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Saturday, August 31, 2013





Saturday, 8:30 AM.  65 degrees F, wind N, light.  The sky is mostly clear but hazy.  The humidity is still high at 92%.  The barometer is up slightly  at 29. 91".  It is a beautiful morning but may be an unsettled day.
  I have been posting "signs of fall" for several weeks, and suddenly it is actually fall, which is for all practical purposes ushered in for us by the Labor Day weekend!  It has been such a reluctant summer that I am at a loss to make any predictions about the fall and winter ahead of us.  But for now, we will post a few more indicators of fall.
   The "mop head" P G Hydrangea on the southeast corner of the house is finally blooming, at least three weeks late. On the other hand, we are harvesting tomatoes, just about on time.  The fall asters, starting with the frost aster, Aster ericoides, are beginning to bloom, obviously afraid that if they do not, they will not get the chance to  set seed before it snows.
   Some of the almanacs are predicting a long winter, with a lot of snow.  It's hard to say, and harder yet to say whether it will be early.  Last winter was pretty open until almost spring, when we had a ton of the white stuff dumped on us, so the law of averages says we are due for a snowy season.
   The recent drought is over, and trees and gardens should go into winter in good shape.  I am guessing it will be a colorful fall, but with all the lush tree growth an early snow load on weak, leafy branches could be disastrous.
   I remember one early snowfall in New York and New England, I think it was 1986 or '87 that was enormously damaging and caused power outages that lasted weeks in many places.  Downed trees and limbs were scattered everywhere like match sticks, and it took several years for things to recover fully.

Friday, August 30, 2013







Friday, 8:30 AM.  70 degrees F, wind N, light.  The sky is mostly overcast, we got another quarter inch or so of rain yesterday and last night and the humidity is still 90%.  The barometer is trending down, at 29.88".  Looks like a day to catch up with some desk work, as it is sopping wet outside.
   Yesterday's opportunity to get out on the lake started early and in dense fog.  Jon's 29' boat has radar and GPS and compass, but it was still iffy navigating out of the marina and down the south shore. It was blow the horn and listen for a reply in the murk, fishing blind until the fog began to lift around 8:30 AM. 
   Jon's charter customers were a young couple from Medford, about two hours south of Bayfield, on their honeymoon.  Jon's main business is a new boat storage and maintenance facility on Hwy. 13, just south of Bayfield
   They were true outdoor folks, both experienced hunters and fishers and took it all in stride.  They joked about their wedding party being all dressed in camo, and the young bride told us about her recent wolf hunt, calling in a pack of nine wolves and shooting an 87 pound male that was longer than she is tall. Her new husband admitted to having second thoughts about their being out in the blind as the huge animals appeared, ghostlike, out of the surrounding brush, looking to confront an interloper in their territory.
   However you might feel about wolf hunting, they had a great tale to tell.  They are farmers and don't have any qualms about legally shooting wolves, bears and other stock predators.
   We fished a number of locations, going all the way around the east side of Madeline Island, and finally ran into fish off the south end of Michigan Island, in view of its light house.  I did not fish, as this was a paid charter outing, but helped with steering the boat while trolling and other chores, and was pleased to do it and be out on the water, which was glassy calm until the front moved in about 1:00 PM. 
   When the fish finally started to bite,  everything happened at once.  Jon called it "A Chinese fire drill." First a fish on and lost, then another, and finally four lake trout and salmon boated one right after the other.  None were huge, but three were nice eating size, around twenty inches, and one lake trout was an OK size, about 26".  As quickly as the action started it stopped, just as a massive storm approached from the west.  
    We got into the harbor just as the rain started and were happy to have fish in the cooler and be off the lake before it got really wild.  
   What more  could a girl wan on her honeymoon?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013




