings me a lot of rosehips. Wonder what they’d taste like. In the winter I get tired of these holly berries and mountain ash berries. But maybe the rosehips are too fuzzy inside. They look good though.
Oooooh! Look! He’s got sleigh troubles. His reindeer are conking out. Should’ve got a Tesla Sleigh. With inflation, the price of reindeer food today is high, even for Santa. But even so, the cost of the Tesla Sleigh itself is enough to break the bank.
Yeah, he’s in trouble all right. Look! He’s turning around. Sniff… there goes that box of dog biscuits I asked for.
I see that. Hmm … I think I hear them complaining about being hitched up so close. Something about social distancing.
Sigh! No herring for supper tonight. Not by special delivery, anyway.
Well, I never! He’s going back to the North Pole. There goes that bunch of tree bugs I asked for.
I’ll go round up some recr-hoots.
Hey, you. Santa’s looking to hire you, Al and the Paca, to be his reindeer substitutes.
What’s that you say? You don’t play second fiddle? Huh! You’d think that in the spirit of Christmas, you’d oblige an old man. I see you are related to those llamas next door with all their llammering. You’re just lazy, the All Packa ya. Well, see if I give a hoot.
Here’s a likely crew.
Say, would you pronghorns like to save Santa’s bacon tonight?
But we’re in Montana.
That’s okay. He’ll have to go by there when he limps home with his rainydeer crew and drops them off. Maybe you can hop on and help get them home before the nightshift begins. Thanks a lot.
I’ve been watching and I don’t see him coming back yet. Must be in the workshop, adjusting the harnesses to the new team.
I think I see him now, with his fresh crew of pronghorns. Funny-looking reindeer. Better than nothing, I guess.
Oh, this is so exciting. We just can’t sit still.
Children, children, not so loud,
Reindeer’s nervous of the crowd,
Send a delegation out,
Find that sleigh, and kids don’t pout.
Let’s go meet him.
This way! This way!
Santa’s big sleigh.
Now settle down or Santa will think you’re all quackers.
Look how well behaved we are; black and white, eating at the same table together. One big happy flock. We’re a “blended flock.”
Oh, listen to you guys. You think it’s easy being the black swan of the family?
Whaddaya mean? You think you’ve got it bad? You try being a rat. All I did was chew on a few of those lovely black licorice cords in the truck and WHAM! They lifted the trunk and exposed me to the elements. But they won’t see me hiding in the corner. Bet you can’t see me either. I’ve got a really good hiding place in the door well too. I’ll just wait there until Santa brings new wiring for me to nibble on.
One thing we all got for Christmas – not sure if Santa had anything to do with it – was darn cold weather. So when Santa had to fly back to change his Rainydeer tires for the more heavy-duty Pronghorn brand, he asked the North Wind to provide some Puddle Puzzles for us to play with while we await his return.
Actually, I thought the puzzles were more like A-maze-ing. You just try it. See if you can find a path out of this maze.
I hope your Christmas holiday time is amazing too.
Did you find the rat in the truck? Look on the far back right-hand corner of the picture (actually the left side of the truck).
I took this picture from my back (second storey) deck to show how long the branches of the fir trees have become. They almost reach the house now. The philadelphus (mock orange), on the right, has also grown up high and dense.
Our friend offered to take down some of the big lower branches. I’ve blurred his face for his privacy. He did a great job of taking those huge limbs off, but see the photo below. Dickie, the squirrel, was extremely upset.
He’s on top of the root of one of the fir trees, and we had to shoo him away so he wouldn’t get hurt.
Some of the branches that came down are pictured above, but a couple more huge ones joined them after I took this picture. Dickie came back to check on the progress and ended up hiding under the big ground-level canopy of branches.
If I’m not already a nut job, then after doing this nut job, I will be one.
I had thought there were no hazelnuts on the trees this year but I was wrong. They were a bit late to develop, but they were quite prolific. When I saw that the raccoons and the squirrels were harvesting them, day (squirrels) and night (raccoons), I thought I’d better get in on the action. Looks like a little black cocker is also wanting to get in on the action.
I let the nuts sit out in the sun to dry out for a couple of weeks, and then, as the nights grew cooler I had to do something with the nuts or watch them go moldy. It’s not cold enough to make a fire in the woodstove so hanging the nuts in burlap bags by the fire was not an option.
I decided to crack them and put the nutmeat in ziplocs and freeze them. This way I can take out what I need to use for baking through the winter.
I tried them out in a batch of banana/blueberry/hazelnut muffins. Turned out quite good.
“Folks, I’ve been working really hard from first light to last, collecting hazelnuts and hiding them for later. I hope you won’t mind if I take time to have a snack. Gotta keep up my strength.”
“Watch me in this video. See how fast I twirl this hazelnut around so I can eat it evenly on all sides. Kind of the way Anneli eats an ice cream cone, except she can’t go as fast as I can. Also, she doesn’t use her teeth, but I need to use mine to cut away the nutshell when it gets in the way.
And by the way, Anneli says to say she’s sorry she fumbled the camera partway through. Doesn’t show me at my best, but she tries.”
It turns out that the hazelnut trees in my front yard had some nuts on them after all this year, although many fruit trees were nearly empty.
Under cover of darkness, the raccoons visit regularly, filling their boots with all they can eat. I’ve tried to lighten the photos so we can see the raccoons, but you may have to use your imagination a fair bit. The spot under the tree on the left is where the flashlight found the raccoons.
They get right up into the trees and knock down what they can.
Then they crack the nuts open with their sharp teeth. I find the shells in the morning. They don’t bother to clean up after themselves.
Over the next few days I frantically pick as many hazelnuts as I can. There is still plenty for the raccoons. Today, two squirrels had a chattering spat in one of the nut trees just six feet away from me – probably telling me to scram.
“WHA-A-A-T?” says Dickie (Lincoln’s grandson). “Do you see what they’re doing? Get away from my hazelnuts! First the raccoons, and now the people!”