Use of the Forest

Public use of Saginaw Forest is encouraged. Rules for the public's use include (but are not limited to):

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Catching up

It has been awhile!

Sorry about that. Though we've been out and about every day here in the woods, I've had so much schoolwork to do on my computer that writing for the blog was absolute lowest priority. Things are slowing down though. Only one more assignment to go, and I guess I'll be working on it over the break.

Good news--the second water sample came back clean. But because we're all a little wary now, an extra test will be done on my tap in January. But we're back to using it anyhow. Sort of. The sink is full of dishes still from a little holiday party. I can't really find the tap.

We are very sad to see the snow melting. Leto and I are huge fans of winter. Rounds are always the best part of our day, but in a good snow that is more true than ever.
Early during the big snow day.

Captain Snowbeard

We haven't had any deadfall, which is nice: it's given me time to sharpen the tools en masse.


Later in the snow day.

Creeping awfully close to the top of my 12 inch boots!
We had many a cross-country skier. It was nice to see everyone out and about enjoying the snow!

'Til next time.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Worst blogger ever.

Hi again.

Sorry for the absence. Ironically, I have been on my computer almost 24/7 clicking away on projects as the semester winds up, but blogging has been very low on the list of priorities. This semester has completely slipped out of control, for me and all of the other second year landscape architect students!

But that doesn't mean that things haven't been happening out here in the woods. I would probably have lost it by now if I didn't have to go out and about in this place every day.

We recently got a new heater! [Applause] The older one was malfunctioning, and rather than going on a desperate search to locate replacement parts, it was decided that the cabin was simply overdue for an upgrade.
Ain't she a beaut?

Last post I mentioned that the water was being sampled. Tragically, a second visit was required to our tap today--traces of dioxane were detected from the initial sample. Leto and I have been using that water, naturally, so it's quite a bummer. I'll give you more details after Monday, when the results from the second sample are available.

I should have definitely posted this little tidbit day of, but look who was featured on Mlive on November 20th!
It was a little strange being followed around over the course of two days, but it turned into a nice little feature. Leto was, of course, the star of the show.

At 1 o'clock an entourage of SNRE facilities folks will be out here on their last leg of visiting-the-SNRE-caretaker-properties day. I will be showing them some issues of concern--there are hopefully some changes on the way for the storage facilities!

This past week I've noticed a LOT of coyote scat when out on rounds. Let this serve as a reminder to all of you (particularly those of you who I have to tell every single time) to keep your dogs on a leash.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tis the season of conifers, axes, and mice

I really need to remember my camera for photo taking on the trail. I always, always forget.

I was shocked to come home during the recent massive weather event to power and no trees in the driveway. I was on my way home from Boston and drove right through the doppler "red" in Ohio. There were a lot of branches down, and two falls that required the axe. One, an ash, fell across the boardwalk. Oh, ash. Takes so long to hack. Fortunately, the pup got to play with a fellow canine walking past while he waited.

The woods have taken on a whole new character with the changing seasons. The conifers are having their time in the spotlight. It's been a delight, taking my usual walks but noticing so many young stands evergreens that had been hidden behind shrub thickets.

I've had some mice hanging out in the cabin, pooping where I prep my food. Bought live traps yesterday, and already had success. They are released across the lake. Hopefully they won't be able to get in once the sealing around the chimney is fixed.

Tomorrow is an eventful day. Well, "eventful." The water is being sampled, and I'm getting a new (functional!) heater. So pleased.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mixed-Bag Morning

This morning we hopped a bit from job to job.

Task number one was taking care of a downed tree across the trail. I made quick work of it with the axe and moved it all aside. It was one of those really satisfying last cracks, where the last inch or so just totally ripped through with the final blow. After all the wind last night, I was fully expecting more than one to be down. I was surprised that this wasn't the case.

Next stop was the front gate. I've been wanting to work on the honeysuckle patch growing alongside the road. It is a huge obstruction when looking at oncoming traffic. I often find myself guessing if the road is clear and gunning it, so I can't imagine what it's like for anyone driving larger, slower vehicles out of the forest. I got a large chunk of it, though I'll probably be going back for more.