Thursday.  I am off fishing with neighbor Jon on his charter fishing boat early so post this blog late Wednesday evening.  He just called, saying he could use an extra hand to help with the boat and lines and that sounded great to me as I haven't been fishing on the big lake in over a year.  Hope to get some fish pictures for tomorrow's post.
  We had to take a trip to Spooner, about two hours southwest of Bayfield on Wednesday, and found hundreds of acres of sunflowers growing along Hwy. 63 near Mason.  Beautiful!  And, very interesting, as by late afternoon the flowers, which orient themselves toward the sun during the day, had already turned east, toward Thursday morning's rising sun. It was a cloudy evening, and perhaps that helped trigger their early response.
   Also along Hwy. 63, north of Hayward, we saw several miles of side-tracked railroad tanker cars, all newly painted and refurbished.  Logic and some recently overheard conversations lead me  to believe that these tanker cars will soon be in service to move  much of the oil that is now becoming a glut in Canada because of the Obama Administration's senseless foot dragging on approving the construction of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to Texas.  The Enbridge oil pipeline from Canada to Duluth, Minnesota, has been upgraded to carry much greater amounts of oil, and if the oil doesn't get to US refineries via the Keystone pipeline it will travel by alternate pipeline routes and rail.  Recent news articles assert that rail transport of oil can be cost competitive with pipelines, and rail transport of oil is certainly far more cost effective than a non-existant  pipeline. Our existing national network of  rail lines and pipelines can carry almost anything almost anywhere in the United States.
   So now we have, in the absence of a very safe and economically feasible transcontinental pipeline, the transportation of oil by rail, which is arguably at least as  hazardous  as an underground pipeline, and with great quantities of Canadian and North Dakota oil now flowing freely into Duluth, you can be sure it will be transported by oceangoing thousand-foot tanker ships through the Great Lakes and the Seaway to world markets as well.  Think Europe, now dependent on oil from a Middle East in its death throes.
   Sorry, folks, but anyone thinking that a commodity as valuable and necessary as oil is not going to be extracted, transported, refined and sold on the world market is just plain naive.  But hey, welcome to Obamaland!

PUT ANOTHER SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE, MATE! A guest post from Down Under

Wednesday,  9:00 AM. 70 degrees F, 69 at the lake front.  Wind N, calm.  There is heavy fog. The humidity is 68% and the barometer is trending up at 30.00".
   The following Guest Blog is published at  the request of Dannielle McAnn of The Greene Centre, a garden center and recycling business located in Melbourne, Australia.   Dannielle came across the Almanac on the web.  For more information and photos, go to http://www/  They have an interesting business and web site, unfortunately I was unable to upload their photos. The basic firewood information applies here as well as in Australia.
   I encourage Almanac readers to visit their web site at


 Melbourne, Australia
(03) 9331 5176Send Us An Email
2A Stadium DriveKeilor Park VIC 3042

What You Should Know About Your Firewood
By Dannielle McAnn

When the winter months come around, as they do far too often around here, you want to have a pile of quality firewood ready to get burning in the fireplace. There is nothing like the natural and honest warmth of a good fireplace, and to get the best possible fire going you are going to need the best firewood.
There a are few types of firewood that are commonly used to start those winter fires, here is a quick rundown of the most popular options, and a few not so popular options with reasons why they are a bad idea to stick in the oven.

Oak is a very dense wood, it burns really hot and  seasons in a year, making it a pretty common option. I't a popular option for fireplaces because it’s easy to find and provides a good, dense heat to fill the whole house.

Maple is another popular option for firewood as it is also an efficient, hot burning wood that seasons often enough to make it available every year. The one downside with maple is that it can be quite difficult to split due to the density of the wood, so it’s a good idea to source it already split if you can.
Cherry is also recommended as a firewood, however it is not as common as the other two. It is not as hot as Oak or Maple, burning at a medium heat, but it does produce a nice sweet smelling aroma while burning and like the others, doesn’t produce much smoke.
  Another variety that's a great choice if available, is the hardwood, Redgum, like that found at Firewood. It’s native to Australia but can also be found in a lot of other parts in the world, including the States.
  Australian native hardwoods are usually large leafed trees that produce fruit or nuts. These hardwoods are best used in structural applications such as bearers, joists and roof beams. They are also perfect for flooring, decking and other outside applications due to their hard wearing nature.

Now for the no-nos. Don’t go near Pine, Elm or Chestnut; Pine is a messy burner and has a lot of sap, Elm is too dense to split and has a funny smell. Finally Chestnut produces a lot of sparks and smoke so you don’t really want to have it in the house. With a little insight, it’s easy to find the right firewood to keep you warm this winter.

Firewood, Inc. is an Australian company that sells Redgum firewood for private and commercial use, including wood fire ovens.

