T: Well, we still haven't managed to go on our hike to Copper Lake yet, actually - We didn't go yesterday because I woke up with a small headache and we also did not have bread for sandwiches; we were planning to bring lunch with us, since it's a bit of a trek. Then, today, we helped move the RMBL office down to Crested Butte for the winter, so we weren't feeling too ambitious after that. We shall see when we get to it, but it is still in the works, I assure you.
However, we did go on a shorter walk today, on the deer creek trail to the south of Gothic, an area we hadn't explored yet. It was quite pleasant, but it was through a different terrain, a hilly grassy landscape that wasn't particularly impressive and did not make for novel wildlife spotting except for chipmunks. There are actually four chipmunks (one's a ground squirrel, but you can pretend) around here - the least chipmunk, the Colorado chipmunk, the uinta chipmunk, and the golden-mantled ground squirrel.
There is a golden mantled ground squirrel that looks in our window on a regular basis, and often sits on the porch outside our window. As always, click for bigger pictures.
Identifying characteristics are the two stripes, one on each flank, with a gray back and golden neck, along with a short little nose. They are also the largest of the four ground-dwelling Sciurids.
As with most furred animals, maintenance of one's fur is a very high priority.
And sometimes, you just get itchy.
Last evening, we had another visitor - as we were cooking dinner, we saw a fox trotting up the road that goes past our house! He decided to lie down only about fifty feet from our house, so I decided to see if I could possibly get a picture of him (or her). The fox ended up being not particularly nervous, so I scooted towards him, snapping pictures.
Occasionally, he would sniff at the air, or cue in on sounds he heard in the brush. A few times, he got up and started stalking something, but mostly he just thought a little rest in the road seemed like a good idea.
This is after he wandered down a different path for a little bit, stalking something he heard. By his posture, you can clearly see he was horrendously alarmed by my taking pictures of him. I was probably about 8 or 10 feet behind him here, I'm not really sure. Pretty soon after this picture, he moved a little farther up and a marmot spotted him, who started alarm calling from the top of a wood pile, so the fox decided to trot off, and all my pictures after this are blurrier and less interesting.
So after the little fox interlude, Jessica and I went back to making dinner, where we had decided to be adventuresome and make naan, an Indian flatbread. We followed Madhur Jaffrey's basic recipe, and it turned out very well! You can see the result for yourself below:
It is served here with curried chickpeas and onions, and it was quite delicious. I also topped my naan with melted cheese, which I thought was quite delightful!
In other food news, We are putting together our second order of food, this time from the natural foods catalog, which has a huge selection of stuff, and, while terrifyingly daunting, also ended up being a massive amount of fun, and we simply can't wait to pick it up!
J: We still have a bit of our food budget to spend, so let us know if you can think of any fun treats or useful foods that we might be missing. We just discovered that we can order a case of Home Run Inn pizzas- a thrilling prospect.
For those of you who aren't in the know, our cabin, being in the middle of the woods and all, gets a few mice who think that our cabin is a very nifty place to live. They're easy enough to deal with, but a few days ago we discovered that a slightly larger fellow calls our cabin home as well. I was somewhat surprised when I saw a rather *large* furball standing on the stairs, looking at me. I chased him under the stairs into the broom closet, where he ran up the shelves and into a hole in the wall. He is none other than a bushy-tailed woodrat ( http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/shoshone/resources/wildlife/Images/BushytailedWoodrat.jpg ). I got a good glimpse of him before he ran into the wall. Well, we put a Sherman live trap in front of the hole, but we didn't have any luck catching him that way, although the bait did seem to be missing from the trap. Then yesterday we removed the trap to try something different, but we didn't get around to putting anything in front of the hole.
Well, last night mr. woodrat had the courtesy to knock knickknacks off of the two windowsills and then go to sleep in a blanket on the couch, leaving a delightful amount of rat poo in the folds of the blanket, which Jessica discovered this morning. Well, I cut a piece of firewood and wedged it in front of the hole to seal it off, thinking that would be the end of it. To my surprise however, tonight I saw, out of the corner of my eye, something very large run out from under the wood stove and under the stairs! Apparently, he hadn't left after his little blanket siesta, and had gone to sleep in the cardboard stack behind the stove. Well, I followed him into the closet where I found a very very confused rat trying very hard to get into his hole, despite the wood now covering it. What followed after this was an incredibly pathetic game of hide and go seek where Jessica and I attempted to herd a terrified woodrat into a plastic garbage can with a spatula and a broom. This went on for about 15 minutes before we finally succeeded, and we took him outside and released him in some nearby bushes. Since he just kept trying to run back to the same hole I blocked off the entire time we were chasing him, we think he only had the one way in and out of the cabin, and our visits from the woodrat will hopefully be over. If he didn't poop everywhere and generally do naughty chewing activities, we wouldn't even mind sharing with him. He is by far the cutest rat I've ever seen, and when we released him into the bushes, he hopped away like a little kangaroo.
As a side note, bushy-tailed woodrats are also the true packrat, as they are the rat species with the most pronounced stealing and stashing behavior, with a particular fondness for shiny objects. If you manage to locate their middens, they are filled with all sorts of interesting things. I have a feeling that if we looked in the walls of this house, we would find all kinds of stolen bottlecaps and jewelry that the woodrat put there.
J: I'm hoping we'll find woodrat's midden when we clean out the broom closet. It's loaded with leftovers from previous inhabitants (ski wax, blankets, the aforementioned Sherman traps, buckets, etc.). Speaking of things left behind, we're planning on doing a blog on the amazing things that people saw fit to leave behind (as a teaser: wind-up sushi and a biography of Zac Hanson- the youngest member of THE HANSONS)