Finally, today there was a lot of trash about. I don't know if it was the wind or what. Either way, walked around and picked it all up.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Less scary

The boardwalk was looking real grizzly and had started to feel kind of closed in and unpleasant. Went through it yesterday cleaning up the edges and picking up leaves and stalks that were forming large piles of debris. It looks great now, and feels wonderful to walk along. There's another tree down. Not big. I'll be headed over to it with the axe tomorrow morning.

Lots of wind today. We're a bit tired and chilly over here. Well, I'm chilly. The husky has his back feet stretched up to his chin and is sleeping on a pile of blankets. And my fleece robe. I don't have the heart to move him for it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Deadfalls and photography

Hello again.

Last week's messy weather brought a number of trees down (including a whopper in the driveway!), so Friday was a busy day with the axe and the chainsaw. I admit, it's fun. Nothing makes you feel like Paul Bunyan more than swinging an axe. Paula Bunyan.

On Friday, a photojournalist from the Ann Arbor News/MLive came and followed me around while I worked and such. Guess there will be a photo essay about it coming up soon. It was a little strange trying to act normal when someone was snapping pictures. I'll probably look really sheepish in all of them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Popping up like Daisies

On Sunday I played teacher to a small group of Daisy Scouts.

I was both excited and mortified.

Feeling A) What could be more fun than a nature hike and talking about trees? I do it everyday, except I only get to talk about it to myself. Or the dog, but I don't think he's listening. It's great to halt some of that hermit behavior and blab your stream of tree consciousness to someone else.
Feeling B) Part of me was worried that I was broken from working too much with children in the past from all the crazy they laid on me.

GOOD NEWS, it's fun again!

With the exception of one young tyke that kept asking when it was going to be over, everyone seemed to enjoy it. As to be expected, almost everything I said went in one ear and out the other, but I made certain that they all remembered my favorite tree.

Many leaf collections were made. One boot fell off. Kids ask interesting questions.

Looking forward to future meetings and changes with the barn and the house. Things are moving along.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Haha! Good one.

So yesterday I noticed that several of the signs saying dogs must be leashed were pulled out of the ground and tossed off in the woods.

I'm having a difficult time understanding what this person was trying to accomplish. A) good soul, you left more than you pulled B) if your goal was to argue that having no signs meant the rule was nonexistent, you'll be very disappointed to hear that it's actually city ordinance, which means that sign or no, THEMS THE BREAKS. And now, I'm just less likely to be nice about it.

My dog is on a leash. Your dog must be on a leash. This is not only for your pet's protection, and that of other users, but also for those doing research in the forest. All it takes is your dog chasing one squirrel to end some poor PhD student's work. You don't want me thinking you are an irresponsible pet owner, do you? I don't know how you could live with that judgement.

The signs are back up. Should you continue to take them down, I will continue to put them up (they were not difficult to trace. Following your trail was as easy as following an elephant's, homie). And I will continue to enforce the rule.

Have a great day!

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Some of you might have noticed I haven't been around much since making the above mess last weekend clearing honey suckle and buckthorn. I have been going back and forth from Ann Arbor to Royal Oak visiting my grandpa in his last days. This is still going on. I miss being in the forest everyday!

The next two Sundays will be fun. Have a class coming tomorrow, and I'm leading a girl scout group around next Sunday. Look forward to reporting on it!

Monday, October 7, 2013


Everything is pretty much back to normal after a grand SNRE Campfire.

Photos: follow this link!

Now back to our regular programming.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hey hey

Oops, sorry for not updating the last few weeks! I sit down at the computer with every intention of doing so, and then wind up getting distracted by all the other work left open on my desktop.

Just a gentle reminder, please pick up after your pets. Lots of poop piles around lately. Leto is on a leash and I have a bag ready, so I expect the same from every visitor!

Speaking of the fur-buddy, he learned a hard lesson about why we don't pounce on ground bee nests. Though he continues to try and eat bees as they buzz near his head.

There has been a steady stream of classroom visits since the semester started, and an interesting range of subjects. I wish I had the time to sit in on some of them!