   G'day, Danniele.  Put another shrimp on the barbie, mate, and we may come on Down Under for a chat!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013



Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  71 degrees F, wind N, light to moderate.  The sky is about 50/50 clouds and clear, with a lot of haze and some of the clouds very dark.  The humidity is uncomfortably high at 96%, and we received another .3" of rain last night.  After talking to various people I think it is safe to say that the region has gotten between four and six inches of rain, depending on location, since Sunday evening.  Streams are swollen and silty, and there are flood warnings for streams south of Ashland. Sunday's high temperatures may have matched the previous high of 95 degrees F on the same date in 1948.
   I have spent much time in the last few days, including a Tree Board meeting yesterday morning, to draft a concise explanation of the emerald ash borer threat and recommendations to the Bayfield mayor and common council as they come to the realization that the threat is real and imminent.  This effort was prompted by the pest being recently discovered in Superior, Wisconsin, only sixty miles to our west.  This information is not meant to be detailed or overly scientific.  It is meant to brief busy people so they can begin to confront the problem.  I thought it good enough to pass on to my  blog readers.  Use the blog search engine for more information and photographs from previous posts.
EAB is a destructive beetle native to China.  It only feeds on true ash trees.  It appeared first in Detroit ten years ago and has spread to most Midwestern and many Eastern states.  To date it has cost many millions of dollars in damage (treatment, tree removal, tree replacement) throughout a number of cities and states.  It is active in SE Wisconsin, and now is found in Madison, LaCross and the Twin Cities.  It recently was found in Superior, WI and Douglas County is now under State of Wisconsin quarantine (ash wood or trees cannot be transported out of the county at present) and soon federal quarantine will also be imposed.
Adult beetles emerge from infested trees beginning in April and continue to emerge through June.  They mate and migrate to ash trees, where they lay their eggs on the host trees.  The larvae feed in the cambium layer just under the bark, girdling branches and eventually the entire tree, depriving it of water and nutrients and killing it.  The grubs pupate and become adults by the following spring, when they emerge and start the cycle over again.  They leave a small, D-shaped hole in the bark when they emerge which is very characteristic and can be used in identification of the insect.  The adult beetle is  very small, and is a bright metallic green.  It is easily recognized by an expert, but there are other beetles, such as the Japanese beetle, with which it may be confused by the layman. Positive identification is made only by a state or federal etymologist.
   Adult beetles can fly some distance but they migrate to new areas mainly by being transported by humans in infected wood (which is how they got here from China).  They infest a tree from the top down, and it usually takes several years of repeated attack to kill a tree.
   Infested trees are first recognized by dying branches in the top of the tree, the damage progressing downward over time.  D-shaped exit holes in infected areas are a prime indicator.  Much sucker growth at the base of the infested tree is also an indicator.
When first discovered there were no controls available except to remove ash trees before  they became infested and a source of further infection in healthy trees.  This method of control is still the most prevalent in use by municipalities.
   Progress in controlling the insect has been made however, and currently there are insecticides available that are fairly effective.  Some are highly toxic and must be applied by a licensed professional, usually by injection into the tree.  There are some treatments now on the market that can be applied by homeowners and other unlicensed individuals; these are applied as a liquid soil drench or to the soil surface in granular form.  All are hazardous to aquatic life and should not be allowed to enter water sources or runoff areas leading to them.
   Spraying of the adult beetles as they emerge form infested trees and migrate is not practical due to the long emerging season, from mid-April through June.
   Biological control is now becoming a possibility.  Minute wasps which lay their eggs in EAB grubs feeding under the bark of ash trees are a natural parasite, and they are now being released in SE Wisconsin by the USDA.  It will probably be some time before the success of this effort will be known.  Native parasitic wasps have evidently also discovered the EAB grubs and are beginning to use them as a food source, and red bellied woodpeckers and white breasted nuthatches have begun to feed on them as well, to the point that the numbers of these birds are greatly increasing where EAB is operative.
   To this point the main control of the spread of the insect population has been restricting the movement of firewood and other wood products.  It may have slowed the spread of EAB but has not stopped it.  EAB so far has not been affected by the cold winter temperatures of our region.
Ash trees are in the genus Fraxinus, which is in the olive family.  There are a number of species of ash trees,  mostly native, which grow in northern Wisconsin and in or near Bayfield.  These include white, green, and black ash. White ash is a natural component of the mature deciduous forest, while green ash may be found in many places. Black ash is mostly found in swampy areas.
   Most tree species have simple leaves, which are not divided into leaflets, and their leaves and branches are arranged alternately, not opposite each other.  Maple and ash are the most familiar and recognizable trees with opposite branching, but ash tree leaves are divided into leaflets, arranged like a feather, while maples have undivided leaves.
   One of the trees often confused with ash is the mountain ash, which has feather-compound leaves but alternate branching.  It also bears colorful fruit, which the ash trees do not.  Box elder, also called ash-leaved maple, might well be confused with ash species as well.
   Bayfield has only a few street trees that are ash trees.  There are a number of ash trees in Dalrymple Park, and probably in the ravine conservancy areas as well.  We do not know at present how many ash trees there may be on private property, although some large trees are quite evident. 
   We have placed two EAB traps in the city of Bayfield, one in Dalrymple Park, the other in the city alleyway south of Manypenny Ave. between 8th and 9th streets.  They are easily recognizable as huge blue triangle shaped boxes hanging about fifteen feet high in an ash tree.  The inside of the box is very sticky and a pheromone attractant has been placed inside.  The boxes will be taken down and examined for beetles in September.
We can expect EAB to reach Bayfield, probably sooner than later.  When that happens we are required by the State of Wisconsin to have an area to receive wood for quarantine and marshaling purposes, unless we have some other legal place within a quarantined area (most likely the county) to put it.  The city should designate such an area, large enough that ash wood can be kept there at least two years, unless it can make other arrangements. 
   It should be determined by the City whether homeowners and arborists will be allowed to use the quarantine area, and appropriate ordinances enacted.  Smaller wood may be finely chipped, so as to kill the larvae and any adults in harvested wood, but larger logs will have to be stored and either utilized after suitable time for firewood, used as saw logs or taken somewhere to be burned as fuel (the power plant in Ashland should be contacted).
   The City should consider whether ordinances regarding pesticide use by arborists and homeowners should be enacted. 
   It is recommended that the Mayor contact Ashland and Washburn, as well as the county, to see what their plans are and how we might all cooperate.
   Additional funds should be budgeted for tree quarantine, removal and replacement.
   Bayfield homeowners and businesses should be kept informed of the EAB situation.

