Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.
Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.
It's a remarkable day when 25 degrees feels perfectly tropical. The recent cold snap probably got your attention. It sure got mine. Thrice. First, when it happened. Second when the clutch on the overhead garage door opener went kaput. And again the other day when Jill told me about the We Energies bill. Yikes! But I'll get over it. It’s all about adaptation.
If you have an opportunity to get outdoors there is all manner of new beginnings happening. That's what makes springtime such a wonderful time. There's a new lease on life in the old circle of life.
My regular readers know that I am a critter aficionado. Aside from the hunting and fishing thing I just happen to enjoy observing wildlife. One of the tools I use to keep tabs on the wildlife at our place on the peninsula are five Moultrie trail cameras.
Suspicions are confirmed. This past winter I found the footprints of this critter on the snow-covered ice of the creek. It's a member of the weasel family. From a couple of years ago some grainy infrared images taken with a trail camera. And from a week and a half ago a decent daytime photo of Mustela vison.
Years ago Mark Maley told me that I posted more pictures than any of the other NOW bloggers. That may - or may not - be true. Nevertheless, someone once said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Who wants to read a thousand of my words if a picture can speak volumes? Some of my regular readers know that I maintain another blog where I post the comings and goings of life on the farm. Fewer words and even more photos.
I was out with the girls yesterday so everyone had an opportunity to stretch their legs.
If you're looking for something fun to occupy yourself or yourself and the children out of doors this winter find yourself some fresh snow and look for animal tracks. Snow makes for the absolute best of tracking conditions.
While working in the woods the girls and I came across a crime scene. Well, not really. A death clearly occurred but this happened to be more of a nature scene in keeping with the hypothesis about the survival of the strong and the killing and eating of the weak. Charles Darwin had something to say about the process of natural selection. Sadly, among certain groups speaking of such things is verboten. I suppose that thinking about big and bold science-based thoughts makes their heads hurt. But I digress.
A disturbance in the snow.
Winter chores on the tree farm this weekend. Which means putting on some foot miles performing corrective pruning on the oaks.
Anybody reading this already knows that Tosa is a pretty cool place to live. As a central hub our close proximity to all compass points makes for short commutes. We've got all sorts of housing options, plenty of retail shopping choices, a regional medical center, UWM Innovation Campus, world class dining, terrific schools, we even have The Wauwatosa Curling Club and much more. Evidence-enough that Tosa rules and Brookfield drools. It should come as no surprise that our furry and feathered friends prefer to live here too.
I'm up north chasing whitetails with my buddy Braumeister. Neither of us saw anything this morning. My excuse is I slept-in. I don't know what his excuse is. I know it sounds strangely counterintuitive but why is it that a deer stand constructed of hard lumber and wrapped in camo burlap is so slumber-inducing? I digress. Braumeister did spot a weasel this morning. Likely a short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea) - it was transitioning to its white winter coat.
Just the other day my lovely wife mentioned that she saw something in the news about the rodent population basically exploding this fall. Otherwise fastidious homeowners were finding evidence of mice everywhere. Even in their kitchen drawers. Exterminators were doing a land office business. Mice as far as the eye could see. Jill said it had something to do with the cold weather last winter. The polar vortex kept the snows deep and impenetrable so that the usual predators of mice couldn't dine upon them. At least conveniently.
My 88 readers know how I feel about wildlife. I love seeing wild critters. But if you want to see them you have to provide everything they need - namely the basics - food, cover and water. And you have to maintain it. That means keeping the invasives at bay and periodically performing housekeeping activities.
Next month brings the spring turkey hunting season. And the truth of the matter is that I've been more than a little concerned about these big birds over the last few months. With deep snows and brutally cold weather as I was scouting I wasn't seeing any birds at all. Thoughts turned to all sorts of bad scenarios. Was it possible that there were starving, frozen and dying birds? For sure this was a possibility in the northernmost reaches of Wisconsin. As it turns-out northeastern Wisconsin was another matter. All of a sudden - poof! The birds were back.
It's a remarkable day when 22 degrees feels perfectly tropical. The recent cold snap probably got your attention. It sure got mine. Twice. First, when it happened and again the other day when I saw the We Energies bill. Yikes! It's easy to feel sorry for yourself (and your old Tosa bungalow) when the monthly heating bill creeps over a couple a hundred bucks. But I'll adapt.
