We try to get out to Montana every year in October for some bird hunting and photography and hiking. This year, we arrived to about an inch of snow. While it is beautiful, it is quite chilly. The good thing about it is that rattlesnakes don’t like cold weather so I didn’t have to worry as much about Emma and Ruby getting bitten.
You may remember Emma as a puppy four years ago. We had great hopes that she would someday become a good flusher and retriever of game birds.
She hasn’t disappointed us. In spite of being quite small, this English field cocker spaniel is full of energy and her cuddly nature takes a back seat when it comes to finding birds. Nothing gets away from her.
If you thought the prairies were only boring grassy fields, you couldn’t be more wrong. The coulees are full of prickly shrubs, birds, and small animals. A fat hare came tearing out of the shrubs here and just as I was about to snap a photo, my battery died.
But later I caught this mule deer running away from all the commotion. I traipsed along behind the Captain and Emma as they did their pheasant hunting thing, hoping for something interesting to photograph, and I saw something the deer had left behind last year — an antler shed. It was only the second time I had ever found one and I was quite happy about stumbling across it.
After the snow from the day before, the mostly clay ground was “wettish,” and while we had heavy clods of mud on our boots, Emma’s feet were getting harder and harder for her to pick up. Besides collecting many burrs in her fur, she had huge clumps of clay on her feet. Here she is getting them soaked off, just before I took the comb and scissors to her curly ears to remove the burrs.
She is usually so energetic, we weren’t sure this was our Emma flaked out on the couch after the day’s outing.
It was Ruby’s turn to go out today, but she is sick. We think she drank some bad water. This has happened one other year and we have given her some meds that we hope will fix her up in a day or two.
PS Now, two days later, Ruby is feeling much better. We are so relieved.
Every once in a while I see children (and sometimes adults) wearing camouflage clothing around town and I have to wonder what they’re hiding from?
Animals have natural camouflage, traits that have evolved over thousands of years. I can understand that. Man copied the idea and used it during WWl. Okay, if we must have war, camo is smart.
To be properly camouflaged you have to try to blend in with the colours around you. Sand coloured khaki for the desert, dark blue or gray on rocky terrain. But by far the most popular style of camo-clothing is the kind with splotches of olive green, brown, and beige.
In the Vietnam war, camo-gear was everywhere and has been popular ever since. But has the marketing gone a bit too far? In many cases I have to wonder, what is the purpose of wearing or using camo-gear?
For civilians, there seems to be little reason to wear camouflage.
Two sensible exceptions come to mind:
1) hikers, who may want to hide so they can see more animals while out on a nature walk, and
2) hunters, trying to hide from animals they are stalking.
But, for both hikers and hunters, the use of camo-gear can backfire.
Relatives of a lost hiker may report to Search and Rescue that their loved one was last seen wearing camo-clothing. Please search for a large cluster of leaves that isn’t one.
Hunters in camo have the same problem, but they have one advantage. With their excellent disguise, they may be mistaken for a game animal, so for safety, they often sport blaze orange sleeves on their camo-shirt or a bright orange brim on their camo-cap. Now they can be spotted easily if they get lost and at the same time, avoid being shot.
But wait! Am I missing something here? What was the point of wearing the camo-clothing in the first place?
Now we come to the rest of the camo-gear. We have all kinds of accessories in camouflage colours: backpack, flashlight, knife, shotgun case, shotgun stock, even the barrel in some cases.
Imagine the scenario: The hunter sets down his gear to take a break, to retie the laces of his camo-boots, or camo-runners, or to have a drink from that camo-flask of water he can’t find just now. He set it down here somewhere….
He checks his camo-watch, decides it’s getting late. He sets his shotgun down on the ground for safety while he climbs carefully over the barbed wire fence. He’ll just hunt this one last field and call it a day. Once on the other side, he adjusts his camo-pack and reaches for his gun. But where is it? Quick! There’s a bunch of pheasants getting up out of the tall grass. Where’s the damn gun? Too late, he finds it perfectly hidden, right in front of his eyes.
Tired out, he comes home at last after tromping incognito through miles of fields. He strips down to his underwear and crawls into bed for a quick late-afternoon nap. What’s this? Camo-underwear? Is he hoping his wife won’t find him in the bed and kick him out to have a shower first?
In the previous post I told about the newly named “three lame ducks,” the old duck hunters who brought the duck blind they built out to the field. At the time I didn’t have a photo of the blind in its location with the final touches to have it blend in a little. Here it is, ready for action. Probably it will need a stormier day to work better, but for now it can sit out here and get used to its new surroundings.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, our friend Bruce has a new puppy, an American Brittany. It seems to be an oxymoron to call it American if it’s a Brittany, but they retain the name “Brittany” because France is their origin. They are now also bred in the States and some traits of the breed have changed ever so slightly. The American Brittany is slightly larger and tends to run further afield than the smaller French Brittany which works more closely to the gun when hunting. So says Wikipedia, but who is to say how much truth is in that statement, and of course there are always exceptions.
