Sunday, March 29, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hummingbirds migration for 2009 continues

Here is the latest; about central Arkansas now;

Friday, March 20, 2009

Old Lodge at Rainbow Springs

Upstream about 2 miles from River of Life Farm, enters Rainbow (aka, Double Springs). The old lodge is still visible with the old plank bridge to get to the lodge (private). As you can see from this picture the spring branch flows both north and south from the bridge. The north flow enters about 1/8 mile downstream from North Fork Spring (on the opposite bank), and the south flowing portion enters about 3/4 downstream on the west back of the North Fork of the White River. Picture taken with permission in July 2008. Click to enlarge.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Taken from Log Mountain Lookout in 2004

Birding or Bird watching from a treehouse

This American redstart (a warbler) spent a lot of time around the Mountain Log Lookout early in May 2004 (that was a late spring). This was my first visit this cabin. The cabin is built with a level entry front and a steep drop in back (on a hillside). The back part of the cabin is at least 20' or more in places up into the tree canopy.

This male redstart made at least 50 visits in 3 days to see me. Every time I came out of the door, he had to see what I was doing. On the 3rd days I saw his mate on several occasions too. I made a "psshing" sound and they came. I did not get a good picture of the female.
This was an easy shot (about 15') with a 4MP SLR camera (actually got about 50 of him); and is still one of my best shots and would NOT be possible from the ground. This shows what a good vantage point and a fair camera can accomplish !!

Also posted is a Pine Warbler. This picture was taken last year from the Treetop Hideaway; where there are lots of pines, oaks, and hickories mixed (not a great picture).

See write up below about tree houses in the canopy.

Birding at ROLF; go where the birds are !!!

Birding or bird watching from a treehouse

I have spent 25 years struggling to see warblers, vireos, gnatcatchers, tanagers, and all birds that tend to stay in the tree canopy. Finally, after my first visit to River of Life Farm's Mountain Log Lookout, I realized that if you want to really see these birds you need to go where they are; into the tree canopy.

On my first stay in the Log Lookout, in mid May 2004, I saw more warblers, vireos, gnatcatchers and flycatchers, than I had seen in my whole life from the ground.

Every bird lover needs to try one of the tree-houses at ROLF for a few days; you will not be disappointed. In addition, their are plenty of back-roads and river trails to walk with your camera or binoculars.

When you decide to watch from your front deck; there are a few simple rules to follow for success;

1. If it is warm enough walk in your stocking feet.

2. Do not wear light colored clothing. Green, black, or brown seem to work well.

3. Wear a hat if you have long of grey or white colored hair; blowing hair really spooks the canopy birds.

4. Especially watch for feeding a tree seed heads early in the year; they exude a sap which attracts insects, which attracts the birds.

5. Move slowly and deliberately.

If you are staying in one of the tree-houses near the river, watch for waterbirds and raptors.

Have a great Bird Watching trip !!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

H L Leonard 7' - 2 ounce "Letort" Fly Rod

Made not long after the Leonard Rod Company factory re-opened from the 1964 devastating fire, the Letort is one of the nicest and rarest of the post fire Leonard rods. This one works best with a DT2 line in late summer at low levels using very small dry flies and 7X or 8X tippets. From my collection.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Female Cardinal picture from yesterday

I took this picture in my backyard with a Canon 5D MK II Full Frame and a Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 with a 1.4 Teleconverter (420mm), this is only a crop from a larger pictures.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hard to concentrate in March

I'm trying to work but my eyes keep wandering to my fly boxes; and getting ready for a trip to River of Life farm on the North Fork River.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hummingbirds migration for 2009 has begun

See attached charts with 2008 maps of migration sightings and so far this 2009; estimated to reach River of Life Farm on the North Fork of the White River by the first week of April. Courtesy

Monday, March 9, 2009

First two wildflowers of this Spring 2009

I found a small patch of Hepatica and a few Witch Hazels in bloom on Sunday March, 9, 2009.

Old Wagon Road along the Bryant Creek

The Old River Road along Bryant Creek was part of the wagon route from Springfield to West Plains.
Here we follow it a short way along the Bryant's west bank.

The red line on the topo map shows the part of the old wagon road in this story. Bryant Creek is at the top. The white area is the bottomland. Pine Creek refers to a local township. This part of the road runs from a ford across from the east bank to Tar Kiln Creek, a distance of about a mile. You can see it hasn't been used for a long time.

The snow reveals the old road between the edge of a wooded hillside (left) and bottomland used for growing hay (right). This agricultural bottomland is about 15 feet above the flood plain, which is out of sight to the far right.

The road begins a gentle half-mile slope down to the river. They located the road safely above the flood plain, which is to the right. That kept it from washing out in a flood.

As it nears the river the overgrown road turns toward the right and downward. By the height of the roadside you can see that its builders dug a cut. That allowed it to reach the river bottom more gradually.