Art Ode
City of Bayfield Volunteer Forester


Monday, August 26, 2013







Monday,  7:30 AM. 70 degrees on the back porch, several degrees less directly on the lakefront.  Wind NW, calm at present. The sky is cloudy and overcast in the south and east and very hazy but clear to the north. The humidity is very high, at 92%.  The barometer is up slightly at 29.91".  We had an impressive thunderstorm last night, which we watched for some time while siting on the porch cooling off.  It gave us 3.25" of badly needed rain.
   Yesterday was unusually hot and oppressive, reaching 95 in the shade on the back porch.  An early evening convertible ride helped cool us off (we live without air conditioning).  Today is very busy, starting with a 9:30 AM Tree Board meeting. It should be somewhat more comfortable today.
   The mulberry tree in the wooded lot across the street is loaded with berries, which for some reason the bears haven't discovered as yet.  I have eaten my fill out of hand.  It is too hard to pick more than that.  The raspberry-like fruit is dark purple when ripe, but tastes rather bland unless absolutely falling-off ripe.  The white, or Russian mulberry, Morus alba, has long been planted for its fruit, and in the past many farmsteads had a mulberry tree. Its ripe fruit can be white to black or something in-between. Joan has fond memories of climbing the big Russian mulberry tree on her aunt's farm to pick enough berries to make mulberry jam.  She remembers them as being much bigger and sweeter than those from the tree across the street.  
   The native red mulberry, Morus rubra, is an occasional forest tree throughout much of the eastern and southeastern US.  It is occasionally found in southern to mid-Wisconsin. Both species have some of their leaves deeply lobed, sometimes being mitten-shaped; the white mulberry has more such leaves, in my experience. I would call our tree a red mulberry except for its far northern location. To add to the confusion, the two species often hybridize.  I may have to send a specimen to the UW Herbarium for identification, and if it is indeed M. rubra I will become rich and famous, and perhaps have a new sub-species named after me.  What would you think of Morus rubra var. Odaeensis? Just kidding.
   Mulberry tree leaves have in the past been used to feed silk "worms," which produce silk.  The red and white mulberry are in the mulberry family, the Moraceae.  Another tree, Broussonitia papyrifera, also in the mulberry family, has rather similar leaves and has  occasionally escaped from cultivation in the Southeast.  Silk making and raising silkworms on mulberry trees was a growth industry in the eastern  US in the 19th Century. Paterson, NJ was its center.  The effort did not last long, but some of its effects are still with us, such as the Gypsy moth, once used to produce silk along with other silk moths, and escaped into the wild.