Some of the work going on lately: clearing out several years of accumulated oddities on the porch (so many bottle caps...), and reinforcing the screening to protect it from the dog. Also, locating and moving a candidate log for SNRE campfire! Although not an easy task, retrieving one from the opposite side of the lake made things somewhat simpler and significantly more fun.

Ah, romantic evening with Log.
Oh, my husky is a sailor!
The color change is starting, and it's marvelous. I love sitting on the dock and taking it in.

All day everyday.

Monday, September 9, 2013

It's a trap!

Hello everyone.

I spent some time this weekend pulling/cutting some invasive species just getting established along some "healthier" sections of the trail. I'm going to have a merry celebration when it gets cool enough to start killing off the mosquitoes. They love to take advantage of me bent over on the job, hands too full to swat. It also means a colder walk to the bathroom, but that seems tame by comparison.

I've noticed a slight increase in litter the last couple of days, as well as some bicycle tire tracks looping the entire forest. I will find you, even if it takes setting up Ewok-style traps to do so.

From the Star Wars "Wookiepedia" site.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back to Michigan, back to school.

Returned safe and sound from Colorado. I missed shade and temperatures under 95 degrees. Good thing I live in the woods.

While I was away, Shaw generously offered to run an Orientation Work Day with incoming SNRE students. They took out a whole corridor of honeysuckle where the trail intersects Saginaw's driveway. The stumps will ultimately be treated to prevent future regrowth. Thanks to all involved! I'm currently in the process of of speaking with other small groups of volunteers for more endeavors down the line. There's always work to be done, and many hands make a lighter load.

In other news, there is a new face in the forest. Leto, a 2 year-old wooly husky, came home with me on Monday from the farm fields of Ohio. He's a friendly little trickster, and has already been making friends on the trails. Beware: he may give you stinky kisses.

I dispatched 2 deadfalls the other day. You may notice one sticking 3 inches out into the trail, and I apologize for that. The chainsaw (which I've found can be particular about when it feels like starting), decided to call it quits before I finished the job, so I had to continue the old-fashioned way with the axe.  I'll return to deal with the jutting end soon.

I've already met a great deal of friendly regulars in the woods. Please continue to say hello! Don't be shy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Not. There.

To take the caretaker gig in Saginaw Forest, there are a number of things you need to be tolerant of. Mice. Outhouse. A zoo of in-home insects and arachnids. A useless fireplace. Fortunately, I spent many wonderful summers in a rustic cottage outside Traverse City, and many more hours pretending I was a pony running around my parents' house. I like rustic, I like bugs, animals, pooping outside.

But sometimes the line is crossed.

It was crossed the other night.

As I went out for my pre-bed relief, I opened the door to the outhouse, flipped the switch, and saw a massive wolf spider hanging out on the toilet rim. "REALLY?" I was loud. Quite loud. The spider, alarmed by my incredulity, scuttled it's enormous body UNDER the toilet rim. Worse. Now I wouldn't even know where it was coming from to defend my derriere. Thank goodness I have legs strong enough to practice the "hover" technique.

Upon tonight's return to the scene, the wolf spider had kindly moved elsewhere, away from my seat and quite visible. I think we may have an understanding.

For your education:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Caretaker and Work Day!

Good morning!

My name is Jenny Hebert, and I am the new face at the caretaker's cottage. I'm a second year in the School of Natural Resources studying Landscape Architecture and Museum Studies. Currently I'm splitting time between Saginaw Forest and the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn, where I've been doing work similar to what will be required of me here in Saginaw. I've been trying to introduce myself to everyone out on the trails, so don't be shy if you see me around. I like dogs, cake, and teen novels if you need some discussion recommendations.

Abby and May: Not permanent residents but likely visitors.
The first week has been busy with boxes, visitors, and...a work day! On Saturday, Shaw and I (attempted) to host a volunteer day. Unfortunately, the efforts to gather bodies were unsuccessful, so we tackled the chosen task (clearing the berm road) on our own. Despite being volunteer-less, the morning was industrious. Shaw with the machete, me with the loppers, we gave the road a serious haircut in preparation for its fall use. Although the work was tiring, we were well-rewarded with the bounty of blueberry chocolate chip cookies I'd made for a group of volunteers. Knowing how many two can eat mid-morning on a 3 hour work-day, I'll likely make more on the next go around.