So far not much has gone awry with the garden this year. My cousin in Pennsylvania has a huge garden too (runs in the Gaertner blood) and she has had to erect enormous fenced exclosures to keep the deer from terrorizing her veggies. Me? The blonde Lab has assumed the role of watchdog and raises the most horrific ruckus anytime a whitetail gets in her sights. Even at hundreds of yards. The deer are positively terrified of the territorial yellow dog. The black Lab keeps the bunny population in check. I haven't grown sweet corn for years so the raccoons leave me be.
My earliest memory of fishing was getting up in the dark with my dad and picking-up grandpa and driving all the way to Port Washington to sit along the break wall with cane poles to catch perch. Sometimes the fishing was good. Sometimes not so good. Whether or not it was good or not so good a stop was made at Smith Brothers for smoked chubs for grandma.
While out bow hunting I came across this track. It looked like a miniature log flume.
I checked the house finch nest in the hanging basket just a short while ago and the chicks are packed-in there cheek by jowl. They have really bulked-up (as far as small birds go).
I fetched the paper from the porch this morning and mama finch wasn't sitting on her clutch of eggs.
Warning - The following post includes adult content. Out in the open. During daylight hours. If you are offended by such matters read no further. And please don't pester The Mothership with complaints.
The Door County Fish Farm and Game Club does much to promote the rich heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping on the peninsula. For instance, last weekend I walked to the other side of the road to congratulate a youngster who had traversed the field with a big old gobbler slung over his shoulder. I heard the single report of a shotgun only thirty minutes earlier. The answer to the Ford pick-up materializing on the shoulder of the road before sunrise was revealed. He had been hunting with an adult mentor during Wisconsin's youth hunt.
I'm going to take the politics out of the forest and put the deer back in. Campaign promise - Governor Scott Walker.
Braumeister, Smokey Joe and I spent a quality weekend bow hunting - last weekend. We saw a pile of deer but nothing close enough to kill with a well-placed arrow.
From time to time I have to remind myself to check the old mail bag. If you were to email the staff here at Gas Pains (firstname.lastname@example.org) there is a reasonably good chance someone might pick-up your message within the next week or so. It's a small staff but we are committed to eventually responding - so your forbearance is appreciated.
I have been leading a semi-bachelor existence lately. Jill and the dogs are up at the farm and I'm in Tosa doing my day job with once-a-week commutes to and from to make the pack whole again.
So far this year we've had Cardinals nesting in a giant tangle of a rose bush along the fence in our tiny back yard.
Late last year Jill and I fetched a Christmas tree from the farm to place on our porch. It's a good place for a large holiday decoration if you live in a small Tosa bungalow.
The trail camera takes rather nice pictures for a not so expensive device.
Last Sunday after I heard about the ruckus at the Mayfair Mall I thought maybe I should blog about it.
The opening day of the 2000 gun season our camp shot eight deer. As the Dutchman noted in the camp diary that was the year we hung a stringer of deer from the meat pole. A group photo of this extraordinary occurrence has been prominently hung in the stairwell.
Last week Jill and I were out killing buckthorn and scouting deer when we found this really cool nest.
My nemesis - Phil the groundhog - has returned and has taken-up residence in my septic mound up-north.
My nemesis - Phil the groundhog - has returned and has taken-up residence in my septic mound up-north.
I know that many of you are great fans of the Wauwatosa Farmers Market. My pal Karen, who also blogs on this page, has extolled its praises.
As of Monday afternoon only two birds could be found in my hanging basket.
It has been three and a half weeks since I spotted the house finch nest in my hanging basket.
This last mother's day I discovered a intricately woven cup nest in one of the hanging baskets located on my front porch.
Early one morning last week I stopped to visit my dad on the way to the day job.
We've been watching some finches casing-out one of the asparagus ferns hanging on the front porch.
Evidence of that fact is was the appearance of the first Red-winged Blackbird a few days ago.
Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus – commonly known as the ring-necked pheasant.
Aka Bog Sucker, Bog Bird, Night Partridge, Doodle Bird, Whistling Snipe, or Pewee - the American Woodcock – Scolopax minor is a fascinating critter.
The boys and I are safely ensconced in deer camp. Lawyer, Sid, Mennonite and Braumeister. Girlfriend is the only person of the female persuasion around.
Some of my 42 readers will have figured-out by now that in a number of ways my wife and I are of opposite tastes.