Sunday, August 25, 2013







Sunday,  8:00 AM.  80 degrees F, unusually warm for early morning.  The wind is N, light with strong gusts.  The sky is mostly clear but very hazy at present,  but it had been filled with beautiful fish-tail clouds earlier when Buddy and I went to the beach.  The humidity is 70% and the barometer is down, at 29.89".  It looks and feels like we will get  a thunderstorm sometime soon.
   A white pine has been declining for several years on S Ninth St., and the property owner recently had it cut down.  It was for all intents and purposes dead.  I counted the growth rings of the stump and they indicate the tree was about forty-five years old, probably the same age as the house on the property.  I had been observing the tree, and was eager to examine it once it was on the ground.
  I found that an infestation of bark beetles had finished the tree off,  but  they seldom attack healthy trees, and my assumption is that this tree was badly damaged by the drought of recent summers and  that it had outgrown its environment as well.  Poor soils, drought and other environmental factors weakened the tree and made it a target for the tiny beetles, the adult males of which excavate chambers in which the males and females mate, and in which eggs are laid.  When the eggs hatch the larvae feed under the bark, creating tunnels that girdle branches and eventually the entire tree.  The infestation begins at the top of the tree and proceeds downward over several growing seasons.  
   In the above photo of the galleries the larvae have pupated into adults and left the tree to attack another weakened pine tree.  The photo of the branch with the bark still intact shows the very small (smaller than a pin head) exit holes produced by the emerging young adult beetles.  Red pine plantations are sometimes seriously damaged by bark beetles, but the insects are  probably  only a secondary threat in ornamental pines, and once the bark falls off the dead trees and their branches the beetles are gone and the tree is no longer  a source of infection.  There are two species of pine bark beetles in Wisconsin, and they often are both present in infected trees.  For further information on pine beetle life cycles, their biology and control, visit the WDNR web site.

Saturday, August 24, 2013





Saturday,  9:00 AM.  67 degrees F, wind N, light, possibly changing to S.  The sky is partially overcast and it is hazy in the E.  The humidity is up at 85% and the barometer is high but trending down at 30.08".  We got a trace of rain last night, just enough to get Buddy soaking wet as he charged through the underbrush.  We need rain so badly I won't care if the dog smells like a fish.
   Yesterday I began bringing in wood for winter, splitting and putting it in the woodshed.  I have permission to glean it from the logging operation down at my deer stand.  I'll make this a topic of future blogs as I start cutting with my new chain saw.
   Virginia creeper, AKA woodbine, has always been a favorite native plant of mine (except when it invades my garden, as it does on occasion).   Two very similar appearing species grow in Wisconsin, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, and P. inserta. Both species climb by tendrils, which are  grasping modified leaves, but the former also has adhesive disks on the ends of the tendrils to help it ascend trees, posts and other objects.  Pictured is P. inserta.  These plants begin to turn crimson early in the fall.  Both bear panicles of fruit which turns blue-black when ripe.  A third species is P. tricuspidata, an Asian plant which we all know as Boston ivy.  The genus Parthenocissus is in the vine, or grape family, the Vitaceae.  
   The common name name Virginia creeper refers to the plant being named for Queen Elizabeth, the "virgin queen," and obliquely also for the colony of Virginia; the latin genus name also does the same.  Latin and Greek nomenclature always has some de facto  meaning, although often pretty obscure.

Friday, August 23, 2013



Friday, 8:30 AM.  64 degrees F , wind N, just strong enough to create a pleasant breeze.  The humidity is 70% and the barometer is trending down slightly at 30.17".  It is a pleasant morning, and a good day to try out my new chain saw.
The little herb garden in the back yard is quite pretty now.  It even has an almost-ripe tomato.
   The "Mostly On Thursdays" community concerts have been quite successful this summer, and it was our  little Christ Episcopal Church's turn to be the venue yesterday evening.  The little chapel was packed for the concert by Minnesotans Laura MacKenzie and Gary Rue, who performed "traditional wind powered music" of Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton, Central France and Northern Spain.  They sang, and played bag pipes, flutes, concertinas and other "wind powered" instruments, accompanied by guitar.  The performance was truly intellectually as well as musically satisfying.
   The fall web worms, caterpillars that feed on apple and other trees while protected inside a silken web that they spin, are yet another sign of approaching fall.  There are several quite similar races of these insects, and if the season is long enough there can be more than one generation which feeds on tree foliage.  Like the tent caterpillars that appear in spring, they do little real damage to their host trees other than causing them to be unsightly.  The spring tent caterpillars feed under silken "tents" as well, but the webbing is located at the crotches of young branches, the "worms" emerging to feed on host foliage and retreating to their webs for safety.  The fall web worms feed within their webbing, which encompasses terminal branches and leaves.  
   The easiest and most environmentally neutral control of both tent caterpillars and fall web worms is to cut out the branches and foliage covered by the tent or web and burn or bury them.  Insecticides are hard to use on these pests because they are so well protected.  If one is not squeamish they are also easy to destroy by by crushing them by hand inside their webs, if they are within reach.