Sorry, my camera is orange and reflective.

On Sunday I will be headed to Colorado for a week to unwind before fall semester starts, and Shaw will be around to check on the woods.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Well, it's been fun; good luck to the new caretaker

Adios after four and a half years.

Hopefully the new caretaker will update this blog, but that is not my decision.

It's been fun!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Definitely much better this year

Last year, the drought had taken a toll on the forest, especially visible in the lawn, compared to previous years.

July 25, 2012

July 25, 2013

Yup. MUCH better.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Water sampling today

The groundwater is being sampled today.

Mowed half the lawn

Ahead of the (inevitable) August, I decided to start cutting the lawn. Just mowed about 1/2 of it this evening to the maximum height; there's too much growth to cut it down too much without clogging up the mower. Saw a vole run out from the tall grass to escape the mower. I also uncovered lots of vole tunnels in the tall grass. Ah well.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Heavy rains, humidity, and the dilemma of whether to open the windows

The heavy rains of the past few days have really invigorated the forest. Everything is now looking a lot greener than it did even at the end of last week. That's a good thing.

Of course, keeping the inside of the cabin cool during these warmer days is made difficult by all the additional humidity that all the rain and increased transpiration rates imply. The other day, I opened up the windows to let the inside of the cabin cool off, only to wake up in the morning with ~90% humidity inside, and everything quite damp. Close the windows then, and turn on the dehumidifier. By the time the humidity returned to a far more comfortable 60%, the temperature had risen back to where it was before I opened the windows.

Therefore, like every summer, it's a choice between cool and damp or warm and drier. Yes, it's nice to be cool, but not at the cost of having damp, mildew and mold set in. Having grown up in a humid climate, I know all to well what damp can do to mold growth, and what mold growth can do to furniture, coverings, clothes, walls, carpeting, etc.

Still, when the cabin is all closed up, thanks to the shading of the trees all around, the internal temperature doesn't rise that much during the day, so even when the outside temperature rises from 65F to 80F during the course of the day, the inside of the cabin might only rise a couple or three degrees.

Having an air conditioner would be nice, but it is also unnecessary so long as the trees continue to shade the cabin during the summer.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cleared massive fallen tree branch

Yesterday, there were bands of storms working their way across Michigan (and much of the Midwest). Yesterday, too, there was an Elderwise event: "Walk in the Woods," led by professor emeritus, Chuck Olson. Luckily, they didn't get rained out, but there was apparently a near miss:
The thunder shower that came through about 12:20-12:40 was over by the time we started. While we had a brief shower, later, most of the wet stuff was dripping of the trees. When we walked around the lake, I was surprised at the amount of windfall I saw, and especially by the very recent tree that dropped across the path just befoer we got to the side path to the board walk. We got around it (actually over it) and finished our walk without any real difficulty.
I went out there this morning and took care of the MASSIVE fallen branch.

BEFORE, there was a massive branch across the path, making it rather difficult to walk that route:

AFTER, apart from some debris and dug-up earth, the pathway is now clear:

I'm gonna miss this kind of work, even though I probably sweat several pints in the process. It's good, honest, physical labor, and it feels great.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Muggy days in store this week.

Looking ahead to the weather of this week: it looks kinda icky. No low temps below 60F, and always humid. It looks like I'll be keeping the cabin closed up this week, with the dehumidifier running in order to take advantage of evaporative cooling.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Big, black ants in the cabin

I think that I've got carpenter ants in the cabin. There aren't swarms of them (yet), but I guess that I'll have to lay down some more ant bait (and also clean up the bread crumbs a little bit better. Happily, they don't seem to be going after my compost pile. Maybe because it's almost entirely coffee grounds.

Hello turkey vulture, please come back!


Last week there was a turkey vulture flapping around the trees near the cabin. Yesterday, I smelled the sickeningly sweet smell of decay. I guess this guy wasn't just paying a friendly visit, but was actually looking for lunch. Hopefully, it will eat its fill and help diminish the time that the rest of us have to smell the rot.

Voluntary Pulling of Garlic Mustard

Spring sprung very quickly, and the garlic mustard has been LOVING IT


and - although I have been pulling garlic mustard for the past month - it sometimes feels like I'm playing a game to stalemate...