View from the bottomland, looking at the road about 15 feet above. The builders needed to level off a "shelf" along the hillside. It must have been a lot of hard work to dig it without power equipment!


Making Tar at Kiln Hollow on the Bryant Creek

David Haenke of Brixey says, "This land loves pine, and pine loves this land." In 1853-54 B.F. Shumard, of the State Geological Survey, estimated a pine forest of over ninety square miles along mid to upper Bryant Creek. He told of many sawmills producing lumber that was hauled by ox team to Springfield and Bolivar.

Tar Kiln Hollow, where they made tar in kilns, was near an old wagon road along the Bryant. A kiln is an oven for heating materials without letting them burn up.

This part of an 1841 Geological Map of Ozark County shows "Pines" in the Rockbridge and Cane Bottom Hollow area. This was before large-scale logging.

Large-scale logging of pine began around here when the railroad came to Mountain Grove in 1880. Most likely, the land around Tar Kiln Holler was heavily logged between 1922 and 1929. That’s when the Big Mill, literally a small town with the mill as its center, operated along Cane Bottom Hollow. That's where the #95 Bridge crosses the Bryant today.

Logging left stumps with sap-filled heartwood, good for making tar. People used tar for waterproofing all kinds of things, from roofs to tarps. It was spread on wounds in animals. It was anti-bacterial and, like a bandage, made a tough, flexible covering.

The sap in this stump has preserved the heartwood since the 1950's, or before.

Local men would split heartwood from pine stumps into stove-size pieces. Then they would stack them on an iron plate about a yard square. They’d put a large iron kettle upside down over the plate with the pieces of pine inside. This was to keep oxygen away from the wood so it could heat without burning. They would pile slash (waste branches left from the logging) over the whole thing and set it on fire. They fed the fire, letting it slowly burn for several hours. The pine sap would heat up, trickle out of the wood, and collect on the bottom of the plate. The plate had a central groove to drain the sap away and into a pot or jar for storage.


The Big Mill on the Bryant Creek at MO 95

The following tale is told by David Haenke, following a visit with Noble Barker:

In May 1996 I visited with Noble Barker. He told me the story of the Big Mill and the pine forest. Noble's grandfather came to this country in the 1830s, the time of the first pioneers. The span of Noble Barker's generational memory through his grandfather goes back to the time of transition from the Indians to the settlers. The Barker family story is also the story of the history of the pine forest. In Noble's words:

"The Landers and the Barkers got together in 1917 and formed the Landers and Barker Lumber Company. In 1922 the company built the Big Mill. The Big Mill included a sawmill, dry kiln, and planing mill." The Big Mill was located along Cane Bottom Hollow near the Bryant. This is the hollow on the south side of the Bryant where Highway 95 runs today.

"The mill was the center of a small town which included a company store and office, a blacksmith shop, horse and mule barn, and 27 'sawmill shacks'. Pine logs cut in the woods were between one and two feet in diameter. They were cut by crews of two or three men who used a crosscut saw to bring down the trees. A mule skinner would then skid the logs out to a landing, where they were loaded on a wagon bound for the mill.

"Fifty men worked at the mill. They used milling wastes for boiler fuel. All the machinery was powered by steam. The operation was built so the logs could be piled at the top of the hollow, then rolled down to the mill.

"Sawn lumber was taken to the company lumber yard in Mountain Grove by wagon, and later by truck. Wagons took two days to make the round trip, trucks a half day. Today it takes an hour and a half to make the drive. The mill and settlement thrived from 1922 to 1929. By 1929 the big pine was all cut. They packed up the mill and moved it to Texas County."


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gas prices coming down at Crossroads Store 10/1

At $ 3.58 per gallon , the price was down from a high of over $4.25 for unleaded regular down by September 30, 2009. I have been stopping at this store for 44 years. It used to be across the gravel road with a price of under 20 cents per gallon in 1965.

28" Brown Trout caught a the Falls

This brown was caught and released on a rubber-legs on March 1, 2009 at River of Life Fram on the North Fork of the White River in Missouri..

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tufted Titmouse on March 4, 2009

This is one of my favorite birds, especially in the spring. "Peter-Peter-Peter" These pictures taken with a Canon 5D MK II and a Canon EF 300 f/2.8 lens.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Upper North Fork River in early May

Many people ask how a float on the upper river would differ from floats around River of Life Farm ? Still beautiful, and smaller and more intimate, the smallmouth bass fishing is excellent. These photos were from a flat I took last May 5, 2008. These pictures are from Topaz to Hale.

100 year old and Shortleaf Pines and Oaks at ROLF

Last summer I had a chance to look closely at some of the pines cut at the Whispering Pines cabin. The pictures pine is 109 years old and the oak is 121 years old. These are not the largest trees. I suspect that this hill was "logged" in about 1895-1900. Most all pines were taken and a few larger oaks. This co-insides with Missouri's Logging days. The state's river hillsides were stripped of almost every pine tree between 1880-1910.