Here, the Captain is holding Bruce’s still nameless puppy. I’ve had to fade out the Captain because the little princess wanted to be the star of the show.
Well fed or not, she is still interested in eating anything that becomes available. Like my friend’s rings. The princess has an eye for jewelry.
We convinced her to try a slipper instead. She showed that she has a strong retrieving instinct when she fetched the slipper and rushed to the nearest mat for security.
What’s this? A very tasty insole, with a lovely texture for her puppy teeth.
I hated to say goodbye to her, but it was so nice to have her visit.
I mentioned that Bruce has not yet named the puppy. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment to let me know your favourite name.
As long as I can remember, my family has always had pets, whether they were gerbils, tropical fish, turtles, or cats and dogs. One of the first pet pictures I have is of Bobby and I’m sure he was a Heinz 57 breed. That didn’t mean we loved him less.
Our next dog was a collie type, but also Heinz 57. Her name was Trudy, but we didn’t have her long. I think she may have nipped someone and my parents found a home for her on a nearby farm. Here we are (my brother and two sisters) all sitting on the sidewalk by our house in the boonies. The sweet little girl on the far right is a neighbour.
Then we had a shaggy mongrel dog who looked like a mop. We called him Mopsy and loved him SO much. On the picture below, where my sister is all dressed up for the Fall Fair parade, Mopsy is favouring one of his legs. He had tried to jump the fence when he was tied up and we weren’t home. He broke his leg and we felt terrible. But after some time in a cast, his leg healed. We had Mopsy for years, but one day he wandered up the street in the night to visit a bitch in heat and came home with a load of shot in his chest. He crawled under the shed and died. We were just heartbroken.
All grown up, I still had pets. Our chocolate lab, Toby, had a litter of puppies, one of which our friends adopted. Nicky was supposedly the runt of the litter, but he turned out to be probably the best dog of the bunch.
And here is Cowboy.
We had a couple of other dogs who were not remarkable and I don’t have photos of them, but when Lily came along, she was our best dog up to that time. She was an English springer spaniel, who never gave up on retrieving a bird. Lily was an excellent bird dog, and a very sweet house dog. She not only enjoyed being petted, but she came over to give hugs. She would lay her head against my knee and sigh a real Valentine’s sigh. If Lily could have talked, we would have heard her telling us she loved us many times. And the feeling was mutual.
Lily looks a bit scruffy on the photos because she was quite old by this time (73 in people years) and she had Cushing’s Syndrome, a disease that attacks the adrenal glands and has many awful side effects. In the photo below, she had just been to the vet and I had her out on the sundeck where she liked to spend time. She let me dress her up as Lily the maid. I put the vacuum beside her and pretended she was helping clean the house. She would let me do anything with her. So easy going. So loving. She didn’t last much longer after these last days and I’ll always miss my sweet Lily.
Then we got Ruby, the English springer on the right (below). It turns out she has some of the same ancestry that Lily had, and although Ruby was a monster puppy who put me through hell, she has redeemed herself many times over and is like another Lily – an excellent bird dog and a loving pet. To keep her company, we got a buddy for her – Emma on the left. She is an English cocker spaniel.
When we’re away camping in our trailer, I want to retain at least a few of the comforts of home. Staying warm is one of my big priorities. Our friends kindly let us park our rig at their house and one evening we had a camping style supper together.
In October, days in Montana can still be very warm, making me forget that summer is over. But as soon as the sun goes down, there’s a definite chill in the air.
We put our dogs in their kennels and pulled them closer to the fire. Notice the very smart, impromptu bonfire set up by our Montana hosts. The propane tank is definitely American. It’s BIG!
We were all thankful for the warmth this little bonfire threw, especially one of the residents’ dogs. The picture is blurry, probably because the dog was shivering, but she was warming an important part of her body.
We were going out to hunt pheasants the next day, but we were somewhat handicapped. Ruby had a cut, still healing, on her shoulder, and she had something in her toes that was causing her a lot of pain, so we would be limited to using her only in emergency situations, like finding a lost bird. The bulk of the work would be done by our new addition, six-month-old Emma.
Emma had learned what a pheasant was only a few days earlier. We showed her a picture to remind her of what we were after.
She bounced around the fields with great enthusiasm and actually put up a lot of birds. She very quickly figured out what to do. Amazing what genetic markers will do.
Back home in the trailer, she was tired and happy, if not too sophisticated with one ear flopped over her head, seeds in her eyes, and a feather stuck to her mouth. But she showed a huge amount of promise.