Last week, I got an e-mail from a long-time walker:
We have noted garlic mustard in the past in the Saginaw. ... We were wondering if we could get permission to pull some garlic mustard. We know to bag it and that the seed pods can continue to develop after the flowers are picked.
Yesterday, I received an update:
I have done some but we have had difficulty finding time to do a concerted effort. Today we pulled for 2+ hours and filled 2 large bags; we left on in the fire pit but carried the other one out expecting to find more which we did.

As of now, the path from the Parkland Plaza entrance that passes the two lakes and then the cabin to the boardwalk are relatively clear. We found 2 areas more infiltrated off the trail towards the cabin after the tree root steps up and more in one section near the frog pond. Unfortunately, we did not get there early after blooming so hopefully got some seeds; it was harder to get roots since the ground is dry. We did not go on the upper trail but will, possibly Wednesday. Otherwise, the biggest patch we saw was by the cabin although we did not take side trails.

We saw lots of rosettes that will emerge next spring so hopefully the effort can start sooner.
Indeed, there was a trash bag filled with garlic mustard in the fire pit. I took it to the trash can at the front gate, and it will go out tomorrow for trash day.

A big and hearty, "THANK YOU!" to this visitor-steward and to everyone else who has been pulling out garlic mustard whenever they've seen some. I know that pulling it up will help ensure that future years won't have large accumulations, and that - compared to last year - there are areas that are now completely garlic-mustard free.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Took care of a snagged branch

On about May 10th, winds helped knock down a rotten branch of an ash tree up on one of the paths.


I was a bit leery about doing too much close-in work in the area, since there is a lot of poison ivy growing in the area, but it needed to be taken care of, so today I pulled it down, chopped it up, and pulled it out of the way. Now all we have to do is wait for the rest of the ash tree to fall. :P

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Grrr... Canada geese

I saw two Canada geese sitting on the little spit of (erosional) sand next to the row boats, and - "loving" the geese like I do - I was about to shoo them off the sand when I saw a little head poking up behind the roosting goose: there were at least two little goslings.


Okay, you geese, I'll let you stay for now. Just don't come up on the lawn and leave your massive white droppings everywhere.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Algae Sampling

Field season has begun. Today, I had some students picking up equipment and some others taking a phytoplankton sample.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Dusting of Snow

The below-freezing temperatures left a dusting of snow last night. Hopefully, this will be the last.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Damnable Garlic Mustard

It's sprouting up, and although it seems like I pulled out a bunch last year, it still surprises me how prevalent these plants are.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Heavy Rains Lead to Swollen Creek

These spring rains seem to have been heavier than the last years. Certainly, they're carrying away a lot of sediment from the creek.


As these rains get heavier, the structural stability of the pathway that runs along the creek will become increasingly compromised. Each time I see the sediment-stained waters flowing down from the culvert at the property line, I think, "If only the weirs were maintained or rebuilt. At least they would act as check-dams and not let all the sediment flow into Third Sister Lake..."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cleared a Large Pine that Had Fallen

Way back during the ice storm, a whole bunch of trees fell in the forest, including one large pine, whose upper half split from its trunk, crashing onto the walking path. Today, I took an axe to the problem:
Chopping wood

And finally, there was a cleared path.

I also threw the chopped branches over the detour path that visitors decided to make to get around the fallen pine. Even though it's only been about one month, the amount of foot traffic along that "detour" was really starting to cause soil compaction. (This is a reason why visitors need to stay on the paths.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Harbinger of spring

The crows are back,
Cawing in the rain-beaten morning.
Black heralds of spring.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Rains

Well, it's been raining heavily. Which is good, because it's not snowing anymore, but - together with all the meltwater - there's a lot of soggy ground...


... as well as serious sediment transport in the normally-dry creek.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A very late spring

Back in January, it looked like this winter might not actually be very strong; a second warm not-really winter. I was wrong.

