On our recent trip to Yellowstone, we stopped to have a bit of a break and a picnic on the Firehole River….
The kids were able to explore the river and splash around a bit…
A curious on-looker begging for food….
Even a chance for a nap…
A “Camp Robber” decided to check things out too…
Otherwise known as, Clark’s Nutcracker, they are friendly, curious little guys…
The Clark’s Nutcracker has a special pouch under its tongue that it uses to carry seeds long distances. The nutcracker harvests seeds from pine trees and takes them away to hide them for later use.
The Clark’s Nutcracker hides thousands and thousands of seeds each year. Laboratory studies have shown that the bird has a tremendous memory and can remember where to find most of the seeds it hides.
The Clark’s Nutcracker feeds its nestlings pine seeds from its many winter stores (caches). Because it feeds the young on stored seeds, the nutcracker can breed as early as January or February, despite the harsh winter weather in its mountain home.
The Clark’s Nutcracker is one of very few members of the crow family where the male incubates the eggs. In jays and crows, taking care of the eggs is for the female only. But the male nutcracker actually develops a brood patch on its chest just like the female, and takes his turn keeping the eggs warm while the female goes off to get seeds out of her caches.
Not only do the lives of Clark’s Nutcrackers revolve around their pine seed diet, but the pines themselves have been shaped by their relationship with the nutcrackers. Whitebark pines, limber pines, Colorado pinyon pines, single-leaf pinyon pines, and southwestern white pines depend on nutcrackers to disperse their seeds. Over time this interaction has changed their seeds, their cones, and even the trees’ overall shape in comparison with other pine species whose seeds are dispersed by the wind.
The Clark’s Nutcracker tests a seed for soundness by moving it up and down in its bill while quickly opening and closing its bill, in a motion known as “bill clicking.” It also chooses good seeds by color: when foraging on Colorado pinyon pines, it refuses all but dark brown seeds.
Ounce for ounce, the whitebark pine seeds that many Clark’s Nutcrackers depend on have more calories than chocolate.
Clark’s Nutcracker is in the crow and jay family—but the first time Captain William Clark saw one, in August of 1805, he thought it was a woodpecker. He and Meriwether Lewis collected a specimen in Idaho on their return journey a year later. Clark’s Nutcracker was one of three new bird species brought back from their expedition, all of which were described by the naturalist Alexander Wilson.
The oldest Clark’s Nutcracker on record was at least 17 years, 5 months old.
Sunday we took a little drive to pick up some lambs. It was a perfect fall day! The colors were vivid and bright. (Which made me want to stop at every corner and take pictures! We were on mission though with time restraints, so we just drove!) On the way home though, the sun was starting to set on the lake and my husband made several stops so I could snap some pictures. Love that guy! One of the stops held an extra special bonus! I jumped out of the pickup and walked down a little trail to get to the shore and I could hear water running so I went a bit further up the shore to find this beautiful sight! The end of a little stream pouring into Flathead lake and some wonderful fall colors…
Trying to fathom that something can be tens of millions of years old is hard to do. Well, that is how old the Petrified Tree is. This now solid rock was once a giant redwood tree surrounded by a forest of trees just like it. During violent volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, mudflows and volcanic deposits rapidly filled the open pores of the tree , solidifying it into the rocky trunk that you see today. Where there was once two there is now only one petrified tree left standing. In the earlier days of the park, visitors and explorers took pieces of the second tree until there was nothing left to take. A fence surrounds the remaining tree so that it will be left alone and still standing for generations to come. Read more here…
Woody is the newest addition to the farm! He is a Wensleydale…
The mating of a Dishley Leicester ram with a Teeswater ewe in 1838 produced the famous ram ‘Blue Cap’ who was the founding sire of the Wensleydale breed. He was a striking ram, with blue pigmentation on his head and ears that is now the hallmark of the breed, great size (203 kg as a two-shear) and wool of distinctive quality. The modern Wensleydale has inherited these qualities. It is a large sheep with long-stapled, lustrous wool that falls in long ringlets almost to ground level in unshorn sheep. The breed has a quality known as ‘central checking’ that prevents the formation of kemp in the fleece.
The Wensleydale is a very large longwool sheep, described by the British Meat and Livestock Commission as “probably the heaviest of all our indigenous breeds.” It is a visually striking sheep with considerable presence. It has a bold and alert carriage which is accentuated by its broad, level back and heavy muscling in the hindquarters. It has a distinctive deep blue head and ears, which should be clean except for a well developed forelock of wool. Both sexes are polled.
The Wensleydale breed was developed to provide rams for crossing onto hill ewes, mainly Swaledale, Blackface, Rough Fell, Cheviot & Dalesbred. The female crossbreds develop into prolific, heavy-milking, hardy breeding ewes while the wethers, under natural conditions and on marginal ground, provide quality carcasses at higher weight, with no excess fat.
Today the breed is established throughout the United Kingdom and extends into mainland Europe.
Woody will be used on some of our Icelandic ewes. We feel the cross will be wonderful! The size (meatiness) and wool quality from the Wensleydale added to the lamb vigor, hardiness, wonderful maternal instinct and mothering abilities of our Icelandic ewes will produce some spectacular crosses! We will still be concentrating on producing wonderful pure-bred Icelandics, as they are my favorite but, I am hoping this will provide a bit more meatiness for our meat lambs. I am looking forward to next spring!
Fleeces are entirely kemp free as a result of the unique characteristics of the wool-producing follicles. This special quality is genetically transmitted to cross-bred lambs, characterizing the Wensleydale ram as perhaps the leading wool improving sire in the world.
Wensleydale wool is used for its special effects and handle in hand knitting yarn, knitwear and cloth and sometimes in upholstery fabrics. Because of its similarity, it is regularly used to blend with mohair.