In February and March, the snows and ice storm brought down a number of trees and also took out the power. The downed trees were too dangerous for me to cut up, so a crew came out and took out a number of the cedars, maples, and oaks that fell across the main road. (Unfortunately, none of that damnable buckthorn was broken.) The box elder (Acer negundo that borders the east side of the grassy area may well have to come down this spring. It suffered heavily from the ice, and one of the major boles is broken, another is already dead, and with the trees behind it having been blown down, knocked down by falling trees, and/or cut away, the remaining boles and limbs are likely to break. More hardwood for campfires.

On the plus side, all the snow (and ice) has brought up the lake levels (although they are still lower than average) and returned water to the frog pond. Indeed, the "frog man" was out once again this last week, checking the fencing, anticipating the spring to come. It was, of course, late; one of the latest times that he's come out during his multiple decades of monitoring that pond.

Looking into the waters from the dock, I saw a few shoals of bluegills. They've started to emerge from the depths as the near-shore waters slowly warm up. Third Sister is one of the first lakes to open up (due to its groundwater source), but it also takes a while for the water to warm up (again due to its groundwater source). Still, even though the water vegetation is only just starting to poke through the muck, it's good to see the fish swimming around. It's another (also late) sign of the spring.

Finally, this Easter was one that came without any flowers to meet it. Even now, the bulbs are only just sending up green shoots, as the nights continue to drop below freezing five nights out of seven. However, last night didn't drop below freezing, and - as I went in for the evening - I heard the single *pweeep... pweeep* sound of a spring peeper. (Not in the frog pond, but in the nearshore wetlands of the lake.) Soon - hopefully - it will be deafeningly loud once again; a veritable amphibian ode to spring. (And at that point, I'll likely have to sleep with the windows closed.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Searched Third Sister Lake

This past Easter Sunday, I took one of the boats out to search for evidence of the dogs (or coyotes) that were seen falling through the ice this past winter. It was of additional concern, since - to the witness - these appeared to be German Shepherds, and the witness knew that two German Shepherds had gone missing recently in the (very) rough area of Saginaw Forest.

I found no evidence of any animal that would have fallen through the ice.

On Wednesday afternoon, I took the boat out again with one of the owners of the missing dogs, and we found nothing, either.

I hope that the dogs do turn up.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Well, the Geese Are Back

The Canada geese have returned to the area. Now all I have to do is keep them off the lawn, since I'm not a big fan of walking through goose droppings.


Usually, running at them while clapping loudly is enough to shoo them into the lake, and after a few days of this routine, they are usually content to not walk around the lawn, and I'm content in not having to deal with large goose droppings.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Soil Settling and the Compost "Bin"

One corner of my compost "bin" has sunk due to soil settling. The location of the compost "bin" was almost immediately on top of where the hole was dug for accessing the shower drain line, and so it's not surprising that the soil has settled since that time (especially now that it went through a freeze-thaw cycle).


I'll have to fix it by putting in more soil in the area. Hopefully, that will let me keep the "bin" in that same location, since moving it (again) will be a real pain.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Returned to Find...

So I returned from a slightly extended "Spring Break" to find a wreckage of tree limbs


and blasted tree trunks:


Apparently, there was a massive ice storm that had hit while I was away, and UM grounds likely found the driveway blocked when they came in to plow it. Even if I were here, based on the sheer amount of chopped and sawed wood lying on both sides of the road, I wouldn't have been able to make much of a dent on it all.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

...and now a possibility of an icy, icy driveway

Looking at the forecast, it appears that there is going to be rain coming this afternoon and continue through until tomorrow at noonish. It will also be accompanied by above-thaw temperatures, which, when they hit the packed snow will (initially at least) turn to ice. Tomorrow does not look to be a fun day. Not at all.

In other news, happy beginning to the Year of the Snake!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Not huge amounts of snow, but ice and cold

So Thursday night didn't bring any major amounts of snow on Friday morning, but it did lay down a nice little layer of ice underneath the few inches of snow that did come. It made shoveling more of a chore than I had wanted.

And last night it dipped down to around 6F, which made going out this morning a wee bit nippy. Still, I guess this winter is turning out to be more "winter-like" thank last year. (Of course, the forecast says that mid-day Sunday through 10PM on Monday will be above freezing, with much of Sunday night bringing rain, so it might again be "bye-bye snow," I fear.)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Going to bed after yet another day of slow melting...

... and some people are saying that there's going to be a blizzard. As of 9PM, there was no indication of one, and even the local radar was indicating that the majority of the winter weather was north of here.

We'll see in the morning, I guess.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Snow melting (again)

The temperature is in the low 40s (F), and the forest is both dripping with snowmelt and foggy with the intense humidity. The creek is swollen with meltwater, and it's likely that - by the end of the day - the snow (or the white slush that it now is) will be fully melted.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cleanup after the windstorm

Last night, there was a mother of a windstorm, and I was worried that I would lose power and that there would be tons of trees down. I woke up kind of late and noticed that the oven clock was showing the time, so there was still power, and (because it wasn't blinking) there wasn't any short power outage during the night. Nice.

Walking outside, I noticed that the forest didn't look like a wasteland of uprooted and felled trees, so good so far. Looking at the lake, I noticed some sharp lines in the ice, and I originally thought that someone had gone skating on the ice, but - looking closer - I noted that it was actually the ice cracking, for whatever reason...

Walking through the forest, I quickly recognized that there likely wouldn't be many downed trees, and so I merely brought along a rake for my rounds and used it to remove all the small debris that covered the main paths.

On my way back to the cabin, there were the only two newly downed trees, both dead ash trees, both along the berm on the western side of the property. Arse. I hate cutting ash trees. However, I pulled out the chainsaw and made some (relatively) quick work of them.

ALSO: When taking a little break on the boardwalk, I saw some movement under the ice. It looked like a snapping turtle, swimming through the water under the ice. I rushed to the other side of the boardwalk in anticipation of watching it cruise out the other side, but no... it must have turned back. Happily for the turtles, there is still some open water on the north side of the lake, so I doubt that they'll suffer from drowning.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rain... in January?

Last night, there was a lot of rain. Will this turn out to be yet another not-really-winter?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The boats are not for public use

I came back from holidays to find that someone had taken out one of the row boats. They "kindly" left it in the then-water to then get stuck in the ice.


Luckily, the ice had set up enough for me to walk out on and pull out the boat.


It should be pretty obvious to most civic minded individuals that boats that don't belong to them on a property that isn't theirs should not be used. However, just to make it clear for everyone:

The boats are for class use or for approved research on Third Sister Lake. 
The boats are not for recreational use by the public.

That is all.

UPDATE (Feb 13, 2013): An e-mail was sent to me to explain how the boat ended up in the ice:
I am responsible for that. I was walking in the Forest (on a Sunday, I think) and when I got down to the dock I saw that two dogs had fallen through the ice about 200 feet west of the dock and about 75 feet from shore. There was a deer about 100 feet from the other side of the lake that was struggling in the ice to get to shore. I suspect the dogs (looked like two German shepherds) had gone out on the ice in pursuit of the deer and broken through. I tried the ice but it wouldn't hold my weight and I was alone so I didn't want to run the risk of falling through myself. I tried to find a branch long enough to reach the dogs but couldn't find one long enough. I called my wife and had her call the Humane Society to see if they could help out. Then I put the rowboat in, hoping I could scoot it along on top of the ice to get to the dogs (using a pole and snow shovel I got from your porch). That proved impossible and the pole I was using to move it broke. I used the shovel to get close enough to shore to get out. But I couldn't retrieve the boat so I left it.

The dogs drowned before the Humane Society got there. I called (or emailed, I forget which) the UM Security people to tell them that the boat was in the ice and why it was there. I wasn't sure who else to get hold of.
This explains what happened. However, I wonder if what this person saw was two coyotes. At a distance, coyotes and German Shepherds have a passing resemblance, sharing similar coloring and - in the winter - a thick coat. Also, in previous winters, I have seen coyotes running across the ice. That, plus the lack of any mention of dog owners nearby, makes me think that it was coyotes that went in after a deer.

I really do hope that no dog owner lost their dogs in such a tragedy. However, if you are a dog owner, it is your responsibility to keep your dogs on leash and safe (for themselves and to others).

Of course, if you do see something wrong in Saginaw Forest, and you cannot find the caretaker (because I'm not always on-property) please do get in touch with the UM Department of Public Safety at (734) 763-1131.